Eveready's Burman family want professionals to run the company
The Burman family, which owns Dabur's and is the largest shareholder in Eveready, wants professionals to run the Calcutta-based dry cell battery maker and is open to the idea of raising its stake “at the right price”.
The Burmans, who have close to a 20 per cent stake in Eveready, suggested that a team of professionals, headed by a chief executive, should be hired to manage the affairs of the Calcutta-based company.
“All we want is that the company should be run professionally. This will benefit all shareholders, large and small,” Mohit Burman, vice-chairman of Dabur India Ltd, told The Telegraph.
Amritanshu Khaitan, who belongs to the promoter family of Eveready, is now the managing director. Khaitans now hold only a 4.77 per cent stake in Eveready. Aditya Khaitan, uncle of Amritanshu, is the non-executive chairman.
Burman, who spearheads the family’s investments to myriad ventures is mindful of the efforts put in by the present management, including in cleaning up the balance sheet.
The battery maker posted a stellar performance operationally in the last fiscal, clocking an 86 per cent growth in operating EBDITA, which stood at Rs 224.7 crore. However, the company ended the fiscal year with a net loss of Rs 309.13 crore on the back of a provision of Rs 629.7 crore, which was linked to financial assistance extended to group firms over the years.
“Our view is that the board and company should take a prudent view. If the money is not recoverable, it should be written off, which they have (done) now. The company should try and recover this money through all ways and means available,” Burman added.
Asked to comment on the performance of EIL in 2020-21, he underlined how difficult the past year has been. “I think performance on an operation profitability basis has been good given that this was an exceptional year in more ways than one.”
However, he maintained Eveready should be run by professionals. Asked if this means hiring a professional CEO, Burman said, “Yes, (a) professional team should be running every company.”
The Burmans themselves follow a hands-off style of management where the family members sit on the board but leave the executive role to an outsider who is a professional.
The flagship of the family, Dabur India, is a case in point. Even though four members of the family are on the board, it is managed by a professional who is an outsider. Burman Family Holdings, the strategic investment platform of the family, also lets businesses where it invested to be managed by a team of professionals.
Some of the notable investments by Burman Family Holdings are Aviva Life Insurance and Universal Sompo General Insurance. Eveready is not listed under the holdings portfolio, though. Even though the Burmans have made no bones that they want a professional team to run Eveready, cleaning up the balance sheet is likely to make the company more attractive.
“A clean up is always good and investors should get a clear and accurate picture about the company’s business and finances,” Burman said, adding that the Burman family would consider buying more shares at the “right price”.
The Burman family, which traces its roots to Bengal, invested in Eveready at an average price of Rs 80-100. The stock closed at Rs 311.7 on the BSE on Wednesday. “We are satisfied with our investments. We are long term holders,” he said.
However, the Calcutta-born industrialist said the family has “no plans” to join the board of Eveready “at the moment”.