Book on Satyam’s turnaround released, former board members reminisce company’s rescue effort

New Delhi:  The Satyam scam, which had rocked the country’s corporate world 13 years back in 2009, forcing the government to constitute a six-member board to look after its affairs, was revisited by some of the eminent names from the world of governance, finance and technology on Wednesday.

The occasion was the release of a book on the subject, titled “The Tech Phoenix: Satyam’s 100-Day Turnaround”, co-authored by T.N. Manoharan and V. Pattabhi Ram.

The book focuses on how the newly constituted board managed to shore up the company’s fortunes and find a promoter for it within 100 days.

Some of the members of the Satyam Computer Services’ erstwhile board, which was constituted by the government, were present on the occasion.

These included former NASSCOM President Kiran Karnik, HDFC Ltd Chairman Deepak Parekh, industry body CII’s former Director General Tarun Das and co-author of the book and the Institute of the Chartered Accountants of India’s (ICAI) former chief Manoharan.

Apart from this, former Deputy Chairman of the erstwhile Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, eminent lawyer Shardul Shroff, co-author Pattabhi Ram, a chartered accountant, were also present on the occasion.

During the course of a panel discussion which centered around the Satyam scam, all the dignitaries shared their experiences while answering questions being posed by senior journalist Sandeep Bamzai, who is the Managing Director, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of news agency IANS, and who moderated the discussion.

Ahluwalia reminisced how in the aftermath of the Satyam scam, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed that a new board should be set up to shore up the company and look for a new promoter.

He recalled that he had recommended the names of Parekh, Karnik and Das for the new board to the Prime Minister.

Parekh said that they got all cooperation from the government and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, as well as the acting Prime Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

He added that amid multiple trips to Hyderabad, the only focus of the new board was to find a promoter for the troubled company and move out as soon as possible.

It was due to the complete support of the government that the board could achieve its aim in a short period of time, he said.

Shroff said that whatever the board managed to achieve was unprecedented, as this rarely happens in government action. As the board had specialists, his work as a lawyer became easier, he added.

Manoharan said that the scam was triggered by the global financial crisis and it was the confession (by Satyam’s former Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju) which led to the investigation.

However, he added that it was the goodwill of the board members which helped in tiding over the crisis. Also motivating the employees was a major challenge, who ultimately gave their full support and cooperation.

Karnik said that with the kind of developments in the whole episode, it was good that a book has been written on it, however it could even be made into a film.

Parekh said that the collusion of some of the staff and auditors led to the scam. It was also the failure of the chartered accountants who had audited Satyam’s books, the veteran banker noted. Greed also led to the whole thing, he added.

Das described it as an amazing example of teamwork by the board and also raised a point about the role of independent directors.

While Parekh said that independent directors should have a fixed tenure, Karnik noted that if a director remains on a board of a company for too long, then his or her’s independence comes under question.


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