Saturday, January 06, 2007

What really happened... Maybe.

Delhi deals with Nithari (somehow, the entire new angle that the case could have part of a larger child pornography racket somehow seems plausible) and Mumbai deals with serial gropings. I heard a most interesting story the other day about the removal of a senior editor at one of India's larger papers.
Now, the accepted version goes is that the person in question has a glad-eye and was dismissed because he tried to get fresh with a woman. 'Pfaff!' was how the person telling me the story described that. Quite believeable too, because the sad truth is that no-one gets fired for that, maybe a gentle reprimand and being told to lay off the ass-grabs. The real story, I'm told lies in the fact that this organisation is publicly listed.
Now, all large publicly listed companies have an investor/analyst meet every quarter or at least every half-year. I've attended some of these meetings, when the floor is open to journalists as well, and these meetings tend to be very drab affairs with numbers flying about, but management and analysts and even I treated them with a level of veneration. I mean, top management and the analysts covering the company in the same room, writing a corporate story becomes pretty easy, usually when (and there always is one) investor or analyst with an axe to grind.
Now, back to the tale. This company was having, what I believe was the half-year analyst/investor briefing in one of the South Mumbai hotels. The downside of a being a part of a listed media company is that senior editorial staff, or at least the senior-most editor present in the city that day has to attend. Which in this case was our friend.
It seems, from the story I heard, that the fellow landed up late for the meeting (and while you can pass that off in Mumbai by blaming the traffic) he also landed up more than a bit tipsy. What followed is not clear, but in involved a lot of abuses being thrown at random investors. Now, lesson number one of public companies is try not to piss off large investors. Evidently, a representative of a fairly large investor was not very happy with what he saw - a fairly high editor at two in the afternoon - this is where my investment dollars are going? A rapid series of phonecalls followed and one ended up on the Company Boss' mobile and she was then given a fairly detailed blow-by-blow account of what followed. Now, I'm not aware if there was a caveat in the call - talking about dumping the stock (which had at that point of time spectacularly underperformed in the market but since has seen fairly decent gains) but the dominoes had started falling. Know this much about media tycoons in India - they'll excuse a lot of things (sexual pecadillos, sexual pervesions even, ethical dubiousness, alcoholism, drug usage, yada yada) until cold hard cash - lots of it goes on the line.
At the risk of using yet another cliche, the die was cast.
A day later the person had been relieved of his position and ever since then only the top-top-top editor attends such things, and the current one is supposed to be quite an investor charmer. So there, people have written in saying I don't give out enough news anymore - chew on this for a while.
EDIT : The new business paper launches on Friday, Republic Day, January 26th.

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