Nothing could have prepared anyone in corporate India for the Satyam news story which broke on Wednesday morning. It is India’s Enron and Madoff combined. As a good friend put it, Satyam will now have a very different meaning for a generation of Indians.
Even as the wreckage is sifted through, it is critical to ensure Satyam as an organisation keeps running — there is too much at stake here for its employees and customers. Some government involvement may be needed to ensure a quick resolution since no buyer will be willing to take any risk on its books. Uncertainty will not help anyone. At Rs 40, the stock has gone as low as it can probably go.
There are many questions about all that has happened. “Why” is the first. And presumably, over time, we will get some of the answers. But an incident like this is a major wake-up call for the lax standards of corporate governance in India. Talk privately to some investors, and they will talk about “promoter issues.” This is not the only big blow-up that India Inc. is likely to see in times to come.
Another friend put it all in context: we seem to be following the US in all the wrong things. First, we had our 9/11 with 26/11. Now, we had our Enron. Wonder what’s next. Hope the next elections don’t throw up an Indian Bush.