Satyam gets regulator’s nod to auction 51 percent stake

Friday, March 6, 2009

MUMBAI - Hyderabad-based Satyam Computer Services has secured the nod from the India’s markets regulator to sell 51-percent majority stake by way of a global auction to put the software bellwether, hit by a $1.43-bilion fraud, back on rails.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEB) gave its permission to Satyam to facilitate a global competitive bidding process so as to sell the majority stake to an investor, the company said in a regulatory filing Friday.

The permission for the acquisition of majority stake in India’s fourth largest software exporter comes with a three-year lock-in period. An interested investor would also need to have minimum net assets of $150 million.

The bidding would involve a three-step process, starting with the subscription of newly issued equity shares, representing 31 percent of the company’s share capital.

After this, the investor will have to make a mandatory minimum open public offer to purchase a minimum of 20 percent of the company’s share capital, as per the relaxed takeover norms prescribed by the markets regulator.

Once the offer period closes and the stake acquired less than 51 percent, the investor will get the right to subscribe to additional newly issued equity such that the resultant share is 51 percent, the statement added.

‘In accordance with applicable Indian law, the investor will not be permitted to sell any equity shares acquired for a period of three years from the date of the acquisition.’

The news resulted in the Satyam scrip rising 14.81 percent a little past noon, to trade at Rs.40.30.

Satyam, also listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘SAY’, is a leading global business and information technology services company and delivers consulting, integration, and outsourcing solutions to clients across the globe.

The B.K. Modi-controlled Spice group, infrastructure major Larsen and Toubro, which holds about 12 percent stake in the company already, and the Hinduja group have all shown interest in acquiring Satyam.

Last month, the markets watchdog had relaxed its takeover norms to give the reconstituted boards of companies like the scam-tainted Satyam the power to lower the target price for open offers.

The regulator had also said that the exceptional relaxation of takeover norms through open offers would only apply where the central or state governments replaced the target company’s board.

The government had already replaced the entire board of the company after its founder and former chairman B. Ramalinga Raju admitted to the fraud that had shocked the corporate world.

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