Jeopardy in Jakarta

Chennai: When the 43-year-old first-generation entrepreneur Arun Jain, chairman and managing director, and CEO of Polaris Software Lab, decided to lead a small team to Indonesia, he thought it would be yet another business trip where hard negotiations would have to be done to minimise the damage to the company.

The company's Indonesian banking client Bank Artha Graha, a large retail bank with more than 70 branches in 15 cities, had some days ago communicated its decision to terminate its $1.3-million contract with Polaris.

Despite this, Jain boarded the flight as a happy man. His dream of building a software giant was on the way to fruition. He had recently bought out a business process outsourcing company, www.iBackoffice.com, and formed a joint venture with AIG Offshore Systems Services, part of the global insurance giant American Insurance Group (AIG).

A month ago Polaris finalised an acquisition deal with OrbiTech Solutions, a Citigroup company, thereby making Polaris a 4,100-strong employee company with a combined turnover of over Rs 600 crore. The company he started with Rs 25, 000 investment seemed all set to take off.

Neither he nor his team members had any inkling that the Jakarta trip would turn out to be a nightmare, and that they would end up getting arrested by the country's police upon a complaint made by Bank Artha Graha.

The Chennai-based company had signed agreements with the Indonesian bank in June 2002 and August 2002 covering central processing, disaster recovery and branch server- related work. The contract was supposed to be completed by July 2003.