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Azim Premji: Indian tech billionaire gives $7.5 billion to charity

CNN logo CNN 3/14/2019 By Anshula Raj

Azim Premji wearing a suit and tie: Azim Premji is currently India's second-richest man with a net worth of over $18 billion.© Aijaz Rahi/AP Azim Premji is currently India's second-richest man with a net worth of over $18 billion. India's second-richest man is giving billions to charity in what may be the country's biggest single donation ever. 

Azim Premji, the billionaire chairman of Wipro, is handing shares in the tech company worth nearly 530 billion rupees ($7.5 billion) to his philanthropic foundation.

The tech tycoon has now donated a total of $21 billion to the Azim Premji Foundation over several years, including 67% of Wipro's shares, the foundation said in a statement.

Premji, 73, has a fortune of more than $18 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

He was the first Indian to sign the Giving Pledge, a campaign started by Warren Buffett with Bill and Melinda Gates to encourage billionaires around the world to commit most of their wealth to charity.

Premji accounted for 80% of "large donations" — defined as more than 100 million rupees ($1.4 million) — from India's richest individuals in the 2018 financial year, according to this year's India Philanthropy Report by consulting firm Bain & Company and philanthropy fund Dasra. Private individuals in India donate about 430 billion rupees ($6.2 billion) each year, the report said.

Wipro was founded by Premji's father in 1945 as a vegetable oil manufacturer, and transitioned to the technology industry in the 1980s under Premji's leadership. It has since grown into one of India's biggest IT services companies, with more than 160,000 employees worldwide and over 1,200 clients in industries ranging from aerospace to retail.

Premji's foundation focuses on supporting education, and runs the Azim Premji University in Bangalore. Its billionaire benefactor's latest donation could help it open a second university and "scale up significantly," the organization said.

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