Being forced to bid adieu the company I founded: Ashneer

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Ending months-long saga that kept the fintech platform BharatPe in headlines for all the wrong reasons, its Co-founder and Managing Director Ashneer Grover has finally quit minutes after receiving the agenda for upcoming Board meeting, saying that he was being forced to bid adieu to a company he had founded.

In an emotionally-charged letter addressed to the Board of Directors, Ashneer said that while they will not find a single act of impropriety against him, “I will not be participating in your charade”.

“Since you clearly believe you can run this Company better without me — I am leaving you with this challenge. Build incrementally even half of the value I created so far — I am leaving you with three times the funds I’ve utilised till date,” said Ashneer.

“I hereby resign as the Managing Director of BharatPe, effective immediately. I also resign as a Director of the Board. I will continue as the single largest individual shareholder of the Company,” he added.

A BharatPe spokesperson told IANS on Tuesday that Ashneer resigned as Managing Director and Board Director of BharatPe “minutes after receiving the agenda for upcoming Board meeting that included submission of the PWC report regarding his conduct and considering actions based on it”.

“The Board reserves the right to take action based on the report’s findings,” the spokesperson added.

The resignation came as top investors in the fintech platform declined to buy his 8.5 per cent stake in the company for Rs 4,000 crore as he had sought. Ashneer also lost an arbitration in Singapore he filed against the fintech platform for launching a probe against him.

According to the investors, Grover’s valuation does not hold ground as the company is not valued at $6 billion as being projected by him. At a $2.85 billion valuation and at the current dollar-rupee exchange rate, his stake would be around Rs 1,824 crore.

In the letter, Ashneer said that he has founded and built “BharatPe into what it is today, and this identity, none of you can take away from me”.

“I am the rebel slave who must be hung by the tree so none of the other slaves can dare to be like me ever again. Unfortunately, I refuse to walk that path and refuse to tolerate this continuous and shameful vilification of me and my family,” he wrote.

“I have been the one who founded this company and built it up to its enviable position today, no wonder you want to oust me for your vested interests. So when do we end this? We end this now,” the letter stated.

Ashneer and Shashvat Nakrani founded BharatPe in 2018.

“With my efforts and hard work, the company has created a network of more than 1 crore (10 mn) shopkeepers who transact more than Rs 100,000 crore ($16 bn) annually and lent out more than Rs 4,000 crore ($0.5 bn) as loans. It is indisputable that BharatPe loans have helped lakhs of small businesses fight organised e-commerce and COVID,” Grover wrote in his resignation letter.

“With a team of less than five hundred on-roll employees, aggregate spending of less than $150 mn, and by raising $615 mn from ten of the marquee investors without using a single banker, the success story of BharatPe is for everyone to see,” he continued.

The fintech platform last week sacked his wife Madhuri Jain Grover over alleged financial irregularities during her tenure.

She escalated the battle against BharatPe via social media, posting questions over the board’s handling of the situation.

BharatPe currently has 8 million merchants on its platform.

“Am I perfect? As every other human being does, I am sure I have my follies. I have been told that I am too straight forward, headstrong, and have very demanding standards when it comes to work,” Ashneer said in the letter.

“Unfortunately, what has happened in the recent past seems to be a battle of egos being played to the gallery of the media under the charade of “good governance”, he lamented.

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