Walmart said on Tuesday that the co-founder and CEO of Indian e-commerce leader Flipkart Group has stepped down in the wake of allegations of “serious personal misconduct,” creating tumult at a company it recently paid $16 billion for to get a leg up in one of the most promising e-commerce markets in the world.
Binny Bansal, 37, resigned immediately after an independent probe into the unspecified allegations that he “strongly” denies, Walmart Inc said in a statement, adding that his wanting response to the accusations was behind his departure.
“While the investigation did not find evidence to corroborate the complainant’s assertions against Binny, it did reveal other lapses in judgment,” Walmart said in the statement. It did not detail those lapses.
In May, Walmart bought a 77% in Flipkart, India’s biggest digital commerce player, for a $16 billion, by far its biggest acquisition ever and one that dwarfed its $3 billion purchase of jet.com in 2016. Walmart’s move was part of its strategy to concentrate its international business in promising countries like India and China and reduce its exposure to stagnant ones like Brazil, and outmaneuver Amazon.com.
Kalyan Krishnamurthy, currently chief of Flipkart’s namesake division, will report directly to the board, Walmart said. Bansal co-founded Flipkart in 2007. As recently as October, he told Bloomberg he would remain CEO post-Walmart.
The size of the Flipkart deal unnerved many Walmart investors, but at the time it was announced, Walmart Inc CEO Doug McMillon defended it, saying, “E-commerce in India is growing rapidly, and we expect it to grow at four times the rate of overall retail. Flipkart is already capturing a large portion of this growth and is well positioned to accelerate into the future.”
Walmart reports its quarterly results on Thursday and is likely to provide an update on its India business.