From buyback to criticism of A M Naik: Many firsts at L&T's 73rd AGM

Engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro's (L&T's) annual general meeting (AGM) held in Mumbai on Thursday had many firsts, including the announcement of its first buyback, its first meeting post A M Naik stepping down from an executive role, and perhaps the first time a shareholder questioned Naik's long presence on the board.   

The general mood at the AGM was predictable with most shareholders supporting L&T's resolutions, which included Naik's reappointment as director, continuation as non-executive director and compensation. The meeting included a shareholder suggestion to run a monorail named Naik monorail.  

However, there was an exception. "I was forced to retire in my 50s through the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), why should Naik continue for so long," asked Prabhakar Sardesai, an ex-employee of the company and a shareholder. The AGM also saw high tension with another ex-employee and his wife choosing to use the platform to raise issues related to transfer of employees.   

In April 2017, 76-year-old Naik announced he would step down as executive chairman in September 2017 as part of a succession plan. Naik moved to the post of non-executive chairman from October 2017. S N Subrahmanyan was appointed as the company's chief executive officer and managing director in July last year.  

At the AGM on Thursday, Subrahmanyan was also seen taking turns to answer shareholder queries along with Naik.  

Among things that were similar to L&T's last AGM was Naik's address to shareholders. The company is also celebrating 80 years of its existence as Larsen & Toubro. "The tiny partnership firm set up on May 1, 1938, is now India's front-ranking engineering and construction conglomerate, operating at the upper end of the technology spectrum," he said. The meeting also saw the presence of Ole Toubro, son of the founding partner Soren Kristian Toubro. The junior Toubro, however, maintained a low-key presence among the audience.   

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