BharatPe’s chief executive Suhail Sameer, who had a fall out with ousted co-founder Ashneer Grover, has stepped down, sending the company scouting for succession planning.
In a statement, BharatPe said, “Sameer will transition from chief executive officer to strategic advisor effective January 7, 2023.” It did not mention the reason behind Sameer’s resignation.
“This (new role for Sameer) will ensure a smooth transition for current CFO, Nalin Negi, who has been appointed interim CEO to partner with senior executives to bolster execution in all phases of the company’s business,” it said.
BharatPe said its Board of Directors has retained a leading executive search firm to assist with succession planning and the critical CEO search.
Sameer had been overseeing the fintech company after it ousted Grover over alleged financial misappropriation.
The Sequoia-backed firm in recent months has seen a slew of top-level exits. Three senior executives — chief technology officer Vijay Aggarwal, PostPe head Nehul Malhotra, and chief product officer for lending and consumer products Rajat Jain — resigned from the company last month.
Geetanshu Singla, who served as the Vice President of technology, has also moved on.
Prior to that, the firm’s chief revenue officer Nishit Sharma, and Satyam Nathani, one of its founding members, had quit.
In June last year, Bhavik Koladiya, who ran the fintech firm’s technology and product divisions, stepped down.
Koladiya and Shashvat Nakrani founded BharatPe in July 2017, although the firm wasn’t incorporated till March 2018. Grover joined the company in June 2018.
Sameer was hired by Grover who was ousted from the company along with his wife Madhuri Jain in March last year on the grounds of fraud and other irregularities.
Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, BharatPe Board thanked Sameer for “steering BharatPe into a leadership position as a fintech player in India.” “We have recognized the need to dedicate time and resources to finding the leader who will continue to catapult BharatPe to new heights,” he said committing to support Negi in his new role.
Sameer said BharatPe will continue to build. “I remain committed to supporting BharatPe achieve its growth potential in the role as Strategic Advisor and look forward to the next phase of my own journey as a full-time investor.” Grover, who is facing civil and criminal suits alleging fraud, had in recent weeks made personal attacks on Sameer.
Sameer, who was previously CEO of the FMCG business at RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, joined BharatPe in August 2020 as president. He started managing the day-to-day affairs of the company in the following months and was formally made the CEO in August 2021.
The exits come at a time when BharatPe is trying to put the negative publicity around the alleged financial fraud perpetrated by Grover behind it and transform itself into a professionally-run firm.
The company is focused on achieving profitability ahead of a possible listing in 18-24 months.
The statement said Negi, who joined BharatPe in August 2022 as Chief Financial Officer, brings over 28 years of experience and business acumen and the last 15 years of that has been in banking and financial services, having worked at renowned brands like GE Capital and SBI Card.
“Most recently, Nalin was the CFO of SBI Card for over ten years, where he spearheaded strategic initiatives including leading SBI Card’s IPO in March 2020. Nalin has also worked in the past as Co-CEO for the GE SBI credit card venture,” it said.
Nalin’s extensive experience in the fintech industry makes him a natural choice to lead the company during the time a new CEO is searched for, said Kumar. “His in-depth knowledge of banking and financial services will help BharatPe continue to scale and grow for the future.” “I’m grateful for this opportunity and am excited to lead BharatPe through this critical and exciting transition period for the company,” said Negi. “We remain fully committed to our employees and customers and look forward to our continued success as a fintech leader in India.”