Teledata, IT's new black sheep
A Satyam-like accounts fudge scandal has broken again. The company this time is the Chennai-based Teledata Informatics. About 80 per cent of the company’s Rs 6,636 crore revenue (2007-08 annual report) is reported to have come from its subsidiaries in Singapore, the balance sheets of which have not been audited for the past two years. Moreover, 80 per cent of the revenue is said to have come through a company in India, which is not a Teledata subsidiary.
Teledata’s former auditors Chaturvedi and Shah have raised doubts about the return on investment in two of the company’s subsidiaries in the 2007-08 annual report. “We are unable to comment on the ultimate ‘realisability’ of investments amounting to Rs 110.33 crore in Rainforest Trading Ltd and amount advanced to Baytech Inc of Rs 126.13 crore in the absence of audited financials for the last two years of their ultimate subsidiary eSys Technologies Pte Ltd.”
Till going to press, Teledata did not reply to Financial Chronicle’s e-mail queries on the revenue and the status of its subsidiaries. Three e-mails were sent since January 16 to the company’s managing director, K Padmanabhan, as well as its communications and investor relations departments. All attempts of FC to contact the managing director turned futile.
Teledata acquired majority shares in eSys Technologies Singapore, a computer hardware distributor, for $105 million in February 2007. It directly holds 12.14 per cent and 38.36 per cent through its wholly owned subsidiary, Baytech Inc, aggregating to 51 per cent in Rainforest Trading Ltd (a special purpose vehicle holding 100 per cent of eSys Technologies Pte Ltd).
Esys Singapore was sold to Teledata after it ran into trouble with Seagate Inc, one of the world’s largest hard disc manufacturers. Seagate has sued eSys and its ex-chairman and managing director Vikas Goel for over $131 million for allegedly fudging sales incentive rebate documents and non-payment for goods sold. The case is pending with the Singapore high court.
Goel in his affidavit filed on October 3 2008, states that eSys India, the contributor of Teledata’s 80 per cent revenue, is not a part of the company. An amount of Rs 5,265.11 crore out of Rs 6,636 crore came from PC manufacturing and business outsourcing verticals. according to Teledata’s 2007-08 annual report. Esys Information Technologies Ltd, India, which Teledata lists as its subsidiary, does both operations. However, Esys India was sold to Esys Global Holdings Ltd, Dubai, for $6 million on April 2, 2007, according to Goel’s affidavit. His brother, Niraj Goel, owns Esys Global Holdings Ltd, which is unrelated to the agreement between Teledata and eSys Technologies Singapore.
On the other hand, Teledata clearly states in its annual report that the company has invested $105 million in Rainforest. But, Goel in his affidavit states that the deal was worth only $60 million. Teledata has paid $55 million to eSys, excluding expenses during money transfer, states the affidavit. However, Teledata has raised $80 million from the State Bank of India based on the $105 million valuation. No external agency was commissioned to evaluate the worth of eSys.
Teledata’s share price went up to a high of Rs 91.55 on the Bombay Stock Exchange in April 2007, backed by the acquisition. Now the price has fallen below Rs 7. Several enraged investors raised queries about the company’s claims of enormous revenue from eSys and its “fuzzy dividend policy” during the annual general meeting on December 30, 2008. K Padmanabhan, Teledata managing director, replied that the investment in eSys was a mistake (FC reported the development on December 31, 2008).
“(I’m) really sorry to say that we have made a mistake in investing in eSys. We expected greater money from the deal but it did not happen. We are trying to sell our stake in eSys,” he said.