Board Attacks Narayana Murthy, Vishal Sikka Quits As Infosys CEO

In to turn around Infosys three years ago the chief executive, Vishal Sikka has brought, resigned suddenly today, blaming a "continuous drumbeat of distractions" and a long-running row with founders over the tech firm's strategy.
The departure of Mr Sikka, spooked Infosys' investors. Shares fell more than 13 percent to a three-year low of 884.20 rupees, wiping about $4.85 billion off the No.2 IT services firm's market value.
UB Pravin Rao, Infosys' chief operating officer, was named interim managing director and CEO. Who will take on the executive vice chairman role until a permanent CEO takes charge, which should be no later than end-March 2018 Mr Rao will report this to Mr Sikka,, Infosys said.

The company's board came out in support of Mr Sikka and said in a statement that founder and former-chairman Narayana Murthy's continuous assault was the main reason for Mr Sikka's resignation.

 

Mr Murthy said he was "extremely anguished by the allegations, tone and tenor of the statements" and that his main concern was the deteriorating standard of corporate governance.

According to media reports, Mr Murthy in a recent email quoted some Infosys independent directors as saying that Mr Sikka was "not a CEO material but CTO material".

The founders still owns about 12.75% of Infosys, have in the past questioned a pay rise granted to Mr Sikka, as well as the size of severance payouts given to others, including the company's former finance head Rajiv Bansal.

"I cannot carry out my job as CEO and continue to create value, while also constantly defending against unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks," Mr Sikka said in a blog post.

"The distractions, the very public noise around us, have created an untenable atmosphere," he said.

Since Mr Sikka came to the helm of Infosys on Aug. 1, 2014, shares of the company have jumped more than 20 per cent, as of their close on Thursday, outperforming the about 5 per cent gain in the Nifty IT index.

Mr Sikka had set an ambitious 2020 revenue target of $20 billion for Infosys. To reach this goal it is likely to struggle as the $150-billion Indian IT services industry battles a slowdown in new deals from western clients, and braces for changes to work visa rules in the United States.

Apple, Volkswagen and Wal-Mart Stores Inc counts by Infosys among its customers, has under-performed the Nifty IT index this year amid public attacks from its founders and the U.S. challenges.

"To change the way we do business Sikka was trying," said an Infosys engineer. "He was trying to make Infosys an innovation-driven company, not a commoditised service provider it has come to be known for," the employee said, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Mr Sikka's resignation comes a day ahead of a board meeting that could green light a major share buyback. In April, Infosys said it would return up to 13,000 Crores to shareholders in the fiscal year ending March 2018.

 

 

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