(More) Goodies From The Gulf
Looks like Diwali is likely to come early for several of our captains of Indian industry who have been camping in Abu Dhabi in recent weeks. A high-powered team led by ADIA boss Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is flying in to cement several deals and, as a close associate and key organiser puts it, “strengthen the bond further between two key allies of the region.” There is tight security at the venue — no interviews, for instance — but we wonder if the VIP guest will break protocol and enjoy the sea view after all the heavy duty meetings and power luncheons that have been put on his schedule.
We were quite stunned when we got this golden nugget about a CEO of a bank that has mostly been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent times. Despite his title, his arrangement with his organisation it seems is restricted primarily to a finder’s fee — he opens doors and if that translates to a deal, he gets paid.
It’s the season of global bosses making a beeline for India — the hottest market. The routine is mostly templated — client visits, a trip to Delhi to meet the powers that be, a town hall, dinner for customers, a media interaction. But this Wall Street boss, who will be in India for the first time ever, is likely to break the pattern we hear… at least the interview bit. Instead, he wants to spend time with members of the technology centre in Mumbai that caters to the organisation’s global knowledge needs. Even if it’s a missed opportunity for us, we sure laud the aim.
Recently the boss representing a homegrown PE shop received a call from a big-shot VC fund manager with a passion for tech deals that have mostly gone south. After exchanging pleasantries, the VC gentleman dropped a bomb — he was willing to sell his entire exposure in a controversial edtech firm for just $500 million, meaning a steep discount to current valuations. The company is facing a liquidity crisis and the founder has been busy dousing fires on multiple fronts. We are told he has actually managed to raise some funds, which too are a discount to his sky-high expectations, but still far higher than what this VC executive was comfortable with. Some sagas never lack drama for sure.
La Nuite Gastronomique
We have been reporting about the big bang shaadi season. This weekend was the grand reception of the daughter of celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor and a five-star hotel went the whole hog to support the father of the bride. Guests were treated to a desi spread that put all spreads to shame. The desserts had jalebi as the key theme — the bride is a big fan of the sweet — with mounds of rabri on a slow-turning vertical rotisserie or a mountain of jalebi mawa cake. We saw several media starlets, corporate honchos and politicians forget about calories and diet plans and cheat their fitness routines. Guess it was impossible to look the other way. Along with the celebrity set was the hotel chain CEO, a friend of the family, supervising everything himself. That’s what we mean by a hands-on boss.
We were very surprised recently that a high-profile fintech deal fell through even after some of the key regulatory approvals happened at the last minute. It turns out the okay had eventually come through in 24 hours following a strongly worded complaint about undue delays and bureaucratic harassment. But after all that fuss, the global buyer decided to pull the plug and not extend the long-stop date. It looks like we may be set for a legal battle royale.
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