The coming week is going to be even busier for hacks covering SEBI. First, all eyes will be on the LIC DRHP that will be filed with the market regulator. Now that IRDAI has given its approval for the embedded value (widely speculated at ₹5.4-lakh crore), there is tremendous interest to see how much discount ‘retail investors’ will eventually get on the discovered price in the mega offering. The quantum of discount is still under wraps with merchant bankers involved in the offering being tightlipped about it.
One capital market observer expressed hope that the government would be “liberal” in its discount policy, especially when retail investors — many of whom are faint hearted — need all the strength to cope with the post listing pains that some mega IPOs (like Reliance Power, Coal India and Paytm) have brought to such investors in the recent decades. LIC, given its stronghold on Corporate India, could still be an outlier and prove sceptics wrong on its performance on the equity front post listing, remarked another regulatory body insider. After all, LIC strongly believes in yogakshemam vahamyaham (a Sanskrit term which loosely translates as “Your welfare is our responsibility”)!
Another event around SEBI that could keep hacks engaged this week could well be what Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman — after her Budget speech that saw wide acceptance and endorsement — has to say to the SEBI Board in her customary post-Budget meeting. Maybe a pat to SEBI for its recent orders?
Budgeting for transparency
Nirmala Sitharaman’s efforts at improving transparency in the Budget numbers have been all too evident in her proposals for 2022-23, marked as they were by a sharp cut-back in reliance on off-balance-sheet items. With Air India disinvested to the Tatas, FCI loans cleaned up and borrowing less from the National Small Savings Fund, the Finance Minister earned for herself some richly deserved breathing space.
This has prompted a top Finance Department official in Kerala to wonderif this is a signal to States to follow suit. Cash-strapped Kerala literally breathes KIIFB, an off-budget vehicle for mobilising funds for infra development. A charitable view from another set of officials in the Department is that the State’s dalliance with KIIFB is too deeply entrenched to even think of a reset.
Missed by a whisker
No sooner it came to light that Aniket Sunil Talati had been elected ICAI Vice President on Saturday, hacks covering the CA Institute scrambled to see if a record is in the making. Reason: Aniket is all of 36 years and many thought history will be in the making next year (2023-24) when he becomes President (it is a tradition that ICAI VP automatically becomes President in the next year) and the youngest person ever to head the ICAI.
Unfortunately that won’t be the case as Rahul Roy, in 1998, became the youngest person ever to head the ICAI; he achieved this at the age of 34 years.
Filmy or family twists
A recent meeting of top Telugu film actors with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has triggered a row, with the Opposition Telugu Desam Party and its followers taking objection to the way the heroes were ‘forced’ to attend the meeting.
Some others criticised megastar Chiranjeevi for being submissive to get a positive response from the State Government on the issue of ticket prices. Led by Chiranjeevi, top league Telugu actors Mahesh Babu, Prabhas, directors Rajamouli and Koratala Siva went to the Chief Minister’s residence at Tadepally (near Vijayawada) to sort out the knotty issue of ticket prices.
Fans of Chiranjeevi and followers of YSR Congress Party were quick enough to counter the criticism, saying Chiranjeevi was magnanimous enough to put his ego behind to resolve the issue. They contended that he came forward to sort the issue that is bothering hundreds of actors, producers, distributors and technicians.
Interestingly, Chiranjeevi’s younger brother Pawan Kalyan, who commands a huge fan base, had advocated for a fight, not a submissive approach, with the government to set the issue right.
Nagapattinam district collector J Radhakrishnan’s rehabilitation work after the 2004 Tsunami is well known and documented. But the little-known fact about his stint there is his decision to adopt five-year-old Soumya, one of the many children who was orphaned by the natural disaster. She was, in fact, found in the debris near Velankanni. She grew under the care of Radhakrishnan at the home the government had set up for orphaned children.
Recently, despite his hectic schedule as Tamil Nadu’s Health Secretary at the forefront of dealing with the pandemic, he was at hand to solemnise the now 22-year-old Saumya’s marriage. An emotional Radhakrishnan, after the wedding, refused to take credit for what he has done and said that Saumya was not just his daughter but belonged to Nagapattinam.