The six-member government-appointed board of scandal-hit Satyam Computer Services today appointed investment banks Goldman Sachs and Avendus to explore various strategic options for the company, which include identifying strategic investors and obtaining expressions of interest from them in a fair and transparent manner.
The board also appointed management consultancy Boston Consulting Group to support the directors and the Satyam leadership team. BCG will appoint a three-member team for the assignment and will not charge anything for its services.
In a related development, Price Waterhouse said it has suspended S Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri, who had audited Satyam's accounts, following allegations of collusion in the fraud. Price Waterhouse's assurance leader, Thomas Mathew, too stepped down, though he will remain a partner in the firm.
The bail petition of the two auditors will be heard on January 29, while that of Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju and former CFO Srinivas Vadlamani will come up for hearing on January 28.
TN Manoharan, who chaired the board meeting today its fourth since its constitution on January 10 said the board has received several buyout proposals from companies as well as some private equity firms.
"Some have shown interest in evaluating Satyam as an integrated entity, while others have expressed interest in portions of Satyam's business," he said. "A sale of parts at this stage would be contrary to the mandate of regulating the affairs of Satyam as a going concern, as stipulated by the central government. It is, therefore, not an option that is being evaluated currently."
Manoharan also indicated that there might be an open bidding for the company in order to ensure transparency. "It is important to keep in view that this is now a government administrated company, reporting to the Company Law Board and the ministry of corporate affairs," he added.
A television report said that the board has asked the Securities & Exchange Board of India to waive the rule which requires anybody who acquires 15 per cent in a company to follow it with an open offer for 20 per cent more shares. The report could not be verified from the market regulator.
With the buzz of sale in the air, the Satyam stock saw huge trading volumes and a spurt in prices. The Satyam scrip rose 21.38 per cent on BSE to close at Rs 47.15. In the last two trading sessions, the Satyam share price has risen 59.30 per cent.
On BSE and NSE together, 152.7 million Satyam shares were traded today, of which 32.6 million shares were delivered. This is 4.83 per cent of the total paid up equity of the company. Three brokerage houses today bought and sold 10 million shares of Satyam, according to NSE data on bulk deals.
In an early morning conference call with analysts, Larsen & Toubro Chairman AM Naik did not rule out increasing the company's stake in Satyam from 12 to 15 per cent." The company would first wait for more clarity on Satyam's financial position," he said.
L&T, India's biggest engineering and construction firm, hiked its stake in Satyam last week to 12.04 per cent from 4.48 per cent after speaking to some of the company's customers and on hopes that the government will help rescue the firm, Naik said.
Considering that L&T's investment in Satyam represents a strategic stake and not a portfolio holding, he added that the value of the investment will be reflected at its cost in accordance with the accepted accounting guidelines.