Nearshore Americas
Sitel group

Sitel and Sutherland Reach Settlement, Ending Long Court Battle

The Sutherland v Sitel trial is no more, officially putting to rest years of a courtroom battle between two of the biggest names in the BPO industry.

All parties involved in Sutherland Global Services Inc. v Sengupta et al agreed to dismiss the case months before their date in a Texas courtroom, where the trial was scheduled to take place. The parties filed a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice on February 10, which was granted by Judge David Ezra three days later. 

“Plaintiff Sutherland Global Services, Inc. and Defendants Ratul Sengupta, Keith Lee, Mike Small, and Sitel Operating Corporation file this Joint Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice […] to dismiss this action with prejudice, including all claims, counterclaims, and cross-claims that have been asserted, or could have been asserted, herein. Consequently, Sutherland and Defendants respectfully request that the Court direct that the clerk close this case and that all costs of court be taxed against the party who incurred them,” reads the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal.

Sutherland filed the lawsuit in mid-2021, launching a legal battle which ended up entangling not only Sitel, but also two former Sutherland employees and one of Sitel’s C-suite executives in the Americas.

According to the allegations, former Sutherland sales executive Ratul Sengupta coordinated with Mike Small –then-CEO of Sitel’s operations in the Americas– to obtain confidential business information from Sutherland. This would have happened as Sengupta was still officially employed by Sutherland and weeks away from being onboarded by Sitel.

The complaint states that the actions allegedly carried out by Small and Sengupta had a serious financial impact on Sutherland’s operations and allowed Sitel to reap significant benefits. 

The lawsuit argues that the allegedly stolen business information provided Sitel with an advantage while competing for at least one contract with a major customer. Neither the complaint nor the defense’s response identify the customer by name. Nevertheless, a source familiar with the case assured NSAM that it is telecom giant T-Mobile, one of Sutherland’s largest clients. Also, T-Mobile was explicitly mentioned in other court filings from the case in reference to a request for proposal in which Sitel was involved.

Following a year of paperwork and court hearings, both parties were scheduled to meet for trial on April 23 of this year. Several legal experts told NSAM that, considering comments and opinions emitted by the judges involved in the case, Sitel faced an uphill battle in the courtroom. In spite of that, they pointed out that a settlement out of court was not only possible, but highly likely. 

Anybody Got Paid?

The Joint Stipulation of Dismissal makes no mention of the terms reached for the settlement. NSAM reached out to the legal teams that represented both parties in the case, asking about any terms for settlement and the reasons behind the decision to settle out of court. No answer has been received as of the time of this publication.

A source familiar with the case –and who asked to remain unnamed– said a monetary agreement was involved as part of the settlement. Although he did nor provide specifications on the amount, he pointed out that “the word is that no one is happy with the money. [I] think everyone just wants to move on”.

The lawsuit landed during a crucial moment for Sitel. The company found itself in the midst of an expansion binge which could lead to it becoming the second largest provider of voice-based CX services, second only to French behemoth Teleperformance. Just last year, Sitel was on the brink of acquiring Luxembourg-based Majorel, another major player in the BPO space. Nevertheless, the agreement fell apart by September of 2022. According to Majorel, “[an] alignment could not be reached on the final structure of the transaction against the background of the current macro environment”.

Sutherland has been on a shopping spree of its own. In September 2022, it acquired AI-powered CX platform Augment CXM. In January 2023, the company announced a strategic partnership with AI-based customer experience automation company Ushur

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Sutherland’s global footprint spans 144 countries. The company has 61 delivery centers worldwide, covering territories such as North and Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It claims to have 38,000 employees under its global payroll and to execute 43 million transactions per month.

Sitel reached US$4.3 billion in revenue in 2021. The global headcount hovers around 160,000 employees. The provider is located in 40 countries, owns 160 CX hub locations and serves over 700 customer brands, including Airbnb, Michelin, Renault and VINCI Construction.

Cesar Cantu

Cesar is the Managing Editor of Nearshore Americas. He's a journalist based in Mexico City, with experience covering foreign trade policy, agribusiness and the food industry in Mexico and Latin America.

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