Siva’s bankruptcy

Chinnakannan Sivasankaran didn’t make it to the front pages of India’s financial newspapers after a top court in Seychelles declared him bankrupt. Maybe five years or so mark a generational shift in news media.

Siva, as they called him, dazzled business journalists with his unorthodox bets and outsized plans for nearly two decades. He was politely called an enigma — colorful, daringĀ  and low-profile. He punted on stocks, built stakes in several companies which worried the promoters. Some called him a hustler with uncanny streak of winning all the bets.

He was at the forefront of personal computer and later mobile telephony revolutions. Siva’s stature steadily grew and market pundits looked at him to catch the next wave.

He soared as a power broker, with a fleet of personal jets and yachts, jetting in and out with loans and advice for many troubled industrialists and business families. He bailed out the now jailed Sahara boss Subrata Roy and had access to Bombay House which welcomed not many outsiders. But India isn’t kind to rich mavericks.

A telecom scam brewed. Wind power and commodities snapped his winning habit. Then he had a partner, Batelco, who didn’t let him off easily. The Bahrain telco with which he partnered to redial telecom lost money and assets in the 2G controversy. Batelco refused to write off and chased Siva to pay up for the guarantees he had executed. Bankruptcy, as some argued, is a ploy to stave off erstwhile partner.

As they say, businesses go bankrupt but rarely tycoons. Wiki shows he is still worth $3 billion.

A banker told me that Siva gave the impression that he was enormously wealthy. “Yeah, maybe US$200 million. That isn’t lot of money,” he said. Siva rolled his bets well and lived a life. Until luck frowned at him. It’s risky to count him out, this son of a fabrication contractor with the best sea facing residence in Seychelles.





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