Sarthak Behuria denied extension as Chairman of IOC

Sarthak Behuria denied extension as Chairman of IOC

No reasons have been given for denying Behuria an extension till he achieved superannuation age of 60 years in March 2012.Official sources said the Petroleum Ministry on February 25 issued orders appointing BM Bansal, the seniormost director on IOC board, as acting Chairman for three months.

Both Behuria and Bansal's five-year term ended on Sunday but only the later could earn an extension till his superannuation in January next year.Behuria is the third head of a Navratana or crown jewel oil PSU, to be denied an extension. The Oil ministry had in 2006 declined Subir Raha an extension as the Chairman and Managing Director of Oil and Natural Gas Corp and a year later GAIL's Prashanto Banerjee went the same way.

Behuria's performance as Chairman of IOC had been rated as "outstanding" by outgoing Oil Secretary RS Pandey and there were no known corruption charges against him, sources said, adding it was not immediately clear why he was being denied an extension.Behuria took over as Chairman of IOC and its group companies on March 1, 2005. Steering the company from a turnover of USD 34.5 billion in 2004-05 to become the first Indian firm to breach USD 50 billion mark in 2006-07, the turnover of the company rose to USD 62 billion (Rs 2,85,337 crore) in 2008-09.

The group has remained a market leader in domestic refining and fuel marketing with about 50 per cent market share.IOC's world ranking in the Fortune Global list at 105 in 2009 is 65 places higher than its 170 rank in 2005.

Sources said Behuria has accepted the offer of Petronet LNG Ltd (PLL), a joint venture firm of state owned oil firm, for the job of Adviser.The board of PLL, whose Chairman is Petroleum Secretary S Sundareshan, created the new post days before Behuria's extension came up.

Behuria may eventually succeed P Dasgupta who is rumoured to be putting in his papers on health grounds before his term as Managing Director and CEO comes to an end in August.

Sources said indications of Behuria not getting an extension first emerged when Public Enterprise Selection Board (PSEB) - the Government's premier body that selects board-level executives of the PSUs - could not interview him in the absence of oil ministry completing paper work.

PSEB, as per the practice in case of new appointments as well as extension of service, had a few weeks back scheduled an interview of Behuria but the interface could not take place as crucial papers needed for extension of service were not signed by the ministry.
PSEB again scheduled an interview on February 25 but again could not do a formal interface as PLL had already offered a job to Behuria which had been accepted, sources said.

It wasn't clear why Behuria was being denied an extension and if he was not found fit to continue as head of IOC why was he offered a job at PLL.Sources said that at the PLL board meeting recently it was mentioned that a "suggestion" was made to the company to make a job offer to Behuria.

Accordingly, the company management moved a special resolution which was not part of agenda for the meeting circulated earlier. It was backed by representatives of ONGC, IOC, GAIL and BPCL, who hold equity stake in PLL.

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