The immense popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally earned him a place in Madame Tussauds, a museum known to create and put on display the wax statues of celebrities and politicians from across the globe. Modi's statue, in which he will strike the namaste pose, will be dressed in his signature kurta and jacket. It will be unveiled in April, in London, and thereon in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Each wax figure costs around »150,000. According to the museum, the decision to include Modi's statue came after repeated requests from guests. Better late than never.
Words of Encouragement
The growing non-performing asset (NPA) levels in the Indian banking system are a cause of concern for not just the Reserve Bank of India Governor, Raghuram Rajan, but also for the government. In a major support to the efforts by Rajan, IMF chief Christine Lagarde recently praised him for his efforts to clean up banks' balance sheets. Lagarde said that Rajan "addressing the issue of bank balance sheets head-on is absolutely right...equally relevant are various mechanisms that are being worked out with bad loans and distressed assets that are sitting on banks' balance sheets and are clearly clogging them".
Off to a New Start
Start-up carrier AirAsia India will have a new CEO, Amar Abrol, after its first CEO Mittu Chandilya quit. Abrol has mostly worked in the financial services sector in his 20-year-long career. He was earlier the CEO of Tune Money, a company engaged in delivering low-cost financial products in South East Asia. A chartered accountant by training, he has the big task of raising AirAsia's market share, despite strong competition from established LCCs such as IndiGo and SpiceJet. In January, its market share was 2.3 per cent.
In a move that could benefit the erstwhile promoter of SpiceJet Kalanithi Maran, the Delhi High Court recently passed an interim order that paves the way for issuance of stock warrants in the carrier to Maran and his Kal Airways Pvt Ltd (KAL). Sun Group's Chairman, Maran, and KAL were to be issued stock warrants under a 2015 sale purchase agreement. Last February, the entire 58.46 per cent stake of the media baron and KAL in SpiceJet was transferred to Ajay Singh, the current promoter of SpiceJet. Following the deal, Singh pumped money into the carrier and revived the airline from the point of closure.
It came as a rude shock for the tennis world when 28-year-old tennis star Maria Sharapova failed a doping test at the Australian Open. She tested positive for meldonium, a drug used to increase exercise capacity in athletes. While Sharapova has been provisionally banned, she faces a minimum ban of four years if she is found to have taken the drug intentionally. The repercussions are far-reaching. Three of her major sponsors - Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche - have already snapped ties with her. This is likely to dent her future earnings by as much as »100 million.