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Even as N R Narayana Murthy today opened up the search for the next CEO of India’s second-largest IT-services exporter Infosys, the company's president and board member B G Srinivas, is still seen as the top contender for the corner office according to industry analysts.
Traditionally the top job at Infosys has always been held by its co-founders including Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Kris Gopalakrishnan and at present S D Shibulal. However, with Shibulal’s tenure ending in March 2015, it will be the first time that a non-founder will take on the CEO’s.
The Bangalore-based IT firm on Friday announced that its nominations committee has begun the search to select the successor to Shibulal.
“The nominations committee will short list and evaluate an internal slate of candidates with the assistance of Development Dimensions International (DDI), a company specialising in corporate executive evaluations. The board has also appointed Egon Zehnder, an executive search firm, to assist the nominations committee in identifying an external slate of candidates,” Infosys noted in a statement.
“Infosys has never looked out for CEOs. But with the current management restructuring they want to keep the option open for an external candidate. Narayana Murthy is already there in the system and in full control to mentor the new CEO,” says Ankita Somani, IT analyst, Angel Broking, adding that B G Srinivas is the frontrunner for the job.
“Srinivas handles a huge chunk of the company’s revenue and have been in the system for long to understand the details of the company. His experience in heading the European market is an added advantage,” says Somani.
At present Srinivas heads a portfolio including financial services, insurance, manufacturing, engineering services, energy and communications, public services, strategic global sourcing and marketing and alliances.
Early this year, Infosys realigned its business portfolios under its two newly appointed presidents, B G Srinivas and UB Pravin Rao reporting to Shibulal, a move widely seen as a two-horse race for the top job.
While Srinivas was always seen as one of the favourite for the CEOs post, a series of high-profile exits from the company in the last several months has catapulted Rao, a senior vice-president, to the fore. Last year in December, Rao had been inducted to the company’s board following the exit of former CFO V Balakrishnan.
At present Rao is responsible for driving growth across a portfolio that includes retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and Logistics, life sciences, cloud and mobility and Infosys Labs.
Experts feel that the decision to look out for external candidates for CEO’s job is to keep multiple options open. However, sources indicate that it would be difficult for an external candidate to fit into the company’s culture in a short period and to deal with a strong personality like Murthy.
“Shibulal has expressed his desire to retire as the CEO and MD and as a member of the board either on the date of the last board meeting before his superannuation - January 9, 2015 or when his successor is ready to assume office, whichever date is earlier,” says Infosys.
Since Murthy’s returned to Infosys last June, there have been at least nine high-profile exits including former CFO and board member V Balakrishnan, Ashok Vemuri who joined iGate as CEO and others like Basab Pradhan, Sudhir Chaturvedi, Stephen Pratt and recently Chandrashekar Kakal.
However, while commenting on top-level exits from the organisation, Murthy has pointed out at recent analyst calls that "barring a few exceptions, no one was adding much value despite their compensation and position in the company."
Shares of Infosys closed at Rs 3231, up 0.76 percent on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Friday, while the sensitive index, Sensex, ended the day marginally down 0.38 percent.
(This article is excerpted from the latest Forbes India 18 April, 2014 issue which is now available at news stands and book stores. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com)