Satyam scrambles to reassure customers in SEAsia

January 8th, 2009 - 5:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Ramalinga RajuSingapore, Jan 8 (IANS) As the Satyam revenue fraud story unraveled, the computer services company’s offices in Singapore were Thursday scrambling to restore confidence among its wide network of customers in its regional hub here and in other Southeast Asian countries.Top Satyam Computer Services officials were busy meeting the company’s more than 400 clients in Singapore, including several government agencies, to reassure them that the company would continue to fulfill its contracts and that it would be business as usual, a senior company official said.

“We’ve met nearly 85 per cent of our customers since yesterday and have assured them that our Singapore operations are unaffected by recent events involving the company. It’s business as usual as far as we are concerned,” Harsh Vardhan, a Satyam executive based in Singapore, told IANS.

No Singapore-based accounts have been cancelled because of the accounting scandal and the company did not expect any immediate impact on existing contracts, Harsh Vardhan said.

Satyam Computer Services founder and chairman B. Ramalinga Raju’s admission Wednesday that the software company’s accounts had been fudged and falsified has sent shock waves among many of the company’s customers in Singapore, which include some leading statutory boards and departments of the Singapore government as well.

Singapore serves as Satyam’s headquarters not just for Southeast Asia but also for its Middle East, India and Africa operations. Since it began operations in Singapore in 2000, the software company has grown to include over 500 employees located at two locations in the city state. One of these is a Research and Development facility at a business park near Changi airport where the company has been focusing on its mobile, telecommunications, banking and supply-chain management system services.

Across Asia, around 3,000 people work for Satyam, most of them based at the company’s offices in China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

“Satyam as an organization remains committed to its customers in Asia Pacific, a region which continues to offer promising growth,” Virender Aggarwal, Satyam senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific, Middle East, India and Africa, said in a statement Thursday.

He said Satyam counts among its clients in Singapore several leading statutory boards and government departments as well as publicly listed and private MNC companies having operations in Singapore.

Despite the current turmoil and whatever the outcome of the efforts to salvage the company in India, Satyam’s Singapore and regional operations would continue as these were ongoing contracts and projects, Harsh Vardhan, the company spokesman, said.

“Our customers have been satisfied with our services and we’ve been serving them since many years, so there is no immediate specific challenge,” he said.

“While we expect no change in existing business, in the immediate future growth may be slow,” he added.

The reassurances of Satyam Singapore insiders notwithstanding, the fallout from the scandal is already in the air with business bodies questioning the lack of oversight which enabled such a monumental fraud to go undetected, and for so long.

“It has taken everyone by surprise. There are going to be lots of questions. Credibility will be severely affected,” said Predeep Menon, chief executive of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Satyam’s standing as a global player, and as one of India’s better known software companies, coming down so swiftly and in such a manner, will be very painful,” Menon said. “There are bound to be repercussions for Indian business and it will add to the existing jitters coming at a time of the market downturn.”

However, he also expressed optimism that corporate India would shake off the aftereffects of the Satyam scam. Menon drew an analogy with corporate America which has bounced back despite such major scandals as Enron, the recent Bernard Madoff investor scam and the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

“At the end of the day, it’s only one company and one Satyam does not reflect what corporate India is. Once past the immediate shock, the world will recognise corporate India for its resilience, steadfastness and potential,” Menon said.

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