Infosys offices in Mangalore, Karnataka, India. (Photo: Ajayptp/Shutterstock.com)
Infosys Ltd., India's second-largest software services provider, announced on Dec. 31 that general counsel and chief compliance officer David Kennedy would leave the company, effective the same day as the announcement. The company and Kennedy "mutually agreed" on Kennedy's departure, according to the company, though some have questioned the seemingly sudden decision and the close to $1 million severance package.
Per a separation agreement entered into on Dec. 23, 2016, Kennedy will receive aggregate severance payments of $868,250 plus reimbursements for insurance over a period of 12 months. Palo Alto, California-based Kennedy, who joined Infosys in November 2014, can revoke his acceptance of the separation agreement within seven days. While the company searches for Kennedy's replacement, deputy GC Gopi Krishnan will assume Kennedy's duties as acting general counsel, the announcement states.
Infosys has seen the departure of eight executives in the last two years, including former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal and the former head of consulting. And the company faced criticism related to Bansal's severance amount, which equaled two years' worth of pay. This led to rumors that the company might have been trying to silence Bansal, though two separate investigations revealed no wrongdoing and ultimately resulted in suspending the payments to him.
Infosys' handling of Kennedy's departure similarly raises questions, according to a corporate governance alert from India-based corporate governance research and advisory firm InGovern. "If an employee voluntarily resigns from the company, there is no logic of paying a severance package by the company," InGovern noted. "Also, in such cases the employee has to serve a notice period before leaving the company. Mr. Kennedy is being paid a severance pay and is also not serving any notice period in the company, which makes it clear that his service has been terminated by Infosys."
The timing of Kennedy's departure is also questionable, InGovern pointed out. "His departure, only within 2 months of being given a revision in pay, is surprising," the corporate governance alert said, referring to the fact that Kennedy's pay was changed in October 2016.
That said, the severance amount, alone, isn't all that shocking, says Bob Graff, a partner and recruiter in the in-house practice group at legal search consultants Major, Lindsey & Africa. "The severance package does not sound that high to me," Graff says. "It's probably about average for a company of this size that is publicly traded," he says of Infosys, which brought in roughly 9.5 billion in revenue in FY 2016.
Kennedy joined Infosys from JDA Software Group Inc. in 2014 and was previously in-house at International Business Machines Corp. for 18 years, eventually serving as associate general counsel.