HCL Technologies on Wednesday created a clear number two position in the company by appointing Anant Gupta as president and chief operating officer. The move comes amidst persistent buzz that Vice-Chairman and CEO Vineet Nayar is preparing to call it a day — something he has been denying.
Gupta was until recently heading infrastructure management services, the fastest growing service line in the company with $1 billion in revenues.
The speculation about Nayar preparing to call it a day was triggered by his stake sale. He had sold 2.7 million equity shares of Rs 2 each (0.3896 per cent) for Rs 133.58 crore in June. His shareholding then became nil.
“With an increased thrust on industrialisation and profitable growth, HCL promotes Gupta as president and chief operating officer,” the company said. Commenting on the appointment, Nayar said the move was likely to create a “competitive advantage for HCL”.
Some analysts feel it’s early to say if Gupta can be seen as Nayar’s successor. “We have not received any such indication from the management. This could be an effort to expose Gupta to other verticals,” said Ankita Somani, research analyst at Angel Broking.
When asked whether Gupta was being groomed for a bigger role, Nayar jokingly said, “I have worked 19 years with Anant and he has resisted grooming from the first day, so I don’t think there is any grooming that happens in HCL.”
As the COO of the $4-billion company, Gupta will focus on the running the business and Nayar on incubating big ideas and new growth drivers besides running the business, according to the company.
Gupta, a postgraduate in engineering from the University of Liverpool, joined HCL as part of the start-up team at Comnet. He was instrumental in scaling HCL’s infrastructure services division up to a $1-billion business.
More recently, he led the company’s presence in continental Europe to a market-leading position. His leadership resulted in Europe becoming the fastest growing region for the company. In FY12, revenue from the geography grew 18.8 per cent. The contribution of Europe to the overall revenue of HCL is 27.3 per cent.