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My role will be oversight, governance, help with CEO search: Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani could not be reached for comment. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Web Team Bangalore, Karnataka, India Aug 25, 2017, 05.21 AM (IST)

Nandan Nilekani, who was appointed as non-executive chairman by Infosys yesterday, clarified in his first concall with investors that his role in the IT major would be "oversight, governance and functioning, and help with CEO search." He added that he "will go when stability returns."

"As Infosys Non-executive Chairman, my role will be oversight, governance and functioning, help with CEO search," said Nandan Nilekani, who was called in by Infosys founders after the resignation of former CEO Vishal Sikka.

Mr Nilekani, former CEO and also a co-founder of Infosys, said he would try to ensure a "healthy relationship" between the Board and co-founder Narayan Murthy.

He acknowledged that he is an "admirer" of Murthy, saying the "iconic visionary" is the father of corporate governance in India.

"Many good practices (of corporate governance) including full disclosures and transparency, SEC filings... Were spearheaded by Infosys. I will ensure Infosys, Murthy and the founders have a healthy relationship," Nilekani told investors on a conference call today.

Mr Nilekani said his appointment was a "unanimous" board decision and Murthy too was "supportive" of his coming in.

He added that he would "unveil more strategy details" in October and instead focus on bringing stability to the company. 

"Too premature for me to comment on Infosys' strategy, guidance and earnings; committed to highest standards of corporate governance," he said.

"Will unveil more strategy details in October, want to bring complete stability and have no discordant voices at Infosys."

He, however, dodged a specific query on whether Infosys would withdraw its scathing statement, issued by the board on August 18, to the stock exchanges. The statement blamed Murthy for carrying out a "misguided" campaign that led to Sikka's resignation.

Instead, Nandan Nilekani promised that he will look at the entire gamut of issues and resolve them to the "satisfaction of all parties".

Alluding to the difficult task cut out for him in bridging the differences, he highlighted his past roles as a "consensus builder".

He was instrumental in rolling out India's biggest technology project, Aadhaar, which gives a unique identification number to every citizen.

He  today cited the example of India's mega biometric project Aadhaar,  saying the project was initiated by one government and carried forward by another.

"My job has been consensus building... I assume that people will see me as a unifier. I will bring those skills I have," he said.

People close to the founders, who are also believed to have pushed Nilekani's case, said his credibility and political capital will help him act as a conduit between the management and the founders.

He is also seen as someone who the co-founders, led by Murthy, would listen to and one who can restore order in the troubled company, they said.

Infosys plunged into crisis after the resignation of Vishal Sikka last week. The company blamed "NR Narayana Murthy's continuous assault" for Sikka's resignation.

Chairman R Seshasayee and two other directors followed suit. Ravi Venkatesan stepped down as co-chair, but will continue as an independent director on the board, Infosys said yesterday.

Narayan Murthy had said he is "anguished" by Infosys allegations against him and said "the deteriorating standard of corporate governance" was the reason for the concerns raised by him.

Nandan Nilekani was the CEO of Infosys from 2002 to 2007.


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