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May 19, 2014

Tech Mahindra targets top 10 IT services spot

Interview: A year after the fraud-hit Satyam brand was killed off Mahindra's UK head is enjoying more invitations to tender.

By Joe Curtis

The IT services arm of Indian firm Tech Mahindra, formed from the scandal-hit service firm Satyam, says it is is eyeing up a top 10 spot in the UK market one year after killing off the Satyam name and five years after the Indian telco acquired it.

Satyam was India’s fourth largest IT firm until in 2009 its founder, Ramalinga Raju, confessed to faking $1.5bn on the company accounts. Raju had allegedly been withdrawing $3m a month from the company coffers to pay a non-existent 13,000 employees in one of the tech world’s biggest fraud cases.

Mahindra’s 2009 acquisition of Satyam could not stop customers jumping ship, with BP being Satyam’s most significant UK loss, though other clients who rapidly exited included Coca-Cola.

Now 10 months into a merger that folded Satyam into the Mahindra business, its UK head is ready to speak – even addressing its murky past.

Speaking off the back of Mahindra’s latest financials, in which it saw revenue rise by a third on last year to reach $3bn, Roger Newman told CBR that the combination of Mahindra and Satyam is now "a force to be reckoned with". Newman could not say how much Satyam had contributed to the growth.

"We’re pretty pleased with things so far," he said. "[BP] was a sad loss, but we’ve replaced that revenue with some new customers that we’re building up and we’re motoring ahead now."

The three-year deal with Volvo, signed in March, to transform its end-to-end IT infrastructure, including support for 2,800 servers, is set to be one Mahindra’s biggest in Europe, according to Newman.

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Mahindra has grown on Satyam’s original customer base to around 40 UK customers, and around 150 across Europe. UK customers include UBS, Glaxo-Smith Kline and Cambridge University Press.

Newman believes Mahindra’s telco roots have given Satyam credibility with larger companies, as it targets a top 10 IT outsourcing spot in the UK market – quite a jump from Newman’s current estimate of position 39.

"Mahindra has given us a larger scale," he said. "It is giving confidence to our customers that they can trust us with transformational deals – Amlin and Volvo are examples of that."

The telco’s influence on what was Satyam can be seen in its offering, Newman added, with improved network capabilities and new add-ons like money service apps.

"The other trend we’re working is the desire for domain specific service offerings," Newman said. "A lot of IT services have become commoditised and most corporations are looking for something more specific."

Newman declined to set a timeline to hit a top 10 position, but believes it won’t be a very long-term goal if Mahindra keeps signing larger companies.

He said: "[After the scandal] some ground was lost of course in terms of our position next to our competitors but we have turned the corner. That’s reflected with the size of the deals we’re getting invited to."

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