Radia Tapes: 073 - Radia, K Venugopal (20:05:15)
Duration: 00:11:52; Aspect Ratio: 1.250:1; Lightness: 0.073; Volume: 0.215; Cuts per Minute: 2.946; Words per Minute: 168.496
Summary: The Power Tapes
on Outlook India
Niira Radia to Venu (in confidence) - 'What does Mrs.(Kokilaben) Ambani know about natural gas, she knows about cooking gas, with due respect to her. - You know she is very upset with Amar Singh, because she thinks only after came into Anil Ambani’s life, family has broken up. And she told me in Gujarati, all these kidney problems which Amar Singh has, is her curse on him.'
NR: Sorry, the network's really bad, haan
NR: Airtel -
MKV: Whose network, I don't know.
NR: I'm on Airtel's network, so maybe poor thing does not have spectrum.
MKV: Uh, I'm also on Airtel so there's no third party involved but it's still bad.
NR: Isn't it just? Yeah...I think he's really struggling, he's really struggling with his uh, issues on spectrum.
MKV: Hmm, 'coz they're adding three million every month -
NR: Yeah, but you know, you often wonder about this three million?
MKV: Yeah, yeah yeah. Like that is something that we need to work on. (Inaudible) average RPUs are no longer valid.
RPU - Revenue Per User
MKV: You look at uh, actual minutes used, is it going up or down, and cost per minute.
MKV: See, RPUs are...because the denominator has increased so - has been bloated so much, it gives you a wrong picture, as if anyone is being served with a 100, the average is Rs. 100 on CDMA and Rs. 200 a month on GSM. Which means so many people pay less than a 100 rupees a month for a functional phone. That's probably not what it is.
NR: Mmhmm, mmhmm. You know, I really think that if you look at the - I mean, I can only go by RCom's revenues and Anil's - uh, Anil Saldana, TTSL. And I just think that they have bloated subscriber numbers, but seriously, their revenue figures are dropping by the day.
NR: You see -
MKV: That's because they don't have the numbers!
MKV: They don't have the numbers. They're simply claiming additionality where there is none.
NR: That's right. If you see for example in Gujarat, there is a whole scam- it was unearthed by credit card - maybe you want to ask a journalist to look at that, it was unearthed by a credit card fraud that was taking place and the crime branch was investigating a credit card.
NR: What had happened was when they were trying to get more spectrum from 4.4 to 6.2, they had given CAS forms to every possible shop and vendor across the state. To say that when people came to you with a credit card transaction, you can just swipe this on the CAS form. So that gives you one, uh, the uh address and proof and evidence that you require for a CAS form, a credit card is as good as anything.
NR: And suddenly there was a buildup of about a 100 crores on various credit cards. So they unearthed this scam, the cops, on a lead from something else completely differently and went to Narendra Modi or went to the Home Secretary and they wanted to prosecute. Well, first they went to the Commissioner and then they went to the Home Sec - I mean, the matter got to the Home Secretary.
NR: I am told just before the election results were to be announced on the 15th, Narendra Modi had stepped in and told the Home Secretary- do not do anything with this because we may need ST support to form the government.
NR: Now that thing is still pending. Nothing has happened. Jammu, you've seen 36,000 - Jaipur, I mean, Rajasthan, same thing. You know, you've almost got about 50-60,000 uh subscribers that are being written off. I don't know, I'm sure that their subscriber numbers are not more than 45-50 million.
MKV: They've added two-point-some-million, last month.
NR: Yeah, they're adding every month - 2.4, 2.2 -
MKV: You can write any number, I think.
NR: Yeah, I think they can write any number and nobody's going to verify.
NR: And there's another argument I had with Raja. I said, "Your VTMs, these vigilance guys you've got across states, it's the easiest thing to pass them." They are the ones who are supposed to verify these numbers, and Raja's argument is I don't want to um, you know, approve an audit for subscriber numbers because in my tenure it must seem like we've crossed 500 million.
MKV: Hmm, so he is -
NR: - He's party to it. He's party to it.
NR: So you're in that - I mean, seriously I mean, I told both my clients. I told Mr. Tata this yesterday and I was telling Mukesh when this whole judgment thing happened yesterday. I said, with due respect to you, I mean, brothers' MoUs cannot be the basis of deciding natural resources. And he said, yeah I agree, I never said 2.34, he's the one who's gone to court.
MKV: Hmm. But can they not stop this thing?
NR: I'm sure they will. I'm sure they'll step in firstly before the supreme court. You need to go down a credible judicial process, now that they've started it off.
NR: And then you'll have to, you know, make sure. And Tata is also very (inaudible) Supreme Court. Because for five years by the High Court, we were not allowed - including the regulator, MERC - were not allowed to have distributing licenses.
NR: We had South Bombay, but then we didn't get North Bombay because these guys were sitting there. We finally had to go to Supreme Court and get a judgment which we did, last year. So for everything we're running to Supreme Court.
MKV: Yeah yeah, keeping the lawyer and the judges busy.
NR: Yeah, but at whose cost?
MKV: I know. So what's happening um...there's no...as per the MoU, he needs to have a - he can't sell the gas, Anil.
NR: No, he can't sell the gas. He has to have a power plant. So he says I'm going to have Shahpur, which is I think a 2,400 gas-based and a 1,600 coal-based project. So he's going to have Shahpur.
NR: Now he's been briefing the media today saying that he will go to Dadri. He will use Gail (?), Gail has not set up the pipeline yet to Dadri, but he says he will have uh, Dadri up and going in three years. Land acquisition is not even completed Dadri, I don't think he'll have land acquisition completed for another two years.
NR: So where will you - the thing is that let's say Mukesh Ambani said, "Okay, I'm giving you gas, take it from tomorrow."
NR: Where's he going to put it?
MKV: And if you don't take it you have to play -
NR: You've lost it! Yeah you have to pay me, YOU'LL pay me 2.34, but you've lost it. I mean, you can't take it that's just too bad. I mean, seriously, I think that's what he should do.
NR: And say just too bad, I'm sorry, but you wanted gas, I'm giving it to you, the court has ruled that you should get gas, so here you go.
NR: You can't trade, that's government's decision. I can't intervene on that. What are you going to do with it? See, the judgment, Venu, the way it's written, everything, TV- I mean, I just see so much similarity between the two judgments. Even language. It's amazing!
MKV: Yeah, judges don't write their judgments anymore. It's written for them.
NR: Yeah, it's written, and the pen drives are given to them and they just sign off.
MKV: So easy, no?
NR: Yeah, isn't it? But the thing is, at the end of the day, we are going to have to - I guess all of us, and whether it is anyone, really -we're going to say that these things, particularly natural resources, gas, spectrum, coal, iron ore- It's just going to have to be taken out of the hands of all these guys.
MKV: No, see, the point is that it should be fairly auctioned or whatever. So that there is a uh...highest price is paid for a natural resource. Nobody can say what a natural resource should be priced at because that's a very subjective and so on. But the market is the best method. And uh, here,...let them bid for the gas and say it's the maximum, that's all. Why should it be set by anyone?
NR: Correct. I mean, you know -
MKV: Government should say okay, let every - let there be a pricing auction every year, let the price be settled, that is all.
MKV: This is not the way to do it, no? Why should it be 2.34, why should it be 4. Let there be an auction.
MKV: And (indiscernible) -
NR: And whoever gets it should be, can take it and (indiscernible). Power plant or fertiliser plant or whatever you want -
MKV: Yeah yeah yeah. Why is the government getting into it? Uh, because you can sell it for less, you can sell it for more. If the international price of gas is low, why should somebody else pay uh, 4 or whatever if the international price is 3...and the alternative is LNG. You can get LNG in whatever, if prices go down. Or if it goes up, why should the government get uh...or producer get less or government get less. Natural resources, common resource, why should we uh -any less than the international market price or whatever equivalent.
NR: Correct, correct. I mean let's look at this, if RIL were to auction it and say okay, the highest bidder (indiscernible) one thing on offtake. It all is a big challenge on offtake. But let's assume it's all within a reasonable measure, which is, you know, in line with global pricing.
MKV: No no, it shouldn't be a - see, it should be volume and price. It's on both parameters, you hire- It's like selling stocks on the stock market. You have a million shares, you still trade. Somebody with ten shares also trades. More or less the price is the same, so what is the problem.
NR: So what is the problem, that's right. You'll just make that less profit if you have to. But at the end of the day, if you look at Mukesh, he will then pay off his (inaudible) because he's got this cost-based model and then revenue share. But then he pays off his, you know, whatever he's incurred as capex. And uh, is what 7 and a half billion dollars, but faster, and then the government gets the benefit of the revenue share in any case.
NR: And gets a much larger benefit of revenue share at a much faster pace. At 2.34 they can be waiting forever, no?
NR: So it's a...it's a very um, you know, sad thing.
MKV: What's the mother saying?
NR: Mother doesn't even get involved.
MKV: But the court says she must.
NR: No. See. That must be one learned judge's view that the mother...
NR: I don't think the mother understands how to sell gas.
NR: You know Kokilaben... she knows about cooking gas.
NR: Due respect to her, I've seen her, I've met her a number of times.
NR: I don't think she looks like the sort of person who is interfered with either of the sons other than at the time of settlement which has dragged in.
NR: Her view is, you know, why don't you just stop fighting?
MKV: Absolutely. That's what a mother will do.
NR: Yeah. And I think her interest is that. And he doesn't...
NR: Anyway she's got a point even now. She was saying the other day - I must tell you this in confidence - her view was that since Amar Singh has come into our lives, he's destroyed our family.
MKV: Yeah, yeah yeah. He has destroyed many more.
NR: Yeah. And she said, you know...
NR: as mother, when he's dropping all this whole kidney ailment and all that - I shouldn't say this to you but, you know she was saying in Gujarati, she and I talk - she said 'as a mother I can tell you - this is my curse on him, because he destroyed my family,
NR: and I'm sure its the curse of many.'
NR: She said 'Anil doesn't understand and he doesn't want to leave him, and he's...' - and that's what the fight was over. It started with Amar Singh.
MKV: Hm! I know.
NR: Anyway. (sigh)
MKV: Its a good talk. Let's see what we can do. Okay, bye. Bye.