With a clutch of 12 institutional investors in Infosys asking that co-founder and former CEO Nandan Nilekani be appointed on the company’s board, speculation is rife Nilekani might be the new chairman of the software firm. Nilekani was the CEO of the company from 2002 to 2007. Reuters reported investors had written to the company expressing concern over the recent development and saying Infosys should “consider inviting Nilekani to the board in a suitable capacity”. Amid the feud between chairman emeritus NR Narayana Murthy and the board chaired by R Seshasayee and co-chaired by Ravi Venkatesan, there is also talk that Kris Gopalakrishnan may be a contender for the chairman’s post.
Last Friday, Vishal Sikka stepped down as MD and CEO, saying the assault on him by Murthy was distracting and disruptive. The Infosys board backed Sikka to the hilt saying Murthy had made “inappropriate” demands, threatening to go public if the board did not oblige. The resignation triggered a fall in the Infosys stock with close to `34,000 crore of market cap being wiped out in two sessions. Anxious investors are eager to see a chairman who can steer the company out of the turbulence. Analysts who were on a call with Sikka and Venkatesan on Friday, after the resignation, wondered whether Infosys would be able to attract talent after such an exit. They were concerned the friction between the board and the founders would continue with the differences remaining unresolved. Venkatesan had conceded the company needed stability. “We will have to find stability and we have give management full support. Hopefully by the time we have candidates there will be greater stability than we have today,” Venkatesan had said.
The Infosys board had said in a release it had no intention of asking Murthy to play a formal role in the governance of the organisation. Former CFO and board member TV Mohandas Pai told FE that Nandan would be an acceptable candidate. Former board member V Balakrishnan too said Nandan was a globally known professional and could help stabilise the ship.