SUITS & SAYINGS: Round-up of weekly whispers & murmurs
ET’s weekly roundup of the wackiest whispers and murmurs in corporate corridors and policy parlours.
It was bittersweet moment for staff at a department as votes were counted on May 23. Although the ruling party was headed for a landslide, the minister concerned was on a sticky wicket. Numerous congratulatory calls and messages were received without much sign of jubilation. “What can we do? We have to brave it out. It is a happy day for the party, but...” said an official.
Corporate India is wondering if the Prime Minister will pick up the gauntlet and merge ministries that could benefit from a unified command. For instance, the roads, railways and aviation sectors could be the first, they hope, under Nitin Gadkari.
Indian telcos are waiting with bated breath for the telecom minister to be named. With a number of issues hanging in balance, telcos are keen to understand the government’s next steps, specifically on implementation of 5G, so they can start chalking out investments in future technologies.
Time to Topple
Bengaluru’s infrastructure woes have, for decades, compounded by having a state government run by a party that’s in opposition at the Centre. One tech exec--utive said it makes sense for the BJP, which is a few seats short of a majority in Karnataka, to snatch power in the state from the bickering JD(S)-Congress combine. At least there will be no differ--ences when decisions are taken for the city, according to him. The exec pointed out that 11 years after getting a new airport, there’s no rail connectivity to the city.
This industrialist has been unlucky enough to lose his empire in India, saddled with debt and receivables. He’s hoping his luck will turn as he gets ready to put his real estate portfolio —uber-luxe, sea-facing villas and plantation getaways—on the market. Last checked, his Goa address was going at a rental of ?2 lakh a night. Interested parties, you know who to call.
Life’s a Beach
If you have a yacht and it’s summer, where would you be? At Amalfi or Cannes, of course. As were the Poonawallas of Pune—something they do every year. We were a tad surprised, though, to learn that Essar’s Rewant Ruia was one of those partying on board, considering the family jewels are all under the hammer. Still, why let that spoil the mood?
At a large embattled housing finance company, a CXO has raised eyebrows with liquidity flow of a different kind. This HR head has discovered an urgent need for an SUV, tapping a line of allocated emoluments. That comes at a time when costs are being cut and some people find themselves out of a job. Probably not the best use of HR policies, some of his colleagues are muttering.
Piyush Goyal had correctly predicted the BJP Lok Sabha tally months back at the ET Awards but just last week, somebody else did too, or so we are told, in faraway Washington. In the midst of policy wonks, career diplomats, fat cat investors and other VVIPs, who were mostly predicting 210-240 as the NDA count, he came up with 305. Who was it? None other than Mukesh Ambani.
After a telecom billionaire bought into this once-storied, now-tottering engineering company that just delayed declaring its results, it seems several other moneybags have woken up to the tantalising potential of a takeover, that too at bargain basement prices. Last heard, another Delhi-based industrialist, currently more known as a culture czar, is also sniffing around.
Guarding the Fortress
SoftBank-backed Oyo is lawyering up. We hear it has engaged its third high-profile counsel, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for arbitration proceedings against Zo Rooms. The company, valued close to $5 billion, has also signed up prominent Supreme Court lawyers — Gopal Jain and PV Kapoor. If the arbitrator rules against Oyo, promoters of the now-defunct Zo stand to pick up 7% in one of Masayoshi Son’s favourite bets. High stakes indeed.
End of Term
RBI deputy governors have not been getting extensions when their terms end, in contrast with earlier practice. Things may not be different for a deputy governor who played a vital role in the regulator’s attempt to straighten out corporate borrowers. While there’s no official word on the matter, he isn’t likely to get one and neither does he want another term, according to sources. Former governor D Subbarao had highlighted how his recommendations for extensions had been rejected. Lessons learnt?