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Phaneesh Murthy on a successful track again

By Leslie D'Monte in Mumbai
October 12, 2007 11:22 IST
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Phaneesh Murthy, CEO, iGate Global Solutions, has had a successful but chequered career.

In July 2002, Murthy - who was then director on the board of Infosys Technologies Ltd and the company's head (sales and marketing, and communication & product services) - had to resign in the wake of a lawsuit filed against him and the company (Infosys), alleging wrongful termination and sexual harassment of a female employee, who was then on the rolls of Infosys.

Phaneesh Murthy was then at the peak of his career - the highest-paid Infosys executive (he was also appointed chairman of Progeon - now Infosys BPO) with an annual take-home pay of $400,000 (then, around Rs 2 crore), including bonus.

When he resigned, Infosys chairman and chief mentor NR Narayana Murthy admitted that Phaneesh was "an integral part of Infosys' growth... and performed outstandingly in sales and marketing..."

After he left Infosys, Phaneesh Murthy went on a cruise. When he came back, he said there were job offers on his phone which he ignored. Instead, he joined his friend TG Ramesh and others to do "something in the BPO space".

The whole concept and business plan of Quintant was built in the US. Then iGate Global Solutions took a stake in Quintant, and in 2003, the board of iGate Global Solutions approved Murthy's appointment as CEO.

Meanwhile, in 2004, a $400,000 settlement was reached on the sexual harassment case. And Murthy has not looked back.

In fact, while IT bellwether Infosys Technologies (his earlier employer) got a drubbing at the bourses for not posting "better than expected" results, iGate stumped investors a couple of days back by announcing it plans to buy back shares from the public and delist from the Indian stock markets, while remaining listed in the US.

The market is expecting the buy back offer to be in the range of Rs 400-450 per share.

"Delisting iGate is the final stage of a capital restructuring process that commenced three years ago. iGate Corporation, our parent company, is listed on Nasdaq while we are listed in India. To eliminate the confusion over dual listing, we chose a single listing strategy, and after much deliberation, decided to keep the US listing. We did this as the US is our primary market (little over 75 per cent) and it will also help our employees build assets in that market," explains Murthy.

While investors are hopeful about getting a good price for the buy back of shares, some analysts feel that the subprime hit has prompted iGate to take the delisting route in a bid to "avoid inconvenient investor questions".

"Besides, it could put iGate Global Solutions in a position for an outright sale," says an analyst. Of course, the company does not agree.

Meanwhile, to its credit, iGate was invited as a member of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Community of Global Growth Companies (GGC) because it was identified as one of the global growth companies for demonstrating a clear potential in becoming a leader in the global economy, based on parameters such as its business model, growth record, leadership and the markets it serves.

In an interview on YouTube, Murthy explains: "We believe we are changing the world by providing innovative models, changing operating models, and thus giving a competitive edge to ourselves and our clients. We need a network of such companies."

He hopes his dream will be fulfilled soon.

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Leslie D'Monte in Mumbai
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