Hush-hush tales from the world of stock markets, banking, corporate world and corridors of power
Last Updated: June 22, 2022 / 09:09 AM IST
Let’s get this edition of MC Insider rolling with buzz about a big-box deal in the healthcare space. We hear that an American private equity fund will buy out the Indian promoters of a listed hospital chain. Now this hospital chain runs several units and diagnostics centres, and had even branched off to new treatment areas, but has been under the weather for some time now. Losses have mounted as has the pile of debt. And our PE fund has built a reputation of being aggressive in buyouts. That’s not all. A little birdie told us that once the buyout is done, the PE find may explore delisting the company.
Here comes the sun
Getting funding is a costly affair these days and we are not talking about startups here. The good old bond street has grown rather quiet with even government sponsored entities rethinking their plans to raise money. But one such financial entity was cocksure that its PSU pedigree and triple As in rating would get it funds at an aggressive pricing. An issue was thrown open to bids last week only to come up empty. With this embarrassing episode, a couple of other government outfits have gone back to their drawing board now. Per one banker, it doesn’t matter how many you have up your rating sleeve, you need to cough up double of what you did six months ago to get an investor to buy your bond. If winter has come for startups, the bond street is bracing for an unforgiving summer of rate hikes in which even the AAAs are getting burned. Don’t believe us, just ask the country’s central bank. It belted out the Beatles song — Here comes the sun — to explain its rate hikes in a bulletin!
This marquee investor seems to be hurtling from one controversy to the next in the last few months. In the latest, there was buzz all week that one of its senior executives was all set to leave following some changes in the way it allocates capital. While many scribes were scrambling to confirm the buzz, turns out it was a false alarm.
This leading consultancy is faced with a peculiar problem. Its UK office sent a missive that it wants talent from the India office. Lo and behold — up to 10 executives jumped at the chance faster than you could say “London Bridge is falling down”. Though they are from the same umbrella company, this movement is happening not through deputation or promotion. The executives, some of whom are working in Gurugram office, have to first resign in India and then join the UK office. Great Britain’s gain is the Indian unit’s loss. After the loss of talent in UK offices post Brexit, one is likely to increasingly see more Indian talent manning offices of the consulting firm. Means more resignations are on their way.
Jumping the gun
An official associated with a research institute under the Union health ministry had to face the music recently for saying at a public event that a report being prepared by the institute is set to be released by the PM. PMO's clearance is a must in such instances and as such this official had overstepped by announcing something that was yet to be confirmed at the highest level. Though no disciplinary action in the case has been taken yet, the official was issued a departmental notice and was reprimanded by the bosses in the ministry.
New entrepreneur on the block
An advertising veteran recently announced his entry into the startup world. The news got a lot of mixed reactions. A few senior executives, who have worked with this gentleman closely, think it’s not surprising. We hear that the veteran has been investing in various businesses for a while now and this move was an obvious one. However, a former head of an ad agency observes, “Although he doesn’t have the mettle to be an entrepreneur and build something on his own, he often makes some smart choices by collaborating with the right people. Also, his personal brand is bigger than the business he brings to the table.” A critique and compliment rolled in one. We wish him all the luck for the new innings.
Agency clients are a bit confused. Many are unable to understand ad agency structures these days. A senior BFSI marketer observes, “Gone are the days when pitch presentations were led by only the chief executive or creative lead of an agency. Today, creative directors and account executives, who are a few years into the business, run the show behind the scenes.” Another seasoned marketer says that these days the big bosses of agencies are usually seen only during the annual review meetings or while signing on a new project. The senior BFSI marketer tells us that advertising is a personality-driven business and there is a reason for it: "I would want the best ad man/woman on my account, irrespective of how big or small the work is.” Perhaps this is a cue for ad bosses to make a call. Show them you care.
New unicorn in the works
A company that has been under the radar for years when it comes to fundraises is now looking to raise up to $200 million from global investors at unicorn valuation. The company’s business model is similar to that of a US-based startup, which crashed a couple of years back, ahead of its proposed IPO, hurting one of the world’s largest venture capital investors. The startup is expecting a bounceback in demand with the Covid-19 situation normalising, but it will be interesting to see who invests in the space, which had become synonymous with the US company that tumbled in 2019.
Under the scanner
The buzz is that investigating agencies are looking into more leads into alleged cases of corruption by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for projects awarded between 2008 and 2012. Many officials have been called for questioning. Authorities have identified six more NHAI officials and three former officials in the matter and are likely going to call them too for questioning. We hear that officials have taken bribes of around Rs 25 lakh each.
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