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Vivek Paul leads race for Satyam CEO post

BS Reporters  |  New Delhi/ Bangalore 

Vivek Paul, former vice-chairman of Wipro and CEO of its global IT business, has emerged as the front runner for the post of CEO of Satyam Computer Services. To sweeten the package, sources close to the development said that Paul was being offered a 5 per cent stock option in addition to an attractive remuneration.

Sources said the new board and the government want a person who understands the clients and the market closely for the top post, for which Paul was considered. It is, however, not clear whether he will be interested. He does not want to come back to India as he is involved with raising some funds in the US.

Paul, who reportedly resigned from Wipro due to differences with Chairman Azim Premji, may not accept the offer since he likes to work independently.

“With the government calling the shots here, in addition to a top-heavy board, he may not want to dirty his hands,” said a very senior industry player.

“He surely must have been offered the post, but so would have other prominent IT and non-IT people. It’s a prestigous role. If one can sweeten the deal like offering a stake, they could make it worth his while,” said the CEO of an IT company and added: “But I do not think Paul would take up the role, especially since anyway, he was the highest paid employee at Wipro”.

The buzz about Paul grew stronger since he recently quit as partner at TPG Capital, one of the world’s leading private equity investment firms. Paul was not reachable for comments.

Prior to joining TPG in 2005, Paul grew Wipro’s global information technology, product engineering, and business process services segments to over $1.4 billion, and led its listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In May 2005, he disclosed he was evaluating other positions. On June 29, he formally put in his papers. The following day, Wipro announced that Paul was leaving and that A L Rao would become the chief operating officer. The Wipro stock on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) dropped almost 3 per cent on the news of Paul’s departure.

Paul has been ranked among the best managers in the world by BusinessWeek, among the top global business influentials by Time magazine and among the top-30 most respected global CEOs by Barron’s.

“Many in the industry believe that when the company is battling for survival, someone within the industry and someone who understands the software industry in India would be a right choice rather than bringing someone from the US. There is no point in getting people from outside there are no dearth of people in India who are even today actively involved with the It industry,” said a top industry source.

Meanwhile, among various names doing the round in the market include former chairman and CEO of Mphasis Jaithirth ‘Jerry’ Rao (who reportedly is not interested in any such position).

First Published: Thu, January 15 2009. 00:00 IST