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Soota rejigs Happiest Minds structure to give co long life – Times of India

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BENGALURU: Ashok Soota is 78, and he is not thinking of retiring yet. But after the spectacular IPO of his company Happiest Minds, he is now restructuring his shareholding, as also the governing structure of the company, in a way that’s unique, and which he believes will keep the company going for a long, long time. Unlike what’s expected to happen to his previous venture, Mindtree.
Most of his shareholding in Happiest Minds — he holds 53% — will go into a holding trust and a medical research trust. He will mandate that the trusts must vote with the management of Happiest Minds to give the latter the confidence that their decisions would have substantial support. “I have also indicated that to enable this, I will not allow my shareholding to drop below 35% even after meeting dilution requirements of future acquisitions. That’s enough to protect any company,” Soota told TOI in an exclusive interaction.
Soota’s view on holding 35% stems partly from the experience with Mindtree, the company he had co-founded in 1999 and which he quit in 2011. He noted that Mindtree had to succumb to L&T’s hostile takeover two years ago because Mindtree’s founders’ collective stake had by then fallen to 13%.
“They couldn’t have expected Siddhartha (Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha, who held a significant stake) to remain in perpetuity as their white knight,” Soota said.
The second part of Soota’s strategy involves creating a collective leadership structure. Soota visualises the following roles — executive chairman, managing director & CFO, and an executive board (EB) comprising three business unit heads and the MD/CFO.
Soota’s executive chairman-cum-EB model is different, and only time will tell whether it will remain successful after he exits the company.

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