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Neeraj Arora steps down as Paytm's independent director

Paytm’s independent director, Neeraj Arora, resigned from the board of directors on Monday, citing personal commitments.

He will also step down as a member of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee and the Investment Committee of the company, Paytm said in an exchange filing.

Former IRS and SEBI Whole Time Member, Rajeev Krishnamuralilal Agarwal, will join the board as a non-executive independent director.

Agarwal is an IIT Roorkee graduate and a former Indian Revenue Service officer with extensive experience in the securities and commodity markets and taxation. He served as a whole time member at SEBI and as a member at the Forward Markets Commission. He has wide exposure to global markets and their regulation through interactions with international peers and bodies such as IOSCO.

The former WhatsApp chief business officer was appointed as an additional director to the board of One97 Communications, Paytm’s parent company, right before its IPO in 2021.

“I am very happy to welcome Shri Rajeev Agarwal to the Paytm board. His expertise in regulatory and government-related matters will be an invaluable addition to our board,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & CEO of Paytm.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to Shri Neeraj Arora for his significant contributions, which have been instrumental in our company’s evolution. We remain committed to innovation and growth as we continue our efforts to serve our nation with financial inclusion,” he added.

Arora’s exit comes at a time when several Paytm employees have alleged unfair and opaque layoff practices, with the company asking employees to either resign or face termination.

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The company has been steadily reducing its headcount; several top-level employees and executives have also left the company, in the midst of a dip in sales.

Most notably, Bhavesh Gupta, the former president and chief operating officer who oversaw the payments and lending businesses, resigned from his position, in May this year.

One97 Communications said in a BSE filing that Gupta had decided to take a career break due to “personal reasons”.

However, according to a report by Moneycontrol, quoting a source, CEO Sharma felt Gupta had made a series of “missteps”, starting from the middle of the last financial year, culminating in a slowdown in lending after the Reserve Bank of India’s action against Paytm Payments Bank Ltd.

Days after the exit of Gupta, Ajay Vikram Singh, Chief Business Officer overseeing UPI and user growth, along with Bipin Kaul, CBO for Offline Payments, stepped down from their roles at Paytm, in the midst of restructuring process. At the time, the company said Sharma would have a more hands-on approach towards various operations at Paytm.

In its Q4 earnings release, the company announced that Paytm would pivot to focusing more on a distribution-only credit model (where Paytm is not responsible for collections and, therefore, receives no collection incentive). However, the company clarified during the earnings call that this was only a temporary measure, necessitated by the macroeconomic conditions affecting repayments.

Edited by Swetha Kannan

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