Mumbai: A member of Satyam Computer Services Ltd’s government-appointed board, C. Achuthan is a relieved man. With the board announcing Tech Mahindra Ltd as the successful bidder for a 31% stake in Satyam, Achuthan, a former head of the Securities Appellate Tribunal, said in an interview that the toughest assignment of his life is behind him. Edited excerpts:
Relieved man: C. Achuthan, board member, Satyam Computer. Shashank Parade / PTI
How, in the next 15-20 days, do you see the legal process proceeding from here?
Our first priority is that the investor has to put in the entire money here, that is, the 31%, plus the 20% (to be bought in an open offer to shareholders).
Only after the total funds are put in, will allotment take place. But before making any allotment, this company is required to go to CLB (Company Law Board) because that is the requirement of the CLB order. Once the CLB order is available, then the shares will be allotted.
By when do you expect the money to be transferred and when do you expect to move CLB?
There are two alternatives; they have to bring in the money within four days... But we can even move an application—perhaps even today (Monday) or tomorrow (Tuesday)—and CLB can pass an order if they feel that is right, with the condition that the allotment will be subject to the receipt of the money. So that can happen within eight days’ time maximum.
What about the Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) approval? When do you go to Sebi?
We will do it simultaneously. Sebi has already given us an approval in principle. This is only a confirmation and there is an ongoing discussion also and on every stage we are informing Sebi on what is happening.
The board was very transparent today, even giving out the figures of the bids of the three parties. But there is still some confusion on whether there were four bidders, or three?
One hundred and forty-one people registered first, then 10 expressions of interest (EoIs) came. Out of the 10, three we found were not serious or deficient, and we rejected them. Then of the remaining seven, three did not turn up, they did not file their documentations. So four were left.
Till the last moment, L&T (Larsen and Toubro Ltd), Tech Mahindra, WL Ross (and Co.) and Cognizant (Technology Solutions Corp.), these were the four parties. And yesterday evening, late night, we got a letter that Cognizant is withdrawing.
The biggest concern has been the legal liabilities with respect to class action suits. There’s an individual class action suit that pertains to prior to the scam, there is the fallout of class action suits after the scam broke out, and there is a claim of certain people close to the Raju family of Rs1,200 crore on Satyam. As a legal person, who has gone through these claims. What are your thoughts?
In American class action, always, absorbitant figures are quoted, and every case coming up under class action may not necessarily end up in such huge damage. It is not like the case of toxic gas, or asbestos, or cigarettes. These are all confined only to the issue of ADRs (American depository receipts); to what extent did misstatement affect the interests of investors? It’s not a very generic issue. So I don’t think it’s going to be a very big issue.
What about the UPaid (Systems) case?
In the UPaid case, some sort of a negotiation was going on. I don’t know what has happened in the last stage, but it is still open. There also, people are quoting different figures. But there is some sort of dialogue going on.
By dialogue, do you mean an out-of-court settlement?
What about Raju family’s claims of Rs1,230 crore?
There is nothing on record to show that they had advanced this money as a loan.