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Vivek Paul, the former General Electric executive credited with transforming Wipro Technologies into India's third-largest software services company, resigned on Thursday as president and chief executive, citing the majority share ownership of the company's chairman as a factor in his departure.
Mr Paul's decision to leave for a position at Texas Pacific, the US private equity group, was the second departure this month of a senior executive from the Bangalore-based company.
In an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday, Mr Paul said “push and pull factors” ended his career with Wipro. Among the push factors, he cited the majority share ownership held by chairman Azim Premji, saying there was only so much “head space in a company where the chairman owns 84 per cent of the stock”.
Mr Paul's comments yesterday were a rare hint of disquiet at Mr Premji's reluctance to dilute his personal holding, though Wipro executives including Mr Paul had often said in the past that the company's equity and compensation culture was out of line with the industry.
This factor was seen by executives as one reason Wipro has failed to retain talent at companies acquired in developed markets in the past three years.
Ramon Roy, who set up and developed Spectramind, the call centre acquired by Wipro in 2002, quit this month to pursue his own interests. Spectramind had grown into a $160m business under Mr Roy and last month was second in the annual rankings of India's leading call centres in the $5.2bn business process outsourcing industry.
Wipro said on Thursday that Mr Premji was “disappointed but supportive” of Mr Paul's decision to quit, which ended a 15-year working partnership. Mr Paul said the business he was leaving was in “excellent shape and with sound management”.
Wipro Technologies, the IT services arm of Wipro that accounts for three-quarters of earnings and sales, has grown into a company with revenues of $1.4bn. In July 1999, when Mr Paul joined from GE, where he had managed a medical equipment joint venture with Wipro, revenues totalled $150m.
Wipro said it would not replace Mr Paul but would “deconstruct” his job between four business unit leaders who would now report directly to Mr Premji.
Mr Paul has accepted a post as partner at Texas Pacific, where his focus will be on running two technology and bio-sciences funds.
He told the FT that he was “super-excited” after informing Mr Premji of his decision last night via an e-mail from his California headquarters.