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Another scion rises on the Indian IT horizon

Last updated on: August 01, 2013 09:30 IST

Another scion rises on the Indian IT horizon

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Surabhi Agarwal in New Delhi

She is just about thirty, has studied media at the undergraduate level and holds an MBA in social enterprise. Roshni Nadar-Malhotra might have, even publicly, said she never wanted to be associated with information technology (IT). However, there’s a certain buzz as she, the only heir to the over-$6-billion HCL group, joins the board of a group company.

On Wednesday, HCL announced that Roshni, daughter of HCL Founder & Chairman Shiv Nadar, had been appointed non-executive director on the board of HCL Tech — the software arm of the group. At present, she is the chief executive of HCL Corporation, the holding company for HCL Tech and HCL Infosystems that manages the family’s stake in the firms.

She is also the trustee of Shiv Nadar Foundation, the philanthropic initiative of the family which works for the cause of education.

The statement issued by the company did not elaborate on the trigger for the move, or what was the larger strategy at play. The Nadars, too, were not immediately available for comment.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Facebook

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However, HCL Tech’s CEO Anant Gupta told Business Standard that Roshni’s induction to the board was to represent the promoter family, which held a 61.92 per cent stake in the company as of June 2013. But, asked if it was a signal that Roshini would play a larger operational role in the company in the future, Gupta said it was difficult to predict.

“Overall, it is a very positive move… She will bring diversity on the board from an age perspective.” Earlier this year, Shiv Nadar had said she would take over as the chairman of HCL Corp but had not given a timeline for that.

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Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

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According to experts, like the country’s several other family-driven businesses and larger IT peers Infosys and Wipro, HCL also lacked clarity on a succession plan.

The topic has gained momentum, especially after the 30-year-old Rohan Murty joined Infosys as executive assistant to his father N R Narayana Murthy, who made a comeback as the company’s executive chairman.

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Image: Rohan Murty.
Photographs: Courtesy, eecs.harvard.edu

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Also, in April this year, Rishad, Azim Premji’s elder son and strategy officer of Wipro Ltd, was inducted as non-executive director on the board of Wipro Enterprises.

And, earlier this month, when Premji skipped the post-earnings press conference — for the first time ever — it led to murmurs that his retirement could be near and there could be further elevation for Rishad.

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Image: Employees walk in the Wipro campus in Bangalore. Inset: Rishad Premji.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters; Rishad's image courtesy Wipro

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Jaideep Mehta, country manager of IT research & consultancy firm IDC India, said the timing of succession issues at Infosys, Wipro and HCL seemed juxtaposed due to the phase in which the Indian IT industry currently was. In terms of age, its first generation was nearing retirement, making transition to the next generation imminent.

“It always benefits the company to communicate to investors its succession plan clearly and as early as possible.” he said.

He however, added all three seemed to be different situations.

“Infosys is a special case, where the founder has returned to put the company back on the growth path. And, there’s very little chance of Rohan taking over in the future, as Murthy has very small shareholding in the company.”

But, at both Wipro and HCL, promoters have dominant shareholding. So, it seems Rishad is being groomed and might perhaps become the chief executive in the future.

“In the case of HCL, Roshni’s induction looks more like promoter representation, as the company has never hinted at her taking on the reigns.”

Brokerage firm CLSA’s Nimish Joshi said in his post-earnings note on HCL that Roshini had so far been involved in charitable activities through Shiv Nadar Foundation.

“It will be interesting to see how her role shapes up ahead.”

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Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

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The younger Nadar

Roshni Nadar, 31, is the only daughter of Shiv & Kiran Nadar

Current position: CEO of HCL Corp, the holding firm for HCL Tech and HCL Infosystems

Philanthropy: Trustee of Shiv Nadar Foundation

Marriage: To Shikhar Malhotra — a distributor for Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, and CEO of Shiv Nadar School

Education: An undergraduate course in radio, TV & films from US’ Northwestern University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management

Pre-HCL: Worked as  news producer at SkyNews & CNN


Photographs: Reuters

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