Murthy gets backing of proxy advisory firms on Panaya deal report

infosys, infosys agm, n r narayana murthy, infosys cofounders, infosys founders, t v mohandas pai, infosys vishal sikka
N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder and former chairman of Infosys.Reuters file

In the ongoing spat over the Panaya probe reports, proxy advisory firms have come out in support of NR Narayana Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys. Murthy’s growing concerns over falling corporate governance standards in Infosys led to this never-ending row between the founders and the CEO Vishal Sikka.

The Bengaluru-based independent corporate governance research and advisory firm Ingovern has shown support, among others, towards Murthy’s stance but have also asked the founders for a specific action plan to put the company back on the stability track.

Shriram Subramanian of Ingovern told Business Line that it supported Murthy and the other founder’s stand on making the report on Panaya public. “There is merit to what the founders are saying and enough reasons for Infosys shareholders to be worried,” he said.

This development comes in the backdrop of Infosys’ stand of not making the Panaya probe reports public, after Murthy’s plea to let release the reports on the public domain. In response to this, Infosys said that it has made full disclosure of its connections between its executives and Panaya’s investors.

Ingovern has also raised questions on the company’s stock performance, saying it has gone nowhere in the last 12 months. According to BSE data of last one year, Infosys shares have gone down to Rs 968 from Rs 1,094.

“Infosys is no longer a company that we look up to,” said Subramanian. Advisory firms also believe that the recent appointment of co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan has not made that much of a difference. “They make surreptitious disclosures that are not forthcoming and the issues continue to remain,” Subramanian said.

Stakeholder Empowerment Services’ (SES), another proxy advisory firm, supported Murthy’s call to make the report on Panaya deal public. “We fully support Murthy’s call. It is important to know all the details concerning the deal,” said JN Gupta, co-founder, and Managing Director.

Gupta expects the management to be as transparent as possible regarding any deal. The shareholders have a right to know everything about the deal, Gupta said.

Industry watchdogs also believe that continuing top management attrition of SAP aides is a cause of serious concern.

In 2015, Infosys acquired Israel-based Panaya for $200 million. Soon after the takeover, two whistleblowers had made impropriety accusations over the acquisition of Panaya. The board then hired American law firm Gibson Dunn, and global risk consultancy firm Control Risks to investigate the entire deal, only to come out clean.

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