No matter Raju’s confession waved a series of condemnation across the country on Raju and questioned the financial integrity and soundness of Satyam, one thing cannot be ruled out that Satyam was no fly-by- night operator. Satyam, the fourth largest IT company in the country is the leading outsourcer in business software and consulting services. Set up in 1987 with just 20 employees, it grew to be one of the torchbearers of India’s new economy, operating in 66 countries and with 53,000 people on its payrolls.
The company still provides enough value if a more competent leader assumes the levers of the management. VCCircle spoke to investment professionals who think that private equity firms, IT firms can look at Satyam, provided it manages to provide enough clarity around potential lawsuits and accounts.
“I think the options for Satyam are very bleak. There might be some private equity or vulture fund that comes in and buys Satyam at a ver low value,” says Munesh Khanna, former head of investment banking at DSP Merrill Lynch. Khanna believes that there will be companies interested to take away clients and businesses, but possibilty of acquisitions is slim. “One doesn’t know the legal issues, what will happen in the US and how many people will sue you,” adds Khanna, who has now started his own investment bank, Resonus Advisors Pvt Ltd.
Vulture fund is a fund that buys securities in distressed investments, such as high-yield bonds in or near default, or equities that are in or near bankruptcy.
It was DSP Merill Lynch which found serious misappropriation of accounts while conducting a due diligence on the company looking at a strategic sale and then terminated the engagements with the company.
“Once they (accounting and legal issues) are clear, Satyam can emerge as a good target. They have two good businesses – engineering services and SAP,” says Manohar Atreya, Head, Technology Investment Banking, o3 Capital.
Other sources say that apart from vulture funds, there might be other suitors like IBM, Accenture and HP looking to acquire the company.
While other institutional shareholders have exited the firm, Larsen & Tubro (L&T) has increased stake in the firm to 3.5-4% and can also emerge as a potential buyer. It can make for a strategic investment from L&T which has a software services arm L&T Infotech, and it might prove to be a good fit. Also if L&T Infotech acquires Satyam, it would be acquisition by management that has good corporate governance record, which would provide relief to clients and angry investors of Satyam, who are looking at the exit of the current management.
AM Naik, MD and CEO of L&T told a TV channel that they have not bought any more shares after the scam. But also did not rule out any possibilty of not being a potential bidder for Satyam. Naik added that they will hold on to the shares until the probe is completed.
VCCircle was the first to report that L&T has been increasing its stake in Satyam.