NRN back at Infy helm

Son also rises; Rohan to join IT major as executive assistant

NRN back at Infy helm

IT major Infosys, which has been grappling with dwindling revenues in the last nine quarters, on Saturday recalled its 66-year-old co-founder and Chairman Emeritus N R Narayana Murthy as the executive chairman of the company, seven years after his retirement.

Murthy will replace present Chairman K V Kamath, who will become the lead independent director, with effect from June 1. Executive Co-Chairman S Gopalakrishnan will now take over as the executive vice-chairman, while Chief Executive Officer S D Shibulal will retain the post, Infosys said in a statement on Saturday.

Kamath said in a statement that the decision has been taken keeping in mind the challenges that the technology industry and the company faces and in the interests of all stakeholders, who have sought for strengthening of the executive leadership.

“Murthy’s entrepreneurial and leadership record and the long experience he has had as a technology pioneer makes him eminently qualified to lead the company and provide strategic direction at this point in time,” Kamath said.

 Murthy said he has put aside his plans at his venture capital firm Catamaran and accepted the new responsibility. His son Rohan Murthy, a PhD in computer science from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree holder in computer science from Cornell University, will now come on board as Murthy’s executive assistant.

“The board invited me at 9 am. Therefore, I'm not in a position to give any answer. It is not possible for me to comment on any issues or parameters of Infosys at this stage,” Murthy said.

He said Rohan would not have any leadership role in the company.

“Shibulal is the CEO. There are executive directors in the company and the board members, they are all competent people. The only role that Rohan has is to make me more effective. That’s it,” Murthy said.

During his five-year term, Murthy will draw a token annual compensation of Re 1 and so will Rohan. 

Asked about his comeback when the company’s policies have stipulated that its founders should retire at 65, Murthy said: “If the board accepts, they (the founders) will come, otherwise they won’t. As for my joining back, you should ask Mr K V Kamath and his board as to why they had invited me. I am not the person to answer that question.”

The decision to recall Murthy comes at a time when the company grapples with a string of disappointing results and loss of market share, which has stagnated at 0.7 per cent since 2011.

The company’s revenues grew at just 6.6 per cent in 2012 compared to its rivals TCS, Wipro and Cognizant, which grew 15.2, 7.6 and 20.1 per cent respectively.
Shadow executive

Murthy’s role as emeritus chairman of Infosys was viewed as more of a shadow executive without a portfolio, with the authority to travel widely and build on the existing client relationships of the company.

Analysts said his new role would have the added responsibility of overseeing the company’s client acquisitions and cost management strategy, which will be key to bringing it back on the double-digit growth trajectory of earlier years.

Murthy backed the firm’s Infosys 3.0 strategy, which is widely believed to have stopped yielding results.

Interestingly, he did not comment on the challenges being faced by India's second biggest software-services provider.

 “When I come back here in an executive position, it's in some sense an exciting yet somewhat new challenge. This is an unique opportunity for me,” Murthy added.

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