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Corporate wrap: Suriya plays GR Gopinath in biopic; Mittal's dinner with lawyers a witty affair; Nobel niggles in Mumbai

Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee at Taj, Cristiano Amon visiting India & more.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 13, 2020, 12.27 PM IST
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Clockwise from left: Here's what Air Deccan founder GR Gopinath, Usha and Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, Nobel prize winners Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee have been up to in the new year.
Clockwise from left: Here's what Air Deccan founder GR Gopinath, Usha and Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, Nobel prize winners Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee have been up to in the new year.
Here's ET’s weekly roundup of the wackiest whispers and murmurs in corporate corridors & policy parlours.

Steel Squeeze
A woman entrepreneur owning a steel plant along with an iron ore mine located in the east has long been looking for an alliance as the industry consolidates with the exit of weaker players. In the late 1990s and subsequently, she was feted for her grit in leading a business that few could master in India. Now, the problem is that she can’t find a partner. Chances for an outright sale are also not looking too bright as the captive mine in question is stuck in a legal maze.

Legal Course
Last week saw several adjournments in the Bombay High Court, with many advocates busy elsewhere. No, they hadn’t delayed their return from New Year celebrations. The Tata-Mistry case hearing in the apex court consumed a vast amount of legal resources. The top legal firms were hired by both sides, resulting in lawyers affiliated to the respective groups heading to the Capital, forcing adjournments in many hearings related to corporates in the Mumbai courts.

Severing Ties
A private equity firm’s aggressive behaviour has irked a few companies, with some promoters being held to account, and unfairly so, according to the latter. So much so, that one Indian promoter facing a torrid time has decided to sever links with the US-based PE firm by paying off loans in advance.

India Bound?

The buzz is that Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon may be headed to India to review operations and meet government officials, the regulator and key customers ahead of the next spectrum sale. The president of the world’s top mobile chip supplier may meet top Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) officials. Amon recently told ET that India mustn’t go slow on 5G as deployment of this next-gen wireless broadband tech would determine its economic fortunes. No official word on any visit though.

Law and Behold
While schmoozing with his bevy of lawyers at a private dinner to celebrate closing of the transaction, Mittal was keen to know about the state of the economy and business.
While schmoozing with his bevy of lawyers at a private dinner to celebrate closing of the transaction, Mittal was keen to know about the state of the economy and business.

Lakshmi Mittal came to India recently with wife Usha and son Aditya to formally take over Essar Steel after a bankruptcy resolution that lasted 866 days. While schmoozing with his bevy of lawyers at a private dinner to celebrate closing of the transaction, Mittal was keen to know about the state of the economy and business. “Never better,” said one senior legal eagle. “We are having the best year of our lives.” Mittal Senior, known for his wit, replied: “I know. I’ve been footing the bill.” The room burst out laughing.

A New Address
Shardul S. Shroff, Managing Partner, amarchand & Magaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & co.

Shardul S. Shroff, Managing Partner, amarchand & Magaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & co.


Talking about lawyers, one of Delhi’s top legal minds, Shardul Shroff, has just moved into plush Jor Bagh after years of living at his farmhouse in Vasant Kunj. Perhaps the daily commute to his Okhla office was becoming tedious. Shroff’s new address is in one of the premium Lutyens’ Delhi neighbour- -hoods. Several of his peers are fellow residents of this leafy colony so Shroff will fit right in. Now that an approximately 300,000 sq ft, plush Hailey Road bungalow has just entered the market with an asking price of Rs 190 crore, perhaps another top lawyer may scoop that up, especially since several business tycoons have their backs to the wall — no pun intended!

Deccan Chronicle
Agencies
Suriya (right), we hear, will play Gopinath (left) as a Robin Hood-style entrepreneur – fighting evil businessmen, politicians who sought to thwart him in his quest to launch a low-cost airline.
Suriya (right), we hear, will play Gopinath (left) as a Robin Hood-style entrepreneur – fighting evil businessmen, politicians who sought to thwart him in his quest to launch a low-cost airline.

Buckle up for a biopic of Air Deccan founder GR Gopinath. Tamil superstar Suriya will play the former Army Captain in 'Soorarai Pottru', which releases this year. Gopinath had sold the rights of his autobiography to Guneet Monga, the Oscar-winning producer behind films like ‘Lunchbox,’ ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and ‘Period. End of Sentence.’ Suriya, we hear, will play Gopinath as a Robin Hood-style entrepreneur – fighting evil businessmen, politicians who sought to thwart him in his quest to launch a low-cost airline (and then sell it for a tidy sum). Captain said he didn’t know who Suriya was until they met recently and the latter was mobbed by selfie-hungry fans.

Kissa Kursi Ka
For many jetsetters, a flight is where they catch up on some rest. But one politician had to stay up through a two-hour ride after his co-passenger turned out to be a very chatty pharma billionaire. The senior gent may have taught a lesson or two to several of his younger colleagues about seats of power, but he was unable to change his own business-class seat to a quieter corner as the flight was full.

Sleep It Off
Just like Gerald Butler, one of our most endearing corporate bosses took time off with family at a serene destination spa resort in the foothills of the Himalayas and came back refreshed. His biggest learning was the importance of sleep to heal one’s body and soul. The teacher at the retreat told him the biggest mistake folks make is turning in right after reading a book or watching the telly. The net result: the mind stays awake after OD-ing on so much of digital and other stimulants far longer, even after we may have dozed off. Ideally, one should keep a gap of at least 15-20 minutes and gradually sink into a deep slumber after some breathing exercises and yoga mudras.

Primal Instincts
If one had seen the partying ways of this scion at a rooftop nightclub in midtown Mumbai this weekend, with fellow South Bombay Young Turks in tow, one would have come to either of two conclusions: He’s super relieved to have survived the biggest threat of his career by the skin of the teeth. Or, he has taken Rhett Butler’s famous oneliner too close to his heart. Guess Friday nights are meant to let your hair down, but as an older and wiser person said — everything in moderation, especially after 40.

A Private Palette
It was great to see top private equity execs from Blackstone, Apax, Apollo, Cerberus, SSG Capital and Bain share a laugh and a loaf (or lachha paratha) at this hip Indian fine-dining restaurant at Bandra Kurla Complex. Some were old colleagues from consulting or deal shops, but the buddies all agree there is more to life than just another deal. Great to see such camaraderie on the dining table over prawn mezhukkhupuratti, guacamole gilawat, nalli nihari, sarson ka saag and mutton khari. Last heard, they want to make it a regular feature.

Nobel Niggles
The first Literature Live Evening of 2020 brought to Bombay the new book of Nobel Laureates for Economics, Abhijit Banerjee (left) and Esther Duflo (right).
The first Literature Live Evening of 2020 brought to Bombay the new book of Nobel Laureates for Economics, Abhijit Banerjee (left) and Esther Duflo (right).

The economics of Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee appear to be polarising — at least in some quarters. That’s what it felt like after a private talk at the Taj last weekend, organised by Anil Dharkar and moderated by Ajit Ranade, the Birla Group’s chief economist, for many of their capitalist comrades, including members of the Godrej family and Rashesh Shah of Edelweiss. Most were too polite to openly rubbish the Nobel laureates, but we did overhear some rumblings in the crowd among those who felt the duo was far too left of centre for their sensibilities, and their ideas were impractical in the real world.

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