Kumar promises return to profit at MRPL

Vol 17, PW 12 (30 Jan 14) People & Policy

Hariharan Kumar is a man on a mission.

Kumar, 55, HPCL executive director corporate strategy and planning, was selected on January 22 to replace PP Upadhyay, who retires on July 31 as MD of ONGC subsidiary Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals (MRPL). Speaking to this report, Kumar promised to reverse MRPL’s fortunes when he takes over on August 1 this year.

His main objective is to settle shareholder fears over last year’s Rs477cr ($77m) pre-tax loss. "MRPL shares are not doing well," admits Kumar.

Cost escalation linked to the refinery’s Phase-III expansion and the temporary shutdown last year over a water shortage is to blame, adds Kumar, who says his first priority is to reverse losses and focus on a strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme - key to winning political and community support. Kumar's challenges include integrating new processing units and sourcing crude from new countries following curbs on Iranian imports.

Kumar hasn't visited MRPL for a long time but says he worked there from 1993 till 1998, building the LPG import facility. He also oversaw the construction of a 365-km product pipeline from Mangalore to Bangalore.

ONGC acquired a controlling stake in MRPL from the Aditya Birla Group in August 2002 and holds 71.62% in the refinery; HPCL holds 16.95% with the public and others holding 11.43%.

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