In a development that could mar the chances for a high octane Satyam sale, the Spice Group, one of the bidders, has withdrawn from the race for the troubled software exporter. The Delhi based group has cited "lack of transparency and openness" in the Satyam stake sale process as a reason to back out. Satyam, however, said it could come back if the bidding is made transparent and if its demands are met.
Now the remaining contenders for Satyam include Tech Mahindra, and Larsen & Toubro, besides private equity firm Apax Partners and IBM, among other unknown bidders. Earlier, iGate Technologies had withdrawn from second stage of the bidding process. Prior to the bidding process only, the Hinduja Group also had backed out of the race to buy Satyam.
"There is no transparency and openness in the entire process. It is opaque and against the directive of the Company Law Board that ordered for an open, transparent, competitive price bid auction process," Preeti Malhotra, executive director of Spice Innovative Technologies, has been quoted as saying by The Times of India.
BK Modi's Spice Group had raised the issue of lack of transparency in the bidding process two days ago, and had also said it would withdraw from the race if the board had not changed the way the sale is done. "We were among the shortlisted few and satisfied all the conditions set forth. But now there is talk of a new round of shortlisting as well as closed financial bidding. This is not acceptable," Malhotra has reportedly said.
Spice wants that the Satyam board to make public the names of all those in fray. "We have a right to know who the other bidders are and who are we competing against. This would have also helped drive up the value of Satyam," Malhotra said.
The company has sent a letter regarding this to the Satyam board as well as former Chief Justice SP Bharucha, who is supervising the bid process. Satyam may, however, consider reentering the bid if the board is ready to bring in transparency. "If the Satyam board is ready to offer an open, transparent price bid auction process, we are ready to come on board," she said.
Meanwhile, the government appointed board of Satyam has ruled out any change in the bidding process.
Tech Mahindra has already started due diligence of the company, while other bidders will get access to the company's data room in the next few days. Satyam will sell 51% stake in the company to a strategic buyer by April 30.