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Hush-hush tales from the world of stock markets, banking, corporate world and corridors of power

MC Insider: Sarkar sends mixed signals on oil firm sell-off, leading gold loan NBFC grapples with succession, questions surround a wedding gift, and more

Last Updated: March 28, 2022 / 11:16 AM IST

OIL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL?

Mixed sarkari signals on the divestment of this oil refiner-cum-retailer have left investors and industry baffled on what to expect next. A minister recently said that the Big Bang sale process has entered the second leg and has received "multiple" expressions of interest. Around the same time, a senior bureaucrat who is a secretary in another ministry told a newspaper that the divestment has slowed down as investors are more keen on green projects. Senior industry executives who have been tracking the development closely point out that the government had earlier said that three parties had expressed interest in the company. A senior executive quipped, "How is it multiple? Isn't three a prime number?" Hmm!

GAME OF GOLDEN THRONES

This gold loan non-banking finance company (NBFC) is a leading name in the business for decades. It knows the game inside out and has survived many crises in its eventful journey. But right now, if the insider buzz offers any clue, there is a silent succession battle gradually taking hold here. There are multiple heirs, there are many claimants. The family has many heroes who built the empire but the firm has always put up a united face in front of competition and the general public. But power and wealth can upset the greatest of empires. The money involved is huge, the gold shines bright luring everyone on its path, and the empire has expanded vastly beyond its modest origins decades ago. Who will get the throne in the next leadership change? The game for the golden throne is well and truly on!

SHAADI KE SIDE EFFECTS?

SHAADI KE SIDE EFFECTS?

This entrepreneur's move to bail out his sibling’s struggling firm raised eyebrows in corporate and tech circles, prompting questions on governance and probity. One executive mused that it was a 'shaadi ka gift' as the brother's wedding celebrations were underway at a plush hotel in western India over the weekend and the entrepreneur wanted to get the deal signed, sealed and delivered before that. While the guessing game is still on over how much money was spent, insiders said it would have likely been a show of power and money, with some key people in attendance. Count yourself lucky if you have a sibling willing to fork out a $50 million cheque as a wedding gift!

THE NOTORIOUS INVESTOR

We got a tremendous response to an MC Insider entry we carried the previous week on an investor who's known to be aggressive, abusive and has a reputation for strong-arming entrepreneurs. Over a dozen founders and investors DMed us with their guess after reading the entry and nearly all of them got it right on the first guess! What are the odds?! One well known founder told us he was so put off by the said investor that he advised a bunch of startups to never take money from this well-known fund. Bad news spreads fast and hope this VC has taken note.

THE CORNER OFFICE STRATEGY

Succession planning and changes in top management need to be handled deftly and the exercise carried out at the diversified TVS group was a recent example as part of which Gen Next came on board. We now hear buzz of a potential change of guard at one of the country’s oldest retail firms. Any guesses, folks?

WELL INSURED NOW, ARE WE?

WELL INSURED NOW, ARE WE?

Now this listing has been in the works for quite a while now but looks like the deal is picking up pace with two domestic banks likely to be on board. This would be the second health insurance firm to hit the markets after Star Health Insurance and we hear the deal may kick off in April. All this while the mystery continues around the launch dates of the mega LIC IPO.

ART OF GETTING LAKSHMI BACK HOME

A few months ago, a major Indian food company called for a media pitch. The account, which is estimated to be worth around Rs 300 crore, has landed in the hands of a leading network’s sub-brand. Ad industry observers and people close to the development say the incumbent media agency has been hit by people exits which is why accounts are slipping away from its kitty. The agency recently lost the account of a new-age fintech brand too. Interestingly, the media agency is also a part of the same leading network that’s bagged the business after the pitch. “At the end of the day, all these big pitches are a joke, because businesses in advertising are largely people-led," said a senior executive. He quipped, "CEOs have their tricks to bring back ‘Lakshmi’ home.”

NOT HANGING UP THE BOOTS YET

Every time there's news of a big media pitch, a particular chief’s retirement news resurfaces. Here’s what happened recently. A homegrown conglomerate called for a media pitch for just two of its divisions. That business alone is worth Rs 550-600 crore. The pitches are expected to take place by the end of this month and the results will be out soon after. “It’s strange how every time there is a major account up for grabs, the whispers of this CEO’s retirement get louder," wondered an ad exec, adding that people think the said chief "can no longer handle pressure". Competitions' pitch games, perhaps? The CEO, however, rubbished the rumours saying that he is in no hurry to hang up his boots. So don't rush to retire this gent, friends.

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