Vishal Sikka, the first non- founder CEO of Infosys, has resigned amid heightened acrimony between the board and the high-profile founders led by NR Narayana Murthy, saying he faced “false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks”.
Pravin Rao, currently chief operating officer, will become interim CEO, India’s second largest software services exporter said in a statement.
Sikka, 50, a former German IT major SAP executive who was appointed CEO and MD of USD 10 billion revenue company three years back, will become executive vice-chairman until a new MD and CEO is hired.
While the permanent replacement is to be hired no later than March 31, 2018, Sikka will focus on strategic matters and draw an annual salary of USD 1.
Once a poster boy of Indian IT success story, Infosys has been battered by intense acrimony, with founders accusing the board of poor corporate governance on issues like executive pay and acquisitions.
In a letter to the Infosys board, Sikka said the “continuous stream of distractions and disruptions” that became increasingly personal and negative, forcing him to quit.
Without naming anyone, he said “false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks” have been made over the last many quarters and these allegations have been repeatedly proven false by multiple independent investigations.
“But despite this, the attacks continue, and worse still, amplified by the very people from whom we all expected the most steadfast support in this great transformation,” he said.
Murthy and others had questioned the high compensation paid to Sikka as also severance package to certain former executives.
Also, an anonymous letter was sent to the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the US Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year, alleging that the Israel-based Panaya acquisition was overvalued and that some Infosys executives may have benefited from the deal.
While an independent probe absolved the board of any wrong doing, Murthy kept the pressure on making the full contents of the investigation report public.
Sikka said addressing this “noise” has consumed hundreds of hours of his time in recent times and therefore, he came to the decision to quit.
Infosys board said it is “profoundly distressed” by the unfounded personal attacks on the members of the management team.
“The board denounces the critics who have amplified and sought to further promote demonstrably false allegations, which have harmed employee morale and contributed to the loss of the company’s valued CEO,” Infosys said in a statement.