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ITC chairman Deveshhwar passes away

Under Deveshwar's watch, ITC went from being a cigarette maker to a company with interests in FMCG, hospitality, paper, agri-business and information technology

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 11.05.19, 2:40 PM
  • Updated 11.05.19, 2:40 PM
  • 2 mins read
Y.C. Deveshwar Photo courtesy: ITC website

ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshwar passed away on Saturday morning after a brief illness, according to company sources.

Deveshwar, 72, who stepped down from executive role in 2017 but remained as a chairman in non-executive capacity, passed away this morning at a private hospital in Gurugram.

"We deeply mourn the passing away of Y.C. Deveshwar, Chairman ITC," ITC MD Sanjiv Puri said in a statement.

Deveshwar championed the cause for sustainable and inclusive growth and the transformative role businesses could play in creating larger societal value. This vision drove ITC to pursue business models that today support over 6 million livelihoods, many among the weakest in society, Puri said.

He leaves behind his wife and two children -- a son and a daughter.

Deveshwar joined ITC in 1968 and was appointed a director on the ITC board on April 11, 1984. He rose to become its chief executive and chairman on January 1, 1996.

One of the longest serving top executives of a corporate entity in India, he was responsible for transforming ITC from mainly a cigarettes maker into a diversified entity with interests in FMCG, hospitality, paper, agri business and information technology, among others.

When Deveshwar took charge in the mid-1990's, ITC was confronted with formidable challenges, with diversification efforts either failing or languishing. The company's revenue was less than Rs 5,200 crore and profit before tax stood at Rs 452 crore.

In 2017-18, the company posted revenues of Rs 44,329.77 crore and net profit of Rs 11,223.25 crore.

"His leadership transformed ITC into a valuable and admired multi-business conglomerate with a robust portfolio of front-ranking businesses in FMCG, hotels, paperboards and paper, packaging and agri-business.

"His vision to make societal value creation a bedrock of corporate strategy also led ITC to become a global exemplar in sustainability and the only company in the world to be carbon positive, water positive and solid waste positive for over a decade," Puri said.

An alumnus of IIT Delhi and Harvard Business School, Deveshwar had also led Air India as chairman and managing director between 1991 and 1994.

When ITC split the role of the executive chairman between chairman and chief executive officer with effect from February 5, 2017, as part of succession planning in the company, Deveshwar continued as chairman in non-executive capacity and played the role of a mentor to the executive management led by Puri.

A Padma Bhushan -- one of the highest civilian awards in the country -- in 2011, Deveshwar also served as a director on the central board of the Reserve Bank of India, as a member of the National Foundation for Corporate Governance and member of the governing body of the National Council of Applied Economic Research. "Inspired by a patriotic fervour, manifest in his clarion call of 'Lets Put India First', he led ITC's strategic thrust to create an exemplary Indian enterprise dedicated to serving national priorities," Puri said.