Indian Outsourcer Plans More Philippines Deals

India's Essar Group says it plans to pump more investment in the Philippines, following the completion of its US$250 million purchase of business process outsourcing (BPO) company, PeopleSupport.

Anshuman Ruia, Essar's director and founder, told reporters Wednesday the acquisition is just one of the series of investments the company will make in the Philippines.

Nasdaq-listed PeopleSupport maintains one of its biggest sites in Manila, while the Essar Group is one of India's biggest family-owned conglomerates, with interests in mining, power, energy, telecommunications, among others.

Announced in August 2008, its acquisition of PeopleSupport, via Essar's BPO arm Aegis, is one of its first forays in the BPO market.

Although the executive did not specify a timeframe, Ruia said Essar will be looking for further investments in areas where it already has presence. Apart from its investment in BPO, he added, the company will also be approaching government and industrial groups in the Philippines regarding potential investments in these other markets.

The PeopleSupport acquisition, the 11th major acquisition for Essar, is part of the Indian company's efforts to expand abroad, particularly in emerging countries such as the Philippines and some nations in Africa, he noted.

Specifically, Ruia cited the Philippines' power, telecom and construction sectors, as possible investment sites for Essar, which is currently worth some US$20 billion. He added that it has "the resources, the intention and the access" to make significant investments in the country.

BPO integration complete

Meanwhile, company executives said Aegis has completed integration work for the PeopleSupport merger.

Aparup Sengupta, global CEO and managing director of Aegis, said: "We have emotionally, economically and culturally integrated the company in a very short time."

The combine entity clocked approximately US$500 million in revenues last year and has a global headcount of 32,000.

Aegis-PeopleSupport plans to expand its resources in the country, aiming to train some 2,000 potential workers each month. Its Philippine headcount currently stands at 8,000 seats.

Bong Borja, head of Aegis-PeopleSupport in the Philippines, added that the company is planning to acquire real estate properties in key markets in the country, particularly Cebu, which is one of the fastest-growing BPO sites in the Philippines, outside Manila.