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Wipro Enterprises may appoint Rishad Premji to its board
[December 27, 2012]

Wipro Enterprises may appoint Rishad Premji to its board

BANGALORE, Dec 27, 2012 (Mint - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Wipro Enterprises Ltd, the consumer care and lighting business subsidiary of India's third largest software services provider Wipro Ltd, will promote company veterans Pratik Kumar and Vineet Agrawal as board members of the recently spun-off firm, two people directly involved in the plan said on condition of anonymity.

Wipro Enterprises is also evaluating if Rishad Premji, the son of the company's billionaire chairman Azim Premji, and chief strategy officer of Wipro's information technology (IT) business, could be appointed on the board to represent the family's 80% shareholding in it.

If this happens, it will be the first time the Premji scion gets on to the board of a Wipro business unit; he joined the company in 2007.

A Wipro spokesman didn't respond to an email query sent on Thursday.

"It cannot be ruled out but no final decision has been taken yet," one of the two people cited above said, with reference to Rishad Premji's appointment. Rishad Premji is already on the board of the Azim Premji Foundation, a philanthropic arm that works in the area of education.

"While it's a possibility and something is being considered because of the family's shareholding, a final call is yet to be taken," the second person said.

A separate board for the newly created consumer products company will provide opportunities to veteran leaders Kumar and Agrawal to play a bigger role in making strategic decisions as part of the unit's highest decision making body.

Indeed, for years, Wipro's software services business that accounts for 94% of the group's operating profit and 86% of overall revenue, has hogged all the limelight from investors, media and experts tracking the company.

"We will also be looking to bring independent directors and anybody else needed to be a part of the board and can help in direction setting," a third person aware of the plan said, also asking not to be identified.

Premji's family, which includes his sons Rishad and Tariq and wife Yasmeen Premji, will hold 80% in Wipro Enterprises after necessary shareholder and regulatory approvals are obtained. Wipro will hold a meeting of shareholders on Friday to obtain approval for the spin-off after the Karnataka high court order of 26 November.

Azim Premji will be the non-executive chairman of Wipro Enterprises, the company said on 1 November. Wipro Enterprises will comprise Wipro's consumer, medical diagnostics and infrastructure businesses, which together contribute less than 15% of Wipro's sales and just 6% of its operating profits. The new company will remain unlisted and Wipro has no plans to take it public.

The non-IT businesses of Wipro have debt of Rs.200 crore and, according to Mint calculations, are together valued at Rs.10,500 crore. Wipro announced the plan to spin off its non-IT businesses into a separate company so as to focus on its IT business on 1 November.

Wipro shares rose 0.4% to Rs.386.50 at around 3pm on BSE Ltd on Thursday; the benchmark Sensex index was down 0.1% at 19,392.64.

___ (c)2012 the Mint (New Delhi) Visit the Mint (New Delhi) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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