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Cognizant back in search of Satyam

BS Reporters  |  Mumbai / New Delhi 

Nasdaq-listed Cognizant Solutions, which did not complete the due diligence process for Satyam Computer Services, is understood to be back in the race to acquire the troubled software company. The government-appointed Satyam board is likely to announce the final list of bidders tomorrow, according to an executive of a bidding company.

An investment banker involved with the developments said Cognizant, an IT bellwether, had an “arrangement” with private equity firm Wilbur L Ross & Co. “There is a limit to which Cognizant is willing to go (hinting at a cap on valuation). If the price exceeds the limit it has defined, it may join hands with the PE firm,” he said.

When contacted, a Cognizant spokesperson said: “We do not comment on market speculation.”

The Satyam board today met informally in Mumbai to take stock and assess the technical competence of suitors. The meeting was also attended by investment bankers Avendus and Goldman Sachs, as well as executives of bidders Larsen & Toubro and Tech Mahindra. Wilbur L Ross, along with Cognizant, is understood to have attended. The board is understood to have shortlisted eight bidders, including L&T, IBM (through a lawyer firm), and Tech Mahindra.

Later in the evening, Satyam board member Deepak Parekh told reporters in Mumbai that “some news with regard to the stake sale of Satyam will be announced tomorrow”. Kiran Karnik, chairman of the board, added: “The due diligence process is still not over. We are sticking to our earlier time schedule for the stake sale.”

Cognizant was started by Satyam and Dun & Bradstreet Corporation (D&B) in 1994. D&B, which first had a 76 per cent stake in the venture, bought Satyam’s 24 per cent after the second year of operations.

“Cognizant is heavily tilted towards BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance, a lucrative sector for software services providers) and healthcare and, in terms of geography, US is its focus. Acquiring Satyam will automatically give it entry into enterprise applications like SAP and manufacturing. Satyam has a much better geographical spread,” said a research analyst.

First Published: Sat, April 04 2009. 00:59 IST