Business Today

People, Places and Products

Here is a take on people, places and products doing the round these days.

Print Edition: April 18, 2010

Carlos Ghosn
For the Long Haul

The Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, who is banking on multiple partnerships (he plans to have at least three in India alone with M&M, Bajaj and Ashok Leyland) to grow his company, has a way with words, too. Ask him if he is looking at picking up an equity stake in the Indian companies that he is planning to partner, and his response is swift: "We are looking at an ideal long-term partner. Equity participation is like exchanging a wedding ring, but marriage is something much bigger." Recently in India to inaugurate the alliance's first dedicated car plant, Ghosn, 56, enjoys a celebrity status in Japan after his successful turnaround of Nissan Motor Company. So much so that there is a comic book series on his life story in Japan. And in India? He wants to learn frugal engineering.

N. Madhavan

Lakshmi Venu
A Daughter Rises

Lakshmi Venu, it appears, has made her choice. The daughter of Venu Srinivasan, Chairman of TVS Motor, and Mallika Srinivasan, Director, TAFE (part of the Amalgamations group), has been inducted into the Board of Sundaram Clayton, the holding company of TVS Motor, as its Director (Strategy) for five years. Lakshmi Venu, 26, is a graduate from Yale University and holds a doctorate in engineering management from the University of Warwick. For about a year, she has been working in TVS Motor handling business strategy, product design and sales and marketing. With Lakshmi deciding to involve herself in her father's business, her brother Sudarshan—who will be completing his studies this year— can now be expected to mentor under his mother Mallika Srinivasan and take on responsibilities in the Amalgamations group.

N. Madhavan

Philips Cinema 21:9
Best TV You Can Buy?

It was only a few years ago that you watched TV on standard screens, where the ratio of the length to the height of the screen was 4:3—this meant that movies were often "letterboxed" to fit the screen. Wide-screen 16:9 inch flat-panels reduced the size of bars, but movies still had bars above and below. Philips' new TV, priced at Rs 4.5 lakh, takes care of the issue, being wide enough to show the entire image. However, at a 56-inch diagonal, it is pretty wide, too wide to fit in most rooms. And watching normal standard-definition TV on this screen means dealing with black bars on the sides of the screen. That said, Philips' beautiful Ambilight system does bathe the room in a nice glow when you are watching a movie. Possibly the best TV available today; pity that it costs so much.

Kushan Mitra

Edinburgh, Scotland
Fringe in Name Only

Scotland's capital is one of the nicest cities to visit in the UK. Both the Old Town and the New Town of Edinburgh are listed as World Heritage Sites. Every August, during the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world, the town is inundated with actors, directors, performers and tourists. A visit to the "Fringe", a term coined because most performers barely got a look in the more established fests, is a must for anyone interested in the arts. A drive to the spectacular surroundings of the Trossachs is a must as is a visit to any one of the several lowland distilleries around the city.

Kushan Mitra

Inderpreet S. Wadhwa
Solar Star

"Sometimes, I, too, doubt my age," says Inderpreet S. Wadhwa, CEO, Azure Power. Well, Wadhwa, 37, is on to a big story—solar power in India. And that, too, with no solar expertise behind him. Yet, he has serious money backing him. Last fortnight, Azure received its second round of funding from the likes of IFC, Helion and Foundation Capital. "We have money and projects on the ground," says Wadhwa. That makes Azure the first private MW-scale solar power developer in India in less than two years of setting up business. What egged Wadhwa on was the conviction of wanting to change rural lives. What prompted his investors to back him was the fact that he was betting his own money on those sunny dreams. Seems like a confluence of the right man, the right country and the right time.

Shalini S. Dagar

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