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Cool heads needed at Satyam
January, 21st 2009

The Government-appointed six-member board at Satyam Computer Services is off to a reassuring start by inducting reputed Indian firms as auditors and legal advisers with a good track record in their line.

The three directors who have taken up the onerous responsibility of serving on the audit committee are also well-chosen.

Satyam: The truth at last!

In particular, the news that it is headed by T. N. Manoharan, the past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), would be widely welcomed as his stewardship of the Institute was noted for the introduction of many salutary reforms, including the tightening of standards of audit and accounting, enhancing accountability and setting up of a fast track mechanism for disciplinary action against members of the profession found indulging in malpractices.

Satyam gets takeover offers

Dispassionate view

For discharging their thankless tasks, the new directors will need to look at issues dispassionately, clinically and with cool heads.

Some Satyam clients want contingency plan

The last is the most important since there is every danger of their being pulled in different directions and drowned in conflicting advice in the emotionally charged drama and commotion surrounding the arrest, incarceration and interrogation of the Raju brothers and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Satyam approached by potential buyers: New director

Crooks and scamsters should certainly be brought to trial and severely punished, but on that account the niche that Satyam had made for itself should not be destroyed.

So far, the directors have been commendably clear-eyed in getting their priorities right, despite all kinds of speculations and allegations flying thick and fast and creating great confusion. Their first and foremost duty is undoubtedly to the 53,000 employees.

Safe custody of Satyam audit documents vital

There is an allegation that Ramalinga Raju had padded the payroll as part of the process of siphoning off the company funds to his personal and family accounts.

No doubt, the new board would go into this in order to arrive at the correct picture. But whatever be the figure, there can be no doubt it runs into thousands. They constitute the intangible and invaluable wealth of the company in terms of the repertoire and reservoir of talents and skills in a highly sophisticated and competitive field.

Satyam faces the challenge of holding clients

Unique selling proposition

The fact of admitted large-scale fraud and defalcation by the higher echelons of Satyam should not be allowed to obscure the contributions of its professionals and other categories of staff.

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It was because of them that the company acquired the status of a powerful brand and its services were eagerly sought and handsomely paid for in 66 countries round the globe by world-renowned clients who are razor-sharp in taking the measure of entities they are dealing with.

As such, Satyams employees should not be made to feel that they are expendable castaways and have been left to fend for themselves.

On the contrary, they should be regarded as the companys unique selling proposition and asked to redouble their efforts to impress clients and investors with their creativity and expertise.

Restore normality

They should strain every nerve to restore normality to the operations of the company so that the flow of its products and services are maintained with increased tempo.

This is where the quality, calibre and competence of the team that the board assembles at levels next to itself become crucial. The chief executive officer, especially, should lose no time in buoying up the spirit within the organisation and among investors and clients by his vision, vigour, innovative capabilities and inspiring leadership.

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Indeed, the board members themselves should hold phased meetings of the employees, clients, investors, bankers and other stakeholders, and enthuse them to extend their continued support and cooperation.

In sum, Satyam should be resuscitated so as to enable it to surge forward, under another name, if necessary, leaving all its travails behind.

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