Infosys Co-Chairman Ravi Venkatesan said the company certainly would not want to label co-founder and promoter N R Narayana Murthy as a shareholder activist, but consider him a “well-wisher.”
“I would like to see him – Murthy – as a well-wisher of Infosys, which he has been and will continue to be so.. I don’t think we should label him as A or B, and certainly not as a shareholder activist,” he said.
Venkatesan was responding to a query whether the company would prefer to see Murthy, who has been flagging falling corporate governance standards, as shareholder activist or a well-wisher.
Venkatesan said he regards Murthy not only as the founder, but a mentor, and hoped that the relationship with him continues in a constructive and productive way for a long term.
“For most people whether they are employees or large number of investors, he will continue to be the founder, and certainly I regard him not only as a founder, but as a mentor. So, hope this relationship continues in a constructive and productive way for a long-term,” he said.
Infosys had flagged actions by “activist shareholders” as a risk factor, which could potentially require the company to incur significant legal fees and public relations costs.
In its annual filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Infosys said such activities could interfere with the company’s ability to execute its strategic plan.
Over the past few months, the country’s second largest software services firm has been battling allegations by Murthy and other former senior executives of falling corporate governance standards.
Asked who are the sahreholder activists the company is wary about, Venkatesan said, “I think that is the question for CFO Ranga (Ranganath D Mavinakere).”
He however said the company’s risks are not related to a single event, which unfortunately the media picked up, but to 55 risks incuding cyber security risk.
“We called out 55 risks.. We have clarified both the company and I that we didn’t intend to call out anyone individual (Murthy) or group in particular, but as a generic risk,” he added.
Asked if the company really wants to lose founders, especially Murthy at the trying times of new digital era by selling off their entire stake, Venkatesan said instead of deliberating much on the issue, the real issue for the company and CEO Vishal Sikka is how best they can perform and hope to keep their stakeholders and founders, including Murthy, invested in Infosys.