For the third time in its history, Infosys on Thursday appointed a co-chairman, appointing Ravi Venkatesan, an independent director, to the post. Venkatesan’s elevation is perceived to be the outcome of disagreements between Infosys founders led by NR Narayana Murthy and the company’s board headed by R Seshasayee. Venkatesan is currently chairman of Bank of Baroda. The previous two co-chairmen at Infosys were Nandan Nilekani and S Gopalakrishnan, both co-founders of the company. “Infosys now has a very top-heavy board and management. It remains to be seen how they all work together,” former Infosys board member V Balakrishnan told FE.
Over the last two months, Murthy has questioned several board decisions alleging that the highest norms of corporate governance had not always been adhered to. For instance, the compensation paid to CEO Vishal Sikka and COO Pravin Rao was questioned. Sikka’s compensation was increased to $11 million from $7.08 million while Rao now receives a total package of Rs 12.5 crore.
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The severance packages paid to former executives CFO Rajiv Bansal and general counsel David Kennedy were also felt to be unduly high. The board, however, defended itself.
Seshasayee said on Thursday that Venkatesan had made a valuable contribution to the development of the strategic direction of the company. “He will help me enhance the board engagement in supporting the management and in execution of company’s strategy,” Seshasayee said.
Infosys has already inducted DN Prahalad as an independent director. Prahalad is viewed to be an informal nominee on behalf of Murthy. Before his appointment as independent director on the board of Infosys, Venkatesan served as chairman of Microsoft India between 2004 and 2011. He has also served on the boards of Harvard Business School, AB Volvo, Bunge and Thermax.