The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Miami ring in infotech hub

GE Capital is yet to say “Yes, Calcutta”, while Wipro is just laying the first bricks for its building in Saltlec (Salt Lake Electronics Complex). But the ring tone at call centres in Calcutta is suddenly loud and cheerful, with the surprise entry of a big new player.

Miami-based Epixtar Corp is all set to come up with the “biggest call centre” in the city by 2003-end. The starting point could be a 1,000-seater centre, with growth plans targeted at 3,000 in the long run. “This will be Epixtar’s first call centre in India. We had a meeting with the company representatives on Tuesday and they seem really keen on Calcutta,” said state IT minister Manab Mukherjee.

For the company, which specialises in ISP and telecommunication services, it was a toss-up between Calcutta and Mumbai, till a series of meetings with the Writers’ Buildings top brass over the past 48 hours seemed to convince the Epixtar representatives that it was ‘advantage Calcutta’.

“Calcutta suits our business model perfectly. Here, the talent pool is good. Besides, there’s the advantage of very little competition. We have a presence in the Philippines and we are also planning to enter Malaysia. We want to use Calcutta as the base and nucleus of our operations in Asia and are really excited about the opportunities here,” said Tod E. Fisch, principal, corporate strategy, Epixtar Corp, on Tuesday.

“We are planning an initial investment of around $ 5 million and we want to tap the US market before Christmas. We will sign an MoU with the government this week, before leaving for the US,” said Fisch.

Epixtar will initially kick off its operations with a 1,000-seater call centre — employing at least 2,000 people — from a rented address in Saltlec. Besides hiring local talent, the company will set up recruitment centres in cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore to give “the Bengalis working there a chance to come back to where they belong”.

In the next phase, Epixtar will set up a campus — probably near the airport — with a capacity of “around 3,000”.

The Left government has rolled out the red carpet for Epixtar, which turned up looking for a call-centre base in this part of the world. Besides offering a host of incentives, the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) will extend a loan facility to the company. A shortlist of sites — including Infinity and Pecon buildings in Sector V, Saltlec — has been drawn up for the Epixtar officials to pick and choose from.

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