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No beating about the bush.
ARSS Infrastructure plans to raise Rs103 crore with its upcoming IPO, while its main promoter is an accused in a murder case
Orissa-based ARSS Infrastructure Ltd is planning to enter capital markets to raise Rs103 crore with an initial public offering (IPO) that would open on 8th February and would be listed on both Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE). However, there may be a problem. One of its promoters, Subash Agarwal, has a case pending in a Bhubaneswar court in relation with the murder of Rubu alias Subash Chandra Das, that took place in April 2005.
According to the draft red herring prospectus file by ARSS Infra, the company is also involved in a number of legal proceedings with 17 cases filed against it in various categories including civil cases and sales-tax & income-tax violations.
“On the basis of a statement given by three witnesses, to the effect that they had overheard a conversation by the deceased about there being a threat to his life from several contactors including Subash Agarwal, our promoter and director, a second charge-sheet dated 11 January 2006 was filed by the Crime Branch wherein Subash Agarwal has been accused of the crime under Sections 34, 109, 120-B and 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act 1959,” ARSS said in the filing. The case is still pending at the Bhubaneswar court.
There are two civil cases pending against the company as on 31 December 2009. In 2006, income-tax officials found that the company’s books of accounts were not maintained properly and prepared in a fraudulent manner. The company has also been charged with suppression of facts, unaccounted cash sales, suppression of net profits and inflation of expenses.
ARSS Infra claims that its clients are mainly governments and government companies (and a few private firms) like the ministry of railways, state government of Orissa, Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, RITES Ltd, IRCON international Ltd, National Thermal Power Corp, Hindustan Steel, National Highway Authority, Vedanta, NALCO and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. ARSS claims to have completed around 200km of rail lines and about 300km of roads and highways.
However, the company’s fund requirements and the deployment are based on management estimates and have not been appraised by any bank or financial institution. Credit rating agency Credit Analysis and Research Ltd (CARE) has assigned ‘IPO Grade 2’ for ARSS Infra’s IPO indicating ‘below average’ fundamentals. The book-running managers for the issue are IDBI and SBI. The issue size is of Rs103 crore of Rs10 per equity share at an issue price of Rs410-Rs450 per share.
During FY07 to FY09, ARSS Infra said its total revenues have grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 116.7% while net profit increased at a CAGR of 120.2% over the same period. For the nine-month period ending 31 December 2009, the company reported total revenues of Rs610 crore and a net profit of Rs50 crore. ARSS Infra claims to have an order book of Rs2,877 crore as on 10 January 2010.
Just when you thought advertising couldn’t get more bizarre, along comes this ad
Since our lazy and incompetent netas and babus aren’t able to deal with our myriad social problems, it appears that private marketers have taken it upon themselves to sort out screw-ups facing the nation (and the world at large). And curiously enough, this route is being used by brands, which, er, have nothing new to say to the consumers about themselves. Brands that are stuck in product categories packed with rival hysterical brands and promises. In other words, commerce, not social conscience, is the driving force behind this bleeding-heart strategy.
After IDEA and Tata Tea, it’s the turn of a munchies brand to save us from the fast-approaching Armageddon. And Parle’s Hippo couldn’t be bothered with faltu stuff like losing weight, saving trees and casting votes. They want to solve the mother of all problems: eradicating hunger!
The television commercial stirs things up with an ancient Hindi film song, ‘Pyaar baant te chalo’, and it features an invisible creature called ‘Hippo’ which solves the world's food crisis. The core message is that since hunger is the root cause of all the evils plaguing the world, it’s best to kill this first so that other issues can get sorted out on their own. So no more wars, riots, terror attacks, corruption, child exploitation, milk adulteration, etc. And the TVC has criminals and other assorted elements mending their ways immediately after Hippo is offered to them.
Bizarre and insane? Yup, of course. And what about that small thing called credibility? Absolute zero. And what does this social message have to do with time-pass munchies? Zilch. In fact all that a fatty, low-nutrition food would do is make people more angsty and more obese. (And then IDEA can step in and re-release its ‘walk when you talk’ campaign).
So then why are they indulging in this madness? Well, for two reasons. One, to generate some cheap, good laughs. In other words, they are happily mocking the malaise of hunger, and so only the well-fed might be amused. And two, devoid of any USP within the brand, the trick is to break the high television clutter by creating totally wild, atrocious advertising. So if nothing else works, at least the brand will be recalled at the retail outlet by the otherwise forgetful housewife. Admittedly, for the last part, the brand could achieve some amount of success. So good luck to them.
Having said that, spoofing serious problems for commercial gains is a questionable tactic. What next, one wonders. An ice-cream brand running an anti-rape campaign? Or a refrigerator brand running an anti-dowry campaign? Well, Kelvinator definitely won’t. It’s unofficially called India’s ‘dowry fridge’.
Kenneth Fisher is one of the most successful portfolio managers. He is also among the most original thinkers. His investment ideas figure in each issue of Forbes and several fine books (almost all of them have been reviewed in this magazine). This is one of his earliest books, first published in 1984, which became a huge best-seller. It pioneered the idea of using price-to-sales ratio (PSR),...