late brother Rajan was known as India's cookie king, but Rajmohan
Pillai seems determined to earn the title of Cashew King.
Since 1987, when he took over his family's doddering Rs 4.5-crore
cashews business, Pillai has turned Beta Group into a Rs 2,800-crore
food processing giant, with interests in dry foods and juices.
Now, the 42-year-old wants to turn his flagship Nut King cashews
brand into a best-seller in India, which is said to be the world's
largest consumer of cashews, spending Rs 4,500 crore on them a
year. "After my brother (Rajan) passed away in 1995, there was
no banker who wanted to invest in us, but now things are a lot
better," says the Trivandrum-educated Pillai. His plan is to grow
the Rs 80-crore Nut King brand by setting up factories near all
the metros in India, besides one in Sharjah, to tap regional demand.
What he is doing, says the native of Kollam, Kerala, is nothing
more than what both his late father, who died of a heart attack
in 1987, and brother would have wanted of him.
many CEOs would go on the offensive when their own firm is in
play? Not too many, which makes Ashwini Kakkar an exception.
Even as Thomas Cook India's German parent is scouting for a buyer
for this travel and forex company, Kakkar, 50, is said to be eyeing
rival firm, P&O Travels India. When contacted, a weary Kakkar
refused to comment, citing Sebi rules, but BT learns that Thomas
Cook is already doing a due diligence at P&O, which has Rs 150
crore in revenues and strong English roots. But the question is,
which will happen first: Thomas Cook's acquisition or acquisition
of Thomas Cook?
Delhi-based Suresh Nanda has managed to check into Mumbai's
Sea Rock Hotel as the owner. Last fortnight, the Chairman of Claridges
Group of Hotels and former seafarer bought out the 30 per cent
he didn't own of the hotel, which has been near defunct since
it was targeted in the city's 1993 bomb blasts. "We had been at
this property for close to 18 months, and its acquisition is like
adding a jewel in the crown," says Nanda, 63, who describes the
erstwhile ITC-managed property in Bandra Bandstand as the finest
hotel in the country. He now plans to spend Rs 150 crore on renovating
the hotel and has shortlisted designers and architects from Europe
for the work. He plans to open the 410-room, seaside hotel for
business by July 2007.
what is being perceived as a clear succession plan at Britannia
Industries, Nusli Wadia's younger son Jeh was inducted into Britannia's
board as an additional director earlier this month. (Emmanuel
Faber, who is Groupe Danone's CFO, was also appointed to the Britannia
board along with Jeh.) Speculation about Jeh's entry into Britannia
had been in the air for a long while and gained ground when Sunil
Alagh was ousted from the company about two years ago. Jeh, 32,
is currently the Managing Director of the Wadia Group-promoted
low-cost airline, Go Air, which is expected to launch its services
by the end of this year. Jeh could not be reached for comment,
but the buzz that he might take over as MD of Britannia at a later
date has not died down. His brother, Ness, meanwhile, is Deputy
Managing Director, Bombay Dyeing, the group's flagship.
G. Madhavan Nair's plans of getting a foothold in the American
aerospace market with lightweight satellites (2-3 tonnes) have
suffered a setback. A year after Boeing announced it would jointly
build, and then buy, small satellites with ISRO, it has decided
to pull out of the arrangement. Reason? Nair was not available
for comment, but K.R. Sridhara Murthy, executive director of Antrix
Corporation, ISRO's commercial arm that was to be the partner,
says that it is due to Boeing's decision to focus solely on larger
(5 tonnes-plus) defence variants. But all may not be lost yet.
ISRO had signed a similar deal with European agency, EADS, this
year. Besides, ISRO does make small satellites that are as good
as any, but 30 per cent cheaper.
India Cements (ICL) back from the brink, the company's low-profile
Vice Chairman and Managing Director, N. Srinivasan, 60,
has strengthened his hold over the company. Middle of this month,
Srinivasan bought another 11.91 per cent from co-promoters, led
by N. Sankar of the Sanmar group, raising his stake to 31 per
cent. While the Sanmar family will continue to own 13 per cent
in ICL, it will not be the dominant partner. A fight between the
two promoters during the early 80s had seen institutional investors
(including IDBI) take over ICL's management until 1989, when the
promoter families struck peace and got the management back. The
deal, then, should do the company a world of good.