Avaya wins 5-year contract with Bharti Airtel
(Reuters) - Telecom equipment maker Avaya Corp said it had signed a multimillion-dollar five-year contract to build call centers for India's leading telecom company, Bharti Airtel (BRTI.NS), in Asia and Africa.
"It is the largest deal we have ever done," Ed Nalbandian, head of Avaya's managed services and contact center solutions, said on Monday but declined to divulge financial details.
Previously, the largest deal Avaya had in the global contact center space was $75 million with a manufacturing company.
Avaya signed the deal in March, Nalbandian added.
The two companies have been working together on call centers in India for a number of years, but with the new deal Avaya will also implement its technology for Airtel in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and 18 African countries.
"Getting into Africa is a big deal for them and they want to differentiate themselves there," Nalbandian said.
Airtel in 2010 acquired the African operations from Kuwait's Zain (ZAIN.KW) in a $9 billion deal that made it the fifth-biggest cellphone company by subscribers.
Avaya's technology will support over a billion calls a year and include video and social media capabilities in the call centers, he added.
Nalbandian said Airtel had looked at several vendors, including Cisco (CSCO.O).
Cisco was not immediately available for comment.
After five years Airtel has the option to choose a new vendor but according to Nalbandian the Indian company has indicated it will likely renew its contract with Avaya.
Technology analyst Zeus Kerravala at ZK Research said the deal was "a win-win for both companies".
By outsourcing its call center transformation Airtel could leverage Avaya's experience in this area to assure a smooth transition with minimal customer impact while Avaya could legitimize itself as an outsourcing company, Kerravala explained.
"The company has been trying to transform its services business for years and this is a strong proof point for them."
Avaya is owned by private equity firms TPG Capital LP and Silver Lake.
The company last month said it agreed to buy Israel's Radvision as part of its strategy to shore up its video conferencing capabilities.
(Reporting By Nicola Leske; editing by M.D. Golan)