Narayana Murthy spending more time with Infosys top management: ET Now

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 NEW DELHI: Software major Infosys, under fire from investors and analysts, is now facing the heat from its founder and chairman emeritus NR Narayana Murthy. At least three people familiar with the development told ET NOW that Infosys’ flagging performance has brought Murthy, who controls 4.5% stake in the company, back to business after retiring as chairman two years back.

According to these sources, in the last few months, Murthy has been spending more time with the InfosysBSE 0.31 % top management, cracking the whip post its dismal performance in the last few quarters. He also attended the Infosys annual strategy meet called STRAP and is actively involved in formulating the company’s strategy on the US Immigration issue.

“He questioned CEO Shibulal aggressively on the company’s poor performance at the annual strategy meet. He has also expressed worry over the decline in meritocracy within the company. In terms of specific issues, he is involved in formulating the company’s strategy on the whole US immigration issue,” said one of the persons cited above.

A second source said, “He has started becoming very active of late and is really cracking the whip on poor performance.”

While the top management has often felt the influence of Murthy, he had exercised it mostly as a person who is watching over the company from afar. But in the last few months, it has gotten a little more visible and tangible.

When asked about Mr Murthy’s increased involvement in Infosys and his presence at the annual strategy meet, the company said in an e-mail statement, “As Chairman Emeritus, Murthy visits the Infosys campus in Bangalore when there are visitors to Infosys who want to meet him. Mr. Murthy was invited to inaugurate STRAP (annual strategy and action planning meet) 2013 and give a speech as the Chairman Emeritus. He did not participate in the rest of STRAP.”

On whether he is specifically involved in crafting a strategy for Infosys on the US immigration bill, the spokesperson said, “When we need his advice on any specific issue we discuss that specific issue with him.”

Sources ET NOW spoke to however ruled out any formal role for Murthy on the board again. “He doesn’t need to have any formal platform to give advice to the company. He can do it in an advisory role,” a source said. At the same time, the company said question on him getting an active role is “speculative in nature.”

Murthy’s active role in the company comes at a time when Infosys is struggling to match peers such as TCS and Cognizant in performance. In the last two years, the company went through a re-structuring exercise and also saw multiple exits at the senior level. Last month, its stock price tanked to a ten-year low after reporting a dismal set of results for the fourth quarter coupled with a weak guidance for the current fiscal.

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