Radia Tapes – Tarun Das, Former CII Chairman

(Source : http://www.outlookindia.com)

Jun 12, 2009 12:52:56

Niira Radia: Hi Tarun
Tarun Das: Hi, just driving into Bombay
Niira Radia: Ok, you’ve landed?
Tarun Das: Ya, I landed
Niira Radia: Ok, so Mukesh (Ambani) is expecting you at 4 o’clock
Tarun Das:
Niira Radia: Great
Tarun Das: I’ll see him and then I’m having dinner with Ratan (Tata) in the evening
Niira Radia: With who?
Tarun Das: Ratan!
Niira Radia: Oh good *laughs* You’re gonna tell him you met Mukesh?
Tarun Das: I have to…
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: I would normally…
Niira Radia: Huh?
Tarun Das: I’m like that, no? I tell everyone, I don’t have anything to…
Niira Radia: Hmm…
Tarun Das: …not to say, you know, I think no issue…
Niira Radia: Hmm, hmm
Tarun Das: And, uhhh…actually, the reason I was coming was because of the dinner
Niira Radia: Ok, ok, good…
Tarun Das: So that was the reason
Niira Radia: Good…good, good, good
Tarun Das: How’ve you been? What’re you doing?
Niira Radia: No, nothing, i’m trying to look at a few issues, back on the fighting thing with telecom. I met Sunil (Mittal) by the way.
Tarun Das: Uh-huh?
Niira Radia: I met Sunil last week
Tarun Das: One to one or with others?
Niira Radia: Sunil Mittal… No, no, one to one
Tarun Das: Achhaa
Niira Radia: So I met him, just to try and get a…a understanding of where we are and whether we can…Ratan still doesn’t trust him…
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: …refusing to…have anything to do with him in any way at all
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: But I think he doesn’t realize that this time around we’re going to need each other’s help. I can see it, I can see exactly where we’re going to need it, which is what I told Sunil also, don’t be so arrogant with Raja.
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: I think he’s not uh…I think you’re, you’re just letting…and his arrogance…competition is getting the better of him
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: So…likewise, with Ratan, he…he can’t just, you know, wish Sunil away
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: He has to give him credit for what he’s achieved all these years
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: I don’t think he can’t, otherwise we’d have to challenge that.
Tarun Das: So how did you find Sunil…or what did you think of him?
Niira Radia: Good, good, good, I’m still…the trust factor still has to build, you know? I don’t know…
Tarun Das: You met him at the office or home or what?
Niira Radia: At his house…
Tarun Das: Ok, ok
Niira Radia: Ya, I refused to go to…
Tarun Das: He keeps asking about you
Niira Radia: Ya? He said “I always thought you were out of bounds.” I said,”No, look, I can’t work for you because I know Ratan has a view, but I think maybe I can help you. There are certain areas where I think this needs to come together, but let’s see.” I spoke to Ratan, I told him I met him. I told him, “Look, we have to be a little bit more reasonable how we approach things, we can’t…”
Tarun Das: Why are you thinking you’ll run into trouble on the telecom side again?
Niira Radia: umm…Anil Ambani’s active, I met Raja…
Tarun Das: Ok
Niira Radia: And the attempt is to try and garner as much spectrum. You see, I can’t understand how the government is not moving against him, this is the Satyam… I keep on telling you. Prime Minister is going to have to…this is going to be an issue that is going to come up. I’m not saying because of Tatas or Reliance…
Tarun Das: The issue is…
Niira Radia: Hmmm
Tarun Das: The issue Is this, Mukesh has any objections to Reliance Infocomm being bought over by somebody else?
Niira Radia: Hmm? What’s that?
Tarun Das: You heard my question
Niira Radia: No, no, I didn’t hear, I did not, sorry?
Tarun Das: Will he? Will the elder brother have any objections?
Niira Radia: Hmm?
Tarun Das: Will he be ok, in other words, with Reliance Infocomm being bought by a foreign multinational?
Niira Radia: Completely, 100%! You can’t do a 100%, you can only do 74% max.
Tarun Das: Haan, whatever…
Niira Radia: So, Anil will still have to own 26 naa?
Tarun Das: Ya, that’s fine, but he will be basically, be…uhhh…a majo…a minority partner .
Niira Radia: I think, anything where he’s there, he’ll have a problem…*pause*
Tarun Das: Umm…
Niira Radia: It’s like what Maran did to Shiva in Aircel…
Tarun Das: So, so …if he can exit completely and the 26% goes to someone else?
Niira Radia: Yes
Tarun Das: That is alright, haina? That will …
Niira Radia: Ya, maybe…
Tarun Das: …Because, uhh…we need to know what Mukesh’s position will be on this, because, uhhh…there is a buyer…
Niira Radia: AT&T, no?
Tarun Das: Whoever, now, I, uhhh…
Niira Radia: No! I know AT&T is talking
Tarun Das: So, what do you think?
Niira Radia: No, Tarun, let me tell you one thing first. AT&T, I know AT&T is talking to them, they’re well entrenched. I am aware of it. But the thing is that AT&T is not aware that this is a company that is completely…I’m not saying this because of Mukesh or…uhh…Rrr…Ratan…
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: But AT&T is comp…doesn’t realize that these are fudged revenues…if you…
Tarun Das: No, absolutely…
Niira Radia: 70 million subscribers is no…uh…is no longer there. Even Sunil will tell you, it’s not even 40 million!
Tarun Das: Quite a lot they know, quite a lot (…round off?)
Niira Radia: So, given that they…
Tarun Das: They still want…they still the company
Niira Radia: Haan, haan?
Tarun Das: They want the company worth this, do we have a problem? Do you rather have them or do you rather have Anil continuing?
Niira Radia: *Pause*
Tarun Das: Think about it. This is an issue which has been discussed with me by other people.
Niira Radia: Mmm hmm
Tarun Das: And Mukesh’s position, people want to know, where it is…where would he…what would he want? Nobody wants to cross him
Niira Radia: You see, he won’t tell you the truth, my worry is that he will, when you…see if you raise it with him today…why don’t you raise it with him today?
Tarun Das: *Pause* no, I am going to meet him because you wanted me to meet him…I have no agenda *laughs*
Niira Radia: Please don’t tell Ratan that, that I wanted you to meet him, please, you can say to him that you were in Bombay, no? *laughs* If you tell him that Nira wanted me to meet Mukesh…
Tarun Das: Hmm…
Niira Radia: …then you know…you know how he is, he’s extra sensitive naa…
Tarun Das: Don’t…uhhh…you have to…uhhh, we have too…you and I have to handle these things, don’t…let it be, let him be sensitive, it’s not necessary to be senstivie…
Niira Radia: Hmmm…
Tarun Das: uhh…if he, if he, knows that you know, you have facilitated this and , I don’t think it is an issue and we should take it up front with him
Niira Radia: Hmm…
Tarun Das: You know, don’t…I think we should not shy away from that ‘coz Ratan also has to get over all these hang ups…
Niira Radia: Hmmm…
Tarun Das: Because, today, Mukesh is gaining more and more respect, not only in the country, but internationally.
Niira Radia: Correct
Tarun Das: …he has set aside the past reputation, he is earning respect…
Niira Radia: Hmmm
Tarun Das: …from people, so I think Ratan also has to admit …that he is not a bandit king
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: That’s why I’m saying again, the fact that you’re working there with him and are involved with him, for me, gives a new legitimacy to him, in a way, that, I mean look, 2 years ago he had said you must go to Jamnagar, I want you to go and all. I had agreed to go, just haven’t, you know, found the dates and all that and…
Niira Radia: But, but, Tarun and you…you and I’ll go to Jamnagar together haan…Kakinada and Jamnagar…
Tarun Das: Ok, fine…
Niira Radia: I still haven’t…uhh…been, you know?
Tarun Das: Oh, you haven’t been?
Niira Radia: Noo…
Tarun Das: I though you had been…
Niira Radia: No…no, no, no, no, I’ve been saying to him I’m not just gonna’ go like that, we’ll go
together
Tarun Das: sure…go together…but uhh…he must not be…shy away from this…Ratan is to get over the Sunil Mittal allergy, he must get over the Mukesh Ambani allergy, he needs friends also, no?
Niira Radia: He’s not willing to do that, that’s what I’m trying to tell him. I had the same discussion with Mukesh, that, you know…Mukesh is saying, look, as far as Sunil is concerned, that Nira, we need to all align…
Tarun Das: Ya, absolutely…
Niira Radia: …and so, if Ratan can come on the table and align also, that’s a good thing, you know?
Tarun Das: Hmm…
Niira Radia: So when I raised this with Rataan he said I would still not trust him
Tarun Das: You don’t have to trust him but you can still align, why trust anybody?
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: You know
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: Let people say what they have to say at the table and sign off , that this is what we all agreed to, whatever the minimum is, agree to something and in this…uhh, business of govt policies and areas like telecom…
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: …you need to be aligned, and if you’re not aligned then all the other sources will divide and rule and, and…uhh.. get away with murder
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: .. but you have to align and agree on how much you’ll align, If you cant align on everything, align on 10%,whatever,
Niira Radia: yea, here you have to align because of policy issues
Tarun Das: Ya, absolutely, you have to align. I’m glad you met Sunil, because he has been talking to me, about you, I have told him about you…
Niira Radia: hmm
Tarun Das: you asked to meet him or he asked to meet you?
Niira Radia: Sunil?
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: Well it started this way, I sent him an sms, because Anil Ambani’s group was under… they were attacking his MTN deal
Tarun Das: Haan
Niira Radia: And they were circulating whitepaper and talking to the media to play up this whole issue of compliance.
Tarun Das: Right.
Niira Radia: So I then sent him one of the sms’ that I got from the editors, saying “Nira, just to let you know this is happening on Sunil Mittal and he’s not going to be compliant.” So I reacted to the ET editors saying, listen guys, you know, for once in your life, allow something go through properly.
Tarun Das: Hmm.
Niira Radia: So I copied Sunil in all those smses, saying, “Listen, I just want you to know that this has happened and this has been my response and I think that it’s about time that we all grew up.” So he replied back saying, “Can we talk?” (Laughs)
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: And I said sure, then he called and we talked after a couple of days and then he said can we meet and then he said you know I always thought you were out of bounds, I never realized that you’d actually, you know, do this? And I said look, Sunil, I have nothing personal against you, I am fighting a battle which is to protect my clients’ interests…
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: But I see there is a possibility of an alignment, I see a common minimum agenda coming through
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: and I think it makes sense for both of you, but he says you know, I have no problem at all, but Ratan has to agree. I separately spoke to Mukesh also…
Tarun Das: He told me that, he told me the same thing… *mumbles*
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: He told me the same thing many times…
Niira Radia: Who? Rrr…uhh… Sunil, no?
Tarun Das: Sunil, yeah
Niira Radia: So then I rang Mukesh also, I said Mukesh I’m starting this dialog, do you have any prob…He said absolutely not, Sunil is a friend and no, no problem at all.
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: So then I told…when I spoke to Ratan and of course Ratan had a different reaction to it and when I spoke to Anil Sardana, he had an even worse reaction to it
Tarun Das: HMM
Niira Radia: And I’m telling them listen I’m seeing a problem, you guys are going to get into trouble, because I’m talking to Raja everyday, you know?
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: And I know where he’s… I can see his body language;
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: Raja will be very cautious in what he has to do but we have to step in and Tatas and Mittals telling him “listen, we will take you all the way”
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: …he’ll backtrack and he’ll do what is right…
Tarun Das: Mmm hmm
Niira Radia: Right now he is being pressurized to give extra spectrum to Anil
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: Because Anil wants to sell to AT&T and wants to realize the best uhh…the best…uhh…valuation
Tarun Das: Hmm, hmm *LONG PAUSE*
Niira Radia: So that’s where it is…
Tarun Das: Ok
Niira Radia: Well yes, have a…YES…
Tarun Das:
Niira Radia: Gimme a call and have a good meeting
Tarun Das: Ya, ya
Niira Radia: Ya
Tarun Das: So how do we push on? How does one get in the building? Must be a fortress
Niira Radia: No, no, simple, your…your car number…you have your car number?
Tarun Das: Ya, they’ve given…given to his office
Niira Radia: Given to his office no? That’s fine and they’ll be somebody downstairs, I’m sure, waiting for you. I’ll just speak to Venkat and make sure somebody is waiting. So 4 o’clock, yeah?
Tarun Das: 4 o’clock, Yeah
Niira Radia: Great! Let me know how it goes
Tarun Das: Ya, ya, sure, sure

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