Is Ashneer Grover’s exit from BharatPe on the cards?: The month-long Ashneer Grover saga may be over in another 15-20 days’ time as he plans his exit from fintech platform BharatPe which he co-founded, sensing that he might be asked to go by the Board when two simultaneous internal probes come to conclusions, according to people aware of the matter.
While Alvarez and Marsal, a leading management consultant and risk advisory firm, is expected to submit its report into financial irregularities at the firm during Grover’s time in about 10-15 days, global audit firm PwC has also been roped in auditing the functioning of the fintech platform.
Sources said Ashneer may decide to sell his 9.5 per cent stake in BharatPe at around $1 billion valuation – much lower than the earlier reported figure of Rs 4,000 crore that he may have received from selling his stake at an earlier $6 billion valuation from the company he co-founded in 2018 with its headquarters in New Delhi.
Ashneer planning an early exit from BharatPe signals that the audits may bring bad news as according to reports, Alvarez and Marsal have indicated financial irregularities like payments of Rs 53.25 crore to non-existent entities during his tenure, along with irregularities in recruitment processes.
Ashneer’s wife Madhuri Grover served as head of control at BharatPe since its incorporation and headed procurement and admin departments.
BharatPe board’s decision to hire PwC for an independent audit is also seen as a step towards terminating the services of Ashneer and his wife.
According to the share purchase agreement, the Board needs a certificate from one of the Big Four audit firms to reveal that financial irregularities happened. BharatPe’s latest articles of association (AoA) mentions the role of one of the top four accounting firms when major decisions regarding founders like this are to be finalised.
“…gross negligence or wilful misconduct by such founder, as determined by a Big 4 firm, which does not have any relation with the company, after which the board shall, through a simple majority, take a decision on such cause event based on the report shared by the appointed Big 4 firm after following principles of natural justice,” according to the AoA.
Meanwhile, the other BharatPe Co-founder, Shashvat Mansukhbhai Nakrani, last week denied that he gave his consent, as claimed by Ashneer, to remove new CEO Suhail Sameer from the Board of BharatPe.
Nakrani and Grover had jointly nominated Sameer as a director of the fintech platform on August 20 last year.