Satyam Taps Goldman To Explore Sale

Outsourcer looks for a buyer in an effort to emerge from cooked-books scandal.
Scandal-plagued Indian outsourcer Satyam has retained investment bankers Goldman Sachs and Avendus to help it explore strategic options, including a possible sale of the company.

In a statement, Satyam's board said it wants the banks to help with "identification of strategic investors, obtaining expressions of interest, and ensuring a fair and transparent approach to the process."

"The board has received several proposals from corporate entities and from private equity firms," said board member T.N. Manoharan. "Some are interested in evaluating Satyam as an integrated entity, while others have expressed interest in portions of Satyam's business."

Manoharan added, however, that the Indian government has ruled that Satyam cannot be sold off in piece parts, so any buyout would have to involve the whole company. The range of conceivable buyers extends from private equity firms to multinational tech services players such as IBM.

On Jan. 7, Satyam chairman Ramalinga Raju admitted falsifying the company's cash position by as much as $1 billion while overstating quarterly earnings and revenue by up to 28%. Satyam also may have falsified employee numbers and other data. Raju tendered his resignation and has since been arrested and jailed.

Some customers have fled the company in light of the scandal, which has been dubbed "India's Enron." India's Economic Times reported that U.S. heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar may terminate its deal with the Satyam. Insurer State Farm has said it would seek an end to its outsourcing contract with the company.

Satyam is facing lawsuits from shareholders who claim they were misled about the company's financial situation.

Satyam shares rose 18% Wednesday, the eighth consecutive day of gains for the stock, as investors bet the company will conclude a deal sooner than later.

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