‘These are the Pangs of Growing Up... it will Stabilise Over Time’
This process of growing up as a professional board and the limitations within... will bring about eruptions
Infosys non-executive chairman R Seshasayee spoke to about the ‘pangs’ of growing up into a professional-led company, and the rift between promoters and management. Edited excerpts:
Some of NR Narayana Murthy’s remarks are attacks on you than the board. Do you think it is an indirect attack on the CEO? I don’t think so. This kind of issue shouldn’t be viewed from that kind of prism at all. I look at it as an expression coming out of very deep passion. If there is asymmetry in the beliefs, passion comes out. I don’t read anything more that.
Why did these issues reach this point? Why were they allowed to escalate? Why were they not resolved? Honestly I don’t know. I don’t think we should be spending too much time into asking why it happened. If there is a thunderstorm or volcanic eruption, rather than asking why it happened, we ask what do we do to protect ourselves.
When was last time you engaged with Mr Murthy on company-related matters? After every earnings call, it has been our practice to meet to discuss what he believes about the issues from what is available in the public domain. We listen to him and take his inputs. We must appreciate that these conversations happen within the framework on what we can discuss. This process of growing up as a professio- nal board and the limitations within which have to operate that process will bring about eruptions now and then — that can’t be controlled. But I look at it as pangs of growing up. It will stabilise over time and come to a more rhythmic kind of conversation.
Are you referring to insider trading regulations? The framework is very clear that information not available to other shareholders don’t get discussed with other group of shareholders. This is part of our growing up. We are learning.
How do you deal with the suggestion of appointing a co-chairman? It’s a call from a significant shareholder. Every shareholder has a right to make suggestions. The law provides that if you have 10% shareholding, than you call an EGM. The suggestions are made for us to consider. As I have said repeatedly we have to work for the entire group of shareholders. Sometimes we say yes, sometimes we say no.
Can you give couple of examples of suggestions from founders that you have incorporated? (DN) Prahlad was a suggestion by the founders. We discussed and thought we could do with someone who had a great understanding of the business. We individually met for a couple of hours and we said he is the right person.
Is David Kennedy’s departure related to Rajiv Bansal’s exit? No! Some of you tend to connect the dots. It is not unreasonable. But the truth is not that. That is the end of it. The process of people leaving the company happens all the time. We have tended to look at everything with suspicion. When shadows don’t exit we believe they do. We both agreed he should leave. The employment contract said that if he separates without cause, then 12 months in payable. The process is gone through.