You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Nandan Nilekani wants clean slate on return to Infosys, huge overhaul likely

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-08-2017 Anirban Sen

Bengaluru: The entire board, except two independent directors, of India’s second largest software services exporter Infosys Ltd has offered to resign from their positions, ahead of Nandan Nilekani’s impending return to the company that he co-founded 36 years ago with six others, according to two people directly aware of the latest discussions on the board.

Nilekani, who is likely to return to Infosys as chairman—no one is clear as to whether it will be non-executive or executive—has insisted on a clean slate as one of the primary conditions for his return, raising the prospect of a massive overhaul of the board of Infosys.

Not all board members are willing to offer to resign; some believe they have done no wrong, said one of the two people, requesting anonymity.

Nilekani himself is likely to want to retain at least a few board members, since he wants a functional board to start with, the people mentioned above said. For now, he is likely to retain co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan and D.N. Prahlad, while he is still undecided on others.

Also read: Nandan Nilekani’s second innings?

Nilekani is understood to have the complete backing of founder N.R. Narayana Murthy and most of the large investors of Infosys. Even if some board members refuse to resign, it is only a matter of time before they will be forced to leave the board as Nilekani has the upper hand in the negotiations, the people mentioned above said.

Vishal Sikka, who stepped down from his position as CEO last week, is also unlikely to continue in his new role as executive vice chairman on the board, the people mentioned above said.

Still, the process of restructuring the board won’t be simple.

“Nothing is done until it is done. It is a very fluid situation and depending on the time of the days, things are moving. These are complicated issues, (involving) lot of people, (and) lot of deliberations...This cannot be done (the entire board resigning) because it is not legally possible...Under the securities law and takeover law, this cannot happen...(also) not all board members have offered to step down,” the second person cited above said on condition of anonymity.

The latest developments mark a dramatic turn of events for what has been a roller-coaster week at Infosys that began with Sikka’s decision to step down as CEO and the company’s subsequent statement blaming Murthy for Sikka’s exit. The events shocked stock markets and wiped out nearly $4 billion of Infosys’s market value.

Nilekani, who has had a successful post-Infosys stint as head of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has previously been reluctant to return to Infosys—Murthy reached out to him after returning as Infosys chairman in 2013 to revive the company’s floundering fortunes—but may not be averse to a temporary non-executive role if it can save the company, a third person familiar with the matter said.

Infosys did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The nine independent directors did not immediately respond to emails sent to them.

More From LiveMint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon