Vishal Sikka resigned because of continuous assault by Narayan Murthy: Infosys board

UB Pravin Rao has been appointed as interim-managing director and chief executive of Infosys. The company said it has appointed Vishal Sikka as the executive vice-chairman.
NR Narayana Murthy with Vishal Sikka in Bangalore.(Mint File Photo)
NR Narayana Murthy with Vishal Sikka in Bangalore.(Mint File Photo)
Updated on Aug 18, 2017 03:00 PM IST
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Livemint | ByAnirban Sen and Varun Sood

Infosys Ltd faults what it termed founder NR Narayana Murthy’s ‘continuous assault and misguided campaign’ as the primary reason behind the abrupt exit of chief executive Vishal Sikka.

“Mr. Murthy’s continuous assault, including this latest letter, is the primary reason that the CEO, Dr. Vishal Sikka, has resigned despite strong board support,” said a statement by Infosys to the stock exchange on Friday. “Mr. Murthy’s campaign against the board and the company has had the unfortunate effect to undermine the company’s efforts to transform itself. The board has been engaged in a dialogue with the founder to resolve his concerns over the course of a year, trying earnestly to find feasible solutions within the boundaries of law and without compromising its independence. These dialogues have unfortunately not been successful”

In a scathing six-page letter to the stock exchange, Infosys said that the board believed it should set the record straight on the false and misleading charges made by Murthy because the founder’s actions and demands are damaging the company.

“The board declines to speculate about Mr. Murthy’s motive for carrying out this campaign, including the latest letter.”

Infosys declined to state which letter it is referring but Murthy claimed in an email, dated 9 August, to some of his advisers that he had been told by at least three independent directors of the company that Vishal Sikka was more chief technology officer (CTO) material than chief executive officer (CEO) material.

“All that I hear from at least three independent directors, including Mr Ravi Venkatesan (co-chairman), are complaints about Dr Sikka. They have told me umpteen times that Dr Sikka is not a CEO material but CTO material. This is the view of at least three members of the board, and not my view since I have not seen him operate from the vantage point of an Infosys board member,” Murthy said in the email.

This development, according to people familiar with the development, could possibly make it difficult for Murthy to return to the company.

“The same news of Rajiv (Bansal; the former CFO) separation, Panaya acquisition, over and over and over and over again gets published. And it is sickening. I’m here in California and every time you wake up in the morning, and you read that, and then you say this is too much. It makes it difficult to bring about a change culture,” said Sikka in an investor call with analysts on Friday. “All this slows down your ability to bring about a change”

“It is a disservice to the company as it creates a negative environment and I had two long meetings with Ravi (Venkatesan; co-chairman) over the last couple of months. Sesh (R Seshsayee; chairman) has been here in Palo (Alto) and I met with him with six or seven times. And like Ravi said this morning we came to this conclusion this morning, and I told him, I just could not do this anymore”

Mint is reaching out to Murthy and will update this article with his response soon.

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