ITC appoints Sanjiv Puri as COO

ITC Ltd, India’s most valued consumer products maker, said on Monday it has named Sanjiv Puri the company’s chief operating officer.

Puri’s appointment as the COO is with immediate effect, India’s largest cigarette maker said in a stock-exchange filing.

The move indicates that Puri, a director who heads ITC’s consumer products division, is the front-runner to become the next chairman of India’s fourth-most valued firm when incumbent YC Deveshwar gives up his executive role and takes on a non-executive position at the end of his tenure in February next year.

The Kolkata-based firm had last November elevated the 53-year-old Puri as the director of ITC’s FMCG businesses, which includes cigarettes, foods, personal care, education and stationery products. He had replaced PV Dhobale, who was set to retire.

Deveshwar, 69, is one of the most high-profile CEOs of a non-promoter company in India and has led the company for 20 years. He joined ITC in 1968 and became executive chairman in January 1996. He was re-appointed as the chairman for five years in February 2012.

Puri, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has held several key positions in the technical and engineering functions of the group focusing on technology, process and quality since he joined ITC in 1986.

He joined the company as a branch manager and was appointed as the managing director of Nepal-based Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ITC Ltd, in 2001. At Surya Nepal, he was responsible for diversifying the operations of the company into apparel retail and exports, making it one of the largest private sector companies in Nepal.

In 2007, he became managing director of ITC Infotech India Ltd, a relatively smaller business of the company. He also served as director of wholly owned units ITC Infotech Inc USA and ITC Infotech Ltd UK and CLI3L e-Services Ltd, a joint venture between ITC Infotech India and the US-based ClientLogic.

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