Info-tech

Nilekani seeks to allay fears, promises to take everybody along

PTI New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018

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Nandan Nilekani, who returned as the Chairman of Infosys after founders staged a dramatic coup, today sought to allay concerns of investors and employees, saying he will focus on finding a CEO, recasting the board and bringing in stability at the troubled technology icon.

Nilekani, 62, one of Infosys’ seven founders and also a former CEO, said he wants to put the company on “the right stable path” and “ensure there are no discordant voices in the company and everyone is on the same page".

Nilekani has been called in to steer Infosys after Chairman R Seshasayee and three other directors quit, meeting the key demand of founder group led by N. R. Narayana Murthy.

The founders had clashed with the board —— often publicly —— in recent months over the company’s performance, corporate governance and compensation of former CEO Vishal Sikka. Sikka stepped down last Friday, citing slander by promoters.

At that time, the board criticised Murthy, who in the following days moved swiftly to get investors as well as other founders to back him.

“I have come in to focus on the future of the company, I have come in to take the company forward and deal with its challenges,” he said in an investor call arranged within hours of his appointment.

“I plan to be here as long as necessary and work as hard as necessary,” he said.

Nilekani, who was the CEO for five years until 2007 before becoming co-chairman, said he would engage with all shareholders and customers, and work to resolve differences over corporate governance.

With revenue rising four-fold to $2 billion under his watch, Nilekani left Infosys in 2009 to shape the world’s biggest biometric ID programme, Aadhaar.

Stating that he has no intention to become CEO of the company, he said the future strategy of Infosys will be aligned with global developments and he sees tremendous opportunity in software data and machine learning.

“I will focus my attention on the future of the business and customer needs, and show demonstrable progress,” he added.

Stating that it is too premature for him to comment on Infosys’ strategy and earnings, he committed himself to upholding the highest standards of corporate governance at the IT major.

Nilekani promised to offer more details of the strategy in October and is focussed on bringing “complete stability“.

About the founders, he said he was an “admirer” of Murthy and “will ensure Infosys, Murthy and other founders have a healthy relationship“.

“I will ensure there are no discordant voices in the company and everyone is on the same page,” he asserted.

“Many good practices (of corporate governance) including full disclosures and transparency, SEC filings... were spearheaded by Infosys,” he pointed out.

Infosys will be a board-managed company with high standards of corporate governance, he stressed, vowing to restore its former glory.

Nilekani made it clear that as the non-Executive Chairman, his role will be oversight, governance and functioning and to help with the CEO search that will include internal and external candidates as well as Infosys “alumni“.

He emphasised that he will stay as long as necessary, but declined to put a timeline to his latest stint. Finding a new CEO soon and reconstituting the board will be parallel activities, Nilekani pointed out.

Published on August 25, 2017

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