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Designer dreams

Dilip Chhabria is not letting age slow him down. At 54, after showcasing a concept super-car called the Ambierod at the recently concluded Auto Expo in New Delhi, Chhabria now wants to set up an Auto Design Institute in Pune.

Print Edition: February 24, 2008

Designer dreams

Dilip Chhabria
Dilip Chhabria
Dilip Chhabria is not letting age slow him down. At 54, after showcasing a concept super-car called the Ambierod at the recently concluded Auto Expo in New Delhi, Chhabria now wants to set up an Auto Design Institute in Pune.

He has been harbouring this idea for a while, and his reasoning is quite simple: “The auto industry in India is going to quadruple over the next few years and will need 25 million jobs to be filled by 2015.” Even though his institute will start with an intake of just 60 students, DC—as he is better known—plans to ramp it up to 340 students annually and will work with automotive manufacturers to specifically tailor courses. “But we are still ironing out the details.”

Even though none of DC’s designs made it to mainstream, some of his students could become the next ‘hip’ auto designers.

Mittal’s mettle

Lakshmi Niwas Mittal
Lakshmi N Mittal
No surprises on this front. Steel tycoon Lakshmi Niwas Mittal has cemented his position as one of the wealthiest CEOs in the world. Next only to Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Mittal, 57, ranks second with a net worth of $32 billion in the latest list published by the Forbes magazine.

Mittal shares the list with Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, and Wipro’s Azim Premji. Mittal’s empire, employing more than 200,000 people, spans Romania, Bosnia, Algeria, Trinidad, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, China, the US and Canada, and—after the Arcelor takeover—has established a large presence in continental Europe.

His company controls 10 per cent of the total steel production and is three times the size of its nearest competitors. No wonder, Mittal invariably finds his pride of place among the richest with ease and regularity.

Cashing in on heritage

Bicky Chakraborty
Bicky Chakraborty
He is the richest Indian in Sweden, the single biggest sponsor of sports in the country, and also its “hotel king”. Yet, 42 years ago when Bicky Chakraborty left India to enroll at the University of Stockholm for a degree in social sciences, he hadn’t the slightest ambition of achieving any of these titles.

But as luck, and his genuine interest in Swedish people and their heritage, would have it, Chakraborty, 63, has ended up becoming the best-known Indian in Sweden. His Swedish Kroner 1.3-billion empire (2008 estimate) comprises hotels, pubs, and a soon-to-be-launched budding ‘functional food’ firm.

His claim to fame as hotelier is that he only invests in run-down heritage properties and turns them around. What’s the secret of his success? “I succeeded because I cashed in on my Indian values of compassion and integrity,” says Chakraborty, who has also set up a 150-bed hospital in Howrah, Kolkata.

Devil’s dilemma

Gulu Mirchandani
Gulu Mirchandani
Gulu Mirchandani’s position seems to be getting unenviable by the day. The 62-year-old Chairman of Mirc Electronics, who has presided over the Onida empire while his elder brother Sonu and brother-in-law Vijay stayed in the background, is in choppy waters.

The reason: his executives are taking flight. Sensing trouble back home amidst the longdrawn family feud, top and middle level executives are now moving to greener pastures. Executives heading prime divisions of Mirc Electronics have moved to various brands in the retail and services segment.

The exodus seems to be triggered by Onida’s eroding market share amidst the ongoing fight. The company is barely managing to stay afloat in a competitive environment of thin margins, high promotional costs and fierce competition from South Korea’s global consumer durable behemoths LG and Samsung. Onida’s state is best reflected in its performance on the bourses and in its market cap, which is barely Rs 340 crore.

However, it appears the company is seeking a valuation of Rs 600-800 crore. Though it boasts of being the third-largest CTV brand in the country, it holds just 10 per cent market share. While Mirchandani could not be reached for comment, for now the brand is stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea— from the heady days of being the owner’s pride.

Game for more

Shashi Kalathil
Shashi Kalathil
Shashi Kalathil, 48, is not stepping too far from the playing field after putting in his papers as CEO of Neo Sports. “I cannot give details at this stage.

But my next assignment will see me involved in the entertainment, sports or lifestyle space,” he says. Ask any recruiter and you’ll know why Kalathil is a prize catch-—he’s always been the right man, with that ‘hot’ job.

The early 1980s saw him with Hindustan Unilever (then known as HLL) and in 1995, he was with the buzzing new telecom sector (RPG Cellular). Says Kalathil: “Those were the heady days when we had to figure things out from the scratch.” His next ports of call were PepsiCo and VSNL before the game lured him back to Neo Sports. For someone who knows the game, consumer segments and media, Kalathil is only bound to make it even bigger.

Old haunt

Som Mittal
Som Mittal
Barely a month after moving on from HP India, Som Mittal, the recently appointed president of IT industry body NASSCOM, finds himself in trouble over the rape and murder of Pratibha Srikanth, an employee of HP’s BPO arm, two-and-a-half years ago.

The Supreme Court has rejected Mittal’s petition seeking the quashing of a first information report filed by the Karnataka government on his involvement and squarely held him responsible for the incident, as the then head of HP Global Soft. While legal experts say Mittal can get a reprieve once the charges are framed (assuming he opposes them), the former HP exec must have been hoping for a less controversial stint after taking over at the helm of NASSCOM. “I haven’t seen the judgment from the Supreme Court and can only comment once I return,” Mittal told BT from Europe.

Contributed by Manu Kaushik, Kushan Mitra, Amit Mukherjee, Shamni Pande, Rahul Sachitanand and R. Sridharan

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