f o r    m a n a g i n g    t o m o r r o w
JUNE 17, 2007
 Cover Story
 BT Special
 Back of the Book

Rupee Rise
Though an appreciating rupee is a cause for concern for many industries, it is proving to be a boon for some, particularly those that have large foreign currency borrowings. A weaker dollar is making repayments cheaper. Also, state-run refineries and those in the aviation sector are well-positioned to benefit from the stronger rupee. The Indian currency is up 8 per cent this year and is Asia's strongest currency against the dollar in 2007.

The ECB Route
The cap on maximum external commercial borrowings (ECBs), an annual ritual for the government, is fast losing its significance. Since the bulk of the foreign borrowings is raised under the automatic route by companies, it is becoming difficult to enforce the cap. The government had raised the annual limit of ECBs last year from $18 billion (Rs 81,000 crore) to $22 billion (Rs 99,000 crore). Now, it seems that total inflows will cross the $22-billion mark.
More Net Specials

Business Today,  June 3, 2007

New Job

Nothing succeeds like success. The hoary dictum shines true in the demeanour of Sunil Bharti Mittal, 49, the man from Ludhiana whose meteoric rise through India Inc. coincides with the country's economic resurgence. Having built Bharti Airtel, India's most valuable wireless company, and an increasingly diversified group, Mittal has moved into a more statesman-like mode. As the new CII president, his priorities would be to not only champion the cause of Indian business, but also encourage sustainable development and more inclusive growth, Mittal said in a TV interview. That impressive statement takes cue from Prime Minister's exhortation to Indian industry on May 24 that it must push for greater equity and economic justice. But Mittal's agenda is a tall order. Can India Inc. stand up to the challenge of forging a more equitable and politically acceptable growth? Billionaire Mittal has a whole year to find out.

Role Reversal

The stormy petrel is at it again. Chairman of Trinamool Congress Mamata Banerjee, 52, has been at the forefront of Krishi Jami Bachao Committee's (Save farmland Committee) agitations at Singur, Nandigram and elsewhere. After forcing the government to go on the back foot over the land acquisition issue, Banerjee is now trying to dabble in responsible political leadership. She was recently present at the all-party meeting called to restore peace and normalcy at Nandigram. One-and-a-half hours into the meeting, Banerjee staged a walkout over the state government refusal to brand the Nandigram bloodbath as 'genocide' in the draft resolution. She, however, has promised to be present at any such meeting again if the West Bengal government "shows serious intentions of solving the problem". Otherwise, there's nothing Mamatadi likes more than a good fight.

Acting the Part

Not many gave Nirvik Singh half a chance when he took over from the late Ravi Gupta at the helm of Trikaya Grey in 1997. Doomsayers then had a field day saying that this ex-HTA and Lipton man would only expedite the downfall of the agency after the departure of its creative hot-shot, Alok Nanda. They couldn't have been more wrong. Singh, eventually named 'Agency Head of the Year' at MEDIA magazine's prestigious Asia Pacific Awards, is now President, South East Asia, Grey Global Group. Donning yet another role, Singh, 43, has now played a cameo in Pradeep Sarkar's next directorial venture Laaga Chunari Mein Daag starring Rani Mukherjee and Abhishek Bachchan. "I played myself in the movie; an obnoxious CEO of an advertising agency. It was fun!" quips Singh. Busman's role, did you say?

Fly in His Whisky

Days after snapping up Scottish whisky maker Whyte & Mackay for $1.18 billion (Rs 4,838 crore), Vijay Mallya, Chairman, UB Group, is faced with an old fera (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act) violation case. Recently, the Delhi High Court dismissed Mallya's plea to stop criminal proceedings against him for not responding to Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons. The case was filed over payment of $1 million by United Breweries to a foreign firm for promoting the Kingfisher brand without the RBI permission. The ED claims to have served summons on Mallya four times in 1999, but he, it says, refused to make an appearance before it. Mallya refutes the charge. While his lawyers sort out the matter, the 51-year-old Mallya is believed to be plotting new moves to take his group into the next growth trajectory. Nothing, it seems, can keep the king of good times down.

Good Innings

After 14 years in India, Scott Bayman will be handing over the reins of General Electric in India to Tejpreet Singh Chopra. Bayman, who recently turned 60 and is retiring, had become a regular on the Delhi business, social as well as Golf circuit. He has mixed feelings about heading home to Chicago. "I have lived in Delhi longer than any city since leaving home to attend college." Bayman, however, is looking forward to going back to the US to spend time with his three children and four grandchildren. He hopes to reduce his golf handicap to single digits as well. And it isn't as if he is leaving India for good, "I have joined the board of Crompton Greaves and expect to join a few more boards in India, and plan to be in India four to five times every year."

SPower Play

He may be in the Forbes list of tycoons, but Anil Ambani, 48, has failed to impress Uttar Pradesh chief Minister Mayawati. The newly-elected CM looks all set to pull the plug on Ambani's ambitious SEZ project in the state, besides 'reviewing' his proposed 7,400-MW Dadri power project in the state, too. The SEZ project, spread over 2,500 acres, was approved by the previous Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. With Mayawati in the saddle in Lucknow, Ambani, a Yadav confidant, seems to have been caught in the crossfire. UP's ostensible reason for recommending scrapping of the SEZ project is that only contiguous land could be allotted for SEZs, while Ambani's project is divided by a stretch of road. "The Centre has amended rules this year that now allow SEZs with non-contiguous areas as well," says a hopeful Ambani group official.