Indian American couple started IT firm with $2K, makes $2 bn from its sale

NEW DELHI: Indian-American couple Bharat Sethi and Neerja Desai builds a fortune of $2 billion from sale of their IT firm Syntel to French firm Atos for $3.4 billion.

63-year-old Sethi and Desai, 65, together held a 57 per cent stake in Syntel, according to a report.

Born in Kenya, Desai grew up in Mombasa and Ahmedabad and is alumnus of IIT-Bombay. He moved to the University of Michigan to pick up an MBA degree.

Sethi, an undergraduate degree holder did her MBA from the Delhi University and masters from the Oakland University.

The former employees of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) started Syntel in 1980 with an initial investment of just $2,000 in their apartment in Troy, Michigan and pulled a mere $30,000 in first-year sales.

Sethi, serving as the vice-president of Syntel, has a net worth of $1 billion. Last month, Sethi made it to the Forbes’ list of America’s 60 most successful self-made women entrepreneurs.

Desai, the co-founder and co-chairman of Syntel, in 2013, had also made it to Forbes list of richest Indians.

The Bezons, France-headquartered Atos in a statement late on Sunday said this transaction was in line with the company’s strategy to reach a global scale and significantly expand in both digital services and business and platform solutions.

Syntel generated $924 million revenue in 2017, of which 89 per cent was in North America, with 25 per cent operating margin.

Syntel employs 23,000 engineers in 30 countries, with over 18,000 staff based in India. All of Syntel’s management team is expected to join Atos.

“I am looking forward to welcoming the 23,000 Syntel engineers and their very strong management to continue delivering together the highest value to our clients and shareholders,” Breton said.

A major player in Big Data, cybersecurity, High Performance Computing and Digital Workplace, Atos has approximately 100,000 employees in 73 countries and an annual revenue of around 12 billion euros.

“Strong portfolio and complementary customer base between the two companies will generate multiple cross-selling opportunities,” it said.

DesaiSaid the tie-up “is a very exciting development for Syntel. The Syntel board is committed to maximising shareholder value and believes that the agreement with Atos achieves that objective and delivers a win-win proposition to our customers and employees.”

“I am confident that this combination will deliver significant value to all stakeholders,” Desai said.

The acquisition will be financed through debt fully underwritten by BNP Paribas and J.P. Morgan Securities PLC. The debt will be used to fund the purchase cash consideration together with refinancing of outstanding debt, the company said.

With agencies input