Satyam loses Assurant job to Zensar; Visa severs ties

Written by Surabhi Agarwal | Vikas Dhoot | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 9 2009, 05:55am hrs
While the board appointed by the Centre to salvage Satyam Computer Services continues its clean-up act, the flailing IT vendor is losing big-ticket clients. Assurant, a Fortune 500 firm (ranked 309) and Visa Inc, the worlds largest electronic payment gateway, have both served contract severance notices to Satyam in the last two weeks.

The firms new board has so far admitted to losing only State Farm Insurance of the US from its client base of 690, as of September 30, 2008. The board last reported this client base on January 16; after that it dropped specific numbers on its client base from its New York Stock Exchange profile.

Insurance major Assurant, which manages over $25 billion assets and has annual revenues of $8 billion, has moved the work Satyam had been managing for it, to another Indian IT companyZensar Technologies. Assurant did not want to work with a vendor that has been involved in such a high level fraud, said an industry insider.

Global payments player Visa Inc, a part of its international payment gateway was run with Satyams services, is learnt to have severed its ties with Satyam due to concerns following the World Banks revelation of an 8-year ban on Satyam in December.

Kiran Karnik, recently anointed chairman of Satyams new board, declined to reveal any client-specific information. The company has had a few losses and some gains. But, this is a routine affair with IT companies and we are not worried about it, Karnik told FE .

I am not going to name any client. There have been some cancellations, but its not unexpected. I would have been surprised if some of the clients had not left after a fraud of such magnitude broke at Satyam, Karnik said, adding that things are beginning to stabilise on the customer front.

Assurant has been working with Satyam for three years and Zensar for two years. The two used to do development, testing and application development work for Assurant and the total run rate between the two was around $9 million.

Assurant has now moved Satyams part of the business to Zensar and the size of the total contract is worth $10 million over the next two years. In an email response to FE , Assurant said, While we appreciate the opportunity, we have decided not to provide comment. Similar queries to Visa Incs US and Asia-Pacific offices went unanswered, while a Visa Europe official said the move was extremely plausible.

About two weeks ago, Karnik had disclosed that two key customers had quit, but apart from State Farm Insurance, which has given up on Satyam as an IT vendor, the board has been cagey about revealing other exiting clients.

FE had reported last week that Australian telecom and media company Telstra, ranked 448 on the Fortune 500 list, has kept the firm out of a vendor consolidation exercise to reduce its IT vendors from four to two. The firms major contracts, spread across four major suppliersEDS, IBM, Infosys, and Satyamare up for renewal.

Several other clients, including Coca-Cola, Nestle, BP, Tesco and Cigna are reviewing, closely monitoring or devising contingency plans regarding their relationship with Satyam. The National Australian Bank, another big client, has suspended all work currently in the early stages of transition to Satyam.