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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?

Elon Musk The New Owner, May Purge Absolute Indian Free Speech Censors From Twitter

Is Elon Musk picking up a bias against Indians? It would appear so if emerging dramas follow an early trend in which the world’s richest man, out on a spree to buy his favourite toys, has had bones to pick with Vijaya Gadde, a lawyer of Indian origin, even as the status of Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal is under a cloud after the acquisition. Vijaya, top censorship advocate at Twitter had taken decisions to keep out contentious content in 2020 and she was fiercely defended by Twitterati after the Muck onslaught. As owner of the company, Musk will have the power to fire key individuals and Parag may be the a name on that purging list even if he had picked up a reputation as a top engineer who had helped transform Twitter’s developing projects, including letting algorithms guide moderation software.  Musk’s ‘absolute free speech’ platform may be up for confrontations with India, which has been thin-skinned to the extent of being the country asking for the most tweets to be taken down. Musk’s ties to China with his Tesla electric cars, which are not being allowed free access if they are not made in India, might also put him on a collision course with India. His obsession with the number 420 places him in a piquant position with the number in India’s IPC that is to do with cheating and fraud.

Electric Scooters Bursting Into Flames Cause Concern In The Booming Electric Vehicle Industry

The recent fire that destroyed 20 electric scooters manufactured by a firm in Nashik, Maharashtra, has set the cat among the pigeons in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, which has already got the jitters over several isolated instances of spontaneous combustion of EVs. Why and how does this happen, is the question in the minds of everybody? There’s a lot riding – literally – on electric two-wheelers, more than cars and three-wheelers even as sales in the segment have rocketed nearly 500% in just one year. According to the government’s VAHAN portal, 2021-22 saw the producers laughing all the way to the bank with well over a quarter million EVs sold, compared to mere 40,000 sales in 2020-21. Chetan Maini, Co-Founder & Vice Chairman at SUN Mobility, the pioneer in the EV world who created India’s first electric car REVA, gives a variety of possible reasons: “Such things can be caused by poor cell selection, defective cells, poor thermal management, manufacturing issues and poor charging management amongst others.” According to his fellow Bengalurite Amitabh Saran, Founder & CEO of Altigreen, which started off in 2013 creating EV technology and now manufactures electric three-wheelers, these products were “not engineered in or for India”. Whatever the cause, the hope that it can be controlled – and soon — is universal, with EV being widely seen as the future of mobility.

Odisha To Give Land For JSW’s Green Field Project This Fiscal, As Patnaik Turns Bhubaneshwar Into India’s Steel Capital

To make good the exit of South Korean steel major Posco, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has successfully roped in India’s leading integrated steel major JSW Steel, part of the $13 bn JSW Group headed by Sajjan Jindal. JSW’s wholly owned subsidiary JSW Utkal Steel is expected to set up 13.2 MTPA at an investment cost of Rs 65,000 crore in Jagatsinghpur district close to Paradeep port. The Odisha project dovetails with Jindal’s game plan of achieving 50 MT capacity. The JSW project has already received EC clearance and is getting ready to implement pre-project stage requirements including employment and livelihood creations. The Odisha government seems confident of handing over 2,950 acre land to JSW Steel this fiscal since most land parcels belong to the government anyway. Other small gap are being covered through collective persuasion, court support rejecting vested PILs and fair compensation for loss of betel-nut farm lands. Learning from the Posco experience, the Odisha government is not leaving any chances for slippages anywhere, by taking everyone on board through village meetings, addressing concerns with matched speed of action to deliver complete parcels of land to JSW this fiscal. If Naveen babu gets the project going Bhubaneswar could well emerge as the steel capital of India with other players like ArcelorMittal, JSPL and others also evincing interest.

ITC, Oberoi Vie For Kochi’s Taj Malabar Hotel, Although Tatas Enjoy First Right Of Refusal

One of Kerala’s iconic hotels, the Taj Malabar Resort & Spa in Kochi near Willingdon Island is up for grabs. Cochin Port owns the property built in 1936 and named after the first Viceroy of India, the 1st Earl of Willingdon and, has invited bids. The Taj group which has been managing the property since 1985, is now running it on extension after the expiry of its lease. Cochin Port has invited tenders for a pre-bid meeting for the Port-owned buildings (Malabar Hotel) for a period of 30 years. The last date for submitting the bid is May 6. The Taj group currently pays a lease rental of Rs 71 lakh per annum. Many contenders have lined up for this prestigious property including the likes of ITC Hotels, Oberoi Group and Kerala’s top business names like RP Group, Lulu Group etc. The Malabar Hotel offers stunning views of the Cochin Harbour and the Arabian Sea and can still remain with the Taj Group if they invoke the right of first refusal in the bidding process according to well-placed sources. The Tatas may still retain the property if they match the highest bidder.  A spokesman for the Lulu Group denied being in the race and said that the Group was currently focused on only two properties: the Grand Hyatt at Bolgatthy and Marriott Hotel at Edapally.
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?

With French Major Total As Partner Adani Group Steps On The Gas

The Gujarat-based Adani group, with interests in every field that involves energy, has announced a massive expansion in its construction financing. So too the group company Adani Gas Ltd (AGL) with its city gas distribution and piped natural gas to the domestic, commercial, industrial and vehicle users in 15-plus distinct geographical areas. AGL, which is going great guns, also supplies compressed natural gas to the transport sector. Though a very small part of the Rs 20,000-crore group, the Ahmedabad-headquartered AGL is important to the business, thanks to its involvement in the daily lives of both employees and outside customers. The company changed its name to Adani Total Gas Ltd at the end of 2020, 15 years after it was incorporated, when French energy major Total took a stake of 37.4% – equal to its own, making it a joint-venture company. The remaining 25.2% is with public shareholders. “Passion, perseverance and self-belief enable you to overcome obstacles and deliver solutions that benefit the business and our consumers,” says Sandip Adani, Head, Techno Commercial, Adani Total Gas. Big brother Adani Green Energy is the world’s largest solar power developer and is in the process of completing the construction of its projects to meet its stated renewable energy capacity target of 45 GW in the next eight years.
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.
AAP Mumbai

With BMC Polls Deferred Will It Be Advantage AAP?

The upcoming BMC elections will not be an ‘aam’ municipal referendum by any means. The BJP is determined to put all that it has at stake, to level scores with long-time friend-turned-foe, the Shiv Sena. The Sena is trying all the tricks of the trade to retain its Marathi Asmita and control over Aamchi Mumbai. The NCP is looking to expand its Mumbai base at the cost of senior partner Congress’ vote bank. The grand old party is also using all its might to stay relevant in the politics of the very city where it was born. Amidst all the scheming and planning that the city is silently witnessing, the AAP is using the grace period, by postponement of elections, to actively strengthen its organisation. AAP, the fourth largest party, has formed teams of devoted workers and volunteers in almost 100 wards.  Its campaign will highlight the pathetic state of Mumbai’s roads, corruption in BMC and announce its plans for the health and education sectors. “We’ll fight to win and are getting tremendous support from Mumbaikars. People are really frustrated and fed up with these parties and their dirty politics. The only clean alternative they have is in AAP,” says Ruben Mascarenhas, the working president of AAP Mumbai. AAP is betting on youngsters and a majority of its candidates will be under 40 years old.
raj subramanian_fedex

Raj Subramaniam

Dawn Of A New Raj At FedEx, As Subramaniam Entrusted Tall E-Commerce Delivery

Is the new CEO of FedEx Raj Subramaniam just one more Indian CEO of an American corporation? This question elicited two divergent views, summed up aptly by Chidanand Rajghatta of Times Of India.  One response is the blasé “Ho hum, another Indian”. The other: “What Indian? He is an American, who worked his way up.” Raj joins an exclusive club of over half a dozen PIOs who merited entry into the hall of fame thrown open by Google and Microsoft. Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella are already part of the corporate power folklore. Other recent entrants include: IBM’s Arvind Krishna, Parag Agrawal of Twitter and Leela Nair of Chanel. Founder Fred Smith who spearheaded the FedEx operations for 50 years and saw its turnover touch $92 billion found that Raj, who has been with FedEx since 1991, was the ideal man to hand over the baton to. Thiruvananthapuram born Raj faces big challenges before him. E-Commerce has changed the whole ball game and, FedEx must enter this instant gratification, touch of a button business by changing its own avatar, from an Express Delivery Organization, hub & spoke, track & trace, but as part of that last mile delivery, the fulcrum of  e-commerce. Clearly, Raj has to combine his experience at FedEx 1.0 and metamorphose into FedEx 2.0. Clearly Raj has a tall order to deliver.

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!
Naveen Subarnarekha

Odisha Government Pulls Out All The Stops To Complete Subarnarekha Port By 2024

Since winning the panchayat and urban body elections, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been pulling out all the stops to kickstart Tata Steel’s Rs 5,000 crore Subarnarekha deep-sea all-weather port in Balasore district. He hopes to complete the project before the 2024 general election and, is moving quickly on the land acquisition front; with nearly 146 acres of land almost acquired. The state has already provided 700 acres of land for port construction near the Chaumukh seashore, Baliapal. However, for the construction of a new rail line from Amarda Road to the port at Chaumukh and widening of existing roads and creating new ones, it needs to acquire another 300 acres.  According to Sudarshan Chakravarti, Collector & District Magistrate, Balasore “Of the 300 acres requirement of land 154 acres has already been acquired with the balance to be acquired soon.” Land acquisition may not be a problem as the government is paying a good compensation — three times more than the registered value. Tata’s project will have the first mover advantage over Adani Group which is setting up a green field port at Tajpur in West Bengal which is literally next door. When both ports become operational East India will emerge as the new regional maritime hub.
customer sense

Marketers Gain ESP On Lost Covid Sensitivity, Reimagine New Aromatic Strategy

European hospitals say 80 % of Covid patients lose the sense of smell, not regaining that sensitivity even after recovery. When the sense of smell is gone, vital sensory cognition is lost too. The five crucial senses of cognition and life are now viewed in a new light, as marketers and manufacturers perceive newer horizons to tap, post pandemic. Aradhna Krishna, the Dwight F Benton Professor of Marketing at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan cites the intricacies of our sensory reach that marketers are engaging with. Scents from the past and present possess a unique signature, sensory cues. “Smell is vital to our existence, essential for taste, even foretelling danger like smelling smoke or bad food.” The Harvard Business Review acknowledges her as “the foremost expert in the field of sensory marketing”. Her book, Customer Sense provides researched insight on how the five senses influence human buying behaviour. Her paper on Olfactory Imagery postulates that imagining/imaging odours affects human responses towards products. No wonder India with its cultural and gastronomic diversities is so amenable to marketing products that evoke a positive response. Now restaurants may simply market their signature Panneer Tikka or Kerala Chatti Meen Kuzhambu by opening a vent directly onto the streets and, the hungry will just follow the aroma trail for an actual taste of their drool worthy dish.
citibank_Axis bank

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?

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.
Chettinad cement_AC_muthiah

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.
Carborundum cumi

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.

New Subscription Rules By RBI, SEBI For IPO To Hit HNIs, See Grey Market Vanish

Come April 1, 2022, the IPO market will witness three major changes that will immensely benefit retail investors. First, as per RBI stipulation, investors cannot borrow over Rs 1 crore from NBFCs to apply for an IPO. Second, SEBI has split the current HNI category into two. The first part, 1/3 of the bucket size of HNI portion, is for Rs 2-10 lakh and, the second bucket size of Rs 10 lakh and above  is for HNI-Non-Institutional Investors. Third: change in lock-in period for anchor investors from current 30 days in two bucket groups: 50% shares will have 30-day lock-in and balance 50% for 90 days. Clearly, institutional investors are uncomfortable with the 90-day lock-in with good reason. The last three months saw all new age companies losing around 50% values since their listing. Allotment for HNI category, in case of oversubscription, would be similar to the retail category with one lot per applicant.  For example, in the Rs 2 lakh plus category it would be just Rs 2 lakh. Similarly, it would be Rs 10 lakh in the Rs 10 lakh plus category. The new rules will see unrealistic over subscriptions by over 200-300 times disappear to more realistic levels in turn, making grey markets vanish. It will also force promoters to price IPOs more realistically.

Maharashtra Rationalist Group Sought Chitra Ramkrishna's Arrest Under ASBMA For Appointing 'Himalayan Guru' As NSE COO

A little-read news piece got buried in the avalanche of revelations on Chitra Ramkrishna, her shenanigans at the National Stock Exchange and more. The interesting news has lost relevance now thanks to the identity disclosure of Ramkrishna’s ‘Himalayan Guru’ – Anand Subramaniam — her right-hand man at the NSE.  A couple of days before the bombshell caused a blast, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (superstition eradication committee), founded by the late rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, had submitted a memorandum to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), also Mumbai Police seeking the arrest of the NSE’s former CEO and MD under the Anti- Superstition and Black Magic Act. Pointing out that Subramanian’s appointment as the exchange’s COO in 2013 had cost the NSE Rs 5 crore, the Samiti said the entire case was an embarrassment for India, as a highly-educated person like Ramkrishna took advice from a self-proclaimed guru. “MANS has brought it to the notice of CBI and Police Commissioner Mumbai that according to the Act it is an offence to claim divine powers and deceive people on the basis of it,” the organisation had said. “The current case is a clear incidence of a person holding important public office working under the influence of superstitious beliefs and hence doing harm to the greater public good hence we have decided to take up this issue.”

Naveen Patnaik’s Subtle ‘No Tariff Hike’ Request, Has OERC Doing Balancing Act

The Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC), currently hearing the annual revenue requirement to fix bulk supply price for 2022-23, was subtly asked by the state government to disallow tariff hikes sought by power utilities.  The popular Naveen Patnaik government has told OERC to find a win-win solution for all stakeholders. “The balancing act of finding a solution without consumer tariff hikes is the prerogative of OERC, which is doable,” an industry expert says. The rationale for “no power tariff hikes”: The Four Tata Power DISCOMs in Odisha especially, TPWODL posted excellent results for the nine-month period in the current financial year. Their performances contributed to a total of Rs 600 crore regulatory surpluses.  In the regulatory framework, DISCOMs are permitted pass through of reasonable expenses and only 16% return on equity (RoE) and hence, the possibility to adjust the Rs 600 crore revenue surplus of Tata DISCOMs suitably while accommodating pass through of genuine expenses of GRIDCO, OPTCL and other state generation companies (OHPC & OPGC) with no increase in retail tariffs for consumers in 2022-23.  The quality of power supply and consumer services in the State are expected to improve with capital investment of Rs 2000 Cr by the Odisha Government over the next 2-3 years.

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.

Get To The Bottom Of The Chitra Ramkrishna Case: PM Modi Tells Officials

Looks like there will be no let-up in the probe against the “mystery Yogi” who gave divine instructions to former MD & CEO of the National Stock Exchange, Chitra Ramkrishna. At an official weekend meeting, PM Narendra Modi made clear that investigations must be conducted thoroughly to delve into the depths (gehariyan) of the scam. This means Ramakrishna will not get away with pleading innocence for having taken instructions from a godman who resided in the Himalayas. The official keenness to get to the bottom of the story is also because Ramkrishna, a qualified CA, was connected with an influential political family, a father-son duo, from Tamil Nadu since 2012. It was this connection that helped her secure the coveted job in 2013. Sources close to Ramkrishna, keen to protect her, are peddling multiple theories including one, about the yogi being a finance ministry bureaucrat besides speculative assertions about him. He was probably a Karnataka cadre officer, once a close aide to the senior Tamil Nadu leader. Interestingly, the political class seems very keen to see a bureaucrat is made the fall guy in the Chitra Ramkrishna episode so it fails to impact their political space.
IPL Teams

Capital War To Break Out Over IPL Media-Digital Rights, As Reliance, Amazon Square Up For The Big Fight

The Indian cricket field will soon witness a major turf war of a different kind, a battle for media and digital rights. Amazon and Reliance Industries, two corporate majors locked in a head-on battle for physical shopping space in Future Retail, will also flex their muscles to bid for the 2023-2027 IPL rights. Valuations have breached the stratosphere already with talk of bids reaching $7 billion dollars and, many other giants ready to do battle as well. The previous 5-year cycle that attracted a consolidated Rs 16,347.5 crore from Star-Disney ends with the 15th IPL featuring 10 teams and more matches than were on offer under the 8-team format. Disney-owned Star India may have to reach deep into its pockets to take on the global e-commerce giant Amazon with its Prime Video OTT pay channel, even as India’s industry and commerce behemoth Reliance, with a broadcasting arm in Viacom18, opens up its considerable war chest to bid for what is seen in broadcasting as an everyday Super Bowl with a 2.5 billion worldwide audience. The BCCI may unbundle the TV and digital rights. IPL has probably already factored in its Rs 7,000 crore a year rights earnings, which is believable as cricket is king in India and IPL dishes out magical live sport entertainment.

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.

Shenbagam Manthiram

Tata Power’s Electrifying Plans For Odisha To Transform Cuttack, Bhubaneshwar For Mumbai Like Consumer Experience

Tata Power operations in Odisha is firing on all cylinders for an uninterrupted quality power supply. According to Shenbagam Manthiram, CEO of Tata Power Central Odisha, by 2023, the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar will have power quality on Mumbai city standards, thanks to its SCADA technology and LT protection system. This apart, Tata Discoms is putting in place a cyclone resilience disaster network spanning 60 km between the Puri and Konark shoreline to withstand cyclones which annually ravage Odisha, paralysing its power supply. Moreover, it is focusing on a single digit AT&C loss through Capex plans of Rs 1500 crore over the next three years. It will soon launch smart pre-paid self-reading certified HPL 3 phase meters on rental basis at Rs 150 per month and re-charge options. “From February/ March 2022 power purchase in Odisha will go hi-tech, enabling customers with pre-paid meters,” says Manthiram. Initially, covering only 3 phase consumers the scheme will scale up to include others subsequently. The aim is to cover 175,000 customers, improving progressively thereafter. To achieve this goal, Tata Discoms has automated 155 sub-stations linked to SCADA, another 300 will be added this year so that by 2023, 80% of its sub-stations will be unmanned. By 2024 it plans to eradicate low voltage power supply pockets in Odisha and, unveil roof top solar projects in Odisha.
Kalanithi maran

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.

Wanna Live Longer? Wake Up And Drink Three Cups Of Coffee!

There is great news for coffee drinkers, bombarded for years by their brothers and sisters on the other side of the coffee-tea divide and, all they heard was about the health benefits of tea, the cup that cheers but not inebriate. The findings from a large research group of 4.70 lakh people over 11 years suggests that coffee could help you live longer. Scientists not only know how many cups per day of beans to cup coffee are best but have also found out that three cups of ground coffee a day is the best. The findings also suggest that decaffeinated coffee gives almost as much benefit while not so in the case of instant coffee. Moderate coffee drinkers who take up to three cups of ground coffee a day are 12% less likely to die too soon and, 17 to 21% less likely to die from heart disease or stroke, according to a study by the Semmelweis University in Budapest and Queen Mary University, London. The benefits are only partly due to caffeine containing antioxidants while other chemicals play a larger role. The focus of the study was on the effect of coffee on cardiovascular health. But higher coffee intake was also found linked to cause cardiovascular mortality. So, do drink up to three cups a day without guilt.
TVS honda

Will Restructured TVS Group Hive Off Prime Properties On Chennai’s Mount Road, And More?

Chennai’s real estate market is abuzz over news that the TVS Group has put its landmark property on Chennai’s Mount Road on the block.  This 2.14 lakh square feet property that houses Sundaram Honda Sales, Madras Auto Service and a clutch of family-run companies, is a bespoke landmark, along with Spencer’s, LIC and Higginbothams. Generations have gawked at these imposing car dealerships. It is learnt that real estate biggies from Bengaluru like Purvankara, Brigade, Prestige and Embassy have thrown their hats into the frenzied bidding ring. Sources say Brigade Group has pocketed the deal with a Rs 550 crore offer. Senior VP of Anarock Property Consultants, Sanjay Chugh, says the sale will set the trend for commercial and retail development on Chennai’s arterial Mount Road and its hinterland. The $ 8.5 billion TVS Group quietly restructured the family holdings while putting an end to the holding company practice. Hereon, each of the four families will completely own the businesses they have grown, following the mega sale monetization of the assets. Corporate analysts say the sale of the Mount Road property could be the starting point of many more future deals. It may be noted that TVS Group owns a big chunk of properties in Chennai’s Poonamallee, Tiruchirappalli and Madurai. Cashing in when the going is good seems to be the motto now.
Vande bharat_Shikhar_Sardesai

Shekhar Sardessai

Goa’s Kineco Bags Orders To Fabricate Front End Of Vande Bharat Trains

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget announcement of 400 new Vande Bharat trains at a time when only two currently ply in India — Delhi-Varanasi and Delhi-Katra — has set the wheels in motion at high speed. Train 18, as it is called, is a semi-high-speed, intercity EMU train with airplane style rotatable seats designed and manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory at Perambur in Chennai. Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishwav says a new version series of these trains has been designed and serial production for the rakes is likely to commence by September. With the focus on safety and comfort, including reduced noise and vibration levels, the Indian Railways and its vendors are working hard to meet these new targets. “We have an order for the front end of 35 trains and are now building them,” says Shekhar Sardessai, Executive Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the Goa-based Kineco Ltd. A pioneer of composites for the manufacture of a wide range of products for rail, road, air and space transport vehicles, Kineco is also understood to have bid to create  the complete interiors for the first rollout of the trains. The Railways is also considering the use of aluminium over steel for building the coaches, to make the trains lighter and faster, as well as, improving energy efficiency.

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.
Venu TVS_Ralph

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
sanjay Banga_Soumya Patnaik

Tata Power’s Sanjay Banga. BJD Leader Soumaya Ranjan Patnaik

Tata Power Will Turn Around Odisha Discoms In Three Years

Tata Power took over four Odisha government-owned power distribution companies in early 2021, confident of turning these around in three years despite pressure from media Moghul and, ruling party MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik over the sought tariff hikes. Patnaik filed objection with the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) over the Tata Power Discoms and Odisha government-owned GRIDCO’s Aggregate Revenue Requirement recommendations to hike power tariffs from the current Rs 296.20 per unit to Rs 385.21, for the financial year 2022-23. The OERC is currently headless after its chairperson and former IAS officer, UN Behera’s tenure ended January 15, 2022. Unless his successor is appointed, the existing quasi-judicial two-member commission is expected to conduct public hearings and pass power tariff orders for the next fiscal.  Sources suggest that the OERC members are not in favour of a tariff hike. However, Tata Power’s business plan has worked out a detailed mapping of the high technical loss areas along with the investment required to reduce the same. Sanjay Banga, President of Tata Power says “magic will happen within the three-year time-frame by when, Odisha will emerge as the best performing discom (towering) over rest of India.”

RBI’s New IPO Rule To Hit HNIs, Grey Market Hard

Currently, IPO subscription in India is skewed to favour the leveraged HNI and subject to a very high degree of money power. Come April 1, 2022, this is set to undergo a major change with the RBI directing that no individual can be lent more than Rs 1 crore to apply for shares in an IPO. The immediate ramifications will be huge. Firstly, the number of times the HNI portion is subscribed will fall sharply from the present 100-800 times to maybe 5-10 times. The present grey market premiums which decide the subscription level will no longer exist at these levels as the subscription will not match. The reverse math will not allow such premiums to remain. The pricing of issues will go through a downward pressure as merchant bankers, promoters and PE Investors will no longer have the luxury to depend on leveraged HNI to back them. The standard practice of every issue opening at a premium of 20-30% of the issue price will simply stop.  What would the new scenario look like? Probably more subdued and balanced. IPO price band would be realistic and listing gains of 10% would be a great number. HNI subscription being in single digit would be the new norm as SEBI would also have notified the new norms of splitting the HNI bucket into two. For retail investors it is a welcome move.

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?
RK Damani_N Srinivasan

Will One-Fifth Shareholder Damani Wield Direct Influence Over India Cements’ Promoter Srinivasan?

What does holding one-fifth stake in a company mean to the strategic investor? Wielding major influence on the running of the enterprise? Well, it depends on variable factors. Some investors are just happy to park their funds and, earn rich dividends as income. Others, however, seek a more active role in the running of operational affairs. More than anything else, the nature of the enterprise itself defines the role of a one-fifth shareholder. An equity stake of 21.28%, as on September 30, 2021, made DMart’s founder Radhakishan Damani a significant player in The India Cements business. The promoter group – N Srinivasan family — holds a 28.42% stake in the company. Operating a cement enterprise is no kids’ play. Given the very nature of the operating environment, the cement business makes for a heady cocktail which needs a customised management to run the enterprise. Also, the rough and tumble playground requires a combination of native intelligence and deep marketing mind as sine qua non to safely and securely navigate the playing fields. That is a catch that the Damanis appear to fully understand as also, India Cement’s illustrious history. The indefatigable never-say-die spirit of N Srinivasan at the helm with near-term excitements aplenty will make for a fascinating long-haul story! One thing is for sure, however. It is only headed for more interesting times.

Kerala’s New World Record: Farmed King-Sized Shrimps Bigger Than Jumbo Prawns

What is the difference between a shrimp and prawn? The simple answer: both belong to different suborders of Decapoda, but are very similar in appearance and the terms are often used interchangeably in commercial farming and wild fisheries. Kings Infra Venture Ltd has gone a step further in dispelling another common notion: that prawns are bigger than shrimp. The Kochi-headquartered company has just created a world record by growing 80-gm L Vannamei shrimps – better known as the whiteleg shrimp – in its pond. These measure 210 mm, against a record of 230 mm in the ocean. Kings Infra – earlier Victory Aqua Farm – is looking at its shrimps attracting a premium in both domestic and international markets by providing sustainability and traceability certifications. This is special because Greenpeace International had added the whiteleg shrimp to its seafood ‘red list’ in 2010 with its risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries which contribute to the destruction of vast areas of mangroves. Explaining that the record-breaking growth was achieved in normal earthen ponds by applying proprietary protocols developed by his company’s R&D wing, Chairman & Managing Director Shaji Baby John says: “Being a technology-driven sustainable aquaculture company, we used only antibiotic-free feed, probiotics, and natural supplements including ingredients like curd, jaggery, turmeric, moringa leaves, garlic and tamarind regularly to improve immunity, disease resistance and growth rates.”
Ramkrishna_Mukkavilli_water pump

Hyderabad Company Installs World’s First Atmospheric Water Generator At ONGC’s Offshore Rig

Getting a steady supply of drinking water is a problem not only in the most backward areas of any country, but in modern facilities, too. One such place has been the Mumbai High oil drilling platforms in the Arabian Sea. The offshore oilfield, about 75 metre deep in the water, was discovered in 1974 and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) pumps up about 12 million metric tonnes (MMt) of oil a year from the 1,659 MMt the oilfield holds. The supply of drinking water for the officials and crew manning the drilling platforms 176 km away from Mumbai, however, has been a logistical challenge since production began in 1976. No longer: Maithri Aquatech, a Hyderabad-headquartered manufacturer of atmospheric water generators, has installed its machines on the oil rigs. “These are the first installations of their kind in the world!” says an excited Ramkrishna Mukkavilli, founder-chairman of Maithri, which has set up four AWGs after winning an ONGC tender. The entire system for these machines – which cost about Rs15 lakh each against the normal ones at Rs10 lakh – had to be specially designed to suit the conditions, Ramkrishna explains. The evaporation coils needed to be strong enough that they wouldn’t get blown away in the high wind velocity of nearly 150-180 kmph, while the entire machine was made of stainless steel to resist seawater corrosion.

Prof Satyanarayanan Chakravarthy with his student Pranjal

Are Indian Cities Ready For Flying eTaxis?

The Chennai-based ePlane Company, which provides electrically-operated air taxis for intra-city commutes, announced last week that it has raised $ 5 million in seed funding. The company, founded by Prof Satyanarayanan Chakravarthy with Pranjal, one of his engineering students at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, said it would use the funds to hire top talent, conduct R&D and continue to work for air-worthiness certification for its pollution-free small aircraft. An analysis conducted on the business of urban air mobility and electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VETO) by JP Morgan Securities LLC describes the sectors as “nascent, with big potential”. These markets, it says, can change the way people travel – but they are, for the most part, new markets with a lot to prove.  US-based Dr Aravind Melligeri, Chairman & CEO of Aequs Inc which manufactures about 3,000 different types of products at its aerospace facility in Belgavi, Karnataka for aircraft makers and others – was too far ahead of his time for small aeroplanes which he had launched for personal use more than a decade ago. “The winner takes the most in this business,” he says. “When the dust settles in this space, we will have one or two left globally and several in the graveyard.”

Malavika Hegde Brews A Business Smart Coffee That Pays, Earns Employees' Faith To Turnaround Café Coffee Day

CEO of popular retail chain Café Coffee Day (CCD), Malavika Hegde is in the news for smartly turning around the company after the tragic demise of her husband VG Siddharth in July 2019.  Within three years she pared down the business debt, that stood at a whopping Rs 7200 crore to Rs 1731 crore.  So, how did she succeed?  A top source in the conglomerate’s logistics arm says, “I don’t understand why this question is being asked. Even an Ambani or an Adani, with all the cascading cash flow revenues would find it difficult to pay off such a daunting sum. Something all should know; this gutsy lady didn’t even ask for a haircut. Just conveyed that every rupee would be paid off. She has brought the debt down to 1730 crores (which is nothing short of) a miracle.” Sensible strategies were introduced to monetise non-core businesses, business plans remodelled, tighter integration of fiscal strategy and, above all, the goodwill of the workforce who believed Malavika would pull it off. The daughter of former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna, married into a well-heeled family of plantation owners, Malavika has proved yet again that women are more than capable to correct tail spins, just as efficiently as they manage their families. No doubts there at all.

Photo : Fotocorp

Five Year Lockdown Of Depositors' Funds At PMC, May Impact Polls Of The BMC

The beleaguered Punjab and Maharashtra Urban Co-operative Bank’s (PMC Bank) draft amalgamation scheme with Unity Small Finance Bank (transferee bank) may have to be reworked ahead of the upcoming BMC polls. The fly-in-the-ointment pertains to the clause that “no further interest will be payable on interest-bearing deposits of transferor (PMC) bank for a period of five years from the appointed date (of merger). It will be a long wait of five years for innocent depositors to be paid their money in full. PMC Bank’s deposits stood at Rs10,535.45 crore at end of March last year with nearly 50,000 depositors expected to bear the brunt of the current deferred payment scheme. A number of housing societies (read voters) in Mumbai had deposited their funds in the PMC Bank. Even bank employees’ cooperative credit societies were caught in this jam: The RBI Officers’ Co-operative Credit Society with some 3,500 members has FDs of Rs 105 crore while the RBI Staff & Officers Co-operative Credit Society with nearly 8,300 members has Rs 86.50 crore.  Sahakar Bharati, a powerful force in the cooperatives space, has already made clear its discomfort with the scheme as things stand today and sought a relook at the repayment plan for depositors. Will political parties in the BMC polls fray take up the issue now?  Last year, the RBI gave a licence to Centrum Financial Services and BharatPe to set up a small finance bank, Unity Small Finance Bank so the PMC Bank could be amalgamated with it.

CtrlS Datacenters Founder & CEO Sridhar Pinnapureddy

Asia’s Largest Gas Insulated Substation Holds Out Promise Of Game Changing In Data Center Industry

Move over Japan and USA, India now has a 300MW gas insulated substation (GIS), which can scale up to 700MW, that ensures full power 24×7 to 10 data centers on the two-million square feet Mumbai campus of CtrlS. Backed by three different sources and diversified paths that power it at all times, the GIS facility will allow businesses to co-locate their high-density IT infrastructure with seamless scalability, customized to growth requirements. The Hyderabad-headquartered data center major, with a campus in Noida too, is in the business of guaranteeing totally safe data hosting to its global clients. The new GIS facility with “very limited” sensitivity to environment and humidity, is corrosion proofed, seismic resistant, operating life longevity of over 50 years and maintenance free for 25 years. It is not only advanced but sustainable, too, possessing LEED Platinum certification and, designed to withstand earthquakes measuring 9 on the Richter scale. “This deployment is our commitment to the industry as we continue to address the growing needs of hyper-scalers, telcos, BFSI, healthcare, gaming and new-age companies,” says CtrlS Datacenters Founder & CEO Sridhar Pinnapureddy. The GIS technology originally started in Japan in the 1960s to save space as against, conventional air-insulated substations. Even in the USA only about 2-5% of new substations constructed are GIS facilities.
ratan tata dr

Photo : HarperCollins

Ratan Tata’s Biography: Dr Mathew Wins But Who Lost?

For journalists, even authors, high prestige also follows penning the Biography of a national icon. If that doyen is Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of the Tata Group, it is most certainly a reiteration that one has arrived. Many wannabe authors had vied to write Tata’s biography but, being introverted, Tata felt the moment was not opportune then. Now, comes the news of Tata’s authorized biography to be published by Harper & Collins, will be penned by retired IAS officer Dr Thomas Mathew who was additional secretary to the late Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee. Dr Mathew has already written two books – The Winged Wonders Of Rashtrapati Bhavan and Abode Under Dome. But, his nomination to write Tata’s life account surprised many corporate watchers and equally upset at least two hopefuls. Well-known in the national capital’s politico-corporate circles neither got the endorsements for the prestigious writing assignment of a lifetime. The two highly networked Page 3 personalities, in their own rights, have been closely associated with the Tata group in various capacities as advisors and strategists for long.  Clearly, one man’s gain is two men’s lost recognition.

May The Better Batter Win In The Battle Between MTR And iD Fresh

The Bengaluru-headquartered MTR Foods has fired the first salvo in its battle with fellow Bengalurite iD Fresh through an advertisement announcing its distinctive batters for idlis, dosas and even its ‘signature dosa’. “Idli and dosa are not the same. Why is your batter alike?” the advert questions. “Shots fired! How would iD react/respond?” asked a Twitter user. Others are quick to take up cudgels on behalf of one or the other of the two and say “Those who make it at home know there’s no major difference” or, even point out that the real competition for both MTR and iD is from mothers who make batter by themselves at home. One self-proclaimed ‘Delhi-Malayali’ says the convenience and taste of iD is “good enough to keep me loyal” while another asserts that those who love idli and dosa but don’t make it at home wouldn’t be too bothered. Musthafa PC, Co-Founder & CEO of iD Fresh, is unruffled: “We had tried it (separate products). Consumers prefer the same batter for both.” Meanwhile Musthafa has announced that the company has received Rs 507 crore in a Series D round of funding, led by NewQuest Capital Partners, in one of the largest deals in the food start-up space.   Clearly, with such big funding the battle for batter could intensify in the coming days.

Can India Inc Afford Regulatory Lapses?

Prime minister, Narendra Modi, states ad nauseam that he wants India Inc to prosper and, therefore, the all-out efforts by his government on the ease-of-doing-business front. For the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) though, it was business-as-usual when it recently “forced” RBL Bank’s renowned boss, Vishwavir Ahuja, to go on leave without citing what went wrong at the private sector bank.  This comes in the wake of fiscal imprudence causing upheavals at several banking institutions over the last five years including Punjab National Bank, the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, YES Bank, and Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative Bank. These incidents led to considerable financial instability at huge cost to the exchequer. It also distracted the ruling government which had to expend both time and political capital to salvage and set right the mess. This has been the case since the early 1990s — remember Harshad Mehta scam, CRB Capital, Ketan Parekh-Bank of India and Madhavpura Co-operative Bank. Successive Union governments were compelled to launch into respective cleansing acts after the RBI was caught flat-footed on the supervisory front. Surprisingly, no one at RBI was asked to go on leave or lost their jobs because of supervisory lapses. Can India Inc afford regulatory complacency anymore?

Exiting Hospitality Business Offers No Guarantee For Vascon Engineers Honcho From Union Bank

An advertisement in a newspaper, issued by the Credit Recovery and Legal Service Department of the public-sector Union Bank of India, announces an e-auction of immovable property at Mahalunge in Pune district to recover loans totalling Rs 52.74 crore. The property, around 1.27 hectare, is being auctioned because of borrowings by Viorica (sic) Hotels, which operated the erstwhile Hotel Holiday Inn — now Hotel Ramada – at Hinjewadi on the city’s outskirts. The ad names four personal (which the bank spells ‘personnel’) guarantors and, five corporate guarantors, headed by Vascon Engineers. “We will not be affected by this,” says Vascon founder chairman R Vasudevan, whose son Siddharth is among those named in the notice. “I don’t know why they are still dragging us into it. We got out of the hotel business five years ago, when we sold the property to Maruti Navale, formerly of Singhgad Institutes.” Navale and his Neemco Traders are also named in the notice.  Vascon, which got into the hospitality sector in 2006-07, exited it because, as Vasudevan had explained then, this was a specialised job which did not fit into their specialisation of construction. The company held stakes in three hotels in Pune — Holiday Inn, Hyatt Regency and Golden Suites — and two in Goa, Galaxy Resort and Vista Do Ria.

RK Jhaver

IPO Therapy For 84-Year Old Tablets (India): Unlocking True Business Values?

The Indian pharmaceutical industry witnessed many learning curves and has come a long way since the days of controls. Today, the industry wears an entirely transformed look. In the rough and tumble of the modern-day business world, which has to contend with intense competition, only an honourable few have managed to ensure the longevity of their respective businesses. Take the case of Chennai-based company Tablets (India), one of the early pharmaceutical ventures in the country. It was founded in 1938 by Sri Krishna Jhaver, who ventured into the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry and acquired the British-owned Oakley & Bowden Company based out of Chennai. While primarily set up to serve the healthcare needs of British Colonials, it was renamed Tablets (India). It boasts of some well-documented products in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical segments and is recognized as a pioneer in amino acids and probiotic therapy. A flagship company of the closely-held Jhaver Group, it is managed by accomplished professionals across various functions in the organization. It has five business divisions and three manufacturing facilities. How long could it have remained a family-owned enterprise? Not just that. The owners too, want to unlock value, thereby monetizing a part of their holdings. And what better way than to tap into the capital markets even as IPOs seem to be the flavour of the season.
Gautam thapar

Gautam Thapar: From A Rainmaker To An Economic Offender

Avantha Group promoter Gautam Thapar’s fall, currently lodged at Delhi’s Tihar jail, was swifter than his meteoric rise. A series of events dislodged the 61-year-old industrialist from his pedestal, the latest being a special CBI court denying him bail in an alleged fraud case. Thapar was arrested in August 2021 by the Enforcement Directorate for money laundering following a sale of property in Delhi. The property, mortgaged to Yes Bank against a loan by the Avantha Group, was purchased by another firm at much lower than prevailing market rates. Coincidentally, Yes Bank’s founder Rana Kapoor’s wife was a director on the board of the said firm. What led to Thapar’s fall from grace? A Doon School and, US-based Pratt Institute alumni, he joined the family business Thapar Group in 1980 and is credited with turning around many of the group’s ailing businesses. In 2007, he bought over the family enterprise, rechristening it as the Avantha Group. An over-ambitious Thapar launched into aggressive global acquisitions under Crompton Greaves and the BILT brands, even foraying into the power sector in 2008. All these ventures, however, bombed with accusations of financial fraud and corporate governance issues abounding thereafter. The group companies were taken over by lenders, and the ‘rainmaker’ turned into an economic offender even having “criminal antecedents”.

Pre-Owned Vehicles & Equipment Worth Over Rs 3,000 Crore Sold Via Shriram Automall

Anyone in Mumbai wanting to sell a vehicle is now digitally enabled to exchange his or her vehicle registered in, say, Nagaland but parked on the outskirts of Delhi with a buyer from Bengaluru. This, according to Shriram Automall India Ltd (SAMIL), is thanks to a new cutting-edge system of ‘Phygital’ (Physical plus Digital) solutions, which helps to connect buyers and sellers all over India to exchange their pre-owned vehicles and equipment. The company, which is India’s largest platform for such transactions, used the same system for its latest strategic partner, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, and exchanged and delivered the first batch of 10 BharatBenz trucks in Manesar (close to Delhi). Such transactions, of over 160,000 vehicles and items of equipment, with more than 4,000 physical events and over 25,000 online events conducted across the platforms, brought SAMIL business worth more than ₹3,000 crore last year – at an average selling price that was 10% higher than in the earlier year. In addition to all this, what Chief Executive Officer Sameer Malhotra is really excited about is that the company is now also certified as a “Great Place to Work”. “This reiterates SAMIL’s focus on achieving business goals while managing work-life balance and building what the Great Place to Work Institute has recognised as a High-Trust & High-Performance Culture,” he says. “This is a proud moment for us.”  
toy_Vikram goel

PM Says Make Toys In India But Where Are The Facilities Industry Asks

Nothing much has happened in the year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the Indian toy industry to ‘make in India’ instead of relying on imports, especially from China. After his appeal in February 2021, the industry has been waiting for incentives, but in vain. The only positive development was a month earlier: the introduction of compulsory BIS certification, for both domestically-manufactured and imported toys, with effect from 01 January. This has cut down official imports – but CKD is still permitted – which, say industry spokespersons, allows traders to bring in the entire item in collusion with customs officers who are content to look the other way for a consideration.  “We need more positive action”, says Vikram Goel, CEO of the Mumbai-based Infotech Resources, a manufacturer, exporter, supplier and retailer of hand puppets and soft toys. First, he says, the Government should give them free land to set up manufacturing facilities. It should also provide free space in Indian toy exhibitions and sponsor those abroad. A stall in a Mumbai or Delhi event puts an exhibitor back by Rs11,000 while a trip to Nuremberg for the biggest global exhibition costs about Rs11 lakh plus the fares. “Which small manufacturer can afford that?” he asks.
vikram S kirloskar

Back To Office Not An Option For Many As Companies Give Up Office Space

Even as the corporate world rolls up its sleeves and prepares to get back to offices and tables, not everyone will be able to resume the daily commute. Some companies, including large multinationals, have cut their overheads by giving up their plush leased offices soon after work from home (WFH) became the norm (prevalent). So, the many who have got used to working while lounging comfortably in their pyjamas cannot, even if they – or their families – want to, as they no longer have a workplace to go back to (which they can start going) again. The Bengaluru-headquartered Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), which has its manufacturing facilities at Bidadi on the outskirts of the city, gave up the lease on its corporate office in the city’s posh Vasanth Nagar soon after the pandemic made it impossible for people to get to it. “We have decided to stick to WFH,” said the India-Japan joint venture’s vice chairman and managing director Vikram S Kirloskar. “When we need to have meetings, we can have them in a hotel instead of our own conference room. Anyway, people who need to come in from our other offices stay in a hotel.” Surely, the company is making huge savings by way of rents but are the employees really happy to WFH?

Photo : The Hans India

With Five Steel Giants’ Big Investments Odisha To Emerge As India’s Steel Capital

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is leaving no stone unturned to transform his state. And, the results appear to be showing.  It is reliably learnt that five steel giants have finalized mega investments in Odisha namely: Posco, ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and JSW. While Posco has evinced an interest to invest once again, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal’s ArcelorMittal has secured approval from the Patnaik government to set up a 24 MTPA greenfield integrated steel project at Kendrapara district. Similarly, Tata Steel will expand its Kalinga Nagar capacity from 3 MTPA to 8 MTPA; while Jindal Steel & Power will up its Anugul plant capacity from 6 MTPA to 25.2 MTPA. This will make JSPL’s Anugul plant the world’s largest single location steel plant. JSW, which acquired Bhushan Power & Steel plant located at Jharsuguda, will also ramp up capacity from 5 MTPA to 15 MTPA while the Rungta Mines’ Karakhendra plant capacity goes up from 0.53 MTPA to 3 MTPA.  If all goes as planned, Odisha will become the ‘Steel Capital’ of the country, driving national economic growth through steel production. The state had a mere 2 MTPA steel production capacity in 2000 compared to its steel production of 30 MTPA today and, plans to further increase it to 100 MTPA by 2030. Clearly, Odisha is setting the pace of development for India.


We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.