BENGALURU: Infosys was reluctant to let Vishal Sikka go and, fed up though he was with the allegations directed against him, repeatedly tried to dissuade him from quitting for about a week, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told ET.
Sikka was disturbed by the stream of accusations from founder NR Narayana Murthy and others, and had told the board about his intention to leave. “I have had enough,” Sikka told ET after the news of his resignation broke.
“Things were pretty bad for over 15 months. After February this year, it became really nasty. They were going on and on, over and over, again and again, over some nonsensical agenda.” He added that declining to disclose the full report of the investigation into a whistleblower’s allegations was not his decision. “It was for the audit committee to take that decision. They had the best legal advice on whether to release this report or not. No one ever publishes a report like this. Infosys has not done it,” Sikka said.
Sikka also disagreed strongly with the view that the summary report exonerating him and Infosys was not credible. “Two former US federal prosecutors and a high-quality team put together this report. They went over everything and found nothing,” he said.
“It is nonsensical to say (responding to Murthy’s comment that it was not credible) that you have paid your own lawyer. It is a bit like saying you have an audit firm but you don’t believe their report as you are paying them.” He did not blame the board for not being able to shield him. He added that the company always had the backing of the other shareholders. “I have always received strong support from the board.
At the AGM, we received overwhelming support from retail investors,” Sikka said. “We always had strong support from institutional shareholders.” Among those who sought to change Sikka’s mind was chairman R Seshasayee, during a trip to Palo Alto. But Sikka, who’s based in the US city, was not willing to change his mind. “Sesh and he met five-six times, as Sesh is in the US. The letter (from Murthy) that claims that he is not CEO material was not the reason for this move,” a source with direct knowledge of the matter told ET.
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The source added that Sikka had met with co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan in June for a long discussion. “Venkatesan told Sikka that he would resolve this situation, but that was not happening,” the source said.
Sikka, whose salary was one of the many bones of contention with the founders, will be paid $1 for his time as executive vice-chairman. His stock and options will continue to vest as normal. He will not receive any severance pay. Sikka, in recent letters to employees, had hinted constantly at his disenchantment with the top job at Infosys and there were rumours that he would quit.
“Recently, when I turned 50, another anniversary, a great teacher of my life gave me a rare book of reflections by Hermann Hesse. In it I found this one gem: Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go,” he said in the August email. He also asked employees to look to the future.
“The future is really a construction of now. A string of beautiful, momentous nows. We live with an illusion of permanence, but all we really have is the now, with their beauty, their opportunity, their challenge, their ephemerality,” he wrote.