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Khusrokhan may be new Satyam ED, Partho finance chief

BS Reporters & Agencies in Hyderabad | February 04, 2009 19:48 IST
Last Updated: February 04, 2009 20:01 IST

Homi R Khusrokhan, ex-MD, Tata Chemicals
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The Satyam Computer Services [Get Quote] board is expected to induct former managing director of Tata Chemicals [Get Quote] Homi R Khusrokhan on the company's board of directors as Executive Director and former chief financial officer of Murugappa group Partho S Datta as Director (Finance).

Minister of Corporate Affairs (MCA) P C Gupta had earlier said the new appointments would have designations other than CEO and CFO. The announcements, note highly-placed sources, were expected on Wednesday but the board has extended the meet till on Thursday.

Both Khusrokhan and Partho are understood to have met the senior management and HR team over the last two days. They are also understood to have begun informal talks with key clients. Besides, Khusrokhan had attended the last Satyam Board meet as a special invitee to understand the situation, and probe deeper into the problems.

The names would have been announced earlier, note highly-placed sources, but the new Satyam board was seriously mulling the buyout options that emerged with the interest of numerous suitors in the company.

The names include that of Larsen & Toubro and B K Modi-owned Spice group (both asking for management control), Mahindra & Mahindra, Hinduja group, Essar group (Aegis BPO), HCL Technologies [Get Quote], Tech Mahindra [Get Quote] and iGate. Other unconfirmed names include that of Fijustu, Hitachi and IBM.

However, most of these suitors are believed to have asked for 4-8 weeks of time to do a due dilligence before they come out with a concrete proposal.

Besides, they are also waiting for Sebi to issue details about the relaxed norms in case of an open offer for Satyam-like cases. Hence, the board sensed the urgency of announcing the names to restore investor and client confidence in the company, the sources aver.

Meanwhile, uncertainty and lack of clarity on what is happening in Satyam is already taking a toll on the company's stock. Satyam's stock on Wednesday fell almost 7 per cent to close at Rs 50.10 on the BSE.

Larsen and Toubro Limited (L&T) has expressed reservations about the e-auction model (suggested by B K Modi who's also interested in management control of Satyam) being proposed for buying the beleaguered Satyam.

"It (Satyam) is not a commodity. We are against the suggestion to have an e-auction to determine a suitable buyer for an entity like Satyam," said JP Nayak, L & T 's whole-time director and president (operations) on the sidelines of a CII event in Hyderabad.

"Even one month after the debacle, the government is not sure of its plans and there is no progress. This has led to uncertainty and a fall in its share prices. On a strategic level, more disclosures are on their way and as the investigations go deeper, more skeletons will come out in terms of the financials. This has also made investors jittery," said Vinu B Kartha, Partner at Research and Advisory firm Tholons.

Harit Shah, an analyst with Angel Broking attributes this share price fall to profit booking. "When the prices are high, investors sell their shares and that causes the share prices to fall. This seems to have happened in Satyam's case."

In related developments, a 5-member Sebi team -- which was granted permission by the Supreme Court to examine the founder and ex-CEO of tainted Satyam Computer Services Ramalinga Raju and his brother and ex-MD B Rama Raju on Tuesday -- on Wednesday started the interrogation of the duo around 9.45 am.

Sebi general manager Sunil Kumar and his associates have been given three days to meet the accused, who are in the Hyderabad central jail. They, however, did not speak to the media.

However, the counsel for the Raju brothers said: "I will raise objections after getting a copy of the Supreme Court order." The defence counsel S Bharath Kumar added the Raju brothers have no legal assistance as they are in a prison. Also, they do not have any records to project their perspective of the issue and the confined jail atmosphere is not conducive to make any voluntary statements.

"We will question the validity of statements extracted in a confinement," he said. He added he made an unsuccessful attempt to meet Sebi southern region general manager Sunil Kumar at the central prison.

The Raju brothers are in judicial custody till February 7. They were first arrested on January 9. The police have also taken Price Waterhouse partners and auditors S Gopalakrishnan and Talluri Srinivas into two-day custody for custodial interrogation.

Their police custody will end at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

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