Narayana Murthy ends row with Infosys board and CEO, but says his concerns remain
Vishal Sikka assured shareholders that corporate governance was the ‘core foundation’ of the company and reiterated his call to end 'media drama’.
Infosys founder Narayana Murthy on Monday tried to end his row with IT major’s board and CEO Vishak Sikka, saying he was certain the company would address his concerns about corporate governance. “I felt that I don’t want it to snowball. I don’t have the time. Neither should the board and the management be spending time on it,” he told Bloomberg, also referring to the severance pay granted to former CFO Rajiv Bansal and compliance head David Kennedy.
“Let me stop. I have made a point, paying such large sums of money is confusing. Now they have to sort it out,” Murthy said. Led by Murthy, Infosys founders Nandan Nilekani and Kris Gopalakrishnan had raised a number of concerns recently, which escalated into a publicised affair.
Besides the severance pay, they had also questioned Sikka’s reappointment as CEO and his salary hike, in addition to the appointment of Union Minister Jayant Sinha’s wife Punita Kumar Sinha and the reappointment of Jeffrey Sean Lehman as non-executive directors on the board. The differences between the board and company co-founders had affected Infosys in the stock market.
Even though Murthy said he would now leave it to the board to address the issues, he told The Economic Times he still objected to the large severance sums. “The board should address all issues and concerns. There should be full transparency...Good leaderships demands that they listen to all concerned shareholders, re-evaluate their decision and take corrective action.”
Moreover, Sikka clarified on Monday that his relationship with the founders remained “wonderful”. “I would like to assure every single shareholder that corporate governance and values were, are and will be the core foundation of this company. I will not let that standard slip even an iota under my watch,” he said, according to a statement from Infosys.
While speaking at Kotak’s Chasing Growth Conference in Mumbai, Sikka said the media “drama” around his company matters were “distracting”. “It takes away our attention, but underneath that, there is a very strong fabric that this company is based on. He had earlier urged Infosys staff to dismiss the speculation in the media.
In another development, Infosys has changed its rules to grant severance payouts to its management, after criticism from Murthy. “We have done benchmarking for severance pay, according to each country and reworked the senior management contract to reflect it,” said an independent director at Infosys, Roopa Kudva, according to Business Standard. She is also the managing director of Omidyar Network, which was brought on board to manage the social impact investments of Infosys.
The Infosys board is scheduled to address a press conference on Monday evening.