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Home / Companies / News /  Wipro’s Azim Premji, T.K. Kurien get hefty raises even as firm lags industry

Bangalore: Wipro Ltd’s billionaire chairman Azim Premji and chief executive officer T.K. Kurien received hefty raises in 2013-14, a year in which the Bangalore-based software services firm lagged industry growth.

In the year ended March, Premji’s annual compensation, which includes variable pay and other benefits, more than doubled to about $1.71 million, up from $733,827 in the previous year. Premji’s pay was boosted mainly by the variable component, which more than doubled.

Kurien—who completed three years as CEO in January this year—also took home a higher pay of about $1.1 million compared with $888,228 last year, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.

The jump comes when Wipro is struggling to catch up with larger rivals such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) and Infosys Ltd. in 2013-14, Wipro’s revenue growth of 6.4% was the slowest among the top five Indian outsourcing firms. According to industry lobby Nasscom, software export revenue grew by 13% in 2013-14.

Even former sector bellwether Infosys, which till last year was one of the laggards of India’s $118-billion information technology industry, managed to post double-digit revenue growth. Wipro last posted double-digit revenue growth in 2011-12, when Kurien had just taken over as CEO after the company ditched its joint-CEO structure.

The salaries of Wipro’s top executives compare favourably with the pay of top officers at rival firms. Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. CEO Francisco D’Souza, also a board member at General Electric Co., took home a package of nearly $1.5 million in 2013, including bonuses and incentives, while president Gordon Coburn raked in roughly $1.4 million.

At Bangalore-based Infosys, president B.G. Srinivas—widely seen as a top contendor to become the company’s first non-founder CEO—earned a package of nearly $1.28 million.

The annual salaries of Premji and Kurien, however, do not include their dividend earnings from shareholding in Wipro.

“If you look at the pay packages of all the top CEOs of companies like Infosys, TCS and Wipro, their annual compensation portion has seen only a gradual increase over the past 5-10 years. Where they obviously make most of their money is from their shareholdings and most of these companies have been pretty generous to the top executives in terms of stock options over the past few years," said a recruitment head at a hiring firm. He did not want to be named.

Premji and his family’s dividend earnings amounted to nearly $247 million from the 73.44% stake that they hold in Wipro, according to Bloomberg data. Premji was worth $14.4 billion on 20 May, according to Forbes data.

However, Premji—credited with transforming Wipro from a vegetable oil maker to a top outsourcing firm—is known to donate a significant portion of his wealth to charity. Premji had begun to set the stage for his retirement and started handing over executive responsibilities to professional managers working under him at Wipro, Mint reported last year.

Premji is also in the process of setting up a philanthropic organization that is modelled on the lines of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a report in The Economic Times on 13 May.

In 2013, after signing up with the Giving Pledge, a public campaign launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages the world’s richest people to donate most of their wealth to philanthropic endeavours, Premji made his biggest donation of almost $2.2 billion, or about 21% of his Wipro stake, to a trust that funds his Azim Premji Foundation, which focuses on education.

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