Former CEO of HCL Vineet Nayar, Lakshmi Narayanan in race for Infosys VC
The Infosys Board strength has dwindled from 16 members at one time to eight members now. Currently, the Board is chaired by Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of the company. The executive members on the Board are chief executive and managing director Salil Parekh and Pravin Rao, chief operating officer.
There is a strong buzz that Infosys Ltd is looking at bringing in former HCL CEO Vineet Nayar to replace Ravi Venkatesan, who recently stepped down from the post of vice chairman. According to sources, who spoke to DNA Money on the condition of anonymity, the other name being considered by the Bengaluru-based information technology (IT) company is of Lakshmi Narayanan, former vice chairman and ex-CEO of Cognizant.
"There are speculations that they will bring Vineet Nayar as an independent director and vice chairman. He could be brought onboard in a non-executive capacity. The second person is Lakshmi Narayanan of Cognizant. These two names are being considered. Whether they will take it up or not, we have to see," said an industry source. Besides considering these two names, sources said country's second-largest software services company also wants to include Americans on its Board. This, one of the sources said, was being done as a majority of the shareholders in Infosys are from the US.
"They are also looking at one or two people from the US too. They had three overseas directors and all three of them have resigned. So, now shareholders want people from the US because a majority of the shareholders are Americans, not Indians. There is speculation that they are looking at adding one or two people from the US (Indian Americans or US locals)," the source told DNA Money. According to the source, one of the reasons Nayar's name is being favoured by Infosys is his extensive experience in the IT industry and his aggressive marketing and sales skills.
"So, if Nayar is taken, he can meet overseas investors and customers. That is one of the reasons they are looking at him," said the source. Venkatesan, who had been on the Infy Board as vice chairman and independent director, recently resigned and is reportedly said to be headed to Amazon India. "We do not comment on speculations," replied Infosys to an email sent by DNA Money on possible additions to its Board.
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The Infosys Board strength has dwindled from 16 members at one time to eight members now. Currently, the Board is chaired by Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of the company. The executive members on the Board are chief executive and managing director Salil Parekh and Pravin Rao, chief operating officer. The independent directors include Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Roopa Kudva, Punita Kumar-Sinha, D N Prahlad and D Sundaram.Last year saw three Board members – Sikka, non-executive chairman R Seshasayee and independent director Jeff Lehman – quit amid conflict between Board and co-founders on corporate governance issues.
Kris Lakshmikanth, founder and managing director at The Head Hunters, told DNA Money that Infosys has said that it will not hire any more top executives for the Board. He, however, felt that a person like Nayar would add weight to the Infy Board.
"If you ask them they are saying that they are not going to hire anybody, they have enough people. But if they get Vineet Nayar in a non-executive capacity, it will add weight to the Board. They should look for a person to add weight, get customers and give some direction to the company. It has to be someone who has an aggressive track record. It could even be someone from Capgemini, IBM or Accenture," he said.
By Praveena Sharma, DNA Money