Hush-hush tales from the world of stock markets, banking, corporate world and corridors of power
Last Updated: June 01, 2022 / 08:47 AM IST
MF RED ALERT
With the market regulator and investigative agencies on an overdrive against corruption in the asset management industry, market chatter is that accommodation deals between operators/promoters and crooked fund managers have reduced significantly. Besides, there are enough disgruntled junior employees at fund houses, or small broking firms resentful of the high handed behaviour of mutual fund dealers/fund managers, willing to blow the whistle on shady practices. While SEBI and other agencies are probing the front running angle, industry insiders say the relatively uncomplicated ‘cash deals’ are more common, in which operators apparently offload their long positions to fund houses at inflated prices, or the fund houses allegedly buy large blocks of shares from the benaami holdings of promoters.
SHADES OF CHANGE
This story is about a marque stock in the “Marcee” manager’s portfolio. The Asian Paints’ stock fell 7% (about 20% from its 52-week high) after Grasim announced a massive capex in the paints segment last week. Since the paints leader is a market darling, there was a lot of buzz around its fall, and we reached out to the Marcee manager who has been quite vocal about his belief in the paints company. Why does he think the stock–which has mostly been like Caesar's wife (beyond reproach)--was correcting so sharply? Unlike other times, the manager excused himself and passed the mic on to his colleague. He said the colleague is the in-house expert on the sector. While the colleague continued to defend the stock, the market will be keenly watching the Marcee managers holding in Asian Paints in the face of changing competition dynamics, and yes, don’t forget, there is pressure on its bottomline because of rising input cost.
We hear a domestic mutual fund has been aggressively selling stake in an online player which had a stellar D-street debut last year. The buzz is that the same domestic fund was apparently an aggressive buyer on day 1 of listing and is now selling its holding at levels more than 50% lower. Looks like buy right and sit tight has not worked at least in this case.
CAPITAL GAINS VILLAS
The joke goes that if you throw a stone in this enclave it will most likely hit the window of a founder of a unicorn or an investor. That's how popular this locality has become with the newly rich tech crowd in Bengaluru. It prompted one founder to quip recently that these villas could very well be called "capital gains villas." He was alluding to the fact that startup folks typically buy these villas to escape the tax net, as current rules allow exemption on the long term capital gains if you invest in a new residential property, subject to some conditions. Looks like the property developers are smiling all the way to the bank!
At a recent ad industry gathering of stalwarts for a stalwart, a certain famous creative chief turned director made a special appearance. While the seated crowed were regaled by the master storyteller on stage and promised by the host that the bar would open shortly, the director at the back (in standing crowd) expedited proceedings by yelling over the audience to open the bar. Nothing keeps an adman from his or her tipple.
Bruising wars between startups are not uncommon. Especially when it comes to snagging the brightest talent. An industry executive shared an anecdote recently on a war for talent that transpired between two SAAS firms. Legend goes that during placement season one year, the first firm, which is very picky about talent, had painstakingly conducted a long and exhaustive process to shortlist candidates from a top college. The second firm simply asked which students received offers from the first firm. It then offered these students double the pay package to absorb them. This takes hustle to a different level altogether!
TOO MANY EXITS TO HANDLE
The season of leadership churn is back at a large network agency. While high-profile exits have been rocking the India operations of the company, insiders tell Storyboard18 that they still have to battle some rough tides, before the storm calms down. An impromptu management meeting is scheduled. In the invite, the global chief executive mentions that he has a few “updates” to share. A mole told us a high-profile exit is underway. On the other hand, an insider says the company will not be able to hold up to any more people crises. Clients are already anxious about these developments and have started reviewing their businesses with this agency.
TRADES OF ‘SILENCE’
Many HNIs were badly wrong footed in shares of metal companies after the abrupt decision by the government to levy export duty on steel and iron ore intermediates. This move was followed by a cap on sugar exports, rattling bulge bracket traders further, as they wondered which sector was next in the government’s crosshairs. Fertilisers stocks took a beating early last week, mainly on panic selling of long positions, but have since trimmed their losses. The Silent Operator of Dalal Street and his associates are among those who believe that the fertiliser story is still looking good. Mr Silent and gang saw a chunk of their profits getting eroded in last week’s metal stocks sell off, but are hoping to recoup a good part of those losses through their bets in two agri chem players, amongst other bets.
STRICTLY IN HOUSE PLEASE!
Despite being a government organisation, this insurance major has been flirting with lateral hires at various posts. No surprises that it sees value in hiring talent from the private sector, especially when the market is intensely competitive. But lateral talent is as good as middle management or even perhaps for the role of a CXO. When it comes to the top management, the decision makers, this company prefers to stick to home grown talent. Recently its top boss sounded a warning that any attempts to hire outsiders at the top would trigger a mutiny within the company and he wasn't referring to unions. Guess somethings never change at sarkari firms.
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