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Did this email from Narayana Murthy trigger Vishal Sikka to resign as Infosys CEO & MD?


From being an “ideal choice for the post” according to Narayana Murthy, things changed for the worse for Vishal Sikka at Infosys

Vishal Sikka, in the year 2014 took over as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Infosys and after three years, he has resigned from his position. While the company has gone through many ups and down in these years, the one thing which has been very dynamic was founder Narayan Murthy’s comments on Sikka and the corporate governance in the company. When Sikka became the CEO, Murthy was highly pleased and praised him for bringing valuable experience as a leader of a large global corporation. From being an “ideal choice for the post”, things changed for the worse for Sikka. While all the chaos led to Sikka quitting, there is one email which Narayan Murthy apparently wrote, that might have triggered the decision. According to a report in Mint, Narayana Murthy wrote an email to a few of his advisers where he claimed to have been told by ‘at least three independent directors of the company that Vishal Sikka was more chief technology officer (CTO) material than chief executive officer (CEO) material’.

Mint, in its report on August 18, claimed that the email was written on August 9. Though the paper did not confirm the claims, it said that the email was authenticated by a few anonymous employees of the company. Narayana Murthy, in the email, apparently claimed that even Ravi Venkatesan (co-chairman) had complaints regarding Sikka. However, Murthy said that it was not his view since he was not a board member. He has recently gone public many times expressing concerns regarding the corporate governance of Infosys. In January 2017, Infosys founders N R Narayana Murthy, Kris Gopalakrishnan and Nandan Nilekani wrote to the board expressing their concerns over corporate governance with the board, including the quantum of salary hike given to the CEO Vishal Sikka and the size of the severance packages given to two former executives.

In the letter, Mint cited Murthy as saying that he has nothing against Sikka and has “never commented about his strategy or its execution”. He added that the problem was in the governance at the company. Interestingly, Murthy has not named the directors who had expressed a loss of confidence in Sikka.

According to a report in TOI, Narayana Murthy and other founding members, Kris Gopalakrishnan, Nandan Nilekani, S D Shibulal and K Dinesh have been planning to cut all their ties with Infosys, a company they founded back in 1981.

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