Nandan Nilekani may return as Infosys CEO, shares jump 3%

Ravi Venkatesan is working hard to appease shareholders

Ravi Venkatesan is working hard to appease shareholders

Television station CNBC-TV18 also said Nilekani was likely to return as the head of the company, which was once the poster child of India's showpiece IT sector.

Two independent directors - Jeffery S Lehman and John Etchemendy - also resigned from the Infosys board with immediate effect.

On 18 August, the day Sikka announced his resignation, investor advisory firm Institutional Investor Advisory Services (IiAS) said it favoured Nilekani being brought back on the board as its non-executive chairman. Nilekani and Murthy have been holding discussions in parallel to find a way forward and restore investor confidence after Rs 34,000 crore was wiped out in market capitalization.

The appointment of Nilekani comes days after CEO Vishal Sikka resigned, saying he was unable to serve as chief executive amid a "continuous assault" by founder Narayana Murthy.

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"It is very clear that the board had taken the step to blame Murthy just to hide its own failures", he said. Mr Sikka was appointed in June 2014 and tasked with turning around the struggling business.

"It's a good development as the company has got a credible face on the board who will act as a guide, and assure clients and shareholders that critical functions and strategies will continue", said Harit Shah, IT analyst at Reliance Securities.

Differences between the founders and the board of directors started surfacing on the ground after Murthy slammed Infosys management for poor corporate governance norms.

Some of the domestic institutional investors who had written letter to company's board seeking Nilekani's return told DH that Nilekani was suitable candidate to take the company out of mess, as he combines technological foresight with faith of the company's co-founders.

In 2002, Murthy had passed on the baton to Nilekani, who in turn made way for co-founder Gopalakrishnan taking over as the CEO in 2007.

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An global law firm was later appointed by the company to investigate the deal, which gave a clean chit.

"We believe Sikka's resignation could have been due to the Board not providing detailed facts and explanations in a timely manner which probably led to such distractions and noise".

"We, a group of ex-Infoscions want to express our deep disappointment and anguish at the manner in which the Board has responded to Mr Murthy in the form of a letter last week to stock exchanges", around 80 former Infosys employees said in an e-mail. All outstanding equity awards that are unvested will terminate on the date of separation, the company said. Nilekani had built a reputation for himself not just at Infosys but also in the government when he designed and executed the world's largest biometric identity program which covers 1.1 billion Indians.

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