72-year-old Pradip Kumar Khaitan is the favourite for India Inc in their choice of independent directors. Khaitan the managing partner of Khaitan & Co has a seat on the board of 14 companies.
Kolkata-based Khaitan, an expert in commercial and corporate tax laws, will however have to resign from the directorship in seven companies as per the latest norms of the Securities and Exchange Board India. “I hope Sebi will give some time. I agree that one director can’t devote full attention to many companies. There’re many other capable directors in India,” he said.
Khaitan is one on the long list of 93 directors who between them account for a third of India’s list of independent directors. Between them the 283 directors held positions in all NSE-listed companies. He is followed by 82-year-old Rajendra Ambalal Shah, senior partner of Crawford Bayley & Company who has served as chairman of the Indian arms of several multinational firms such as Pfizer Limited, Clariant Chemicals (India), Procter & Gamble and Godrfrey Philips.
Last week, the market regulator has cut to seven the maximum directorships a person can hold. The Companies Act passed by Parliament in the winter session was more liberal at 10. “This is a drastic cut in directorships by the regulator. We will have to comply with the law. I will have to resign from the boards of six companies. I have been giving my inputs based on my experience in all the companies where I have been a director,” said Anil Haris, another independent director who is preparing to quit from the boards of six companies.
Under the guidelines. Sebi’s new corporate governance norms for independent directors has stipulated that a person can serve as an independent director on the boards of a maximum seven listed companies and a maximum of three listed companies in case the person is serving as a whole-time director in a listed company. “This is a drastic cut in directorships by the regulator. We will have to comply with the law. I will have to resign from the boards of six companies though I have been giving my inputs based on my experience in all the companies where I have been a director,” said Harish.