Keshub Mahindra hangs up his boots

Veteran industrialist Keshub Mahindra on Wednesday stepped down from the helm of diversified Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) group on Wednesday after leading it for 48 years saying it was time for the next generation under his successor Anand to take over the baton.

Keshub Mahindra, a director on M&M's board for 64 years overseeing the group's metamorphosis from a steel trading company to a $15.4-billion group, handed over the baton to nephew and Vice-Chairman & Managing Director Anand Mahindra.

Addressing shareholders at the company's Annual General Meeting here, 88-year-old Mahindra said, "My innings as your chairman concludes at the end of this meeting. I am deeply moved by the sentiments expressed by the board and the management in requesting me to accept the position of Chairman Emeritus, which I do with humility."

Keshub noted that it has been a difficult and most challenging year for the company. Weak domestic macro-economic factors like high inflation, large fiscal and current account deficits, coupled with coalition politics continued to constrain policy actions which are critical to supporting growth, he added.

"Uncertainty on the policy front and vacillation on major reforms, together with the south-west monsoon remaining weak added to our woes," he said, adding that the government needs to address these issues to put the economy back on the growth path.

Break new grounds

Thanking the shareholders for their support, Keshub said it was time to "break new grounds", and the group is in good hands as it moves forward.

"As you all know, Anand is a leader of great acumen, moving in step with technological advances and above all, passionate about preserving what is 'core' to the company -- integrity, ethics and inclusiveness," Mahindra said.

Keshub Mahindra took time off to sign autographs for shareholders, one of whom presented him a painted portrait of his.

During the 48 years of Mahindra’s chairmanship, the group expanded from being an automobile manufacturer to business segments like IT, real estate, financial services and hospitality.

Keshub Mahindra played key roles in forging business alliances with global majors such as the Willys Corporation, Mitsubishi, International Harvester, United Technologies and British Telecom.

Keshub Mahindra had also served on a large number of boards and councils in the private and public domains. He was founder chairman of HUDCO, and served on many corporate boards, including SAIL, Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels, IFC, ICICI and HDFC Bank.

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