Feature

Will Thierry Delaporte’s French Connection help Wipro climb up the pecking order?

The tech major has once again sought an “outsider” to lead its turnaround

While watching historical films that chronicle the events of 1947, have you ever wondered what happened to all those beautiful houses or the massive corporate buildings that owners just left behind while fleeing for their lives? They became “enemy” property, in the hands of our government. The Indian government appointed The Custodian of Enemy Property to control all the assets once owned by Indians, who emigrated to Pakistan or China. So, in April 2019, when the Custodian sold 44.3 million “enemy” shares to PSU insurance companies, it seemed a bit ironic as — on one hand the government was divesting “outsiders” assets to shore up revenue and on the other Western India Palm Refined Oil was laying out the welcome mat to foreigners, for the same reason. In May 2020, the Bengaluru-headquartered company announced that Thierry Delaporte, a Frenchman will be taking over from Abidali Neemuchwala in July. The Capgemini veteran will be the first non-Indian CEO of an IT major, where more than 90% of the ownership is in the hands of Indians, including over 74% held by the promoter family. An “outsider” himself, Neemuchwala resigned in January after leading Wipro for five years, trying to break a spell that had gripped the tech major during the financial crisis of 2008.

Long winter
The recession was tough on every Indian IT company. From growing at over 30% annually for three years until the crisis hit, Infosys, TCS and Wipro collapsed into the mid-teens for the next three. Most could shake off the slump only by the end of the decade. Wipro wasn’t one of them. While its competitors such as Infosys and TCS were building business models geared towards exposure of over 35% to the worst hit — banking and financial services (BFSI) — sector, Wipro had only 26%. What it did not anticipate was how quickly the financial servi

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