IT czar Azim Premji has given away almost half of his shareholding in Wipro, India’s third largest exporter of software services, towards philanthropy.
Wipro’s billionaire founder has given away an additional 18 per cent of his stake in the IT company for charity, thus earmarking a 39 per cent of stake (worth Rs 53,284 crore) for a charitable trust.
The latest philanthropic initiative by Mr Premji would pump in an additional Rs 530 crore by way of dividends into the Azim Premji Trust’s corpus this year.
Mr Premji, 69, is the first Indian to sign the Giving Pledge, sponsored by billionaires Warren Buffett and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to invite the world’s wealthiest to donate a majority of their wealth to charity.
“Over the past fifteen years, I have tried to put this belief into action through my personal philanthropic work…,” Mr Premji said in a letter to shareholders published in the company’s annual report for the year ended March 2015.
Mr Premji said, “Over these years I have irrevocably transferred a significant part of the shareholding in Wipro, amounting to 39 per cent of the shares of Wipro, to a Trust (of which ownership in 21.14 per cent was transferred and for the balance the Trust is entitled to beneficial interest of dividends and sale proceeds).”
The previously transferred 21 per cent stake was estimated at $4.3 billion. The promoter group led by Mr Premji holds a 73.39 per cent stake in Wipro.
Mr Premji was considered the ‘most generous Indian’ of 2014, according to the Hurun India Philanthropy List.
He said the trust supports the work of The Azim Premji Foundation and Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative, and thus a very significant part of the value created by Wipro goes towards social causes.
Mr Premji also stated in the report that economic value is sustainable only if created on a foundation of ethics and responsibility.
“For us, this is the driving force in the form of our values and is something that we will continue to remain completely committed to,” he added.
The company’s Social and Sustainability initiatives are driven by the conviction that corporations should play a significant role in contributing to building a better society, Mr Premji said.
“The owners – individuals or other entities – of such corporations can do a lot more for society, because they can choose to exercise the right of their ownership, and invest their wealth in any social cause, to their utmost,” he said.