Infosys BPO Progeon sees exit at top deck
Bangalore, Nov 22: Infosys Technologies' decision to buy out Citigroup's 23 pc stake in its BPO arm, the erstwhile Progeon and consolidate the operations with itself, helped the country's second largest IT exporter offer a seamless, end-to-end suite of services to its customers. But it left one group of stakeholders, the senior employees in Infosys BPO, clearly dissatisfied, leading to an exodus of several top functionaries.
According to sources, about six people at the Vice-President and Executive Vice-President level, including two functional heads, have quit Infosys BPO in the past three-four months. The senior employees who have left the company include Ramit Sethi, business head of knowledge services unit, and Mahesh K Rao, V-P and SBU head, banking&capital markets. Others to quit at the Vice-President level were Shamik Gupta, Satish Shenoy and Christine Bhaskaran. When contacted, a spokesperson for Infosys BPO declined to comment.
Quite a few top guys had bid adieu to the BPO arm last year. The list included Chief Financial Officer, Ramesh Kamat, operations head Rajiv Kuchal, who is now with Onmobile, and Ram Akela, head of UK operations. The former CEO of Progeon, Akshaya Bhargava, quit early this year. He, in fact, quit before it was announced that Progeon's operations would be merged with Infosys.
The allure of joining Progeon for senior and middle-level management professionals when it was started in '02, was that it would offer ESOPs and subsequently get listed on the bourses - and in the process perhaps repeat Infosys' iconic IPO success story. However, Infy's decision to buy out Citigroup's stake and cease treating the BPO arm as a standalone unit, which would go for an IPO, put paid to these plans.
Also, integration of the BPO business with that of the parent has lead to duplicity of work, resulting in some natural attrition. Moreover, the increased interaction with the Infosys' sales and marketing teams in the go-to-market function, made the 'stand alone' company executives feel that their turf was being invaded.
Infosys had paid Rs 530 crore to buy out the 23 pc (fully-diluted basis) shareholding of Citigroup in the BPO arm during the first quarter of the current fiscal. And the buyout process saw the technology major reportedly offering two alternatives to the Progeon stock option holders. They were either to accept encashment of their holdings or to get these options converted into Infosys shares. The deadline for this exercise is said to be mid-December this year.
For the second quarter ended September 30, '06 Progeon (now called Infy BPO) had a topline of Rs 157 crore.