The co-founders of tech giant Infosys on Monday sold a big chunk of shares in the company in deals that totalled to about Rs 6,484 crore as they broaden their philanthropic activities.
NR Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Dinesh K and Kumari Shibulal (wife of SD Shibulal), along with other members of their families, sold 32.6 million shares, which constituted 2.8% of the company’s market capital. The move brought the bluechip stock down by nearly 5%, and the benchmark Sensex by 1.19%, the most in nearly eight weeks.
Dispelling concerns over the stake sale, former chairman Murthy said in a statement: “We have tremendous confidence in the future of Infosys and its leaders”. Nilekani did not respond to calls and message, while co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, who did not sell stakes in this round, also declined to comment.
Murthy said his family sold a minor part of their stake to continue efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and for personal philanthropic initiatives.
Commenting on the stake sale, Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka said: “The founders continue to be among the largest retail shareholders in the company. They have reiterated their commitment to the future of the company and their belief in and support of its leadership. I respect their decision of contributing towards philanthropic activities and entrepreneurship and other initiatives.”
Deutsche Equities, an arm of Deutsche Bank, which conducted the share sale on behalf of the founders, said the sale has been done to partially monetise their stake for reasons including philanthropic activities.
It said the share sale was executed at 4% discount to Friday’s closing price of Rs 1,988.87. Infosys shares have risen 23% — double of the Sensex — since Sikka was named CEO — the first non founder to head Infosys.
After stepping down from the Infosys board in November, founders and their family members had asked for their names to be removed as promoters. The founders now hold 13.12% in the company, with Murthy and family still the largest shareholders.
“Nothing can be read into this move though the timing and the quantum of the share sale is a bit surprising,” said a former board member of Infosys who asked not to identied. “They chose to sell shares in such large quantum immediately after relieving their active role in the company. If they had sold their stake in a staggered manner nobody would have noticed,” he said.