Sikka quits as Infosys CEO, Board blames Murthy
New Delhi: Vishal Sikka, the first non- founder CEO of Infosys Ltd, has abruptly resigned due to the "continuous assault" and "campaign" by founder and ex-chairman NR Narayana Murthy, the USD 10 billion firm said on Friday.
Sikka, 50, a former German IT major SAP executive under whose three year tenure Infosys' revenue rose by about 25 per cent, did not himself name Murthy directly as the reason for his exit but said he faced "false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks".
Murthy said he was anguished by the allegations, tone and tenor of statements made by the Infosys board and it is "below my dignity to respond to baseless insinuations".
He said he will reply to the board's allegations in the right manner, right forum and at an appropriate time.
The resignation follows a year-long acrimony between the board the high-profile founders led by Murthy, who raised issues of "poor corporate governance" and executive pay as well as doubts over acquisitions.
Founders still hold 12.75 per cent in Infosys.
While Pravin Rao, currently chief operating officer, has been named interim CEO, Sikka will become executive vice- chairman for USD 1 annual salary to help find new MD and CEO latest by March 31, 2018.
The latest provocation seems to be Murthy claiming in an email, which found its way to the media, that he had been told by Infosys independent directors that Sikka was more suited as a Chief Technology Officer than Chief Executive Officer.
Infosys Board came out with a strongly worded statement defending Sikka's performance and ruled out a formal role for any of co-founders in the company's governance.
Emails sent to Murthy seeking comments remained unanswered.
The company board alleged that a letter authored by Murthy "has been released to various media houses attacking the integrity of Board and management alleging falling corporate governance standards in the company".
"Murthy's letter contains factual inaccuracies, already-disproved rumours, and statements extracted out of context from his conversations with Board members," it said.
The Board said Murthy has repeatedly made "inappropriate" demands, which is inconsistent with his stated desire for stronger governance.
The Board, which is to meet on Saturday to consider a Rs 13,000 crore share buyback - a key demand of the founders for putting cash with the company to use - argued that Murthy's "campaign" has intensified over time.
Shares of Infosys, which like other IT companies are battling a slowdown in new deals from western clients and visa curbs in the US, fell about 12 per cent before recovering a bit. They were trading at Rs 919.70 at 1440 hours, down 9.93 per cent over the previous day's close.