CXOs React Strongly to Satyam Saga

by Manu Sharma    Jan 07, 2009

The Satyam "Saga" took a dramatic turn on Wednesday with B. Ramalinga Raju, the chairman of Satyam Computer resigning from the company’s board. In a shocking disclosure, he admitted some financial irregularities in the company, including an inflated cash balance of Rs 5,040 crore.

 

So is it possible for one of world’s best known businessman to make mistakes? Or was it only greed or some compulsion. Well, it did happen at Satyam Computers.

 

Mean while reports indicate that at least 120 of Satyam’s employees from the lower and middle rung management have resigned after the Satyam-Maytas fiasco broke out and as many as 100 more, including the senior level management, are waiting to take a decision after the board meeting expected to take place on January 10. Meanwhile, DSP Merrill Lynch has terminated all its engagements with Satyam.

 

IT companies across the country were shocked at the incident and have strongly reacted to the episode. Here are some of the reactions from top-notch CXOs from various companies.

 

Kehav Murugesh, President of Syntel Inc, a global outsourcing company reacting to the Satyam saga said, "It is unfortunate that there is so much attention on the company now for the wrong reasons. It is difficult for their employees and clients to ignore the situation and there could be an impact on performance as a result. Good governance, transparency and following not just the letter but also the spirit of the law must be the supreme endeavour at all times and that is not necessarily a learning from this episode alone. There has been talk of overseas investors painting all IT companies with the same brush but I am confident that investors and decision makers are very mature and insightful and will easily separate the wheat from the chaff.  Syntel being a global organisation that is registered and listed in the US follows the highest governance standards and is SOX compliant."

 

Phaneesh Murthy, CEO, iGATE said, "An old moral - no amount of pressure should force dishonesty. This is where values should hold up. The market is bad enough. On top of this, visits are curtailed because of the Mumbai incident - this elongates and delays sales cycles."

 

Nagaraja (Naga) Prakasam, Managing Director of CDC Software (India) said the Satyam episode brings a number of lessons for organizations namely the importance of Corporate Governance. This will clearly have the beneficial effect of having all companies look at good governance processes, such as an enhanced role for independent directors.

 

V. Balakrishnan, chief financial officer, Infosys, said the developments at Satyam are shocking, unbelievable and sad it has happened in India. So, should one be concerned about the industry at large? "I don’t think it is a reflection of the industry or India. It is an isolated case, just like Enron in US. The regulators should get into the case and punish them. It is important to bring back credibility."

 

Balakrishnan said that Satyam has been cooking up the books for a very long time. "They have done it systematically… it is shocking that it has gone unnoticed." He said Infosys will address the concerns of  its clients. "It is for the regulators to address issues, and avoid any such thing in the future."

 

L. Subramanian, CEO of Chandamama.com, a children’s website with stories on Indian Mythology said, "It (The Satyam episode) is probably one of the most serious cases of breach of fiduciary responsibility that has come to light in India. After all the recriminations, I hope that wisdom will dawn on the regulators to figure out how to prevent such incidents rather than react to them. I think it is the trust placed by over 50,000 employees of Satyam that has been shaken, besides that of the shareholders. My one single question is - ‘where were the myriad auditors - financial, cost, management, quality systems auditors… surely someone knew that there was rot in the system and chose to keep quiet?"

 

Ramakrishna Voruganti, managing director of Barracuda Networks,  a global leader in email and Web security said, " I think Ramalinga Raju’s moving out will give Satyam a much-needed chance to take some hard decisions regarding restructuring, governance and their approach to customers."

 

"It would’ve been difficult to take tough and independent decisions, with Raju at the helm."

Suresh Sambandam, founder & CEO of OrangeScape, a leading Chennai-based software product company said, "The sequence of events at Satyam is very shocking and unfortunate. While all of us appreciate the seriousness of the issue, it is important to treat this as an isolated failure of corporate governance. Media and industry forums should work closely and use all possible options to uphold the fame and reputation of the Indian IT / BPO industry."

 

"The corporate governance needs to be stronger, said Ajay Dhir, CIO of Jindal Stainless Ltd. reacting strongly, he said and the role of the independent directors, who act as the watch dogs needs to be more assertive."

 

R. Mohan, Director of Cache Technologies & Communication Ltd, a leading Singapore-based enterprise infrastructure solutions said, "The Satyam incident brings to light to need for proper governance and compliance that is not in place. To prevent such things from happening especially for family-held companies the government should impose stricter norms."

 

Jagan Mohan Raju, executive of ADP India Private Ltd, a Hyderabad-based provider of business outsourcing solutions said, "Satyam is a very strong brand not only in India but also has a global identity. I think what has happened is very unfortunate. Organizations build over a period of time should be more responsible towards its stake holders including investors, employees and customers. They should be more ethical and should not bring their personal agenda to compromise at the stakeholders’ interest.  More over, the issue has been kept away from the board is very unfortunate. I feel that Satyam employees’ campaign on Ramalinga Raju is a very positive one."