The decision of Ananda Mukerji, former CEO and managing director, Firstsource, to join Bharti Group, has taken many by surprise in the IT industry.
At Bharti, he has been appointed as the group director (business development) and will be responsible for looking at initiatives related to mergers & acquisitions, alliances and entry into new businesses. In addition, he will also play the role of business sponsor for Bharti Realty.
Mukerji holds a post-graduate diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and a graduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
Mukerji, who has been associated with K V Kamath since his early days at ICICI Bank, is known to be a soft-spoken, articulate and humble man. These qualities will be put to test at Bharti, which has a more aggressive style of functioning.
“Many of us expected he would soon move out and start something of his own, or, being a finance person, join the private equity or venture capital sector. But joining Bharti was a complete surprise,” said a person who has worked with him at Firstsource.
Mukerji and his association with the ICICI group spans over a decade. During this time, he set up and, in many cases, managed new businesses for the group.
In 1999 he took over the role of the chief financial officer at Enron India. For a brief period, he was with Enron and then with BPL Communication, before heading back to ICICI. But, this time, he was roped in to head the bank’s foray into the business process outsourcing (BPO) segment.
In 2001, ICICI Bank set up the BPO firm ICICI OneSource. Mukerji not only founded the company but also took it through a successful IPO in 2007.
Bharti entered into the realty sector in 2006. It has an existing portfolio of 1.95 million sq ft and expects to take this up to 5 million sq ft by the end of 2011. It has already bought land in Delhi, Kolkata and Ludhiana.
Insiders also believe that Mukerji is more of a finance person and perhaps the role at Bharti will work for him. “He does know about the infrastructure space. He also headed the structured finance and advisory businesses at ICICI Bank,” said another person associated with Mukerji.