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After Satyam, it is a makeover for Maytas
September, 02nd 2009

He has a penchant for risk-taking and passion for real estate. But Teja Raju, the erstwhile vice-chairman of Maytas Infra, perhaps saw the writing on the wall after his father and defamed promoter of Satyam Computers, B Ramalinga Raju, admitted to perpetrating the countrys biggest corporate fraud.

Raju confessed a few days after Satyams botched $1.6-billion deal to buy Maytas Infra and Maytas Properties, promoted by his family. Satyam said the deals were aimed at de-risking the software business, but was forced to abandon it after a major shareholder rebellion and questions about poor corporate governance.

But pressure was building on 31-year-old Teja Raju to keep Maytas Infra afloat. Banks stopped lending to the firm that bagged big ticket state-sponsored projects over the last few years. Its order book dwindled too. Known to be his fathers son, he was unwilling to let go off the Hyderabad metro rail project even when industry seniors advised him that the financials of the project were not feasible.

Teja Raju tried hard to retain management control and was perhaps relieved when the CLB denied IL&FS a berth on the Maytas board. But six months down the line, the CLB reversed its decision and IL&FS will call the shots now.

Insiders say the soft-spoken Teja Raju did most of the talking with the lenders while negotiating the corporate debt restructuring (CDR) package. But some say that he was only a representative of the Raju family and it was the senior executives who did all the negotiating with the banks.

Even as the company hoped that fortunes coin would flip, lenders were not sure of the promoters ability to deliver. Liquidation was seen as the last option. So the government nominees looked at a strategic sale to save the firm. IL&FS, a competitor of Maytas Infra, was reckoned to be the best suitor.

Teja Raju has been in talks with the top IL&FS for some time now, said a company insider. The computer engineer, with a post-graduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University, will now have to reckon with being merely an investor in a firm that he ran for nearly a decade.

While investigating agencies and law suits will keep him busy, his next task may be to try and salvage Maytas Properties, a-closely-held realty firm run by his sibling Rama Raju Junior.

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