Mumbai: R. Seshasayee, the non-executive chairman of Infosys Ltd, faced an unexpected trouble last week, when Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy publicly criticized some of the decisions taken by the board and expressed unhappiness over what he called as corporate governance lapses at the Bengaluru-based IT firm. Murthy tried to play down his earlier comments on Monday.
Seshasayee, in a chat with Mint on Monday, called such incidents part of the transformation underway at Infosys (which is making the transition from a founder-run company to one run by professionals). Seshasayee also dismissed any talk of negotiation that has brought, what many believe, a temporary truce between the founders and the Infosys board led by CEO Vishal Sikka.
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Edited excerpts of the chat:
It looks like it is an unresolved issue. So today’s statement are much more toned down. But Mr Murthy has said he has not withdrawn himself. Your response was that these are the same answers which you all have replied earlier too. It still looks like you are not seeing eye-to eye and concerns are still there.
The only thing I will say is that there will be always be such concerns as part of growing up or change. But I will do everything to make sure this does not spill into the public domain simply because the more people get into it, water gets muddied and it becomes more difficult to have a communication. So I will do everything I have to.
Sir, we cannot certainly say that you have got some kind of assurance that this thing will not happen again.
I don’t think I am anybody who will go and ask for an assurance. But Mr Murthy and me met, and we said we will resolve it but not in this manner where others are getting involved in it.
Sir, so we are not saying this founder-board thing has to be included, say as a risk factor for Infosys?
I hope not. I hope not. See, I don’t guarantee any outcome. But we have to work towards that.
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Going forward, in such case, there is some kind of compromise or negotiation involved...
There is no negotiation. I have made it clear. We have inputs coming from promoters. We have a set of duties to perform as part of overall fiduciary responsibilities. We will do everything we can to address these concerns, inputs we get from promoters within the framework we have for the company. Sometimes we cannot. But I don’t think there is any kind of negotiation in that.
So the Infosys board sees the founders as normal shareholders.
This is what it is. And this is what we have always maintained.
Sir, some of the complaints or issues were raised by the founders... Were there other founders other than Mr Murthy who also raised them?
This is something you don’t have to get into. Why are you getting into this? That is the question you should ask the founders. Are all of you together? Please don’t ask me.
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Looking at the way Mr Murthy made some scathing remarks on you in public... you, after over 40 years in public life, are more like a family friend of Mr Murthy. How do you view this?
I’ll tell you what I am a little unusual in this that I don’t get stressed out by these kind of things. It doesn’t matter to me. It is my personality. So you can read it that way. That (is) all. It does not matter. I fear my conscience.
Sir, have you and Mr Murthy met since this issues was brought in public...
I have met him and I would like to say that I would like to maintain that only two of us are talking and convince each other. Sometimes it spills over but you got to pull back. You got to have the maturity to do that. And both of us have maturity. And that is what we both have said.