Infosys: Ritika Suri, who led contentious Panaya buy, quits; opens up challenge for Vishal Sikka

It is surprising that Ritika Suri has quit despite the independent probe finding there was no wrongdoing in Panaya acquisition, which she had steered

FP Staff July 19, 2017 07:50:34 IST
Infosys: Ritika Suri, who led contentious Panaya buy, quits; opens up challenge for Vishal Sikka

Infosys executive vice-president Ritika Suri, who was focused on getting large deals, has resigned from the company, media reports said citing sources, bringing the focus back on high-level exits at the software major.

Suri, who led the acquisition of Israeli automation technology firm Panaya for Infosys, was based out of the US. A former executive at SAP, Suri was brought into Infosys by CEO Vishal Sikka in September 2014. She was later elevated as the EVP (Corporate Development and Ventures).

She also helped Infosys set up a $500 million Infosys Innovation Fund to invest in startups, and especially those working on areas like artificial intelligence and automation.

Sources said Suri put in her papers last week and is serving her notice period. They did not wish to be identified as they are not authorised to speak on the matter.

The reason for Suri’s exit could not be ascertained.

Infosys Ritika Suri who led contentious Panaya buy quits opens up challenge for Vishal Sikka

Reuters

When contacted, Infosys said, “We do not comment on speculations related to appointments or exits of executives other than key management personnel.”

Sikka had told PTI in January that of the venture fund corpus a little over $62 million had been invested. The fund was set up in 2013 with a corpus of $100 million for startups and other innovative businesses outside the company. The size of the fund was expanded to $500 million in January 2015.

The startups that the company invested included Stellaris Venture Partners, Unsilo, Trifacta, Cloudyn and TidalScale. These investments are expected to play a major role in helping Infosys reach its “aspirational goal” of $20 billion revenues by 2020.

In the June quarter, Infosys had written down its entire carrying value of the investment in its associate DWA Nova LLC, an Infosys Innovation Fund investment.

"The impact of write down on Q1 net profit is USD 11 million," the company had said.

Suri was earlier engaged in a mergers and acquisitions role and led the contentious acquisition of Israeli automation technology firm, Panaya.

However, two anonymous letters in February 2017 alleged wrongdoing in some of Infosys' acquisitions, including Panaya, improper contracting and CEO compensation as well as expenditures.

In February 2015, Infosys had announced buying the Israeli automation technology company for $200 million or Rs 1,250 crore in cash.

After the allegations, the company had instituted an independent forensic investigation by US law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. The results of the probe that came out last month, gave a clean chit to Suri on the deal.

On the acquisition, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher had said it did not find any evidence of "inappropriate contracting" or that the mergers and acquisitions team failed to obtain appropriate approvals.

Company observers are surprised at the sudden development. “Even if the company and chief executive Sikka received a clean chit from US law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher on allegations over Panaya deal, Suri’s resignation within a month after the investigation report appears surprising,” a former Infosys executive is quoted as saying in a report in the Business Standard.

It is also to be noted that the exit comes at a time when the company is looking to acquire large deals in its markets.

In the first quarter of the current financial year, the company had added eight clients in $100 million category.

The exit of the senior executive also comes on the heels of the departure of Infosys' Americas Head Sandeep Dadlani, who was responsible for about one-third of the company's annual business.

Ever since Sikka became the CEO, the company has seen 10 high-level exits, according to the BS report.

Suri's exit shows the painful transition of the company continues to pose challenge for Sikka.

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