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CII All Set To Launch Indian Corporate Cricket League

India is a cricket-crazy country. The IPL (Indian Premier League), which followed immediately after M S Dhoni-led Men in Blue winning the World Cup in Mumbai, has now become one of the largest annual sporting events in the country. From this year we will have a women’s premier league as well.  The cricket mania is now really expanding. Industry body CII is now gearing up to hold Indian Corporate Cricket League (ICCL).  It is a national-level initiative of the industry body. This will be a pan-India exercise, done at the behest of the Sports Ministry.  It will happen across India in each state. At state-level, it will have a round-robin format. The Tennis Ball cricket will have T-10 matches at state-level in round-robin format. Post-qualifying round, it will take the T-20 format. The CII is reported to have commissioned the services of an event management organization, which will be entrusted with the job of providing end-to-end logistic and related support facilities for the conduct of the ICCL across the country. CII is hoping for a participation of 25 teams in each state in the round-robin level. If grapevine has to go by, the Union Sports Ministry is reportedly keen that this kind of a pan-India corporate initiative is spread to other sports such as kabbadi and the likes. Sports at long lost is given its importance. That’s a welcome sign, indeed.
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BBB Trust: Bringing Brahmin Businessmen Worldwide On A Single Platform To Help Them Grow

A social economic forum, this one was founded in 2017.  This triple B forum is headquartered in Mysore, it has 19 chapters and claims to have a membership of over a thousand spread across the Southern states of India. They operated under a trust model. The trust acts as ‘head and shoulder’ for all chapters. It is to assist, support and monitor their engagements. The trust is intended to bring under a common fold all brahmin business entrepreneurs. The objective is to mutually share and refer businesses among the members. The Forum for Business By Brahmins – BBB Trust is a community-based entity. This is not a business body by itself, though.  It will work for business promotion and otherwise wellness of each individual in each chapter and community at large. Growing together is the chosen mantra. The objective is to build a strong global platform which will create growth opportunities for businessmen in the community. Also, it is intended to work for the improvement of the quality of life of the people in the community The BBB Forum has three chapters in Chennai. Well, it is planning to host its two-day annual conference in Chennai on February 4. The conference is expected to facilitate information sharing, relationship building, business leads and the like. A unity mantra to grow, it appears.
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Porsche, BMW To Mark Their Presence At Chennai’s Glitzy Leather Fashion Show

After a two-year Covid-induced hiatus, the Leather Fashion Show is back. Chennai is gearing up to host the India International Leather Fair next week, and the Fashion Show, as was in the past, will form a crucial component of this. This time around, the show will showcase products that are made out of recycled leather. For the first time perhaps, lifestyle car brands such as Porsche and BMW have chosen to mark their presence at the Leather Fashion Show. Such shows are often intended to woo high net worth customers. These high net worth people are the potential buyers of fancy high-end cars. Well, Porsche and BMW are finding the Fashion Show a useful platform to touch-base with their potential clients. It is unusual for these esoteric automobile brands to put their cars in a public area. A Fashion Show of international standard followed by dinner at a high-end venue like the ITC Grand Chola is an opportunity that these car majors aren’t willing to miss. They are more than happy to display their high-end cars in the Fashion Show. The association of such global car makers surely will add credence to the profile of the leather industry in India. And, the presence of various Miss India title-holders will add further spice to the upcoming Leather Fashion Show in Chennai.
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CII, FICCI, Assocham Overdrive In Tamil Nadu Gives Local Trade Bodies Shivers

State governments across the country are jostling with each other to lure investment. They spare no effort in making their state a desirable destination for investment.  Tamil Nadu, too, is keen to attract global investors. The DMK Government is gearing up to organise global investors’ meet in 2024. Even as the Stalin regime is trying hard to hard-sell Tamil Nadu, many national trade bodies such as the Federation Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM), CII, ICC and the like are vying with each other to get a prominent space in Tamil Nadu. They already have offices in Chennai. They are not willing to leave any stone unturned to gain more than toehold in Tamil Nadu.  They are bringing to bear everything they could to represent the interest of Tamil Nadu. The heightened activities of the national trade/industry bodies have thrown a big challenge to the native chambers. There are many local chambers such as Madras Chamber, Southern India Chamber, Hindustan Chamber, Tamil chamber and the like. Most of the native chambers are traditionally supported by the family business houses in this part of the world.  With the national chambers aggressively pushing their claim to represent Tamil Nadu, the local trade bodies are finding the turf hard. Perhaps, they need to re-invent their role.
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Why Is Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Always In The News?

It’s an over hundred year old bank. A solid old generation private bank, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) became a listed entity when it entered the capital market a few months ago. TMB is a heady cocktail of an organisation. Promoted by the Nadars for the Nadars, this bank has been mired in controversy ever since the Ruias of the Essar group acquired over 65% shares by cashing in on the internecine quarrel between the promoter groups. But the Ruais had to depart by selling the investment arms that held TMB shares to Sterling C Sivasankaran for acquiring cellular licence for Delhi circle from the latter. But Siva too found the going tough and had to sell TMB shares.  While the Nadar community bought back a part of it, it couldn’t muster money to buy the rest.  Former chairman of the bank MGM Maran and other directors got into the act and allegedly facilitated a deal for the sale of 23.6% shares of TMB from Indian shareholders to unauthorised overseas persons. An investigation followed into advance remittances by certain entities for buying TMB shares through an escrow account with Standard Chartered Bank. SCB and Maran were levied hefty penalties. The Enforcement Directorate now has attached the properties of Maran – including his shares in group firms and TMB –and his company Southern Agrifurane. Well, the TMB issue never ceases to go away, it appears.
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Nationalism To Regionalism: FiTEN To Host Global Tamil Start-up Investors’ Summit

What is the common consequence of Covid-19 and the Ukraine war? To be sure, they have redefined the international trade dynamics. The much celebrated policy of globalisation has started yielding ground to the protectionist policies of former times. Is it good? Is it setting the clock back? Well, a clear answer is difficult to fathom at the moment. One thing, however, is sure. Things are seemingly heading this way. How else could one view this? Well, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) is launching the FeTNA International Tamil Entrepreneurs Network (FiTEN)! FeTNA is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1988. In association with Tamil Nadu Start-up and Innovation Mission (StartupTN), FiTEN is organising the first Global Tamil Start-up Investors’ Summit in Chennai. It is ostensibly intended to benefit and promote start-ups and global Tamil investors. The one-day summit will be held on January 9 at The Leela Palace in Chennai. The objective of holding this summit by FiTEN is to share knowledge, debate the latest trends and bring together the global Tamil entrepreneur ecosystem. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M K Stalin, will be the chief guest. While the proposed summit is hailed by some, still others feel uncomfortable about it. Reason: regional chauvinism/parochialism is not healthy. It may be recalled that Saraswat Brahmin entrepreneurs from across the globe had organised a conclave in Goa in September 2022.
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Employees Become Owners Of The Shriram Group Via Trust

Shriram Finance Ltd (SFL) is born out of a composite scheme of merger and amalgamation of Shriram Capital (erstwhile holding company), Shriram Transport, Shriram City Union Finance and others. Today, they are all consigned to the pages of history. The newly-born SFL, as a consequence, has become the largest retail NBFC in the country.  Shriram Financial Ventures (Chennai) Private Ltd., Shriram Ownership Trust, Shriram Value Services Ltd. and Sanlam Life Insurance Ltd are the promoters of SFL holding 25.24% of its equity. Shriram Financial Ventures (Chennai) Private Ltd. is controlled by Shriram Ownership Trust (60%) and Sanlam (40%). Grapevine has it that Shriram Financial Ventures (Chennai) Private Ltd will undergo a name change soon. In all likelihood, it will be re-named as Shriram Capital!  With the advent of SFL, there appears to be a lot more clarity on the ownership front. Interestingly enough, Shriram Ownership Trust has emerged as the identifiable owner of the Shriram group. This is a perpetual trust. The members – comprising eligible employees – exit the trust upon reaching the age of 60, and are cashed out over a period of eight years thereafter. In a way, this perpetual trust will have a dynamic composition of members (with new additions and subtractions). A four-member board of management will run the trust. A unique thing about this trust – which is the ultimate holding company of the group – is that it is filled with eligible employees! Is there a parallel in the Indian corporate world where the employees are the owners of the group!
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Midnight Carnival Sees Chennai Builder Sell Over 100 Flats In Four Days

Selling is an art. The art of selling has undergone a tremendous transformation over the years. It’s no longer selling. It’s now become marketing. Not just that. Marketing has become innovative. And, it has turned out-of-box as well!  SPR City, Chennai’s premium township developer, has hit upon a novel way to attract flat buyers. It chose to organise a unique midnight carnival, offering special rates for flat owners on walk-ins. The SPR City Experience Centre played host to the Jackpot Midnight Carnival, which was held from 8 pm to 2 am, stretching over four days. Initially scheduled for two days, SPR extended the Carnival to four days in the wake of encouraging response from customers. Over the four days, there were more than 550 customer walk-ins, resulting in over 100 plus bookings. Interestingly enough, over 350 of these walk-ins came in post-midnight and saw the maximum number of bookings.  “We are constantly launching new campaigns to attract prospective customers. This was the latest. The turnout was good and I am happy to see that such an innovative marketing programme held at midnight succeeded in attracting a large number of consumers,” said Navin Ranka, Director, SPR India. SPR India is the developer behind SPR City, Chennai’s largest integrated township. Incidentally, it is coming up on land which once housed the iconic Binny Mills.
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Rising Protests See Lecture By Just Released Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convict Moved To Online From ACJ Venue

The National Law University in Delhi was established in 2008 under the National Law University Act, 2007 with the objective of imparting comprehensive and inter-disciplinary legal education. Project 39 is inspired by Article 39-A of the Indian Constitution, a provision that furthers the intertwined values of equal justice and equal opportunity by removing economic and social barriers. It holds annual lectures under Project 39. The 5th Annual Project 39 lecture was supposed to be held at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in Chennai. ACJ is part of The Hindu Group of publications. The speaker this time around is A G Perarivalan, a death row prisoner in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.  Fifty-year old Perarivalan, arrested in 1991, is now out of prison under an order from the Supreme Court. But the decision of ACJ to provide its space for hosting the lecture drew flak from varied quarters. Assorted questions were raised over the ACJ accommodation for this particular lecture programme of Perarivalan. In the wake of rising opposition, the organisers have decided to turn this into an online lecture. The title of the lecture is “Denial of Justice and A Quest Unfinished”. Asserting their commitment to Perarivalan to share his experience in the prison, the organisers said that they were taking the lecture online in view of the threat perception over the choice of speaker. This lecture will now go online on December 17.
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Mallika Srinivasan Ushers In Refreshing Change At Govt-Run PSEB

Lethargy and indecision often define any appointment in a government-run organisation. Ipso facto, none expects any quick action from an enterprise that is vested with the power to pick right people to fill up board slots in government-controlled organisations. This perception is changing now.  Coming events often cast their shadows before them. Perhaps the change was set in motion when the government for the first time chose to anoint a woman as the head the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB). With the induction of Mallika Srinivasan, head of tractor-maker TAFE, as the Chairman in April last year, PESB is moving with a sense of purpose and clarity of thought. It isn’t just recommending names to fill slots in public sector organisations. It has gone beyond to provide incisive inputs. The idea, it appears, is to help build a robust board that is adequately populated to take quick decisions based on the evolving dynamics. The recent appointments at ONGC are a classic case. Though a new Chairman has been announced, it has been decided to dispense with the position of MD. The creation of a new position of Director (Strategy and Corporate Affairs) is seen in the context of providing flexibility to decide on emerging opportunities in the fast-changing dynamic business environment. PESB is now looking at selection in a holistic way. Well, that’s the way to go.
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This Mattress Company Reposes Faith In Sleep Solution

This one puts faith in innovation. Out-of-the-box thinking is the need of the day for business enterprises to not just grow but to also to stand out from the crowd. This Coimbatore-based mattress company is out on a mission: to promote the power of fresh thinking in the sleep solution space. The Rs 103-crore 10-year-old Repose Mattress Pvt Ltd is concerned that people take sleep for granted. That causes a lot of mental and physical health issues. Right mattress is not just a matter of luxury and comfort. Repose is convinced that the right mattress is vital for healthy living. Early this year, it introduced a smart grid mattress with patented technology from Japan. It has in its portfolio Song-Bird pillow — a memory foam pillow with in-built speakers into which music devices can be plugged into for a novel experience. It also has a Locker mattress – claimed to be the country’s first mattress with an in-built secret locker that can safely store items of value. This 400-plus employee company pines to become a pan-India player. Repose has roped in dance sensation and film star Prabhu Deva as its brand ambassador. Riding on his fan following across the country, Repose aims to aggressively get into the mind space of consumers across the country. Putting faith in a new sleep order, it appears.
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Chennai-Based Companies Gift BMWs, Swiss Holidays Plus Bonuses To Retain Talent

Talent retention is a tough art. It is tougher still in the modern business world. Ipso facto, business enterprises have to think out of box to retain the talent. Ideas2IT and Kissflow are software companies in Chennai. They were trend setters in a way for employee recognition and retention. Sometime ago, Ideas2IT and Kissflow rewarded talent at the workplace in a unique way, giving ‘moving property’ to recognise these contributions.  While Ideas2IT gifted 100 cars to 100 employees “for their constant support and unparalleled contributions to the company’s success and growth,” Kissflow gifted luxury BMW cars to its senior leadership team. Five senior executives of Kissflow were given the new 5 series BMW cars. Real estate developer Casagrand has hit upon a different route to keep its folks happy. It has chosen to take 700 of its employees for a 7-day long trip to Switzerland. The entire trip cost which includes air tickets, accommodation, sight-seeing, meals et al will be borne by Casagrand. It calls it the ‘Big Bonanza’. Each employee who has contributed her/his best effort to the company is rewarded with a trip abroad along with two months’ salary as bonus! Casagrand claims that it had arranged similar outings to its deserving employees earlier, too. Is this a sustainable formula for an enterprise to ensure that talent won’t move out?
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Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers Resent Govt Mandate To Link Bill To Aadhaar

Aadhaar linkage has always been a hot subject of political debate in the country. The DMK government led by M K Stalin has chosen to make it mandatory for the power consumers – of common kind – to link their Aadhaar numbers. The move must help it weed out bogus connections. What has surprised many, however, is that not much time has been given to the power users to do this. Power consumers who tried to pay their bi-monthly bills are directed to a separate site for Aadhaar linkage. Unless linked to Aadhaar, the system does not allow them to pay their bills. What has irked the power users is that they are unable to execute the action as the system trips more often than not. Also, there is a lot of confusion. What if a person has more than one house and hence more than one power connection? What about power used for common facilities in a residential apartment? The government says that for commercial use, no Aadhaar linkage is required. How will the power used for common facilities in a residential apartment be considered?  How will the poor – who don’t have a computer facility in their home – get this linkage done? The Tamil Nadu government will do well to create an e-seva facility to sort out the very many glitches coming in the way of Aadhaar linkage?
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India Cements Platinum Jubilee Celebrations Connect Business, Politics And Cricket

In a land where cricket has a mass appeal, it is little wonder that the game has become a connector par excellence. Well, the platinum jubilee celebrations of The India Cements Ltd (ICL) held on November 12 in Chennai saw the Union Home Minister Amit Shah grace the occasion as chief guest. N Srinivasan, vice-chairman & MD of ICL, and Amit Shah have something in common between them. Shah was heading the Gujarat Cricket Association once upon a time. Srinivasan has been a cricket administrator for a very long time – both at the state as well national level. Shah recalled their sports connection and indicated that their relationship required no thanks between them.  Shah’s rare presence at a corporate function threw a surprise of a different sort also. Former Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam was seated on the front row! Is this a signal BJP will go along with AIADMK to fight 2024 general elections? Interestingly, Tamil Chief Minister MK Stalin who is very close to Srini stayed out and instead deputed his Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu to attend the function. And of course CSK Captain MS Dhoni was also seen hobnobbing with Amit Shah. If optics matter, there is enough to ponder over for everybody.
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What Makes City Union Bank Tick?

This is one of the oldest private sector banks in the country. It was incorporated on October 31, 1904. Twenty prominent citizens of Kumbakonam joined together to sign the Memorandum of Association. Initially, it preferred the role of a regional bank and built for itself a place in the delta district Thanjavur. The first branch was opened at Mannargudi in January 1930.  It was included in the Second Schedule of Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, on March 22, 1945. It was originally known as ‘The Kumbakonam Bank Limited’. In April, 1965, two other local banks – The City Forward Bank Limited and Union Bank Limited – were amalgamated with it. Consequently, it was renamed as Kumbakonam City Union Bank Limited. In November 1965, the bank’s first branch in Madras was opened at Thyagaraya Nagar. Its first branch outside Tamil Nadu was opened at Sultanpet in Karnataka in September, 1980. That set the stage for its foray into other states. Its name was changed to City Union Bank in December 1987. Today, it has a deposit base of over Rs. 48,770 core (in the 1st quarter). With a net profit of Rs.225 crore in Q1 FY23, the bank is on a solid ground. Unlike Tamilnad Mercantile Bank, which just went public, the journey of this one has been fairly smooth. Well, longevity lends substance to the brand.
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India Cements Ka Mahotsav, Amit Shah To Grace The Occasion?

It is a pioneering enterprise of the independent era. It was born on February 21, 1946 when the World War was over and political freedom was around the country. It made a humble start with a cement factory at Thalaiyuthu, Tamil Nadu, an almost unmapped tiny village in Tirunelveli, which, over the years, grew to become a self-contained township at Sankarnagar. From a modest beginning in 1949 when Sankar Cement made its first appearance in the market, India Cements has grown in stature — from two plants with a capacity of 1.3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in 1989 to 10 cement plants with a capacity of 15.55 MTPA in five States. The company stood the test of time to become a strong player in the field. Well, N Srinivasan-led The India Cements has decided to celebrate 75 years of its birth. Why not? After all, the cement industry is by definition cyclical in nature. The celebrations are a testimony to its capacity – nay ability – to manage the cyclicality.  The celebrations have been delayed by a year because of Covid-19 pandemic. If grapevine has to go by, Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to be the chief guest at the event, which will be held in Chennai in the first half of next month. Since 1989, Srinivasan has been in command. Looking at its remarkable journey, a big celebration is in order.
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Shriram Group’s Diwali Gift To Put Smiles On Hundreds Of Deeptis!

Corporates usually queue up to greet clients with gift hampers during Diwali. But this one has decided to do a different thing.  Shriram AMC (Asset Management Company), a unit of the Shriram group, has launched “Deepti” this Diwali. It’s a financial initiative intended to have a lasting positive impact on the lives of girl children. Through Deepti, AMC will extend its assistance to select girl students who have great visions but struggle for funds to finance them.  Shriram AMC had roped in Mumbai-based Katalyst – a non-governmental organization — to implement Deepti. Shriram AMC has identified two sets of beneficiaries under Deepti initiative. The Deepti will benefit college-goers from economically-challenged backgrounds. Katalyst will help Shriram AMC to identify and reach the target group who are good at academics but lack the relevant training and mentorship to face the corporate world. Typically, Shriam is seeking to invest in their training that will eventually help them in the future. The beneficiaries of Deepti in this category would be engineering college students with good academic profiles and a vision for their career paths. Deepti will also benefit school students who come from poor backgrounds. Deepti is a part of the Shriram group’s vision to work for the cause of women empowerment.
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Is The NBFC Sector Over Regulated?

They are a supplemental channel of credit intermediation alongside banks. Over the years, the NBFC (non-banking finance companies) sector has undergone a major metamorphosis in terms of size, complexity and interconnectedness within the financial sector. The RBI has a scale-based regulatory framework to address the risk profiles of NBFCs. This covers a host of issues such as capital requirements, governance standards, prudential norms et al. The dynamics of the NBFC sector changes faster these days.  This forces the banking regulator to be on the guard, and tweak the regulation when required. The RBI has now made it difficult for NBFC groups to escape tighter oversight. NBFCs that are part of a common group or are floated by a common set of promoters shall not be viewed on a standalone basis. Henceforth, the total assets of all the NBFCs in a group will be consolidated to determine the threshold for their classification in the Middle Layer. The group may have multiple NBFCs.  If the consolidated asset size of the group is ₹1000 crore and above, then each of these companies will be classified as an NBFC in the Middle Layer, and, consequently, regulations as applicable to the Middle Layer shall be applicable to them. These guidelines have come into force from October 1. Is it a regulatory overload or a right move?
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Social Media Influencers Setting The Agenda For Brands?

Lobbyists play an important role in the political space across the globe. Their services are widely used to influence key decisions. In the world of commerce, they take a different nomenclature. Influencers are setting the game for many big brands.  Increasingly brands see influencer-marketing as one of the mainstream forms of digital marketing. The reason is simple. There are over 20 lakh content creators in India. Chennai-based Social Beat launched www.influencer.in, a marketing platform, to help brands create quality content and amplify the reach among the target audience by leveraging verified digital influencers across Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin and the like. The platform has just released “The influencer marketing report 2022”. The report expects the influencer marketing industry to grow to Rs 2,500 crore by 2025 from Rs 900 crore in 2021. According to the survey, 61.2% of all brands recognize the power of influencer-marketing to tap into a newer audience pool to boost brand awareness.  The survey finds 36.9% of brands rely on Instagram and 20.6% on YouTube for their dedicated influencer-marketing efforts. Facebook continues to be popular, with 18.7% of brands using it. About 50% of marketers indicate that they spend up to 10% of their digital marketing budget on influencers annually. Well, they are the change-driver of a new kind!
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Revamp Moto's New Electric Two-Wheeler Can Be Modified On The Go

They don’t call themselves producers of vehicles any longer. They have now acquired a new term and status. Well, the country is witnessing the arrival of solution providers of mobility kind even as it is headed towards an increasingly greener automobile eco-system. They are coming in assorted formats – start-up, small, medium and big. Well, Nashik-based Revamp Moto is a start-up, and it came on scene in January 2021. Founded by Pritesh Mahajan, Jayesh Tope and Pushkaraj Salunke, Revamp Moto is on a unique journey.  All three co-founders had worked on prior entrepreneurial ventures before synergising to form the vision of Revamp Moto. It is on a mission to design and produce an electric two-wheeler to enable enterprising micro-entrepreneurs to conduct business “on the go”. Revamp is working on adaptable and sustainable mobility solutions that are safe and affordable for the micro-entrepreneurs. The objective is to come out with a two-wheeler that is simpler for street hawkers, delivery agents, milkmen, vegetable sellers and others. Essentially, it calls for providing them flexibility to quickly modify their vehicles to their needs. This should allow users to switch between use cases of the vehicle in a matter of minutes. Revamp Moto is looking to build an adaptable electric two-wheeler that is modular, reliable, and connected. Whole new options are emerging in EV space, it appears.
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Is Autonomous Traffic Management Platform A Must To Build Smart Cities?

The smart city concept is gaining increasing ground across the globe. Is it that easy to develop a smart city? Of course, it isn’t. Yet, the focus on creating smart cities is now acknowledged by policy-makers and city planners alike. What does it take to make a city smart? Well, it involves assorted actions. Ask Delhi-born Vaibhav Ghadiok, a pioneer in the field of robotics and AI (artificial intelligence) with multiple inventions and patents to his name. His latest invention has applications in building smarter cities, modernizing and optimizing traffic management that will have an impact on millions of people. He has architected perhaps the world’s first autonomous traffic management platform at Hayden AI (Silicon Valley, CA, US), which he co-founded and is an Executive VP of Engineering. The main objective of this platform is to clear bus lanes from illegally parked vehicles so that riders can reach their destinations more quickly, smoothly and safely. Significantly enough Hayden AI has landed a contract with New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to install 500 interior-mounted automated bus lane enforcement (ABLE) AI-powered camera systems. Can such automated traffic management be adopted in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai to improve bus speed and make vehicle traffic safer? Ghadiok should ponder, perhaps.
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No Aadhaar, No Freebies Says Tamil Nadu Govt

Freebies are the inventions of political parties to win elections. More often than not, the poll promises of political parties across the spectrum contain liberal freebies. Once in power, they are, however, faced with the reality of the financial situation: How do we fund the freebies? One is reminded of the proverb `robbing Peter to pay Paul’. This is not a sound strategy. Parties – especially the ruling ones – are discovering this. Well, the Tamil Nadu Government has now decided to mandate the use of Aadhaar identification service in Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation, which gives free power to hut-consumers and farmers. Select categories of power users are given free supply to a limited extent. These are funded by the government of Tamil Nadu, and involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the State.  A government order issued by the Energy Department of Tamil Nadu Government on October 6 now makes it mandatory for all those using or desirous of using the freebies’ schemes to provide proof of the possession of Aadhaar numbers.  If they don’t, they have to undergo an Aadhaar identification process. Freebies are indeed a necessary tool to bring about social justice. But the state must know if they really reach the needy. Well, the Aadhaar linkage is inevitable to plug the holes in the power distribution system.
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IRDA Told That Senior Citizens Want Physical Copies Of Insurance Policies, Not Digital Ones

Ashok Patni IPS (Retd.) C B Sharma IAS (Retd.) and Brigadier Atul Mishra (Retd.) are on a mission mode. They have formed an informal group comprising mostly senior citizens from across the country to take on public issues.  Former diplomats, journalists, social and consumer activists form part of this group.  They have now moved IRDA (Insurance Regulation and Development Authority) seeking its immediate intervention to right a wrong that is causing serious hardship to common citizens. They are peeved that the insurance companies are using a notification issued during the Pandemic to deny crores of common citizens physical copies of their policies. The non-issuance of physical copies have come in the way of quicker settlement of their claims.  This specific appeal comes in the wake of numerous insured policyholders, especially those living in the rural belt and in remote areas of the Tier-III towns, encountering extreme difficulties in getting their claim benefits from the respective insurance companies. The insurance companies, it is alleged, are taking advantage of an IRDA circular dated March 23, 2020. The circular was issued following the spread of Covid-19. Now that the Covid situation has eased, there is no reason why the policy-holders should not get physical copies of their policies. After all, the ecosystem for a paperless solution is far from fully developed.
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After Several Twists And Turns TMB On The Cusp Of Making History

With the public issue of one of the oldest private sector banks in the country oversubscribed, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) is set for an historic moment on September 15 as its shares get listed. TMB is, perhaps, among the last of the community-led private banks in the country to get listed.  Indeed, TMB has come a long way since the quarrelling Nadar community members sold over 65% stake to the Ruias of the Essar Group in mid-90s. In the face of a strident RBI, the Ruias were forced to palm off TMB shares to serial entrepreneur C Sivasankaran in exchange of cellular licence for the Delhi circle. But Sivasankaran had to face hostility from the Nadar community and had to give in because it became a political issue with warring parties jostled among themselves to woo Nadar community, which is a crucial component of electoral politics in Tamil Nadu. Nearly 33% were bought back by the community members after a deal brokered by the then deputy prime minister LK Advani. After several twists and turns the TMB is on the cusp of making history. That could herald a new beginning for the over century-year-old private sector bank. Even post the public issue, the Nadar community will have controlling stake in the bank – though a distributed manner among members.
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Cement Industry Wage Settlement Talks Stuck As Labour Leaders Demand ‘Similar Pay For Similar Jobs’

Time was when industry wage settlements were watched with quite an expectation from stakeholders across the canvass. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. The economic context may have transformed significantly post the liberalisation. But this industry has been a role model in putting in place a consensual wage ecosystem. The cement industry has seen eight such settlements in the past. A little trip down memory lane will reveal how N Srinivasan, MD & Vice-Chairman of The India Cements Ltd, has been a fulcrum in hammering out an amicable wage accord. The industry is due for a fresh wage arrangement following the expiry of the accord in April this year. Indeed, the talks were held for two days some time ago in Chennai. But the discussions remained inconclusive. This time around, the unions – six in all – are insisting that the issue of temporary workers be resolved first before deliberating on a fresh wage pact. Only 18% of the workforce in the cement industry is permanent employees. The rest are temporary workers. Given this, the unions are worried over this increasing trend in the industry. Similar pay for similar jobs is what the unions are demanding now irrespective of the permanent or temporary tag attached to a workman. Rising cost pressures and demand instability are giving a new dimension to the IR (industrial relation) scene in the cement industry, it appears.
CSKNEWS

CSK Moves Beyond Indian Shores, To Play In Cricket South Africa Tournament

Chennai Super Kings (CSK), an IPL franchise, is going global with the landing of a licence to participate in the CSA (Cricket South Africa) league in the city of Johannesburg. The 1st edition of the CSA tournament is likely to take place in January and February 2023. As it spreads its wings, CSK also appears to be conscious of the need to beef up its backend infrastructure. It is in the process of creating a high-performance centre on its land at Navalur near Chennai for providing state-of-the-art training facilities to cricketers and sports persons. The training facility will also have a sports complex and a cricket ground for Chennai Super Kings to have their pre-match practice sessions. The company has initiated steps to create the infrastructure towards this initiative. CSK has, in fact, floated a fully-owned subsidiary Superking Ventures Private Limited (SVPL). Incorporated on February 2, 2022, it is headed by KS Viswanathan (Kasi). Significantly enough, this new subsidiary has already provided a loan of Rs 190.70 lakhs to contractors. CSK has launched a Super Kings Academy to nurse young talents.  It has a tournament for corporations. It also has gotten into other franchise sports. Well, the newly-formed subsidiary could well be the fulcrum for all its new initiatives. CSK smells opportunities aplenty, it appears.
Collage Maker-24-Aug-2022-04

Narain Karthikeyan and Sudarshan Venu

TVS Motor Picks Up 48.2% Stake In Narain Karthikeyan’s Start-Up

In the new world of competition, one has to keep running to stay where you are. Well, this realization has forced many to think out-of-box. What comes out of this new thinking? Fresh alliances of unusual kinds appear to be the order of the day. This Chennai-based two-wheeler major has just inked a partnership with a start-up promoted by the Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan.  TVS Motor Company is picking up over 48% stake in a start-up promoted by Karthikeyan. NKars Mobility Millennial Solutions Private Limited (NMMSPL) is a pre-owned two-wheeler platform. TVS Motor will invest Rs 85.41 crore to get 48.27% stake in NMMSPL by way of primary and secondary investments. Founded in April 2020, NMMSPL runs a digital platform ‘DriveX’ which provides two-wheelers to customers on a subscription model for a flexible tenure and on a purchase model. The coming together of Narain Karthikeyan and TVS Motor indicates a tale or two. For one, this signals a convergence in the mindsets of GenNext. Perhaps Narain Karthikeyan and Sudarshan Venu, MD of TVS Motor, have lots in common in terms of thinking and approach. For another, the pre-owned two-wheeler segment is also seeing a significant shift away from the unorganised and moving towards the organized field. Well, the race for two-wheeler share is heading for an interesting phase.
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Consultancy Firm’s New Angle To Market India Cements’ CSK Brand Yields Dividend

In the fast unfolding dynamic environment, the key to success lies in the quick reconfiguration of the thought-process. A legacy mindset often proves to be a stumbling block to embrace any new idea. This is no rocket science for anybody to comprehend. An expert, nevertheless, can play the change-agent with finesse. Well, this is what this consulting firm Circular Angle is now doing at one of the top cement companies in India.  Circular Angle, a decade old consulting firm which provides consultancy services to some of the big names in the corporate world suggested a few tweaks in the way India Cements sells its cement.  This has seen this Chennai-based company slowly changing over to communication-oriented applications and making products for each application. This is reaping dividends at the ground level as seen from the success that the recently-launched CSK brand of cement is showing in the marketplace. The beneficial impact of the engagement with Circular Angle is now being sought to be extended to other areas of India Cements. From implementing new business strategies to ultra-efficient work processes, Circular Angle is ready to tackle any challenge and put its clients on the path to success. Well, a make-over is definitely happening to make this cement major a modern company.
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IIM-K Case Study: How And Why 100-Year Old TVS Group Split Four Ways

The family enterprises are a dime a dozen in the city of Chennai. All of them have made a significant impact on the industrial landscape of Tamil Nadu. TVS, Murugappa, Rane, Chemplast and Apollo group have made enormous contributions to not just the economy of Tamil Nadu but the nation as a whole. With families expanding – through induction of new members via marriage – the dynamics of their management has changed. And, the metamorphosis has introduced fresh implications in the management of these family-run enterprises. The TVS – comprising four wings – has recently gone in for a legal separation. Coming as it did after internecine quarrels – that at times took legal overtones – the smooth formal legal separation in the TVS conglomerate is looked upon by other groups which too are experiencing some pressure or the other within. For the first time perhaps, the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, has come out with a comprehensive case study on “Splitting the century-old TVS Group – The Family Arrangement”. It’s a comprehensive effort, chronicling the history of the tension within the larger TVS empire, one of India’s oldest and prominent family business groups with more than 110 years of history. The study dwells on the framework for the split and highlights the governance issues in its wake. An insightful exercise in education indeed!
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The late V.Srinivasan who founded the company

Will The Chennai-Based WS Industries Regain Its Past Glory Under New Management?

It was an iconic name once upon a time in the industrial landscape of Tamil Nadu. Today, it is a shadow of its past.  Is there a way to salvage it? Well, some are still willing to get into it!  A well-known player in the electrical industry, W S Industries, founded in 1961 by V. Srinivasan, was closed down in November 2018 due to assorted reasons. The demise of Srinivasan in July 2017, the intense competition from Chinese firms and the like had all short-circuited the company, and W S Industries had downed shutters of its factory at Porur, just on the edge of the city of Chennai, after a golden handshake with its 400-odd employees.  Close to 31% shares changed hands a couple of months ago for Rs 115 million. On behalf of the acquirers, Saffron Capital Advisors Private Ltd has come out with an open offer for the shares of W.S. Industries.  The acquirers – C K Venkatachalam, C K Balasubramaniam, Trineva Infra Projects et al – reportedly have expertise in infrastructure development. Indeed, W S Industries is set for a metamorphosis of an entirely new kind. Hopefully, under new owners there is hope for the company which runs two divisions: Insulator Business that manufactures porcelain Insulators and Turnkey Projects Division which offers Erection, Installation and Commissioning of Electrical High Voltage Lines, and Substations, and Line Quality Solutions.
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-04 at 1.57

India Cements Leverages Cricket Brand CSK, Launches New Product Line

It did poorly in the last edition of the IPL (Indian Premier League). That has not in any way brought down its brand equity, however. Proof of the pudding is in eating it is said. If at all any proof is required, here is the latest. For the first time perhaps in the annals of the IPL team Chennai Super Kings (CSK), its original franchisee owner, The India Cements Ltd (ICL), chose to leverage the CSK brand name and launched a new product sometime in the middle of March this year.  India Cements launched on March 16, 2022, Conkrete Super King (CSK), a new brand of cement, across the country. Touted as a one-stop concrete solution – from foundation to roof, the launch of Conkrete Super Kings was followed by some aggressive digital campaigns, digital advertisements, hoardings, jingles et al. Well, the CSK brand of cement has sold one lakh tonnes since March when it was launched. The CSK brand launch has, coincidentally, seen India Cements beefing up its marketing apparatus. The N Srinivasan-led cement major has strengthened its marketing and sales force by recruiting a number of foot soldiers to give brand CSK a big push in the marketplace.  A new-found focus is certainly on to give CSK cement an all-India visibility. Well, the numbers appear to be encouraging for the ICL mandarins.
Shiv Nadar

Eyebrows Raised As Theosophical Society Leases Out 14-Acre Chennai Land To Shiv Nadar Foundation

Land is a touchy subject. Not surprisingly, any land deal in this part of the world draws more than cursory interest across the canvass. This time it belongs to the venerable Theosophical Society in Chennai. This institution at Besant Nagar in the heart of the city of Chennai has now penned a pact with an equally well-known name – Shiv Nadar Foundation. The society has decided to give the foundation 14 acres of its land on a long-lease basis to the Shiv Nadar Foundation. The Shiv Nadar Foundation is planning to set up a world-class K-12 school in Chennai, which, it claims, will be a progressive, ecologically-sensitive school with the highest international standards. Shiv Nadar Foundation is India’s leading philanthropic initiative by Shiv Nadar, founder of the HCL Group. It has established a chain of not-for-profit progressive schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi. Today, these are among the most sought-after educational institutions in the area, and are consistently ranked among the top schools in the country. With their novel pedagogical approach, Shiv Nadar School nurtures young children into life-long learners and conscious citizens. The Society-Foundation alliance comes years after its lease pact with J Krishnamurthy Foundation-run school expired. In a state where anti-anything sentiment sprouts up at the drop of a hat, the society-foundation agreement has also come under intense focus.
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Sterlite Copper On The Chopping Block, As Promoter Anil Agarwal Seeks To Exit Tamil Nadu

The going has been tough for this one right from the word go. This one came to Tamil Nadu after two States – Maharashtra and Goa – spurned it. Finally, it found sanctuary in the Dravidian state. And, the Sterlite Copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi had run freely for over two decades under the dispensation of AIADMK and DMK – the warring political parties in Tamil Nadu. Problem began when it went in for expansion. A protest followed. Not just that. A police firing on the anti-Sterlite protesters saw 13 people killed. A panicked government ordered the immediate closure of the plant. Well, this has caught everybody in an inextricable position. Many jobs have disappeared and thousands of crores lost in the process. And, India slipped from its pre-eminent position in the global copperfield. Virtually caught in a cobweb, Anil Agarwal, promoter of Sterlite Copper has now chosen to sell the immobilised plant. The move has taken everybody off guard. Is it a positioning strategy? Or, is it a business decision? With Ford exiting India, the proverbial sword hangs over the heads of workmen at its Maraimalai Nagar plant in Tamil Nadu? Coming as it does in the wake of Agnipath imbroglio, the Sterlite Copper sale move has surprised everybody alike, including the authorities. Well, it is yet unclear how Sterlite wants to go about selling its assets in Tamil Nadu.
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From Helicopter Shot To Drones, Captain Cool Plays High Stakes, In Chennai Based Garuda Aerospace

CSK is Dhoni and Dhoni is CSK. This is often reiterated by N Srinivasan, the owner of the Chennai franchisee of the IPL team. To be sure, Dhoni and Chennai have become inseparable. Not surprisingly, Dhoni has often said his last game in the highly popular Indian Premier League would be in his adopted home city of Chennai. His affinity to Chennai is all too apparent. And, his propensity to think out-of-the-box is legendary. It is no wonder that people across the spectrum view him a strategist par excellence.  How else could one decipher his investment in the Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace, which is a DaaS (drone-as-a-service) provider.  If highly-placed sources are to go by, the former Indian cricket captain has invested close to Rs 10 crore into Garuda Aerospace. Garuda has also signed up the World Cup winning captain as its brand ambassador. This is expected to fetch MSD Rs 5 crore. Besides bringing in Rs 5 crore, captain cool will be investing this fee also into Garuda. This makes his total investment into the Chennai-based company at Rs 10 crore.  The investment of Dhoni is part of the bridge round, ahead of Garuda’s $30 million Series A round. He may have quit international cricket. Yet, Captain Dhoni remains a formidable brand to reckon with.
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R Gopalan and MF Farooquii

Tamil Nadu Business Houses Set New Trend, Appoint Ex-IAS Officers As Chairmen

This IAS class of officials possesses the uncanny ability to stay relevant all the time. They don’t just disappear into the sunset after superannuation but, simply don a new avatar. Their utility never dissipates and, their experience in government simply can’t be brushed aside. Probably, they are capable of bringing to the table an entirely new perspective. It is no wonder then that two leading industrial groups of Chennai have drafted ex-IAS officers as chairmen for their enterprises. Sundaram-Clayton Limited (SCL) has appointed R Gopalan, a bureaucrat who served Tamil Nadu as well as the Centre, as its chairman and, another Chennai-based company Ramco Cements followed suit onboarding MF Farooqui, a retired IAS officer to the same post. Of course, both Gopalan and Farooqui have served on the boards of SCL and Ramco Cements respectively for a while now. But their elevation to the top slot in the organisations has forced many long-time watchers of these family enterprises to sit up and take notice.  This is the first time that these industrial conglomerates in Chennai have adopted such a course. Larger benefit of having experienced bureaucrats as chairmen notwithstanding, the move is also seen as a step towards splitting the CMD post. At least in these two instances, it appears to be a case of striking two mangoes with one stone!
Murugappa Group

The TVS’ Separate Family-Business Model, Contemplated By Murugappa Group Since Its Perfectly Legal!

The South Side Story is always exciting. Family enterprises are a dime a dozen in this part of India. Some of them, especially in Tamil Nadu, are iconic names. These two industrial groups are definitely a name to reckon with, and they are trend setters in many ways. The TVS group, for instance. This venerable industrial house – comprising four families – has recently chosen to go their separate ways legally. With families expanding through fresh generational additions, the TVS group has done a remarkable job of succession planning. Now that they have separated legally, each family within the larger TVS tree has unhindered leeway to chart out their own individual paths. The Murugappa group, too, is another reputed name. It was the first to hit upon the idea of a group corporate board many summers ago, to delink the family from the management of their various enterprises. The Sanmar group under the late N Sankar took a cue from them. It was, however, a different matter that Murugappa junked the group corporate board a while ago. The Murugappa group, if grapevine is anything to go by, is now looking to emulate the TVS model of separation. Will the TVS model be the template for amicable resolution of succession planning in family businesses?
Sterlite riot

Vedanta Moves On Twitter To Revive Sterlite Copper In Tamil Nadu Using Social Media

Social media has become so powerful a communication tool these days and yet, not everybody understands the scale of its utility. None, however, can afford to ignore it. Not surprising, all and sundry have made it a point to be visible on the social media platform. Take the case of the Vedanta outfit. Mired in a local political slugfest and caught up in a legal bind, Thoothukudi-based Sterlite Copper, a unit of the Vedanta group, is stuck in a pincer-like situation, being hammered from all sides. How to fight this tricky situation? Well, a new Twitter handle was set up in January this year, created by Sterlite Support Federation, a non-government and non-profit organisation.  The federation was formed ostensibly to bring all the pro-Sterlite people across the country to “fight for the cause, thereby giving jobs to thousands.”  With over 400 followers, this appears to be a determined counter to the anti-Sterlite lobby that works relentlessly to derail any efforts to revive the Sterlite Copper plant in Tamil Nadu, ordered to close down by the previous AIADMK regime following police firing that resulted in 13 deaths. The firing was ordered to disperse the anti-Sterlite agitators in the vicinity of the plant a few years ago. Can the micro-blogging site help check-mate anti-Sterlite sentiment?
HDFC Deepak

HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh

End Of HDFC Bank Founder-CEO Aditya Puri’s Tenure, Set The Course For HDFC-HDFC Bank Merger?

The merger talk was in the air for years but, was put on the back burner over serious differences at the top. Finally, the merger between HDFC and HDFC Bank has happened. For the first time perhaps, a challenger of a fitting kind from the private sector appears to have arrived to counter the dominating State Bank of India. To that extent, the HDFC-HDFC Bank merger move is seen to herald a massive transformation in the Indian banking space. Will that edge the non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) out of the picture? Not really, say experts. For, there are plenty in India who are still either unserved or underserved. Why did it take a long while for the two to merge? People who matter know it but, none prefers to go on record for assorted reasons. Perhaps, the merger plan was waiting for the HDFC Bank’s founder-CEO Aditya Puri to serve out his term in October 2020. If sources are to go by, some 5-6 years back Deepak Parekh had mooted the idea of HDFC merging with HDFC Bank to create a big bank but Puri was disinclined. He wanted the two entities to operate separately.  Perhaps, with his exit the whole plan was brought out from the cold storage. The merger has indeed reconfigured the banking turf in India.
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A.C Muthiah

SPIC Celebrates Golden Jubilee, Ramps Up Capacity After A Chequered History

A private-public partnership saw a plant come up at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu to produce ammonia and urea. In the 50 odd years of its existence, Southern Petrochemicals Industries Corporation (SPIC) has had a chequered history even as the A C Muthiah-piloted group became ambitious. Big investments in PFY and PTA (Spic Petro) and in a new fertilizer facility in Dubai saw money going down the sink. Things turned for the better post 2010 with a changeover at the helm. Now, Muthiah’s son Ashwin, who heads the company, has gone all out to ramp up capacity of ammonia and urea to almost global scales.  To improve margins, it moved from naphtha to natural gas for its feedstock. For fund infusion, Ashwin roped in AM International of Singapore besides talking to lenders for debt restructuring. Result: Thoothukudi-based SPIC has turned around with its topline and bottom-line looking healthy. Unfortunately, another well run plant in Thoothukudi Sterlite Industries, part of the Vedanta Group had to shut shop over environmental issues. For the nine months ended December 2021, SPIC has turned in heart-warming results with a PAT of Rs 132 crore on the back of a topline of Rs 1,600 crore, both representing a big leap from the previous corresponding period. While things are certainly looking up for SPIC, the road ahead still sports many signs of caution!
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Citi Puts Consumer Banking Business To Sleep, Hiving Off Retail Arm To Axis Bank For Keeps

The Citi never sleeps. Citibank literally rode on this famous tag line for an increased mind share even as India was only just opening up to the world in the early 90s. The MNC bank left no stone unturned embarking on its aggressive business expansion. Somewhere along the line, however, the aggressive instinct for growth turned ugly and, Citibank went about issuing credit cards without any let or hindrance, to onboard lakhs of customers. Citibank had indeed re-laid the retail thrust in the Indian banking industry. Many in Indian industry did follow the Citi line but, somewhere along the way, Citi went overboard as an incident in the early 90s hit national headlines. In its zest to recover dues, its agents waylaid a top bureaucrat in the Central government on the Bombay-Pune Highway in a case of mistaken identity. The script went horribly wrong and Citi should have realised the `retail difficulty’ in India. It did slug it out for several seasons thereafter. Though it launched credit cards in India in 1987, Citi’s market share has slumped to 4% from 13% just a decade and, it has decided to sell its retail business to Axis Bank. After 119 years in India, Citi is restructuring and exiting the consumer banking business. Over the last few years was Citi out of sync in India?
TNCA

No President In TNCA After Rupa Gurunath, Like GCA Saw Business As Usual Post Amit Shah’s Exit?

Do you need a chairman for a company? You may not. But you need someone to chair shareholders’ meetings and to conduct the proceedings. Any board member may preside over and conduct such meetings. Nothing amiss about this. There are dime-a-dozen organisations where the top slot has remained unfilled for several reasons and, they are running quite well and this is not peculiar to any specific field. For instance, the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) is sans a president at this very moment. Since Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India, stepped down as its president in September 2019, the position at GCA has not been filled. As it is often said, life has simply moved on. And, the game of cricket has not stopped either! After all, cricket is bigger than individuals. There are no two views on that, however, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) affiliated to the Board of Control for Cricket in India is the parent body governing the game of Cricket in the State of Tamil Nadu. In December 2021 Rupa Gurunath, daughter of N Srinivasan of India Cements stepped down as president of TNCA after holding the reins for over two years.  The heavens did not fall on TNCA because it is without a president.  It’s business as usual. If GCA can run smoothly as before, why won’t the TNCA?
TNCA MRC

TNCA And Madras Race Club Face Off Over Free IPL Tickets Takes Legal Turn

Since the advent of IPL (Indian Premier League) many seasons ago, the game of cricket has undergone a major metamorphosis. Cricket watching, too, has seen a whole lot of transformation. The IPL has also managed to swing on board a hitherto uninterested segment of the audience into binge cricket watching. Today, cricket watching, be it in stadiums or on television, has turned into a sort of family entertainment.  Not surprisingly, everybody wants to have a share of cricket. The humungous audience interest has triggered a tiff between the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and the Madras Race Club (MRC). Under the old arrangement between the two, MRC was given a sizable number of tickets from TNCA. This arrangement came into force during the tenure of late MA Chidambaram when he was the president of TNCA reportedly, as part of a property pact. Was this an indefinite arrangement? MRC thinks so, however, TNCA feels otherwise. Even as the two are engaged in a quarrel over the longevity and interpretation of the arrangement, the state cricket association has decided to put an end to the ticket-sharing practice. TNCA’s move indicates that there was nothing indefinite about the practice. Well, the tiff has now spilled over into the legal playing field!
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Pradip D Kothari, Rafiq Ahmed

With Rafiq Ahmed At Helm, Will KICL Regain Pristine Glory?

Late DC Kothari was a tall name in the industrial landscape of Tamil Nadu. And, Kothari Industrial Corporation Ltd (KICL), the agro input (fertilisers and insecticides) company promoted by him, an iconic entity. After him, the onus fell upon son Pradip D Kothari but, it hasn’t been a smooth ride. He had to fend off incursions from cousin, the late Shyam Kothari (son-in-law of the late Dhirubhai Ambani). Pradip Kothari did succeed in barricading KICL. That legal battle in the 90s did make national headlines then. Much water has flown under the bridge since then. KICL now appears to have undergone a major overhaul and, sports new names on the management list. Of course, Pradip Kothari remains the Chairman. But it is driven by self-taught entrepreneur Jinnah Rafiq Ahmed, who is now the vice-chairman & MD of KICL. Parveen Roadways, his key venture, does quite a lot of work for the Southern Railways showing his experience with the contracts business model. Will this push the well-networked Ahmed to opt for contract manufacturing of fertilisers sold under the brand name Horse? This could see the company do well and get re-listed soon after internal issues saw its share trading being suspended many moons ago. Hopefully, investors holding KICL shares would soon find a window to cash out.
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AC Muthiah and MAMR Muthiah

AC Muthiah Finds It Tough Going To Unlock True Share Value In MAMR Controlled, Delisted Chettinad Cement

There are certain advantages in being an unlisted, closely-held company. Owners of such firms, however, may encounter irritants coming their way. A few shareholders, with marginal holdings could prove to be an avoidable hindrance. One such unlisted, closely-held company is attempting to implement share consolidation ostensibly to ease the cumbersome procedural formalities in administration. It is also touted as a goodwill exercise offering small shareholders an exit option. In some instances, small shareholders do not see any goodwill in such an exercise. Rather, the move is viewed as an ill-intentioned initiative to get them out cheaply. The city of Chennai has seen Chettinad Cement, a well-known player in the bulk commodity space, delist its shares a few summers ago. But that has put its industrialist-shareholder AC Muthiah in a spot. If sources are to be believed, Muthiah is unable to get rid of his shares in the company at a price he considers equitable. The owner of Chettinad Cement appears to be playing it cool for now. The business, it may be recalled, is run by MAM Ramaswamy’s adopted son MAMR Muthiah who has an old score to settle with AC Muthiah, whom he had accused of usurping the company assets while his father was ailing. Alternatively, he doesn’t feel the need to acquire more shares, sitting comfortably as he is with a majority holding.
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Putin’s Abrasive Action Puts Abrasive Maker Carborundum Universal In A Spot

The world has indeed termed this as an abrasive action by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russia-Ukraine military face-off has certainly thrown the nation states across the globe in a tailspin. The ongoing war between the two hostile neighbouring nations is bound to have far-reaching implications for the international community. Nearer home in Chennai, this business group is keeping its fingers crossed. The abrasive action of Putin has put this abrasive maker in a tight spot.  Carborundum Universal (CUMI), a Murugappa Group company, it may be recalled, acquired 84% of the ordinary shares of Volzhsky Abrasive Works (VAW), located in the Volgograd Region of Russia, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, CUMI International Ltd., Cyprus, for a consideration of around $37 million sometime in 2007. The Russian venture fetched CUMI a PBT of Rs 1,350 million during 2020-21. The company expanded the capacity of the nitride bonded silicon carbide facility at VAW. This was ostensibly done to provide the company the capability to address the increasing global requirement of nitride bonded refractories for non-ferrous and waste-to-energy applications. Well, the dynamics have completely changed now. With the two countries at loggerheads, a sense of uncertainty has gripped Indian business in Russia. An abrasive action has put this abrasive maker in a bind, it appears.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Corporate Misgovernance Stands Exposed By Chitra Ramkrishna’s NSE Scam, Was Always The Handmaiden For The Big Boys

 The fast unfolding drama around Chitra Ramkrishna, the erstwhile MD of NSE, has pushed the issue of Corporate Governance back into focus. Breached more than it is practiced, it is the most widely abused term in the corporate world. Instances are a dime a dozen of vociferous proponents of corporate governance gave it a go by to suit their own interests. A trip down memory lane reveals this hard truth. When co-founder NR Narayana Murthy returned to head Infosys again, he brought his son Rohan along with him! A revered personality in the corporate world, he subsequently turned activist of an unusual kind. He went ballistic in public against the Infosys board, triggering the ouster of chairman R Seshasayee. In like manner, it still remains a mystery how a member of the search panel for the appointment of a chairman for Tata Sons landed the coveted job for himself. The mystery deepened when Cyrus Mistry was unceremoniously thrown out subsequently. “How could I go against the Tatas?” an independent director put it succinctly. It is easy to preach but, difficult to practice. When it came to cutting his stake in his bank the banker, who headed the panel on corporate governance, prevaricated. Corporate governance appears to follow a “heads I win, tails you lose” maxim. NSE isn’t so unique experience after all.
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Family Run Enterprises Heave Sigh Of Relief After SEBI Climbdown On Splitting CMD Post

This news comes as a much needed relief for many family-run enterprises.  In a sudden about-turn, SEBI decided to make splitting of the posts of chairperson and managing director (CMD) by listed entities voluntary and not mandatory. A dozen such enterprises thrive in the Dravidian land. With one too many family members within such enterprises, splitting the CMD could have triggered considerable tensions within such enterprises. The consequences for them would have been a lot severe if it was enforced with a stricter fiat from the market regulator? What made the regulator do a U-Turn? One can debate the volte-face endlessly. One thing is sure, however. Regulation by force has often proved ineffective, and hasn’t really delivered the intended result. We have seen this happening in the unfolding Chitra imbroglio in the NSE. The entire governance structure at NSE appears to have gone for a toss. Will more rules solve the problems? They won’t. Be it in the re-nomination of the Maran couple on the board of Sun TV Network or the infamous Tata-Mistry imbroglio, corporate governance has been a consistent casualty. It reflects the erosion in the value system of society. The Venu Srinivasan and R Dinesh-led wings in the now partitioned TVS group have gone for non-family members to chair some of their boards. That’s refreshing. Laws often don’t get the right result.
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Kavery andKalanithi Maran

Big Stake Marans Steamroll Institutional Shareholders For Reappointment With Big Fat Salaries

In the corporate world, the phrase ‘All is fair in love and war’ has assumed a new meaning. Well, all is fair if rules are observed is now the touted line and reasoning given to explain away an ethically and morally unjustifiable action. Institutional shareholders voted against a resolution but found themselves unable to vote out the resolution in the face of a steamrolling majority held by the promoters.  A classic case was when the resolution relating to the reappointment of the Maran couple — Kalanithi and Kavery — sailed through at the annual general body meeting of the Sun TV Network despite a majority of institutional shareholders voting against it. The Maran couple are the highest paid executives in India. They have taken home close to Rs 1,500 crore by way of managerial remunerations over the last decade.  The promoter remuneration is now the subject of intense debate.  Is it ethical for promoters to vote on a resolution pertaining to their own compensation?  The whole issue has made a mockery of the so-called SEBI-ordained tight governance system. Like the RBI does, can’t corporations be told to make public disclosure of detailed minutes of meetings that clear the compensation paid to promoters? At least that will give the minority shareholders a clue about the logic for the high pay packets.
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Unique Model Binds Murugappa Group’s Extended Family, Just Compensation For Every Male Heir Is Done Equally?

What holds a business family together? Just about everything. But, when it entails an extended family, then the task become more daunting. One Chennai-based conglomerate discovered the right formula many summers ago, to navigate the business cycles smoothly while also keeping the assorted wings of the larger family well and truly satisfied. The Murugappa group employs a house-keeping entity that has largely been instrumental in fairly compensating male members of the extended Murugappa family. They may all be differently talented but, when it comes to compensation, each of them (read every male heir) is treated on par. This entity came in handy especially when the group established a Murugappa corporate board and went in for a group branding in the ‘90s. The board members and others in the family were largely paid compensation through this unlisted house-keeping entity. A public limited outfit, this house-keeping firm doesn’t include any family members as directors. It was structured in such a way to avoid action under the MRTPC lens. A little birdie tells us that female heirs in the family aren’t fortunate enough to enjoy identical benefits. That may explain the cause for the open rebellion demonstrated by Valli Arunachalam, whose father MV Murugappan, former executive chairman of Murugappa group, expired a few years ago. This family enterprise makes for a fascinating story, all the same.
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Venu Srinivasan and Prof Sir Ralf Dieter Speth

Chennai’s Corporate World Action Drama: Non-Family Member Takes Over As Chairman Of TVS Motors

All of a sudden, the Chennai corporate landscape is buzzing with action. It is witnessing some significant transformation. Indeed, coming events are casting their shadows before them (read SEBI ruling on splitting the CMD post). For the first time perhaps in its annals, a TVS group company will have a non-family member as chairman. Come April 1, TVS Motor Company will see non-executive director Prof Sir Ralf Dieter Speth becoming its Chairman. Promoter Venu Srinivasan will then be designated as Chairman Emeritus. Several summers ago when the TVS group chose to dilute its majority holding in its then joint venture, TVS Whirlpool, Suresh Krishna voluntarily gave up his position as the Chairman of the joint venture. Well, much water has flown under the bridge since then. Venu Srinivasan’s son, Sudarshan, in the meanwhile, has been inducted into the board of Coromandel International, a Murugappa group company. Sudarshan has joined the board of Coromandel International as an Independent Director. In an equally significant development, Srinivas Acharya, former managing director of Sundaram Home Finance, a subsidiary of Sundaram Finance, is being roped in to join the board of Hindujas’ housing arm. An able hand with enormous experience in the field of housing finance, Acharya can provide the Hinduja housing arm with deeper insights. Indeed, the Chennai corporate world is undergoing a churn
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Informal Demarcation At Murugappa Group: Replicating TVS Model?

When NS Raghavan, one of the seven co-founders of Infosys, was inducted as the Chairman of the Chennai-based Murugappa group, it took the entire corporate world by surprise. It was hailed as a path-breaking initiative by a family-owned group. Subsequently, the group set up a Murugappa Corporate Board. The ostensible reason for setting it up was to let the myriad group firms be run professionally. In 2020, the corporate board was dismantled.  That has also taken many by surprise. Has the wheel come full circle? Tongues have, in fact, started wagging. Why was the two-decade old group corporate board dismantled after being in existence for two decades? Well, much water appears to have flown under the bridge since its formation many summers ago. The group itself has seen GenNext coming to the fore. Also, the group is under public glare with the daughters of late MV Murugappan alleging discrimination and seeking legal recourse for justice. Though the group comprises four families, there isn’t any complicated cross-holding structure in group firms. If grapevine is to be believed, there seems to be an informal demarcation of business among the varied families within. And, these sources suggest that each of them enjoys operational leeway with little cross-participation of family members in different group boards. Is Murugappa following the TVS model?

TRENDS & VIEWS

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!