My ac­tions have never been for per­sonal gain: Murthy

In­fosys co-founder says in­ter­nal probe failed to ad­dress is­sue of poor gover­nance Swedish home fur­nish­ing ma­jor scouts for more land

The Hindu Business Line - - FRONT PAGE - V RISHI KU­MAR

In­fosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy on Tues­day fired a fresh salvo at for­mer board mem­bers, in­clud­ing for­mer Chair­man R Se­shasayee, claim­ing that sev­eral state­ments made by the lat­ter and some of the oth­ers were in­con­sis­tent.

“Con­trary to the views of many, my ac­tions al­ways keep in mind the long-term in­ter­ests of all share­hold­ers. It has never been and never will be for my in­di­vid­ual or per­sonal gain,” Murthy said in a state­ment which was re­leased to the press af­ter he held an in­vestors’ call late evening.

He listed the firm’s var­i­ous achieve­ments when the founders had been run­ning the op­er­a­tions of In­fosys. He said his con­cern as a share­holder was re­gard­ing the poor gover­nance prac­tised by the pre­vi­ous board. “This point has been missed in the en­tire com­men­tary of this episode and in the ‘Sum­mary Find­ing State­ment’ pub­lished by the com­pany on June 23, 2017.” He nar­rated how there were sev­eral in­con­sis­ten­cies in the state­ment made by Se­shasayee re­gard­ing the sev­er­ance pay given to for­mer CFO Ra­jiv Bansal.

No min­utes

Fur­ther­more, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports ear­lier this year, the board had not recorded the min­utes of the sev­er­ance to the for­mer CFO at the time the de­ci­sion was taken. “This con­cern was dis­missed by the for­mer Chair­man as a mere “house­keep­ing” mat­ter. So much for good gover­nance!”

Murthy said that dur­ing ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion with the board, his col­leagues and he had con­sis­tently re­quested them to make pub­lic to all share­hold­ers the full truth on this mat­ter.

On Fe­bru­ary 12, a whistle­blower com­plaint ap­peared in the me­dia. It ques­tioned, in de­tail, the events sur­round­ing the sev­er­ance pay­ment made to the for­mer CFO with al­leged ac­tions of the main ac­tors — Chair of the board, CEO, COO, Gen­eral Coun­sel, Chief Com­pli­ance Of­fi­cer and Bansal. “To me, what was most wor­ri­some was the fail­ure of gover­nance at In­fosys in this episode as al­leged by the whis­tle-blower,” Murthy added.

‘Gaps’ in re­port

On June 23, the board pub­lished a ‘Sum­mary Find­ing State­ment’ on the com­pany web­site fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­le­ga­tions made by the whis­tle-blower.

The state­ment ex­on­er­ates the man­age­ment from al­le­ga­tions of ben­e­fit­ing di­rectly from Panaya and other ac­qui­si­tions (The com­pany had ac­quired Is­raeli firm Panaya for $200 mil­lion in 2015). How­ever, the state­ment does not men­tion whether the in­ves­ti­ga­tion ad­dressed the al­le­ga­tions of the whis­tle-blower re­gard­ing the se­ri­ous gover­nance deficits of the board and the CEO in the mat­ter of the sev­er­ance agree­ment with the for­mer CFO.

“Like any other con­cerned and log­i­cal share­holder of the com­pany, my hope was that the de­tailed re­port would con­tain a full re­but­tal of the claims of the whis­tle-blower... I was also hop­ing that the full re­port would point out gaps in gover­nance and sug­gest cor­rec­tive ac­tions. These are the only rea­sons why I asked for the full re­port to be dis­closed,” Murthy said.

He said he was very happy with the ap­point­ment of Nilekani as the Non-Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man of In­fosys. “I am con­fi­dent Nan­dan will de­ter­mine whether the mem­bers of the cur­rent board — who were in­volved in the events al­leged by the whis­tle-blower — ex­er­cised their proper and ex­pected role in gover­nance, and that he will take ap­pro­pri­ate cor­rec­tive ac­tions.” Swedish home fur­nish­ing ma­jor IKEA is set to open its flag­ship store in In­dia by Spring 2018, while it scouts for more land parcels in se­lect cities.

Work on the ₹1,000-crore fa­cil­ity lo­cated in the IT hub of Hy­der­abad, has gath­ered pace, so has the firm’s ef­forts to step up sourc­ing from In­dia.

Tak­ing me­dia per­sons through IKEA’s jour­ney in In­dia and the up­com­ing store site, Pa­trik An­toni, Deputy Coun­try Man­ager, IKEA In­dia, said: “Apart from Hy­der­abad, we have ac­quired land in Mum­bai and Ben­galuru, and are scout­ing for land in Delhi-NCR, Pune, Ahmed­abad, Su­rat and Kolkata. While the Hy­der­abad store will be ready by Spring next year, work on the Mum­bai project will com­mence in Novem­ber.”

IKEA is in the process of set­ting up a 250-seater con­tact cen­tre in Hy­der­abad by Novem­ber. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, it is work­ing to set up the coun­try’s first ex­pe­ri­ence zone in Fo­rum Mall here, he said.

1,000-seater restau­rant

“When the store gets launched, out of the more than 10,000 items in it, more than 800 will be In­dia-spe­cific. We will also have a 1,000-seater restau­rant, our big­gest in any IKEA store across the world,” said John Achil­lea, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, IKEA Te­lan­gana.

“We have em­barked on a re­cruit­ment drive for the store and ex­pect to in­duct about 800 peo­ple for the Hy­der­abad store in a phased man­ner.

“The restau­rant will serve both Swedish and In­dian dishes, in­clud­ing the meat and veg­gie balls pop­u­lar among IKEA store vis­i­tors world­wide. To pro­vide the vis­i­tors with the au­then­tic lo­cal touch, IKEA also plans to serve biryani and other In­dian

Pa­trik An­toni, Deputy Coun­try Man­ager, IKEA In­dia, and John Achil­lea, MD, IKEA Te­lan­gana, in Hy­der­abad

NR Narayana Murthy

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