Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who says Satyam means "Truth" in Satyam Computers?

Satyam is a sanskrit word meaning "Truth". When the erstwhile chairman of Satyam Computers, Ramalinga Raju, made a shocking revelation that for years the company's accounts have been fudged to the extent of Rs.7000 crores(Rs.70 billion), Brand Satyam came crashing down in the corporate world and "Truth" got brushed away and buried deep in the annals of Satyam.

Raju in his letter states that except he and his brother who was the M.D, no one else was involved in the scam. This is too simply stated. A scam of this magnitude looks impossible without a coterie of people involved. The CFO has to be a party and it is naive to believe that the Auditors-Pricewaterhouse- could be kept in the dark for so many years.
The Govt. will have to put an Administrator and a team to fully go into the Books of accounts. The interim team's(recommendd by Raju) financial powers should be forthwith removed and they should only take care of the client process.

Whether money has been siphoned out of the system will have to be looked into. There will be a lot of legal liabilities and a severe erosion in the credibility. Hence, it becomes necessary to expedite the process of unearthing the facts and to roll out action plans for normal functioning. The employees of Satyam would be going thro' hell. It is imperative that the new team takes care of their interests.

One hopes that this is a one off incident in the corporate world. But, it may be foolish to think so. Lot more regulations will be in the offing to prevent such scams and ensure shareholders interests are protected. One thought would be to have a peer audit. However, one should not forget that too many regulations would also create Red tape which is in no one's interests.

The guilty should be punished and sent to serve in jail. It is such punitive measures that can act as a deterrent.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The year 2008- A reflection

Another year has gone by and the way the year has panned, most people would be happy its over and done with.More often than not, US takes center stage for new products and innovations. So it happened this time too. Only thing they will be remembered for all the wrong reasons- the sub prime crisis, the fancy derivatives churned out by the so called "whiz kids" of management- spelt doom for the economy not confined to the States but to the whole world.Big names like Lehman brothers, Washington Mutual, Meryl Lynch folded up and others like AIG, Citi bank and the Auto giants virtually touched bankruptcy and had to be bailed out with Government doles. Their shares have plummeted so low that they have become worthless papers.

In most world markets, the secondary capital markets hit a peak by Jan 2008 and also lost between 60-70% market capitalization in 7-8 months.The US had its worst holiday sales in five years, consumer confidence at a 41 year low and unemployment at a 15 year high. Clearly in recession for the last one year but it took the government till september2008 to say the dreaded 'R' word. The whole world is reeling under this turmoil.

This is not going to be a short phase of recession but a very painful one. It might take the whole of 2009 and extend to 2010 before confidence can be restored. China and India would lead the recovery during this troubled period but ultimately US will have to kick off to bring the world trade in order.

The year also witnessed one of the worst terror strike in Mumbai on 26/11. Makes one wonder where is the value system heading to? The year 2008 is better forgotten. The year probably showed us how we should not manage things.

The only redeeming feature of the year would come from the sports and games arena. The Beijing Olympics was a runaway success and showcased to the world the Chinese supremacy. A Phelps or a Bolt created history by achieving what many thought as impossible.

India winning the inaugural world 20-20 cricket and gaining ascendancy in test cricket by beating the Aussies by year end. The IPL 20-20 cricket becoming a huge success which could turn cricket on its head like the "Packer" series.

Viswanathan Anand winning the world chess championship and sharp shooter Abhinav Bindra winning the only gold ever for India in an individual event.It was also Spain's sporting year. Nadal dethroning King Federer from the No.1 spot in tennis and also winning the Olympic gold in the singles. Spain also conquered the Euro 2008 cup and won the Davis cup finals. Yes, sports and games were the only silver lining in an otherwise disastrous year.

Hopefully, the world would have learnt from all the mistakes in 2008 and not allow it to be repeated. That if it happens, would be the only positive fall out from the year gone by.