The cover story on HUL ( New CEO, New HUL) in the April 2008 issue showcases the comeback of the consumer goods giant after a period of sluggish growth. When Nitin Paranjpe takes over the mantle as the new CEO in April, he will have a tough job on his hand. Retaining HUL’s market share and increasing profitability are going to be some of the critical challenges for Paranjpe. One hopes that he is able to expand HUL’s bottom line faster than the FMCG industry average.
Jacob Sahayam, through e-mail
The concerns raised in Rs 60,000-crore Waiver for Whom? (BT April 6, 2008) are pertinent. Budget 2008 is a populist one and seems to have been presented with an eye on the elections. There is something for everyone but the quantum of total concessions is questionable. Such concessions will lead to a surge in the fiscal deficit, which the government has been trying to bring under control. But there is no effort to increase farmers’ incomes and to make them financially self-sufficient. All benefits should actually reach the persons for whom those are meant.
Mahesh Kapasi, through e-mail
The interview with E. Neville Isdell, Chairman & CEO, Coca-Cola, "Coke is out of the ditch, now it needs to go faster", (BT April 6, 2008), shows his cherished values and unshakeable commitment in building the Coke brand in India. Isdell’s initiatives to make a difference in corporate governance and brand management demonstrate his zeal even in his post-retirement period. The successful launch of the low-calorie Coke is a case in point. It is encouraging that a person’s age is irrelevant for entrepreneurial success and growth as long as sound principles are adopted, focus is maintained and one remains commited to growth.
B. Rajasekaran, through e-mail
Organic growth not enough
Merging to grow (BT, March 23, 2008) was a good story. The Indian banking scenario is going to change after 2009. Full capital account convertibility will make the capital market more volatile. Basel II norms will require banks to have a much larger capital base, and the opening up of the sector is sure to have farreaching consequences for Indian banks. Smaller banks will especially be in trouble unless they grow rapidly. Growing organically will not be enough and banks will be compelled to take the inorganic route for faster growth. HDFC Bank has been quick to perceive the challenges ahead, and the move to acquire Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP) will help it gain balance sheet size and reach considerably.
Srinivasan Umashankar, through e-mail
Storm in a coffee cup
You say, “india has traditionally been a tea-drinking market” (India’s Coffee Barons, BT, April 6, 2008). What piffle! The three states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh with a total population of almost 200 million have traditionally been coffee consuming regions. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are also the only states in the country where coffee is grown. I frequent many of the coffee shops you have mentioned in the story but still find my own filter-brewed coffee, made from unblended beans, leagues ahead in taste and smell. Fancy names do not make a gourmet coffee. The rest of India, it would appear, has belatedly woken up to the charms of coffee.
S.J. Nathan, through e-mail
Apathy won’t do
BT-E&Y study on India’s Best Managed Companies (BT, March 23, 2008) rightly considers emission reduction as a parameter in CSR. But the stark reality is the lack of action among companies. Green technologies are available for isolating CO2 from industrial emissions and can be gainfully utilised in other areas as well. Companies implementing such norms can help save the society at large from climatic catastrophes such as global warming.
Y.R. Karnad, through e-mail
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