Ravi Venkatesan named Infosys co-Chairman

Ravi Venkatesan named Infosys co-Chairman

Ravi Venkatesan named Infosys co-Chairman

Infosys today elevated its Independent Director Ravi Venkatesan as co-Chairman, a move that is being widely seen as a step taken by the Board to end its public spat with founders, mainly N R Narayana Murthy.

Venkatesan, 53, has been on the Infosys board since April 2011.

"Ravi will help me enhance the board engagement in supporting the management in execution of the company's strategy," Infosys Chairman R Seshasayee said.

Asserting that Venkatesan's name was not mooted by the promoters, he said: "I wanted the bandwidth to be increased and the Board said let us get Ravi to take part of your load...and so there we are together on this."

He said the move should not be interpreted as being a response to the founders' alleging governance lapses and demanding restructuring of the Board.

Asked if he would play peacemaker between the two sides, Venkatesan told CNBC TV18 that he did not see the need for an "official peacemaker role".

"I live in Bangalore and most of the promoters have been friends of long standing. We regularly and routinely run into each other. So, that sort of friendly relationship will continue. But I don't see the need for an official peacemaker role," he said.

Seshasayee said the need for such a role arises only where there is a war and added "I have consistently said there is no war".

In a statement, Infosys highlighted Venkatesan's "valuable contribution to the development of strategic direction of the company during his tenure".

The announcement comes against the backdrop of a tussle between the founders and the management over contentious issues like CEO salary hike, severance package to former employees and corporate governance standards.

On whether the management expected the expansion of the Board to address founders' concerns, Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka declined to make specific comments.

"I have no idea whether it will get worse, get better or remain the same. We (management) have had a very strong relationship with Board. Board's primary function is governance and our job is strategy execution," he said.

Emphasising that he enjoyed a "great working relationship" with Venkatesan, Sikka said "running the company is our responsibility and that is what we focus on".

Interestingly, Sikka highlighted that "unanticipated execution challenges and distractions" as partly affecting the company's performance in the March quarter.

He, however, declined to elaborate on the statement, merely saying, "I need not tell you what the distractions have been. It is our job to manage the company to lead the company in the times that we are in".

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