Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why blame whites alone?

Resisting acquisition does not have ‘colour-of-the-skin’ tag

Both at the national and at the international level, couple of business news, garnered considerable media attention. The first was regarding the proposed sell-off of Jaguar and Land Rover brands, which are currently owned by Ford Motor Company, to Tatas or Mahindra and Mahindra and the second was with regard to Indian Hotels (which owns the Taj group of hotels) upping its stake in Orient Express Hotels by 11.5%. In both these cases, the company representatives showed considerable dissent. Ken Gorin, Chairman of the Jaguar Business Operations Council, stated to the Wall Street Journal: "I don’t believe the US public is ready for ownership out of India of a luxury car make." In the second case, as reported in Time magazine, Orient-Express CEO Paul White, in a letter to Indian Hotels Vice-Chairman, R. K. Krishna Kumar, wrote that “any association of our luxury brands and properties with your brands and properties would result in a reduction of our brands and of our business and would likely lead to erosion.” This is not the first time such comments are being made about Indian acquisitions. Only last year, UB group’s, Vijay Mallya, faced similar prejudice in the name of brand dilution when he bid for the French Champagne company, Tattinger, along with Loire Valley and the California-based Domaine Carncros. And then who can forget the ridicule that ISPAT group’s L. N. Mittal had to go through while bidding for Arcelor? Starting from calling him “cheap cologne,” to claiming that he was trying to buy Arcelor using “monkey money,” etc etc.

No doubt that some of the remarks made, were extremely derogatory, but then there isn’t much rationale behind media’s propaganda. In all the above cases, media has taken an editorial stance that all that is said in terms of ‘dilution of brand image’ is just an excuse, wherein the reality is that the ‘white’ American and European companies are ‘racially discriminating’, in reality, and they cannot accept transferring their ownership to Indian counterparts!

Discrimination or no discrimination, the fact of the matter is that none in this world would want to let go the power position easily until and unless there are strong reasons. History has been testimony to the fact that whenever it has come to business acquisitions, it has always faced opposition. In literate, cultured and socially advanced societies resistance to any such acquisition has primarily been through negotiations, whereas in illiterate and uncultured societies the resistance has been more hostile! In fact, whatever defence mechanism is being employed by these European and American companies against the Indian counterparts, the same is being meted by the Indian counterparts, within the country, and in a worse form.

The manner in which the Indian companies have gone about acquiring land from poor farmers, resulting in unprecedented bloodbath, is testimony to the same fact. So why blame ‘whites’ alone?

Defence to any acquisition (forced or subtle) does not come with any ‘colour-of-the-skin’ tag. It is a natural phenomenon and is core to human existence and would remain so till the time human beings exist!!


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