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Why Murthy-Nilekani clash is unlikely at Infosys

Murthy is unhappy with the Infosys board being cleared by the new chairman of any alleged wrongdoing in the Panaya deal and the severance payout to former CFO Rajiv Bansal

Raghu Krishnan  |  Bengaluru 

N R Narayana Murthy
Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy

In his outburst against the board, led by his protégé Nandan Nilekani, co-founder has hinted that the issue of governance failure he had earlier raised during Vishal Sikka’s tenure would be buried forever.

Yes, Murthy is unhappy with the eventual outcome: The clean chit given to Sikka and the board led by R Seshasayee in the issue of the alleged violations in spending $200 million for acquiring Israeli tech firm Panaya and the subsequent severance payout to former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal.

He has to bite his tongue and remain silent. The clean chit was given by Nilekani after he reviewed the independent probe report on the transactions. In fact, the review also found that there was no violation in disclosures, a claim that Murthy continues to contest. “Sadly, it appears we will no longer know the truth,” Murthy wrote in a statement hours after absolved the earlier board.

Since the beginning, Nilekani was part of Murthy's journey of bringing in good governance standards that set apart from the rest. So much so that the governance standards that set saved the Indian IT services industry from any embarrassment in the aftermath of the Satyam scandal and helped the sector grow.

Will Murthy begin another campaign on the same issue?  

It is unlikely that the founders will get into a public spat like the Murthy-Seshasayee one earlier. Nor will Seshasayee, given his statement that bringing stability back at is priority. Sikka, who has signed a non-disparagement agreement with Infosys, has also remained silent.

Nilekani, who knows Murthy all too well, has already bought peace with his former boss. Having built over three decades and made the company what it is, Murthy likes to be associated with the company.

“The board will continue to represent the interest of all the shareholders. I would also like to acknowledge the leadership role Mr Narayana Murthy has played in building this iconic institution and in corporate governance matters. Going forward, it is our endeavour to build a trusting relationship with Mr Murthy,” Nilekani said in a statement.

He dismissed a spat with Murthy and the former board as one of people with passion for the company.

Seshasayee and Sikka had different priorities and were too busy focusing on their strategy and had overlooked the need to engage more frequently with Murthy. Nilekani has made the amends.

First Published: Wed, October 25 2017. 14:14 IST