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Blackstone buys back BPO business from Serco

Blackstone's senior official Amit Dixit said the firm is acquiring 100 per cent interest in the company through the deal which is a combination of equity and debt, and expects the transaction to close by December after getting necessary approvals.

twitter-logoPTI | September 16, 2015 | Updated 21:21 IST
Blackstone buys back BPO business from Serco
Picture for representational purpose.

Global private equity firm Blackstone has bought back the BPO business (then known as Intelenet) from Britain's Serco Group for 250 million pounds (about Rs 2,558 crore), four years after it exited.

"We are delighted to announce that we have completed the transaction to acquire business (of Intelenet) from Serco at an enterprise valuation of Rs 2,600 crore or 250 million pounds," Blackstone Group Senior Managing Director and Co-Head Private Equity in India Amit Dixit said over a concall announcing the deal.

In 2011, the PE firm had sold Intelenet to Serco for 250 million pounds or then $383 million.

Dixit said Blackstone is acquiring 100 per cent interest in the company through the deal which is a combination of equity and debt, and expects the transaction to close by December after getting necessary approvals.

He added that these four years saw Intelenet's revenues go up by four times and hopes to "replicate" the same success.

He further said that this is the largest transaction closed by Blackstone in the country till date.

As a part of the deal, Serco is selling what was earlier called as Intelenet, and the deal does not include domestic British business, Serco Global Services Chief Executive Susir Kumar said adding that post-acquisition, the business will be renamed as Intelenet Global Services.

Dixit, who stated that the strong management team as one of the biggest draws for Blackstone, said Kumar will be appointed as Chairman of Intelent, a position he held when the firm was sold in 2011.

Dixit also said the strong focus on the growth geography of India, along with its concentration in sectors such as banking and finance, travel and hospitality are other points which attracted Blackstone to invest back.

Talking to reporters, Susir Kumar said the business has grown in the last four years under the Serco ownership and it is expected to clock Rs 2,450 crore revenue this year, up from the Rs 1,400 crore in 2011.

He said the Serco Group wants to concentrate on the government business in Britain and wants to sell off the private sector services or the Intelenet business acquired from Blackstone in 2011 as part of the strategy.

The business currently employs 51,000 people across eight countries, working out of 67 centres.

Kumar said West Asian, British and the American markets contribute for 70 per cent of Serco's revenues, with the rest coming in from serving domestic clients within India.

Meanwhile, Blackstone hopes to leverage on the network of its portfolio companies around the globe to get business to Intelenet. At the time of selling the business in 2011, seven portfolio companies of the private equity firm accounted for a fourth of Intelenet's revenues, Amit Dixit said.

The announcement of the deal brings to end a long string of speculation around who will be the successful bidder for the business, which was officially put on the block by Serco in March.

Apart from Blackstone, CVC Capital Partners was also reported to have evinced interest in buying the business, along with its portfolio company SPI Global from the Philippines.

It had reportedly offered 235 million pounds, but was not able to muster the management support.

In November last year, Serco had announced that it would explore divesting some of its private sector BPO businesses as it plans to focus on being a business to government provider across five core areas and four key geographies.

The move was also aimed at plugging losses of about GBP 1.5 billion in the balance sheet.

Founded in 2001, Intelenet was a joint venture between TCS and HDFC.

In 2007, a management buy-out was completed, resulting in business being majority owned by Blackstone Group, together with Barclays, HDFC and Intelenet's management team.

In the same year, HDFC and Barclays Bank exited the joint venture by selling stakes to SKR BPO Services, co-owned by Blackstone GVP Capital and Intelenet management, for an undisclosed amount.

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