Flipkart CEO to join board; 3 new directors brought in ahead of IPO plan

has made major changes to its board as the Walmart-backed e-commerce company prepares to go public in the US by 2022. Group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy will join the board along with three new directors: Keki Mistry, vice chairman and CEO of HDFC; Suresh Kumar, who is Walmart’s global chief technology officer and chief development officer; and Leigh Hopkins, executive vice president of strategy and development for Walmart International.

“I am also honoured to have been invited to join the Board from next year, and along with both the existing and new directors, look forward to supporting Flipkart’s next steps and growth journey,” said Krishnamurthy, in an internal email to the employees.

USA’s Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, invested $16 billion in 2018 for a majority stake in Bengaluru-based Flipkart, valuing it at less than $21 billion. Walmart, this July, led a $1.2-billion investment in Flipkart, valuing it at $24.9 billion.

“They (Flipkart) are getting ready for the initial public offering (IPO),” said an industry source familiar about the IPO strategy of “They are reconstituting the board and trying to professionalise it more, so that you are prepared for IPO and have the right diverse skills and mix of people externally and internally to be able to demonstrate that.” The firm expects to go public at a valuation of around $40 billion-$50 billion, according to sources.

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A number of Flipkart’s directors will step down two years after Walmart’s investment. Steuart Walton, the scion of the billionaire Walmart dynasty, will leave the Flipkart board to focus on his role as chairperson of the group board’s technology committee. He will continue to be involved with Flipkart. Walton guided Flipkart in combining its entrepreneurship with the benefits of being part of the global company, said Krishnamurthy.

Rajesh Magow, who has been associated with Flipkart for nearly ten years, is stepping down to take on an advisory role. After Walmart’s investment, he had agreed to continue to remain on the board to help the company transition under this new ownership structure. As the founder and CEO of MakeMyTrip, his experience and insight as an e-commerce leader have been extremely valuable for the company’s board discussions.

After Flipkart partially spun off digital payments firm PhonePe, Rohit Bhagat has become the chair of the PhonePe board. Flipkart roped in Bhagat to entirely focus on PhonePe and leave the Flipkart board. He is expected to bring his expertise in fintech to PhonePe.

Dirk Van den Berghe is retiring at the end of March from his role as executive vice president for Walmart’s Asia businesses and global sourcing organization. He will also step down from the Flipkart board and continue to support the company as an in advisor.

“We would like to thank all four directors for their important contributions during such an important time in Flipkart’s development,” said Krishnamurthy. “All four have made a huge difference to our progress as Board directors, providing valuable counsel and challenging us to be more ambitious.”

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