Corporate Chatter: Mukesh Ambani's friend in the desert; billionaire stuck overseas; Anshu Jain-backed InCred eyes new deal

A billionaire has been stuck overseas for months now.

Agencies
Mukesh Ambani (left) has struck a good rapport with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the fund’s new boss, who also doubles up as chief of Saudi Aramco.
ET’s weekly roundup of the wackiest whispers and murmurs in corporate corridors & policy parlours.

Desert Dost
The mega investment in Jio Platforms by Saudi sovereign fund PIF, its first in India, has further cemented the multi-decade-old commercial relationship between the kingdom and India’s top corporate. Some say it also highlights the close rapport Mukesh Ambani has struck with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the fund’s new boss, who also doubles up as chief of Saudi Aramco. Last year, during the ‘Davos in the Desert’ meet that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ambani, Al-Rumayyan had even hosted the latter at his residence for a private dinner, we hear. Guess who was flown in to entertain the guests? None other than AR Rahman. This personal bond will come in handy when inking the much-awaited alliance between two of the biggest oil industry giants.


Offshore Banking
This billionaire has been stuck overseas for months now as the lockdown has severely hampered travel. But that has not impacted his business or personal investments, as the grapevine has it that his family office has been approached with a proposal to buy into a mid-sized private bank. A bit of a surprise, as we have also been hearing that some of his offshore real estate bets may have taken some hard knocks in recent times.

Also Read: Corporate chatter: Adani may be hit by bad news from Down Under; a CEO's tweet has his team dial his rivals; Amit Raje's new innings with Mahindra

Novel Idea
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A leading corporate that’s been grabbing much of the headlines these days is contemplating a new job protocol for its massive workforce, we hear. Employees may be given the option of permanently working from home but with a 20% reduction in pay. Several are tempted, as this would mean cutting down on travel time and related expenses since several of the offices are not located in central business districts. The coronavirus and subsequent lockdown have certainly thrown up novel models for work, play and everything in between.
Anshu Jain-backed NBFC InCred has always nurtured big ambitions to be a leader in its space.
Anshu Jain-backed NBFC InCred has always nurtured big ambitions to be a leader in its space.

Mapping a Merger
Anshu Jain-backed NBFC InCred has always nurtured big ambitions to be a leader in its space. The team, led by Jain’s protégé from Deutsche Bank Bhupinder Singh, has been associated with several buyout conversations, ranging from small banks to insurance and wealth management companies. We learn it’s back in the reckoning, and this time, the plan involves merging with a Bengaluru-based investment bank that specialises in mid-market deals. You heard it here first!

Landing in Trouble?
No foreign investor would like investigation agencies hounding its investee companies, and if it’s a blue-blooded PE firm, then agitation levels are exponentially higher. A little bird tells us that the recent filing of a criminal case against a wellknown caregiver entrepreneur has flustered quite a few at headquarters. An internal fact-finding probe has been initiated to check if these potential risks had come up during the initial due diligence.

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Rising to the Occasion
Typically, newly-anointed top bosses prefer not to upset the status quo from the get-go. But this farmto-financial services conglomerate saw the winds of glasnost sweep in on day zero, as the new young chairman-designate read out the riot act at a recent board meeting. Scale up or ship out was his message to smaller group companies. Such plainspeak, we are told, came as a wakeup call to many, with some marquee global outposts on the chopping board.

India Inc Gets Budget-Ready; Ronnie Screwvala, Cleartrip Boss, Spykar Lifestyle CEO Share Wishlist
1/15

It's that time of the year when all eyes are on the Finance Minister. Dalal Street, India Inc, tax-paying individuals, consumers, traders - almost everyone is looking at Nirmala Sitharaman with hope. This Budget, that comes in the wake of a slowdown, and muted consumer spending, is the first one that's being presented by the Narendra Modi government after storming back to power in the Lok Sabha elections last year.


As the countdown begins, here's a look at what India Inc has on their wishlist from Ms Sitharaman this time.

It's that time of the year when all eyes are on the Finance Minister. Dalal Street, India Inc, tax-paying individuals, consumers, traders - almost everyone is looking at Nirmala Sitharaman with hope...
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This Budget has to herald the clear road map towards $5 trillion & 3rd largest economy in the world or else we are out of time. The Budget in India always needs to have a strong balance of populist and development of rural India but this time it needs to focus on the other half that can propel India. It is going to be about taking very hard calls.

Three initiatives (amongst many others) in the Budget that can really move the needle are: First, a clear plan for the Government to be out of the business of things, privatisation of most sectors has to get to 10x of present plan. This would lead to massive monetisation for the exchequer but also bring about massive efficiency into large sectors. The Government needs to think big and therefore look to privatise and exit profit-making businesses too and not just the loss-making ones. A one-time movement on this can change the pace and scale of the economy and hurtle us towards $5 trillion goal.

Secondly, one sector that would move the needle for GDP amongst all others - it would be for us to make a blueprint to take tourism to 10x of its present levels in the next 5 years. It can be the largest employer for the country, bring in more foreign exchange than the 35 million migrant Indians repatriating money back home and can be a game changer for India’s perception in the world. The blueprint has to be a big one from infrastructure that allows private sector to create best places to stay and travel. We already have the best sites in the world but, alas, they are poorly maintained and even more poorly marketed.

Lastly, we need to be the entrepreneurial capital of the world in the 2020 decade: a clear goal where we need to simplify doing business, making, starting and running a corporate in India easier than anywhere in the world. We cannot celebrate improving 20 positions of ranking in the ease of doing business and get to 100th! Need to move straight to the top 10 nations where it’s easy to do business. Need to open up all sectors with a stop to the constant regulatory changes that makes it most difficult to build anything of scale in India for any entrepreneur. If we can create half a million entrepreneurs a year that creates 10 new jobs each, no one can stop India’s path to be in the top three economies of the world.

As I said, it’s time to take hard calls.

This Budget has to herald the clear road map towards $5 trillion & 3rd largest economy in the world or else we are out of time. The Budget in India always needs to have a strong balance of populist a..
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Since the past decade, India has established itself as one of the fastest-growing travel markets across the globe. We, as a nation, are poised to become the third-largest market by 2025 given the secular growth trends. It is essential to ensure that infrastructural inadequacies do not fetter the growth of the industry. The government should make provisions for boosting the domestic infrastructure towards global benchmarks in the upcoming Budget.



We are also hopeful that the Government will take cognisance and resolve challenges for the aviation industry which has already seen a tough year in 2019. For one, out of all the stakeholders in the aviation ecosystem, airlines operate with the most paper-thin margins. This, coupled with TCS (Tax collection at source), ends up hampering the working capital of airlines, giving rise to numerous operational difficulties. These obstacles are not only affecting the stakeholders and service providers, but the consumers as well. We are optimistic that the Government will continue to be open-minded and maintain the impetus of its past initiatives while bringing necessary reformations to further enable the travel sector.

Since the past decade, India has established itself as one of the fastest-growing travel markets across the globe. We, as a nation, are poised to become the third-largest market by 2025 given the sec..
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The clothing and lifestyle industry thrives on sentiments and the same are at its lowest as we speak. We expect in all earnest that the Government will make certain announcements in the Budget which can spur demand by placing more disposable income in the hands of the consumers. Our economy has a large consumer base and once the momentum is built, there should be no stopping us.

The clothing and lifestyle industry thrives on sentiments and the same are at its lowest as we speak. We expect in all earnest that the Government will make certain announcements in the Budget whic..
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The current rate of 5% at which the Indian economy is reeling is a major concern. The two engines for growth of the economy are consumption and investment. I believe the thrust of the Government should be directed towards the revival of these two pillars - consumption and investment - in capital projects. Improvement in sentiments and kick-starting the private capex will help in making India a favourable investment destination.

The current rate of 5% at which the Indian economy is reeling is a major concern. The two engines for growth of the economy are consumption and investment. I believe the thrust of the Government shou..
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There should be increased outlay for the development of priority sports in Olympic disciplines. The sporting community could do with a GST reduction in sports equipment and infrastructure. The GST on the sale of tickets for sporting activities is currently at 28 per cent, and a reduction will make sporting events affordable and boost audience participation. There should also be institutional measures to incentivise public-private partnerships in sport infrastructure.

There should be increased outlay for the development of priority sports in Olympic disciplines. The sporting community could do with a GST reduction in sports equipment and infrastructure. The GST on..
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The Indian IT sector provides significant opportunities for growth. The government can further incentivise organisations creating software intellectual property through tax exemption on IT exports. We expect that the Government would bring in more business-friendly policies and take steps to reduce regulatory compliance, thereby creating a holistic environment for the ease of doing business.

As data security, privacy and compliance become increasingly critical, the Government should encourage the private sector to set up data centres in the country. It should also continue its thrust towards various initiatives, namely Digital India, Skill India, Make in India and emphasise on technologies that encourage digitisation and creation of rural e-infrastructure.

Sustaining the global competitiveness of the Indian IT sector will require increased Government investments in skill development for new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, robotics, and blockchain. Reintroducing the SEZ scheme and streamlining the current SEZ processes will give the required boost to the IT industry and provide a more conducive business environment. The labour laws governing the IT sector also require streamlining owing to its unique requirements.

The Indian IT sector provides significant opportunities for growth. The government can further incentivise organisations creating software intellectual property through tax exemption on IT exports. W..
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The Digital India initiative began well and our economy has benefited from the adoption of technology innovation. India is the second most-digitally connected nation in the world and has the third largest start-up ecosystem. We believe that Budget 2020-21 will place greater focus on digital literacy to increase the penetration of smartphones/internet in smaller towns and rural areas.

We hope the Budget includes a stimulus policy to incentivise greater investments in local research; development in areas such as education/health technologies with greater adoption of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and blockchain to accelerate the Government’s vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025. We are optimistic about India’s tremendous growth potential and an inclusive economy powered by digital investments, innovations and entrepreneurship.

The Digital India initiative began well and our economy has benefited from the adoption of technology innovation. India is the second most-digitally connected nation in the world and has the third la..
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Our focus should be on the youth, which means that the Budget should be allocated towards education, creating jobs and sustainable start-ups. With growing automation/AI influence, the country needs to be prepared for loss or transformation of human-centric jobs. And we need to be prepared for jobs of the future. Keeping this in mind, Budget 2020 must focus on skill upgradation of the youth to meet the opportunities in future professions and sectors like alternate energy, healthcare, creative industries and the like.


We also need to focus on mental health. The Budget must allocate funds for programs to address this issue at the earliest. We are hopeful that Budget for 2020 is youth-centric, for the future rests on the shoulders of the youth.

Our focus should be on the youth, which means that the Budget should be allocated towards education, creating jobs and sustainable start-ups. With growing automation/AI influence, the country needs t..
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The Budget should have incentives for setting up hotels in far-flung areas. India has a lot of foreign and domestic tourist potential beyond the well-known destinations. However, these locations lack basic tourism infrastructure including good hotels. The Budget should promote that. I also want the Government to extend tax benefits and develop new schemes to promote inbound tourism which was not evident in the previous year.

The Budget should have incentives for setting up hotels in far-flung areas. India has a lot of foreign and domestic tourist potential beyond the well-known destinations. However, these locations lack..
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