Ola names former SAB Miller executive Shalabh Seth as leasing subsidiary CEO

Ola appoints Shalabh Seth as the chief executive of its leasing subsidiary Ola Fleet Technologies to help grow the supply of cars


An alumnus of BITS Pilani, and INSEAD, Shalabh Seth worked with ITC between 1993 and June 2001 before joining SAB Miller India. 
An alumnus of BITS Pilani, and INSEAD, Shalabh Seth worked with ITC between 1993 and June 2001 before joining SAB Miller India. 

Bengaluru: Ride-hailing service Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) has appointed former SAB Miller India executive Shalabh Seth as the chief executive of its leasing subsidiary Ola Fleet Technologies Pvt. Ltd to help grow the supply of cars, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I am very excited about Shalabh joining us to lead the leasing business, which is a key strategic priority for us. Shalabh brings in valuable experience in managing a large and complex business and we believe he is rightly equipped to take Ola’s leasing business to the next level and I look forward to working with him,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and chief executive at Ola, in a statement.

An alumnus of Birla Institute of Technology, Pilani, and INSEAD, Seth worked with ITC Ltd between 1993 and June 2001 before joining SAB Miller India, where he played different roles such as director of supply chain, director of sales and managing director.

Ola launched the cab-leasing programme in September 2015. Ola had then said that it, along with financing partners and carmakers, will invest Rs5,000 crore towards this cab-leasing programme over the coming year.

Ola bet that the leasing programme will help bring in thousands of new cars on its platform and gain an edge over Uber. The company had partnered with Maruti Suzuki India Ltd and Nissan Motor India at the launch. Earlier this month, Ola struck a deal with automaker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd to finance vehicles for more than 40,000 of its drivers by 2018. The alliance is worth Rs2,600 crore.

In September 2015, the company appointed Rahul Maroli, a former LeasePlan Corp. NV executive, to build the leasing business.

It is important for Ola to grow the leasing programme quickly because the supply of cabs has stagnated since late last year after a two-year surge when the attraction of professional independence and high earnings brought cab drivers in hordes to Ola and rival Uber India.

But a slower-than-expected growth of the business has prompted Ola to make changes to its leasing business. Apart from lowering the upfront payment and forgoing commissions, Ola has also increased the lease tenure by six months to 48 months, to keep the drivers on its platform for a longer period. Ola is persuading drivers to sign up with a lower upfront payment for cabs, zero commissions and new car models, Mint reported on 21 September.

While Ola has been trying to strengthen its senior leadership team, some of its key hires have resigned in the last one year. For instance, Sundeep Sahni, a former executive at e-commerce firm Lazada Indonesia who was hired as vice-president of new initiatives, and Abhimanyu Rawal, head of Ola’s luxury car business, quit the company since December.

Earlier in 2015, Harsha Kumar, associate vice-president of products, and Rushil Goel, head of the payments business had quit.

To be sure, Uber India also runs a leasing programme through its wholly-owned subsidiary Xchange Leasing India Pvt. Ltd. Between January and September last year, Uber invested about Rs240 crore in the entity, Mint reported on 13 October.

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