Software services and consultancy major Wipro Ltd’s board has announced founder Azim Premji's elder son Rishad as its new executive chairman for five years till July 2024. Chief strategy officer Rishad, who will take over as chairman from his 73-year-old father when he retires after his term finishes next month, has been working with Wipro since 2007 and has been on the board since 2015.
Chief executive Abidali Neemuchwala will take over the additional post of managing director position from Azim when he steps down. Azim will remain on the Wipro board as a non-executive director and founder chairman. These changes will be effective from 31 July, subject to shareholder approval, the company said.
As chief strategy officer, Rishad led Wipro’s merger and acquisition strategy and conceptualised Wipro Ventures, a $100 million fund to invest in startups developing new-generation technologies. Before Wipro, Rishad worked with Bain & Co. in London and was also associated with GE Capital in the US. He did his graduation in economics from Wesleyan University and holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School.
Azim, who has led the company for 53 years and transformed it from a cooking oil maker to one of India's biggest technologies firms, is one of the country's most prolific philanthropists with his contribution standing at about $7.5 billion. Azim was born in July 1945 and took over the reins of Wipro in the 1960s.
The billionaire has committed a significant portion of his wealth to charity. In March, Azim allocated economic benefits from nearly 34% of the company’s shares held by entities that he controls to philanthropy, the Azim Premji Foundation said at the time.
"I plan to devote more time to focus on our philanthropic activities," Azim Premji said on Thursday.
The Premji family and other entities hold around 74% of Wipro’s shares. The firm is valued at around $25 billion at today's share price.
Bengaluru-headquartered IT firm Wipro was founded as a hydrogenated cooking fat company in Maharashtra. Now, the company has $8.5 billion in IT revenue.
The group also has another $2 billion from its FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), furniture, lighting, engineering and medical devices businesses under its privately-held Wipro Enterprises Ltd. Azim will remain chairman of Wipro Enterprises apart from continuing to chair the board of Wipro GE Healthcare.