The promoters of Patni Computer Systems and private equity firm General Atlantic have revived consultations with potential buyers to sell a part of their stake in the company.
Promoters Narendra Patni and his younger brothers Gajendra and Ashok hold equal stakes totalling 48.3 per cent in India’s sixth largest software exporter. PE firm General Atlantic holds about 18 per cent. An attempt by the two younger brothers and the PE firm to sell a part of their stake failed two years ago because Narendra Patni, who was the executive chairman, was not ready to give up operational control.
That issue is no longer relevant since Narendra Patni has become non-executive chairman after appointing Jeya Kumar as the chief executive officer in February this year. “This will facilitate the whole process since the acquirer can now have management control,” sources familiar with the development said.
“The consultation process for potential buyers has once again started,” said a person close to the promoters’ family, confirming the interest of the two brothers and the PE firm to monetise a part of their stake.
“In the last six months, the valuation of the company has jumped almost to the level it was about two years back,” said an investment banker familiar with the consultations initiated by the promoters.
Asked about the talks, Surjeet Singh, Patni's chief financial officer, said, "Patni does not comment on speculation."
The Patni stock has gained significantly from an all-time low of Rs 94 a share on March 2 this year to Rs 463 a share on August 26. The stock closed at Rs 395 a share on Friday, giving it a market capitalisation Rs 5,069 crore.
In 2007, the company had an average share price of Rs 436 a share. The low for the year was Rs 300 and it achieved an all-time high of Rs 566 a share on speculation that the promoters would sell their sales. PE firms Apax Partners and Tech Pacific Group were interested in buying the stake on offer in 2007, when the two brothers were offering their 12 per cent stakes in addition to about 12.9 per cent stake offered by General Atlantic.
Narendra Patni is also interested in increasing his stake because his 32-year-old son Anirudh Patni is a senior vice- president in the company and a larger stake could help his son succeed him.