There are few signs of overt affluence in what’s still a small town in the India’s sleepy hinterland. At the time of independence, farmers in the region cultivated groundnut, the source of the edible oil that Premji senior was selling through what was then known as Western India Vegetable Products Ltd. Shareholders didn’t see much by way of gains in the early years, recalled Shantilal Jain, who worked at the factory.
A rights offer in the late 1970s wasn’t fully subscribed and Jain was asked to help make up the numbers. He bought one share at a face value of Rs 100. It didn’t seem like a great deal. “Its price fell below the face value and there were no buyers even at Rs 35. Rs 100 at that time was not a small amount and it was not easy to sell it at a loss. So I decided to hold the share,” Jain said. Azim Premji would transform Wipro into a global IT services company.
The worth of that Rs 100 share, after adjusting for splits and bonuses, is now Rs 5.5 crore. Jain, who is 77, has sold some of it but still holds stock valued at more than Rs 1 crore. Rameshlal Korani has been able to build a house funded by Wipro dividends and stock sales. He’s named it Wipro. The biggest bet was probably that of Muhammad Anwar Ahmed. He happened to meet a broker who visited Amalner to buy Wipro shares from the locals in 1980. He invested Rs 10,000, half of all he had.
That’s worth Rs 500 crore now. Ahmed shifted from Amalner to Nashik a few years ago but still keeps in touch with friends and family. For Amalner’s Wipro shareholders, the stock has provided a dependable source of income. None of them would ever want to let go entirely, regardless of what analysts say. “Why should I sell all the shares and buy any other asset. Price volatility does not bother me
Total dividends I have got are in crores and worth more than my shares’ value,” said Korani. Jain said: “If needed, I will sell 10-20 shares in a year but that’s it. As long as the company exists, these shares will remain with us. We trust Sethji (Premji). Whatever he does is will be good for us.”-from ET