The BharatPe CEO in the letter to employees, a copy of which is with CNBC-TV18, has said while some media reports are partially true, most are unsubstantiated rumours. The fintech company has been in news over co-founder Ashneer Grover's tussle with the company's board. He has been accused of financial fraud and misbehaviour.
BharatPe CEO Suhail Sameer in a letter to his employees requested them to keep their trust on the board amid co-founder Ashneer Grover's tussle with the company's board. Grover has been accused of financial fraud and misbehaviour.
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The fintech has been in news over Grover’s alleged use of inappropriate language against one of Kotak Group’s employees.
Earlier, Kotak Group placed on record its objections to Grover’s alleged use of inappropriate language and brash behaviour. The BharatPe MD had accused the bank of failing to secure financing and allocation of shares in beauty firm Nykaa’s initial public offering.
Following the controversy, Grover and his wife Madhuri Grover, took a voluntary leave of absence after the company initiated an independent audit.
Media reports have now claimed that Grover is looking to exit the firm amid allegations and is in talks with investors to sell his 9.5 percent stake in BharatPe that he values at Rs 4,000 crore.
The BharatPe CEO in the letter to employees, a copy of which is with CNBC-TV18, has said while some reports are partially true, most are unsubstantiated rumours.
He said that they have decided to do a full audit of the governance processes based on some internal complaints. "Review is still substantiating the more serious allegations," he said.
Here's the full text of his letter to employees:
BharatPe, as a team, has been up against a different challenge this time. I understand many of you are concerned about what you are reading in the press. We are under constant scrutiny and spotlight by the media. Covid restrictions, and the multi-location nature of our business is not making it easy for all of us to be together while going through this phase. While some of what you are reading is partially true, most of what is being written is nothing but unsubstantiated rumours. So, as a member of this team, I felt it is important to lay out the facts as they are, and hopefully calm some of the nerves.
Let me talk about the elephant in the room first - Governance Review being carried out by well-known and reputed external firms (SAM, A&M and PwC). Based on some internal complaints, we decided to do a full audit of our governance processes. While many of the findings of the review are pretty standard for a fast growth company of our size, there are a couple of more serious allegations, which the review is still substantiating. Nothing which can't be corrected going forward, and none of it has any bearing on the medium to long term health of the business. We expect the review partners (consultants) to share an interim report with the Board in a couple of weeks. I would definitely share a summary of findings (and more importantly, what we need to do differently) with you. Meanwhile, I would just request all of you to keep your trust on the Board of BharatPe, which comprises some of the best investors in the world, and veterans of the Indian Banking Industry. Whatever the Board will decide, will be beyond doubt, in the best interests of our employees, our merchants and our consumers.
On to business, we are on an incredible trajectory. How we managed Covid wave 3 is nothing short of spectacular. Hardly any dip in TPV, continued scale-up of postpe, stellar lending collection performance, great growth at PAYBACK, and as with each Covid wave in BharatPe's history, a couple of fab products ready to launch. We hit the annualised TPV run-rate of 16 Bn USD in Dec, and are already back at that run-rate in Feb despite many markets still impacted with Covid (that too with F&B, our largest category, still struggling in many parts of the country), postpe is definitely a world class product- easily the fastest BNPL product to hit 500 Cr TPV, and with out-of-the-world metrics (on number of customers onboarded per month, activation rates, transactions per consumer, as well as collection performance). PAYBACK is on a spree (January was the highest ever points redemption month, and thus highest ever revenue, since we welcomed them to BharatPe). All of this put together means January 2022 was our lifetime best month so far in terms of Revenue, as well as on Margins. In January, RBI also gave us the PMC bank amalgamation approval with Unity (our Small Finance Bank in partnership with Centrum), and both Centrum and our teams are working hard towards building India's first truly digital bank. And we continue to grow as a team. Super excited to soon meet the 48 people who have joined us from the start of 2022. I am super excited, and hopefully so are you, with what the next couple of years promise for us as a company.
In terms of fuel, we have huge amounts of cash in the bank to keep building from here. We have 500 Mn USD in the bank (including 100 Mn USD we have invested in Unity SFB). This is serious capital. To put this in context, we have only spent 130 Mn USD to build what we have built so far at BharatPe. In a nutshell, we have 4x the money in the bank than what we have spent so far to build BharatPe in the last 3+ years. Imagine what we can build if we continue to use this money thoughtfully, as we have done so far. All our existing investors continue to back us. And while the press may say as it sees fit, we are still getting 2-3 new inbound conversation requests every week from Funds looking to invest in us. While we don't need to raise capital for a foreseeable future, it is great to know that both existing investors as well as potential new ones are keen to further support us, if we need the capital.
Having said all of this, the thing I am always most proud of, is all of you. We would have not even accomplished 10% of what we have, if it was not for you. You are the pillars on which BharatPe is built. You are the rockstars who will continue to drive significantly better-than market growth at BharatPe, and eventually take us to IPO over the next 2-3 years. I care deeply about each of you. For some of you who have worked closely with me, I am sure it is not a surprise when I say that the most satisfying part of my career has always been to see people I work with succeed, learn, grow (both on skills and on wealth creation), and have great fun while doing so. We are still a young company. While there are many areas we can improve on, making BharatPe an unparalleled place to work at, should be our top priority for the year. I have tons of ideas on this. And thank you all for sending your suggestions to Avika and I, and for participating in the Great Places to Work survey. Based on all of this, we will create a charter on how we achieve our goal of making BharatPe the employer of choice. I would love for some of you (who may be interested) help us refine the plan, and more importantly, help execute it. Be a culture mascot! Let me know, if you are up for the challenge. More on this when we meet, else I would run out of ink:-)
It is my commitment (not only on my behalf, but on behalf of the wider leadership), that we will emerge stronger from all of this. My only request is to keep calm and have faith in all of us, on the Board, and most importantly, on you. We have built a fabulous business, and a few months of turbulence are not going to stop us. If anything, they should only enhance our resolve to build an even better (and bigger) company. I would set-up a town hall with all of you towards the end of February to share more updates about the governance review, brainstorm initial thoughts on culture, and share a couple of surprise announcements (hopefully you will be as excited by them, as I am). Till then, let us continue being brave. And keep firing all cylinders at work!
First Published: Feb 11, 2022 11:01 AM IST
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