Ashneer Grover Bharatpe: spotlight on ‘restricted’ stake

Ashneer Grover

Ashneer Grover BharatPe: exits, may forfeit unvested stock options equal to approximately 1.4 percent of his shareholding if the PwC investigation report presented at Tuesday’s board meeting reveals evidence of misconduct against him, a source familiar with the development said.

According to the fintech unicorn’s articles of association (AoA), 75% of the shares allotted to him following the series C funding in September 2019 were restricted.

These shares were scheduled to vest pro-rata over a three-year period ending in September.

Employees are granted restricted stock units, which are subject to a vesting schedule and cannot be transferred or sold unless the employee remains with the company for a specified period. Grover announced his resignation as managing director of BharatPe on Tuesday morning. Grover’s restricted stock awards between March and September have not yet vested, the person said on condition of anonymity. Grover told Moneycontrol on Tuesday that he owns 8.5 percent of BharatPe.

Given Grover’s founder-shareholder status, the vesting of the shares will be determined by the shareholders’ agreement and whether the board finds cause to pursue legal action against him.

Grover could lose 1.4 percent of his total equity if the PwC report identifies his wrongdoing or establishes ’cause,’ the source said. Late Tuesday evening, the BharatPe board was deliberating the PwC report, and the company did not respond to a request for comment on its contents.

However, according to Mint, BharatPe’s AoA specifies that the board may remove a co-founder for ’cause’ only following an investigation by one of the Big Four accounting firms. BharatPe’s board of directors hired PwC last month as part of an expansion of the investigation into several corporate governance lapses at the company.

Grover’s resignation shortly after midnight on 28 February will have no material effect on the board’s ability to pursue legal action in response to the PwC report, the person said.