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Vishal Sikka, as Infosys executive vice-chairman, won’t play active role

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-08-2017 Anirban Sen

Vishal Sikka, who was named executive vice-chairman of Infosys Ltd on Friday after abruptly stepping down as chief executive officer (CEO), will not play an active role in the firm, three executives at the company familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.

Sikka was expected to help shape the strategy, especially the technology strategy of India’s second largest software services firm.

An Infosys spokesperson said in response to queries about Sikka’s new role that the company would “not comment on rumors and speculation”.

The three executives added that Sikka has actually taken a back seat from his active duties of CEO over the past few weeks, skipping some internal briefings and calls, and also not actively meeting the company’s top Fortune 500 customers.

The unofficial end of Sikka’s run at Infosys marks an abrupt end to the tenure of a man who was a wunderkind at SAP SE and the brain behind the German software firm’s blockbuster data analytics platform HANA.

Significantly, Sikka, who earned $6.7 million last year and has agreed to work for a $1 salary, will not play any role in the selection process of the new CEO, a process which in itself has not yet started.

“The mere fact that Sikka has agreed to take $1 salary is reflective of the message being sent out,” said one of the three executives. “He will not be part of the Infosys journey going forward.”

On 18 August, Sikka stepped down as Infosys’s first non-founder chief executive, citing “unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks”. The Infosys board separately blamed founder N.R. Narayana Murthy for Sikka’s departure.

Surprisingly, the letter from Sikka to employees last week, did not find any mention of his new responsibility in Infosys.

“A succession process has been initiated, with (chief operating officer) Pravin Rao serving as interim managing director and CEO, and I will work closely with the Board and management team over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition,” Sikka wrote in his letter.

Sikka’s tenure as executive vice-chairman is linked to Infosys finding a new CEO, which needs to be completed by March 2018. “Dr Sikka will continue to focus on strategic initiatives, key customer relationships and technology development. He will report to the company’s board,” Infosys said in a statement on Friday.

“Any company equity awards held by Dr Sikka that remain outstanding and unvested shall, during his term as executive vice-chairman, remain outstanding and shall continue to vest (and, in the case of stock options, become exercisable) in accordance with their terms,” the company added in its Friday statement, which a spokeswoman reiterated on Monday.

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