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August 24, 2009

Acquisitive Aegis

Business Today has an article on how the Essar Group's outsourcing arm, Aegis, has acquired its way into the top league of Indian BPOs.
The ITES onslaught can be traced back to 2003, when the Ruias made their first acquisition, of Aegis Communication Group in the US for $28 million. Another 12 followed in the years to come. Aegis was struggling with some $22 million in losses. The takeover trail hasn’t ended: Last fortnight, the Ruias picked up CCN Group of South Africa for $30 million. Today, Aegis BPO is valued at a billion dollars, with some 35,000 employees and 32 global locations. It is also profitable, say company officials. “Our ambition is to grow as big as we can in the services space… we are a value investor,” says Ruia.

...The core of Essar’s ITES portfolio for some time to come will be BPO, which had revenues of half a billion dollars last year, and which the company claims is the fastest-growing BPO in the world (at a rate of 50 per cent as against the Indian BPO industry’s growth rate of less than 30 per cent). NASSCOM has ranked it at #8 amongst India’s top BPO exporters for 2008-09, ahead of Infosys BPO and HCL BPO.

The Ruias will follow a growth strategy similar to that in BPO in its other businesses—of growing rapidly via acquisitions to build scale. The promoters are active investors in their ITES companies, not content at just writing out cheques. “Scale and size are something one learns from the group,” says Sengupta who meets the family at least 1-2 hours every day. “It’s very inspiring,” adds Sengupta, who is also a part of the global management committee (GMC) that charts out the business plan for the entire group. With a BPO operation that’s worth a billion dollars and plenty more irons in the ITES fire, the Ruias would clearly be in a mood to give this services prong of their diverse portfolio pride of place.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at