Shibulal may succeed Kris Gopalakrishnan as Infosys CEO this

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Old 02-Feb-2011
Shibulal may succeed Kris Gopalakrishnan as Infosys CEO this

Shibulal may succeed Kris Gopalakrishnan as Infosys CEO this April

Infosys Technologies may ask SD Shibulal, one of its founders, to become the CEO of the company some time in April this year as part of a regular reshuffle of the top deck, people close to the situation told ET.

According to at least two people familiar with Infosys' strategy, the current CEO S Kris Gopalakrishnan is expected to pass on the baton to the COO, SD Shibulal before April this year.

Infosys started following the practice of changing its CEO regularly to give all the founders a shot at running the company. Kris took over from Nandan Nilekani in 2007, who in turn became CEO of Infosys when Murthy stepped down in 2002.

"We are still debating this...A majority of the board wants the CEO transition to be separated and be done ahead of Murthy's departure," one of the persons said last week.

NR Narayana Murthy, chief mentor of Infosys, is expected to retire from the company in August this year. "This will ensure that the transition is smooth and the management has enough bandwidth to deal with Murthy's August departure," he added.

At a time when demand for outsourcing is gaining momentum, India's top tech firms are preparing to compete more aggressively with global rivals by putting a leaner, simpler leadership structure. Last month, Wipro replaced its joint CEOs with TK Kurien after the company lagged rivals in performance over the past few quarters.

"This is the make or break year for the Indian IT sector. Companies need to push more aggressively and change their existing models - it's just like changing the engines when a plane is in flight," the CEO of one of the top five IT companies said.

Another person who works in Infosys said the company has been holding long discussions with leaders and has even invited senior executives based in overseas markets to Bangalore to inform them about this transition.

"There's a definite buzz inside Infosys, and it hints at some restructuring - the CEO transition is among the many things being discussed," he added. Analysts at brokerage firms such as CLSA forecast a much deeper restructuring at Infosys. "Re-orgs are not new at Infosys, and for a firm eyeing 200,000 in manpower, this is sometimes necessary."

"One more re-org may be round the corner, and perhaps will be worth a keener look. Peers TCS and Cognizant have looked smarter of late, which Infosys finds hard to digest, and at least some chances exist that another passing of the baton among the founders is likely, leading to a new CEO," CLSA analysts Bhavtosh Vajpayee and Nimish Joshi wrote in their January 28 report.

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