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Indian call center to expand in U.S.

Turning the tables on offshore trends, a call center company with operations in India aims to acquire a U.S. facility.

Turning the tables on offshore trends, a call center company with operations in India aims to acquire a U.S. facility.

iSeva, an Irving, Texas-based company that provides call center services from a 500-seat facility in India, wants to snap up a 1,000-seat U.S. call center, said Gagan Sharma, the company's vice president of sales and business development.

"We have had discussions along those lines," Sharma said Wednesday. "Clients increasingly are looking for a blended solution--partly onshore and partly offshore."

Sharma said iSeva plans to raise $5 million in funding for a second 500-seat facility in India and then another $10 million to be used for a U.S. acquisition. iSeva has a list of potential acquisition targets, Sharma said. But he declined to provide names on the list.

iSeva's interest in U.S. operations runs counter to the way call centers, back-office business and information technology projects have been shifting from the United States and Western Europe to India and other low-cost areas of the world. Farming out IT work and other business functions overseas is expected to increase, as corporations try to cut costs and focus on their "core competencies." U.S. IT companies recently have been rushing to beef up their overseas operations to compete with offshore players such as India-based Infosys Technologies and Wipro Technologies.

Earlier this year, Giga Information Group analyst Stephanie Moore predicted Indian IT companies will expand into other low-cost regions such as China and Eastern Europe, and even acquire top-tier IT services companies.

iSeva's hunger for a U.S. call center echoes that prophesy. The company is driven partly by regulatory requirements that some call center work be done in the United States, Sharma said. A U.S. call center also can ease clients' worries about disaster recovery issues and about having operations too far away, he said.

Another boon for customers is the face-to-face interaction for complicated projects such as servicing mortgages. "It just helps us with the more complex work," Sharma said. "It helps the service level."

iSeva offers a range of customer relationship management services including outbound and inbound phone services, Web chat services and systems integration work. The company has 11 clients and has been profitable in the last three months, Sharma said.