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MC Insider: Secret Pawan Hans suitors, more IPOs coming, pharma deal buzz, edtech exit dilemma and more

Last Updated: February 22, 2021 / 08:24 AM IST

THE RACE FOR A CHOPPER PSU

THE RACE FOR A CHOPPER PSU

The government may have chosen to keep the identity of those who have bid for helicopter services provider Pawan Hans a secret. But that hasn't prevented the industry chatter on the possible suitors. Two names have cropped up. One is an aviation company that has always managed to be among the interested parties in previous sale of airlines as well, but never put in a bid. The second is a company that not too long ago was in the running for a transportation firm that was being sold. Will either one of them be a favourite to acquire Pawan Hans (which is backed by the government and ONGC) and soar higher? One never can say like in the case of the good old Air India.

WHO’LL BELL THE COW?

WHO’LL BELL THE COW?

The 'National Cow Science Exam 2021' that is due to be held on February 25 is struggling to find takers. Universities are finding it challenging to convince their students to write this exam which is an animal husbandry ministry initiative meant to promote information on the economic and spiritual relevance of the Indian cow. Meanwhile, UGC has asked all universities to nudge their students to write this exam. Since only a handful have registered across India, the pressure is mounting. These institutes are now planning to either make it mandatory or make it part of the internal assessment process.

NOT SO CONCRETE HR POLICY

NOT SO CONCRETE HR POLICY

The government’s big infra push in budget 2021 has perked up shares in the cement sector, with demand improving in some pockets and most players showing healthy quarterly earnings. No wonder the sector has been in the spotlight of late, but it makes one wonder if all is hunky dory in the segment when a leading player is not just letting people go but also leaving open positions that fall vacant on senior executives superannuating. Hmm … could this be merely a company specific issue or does it suggest the recovery in the sector is more hype than reality? We’ll watch to learn more…

KOO-KOO DILEMMA

KOO-KOO DILEMMA

Koo, the Indian alternative to popular micro blogging website Twitter, is undisputedly the new trend in the Indian social media world. (We shall address Clubhouse later!) With some of the high profile Indian Union ministers moving to Koo and the government encouraging the Atmanirbhar theme, many organisations have started actively using the new platform. So what do the financial sector regulators think about the new platform? At least, Indian banking regulator RBI has not made up its mind as yet on whether to use the Koo app or not. The RBI has a wide audience, both domestic and international, for its social platforms. For now, the RBI is unlikely to 'Koo', said an RBI insider. But what if the Government 'nudges' every institution to support the Make in India theme? Wink! Wink!

SHOW ME THE STOCK!

SHOW ME THE STOCK!

We hear a vigorous debate was triggered inside one of the world's largest private equity funds between its India office and US headquarters. The India arm stands to make a hefty exit, a 2x return in one year from the sale of an education company to an edtech major. The Indian team is keen on a cash exit, and not stocks in the edtech, while the US parent thinks highly of the edtech and wants stock! The PE fund's global head and one of the most influential investors in the world is involved in conversations with another head honcho of a global PE firm which is invested in the edtech. The Indian team has even prepared a detailed slide deck to show why a cash exit is a must. Which way the pendulum swings will determine some massive fortunes indeed.

COOL CEO BANTER

COOL CEO BANTER

It's not often that two people talking about the weather makes for interesting conversation (well, unless you're in the UK or from Bengaluru). But it turned out to be one of the most entertaining portions of a press conference last week, addressed by IBM CEO Arvind Krishna and Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani. "Are you snowed under, Arvind? What's happening in your part of the world?", Gurnani asked. US-based Krishna replied, "There is a lot of work to be done in Big Data. The predictions were warm winter and dry winter. Instead we have one of the coldest winters, we had four storms already. So, between snow and ice, we are having a proper winter." It was a bait Gurnani couldn't resist. He immediately quipped, "So, Arvind, I'm not going to ask you who owns the weather channel." (IBM bought the Weather Company's product and tech assets a few years ago!) Krishna took it in his stride. "Short-term predictions are always very, very accurate. It's 50 percent accurate for up to 2 weeks. But get up to a month, forget it!" We would have loved to hear some more riposte but, sigh, the press conference had to begin.

FEELING ‘LIST’LESS

FEELING ‘LIST’LESS

Unicorns in the consumer and tech internet space were betting on some big sops and a framework for the roadmap to overseas direct listing of firms, especially after the Cabinet okayed the route last year in March. But Budget 2021 did not move ahead on this burning topic. While the government may be debating potential tax leakages via this route and domestic i-banks may not be particularly enthused with the move (as their foreign counterparts are likely to corner all mandates!), the buzz is that the government’s atmanirbhar drive may also be playing a role in the background. Two little birdies told us that some informal feelers have been sent from New Delhi to some of the firms eyeing a global listing to consider a desi listing instead. Let’s not forget the fear of flight of capital.

IPO FRENZY

IPO FRENZY

This global private equity powerhouse has been in the thick of all the IPO action in recent months as several of its domestic portfolio firms across sectors are planning to make their market debut in 2021. Housing finance, auto components, BPO … you name it, one can’t miss the IPO buzz. In fact, we hear a fourth portfolio firm in the payments bank space is likely to kick of its listing plans this week along with its advisors. To top it all, a fifth entity is weighing a listing via the REIT route and a sixth one is gearing up for a sale. Undoubtedly, 2021 is definitely the year for asset monetisation and fundraising like never before for this heavyweight PE major.

GAME ON!

GAME ON!

This fantasy sports platform has big-bang plans going ahead as it looks to raise more funds at attractive valuations and diversify into new, exciting segments of esports, including fan engagement and become a true behemoth in its fast growing segment. The firm, which had bagged lucrative and big-ticket sponsorship deals in recent times, is looking to beef up its A-team and recently got on board a senior executive from a global media and entertainment powerhouse.

SWEET PILL

SWEET PILL

We have flagged off deals buzzing in the pharma segment in the past, which involve a promoter selling out to a PE fund. For a change, this latest transaction also has a PE investor looking to sell stake along with the promoter entity to another PE fund. We hear the promoter offered a carrot to the exiting PE fund – the said fund has been offered a stake in one of the unlisted companies of the promoter at attractive valuations! The mid-cap pharma space is littered with many sellout deals at various stages of discussions, so there’s clearly plenty of choice for the buyers.

HIRING BUZZ

HIRING BUZZ

MC Insider has always kept a close tab on potential executive movements be it sectors like banking, pharma, the Big 4 firms and even regulatory agencies. The latest chatter we hear in deal circles is about an i-banker who has been wooed by a unicorn which is gearing up for a high-profile IPO in 2021. We aren’t sure if it’s a done deal yet, but due to heavy activity, both in the M&A and ECM space, we hear, that the employee churn will continue.

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