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Mr Atul Kunwar, Regional Business Development Manager of Mahindra Satyam, an Indian Information Technology outsourcing company,says Middle East clients have remained loyal.
Mr Atul Kunwar, Regional Business Development Manager of Mahindra Satyam, an Indian Information Technology outsourcing company,says Middle East clients have remained loyal.

Satyam eyes bigger role in region

Despite an accounting scandal that brought the Indian technology firm close to collapse, not one of its Middle-Eastern customers has broken ties.

Despite a massive accounting scandal that brought Satyam Computer Services, one of India's largest technology outsourcers, close to collapse, not one of its Middle-Eastern customers has broken ties to the company, a senior executive says. Atul Kunwar, who now leads Satyam's business development operations in the region, was formerly a manager at Tech Mahindra, another Indian outsourcer. His company acquired its former competitor to form a new group, Mahindra Satyam, which Mr Kunwar formally launched to its GCC clients in Dubai this week.

Throughout this whole period, and despite some uncertainty, Satyam did not lose a single customer in EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] for the entire period. It has been one of the regions that has really stood by us, Mr Kunwar said. Satyam, which rose to become India's fourth-largest exporter of technology outsourcing services, was devastated at the beginning of the year when its founder and chairman, Ramalinga Raju, confessed to fraudulent and deceptive accounting practices that artificially inflated the company's order books by more than US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn).

As uncertainty rose over the future of the company and its tens of thousands of workers, it was agreed that a majority stake in the company would be sold to a new business. Tech Mahindra won the tender and, after regulatory approvals in the US, EU and India, has finalised the acquisition and installed new leadership. The management team includes Mr Kunwar and the new chief executive, CP Gurnani, who previously led Mahindra's global operations.

Satyam's businesses were growing fast in the Middle East in the months preceding the scandal. Of 34 new clients signed globally in the second quarter of last year, 16 were based in the region. While the Middle East still contributes a small percentage to the company's total revenues, Mahindra Satyam is boosting its research and development capabilities for the region, and plans to significantly increase the size of its biggest Arabic-language service centre, based in Cairo.

We believe that we have the capability to double it, Mr Kunwar said. It is part of our plans, and it is on track right now. What will happen is they will get more specific in their capabilities, and will move away from the generic work. We are looking at it becoming an expertise centre for the Arabic language and other capabilities. Much of the company's interest in what remains a small market comes from the nature of the work that is in demand. Rather than maintaining and modernising established computer systems - the bread and butter for Indian outsourcers doing business in the West - the demand in the region remains for new systems built from scratch and free of what Mr Kunwar calls legacy issues.

Instead of spending our time on maintenance, here the largest component is building new things. You leapfrog a lot of the old challenges, and develop some really sophisticated solutions that can be applied all over the world,” he said. tgara@thenational.ae

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