Infosys COO salary row: Mohandas Pai backs Narayana Murthy, says pay spectacular, not performance

Narayana Murthy had earlier said that COO UB Pravin Rao's pay was spectacular but not the performance.

Former Infosys director Mohandas Pai has backed founder Narayana Murthy in the controversy over the compensation hike to Chief Operating Officer (COO) UB Pravin Rao, saying his "pay is spectacular, not the performance".

On Sunday, Narayana Murthy had said the nearly 60-70 per cent increase in Rao's compensation approved by Infosys board in February was "not proper" and "will likely erode the trust and faith of the employees in the management and the board".

"Giving nearly 60 per cent to 70 per cent increase in compensation for a top level person (even including performance-based variable pay) when the compensation for most of the employees in the company was increased by just 6 per cent to 8 per cent is, in my opinion, not proper," he said.

"The impact of such a decision will likely erode the trust and faith of the employees in the management and the board," he said in an email to news agency PTI.

"I totally agree with Murthy that it was not proper. We should have Indian norm for compensation; we cant follow American norm, we (Infosys) are not an American company," Pai, who was also formerly Chief Finance Officer of Infosys, told PTI in a telephonic interview.

The comments come at a time when a row has erupted again between some founders and the current management of the firm.

Pai argued that at a time when the salary for entry level software engineers had not been raised in the IT industry in India for the past seven years, it is totally wrong to hike the compensation for top-level executives.

"The starting salary for software engineers has not gone up for the past seven years; and the inflation in the last seven years is about 60 per cent," he said.

The salary of Chief Operating Officer (of Infosys) three-four years ago was Rs 3.5 crore or Rs 4 crore. Now, it has gone up to Rs 12 crore, according to the Chairman of Manipal Global Education Services and Aarin Capital.

Murthy, however, said he has lots of affection for Pravin.

"I recruited Pravin in 1985 and had nurtured him throughout my stay at Infosys since then. He had been sidelined. He was not even a member of the Executive Council at Infosys in 2013 when I came back. Kris, Shibu and I encouraged him, elevated him to the board, and made him the COO when we recruited Vishal as the CEO. So, this abstention has nothing to do with Pravin," he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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