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Satyam fast-tracks search for buyers, to appoint banker

BS Reporter in New Delhi | January 20, 2009 10:01 IST

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With no financial bailout in sight for the troubled Satyam Computer Services [Get Quote], the new government-appointed board is understood to have speeded up the process of appointing a merchant banker to identify potential buyers for the company.

Highly-placed sources aver that the new board recognises that it's the potential liabilities that could arise from the 12 class-action suits that are acting as a major deterrent to potential buyers.

"Talks are on with the merchant bankers. However, the potential buyers - both foreign and domestic -- are waiting to see how bad the news can get.

"Till now, they have no clue as to what's happened with the cash," an industry source, close to the developments, pointed out.

Meanwhile, the government-appointed Satyam board member Kiran Karnik reportedly said the company is viable and will make profits soon and Deepak Parekh (another board member) said the company has receivables of around Rs 1,700 crore or Rs 17 billion (minus Rs 400 crore or Rs 4 billion debts and a Rs 200 crore or Rs 2 billion forex loss).

The process to seek a buyer needs to gather momentum since analysts and research firms aver that around 40 per cent or up to $1 billion of the Satyam revenue pie could get redistributed among other IT players by the end of the fourth quarter of CY09.

Effectively, about 25 per cent of Satyam's revenue ($500-600 million) could be affected by FY10, as not all of this gets out in the beginning itself or not all contract exits are upfront, note Edelweiss analysts Viju George and Kunal Sangoi.

They assume that about 70 per cent of revenues are up for renegotiation or renewal in Q1 and Q2 of this fiscal.

A larger proportion of Satyam's revenues are non-annuity based and thus come up for renegotiation/renewal more often, they explain.

Clients of the troubled IT services provider have already approached outsourcing advisory and research firms like Booz & Company and Forrester in a bid to review their relationships with the company, following the admission of a financial fraud by former chairman Ramalinga Raju.

This is an opportune time for them since client budgets are arranged at the beginning of the calendar year.

A drastic redistribution of market share in favour of other IT services providers in an overall stable-to-declining IT services market is likely as early as the first quarter of calendar year 2009 (January-February 2009), note the Edelweiss analysts.

On its part, the new board has constituted an audit committee, an internal auditor and a legal advisor the board.

Moreover, till such time that a chairman is appointed by the central government (in line with the directions of the Company Law Board), it has decided that one of the members of the Board will chair the meeting, by rotation.

The board also confirmed that the search for the CEO and CFO continues and that till such time these appointments are concluded, it will continue to meet on a weekly basis, to address ongoing issues.

The board members reiterated that they are in touch with key customers and so far have not heard of deliveries being affected in any way.

The board reaffirmed its confidence in its associates (employees) and their ability to continue delivering high quality work, as per the stated service level agreements.

"If Satyam's business can be sustained for the next two-three quarters, then there is a possibility of a revival and that can happen if Satyam is able to restore client confidence by meeting the service levels," opined Sabyasachi Satpathy, director and co-founder of Mindplex Consulting, an outsourcing advisory services firm.

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