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Premji takes Wipro’s diversified strategy to investment arm too

Even as he was spearheading IT services major Wipro, Chairman Azim Premji built a parallel empire for himself through Premji Invest. The entity holds investments in over 40 public and private companies.

While most of the investments have remained under the wraps, Premji Invest’s portfolio has a unique mix of companies ranging from sectors like technology, e-commerce, financial services, retail, fashion, healthcare to consumer goods.

The diversification of portfolio is perhaps the billionaire’s forte as he took Wipro from an edible oil manufacturer to India’s third largest IT services company over three decades. During the same time, Wipro also built its position as one of the leaders in the consumer goods and electronics segments.

Founded in 2006, Premji Invest’s assets under management are worth over $ 2 billion across India, the US and China. It is known for making investments in the range of $ 20 million to $ 60 million.

At a time when there is a split between believers of e-commerce and those of traditional retail, Premji Invest has positioned itself uniquely by placing bets on e-tailers like Snapdeal and Myntra on the one side and retail giants like Kishore Biyani co-promoted Future Lifestyle Fashions, Tata Group’s Trent, Koutons, Shopper’s Stop and ethnic retailer Fabindia on the other hand.

It was reported on Wednesday, Premji is infusing Rs 175-crore in Future Retail. The funds will help Kishore Biyani, chief of the retail major, sail through the coming rights issue of his flagship company and cut debt. The Rs 1,600-crore rights issue will open on January 15 and close on January 29. For Premji, this is the second investment in Future Group. In May, Premji Invest had bought 8% in Future Lifestyle Fashions for Rs 125 crore.

ALSO READ: Premji funding to help Biyani sail through rights issue, cut debt

Premji Invest’s portfolio

Mar 2012: Acquires 4.91% in Trent for Rs 122 crore

Mar 2012: Ethnic retailer Fabindia sells 7% stake to Premji Invest for Rs 125 cr

Oct 2012: Invests $ 35 mn in JSM Corp, which runs Hard Rock Cafe and California Pizza Kitchen restaurants

Dec 2012: Premji Invest buys stake in Hyderabad-based Heritage Foods

Aug 2013: Premji Invest buys ‘non-voting preference shares’ in Tata Capital for Rs 75 cr

Feb 2014: Myntra raises $ 50 mn from Premji Invest

May 2014: Premji Invest buys 10% in Biyani’s fashion firm

Oct 2014: Payments processing firm FSS raises around Rs 350 crore from Premji Invest

Dec 2014: Premji Invest to buy under 1% stake in HDFC Standard Life Insurance for $ 31 mn

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