Let’s keep quiet: Narayana Murthy’s early realisation could have saved Infosys much strife

NEW DELHI: Infosys founder-shareholder NR Naryana Murthy — known for his wrangling with the company board and then CEO Vishal Sikka for months over governance issues — would now prefer to stay quiet and let the board work. “Let’s leave it to him and let’s all keep quiet, so that he can do his job well,” Murthy said today of chairman Nandan Nilekani while talking to reporters after the distribution of Infosys Prize for 2017-18. Just months ago, Murthy was raising hell over issues which are far from settled to his satisfaction. The board has hardly satisfied Murthy. On the contrary, Infosys under Nilekani gave a clean chit to the company’s $200 million acquisition of Israeli technology firm Panaya. Murthy had waged a bitter war against former chairman R Seshasayee-led board over the Panaya deal. Murthy claimed wrongdoing in the acquisition and wanted the report of independent investigation to be made public. His charges pointed at Sikka. Finally, Murthy’s incessant wranglings led to the departure of Sikka and Seshasayee. Just a few weeks ago, Murthy had expressed disappointment over Infosys giving a clean chit to the Panaya acquisition, which effectively meant that it was Murthy who was wrong and not the board or Sikka. “Absolutely, all is well. Remember, in my speech with the investors, I said now that we have Nandan as the chairman, we can all sleep well,” Murthy said today. Murthy had based his fight on lofty principles of governance. Taking a moral high ground, he had brought his battles with Seshasayee and Sikka out in the open, haranguing them in letters that appeared in the media. The acquisition of Panaya in 2015 was at the centre of the Infosys storm. In February, anonymous whistle-blower complaints claimed that the acquisition was overvalued. It was alleged that the unusually high severance package to former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal, who was not in favour of the acquisition, was not disclosed at that time. Questions were raised on high severance package to general legal counsel of Infosys David Kennedy who allegedly wrote an email to the CEO that he could no longer hide Bansal’s severance package. Infosys had published the conclusion & summary finding statement of the investigation by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in June, where the law firm said it found no evidence to support the whistleblower’s allegations on conflict of interest in the Panaya case, its valuation or CEO expense. Murthy wanted the whole report to be made public which, he strongly believed, would support his allegations.
Source: ET