Subhash Chandra's ASC Enterprises gets new chief in Punit Goenka

MUMBAI: One more piece of the big picture that media mogul Subhash Chandra has envisioned for his group of companies has been fit into its slot. Elder son Punit Goenka, who has been groomed for the job, formally takes over as group president & CEO of ASC Enterprises Limited (ASCEL) Group of Companies effective 1 February.

Current CEO Jai Singh, who oversaw the building of the new ASC as a holding company for multiple businesses, steps down at close of business tomorrow. Singh will continue to be on the board of Agrani Satellite Services Limited (ASSL) in an advisory role but it will be Goenka, currently senior V-P business development, who will be running things. 

Punit Goenka takes over at a time when Chandra's long in gestation Agrani satellite project is all set to finally kick off with, according to Singh, financial closure just weeks away. Singh sees 18 months as the lead time required for the satellite to be up and operational once closure comes through.

Announcing the change, Chandra "expressed his regret at Jai Singh's decision to step down in order to return to UK to spend more time with his family, but said that he understood the need. Chandra thanked Jai Singh for his leadership role in and contributions to the building of the new and expressed satisfaction that his advice and guidance will continue to be available," an official release states. 

Jai Singh said that it had been his privilege to have worked over the last 41 months with Chandra and the ASC Team in making the new ASCEL. The new, recast ASCEL as a holding Company has given birth to three companies - Agrani Convergence Ltd, rolling out Agrani Switch technology retail stores with 12 stores already in operation; Agrani Wireless Services Ltd which, with the acquisition of four operating public mobile radio trunking services (PMRTS) companies within the group in 2001, now has India's largest PMRTS operations; and Agrani Satellite at the threshold of transitioning into its implementation phase.

In addition, during this period Chandra, through Agrani Holdings (Mauritius) Limited, also partnered Craig McCaw, the US Wireless Pioneer, in New ICO.

With top class basic teams and leadership already in place in ASC and its enterprises, which are only going to get stronger with time, Jai Singh said it was a "convenient time for him as well as ASC for him to step down in order to return to his family in the UK."

Punit Goenka began his career in 1993 with the Essel Group, he has held various senior full-time positions in other Group Companies. Since December 1997, he has been involved in ASCEL, initially as V-P, co-ordination and operations.

Punit Goenka takes the reins at ASCEL exactly five months after Chandra's younger son Amit Goenka took over as MD of Zee Interactive Learning Systems Limited on 1 September 2001. Amit Goenka took over from Uma Ganesh who resigned from ZILS, after steering the company for a few years.

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