The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Board recast sparks Rallis merger buzz

Freddie A. Mehta stepped down as chairman of the board of directors, leaving open the top-slot that will now be filled by company vice-chairman R. Gopalakrishnan. The changes, which will become effective from April 1, will see Mehta continue as a director and Gopalakrishnan become the new chairman.

The boardroom bustle, corporate watchers say, heralds an imminent merger of Rallis with Tata Chemicals given that both firms are in the business of agro-chemicals. A marriage of the two would spawn a behemoth.

Among the directors whose roles were changed were Prasad R. Menon and Homi R. Khusrokhan, both of whom were appointed additional directors. Menon is the managing director of Tata Chemicals, the bigger of the two Tata companies with a large stake in fertilisers.

Menon has wide experience in chemicals, agro-chemicals and fertiliser industries. Khusrokhan, currently the managing director of Tata Tea, has worked in senior positions in Glaxo India for nearly 29 years.

While the merger of the two companies makes eminent sense in view of the synergies and complimentary businesses, the Tatas have maintained they will consider the issue at an “appropriate time in future”.

However, analysts are of the view that with the appointment of Menon as a director and the promotion of Gopalakrishnan as the chairman of Rallis, the speculation in the industry will gain more credence than ever.

Mehta joined the board of Rallis in 1972 and after serving as a director for 22 years, became its chairman in December 1994.

J. K. Setna has resigned from the board of directors with effect from March 24. He served as the director of the company for a period of more than 16 years from January 23, 1987. He was also a member of several committees of the board and his managerial and accounting expertise has been invaluable to the company.

In addition to Menon and Khusrokhan, Rallis has inducted Venkatrao S. Sohoni as additional director. Their appointments will also take effect from March 24.

Sohoni is the managing director of Pharmacia India and has over 28 years of experience in agro-chemicals and pharmaceutical companies with a proven record for ensuring growth, building business and rejuvenating organisations.

Rallis India, one of the two Tata firms producing chemicals, agro-chemicals and fertilisers will witness a makeover soon.

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