ET’s weekly roundup of the wackiest whispers and murmurs in corporate corridors & policy parlours.In His Defence Not long ago, a gentleman of repute made a public comment that the pandemic had been a boon for private hospitals in India, especially those run by certain groups. We wondered about that since most were losing money. But once he clarified that he meant the recent shopping spree of these groups, scooping up peers who were in ICU, we thought it was a smart quip. Last week, we couldn’t help but recall it when we learnt that one tycoon is deliberating internally about going after a distressed shipyard that is up for grabs through the bankruptcy process. He’s already bulked up like crazy, cherry picking some of the most prized assets that money can buy, though his last attempt was unsuccessful. This too will be a complex trade but only he can possibly get his hands around it successfullyBiblio Bonhomie After a year of Zoom, it was refreshing to see several business scions, art patrons, fashionistas and philanthropists from the Lutyens’ Delhi Capital Book Club dress up in their ‘blue-themed’ winter chic to soak in some sun and Somerset—Somerset Maugham that is. We found the choice of the novella–Up at the Villa, a crime and suspense saga of a young widow caught among three men—quite tantalising. Such topics can certainly rachet up the temperature even if the rendezvous was held in a beautiful gazebo! From Russia with Love Hindi-Russi bhai bhai may have been a popular catchphrase when some of us were growing up, but the world has changed, and these days most tend to downplay any business links with Moscow, unless perhaps you are a former POTUS. But not this beleaguered billionaire family, who remain steadfast in their association with big Russian finance. We were therefore intrigued when they chose to stay mum about a recent refinancing round from one of the largest banks in that country. After all, they can do with some good news we thought, having lost most of their once sprawling empire. We gather they chose to remain under the radar, to avoid fresh legal salvos from another mighty business family with which they have been locked in litigation around the world for years.Shadowy Moves Shadow banks are regarded with some wariness these days. So, when we heard from a little bird about the over-enthusiasm of this new private equity recruit to get his fund to explore a possible investment, we couldn’t help but scratch our heads, more so as the entity’s performance has of late been quite dismal. Surely, it couldn’t be a move to retain his influence over the organisation he had just left, we wondered. That said, stranger things have happened.Office Calling Get back to business they say. As people are moving out of their comfort zones and increasing social interaction, we hear a unicorn several times over has begun asking its employees to come to work. Through emails to its employees, the management has said ‘ideation’ is suffering because of the lack of brainstorming sessions in physical proximity. As expected, the team is hardly chuffed at the idea. Last heard, some have been grudgingly coming back to work, at least twice a week.Talk Time Many economists dub their meetings with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor as a ‘beauty parade.’ Unlike his predecessors, Shaktikanta Das says nothing, gives no clues, betrays no emotion. He simply asks them for their views on four matters— global growth, global inflation, local inflation and suggestions for the monetary policy. There is no discussion, with Das listening with a poker face. So, in all these sessions, the economists talk endlessly— and some of them just love talking—about their world view.
Buzz: Biblio bonhomie for Capital’s biz tycoons