Rajiv Bansal issue at Infosys could have been handled better: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Infosys independent director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is hopeful of a early solution to the severance pay issue as rift between Narayana Murthy and Vishal Sikka widens


Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon, and an independent director at Infosys. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon, and an independent director at Infosys. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru: Infosys Ltd board member Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has offered an olive branch to placate company co-founder, N.R. Narayana Murthy and asked the founders to iron out differences through talks, acknowledging that the issue of severance payments made to former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal could have been handled much better.

Independent director Mazumdar-Shaw, who is also chairman and managing director of Biocon Ltd, said she is hopeful a solution will be reached “soon”, in what can be described as reconciliatory measures by the board, even as fissures deepen between some of the founders and the company.

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“In hindsight, I personally believe that the niggling issue of severance payments made to former CFO Rajiv Bansal could have been handled better by the board,” Mazumdar-Shaw said in an interview on Saturday.

Shaw is also part of the five-member nomination and remuneration committee, which agreed to give Bansal a generous severance pay of Rs17.38 crore in October 2015. Later, the company stopped outstanding payments, reportedly after the founders expressed their displeasure.

“Being a part of the remuneration committee, I believe we could have asked more tough questions when this subject was brought before us on why we are paying this severance money. But the board is also making this transition to one which is led by professionals, and it is young and the management under Vishal Sikka is also new,” said Shaw.

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“So, the founders should consider all this. We need the founders’ guidance and suggestions, their experience is very helpful. After all, they set up this company. So, I’m hopeful we (the board) and the founders will be able to sit across the table and iron out differences.”

An email sent to Murthy on Saturday seeking comment went unanswered.

Shaw, however, declined to comment if the current board unanimously supports non-executive chairman R. Seshasayee, saying she cannot answer on behalf of all the independent directors. However, she added that there is no division in the board.

Shaw’s efforts to reach out to Murthy come amid news that CEO Vishal Sikka and Seshasayee will hold a press conference on Monday, addressing all questions raised by Murthy last week.

Murthy in an interview to The Economic Times questioned some of the decisions made by the board over the last 10 months, and was scathing in remarks on two of the senior-most board members of Infosys, nominations and remuneration panel head Jeffrey Lehman and Seshasayee.

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