On a dark grey day in Bangalore, the 32nd AGM of Infosys, India’s third largest software exporter, had its own set of cloud surrounding the company’s performance.

The meeting, always held at Christ’s College, saw a majority of the shareholders welcoming N.R. Narayana Murthy back to the company, hoping he will restore some of its shine that seems to be wearing off.

Keshava Anada Shastry, one of the shareholders, said: “IT Pitamaha, welcome.” This drew applause.

Shastry, referring to reports on Murthy’s age and experience, said in a global company such as Infosys, age is not a bar but efficiency, tactics, intelligence and other yardsticks come into play.

Better dividend

But almost all the shareholders had their own share of grievances.

The first one had to do with dividend.

Shareholders felt that the dividend payout could have been better, especially since the company is not using the cash for making big ticket acquisitions.

Infosys had declared a total dividend of Rs 47 (with bonus thrown in) in the 2012 fiscal compared with Rs 42 in the 2013 fiscal.

“Now that you are back, will you look at using this cash in the form of acquisitions?” asked a shareholder.

Insider trading

The company has Rs 23,958 crore cash in its balance sheet.

There were concerns around insider trading issues on the day before Murthy was recalled on June 1.

Interestingly, on Friday the market regulator SEBI had asked Infosys to submit some ‘clarifications’ regarding the board meeting that decided to recall Murthy, and the company had complied, according to Infosys officials.

Tamal Kumar Mazumdar, an investor who flew from Kolkata, said that insider trading is a serious issue and stringent action needs to be taken if proved guilty.

Opposition

Some shareholders opposed Murthy’s comeback and according to K. Narayan, an investor, Narayana Murthy minus Infosys has resulted in a poor performance.

“Murthy has done so much for the company to expect him to come back from retirement does not bode well for the leadership.”

Murthy, as usual, acknowledged every feedback and at times even had an embarrassing smile.

(This article was published on June 15, 2013)
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