Infosys on Saturday reappointed co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy to lead the Indian outsourcing giant two years after he retired, as the company grapples with weak earnings and falling market share.
The global software group said in a statement that incumbent K.V. Kamath will step down as chairman of the board and be an independent director.
“This calling was sudden, unexpected, and most unusual,” Murthy, who has been named executive chairman, said in a statement.
“But, then, Infosys is my middle child. Therefore, I have put aside my plans-in-progress and accepted this responsibility,” he said.
The move comes after the company, India’s second-largest software outsourcer by revenue, in April announced disappointing fourth-quarter earnings and weak revenue projections.
Infosys, which is also listed on New York’s Nasdaq, has been seeking to turn itself around with a strategic overhaul to focus on higher value software and consulting services instead of labour-intensive outsourcing services.
Three decades ago, Murthy and six other Indian software pioneers sat around a kitchen table and formed Infosys.
Murthy’s son, Rohan Murthy, who holds a Harvard computer science doctorate, will serve as his executive assistant, the statement said.
The appointments will be submitted to shareholders for approval at the company’s annual general meeting on June 15, Infosys said.
Murthy retired as executive chairman in August 2011 after turning 65 and Kamath assumed the post as non-executive chairman with co-founder Krish Gopalakrishnan as co-chairman.
Murthy was named chairman emeritus on his retirement.
S. Gopalakrishnan will be re-appointed executive vice-chairman and will focus on client relationships and industry issues.
The decision to bring Murthy back into active service was taken by the board at a meeting on Saturday.
Kamath welcomed Murthy’s reappointment saying that his entrepreneurial and leadership record as well as his experience as a technology pioneer “makes him eminently qualified to lead the company and provide strategic direction at this point in time”.
Kamath, former chief executive of India’s top private bank ICICI, said the board had taken the step “keeping in mind the challenges that the technology industry” faces.
He said that shareholders had asked for a “strengthening of the executive leadership during this challenging time”.
S.D. Shibulal will continue as the chief executive and managing director of the company.
Murthy and his son, Gopalakrishnan and Shibulal have asked to be paid a token one rupee (two cents) a year, the statement said.
Infosys, whose earnings have traditionally been seen as a bellwether for the sector, reported net profit rose just 3.4 percent to 23.94 billion rupees ($439 million) for the final quarter to March.
Its expectation that revenues would grow by just six to 10 percent in the current financial year was significantly below the 12 to 14 percent forecast by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).
Many of India’s IT outsourcing firms have been going through a rough patch and they say the outlook for the industry remains difficult due to uncertainty in key US and European markets.
In the past year, Infosys has missed sales targets, lost market share and seen its stock price slide as US revenues decline.
Gartner India’s research manager Partha Iyengar recently said that “Infosys shows continued signs of stress in their overall performance”.
A quarter of the company’s revenue comes from Europe, and in recent years the firm has shifted focus to emerging and new markets such as Singapore, Brazil, Mexico and eastern Europe.
India, with its large English-speaking workforce, accounts for at least 50 percent of the global outsourcing market and the industry is a vital exporter.