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Top takeaways from Nilekani's first investor call after return to Infosys

The new non-executive chairman hinted at a global hunt for the next CEO

BS Web Team 

Nandan Nilekani
Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani

Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, who returned as the company's non-executive chairman on Thursday, claimed he was a consensus builder who would engage with all stakeholders -- that is evident in the unanimous support he has received from the Infosys board, its founders, including N R Narayana Murthy, global and domestic investors, and employees.

Nilekani indicated India’s second-largest software services firm would embark on a global hunt for its next chief executive officer. The company was looking for a CEO who would be able to manage a large global company, accelerate the execution of its strategy and oversee its transformation, Nilekani said at an investor call. The candidate would also need to have a strong hold on technology and the ability to build and strengthen relationships with all stakeholders, he added.

Nilekani reiterated that he was looking to expand the board and working on the company’s strategy that aligns with the disruptive changes globally, where data are critical while maintaining good corporate governance.

Nilekani also stressed that he would be responsible for board oversight and governance at the company and maintaining stability between the founders and the company. 

Here are the top takeaways from the investor call: 

1. Nilekani will look for a new CEO from within and outside the company; he will also consider Infosys alumni for the post. The nominations committee, headed by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw will drive the hunt for Infosys’ new CEO. “The committee will simultaneously come up with a plan for board reconstitution.

2.Nilekani will also take part in client conversations if required, in a bid to steer the company towards a “super stable, high growth path. Moreover he will look into any lapses in corporate governance and wrong doing from a legal point of view.

3 Nilekani said that it was too soon to speak about the company’s earnings, guidance, revenues and transformation.

4. Nilekani will stay as long as necessary. “I will stay as long as necessary, I will go once I am no longer necessary,” he said, without giving a time frame for his second stint at Infosys. This is the second time a founder has returned to Infosys to sort out its mess after Murthy came back in 2013 to reboot confidence among employees and customers, before he handed over the baton to Sikka in 2014.  Nilekani ran the company as chief executive for five years until 2007 before becoming co-chairman.  In 2009, he left Infosys to lead the rollout of the world's biggest database of biometrics, the Aadhaar identity programme.
 
5. "My role is holistic, will interact with all stakeholders as the goal is to ensure stability between the founders and the company,” Nilekani said. One of the main tasks in his comeback role, he said is to bring down the noise in the system and bring alignment between management and shareholders. "Will take every effort to ensure that business performance is intact, see no disruption in near term," he said. He also saw no issues in clients' relationship with Infosys."

6. Nilekani said he had been named non-executive chairman unanimously by the entire board and that he enjoyed the full backing of N.R. Narayana Murthy and the other Infosys founders as well as shareholders, especially those that wanted him back at the helm. 

7. Infosys would also take a decision on whether to disclose the complete report of the investigation into the company’s acquisition of Panaya. Disagreements between founders and the board centred around a rise in Sikka's pay, the acquisition of Israeli automation firm Panaya for $200 million and a severance package offered to a former finance chief.

8.While Nilekani refrained from commenting on Infosys’ future strategy, he said it would be aligned with global developments and that he saw tremendous opportunity in software data and machine learning. He said he would engage with all shareholders and customers, and work to resolve differences over corporate governance.

9. He also announced that the company will conduct a board meet next week. Nilekani will articulate new business strategy in October 

Listen to the full conference call here:
 

First Published: Fri, August 25 2017. 12:07 IST