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Premji frames succession plan
February 04, 2005 09:40 IST
Last Updated: February 04, 2005 09:42 IST
Wipro Chairman Azim H. Premji, 59, has drawn up a succession plan, but little is known of the contents except that it has been disclosed to the board of directors.
Premji, who is ranked among the top 25 billionaires in the world, has an 84 per cent stake in the company.
The plan, cloaked in secrecy, is also unlikely to be unveiled any time now. The famously media-shy Premji took on the mantle of leadership of Wipro at the age of 21 in 1966 upon the sudden demise of his father.
Over the years he has transformed the then fledgling 2-million hydrogenated cooking fat company to a $1.76-billion IT services giant.
Persons familiar with the company said there is no prescribed retirement age for the chairman. The tenure is decided by the nomination and corporate governance committee of the board that comprises external directors.
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There is talk in tech circles here that it may only be a matter of time before his children become involved in the business. Though there is speculation that the eldest son, Rishad, has already joined Wipro, persons familiar with the corporation vehemently deny these rumours.
"He hasn't joined yet," said a person close to the family.
Rishad Premji, 28, is believed to be studying management at Harvard University after brief stints with a few companies including General Electric.
The younger son, Tariq, 25, is involved with Azim Premji Foundation which was set up with financial resources contributed by Premji. Premji had briefly touched upon the subject of succession during a media interview in June 1998.
Rishad was then 21 and doing a summer project with Barclays in London, while Tariq was in his teens.
He had said then that his sons might not even join Wipro Corporation. "There is a lot of talent within Wipro Corporation. Typically, we identify at least two potential successors," he had said.
Premji had also hastily added that he had no immediate plans to hang up his boots.
He had then said that Wipro has a "powerful" succession plan in place for the top 10 per cent and bottom 10 per cent of employees, those who have put in five years and those who are critical for the company. "And that includes the chairman's job."
In 1998, Wipro was an Rs 1,827 crore corporation. Wipro closed FY 2004 with revenues of Rs 5,881 crore. Wipro's workforce has also increased four-fold over this period.
There is speculation that Premji may adopt more of a mentoring role over the next few years. But those familiar with the punishing work schedule of Premji--often among the first to report for work--say this was unlikely in the near to medium term.
Industry officials say that framing a succession plan is only in tune with best global practises and there was little to be read into it at this juncture.
And till such time as the reclusive billionaire decides to shed some light, the contents of his plan may remain in the realm of speculation.