BUSINESS

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka Calls Himself A 'Kshatriya Warrior,' Vows To Fight Amid Controversy Over Hefty Executive Pay

The company's management has defended some of its executive pay decisions challenged by its founders.

14/02/2017 9:41 AM IST | Updated 14/02/2017 12:05 PM IST
Stringer India / Reuters

After two separate briefings on Monday, Infosys Chief Executive Vishal Sikka and the company's board sought to play down concerns about the company's governance structure, defending the board's decisions regarding hefty executive pay, which have been strongly criticised by co-founders including Narayana Murthy.

In an interview with CNBC following a lengthy press conference on Monday evening, Sikka said he was wasn't bogged down by the controversy and the vast majority of concerns raised by its investors had been around the company's performance. "I am a kshatriya warrior. I am here to stay and fight," he told the channel, reiterating his mission to transform the company.

During the press briefing, Infosys Chairman R Seshasayee while attempting to defend the Rs 17.38 crore severance package that was paid to former-CFO Rajiv Bansal, admitted that the board's "judgement" may have differed if the circumstances had been different and if certain processes had been in place. Infosys has reportedly reviewed some of the policies regarding severance pay after consultation with a third party.

"At that time, it was a business judgement, there was an application of mind by the board and it was agreed to be paid," Seshasayee said, adding there was "subjectivity" in arriving at Bansals severance package, but ruled out any further probe into the matter. Bansal's severance pay was equivalent to about 24 months of pay.

Seshasayee also strongly criticised certain allegations about the severance pay being "hush money" and called them "deeply disturbing."

Out of the Rs 17.38 crores of severance pay that was agreed upon, Seshasayee said that only about Rs 5 crore has been paid thus far with the rest of the amount pending certain clarifications on the terms of the severance contract.

Seshasayee emphasised that with "subjectivity" gone with the severance processes, there will be "no more Rajiv Bansal-like situation" going forward. While Sikka said that Bansal's exit followed "team chemistry issues" but was mutually agreed upon. Bansal, who joined cab aggregator Ola last year as its CFO, has also recently quit Ola a year after joining.

Another point of contention between Infosys' board and its founders has been Sikka's salary which will amount to $11 million, a 55 per cent jump over the previous year, as well as the use of private chartered jets by Sikka.

Seshasayee defended Sikka's pay rise saying the fixed portion of Sikka's salary has come down but the increase has been in variable pay, which is linked to performance. He also claimed that less than one tenth of Sikka's travel was by chartered jets.

With inputs from PTI and Reuters

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