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Maruti Suzuki COO S. Maitra said to have resigned

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-05-2014 Amrit Raj

New Delhi: One of the three chief operating officers (COOs) stripped of executive power at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd has submitted his resignation from the country’s largest carmaker, three people with knowledge of the development said on Wednesday.

S. Maitra, previously COO (supply chain), who was designated chief mentor early this month, put in his papers, but the company is yet to accept his resignation, one of the people said. A second person confirmed the development.

Whether or not to accept the resignation is up to managing director and chief executive officer Kenichi Ayukawa to decide, said the first person. A third person said Maitra had been on leave for some time.

All three spoke on the condition of anonymity. A Maruti spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. Maitra didn’t respond to phone calls and text messages.

On 2 May, Mint first reported that Maruti Suzuki had stripped three COOs—Maitra; S.Y. Siddiqui, the COO in charge of human resources, legal affairs, finance, administration, and information technology; M.M. Singh, COO (production)—of executive powers and redesignated them as “chief mentors”.

Two of the executives— Singh and Siddiqui—were in charge during the labour strike that led to an outbreak of violence at its Manesar plant in 2012. Another Indian in a senior role, Mayank Pareek, COO of marketing and sales, was designated as senior executive officer.

People familiar with the situation said there could be more churn at the top level following Maitra’s decision.

Maitra, Siddiqui and Singh were the senior-most Indians in the company besides R.C. Bhargava, who is non-executive chairman, when the changes were made on 2 May.

The changes were the second move by Suzuki Motor Corp., the Japanese parent of Maruti, to tighten its grip over the Indian subsidiary. In April 2013, Mint reported that Suzuki was deputing two Japanese officials to keep a close watch on the plant and production activities in the company.

Toshiaki Hasuike was named joint managing director of Maruti while Toshio Ozawa was brought in as an adviser for human resource activities.

These changes redefined and limited the roles of senior executives at Maruti including Singh, Siddiqui, and Maitra.

While Singh and Maitra were directly reporting to the joint managing director, Siddiqui was working in close collaboration with the human resource adviser.

In 2012, production at Maruti’s Manesar plant, in Haryana, was disrupted by mob violence that left a senior human resource manager dead. The incident was followed by a month-long lock-out. Prior to the violence, the workers had gone on strike to press for a wage hike and other perks. Later, Maruti suspended at least 550 workers allegedly involved in the violence.

India has been driving Suzuki’s growth, with Maruti contributing 40% of the parent’s net profit. In contrast, Suzuki has pulled out of the US market, and its sales in Europe and Japan have suffered. In the last fiscal, the company’s car sales grew 0.25% to 1.05 million units in the domestic market.

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