Indore (Madhya Pradesh): RN Bhaskar, Consulting Editor, Free Press Journal has come out with his new book, on the Asia’s richest and the world’s third richest man – Gautam Adani.
An enriching discussion workshop moderated by IIM Indore director Prof Himanshu Rai on the book “Gautam Adani: Reimagining Business in India and the World”, was held at IIM Indore on December 1.
Here are excerpts from the session:
Director: Why Gautam Adani?
Bhaskar: In 2006, I was consulting editor for DVV media, a German publishing group focussed on logistics. For a story, I went to Mundra and saw what was happening there. I met Adani, and I found him immensely warm and grounded. I did interviews with him several times thereafter.
In 2013, his wife, Preeti Adani, requested me to write a book on Gautam for his 50th birthday. Just printed 25 copies, but the book is still close to my heart.
By 2018, as Adani climbed global rankings 2018, I realized that this is a man that should be written about. He was the man who could change India and who was changing India.
It took some time to persuade Gautam Adani to let me continue with this book without getting any manuscript approved by him or his managers. I told him that “Someone’s going to write about you eventually, so why not me?” He finally gave me his consent and the book was ready.
Director: There is a belief that Gautam is unwilling to raise fund from the public till his company is profitable. What are your views?
Bhaskar: 1. He comes from rather ethical family and doesn’t like taking other people's money till they can share in the profits without too much of risk.
2. He belongs to the Kutch region, and they are brilliant in business and have a DNA of trading. So does Azim Premji too, another Kutchi.
3. He is brilliant in valuation and calculation and knows when to go public in a way that helps in boosting monetization. He knows how to make money from money, and that’s the skill.
4. When he takes a risk, he has a plan B to mitigate the risk. He doesn’t go uncovered or without hedges.
Director: Gautam’s rise has been meteoric. Whenever people rise, questions arise too. How did he do this? Connections?
Bhaskar: 1. Understanding of money and numbers.
2. He’s a brilliant trader who has transformed himself into an industrialist. A trader develops an instinct to sniff opportunities. Not many can achieve this transformation. But a trader thinks short term, sn industrialist must think long-term. Fer traders make the transition. Gautam Adani did.
3. Ability to manage relationships with policymakers, bureaucrats, etc. He ensures having a 50-50 partnerships and invests in relations. He can manage different disciplines by having the right partners.
4. His ability to remain unsentimental and hive off a project when it doesn’t live up to his expectations.
Director: Gautam thinks about national interest and believes that whatever he does should also help India. Is this true?
Bhaskar: Yes, he started with diamond trading, but soin moved into export-import, bringing much-needed forex to the nation.
He did that with energy, coal imports, renewables and even manufacturing defence equipment.
Director: Some economists believe that while Gautam benefits from government, he hasn’t done enough for exports.
Bhaskar: Ports allow for exports and imports. They are enablers of forex. You need to look at forex earnings differently.
And he’s creating a vehicle for exports.
Director: You mentioned in the book that, in some way, he’s also shaping geopolitics. Why?
Bhaskar: He’s reshaped India’s strategic relationship with the Chinese at Colombo port.
Through Australia he has secured India's coal import, hence energy security.
Ditto with defence equipment manufacture.
Director: What are the attributes that make him successful?
Bhaskar: 1. Focus in strengthening relationships.
2. Quality of creating policies not just for himself but for the entire country.
3. He won’t go public without generating profits, and it allows him to make money on valuations
4. The quality to think big and take risks.
5. The skill to exit projects that distract or take too much of management time without yielding commensurate benefits.
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