Friday, 18 September 2009

WNS – in play or not?

(By Anthony Miller – Friday 18th September 2009 7:45am). Mixed messages from the 'Indian' BPO scene today, with US-listed WNS announcing it is not pursuing ‘change of control’ discussions revealed a couple of weeks ago. However, the media is abuzz with the story that peer Genpact and PE firm Blackstone have put in offers for Warburg Pincus' 50%+ stake. Obviously neither party is saying anything, at least in public.

Genpact is 2-3 times the size of WNS, is very much US-focused, and still gets 40% of its revenues from ex-parent, GE (see Mixed outlook from India-based BPOs). Ex-BA captive, WNS, on the other hand, gets nearly 60% of its sales from the UK. A marriage could make sense. Not sure what might be in it for Blackstone, though, as I am not aware of any other BPO play in its portfolio. The most prolific PE investor in BPO is General Atlantic, with stakes in Genpact, India-based IT/BPO firm Patni, and "our very own" Liberata and Xchanging. The fact that these firms remain ‘independent’ under GA’s wing suggests that a true consolidation play in BPO is perhaps not as easy in practice as it might appear on paper.

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