Murthy changes tune, says all well at Infosys under Nilekani

16 Nov 2017


Infosys Ltd cofounder N R Narayana Murthy, who has frequently voiced criticism of the board's functioning, on Wednesday struck a conciliatory note and said ''all is well'' under chairman Nandan Nilekani, a co-founder who had left the company but was recalled, after the abrupt resignation of Vishal Sikka.

N R Narayana Murthy  

The latest comments from Murthy will soothe the nerves of Infosys's largest investors, who were spooked by the long-drawn-out battle between Murthy and the previous board led by R Seshasayee.

''Absolutely, all is well,'' Murthy told reporters when asked if he was satisfied with Infosys under Nilekani's leadership. ''Remember in my speech to the investors I said now that we have Nandan as the chairman we can all sleep well and he is a very organised person; his strength is simplification of complex ideas. There were lots of complexities. So therefore he has his hands full. So let's leave it to him. So let's all keep quiet so that he does his job well.''

Nilekani returned the compliment. ''Murthy has been the custodian and steward of the company for the last 40 years and we all look up to him greatly and believe that we will always seek his advice and counsel to make sure Infosys stands up to the highest standards,'' he said.

On 24 October, Murthy had expressed disappointment that none of the questions raised by him on ''poor governance'' in Infosys had been transparently answered by the company's board.

Murthy's statement comes after the company's board led by Nilekani decided not to make the investigation report public on acquisition of Israeli technology firm Panaya as sought by Murthy earlier (See:Infosys board clears Panay probe, but keeps it under wraps).

Speaking to media on the sidelines of an event organised by the Infosys Science Foundation, Murthy indicated that there would not be any further public comments on various corporate governance issues raised by him when the board was led by chairman R Seshasayee.

Nilekani returned to Infosys as non-executive chairman in August following the exit of Seshasayee and chief executive Vishal Sikka (See: Murthy welcomes Nilekani, demands full clean-up of Infy board).

Seshasayee and Sikka resigned from the company following a series of corporate governance issues raised by Murthy. Apart from this, Murthy also questioned the high severance package given to former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal and alleged irregularities in the acquisition of Panaya for $200 million.

Before Nilekani took charge as the new chairman, Murthy had asked Infosys to publicise the detailed report of a third-party investigation on the acquisition of Panaya following a whistleblower complaint to the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The report did not find any evidence of wrongdoing.

Nilekani had reiterated Infosys's previous stance on the investigation, effectively givng a clean chit to Sikka and the previous board. This drew an immediate riposte from Murthy, who said he was disappointed.

Infosys was thrown into chaos when Sikka resigned on 18 August, citing an unending stream of criticism from Murthy, while Seshasayee quit along with two other independent directors a week later (See: Vishal Sikka quits as Infosys CEO; U B Pravin Rao takes over).

Nilekani was later named non-executive chairman. Infosys elevated chief operating officer U B Pravin Rao as interim chief executive. A search for a successor to Sikka is still on.

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