Indian Oil Corporation's director for planning and business development, Naresh Kumar Nayyar was crucial to the company's overseas ambitions, whether in dealing with the Iranians for liquefied natural gas or being in the race for refineries overseas.
Nayyar was a crucial negotiator with the West Bengal government for getting a stake in Haldia Petrochemicals and was nominated by IOC on its board. He was also chairman of the Lanka IOC Pvt Ltd.
So, getting him as the CEO of ONGC-Mittal Energy Ltd is a good catch. Senior IOC officials say the petrochemical business and the Sri Lankan operations will suffer a setback with Nayyar's exit.
Widely respected for his composure and the ability to combine finance and strategic planning skills while negotiating international deals, the 53-year-old Nayyar was a thorough IOC-man after having served the company for almost three decades.
He joined IOC in 1970 and rose on to become its director in October 2002 after having handled assignments in finance, treasury and international trade.
Prior to his appointment as director, he was responsible for planning and monitoring crude oil imports for public sector refineries, besides overseeing foreign exchange management for oil imports.
A chartered accountant and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Nayyar is viewed as a "good strategist" with good contacts in the global oil and gas industry.
A man of few words, he was also in the race for IOC's chairmanship but lost out to Sarthak Behuria who had the experience of running Bharat Petroleum Corporation.
This could be perhaps one of the reasons why he chose to move out and command the reins in OEML, the new venture of upstream major ONGC and steel baron LN Mittal.
Would he be able to grow out of the shadow of ONGC Chairman Subir Raha and Mittal? "He has a mind of his own. He is frank and independent in his opinions," says a former IOC hand under whom Nayyar worked for about a decade.
OEML is a private company that will use Mittal's contacts and ONGC's expertise for getting into the oil and gas exploration business that has become intensely competitive.
Free of bureaucratic strings, the company is seen as being more independent and promising than ONGC Videsh.
Nayyar, who is likely to join later in November, will be chalking out business plans for the new company without being part of the board. Initially, the company will have only part-time directors and, therefore, from strategising to tying up for finances, Nayyar will have a crucial role.
The independence of a private company and an attractive pay package (some say it runs into few crores) may be the clinching factors for Nayyar's switching jobs.
This may be a loss to IOC but his association with the OMEL will ensure talent is retained in the industry.