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Premji sells Rs 7,300 crore shares in Wipro buyback

CIOInsider Team

The dawn of Indian Philanthropy ecosystem.

Azim Premji and the promoter group of WiproNSE -1.45 % Ltd have sold stock worth over a billion dollars (Rs 7,300 crore) in the buyback programme announced by India’s fourth-largest IT services company. The funds will likely be used to boost the philanthropic initiatives of India’s most generous billionaire whose onymous foundation is one of the five largest private endowments in the world and the biggest in Asia.

Wipro said on Wednesday that its founder-chairman and entities controlled by him had sold 224.6 million shares in the recent share buyback programme, amounting to about 3.96 per cent of the total equity stake held by them.

In March, Premji had gifted all the earnings from 67 per cent of Wipro shares — then valued at over Rs 1.45 lakh crore, or USD 21 billion — to the Azim Premji Foundation.

The Azim Premji Foundation works with the government as well as teachers to improve the quality of primary education in public schools across several states. “All the money Premji has committed to the trust is for philanthropy. It goes into a corpus,” said KR Lakshminarayana, chief endowment officer of Azim Premji Foundation.

“As previously disclosed, founder chairman Azim Premji has irrevocably renounced 67 per cent of the economic ownership of Wipro to the Endowment which supports the philanthropic activities of the Azim Premji Foundation,” Wipro said in a statement.

The Premji family and entities held by them own 73.83 per cent stake in the software exporter. After this buyback, promoter holding will increase to 74.05 per cent as Wipro will cancel the stock that it has bought back. Analysts are enthralled about the positive influence Premji’s initiatives might have on India’s nascent philanthropy ecosystem. This is the dawn of revolution to give to the society.

“They (Premji and his trusts) are the largest givers in this continent. They have been supporting a variety of activities such as nutrition, domestic violence, independent media, empowerment of adolescent girls and education,” said Deval Sanghavi, cofounder of venture philanthropy fund Dasra.

“As India progresses to become a middle-income country, large international donors will start pulling out. At that stage, we will need hundreds of Azim Premjis to help solve some of India’s pressing needs,” he added.

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