Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another Captive on Sale!

The first round of bids for Citi’s business process outsourcing operations — Citigroup Global Services (formerly known as e-Serve) — is likely to be completed this week. A host of global IT companies and also private equity firms are said to be in the initial race. However, Citi is likely to look at selling part of its operations only to a strategic partner, given the sensitivities involved in the deal. According to sources, IBM, Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Genpact, Infosys and private equity firms such as Blackstone and General Atlantic are in the race for Citi’s BPO business.

Citi is likely to follow the Genpact model, where it is likely to sell off over 50% stake in the BPO firm. It is, however, likely to retain a part of the stake in the firm so that they can not only get the benefits in case of a future listing but would also handhold the firm.

According to sources, one of the main reasons that the group is looking at bringing in a strategic partner is to bring down the overall costs and not monetising the stake.

“Though there is interest from a host of firms, the group is most likely to sell the operations to someone who has experience in the field. They would want a strategic partner in the firm. It’s a core asset and they would not like to have any issues post a sell off,”
said a senior private equity official of a leading firm. ADP and Genpact are said to be the front runners for the deal.

Citi officials declined to comment. When contacted Genpact president and CEO Pramod Bhasin declined to comment while Infosys BPO’s officials were unavailable for comment. However, experts believe that Genpact has more synergies with Citi’s BPO unit because it has the experience of working out of a captive shell. Genpact had started off as a captive for GE in 1997.

GE had in 2004 sold 60% of its stake to Oak Hill Capital Partners and General Atlantic Partners. It was then renamed as Genpact. Citi had delisted Citigroup Global services in 2004. Citi held 44.4% stake in the BPO company. It had accepted an exit price of Rs 975 per share while delisting the firm. At that price the company was valued at around Rs 1,200 crore. According to i-bankers the value of the company now would be at around $700 million.

According to Forrester Research, nearly 60% of the captives in India are struggling due to spiralling costs, high attrition and lack of integration and management support. “Nearly, 10% of these struggling captive BPOs are most likely to sell off and go the outsourcing way,” a recent Forrester study says. Another Mumbai-based analyst voiced similar views about Citi’s BPO stake sale. “It is simply following the trend set by the likes of GE and Deutche Bank,” he added.

Deutsche Bank later sold off its stake to the Delhi based HCL Technologies. Citi globally has been on a major cost cutting spree. It had recently announced that it would cut 17,000 jobs on the back of a restructuring plan that is targeting billions of dollars in cost savings over the next few years. It is also looking at moving out 9,500 jobs overseas and to smaller American cities. Citi’s BPO operations have over 9,000 employees with nearly 4,000 servicing its international businesses.

from ET

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ilanit said...

Much of the original work on Los Angeles private equity fund performance comes from seminal work of Steve Kaplan and Antoinette Schoar who reported that the performance of 746 private equity funds in their sample was close to that of the S&P 500, net of fees. Subsequent work by Phalippou and Gottschalg (PG)found the performance of private equity funds was below that of public stock markets.