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ITC Chairman YC Deveshwar, who transformed cigarette business into one of India's leading FMCG players, dies at 72

Y C Deveshwar, the longest-serving chairman of the ITC group, died on Saturday after a brief illness at a private hospital in Gurugram. He was 72-years-old. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Deveshwar, who stepped down from an executive role in 2017, remained as a chairman in a non-executive capacity. In 2016, ITC’s board had “strongly urged” Deveshwar to continue as CEO, but he wanted the company to have a younger leader, a Reuters report said.

One of the longest-serving corporate heads in Indian history with over two decades at the helm at ITC, Yogesh Chander Deveshwar joined ITC in 1968. He assumed office as Executive Chairman in January, 1996.

When Deveshwar took charge at the helm in the mid-90'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 (PBT) was Rs 452 crore.

He led the transformation of ITC known mostly as a cigarette maker to a diversified group with presence ranging from FMCG, hospitality, paperboard and packaging, IT and agri business. In 1990's, Deveshwar proved his mettle as a smart businessman, when he staved off British American Tobacco company's takeover attempt.

 ITC Chairman YC Deveshwar, who transformed cigarette business into one of Indias leading FMCG players, dies at 72

Y C  Deveshwar, ITC chairman. File pic. Reuters.

Under his stewardship, the company also created several world-class Indian brands in the FMCG space.

Under him, ITC launched e-Choupal in 2000, an initiative to link directly with rural farmers via the Internet for procurement of agricultural and aquaculture products like soybeans, wheat, coffee, and prawns, according to a PTI report.

The board decided to extend tenure of non-executive chairman YC Deveshwar by another two years from 2020 to 2022 so that he could continue to mentor the senior management “given the increasing size and complexity of the organisation", said a report in the Business Standard.

Sanjiv Puri is the current CEO and MD of the company.  He said, "Deveshwar passionately 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 supports over 6 million livelihoods, many amongst the weakest in society.

"His superordinate vision to build an exemplary Indian enterprise, to serve national priorities, create the businesses of tomorrow, impeccable values and personal integrity, the width and depth of his strategic thinking and his compassionate conduct of business will continue to inspire us in the journey ahead. In this hour of immense sadness, our hearts go out to his family, wife Bharti Deveshwar, children Gaurav and Garima and to their families to whom we offer our sincerest condolences."

Between 1991 and 1994, Deveshwar led Air India as Chairman and Managing Director.

He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Harvard Business School.

Conferred the Padma Bhushan, he was also ranked as the 7th Best Performing CEO in the world by the Harvard Business Review.

He also served as a Director on the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India and as a member of the National Foundation for Corporate Governance.

--With agency inputs

 

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Updated Date: May 11, 2019 22:22:27 IST