Aditya Puri's next move after HDFC

ET’s weekly roundup of the wackiest whispers and murmurs in corporate corridors & policy parlours.Homing In The row over her eviction from a government-allotted Lutyens bungalow is still fresh in the memory, but the recent relocation to her Gurgaon apartment might just reignite the passions of her political opponents, who thought she will move base to Lucknow to fight the good fight. And if you are scratching your heads trying to figure out the probable cause – the apartment is at a premier DLF address, a builder whose name always gets coupled with that of her husband along with various allegations. We can tell you some of her neighbours are a bit uneasy, hoping news television cameras won’t storm the complex invading their collective privacy.Friend RequestA minister had in fact recently tweeted to say that an opposition politician had called him regarding an extension that would allow the aforementioned party leader to stay on for a bit longer in the bungalow. It appears that he wasn’t the only minister approached by this person. The word is that the lady herself wasn’t all that keen on seeking more time but the eager party member was keen on building bridges with her. The attempt fizzled out evidently.Greener Pastures?Now that it’s abundantly clear that he’s ready to hang up his boots — why else will you cash out almost all your chips, some 7.4 million of them for Rs 843 crore just before retirement – the chatter is getting louder on the next move by Aditya Puri after a stellar innings at HDFC Bank. We hear he’s been courted by a top corporate house that single-handedly raised more money than India’s disinvestment target. It will be a perfect jodi — the business group has huge ambitions to expand in digital financial services and the executive has always harboured ambitions to continue to stay active and oversee a shadow bank.Emperor’s New ClothesAfter being harangued in the media at home and overseas over for its business practices and financial health, this NRI sexagenarian tycoon is keen on an image makeover for his conglomerate. We hear his brother has been tasked to find a new communications agency to help raise the image quotient. The next few months are crucial for them ahead of a corporate milestone in India, so the timing is understandable. But frankly, more than the balance sheet, the problem is the businesses.State of the UnionIn today’s day and age of management-labour bonhomie, not often is a company at odds with its trade union. The rigid stance taken by the leadership of this auto major to not offer paid leave as Covid cases spread at its plant has not gone down well with the workforce. Serious issues have also cropped up over health and safety. With proportionate salary cuts affecting the morale of workers, this strife may just escalate, though for the moment, the workers know options are limited. But they wish the top brass would be more compassionate than candid.Mother’s Pride & JoyWe were quite startled when this former billionaire sibling got bail last week after being in jail for months. Till a little bird told us, it was perhaps the relentless efforts of the mother that led to this temporary reprieve. The matriarch, ailing for several months now, had given herself over to matters of faith, but was forced to drop everything to tirelessly pursue clearing her family’s name. In fact, we gather she has also been instrumental in reconciling with her extended family from the extremely influential religious sect after cracks appeared in this cohesive unit thanks to the legal troubles. Mom always knows best.Mutually UnacceptableSelling a financial services business in these unsettling times is a stretch. This mega conglomerate, always a picky seller, is learning this the hard way, we are told. Potential buyers in the fray have been apprehensive about the massive redemptions from its various schemes but were especially stumped after figuring out that the unit has been without a chief investment officer for over nine months. Turns out he had joined forces with a PE fund to become a bidder himself but even that has not worked out. Some low-ball offers are on the table but they might just be unacceptable.Trick or Treat?One has to admit that our young entrepreneurs are fast learners when it comes to luring banks that are perennially scoping business. Turns out, this Bengaluru-based startup maverick, who has leapfrogged in the valuation leader board in the middle of the pandemic, has been approaching banks for a multi-million dollar funding line, possibly for an acquisition. We couldn’t help but chuckle when we heard his pitch to several Wall Street financiers is a simple quid pro quo — help me with the moolah now and in return walk away with my prized soon-to-be-announced global IPO mandate. We are waiting to see how many put their hands up for that one.Destination Tokyo via LAThe big-bang media handshake between Sony and Viacom 18 was to get done late last year and when global executives flew in and local bosses left in a huff, we thought it was all stitched up, till it wasn’t. Earlier in the year, when Reliance consolidated the various pieces of the vertical, many even thought the whole alliance was falling apart. But now we learn it’s picked up momentum once again after almost six months. Covid, a change of focus and a near 15% rollback in valuation is believed to have done the trick. Or, shall we say, after the Valley, it’s now all about looking east?Designated SurvivorAt the recent annual India global summit held by an influential London-based lawyer-cum-publisher-cum-friend of the government, participants were a little piqued when one of the private equity panelists was officially introduced with his former job title. Just like banking, the cut-throat world of investing is quite ruthless with its people the moment they decide to leave. Non-compete, an immediate send off and gardening leave are par for the course. The concerned executive has had a chequered association with his firm before leaving last year amid major turbulence in the portfolio. We caught wind of the ensuing whispers after several phone calls and messages flooded our inbox.A Private AffairWhen it comes to social etiquette, politicians can learn a thing or two from our venture capitalists. In a state where a former chief minister’s son got married flouting norms amid peak lockdown in April, comes the news of a quiet, private event. Prashant Prakash, the veteran angel and face of Accel in India had a big fat shaadi planned for restauranteur daughter Anvita and her marriage to a fund manager from the Big Apple. Recently, the family chose a small private function with close friends and family instead of a lavish shindig as was planned originally.The Best PartSo you thought the recent home gig featuring her rendition of Daniel Ceaser’s hit song was it? Let me tell you heiress and daddy’s girl Ananya Birla is on a roll. First she was picked up by U2, Madonna, Ricky Martin, Pitbull’s artist management company Maverick earlier this year and just last week she became the first “independent” Indian pop artist to get featured on the American national radio top 40 countdown on Sirius XM Hits 1, a week prior to her single dropping at the end of July. Shuttling among Mumbai, Manhattan and LA, the feisty girl, who takes no prisoners if trolled about her family name and juggles her music and entrepreneurial ventures with mom, Birla’s maiden release of the year has been recorded entirely in the midst of the lockdown.Privy to the whispers in power corridors or juicy tips on India Inc? Do share with us at [email protected]