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Iconic Air India HQ To Be Sold To Maharashtra Government

The iconic Air Building at Nariman Point in south Mumbai will soon become one more addition to the Maharashtra government’s scattered offices in the city’s commercial hub. The 23-storey commercial tower, the famous landmark, was once upon a time perhaps the most sought after business address when it began serving as corporate headquarters for Air India from 1974 till 2013. It has nearly 10800 square feet of office space on each floor. Air India vacated the structure a decade ago when its loan burden became unbearable and had been trying to sell it to raise capital. AI then shifted its headquarters to New Delhi, leaving behind precious art treasures and other choice articles. The Maharashtra government had plans ever since Air India moved out to take over the building but due to standard hassles, the proposal never came up for implementation. The state government has rented out vast spaces in and around Nariman Point to house its various offices for a long time. With the AI building in its possession, the space crunch will be eased to some extent. Now that the state government has announced its intent to occupy the structure will soon see the farmers, the poor and the labourer in this posh building, once frequented by leaders, business magnates and corporate honchos. The Maharaja on the AI flag will be replaced by another Maharaja, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

NMIMS To Set Up 40-Acre Campus In Bhubaneshwar  

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik continues to pursue his dream of making his state, a centre of educational hub. In particular Patnaik is keen educational institutes make students jobs ready. The state already houses reputed institutions like XIMB, IIT, AIIMS, NISER, Utkal University, OUAT and KIIT. In keeping with his goal, the chief minister has roped in the prestigious Mumbai-based NMIMS to set up its branch in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha. Patnaik who is wooing investors in the education space has already overtaken Kolkata as the preferred destination as far as medical centres are concerned. Towards this objective, Patnaik’s government in a cabinet meeting has decided to enter into a MoU with the Mumbai-based Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal (SVKM) for the establishment of a world-class educational campus of NMIMS University in Bhubaneswar. By roping in NMIMS it will have the advantage of a learning centre fostering national and global engagement in the field of education. It is understood that the Odisha Government shall provide SVKM 40 acres of land on lease in Jatni, Bhubaneswar for the establishment of the university to be developed in phases. According to NMIMS sources, the MOU with the Odisha government is expected to be finalised over the next two weeks and there are also plans to commit 30% reservations to Odia students based on merit. 
Suraj diamond bourse

Shinde Govt In Damage Control Mode As Diamond Traders Leave Mumbai

Maharashtra’s Eknath Shinde government has come in for much flak as the traders from the $ 23 billion big diamond business have started shifting base from Mumbai to Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB). The new diamond market at Surat has attracted attention for indulging in some aggressive marketing, even leveraging their political clout, to coerce Mumbai’s diamond traders to shift there. Even before its scheduled inauguration on December 17, at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mumbai diamond traders were lured with major incentives if they completely shut their shop in Mumbai. All this has not gone well with the Opposition parties in Maharashtra, who view this as part of a conspiracy from the Centre to reduce financial clout of Mumbai and Maharashtra. Maharashtra is already upset at the missed opportunities of Foxconn, Tata Airbus and the bulk drug park projects that moved to Gujarat over Maharashtra. The clear push for industries towards Gujarat over Maharashtra may upset BJP’s dream of wresting 40 out of the 48 Parliamentary seats from Maharashtra. Already, there is much consternation in the ruling alliance as some surveys show that public support is weakening for the BJP despite splitting the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Not surprisingly, the chief minister got the industries minister into damage control mode, who announced India’s biggest diamond cluster hub at Navi Mumbai within a year.

Wind Energy Evangelist PKC Bose Starts A New Innings

After successfully restarting the Indian operation of Enercon GmbH as its chairman and managing director, PKC Bose hung up his boots after five years at the German wind turbine manufacturer and made it a huge success. The man who proved his friends and critics wrong when they told him he was taking on an “impossible task” in bringing Enercon India back on keel, is not one to rest on his laurels, but continues to take on challenges and changes as he has in the last 30 years of his professional life. Believing as he does in doing things differently, Bose has now launched a new venture with his former colleagues. ENREGO (ENdless REnewable Energy to Go) is engaged in wind, solar hybrid, green hydrogen and energy storage management. This answer to his close friends’ questions of why he had decided to step down from Enercon and what he would do next, ENREGO is his next and biggest challenge. With global experts assessing the wind energy market as being poised to grow from $80.42 billion in 2022 to $160.24 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 9%, the venture is set for a flying future as wind currently contributes just over a third of the total global installations of 121 GW of renewable energy installed by the end of 2022, making India the world’s fourth-largest wind market.

Cheers! Beer To Be Less Dear In Maharashtra

For the first time perhaps, a government is proceeding with a plan of action to promote the sales and consumption of beer in the state. As a result, beer lovers in Maharashtra are soon likely to cheer up each other more spiritedly at a lesser cost. Concerned by the swelling loan burden that is around Rs7 lakh crore now, the declining amount of the excise revenue has created concern for the authorities. Noticing the declining excise recovery from beer, the state has set up a five-member committee to study the beer industry threadbare and recommend ways and means to swell its coffers by promoting the beer swill. The committee, to be headed by an additional chief secretary, has been asked to submit its report within a month. Probably, so that the New Year can be welcomed more spiritedly. Maharashtra and Telangana each have 14% share in the all-India beer market, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 9%. Kerala (6%, Tamil Nadu (7%) and Karnataka (8%) are the other major beer consuming states. The sole non-official member of the Maharashtra committee will be a nominee of the All India Brewers’ Association. The government resolution (GR) dated 16 October 2023 says the beer sales in the state have been going down ever since the excise duty on the brew was increased. The reason for the doddering revenue is that the alcohol content in beer is less as compared with liquor, imported and made indigenously. As a result, the sales of beer are drying up as boozers are not attracted to it due to its higher price. The committee’s report is awaited eagerly.
RamCharan battery

Chennai Firm Develops And Patents Eco-Friendly Batteries

“Go Green” has become the new mantra. Countries across the globe are striving hard to ensure a cleaner environment. The key here is eco-friendly batteries. Not surprisingly, scientists and researchers alike are burning midnight oil to discover an alternative to Li-ion batteries. “Go Green” can be a realistic endeavour only if an alternative is found to Li-ion batteries. This Chennai-based firm appears to have hit upon a solution. Ram Charan Company Private Ltd has just become the first company to be granted a patent in the solid state battery using sodium as a key material. The proof of concept on solid state sodium silicate batteries has been in development since 2021. Claimed to be a breakthrough work, solid state sodium batteries are likely to be tested in real time applications by 2024-end. The breakthrough initiative could have far-reaching implications for EVs (electric vehicles), space programmes and the like. Can a fully recyclable product sans toxic residue, solid state sodium silicate battery be made commercially in an affordable manner? Ram Charan’s founder Kaushik Palicha feels he can. This Chennai firm – which is doing pioneering work in the area of waste management -rose from obscurity to national limelight when it attracted $4.1 billion investment from a U.S.-based private equity in 2021. Public sector SAIL has, in fact, roped in Ram Charan to manage waste in some of its plants. Well, “Go Green” is set for a big boost.

Driving change: Nagarajan, Ahmed and Venkatachalam

How Three Chennai-Based Companies Are Trying To Regain Their Pristine Glory

There are a few things common about these three. They are all from very illustrious groups in Chennai. All of them had their sunny years in the past. And, all of them are listed entities. WS Industries, Coromandel Engineering and Kothari Industrial Corporation (KICL) were indeed jewels in the crown of Tamil Nadu once upon a time. For assorted reasons, all of them have become a distant memory. But these are names that have tremendous brand equity. Not surprisingly, these three once-upon-a-time iconic companies – nay brands – are now getting a fresh lease of life. Well, all these three companies have seen a change in their ownership. A new management is already in position at KICL, and is trying to bring the yester-year glory back to the Kothari brand. Through a series of initiatives such as getting big into footwear, drones and the like, the new leadership is working at a frenetic pace to reignite the power of Kothari. The much revered Murugappa group, in the meanwhile, has palmed off Coromandel Engineering to affiliate-entities of a top functionary of a ruling DMK party in Tamil Nadu. Coromandel Engineering, in fact, had built some of the iconic structures in Chennai. WS Industries, a leading manufacturing company once upon a time, too, has come under the fold of a group which is into property development. All these three newcomers get listed firms through the inorganic growth route.
Kaushik Palicha

PSU Giant SAIL Inks Deal With Ram Charan For Waste Management System

Businesspersons in this part of the world are usually perceived to be quiet doers. Often, they are attached with the tag of `conservatists’ by the world outside. But these so-called `conservatists’ were pioneers in very many ways. First corporate school (Thriveni Academy), first corporate film company (GV Films), first leasing firm (First Leasing), first corporate hospital (Apollo), first hostile takeover (of Wendt India by CUMI)…. and several such firsts … all happened in Chennai. This little known company from the city of Chennai attracted $4.1 bn investment from the American fund TFCC International in December 2021 and became a talking point in the business media. Ram Charan Company Private Ltd, founded by Kaushik Palicha, has since gone quietly to pen a pact with the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) to put up a pilot project for carbon capture and utilisation. What has surprised the long-time India business watchers is the fact that a public sector undertaking of the SAIL kind has chosen to take the lead-role in striving to roll out a robust waste management system across its units. If this pilot cooperative initiative succeeds, it is bound to trigger a huge transformation in the way the Indian production environment is managed. If grapevine has to go by, a top industrial house is also picking up a cue or two from the SAIL gambit. Well, innovators and risk-takers are aplenty in Dravadian land it appears.
Rizvi builders

Double Jolt To Rizvi’s Utopia

Twenty-two families occupying residential apartments in the ongoing Rs 2500 crore Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA) approved project – Rizvi Utopia – in the western suburb of Kalina, Mumbai have to vacate within the week. The directive from the SRA comes in the wake of the finding that ‘C’ wing in the triple-tower complex lacks the requisite Occupation Certificate (OC) despite which possession of 22 of the 25 two-bedroom apartments was handed over to unsuspecting homebuyers. The statutory authority, in its October 18 missive to the project developer Rizvi Land Development Pvt Ltd (RLD) states, “You are hereby directed to vacate all occupied flats in sale wing C of your building immediately… within seven days.” The SRA directive comes in the wake of the report submitted by the Mumbai Fire Brigade in September, 2023, after inspection of all A, B and C wings. The fire brigade report states, “The developer has not obtained an occupation certificate for C wing from the CFO department or SRA. The fixed fire-fighting system is not in working condition.” The SRA action comes as a double jolt to Rizvi builder in particular after he deposited Rs 6 crore with the Bombay High Court over the sale of four commercial office spaces in the realty project without commercial components being part of its approved plans. Why the SRA waited over a month after the fire brigade’s report is another question that remains unanswered?
Dr reddy breathalyser

Beware Of Breathalyser Test, Your Stomach May Be Brewing Booze

You may be driving around with an auto brewery syndrome that can land you trouble with cops. Chances are that you will be caught for drunk driving. The breathalyser will beep even if you didn’t consume a drop of liquor! Blame it on your bad gut health which can create this issue and you will never be able to win any argument with the police. You will have to cough up the fine and prove your innocence in the court with the help of a medical certificate. Dr D Nageshwar Reddy, chairman and Chief of Gastroenterology at AIG Hospitals, has narrated this ‘case study’ involving the daughter of a friend of his and how she had a harrowing time. Her stomach had apparently a brewery factory, he said at an event by FICCI Ladies Organisation’s Hyderabad chapter. The gut breaks down the foods we eat and absorbs nutrients that support the body’s functions. Research shows that our gut microbiome can affect every organ in our body. Now, gut health is widely discussed among medical circles the topic of the world as it could be the root cause of many diseases. Human stomach is full of bacteria both good and bad. The intestines have 1000 species. In his friend’s daughter’s case, she acquired bad bacteria in childhood, Dr Reddy said. So, maintain good gut health, have regular medical checks to keep medical bills and police penalties under check!

Sridhar Vembu with Kerala chief minister

Zoho Enters Rural Kerala, To Replicate Tamil Nadu Model

Sridhar Vembu, the business visionary who set up the multi-billion dollar Zoho Corporation at Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu, plans to replicate the model in rural Kerala. Vembu proposes to set up Zoho Corporation’s R&D centre at Kottarakarain, Kollam, 65 km from Thiruvananthapuram. The unit, which has the blessings of the Kerala government, will provide jobs for 1000 people. Vembu had only one condition to set up the unit in Kerala, when Kerala’s  officials approached him,  “Find a leader to head the operations”, according to Anoop Ambika, CEO, Kerala Start-Up Mission (KSUM). And KSUM was looking to persuade Dr Jayaraj Poroor, Zoho’s former research head who is now an academician, to head the project. In Tenkasi, Zoho converted what was once a nondescript fruit pulp manufacturing unit, into a tech centre par excellence on the world map. Vembu wanted to debunk the idea that location plays an important part in the success of a company. According to Anoop Ambika, once the project takes off, it will not only bring technology and jobs to the local talent pool but also put Kerala on the technology map.
madhavan_writers cafe

M Mahadevan gives new meaning to CSR, Photo : New Indian Express

CSR Of A Different Kind: Three Burn Survivors Fly To Dubai For High-End Culinary Training

People in Chennai may have read the news item with much emotion. Three young women employees of Writer’s Cafe, Priyatharshini, Parimala and Komala are all set to fly to Dubai for a three month high-end training at its International Centre for Culinary Arts. So what’s special about these women? Time was when none of them could even come out in public and face the world, literally, all victims of severe burns, traumatised by domestic violence or sexual exploitation. They owe their total rehabilitation and entry into a work life of self-esteem to one man — the visionary marketing Guru, international foodie and serial entrepreneur restaurateur who transformed baking from mere bread to Hot Breads. M Mahadevan, founder of Oriental Cuisines which runs bakery chain Hot Breads gives new meaning to CSR and employability to the underprivileged. Mahadevan‘s motto, no expectation of life time allegiance from his beneficiaries. He encourages them to grow wings and find their own space. The story of the three women employees from Writer’s Cafe (started as a partnership with Higginbothams, the iconic book shop) is organised and funded by Mahadevan. Mahadevan assures them, after your return you can start your own enterprise or come back to us. That’s a classic Mahadevan CSR. India has many such societally exploited groups begging on the streets. If more Mahadevans open their hearts and purse, socially shunned and marginalised persons can become self-sufficient.

Beautiful Entrepreneur: Kollywood Superstar 9thara Launches 9SKIN

Kollywood’s Lady Superstar Nayanthara is in the news for many facets …blessed with riveting beauty, she is now talked about for her smart business sense too, even as she launched her beauty brand 9SKIN with elan and style in Malaysia. Fresh off the pan India success of her movie Jawan with SRK, and the just launched psycho thriller Iraivan with Jeyam Ravi. Not many film stars have ventured into an enterprise that brings beauty, skin care and marketing mix in an innovative brand portfolio. If you thought Nayan is cannily cashing in on her filmi status, you are wrong. She is thinking beyond her film star shelf life. Ayurveda and ancient Indian plant based skin care basics like turmeric, essential plant oils, sandalwood are coveted. The saga of Fair & Lovely has cautioned the consumers and entrepreneurs about the dangers of chemical-based skin products. Now, global beauty brands, L’Oréal and Estee Lauder are keen to invest in such home grown enterprises. According to Euromonitor International, the Indian beauty market which was valued at $12 bn in 2018 is projected to jump to $17 bn by 2025. Clearly, Nayanthara knows that her own glass skin is the best blurb for her products.

SICCI President Ar Rm Arun

Century Old Trade Body In Spotlight As It Sets Up Core Advisory Council

This is one of the oldest chambers in the country. This industry body is over 100 years old now. The Southern India Chamber of Commerce Industry (SICCI) is indeed an iconic association in Chennai. The SICCI was promoted ostensibly with the idea of serving the Indian business by protecting and promoting its interests at the regional, national and international levels. Indeed, SICCI was the founder-member of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). SICCI saw eminent industrialists from Chennai such as AC Muthiah, MA Alagappan, A Vellayan and like heading it at one point or the other. Ar Rm Arun, son-in-law of AC Muthiah, is now serving as its president. SICCI has chosen to change. This move put the spotlight on the century-old chamber. SICCI has decided to constitute a Core Advisory Council (CAC). More than its constitution, what has surprised many is the power vested with the CAC to oversee the induction/ replacement of the executive committee members. CAC is also sought to be vested with powers to recommend right candidates for top positions at SICCI, which has hitherto been the domain of the board members. Why CAC at all? With CAC in place, what will be the role of the executive committee? Surely, SICCI is set for interesting times ahead.
Rafiq kothari

Middle East Investor Picking Up Stake In Chennai-Based KICL?

This was one of the respected industrial houses in Tamil Nadu. Once upon a time, this group was at the forefront leading the State industrialisation. Brothers DC Kothari and HC Kothari were respected names in the Indian corporate world then. Post their demise, Kothari House was in the news for all wrong reasons. An internecine feud broke out between cousins Pradip Kothari (son of DC Kothari) and Shyam Kothari (son of HC Kothari) when Shyam (son-in-law of Dhirubhai Ambani) bought into Pradip-controlled KICL. The dispute between them took legal overtones. In the end, the case went in favour of Pradip. Several years have gone by since then. Today, KICL has changed quite a bit. A new management is in place under the leadership of J Rafiq Ahmed.  Ahmed is firmly in the saddle with his own set of professionals. He is now working hard to bring the yester-year glory back to KICL. As KICL breaks into new areas such as digital, drones, footwear et al, it is looking to attract overseas investors. A leading investor from an oil-rich nation appears to have been impressed by the initiatives of Rafiq Ahmed. A turning point in the annals of KICL appears on the cards! 

Luxury Cruise Service Between UAE And Kerala To Start From December 2023

At a time when Cruise services are turning popular in India, Kerala has found a new way to counter the exorbitant air fares to the Gulf. Come December 2023, Malayali expats can travel home in luxury cruises. The Kozhikode-based Malabar Development Council and Indian Association, Sharjah, have planned to ply private luxury cruises between UAE and Kerala. Each cruise will have a capacity of 1300 passengers and the three day trip will cost Rs 10,000 one-way. Each passenger will be allowed to carry baggage of 200 kg. The fare will be 50% lower than the present average airfare between UAE and Kerala. The associations behind the cruise project, have approached the Kerala Government and the Kerala Maritime Board with the proposal. Once the clearances come through, the promoters will approach the Central Government for a formal approval. The Kerala government had earmarked Rs 15 crore to resolve issues faced by expats travelling between UAE and Kerala. The promoters hope that this money could be used as seed money to start the operations. A vessel currently being constructed at the Cochin Shipyard could be diverted for the project. The Andaman and Nicobar Administration which placed the contract for the vessel has now backed out for unknown reasons.
Shekhar sardessai

Goan Entrepreneur Over The Moon As His Company Kineco Goes To Space On Chandrayaan-3

The defining moment started for Shekhar Sardessai, CMD, of the 28-year old Goa-based Kineco Ltd, when the rocket carrying India’s moon lander Chandrayaan-3 took off on 23 August 2023. The next 23 days were very anxious for all 50 people involved in the project.  Having had a long relationship with ISRO, Sardessai and his team should have been more blasé about their latest project, but it was a bag of mixed emotions. Sardessai always had an ambition to be in aerospace and space since 2002, and his first big moment was when we won the bid for supplying 10 antennae for India’s space programme in 2012-13. This project has established the Kineco group’s credentials, rocketing its reputation from being a company that was “too small for this game” to a situation where it is rubbing shoulders with international giants. The opportunities now available to Kineco and other Indian companies are “huge”. This is a very interesting era, in which the next generation of entrepreneurs can give their dreams the power to take them anywhere they want to go.

TVS Settlement Model: A Successful Template For Other Business Families To Follow

Tamil Nadu is known for its iconic business families. TVS, Murugappa, Amalgamations, Rane, Spic et al –  the list can go on and on. They are to a large extent responsible for the early industrialisation of the state. The foresight of the elders of these industrial houses has pushed Tamil Nadu into the national forefront. Of course, many multi-nationals have come into the state since then. But these traditional industrial houses have to tackle a problem of an unusual kind. When families expand, fissures creep in. How best are these handled? That is indeed a big challenge. In the not so distant past, the Murugappas have put an end to the internecine quarrel with a female member by penning a peace accord. Some months ago, the four branches of the illustrious TVS group legally went their own ways in an extraordinary arrangement. The Murugappas perhaps are likely to follow the TVS template. What is this TVS model about? According to grapevine, the key to the TVS model is the generosity of big members (in terms of their market capitalisation) who chose to adequately compensate others who were managing businesses that had inherent growth limitations. The early apportionment of businesses among different branches allowed some to get high growth fields and others not-so-high growth businesses. The appreciation to erase the initial disadvantage is the stand-out feature of the TVS model.

Daughters At Murugappa Group: A Pride Or Prejudice?

The traditional joint family system in India has the unique way of sorting out skirmishes among different branches. An informal red line defines the limit within which each member conducts himself/herself. Ostensibly the objective of this informal understanding is to foster a sense of family unity for generations to come. When a female member of a branch Valli Arunachalam, elder daughter of late MV Murugappan, chose to take the internecine quarrel public and the topic became a discussion subject in social media for long, this Chennai-based industrial group and the estranged female member smoked peace pipe for the larger good. For the elders of the Murugappa group, family unity has all along been paramount. Hence, the daughters have stayed away from the business. They have played no small role in sustaining the unity of the Murugappa family. If grapevine has to go by, daughters are never included as part of the promoters in Murugappa group. Not surprisingly, daughters’ shares aren’t considered as part of the promoters’ holdings. The shareholdings of wives, however, are part of the promoter holdings! This philosophy has worked well for the group since it was founded. No murmurs from daughters all along. The Valli episode appears to be an aberration. A closer reading of the recently-released statement on the peace proposal appears to suggest that the Murugappa family is keen to sustain family unity for generations to come.
Uday letter

Uday Kotak’s Handwritten Resignation Letter Gives That Personal Touch

Hard copy in this digital age is passe. Today, all communications are in digital or electronic form save for doctors writing their prescriptions. So it was surprising to see Uday Kotak, Managing Director and CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd sending a handwritten resignation letter on September 1 to his chairman Prakash Apte. The 3-pageletter captures the journey of Uday Kotak which started in 1985 with three employees in Mumbai’s Fort area. Today, this successful bank which has over a lakh employees has presence all over India and five other countries. Interestingly, Kotak has tweeted his handwritten letter. Generally, handwritten notes are written to add that personal touch and some CEOs do take that extra effort to send a thank you card or good wishes hand written. This gesture conveys that they care. Ratan Tata is known to do that; he sends handwritten letters especially if it is outside business.  He has very good handwriting. This writer has seen some of his handwritten notes. Coming back to Kotak, he has truly built a formidable bank. In his words, “an investment of Rs 10,000 with us in 1985 would be worth around Rs 300 crore today.” All his stakeholders are laughing all the way to the bank.
TMB bank

One Too Many Errors In Tamilnad Mercantile Bank’s Latest Annual Report, Corrigendum Issued In Local Dailies

It is one of the oldest private banks in the country. And, this private lender is over 100 years old. A Nadar community-floated bank, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) has consistently found itself hitting the headlines for several years. An internecine quarrel between the promoter groups saw it lose control to the Ruias of the Essar group in mid-90s. But the Ruias faced resistance and had to give it up somewhere along. In came the serial entrepreneur C Sivasankaran. But he too had to retreat. After several twists and turns, TMB went public in September 2022. TMB remains in focus for all the wrong reasons. Sometime ago, the income-tax officials conducted a search at its headquarters in Thoothukudi (formerly Tuticorin). It has returned to focus yet again now. The TMB publicly corrected itself for quite a number of errors in its annual report for 2022-23. At least half-a-dozen discrepancies – some minor and a few major – have crept into the annual report. The private lender, a few days ago, was forced to come out with a corrigendum in a local publication. The corrections related to numbers in some places. In still others, it pertained to the shareholding of the directors. Big or small, a slippage is a slippage. Is there a sense of nonchalance in preparing the annual report? Perhaps, TMB is still adjusting itself to the post IPO situation.

Is Industry Veteran Jagannathan Getting Into Cattle Insurance Space?

He is a veteran in the field. He had a successful term as the head of a public sector insurance firm. When the government opened up the industry for the private sector, he was among the first to get into the private sector space. But he chose to do differently. Star Health Insurance, the company he floated, was not the usual insurance company that a commoner comes to know. His was a daring initiative. Star Health was the country’s first standalone health insurance. Today, it is a highly successful one. V Jagannathan, who founded Star Health, has completely come out of it. An active person like Jagannathan, who has an abiding interest in Tamil literature, can’t keep idle. If grapevine has to go by, Jagannathan is seriously contemplating his next move. For a veteran in the insurance field like him, there must be plenty of options. Will he float an insurance firm yet again now that the non-compete period is over? Speculations are indeed doing the rounds. A little bird however suggests that he should be looking deeply at unexplored terrain in the insurance space. Is there any? Yes, indeed. There are possibilities beyond the subject of human insurance. Cattle insurance space offers immense scope. In a country like India which strives hard to boost farm economy, cattle insurance is an interesting subject to explore. Why not?
Valli murugappa

Murugappa Group's Out-Of-Court Settlement With Valli Arunachalam Surprises Corporate Watchers

They have been in the news for all wrong reasons.  One of their own members dragged them to the court. That member happens to be a female, adding a gender twist to a corporate feud — should we say domestic dispute. More than the legal battle, what has been hurting the group most is the negative publicity that the whole issue was getting them. To be sure, the family members of the Chennai-based $ 5-billion Murugappa Group have shown extraordinary restraint in the face of an avalanche of media reports which featured the versions of Valli Arunachalam, the elder daughter of late MV Murugappan who was the head of Carborundum Universal. Post his demise, Valli and her sisters insisted that they be accommodated in the businesses of the group. Valli even reportedly suggested that they be bought out in the group. All of a sudden on a leisurely Sunday (Aug 20), both sides have agreed to bury the hatchet and settle amicably out-of-court. This could put an immediate end to the washing of dirty linen in public.  They have a 90-day window to work out an amicable deal to part ways. Will there be a friend in need for the family to get Valli off their back? Well, interesting times are ahead at Murugappa Group.

L To R: Siddharth Sinkar, Ullas K Kamath & Pradeep Pai

Community Push: Business Conclave To Fund Saraswat Entrepreneurs

Three successful Sarawat businessmen — Ullas K Kamath, former jt managing director of Jyothy Labs (Ujjala) now venture capitalist, Pradeep Pai, managing director, Hangyo Ice Cream and Siddharth Sinkar founder director Global Chamber of Saraswat Entrepreneurs — have joined hands with UK & Co, World Konkani Centre and Global Chamber of Saraswat Entrepreneurs to encourage business ideas from their community. The trio have organized a two-day business conclave at Wonderla Amusement Park & Resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru to meet one-on-one aspiring businessmen from the Saraswat community. The first-of-its-kind Conclave promises to provide instant funds to start-ups. Kamath promises that every bright start-up idea will get a minimum cheque of Rs 5 lakh and the deserving one will get seed capital. The star attraction of the conclave will be the presence of Nandan Nilekani and Mohandas Pai from the Saraswat community to guide, mentor, and fund startups and SMEs. The objective is to promote and encourage young entrepreneurs from the community who will be provoked to become entrepreneurs by choice rather than by default. Well, all attendees will be treated to Hangyo ice cream. The Saraswat Chamber held its first conclave last year in Goa.


Brand Dhoni Brightens Prospects For Jio Cinema!

Words such as cartel, price fixing and the like are the creation of a bygone era. Today, they have yielded a new term. Cooperative competition is the fresh name of the game. This has embraced all fields. The next edition of the popular IPL (Indian Premier League) is a few months away. Yet, there is an intense debate. Will he or won’t he? As fans were speculating on whether Mahi will come back to play the next edition of IPL, MS Dhoni indicated that he would play IPL one more time for the sake of his adorable fans. CSK owners will want their skipper to stay put. Mumbai Indians (MI) owners, too, must be nursing the same wish for their own enlightened self-interest! Streaming IPL matches for the first time in several languages, Jio Cinema, belonging to MI owners, took the rival Disney Star (Star Sports) head on with zooming viewership during the last IPL season. Looks like Ambanis are wishing that Dhoni plays IPL 2024 edition. The IPL streaming saw Jio Cinema registering record viewership across languages when Dhoni played. Revenue and valuation improved significantly for Jio Cinema. All these augur well for Jio Cinema to get ready for an eventual public float. Co-operative competition appears to be a fair game. Well, it’s cricket after all.
Neeraj Akhoury

After India Cements, CMA Inks Wage Pact With Trade Unions

Change is the only constant, it is often said. The change, however, gives a clue or two to the inner dynamics. How else could one view this? Well, the Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) has welcomed a new president in Neeraj Akhoury, who is the Managing director of Shree Cements. Just before his ascension to the top slot, the CMA has managed to ink a wage pact with the unions. The industry has seen eight such national cement wage settlements in the past. A fresh pact was due in April this year when the earlier wage agreement expired. It took a long while to strike a new wage agreement since the unions were 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. Obviously, the unions were worried over this increasing trend in the industry. Similar pay for similar jobs is what the unions were demanding irrespective of the permanent or temporary tag attached to a workman. Hopefully, the recent wage accord did manage to find a way out to this thorny issue. The latest industry wage agreement comes months after India Cements went on its own to strike an independent agreement with the unions.  Some churning is happening around the industry, it appears.

Corporate India Classifies Dead Wood As “CSR Guys”

There was a time when growth was the focus of many enterprises. Soon enough, this has given way to a new mantra. The corporate honcho realised mere growth is of no use. The growth has to be accompanied by profitability. So, the emphasis turned to growth with profitability. As the focus shifts, so much has changed in the global business environment.  Not surprisingly, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a critical component of the corporate growth process. In fact, CSR has been made mandatory for corporations through a legal requirement. And, companies have to necessarily apportion a specified percentage of its profit process to activities related to CSR. That, perhaps, is the good thing that has happened. For, corporations have a larger responsibility towards society. Well, CSR has now come to occupy a new meaning, at least informally in the corporate world. And, the HR (human resources) team has now begun to identify a section of employees within an organisation for classification as CSR. There are dead wood. There are those about to retire. And, there are those who just come into an organisation through a quota system of recommendatory kind. These people are now termed as “CSR guys”. They are also there but don’t serve. Well, the CSR guys are a cost indeed for corporations!
Rikant pitti

EaseMyTrip Spreads Its Wings, Enters UK, Europe Markets

EaseMyTrip, a leading online platform that offers “end to end” travel solutions is expanding its operations in the UK and Europe markets. Confirming this move is its young co-founder Rikant Pittie. Thirty-four year old Pittie is gearing up to serve the travel needs of high-street customers. is strategically planning to extend its presence beyond the UK market.  It is learnt that this online platform is eyeing the entire European markets. Pittie has also put in place a team to focus on this market, and make necessary preparations and forging partnerships to ensure a successful launch and operation in these new regions. Rikant’s primary objective is to offer highly competitive prices on flights, hotels, and package holidays for his customers in the UK. Additionally, he is also exploring opportunities to expand its offerings and include exclusive non-air products for his customers. The company will soon introduce distinctive products that meet their various requirements and preferences of its customers.

Shriram Finance Ties Up With Paytm, TPG India Mulls Re-Entering The Group Via Housing Arm

The happenings in the Chennai-headquartered financial services group Shriram have been hitting the headlines ever since the mega restructuring of its ownership some time ago. Post the revamp, Shriram Finance has emerged as the country’s largest retail asset financing non-banking finance company. Shiram has hit the news yet again. It has announced a new partnership with One97 Communication Ltd, the owners of payment app Paytm.  Under the arrangement, Paytm will facilitate digital credit for merchant and consumer loans from Shriram Finance. The duo is expecting the partnership to herald a new and wholesome digital loan experience for merchants whose credit needs remain largely un-served.  The tie-up with Paytm comes even as Ajay Piramal’s company and TPG India Investments (a private equity player) cashed out of Shriram Finance by selling their holdings of 8.34% and 2.64% respectively, a few days ago. The Piramals may have to cash out its investment in the insurance business of the Shiram group in the wake of their acquiring Dewan Housing Finance Ltd, which too has an insurance arm. It is learnt that the Piramals have already been in discussion with the top leadership of the Shriram group to find an exit option for its insurance investment. In the midst of hectic happenings around the Shriram group, TPG, which has just exited Shriram Finance, is reportedly toying with the idea of investing in Shriram Housing. Well, Shriram appears to be an irresistible conglomerate!

IdeaForge Technology IPO: Unstable Past Performance, Unassuming Promoter Stake

The Navi Mumbai-registered ideaForge Technology Ltd (iFTL) is coming out with its maiden public issue valued at Rs 567 crore. The IPO consists of a fresh issue of Rs 240 crore from the company and an offer for sale of Rs 327 crore by one promoter, five individual shareholders and eight corporate shareholders of the company. The price band is Rs 638-672 for Rs 10 paid-up share. The 2007-registered iFTL was a loss-making company until fiscal 2021. The company could wipe out its accumulated deficit only in fiscal 2022. The company claims to be the pioneer and the pre-eminent market leader in the Indian unmanned aircraft systems market, with a market share of approximately 50% in fiscal 2022. It has one of the industry’s leading product portfolios targeted at civil and defence applications. It has a broad range of products with feature-based differentiation. Sixteen year-old company was not eligible for making an IPO on its own financial performance and has adopted a `technical route’ to float its maiden public issue. If the company’s prospects are promising, why are so many big shareholders offloading their stake and making their cost of residual holding negative? Unstable past performance, unassuming promoter stake and absurd issue pricing make the IPO a risky proposition. For detailed story click
Modi sundar

By Gifting US First Lady 7.5 Carat Precious Stone PM Modi Has Given A Big Boost To India’s Lab-Grown Diamond Industry

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted US First Lady Jill Biden a lab grown 7.5 carat green diamond during his recently concluded  3-day state visit  to the US . Questions were raised about the nature of the jewel. The diamond is eco-friendly, as eco-diversified resources like solar and wind power were used in its making. It reflects earth-mined diamonds’ chemical and optical properties. The Green Diamond is sculpted with precision and care using cutting edge technology. It emits only 0.028 grams of Carbon per carat and is certified by the Gemological lab, IGI.  A diamond maker from Surat described the lab grown green diamond as “an atma nirbhar step that is giving jobs to millions of people all around India.” PM Modi’s US visit seems to have offered some goodies to overseas Indians. In a major boost to software professionals, PM Modi announced that US consulates would be opened in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. And an Indian consulate would be opened in Seattle. He also conveyed that people may not have to leave the US once their H1 B visa expires. He also had a personal interaction with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Inc and Google. He invited Pichai to explore further avenues of collaboration in the domains of Artificial Intelligence; fintech; cybersecurity products & services; as well as mobile device manufacturing in India. PM and Pichai also discussed collaboration between Google and academic institutions in India to promote R&D and skill development.

Ajay Piramal: A Case Of Win Some, Lose Some

He came. He stayed. And, he is leaving now. Piramal Enterprises of Ajay Piramal has decided to quit Shriram Finance by selling its entire holding. Whichever way one looks at his original wisdom to get into the Chennai-based Shriram group, it is clear that his game plan has gone horribly wrong somewhere along. Surely, he would have gotten a handsome return on his investment in the Shriram. That need not necessarily crown this businessman as a wiser strategist. He must have seen in Shriram an opportunity to propel his dream of making it to the big league in the field of non-banking finance. Perhaps, he did not bargain for the deep cultural mismatch with the Shriram group. The Shriram group has remained an enigma for many outsiders. Piramal the investor perhaps discovered this only after getting into it. Maybe, he was in a hurry to overhaul Shriram. Luckily, Ajay Piramal’s group company managed to acquire Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code route in September 2021. Post-Dewan, Shriram is no attraction for Piramal. One thing is clear, however. The cleaning of the shareholding cobweb at Shriram was in no small measure due to Piramal pressure. For the man who has been successful in the pharma space with spate of takeovers his calculations in the case of Shriram seems to have gone wrong. You win some, you lose some.

HMA Agro Industries: Favourable Valuation But Religiously Sensitive Business

The Agra-registered HMA Agro Industries Ltd (HAIL) is coming out with its maiden public issue valued Rs 480 crore (82.05 lakh equity shares at the cap price). The offer is being made through the book-building route with a price band of Rs 555-585 for Rs 10 paid-up share. HAIL, promoted by five brothers, have been in the meat business for more than four decades. HAIL is the flagship company of the group and is a three star export house. HAIL is currently among the largest exporters of frozen buffalo meat products from India and it accounts for more than 10% of India’s total export of frozen buffalo meat. A disturbing aspect of the promoters is they have disassociated themselves from as many as eight companies during the last three years preceding the date of the Red Herring Prospectus. It is family-run business with brothers and children occupying key positions. Promoters hold 100 per cent stake. When compared to the other frozen food players, HAIL’s Return on Net Worth and Return on Capital Employed is quite impressive. In terms of price discounting too, HAIL compares reasonably well with frozen food heavyweights like Venky’s. Nevertheless, a disturbing aspect of HAIL is, the promoters and their relatives would be holding more than 83% of the post-IPO capital of Rs 50 crore at a negative cost which makes the stock vulnerable post lock-in period. By arrangement with
Gift city

Will The Return Of P-Notes Via GIFT City Boost The Stock Market?

The stock market is in a bull phase with both the benchmark indices — Sensex, Nifty50 – touching new highs every week. The market which is constantly looking for a trigger to scale to new highs seems to have got a big one. According to Mint “Participatory notes are poised for a comeback, this time through the International Financial Services Centre, Gift City, Gujarat, after nearly a decade of being discouraged by Indian regulators. Some leading global banks that currently issue P-Notes from global jurisdictions, such as Singapore, are considering shifting to GIFT City as the special economic zone offers both tax sops and regulatory clarity.”  The return of P-Notes will be like music to the ears for the stock market players. According to The Hindu Business Line report “foreign investors had patronised P-Notes for 14 years between 2004 and 2018. At the peak, P-Note linked investments in India stood at around Rs 4-lakh crore. But P-Notes lost their charm after SEBI restricted its use and banned them completely in the derivatives segment.” Currently, India is parched for foreign money in stock markets and allowing P-Notes could act like steroids, experts say. On a net basis, the foreign portfolio investors sold Indian equities worth more than $20 bn in 2022. Tax arbitrage has forced FPIs to move to other jurisdictions. 
Kannur int

Irony! Kerala’s Left Front Govt In Talks With Tatas, Adanis To Bail Out Kannur International Airport

It is rare that the fortunes of an airport are tied to an airline. One of the big casualties of Go First’s insolvency is Kerala’s second public-private airport, Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL). Set up at a cost of Rs 2500 crore in 2018, the airport which has attracted over 20 million passengers is today defaulting on salaries and all infrastructure payments. In fact, things have turned worse in the last two months, with the airport defaulting on interest payments on borrowings which have now risen to Rs 1200 crore. Go First used to operate 240 flights per month from KIAL to domestic and international destinations. These operations earned it a revenue of Rs 5 crore every month. Also, KIAL was used by Go First as a major parking bay for its fleet of aircraft. The airlines which operate from KIAL today are Air India Express and Indigo, which do only four or five flights per day. The Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is worried that the airport could turn out to be another white elephant. It is believed that his government has approached the Tatas and Adanis to bail out KIAL.  This is ironic, as the same Pinarayi government had vehemently opposed the privatisation of Trivandrum International to Adani. Critics say that Vijayan will go to any extent to save KIAL, as it is in the backyard of all the top Kerala CPM leaders.
Valli Arunanchalam

Valli Arunachalam

Are Business Houses in Tamil Nadu Turning Gender Agnostic?

For decades business houses in Tamil Nadu have kept the business out of bounds for women members. That thinking is slowly changing. Now, the corporate world in this Dravidian land is turning gender-agnostic. With the four groups in the larger TVS family quietly going their separate ways legally, the yester-year hurdle (somewhat perceived, though) has disappeared for the womenfolk in their families. Suresh Krishna’s daughters are running the show in Sundram Fasteners. Venu Srinivasan’s daughter is also firmly in the family business. Of course, Mallika Srinivasan is driving the Amalgamation group. The iconic Apollo Hospitals is managed by Pratap Reddy’s daughters. N Srinivasan’s daughter Rupa Gurunath is well entrenched in The India Cements. Cavinkare has seen C K Ranganathan’s daughter too is getting into her father’s business. The Sengol fame Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers has already welcomed a fifth generation (four daughters) into the business. Perhaps the Murugappa group is an exception at the moment where one of the women members of the family –Valli Arunachalam — is engaged in a bitter legal wrangle with others over the denial of her right to get her due in the business of the group. Incidentally, it was the eldest daughter who alerted her father and MD of Pricol Vikram Mohan to the raid by Minda on his company! Well, women power has truly come to party in the family business.

Sengol Fame Jeweller To Open Shop In The U.S.

They have immense pride in identifying themselves as manufacturing jewellers. They are the fourth generation entrepreneurs. Their four girl children have also gotten into the business. Founded in 1900, this iconic brand from the city of Chennai has come under the national focus when the Vummidis were traced to be the maker of “Sengol” that the Adeenams had gifted to Pandit Nehru to symbolise the transfer of power from the British. The Modi Sarkar has now installed that “Sengol” near the Speaker’s seat in the new Parliament.  The installation of “Sengol” in the new Parliament is a defining moment for the owners of Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers. The “Sengol” installation in its wake has cast on Brand Vummidi an additional responsibility. Yet, it has pushed the brand equity of Vummidi to a new level. It is an ideal time for the owners to spread out into the globe. Steps are already on in this direction. If one were to go by Amarendran Vummidi, Managing Partner, Vummidi Banguru Jewellers (VBJ) will spread wings to the U.S. and set up a store in Dallas very soon. There is a significant presence of the Indian diaspora in that part of America. The American foray will be through a newly-floated Indian subsidiary, Amarendran reveals.

A New Airline Fly91 Gets Ready To Take Off

The travel boom set off by the end of the Covid-19 pandemic is seeing action in every mode of transport, from roads to rail and, of course, flights. But while the Indian Railways are using the opportunity to push the new Vande Bharat Expresses with premium facilities and premium prices, a number of small airlines are still trying to find their bearings after the sector nosedived during the pandemic. One entrepreneur who is waiting to take off is Manoj Chacko, former vice-president of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. Chacko, CEO of the recently registered Fly91, from India’s telephone dialling code, has seen it all. Air Deccan, the forerunner in the field that made flying affordable to all, took off well but made the mistake of going in for Airbus aircraft too early. “They should have stuck to the ATR with which they began,” he says. “Introducing a mixed fleet compelled them to compete in a different space.” Kingfisher’s acquisition of Deccan was a “big mistake”, says Chacko, who quit soon after. “Vijay Mallya called me back after three years, but too much water had already flowed under the bridge by then.” Flying to Hubli, Kolhapur and smaller places was not an issue, but the attempt to go international was the killer, he says. His new airline, headquartered in Goa, will operate small 76-seater aircraft from October 2023, with a plan to go national gradually in about five years. “We’ll be playing a test match, and aim to replace short rail journeys of 10 to 12 hours,” he explains, adding: “We won’t get into the ‘cheapest fare’ race: our fares will compare with those for the railways’ 2nd-class AC. We will pay salaries comparable to, say Indigo but keep a low-cost structure with neutral distribution channels and a consumer-friendly booking app.” Happy flying!

Minda’s Hostile Attempt To Take Over Pricol Locked In Court Battle

Coimbatore is an unlikely venue for a corporate contest. That’s why this one has come as a surprise. The out-of-blue equity buying in Coimbatore-based Pricol by its rival Minda Corporation Ltd a few months ago has stunned the traditional industrial groups in the city, which was once hailed as the Manchester of India. Minda bought a little over 15.7% shares in Pricol for Rs 400 crore.  What emboldened Minda to embark on such a hostile raid on a traditional industrial establishment in Tamil Nadu? There could be several reasons for this. The Pricol family structure, perhaps, tempted Minda to have a go at this Coimbatore-based company.  The battle is truly on now with the Pricol family doing everything – legally and strategically – to stop the raider on its track. The imbroglio arising out of this hostile takeover has already landed in courts. The Pricol-Minda battle takes one back to former times when non-resident Indians Swraj Paul and Manu Chhabria exploited a change in the rule for NRI investment in Indian companies to raid Escorts and L&T. That they did not eventually succeed is a different matter.  But Pauls and Chhabrias have taught a lesson or two to India Inc. If Minda has to be stopped, Pricol owners have to solidify their equity position. The economics of ownership has indeed become dizzy.
Drive in

Chennai’s Iconic Drive-In Theatre Makes Way For A High Rise Residential Complex

A drive-in theatre provides a viewing experience of a relaxed kind. This one perhaps was the first one to come up in the city of Chennai. Located on the ECR (the East Coast Road (ECR), one of the loveliest stretches on the national highway leading up to the Union Territory of Puducherry, this one was a favourite destination for many a cinema lover. For, it gave them the comfort of a relaxing environment and a unique movie-watching chance. Prarthana Drive-in Theatre on the ECR had for long provided young and old alike an entertaining space to unwind even while serving them sumptuously. All good things will have come to an end. So did Prarthana. The owners downed shutters on it sometime in 2021 due to administrative reasons. Founded way back in the early 90s, this drive-in theatre will disappear altogether from ECR.  Reports suggest that the land which housed Prarthana has changed hands. A leading construction company in Chennai is believed to have decided to build a high-rise residential complex in the space that measures around 25 acres. Post-Pandemic, there has been a flurry of activities around land acquisition by residential real estate developers. Chennai has already seen many iconic theatres disappear. Prarthana is the latest one to enter this list!

Global Investors Meet: Tamil Nadu Govt Ropes In Boston Consulting Group

State governments – cutting across party affiliations – jostle with each other to attract global investment. Of late, the competition has become intense among them to woo investors from across the border. Copious flow of capital from the international investing community is often seen as an endorsement of positive policies pursued by them.  Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin is gearing up to hold a Global Investors’ Meet (GIM) in January. This will be the first Global Investors Meet for the Stalin-led government. The previous two investor meets took place in 2015 and 2019 when the AIADMK was in power.  Chief Minister Stalin has indicated that the upcoming Global Investors’ Meet will play host to investors from over 100 countries. The State machinery is sparing no effort to make the summit an extraordinary showpiece.  Expectedly, the DMK government has decided to appoint a global management consultant. The Stalin regime has reportedly roped in Boston Consulting Group to make the upcoming GIM a grand success. Sometime ago, the Tamil Nadu Government issued a Request For Proposal  for the ‘Selection of Global Management Consultant’ as a knowledge partner for the Global Investors’ Meet 2024. The knowledge partner will work with the stakeholders across the canvas to effectively articulate the focus fields to the international investing community. Will Boston bring a big boost to the TN GIM?

Two Districts In Tamil Nadu Attract Maximum FDI

Numbers can’t just be wished away. Often, they give a clue or two to a decisive interpretation.  A cursory reading of the FDI (foreign direct investment) equity inflows into the country has thrown up a revealing fact. In FY21-22, India recorded the highest ever annual FDI inflow of $ 83.57 billion. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) indeed comes out with data on FDI inflows across the districts in the country. A reading of the data for the last 11 quarters clearly suggests that there is a concentration of the FDI flow into a few districts. Surprisingly enough, two districts from Tamil Nadu figure among the top 10 which were consistent in terms of attracting FDI. The two districts are Chennai and Kanchipuram. They managed to attract over Rs. 500 crore FDI in nine out of eleven quarters. These two neighbouring districts in Tamil Nadu house some of the top-notch manufacturing industries. In fact, the Chennai-Kanchipuram stretch is an iconic one. Many big boys such as Hyundai, Saint Gobain and the like dot this stretch. That these two districts have been consistently getting FDI must make the political leadership sit up and ponder. Should it not facilitate an ecosystem that allows for equitable distribution of FDI flow across the state?
Pradeep Bhardwaj

Now, Indians Are On A Roll In The UK, Pradeep Bhardwaj Appointed High Sheriff Of Wiltshire

The latest news is that Pradeep Bhardwaj, Senior Strategy Director & Head of Industry Standards, Syniverse has been appointed by His Majesty the King as the High Sheriff in the historic rural county of Wiltshire in England. Bhardwaj is the first person of Indian origin, and the first Hindu to be appointed to this high office. Pradeep brings in a huge honour not just for himself but for the entire diaspora from the Indian sub-continent. With the presence of Hindu Chaplain from Leeds Krishnakant Atre at the ceremony Bhardwaj wrote history. The High Sheriff is the Sovereign’s representative in the county for matters of law and order. It is a direct appointment of the Sovereign by Royal Warrant and is the oldest secular Office in the United Kingdom after the Crown, dating back to the Saxon times in the 10th century, more than 1,000 years ago. High Sheriffs play an active role in upholding the principal parts of the Constitution i.e. members of the Royal family when visiting the County. Pradeep is recognised to have brought many firsts to India — first  public email service, first public internet service, first Electronic Data Interchange service and setting up mobile and international telecom services in the island nation of Seychelles. Pradeep works very closely with the competitive telecom giants in India.
Tata realty

Tatas Move Out Of Housing Space To Focus On Commercial Real Estate

The $128 billion Tata Group with 29 listed companies, has decided to rejig their real estate business. The new thinking of the management is to focus only on developing commercial properties and move out of housing development space. According to an informed source, Tatas, like other major corporations, are finding it difficult to manage consumer expectations in the residential property space; this business needs an owner driven approach with personal skin in the game to handle the daily challenges as well as managing individual consumer’s expectations. As part of the group’s restructuring process, the Tata group has already brought Tata Projects, Tata Consulting Engineers, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, and Tata Housing under a single umbrella in order to create a larger infrastructure vertical.  It has integrated its real estate development entity, Tata Housing Development Company – a 100% subsidiary of Tata Sons – with Tata Realty and Infrastructure. Reportedly, the group is also looking to invest Rs 1200 crores in acquiring land parcels outright and through joint ventures in major cities across the country for commercial development.
Rafiq Ahmed

KICL To Set Up Greenfield Fertiliser Plant At Thoothukudi

Quietly, a lot of things are happening at this once upon a time iconic industrial conglomerate from the city of Chennai. A new management is already in place. And it is silently working to recapture the old image of this highly respected brand. For sure, the D C Kothari-promoted Kothari Industrial Corporation Ltd (KICL) isn’t going to vacate the fertiliser field though it has chosen to palm off its loss-making SSP (single super phosphate) plant at Ennore near Chennai on a slump sale basis. No doubt that would help the KICL management clean up debt. The sale move is a sensible one.  But the new management under the leadership of Dr J Rafiq Ahmed is drawing up a different game plan for its fertiliser business. Well, the KICL is toying with the idea of establishing a new Single Super Phosphate (SSP) manufacturing unit at Thoothukudi, a port city in southern Tamil Nadu. The facility – whose contours are at drawing boards – however, will have the latest technology. It will come up on government-leased land. Ever since Ahmed took charge of the affairs of KICL, he has been on a mission mode. Under his stewardship KICL has made a foray into drone production. Also, the D C Kothari group is also now in the process of setting up Phoenix Kothari Footwear Park Tamil Nadu at Eraiyur in Perambalur district. Well, Kothari brand still commands huge pull.
Falguni nykaa

Promise Vs Performance: Nykaa Over-Hyped IPO Goes Awry Post Lock-In!

FSN E-Commerce Ventures, popularly known by its listed name Nykaa, promoted by the high profile banker couple Falguni and Sanjay Nayar tapped the capital market in October 2021 with a public issue of Rs 5,352 cr. More than 475 lakh shares of Re 1 each were offered at an exorbitant price of Rs 1125 per share. The company which moved into black on the eve of IPO, saw its issue subscribed more than 45 times!  Retail investors’ portion attracted around 11 times subscription, HNIs 111 times and QIBs 92 times. Thus, the Rs 5,352 cr issue attracted bidding for a whopping amount of Rs 244,495 cr!.  Effectively, Nykaa, a decade old and yet to earn profits, asked for a market cap of Rs 53, 200 cr while highly rated MNCs like P&G and Colgate commanded a lesser market cap of about Rs 47,000 cr and Rs 42,500 cr respectively.  The public float was a grand success. However, the gullible public did not realize that shares allotted to Anchor investors were locked-in only for 30 days.  Nykaa listed on November 10, 2021 at a premium of 78% over the offer price and scaled Rs 2248 yielding 99.8% return. At the end of the one year lock-in period, the stock price went below the IPO rate inflicting 13% capital loss on the IPO investors. Sensing deep trouble, the management quickly declared a bumper 5 for 1 bonus issue which could temporarily arrest the price slide. Even though the top line is attractively growing, the company’s current bottom line (annualized) gives an abysmal EPS of 9 paise on Re 1 paid-up share. By arrangement with

The World Now Respects India As A Partner Across Hi-Tech Verticals

The current push from both the Indian and UK governments to expand their engagement on defence, aerospace and homeland security has seen an intensity of engagement between the two countries that is unprecedented since Independence. A recent meeting with the UK’s national security advisor, on the sidelines of a meeting in London for cooperation in the defence industry, showed the ‘huge’ respect India now commands from the world. The delegation met three UK ministers including the minister for defence procurement, besides the national security advisor and many senior bureaucrats. Says a ‘happy and proud’ Shekhar Sardessai, Executive Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the Goa-based Kineco Ltd and Kineco Kaman Composites, who was part of the delegation: “I have seen how we were treated 10 years back as an insignificant country. The same people are now keen to woo India as a partner. All credit to what our government has done in the past few years to build a formidable position for our country.” Other business leaders agree. “Great!” says Senator Dr PKC Bose, Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the Bengaluru-based Enercon Windenergy, a subsidiary of Germany’s Enercon Group. “It’s India’s time.”

Environmental Issues Dog Adani’s Navi Mumbai International Airport

Environmental issues continue to dog the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport being built by Adani Airports. As the project secures extension of Environmental Clearance to allow Adani to complete the project, green groups are up in arms against what they called misleading Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted by the company. The EIA quotes exhaustively the research report by the BNHS which called for protecting and conserving at least five major wetlands as migratory bird destinations. The State-government owned city planner CIDCO would take steps to implement these suggestions. Moreover, the controversial golf course planned by CIDCO filling two wetlands – NRI and TS Chanakya – was cancelled, the EIA said. But the ground reality is totally contradictory as the wetlands continue to be under attack, green groups Save Navi Mumbai Environment and NatConnect Foundation have complained to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control. One wetland at Bhendkhal, has been completely buried, another one at Belpada majorly landfilled and a third – Panje – often goes dry as the intertidal water flow to it is blocked by “vested interests”, the greens said. The golf course plan is still alive as the project proponent has recently obtained Coastal Regulation Zone clearance. The tragic part is that CIDCO refuses to accept the existence of the wetlands identified by BNHS as well as the State Mangrove Cell, Nandakumar Pawar of NGO Sagar Shakti said.
taparia tools

Taparia Tools: Highest Dividend-Yield Stock Quoting Dirt-Cheap On BSE!

Generally Rs 10 paid-up stock that carries a dividend of 1725% (Rs 172.50 per share) would have commanded a price of not less than Rs 2000. Taparia Tools, which earned more than Rs 200 per share from its operations and distributed Rs 172.50 as dividend for fiscal 2022, was quoted on March 20, 2023 at just Rs 10.50. At this price the dividend yield works out to 1643%! The company has now proposed a first interim dividend of 775% as against 700% first interim last year which indicates that in all probability current year’s yield may shoot up beyond 1700%! The Nasik-based Taparia Tools Ltd has been manufacturing hand tools in technical collaboration with a Swedish company since 1969.  Its financials have been very impressive with topline growing from Rs 475 cr in FY20 to Rs 670 cr in FY22. In FY23 it is expected to touch Rs 750 cr. Likewise net profit more than doubled from Rs 30 cr to Rs 65 cr during the same period and expected to exceed Rs 75 cr in FY23. Why is the stock quoting so low? It has a small equity base of Rs 3.04 cr with promoters holding 69.73%, directors & relatives 13.72%, two corporate bodies 10.56% and 229 shareholders 3.84%. In the last 21 years, TTL was traded only on 39 days. In the first three months of 2023, the stock has been traded for 5 days. By arrangement with
Atmanirbhar_Pawan Anand

Taking Atmanirbhar A Step Further In India’s Defence Industry

The USI Atma Nirbhar Bharat Initiative (USI-ANBI) has given new meaning has been given to the work of the United Service Institution (USI) of India in furtherance of its avowed objective of “furtherance of knowledge in the art, science and literature in the interest of national security”. Such initiatives bring defence industry players in contact with the Services departments dealing with procurement and indigenisation. In July 2022, for example, it had a panel discussion (PD) with Aditya Birla Securities Ltd on the impact of the geopolitical situation on global and India’s financial markets, followed by one with Microsoft on cybersecurity, where the apex cybersecurity officials were brought in. Start-ups are allowed to register and asked to join when there is a round table discussion (RTD), seminar or closed-door meeting on the issue relevant to them. USI of India is a strategic think tank with a wealth of retired officials from Services, IAS, IPS and IFS, explains Major General Dr Pawan Anand, AVSM (Retd), Distinguished Fellow and Head of USI-ANBI. “It is a great brand!” he says. “We are now planning on foreign industry offerings too at our RTDs.” Obviously, India’s role on the global stage continues to grow in its presidency of the G-20 which it took over in December last year.

Ideas2IT Plays Good Samaritan, Provides Training For Laid-Off Tech Professionals

Sometime ago, this one did an out-of-the box innovation to reward long-time loyalist-employees. This Chennai-based high-end product engineering company distributed 100 Maruti cars to staffers who have served the company for over five years. Now, it has come out with yet another innovative idea. With tech giants such as Google, Zoom and the like dishing out pink slips, Ideas2IT has decided to play Good Samaritan.  It has now launched perhaps the country’s first proprietary up-skilling program. The idea is to help tech professionals bounce back from the adversity of recession and layoffs! “Pledge2Propel”, a career enhancement initiative, is primarily intended to help tech professionals affected by the economic slowdown and layoffs. This initiative aims to provide all the support they need to re-group and pursue new opportunities by means of up-skilling or venturing into entrepreneurship while prioritizing their mental health. To be sure, this initiative does not promise or guarantee a job. Along with IdeaRX, a HealthTech start-up, Ideas2IT hopes to help the laid-off professionals to navigate the psychological and professional challenges and guide them to reach a secure terrain. “With this association, we intend to transform the lives of many tech professionals through empathy, inspiration and empowerment,” says Gayathri, CEO of Ideas2IT.  This non-profit program is available for free to all affected tech professionals across the globe. A twice-blessed initiative, indeed.


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.