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Bengal Summit Inks MoUs Of 3.5 lakh crore, Mamata Says Give Me More, Worries Over What GoI Has In Store!

The general perception is that West Bengal is in the abyss. Not really, if one goes by the response to the recently held 2-day Bengal Global Business Summit. The summit witnessed inking of MoUs entailing a total investment of Rs 342,000 crore that could create 40 lakh new jobs. This includes the Rs 10,000 crore of proposed investment by the Adani Group. A total of 137 MoUs or letters of intent were signed. In her concluding speech, WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee described the sixth edition of BGBS summit as having been ‘immensely successful’. It was attended by 4,300 participants from 42 countries. She underscored that a task-force would be set up under the chief secretary for speedy implementation of projects. The CM is confident that the quantum of investment secured through MoUs and Expressions of Interest will increase further in coming days unless the Union Government disturbs industrialists through central revenue intelligence agencies. An industry leader present at the venue said: “From the organiser’s point of view, the summit is a success because it was well attended and all these MOUs and EOIs have apparently been signed or talked about. But seeing is believing and if you ask me, I’ll begin to get impressed if I see industries coming in on the ground, rather than in government files.” True that!

Photo : Fotocorp

Temperature Rising As EC Yet To Decide On West Bengal Bypolls

With the Calcutta High Court ordering CBI probe into West Bengal Post Poll violence and directing the Mamata government to immediately process the compensation for the victims, the political uncertainty has deepened in the state. Add to this the fear of the Third Wave of pandemic hitting the country during Durga Puja; and importantly, the need to hold bypolls in seven assembly seats before November 5 or else, technically, Didi may have to step down, if not re-elected within six months. The Election Commission (EC), looking at the ground situation in terms of pandemic and post-poll violence, is yet to announce the date. After announcing the poll dates, the EC takes at least 24 days before voting can take place. The EC has been accused of delaying the election at the behest of the Centre. But, those accusing the EC of bias, may note that in Uttarakhand, a BJP ruled state, Tirath Singh Rawat who took over as the Chief Minister on March 10, 2021 had to step down on July 2 as the EC was not ready to hold bypolls before his six-month period to get re-elected was coming to end on September 10. It may be recalled that even though her party TMC won the Assembly elections with thumping majority, she lost her seat from Nandigram to BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, her one time confidant.

Mayank Jalan

Keventer Agro Plans To Raise Rs 800-900 Crore Via IPO

The Kolkata based Keventer Agro is looking to raise anything between Rs 800 crore and Rs 900 crore through an IPO. The proposed issue will offer an exit route to the existing Singapore-based private equity investor Mandala Capital, which holds close to a 22% stake in the company. Sources said the fresh issue of shares would be in the range of Rs 325-375 crore. While about Rs 125 crore would be kept for capital expenditure, Rs 250 crore would be used to retire debt and build a capital base to expand the business in other parts of India. The IPO, valuing Keventer in the range of Rs 2,400-2,800 crore, is expected to hit the market during Diwali. The company plans to file a draft prospectus with SEBI in the next few days. Post-issue, promoters’ holding will dip by 10 percentage points to 70%. Owned by Jalan family, Keventer Agro is the largest milk producer in the private sector in the East and the Northeast and is also the franchisee for Parle’s Fruity, Appy and FIZZ. Now diversifying to frozen foods segment, it is also a large seller of bananas, especially in Bengal. It clocked a revenue of around Rs 1,000 crore in the last fiscal. The issue is the second this year from Bengal after iron and steel company Shyam Metalics.

Photo : Curly tales

Dining In The City Of Joy With Virat Kohli

Indian skipper Virat Kohli wears too many hats. He has opened a resto-bar in the city of joy, Kolkata. Nestled in the heart of the city, One8 Commune Kolkata is designed by Sumessh Menon, whose firm specializes in upscale, bespoke residential, commercial and hospitality interiors. The interiors are infused with the spirit of the city’s nostalgic heritage. While the vibrant blue wall, designed as a book wall, alludes to the city’s rich treasure trove of literature, arched windows, vaults and touches of cultural vibrance are inspired by the city’s architectural heritage and endeavour to bring out a warm, nostalgic ambience. Overseeing the menu is Pawan Bisht, corporate chef and R&D executive of One8 Commune, who intends to offer Kohli’s favourite dishes including mushroom googly with truffle oil and mushroom, millet-based red and white quinoa salad and sugar-free mocktail made with aloe vera juice and pineapple along with some more flavours. Sprawled over 4,500 square feet of space, the resto-bar is Kohli’s second outlet in the country after Delhi’s Aerocity. Besides becoming co-owners in the football and wrestling franchise, he has also invested in fashion brand WROGN, gym & fitness chain Chisel. Before Kohli, other cricketers like Sourav Ganguly, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Ravindra Jadeja too invested in the hospitality business. While for some the ventures ended in disaster, others are quite successful.

Apeejay Group Sells Off Their UK Tea Business

Apeejay Surrendra Group have sold off their interest in the UK-based Typhoo Tea to London based private equity firm, Zetland Capital. Post sell off, the PE firm led by dealmaker Ahmed Hamdani, has become the majority shareholder of Merseyside, the Liverpool-based company which has been battling heavy losses over the past few years. As per the agreement, the licence to sell teas under the Typhoo brand in India will remain with the Apeejay Group for the time being. The Kolkata-based Pauls, with interests in real estate, hotels, shipping, tea plantations and logistics, had bought the 120-year-old UK-based Typhoo Tea from Premier Foods for £80 million in 2005. The Pauls launched Typhoo packet teas and herbal infusions in India in 2008, building on its famed British legacy. Typhoo Tea’s troubles began after its strategy to ramp up sales at its private label business floundered badly. The prolonged uncertainty over Brexit also hurt badly. The Pauls decided to exit Typhoo Tea because the British venture was bleeding and needed huge cash infusions. Founded by John Sumner Junior in 1903, Typhoo Tea was the first to sell ready-packaged and also the first to launch a green tea blend in the UK. Typhoo’s brand portfolio includes: Glengettie, Melrose’s, instant tea Lift, organic Heath & Heather, and speciality tea Ridgways of Londo


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.