M A I N   N E W S

Struggling Infy recalls its icon NRN
Sanjeev Sharma & Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Bangalore, June 1
Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy has been brought back as executive chairman to revive the fortunes of the software exporter that was once a technology bellwether, but is now struggling. The company has lost market share to its rivals such as Tata Consultancy Services and HCL Technologies.

Murthy shed the executive role seven years ago and retired as head of Infosys in August 2011. He will replace ICICI Bank chairman KV Kamath, who will step down as Board chairman and take up the position of a lead independent director effective June 1. It is in Kamath’s tenure that the company’s shares slumped 15 per cent.

The transition at Infosys also marks the entry of Harvard educated Murthy’s son Rohan into the company as executive assistant to his father although it was clarified that he would not have a leadership role.

On leaving the company in 2011, Murthy had remarked that it was like parents sending away their daughter after marriage.

“We have built this company through hard work from a small-room apartment at Pune in 1981 to global software major with about 150,000 employees, presence in 30 countries across the world and got listed on Nasdaq/NYSE,” Murthy said.

"This calling was sudden, unexpected, and unusual. But, then, Infosys is my middle child. Therefore, I have put aside my plans-in-progress and accepted this responsibility. I intend to do my best to add value to the company in this challenging situation," said Murthy.

The buzz in the stock market is that the move was in the offing and that Murthy had become active with Infosys affairs in the last few months. There seems to have been some pressure from institutional shareholders as well, which was indicated by Kamath in his statement.

Kamath said, “The technology industry and the company face many challenges. The decision is in the interest of shareholders, large and small, who have asked for strengthening the executive leadership during the challenging time”.

The importance of Murthy lies in creating a technology pioneer that started the trend of India exporting software to the West and reinventing the Made in India brand. In addition, Infosys was a darling of the stock markets and in it’s hey days with Murthy and current UIDAI chairman, Nandan Nilekani at the helm was known for “promising less and delivering more” in its financial results.

Infosys raised corporate governance ethics to a new level in Corporate India with Murthy at the helm. He is known for his frugal lifestyle and philanthropic activities.

CII chairman, Kris Gopalakrishnan would be re-designated executive vice chairman while S D Shibulal would continue to be the managing director and CEO. Both are co-founders of the company.

The giant returns

  • Under Murthy’s 19-year tenure as CEO until 2002, Infosys became the first Indian firm to list on Nasdaq and grew into a ~23,400-crore enterprise
  • Son Rohan Murty, who will be executive assistant to his father, has a a computer science degree from Cornell and a PhD from Harvard
  • Both will accept a token salary of Re 1 each annually
  • Executive vice-chairman Gopalakrishnan and CEO & MD Shibulal, too, have opted for a similar compensation





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