Bil­lion­aire Azim pledges $1.95 bil­lion of Wipro stake to char­ity

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

MUM­BAI: Azim Premji, chair­man of Wipro Ltd., plans to trans­fer shares val­ued at 88.3 bil­lion ru­pees ($1.95 bil­lion) to a trust and use the div­i­dends to fund phil­an­thropic work in In­dia.

Premji, ranked the thir­drich­est In­dian with a net worth of $17.6 bil­lion by Forbes In­dia in Septem­ber, will trans­fer 213 mil­lion shares to an "ir­rev­o­ca­ble trust," Wipro said in a state­ment to the Bom­bay Stock Ex­change yes­ter­day. The trans­fer will be com­pleted by Dec. 7, the com­pany said.

Premji is in­creas­ing his phil­an­thropic work amid a call by War­ren Buf­fett to bil­lion­aires to give more of their wealth to char­ity. Premji's trust is ex­pected to in­crease its ac­tiv­i­ties "sig­nif­i­cantly" over the next few years, ac­cord­ing to In­dia's third-largest soft­ware ex­porter. The trust may get 852 mil­lion ru­pees in div­i­dend next year, Bloomberg Div­i­dend Fore­cast shows.

"The an­nual div­i­dend is a good sum and suf­fi­cient enough to run the yearly op­er­a­tions," said Sachin Mu­lay, a spokesman for Wipro. The money will be used to run the Azim Premji Foun­da­tion and the Azim Premji Uni­ver­sity, he said.

Buf­fett said in Au­gust that he will hold more din­ners in the U.S. to en­cour­age fel­low bil­lion­aires to pledge part of their for­tunes to char­ity. He'll also ask wealthy Chi­nese and In­dian busi­ness­peo­ple to give their money away as part of the Giv­ing Pledge, he had said.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Berk­shire Hath­away Inc., whose for­tune was es­ti­mated by Forbes mag­a­zine at about $45 bil­lion, has pledged to do­nate the bulk of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, the world's largest phil­an­thropic or­ga­ni­za­tion, with goals in­clud­ing the re­duc­tion of poverty and dis­ease and the im­prove­ment of U.S. ed­u­ca­tion.

Gates said in Bei­jing Sept. 30 he may at­tend a phi­lan­thropy event in In­dia in 2011. In­di­ans gave away about $7.5 bil­lion to char­ity last year, ac­cord­ing to a March re­port by Bain & Co., com­pared with $300 bil­lion con­trib­uted by the U.S. in 2009.

Tata Group and its re­lated phi­lan­thropies do­nated $50 mil­lion in Oc­to­ber to Har­vard Busi­ness School to fund a new aca­demic and res­i­den­tial build­ing in Bos­ton for ex­ec­u­tivee­d­u­ca­tion pro­grams.

The Azim Premji Foun­da­tion, set up in 2001, works to pro­mote ele­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion in ru­ral ar­eas where a ma­jor­ity of the 1.3 mil­lion govern­ment-run schools are lo­cated, ac­cord­ing to the group's web­site. The foun­da­tion em­ploys a team of 200 pro­fes­sion­als and sev­eral hun­dred paid vol­un­teers.

Premji will con­tinue to re­tain vot­ing rights on the shares held in the trust, Wipro said. The 213 mil­lion shares con­sti­tute 8.7 per­cent of Ban­ga­lore-based Wipro's eq­uity.

Wipro has risen 4.3 per­cent this year, lag­ging be­hind the 14.4 per­cent ad­vance in the Bom­bay Stock Ex­change's bench­mark Sen­si­tive In­dex. The stock rose 1.6 per­cent to 421.5 ru­pees in Mum­bai at 10:05 a.m.

The com­pany paid a div­i­dend of 3.59 ru­pees a share this year and may pay 4 ru­pees apiece for the year end­ing March 31, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg Div­i­dend Fore­cast.

More­over, Rolta In­dia Ltd., a maker of soft­ware for com­pa­nies such as Chevron Phillips Chem­i­cal Co., ex­pects to re­turn to a profit growth this year on in­creased de­mand for its prod­ucts from In­dia's mil­i­tary.

Net in­come may rise 15 per­cent in year end­ing March 31, said Hi­ranya Ashar, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer at the Mum­baibased Rolta. -PB News

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