To turn entrepreneur; sets up VC fund with Mohandas Pai, Girish Paranjpe

V. Balakrishnan, ‘Bala’, a key board member at Infosys and considered a hot favourite for the chief executive officer’s job, said on Friday that he is leaving the company by the end of December.

This is the eighth high-profile exit at the IT major since May 2012. In a statement, Infosys’ Chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy, who returned to the helm in June 2013, said: “It is difficult to imagine Infosys without Bala’s passion, commitment and intellect.”

Bala currently heads Infosys BPO, India business, banking software unit Finacle, and consulting subsidiary Lodestone. His roles will be shared by co-founder of the company and its Executive Co-Chairman, Kris Gopalakrishnan, who will head the BPO business on an interim basis while the head of European operations as well as global head for financial services and insurance unit, B.G. Srinivas, will hold additional charge of the chairmanship of Lodestone Holding.

A day earlier, head of Infosys Labs Subu Goparaju announced his resignation from the company, making him the seventh senior executive to leave Infosys.

It is learnt that Bala has, along with former Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai and former Wipro Joint Managing Director Girish Paranjpe, launched a venture, Exfinity, which has a corpus of Rs 100-125 crore, that will invest in tech start-ups.

The exit of Bala, who was a front-runner for the position of CEO when S.D Shibulal retires in 2015, has surprised many analysts.

“When you consider that he was given additional responsibilities of heading growth verticals like utilities along with spearheading the consulting arm Lodestone it is surprising. But business will go on,” said A.K. Prabhakar, former head of equity research at Anand Rathi. However, others felt that this was coming.

“Many senior level people had CEO aspirations and since Murthy came back, he has signalled his own intentions and is restructuring accordingly,” said Sundararaman Viswanathan, Manager – Consulting, Zinnov.

Balakrishnan had offloaded around 9 lakh shares on November 9 and some analysts point to this as a signal that he would quit the company. This leaves the field open for B. G. Srinivas and Chandrashekar Kakal, who is the global Head of Business IT Services, for the CEO’s post.

New Directors

Even as Bala quit, Infosys inducted Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon, as an independent member of the board. The Board has also recommended the induction of Pravin Rao, Senior Vice-President and Global Head-Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods, Logistics and Life Sciences, as whole-time director.

venkatesh.ganesh@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 20, 2013)
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