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Top 4 Reasons Why Flipkart's CFO May Have Left

Top 4 Reasons Why Flipkart's CFO May Have Left
Image credit: flipkart
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India's largest eCommerce firm Flipkart lost its fourth top-level executive for the year yesterday with the exit of Sanjay Baweja, who served as the chief financial officer of the company for nearly 2 years.

The biggest of Flipkart’s exits were marked by a slew of resignations this year starting from its commerce platform chief Mukesh Bansal. The company’s Chief Business Officer Ankit Nagori and Chief Product Officer and former Google executive Punit Soni also left unexpectedly earlier this year.

Rumours are abuzz that Baweja was asked to leave. 

Here are the top 4 reason which could have triggered Binny Bansal to show Baweja the door.

1. Inability to raise funds

Since its last round of funding in 2015, Flipkart has faced flak by investors who seem uninterested in the company at its current valuation. Amazon’s entry and expansion into India has threatened Flipkart’s customer share and the company is seeing a stark rise in losses since last year.

Earlier this month, media reports suggested Flipkart is engaging in talks with US retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc to raise up to $1 billion for a minority stake. This deal, if successful, would mark Wal-Mart’s entry into the booming Indian e-commerce space and help Flipkart fight back its aggressive-rival Amazon.

It is rumored that the Wal-Mart deal may have fallen through triggering Binny Bansal to show Baweja the door. If this turns out to be true, Flipkart will again be at the behest of prospective investors, a move which the company cannot afford in the aggressive startup environment in India.

2. A return to the Tata Group

Baweja, who has previously worked for big giants including Tata Communications, Bharti Airtel and Emaar MGF, was roped in by Flipkart to turn the firm’s financial losses around.

Baweja’s resignation has come at a time when Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata is seeking a replacement for the post at Tata Sons after suddenly ousting Cyrus Mistry. This has triggered off speculation of Baweja’s imminent return to the group and his candidature being considered for chairmanship.

3. PwC Audit Report

Rumors in social media suggest Baweja may have been asked to leave post a Pricewaterhouse-Coopers forensic report.

An internal audit report prepared by PwC on the behest of Jabong’s German investor, Rocket Internet, in July revealed several corporate governance violations by some of the top ex-senior managers of Jabong. Jabong was acquired by Flipkart in CCXCX this year.

4. Continued Losses

A good festive season, which helped Flipkart clock a record sales figure of 15.5 million, a notch above Amazon’s 15 million, could be seen as a one-off as Amazon overwhelmingly beat Flipkart in sales this autumn.

In the year 2015-16, Flipkart reported the highest loss among India’s’ eCommerce biggies with a Rs 2,000 crore figure while Amazon India reported a loss of Rs 1,723.6 crore.

Baweja was hired at a time when the online retailer was struggling to increase sales and it was expected that Baweja may be able to help the company cut losses. However, growing competition and a markdown in valuations has worried the eCommerce giant.

Flipkart, which was started off in September 2007, has been the largest eCommerce company in India followed by Snapdeal and Amazon according to last year’s figures. This may soon change owing to the mistrust Flipkart executives are exhibiting in its growth.

Edition: December 2016

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