Just how many clients does Satyam have

Written by Surabhi Agarwal | Praveen Kumar Singh | Praveen Kumar Singh | Urmila Rao | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 31 2009, 05:54am hrs
Satyam Computer Services new board has dismissed the view that its employee numbers are inflated. However, a more pertinent question that should bother the embattled firms shareholders and potential suitors is this just how many clients does Satyam really have

Satyams new board is striving hard to assure not only clients but also investors and potential suitors that its business as usual at the firm. Since the drama began after Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju confessed to massive fraud on January 7, board members have been positive about client retention and, over the last week, have stressed that only two key clients have exited.

As per its 2007-08 annual report, Satyam had 617 active clients. As many as 34 new customers came on board during the first quarter of 2008-09 and 33 new clients in the second quarter. This means that Satyams client base should have been 684 by September 2008. However, corporate filings with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) till January 16 reflected that Satyam had 690 clients across 20 distinct industries and 65 countries, which includes 185 Fortune 500 firms, as of September 30, 2008. This already reflects a small difference in the firms client base numbers.

Moreover, some of Satyams much-touted 185 Fortune 500 clients like Coca Cola, Nestle, BP and Cigna are reviewing, closely monitoring or devising contingency plans regarding their existing relationships with Satyam. Australian telecom and media giant Telstra has kept Satyam out of its vendor consolidation exercise, whereby it aims to trim its vendors from the current four to two.

Global retailing giant Tesco, ranked 51 on the Fortune 500 list, said Satyam works on a couple of small engagements with Tesco. We are concerned about whats happened at Satyam, and are keeping a close watch on the developments. We will make appropriate decisions on the continuation of our relationship with Satyam in due course, Ray Simon, a senior official in Tescos IT, HR services and corporate communications department.

This is a marketplace and everybody is talking to everybody, is how Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, had described the pro-activeness of other IT vendor including HCL towards Satyam clients.

Like in Telstras case, Satyam is also likely to lose out on vendor consolidation exercises being undertaken aggressively by several companies as a belt-tightening measure in response to the global economic slowdown.

Meanwhile, US-based Bombardier is learnt to have sent a letter to Satyams Board member Tarun Das stating continuance of contract. The company has always been very satisfied with the work of Satyams 285 associates. We look forward to maintaining relationship with Satyam, said the letter. Other Satyam clients like GE, Cisco and Malaysian Airlines have expressed their confidence in Satyams operations. Incidentally, GE and Satyam have a joint venture partnership, called Satyam GE Software Services (P) Limited.

Satyams profile in its NYSE filings till January 16 stuck to its 690-strong clientele. However, the intimation to the US exchange after another board meeting on January 17, had a different profile of the companyall the specific client numbers had been dropped.