N R Narayana Murthy
Infosys co-founder N R Narayana MurthyREUTERS/Bobby Yip

Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy is back in news, and for the same old reason. The 71-year-old co-founder has hit back at the company board again, saying that he was "disappointed".

Murthy highlighted that the board has still not addressed questions that he raised in August about poor governance and excessive severance payments.

This comes when the company is proactively looking to hire a chief executive officer (CEO) to replace Vishal Sikka after his unceremonious ouster in mid-August.

Sikka stepped aside citing criticism from the co-founders over strategy and compensation.

"I cannot carry out my job as CEO and continue to create value, while also constantly defending against unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks," Sikka had written after resigning.

The fresh clash between Murthy and the company board could hamper the board's efforts to recruit a new leader as the CEO of India's second-largest software exporter.

"I stand by every question on poor governance raised in my speech to Infosys investors dated 29 August 2017. The fact remains that none of these questions have been answered by the Infosys board with the transparency it deserves. I am disappointed," Murthy wrote in the statement.

Earlier, the Bengaluru-based company's founders had questioned Sikka's compensation, which totalled Rs 48.7 crore. They have also criticised severance payments to other executives.

After Sikka's exist, the company's board has witnessed a rejig, and another co-founder, Nandan Nilekani, made a comeback after eight years as the non-executive chairman to chair the board.

"We are concerned this continued meddling even after the management/board refresh will do collateral damage to Infosys' image in the on-going CEO search. The situation is back to square one with [Murthy] repeatedly questioning/undermining decisions of the board," Mint quoted Sudheer Guntupalli, an analyst with Ambit Capital, as saying.

Murthy had earlier questioned Sikka over a 2015 acquisition of Israeli automation-tech company Panaya. A whistleblower had subsequently written to the company saying that the deal was overpriced

After Nilekani took charge on August 25, he had said in the first meeting that the non-executive chairman would get a full briefing on these investigations and the appropriate course of action would then be decided.

But, while announcing the quarterly result on Tuesday, Nilekani rejected any review of the investigations into various allegations of wrongdoing at the top management level.

"I believe all stakeholders acted out of a strong passion for Infosys, wanting what they believed to be the best for the company and to see it succeed. In light of my review of these matters, I am fully persuaded, as is the entire board, that the conclusions of the independent investigations are correct. This board and I are committed to the highest standards of professionalism and will deal promptly and decisively with any governance issues should they ever come up in the future," Nilekani said in a statement.

Nandan Nilekani
Nandan NilekaniReuters