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HCL Tech bullish on BPO growth

June 27, 2003 18:49 IST

Indian software services exporter HCL Technologies Ltd aims to expand its workforce size in its local back-office services unit by more than 60 per cent to 2,500 by March 2004, a senior official said on Friday.

The increase in hiring is meant to handle extra business as prospective and existing clients scale up outsourcing to cut costs, Sujit Baksi, chief executive officer at HCL Technologies BPO Services, a fully-owned subsidiary of HCL, told Reuters.

"There have been significant ramp-ups in April-June for the pilots started in the last two quarters," he said, referring to back-office services orders, which the firm had earlier won.

New Delhi-based HCL, India's No. 5 software exporter, entered the fast-growing Business Process Outsourcing sector about two years ago.

HCL BPO presently employs about 1,500 people in India.

It also has 800 people working in Ireland through a majority-owned joint venture with British telecoms giant BT Group.

"We are in an advanced stage of discussions with a few companies for two to three large contracts," Baksi said.

HCL BPO has about 30 customers mainly in the telecom, retail and financial services industries.

Shares of HCL ended 2.82 per cent higher on Friday in a firm market.

Aided by a huge labour cost advantage, India has emerged as a hub for remote back-office services such as payroll processing and call centre work to mostly US-based clients.

HCL Technologies reported revenue of Rs 466 crore (Rs 4.66 billion) in the January-March quarter, flat from the preceding three months.

The BPO business currently accounts for only a fraction of HCL's total revenue but analysts expect this will grow multifold in the coming years and drive the parent company's growth.

The company this year clinched a $160 million five-year deal from BT to handle parts of it's directories and phone conferencing work.

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