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

MC Insider: Priyanka Gandhi’s UP plan, upshot of CBI boss’ selection, banks on crypto, pandemic PR, IPO buzz and more

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

Last Updated: May 31, 2021 / 10:56 AM IST

OPERATION PRIYANKA GANDHI

OPERATION PRIYANKA GANDHI

Here’s the big question swirling in Uttar Pradesh political circles: When will Priyanka Gandhi Vadra shift base to Lucknow as the state elections are less than 10 months away? Speculation swirled last June when the late Congress leader Sheila Kaul's house on Gokhale Marg in Lucknow was refurbished as state Congress leaders said Priyanka would soon be shifting her base to Lucknow and will stay in that house until the 2022 state elections. But a year later, there is no movement on the plan yet. Priyanka does remain active on Twitter, cornering the Yogi Adityanath government in UP on various issues and occasionally parachuting into the state like after the Hathras incident took place last October. This may however not prove to be enough as the ramshackle Congress organisation in UP needs its lieutenant and probable CM face to set up base in UP. It may already be too late, some veterans in the party in UP fear.

DON’T ‘BANK’ ON CRYPTO YET!

DON’T ‘BANK’ ON CRYPTO YET!

Post the recent big crash in cryptocurrencies and the regulator's public statements raising concerns on cryptocurrency instruments and risks, Indian banks are on high alert. At least five leading banks have held internal meetings at top levels to discuss the latest developments in the crypto world in recent weeks and, we hear, have also communicated to some of their HNI clients advising them to stay away from crypto exposure citing lack of regulatory architecture  and high risk. Banks are highly worried about the regulator's close watch of financial institutions dealing in crypto assets, the potential downside and hence do not want to take any chance. For the time being, this ‘play it safe’ approach makes sense.

UPSHOT OF CBI SELECTION

UPSHOT OF CBI SELECTION

Once considered the frontrunners, senior IPS officers Rakesh Asthana (BSF chief) and YC Modi (NIA Chief) missed out on the CBI Director's post as the Chief Justice of India sprung a surprise by citing a Supreme Court judgment in the selection committee meeting with the PM. The judge said officers with less than six months to retire should not be considered for such top posts since they get a two-year-fixed term. The government is wary that this may become a precedent in the future selection of CBI Directors and narrow the pool of available officers. Officials point out that the SC judgment in question was given with respect to selection of state DGPs but the CJI believed the same spirit should be followed for the selection of the CBI Director too, something to which the PM and the Leader of the Opposition Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury agreed. Senior IPS officers who would be in line for the top job at CBI after two years, are now already doing their calculations to check if they would be eligible given the new precedent!

PANDEMIC PERCEPTION

PANDEMIC PERCEPTION

An Indian state that was chastised in the media for poor handling of the COVID-19 second wave and faced backlash in recent local polls, has decided to manage the COVID numbers and perception simultaneously. The top boss of the state who never gave a hoot to the media, realised the narrative is slipping beyond control. He brought in a media savvy bureaucrat to handle the information department and hired the services of a top PR firm. The COVID numbers have come under control with allegations of data manipulation and skewed testing. However the perception battle is proving to be a tough one.

‘BRAND’ NEW STRATEGY

 ‘BRAND’ NEW STRATEGY

Fresh from a round of fund raising, word on the street is that a leading drugmaker is now looking to boost its branded generics business. Much like its peer down south. This firm is on the prowl for brands in India, Sri Lanka and the CIS regions but is known to be a cost-conscious acquirer. And currently PE funds are willing to pay top dollar for deals in the segment. So will this player play a wait and watch game or take the plunge for opportunistic buyouts?

‘PREMIUM’ PATH TO LISTING

 ‘PREMIUM’ PATH TO LISTING

The IPO wave has swept the markets and how. The latest to join the bandwagon is the insurance arm of a financial services group. But hold on folks, there may be a pre-IPO deal in the works here. A little birdie tell us that there may soon be an unlisted placement of shares valuing the insurance entity at a neat Rs 13,000 crore. Now that’s some food for thought indeed.

DEAL SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED?

DEAL SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED?

It could soon be the end of ‘good times’ (pun completely intended) at a leading alco-bev firm, with the lenders all set to sell the stake of the controversial founder which may soon get transferred to them following a recent court order. A key foreign investor in the firm is expected to nibble when the chunky portion of shares is made available. So expect a few block deals soon is the market buzz.

PATH TO D-STREET

PATH TO D-STREET

This e-commerce player’s plans to go public made the headlines everywhere, but interestingly we hear some of its own employees and investors seem surprised. This bunch believes there’s no reason to go public right now with no cemented path to profits. To be sure, other loss-making companies have filed for IPO papers as well. Conspiracy theories abound as to why the IPO news was leaked. Some say this IPO talk will drum up excitement and actually lead to a private funding round which the company wants. Others say an Asian investor is frustrated and is pushing for the IPO because it cannot wait any longer.  Well, all said and done, this is an eagerly awaited listing and the days ahead may play out like a thriller!

ALL-NEW FUNDING MANTRA

ALL-NEW FUNDING MANTRA

The startup funding frenzy has everyone excited, and some skeptical. Then there are others just scratching their heads. Founders who are building profitable, stable businesses are not getting the valuations that wildly loss making and cash burning businesses are getting.  In fact, last week, someone cheekily compared the drastic contrast between the profits and ad spends of two startup firms on social media. Some founders are now pondering, has the game changed? And are they doing the wrong thing by building stable companies rather than chasing fads and increasing their valuations? These people are almost convinced that the funding game has changed, and if they stick to their old plans, they may become irrelevant. A new world order where no investor cares about profits? We have seen these cycles, but this seems crazier than most cycles. How will it end? Watch this space for more…

MEGA PLI PUSH

MEGA PLI PUSH

With MNCs appliance makers showing little interest to set up manufacturing facilities under the PLI scheme, the government is likely to tweak the policy to offer more financial incentives. Global white goods firms want better cash incentives as also cheap land parcels from the centre to be part of the initiative. Without these, the consumer appliances market would continue to be "assemble in India"

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