Continuing with its rationale of selling non profitable businesses and facing continous pressure from companies like Yahoo, Rediff.com and others, Viginia-based America Online (AOL), provider of Internet and related services has sold off its call centre operations in India to Aegis BPO, a part of the $ 8 billion Essar Group.
The AOL Bangalore centre used to provide customer service and tech support to global AOL customers. The sell off is expected to be completed by the end of April 2008 and all existing AOL employees will be absorbed by Aegis.
The number of employees who will be absorbed It not yet ascertained but a significant chunk out of the 2000 people working for AOL will be a part of Aegis. Aegis currently employs 8700 employees. Aparup Sengupta Managing Director and CEO Aegis said, “This acquisition catapults us to a new level of competence, especially in the tech support area.”
According to industry watchers, one of the main reasons for AOL to sell off its call centre operations is primarily due to the company’s global strategy of getting out of the Internet services business, which requires people to handle tech support and helpdesk. “AOL is increasingly focusing on getting into content and search business finding increasing competition from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and even Indian web companies like Rediff and Sify.
“Call centre services are readily available amongst Indian BPOs, so the company must be looking at this from a cost efficiency point of view,” said a senior official from an Indian Internet company who did not wish to be named.
However, AOL will continue to have a presence in India. “We will continue to grow the AOL India portal business and strengthen its local operations,” said Maneesh Dhir, Executive Vice President, AOL International. Industry observers feel that the India's Internet advertising market is getting attractive. Internet advertising market is about $3 billion dollars and growing at 20 percent a year.
AOL, which started operations in Bangalore in 2002, opened its research and development centre in 2004. At present it has 2,000 employees in India. Last year CEO Ron Grant had announced the companies plans to target the Indian market. “AOL has been dropping its Internet access businesses around the world, it has been making a bigger push at delivering content through free Web sites in hopes of boosting advertising opportunities in emerging markets like India,” said a senior official from an online Indian rival company.