RCom eyes BPO boom

RCom eyes BPO boom

Reliance Communications Ltd, or RCom, is planning for a big expansion of its business process outsourcing (BPO) operations over the next two years, aiming to go to 30,000 employees in such operations, up from about 7,800 employees now, according to people familiar with the plans.

RCom has picked Rajnish Virmani, former chief executive of Aviva Global Services, the offshoring arm of UK’s largest insurance group, Aviva Plc., to head the expanding BPO operations.

Virmani, who spent four years at Aviva Global, had managed some 7,000 employees in that role.

Virmani’s appointment comes five months after RCom chairman Anil Ambani said that the company was planning to spin off its BPO business as a separate subsidiary. “We are planning to create a global size business in the BPO space," he said at that time.

“In order to cater to the fast growing needs of its clients, Reliance BPO is poised to expand significantly from the current strength of 7,800 agents," said an RCom spokesperson in an email response to Mint. Additional details were not forthcoming.

A person familiar with the development, who didn’t want to be identified, said the company is also actively looking to acquire small and medium-sized BPO operations.

RCom has BPO operations in Navi Mumbai and Chennai, with the Navi Mumbai facility having a seating capacity of 4,000 agents, the RCom spokesperson said.

Work is under way at the Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s sprawling headquarters in Navi Mumbai, where a special economic zone (SEZ) is coming up on an 18 acre that will be dedicated to information technology and related se-rvices. A large part of this SEZ is to be devoted to the BPO operations, this person said.

Reliance BPO provides multi-lingual support in voice and back office services to clients in telecom, banking, financial services, insurance, utilities and other industries. The firm plans a geographic expansion of the BPO operations as well.

Virmani set up Aviva Global Services’ business in India and Sri Lanka.

The Indian BPO industry employs some 553,000 this year, up from 415,000 the year before. Exports from the sector grew from $6.3 billion (Rs27,752 crore then) in FY 2005-06 to $8.4 billion in FY 2006-07. It is expected to grow to $10.5-11 billion in FY08, according to Nasscom, an industry lobby group.

A Nasscom report said the BPO demand in the domestic market, too, has witnessed noticeable growth over the past few years.