executive Ashok Vemuri
has rejected an offer from the company to be its chief executive officer, an indication that efforts of its chairman Nandan Nilekani
to lure its alumni working at global companies
to head India's second-largest software exporter will be tough.
Vemuri had quit Infosys
in 2014 after founder N R Narayana Murthy
overlooked him for the top post and brought Vishal Sikka
as the company's CEO. Since then, Vemuri moved to mid-sized IT services firm iGATE and helped its promoters sell the company to Capgemini before joining Conduent, a technology services firm carved out of Xerox.
At Conduent, his brief is to cut costs by moving more work offshore to countries such as India, the Philippines and Guatemala, embrace automation, and improve profitability.
"...Whenever I have been approached for an assignment such as you described, I have not engaged and rejected any such overture. As far as I'm concerned, that is the end of that," Vemuri told an analyst after the September quarter results for Conduent.
Infosys' hunt for a new CEO has been on since co-founder Nandan Nilekani
returned in August at the helm of the company after former Sikka quit, making investors lose confidence in the firm.
Sikka had cited continuing distractions over Murthy's allegations of corporate governance failures which led to a public spat between the Infosys
board led by R Seshasayee and the founders. Seshasayee and two independent directors also quit.
At the centre of the controversy was the $200-million acquisition of Israeli technology firm Panaya
and the subsequent severance pay to former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal. An independent probe had cleared both Sikka and the Infosys
board of any wrongdoing.
Nilekani returned, rather reluctantly, when investors and founders approached him after the Infosys
board shakeout. One of his first moves was to task executive search firm Egon Zehnder with hunting for a new CEO and making an open call for alumni who were senior executives of global technology firms. Biocon Chairman & Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, an independent board member, heads the search committee at Infosys.
"I wanted to emphatically state that I'm committed to Conduent, our clients, employees and shareholders; we are in the midst of a very exciting transformation journey that is progressing well and I have the support of my clients, my board, and my team. This, as you all know, is a multiple-year journey and I intend to see that to completion. I'm committed to building Conduent
into an industry-leading profitable and market-leading enterprise that will be sustainable over many years," said Vemuri.
Besides Vemuri, Infosys
has also reached out to B G Srinivas, who currently is the global managing director for PCCW Group in Hong Kong. For now, U B Pravin Rao continues to drive the operations as interim CEO and MD.
Nilekani, who has given a clean chit to Sikka, has retained the former CEO's software-plus-services strategy to grow its business for the future.