Thursday, 21 July 2011

Family Feud: Five quit board over new Hindu editor

CHENNAI: The family feud in Kasturi and Sons Ltd , publishers of The Hindu, deepened on Wednesday, with its joint managing director N Murali , editor of the newspaper N Ravi , executive editor Malini Parthasarathy , joint editor Nirmala Lakshman and another relative Nalini Krishnan resigning in protest over the appointment of Siddharth Varadarajan as editor of the newspaper. The board met and approved the appointment.
Kasturi and Sons, which manages the 133-year-old Chennai-based newspaper The Hindu and its sister publications, is in the throes of a split over governance issues. Those who resigned on Wednesday maintain the current editor-in-chief N Ram , brother of Murali and Ravi, had reneged on his promise to step down from day-to-day functioning after he turned 65. The family members are locked in a legal dispute before the Company Law Board (CLB). A section of family members even moved the Supreme Court.
Ram told TOI, "All resigned on their own. Nobody sought it and I don't expect any setback to the company. In fact, we will take the company forward." On his resignation, Ravi said, "I resigned as I found continuing in the post untenable after the appointment of a new editor."
On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the family feud and asked the CLB to conduct a day-to-day hearing of Ravi's petition against the decision to oust him and appoint Varadarajan as editor.
The apex court ordered the Company Law Board to conduct hearings from August 8. Ravi's complaint was that a faction of the owner-family, to which he belonged, was being sidelined by Ram and he had drafted a non-family member as editor of the newspaper against much qualified family members.
The battle started with the appointment of consulting firm McKinsey in 2010 to suggest measures to infuse professionalism in the organization. The consultant suggested that an outsider be appointed as editor. Based on their suggestions, Murali was stripped of his post as managing director and Varadarajan was appointed as editor.
The Ravi-led faction petitioned the CLB against the board's decision and the CLB ruled that key resolutions approved by the board of directors and the majority shareholders on personnel and structural changes couldn't be implemented. Ram appealed against the CLB decision in the Madras high court, which stayed the CLB order. Ravi appealed against the HC order in the Supreme Court.

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