Infosys blames Narayana Murthy’s ‘continuous assault’ for Vishal Sikka’s resignation
Bengaluru: Infosys Ltd faults what it termed founder N.R.Narayana Murthy’s ‘continuous assault and misguided campaign’ as the primary reason behind the abrupt exit of chief executive Vishal Sikka.
“Mr. Murthy’s continuous assault, including this latest letter, is the primary reason that the CEO, Dr. Vishal Sikka, has resigned despite strong board support,” said a statement by Infosys to the stock exchange on Friday. “Mr. Murthy’s campaign against the board and the company has had the unfortunate effect to undermine the company’s efforts to transform itself. The board has been engaged in a dialogue with the founder to resolve his concerns over the course of a year, trying earnestly to find feasible solutions within the boundaries of law and without compromising its independence. These dialogues have unfortunately not been successful.”
Narayana Murthy on Friday said he was ‘extremely anguished by the allegations, tone and tenor of statements made by the board, it below his dignity to respond to baseless insinuations.
In a scathing six-page letter to the stock exchange, Infosys said that the board believed it should set the record straight on the false and misleading charges made by Murthy because the founder’s actions and demands are damaging the company.
“The board declines to speculate about Mr. Murthy’s motive for carrying out this campaign, including the latest letter.”
Infosys declined to state which letter it is referring but Murthy claimed in an email, dated 9 August, to some of his advisers that he had been told by at least three independent directors of the company that Vishal Sikka was more chief technology officer (CTO) material than chief executive officer (CEO) material.
“All that I hear from at least three independent directors, including Mr Ravi Venkatesan (co-chairman), are complaints about Dr Sikka. They have told me umpteen times that Dr Sikka is not a CEO material but CTO material. This is the view of at least three members of the board, and not my view since I have not seen him operate from the vantage point of an Infosys board member,” Murthy said in the email.
Murthy on Friday also released the contents of a letter to advisors dated 14 August, 2017 where he had said that he did not wish to comment on Sikka’s work, and that his concerns are around governance at Infosys.
“I believe that the fault lies with the current board. We just want the board to protect the institution rather than protecting some individuals like the board is doing today,” Murthy had said in his mail to advisors.
This development, according to people familiar with the development, could possibly make it difficult for Murthy to return to the company.
“The same news of Rajiv (Bansal; the former CFO) separation, Panaya acquisition, over and over and over and over again gets published. And it is sickening. I’m here in California and every time you wake up in the morning, and you read that, and then you say this is too much. It makes it difficult to bring about a change culture,” said Sikka in an investor call with analysts on Friday. “All this slows down your ability to bring about a change”
“It is a disservice to the company as it creates a negative environment and I had two long meetings with Ravi (Venkatesan; co-chairman) over the last couple of months. Sesh (R Seshsayee; chairman) has been here in Palo (Alto) and I met with him with six or seven times. And like Ravi said this morning we came to this conclusion this morning, and I told him, I just could not do this anymore”