Infosys chairman: No negotiations, but founder inputs will be considered
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R. Seshasayee, non-executive chairman of Infosys Ltd, faced an uncertain future last week, after Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy publicly criticized some of the decisions taken by the company’s board and expressed unhappiness over what he described as corporate governance lapses at the Bengaluru-based IT firm.
In an interview with Mint on Monday, Seshasayee called the incident part of the transformation underway at Infosys (which is making the transition from a founder-run company to one run by professionals). He also dismissed talk of a negotiation which, according to many, had brought about a temporary truce between the founders, the Infosys board and CEO Vishal Sikka.
It looks like it remains an unresolved issue though statements from all quarters are a lot more toned down. Murthy has said that he has not withdrawn. It looks like you are not seeing eye-to-eye and concerns remain.
The only thing I will say is that there will be always be concerns as part of growing up or change. But I will do everything to make sure this does not spill into the public domain, simply because the more people get into it, the more the water gets muddied and it becomes more difficult to have a communication. So I will do everything I have to.
So, you have not got some kind of assurance that this thing will not happen again?
I don’t think I am somebody who will go and ask for an assurance. But Mr Murthy and I met, and we said we will resolve it but not in a manner where others get involved.
Are we then saying that this founder-board thing has to be included as a risk factor for Infosys?
I hope not. See, I don’t guarantee any outcome. But we have to work towards that.
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Going forward, is there some kind of compromise or negotiation involved...
There is no negotiation. I have made it clear. We have inputs coming from promoters. We have a set of duties to perform as part of our overall fiduciary responsibilities. We will do everything we can to address the concerns, inputs we get from promoters within the framework we have for the company. Sometimes we cannot. But I don’t think there is any kind of negotiation.
So the Infosys board sees the founders as normal shareholders.
This is what it is. And this is what we have always maintained.
Some of the complaints or issues were raised by the founders... Were there founders other than Murthy who also raised them?
This is something you don’t have to get into. Why are you getting into this? That is a question you should ask the founders. Are all of you together? Please don’t ask me.
Looking at the remarks Murthy made about you in public... you, with over 40 years in public life, are more like a family friend of his. How do you view this?
I’m probably unusual in this in that I don’t get stressed out by these kinds of things. It doesn’t matter to me. It is my personality. So you can read it that way. That is all. It does not matter. I fear my conscience.
Have you and Murthy met since this issue became public?
I have met him and I would like to maintain that it is only the two of us talking and convincing each other. Sometimes it spills over but you’ve got to pull back. You’ve got to have the maturity to do that. And both of us have maturity.