Now Entering the Ring…


    Last week, the founder and chairman of Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) teamed up with private-equity firm Cerebus to make a buyout offer for the business process firm (ACS’s Announcement ). Some observed that private-equity was again looking to cash in on the growth of global outsourcing (Cerebus and others last year bid for firms such as CSC). But the offer was also proof the vast capital of the various public and private markets are circling the same dream – to create formidable competition for the juggernauts of IBM and Accenture in the business process outsourcing universe.

    It’s not surprising, from our perspective, that the hungry private-equity firms have set their sights on ACS: If they really want to own an outsourcing player, ACS’ size, footprint, trajectory, and top-tier clients provide a solid foundation for an owner that has a vision of global expansion. After all, ACS is one of the earliest leaders in business process outsourcing, serving clients with some of the strongest brands in the world. It is a company founded on the principle of managed services, meaning it avoids the temptations of consulting and systems integration. It also is one of the earliest leaders of offshoring, having considerable operations in lower-cost delivery locations.

    Keane’s pending acquisition by an astute management team, backed by Citicorp, is yet another beat on this same drum. Genpact, the darling entrant of the BPO provider dance card, is rumored to be planning a public offering in the near future, taking its story to the public markets in order to raise capital. Another version of the same strategy? Probably?

    It’s worth the price of admission to watch these forms take shape and see what impact they will have on business process outsourcing.