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iGate sacks Murthy after sexual harassment probe

21 May, 2013

IT outsourcing company iGate Corp said it had sacked its chief executive, Phaneesh Murthy, for not disclosing a relationship with a subordinate after investigating one of the industry’s best-known executives for sexual harassment.

Murthy had led several initiatives to improve the performance of the Fremont, California-based company, including charging clients for business results instead of man hours, the billing method more commonly used by IT outsourcing firms.

He was forced to quit India’s second biggest software services exporter Infosys Ltd in 2002 following a sexual harassment lawsuit, which was settled out of court.

Speaking to reporters after iGate announced his departure, Murthy said he had informed the company chairman about his relationship with the female employee a few weeks ago.

iGate said its investigation showed Murthy had violated the company policy by failing to report his relationship with the employee. Murthy did not violate iGate’s harassment policy, it said in a statement.

“The board’s decision was made as a result of an investigation by outside legal counsel, engaged by the board, of the facts and circumstances surrounding a relationship Mr Murthy had with a subordinate employee and a claim of sexual harassment,” iGate said in a statement dated May 20.

A company spokesman did not respond to requests for further information. Murthy was replaced with immediate effect by interim CEO Gerhard Watzinger, the statement said.

iGate and other smaller IT outsourcing services providers compete with Indian heavyweights such as Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro and Infosys on price to win market share.

In recent months, the company had issued advertisements in international media mocking the IT outsourcing sector’s traditional billing model.

Murthy’s billing strategy is meant to appeal to clients with less-certain budgets in a tough economy.

Frederic Giron, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said Murthy’s departure did not necessarily mean the company would abandon the changes he had spearheaded.

“While it is still unclear if initiatives … will survive under a new leadership, I would assume so, since the transformation has been underway for about 2 years,” he said.

Murthy was a rising star at Infosys and was seen by many as on track to be the company’s first non-founder chief executive before the sexual harassment lawsuit abruptly ended his tenure.

After leaving Infosys, Murthy founded a company that was bought by iGate. In 2011, he teamed up with buyout firm Apax Partners to conduct iGate’s $1.2 billion purchase of much-bigger Indian rival Patni Computer Systems.

iGate shares, and revenues, have more than quadrupled since Murthy joined the company in mid-2003, according to Reuters data. The stock has gained 4 per cent in 2013, lagging the S&P 500 IT consultancy subindex, which is up 8.8 per cent.

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iGate sacks Murthy after sexual harassment probe

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