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

MC Insider: The in-demand banker, a corporate giant wakes up, Bollywood trouble, CEO rush, transfer tales and more

Last Updated: Oct 26, 2020 08:34 AM IST

BANKER IN DEMAND

BANKER IN DEMAND

Who wouldn’t want to tap veteran bankers synonymous with the sizzling growth of their institutions? You get pedigree, you get acumen and you get valuable experience. Well, we are hearing plenty of whispers that a veteran banker from the private sector who hung up his boots recently is being wooed by a top private equity fund to join its board as an advisor. This industry senior loves to gather his clubs and hit the greens. So was the deal struck after a tough bunker shot in a round of golf? We can’t say for sure. But what muddies the waters is that the same banker has also been linked with a move to a reputed conglomerate. Well, well … we’ll keep you posted.

NEWSY CORP

NEWSY CORP

This diversified conglomerate kept a rather low profile during the lockdown. But now all of a sudden it has become a hotbed of M&A activity. One of its arms, which houses many lifestyle brands, recently raised funds. Another arm in a bleeding sector is close to sealing much-needed funds. That’s not all — buzz is that one can expect the same in the financial services vertical while another unit will launch an internal rejig. As we are talking about the buzz in the group, there’s one more, albeit nothing to do with deals. After waiting for three hours for a meal at a US restaurant, the better half and children of this conglomerate’s head honcho took to Twitter and pulled up the eatery for its ‘racist’ behavior by a ‘rude’ waiter.

DON’T NEED NO VACCINE

DON’T NEED NO VACCINE

A pharma business family's phenomenal rise in one of the southern states is the talk of the town. It ​made a fortune by exporting pharmaceuticals, but no, it hasn’t developed a COVID-19 vaccine. The family is actually calling the shots in many spheres beyond its mainstay business. It has turned owner of huge tracts of real estate close to prime places that are expected to see a spurt in economic activity. The family has also bagged one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the state. It also runs a high-profile social service and heads sports associations. The group's titular figure, known to keep a low profile, had in the past run into trouble with law enforcement agencies for a business deal with a politician. Incidentally, this politician now plays a major role in the state.

TINSELTOWN SHENANIGANS

TINSELTOWN SHENANIGANS

The aggressive probe by two agencies into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput may not have yielded much, but we hear the sleuths may have got enough, err, dope, on two other cases. One is related to the arrest of the brother of a model-turned-actor’s partner. Seems like the first agency has tasted blood here and the trail of white lines may lead to them knocking on the doors of a couple of A-listers. The second agency is burning the midnight oil to bust an age old racket in the industry. Here’s how it works. You make a movie in India, shoot a few portions overseas and those nations give you tax benefits under their respective schemes. And voila! These tax benefits find their way back to India through the hawala route. One production house has been raided. And bigger banners may also come under the radar.

TRANSFER TALES

TRANSFER TALES

The buzz at market regulator Sebi is that one of its key senior officers may finally get transferred from a department where his reign otherwise seemed unending. Under normal circumstances, officers at his level are shuffled across departments, to ensure no one gets too cosy or powerful in one department. But this gentleman has defied the trend until now, despite an earlier investigation linked to an approval given to an exchange. What changed the tide was a fresh controversy involving crores of investor monies. Lady luck may finally desert him and a transfer looks inevitable. The regulator can’t be found wanting in investor protection after all.

TECH TARVAILS

TECH TARVAILS

Employees of a top-tier IT firm are a miffed lot despite receiving hikes recently. Pray why? The sternest appraisal goals yet have taken root. Starting this year, the company expects its employees to get nearly two skill-based certificates every quarter. Umm … So? … Well, the normal target for two skill-based certificates was a year. Here’s more. There is strict monitoring of the online learning activities of the staff, who have been "unofficially" told to spend 30 minutes to an hour a day on training. Managers are also preparing weekly reports on these learning sessions. Talk about breathing down someone’s neck! Has this been triggered by COVID-19 or increasing competition from peers? Hard to say, but not a great winter for these techies.

ROUGH RIDE

ROUGH RIDE

Call it engine problem or over-crowding, the second-hand auto space is in the midst of frenetic consolidation. One player is in the final stages of closing a new round of funding and another has put itself on the block. Though the pandemic has meant boom time for some of the top players who have seen a spike in sales, for some others it's hard to find buyers or takers. The player on the block is up for a distress sale but sadly nobody is willing to load its boot. A rough ride too many.

PUBLICITY DILEMMA

PUBLICITY DILEMMA

This tech company founded by a well-known businessman with a highly controversial past is in an extremely tough spot thanks to some ill-fated investment decisions. Hundreds of crores of rupees invested in the written down perpetual instruments of a bailed-out bank and in the debentures of another company that as it happens is facing bankruptcy proceedings and probes for promoters' wrongdoings are now as good as gone. Chances of recovery depends on the outcome of court orders. The founder, of course, isn't happy with the investment managers who convinced him at one point that these bets were 'smart ideas' that are safe and would fetch handsome returns to the firm. A team has been assigned to pursue these cases at all levels. That’s easier said than done. We now hear that the founder has given clear instructions to the team that his name shouldn't appear in the news. At the same time, the company needs to get the media to report its case! Delicate, that is!

CEO RUSH

CEO RUSH

This job is a tough one — a tightrope walk, a high-pressure assignment. This bank is run by powerful local investors, who are ultra-sensitive about change in business strategy and hate the idea of bringing in 'outsiders'. Some time ago, they threw out the CEO mercilessly, within (just) six months of his appointment—all because his loyalty was under doubt. No CEO can hope for operational freedom here. The candidate needs to toe the line of big investors. There is enough evidence from this regional bank’s stormy past. Despite that — surprise! — we hear the bank has been flooded with applications for the post of CEO, mostly from retired public sector bankers. But the promoters will be real careful this time around. The last incident is still fresh.

COVID COVER

COVID COVER

Who would have thought that an idea flagged off during the CEO’s presentation at the beginning of the year would come in handy later during the Covid era? Well, that’s what seems to have happened at this insurance broking firm which we hear has shut down 2/3rd of its branches across the country. Insiders say not a single employee has been fired. And guess what? The firm is now utilising its parent’s branches! In any case, 90 percent of the sales staff would always remain out of office. The remaining lot have now been told to work from home and permanently at that. Zero on daily office gossip but high on efficiency model, eh?

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