BGR’s forte has been his ability to streamline the systems and procedures wherever he was posted. It was always a question of time for him to take off. BGR made a study of the public issue department at the Tamarind Lane branch and broadly divided the aspects as follows:
- Issuing the consent letter by the Circle Office to handle the public issue after negotiations with the company officials
- Attending the Press Conference arranged by the company
- Collection of stationery including share applications
- Receiving the share applications from the applicants from the date of opening up to the date of closure (3-5 days)
- Counting the number of applications and the number of shares applied for and conveying the information to the company/managers to the issue on daily basis
- Receiving the information from other collecting centres over phone/telegram and adding the same to the collection made at the branch on day-to-day basis
- Listing out the applications and sending the cheques for clearance and crediting the proceeds to the newly opened public issue account
- In case of dishonour of cheques, returning the same to the applicants along with the applications.
- After the closure of issue, collecting the applications from all the designated branches and pooling them with branch figures and sending all the applications to the company/Registrar along with a list and the final certificate
- After the allotment, paying the refund orders and sending them to the company along with a list.
While BGR could streamline the department for smooth working, he also witnessed the boom in launch of public issues at that time. Those were the times when Reliance used to come out with frequent rights/public issues of convertible bonds. Many a time there used to overlapping of several issues. The bank counter used to see heavy rush of investors. The queues used to sometimes spread outside the branch premises into the roads. The company officials would come with cameras to take photographs of investors overcrowding the bank counters.
The normal team of BGR could not manage such unusual rush at the counter. However, BGR was fortunate to get the necessary cooperation from other colleagues in handling the situation. His other colleagues including the Chief Manager and Senior Manager used to help him out. But it was sometimes a colossal work at the end of the day to sort out and arrive at the number of applications and shares applied for - to be conveyed to the companies concerned. The work would go on up to 9-10 pm in the night. Again the work of sending all the cheques for clearance was another Herculean task. BGR remembers the names of K D Nayak, B S Pai, Kannan and Thomas for extending the maximum support to him in handling the situation.
The overlapping issues did create an unpleasant situation for BGR on one occasion. After the closure of one particular issue, some of the investors who had tendered the applications at the branch complained that the cheques issued by them had not been presented to their bankers even after more than two weeks. That evening BGR made a thorough search at the branch. To his shock and surprise, he found a bunch of applications along with cheques lying inside the table drawers of one officer who had also received the applications during the rush hour. He had forgotten to hand over the same to BGR at the end of the day!
When BGR contacted the company officials, he was told that the company had already finalized the allotment and there was no way the applications could be considered at that stage! However, as a special case they agreed to issue refund orders to all the applicants! The poor investors got the refunds; but they never realised that their applications had not at all participated in the lucky allotment scheme! Fortunately the issue was oversubscribed and there was no firm allotment!
Even though the branch was handling public issues regularly, there was no system of keeping the records of the number of issues handled and the benefits derived by the bank. BGR culled out the statistical information on the entire issue management as on 31 Mar 1982. In addition to the volume of business handled, he also arrived at the cost-benefit to the bank through zero-cost deposits of the issue proceeds in current accounts. The Chief Manager forwarded the same to the Circle office highlighting the leadership of BGR. The Circle Office came out with a detailed circular appreciating the efforts of BGR. It may be mentioned here that shortly thereafter, the bank thought it fit to open a separate Merchant Banking Division in Mumbai. The public issue business was handed over to the division under the leadership of a Divisional Manager.
BGR had an opportunity to have a personal meeting with the legendary J R D Tata, the Chairman of the Tata Group, along with his Chief Manager G A Shenoy. The meeting took place at the Bombay House located next to the branch. Both of them were at the building at 11.20 am. The PA to Tata asked them the purpose and duration of the meeting sought for. When told by Shenoy that they may need 5-7 minutes, the PA assigned them the time slot of 11.28 am!
Exactly at 11.28 am, the two were ushered inside the tastily decorated chambers of the great man. The two wished him with folded hands and he greeted them and asked them to take seats in front of him. Shenoy straightaway spoke to him about the subject involved. After seeking certain clarifications, J R D ordered his PA to ensure that the request of the bank was considered expeditiously. As the two were coming out, BGR was wondering as to how the great man was able to single-handedly manage a vast business empire spread over India and abroad. He felt lucky to meet the legendary personality personally.
BGR’s Bombay posting almost came to a sudden end when he was posted to Navlakha, Indore branch in April 1982. As he had completed only two years, he met R S Pai, the AGM in the matter. He was told that he was being given a challenging assignment as independent Manager at the Hindi-belt considering his abilities. In view of the limited communication facilities available at that time, the branch heads in the State of Madhya Pradesh had to take several decisions on their own. The bank felt that BGR was capable of such decisions.
BGR’s main constraint at that time was the education of his children. But his wife having studied Hindi assured him that she could take care of the education part. So in the second week of May 1982 BGR got into a flight to Indore, the commercial Capital of Madhya Pradesh.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
16th September 2012