"Teleperformance is definitely not the new Orpea"
Down and out in Colombia: Teleperformance’s uncanny market plunge
Teleperformance’s stock took a dive on November 10. It has partly recovered since and Goldman Sachs still recommands buying. Working conditions in Colombia among the number one of outsourced customer relation are to be investigated. The company employs more than 42 000 collaborators there. This announcement follows an article by Time Magazine. Daniel Julien, founder and CEO of Teleperformance, gave us some important precisions over the phone:
"The company will collaborate with the Colombian government in the investigation that it has decided to carry out into the working conditions of Teleperformance employees, particularly those assigned to content moderation missions (for TikTok notably). the Teleperformance group has always scrupulously respected the laws of each country where it operates and has great confidence in the management of TP Colombia. The swift change of government that occurred during the summer may explain the need to audit our company, which is one of the most dynamic in the country and has created 42,000 jobs. The group must activate its own internal control procedures in parallel. Teleperformance Colombia is well known for its exceptional work environment, its atmosphere and its concern for helping the local communities. Any legitimate, fair and factually based recommendation will of course be taken into account."
[email protected] is the address to which the Minister suggests that anyone who has information or evidence of non-compliance with labor laws in this sector should turn to. A quick reading of the many comments on Twitter or social networks indicates that other BPO players, such as Sutherland BPO, Atento, Accedo Technologies, even Sitel or Intelcia Spain, for example (non-exhaustive list) are mentioned or criticized by employees or former employees. The investigation may therefore lead to a global questioning of this subcontracting entrusted to service providers, or to what makes it necessary. "Just like the job police or medical work, the job of a moderator is difficult and useful, and just as necessary thanks to the the rise of social networks" Daniel Julien told us a few days ago. The newspaper Le Monde considers that this is payback for the French group’s bad social reputation (which is a member of the CAC 40). The entire contact center market, and the new job of contact moderation seem to be targeted, as well as the fact that they are outsourced to countries with low labor costs.
"We deal with the worst of humanity, so you don't have to"
By putting content moderation in the spotlight, the Colombian minister of labor reminds us all that human beings are paid to preserve users from the worst that human nature has to offer. "I saw the worst of humanity," wrote one of Facebook's former moderators, Chris Gray, who is now suing his former employer. Mark Zuckerberg's company alone employs several thousand moderators.
A seriously impaired share price: why? for how long?
As of November 10, The Teleperformance Group did not yet know the expectations and the meaning carried out by the investigation in Colombia. However, it has decided to buy back its own shares allocating 150 millions euros to do it, probably in order to demonstrate the confidence that the management team has in the outcome of the investigation and in its internal compliance control procedures. After rising at the beginning of the session on Friday 11 November, Teleperformance shares only recovered part of yesterday's decline. Two ESG funds holding positions of 30 and 130 million euros will probably wait until the end of the investigation to reposition themselves on the stock, a safe and valued stock for years in its sector. A good connoisseur of the sector, a former executive of many contact center companies, including TP, says: "I am familiar with Teleperformance and its internal procedures. The work is rigorous but the company is fair and respectful of talent. My opinion, Teleperformance is definitely not the new Orpea." (Orpea is a company that operates retirement homes. Its stock spiraled downward after the publication of a book, Les Fossoyeurs, that alerted on alleged mistreatements and misuse of public money).
In the past, sponsors of BPO operations, such as ATT, in 2015, fined 25 million dollars for data breaches in the call centers it commissioned, were more likely to suffer from such announcements. This time, it is the provider that is targeted and not the least prominent. Valued at more than 11 billion dollars, Teleperformance lost 34% of its value yesterday, due to an investigation nobody knows anything about yet.
The only other companies listed on the stock exchange in the sector are Concentrix and Majorel.
Which are the other companies listed in the sector ?
Majorel Luxembourg SA, listed on Euronext Amsterdam market, worth 2 billions. The share price has fallen by 20% in the last year.
Concentrix, listed on the Nasdaq, worth 6 billions. The share price has fallen by 30% in the last year.
Photo de une : One of Teleperformance's pan-european hubs in Athens - crédit © Edouard Jacquinet