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BW Businessworld

The Colour Of Money

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Last week, the Mumbai-based Just Dial Ltd’s IPO was oversubscribed by almost 12 times by the time it closed on 22 May. The issue size of Rs 850-950 crore makes it the biggest IPO for the year so far. And V.V.S. Mani, the main promoter of the company, will end up with at least Rs 300 crore-plus from the IPO — this being an offer for sale in which the promoters and early investors are selling a portion of their holdings. 
Even after the current round of sale, Mani’s shareholding will be about one third of the company’s total. If the market continues to remain as enthusiastic about Just Dial as it was during the IPO, Mani will be a rupee billionaire several times over. He will also make an entry into our Super Rich issue next year.
Quite apart from companies that hit the market and make their promoters rich, there are many other money-making opportunities for enterprising people. For one, sports people and entertainers are making more money than ever before. Once upon a time, only a handful of sportsmen and a few top movie stars could hope to make a few crores during their careers. But now big money has come into both sports and movies, and all the A-listers boast of incomes of hundreds of crores, partly from fees, and partly from endorsement deals. Meanwhile, politicians are also getting richer — if the declarations made to the Election Commission by candidates during election time are any indicator.
Our latest Super Rich listing shows we have 44 dollar billionaires and over 500 billionaires in all — if only the promoters of publicly listed companies are taken. Count all the others who stay below the radar because they own unlisted companies, land or other such assets, and you will have a figure several times that number.
The problem with an India that is growing rapidly but doesn’t have all the systems in place is that there are almost too many money-making opportunities and not all of them are legal and above board. Over the past few weeks, we have seen several scandals hitting the headlines with depressing regularity. First, the Saradha scam, which has affected the savings of hundreds of thousands of small investors in West Bengal. Next, the CBI raid, which allegedly caught the railway minister’s nephew taking a massive bribe from a railway board member who wanted a lucrative posting. Then the IPLgate, in which players and bookies conspired to make money by fixing games.

The issue is that everyone wants to get rich quick — but not everyone is willing to work hard and make money legally.

Twitter: (at)prosenjitdatta

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 17-06-2013)