Billionaire Premji gives RM31b shares to charity


BANGALORE • Azim Premji, the billionaire chairman of Indian conglomerate Wipro Ltd, will gift an extra US$7.5 billion (RM30.69 billion) of the company’s shares to support philanthropic activities, making it the most generous donation in the nation’s history.

About 34% of shares held by companies controlled by Premji have been irrevocably renounced and earmarked to the Azim Premji Foundation, according to a statement on Wednesday.

With the latest move, Premji, who turned a small maker of vegetable oil into a software behemoth, has donated US$21 billion of his fortune to charity. Premji’s philanthropy may prompt the rich — in a nation where ultra-high net worth population is expected to surge 39% by 2023 — to donate more to charity and help pull millions out of poverty.

“There are a growing number of billionaires in India, but it’s still early days and we still don’t see the commitments of the kind American billionaires make of giving away up to 80% of their wealth during their lifetime,” said Govind Sankaranarayanan, a former MD of Social Finance. “Premji and the Tata Trusts are the two shining lights of philanthropy in this country so far.”

Premji’s Foundation will have 67% of Wipro’s economic ownership, according to the statement.

His foundation works directly in education and supports over 150 other non-profits serving under-privileged and marginalised Indians through financial grants. — Bloomberg