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Business News/ Companies / Start-ups/  Suhail Sameer to step down as CEO at BharatPe

BharatPe’s chief executive Suhail Sameer, who has been overseeing the beleaguered fintech company after it ousted co-founder Ashneer Grover alleging financial misappropriation, is stepping down from the company, a person familiar with the development said. A leadership transition is being planned at the firm, and an announcement in this regard will likely be made later this month.

Sameer’s departure will be the latest in a slew of recent top-level exits at the Tiger Global investee firm. Last month, three senior executives—chief technology officer Vijay Aggarwal, PostPe head Nehul Malhotra, and Rajat Jain, chief product officer for lending and consumer products—resigned from the company.

Nishit Sharma, the company’s chief revenue officer, left the company in June. Satyam Nathani, one of BharatPe’s founding members, also left to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions in the same month.

In the last week of June, Bhavik Koladiya, who ran the fintech firm’s technology and product divisions, stepped down in a move that has proved to be among the most consequential departures. Koladiya and Shashvat Nakrani founded BharatPe in July 2017, although the firm wasn’t incorporated till March 2018. Grover joined the company in June 2018.

Sameer has, in recent weeks, come in for personal attacks by Grover, who has responded to civil and criminal suits alleging fraud, filed by BharatPe, by unleashing a fusillade of disparaging tweets about erstwhile BharatPe colleagues.

Two people familiar with the board’s thinking said in December that the board has been scouting for a CEO and was keen to replace Sameer.

Sameer, who was previously CEO of the FMCG business at RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, joined BharatPe in August 2020 as president. When Grover’s focus shifted to getting a banking licence through the acquisition of PMC Bank and fund-raising, all top leaders at the firm were asked to report to Sameer. He also started managing day-to-day activities. In August 2021, Sameer was formally made the CEO of BharatPe.

BharatPe denied the development. “Suhail continues to be the CEO of BharatPe, and we would not like to further comment on any market speculation," a company spokesperson said.

Sameer separately responded to a Mint query over text message: “I haven’t resigned. Rumour."

In the past few months, most exits have occurred from BharatPe’s product and technology teams, which could impact the operations of Unity Small Finance Bank, which relies heavily on BharatPe for its technology capabilities. The bank is a joint venture between BharatPe and Centrum and was granted a banking licence in October 2021.

The exits also come at a time when the firm is trying to put the negative publicity around the alleged financial fraud perpetrated by Grover behind it and transform itself into a professionally run firm. The company, which is focused on achieving profitability, is also preparing itself for an IPO in 18-24 months.

The company joined the unicorn club after raising $370 million from Tiger Global in August 2021. Former SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar was appointed as chairman of BharatPe in October 2021.

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Arti Singh
Arti Singh has been a business journalist for 15 years. Over the last five years, she has closely tracked India's fintech space and written important deep-dive stores. As deputy editor, she covers the intersection of finance and tech at Mint.
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Updated: 03 Jan 2023, 06:22 AM IST
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