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Satyam breathes again

One year after the IT major was rocked by corporate fraud, its revival marks a sliver lining in Hyderabad’s clouds reports, Gaurav Choudhury.

business Updated: Jan 06, 2010 20:36 IST
Gaurav Choudhury

The year 2009 was a horrible one for Hyderabad, which was a proud rival to Bangalore, having attracted investors such as Microsoft and HSBC.

It plunged into a corporate scandal at Satyam Computer Services, saw its youthful chief minister die in a helicopter crash and saw its governor embroiled in a sex scandal while agitators seeking a Telengana state blocked business.

The man who kicked off the bad year, Byrraju Ramalinga Raju, is now languishing as a prisoner in a hospital. The news is less about his doctoring of company accounts and more about what the doctors are saying on his account.

“All that I can tell you is that he is suffering from Hepatitis C. For any other information please speak to the jail authorities,” N.Satyanarayana, medical superintendent of the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences, told Hindustan Times.

Raju, who surrendered to police after confessing to a corporate fraud exactly one year ago — on January 7 — seemed to have dented Hyderabad’s image as a forward-looking, globally savvy investment destination.

Raju was once the symbol of Hyderabad’s computer services ambitions. Now he has been deined access to laptops or the Internet. But he still remains a hero for some, thanks to his entrepreneurial achievements and philanthropic work.

“What many felt is a sense of betrayal. You would probably rarely ever see a family in Andhra which does not have some kind of a connection to this company,” said Ashok Desu, president of Biolife Technologies Limited, a mid-sized seed manufacturing company in Hyderabad.

But despite all that, the turnaround of Satyam and its new avatar as Mahindra Satyam should go well in a city also famous for mythological movies that feature reincarnations. “The Satyam saga has had no impact on the corporate image of Hyderabad. The city is too strong to be jolted by a single corporate scam,” said Satish Reddy, managing director of Dr, Reddy’s Laboratories, which, like Satyam, is a New York-listed firm.