Ravi Venkatesan resigns from Infosys board


Infosys independent director Ravi Venkatesan resigned from the board on Friday, a move that has been expected for some time.

He survived the purge last year, when Nandan Nilekani became the chairman after the Vishal Sikka fiasco. At the time, four of the board members, including chairman R Seshasayee and Sikka, had resigned, and Venkatesan had stepped down as co-chairman.

Venkatesan, a former Microsoft India chairman, joined the Infosys board in 2011 and served as co-chairman between April and August last year. Many in the old board had incurred the wrath of co-founder N R Narayana Murthy for alleged lapses in governance, including in the approval of the Panaya acquisition and severance payments made to former CFO Rajiv Bansal.

“Venkatesan’s resignation is part of the clean-up of the old board,” said a brokerage firm analyst who follows Infosys closely. He did not want his name disclosed.

Shriram Subramanian, founder and managing director of proxy advisory firm InGovern, said the resignation was not unexpected considering the changes that happened. “This is a step towards a board change and just the impact of whatever has happened around him,” he said, adding that there is a high possibility of other members such as Roopa Kudva and Punita Kumar Sinha following suit. That would leave only Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and D N Prahlad as survivors of the old regime.

Some believe Venkatesan may be quitting because he was more in line with Sikka’s services-plus-product strategy than with new CEO Salil Parekh’s pure services strategy.

In a note issued by Infosys to the stock exchanges, Venkatesan said, “I joined the board at a time when Infosys was beginning the complex journey of transitioning from founder-led to professional management. This was also a time of tectonic industry shifts. I am pleased that this mission has been accomplished. Infosys is strong, in good hands, and is gaining momentum. My seven years on the board have been exciting, rewarding and eventful.” Venkatesan was also part of the board’s audit committee and finance and investment committee.

Nilekani indicated that Venkatesan is quitting to play a role in the social sector. “The board will miss his passion, strategic insights, and personal warmth, but he will always remain a friend. Ravi has been a champion for driving social impact and it is desire to do more, that led to his request for stepping off the board,” he said.

Venkatesan was in the eye of a storm when he was appointed co-chairman with the objective of helping Sikka execute his strategy. Reports at the time suggested that Sikka was loathe to have an additional person supervising his work.

Venkatesan, who is chairman of Bank of Baroda, is also said to have been a key figure in drafting the letter from the board that accused Murthy of meddling in company affairs against all norms of corporate governance, and singled Murthy out for Sikka’s exit.

Link: Times of India- May 12, 2018