The curtains have come down on what has probably been the most exciting act ever played out by the IT industry on the stage of the Indian corporate sector. It all started for me personally when an irate investor from the US called up on the evening of 16th December to complain about the wanton hijacking of the Board by Ramalinga Raju in pushing the Maytas deal through. While the deal itself was withdrawn the following morning following a hue and cry from vigilant shareholders, the tiger that Raju was riding was already speeding up and carrying him to the inevitable fall., The resignation drama of January 7th and the subsequent furore that threatened implosion of the entire company was admirably handled by the Government, NASSCOM and subsequently a phenomenal Board of Directors led by Kiran Karnik with luminaries like Deepak Parekh of HDFC and Tarun Das of CII steering the Satyam ship through troubled waters and bringing it to safe port called the Mahindra group in the record time of less than four months.
In the last few months , the industry has been buffeted by many storms ‘ the global slowdown, the terrorism attacks on Mumbai and of course the Satyam saga have all dented the short term prospects of an industry which has made all Indians hold their heads high in the world. Speaking at an Outsourcing conference at the Asia Society in New York early this year, it was alarming to find the skepticism in many quarters about the Indian corporate sector. In an industry which has, for many years been a standard for corporate governance in the country with many iconic figures like Mr. Narayana Murthy showing the way to other sectors as well, the blow to our psyche has been deep but the quick actions of the Government and the Board led by Kiran Karnik have been applauded in all quarters. Corporate India can take justifiable pride in the fact that the quick and decisive actions will be applauded by industry watchers all over the world. Today, an empowered management team needs everybody’s support to succeed in future and take the company back to its position of strength.
There are many challenges that the Tech Mahindra team and the Mahindra group will face in the ensuing months to convince the analysts , customers and many sections of Satyam associates that they have what it takes to put the company back on the growth path. The road ahead for the company as well as the industry is not as thorny as it has been in the past but still needs to be traveled with care. The new owner will be given a few months to steady the ship and stem the customer attrition and at the same time do what it takes to bring the company back to robust profitability. The navigation of unknown dangers like the Class Action law suits in the US and the legal action in Europe should not divert attention from the primary task of stabilizing the company and integrating it well into the new owner group. And for the industry there is a lot to be done to ensure that such a situation never comes up again. The newly minted Corporate Governance Committee of NASSCOM is already at work to ensure that best practices towards all stakeholders are rigidly followed and all firms will demonstrate through their actions that this sector is still a beacon of excellence, not just within the country but around the world. The green shoots of economic recovery, the relative peace in our interactions with our neighbour and now the completion of the Satyam transaction ‘ the sun seems to be shining through the clouds once again!