Board open to giving formal role to Narayana Murthy: Infosys co-chairman

Infosys co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan said the board will be open to giving the software major’s founder NR Narayana Murthy a formal role if the latter wishes it, even as he ruled out making the entire investigative reports over a whistleblower complaint public. He also backed current CEO Vishal Sikka, stating that he has the full support of the board. Venkatesan, who was made co-chairman in April this year, told ET NOW business news channel in an exclusive interview that while the company’s founders and the board “vigorously agree” on most things, there are a couple of issues on which they have a different perspective, something that he hopes to resolve by dialogue. His remarks come in the backdrop of differences between the Infosys board and its original founders, who still hold a 12.75% stake, on matters of governance, specifically the severance payout flip-flop to former CFO Rajiv Bansal and its $200 million acquisition of Panaya. Venkatesan said he isn’t surprised with the founders connect to the company, drawing parallels to his former employer Microsoft and its founder Bill Gates. “Founders are different from you and I and normal CEOs and so forth. The company they build is an expression of themselves. I saw this first with Bill Gates when I was working in Microsoft very much the same thing. They deeply identified with the company they built and in fact Murthy himself has sometimes said Infosys is my middle child and so we have got to recognise and I do that Infy, he is not just a stakeholder.” But he added that while the board has to hear out ideas from stakeholders, it doesn’t have to agree with all of them. Last week, ET NOW reported citing sources that Murthy had written to the board to make the entire investigative report concerning the Panaya acquisition and not just the summary findings public. However, Venkatesan ruled this out, stating that that board appointed law firm conducted an exhaustive investigation and disclosing entire report will not be prudent. Responding to a question on the spate of senior management exits and the larger concern on Vishal Sikka’s leadership, Venkatesan put down the exits to “difficult transformations” and said its the responsibility of the board to back Sikka fully. He also said Infosys will articulate a fresh vision in October to replace the 2020 $20 billion revenue target, which is out of reach now.
Source: ET