Saturday, February 27, 2021
Home Top Stories Suits & Sayings: Round-up of weekly whispers & murmurs

Suits & Sayings: Round-up of weekly whispers & murmurs

Cut the CordVijay Shekhar Sharma loves to wear his nationalism on his sleeve, as evidenced by his Twitter feed or public statements. Of late, while downplaying the Alibaba angle, he’s also been waving the National Flag high to prove his company is desi and aatmanirbhar, as anti-China rhetoric gathers steam. But until a month back, the internal communication tool that Paytm used was DingTalk, an enterprise platform created by Jack Ma’s men.Life’s a BeachIf Alibaug is the Hamptons for the swish set of Mumbai, then it’s Goa for the Lutyens’ lot. A little bird tells us that as soon as there was a relaxation in travel, many fled the summer heat of the Capital in private jets to beach houses in Goa. On that list of jetsetters are a former BPO titan who is aspiring to become a bank owner and a senior attorney, also a onethird founding partner in one of the top-tier firms.Sent PackingFor many, the dollar deluge into Jio gave hope that if needed, even under the Covid lockdown, a deal could be done. Alas, then came a sobering reality check. Some members of Kishore Biyani’s finance team who were working from the group’s Jogeshwari office in Mumbai on ongoing merger talks with Reliance Retail tested positive recently. The entire setup had to be sanitised and the rest of the team had to work from home. End result — a few lost days in between. Shopping for this group will take a bit more time, it seems.O Brother, Where Art Thou?After the Hindujas, another Indian family saga has rocked London high society. Last week, Pramod Mittal was declared bankrupt, failing to pay millions in dues following a long-drawn investigation into his alleged links with organised crime in Bosnia, where he had business dealings. But unlike last year, when elder brother Lakshmi cut him a $200-million cheque to clear dues in India, this time, we hear, he has refused to intervene. The man who once spent £50 million on his daughter’s big fat wedding has retreated to his mansion just off Park Lane, we learn. We wonder though if his £17-million pad with chefs, chauffeurs and valet will also come under the hammer, now that his brother’s family – who live on the other side of Hyde Park – has stepped away, especially since Pramod’s arrest in 2019 and subsequent million pound bail bond release.Chit ChatIt was light-hearted banter at the annual meeting of telecom industry lobby group, COAI. Trai chairman RS Sharma, while congratulating COAI, rued the Covid-induced circumstances that necessitated a virtual meeting. “Congratulations COAI on your annual meeting. It would have been better with dinner and cocktails after this.” New COAI chairman, Airtel COO Ajay Puri, responded, in equal measure (pun intended), “You will have to get digitally high now sir.” And seeking to put the acrimony of recent years between COAI and Trai behind, Sharma said, “I don’t know if we, as government, have contributed or sort of curtailed your journey, whichever way you want to take it. But we have tried our best keeping in mind the best interests of the industry and consumers.” All’s well that ends well, presumably.Towering Faux PasThe Indian High Commissioner in Canada recently met a bunch of high-profile investors to hardsell the homeland. But his FDI sales pitch got a bit deflated when one of the top bosses from a pension fund informed him that its multi-billion co-investment was still awaiting approvals almost a year since announcement. At $5 billion, this was to be the largest dollar inflow into a single infrastructure project, leading to an $8-billion debt reduction for Reliance Industries, which, in turn, would have benefitted several state-owned banks, including the largest of them—SBI. The visibly embarrassed diplomat promised to revert immediately with a definitive answer.Agony AuntThis heiress of this venerable family is known for her rather brusque ways. Sleepy Kolkata recently woke up to yet another of her turns recently. But this time, she appeared to be on the backfoot when a leading Bengali singer criticised her for being high-handed. She had called his wife after he performed at a virtual concert organised by a leading cultural institution of Kolkata, of which this lady is chief patron.Unfortunately, the artiste couple were both busy when the calls came, we learn. She later told the artiste’s wife that she would blacklist her husband for his apparent insolence, jeopardising his music career. Singersongwriter Rupankar declared in response, “We cannot satisfy your ego.”Home AhoyStores shut and no sign of reopening. So we hear some of Ikea’s senior leadership, especially from Mumbai, have joined other members of their country’s business council to take the first repatriation flight that they could. Why not? If one gets to fly back home to the European summer, would you want to stay on in the concrete jungles of Bandra?The Tree’s Talent HuntThis leading VC fund, which has been without a CMO after the previous one left to start a digital strategy and communications firm along with a few other industry biggies, is finally getting a high-profile replacement, we hear. Good for it, considering the expanse of the portfolio. It also helps to have tech poster boys who are now part of the senior team to chip in and cherrypick the best of talent.

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