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Print Edition: Sep 2, 2012

CHRONICLE OF DEBT FORETOLD

Unlike large parts of the country, which are facing a drought, Hyderabad has had unusually heavy rains this year. But the respite from the heat would have brought little comfort to T. VENKATTRAM REDDY, 52, Chairman of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd (DCHL), which, among other things, runs Deccan Chronicle, the city's leading newspaper. His company faces heavy debts and a severe cash shortage.

In 1976, Deccan Chronicle, begun in 1938, went bankrupt and was taken over from the original promoters by the late T. Chandrashekar Reddy, father of Venkattram Reddy. Subsequently, he handed over charge to his sons, Venkattram Reddy and T. Vinayak Ravi Reddy.

DCHL's woes were compounded when rating agency CARE downgraded it in July for defaulting on debenture payouts. One of the bondholders, IFCI, has moved the debt recovery tribunals in Delhi and Hyderabad, as well as the Andhra Pradesh High Court, to recover its dues of Rs 27.80 crore. The brothers Reddy also own an Indian Premier League (IPL) team, Deccan Chargers, which won the second season of the tournament held in South Africa in 2009. A London court has now ordered Deccan Chargers to pay its former CEO Tim Wright about Rs 90 crore for breach of his job contract.

Responding to the crisis, the brothers Reddy and another promoter, P.K.Iyer, have pledged the bulk of their 74 per cent stake with financial services firms Future Capital and Religare Finvest. But stock broking firm Karvy has complained to the Hyderabad police that some of the shares pledged were already under pledge. The developments have pulled the DCHL scrip down from Rs 22.85 on July 26 to Rs 12.25 on August 9.

Reddy, a former Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, has always been a tough businessman. In 2005, he took Deccan Chronicle to Tamil Nadu, and unleashed a price war there. Apart from cricket, he has also taken the Deccan brand into retail with the Odyssey outlets.

In a recent statement, Reddy held a fall in advertising revenues responsible for his problems. "The net worth of DCHL far exceeds its current outstandings…Deccan Chronicle's value as a 75-year old leading newspaper, the value of its fixed assets comprising land and buildings as well as plant and machinery at multiple locations, and the value of the Deccan Chargers IPL team far exceed the company's debt," he said. Abneesh Roy, an analyst with Edelweiss Capital, agrees. "Ad spends in Andhra Pradesh have been low in the last two years due to the Telangana agitation," he says.

Of late, Reddy, who is known for his flamboyant lifestyle and even owns a few racehorses, is said to be inching closer to fellow media baron and YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy. Meanwhile, a couple of rival media houses and a business conglomerate are watching the developments closely. Can Reddy retain his grip on his empire? Speculation remains rife, but no one really knows.

- K.R. Balasubramanyam



Rajiv Sodhi, MD, Go Daddy India. PHOTO: Vivan Mehra/www.indiatodayimages.com

ON THE GO

Rajiv Sodhi, 37, the newly-appointed Managing Director of Go Daddy India, sees great opportunity in small and mid-size companies, many of which are lately seeking a web presence.

Go Daddy is the world's largest web hosting service provider and domain name registrar, with over 53 million registered names. It registers, transfers or renews domain names every second of the day.

Launched in the US as Jomax Technologies, its name was changed to Go Daddy to stand apart from the rest and be easily remembered. And what does Sodhi do in his spare time? He has his head in the clouds, indeed above them - his hobby is astronomy.

- Vivan Mehra


Tim Andree, President & CEO, Dentsu Network. PHOTO: Shekhar Ghosh/www.indiatodayimages.com

ON THE BALL

It was The Godfather trilogy that taught this former basketball player, an intimidating 6 feet 11 inches tall, how to do business. TIM ANDREE joined Dentsu in 2006 as CEO of Dentsu America and was later appointed Dentsu Inc's first non-Japanese CEO, underscoring the 111-year-old Japanese advertising company's commitment to globalisation.

Andree was the 'power forward' when Dentsu bought Britain's Aegis Group Plc in a $4.9 billion deal.

"We are an Asia-centric organisation. Aegis is big in Western Europe, the combination will give us tremendous synergy," said Andree, who still keeps in touch with his favourite sport by coaching his six children on weekends, idolises basketball legend Earvin 'Magic' Johnson.

- Dearton Thomas Hector


Kenichiro Hibi, MD, Sony India. PHOTO: Aditya Kapoor

BLACK BELT BOSS

The first thing most Japanese expatriates look for in their country of posting is a golf course. KENICHIRO HIBI, the new Managing Director of Sony India, however, is an exception. His passion is karate and he is a Black Belt. Hibi, who has now spent 23 years at Sony, has been shuttling between three countries: his last posting, Russia, India and Japan.

"The winter in Russia is tough. I am moving from -45 degree Celsius in Russia to +45 degree Celsius in Delhi," he says.

Though, for Sony, the erstwhile Soviet Union markets are currently bigger than India's, he expects India to take the lead in a few years. His very first product at Sony, the Walkman, is also the company's most successful product to date.

- Anand J.


BRAWN AND BRAIN

Sheru Harmeet Aangrish, Co-founder & CEO, Sheru Classic. PHOTO: Aditya Kapoor/www.indiatodayimages.com
For SHERU HARMEET AANGRISH, whose first name means 'the lion', bodybuilding was love at first sight. Born in Ludhiana in 1978, Aangrish, co-founder and CEO of Sheru Classic Production (SCP), was drawn to the sport watching his older brother Hemant work out.

Trained by Hemant, he went on to win the Junior Mr India title at the age of 16. In 2002, while pursuing an MBA degree at King's College, London, he bagged the Mr Britain Championship.

"I have seen hardships of sports people and the struggle to achieve their dreams. They have talent and I wanted to help," he says. SCP was granted Asia's first pro show in India - it organised the Sheru Classic Professional Bodybuilding & Figure Championship 2011 held in Mumbai.

This year, the event will be held in Delhi on October 6 and will offer a cash prize of $210,000, the world's third largest prize in this category.

- Dearton Thomas Hector

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