Inside Scoop: What We Know About Religare Chairman Rashmi Saluja’s Salary

Religare, a financial services firm based in New Delhi, has responded to the allegations made by incoming promoters, the Burman family, of Saluja drawing an annual remuneration amounting to over ₹ 150 crore.

Saluja has been remunerated with salary and Employee Stock Option (ESOP) amounting to ₹ 42.06 crore in the financial year ended March 2023, according to a company spokesperson.

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The spokesperson added that the compensation was approved by the shareholders through a special resolution. On September 20, Dabur promoters, Burman family, made a plan to make a controlling stake offer for Religare in the form of an open offer.

The Burmans, who have an estimated net worth of USD 8.9 billion according to Forbes, held a stake of 20.15%. They also acquired a 5% stake in Religare from the market.

Religare said that the open offer would bring the total consideration of the company to Rs 2116 crore, subject to full acceptance.

The Burmans alleged that Religare’s Chairman, Rashmi Saluja, had sold the company’s shares in the wake of the suitors’ announcement of an open tender on September 20, following which the suitors asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to investigate Saluja’s share sale.

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According to Religare‘s spokesperson, Saluja disposed of the shares that were available under the Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) and had the necessary approvals months prior to the transaction.

“The entire process began months before ESOPS was sold on 21st September 2023, which included funding from external lenders and approvals for pledging or revoking and eventual sale,” he said. The spokesperson also clarified that the Burmans’ price of the open tender was initially estimated at Rs 3400 crore, but has since been revised to Rs 2116 crore.

After REL’s original promoters stepped down in 2018 due to financial uncertainty, new management took it upon themselves to restore the company’s financial stability through restructuring. A seasoned professional, Saluja joined Religare Enterprises as Chairman in 2020. She is a doctor and entrepreneur with an impressive portfolio and over 25 years of management experience. She was instrumental in getting the company out of difficult times.

REL now has several subsidiaries offering a variety of financial services. The growth and success of the company under her leadership shows the continuous increase of REL’s market share from its small to high market value. In the last three years, the company has become one of the leading RoE brands in India with a strong market presence. However, Saluja is currently under investigation after the Burman family filed a complaint with SEBI over the sale of its shares. The charges are non-compliance with the guidelines of the insurance regulator IRDAI.

The controversy intensified when the Burman family claimed that Saluja had sold a portion of her own assets in Religare Enterprises, a day after a meeting with the Burmans where Saluja discussed the open offer for an administrative position at Religare Enterprises. The allegations against Saluja not only question her ability, but also the integrity of the board and the management of Religare.

Saluja vehemently denied these claims, calling them a baseless attempt to smear her reputation and insisted that the sale of shares followed due process. The Religare board sided with Saluja and said the ESOP allocations for CARE health plans were done transparently and in accordance with legal guidelines.

The company says that the accusations that threaten its management, especially the news about the sale of shares, are baseless and false. Despite Saluja’s many contributions, her case highlights gender bias and raises criticism challenging her leadership and expertise. Despite her ability to financially steer Religare, The company has rightly recognized her independence over the past three years, and these claims reflect the broader challenges other women entrepreneurs and business leaders face, she says, as they continue to fight discrimination and prejudice. Gender gaps are still evident at the highest levels of India’s corporate sector, highlighting the systemic challenges to achieving gender equality.

The intense struggle between the Burman family and REL executives shows the company’s difficulties, especially in the gender field. Government programs focus on women empowerment, but the ongoing struggle at Religare Enterprises shows the need for an inclusive corporate model to eliminate gender bias in leadership positions.

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