cropped-short_post_logo.png
For Authentic Gossip
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
tasmac

TASMAC: Keeping The Spirits High & Govt’s Cash Register Ringing

TN tipplers build up a massive thirst long before sundown each day. A unique system here is that the state sells liquor through the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) outlets. No wonder critics are raising the question, with raging Covid-19, shortages of vaccine, oxygen, beds and drugs like Remdesivir, is it important to keep booze flowing through state run machinery? The firm response even during the first lockdown, TASMAC is non-negotiable. Why? The state’s major chunk of revenue comes from a tipsy Tamilian who must have his spirit elevated at any cost. Guess what? On Saturday (April 25) the revenue flow from booze stood at a steady Rs 250 crore, never mind the tippler tottering after. In 2018-19, TASMAC’s revenue was Rs 31,158 crore. Neighbouring Union Territory Puducherry has already banned sale of any form of liquor. The irony, there was a time when droves of happy-hour seekers drove to Pondi and enjoyed the less taxed product in abundance! The story goes that some ruling party heavyweights objected to populist cash incentives that would be introduced “once we come back,” before the election by the CM as they feared the exchequer would bottom out. They were pacified: “this money will come back to us through TASMAC.” This is a state where women voters have time and again rallied against the ruling parties for openly encouraging their men to tipple and topple, but to no avail. Die hard drinkers!
modi biden

Modi-Biden Talks, Phase 3 Trials Put Vaccine Juggernaut Back On Track

Business and economy need people to come together, work together. But the deadly virus also needs this vibrant togetherness to grow and circulate, mutate and spread. As long as this virus stays unsubdued, not only India’s $5-trillion-economy dream is threatened but also its operational $3-trillion economy, now staring at incalculable toll. In the absence of any vaccine promise, we opened with brave slogans – #LivingWithCorona #MyFamilyMyResponsibility etc. For a while it looked like working — with farmers’ agitation in full flow; people thronging to rallies in poll-bound states; mandis, malls and pubs drawing footfalls; even pilgrimage tourism (for devotees with Covid-19 negative report) reviving via Haridwar Kumbh Mela (key dates being April 12, 14, 21, 27 though crowds thinned down after PM Narendra Modi’s appeal to seers on Apr 17). But now, #LivingWithCorona is not working as lockdown hits state after state amid a ferocious Covid resurrection. The April 26 count: over 3.5 lakh news cases and 2,812 deaths in 24 hours. Clearly, the only deterrence against the virus is Vaccine. With phase 3 trials showing Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin’s efficacy against severe Covid-19 disease at 100% and an overall efficacy at 78%, Shashi Tharoor fans couldn’t have asked for more. Also, with US agreeing to lift embargo on ‘vaccine materials’ following PM Modi’s call with US President Joe Biden, India’s vaccine juggernaut – led by Serum Institute’s Covishield – should be back on track. Already, after 100 days of world’s largest vaccination drive, 14.2 crore jabs have been given. Hopefully, the MRP hagglers won’t give tough time to vaccine makers now.
bmd_amar

BJD MP Gets Free Advice From Netizens On His Vaccine Appeal to Corporates

The post on LinkedIn by Biju Janata Dal Rajya Sabha MP Amar Patnaik has come in for harsh criticism. Patnaik in his post wrote: “I appeal to top wealthy Indians/ Companies! Can you shoulder the burden of vaccinating at least 25% of Indians as part of your duty to Motherland? In fact, some of you can do from only one year of profits! If there was ever a time to give back, its NOW! I am sure your shareholders would agree.” He may not have expected this kind of outburst. There were 1,119 likes but 238 scathing comments. Most of the comments asked Patnaik why he was only singling out the business community! Corporate India was already paying taxes and some of them were giving tons of oxygen free besides contributing to PM Cares Fund. Why are you begging someone else to do it? It is the job of the government to do it when you have the infrastructure, resources and capital. One common question raised by most of them was what about ‘corrupt’ politicians and bureaucrats who have crores stashed abroad? Their net worth would be equally high, they hinted. In essence, the message was loud and clear: Charity begins at home. First appeal to fellow politicians before asking others to chip in. Quite.
black money

How Politicians Find Newer Ways To Take ‘Speed Money’

Speed money is a term regularly used to get work done when dealing with the various government agencies. ‘Green Tax’ was the term used to get work done from the environment ministry in the previous government. With the current government bringing in more transparency and plugging loopholes to make it tougher to make ‘money on the side’, the politicians too are becoming smarter –finding ‘legitimate’ ways to take speed money. I learnt of one such method while interacting with an industrialist of a leading diversified listed conglomerate. This group was to set up a new manufacturing plant in one of the states and was given two options by the politician. The first was the conventional cash. The second option was to invest in the equity capital of an unlisted company at ridiculously high valuations. Since he did not hoard black money, the industrialist chose the second option. The modus operandi was simple. His group invested in a company that had no operating business, hence was basically a paper company or a shell company. On paper it looked like a fraudulent transaction but would never get questioned. This company had many such ‘investors’ who invested to get their work done. ”I am willing to spend money and pick shares in such shell company, even if at a later date I have to write off the investments,” he explained. Ingenuity thy name is politicians!
park

Covid Resurgence Sees Park Hotels’ IPO Put On Hold

India’s primary market is expected to be buoyant in FY22 too. In FY21 over 30 companies raised around Rs 31,000 crore via initial public offer (IPO). With the secondary market bouncing back by nearly 100%, corporate India is getting ready to tap the primary market big time. And this includes the much-awaited IPO from the Life Insurance Corporation Of India. But, all plans seem to have gone awry with the resurgence of the second wave of Covid-19. Perhaps the first victim of that wave seems to be the Kolkata-based diversified conglomerate Apeejay Surrendra Group’s The Park Hotels IPO. It had received regulatory approvals in March 2021 for its Rs 1,000 crore IPO. But, if the market grapevine is to be believed, the luxury boutique hotel chain has decided to put IPO plans on hold for time being till the market conditions improve. But, the decision to defer its IPO has not impacted the company’s expansion plans. It has signed six new properties across its various brands in the last six months at Leh, Patiala, Goa, Port Blair, Coimbatore and Pathankot. The group also plans to add more outlets of its iconic tearoom Flurys and expand into the rest of Bengal, Navi Mumbai and New Delhi. Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels runs four brands under ‘THE Park’ name. This includes: THE PARK, THE PARK Collection, Zone By The Park and recently launched Zone Connect. The Group also owns the heritage eatery and QSR chain of Flurys. Besides hospitality, the 100-year old group has business interests spread across industries such as shipping, tea, real estate, education, and owns retail brand, Oxford Bookstores.
swamy_VK_school

Dhirubhai’s Alma Mater Shuts Down Science Section

Business legend Dhirubhai Ambani would have been crying the blues had he been alive today. His alma mater in Gujarat’s Junagadh city is in shambles. The science stream of the government-run Swami Vivekananda Vinay Mandir, where not only the invincible Reliance Industries founder, son of a school teacher, but several state biggies once studied, has had to be closed down due to lack of enough students. In its halcyon days, the science stream, which was started in 1976 in the historical school (formerly Bahadur Khanji School in British India), had as many as six classes each for Class XI and Class XII. With each class comprising about a hundred students, thousands have passed out of the school with a scientific temper. But, according to Principal Pratibha Nagrecha, with the mushrooming of self-financed schools and private tuition classes, the number of students at the school started falling over the past four years with the result that the science stream had just 14 students in the latest academic term as a result of which it had to be shut down. Mayor Dhirubhai Gohil, an alumnus says that teachers of this sarkari school were so dedicated that they often even paid the fees of poor students from their pocket but insisted on a 100% attendance that perhaps did not go well with the students, he feels.     
vaccines_collage

Investment Hesitancy Restricts India’s Vaccination March

The new political brawl is not about vaccine-hesitancy or vaccine-denial but about the vaccine-scarcity, as the nation is hit hard by the second wave of pandemic. Mumbai, which is staring at a re-lockdown, saw supplies go down by half to about 22K jabs on April 10. Average jabs per day have touched 3.5 million a day versus the combined capacity of 2.4 million a day between Covaxin and Covishield. And there is no immediate capacity expansion in sight as Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawala has written to the Government for Rs 3,000 crore to scale up operations – failing which it will approach banks for loans. Clearly, an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve has been frittered away. Meanwhile, other five vaccines, including J&J via Bio E, will be made available not before October! Suddenly, this realization hits you: Has India failed to reap the dividends of its global vaccine-science leadership due to investment hesitancy? Our failure to comprehend that in a pandemic-like extraordinary conditions, the free-market as well as the atmnirbhar economy operates not only on the principles of demand and competition, but also legitimate corporate profits – and the combo of incentives (guaranteed purchase agreements) and risk capital (for research and capex) extended by the State. This is evident in America’s successful vaccine roll with the state funding private pharma majors. Hopefully, there will be some aatm-manthan when Prime Minister holds the next Covid-19 review meeting with Chief Ministers.
anil kapoor ulka

Veteran Adman Anil Kapoor Who Re-Built Ulka Passes Away

Anil (Billy) Kapoor the legendary advertising man and former chairman of FCB Ulka passed away on April 12 at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai. He had successfully battled pancreatic cancer almost a decade ago but it recurred aggressively a couple of months ago. He had been living in Singapore for the last several years and was flown back on Saturday. Unlike the fanfare behind the big brands he promoted, his funeral was a private affair. He along with Ranjan Kapur of O&M, Mike Khanna of HTA were referred to as the ‘Punjabi Club’. The trio controlled the era of big brand advertising. Billy was the last to go. One may recall what Ambi Parameswaran wrote when Ulka turned 60 in his column: “It was Bal’s (founder Bal Mundkur) bold move in 1988 that saved the agency. Or it was Anil Kapoor’s courage of conviction that he could rebuild Ulka in a new image. Anil joined as MD in 1988, identified some key managers to re-motivate and retain (Shashi Sinha and Niteen Bhagwat are still in FCBUlka/IPG Group); Anil also managed to rope in a few more – Arvind Wable, Nagesh Alai and yours truly.”  Kapoor is survived by his wife, Rita, daughter Aruna and son Ram Kapoor who is a well-known TV star.
j&j_001

With $1-Bn Grant, J&J Gets Ready To Make One Billion Covid-19 Jabs In India

An ambitious target of one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine and financial aid of $1 billion to make them in India seems to be the most heartening news of the day. The American multinational Johnson & Johnson (J&J), operating in 60 countries, seems to be routing that kind of investment as “grant” from two large countries where the pharma major operates. It is learnt that the Hyderabad-based company, Biological E, which has been appointed as J&J’s contract manufacturer earlier this year, will soon start bridging clinical trials for which they have sought official permission from Indian regulators. Biological E, set up in 1962, and partnering with global majors, supplies its vaccines to more than 100 countries. It has supplied more than two billion doses of vaccines in the last decade alone. Since J&J’s single-shot vaccine is already approved by the US regulator and is currently administered across the United States, they would only need a bridging trial in India, which means a small group of 1,000 participants would take the shot before it is officially approved. Bridging trial for J&J’s vaccine is expected to be on similar line of that done by Russian Covid19 vaccine Sputnik V by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and the trial conducted by Serum Institute for the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine.
isl_001

What Is Delaying The Shree Cement-East Bengal Deal?

The Shree Cement-East Bengal deal, which was announced with lots of fanfare last September, is yet to get cemented. The final agreement – drafted by law firm Khaitan & Co – has not been ‘signed and sealed’ till now though the deadline for the same was March 15. Sports enthusiasts were hoping West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would intervene to iron out the differences. But that has not happened with the state witnessing one of the most intense Assembly elections in the recent history. Rumours that East Bengal is not eligible to participate in the forthcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) matches have got muffled amidst the high-decibel and cut-throat battle in Bengal between Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Those closely following the state’s football development claim the rumour is not unfounded. To participate in the ISL, The Club – rechristened as Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation, has to give bank guarantees by April 12, 2021. “If the definitive agreement does not get signed, Shree Cement will not give bank guarantees. And, if the bank guarantees are not given, The Club will not be able to take part in the ISL,” they apprehend, and claimed the deal between the two may fall through. It may be recalled this 101-year-old iconic football club, popularly known as Red & Gold Brigade, got a jolt when its lead investor Quess Corp pulled out from the two-year agreement in July 2020. Being a popular club among the migrants, the Kolkata-based Shree Cement, controlled by the Bangurs, entered the scene picking up 76% stake.
glen_s_001

Glenmark Life Sciences’ Rs 2,000 Crore IPO Filing Next Month

The much-awaited Glenmark Life Sciences’ initial public offer (IPO) might get bigger. It is reliably learnt that the parent firm Glenmark Pharmaceuticals is likely to raise around Rs 2,000 crore and they plan to file the prospectus before the SEBI sometime in April or May with a float likely in June 2021. Reportedly, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals had tried to sell minority stake in its API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) business a while ago but due to depressed market conditions those off-market deals never progressed beyond a point. Glenmark Pharma’s CMD Glenn Saldanha has a clear vision of unlocking value of its API business. In keeping up with this vision, the parent firm Glenmark Pharma had transferred its API business to Glenmark Lifesciences in December 2018. Today, Glenmark Lifesciences partners the world’s top 20 generic companies to supply over 130 APIs produced at its five state-of-the-art plants in the country. It has more than 700 customers across 65 countries. All these are visible in the company’s third quarter FY21 topline. It has posted consolidated revenue of Rs 501 crore as against Rs 409 crore previous year, a growth of 22.35%. Given its strong parentage, the retail investors will be keenly waiting for this IPO.
National_stock_ex_001

Investors, Don’t Buy The Rumour

The stock market is booming with the Sensex currently hovering around 50,000-mark. At this level the market capitalisation works out to around $2.7 trillion. It may be recalled that at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 the Sensex had crashed to 25,638 points. So did the market cap to $1.3 trillion, its lowest since March 2016. Now, there are visible signs that the economy is picking up if one looks at the performance of the sectors like auto, infrastructure, healthcare, IT and FMCG. A number of brokerage houses seem to be bullish; some are predicting that Sensex will touch the 100,000-mark by 2025. Such a bullish outlook is unleashing a buying frenzy among investors. The herd mentality is evident. Nearly 6.3 million demat accounts were added during April-September 2020 to take the total demat accounts to 2.13 crore. Work from home saw people investing in both primary and secondary markets. Thirty companies have already raised around Rs 31,000 crore via IPO in FY-21. But, post-listing, are they all doing well? Not really, says The Hindu Business Line report. “India’s IPO market boom, which began exactly a year ago in March 2020, with the SBI Cards offer, is showing signs of fatigue. Every second stock that posted gains on debut in the last one year has slipped.”  So, the opportunity to make a quick kill post listing is clearly waning. Now, some of the fly-by-night operators are recommending below par or penny stocks. With the second wave of pandemic hitting the country, it would be advisable for investors to ignore the conventional market adage “Buy the rumour, sell the news.”
K Chittilappilly

The Net Worth Game: Are Politicians Scoring Better Than Industrialists?

V-Guard Industries’ Founder Chairman and philanthropist Kochouseph Chittilappilly, in a no holds barred chat with Kerala’s popular Food Vlogger Mrinal Das Vengalat, dropped a bombshell that Yusuff Ali, CMD of the multi-continent Lulu Group, may not be the richest Malayalee of Kerala origin, despite a net worth of $4.8 billion! Chittilappilly, a self-made billionaire, said the combined personal net worth of the UDF and the LDF politicians, who ruled Kerala by “default turns” over the last 20 plus years, could surpass that of Lulu’s Ali. If one were to extrapolate Chittilappilly’s observation to the entire country, then the combined net worth of politicians could well be over billions of dollars, surpassing that of combined networth of top 10 industrialists. The money-spinning arithmetic of politicians only gets eye popping every year, especially in the light of the letter written by the recently transferred Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. In his letter, he alleged that the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had asked the arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore every month. And the maths that was allegedly given was: “There are 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai. If you collect Rs 3 lakh on an average that works out to Rs 50 crore. As for the balance amount, there are other avenues.” Is India a land of “mega bucks” for the renegades?
poonawalla_002

Covid-19 Jab At Rs 250 Puts Vaccine Man In Dharm-Sankat

The Covid-19 vaccination drive is gathering momentum across India. But the Centre’s decision to cap the vaccine price at Rs 250 at the private hospitals has increased worries of Serum India Institute which has a large inventory of Covishield vaccine. The company is expected to take a big hit in its balance sheet. This has been a serious issue for debate within SII. Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman of Poonawalla Group, which includes SII, holds that SII should focus on its traditional business of production of the immunobiologicals, which were imported into India at high prices, instead of ramping up of Covishield vaccine which is priced way below their expectations. Poonawalla Senior belongs to the generation that continues to believe in the Old is Gold strategy. Moreover, the Centre is yet to issue guidelines for its exports. However, Poonawalla’s son and SII CEO Adar Poonawalla believes that despite a temporary hit in the balance sheet, the company can still offset the losses once the exports are allowed. He is the CEO of Industry 5.0 generation and wants to chart his path that will be followed by others. So, father and son are now engaged in brainstorming. We will have to wait to see whose strategy finally pays off.
lakshmi_mittal_001

Lakshmi Mittal’s Visit: More Than Cricket?

The world’s largest cricketing stadium opened to a deluge of media headlines. And also, to one of the globe’s wealthiest: Lakshmi N Mittal, Chairman & CEO of the $53.3-billion ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel and mining company. Mittal was spotted at the Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium, Ahmedabad along with BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, and Congress Leader Rajiv Shukla, enjoying the fourth test match between India and England. According to the Gujarat government’s official version, Mittal visited the Statue Of Unity at Kevadia, less than 200 kms from Ahmedabad. But the corporate observers are attributing the timing of the visit to more than that. They are connecting dots. It may be mentioned that during the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Kevadia to address the concluding session of the annual conference of top officers of India’s Armed Forces. It is speculated that Mittal met Modi and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani before the PM’s address and after that watched the cricket match.
BSE_001

Revisiting Private Placement Scam

In the mid-eighties and early nineties, the Indian promoters literally made hay in the absence of a market regulator, according to the Mumbai-based brokerage firm Altina Securities. The modus operandi was simple: raise money via private placement. To illustrate, if Company X had a post-issue capital of Rs 100 lakh, the break-up was: promoters Rs 40 lakh and public Rs 60 lakh. Many promoters – just before the IPO – privately placed nearly 75% of their holdings. Thus, Post IPO, the Rs 100 lakh equity base would be: Promoters Rs10 lakh, Private Placement Rs 30 lakh & Public Rs 60 lakh. There have been instances where the fly-by-night promoters received kickbacks for the project. This effectively reduced their skin in the game.  Little wonder many companies which resorted to this route have vanished, leaving the small investors high and dry. Some of the vanishing companies are: Bonanza Pharma, Atash Industries, Amrut Industries, UCL Plastics, Rasik Plast, Indiana Diary. Senthur Shoes, Printed Circuit Board, Alsa Marine and Premier Housing.
sajjan jindal_001

Sajjan Jindal: The Art Of Managing Business & Politics

JSW Group Chairman Sajjan Jindal is hogging the limelight for his announcement to invest Rs 22,000 crore for the expansion of Dolvi plant in the coastal Raigad district in Maharashtra with an annual production capacity of 14 million tonnes. Already, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation has notified 750 acre of the total 1,600 acre land. Jindal’s investment decision has raised eyebrows especially among those in the ruling Shiv Sena. Many in the Sena know about the proximity Jindal enjoys with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Sajjan Jindal group was also associated with the redevelopment of Kedarnath and Badrinath when the holy cities were severely devastated by floods and landslides in June 2013.  It is believed that Jindal had organised the PM’s meeting with Pakistan’s former PM Nawaz Sharif. Against this backdrop, some of the Sena leaders are wondering why Jindal agreed for big investments in Maharashtra which is now ruled by their party, in alliance with the Congress and the NCP, instead of any of the BJP-ruled States. Clearly, all businessmen know the consequences of putting all eggs in one basket. There are lessons galore of businessmen who forget this simple principle.
ashok_arun_aditya

Fotocorp.com -- L To R: Aditya Puri, Ashok Sinha & Arun Nanda

Lockdown Addresses Of The Best Performing CEOs

Thanks to pandemic work from home has become a way of life. Most CEOs are operating out of their homes or farmhouses. Take for instance how Arun Nanda, chairman of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India, managed his company’s affairs. According to informed sources, Nanda has been calling the shots from Tungi, Lonavala for most part of the year.  And his efforts saw company’s Q3FY20 net profit jump 63% to Rs 41 cr.  Likewise, superbanker Aditya Puri, former MD & CEO of HDFC Bank, worked most of the last year between Mumbai and Lonavala. Puri who has joined The Carlyle Group as a Senior Advisor, went to Sandoz House, Worli (that’s where he started his innings with the bank) for his send-off organized by the current managing director Sashidhar Jagdishan. It was an e-Event for the rest of the staff. Likewise, Ashok Sinha, former chairman of BPCL, who sits on several boards did not cross the threshold of his Peddar Road flat since lockdown was clamped down and has managed all his affairs via digital meetings. Covid has indeed put the fear of God among all. Earlier, many were sceptical about the Indian vaccines.  But, now it is learnt that all of them are fed up of operating out of their homes and are keen to take the jab so that they can travel freely
PETROL PUMP

Politics Over Petrol Price Dharmasankat!

Pump price for petrol includes excise duty levied by the Centre – with the States adding VAT to it, which varies from state to state. Higher the VAT, higher the fuel prices in that state. So, why are the Opposition parties throwing a fit on petrol breaching the Rs100-a-litre mark? It may be recalled that after years of deliberations, the current market-led pricing mechanism got stabilized since its implementation in June 2017. Hit hard by Covid-19, neither the Centre nor the States are in a position to reduce levies, which constitute 60% of the retail selling price of petrol, and more than 54% of diesel. Domestic prices should cool down hopefully in line with the projected international trends. If the government is forced to tweak taxes to moderate fuel prices, it will have to dismantle the whole reform process aimed at fixing market-determined prices. The economic reforms implemented after extensive deliberations and consensus over a long period must be kept out of opportunist politics. FM Nirmala Sitharaman is right in calling petrol price increase a ‘Dharmasankat.’ Clearly, both the Centre and the States have to abide by the ‘Raj Dharm’ to find solution to this sankat together.
rana kapoor_001

The Rise & Fall Of Rana Kapoor

The meteoric rise and dramatic fall of Rana Kapoor could make for an interesting TV serial on the OTT platform.  Two books have already been written on the man who co-founded Yes Bank with his co-brother-in-law Ashok Kapur. (Ashok was killed in Mumbai terror attack). Pavan C Lall, has penned Yes Man: The Untold Story Of Rana Kapoor. Tamal Bandyopadhyay in his book Pandemonium: The Great Indian Banking Tragedy, rips the façade off the smartly constructed corporate image of Yes Bank, exposing promoter Kapoor’s questionable deals. The author goes on to say that the RBI saw through the game played by Kapoor. Alarmed at the speed with which the NPAs were getting resolved, the regulator started monitoring Yes Bank closely. Finally, it was an anonymous letter sent to then RBI Governor Urijit Patel in September 2018 about the hanky-panky deals at the bank that got the central bank into action. But soon they discovered that Kapoor had many moles around. Every move contemplated by the RBI was relayed to him in real time. It took a while for the RBI to identify the suspects and isolate them from the investigative process. When Kapoor was told in one of the meetings by the RBI that he had to go, he broke down, calling Yes Bank his son, his only son — beside his three biological daughters. But such histrionics with eyes brimming over with tears didn’t move anybody. Presently, he is cooling his heels at Taloja jail on the outskirts of Mumbai.
adani_001

Why Is Gautam Adani Betting Big On Maharashtra?

It is a well-known fact that most businessmen like Rahul Bajaj, Keshub Mahindra, Ajit Gulabchand have a very good equation with the NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar. So the news that the Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani is in the same league comes as no surprise. In fact, in 2013 Pawar had attended Adani’s son’s wedding in Goa. Now, it is reliably learnt that the Maratha strongman with a view to attract investment in Maharashtra from the Adani Group is pulling out all the stops to ensure that Adani’s thermal power project comes up in the coal-rich Vidarbha region without any hitch. Earlier, Pawar guided Adani when he took over the Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Infrastructure, which runs the Mumbai distribution business with 30 lakh customers. Pawar’s strategy of rolling out red carpet seems to be yielding dividends. Now, the Adani Group has lined up a slew of investments in Maharashtra. They have picked up a majority stake in Mumbai International Airport from the GVK Group, securing the contract for the Rs 16,000-cr Navi Mumbai airport. Adani Transmission has bagged the contract to construct 400 kV substation at Vikhroli, for transmission of about 1,000 MW in Mumbai. The company will also construct another line between Aarey Colony and Padgha to evacuate another 1,000 mw. Clearly, Pawar knows which horse to back.
kapil sibal

What Happened To Akash2 Tablet?

It may be recalled that during the UPA regime the Union Minister for Science & Technology Kapil Sibal had flaunted a $32 tablet which would provide Internet access to the less fortunate students. Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed a large section of students towards online schooling, it’s time to ask Sibal what happened to his pet project? Had it translated to a tablet in each student’s hand, there wouldn’t have been such a digital divide today. Then Sibal had announced the tablet as a cheap, simple computer. First as ‘Shaksat’, then renamed as ‘Akash’, and upgraded to ‘Akash2’.  But despite the abracadabra moment, the project failed to deliver. Today, probably an IIT student could develop easily a low-cost tablet. But at that time, it appeared to be a magical moment: parts to be sourced from China or Taiwan via a Canadian company and then assembled in India. It is surprising the vocal politician hasn’t whispered a word about it. Has the project been given a silent burial? Is this the reason why he is not expressing any views on digital divide as he fears it would bring to public glare the failure of Akash tablet in an era of whataboutery!  
RBI_001

Allow Corporate Houses To Enter Banking

An RBI working group has proposed allowing corporate houses to set up banks in India. Suddenly, former RBI governors and deputy governors want to protect the country from business houses entering the banking arena. Over the last two years, IL&FS, DHFL, Yes Bank and PMC Bank have collapsed due to their weak financial position. The latest to the list of bank failures is Lakshmi Vilas Bank, which was merged with DBS Bank. What we need to do is to have a strong deterrence so that we don’t see a repeat of YES Bank. According to KV Kamath, former MD & CEO of ICICI Bank, in his interview to CNBC TV18, the way forward is heavy investment in technology by the regulator so that on a real-time basis the creditworthiness of individuals or companies is made available. Seems a doable idea.
nariman point_001

Pandemic Aftermath: Informal Cartelization Among Trade

Cartelisation among manufacturers is a known fact. OPEC is the biggest global example. Close to home the Competition Commission Of India, which came down heavily on cement companies sometimes back, has now set its sights on the domestic steel companies. It is believed that the steel companies have increased their prices in unison in the last few months. But, recent developments in the distribution trade in Mumbai – liquor and paper – are quite an eye-opener. With businesses shuttered for nearly a year, those running hotels & restaurants, printing presses, and paper distribution have been hit by severe liquidity crunch. Most of them have not been able to pay their vendors, suppliers, or staff. After the Lockdown was lifted, the restaurant owners, printers and media houses placed fresh orders with their respective distributors. But they were told to clear some of the backlog. Irked, some of these businessmen tried tapping new distributors but they were surprised to learn that the liquor and paper trade had a list of outstanding of different businesses or credit information of bad borrowers. The distributors felt if they supply today their fellow traders would lose. So they decided to unite. It is proving to be a win-win for all.
vaccine_001

Are Biz Tycoons Jumping Covid Vaccine Queues?

The hottest topic being discussed by business tycoons these days is not the Union Budget but the Which, When, Where (and maybe even, if) and How to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Before India rolled out its own versions, some wealthy individuals were rumoured to have rushed overseas (read: Dubai) to get their shot. Now there are whispers about certain famous people making private arrangements to get the vaccine out of turn. Because, as per the Government diktat, in the current phase, the vaccine is being made available only to the frontline healthcare workers. Such clandestine shots may give them immunity but without the all-important vaccine certificate. They are confident, however, of procuring one with some jugaad in due course. One person who won’t have to resort to any such subterfuge is Dr Swati Piramal, vice chairperson, Piramal Enterprises. The wife of billionaire Ajay Piramal, who is a qualified doctor, recently got her Covid-19 shot at the BKC jumbo vaccination center in Mumbai, along with staff of the Gopikrishna Memorial Hospital. Piramal took the Covishield vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India and promptly posted photos of the said deed on Facebook.
stock exchange_dalal_street_001

Insider Trading: Beware Of Rules

Legendary investor Warren Buffett said: “Unless you can watch your stock holding decline by 50% without becoming panic-stricken, you should not be in the stock market.” The stock market is not for the weak-hearted – nor for Inside Trading. An NSDL campaign is creating awareness among the retail investors not to fall prey to the Insider Trading. If you are an equity investor, chances are that at some point in time you would have been offered an ‘insider tip’ to conduct a trade in a particular stock to make quick money. If the tip turns out to be false, you could end up losing money. If the Tip turns out to be true, although you might make quick money, it could land you in legal trouble. Insider trading is a punishable offence, as per the SEBI. The BSE, the NSE, and the SEBI keep routinely tom-tomming about such instructions – and yet the greedy investors keep falling prey to such Tip messages.  Looks like investors seem to blindly follow the investment philosophy of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, “Greed, for lack of a better word is good.” And we know where insider trading and greed got Gekko and his ilk.
LIC_001

LIC: The Much Awaited IPO

With the stock market booming and indices touching lifetime highs, the investor’s appetite seem to be growing even bigger. Many are keenly awaiting the IPO of the state-run Life Insurance Corporation Of India. Set up in 1956, the LIC is the jewel in the government’s crown. The state insurer has smartly competed with 23-odd private sector players to command a market share of 70.21%.  With assets over Rs 31.96 lakh crore, the LIC manages 28.92 million customers through a network of 12,08,826 agents and 144,498 employees. Such impressive numbers have made the government plan a mega IPO in 2021. The government hopes to raise around Rs 70,000-100,000 crore by diluting a 10% stake. Based on this figure, the valuation of the LIC works out to around Rs 13-15 lakh crore. Experts say that the IPO could attract a large number of retail and institutional investors. The IPO dates are not finalized neither has the Red Herring prospectus been filed with the SEBI. Reportedly, Edelweiss Financial Services and Deloitte have been appointed as pre-IPO advisors. Now, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget Speech has indicated that LIC IPO could hit the market in FY21-22. The good news for LIC policyholders is that up to 10 per cent of IPO may be offered to them.
vodafone Vi

Max To Vi: Names Changes For The Sixth Time

The country’s telecom sector has gone through cataclysmic change. From about two dozen players, it is now reduced to three telecom service providers. Falling average revenues per user or ARPUs — and now the payment of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) to the government — has broken the back of the debt-laden service providers. Vodaphone, which is facing a bigger impact, has been looking for strategic alliance and name of Verizon International has cropped up. Meanwhile,  Vodaphone-Idea has gone for another name change — sixth time in the last 25 years, in line with change in ownership pattern. It started with Max (promoted by Analjit Singh) then became Orange, and then followed by Hutch, Vodaphone and finally, after merger with Idea –Vodaphone-Idea. Now, this consolidated name has a new, abbreviated identity – Vi.  People are reading between the lines about the new abbreviated name. Watch this space for more development.
Pmc_001

Why PMC Bank Not Being Bailed Out?

The speed and alacrity with which Satyam Computer, the brainchild of Ramalinga Raju; YES Bank, promoted by Rana Kapoor; and Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) were bailed out by the Union government seems to have surprised everyone. No government since Independence has moved at this sort of lightning speed to resolve such tricky, tortuous issues. Seeing the government’s bailout overdrive, especially in relation to YES Bank and LVB, some of the Opposition parties attributed motives, saying it was shielding people aligned to the government. Be that as it may, the government’s move has certainly given succour to the aggrieved depositors of both the banks.  And it is this kind of relief that the shattered depositors of PMC Bank have been clamouring for since the news of the Rs 4,300-crore money laundering scam hit the bank. The angry depositors of PMC Bank staged dharna in front of the RBI, dashed off letter to the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. But of no avail.  Seeing depositor’s hapless state, Republic TV ran a high decibel campaign. Republic TV revealed that a letter was written on January 28, 2011 by Manpreet Kaur to the then Chief General Manager in-charge, Urban Banks Department, RBI about bank’s misdoings way back in 2011.  There is hope for depositors as there are many suitors eager to take over this bank.
Harshad_mehta_001

Harshad Mehta: Short-Lived Bull Run

The late Big Bull Harshad Mehta was in the news. This time for reel life – a movie The Big Bull starring Abhishek Bachchan and The Scam 1992 : The Harshad Mehta Story and  A 10-episode series, based on a book, sketches his dramatic rise and tragic fall. The brain behind the 1992 Securities Scam, Mehta never displayed emotions openly. He was always smiling and had a swagger. He greeted people with Jai Shri Krishna, an usual greeting among the Gujaratis.  Like the movie Sholay a lot of his one liners have become immortal.  He once told a few journalists after being caught: “Badnam hua tho kya hua, naam tho howa! His another famous line was: “India is a turnaround scrip.” True to his words, the Sensex in 1992 zoomed from 1,000 points to 4,546. The Big Bull was yoked and jailed in 1992. But after his release from the jail, his fan following did not dwindle; in fact it increased. A huge crowd was seen waiting for him at a book launch at a Crossword book store in south Mumbai that he attended. Many took his autographs. Out of jail he was back punting on scrips like BPL, Videocon and Sterlite. Interestingly, he wrote Guest Column for The Financial Express and had plans to launch a TV channel called Money Television. But a story in Business Standard in 1996 scuttled his IPO plans for the proposed TV channel.  In the end, despite amassing huge wealth, he died in a Thane jail. He got a massive heart attack. It was a short lived bull-run. ends

TRENDS & VIEWS

Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

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