Reliance Industries May Soon get it’s First Non-Ambani Managing Director

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Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) could get a new Managing Director soon if the directive by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on separation of the Chairman and Managing Director posts is implemented as per schedule on April 1.

Mukesh Ambani, CMD of RIL will become the non-executive Chairman while a non-Ambani may become RIL’s MD for the first time in the company’s history.

While there is buzz around RIL Executive Director Nikhil Meswani’s name, Mukesh Ambani’s confidante and right-hand man, Manoj Modi, who is virtually CEO of the company would be a natural choice.

The other two Executive Directors, Nikhil’s younger brother, while there is a buzz around RIL Executive Director Nikhil Meswani’s name, Mukesh Ambani’s confidante and right-hand man, Manoj Modi, who is virtually CEO of the company would be a natural choice. Hital Meswani and P.M.S. Prasad are also on the prospects list.

The Meswanis have been on the RIL board since mid to late 90s and are Mukesh Ambani’s cousins. Their father, Rasiklal Meswani was one of the founder directors when Dhirubhai Ambani founded RIL.

Manoj Modi is not on the RIL board and does not hold a designated senior executive position but by all accounts has been one of the most important persons in RIL hierarchy.

SEBI has mandated to separate the roles of chairman and managing director/CEO of all listed entitled by April 1.

The directive excludes family members and relatives from taking up the MD position.

The meaning of relative as defined in Section 6 of the Companies act, 1956 defines the particular relationships: “A person shall be deemed to be a relative if and only if, they are members of the Hindu undivided family, they are husband and wife or the one is related to the other in the manner indicated in Schedule 1A.

These are the categories counted as relatives under the Companies Act and while the definitions may look repetitive,” they are precise.

In all of these definitions, cousins are not included, which implies that Nikhil and younger brother, Hital Meswani, also Executive Director and both of them having been longstanding members of the RIL board of directors are not precluded from becoming Managing Director.

Hital Meswani’s name in the board of directors list appears only after Mukesh Ambani and his wife, Nita Ambani.

According to his biodata on the RIL website, Hital Meswani joined Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) in 1990 and is the son of Rasiklal Meswani, one of the Founder Directors of the company.

He is on the Board of RIL as Whole-time Director, designated as the Executive Director, RIL, since August 4, 1995. His overall responsibility spans the petroleum refining and marketing business, petrochemicals Manufacturing and several corporate functions of the company including human resources management, information technology, research & technology and capital projects execution.

He has been involved with almost all mega initiatives of the group through its growth journey. He was instrumental in the execution of the world-class petrochemicals complex at Hazira and the mammoth Reliance Jamnagar Refinery complex, the largest in the world at any single location.

He had also led a company-wide business transformation initiative, which has resulted in the development of the constitution of RIL – the Reliance Management System.

Nikhil Meswani joined Reliance in 1986, and since July 1, 1988, he has been a whole-time director, designated as Executive Director, on the Board of the company. He is primarily responsible for the petrochemicals division and has made major contributions towards Reliance becoming a global leader in petrochemicals. Between 1997 and 2005, he handled the refinery business of the company.

In addition, he continues to shoulder several other corporate responsibilities, such as Corporate Affairs and Group Taxation. He is also involved in the affairs of Reliance-owned Indian Premier League cricket franchise Mumbai Indians and other sports initiatives of the company.

Manoj Modi is Mukesh Ambani’s closest aide and friend over many years. He has been involved in key projects and is known to take over from Mukesh Ambani in meetings after Ambani has left. He has helped lead several new projects, from refining to retail to telecom, but carries no designated senior executive or board position and maintains a low profile. He is not on the board of RIL but has been on the board of Reliance Jio Infocomm.

As per a resolution for re-appointment as director, Manoj Modi, a Chemical Engineer from Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, has played an invaluable role in the growth and evolution of the Reliance Group.

He has been associated with the Group for over three decades and has led several of the initiatives of the Group in this period of time. He has driven the overall corporate strategy for the Group and has been instrumental in formulation of strategy and policies, project planning & implementation and commercial, financial and regulatory matters.

Modi was part of the core team, along with Mukesh D. Ambani, which conceived and executed Reliance’s petrochemical project at Hazira and refinery project at Jamnagar. Modi also drove the Group’s first entry into the telecommunications business in 2002. He conceptualized and developed the strategy for setting up Reliance Infocomm (now Reliance Communications Limited), which was a transformational event for the telecom industry in India.

He is leading Reliance’s implementation of a pan-India organized retail network spanning multiple formats and supply chain infrastructure. Reliance Retail is the largest retail player in the country. Modi has been instrumental in the Group’s re-entry into the telecommunications business through Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited. He is leading the project which involves setting up one of the most complex 4G broadband wireless services in the world, offering end to end solutions that address the entire value chain across various digital services in key domains of national interest such as Education, Healthcare, Security, Financial Services, Government-Citizen interfaces and Entertainment.

Prasad has been a whole-time director, designated as Executive Director, of the Company since August 21, 2009. He has worked with Reliance for about 38 years, holding various senior positions in fibres, petrochemicals, refining and marketing and exploration & production businesses of Reliance.

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