Search for Satyam top brass narrows down to 3

Search for Satyam top brass narrows down to 3

Hyderabad: The six directors appointed by the government to steer fraud-hit technology outsoucing firm Satyam Computer Services Ltd have, after their last board meeting, narrowed their search for a new chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO) down to three professionals. But Satyam’s uncertain future is a hurdle in the way of finalizing the appointments.

“Even though we are confident about the company’s future prospects, uncertainty about what form it will take is preventing identified candidates from making a commitment," Satyam board member C. Achuthan told Mint. “Clarity is yet to emerge whether Satyam will continue to operate on its own, or whether somebody else will come into the picture." The board started out with a list of 30 professionals with experience in running large companies.

Though a Satyam spokesperson had said on Thursday that an announcement regarding the CEO and CFO appointments is expected before the end of the week, Achuthan refused to set a clear deadline.

According to Achuthan, the next board meeting on Monday is expected to bring more clarity about the future of the company, and thus speed up the appointments.

Satyam’s day-to-day affairs are currently being managed with help from the new board members such as Achuthan, who continues to be in Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, Spice Group chairman B.K. Modi, who had expressed an interest in acquiring a controlling stake in Satyam on Thursday, said that he is willing to invest at least $400 million (Rs1,960 crore) for a 51% stake. However, he said he was not interested in buying shares from the open market as the money won’t go to investors who sell to him.

“We want the money to go inside the company. For that they will have to make a preferential issue. If I buy shares from the market, the money will not go into the company," Modi told Reuters.

Last week, Larsen and Toubro Ltd increased its stake in Satyam from 4% to 12%, making it the single largest shareholder. Foreign mutual fund Fidelity International has doubled its holding, according to a stock exchange filing. On Friday, shares of Satyam gained 8.43% to close at Rs54.05 on the Bombay Stock Exchange

Fidelity International and its subsidiaries had earlier cut their stake in Satyam. On Friday, Satyam informed the bourses that Fidelity had raised its stake from an existing 3.17% to 6.79% through bulk deals in the open market.

Fidelity had a 3.41% stake in Satyam on 31 December. A Fidelity Fund Network India spokesperson told Mint that the fund had a holding of 6% in Satyam as on 6 January—the day before Satyam founder B. Ramalinga Raju disclosed that he had fiddled with the accounts in a Rs7,136 crore fraud.

Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh high court said it will take up for hearing on 9 February a petition by the Securities and Exchange Board of India, seeking to interrogate Ramalinga Raju and his brother B. Ramu Raju.

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