Larsen & Toubro group’s top line grew 20 times to around Rs 1.83 lakh crore, bottom line soared 45 times and share price zoomed 15,000 per cent since 1999, A M Naik said as he chaired the conglomerate’s annual general meeting for the last time on Wednesday. It was in 1999 that the group diversified into IT and financial services and also made a foray into overseas markets for its flagship engineering business. That was also the year when Naik became the Chief Executive Officer of the company.
Addressing the shareholders here, Naik said it was his 25th annual general meeting after being at the helm of L&T.
“It is the last and final occasion when I have the privilege of chairing the proceedings,” Naik, who spent 58 years at L&T after joining as a junior engineer in 1965, said.
From September 30, he will become the Chairman Emeritus and but will be the Chairman of L&T Employees Trust, the largest shareholder of the engineering giant, owning a 14 per cent stake.
Between 1999, the year when Naik was made the chief executive, and 2023, his last year as executive chairman, the group’s revenue grew from Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 1,83,000 crore on a like-to-like basis, he said.
According to him, this surge, achieved largely through organic growth, has few parallels in corporate India.
During the same period, the company’s market capitalisation climbed from around Rs, 4,000 crore to around Rs 3,72,000 crore, which is a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of nearly 20 per cent, Naik said, adding the share price rallied 15,000 per cent in absolute terms.
In fiscal 2023, the company booked a standalone net income of Rs 10,471 crore, up 21 per cent on-year on a revenue Rs 1,83,341 crore, up 17 per cent.
In 1999, he was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and became the Chairman in 2003.
Addressing the 78th annual general meeting, Naik took all the credit for himself for taking the company into newer areas.
It has two IT companies — LTI Mindtree and L&T Technology Services — and large non-banking company under L&T Financial Holdings, and also has presence in the strategic areas of defence, nuclear power and aerospace.
He also expressed confidence that under the leadership of S N Subrahmanyan, who will be Chairman and MD from September 30, L&T will move from strength to strength in service of the nation and society.
While the association with infrastructure goes back over seven decades, it was only after 2006, when construction began to be more closely integrated with the rest of the company, “that we could scale up everything we did,” Naik said.
He noted that the foray into overseas geographies has the company today netting nearly one-third of the total turnover from those areas.
Such rapid growth has enabled the company to issue bonus shares four times to its shareholders in addition to the handsome dividends which they receive every year, he said.
So, one share 20 years ago is equivalent to nine shares today and what was priced at Rs 7 in 2000 is Rs 2,650 at today’s closing price on the BSE, he added.
The L&T Employee Trust now owns 14 per cent of the company worth over Rs 52,000 crore for zero investment and is the single largest shareholder.
“… to that extent, we have ring-fenced L&T against takeover attempts,” he said.
It can be noted that L&T was the takeover target many times by Reliance Industries and also the Wadias in the 1990s.