Infosys LTD, which is going through a period of turbulence following the resignation of its CEO and MD Vishal Sikka, has turned to co-founder and former CEO Nandan Nilekani to head the firm’s board. The IT firm, which has been reeling under the differences of opinion on various governance issues between a group of shareholders led by the company’s co-founder NR Narayana Murthy and the current board of directors of the company, stated late on Thursday that the board had “unanimously approved the appointment of Nandan Nilekani as the non-executive chairman of the board, effective immediately”.
The announcement puts to rest speculation of Nilekani’s return to the firm in the aftermath of Sikka’s exit on August 18. Infosys on Thursday stated that Nilekani was “an iconic leader, a successful entrepreneur and investor, and someone who has played a pivotal role in India’s transition to a digital economy”. Nilekani was the CEO of Infosys between 2002 and 2007 before he left to head the government’s Unique Identification Development Authority of India to roll out the Aadhaar programme.
The company also stated that the chairman of the board of directors R Seshasayee has resigned. Seshasayee had been at the receiving end of complaints of non-governance raised by the group lead by Murthy in the run up to Sikka’s exit from the company. The board under Seshasayee had last week attacked Murthy for precipitating the exit of Sikka. “Under Nandan, Infosys will build a cohesive management team that will take the company to a leadership position in the industry. I believe these changes will infuse further confidence to the stakeholders in executing the transition plan and in reinforcing strategy for the future,’’ Seshasayee said in a statement on Thursday.
Joined @Infosys at 26, re-joined it at 62. Life does turn full circle!
— Nandan Nilekani (@NandanNilekani) August 25, 2017
Apart from Seshasayee the Infosys board on Thursday also saw the exit of Sikka, who had been appointed executive vice chairman after his resignation last week, Prof Jeffrey Lehman and Prof John Etchemendy. After the appointment of Nilekani as chairman, the co-chairman of the board Ravi Venkatesan has stepped down and will continue on the board as an independent director.
Nilekani’s appointment will also mean that Sikka’s exit will occur immediately. Infosys said that Sikka’s exit will be as per an employment contract executed on April 1, 2016 where Sikka will receive 90 days’ base pay in lieu of notice of $2,46,575, a variable pay of $2,05,572 and company-paid COBRA (employee benefits) for 90 days. Infosys said that unvested stock options given to Sikka would be withdrawn due to his exit. “All equity awards outstanding as on separation date to the extent such awards are unvested will terminate on the date of separation. All equity awards that vested during his employment with the company will remain as vested as per the terms of the equity plan and agreement,’’ the firm said.