India: Flipkart may appoint new group CEO in place of Binny Bansal

Photo: Reuters

Flipkart Pvt. Ltd, now controlled by Walmart Inc., is considering naming a new chief executive at the group level, two people familiar with the matter said.

Flipkart co-founder and group chief executive officer (CEO) Binny Bansal took over the chairman’s role in May after former chairman Sachin Bansal left Flipkart over differences with the company’s board.

Now, Walmart, which agreed to buy 77% in Flipkart for $16 billion in May, is considering a move to separate the responsibilities of chairman and group CEO, the people cited above said. Apart from the eponymous e-commerce platform, Flipkart group owns the fashion retailers Myntra and Jabong, as well as mobile payments firm PhonePe.

Walmart is considering both internal and external candidates for the group CEO role, the people cited above said. Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy is one of the candidates likely to become group CEO, the people said, requesting anonymity.

Flipkart may decide to name a new group CEO, partly because co-founder and current group CEO Binny Bansal is not actively involved in daily operations. He will, however, remain the chairman of the company.

In the event that Bansal chooses to leave, he is bound by a non-compete clause that will prevent him from working with any competitor of Flipkart’s group companies for 18 months from the date of his departure or from the date his shareholding in Flipkart falls below 2%.

Walmart holds the rights to appoint a new Flipkart CEO or chief financial officer, in the event of a vacancy, according to a recent regulatory filing.

To be sure, the decision to name a new CEO for the entire group is not yet entirely finalized and Flipkart may well decide to continue with the current structure, one of the people cited earlier said. However, in recent weeks, the conversations around naming a new group CEO have been serious, the person said.

A Flipkart spokeswoman said the company does comment on “speculations and rumours”.

Earlier this month, Walmart moved several of its leaders to senior positions at the group level at Flipkart. Walmart appointed a new chief financial officer, general counsel, chief ethics and compliance officer and group controller. The Economic Times newspaper had reported these moves last week.

If Flipkart does name a new CEO at the group level, it will mark what will be the fourth major leadership transition in as many years.

In 2015, Flipkart had undertaken a massive reshuffle that saw the company being split into three separate parts, which were run by Flipkart co-founder and then CEO Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal and Myntra co-founder Mukesh Bansal (none of them are related to each other).

In 2016, Flipkart elevated Binny Bansal to the role of the CEO, after all of Sachin Bansal’s major strategic bets had failed and Flipkart conceded market share to Amazon India. In 2017, Krishnamurthy, a former executive of Tiger Global Management, took over the role from Binny Bansal, who was named group CEO.

This article was first published on livemint.com

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.