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Joined Infosys at 26, rejoined at 62. Life does turn full circle: Nilekani

As his tweet suggested, it was an emotional moment for Nandan Nilekani to be back in the company he co-founded in 1981.

Nandan Nilekani, who was appointed non-executive chairman of Infosys on Thursday, described his return to the company he co-founded as public service. He did not elaborate on it, but the evident suggestion was that the company had become an important national institution, and it was necessary to stabilise it quickly after the controversies that had roiled it over the past year, and more so in the past few weeks.

“I was invited to become the chairman and this was the unanimous decision of the board.The founders and Mr Murthy (N R Narayana Murthy) also had asked me to consider this position, along with a large number of institutional shareholders. I’m here representing 100% of shareholders and the full board, employees and other stakeholders,” he said on Friday at his first press conference following his appointment.

He said in past 24 hours or so since he assumed charge, he had met with board members, individually with senior management, had had an investor call where some 600 investors participated, and had recorded a message for employees.

He said his strength lies in consensus building, which he said he demonstrated even in the building of Aadhaar, a complex national technology project that involved multiple governmental agencies and two very different governments. Nilekani was the first chairman of UIDAI, the body that issues Aadhaar numbers.

“I have a record of doing things in different environments and doing it successfully. My goal is to build consensus, bring stability, and take this company forward on its rightful journey of achieving its goals and aspirations,” he said. He said his tenure had not been defined, and he would stay as long as it is deemed necessary.

The press conference started on a light note, with Nilekani even joking that he was back in Infosys because “there was nobody else” to take that position. He expressed his desire that media stay away from Infosys so that the company could work without getting distrac ted. “It’s time to be dull and boring,” he said.

But midway, the answers became curt and Nilekani sounded testy, as questions turned persistently towards the previous R Seshasayee-led board’s charges against Murthy, and whether the new board would accept Murthy’s demand for a full disclosure of the investigation reports related to the Panaya acquisition and the huge severance payments to former CFO Rajiv Bansal and former chief legal officer David Kennedy.

 Asked about the statement against Murthy, Nilekani simply said, “Everything is hunky dory.” When it was pointed out that non-disclosure of investigation reports would go against core of Murthy’s demand that led to all of the recent issues, Nilekani merely reiterated he would take appropriate action.



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