Monday, 23 March 2009

Satyam sale moves to shortlist stage

(By Anthony Miller – Monday, 23rd March 2009 8:15am). It’s not perfectly clear which firms submitted formal expressions of interest – and ‘showed the money’ – to buy a controlling stake in Satyam last Friday but, as expected, media reports tag Larsen & Toubro, Tech Mahindra and Spice Group among them, though none have issued a formal press releases as far as I can see. Also mooted to have submitted EoIs are private equity players KKR and Texas Pacific (probably fronting other IT services players), but it appears that a PE-backed bid from iGate has not gone forward and that IBM and HP have also decided to pass. The Satyam board is expected to announce the lucky winner by 30th April.

Now it really becomes interesting as short-listed players get access to Satyam’s as yet unpublished restated accounts and operating metrics. There are all sorts of stories about staff losses and revenue declines, plus an estimated $100m worth of lawsuits, and who knows what other skeletons there may be lurking in closets in sunny Hyderabad. But I think the Indian Government will make whatever assurances and concessions it needs in order to save the Satyam business. My money (not literally, I hasten to add) is on one of the Indian players, and having met up with L&T Infotech CEO, Sudip Banerjee last week, I know they are very keen to take control. But the race is far from run.

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