Durvasula tackles pandemic challenges as Essar’s new legal chief

Badrinath Durvasula

Indian multinational Essar’s new senior vice president and head of legal will hit the ground running to tackle challenges thrown up by the pandemic.

Badrinath Durvasula took over his new role on 1 June, joining from Hindustan Construction Company, where he was vice president and general counsel. “I’ve already started looking at areas where I can help with resolving disputes and arriving at commercial settlements,” Durvasula told India Business Law Journal.

He will focus on infrastructure projects across the Gulf Co-operation Council countries, and will also advise on Essar’s UK refinery, and steel mills and mining projects in the US and Canada.

“We are alive to the fact that this pandemic is not going to end overnight or on a specific date,” said Durvasula. “Management has come to grips with this and we have been putting alternative strategies in place.”

Among the challenges he faces, Durvasula said new assignments and new bids had been delayed, ongoing projects to which Essar was committed had ground to a halt, and the talent for these projects was not available due to lockdown restrictions and other issues.

“These are all project-centric activities, so we need mobilization of manpower,” he said. “It has impacted shipping, ports, infrastructure projects, our order book position, new bids, and also the realization of sums where we have crossed milestones. So even cash flow has been impacted.”

Despite all of this, Durvasula said Essar has had no retrenchments. “Essar has a consistent employee-centric attitude, they are very caring to employees and have remained so throughout the crisis. Many employees have been around for decades.”

Durvasula has previously held senior in-house positions at Adani, Larsen & Toubro, Binani Industries, United Phosphorus, Great Offshore and Reliance Industries.