With three CEOs quitting since it took over oil producer Cairn India, mining mogul Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd has defended the high turnover, saying jobs in entrepreneurial companies are not for life and is based on what people can do for the company in future. Canadian oil industry veteran Mayank M Ashar, 61, in May quit as CEO of Cairn India, the third to resign since the company was taken over by Vedanta four-and-a-half-years ago.
“Within the global oil and gas industry, it is not unusual to have a higher level of turnover, particularly among expats. That is the nature of industry and expats by their nature have shorter durations than employees and they might go for reasons that are unrelated to business, personal or any other reason,” Vedanta CEO Tom Albanese told PTI here.
The debt-laden Vedanta is seeking to merge cash-rich Cairn in an all-share transaction before end of March 31, 2017. Asked about resignations of Rahul Dhir, then P Elango and now Mayank Ashar, he said, “Cairn or any entrepreneurial oil and gas company will always have more people in mobility than a state-owned oil company.” He added: “These are not jobs for life. If you are working for an entrepreneurial oil and gas company, your position in the company is not based on what you did in the past, but what you will do for us in future (and) what you are doing now. That is the nature of an entrepreneurial company.”
Ashar was appointed CEO of Cairn India after P Elango, who was promoted in-house, in a sudden move quit the company in May 2014. Like Ashar, Elango, who was named interim chief executive in August 2012 when the firm’s face Rahul Dhir resigned, too had cited “personal reasons” for the decision to step down. Albanese said it was in the best interest of Cairn, which owns and operates the country’s biggest onland oil field in Rajasthan, to develop Indian managers with global skills and use expats only to fill in specialised gaps that are not reciprocated locally.
“It is my personal objective that we should be evolving towards a business that is predominately Indian specialised talent,” he said. “I respected Mayank, good friend of mine, for choosing to turn back to Canada (after quitting Cairn).” Ashar after quitting has joined Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries as advisor-refinery and marketing business. “I think Cairn should keep its focus on expecting every single person to be delivering 1,000 per cent… I can guarantee that entrepreneurial oil and gas companies outside India are seeing exactly the same kind of phenomenon,” he said.
Elango’s exit in 2014 had completed the exodus of the entire top management of Cairn India since billionaire Anil Agarwal-owned Vedanta in 2010 announced buying a majority stake in the firm from Scottish explorer Cairn Energy Plc. Rick Bott, who was Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Cairn India, quit the firm on June 15, 2011, while its Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Indrajit Banerjee resigned with effect from August 23, 2011.
David Ginger, Cairn India’s Director of Exploration and New Ventures, quit the firm shortly thereafter and Dhir put in his papers after the Cairn-Vedanta deal was completed. Company’s Director, Commercial and New Business Ajay Gupta quit the firm in January 2013. Vedanta completed the USD 8.67 billion acquisition of Cairn India in December 2011.
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