Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The NRI entrepreneur with a $9 billion cheque. Some of it is for Air India

Laxmi Prasad learnt an important lesson during his stint as a premier agent at Prudential Financial in the US. He had moved to the US after a very successful stint in hometown Hyderabad as a chartered accountant. "At Prudential, our manager used to tell us, 'Get introduced to one client and you have seven cross-selling opportunities.'"

Prasad worked on that lesson. In 2001, he was ranked the top life insurance producer, generating the maximum commission, and was voted the rookie of the year among new agents.

Nearly 20 years later, and now as someone who is managing an asset base of $10.8 billion, Prasad is using the same principle in his bid for Air India, the state-owned airline that the government is selling. His Interups Inc, a fund based in the US, has put in an expression of interest to acquire Air India.

"It is the same am doing here," says Prasad from Delhi, where he has been camping for a while, and will be for the next 15 days as he prepares to submit the physical bid for Air India. He explains:

"It's not the profit in the airline industry that is attracting us. But the digitisation that will happen and the massive data generation that will help us expand in other services," says Prasad. In short, Prasad is banking on the airline business to generate a treasure trove of data that will help and complement Interups' other businesses, and also spawn more.

It's a different take and rationale to buy an airline from what one has heard of till now. He neither talks about load factors, nor uses industry jargon such as CASK or RPK. And he is not worried about the thousands of crores that one would have otherwise thought any new owner of Air India would need to revive the airline's fortunes.

"We are ready to spend $9 billion in aviation in the next five years. Apart from Air India, we are in talks to buy a stake in a small airline in the UK, and will also invest in another beleaguered air carrier," says Prasad.  Giving a clue into what he is planning, Interups will park Air India's assets on an Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT) and these will be monetised.

15/12/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment