Azim Premji will step down from his role as executive chairman and MD on 31 July.
Azim Premji will step down from his role as executive chairman and MD on 31 July.

More changes at Wipro after Premji’s adieu as two board members set to retire next month

  • Premji, the billionaire philanthropist, wants to devote more time to charitable causes through his foundation
  • A board reconstitution will be the least of worries for Rishad, who will work to put Wipro back on the growth path

Wipro Ltd’s lead independent director Narayanan Vaghul and chairman of the board’s nomination and remuneration panel Ashok Ganguly will retire next month, said a Wipro executive familiar with the development, marking an end to their more than two-decade-long stint with India’s fourth-largest information technology services company.

Both Vaghul and Ganguly were re-appointed for a three-year term in 2016, which ends on 31 July, when Azim Premji too will step down from his role as executive chairman and managing director, after having led the Bengaluru-based company for more than half a century.

Premji, the billionaire philanthropist, wants to devote more time to charitable causes through his foundation, to which he has given two-thirds of his wealth totalling $21 billion.

Premji, who turns 74 in July, will continue as a non-executive director and founder chairman as his elder son Rishad Premji takes over as chairman at Wipro, which was founded in 1945.

Still, a board reconstitution will be the least of worries for Rishad, who will work to put Wipro back on the growth path.

In January, Wipro had appointed former chairperson of State Bank of India Ltd Arundhati Bhattacharya as an independent director. It had also reappointed independent director Ireena Vittal for a five-year term last October, ensuring the company need not find a replacement for both Vaghul and Ganguly, said the executive cited above.

Wipro’s eleven-member board comprises three executive members, including Azim Premji, Rishad Premji, and chief executive Abidali Neemuchwala, besides eight independent directors. The current term of the six other directors continues till 2021.

A Wipro spokesperson said the company “does not comment on speculation". “Any such decision will be taken by the Board of Directors of Wipro Limited based on the recommendation of the Nominations Committee and will be communicated to the stock exchanges," the person added.

Vaghul, 83, first served as nominee director of ICICI Bank Ltd in the mid-80s when Wipro took a loan from the private lender and was first appointed as an independent director in June 1997. Ganguly, who turns 84 in July, joined the board in 1999.

“Wipro does not need to find a replacement immediately for both the outgoing directors as it inducted former Bhattacharya and extended the term of another director. This also means that other than M.K. Sharma(independent director), Wipro will have a young board, and gives enough time for Rishad to constitute the board in future," said a Mumbai-based analyst at a domestic brokerage, requesting anonymity.

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