Logging back onA little more than two years after he moved to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, US, and then to private equity firm Actis in London, Rajiv Kaul, 39, is back in India in a new avatar. He has tied up with a couple of large private equity players to scout for investment opportunities in India, except that Kaul, who was Microsoft India’s Managing Director until March 2005, isn’t playing native scout. In an interesting and untested model, he expects to be the owner (well, after a fashion at least) of the companies he invests in. He isn’t telling yet who his PE partners are or how exactly the partnership will work, but expect him to play in areas he’s familiar with, which is IT. “For example,” says Kaul, “there are quite a few Tier-II IT companies that haven’t realised their potential because they don’t have the required management bandwidth.” Kaul has no IT services experience, but he’s got the smarts.
The conscience keeperRetiring after 35 eventful years was a tough call for Bala V. Balachandran, the first full-time Indian professor at the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at the Northwestern University. But the venerable professor says, “I had a conflict of commitment with Kellogg. And though nobody questioned me, I had to reconcile my conscience with myself.” The ‘conflict’ was the fact that he had spent more time on his latest project—Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai—than the stipulated three months-a-year allowed for consultancy. Balachandran, 71, will now be a part-time professor at Kellogg and also spend more time on his pet projects. He sure has quite a few babies to handhold. “I have four grandchildren; the oldest is under three while the youngest is just seven days. I want to spend time with them,” says the doting grandfather.
Cementing a comeback
Mittal’s movesFor an ace consolidator of the global steel industry to join the board of one of the world’s largest investment banking and securities firms may not be an unadulterated blessing for the two sides. As Goldman Sachs proudly announced on June 29 the appointment on its board of Lakshmi N. Mittal, 58, the India-born Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, world’s largest steel producer, some commentators foresaw conflicts of interest. Goldman, for instance, is reportedly helping BHP Billiton in its $160-billion bid for the mining group Rio Tinto, in which the London-resident steel czar has also shown an interest. And investment bankers at the New Yorkheadquartered firm are worrying over regulatory hurdles in bagging more business from ArcelorMittal because of LNM’s presence on the board. Mittal, recently crowned as the richest and sixth most ‘powerful’ person in the UK, has struck 179 deals, worth $79 billion, in the last 10 years. Goldman, by the way, has advised Mittal on five deals totalling $47 billion since 2006.
Game for more
Biting the dustThe flagship company of his group, Spic Ltd, has remained closed for months now putting all its stakeholders— lenders, suppliers and employees—in a deep fix. Having passed on the mantle to his son, A. C. Muthiah, Chairman of the SPIC group, has remained almost invisible. But mid-June, Muthiah, 65, resurfaced with a sudden urge to revive an organisation—not SPIC but, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), whose functioning, he said, under current six-term President N Srinivasan, Vice Chairman and MD of India Cements, was “appalling”. So Muthiah, a former BCCI President, decided to contest the election for the post of the TNCA President in an attempt to turn around the state cricket body. The results were more humiliating than surprising. Muthiah and his team lost all the posts they contested. The winning ways, it appears, deserted him many years ago.
Contributed by Kapil Bajaj, Manu Kaushik, N. Madhavan, R. Sridharan, Nitya Varadarajan and Virendra Verma