Lalbhai group exits broking business, sells Anagram to Edelweiss

Gujarat-based Lalbhai group has exited its domestic broking business by selling its unit, Anagram Capital, to Edelweiss for Rs164 crore

With a view to focus on its core business of textiles, Gujarat-based Lalbhai group on Wednesday exited its domestic broking business by selling its unit, Anagram Capital Ltd, to Edelweiss Capital Ltd for Rs164 crore.

"The Lalbhai group's core business is textiles and it is a global leader in denim. It is also diversifying into other businesses and since finance does not form a core business for the group, it was decided to sell off the business," Anagram Capital's chief executive officer (CEO), Mayank Shah, told PTI.

In the late-1990s, ICICI had acquired Anagram Finance, another Lalbhai group company. Following the acquisition, Edelweiss plans to operate Anagram as its 100% subsidiary.

Anagram Capital has a pan-India branch network of 137 branches and over 1,300 sub-brokers with an average daily equity trading volume of around Rs800 crore.

"Anagram is very strong in retail and has a highly professional management. Edelweiss has a huge institutional base and hence Anagram is a perfect fit for Edelweiss," Mr Shah said.

"This acquisition is in sync with Edelweiss' plan to expand the retail broking business. We are already one of the leading institutional broking houses in the country and the acquisition of Anagram with its reach, and large, high-quality and diversified client-base will give impetus to Edelweiss' retail broking and distribution businesses," Edelweiss Group's chairman, Rashesh Shah, said in a statement.

Anagram also records an average daily business of around Rs100 crore in commodities and Rs150 crore in currency derivatives, Mr Shah said. Anagram Capital's entire team would be retained, he said, adding that "there is only a change in ownership."

When asked whether there was any plan to change Anagram's name following it becoming a subsidiary of Edelweiss, Mr Shah said that there was no such plan presently.

Of Anagram's 137 branches, around 55 are in Maharashtra and Gujarat and this acquisition will provide Edelweiss a very strong footprint in the region.

"Post-acquisition, under Edelweiss, our growth will be faster. We will focus on diversifying our products portfolio,” Mr Shah said.

On the anvil are services like portfolio management services and more products in the wealth management segment, he said.

The company's strategy over the next two years is to expand in B-towns with a strong equity culture.

"We have identified 25 such towns and plan to enter these destinations over the next six months," Mr Shah said, adding "Our plan is to increase our market share from the present 1% to over 3% in the next two years."


No immediate increase in interest rates in sight: ICICI Bank

ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar sees no immediate increase in interest rates. However, she feels that rates could go up a bit over a year

Ahead of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) credit policy review amid surging inflation, leading private lender ICICI Bank Ltd said on Wednesday that it foresaw no immediate increase in interest rates.

"We have to find a balanced path—the right balance between controlling some of the challenges that may come (and) at the same time (ensuring that) growth momentum does not get diluted," ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar told PTI.

She, however, felt that interest rates—which are at present are ruling at their lowest in about five years—could go up a bit over a year’s time.

“I am not subscribing to any single view," Ms Kochhar, who arrived at the Swiss resort town of Davos to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting, said when asked whether she subscribed to the finance ministry’s view that inflation in India was segmented and limited to the food sector, or the RBI’s concern over inflationary pressures.

The finance ministry has voiced the opinion that there was no need for the RBI to increase the key rates that could impact the banks’ lending rates.

The RBI is slated to announce the quarterly review of the monetary policy on 29th January and its task is cut out—to ensure adequate credit to the industry and arrest inflation.


Nirma’s horror show

In its attempt to modernise, Nirma seems to have lost its way

There was a time when Karsanbhai Patel made the Lever buggers spend sleepless nights with his low-cost detergent powder, Nirma. In fact, it was Nirma that inspired the birth of Surf’s Lalitaji. Which then led to price wars in the category, and Lever launched its own mass brands. (At the time, Nirma’s success story was case study material in India’s B-schools.) Nirma, sadly, had no counter-strategy in place, and has since been reduced to being just another brand in a market infested with low-cost lookalikes. Failure to contemporize with changing times was the key reason.
Of late, however, makers of Nirma have gone into a solid image change-over drive. First arrived the mermaids performing an underwater ballet. No product demos, and even the famed Nirma jingle got chucked into the ocean. Funnily enough, the packaging continued to be as shoddy as ever. Clearly, this approach did nothing for the brand, and it appears that Nirma has drowned the dancing mermaids.
So now it’s back to the ‘dhoodh si safedi’ jingle. And it’s back to dealing with hard dirt. But this time, things have gone totally unreal and profoundly silly. In the new TVC, a dirty puddle is all set to unload itself on a woman, who’s passing by. Much like a feisty bahu admonishing a dirty saas, the woman orders the puddle to behave itself. And her oral whip? Nirma washing powder. And the ancient jingle. The frightened puddle freezes in its tracks. The promise? Ab daagh ki phat gayee! In not so many words.
This sort of bizarre advertising tells you only one thing: Nirma is very confused on which way to take the brand. First they tried to super modernise it overnight and that strategy tanked. Then they have tried to make it more middle classy while breaking the clutter using a horror-like commercial. Frankly, the frozen puddle reminds me of a bad special effect from a 1970 FU Ramsay flick. Yes, it’s that corny. Sad to see David finally lose the war to the mighty Goliath.

This is where I think things have gone horribly wrong for the brand: In its attempts at mad modernisation, Nirma went straight from the first to the fifth gear. And the result naturally was a disaster. And now they are trying to quickly turn back to the third gear, so their gaadi is going nowhere. They need to go back to the basics, and up the image in a slow and steady manner. First sort out the packaging, then gradually contemporise the advertising.

Funny, that we need to teach this basic stuff to a man who once shook the Lever citadel!


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