Media 'drama' around Infosys distracting, says CEO Vishal Sikka

New Delhi/Bengaluru: Pitted against a clutch of high-profile co-founders, Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka today said the "drama" going on in the media is "very distracting", even as the firm's longest serving chairman N R Narayana Murthy insisted concerns over corporate governance be addressed "properly."

Making his first public statement on the row that broke out after co-founders Murthy, Nandan Nilekani and Kris Gopalakrishnan wrote to Infosys Board questioning hike in
CEO's compensation and severance pay to quiting executives, Sikka said the company is based on a very strong fabric.

"All this drama that has been going on in the media, it's very distracting. It takes away attention but underneath that there is a very strong fabric that this company is based," he said at an investor conference in Mumbai.

"And it is a real privilege for me to be its leader," he added.

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka. Reuters

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka. Reuters

Sikka said he has always shared a "heartfelt, warm relationship" with Murthy.

"My relationship with the founders? It is wonderful. I meet Mr Murthy quite frequently...I have always had a heartfelt warm relationship with Mr Murthy, probably meet him 4-5-6 times a year," he said, but added that he has not met the other founders off late.

Sikka's comments came after a media report said Murthy is calling off his fight with the board as he was confident the IT giant he co-founded will deal with the concerns raised about corporate governance.

But Murthy, who along with other co-founders holds some 13 percent interest in Infosys, said he has not withdrawn his concerns.

"No, I have not withdrawn my concern. They have to be addressed properly by the Board and full transparency should be displayed and people responsible for it should become accountable," he told PTI.

Asked about his view on the integrity of Infosys Board members, Murthy said while all the member are "good intentioned people of high integrity, but even good people
sometimes make mistakes".

"...good leadership demands that they listen to all concerned shareholders, re-evaluate their decisions, and take corrective action. I hope they take corrective action soon and improve governance for a better future for the company," he
added.

The founders have aired concerns about CEO Vishal Sikka's USD 11 million pay and expensive severance packages for former executives Rajiv Bansal (CFO) and David Kennedy (General Counsel)

Describing Murthy as an "incredible man", Sikka said the two usually discussed topics like quantum physics and technology whenever they met.

"The other day he was telling me about the Paris Metro and how he worked on the Paris Metro in the 1970s before he started Infosys, and it had this whole ideas about automation and autonomous driving and all," he reminisced at Kotak's Chasing Growth Conference in Mumbai.

Sikka is scheduled to meet media representatives this evening along with some Board members.

Infosys, on its part, has denied any governance lapses and said it has made "full disclosures" on all developments. Another issue that some of the former senior executives have raised is the company's huge cash pile of USD 5.25 billion.

Asked about his views on the matter, Sikka said his "official" answer is that the Board, from time to time, will consider capital allocation policies and when there is
something to report, the company will do so.

"The unofficial answer is, you look at the circumstances over the next 4-5 years, what you need the capital for and then decide. In our case, it is the strategic growth
initiatives, capital for building infrastructure and then acquisitions," he said.

Based on how that mix changes over the next five years, one would take a decision on how the cash is utilised, he added.


Published Date: Feb 13, 2017 03:26 pm | Updated Date: Feb 13, 2017 03:26 pm