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Corporate chatter: Relatives left once rich but now bankrupt biz family high and dry; H1N1, not coronavirus, got Bengaluru techies worried

A former boss who hung up his CFO boots for personal well-being is now on a deal-making spree for his old firm.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 24, 2020, 11.27 AM IST
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Agencies
Some members of the then rich family had transferred the family assets to relatives to save themselves. And, recently, SAP shut operations to fumigate its offices after 2 employees tested positive for H1N1.
Some members of the then rich family had transferred the family assets to relatives to save themselves. And, recently, SAP shut operations to fumigate its offices after 2 employees tested positive for H1N1.
Suits & Sayings | ET’s weekly roundup of the wackiest whispers and murmurs in corporate corridors & policy parlours:

Big Deal
One round of consolidation over, Reliance, we hear, is all set to move on to the next phase already, to streamline its sprawling media business empire. The planned Sony and Viacom 18 merger is going full steam ahead, and both sides are hopeful of sticking to the March-end deadline. A little birdie tells us the due diligence exercise carried out by KPMG and EY is also over and only the final touches are left. Sony will be the larger shareholder with possibly a golden share in its kitty.

Panic Attack
With SAP shutting operations to fumigate its offices after employees tested positive for H1N1, other IT companies with operations nearby are worried, a senior IT executive said. Techies in Bengaluru tend to live and hang out together. Anyone calling in with flu in the next few weeks is going to be watched. As if the coronavirus wasn’t bad enough.

Going Strong
Politicians never seem to retire. The same could be said for some dyed-in-the-wool executives too. Take this former banker-turned-finance boss who had hung up his CFO boots recently since the corporate life was apparently taking a toll on his personal well-being. Going by his deal-making spree for his old organisation, it seems nothing has changed. But he keeps insisting he’s just an adviser. No wonder they say consultants work harder.

Caribbean Carnival

Dabur GeNext Mohit Burman knows how to mix work with pleasure. After his desert chic look — complete with a mask straight out of an alien movie — at the Arvind Dubash birthday bash at Jaisalmer recently, he flew all the way to St Lucia to buy a cricket team for the Kings XI Punjab franchise. The T20 league is already popular in the Caribbean and we are confident the Zouks will see a lot of zing going forward. Remember what the flamboyant Imran Khan had said ages ago about the Kerry Packer series?

Prince to Pauper
As if their financial woes were not enough, this once-feted, now bankrupt business family is squabbling over what is left of their inheritance. Turns out some of the members transferred most of the family assets to relatives to save themselves from getting pulled in by the lenders in the event of a default since they had all given personal guarantees for loans. But after bequeathing a windfall, the relatives have left them high and dry as well.

Kebab Kahani
The US Presidential visit means that the ITC Maurya is off limits while the Trumps are in residence. That saw die-hard meat lovers thronging the Bukhara restaurant in great numbers ahead of the deadline. As winter turns to spring, guess every kebab lover wants to indulge in some la nuit gastronomique.

Agencies
Donald Trump to stay at ITC Maurya's Chanakya Suite
Donald Trump to stay at ITC Maurya's Chanakya Suite.

The Bells Toll
Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones, Rob ‘Walmart’ Walton and Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream will soon be visiting at the Isha Foundation in Coimbatore. They’ll be guests of TV writer Ian Le Frenais and wife Doris Vartan, who have decided to renew their wedding vows before Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. Friends from Mumbai’s luxe set are expected to fly in to attend.

Take A Break
At a recent industry event in the Capital, along with discussing the budget, the chatter also centred around winter breaks taken by VC and PE investors. One Gurgaon-based investor, who has a penchant for early-stage tech deals, extolled the virtues of skiing in Europe, even while raising money for his new fund. Another VC investor outlined the process of earning diving certificates in the Maldives or the Andamans. A prominent Mumbai-based investment banker from one of the largest deal advisory firms swore by a two-week body cleanse. Investors joke that there should be a lot of time for breaks this year, given the growing pessimism of the risk capital industry about the startup ecosystem.

Managing That Stress
Ajay Mahajan, who led the commercial and wholesale banking business at IDFC First, has put in his papers to pursue other interests. The buzz is that Mahajan, who has been a banker for 30 years, having worked as MD of Bank of America, may explore the multi-billion dollar opportunities in stress asset management. Chances are that Mahajan, with his experience in lending and treasury, may set up a credit fund that focuses on high yield debts and also addresses distressed credit and special situations — thanks to a mountain of sticky loans in financial services companies.
​With a deadline hovering, GMR just couldn’t afford to delay and face the prospect of default.​
With a deadline hovering, GMR just couldn’t afford to delay and face the prospect of default.

French Connection

It was surprising and frustrating for overseas observers to see the venerable Tata group struggle to get regulatory approvals for a proposed investment in GMR’s flagship New Delhi airport. First, supposed corporate shadowboxing saw airline rivals raise the issue of conflict of interest. Then came Air India’s disinvestment and Vistara’s interest in bidding for it, adding to the conflict conundrum. With a deadline hovering, GMR, we believe, just couldn’t afford to delay and face the prospect of default. We all know what happened next — the French partner arrived in the nick of time.

Prized Advice
A private equity firm active in the BPO space, sometimes buying out the same company twice from different owners, has tapped a former BPO CEO with whom it has had a long relationship to advise one of the hottest new entrants in the space. The new-age customer service firm, which only works with hot startups and has just started Indian operations, has rival Indian companies on notice. The combination of the buyout firm and CEO has been electrifying in the past. So, what’s next?

Replacement Policy
As India shapes a scrappage policy for vehicles, some executives recalled Brazil’s experience. Scrap merchants would waylay cars en route to authorised scrappage centres, strip out usable parts and replace them with duds. An executive said he won’t be surprised if this happens in India, as the local scrap merchants are as, if not more, enterprising.

Attention, Future Corporate Stars! KM Birla Shares 5 Secrets About Sustainability, Hidden S...

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Business, Billionaire Style

17 Feb, 2020
KM Birla’s exhaustive post on a social media platform has valuable takeaways for future corporate stars.The year 2020 has delivered a double opportunity for business leaders. It’s not just a time to reflect upon the year that went by and the one that has begun. It is also a chance to take a holistic view of the two decades past as we step into the third 10-year period of this millennium. Industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla (R) concurs with this.Birla, 53, who has a reported net worth of nearly $6 billion, recently shared a 10-page long piece on a social media platform, encapsulating his learnings over the past few years. Here is an abridged version of the text:
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Full Appraisal
Late last week, a leading conglomerate with interests in natural resources saw its promoter travel to Mumbai to conduct a comprehensive review of every vertical in the group. For the record, the group is among the few conglomerates in India with ambitious expansion plans across sectors. Where’s the confidence coming from, is what folks are asking. Most others are in deleveraging mode these days.

Locked Out
The voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) of state-owned Mahangar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) may have been a little too successful. All the employees at a branch in the Mumbai suburbs have eagerly opted for the scheme, leaving just a security guard to watch over a locked office. With all the staff having left, will any customers stay behind?


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