Hush-hush tales from the world of stock markets, banking, corporate world and corridors of power
Last Updated: June 28, 2021 / 08:24 AM IST
On June 26, the image of a finance ministry document started circulating widely on WhatsApp. The document, titled ‘Office Memorandum’, said Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief for central government employees, which were frozen during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, were being restored from July 1, 2021. This included the arrears over the past one year. The document showed it was signed by the finance secretary. It seemed so legitimate that even bureaucrats from other departments started forwarding it to reporters covering the finance Ministry, enquiring if it was indeed authentic. It did seem pretty genuine to many. Except for one teeny weeny ‘give away’. Somanathan’s sign-off was ‘Finance Secretary of India’, not just ‘Finance Secretary’. No bureaucrat addresses himself like that. As speculation reached a fever pitch, the finance ministry’s spokesperson was asked late in the evening whether it was a fake document or not and this promptly sent North Block into a tizzy. Within minutes, multiple tweets were sent out from the finance ministry and Press Information Bureau’s official twitter handles, that the document being shared was a categorical ‘fake’. Phew! Last heard, authorities are trying to find out who could have faked such an important document. A Himalayan task indeed given that the document had been shared thousands of times!
This MNC lender, which has put its Indian assets on the block, is likely to see a flurry of bids as suitors look to lap up its lucrative credit card and wealth business. In fact, some analysts have gone to the extent of saying that among all the other assets in Asia which are up for grabs, the India business is the ‘crown jewel’. A regional player that recently became the white knight for a stressed southern lender is being seen as the front-runner for the deal in several quarters. But an NBFC that is likely to show case a few tech tricks up its sleeve in the coming days is also evaluating the M&A opportunity rather seriously we hear. Game on!
DEALS AND BABUS
The government seems to be in fund raise mode and how. It recently invited RFPs for a stake sale in IDBI Bank and now we hear that the babus are working overtime to mop up moolah via the OFS route in three-four PSU firms. And all these deals are lined up before the cool-off period for Q1 earnings kicks in. The babus are feeling the pressure for sure considering the aggressive deal launch timelines.
MINI BIG 4 EXODUS
On MC Insider, we have kept a hawk’s eye on key executive movements in India Inc and the advisory world. Take the case of this corporate finance expert from the world of Big 4 firms who quit the advisory space and went on to head a top office space provider. Guess what, he’s back to his first love and has kick-started a boutique M&A and tax firm. Here’s the kicker folks—we hear he has poached more than three dozen employees from one of his former firms. That bunch is expected to come on board soon.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The upcoming IPO of this food delivery firm has generated tremendous excitement in the investor community, who just can’t keep calm. MC Insider understands that the company had to double its issue size just to accommodate new investors who are super keen and even then many investors are not able to get allocation! Some wondered whether the IPO of a company making huge losses would find takers in India, but the sheer demand has surprised the company's IPO bankers, who are now gearing up for a bumper listing on the bourses.
This fintech, which recently acquired a troubled bank, has been lending rather aggressively. It started doling out loans just a year or so back and already has a revenue of Rs 700 crore and a loan book in excess of Rs 2,000 crore. In the fintech world where lending is everyone's plan to make money, rivals are amazed at just how this company has monetized so fast. Some of them suspect that the numbers simply can't be this rosy and that the underlying data may perhaps tell a different story, but for now they can only sit back and go green with envy.
Recently, a security researcher shared concerns about growing cyberattacks and how protecting your own data such as emails and online shopping have become a huge challenge. "There is nothing that can't be hacked and there is no data that is safe," he said. A scary thought, but rooted in reality. So as someone who is in constant touch with reality, how does he protect his passwords? Password manager? No. "They are vulnerable," he shared. "Just hacking the master key of the password manager would compromise everything else," he said. "So I write all the passwords down in a small notebook that I carry with me," he shared. Another Bengaluru-based cybersecurity professional and ethical hacker said he notes all his passwords in the mobile notepad in a way that only he can figure out what the password is. Ethical hackers banking more on the safety of their notes, online or offline, than the sophisticated and hi-tech password managers or other devices, says a lot about the cybersafety in this era.
BIG BANK THEORY
The news of privatisation of state-run banks—at least two to begin with—was expected to trigger outrage among bank employee unions. As it appears now, trade unions are unlikely to go for big protests against the government move and may limit their agitation to token strikes. The reason is the hard realisation that unions can't do much against the government on this issue considering that the government is the majority owner of PSBs and it is the state's decision that ultimately matters. But prominent trade unions leaders are caught in a dilemma because they can't admit this openly in public as it will invite the wrath of many bank employees who are strongly against the privatisation move. Why? They believe a shift in ownership to private hands will lead to job losses. Some employees want trade unions to move court against the Government move but that's unlikely to happen, we hear. To sum it up, the Modi sarkar has a clear edge on the privatisation agenda vs bank employee unions.
NEW BODY CHECKUPS
With KYC and medical underwriting going fully online, insurers are now being presented with old photographs and medical reports as proof of documents. To beat this, live video chats have become a must to tackle this menace. Insurers are also roping in doctors in these group video chats to ascertain the basic medical health of prospective policyholders. The rules of the game are as follows: in these sessions, the video cannot be switched off and the full body needs to be visible. Hmm, wonder what new jugaad policyholders will come up with now!
JAB THE SENIORS
The prime minister referred to his mother in his 'Mann Ki Baat' address on June 27, saying she is nearing 100 and has taken both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. One hopes that this revelation may address the hurdle of vaccine hesitancy to some extent among the elders in the country, especially in the villages. They seem to have dropped off the vaccination charts recently. Out of an estimated 14 crore adults in the country aged 60 years and above, about half of them have taken the first dose of the vaccine so far, though they have been eligible for jabs since January. Only about 2.3 crore seniors are fully vaccinated. Last week when India hit a record number of four crore weekly jabs, only 45 lakh among them were seniors. The states are in fact having the hardest time convincing elders in rural parts of the country to take a jab.
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