John Lau is stepping down after 17 years at the helm, and the official word at Husky Energy (OTCPK:HUSKF) is that the board has not yet settled on a successor. But sources close to the company say the heir apparent is Asim Ghosh, an Indian mobile phone magnate who recently retired as head of Vodafone-Essar.
Mr. Ghosh has a long relationship with Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong billionaire who owns a controlling stake in Husky. He is also a shrewd operator, having grown Vodafone-Essar from a bit player into India’s No. 2 cellular player.
While his background doesn’t indicate expertise in oil and gas, Mr. Ghosh currently serves as a Husky director. A Husky spokesman said Mr. Ghosh “is a member of the board like any other member,” but he is believed to already be in Calgary, preparing for his next assignment.
Mr. Ghosh worked with Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) in the U.S. before being named co-chief executive officer of Pepsi Foods in India. He took the top spot at what is now Vodafone-Essar in 1998.
Mr. Ghosh retired as Vodafone-Essar chief executive last year. Indian news outlets reported that he stepped down from the company’s board last week, in order to take on the Husky job.
From a personality perspective, Mr. Ghosh is seen as the “anti-Lau,” a personable, congenial leader whose style stands in contrast to Mr. Lau, whose style has been described as “intense” and “autocratic.”
But the two men share at least two things in common: Both are considered brilliant, both brought immense growth to the organizations they managed and both are media-shy.