Paytm’s billionaire founder faces a crucial test of investor confidence on Friday, when shareholders decide whether they want him at the helm of the fintech pioneer that made one of the worst debuts in Indian history. Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s role as CEO will be voted on in the company’s annual general meeting held today afternoon. A proxy advisory firm recommended last week that shareholders replace the founder as CEO, citing concerns about his ability to recoup the payments provider’s losses.
Paytm, India’s poster boy for tech startups, has lost more than 60 percent of its value since its high-profile initial public offering in November as it struggles to convince investors of its revenue potential.
In an interview last month, Sharma, 44, said Paytm was set to become India’s first internet company to cross $1 billion (roughly Rs 8,000 crore) in annual revenue and promised to shift from growth to profitability.
Shareholders should vote against Sharma’s reappointment and the board should bring in a professional for the role, said Institutional Investor Advisory Services India Ltd. said last week. Before the listing, Sharma, on several instances, publicly talked about making the company profitable, and yet that did not even happen at an operational level, the firm said.
Paytm is listed on the shares as One97 Communications Limited, Antfin (Netherlands) Holding BV., SoftBank Group Corp. of Ant Group Company. and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board among its top shareholders. Of the dozen analysts covering the firm, six have a buy rating, while three each have a hold or sell recommendation on the stock.
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