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Not seeking power, position for children: Infosys founder Narayana Murthy amid row over Vishal Sikka’s resignation

Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy said he “voluntarily left board in 2014” and was not seeking any money, position for children or power.

business Updated: Aug 18, 2017 17:11 IST
PTI
PTI
New Delhi
Infosys,NR Narayana Murthy,Vishal Sikka
Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy(Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint File Photo)

Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy on Friday said he is not seeking “any money, position for children, or power”, while expressing anguish over the board’s allegations that his “continuous assault” led to Vishal Sikka quitting as CEO.

Murthy, who has been in a long-running battle with the board and top management of the company he founded with six others over three decades ago, said his concern primarily was the “deteriorating standard” of corporate governance at Infosys.

He also questioned the investigations that cleared the technology major of all charges of mismanagement.

In a surprise announcement, Infosys today said Sikka has quit as CEO after nearly three years on the post.

It issued a strongly-worded statement earlier in the day blaming Murthy’s “continuous assault” as the primary reason for Sikka’s quitting.

The company’s board alleged that Murthy has repeatedly made “inappropriate” demands, which are inconsistent with his stated desire for stronger governance and that his “campaign” has intensified over time.

“I am extremely anguished by the allegations, tone and tenor of the statements... I will reply to these allegations in the right manner and in the right forum and at the appropriate time,” Murthy said in an emailed statement.

Murthy said several shareholders, who have read the whistle-blower report, had told him that an “impartial and objective investigation” is not held in the manner in which Infosys’ probe happened.

“...several shareholders who have read the whistle-blower report have told me that it is hard to believe a report produced by a set of lawyers hired by a set of accused, giving a clean chit to the accused and the accused refusing to disclose why they got a clean chit!” Murthy quipped.

He further said: “They say that this is not the way an impartial and objective investigation should be held”.

Infosys Chairman R Seshasayee responded to Murthy’s allegations saying the suggestion that renowned law and audit firms will connive with the Board and overlook ‘misdeeds’ of the CEO and post a clean report, is “completely untenable”.

Seshasayee and co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan, however, ruled out any legal action against Murthy.

Here is Narayana Murthy’s full statement:

“I have read the statement issued by the Board of Directors of Infosys.

I am extremely anguished by the allegations, tone and tenor of the statements. I voluntarily left the Board in 2014 and am not seeking any money, position for children or power. My concern primarily was the deteriorating standard of corporate governance which I have repeatedly brought to the notice of the Infosys board.

It is below my dignity to respond to such baseless insinuations. However, several shareholders who have read the whistle-blower report have told me that it is hard to believe a report produced by a set of accused, giving a clean chit to the accused, and the accused refusing to disclose why they got a clean chit! They say that this is not the way an impartial and objective investigation should be held.

I will reply to these allegations in the right manner and in the right forum and at the appropriate time.”

The Infosys Divide: From Vishal Sikka’s appointment to resgination
Photo: AP
  • Aug 2014: Vishal Sikka, former SAP AG executive board member, takes over from SD Shibulal as Infosys chief executive to revive fortunes of the company
  • Dec 2014: Some of Infosys’s founders - N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, SD Shibulal and K Dinesh - sell shares worth $1.1 billion in the company, cashing in on a more than 20 percent gain in the stock since Sikka’s appointment.
  • Feb 2016: Board decides to extend Sikka’s tenure by two years to 2021.
  • Feb 2017: Infosys says it addressed concerns about executive pay after media reported that its founders had complained about decisions including a pay hike for Sikka.
  • Feb 2017: Company reassures investors and analysts it was not being distracted by a dispute with founders.
  • April 2017: Founder Murthy criticises salary hike given to Chief Operating Officer Pravin Rao
  • April 2017: Company announces $2 billion cash return to shareholders and appoints independent director Ravi Venkatesan as co-chairman of board, moves seen aimed at placating some founders and former executives who were critical about the management.
  • Aug 2017: Sikka resigns as CEO, citing a stream of distractions and disruptions.
Source: Reuters

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 14:48 IST