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Update: Wadhawan, CEO Of Times Internet, Leaves; That’s 3 C-Level Exits At BCCL Units In 2 Months

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We reported that G. Subramaniam, CFO of Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, is leaving the firm. Now, Medianama is reporting that Dinesh Wadhawan, CEO of Times Internet Ltd, is also leaving. In January, TIL CFO Deepak Sogani stepped down. TIL is a subsidiary of BCCL, India’s largest media conglomerate.

Speculation about Wadhawan’s exit has been rife for awhile now, and had intensified over the last week. We had learned from our sources yesterday that Wadhawan had put in his papers on 16 March and we had immediately put the question to him. His answer: “One can only laugh at these rumours”. He assured us that he was not leaving the company. Since then, he hasn’t responded to text messages or calls.

High-level exits are relatively rare at BCCL, which is an attractive and prestigious employer for executives. Many senior executives have been around for more than a decade. Of the three executives who are board members, CEO Ravi Dhariwal has been with the company since 2001, while both A.P. Parigi, who heads Entertainment Networks India Ltd (Radio Mirchi), as well as Bhaskar Das, have been with the company for over a decade. Chief marketing officer Rahul Kansal has been with BCCL for more than five years. The last C-level exit was that of Sunil Lulla, who left as CEO of Times Global Broadcasting to join Real Global Broadcasting in early 2008. In comparison, Wadhawan has been with the group only for three years and Subramaniam, close to two years.

At a time when the company admits that it is having cash-flow issues, questions abound surrounding these high-profile exits. Wadhawan has some 29 years of rich and varied experience in hi-tech industries and was a managing director at Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Corp. prior to joining BCCL. Subramaniam was CFO at Star India Pvt. Ltd, News Corp.’s hugely profitable broadcasting subsidiary, and has also been Group CFO at Aircel and CFO at BPL Mobile. Both are sought-after executives with long and successful track records. Why is BCCL losing them at a time when the company perhaps needs them the most? We may never know for sure whether these are voluntary exits or fallout from real or perceived failures.

According to one source, Subramaniam will shortly join another non-media company. Wadhawan has, according to another source, confided to people close to him that he is going to start his own venture after spending a month with his family in the U.S. Both were unavailable for comment.

Update: Wadhawan’s departure is confirmed. An internal mail, a copy of which is with contentSutra, confirms the development. Wadhawan will continue till end of April. Till a replacement is found, all those who were reporting to Wadhawan, will now report to Sunil Rajshekhar, COO, TIL.

6 Responses to “Update: Wadhawan, CEO Of Times Internet, Leaves; That’s 3 C-Level Exits At BCCL Units In 2 Months”

  1. I will like to point out that the TIL is a standard case of mismanagment, where every one is trying to prove its point and manage the show in his own way. No emphasis is being laid on any vision or futuristic approach. May be its cost cutting or anything else, just maddenning just ask people to go may what come.

    Dinesh is gem of person and place like TIL is not for him, where politics is the food of thought for all. Wish Dinesh all the best in his future endeavours.

  2. The story of TIL is long and repetitive. The problem is with the complete lack of vision and leadership from the owners. The CEOs can only do so much – most of them are almost completely servile to the 'family'. Vineet Jain has not made much of a success of any enterprise till now. All this was not apparent when the good times were around and the cash cow of BCCL (which is incidentally managed by the elder brother, Samir) was feeding everyone. Now that the old lady of Boribunder is finding it difficult to bankroll the younger sibling's leaking enterprises, the chinks and cracks would come to the surface. How can Indiatimes manage to employ an army and still lose its audience on a regular basis since the last so many years. It shows a complete lack of imagination.

    I would like to wish Dinesh the best in his future endeavours. TIL teaches you many things – the most important being, how not to run your business.

  3. LongTimer

    Where was Times Internet headed anyways – in spite of all the money and leverage they get from the print side I don't think they have leadership in any of the domains…at the end of the day if you take the Internet business as a stand alone property not sure they are making money or have a model that will ever break even. Its not just them..its the same story with most of the Internet players in India. Except for a Naukri not sure how many of them make money…its all a nice valuation game..when the going is good and VC's are willing to stake their bets on these guys it looks good. The real cash flows/financial models are all hollow. I see a few more busts and back to core businesses in the net 6 months for a few more…