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Satyam braced for competitor takeover bid

Outsourcing giant Satyam could soon be snapped up by competitors, according to one industry expert
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Outsourcing giant Satyam could soon be snapped up by competitors, according to one industry expert.

India's fourth-biggest outsourcer holds contracts with 185 Fortune 500 companies but saw about 80 percent wiped off the value of its shares on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following chairman B Ramalinga Raju's admission that millions of dollars of "non-existent" cash and interest were logged on the company's balance sheet.

The National Outsourcing Association's (NOA) offshoring director Mark Kobayashi-Hillary told ZDNet UK's sister site, silicon.com: "I think that within a week somebody will express an interest in taking it on.

"It is going to go for a song — their annual revenues are over $2bn (£1.3bn) but there is no trust in the company right now.

"My guess is that they will be brought up by TCS but they have been quite acquisitive in the last year and they have stretched themselves, so I don't know whether they want to do that right now."

David Mitchell, senior vice president, IT research at analysts Ovum, said Mindtree, HCL Technologies and Tech Mahindra are all in the frame to take over Satyam.

Mitchell told silicon.com: "In the short and medium term the hugely deflated valuation of Satyam is likely to make it vulnerable to takeover.

"Even before the news of these corporate governance issues there was open market speculation that Satyam was either looking to bulk up through acquisition or that it would be at the core of a merger with rivals of similar scale."

The NOA's Kobayashi-Hillary said rival companies will now be pulling out the stops to snag Satyam's contracts, further driving down its value.

"The sales team at companies such as TCS and Wipro will have gone into overdrive approaching all the accounts that Satyam hold, saying 'You do not want to have to deal with all this uncertainty' and asking 'Do you want to do a deal with us?'," he said.

Forrester analyst John McCarthy agreed Satyam would be under heavy pressure to hold onto its clients in the coming weeks.

McCarthy said: "Satyam clients will naturally be concerned and many clients will be forced to review their contracts and talk to the other offshore suppliers about potentially taking over work from Satyam."

A spokesman for Satyam said: "There has been much speculation about whether Satyam are to be taken over or indeed merge with another organisation.

"The reality is that no meaningful discussions at board level have taken place around this issue.

"However, the board meeting this Saturday [10 January] should shed some light on where the recent events leave Satyam in the short term."

The firm counts UK organisations such as food giant Birds Eye Iglo Group among its customers, as well as major international clients such as Fifa and Nestle.

As part of its action plan following Raju's disclosure, Satyam is also meeting with clients to try and quell their concerns and has begun reviewing Satyam's financial liquidity position.

Satyam's interim chief executive Ram Mynampati today admitted that the amount of cash on its balance books is "not very encouraging" and said the company is "looking to raise liquidity".

Chief financial officer Srinivas Vadlamani is expected to resign next week after not turning up for work this week, a spokesman for Satyam said.

Mynampati also said he has "no knowledge" of where Raju is, following the chairman's revelations that the company had inflated revenues for several years.

TCS and Wipro declined to comment on any possible takeover bids for Satyam.

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