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Fintech company BharatPe is transitioning from an individual-focused company to a professionally-run entity with a new board coming in, chairman Rajnish Kumar said. The company is now focused on achieving profitability over the next 6-10 months, said Kumar, who previously served as chairman of State Bank of India, which led the bailout of private lender Yes Bank in 2020. Edited excerpts from an interview:

There are news reports that BharatPe’s co-founder Bhavik Koladiya quit following disagreements with the company. What led to his exit?

Bhavik, along with Shashvat Nakrani, are the original founders. In the last five years, Bhavik has been acting as a consultant at BharatPe. So, after having contributed to building the company, there is a fairly large team that looks after day-to-day operations. The company has matured. It is now a professionally managed firm. In a couple of days, there will be an expanded board. BharatPe is transitioning from an individually-driven company to a professionally-run company. As far as the guidance or advice is concerned, that will continue to be available. Bhavik’s consulting period for five years is coming to an end. In what form or shape the new contract has been signed, that the company will decide, keeping in mind the individual’s own compulsions and desires; we should not read too much.

There have been talks that the company is in settlement talks with Ashneer. What is the status?

Ashneer is a shareholder. Rest of the matter is with the company and him.

Are you disappointed with what happened between BharatPe and Ashneer?

I always believe jo bhi hota hai theekh hi hota hai. If you look at the company’s perspective, there has been a complete change as far as corporate governance is concerned. Now, the predictions are clear that the company will be professionally driven, fully compliant with regulations. As I mentioned, the company has reached a stage that it will not be dependent on a single individual. Any company which wants to grow beyond a certain point, the company must have own strengths to survive without depending too much on an individual. It is now more about team and business strategy. To that extent, whatever has happened, as far as performance of the business is concerned, there is no impact. The focus is on how the company will become profitable. Within next 6-10 months, the company will become profitable.

What about plans for an IPO?

We are preparing for that. 18-24 months is the timeframe we are looking at.

You had stitched together the Yes Bank restructuring plan. Are you happy with how the bank has transformed over the last 2 years?

From SBI’s perspective, investment was made at 10.40. There was a lot of concern that taxpayers’ money is being thrown. So, all those naysayers have been proved wrong. In the sense that even if whatever is the price today, SBI can easily get 50% return in three years’ time, which is a decent return. From an investment perspective, no cost for the company. (It is also about) the national duty of saving a bank the size of Yes Bank. If SBI had not stepped in, what would have happened to depositors? What would have been the impact on private sector? From that perspective, it has been a satisfactory opportunity.

Since the time the founder stepped down, according to you, what has changed at Yes Bank?

Yes Bank now has a professional board. The first thing after restructuring, there was liquidity infusion, capital infusion. But what is important is the governance philosophy of the bank. Rest of the things, they didn’t go for a change of the management. Once again, this strengthens the point that if you have a board which has transparency, acts independently and the key management, including MD and CEO, are allowed to operate with freedom, then things can be turned around. Eventually, what changed is the board and managing director and chief executive officer. Rest of the things are the same.

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