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Infosys inferno: BPO head Bala quits in 8th big exit

In the eighth major exit since the return of N R Narayana Murthy as Executive Chairman six months ago, V Balakrishnan, Infosys head of BPO business, on Friday quit from the company on whose board he was also a member.

Said to be a top contender to the post of chief executive officer (CEO), Balakrishnan, who joined Infosys in 1991 and later became its chief financial officer, resigned, just a day after Subrahmanyam Goparaju, senior vice president and head of Infosys Labs' quit.
This is the eighth high-profile exit in the IT major ever since Narayana Murthy returned at the helm in June, 2013 bringing along his son Rohan as executive assistant.

The development comes at a time when Infosys' shares are trading at a record high. ‘V Balakrishnan has conveyed his intention to resign as a member of the board and from the services of the company. The resignation is effective 31 December, 2013,’ Infosys said in a statement.
Later Balakrishnan dismissed speculation that he was quitting Infosys because he was unhappy. Former Infosys director Mohandas Pai, with whom Balakrishnan is forming a private equity fund, termed his exit as ‘big loss’ for the company.‘That is more an external view because each departure happened for a different reason. You can't link all those and come to a conclusion,’ Balakrishnan said when asked about top level exits that happened since June.

Asked if his exit had anything to do with Murthy's return, Balakrishnan said the Infosys founder's return was the best thing that happened to the company and denied any discomfort either by his return or Murthy's son Rohan's presence.

Balakrishnan was also the BPO head at Infosys as well as the chairman of Infosys Lodestone. Balakrishnan said it was currently awaiting for Sebi's approval for his private equity fund, which he has formed along with former Infosys executive Mohandas Pai and former Wipro executive Girish Paranjpe.

‘I am surprised by the resignation. I thought any organisation would have made all efforts to retain him,’ said Pai, who had himself quit a couple of years ago when Shibulal was made the CEO. ‘Bala's exit will be a big loss for Infosys. He had a great role to play and it is very sad to see him go. Bala was Murthy's blue-eyed boy.’

Nasdaq-listed Infosys announced the induction of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw as an Independent Member of the Board while elevating UB Pravin Rao as a whole-time director. Commenting on Balakrishnan's exit, Narayana Murthy said, ‘Bala has been an early adopter, anchor builder.’ ‘It is difficult to manage Infosys without Bala's passion,’  he added.

Shibulal, whose tenure as CEO comes to an end in 2015, said, ‘Bala played a pivotal role in building finance function. He has been a a keen driver of corporate governance.’ The top level exit also comes amidst organisational restructuring that company executive chairman N R Narayana Murthy is overseeing after returning to revive the sagging fortunes of the company in June.

Murthy, 67, has been making a series of changes at Infosys. He may have won select analysts’ support for the restructuring but his top aides have been deserting him. While Infosys global sales head Basab Pradhan quit in July, the company's global manufacturing head Ashok Vemuri resigned in August to join rival iGate as CEO. Stephen Pratt, who co-founded Infosys consulting, had stepped down last month.

In September, Infosys Head of BPO sales in Australia Kartik Jayaraman and BPO Head Latin America Humberto Andrade had quit the company. A month earlier, its Vice President and Financial Services Head for the Americas Sudhir Chaturvedi quit.
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