Aegis buys AOL call centre operations in India

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Bangalore, April 1: Continuing its acquisition spree, Essar group's Aegis BPO Services entered into an agreement with AOL on Monday to acquire its call centre unit in Bangalore for an undisclosed amount. Following this acquisition, which is expected to close at the end of April 2008, Aegis will take over around 1,200 AOL people and enter into the tech support segment. AOL"s call centre operations include both voice and non-voice activity and it will now be serviced by Aegis.

Aegis managing director and CEO Aparup Sengupta said the deal with AOL was value accretive and gives them competitive edge to manage their customers. Aegis, which has consistently taken the inorganic route to grow the business having made eight acquisitions since 2003, would continue to pursue this strategy. According to industry observers, Aegis is likely to have paid around $25-30 million for AOL"s call centre business in India. Aegis has a top line of over $200 million (Rs 800 crore).

Though Aegis said it had won the deal through competitive bidding, it was unlikely that any large BPO player would have shown interest in picking up this business, given the small scale of AOL"s operations. AOL International Executive VP Maneesh Dhir said, the decision to divest its call centre business was part of a strategy to focus on core operations.

AOL started its call centre business in India in July 2003 and it has also got a KPO and software services operation. It also has BPO relationships with other third party vendors. Following this acquisition, Aegis" head count moves from 19,000 to over 20,000. Mr Sengupta said, it would be using the AOL acquisition to bag other tech support businesses.

Aegis is currently focused on telecom, BFSI, retail, healthcare with presence in 17 centres in India and nine in the US.

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