phoenix-like rise of a fallen icon has been the theme of many a
Bollywood blockbuster. Die-hard fans of Amitabh Bachchan would want
his second attempt at running a business built around his considerable
brand image, to follow a similar script. During his 61st birthday
bash in October, the Big B declared that he's ready to exorcise
the ghosts of ABCL with a new look AB Corp. The company will tap
every segment of the entertainment industry like film production,
marketing, TV software, music and multiplexes. If the bulls continue
to rule the bourses, even an IPO could be in the offing. With a
tie-up with A.V. Birla Group's Applause Entertainment, and high
profile backers like Anil Ambani and Amar Singh, the thespian is
hoping the sequel will put up a better show. After all, Bachchan
knows better than most, that his audience loves a dash of bravado.
In 1950 S.S. Aggarwal's family moved to Delhi
from Bikaner to expand its traditional food business. Its lone eatery
in Delhi's Chandni Chowk became such a hit that the family started
selling packaged snacks. Now, Aggarwal is taking his Rs 100-crore
Bikanervala restaurant and savouries business international. Last
month he opened a restaurant and snack manufacturing facility in
Dubai. He has also firmed up plans to open more outlets in other
Middle-East countries and Canada by the year end. "With rapidly
growing demand, it makes more sense to manufacture locally in the
West than to export." Can't dispute the Marwari business wisdom.
For Ram S. Ramsundar, who's switched two jobs
in two years, every change seems to come at a cost. We wouldn't
know about the financial part, but he's moving farther away from
the corner room with every move. Ramsundar quit consumer durables
maker Electrolux as its Managing Director in November 2002 expressing
disappointment over the sector's sluggish growth. This, after the
Swedish company piled up a loss of Rs 145 crore on a turnover of
nearly Rs 485 crore. Soon he joined as coo at Nipuna, Satyam's subsidiary
in the hot and happening BPO sector. Now, barely a year later, he's
back in Delhi-this time at Ranbaxy as Executive VP (Finance) and
CFO designate. What next?
At Indian Bank's headquarters in Chennai, 57-year-old
Ranjana Kumar has the reputation of being a jet-setter. The first
woman CMD of a nationalised bank, she is also credited to be the
first in the 96- year history of the bank to have visited all its
30 circles across the country to personally review the performance
of nearly 1,400 branches. Having reversed the fortunes of the ailing
bank during her three-year tenure (NPAs came down from 40 per cent
of total advances to under 15 per cent), Kumar has now landed another
turnaround job, this time at NABARD. Given the state of the apex
agriculture finance institution, she'll have to continue with her
jet-setting ways for a little longer.
This festive season you may end up buying a
TV, a music system or a car on a finance scheme. But a watch in
installments? You could definitely do with the incentive if it's
a TAG Heuer, which costs anything between Rs 30,000 and Rs 2 lakh.
Ravi Thakran, the 40-year-old Regional Managing Director (Asia-Pacific),
LVMH Watches & Jewellery who thought up the scheme, feels it's
a sure shot way to expand the market. Having worked with Tanishq
and the Swatch group, the IIM-A alum knows a thing or two about
selling expensive horologes. "There's a burgeoning class of
aspirants who can't afford a TAG Heuer just yet. Such schemes have
brought us big volumes in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia."
Credit certainly works in India too.
It's a common refrain that Panacea for Indian
it companies lies in developing products. Branded products constitute
the staple fare of Bangalore-based bio-informatics hotshop Strand
Genomics. The three-year-old start-up's niche products Sphatika
and Acuris have met with considerable success in the US. And now
it has high hopes from Avadis, its newly-launched data mining software
package. "Avadis is potentially a high-volume product and we
are into putting up the systems in place for a strong marketing
push not just in the US but also in Asia-Pacific," says Vijay
Chandru, Strand's Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer, a Ph.D
from MIT, who's also a visiting prof at the hallowed institution.
The company's DNA consists of a group of four professors from Bangalore's
IIS (where they still teach) with a funding of $4.6 million from
UTI Ventures, Westbridge Capital and IIS-the institute's only investment
in a private enterprise. Great employers, good investment.