With just a few hours to go before the winners of the FE CFO Awards 2017 are announced, the mood is already celebratory.
Bibek Debroy, member, NITI Aayog, will deliver the keynote address at the awards ceremony in the city. And cheering the winners all the way to the stage, at the very first edition of the CFO Awards, will be the who’s who of the financial world.
The winning performances – across six categories – were picked by a high-powered jury chaired by R Seshasayee, chairman, Infosys. The other members were YM Deosthalee, chairman, L&T Finance Holdings, Leo Puri, MD, UTI Asset Management, Pradip Shah, chairman, IndAsia Fund Advisors, and Amit Chandra, MD, Bain Capital.
Assessing performances of 150 firms, when many of them are equally good, can be a gruelling task. In the end, the collective wisdom and experience of the jury ensured that merit prevailed.
The jury also felt Deosthalee, former director and CFO, Larsen & Toubro, deserved the award for Lifetime Achievement. Deosthalee successfully managed the complex financial portfolio at the engineering giant for more than two decades. Given the group has business interests across sectors and transactions in a host of currencies and commodities, the risks were enormous. Deosthalee, currently chairman, L&T Finance Holdings, ensured all risks were covered, all exposures hedged and that the treasury operations were robust.
R Shankar Raman, director and CFO of L&T, will walk away with the CFO of the Year award. Shankar Raman has managed the finances of L&T at a time when growth is subdued and cash flows are slow. His excellent management of working capital has ensured that L&T has more than weathered the storm. The company’s working capital-to-sales ratio has always been reined in and is actually trending down.
The number crunching was done by Deloitte, the knowledge partner for the awards, which ensured all the right ratios were used to arrive at shortlists. The competition was keen. For instance, the top-20 candidates in the category for manufacturing companies with a turnover of over R1,000 crore per annum included several pharmaceuticals names like Ajanta Pharma, Torrent Pharma, Sun Pharma and Lupin; FMCG firms like Emami, Hindustan Unilever and Dabur; PSUs like Coal India; and automakers like Bajaj Auto. Similarly, the shortlisted firms in the Rs 500-1,000 crore (services) category included names like Just Dial, housing finance companies like Repco and GIC Housing, real estate companies like Sunteck Realty and Ashiana Housing, and media companies like TV Today and ENIL.