He is a flamboyant CEO, always approachable, a darling with the media, almost always obliging scribes with quotable quotes. Lean and tall, the 48-year-old CEO of iGate Patni, Phaneesh Murthy, always sported a pencil moustache. Two month back, he grew stubble - petite goatee to be precise.
Meanwhile, his company has grown too. In January last year, Murthy announced the acquisition of one of India's oldest IT firms, Patni Computer Systems, for $1.22 billion. The merger created yet another biggie in the Indian IT sector - iGate Patni now has a revenue run rate of more than a billion dollars.
On April 9, iGate accepted the offer of Patni's minority shareholders to delist the firm from Indian stock exchanges for a price of Rs 520 a share. That would give iGate, listed in the US, a 93 per cent stake in Patni. In a way, this completes the year-long acquisition story. The purchase has proved expensive for Murthy and he has been saddled with more than a billion dollars in debt. But the CEO remains at his combative best, arguing that he would be able to repay it within a few years.
This is Murthy's second coming and he has risen like a Phoenix - the executive was the original architect of $6 billion IT giant Infosys' US growth story between 1992 and 2002. He was always seen as a potential CEO candidate, a favourite with legendary founder NR Narayana Murthy. He quit the firm after being charged with a sexual harassment lawsuit by an American employee in 2002. Infosys reached a $3-million out-of-court settlement in 2003.
Murthy has now built iGate to a scale where he can compete with Infosys.