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

MC Insider: Guess who’s the richest crypto investor in India, a shocking CEO exit, tax evasion moves, CD wars and more

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

Last Updated: September 20, 2021 / 08:59 AM IST

EDTECH WHISPERS

EDTECH WHISPERS

Edtech companies are the flavour of the season with a spate of M&As and fund-raising jamboree. So it should not surprise that one walks into a war and you hear chatter about what else—edtech companies! But not what we expected to hear at this watering hole in Bengaluru recently. There, a group of employees from one edtech company were lamenting their fortunes. Shocking, right? Well they were cursing their competitor in the same breath. These people were talking about the competitor's unethical sales practices, fake news leaks and pressure tactics, wondering how long they will have to put up with it. These startups, we tell you!

IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN

IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN

Try as one may, one just cannot keep Indian information technology (IT) services out of action for too long. Some of the Indian IT majors have been receiving ink for all the wrong reasons, but some heavy-duty action is brewing in this space that is likely to erase all the bad recent memories. We hear that the space is soon going to witness at least one American depositary receipt (ADR) listing. One company is due to win a blockbuster half-a-billion-dollar deal. That’s not all, a potential mother-of-all M&A deal is also in the works. Remember, you heard it here first.

AUTO SUM OF PARTS

AUTO SUM OF PARTS

The automobile sector is raring to go after the pounding it received from the pandemic. Sales have picked up again and consumer demand seems robust. But the real action could be veering towards the auto parts companies. Last month, there was a growing buzz that electric vehicle maker Tesla was in talks with at least three such Indian companies to source critical parts. Now we hear that a small-cap auto part and equipment company is likely to see a change in ownership soon. One of India's leading automobile companies is expected to increase its stake and a few marquee HNI investors are likely to participate in the funding. As they say, life is fast, so drive fast.

INDIAN CRYPTO KING

INDIAN CRYPTO KING

Despite a persistent regulatory haze, the interest in cryptocurrencies in India has only grown bigger by the day. The internet and social media are full of endless discussions on crypto. The number of crypto investors in India is growing furiously by the day. So it would not be amiss to ask who is the richest crypto investor in India. Turns out it is an actor who owns the largest chunk of these assets. He is the son of a superstar who ruled Bollywood in the 1970s and 1980s. The son has not enjoyed a similar run in the box office but we hear his net worth has now raced past his father’s thanks to his investments in crypto assets more than seven-eight years ago. He has been quietly investing in cryptocurrencies through a Dubai-based company and is now sitting on a goldmine. Or is it a cryptomine?

PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY

PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY

The Uttar Pradesh government rolled out the red carpet for the dignitaries attending the meeting of the Goods And Service Tax Council in Lucknow on September 17. The entire city’s skyline was dotted with billboards carrying smiling mugshots of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, welcoming her and the state finance ministers to the capital (This correspondent counted around 20 such hoardings in one and a half days). The venue, Taj Mahal Hotel, was turned into a proverbial fortress, and most hotels saw healthy occupancy as a horde of central and state government officials and journalists descended upon the city. Perhaps UP Finance Minister Suresh Khanna played the host too perfectly. While the finance ministers and officials from opposition-held states were giving bytes and quotes to journalists at the end of the meeting, Khanna and a few other BJP finance ministers pretty much denied everything. It wasn’t just ‘no comments’. It was ‘not on the agenda’. Compensation to states? ‘We did not discuss'. Petrol and Diesel under GST? ‘Not on the agenda’. Swiggy and Zomato paying GST directly? ‘Not on the agenda’. Of course, these things were on the agenda and very much discussed, as Sitharaman detailed later in her press conference.

MOVERS & ‘SHEIKH’ER

MOVERS & ‘SHEIKH’ER

This partner at a top venture fund recently moved to Dubai from Bengaluru. Why? Well, he says it is for his son to study in physical schools and not be an introvert. But we hear that a vital reason behind the move is to save on taxes. Investors are expected to make more than $100 million in personal income and profits in the next couple of years. Moving to Dubai gives a lower tax rate after a couple of years and will help this VC earn significantly more money. Startup riches all around it seems!

ET TU, CEO?

ET TU, CEO?

The CEO of a well-known NBFC has put in his papers. That's no surprise. There have been countless exits from the company that is struggling for survival. But what was different here was the way the CEO bid adieu to the firm. No one, even at the top management level, had a whiff of this was happening and no one expected too. Reason: the CEO was consistently appealing to all his colleagues to stay back and not join the exodus. That's what strong leaders do at the time of crises, he used to tell his colleagues. The CEO has even publicly expressed his frustration about the talent drain. Everyone thought the captain will stay back till the end. Even a day before his exit, the CEO talked to some in the media about the problem of talent loss in his firm. Alas! The ways of the human mind are hard to fathom.

MARGIN PLAY

MARGIN PLAY

FMCG companies are grappling with stressed margins due to inflationary pressure but are trying to make the most of the situation. According to the founder of a new-age retail tech company, some of the major players in the industry have increased the prices of some products even though they have not seen a significant increase in input costs. Rumour has it that the price rise situation presents a golden opportunity for these companies to better the margins on non-profitable SKUs. One wonders which are these products given that the FMCG market has witnessed price rise across the board.

SEEDY CDs

SEEDY CDs

One more CD is out in Karnataka, a state where there seems to be no end to seedy episodes. Former Union Cabinet minister and former chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda is in the centre of a storm after he was dropped from the Union Cabinet three months ago. A WhatsApp video forward allegedly featuring him has gone viral once again shaking the foundation of BJP in the state. Gowda has denied everything and has even lodged a police complaint with the cyber police. He claims someone has morphed his image to defame him. He has also got a gag order. But the main opposition Congress is having a field day attacking and ridiculing the BJP. Close on the heels of the latest episode, a cabinet minister rushed to a local court seeking an injunction against any material that may defame him. People are wondering about how many more such seedy CDs are in the works.

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