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Citi ​appoints Rajeev Mantri as ​CFO, Citi India and ​cluster ​finance ​head, ​south Asia

Citi has announced the appointment of Rajeev Mantri as chief financial officer (CFO), Citi India, and cluster finance head, south Asia, effective October 5, 2021, said a statement issued today.

In this role, Mantri will be based in Mumbai, and responsible for the finance function, overseeing business planning and strategy, balance sheet management, financial controls, reporting and tax matters and will focus on delivering the financial plan, while working closely with key stakeholders on franchise-level matters in India. In addition, he will also provide governance and oversight on the finance function of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

He will report to Ashu Khullar, CEO, Citi India and Tim Monger, Asia Pacific CFO, Citi. He takes on the role from Niraj Parekh, who will move to New York as the head of financial planning and analysis for the Institutional Clients Group.

Mantri has over 23 years of experience in the finance function across India, UAE and Singapore. Prior to this appointment, he was the CFO at TransUnion CIBIL. He has also worked at Standard Chartered Bank in several senior finance roles across wholesale banking, retail banking, financial controls, regulatory reporting, cost and balance sheet management.

Citi has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.

Cushman & Wakefield acquires Singapore’s Project Solution Group

NEW DELHI: Global property consultant Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) today announced it has acquired Singapore- based project management company Project Solution Group (PSG) for an undisclosed amount.

C&W has entered into an agreement to acquire PSG. “This latest acquisition is aligned with the firm’s global strategy to strengthen its operations in Asia Pacific,” C&W said in a statement.

PSG is a leading project management and construction services provider with 14 offices across Asia. It offers interior design, project management and construction services to over 40 multi-national corporations across Asia Pacific.

PSG CEO & Managing Director Mike Harrison has been appointed as Executive Managing Director of C&W’s Project Management services in Asia Pacific.

The consultant said that the acquisition, when completed, would position it as a market leader in Project Management services with one of the largest platforms in the Asia Pacific region.

Post-acquisition, C&W said it would be able to offer services like designing and full turn-key solution to global clients, in addition to the classic project management consultancy that it has been offering so far.

Commenting on the acquisition, C&W Executive Managing Director (South Asia) Sanjay Dutt: “The strategic acquisition of PSG will contribute to C&W India’s project management capabilities and add greater depth and expanse to our service offerings.”

The inclusion of talent from PSG would be a step forward towards propelling C&W’s project management services by creating greater value for clients, he added.

The consultant noted that there has been a recent spate in growth in demand in project management services, which include construction management and project monitoring, for ensuring a timely and budgeted delivery of their projects.

“The potential of the market can further be gauged by the fact that construction activity is estimated at approximately 750 million sq ft across office, retail and residential in the top seven cities of India alone,” C&W said.

Currently, C&W India commands approximately 20 per cent of the total project management market share.

“The assimilation of talent from PSG and the experience of the C&W team will ensure that we are perfectly poised to provide our clients with tailor made solutions and thereby augment our market share,” Dutt said.

Ad agencies divided on industry awards

MUMBAI | NEW DELHI: What happens when an industry loses its faith in its own awards? In the case of Indian advertising, agencies seem to have found a solution by launching in-house awards.

While Lowe and Partners launched ‘The True Show’ a few years ago, Ogilvy & Mather just held its first internal award, the Envies.

With other agencies too planning their own in-house celebrations, does this mean that the days of the industry awards such as the Abbies are numbered? “I don’t think so,” says Arvind Sharma, president of Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) that organises Goafest where the Abbey awards are conferred.

“The last 25-30 years that I have seen, big agencies tend to pull out of award shows. In ad award shows big agencies don’t count.

It is the creatively hottest agencies that matter. People have come and gone in Goafest. While that decision should be respected, it has no bearing at all on the future of the show. The show will go on.” But the advertising industry remains pided.

Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director at Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia, says that his and other agencies are sending out a message to the organisers of industry award shows by holding their own in-house awards. “If the industry comes up with an award show which is believable and credible then we will participate,” he says.

R Balakrishnan, chairman and chief creative officer of Lowe Lintas, says that message has been going out for a while, but the ad fraternity hasn’t got it yet.

“Advertising has a purpose and how creative you are is that purpose. Who better than the agency that has created it to judge it,” he says, predicting that winning an Envie will make creatives at O&M happier than winning an industry award.

Raj Kurup, founder and creative chairman of Creativelandasia, which pulled out of Goafest this year, has been vocal about scam ads in Goafest and how the event has lost its focus. “Whether it is an internal award or an industry award, I would welcome anything that celebrates fantastic real work that has made difference to the business,” he says.

Leo Burnett, which has a global assessment team and a unique scoring pattern that evaluates the agency’s internal work, has planned something special for its Indian winners in 2014.

“We have very big plans for Cannes Lion 2014 and we are planning to send 25 people including creative, account management and planners.

Teams that will score high in internal assessment will be a part of this, so will be the employee of the month and the previous Cannes Lion winners,” Saurabh Varma, CEO at Leo Burnett India, says.


While a senior official in Leo Burnett says that the agency will not participate in Goafest 2014 because it has shifted its focus to Cannes Lion 2014, Varma says, “We are still making up our mind on Goafest.”

In fact, there are many in the industry who believe that while internal award shows of Lowe and O&M make a great statement, the industry award shows will co-exist. Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer at BBDO India, believes the two should not be combined.

“This is O&M seeking external input and I think it’s gonna be respected for that. If more people do things like this, it just shows the industry is more united,” he says.

Rohit Ohri, executive chairman at Dentsu India Group, says the Goafest is a larger forum for discussing industry issues.

“So there is nothing like loosing sheen. But yes the competitive spirit that agencies like Ogilvy bring about will be missed,” he says. Agrees Vandana Das, president at DDB Mudra Group.

“Old forums such as Goafest are places where great minds get together to celebrate great work. But it is not necessary that there will be only one such forum. There can be more,” she says. Like all other issues, the Indian advertising industry will remain pided on this one.

But if there is one agenda where they unite, it is that the industry bodies should introspect the reason for the plight of the agencies from the award shows and try and bring them back.

Telecom, BFSI, govt sector, IPL and T20 world cup to push ad growth to 15.5%: GroupM

MUMBAI: Indian ad spends are expected to grow at a healthy clip according to an annual projection from the WPP owned media agency conglomerate GroupM.

Estimated media spends for 2016 are Rs 57,486 crore up from Rs 49,758 crore for 2015; an increase of 15.5%. The Indian market trumped GroupM’s conservative 12.7% estimate for 2015 and at 14.2%, has clocked its best growth rate over the last five years. CVL Srinivas, CEO, GroupM South Asia, believes, “In spite of all the gloom and doom, India is clearly the fastest growing large economy as reflected in the ad expenditure.”

Remarkable ad growth typically occurs on the back of marquee events. 2016 has its fair share with the ICC T20 World Cup being held in India and five state assembly elections, which according to Srinivas will boost spending on regional media.

Of the categories contributing to ad ex, FMCG tops the list, estimated to account for 28%. Auto, traditionally a strong category at 8.2% is in danger of being eclipsed by ecommerce at 8.1%.

India remains one of the few markets where both traditional and new media grow at a robust clip. Print and television account for nearly 78% of the estimated spends even as digital spends (which GroupM believes are rapidly becoming indistinguishable from mobile spends) rise at an impressive rate. At an estimated Rs 7,300 crore, digital spends are estimated to be greater than out of home, cinema, magazines and radio combined. According to Srinivas, newspapers, a category that’s declining globally are still very relevant to India: “Indian newspaper brands have a strong loyal readership base which they can transfer to digital platforms. They may not just ride the digital wave but thrive. Some Indian brands rank among the strongest in the world.”

Dentsu Aegis Network brings The Story Lab to India

MUMBAI: Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Aegis Network has launched its global branded content unit The Story Lab in India.

With over $1-billion billings globally , the new unit will have a separate P&L and will be headed by Sunil Kumaran, former network strategy head at Reliance Broadcast Network.

The Story Lab has operations in 15 countries and marries branded content with data and analytics.

“Content is an exciting space for us to be in. Clients are increasingly looking at how they can `influence’ the consumers more effectively than just increasing their `reach’ through traditional forms of advertising,” said Ashish Bhasin, chief executive officer, South Asia, at Dentsu Aegis Network.

“Within the next 3-4 years for most agencies 10% of the revenues will come from branded content,” he said.

Kartik Iyer, managing director at Dentsu Aegis’ media arm Carat India, will also guide Kumaran in heading the new unit.

DuPont centre to expand into food, energy, protection

HYDERABAD: DuPont Knowledge Centre (DKC), the Indian science and technology centre of global science and engineering giant DuPont, will expand its work in the three global mega trends of food, energy and protection, said Homi C Bhedwar, DuPont’s Technical Director, South Asia.

As a part of this, DKC will add space, facilities and scientists to develop solutions tailored to local market demands and customer needs, where DuPont is eyeing a market opportunity of $5 billion.

Expressing inability to disclose the investments that will go into the expansion, citing DuPont’s global policy, he said DuPont has so far invested over $50 million on DKC and “will invest significant amounts” on expanding its research activities on the new areas planned.

DuPont President (South Asia) Rajeev Vaidya said the expansion of DKC demonstrates the company’s focus on India, which is “strategically very important with a market opportunity of over $5 billion and ninth largest market globally for DuPont.”

At present, India accounts for over 80% of DuPont’s South Asia sales of $900 million and the DuPont expects to grow its sales at least 2-3 times the GDP in the region, said Vaidya.

For the time, DKC will focus on application develop capabilities for fabric care, textile processing and grain processing under industrial biosciences, light-weight applications for the growing automotive market in India and applications in food packaging. The new initiatives also include developing particle technology and polymer processing for applications in plastics, for applications in automotive applications such as tires, conveyor belts and hoses.

“With India emerging as the global hub for small cars manufacturing, development of lighter weight polymers that could replace metal without compromising on the safety offers major opportunity,” said Vaidya.

Homi Bhedwar said DKC is the company’s only R&D centre outside the US that has development activities in all the three global mega trend areas and the proposed expansion will make DKC the largest seed research centre for DuPont outside the US.

Solar power equipment makers ask government to push manufacturing

NEW DELHI: Solar power equipment makers on Thursday asked the government to encourage manufacturing in the country under the second phase of its flagship plan – Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

“In the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) indigenous manufacturing should be encouraged,” said Satyendra Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, Lanco Solar.

He was addressing a panel discussion as a member of the Indian Solar Manufacturer’s Association (ISMA).

Kumar said the industry wants faster implementation of the government scheme.

“We want implementation as early as possible and on a continuous basis,” he said.

The JNNSM was launched on the January 11, 2010 by the Prime Minister. The Mission has set the ambitious target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022 and is aimed at reducing the cost of solar power generation in the country.

Meanwhile, SEMI – an association serving the nano and microelectronics manufacturing supply chains – said that India requires the development of top-notch photo-voltaic manufacturing and market ecosystem.

Rajaram Pai, Business leader, DuPont Electronics and Communications and Photovoltaic Solutions, South Asia said: “Energy needs in India continue to grow as the population expands and GDP rises. Global suppliers have a crucial role as this new demand dictates the need to minimise costs and maximise returns for investments in solar.”

ExxonMobil, Indian Oil Corporation ink natural gas pact

NEW DELHI: Energy giant ExxonMobil has signed a preliminary agreement with

Indian Oil Corporation

to explore new models of delivering cost-effective natural gas.

“What really matters is how we accelerate India’s access to affordable, cleaner energy,” said Bill Davis, Lead Country Manager, South Asia, ExxonMobil.

“This initiative focuses on exploring new models of delivering cost-effective natural gas in India where it is most needed to complement traditional pipelines,” the company said in a statement.

Indian Oil is the second-biggest gas marketer in the country. It operates an LNG terminal at


on the east coast.

ExxonMobil has been planning to enhance its presence in India’s gas market and been looking for local partners.

Coca-Cola to take Thums Up globally; sees India among top 5 market

KOLKATA: Coca-Cola announced it will be officially launching Thums Up in markets across South Asia by end of March. This will be the first step in what could amount to a global rollout of the brand.

While Thums Up is also manufactured in limited quantities the Middle East, to cater to the Indian diaspora, this is the first time it will be launched and marketed outside India, according to Coca-Cola India and South West Asia president, T Krishnakumar. The variant chosen for the global launch is the recently launched Thums Up Charged which has a higher proportion of caffeine and a taste identical to the original drink. Krishnakumar said,

“We pride ourselves in creating billion dollar brands and this is an opportunity for the first brand from India to get into that league.”

The team met the creator of Thums Up, Ramesh Chauhan, who sold the brand to Coca-Cola in 1993 to seek his blessings and wishes for the journey ahead, Krishnakumar added. Coca-Cola’s president – Asia Pacific, John Murphy said India was the 6th largest market for the brand and he expected it to become the fifth largest market – a position currently held by Japan – in the next few years.

In an interview with ET, he indicated the company was open to further acquisitions within India but stopped short of naming possible targets.

Coke, PepsiCo change recipe of top products

(This story originally appeared in on Oct 13, 2017)

NEW DELHI: Beverage giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have embarked on a big gamble in India by changing the recipes of their best-selling drinks to include stevia, a plant-based natural sweetener. Atlanta-headquartered Coca-Cola may also launch a variant of the country’s largest-selling mango drink Maaza with 3050% less sugar, said sources.

Pointing to public concern over high sugar content in fizzy drinks, PepsiCo, too, is test-marketing a reformulated low-calorie option of its lemony drink 7UP, while Coke is doing the same with Fanta, the new variant of which includes stevia and around 5% orange juice.

“As articulated by our global CEO, Coca-Cola has undertaken a three-pronged strategy to give consu mers wider choice of low no calorie products, which include reduced serving size, reformulation and innovation,“ said a Coca-Cola India spokesperson. “This is work in progress and we intend to share a comprehensive plan by the end of 2017.“

Reformulation of food and beverages is tricky business as Coca-Cola found out the hard way. In 1985, it launched a `new’ reformulated version of Coke only to face consumer backlash over taste. Three months later, it withdrew the product.While 7UP and Fanta will be the first reformulated products to be launched in In dia, PepsiCo’s hydrotonic brand 7UP Revive is the only drink created in its original form with stevia as an ingredient.

“We have been growing in India in double-digits,’ said Ajay Chandran, senior director, South Asia at PureCircle, a B2B stevia supplier. “Globally, around 14,000 products have been launched with stevia and many companies in India are experimenting with it currently.“

Traditionally, aspartame, an artificial sweetener often criticized for its sharp aftertaste and health risks, has been the go-to ingredient for beverage companies looking to launch low or zero-calorie products. For instance, Coca-Cola’s Coke Zero has aspartame as an ingredient and comes with a cold warning on the label, which says it’s “not recommended for children“.