Retirement

Top 40 out of 40 investors remain loyal to India

View of a textile store during the lockdown
View of a textile store during the lockdownimago images / Hindustan Times

Angela De Giacomo, 39, studied business law with a focus on tax law and auditing, worked as a tax consultant for the KPMG auditors and has been working for the Bissell family of entrepreneurs in India for seven years. Personal-Financial.com chose it among Germany’s top 40 under 40 in 2019.


See nothing, hear nothing, smell nothing. That’s how it felt to me the past few weeks. And yet I have to make far-reaching decisions – from Berlin instead of Delhi. I am usually stuck in traffic for hours in the morning on the way to work through the Indian metropolis to the Okhla industrial area. I smell the sweet spice tea from the street vendors, hear the horns of other road users, see cows and pigs looking for food in the garbage.

Behind “Tor 40” is the headquarters of the Indian clothing company Fabindia, which is known for traditional Indian clothing such as saris and kurtas. I have been managing the millions of assets of the founding family Bissell for seven years. I have been working in India for a long time, previously also on a project basis for my previous employer, the management consultancy KPMG. I am usually in India for four to five months, the rest of the year in Germany and other parts of the world.

But I’ve been sitting in Berlin for more than ten weeks now and won’t be coming back. Because since March 24, the Indian government has imposed a strict lockdown on the large country with its 1.3 billion people.

Fabindia had to close all 350 stores immediately. The company was unable to generate sales for six weeks (for comparison, annual sales in 2019 were $ 200 million). This affected 3,000 employees and 60,000 artisans. For Fabindia, one of the largest social impact companies in India, this is a special responsibility. Because the Bissell family attaches great importance to providing many people, including many women, with income in remote parts of India and sharing them in the company’s success. That is why we had to quickly find new measures in this crisis. For example, the Prime Minister Office (PMO) had to obtain approval for the changeover in production in order to produce the necessary full-body suits. Close cooperation with the PMO was necessary to open the production facilities and to enable employees to access the production facilities despite the roadblocks. But it was precisely in this critical situation that virtual collaboration through teamwork, solidarity, creativity and resilient networks also worked successfully across different locations and time zones.

In addition to stabilizing the core business, I had to take special care of the family’s investments. Some of them are located in Bangalore, India’s tech hub. The slump in stock prices in the past few weeks has been brutal. The founders of the companies in which we are involved, for example Crayon Data, Foradian Technologies and Wow Momo, as well as the digital media company YourStory, where I am on the board, had to reorient themselves very quickly. We had a lot to discuss and reorganize. Among other things, we have determined who will act as the CEO as a substitute if the existing CEO fails due to illness, which costs can be reduced so that the existing liquid funds are retained as long as possible, how the business models can be adapted to the new situation and which team Operational members are kept out to form a creative ideas task force.

India has potential for investors despite the Corona crisis. Facebook is an unmissable indicator of this. The social network announced in April that it would invest $ 5.7 billion in Indian telecommunications company Reliance Jio. In addition, Chinese investors have already invested around $ 4 billion in Indian start-ups over the past five years. They are based in 18 of the 30 Indian Unicorn companies. Indian investors have long since received competition from the United States and China, who are vying for Indian consumers.

The lockdown does not change that.

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