Do they teach this at Harvard Business School?

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Nothing more needs be said on the decision of Satyam Computer Services to spend $1.6 billion in acquiring two sister companies, Maytas Properties and Maytas Infra Ltd, after outraged analysts and investors shaved $2 billion worth of market cap of India’s fourth largest IT company.

However, the “landbank deal”, while giving a telling insight into the real-estate dreams of India’s IT companies (and Satyam, ahem, is not the only one in the game), has also thrown up questions on the role that heavy-duty “independent directors” companies employ to achieve Corporate Governance.

OK, Ramalinga Raju and family were up to no good.

But what about the acknowledged geniuses, whose words are read and received around the world as gospel truth? What were the acknowledged geniuses who pass off as “independent directors” doing when this gigantic fraud was being perpetrated under their cavernous noses?

The following is a brief bio of Satyam director Professor Krishna G. Palepu, “Ross Graham Walker Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for International Development” at Harvard Business School (HBS). Prof Palepu’s 2007-08 remuneration was Rs 91.91 lakh and 5,000 shares at Rs 2:

“In the area of corporate governance, Professor Palepu’s work focuses on how to make corporate boards more effective, and on improving corporate disclosure.

“Professor Palepu teaches these topics in several Harvard Business School executive education programs aimed at members of corporate boards: “Making Corporate Boards More Effective,” “Audit Committees in a New Era of Governance,” and “Compensation Committees: New Challenges, New Solutions.”

“He also co-led Harvard Business School’s Corporate Governance, Leadership, and Values initiative, launched in response to the recent wave of corporate scandals and governance failures.”

Have a corporate governance question for Professor Krishna G. Palepu?

Email him: kpalepu@hbs.edu

Phone him: (617) 495-6759

Conditions apply