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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.