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April 5, 2001
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Satyam's Rusi Brij may take over as Aptech MD

NetScribes/Abhijit Basu

It's time for a change of guard at Aptech Ltd. A few months after Ganesh Natarajan quit the company as managing director, the market is agog with rumours that Rusi Brij, head of corporate planning and development at Satyam Computers, is taking his place at Aptech.

Brij is understood to have quit Satyam last week.

Analysts feel that if this does happen, it would be a big loss for Satyam and an even bigger gain for Aptech. "He was responsible for a very large and important unit at Satyam; Aptech could gain a lot from his expertise in sales and planning," said a senior software analyst at Span Capital Services.

For now, Pramod Khera, executive director at Aptech, is looking after the company's operations till a new managing director comes in.

Brij, who has put in eight years at Satyam, was earlier based in the US. He helped devise the company's medium and long-term plans. Brij was also responsible for evolving a corporate-wide planning framework, integration of multiple business strategies and analysis of global market and technology opportunities.

If Brij does take over as Aptech's MD, he would have more than a handful of challenges to tackle, the uncertainty of the Hexaware merger being one of them. For the moment, Aptech has kept the merger of its software unit with Hexaware on hold after it came in for plenty of flak from the market.

In fact, the Aptech scrip was hammered down to sub-100 levels on March 13, 2001. The scrip ended Wednesday at Rs 131.55, down from its previous close of Rs. 137.25. A total of 231,239 shares were traded during the day.

The negative sentiment was echoed by brokerage house Morgan Stanley in its recent report on the company. "In spite of valuations being 'undoubtedly attractive', uncertainty could be an overhang and could affect the scrip," the report said.

Also, analysts feel that Natarajan's exit could hit the company harder than expected. "Natarajan had spearheaded the company's growth over the last few years; it was his goodwill that was driving the company and the scrip. With him gone, it is gloomy days for the scrip at least," said a senior software analyst at Pranav Securities.


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