NEW DELHI: ITC Chairman Yogesh Chander Deveshwar died on Saturday in a Gurugram hospital. He was 72 and was ITC’s longest-serving corporate head.
The cause of his death is not known. He was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago.
Born in Lahore on February 4, 1947, Deveshwar was also known as “Yogi” among his friends is survived by his wife Bharti and two children, Gaurav and Garima.
He had joined ITC in 1968 and became the executive chairman of the company in 1996. As ITC’s longest-serving chief, Deveshwar was responsible for the company’s diversification from mainly a cigarettes maker to an FMCG major hospitality, paper, agri-business, and information technology, among others.
He joined ITC in 1968 and was the architect of its aggressive transformation from a tobacco company to a conglomerate with a portfolio of products in fast moving consumer goods, hotels, paperboards, and paper, packaging and agri-business.
“His vision to make societal value creation a bedrock of corporate strategy also led ITC to become a global exemplar in sustainability and the only company in the world to be carbon positive, water positive and solid waste positive for over a decade,” said Sanjiv Puri, ITC MD, according to a PTI report.
Under his leadership, ITC was also successful in warding a takeover threat from its largest shareholder, British American Tobacco (BAT).
Under him, ITC unveiled the e-choupal project which aimed at changing India’s rural economy. The pioneering farmer empowerment initiative is now the world’s largest rural digital infrastructure and is a case study at the Harvard Business School.
ITC Ltd now has a gross sales value of 10 billion dollars (about Rs 70,000 crore) and market capitalization of 50 billion dollars (about Rs 35 lakh crore).
He stepped down from the executive role in 2017 but continued to hold a non-executive role.
In 2011, Deveshwar was conferred with the Padma Bhushan, award, India’s third-highest civilian award.
Extending his condolences, Puri said: “We deeply mourn the passing away of Y.C. Deveshwar, Chairman ITC. In this hour of profound grief and sorrow, we recall with respect and pride the legendary stewardship he provided to ITC over two decades as its Chairman.
“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.”
Deveshwar, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Harvard Business School, was invited by the Indian government, early in his career between 1991 and 1994, to serve as the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, a period that is remembered for a turnaround in the national carrier with consistent profitability.
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. He was also on the Board of Air India.