With the acquisition of ACC by the Adani family, Karan Adani has been appointed its chairman.
At 35, he is the youngest chairman of one of India’s oldest cement companies–ACC. Meet Karan Adani, the elder son of Gautam Adani. With the acquisition of ACC by the Adani family, Karan Adani has been appointed its chairman. In May 2022, the Adani family took over the India business of Switzerland-based Holcim Group, comprising the cement giants–Ambuja Cements and ACC in a 10.5-billion-dollar deal. The acquisition has made the Adanis, among the world’s richest families, the second largest cement player in India, triggering murmurs about consolidation in the cement industry.
Karan Adani—a graduate from Purdue University—joined Adani Ports & SEZ Ltd (APSEZ) in 2009, taking charge of the operations in 2016. Since his elevation to CEO, Adani Ports & SEZ (APSEZ) has registered humongous growth, becoming the number one player in the integrated ports and logistics sector. While Karan Adani has a proven track record at APSEZ, the challenges in the cement industry are different.
ACC, formerly The Associated Cement Companies, boasts of a heritage and not just history. After all, the company was the result of one of the earliest mergers in the Indian cement industry. ACC was born when 10 cement companies belonging to four prominent industrial houses of India–the Tatas, Khataus, Killick Nixon and F.E. Dinshaw–joined forces in 1936.
The first board of ACC had captains of the Indian industry among its directors—J.R.D. Tata, Ambalal Sarabhai, Walchand Hirachand, Dharamsey Khatau, Sir Akbar Hydari, Nawab Salar Jung Bahadur, and Sir Homy Mody, with Sir Nowroji B. Saklatvala as its first chairman. It is the shoes of these stalwarts that Karan Adani has to fill. Over the existence of more than eight decades of ACC, it has been consistent in one thing–being a pioneer–setting new benchmarks in research and innovation.
The company has been credited with India’s first indigenous cement plant in Chaibasa, introduction of energy efficient precalcinator technology in India, incorporation of Bulk Cement Corporation of India, a joint venture with the Government of India, among others.
ACC also takes pride in its contribution to some of India’s finest infrastructure projects—be it the Bhakra Nangal Dam or the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Such has been the popularity of the legacy cement brand that, in 2004, ACC was named a Consumer Superbrand by the Superbrands Council of India, becoming the only cement company to get the status.
While Karan Adani has inherited ACC’s legacy, the cement company his father Gautam Adani wishes to build is an animal of the future.
Given the track record of the senior Adani, he would not settle for anything less than the number one position in the cement industry. In fact, he seems to have set the bar quite high for Karan Adani by announcing a mammoth capacity expansion for ACC-Ambuja in the next five years.
To establish the standing of India’s iconic cement brand, Karan would have to reinforce its foundation. Will he cement his position? Only time will tell.