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Kapil Ramamurthy, Ganeshram Jayaraman

One More First For Chennai: Avendus Picks Stake In Spark Capital

Suddenly, Chennai has turned into hyper city. The listing of SaaS (software-as-a-service) firm Freshworks on Nasdaq, eliciting record bids by a little known Latent View Analytics and the attraction of huge funding by an obscure Ram Charan Company has pitch-forked the usually docile business world of Chennai into the national limelight. Is Chennai getting a new sense of importance? Not really, if one were to take a deep dip down memory lane. This part of the world has been a trend-setter in very many ways. The first corporate film company (GV Films), THE first corporate hospital (Apollo), First Leasing Company, first time-share company (Sterling Holiday), first corporate education company (Triveni Academy), first hostile takeover (Cumi acquiring Wendt India in the early 90s) – you have all of them sprout from this Dravidian land. In that way, this is a hotspot for innovation and experimentation. And, the financial services business has a strong root here. Not surprising that this Mumbai-based financial services company has developed a Spark to put its Capital into this. Avendus must be mega pleased to discover this mid-market investment bank Spark Capital in Chennai. A Spark will do Avendus a world of good in terms of its ability to provide research-oriented insight and solutions to clients’ requirements. This one is indeed a Spark(ling) move by Avendus!
leena Nair

The Jasmine Trail: Leena Nair To Lead Chanel As CEO

Two unrelated exclusive news headlines and, yet they are mutually correlated. Fifty-two-year-old India-born, XLRI Gold medallist from Sangli in Maharashtra, Leena Nair is handpicked to head French haute couture fashion perfume brand Chanel, come January 2022. In unrelated news, prices of the Jasmine flower soared to Rs 4000 per kilogram in Madurai, the Jasmine capital of India, after rains cut down supplies. The Jasmine flower with a geographical identity (GI) Tag of its own is world-famous by itself and till recently supplies were exclusively exported to Chanel in France that has since started growing its own special Jasmine flower stalks in Grasse. The Chanel’s flagship ‘Chanel 5’ perfume registers a sale every 30 seconds. Launched in 1910 by the stormy Gabrielle Coco Chanel, who also gave it the unforgettable tagline – The Scent of a woman. India’s Jasmine flower is coveted on all festive occasions. As Chief Human Resources Officer at Unilever Nair led a 150,000 strong corporate. At Chanel, with an equally formidable history she intends to take the iconic, $12.3 billion company to newer heights of aspiration. The Jasmine suppliers of Madurai may still expand production and marketing strategy to cater to this exclusive brand again after erratic supplies from India led Chanel to growing its own special bud in Grasse, France – the perfume capital of the world.

Pune-Based Maritime Research Centre Pitches For National Deep Sea Policy

The Pune-based Maritime Research Centre (MRC) has achieved a milestone by submitting an interim report on a proposed national capacity- and capability-building policy to bring about effective Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA). This is a ‘whole-of-nation’ approach to bring all the stakeholders in UDA together, feels the founder-director of MRC, Dr (Cdr) Arnab Das, who presented it to NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant in Delhi last week. Kant is understood to have appreciated MRA’s continued efforts in taking the UDA framework forward. The project had started with a presentation to the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar and four Advisors.  Cdr Das also had the opportunity to meet Milinda Moragoda, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, and brief him on the UDA framework and its importance for Indo-Sri Lanka relationships. The increasing maritime activities in the Indian Ocean Region lead to higher noise levels, affecting marine species that use sound for multiple biologically critical functions like foraging, navigation, communication and finding mates. The sensing of the undersea domain for threats, resources and activities, making sense of the data generated for security strategies, conservation plans and resource utilisation plans are vital; and the MRC is keen to play a major role in this critical national and regional initiative.

Photo : Dr PKC Bose with minister Parshottam Rupala

Will The Govt’s Go Green Expedition Boost The Marine Sector?

Sustainable energy is big on the Indian government’s agenda, from harnessing wind for the county’s energy needs to making it the primary source of energy for fishing vessels and the processing of marine products. Meetings with top government functionaries from Dr KV Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor, to Fisheries Minister Parshottam Rupala demonstrated to wind energy evangelist Dr PKC Bose that the country is striving for excellence through renewable energy. Senator Bose, Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the Bengaluru-based Enercon Windenergy, a subsidiary of Germany’s Enercon Group, was in Delhi recently meeting top echelons of the government. They discussed India’s renewable energy sector — especially wind energy, its immense potential, untapped offshore market, policies and regulatory constraints as well as the challenges ahead. Their talks also covered the entire ecosystem consisting of energy, environment and economy, as well as energy economics – economic development and cost of energy under different market conditions, regulations, taxation and subsidies for renewable energy. The government functionaries, who articulated the relationship between energy, environment and economy for building a sustainable and net zero in India by 2070, gave all assurances to work in this direction. Renewable energy minister RK Singh’s commitment to achieve 100 GW wind energy by 2030 and his assurance of all support to the stakeholders was also ‘highly motivating’.

Padhega India Tabhi Toh Badhega America: Amul’s Buttery Tweet Kicks Off Meme Storm On Twitter’s Indian Origin CEO

Made in India is definitely the flavour of choice for many a tech company when the CEO is chosen to lead uber successful tech brands. The podium of honour is filling up regularly, and fast with youthful, young incumbents, Made in India. Parag Agrawal is the latest to join this roll of honour, heading Twitter at 37, an IIT, Bombay alumnus, succeeding co-founder Jack Dorsey surely a class act to follow and build on. While numerous memes and encomiums sprouted thick and fast, Amul‘s celebratory ad garnered super attention. The ad showed Parag at his computer on which perched a Tweety Bird, and the blurb, Wholetweet toast to Agravault. Amul’s topical and buttery creatives are not entirely new to the public. The former Sheriff of Mumbai, late Nana Chudasama and his succinct banners (Above Talk Of The Town) on Marine Drive’s Soona Mahal was literally that in the 70s and 80s –talked about and debated. We Indians have a tolerable sense of humour too, and memes of Parag Agarwal elicited titters about Agrawal Sweets to Agrawal Tweets. Many a Tamilian wit has joked about the Alphabet CEO, Sundar as India’s “pichai” (largesse) to America, Nadella as our Sathya hi Shiv Hai! Another YouTuber takes this more seriously… “Make in India talent and technology to export to the US.” Hold the xsplit vcam torrent flag high guys and girls, India has download game maker studio 2 full crack super talent.

Global Major Atlas Copco Buys Out Bengaluru-Based Co’s Pumps Business

Global air compressor giant Atlas Copco, which has been on a buying spree over the last few years to take over major vacuum companies around the world, has just signed a sale and purchase agreement to buy out a Bengaluru-based company’s pumps business. The Indian arm of the $11-billion Swedish giant will, however, continue to use the latter’s HHV brand – which is a well-established and very strong one in the vacuum business – for the next three years. HHV Pumps was a 30% partner in a joint venture with a group of private individuals who were ex-CEOs of the century-old pumps manufacturer Edwards, which is now part of the Stockholm-headquartered Atlas Copco. Other vacuum pump companies that have been acquired include the 170-year-old Leybold and the comparatively young US-based Brooks Automation, which was established in Chelmsford, Massachusetts in 1978. HHV, founded in 1965 by SV Narasaiah (1924 -2021) as Hind High Vacuum Company Pvt Ltd, got a good deal, while the Swedish giant will gain a big foothold in the Indian market. The sale is expected to be completed in the first week of January 2022.
shriram_star health

Chennai Inc Transforming Into India Inc: How's The Josh?

What’s in a name? Everything, some will say. So what, some will argue. At least in the Dravidian land of Tamil Nadu, the name and personality still count. With the business landscape undergoing rapid metamorphosis by the day, the conventional wisdom of placing faith on name and personality, however, is wrought with risk. If proof is required, you have. Take the case of the Shriram group and Star Health, the country’s first private sector stand-alone health insurance company. The Shriram group has long ceased to be a Chennai conglomerate. Known largely for truck financing, Shriram is also known for its chit business. Founded by R Thyagarajan (popularly known as RT), the group has since changed a lot. Today, it is driven from Mumbai by the Piramals. Not many know that the Shriram of today does not really belong to the city of Chennai. Star Health, too, is known by its founder V Jagannathan, an insurance industry veteran. That states such as AP and TN rolled out health cover for the citizens largely due to his connection was well known. Star too has changed. Once the IPO is over, Star will be vastly different. Perhaps the people of Chennai can’t really claim Shriram and Star to be their own!

Welspun To Invest Around Rs 2500 Crore To Build Warehouses In Tamil Nadu

Welspun One Logistics Parks, a pan-India integrated fund, development and asset management platform, a part of the $3.5 billion Welspun Group, has signed an MoU with Guidance, the Government of Tamil Nadu’s nodal agency, for investment promotion and single window facilitation. This is towards setting up warehousing facilities across Tamil Nadu. The projects will be executed by Welspun One Logistics Parks and will bring direct investments of around Rs 2,500 crore to the State. Under this MoU, a total of six projects have been proposed in the prime warehousing micro-markets like Hosur, Sriperumbudur and Tiruvallur; totalling a development potential of around 8 million sqft, to be built across a span of five years. Considering the tangible social and economic benefits that the investments entail, the state government has assured support in streamlining the approval processes and single-window clearances for Welspun-initiated projects to facilitate the overall ease of doing business. The Welspun group company, in turn, is determined to provide high-impact sustainable warehousing solutions by incorporating green infrastructure and an industry-led technology approach.

India Cements Sees ‘Macho’ Rivals Rush In Tamil Nadu As Cement Prices Move North

Why is everybody eyeing the cement industry? N Srinivasan, the vice-chairman and managing director of The India Cements has an interesting take on this. The industry has something “macho” about it. That is an irresistible attraction, he says. To be sure, the cement scene in Tamil Nadu at least heads for some exciting turns. It is a market where the price is holding up – and often heads north – despite excess capacity. Surely, this can’t go unnoticed by enterprising minds. Dalmia and Ultratech have already gotten into action mode. Dalmia is planning grinding units in Coimbatore, Chingleput, and Virudhunagar districts. Well, it already has cement plants at Dalmiapuram in Trichy and Ariyalur. Ultratech, on the other hand, has a grinding unit at Arakkonam and a cement plant in Reddipalayam (acquired from Dharani several summers ago. It is now planning expansion by putting up grinding units at Karur, Tuticorin, and Ranipet. These two have indeed chosen strategic locations for their proposed grinding facilities. Their move is bound to intensify action on the ground. Product innovation and savvy marketing could hold the key for the players in this part of the world to secure their position and expand in a market that is set for intense competition. Surely, CSK and Dhoni could come in handy for India Cements in the unfolding cement turf!

Photo :

Tamil Nadu Politics Heat Up As India Cements & CSK Celebrate IPL Victory With Stalin

The yellow jersey, nay CSK (Chennai Super Kings), has deeply embedded itself in the heart and mind of fans across the canvass. Ipso facto, that has also become an easy target. A trip down memory lane would reveal how the CSK matches were shifted out of Chennai over the Cauvery river water dispute with neighbouring Karnataka. That a sporting event was forced out of Chennai told a tale of its own for the world investing community. Such episodes during the previous regime had had its fall-out on the investor sentiment. So much so, Tamil Nadu lost the AK47 project of the Russian company to Uttar Pradesh. Much water has flowed since then. Nothing much, however, appears to have been learnt. It is now the turn of the main Opposition in Tamil Nadu – the AIADMK – to use CSK to take a dig at the Stalin government. Using the proverbial “fiddling while Rome was burning” analogy, a top AIADMK functionary questioned Stalin’s participation in the India Cements’ function to celebrate IPL cup victory of CSK in the just-concluded edition. When the rains have engulfed the state, how could Stalin participate in a celebratory event? Life is not about this or that. It is all about this and that. Is it cricket to indulge in such diatribe?

Saint Gobain’s Rs 2,500-Cr Bet On India To Target Booming Work From Home Segment

 Covid has changed the world upside down for many. The distance between the home and the office has, in many cases, simply shrunk drastically. One part of the house has become a regular office. And, this has thrown new business opportunities. The housing sector at least is witnessing a demand re-jig.  Safety and WFH (work-from-home) compulsions are forcing home-buyers to opt for bigger flats. Sensing this, French glass maker Saint-Gobain has trained its focus on providing downstream solutions in India. Towards this it has chalked out an ambitious capex plan of Rs 2,500 crore. It has already set up a separate business unit for home solutions to satiate the emerging needs of home buyers. And, it is promising to offer customized solutions for every individual client. This calls for a sense of agility and spirit of entrepreneurship. To be sure, a highly technology-oriented and end-to-end digitized independent entity is now anchoring Saint Gobain’s foray into this downstream exercise. A game-changing initiative, this move reflects a new strategy in thinking for this predominantly material manufacturer. The end-user-focussed unit has already hired over 300 people with diverse skill sets to grab a reasonable share in the $25 billion home solution pie. End-user, nay home-buyer, terrain isn’t going to be an easy nut to crack. But Saint-Gobain has chosen to do so. India is shining for this French group, it appears.

BP And Infosys To Help Businesses Unlock Infrastructure’s Energy Efficiency

BP, a global integrated energy company, and Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, have agreed to develop and pilot an energy as a service (EaaS) solution, which will aim to help businesses improve the energy efficiency of infrastructure, and help meet their decarbonisation goals. Infosys and BP intend to co-develop a digital platform that can collect data from multiple energy assets and use artificial intelligence to optimise the energy supply and demand for power, heat, cooling and EV charging. The companies will pilot the digital platform at the Infosys Pune Development Centre – in an environment that replicates a small city, where energy is generated, stored, and consumed at multiple points. Once the pilot is successful, they aim to roll this model out across other Infosys campuses in India, and with some clients, to help manage energy and help reduce emissions. In addition, the companies have agreed to collaborate on integrating solar energy production into the campus’ energy system. Energy that is generated through this integration, will be monitored and optimised by the digital platform and can be stored or redirected to the building power supply, heating and cooling systems, and also to an EV charging infrastructure.

Mumbai’s Top Five Realty Players To Join Hands For MHADA’s Biggest Redevelopment Project

Mumbai’s top five realty players may come together to redevelop 6.2 million sqft in to house 5,300 tenants at Motilal Nagar in Goregaon West, according to a leading real estate website, Squarefeatindia. This is one of the biggest redevelopment projects of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), a nodal agency that focuses on affordable housing in the state.  According to the website on November 15, a pre-bid meeting was held between the five realty players and MHADA team at its headquarters in Bandra. All the five players have evinced interest to develop this huge parcel of land.  All the five real estate companies which participated are major players in the country and have capabilities to execute large scale projects. One player is involved in redeveloping BDD Chawls in Worli, the other is a front runner for the Dharavi redevelopment project while the third player has been doing MHADA’s affordable housing projects for years now. The deadline to complete the project is 84 months after the players win the bid. The technical bid will open on December 14.

Ambani & Adani’s Green Investments Seen Boosting Modi India’s Climate Leadership

At the G20 climate summit held in Glasgow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi must have felt like Midas, reincarnated. Heads I win, tails you lose. This last chance for reigning in global warming saw a new phase of tu tu mein mein. And this blame game and tug of opinion between the have nations and have nots couldn’t have been better articulated than what Andy Mukherjee, columnist and analyst wrote for Bloomberg: “The real action is happening in NW Gujarat, not Glasgow.” Modi has two of the most ambitious, richest and dedicated fighters in the corporate world, racing for supremacy – Mukesh Ambani, 64 and Gautam Adani, 59. Like quick change Houdini, Ambani (with world’s biggest refining complex at Jamnagar spewing emissions) has already committed investments worth $36 billion in four sunrise domains: solar panels, batteries, green hydrogen and fuel cells. Adani had a head start with his coal powered plants (not seen cool by environment guardians); his 360 degree turn is for a 20,000 MW gigantic integrated solar wind and hybrid electricity empire. The hydrogen generation units will take off like the proverbial balloons, decarbonising India’s fuel needs for the future. Now is it crystal clear, Modi wins any which way. It just means custom making certain policies for the Atlas corporations. Is anyone complaining?
subarnarekha port

WB Govt’s Rs 15K-Cr Tajpur Port Raises Competition For Tata’s Odisha Port

The competition for survival has already begun with the West Bengal government setting up the Rs 15,000-crore greenfield Tajpur port project in the state — positioned next door to Tata Steel’s Rs 5,000-crore Subarnarekha port project at Chaumukh in Balasore district in Odisha. The Odisha government is moving fast. According to K Sudarshan Chakravarty, Collector and District Magistrate, Balasore: “The assignment of providing over 1,000 acres to Tata’s port project will be completed by November 2021.” With regard to the rail and road corridor, and land requirement of 197 acres, 40 acres have already been acquired. Tatas will begin project work sometime in January 2022. As for Tajpur port in WB, sources say that when commissioned this will be a major monopoly port in eastern India, accommodating Cape size vessels. Tajpur port has the backing of Port of Singapore, DP World and other big consortium and conglomerates who have expressed interest in the deep sea port project. Major business groups from W Bengal like Rashmi Group, Shyam Steel, Super Steel and companies from Kharagpur, Asansol, have shown interest to support Tajpur port project, especially steel and coke logistics business. Construction of Tajpur port will begin by mid-2023 soon. Sources say that the Tata Group which is now focussing on its prized Air India acquisition may go slow on the Odisha port project for now. When contacted, Tatas declined to comment.
harsha viji_sundaram

Harsha Viji -- Executive vice-Chairman SFL

How Sundaram Finance Strikes The Right Chord With Its Investors

What is in a name? Reputation. When this TVS firm wanted to stop accepting deposits, there was a huge public outcry. If you don’t, where will we go? That was the reaction of senior citizens then. For Chenniates, Sundaram Finance Ltd (SFL) has been a part and parcel of their life. SFL and Chennai are inseparably entwined. SFL has been hosting the annual Mylapore festival for very many years now. And, it has been holding a mikeless concert every first Sunday of a month for over a decade now at the Nageswara Park to provide kids a platform to demonstrate their skills. Covid-19 however has changed everything. In the new normal social distancing world, SFL has its job cut out. It is on a mission mode. It wants people to get fully vaccinated. It has launched a music video ‘Oosingo’, composed by singer Anirudh Ravichander and written by lyricist Arivarasu Kalainesan. Celebrity-influencers too figure in the video. “We are in the last mile in our fight against Covid,” says Harsha Viji, executive vice-chairman of SFL. Well, this TVS company has the experience in providing last-mile connectivity in the vehicle finance segment too. It has budgeted Rs 10 crore for the public service programme. Trust, thy name is SFL.

Photo : Twitter

Do New IPL Teams Make Business Sense?

Indian Premier League (IPL), an estimated $7 billion property, became richer by close to $1.5 billion as the bids for two new teams touched Rs 12,715 crore. Kolkata-based Sanjiv Goenka, who had owned the Pune IPL team for two years, bid a phenomenal Rs 7,090 crore and chose the AB Vajpayee stadium in Lucknow as his team’s base while CVC Capital, a US firm which was running Formula 1 racing till recently, got India’s biggest stadium in Ahmedabad. Annually, the new team bids would fetch an additional Rs 1,200 crore to BCCI for next 10 years. But does shelling out so much money as a team’s franchise fee make business sense? Goenka thinks so, though industry estimates put prospective losses at around Rs 350 crore per year for the Lucknow franchise even if the team gets Rs 350 crore from the IPL central pool. IPL figures show that teams are currently earning around Rs 200 crore a year from central pool, Rs 100 crore from gate collection besides sponsorship and merchandising. The profitability prospects for the teams are likely to brighten with the next IPL media rights auction – and they could be big winners in the valuation game with individual IP teams rated as high as $1 billion. But, experts hold that the new teams may have to withstand losses even if the future share of central pool revenues is higher when the new IPL bidding cycle for media rights kick in.
dabur fem

Lessons Learnt From Dabur’s Karwachauth Ad: Don’t Mess With Our Culture

This Karwachauth saw more than the moon through the sieve of tradition. It saw the trampling of a tradition. Dabur aired this in-your-face ad about a lesbian couple, their beautifying for the sacred Karwachauth, when married women fast the whole day (Nirjal) for the longevity of the spouse. Dabur planned to sneak in a Fem ad, and also legitimise this relationship by presumably the mother of the gay partner. She is shown handing over costly sarees and jewellery, and blessing to the one who is the “wife spouse”! When netizens reacted with revulsion, Dabur withdrew the ad with an apology. However advanced sexual preferences are in the closet, there are certain mores you don’t trample on with impunity. Bhavesh Talreja, founder of Mobile Advertising platform, Global Media said, “All companies live and thrive under a political system….” Interestingly, a plea about same sex marriage had come up for hearing in the Delhi High Court…. timing, timing is everything. Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, argued that same sex marriages cannot be brought under the umbrella of the Hindu Marriage Act. The Government’s stand is that marriage is permissible only between a biological man and woman. Karwachauth is a premium event in the calendar of marketers, who must acknowledge that the society is still not ready for such woke gyan and experiments. Dabur seems to have got the message: don’t mess with our culture!
Nihar letter

ICAI President Nihar N Jambusaria

ICAI President’s Call To Adopt Hindi Upsets Tamil Nadu CAs

ICAI President Nihar N Jambusaria has stirred a hornet’s nest. In a signed message published in the October issue of The Chartered Accountant journal, he exhorted the members of India’s apex body for chartered accountants to adopt Hindi in their work and interactions with other stakeholders. For him, Hindi is a rajbhasha (official language). And, he wants his fellow CAs to promote Hindi. His appeal has virtually kicked up a row with many senior CAs, especially in the state of Tamil Nadu, warning the ICAI chief of the adverse fall-out of his action. Should ICAI be promoting a language? Or, should it be guiding the CA fraternity as a whole? The debate has already picked up steam on social media. Predictably, his move has drawn political reaction as well. A sitting MP from Madurai, S Venkatesan, has taken to Twitter to condemn the ICAI chief. “May be it (Hindi) is your mother tongue but not for all,” he tweeted. He has already dashed off a letter to ICAI, opposing the move. “Tamil Nadu would resist imposition (of Hindi),” Venkatesan asserted. The CA fraternity in Tamil Nadu is seething in anger. ICAI could live without such controversy. And, Jambusaria could have avoided playing to galleries (on September 14 being marked as Hindi Diwas). He reportedly clarified: “It (Hindi) is a choice… If you want to write in whatever language you want, there is no restriction on anybody.”
csk champs

CSK Is Sport And Never A Business For Us, Says India Cements’ N Srinivasan

Indian Premier League (IPL) has proved to be a heady mix of sports, entertainment, and business. Not surprisingly, there is quite an interest around it. Sanjiv Goenka-led RPSG group is new franchisee for Lucknow and PE player CVC Capital for Ahmedabad. Indeed, the sport has changed. Is it cricket? Well, the debate has been on for a long while now. But N Srinivasan, the indefatigable former boss of Board of Control for Cricket in India, has a different take on his IPL team. “We look at CSK (Chennai Super Kings) as a pure sport,” says Srinivasan, who is the vice-chairman and MD of ICL (India Cements Ltd). ICL owned the IPL franchise team CSK from inception in 2008 till 2014, when the ownership was transferred to Chennai Super Kings Ltd. “CSK is a sport and never a business for us,” he makes it clear. Srinivasan is the fulcrum around both ICL and CSK. “I think my personality has rubbed off in CSK,” he says. Both at ICL and BCCI, he had endured the worst. “A less strong person would have wilted,” he feels. “Our reaction to victory and loss is the same. When we win we are happy in our heart. We don’t need to go out and blow the trumpet,” he said. Indeed, CSK will remain an inseparable part of Srinivasan.
elon musk_dan taylor_heisenberg media

Photo : Dan Taylor / Heisenberg media

Elon Musk All Set To Be The World’s First Trillionaire Via SpaceX Led Satellite Broadband

The electric car maker and space enthusiast Elon Musk is on course to become the world’s first trillionaire. Analysts at investment banks are going gaga over the prospect of a trillionaire on earth as Tesla raced to a record quarter with revenues of $13.8 billion and profits of $3.7 billion despite a global chip shortage cramping car production. The potential of Musk’s rocket company SpaceX places Musk in pole position for gathering wealth to a stupendous trillion dollars. Thanks to its surging share price which went up by 18% just this year, Tesla is still the main driver behind Musk’s wealth whereas SpaceX comprises only around 17% of his $241.4bn fortune, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. While SpaceX comprises multiple different companies, from earth observation and space infrastructure to deep-space exploration and other industries, his satellite communications business Starlink is behind a $200-billion valuation estimate. It is almost like Star Wars now as satellite broadband market players are launching satellite constellations that will blanket the earth with high-speed connections. Tomorrow’s broadband is likely to come down to earth from satellites, replacing expensive optic fibre cable laying. The race for number one ranking on the personal wealth index is loaded in favour of Musk who has made so many sunrise industries viable, most of all the Tesla electric car that the world laughed at when it made its debut.

Photo : Twitter

Tata Power Firms Up Rs 5,000-Cr Investment In Odisha To Fix Frequent Power Cuts

After being pulled up by Odisha Assembly Speaker Suryanarayan Patra for frequent power cuts, the Tata Power has got into the act to ensure uninterrupted and quality power supply through its four distribution companies in the state. The company has firmed up ambitious investment plans. According to Sanjay Banga, President (T&D), Tata Power, the company will spend Rs 1,200-1,500 crore for each Discom in the next five years (around Rs 5,000 crore for four discoms). The capex for 2021-22 has already been finalized and submitted to the OERC. Most of the Capex budget will go for reliability improvement, loss reduction and technology upgradation. In the coming winter of 2021, TPC will go in for planned outages – a new initiative to work upon preventive maintenance. Banga says from March 2022 onwards, TPC customers in Odisha will experience better power supply connection with fewer trippings as Tata Power will spend Rs 300 crore towards preventive maintenance to address summer season reliability. “Odisha power reliability will be as good as Mumbai and Delhi sometime in 2023,” Banga added. It is learnt that the power networks, which have structural weakness as experienced in Odisha due to redundancy of single-source supply, will be changed to multiple-source power supply assurance. This will ensure reliable power. Tata Power has 51% stake in the Odisha entity with management control and the state-owned GRIDCO has 49% equity stake.
khushinagar airport

Swanky Kushinagar Airport A Big Boost To UP’s Buddhist Tourism

In a major boost to UP tourism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to open Kushinagar International Airport on October 20. Kushinagar is of significance to Buddhists all over the world as it is here that Lord Buddha is believed to have attained Mahaparinirvana after his death (2500 BE). It is famous for the Reclining Buddha image inside the Parinirvana Stupa. Prime Minister will participate in an event, organized to mark Abhidhamma Day. The day symbolises the end of three-month rainy retreat – Varshavaas or Vassa – for the Buddhist Monks, during which they stay at one place in vihara & monastery and pray.  The event will also be attended by eminent Monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan and Cambodia, as well as Ambassadors of various countries. The inauguration of Kushinagar International Airport will be marked by the landing of flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Led by Namal Rajapaksa, son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Lankan delegation of over 100 Buddhist monks and dignitaries, including the 12-member Holy Relic entourage, is bringing the Holy Buddha Relics for Exposition. Built at an estimated cost of Rs 260 crore, the Kushinagar International Airport will facilitate domestic and international pilgrims to visit the Mahaparinirvana-sthal of Lord Buddha. The airport will also serve nearby districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

N Srinivasan Turns To High-Performance Dhoni-CSK To Craft New Brand Strategy For India Cements

Sankar Cement and Coromandel Cement of India Cements have been part of some of the country’s iconic structures. Sankar Cement is associated with the building of Idukki Dam in Kerala, Pamban Bridge in Tamil Nadu and Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari. Infosys Building in Bengaluru and Rajiv Gandhi International Sports Stadium in Hyderabad were built with Coromandel cement. Well, Sankar and Coromandel are trusted brands in the cement industry for many summers and belong to 75-year-old India Cements Ltd (ICL), a leader in south India. With such history behind it, the ICL management, led by N Srinivasan, vice chairman & MD, is now engaged in the process of reconfiguring the brand strategy. The time appears to have arrived now. With the Chennai Super Kings having a dream run in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), team ICL chose to celebrate Platinum jubilee of the company with Captain Cool Dhoni & his boys and the dealers in a live engagement. This is perhaps the first and unique exercise to leverage CSK to promote India Cements, which is the principal sponsor of Chennai Super Kings. The focus now is on creating a distinct and strong corporate brand identity for India Cements. Iconic cement brands are to be promoted around this corporate brand among dealers and influencers. Well, the pitch is clear indeed!

Apple’s Private Relay Upholds Privacy – Even For The Underworld

In what could be dangerous for police forces, Apple has launched encrypted browsing at the touch of a switch on its iPhones, iPads, laptops and desktop computers. It is called the Private Relay feature and criminals could have a free run on it with law enforcement rendered helpless in tracking them. Broadband and mobile companies may be unable to assist police investigations into dangerous suspects like terrorists or child abusers. Hitherto, criminals had to be extremely computer savvy to use the DarkNet to carry out their nefarious activities. With all Apple devices giving people encrypted protection, it could be a virtual invitation for the criminally minded to use them with the anonymity they seek in working the Internet.  As technology improves to offer the hiding of digital footprints, investigating authorities might struggle even if Apple is offering to “respond productively” to any police requests for information. When people browse the web, their browser takes them directly to the website they seek, leaving a digital footprint with their broadband or mobile operator. Apple’s Private Relay service uses technology similar to the “dark web”, to ping people’s traffic between different servers so no one entity can see where they have been. Even Apple will not be able to see who you are either and what sites you are visiting.

RBI Turns To Ace Finance Pros From South To Turn Around NBFCs

When things are going down, this regulator too decides to head south! Well, the RBI, yet again, has chosen to look for talents in the south to reset a couple of recalcitrant NBFCs. This time around, the RBI has brought in two stalwarts from the south to assist the newly-appointed administrator of Srei Infrastructure Finance and Srei Equipment Finance. The boards of these two were superseded by the RBI on October 4, 2021. R Subramaniakumar, administrator of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL), and TT Srinivasaraghavan, former MD, Sundaram Finance, have been included in the three-member advisory committee to help Rajneesh Sharma, ex-Chief General Manager, Bank of Baroda, as the administrator of these two companies. Since November 2019, Subramaniakumar, former MD & CEO Indian Overseas Bank, has been an administrator of DHFL. After many twists and turns, the debt resolution plan submitted by Piramal Group for DHFL has been finally approved by the National Company Law Tribunal. Subramaniakumar, in fact, was driving IOB during its critical phase. A few days ago, IOB came out of the Prompt Corrective Action framework. IOB was placed under PCA in 2015. Srinivasaraghavan is a highly respected personality in the NBFC world. And he piloted Sundaram Finance for many years with a sense of dedication and unalloyed commitment. The south has a nice side to its story after all.

Photo : Punit Goenka, Shallu Jindal and Siddharth Lal

Rising Shareholder Activism Keeping Promoters On The Hook

Shareholder activism has been gaining currency and managements have to think twice before proposing resolutions to be approved and voted by shareholders. SEBI is also ensuring that it becomes difficult for promoters to push anything just because of their majority stake. For every negative vote, you now need three positive votes to approve the resolution. In some cases, the promoter is not allowed to vote and the minority shareholders decide the outcome. Readers would recall that Eicher Motor shareholders rejected a pay hike to Sidharth Lal, its MD & CEO. Similarly, IDFC shareholders rejected the reappointment of Vinod Rai as independent director. In the case of Zee Entertainment, two directors stepped down on the eve of the AGM as proxy advisors had asked the shareholders to vote them out. Meanwhile, the company which announced a non-binding agreement sale to Sony Entertainment has been directed by NCLT Mumbai bench to consider shareholder Invesco’s request for EGM to oust MD Punit Goenka. Jindal Steel & Power wants its shareholders to approve payment of one-time remuneration to its four independent directors. Proxy holders are advising shareholders to oppose the same as it violates terms of an independent director. Further an investor has rejected the reappointment of Shallu Jindal, wife of Naveen Jindal and a director on the board of the company for nine years. Indeed, it is a tough time for promoters.

Tiruppur Entrepreneur Spins Branding Around Mahatma Gandhi’s 100th Dhoti Anniversary

Technocrat KR Nagarajan, Founder CEO of Tiruppur-based Ramraj Cotton, is the quintessential serendipitous entrepreneur. The story of how this simple but canny and savvy man turned a failed investment into one of the most visible brands is the stuff B School case studies are made of. In the last three decades, he has created a strong brand equity out of the simple dhoti that it has now become fashionable, at least in the south, to be seen wearing dazzling white dhoti and shirts. Those who had some reservations wearing a dhoti got it over when they saw Congress heavyweight Harvard educated P Chidambaram quelling many a fashion baiter with his majestic dhoti walks in Parliament. Ramraj Cotton which makes dhotis, shirts, inner wears may soon cross the Rs 1,000-crore turnover mark. The company has had film stars endorsing its brand, the latest brand ambassador being Rana Dagubatti. Nagarajan has always been looking for innovative ways to promote his brand from time to time. And he found one on September 22, 2021. On that day, Tamil Nadu’s dailies carried Ramraj Cotton ad with Mahatma Gandhi’s photo. The ad said: “This day, 100 years back for the first time in Madurai. The Mahatma made Dhoti the ‘Attire of His Identity’. Ramraj celebrates the occasion & salutes the Mahatma.” Bang for the buck one would say.

Kolkata Tycoon Harshvardhan Neotia Buys Mumbai Property At Worli Raheja Artesia

The 60-storeyed Raheja Artesia tower located at Mumbai’s tony address Worli Sea Face developed by K Raheja Corp seems to be attracting who’s who of the corporate world. The latest to join the list of illustrious buyers is the Kolkata-based industrialist Harshavardhan Neotia of AmbujaNeotia Group, according to Square Feat India, a leading real estate news website. Neotia, who is responsible for landmark projects in and around Kolkata, has, along with his daughter Paroma, bought 3,064 square ft property along with three car parks for Rs 23.89 crore. This project has been attracting any number of HNI buyers. HDFC Securities MD & CEO Dhiraj Relli and wife Archana forked out Rs 30.31 crore to buy an apartment. HDFC’s MD & CEO Keki Mistry paid Rs 41.23 crore and Smita D Parekh, wife of HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh, paid Rs 50 crore. What makes it very reassuring for buyers is that the developer of this prestigious property, Raheja’s family, have bought three duplexes comprising 18 flats and 42 car parking spaces for Rs 427.81 crore. Effectively, Chandru Raheja, Chairman of K Raheja and his two sons Ravi and Neel, have bought five floors between them.
tata_air india

Why Tatas Did Not Bid For Jet Airways?

Tata Sons’ bid for debt-laden national carrier Air India has much to do with its legacy, mostly linked to the group’s patriarch JRD Tata, than just being a business decision. But why did Tatas turn a Nelsons’ eye to Jet Airways, another beleaguered carrier which got all approvals overnight by the Civil Aviation to start operations from January 2022? That’s one topic on which many articles and books have been written on over the years. Even the movie Udaan (Soorarai Pottru in Tamil) had a passing reference. The story goes, in 1997, the then civil aviation minister CM Ibrahim scuttled Tata group’s plan to start an airline jointly with Singapore Airlines (SIA). This was allegedly to support Naresh Goyal’s Jet Airways. The blocking of its application by the minister surprised Ratan Tata as he was about to close the deal with SIA. Perhaps, that bitter experience may have kept the Tatas from bidding for Jet Airways, insiders say. The group already holds stakes in two carriers – 83.67% in AirAsia India and 51% in Tata SIA Airlines (operating as Vistara) – and the acquisition of Air India will help the group to dominate the skies. The group pioneered India’s aviation with Tata Air Service in 1932 which became Air India in 1953 after it was nationalised. If Tatas win Air India then the wheel would have come full circle.
mumbai skyline_004

Trend Reversal: NRIs Investing In Realty For Self-Use Vs Reselling

The general perception is that NRIs buy properties in India more for investment and less for self-use.  Not anymore, according to Square Feat India, a leading website focusing on India’s real estate sector. In a significant trend reversal post-Covid-19, a much higher percentage of NRI respondents in the latest CII-ANAROCK Consumer Sentiment survey are scouting for properties for self-use, notes the portal. At least 53% of NRI respondents who will buy properties in India in the coming months buy for end-use, 47% for investment for investment. The pre-Covid survey in H1 2019 put this figure at 32% for self-use and 68% for investment. So what’s changing this trend? One major factor influencing this change is that many NRIs are keen to return to India amid the pandemic uncertainties and dwindling job prospects globally. Interestingly, the website says the top seven cities – Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, MMR, NCR, Hyderabad and Kolkata — are where the NRIs are mainly focused. Here once again 48% of NRIs preferred 3BHKs, 28% 2BHKs while 24% preferred 4BHKs. That NRIs are coming back and buying properties certainly augurs well for the country’s real estate sector badly hit by Covid-19.

Markets Momentum To Continue Till March 2022: A Balasubramanian

India’s stock markets are on a roll and will continue to keep the current momentum at least till March next year, with sprouts of recovery being visible in line with accelerated vaccination drive; and as fears of the pandemic have begun to subside. An expected rise in the government spending will also give a fillip to the capital good stocks further, says Aditya Birla Sun Life Asset Management Company Managing Director and CEO A Balasubramanian to The number of Initial Public Offering (IPO) launches would also continue to maintain the pace with several “robust” companies willing to test the primary market. According to Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC, India’s fourth-largest money manager, information technology is the best sector in the current context with pharmaceuticals and capital goods quite close to it in terms of real returns. Bala, as he is fondly known in the industry, also expects a consolidation in the fast-moving consumer goods space. The market should remain “well-supported” in the coming months, driven by buoyant demand for Indian assets from international investors. The government would also shift its stimulus packages (which now completely focuses on end consumers and social causes) to core sector and infrastructure spending, and engaging the private sector more closely, he added. The Third Wave of pandemic, if it comes, would be the parting wave both for the markets and the general economy at large.

Photo : Wikipedia

Iron Ore Shortage Hurting Odisha’s Small Businesses

An acute shortage of iron ore is hurting Odisha’s small businesses badly. Iron ore production in Odisha has dropped by over 31-34 million tonnes in 2021-22 to around 110 mn tonnes presently. The shortage has particularly hit small and medium scale industries (SMEs) who do not have captive mines and are dependent on iron ore supplies from the open market to run their plants. Odisha accounts for half of India’s iron ore production; and the state is under pressure to ensure supplies with leading industry bodies appealing for timely intervention of the state government as well as the Ministry of Steel & Mines. The challenge for the government is to address the supply shortages as well as contain the unviable price rise of the critical raw material. Production increase is the only solution to address the current supply-demand mismatch, says Vipin Gupta, Director, Utkal Metalics. He adds: “This responsibility falls on the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), a state government undertaking whose role in this regard is cut out. They will have to ramp up efficiency and production being the largest state-owned mining corporation.” Industry members hold that the OMC also needs to come out with a policy not to allow captive miners to participate in OMC’s auction bidding process.
adar poonawala

Photo : Twitter

Serum Institute’s Poonawalla On An Acquisitions Spree

Adar Poonawalla, the MD of Serum Institute Of India, is on a takeover spree. It recently took over Magma Fincop (AUM as on June 30 was Rs 14,250 crore) for an undisclosed amount. The company has been renamed Poonawalla Fincorp. It is already infusing capital and repricing loans. It has drawn up plans to grow between 25-30% annually. Recently, it acquired a 50% stake in Schott Kaisa, a JV with the German company from its former owners Kairu Dadachanji and Shapoor Mistry. Schott is into pharma packaging goods including vials which are used in the distribution of vaccines. Insiders believe this is just the beginning and more inorganic growth avenues are being pursued to enable Poonawalla to diversify from vaccine makers to a multifaceted group with interests in finance, manufacturing across sectors and healthcare.

100-Year Old Tamilnad Mercantile Bank To Be Listed Soon

The 100-year-old Thoothukudi-based Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) has always made for a heady cocktail.  Incorporated as Nadar Bank Limited on May 11, 1921, it underwent a name change on November 27, 1962. Since then, it has come to be known as Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Limited. Promoted by the Nadar community, the bank has often found itself at the centre of news. The community bank hit national headlines post-liberalisation in the 90s when the Ruias of the Essar group acquired TMB shares by cashing in on the internecine quarrel within the promoter-groups. But the Ruias faced resistance. And, the Reserve Bank of India, too, was cool to their entry into the banking space. The acquisition of TMB shares by the Ruias has time and again kicked up intense political battle in Tamil Nadu with parties of all hues, picking cudgels on behalf of the Nadar community to reclaim TMB. The Ruias exited by selling the TMB shares to serial entrepreneur C. Sivasankaran as sale consideration for buying the Delhi cellular licence from him. He, too, had to exit after a peace was brokered during the Vajpayee regime. Ramesh Vagal-led (former Pepsico India head) group chipped in to buy a part of TMB shares.  Still mired in legal rows, the bank has now plans to go public. A community bank is getting a new tag now.

Photo : Venu Srinivasan and Suresh Krishna -- Wikipedia

TVS Group: The Making Of An Indian MNC

The over 100-year-old TVS group is going through a transformation of a significant kind. It just underwent a smooth reorganisation. This saw four promoter-families aligning the ownership of different companies with the arms of the family that managed them. While this caught many by surprise, something else – a big one, at that – too is quietly happening at the TVS. And this has largely gone unnoticed. Is it becoming a truly Indian MNC conglomerate? Be it manufacturing or financial services, the foreign investors’ presence is fast evaporating. Global majors have all cashed out of the group by selling their holdings to the respective TVS companies. It all began in mid-90s with Abex Corporation exiting Sundaram Abex which became Sundaram Brake Linings. Later, Suzuki quit the two-wheeler joint venture which became TVS Motor. TRW, too, went out of Lucas TVS. In the last one year, the group saw Brakes India and Wheels India buying out the stake of foreign partners. Also, foreign partners in the insurance, housing finance and mutual finance ventures of Sundaram Finance have exited. More recently, TVS Supply Solutions has bought out the Canadian pension fund, CDPQ. Now, the only prominent JV in operation is Delphi-TVS, a JV of Lucas TVS. Group patriarch Suresh Krishna always talked of Indian MNCs. Well, TVS is on track.
subarnarekha port

Berthing Facility Draws Private Investments In Odisha’s Subarnarekha Port

The first phase of Subarnarekha Port, a joint venture between Tata Steel and Creative Port Development located in Odisha, is complete. This project, whose foundation stone was laid in 2019 by the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, seems to be on the investment radar of many companies. Sources say several of the companies are keen to invest in the ports’ berthing facility designed to handle all kinds of vessels — Panama, Capesize, Super Capesize and Containerised cargo.  With the completion of the first phase the port’s handling capacity stands at 25 MTPA. In phase 2, this capacity will be ramped up to 35 MTPA. The total cost of setting up this port spread over 1,398 acres is around Rs 5,000 crore. The state government has already handed over 692.68 acre of land and the balance 705.35 acres will also be made available soon. Additionally, land requirements for road and rail connectivity are also being planned. When fully operational, Subarnarekha Port situated next door to the states of Jharkhand and West Bengal will play a major role in logistic cost sustenance and economic development of the state.

SEBI Finalising Guidelines To Allow Private Equity To Invest In Mutual Funds

SEBI is said to be finalizing revised guidelines to pave the entry of private equity firms in the AMC business. Currently there are two to three mutual funds which are reportedly looking to get out at a decent price. L&T Mutual Fund is one of them. The 12th largest fund by the AUM size, L&T Mutual Fund manages Rs 58,000 crore worth of assets. IDFC Mutual Fund is another fund which is being eyed by the entrants wanting to get into the mutual fund space. They reckon with ESG schemes picking up, investors will be keen to look at avenues to park funds in these schemes. One of the potential private equity companies looking keenly at getting into the Indian mutual industry is Blackstone. It is believed that once regulators permit, they will be moving quickly to take a stake in the AMC of L&T and IDFC.

Photo : Fotocorp

Tata Sons In No Hurry To Call Board Meet To Decide Chairman Chandra’s Second Term

With rumours flying thick and fast, it is now reliably learnt that the Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, is in no hurry to call a board meeting to decide on the second term for its Chairman N Chandrasekaran. This means that Tata Sons is unlikely to hold a board meeting before September 14, 2021, the date of its virtual annual general meeting (AGM). Generally, a company’s board takes a call on providing an extension to its top brass, and then puts it to vote at AGMs.  According to sources in Bombay House, the headquarters of the Tata Group, Chandrasekaran’s tenure officially ends next year — February 2022 to be precise. Between now and then, there is a lot the chairman is entrusted with, and hence this won’t be an appropriate time to decide on his second term. Tata Sons’ board has the luxury of time on its hand, another six to seven months to decide on Chandra’s – as the 58-year-old is fondly called – second term. With many insiders and industry watchers expecting some announcements on September 14, however, the virtual AGM would be a keenly awaited event.

Big B’s Kaun Banega Crorepati Season 13 Promises Hi-Tech, Audience And More

Sony Television’s marquee programme Kaun Banega Crorepati, hosted by Amitabh Bachchan, is back. And despite Covid-19 pandemic hitting the economy hard, the sponsors are more than eager to sponsor this longest running reality show as it continues to have a huge draw across all sections of the society. Already 11 sponsors have been lined up for Season 13.  The differentiated factor this season is the use of hi-tech technology, graphics and Artificial Intelligence. And of course, in a major break from the pandemic led restrictions, the audience is back in the studio this season. The show is one the biggest revenue churners for SET.  Media buyers estimate that Sony charges upwards of Rs 4 lakh for a 10-second spot. It is around Rs 40 crore for presenting sponsors, Rs 16 -20 crore for associate sponsors. Though it is a closely guarded secret, insiders say, Big B is paid around Rs 3.5 crore per episode. Started in 2000, the first three seasons of KBC were aired on Star Plus. It then moved to Sony Entertainment Television. Big B has been associated with the show since its inception except for Season 3 when it was hosted by Shah Rukh Khan.

Why A Flexible Corporate Debt Resolution Process Is The Need Of The Hour

Often, we tend to hold a poor view of politicians. With Parliament stalled at the drop of a hat, our misgivings about Parliamentarians and the Parliamentary systems of democracy deepen. A closer study, however, will reveal how misconceived our views are. Look at the way the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance sought to address ticklish issues in the corporate debt resolution process. Why should the resolution option be inflexible?  Why should a resolution plan result in the disposal of the entire business and operations of corporate debt (CD) under a single plan? A combination of bidders taking different business units or assets could well be a superior solution. This could be better than a single bidder acquiring the entire business from a committee of creditors (CoC). The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), it appears, doesn’t facilitate multi-plan solutions for corporate debt resolution. The rules under Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP), however, do provide for flexible disposal of assets/business of CD to different bidders. But IBC appears to grant no such flexibility to CoC. While IBC is a Parliamentary statue, CIRP laws are subordinate legislations. Hence, the Parliamentary Committee has recommended changes to IBC so that a resolution is achieved by pursuing either of the means prescribed by CIRP rules. Indeed, Parliamentarians do a quiet job behind.
steve jobs_samuel

Apple’s Himalayan Pilgrimage: From Samuel Stokes To Steve Jobs

Incredible India! Five varieties of apples from Himachal Pradesh have been exported for the first time to Bahrain. This from a State which started growing apple about 100 years back. Thanks to Samuel Stokes, better known as the Apple Man of Himachal Pradesh, who came to India in 1914. Samuel Stokes left Philadelphia when he was just 22, got drawn into Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement, probably the only American jailed in our Independence movement. He turned Hindu, married an Indian and settled down in HP. This state’s outstanding fruit, the Apple was a gift of the saplings and cuttings that Stokes brought from the US. When he died in 1946, he was cremated in the hills of HP. For reasons best known to historians and Apple orchard owners, Stokes and his contributions were largely ignored. While this American gave Indians the taste of Apple, the other American the legendary, the late Steve Jobs, gave the world his version of apple. Immortalised as the poster man for an Apple lover, Jobs found his life’s calling in India. Jobs, it seems, was seeking that eternal bliss and answers to his business failures. He came to Nainitals’ Neem Karoli Baba Ashram in the seventies. And that became the Bodhisattva tree moment for Jobs. And the rest is history.
PK Puruvar

PK Purwar

Beleaguered BSNL’s 4G Plans Stuck In Limbo As Rival Telcos Rev Up For 5G

State-owned telecom behemoth Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) plans to launch 4G, at a time when private operators are on the verge of rolling out 5G services, seems to be jinxed. While the latest in the series is a Tata Consultancy Services-led consortium seeking changes in product specifications, in July BSNL’s board did not approve upgradation of its base transceiver stations (BTS) in two zones. The proposal to upgrade BTSs, supplied by Nokia in southern and western zones, did not get approval at the board meeting held on July 23, 2021, which was chaired by BSNL chairman and managing director PK Purwar. This was despite the proposal, which was estimated to cost a modest Rs 550 crore, was approved by BSNL’s management committee on July 1. However, its board, including two members from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and directors of BSNL, did not agree to the proposal and the agenda has been deferred to the next board meeting, which should take place before September 30, sources said. The mini-ratna firm was expecting the launch of 4G services, along with the Union Cabinet-approved revival plans, to help in its turnaround. For BSNL unions, this is a feeling of déjà vu, as there was a string of rejections to the PSU’s 4G equipment procurement and upgradation plans, the prior one being in December 2019.

ICC Sponsorship, Design Contests Lined Up to Boost Skoda's 2.0 Strategy

The year 2021 seems to be an important one for Skoda Auto, the European auto giant, as they have unveiled the 2.0 strategy. For starters they have announced a unique design contest for all its new cars to be globally unveiled in India later this year. The winners of this contest will get to meet their head of design at Prague, Czech Republic. Realizing India loves cricket, the company is investing in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup as broadcast partner. It may be recalled that Škoda made its first major inroad into football sponsorship by agreeing a deal with Spanish LaLiga club Espanyol. Its strategy seems to be to sponsor the most popular sports. For ICC, besides Skoda, they have already signed another auto client on board besides Nissan who are the sponsors for global cricket events till 2023. ICC has also opened Expression of Interest for media rights opportunities for various non-exclusive media rights in relation to public screening. To popularise the sports globally, they have also introduced bids to get bidders to package attractive content on any inflight or on board entertainment on aircraft, ship or train. These commercial initiatives by ICC are to boost the popularity of cricket globally by 2032 and open the door to the sport’s entry in the Brisbane Olympics.

Shareholders’ Plea: Quit The Board, As Moral Turpitude Is Implicit In Disgorgement

SEBI, the capital markets regulator, has been aggressively issuing orders against entities found violating rules and making illegal gains using unpublished price sensitive information or ‘UPSI’. These orders involve consent terms for the violation and settling without admitting guilt, and also a component of ‘Disgorgement’. The term ‘disgorgement’ is defined as “the act of giving up something (such as profits illegally obtained) on demand or by legal compulsion. This brings us to a bigger and more important point of moral turpitude. Does an individual who sits on a board of a listed company as an independent director and has disgorged an amount to a regulator along with the promoter of the same company for illegally benefiting from USPI committed moral turpitude? The fact that he has used the same information as the promoter has, is testimony to the fact that he is no longer independent. Similarly, when a senior officer of an I-banker acts in a similar manner and disgorges money, the fact that he has settled consent terms amounts to having committed a breach of confidentiality. In such cases without exception, strictest of action needs to be taken and the concerned person should be asked to leave. It is time for Corporate India and minority shareholders to take the matter of ‘UPSI’ seriously and demand that action be taken against erring individuals.

Tata Sky Plans IPO To Give Disney An Exit

In this season of tech-driven IPOs, an older tech firm from the Tata stable is also readying for an IPO. Tata Sky, the DTH provider (which also has broadband service ambitions), has been around for over a decade and has been beaming bouquets of TV channels into homes across the country. Set up as a joint venture with Sky TV of the UK, then controlled by Rupert Murdoch, it has steadily expanded its coverage. And while competitor Dish TV may cater to more homes, Tata Sky, focusing away from the bottom end of the market, is way ahead in terms of revenues. It is now a mature business and ready for an IPO. After Murdoch sold Fox TV (but not Fox News) to Disney, the Sky holding had passed on to Disney. But India was the only country where Disney had a stake in broadcast distribution, and it did not fit in with Disney’s business. So, the IPO is an exit route for Disney. It will raise some money for the company and also give Tata Sons a liquid listed asset. The investment bankers are just being appointed to prepare the draft prospectus. This will be one more share issue likely to be lapped up by the public.

Group M: Semi-Conductor Shortages May Impact Global Motoring Adspend

Group M, WPP’s media investment group, in its Global Marketing Monitor has reported: “Semi-conductor shortages will have an uncertain impact this year, especially on motor vehicle manufacturers. Related disruptions could have an impact on spending on advertising by those companies, but could also impact the electronics companies consumers rely on to access content. Both industries have options to mitigate supply chain challenges, so negative consequences are not necessarily going to be meaningful.” The report adds that top advertising auto companies Honda, BMW, General Motors shall be short of their productivity targets, though the production is down but demand is up. Ad spending could be impacted, says the report. The global shortage could have some impact on India where things are looking up for the country as a whole and the auto sector among others. Analysts say if there is a supply chain issue, then here too in India, some of the auto companies may put their advertising campaign on hold or curtail it till they are assured of regular supply. But they say the impact could be short term. Seeing demand-supply mismatch the Tata Group has announced plans to make semiconductors.  As per Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2021 for India, auto category’s advertising contribution in 2020 was Rs 3,243 crore

DoT Yet To Get A Formal Call From Vodafone On BSNL Merger

Among its many attempts to stay afloat, beleaguered telecom operator Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) has offered to merge the firm with state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), another debt-laden company. Further, in an attempt to keep it afloat, VIL’s UK parent Vodafone Group Plc is also ready to offer its stake in the Indian company to BSNL for free. If a merger or stake exchange happens, VIL – which provides telecom services under the brand ‘Vi’ – would become a government entity, a move that would help it buy more time for raising funds. The company also hopes its spectrum dues would be kept in abeyance, giving it a much-needed lifeline. While the merger would bring in a number of synergies, including BSNL being able to provide 4G services, it also comes with a number of pitfalls. BSNL in itself is a loss-making firm, and a revival package approved by the Union Cabinet in 2019 is yet to bear fruit. Worse, the public sector unit is finding it difficult to pay salaries on time. Importantly, a formal communication from VIL or its promoters is yet to reach BSNL or its parent the Department of Telecommunications. “We might take a call depending on the contours of the offer, but we are yet to get a formal call,” a source in the telecom ministry said.

Mayank Jalan

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

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


After Olympics, Advertisers Look Forward To ICC Men’s T20 World Cup

Now, the next big event on advertisers’ watch list is ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be hosted in the petro-dollar venues UAE and Oman from October 17 to November 14, 2021. Reliable sources say Star Sports, the official broadcaster, which includes its video streaming app Hotstar, has already lined up event sponsors (BYJU’S, Dream11), broadcast partners (Coca Cola, Vimal) and are hoping to get on board two more sponsors. Already 40% of the inventory has been sold – with the cost for a 10-second spot put at Rs 10,000-Rs 12,000. The World Cup which will be played after Dussehra but before Diwali may prove to be bang for the buck for both advertisers and broadcasters. Star Sports which was expected to rake in around Rs 3,000 crore (that includes Hotstar) by way of advertising revenue from IPL 2021, could not hit that number as matches were suspended due to the second wave of pandemic. However, insiders are optimistic that Star Sports will earn close to Rs 1,200 crore from 45 matches to be played between 16 teams in the T20 World Cup.  It is learnt several advertisers like BharatPe, Upstox, OPPO, MRF Tyres, have signed on as ground sponsors. As always the most keenly watched match will be one between India and Pakistan and for this match advertisers don’t mind paying a premium.

Photo : Curly tales

Dining In The City Of Joy With Virat Kohli

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


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.