Aegis has bought CCN (Call Centre Nucleus) Group as the first step in a R500-million investment that will see the global company creating 5 000 new jobs in the business process outsourcing (BPO) market in South Africa within the next three years.
Aegis, which started life as a US-based call centre operation more than 20 years ago, is now part of the Indian Essar Group, which also has interests in mining, beneficiation, telecommunications and retail.
CCN is already one of South Africa's largest call centre operations, with about 700 seats and 1 000 employees.
Since both organisations are privately-owned companies, they didn't disclose the value of the deal.
Sandip Sen, global chief marketing officer of Aegis, describes the move as the first step on the company's journey in South Africa which will culminate in 5 000 new BPO jobs created.
About 500 new jobs will be created by the end of this year, with the remaining 4 500 to be added over the next two-and-a-half years.
Aegis will import its Aspire model of recruitment and training which it uses to add about 1 000 new jobs every month in India and the Phillipines. The model will be used to bolster CCN's existing training operation.
Sen is confident that Aegis will be able to ramp up quickly in the local market, and says there has already been a lot of interest in South Africa-based BPO services from organisations in the UK and Europe.
The first UK company has already signed up, but will only be announced in a couple of weeks.
"We think South Africa represents a huge market for BPO services," Sen adds. "We are seeing very strong demand in the market. Customers are very happy with the quality they get in South Africa, and also with the cultural synchronisity between South Africa and the UK – South Africa is the UK's preferred offshoring destination.
"Until now, though, because the call centres in South Africa have been relatively small, they haven't been able to attract large customers. It needed a company like us, with global skills, as a catalyst to start attractiving those companies.
"We believe we will be able to attract many international and domestic companies."
Aegis is on the process of buying its own property in South Africa. "We are here to stay," says Sen.
CCN posted revenues of more than R150-million in the 2008/2009 financial year.
Lawrence Brick, CEO of CCN, comments: "We are confident that CCN has found a worthy parent to guide its future growth. We believe this transaction cretes a win for our customers, employees and stockholders, With this transaction, Aegis proves it commitment to develop South Africa as a destination for international businesses."