For years he has been Motown's most visible marketer. After a nearly-three-decade stint in the auto industry, Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) president BVR Subbu announced his decision to step down at the end of his term on March 31. Mr Subbu, who joined Hyundai almost at its inception in February 1997, is reportedly considering several options including raising a venture capital fund which will specialise in investments in the auto sector.
Sources say he is also considering the option of management buyouts in the auto space in markets like Europe. The idea is to use the VC fund to buy into these companies, turn them around and exit with a profit. When contacted, Mr Subbu confirmed his decision but refused to offer details of his next assignment.
“He expressed his wish to step down from the high pressure job, as he wanted to take a break. He is also keen to pursue consultancy opportunities,” official sources in the company said.However, sources in the know blamed his stepping down to “differences with the management,” even while conceding that he indicated his wish to step down a couple of times over the last two years. “He plans to start something on his own,” they added. It is also being rumoured that he might join BMW's new operations in India or Fiat.
According to them, the differences developed over the move by Hyundai Motor Corporation's (HMC) to bring in several group companies like Mobis (assembling components), Glovis (to handle entire logistics operations of the company and to sub-contract it to various fleet operators) and finally an advertising agency too from South Korea. “These moves not only stifled, but also curbed Mr Subbu's freedom,” the sources pointed out.
The company quoted its new MD Heung Soo Lheem in a statement saying, “Hyundai and Mr BVR Subbu will explore opportunities for a continued professional relationship.” Mr Subbu, for his part, said he was leaving Hyundai “with a sense of satisfaction at having helped to create a world-class organisation.”
Mr Subbu - who left Telco as GM marketing after an 18-year-stint with the company to join Hyundai - is widely credited with much of HMIL's marketing success in India. Along with market leader Maruti, Mr Subbu and Hyundai pretty much dominated the price trends in the big volume B and C segments with most other players simply taking the cue from the top two.