Infosys war may shift offline

The tug-of-war of professionals-led management and the founders in Infosys may go under the carpet for sometime as the co-founder, NR Narayan Murthy is believed to have agreed with chairman R Seshasayee's suggestion to continue discussion on "coporate governance issues" offline. In a media conference Seshasayee said that he conveyed to Murthy about the disturbances that the public debate creates.

Earlier, Murthy denied that he had withdrawn his concerns about governance lapses at the firm, saying that the board has to address these "properly" and "full transparency should be displayed and people responsible for it should become accountable".

It gives indications that the issues in Infosys are not going to die down soon, however, it will be out of public eyes. Seshasayee said he was answerable to all the stakeholders, not only to founder-shareholders. "We will listen to the founders. But at the same time, we are answerable to the all the shareholders of Infosys," he said.

"We are in a glass house. So we can't misbehave. But don't stare at us for too long. We will be distracted," he added. Seshasayee replied to a query that he would continue in Infosys until the board says to go.

Last week, Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy questioned the corporate governance at the country's second largest software exporter, citing the Rs 17.38 crore severance settlement to former Chief Financial Officer Rajiv Bansal. He also questioned the actions of Seshasayee and independent director Jeffrey Lehman.

CEO Vishal Sikka's $11 million compensation has also been a topic of debate, but Murthy and others have reiterated their faith in Sikka, calling this a battle of corporate governance irregularities.

"Founders' concerns about Bansal's severance is valid. But the suspicion that it was 'hush-money' was deeply disturbing," said Seshasayee. "There was a business judgement; there was application of mind by the board. Looking behind, that judgement would have been different if circumstances were different," he added. He stressed that a new severance package plan has been put in place to ensure there are "no more Rajiv Bansals" to happen.

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