Lead Story

Tulsi Tanti built his empire on 'soojh-boojh', loans and one other secret ingredient

Through thick, thin and terrible, the Suzlon Energy promoter has displayed the ability to charm banks and retain control 

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Published 9 months ago on Jul 18, 2020 19 minutes Read

The ultimate superpower, if you think about it, is the power to influence. Therefore, Dale Carnegie’s 1936 book on cultivating this superpower has a loyal following. The book’s tips include remembering to smile, giving sincere and honest appreciation, and arousing in the other an intense want. So, you don’t need to shoot webs out of wrists; your smile can charm Spidey into doing it. With it, you don’t need to fight crime in a bat costume; you can simply pick the right ‘thank you’ card to send Batman. Or, with it, you don’t need to be rich; you can trigger a compelling want in a rich friend, like a banker, to get him or her to spend for you.

The founder and CMD of Suzlon Energy, Tulsi Tanti, seems to have developed this power to influence. Bank, after bank, after bank, has been giving his company loan, after loan, after loan despite numerous defaults and restructuring attempts. Suzlon has gone through a loan restructuring in 2010, 2012, 2016 and 2020, which is four times over the past decade.

To be fair, green-energy isn’t an easy business. It has an uncertain order pipeline, is money guzzling and involves government policies that are continually evolving. Besides, Tanti entered this business in the nineties, when it looked as fanciful as buying land on the moon.

He started by importing windmills, two of them, when he and his brothers were running the family business of making polyester yarn. Then, textil

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Lead Story

When Wind Met Sun

In 2015, Dilip Shanghvi raised eyebrows when he invested ₹18 billion in Suzlon

Five years ago, Sudhir Valia was in a happy state of mind when he spoke to this magazine and made no attempt to conceal it. It had been barely two months since Dilip Shanghvi Family and Associates (DSA) picked up 23% stake in Suzlon Energy at Rs.18 per share in early 2015. Eyebrows were understandably raised about what Shanghvi, the founder of Sun Pharmaceuticals saw in the heavily indebted wind turbine maker as he cut a cheque for Rs.18 billion. That preferential allotment would eventually reduce the holding of the Tanti family from 30.94% to 24%, though control was to remain

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Perspective

Equity has gone with the wind, but debt is eternal at Suzlon

Founder Tulsi Tanti has found it hard to shake off the sins of commission committed during 2005-08

While founder Tulsi Tanti made a name for himself and his company Suzlon by being one of the first movers in wind energy in India, his bold audacious attempts to catapult the company into a higher orbit ended up dragging it down into an financial crisis, more than once. It’s been more than a decade of struggled existence as Tanti has found it rather hard to shake off the sins of commission committed during the go-go years of 2005-08.

For a strange reason, Europe has turned out to be some kind of acquisition graveyard for many Indian companies. Be it Bharat Forge with CDP, Dr. Reddy’s with Betapharm, Tata Tea with Tetley, Tata Steel with Corus or Havells with Sylvania or the acquisition of Hansen and REpower by Suzlon. While most players managed to scrape through, the wind energy equipment mak