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Raymond's Gautam Singhania says will focus on what is best for business, not personal gain

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A little more than a year ago Gautam Singhania, the chairman and managing director of Raymond, told CNBC-TV18 that he will do whatever it takes to enhance shareholder value be it selling the Thane land, demerging the business or even sell non–core performing assets. He has achieved some of those targets but to understand the way ahead, CNBC-TV18 caught up with him again. 

A little more than a year ago Gautam Singhania, the chairman and managing director of Raymond, told CNBC-TV18 that he will do whatever it takes to enhance shareholder value be it selling the Thane land, demerging the business or even sell non–core performing assets. He has achieved some of those targets but to understand the way ahead, CNBC-TV18 caught up with him again. 
On Indian economy
Singhania said that there is a slowdown in Indian consumption which is far more pronounced in the auto industry but concurred with the view that it might be bottoming out. He added that it’s difficult to predict but it will take two to four quarters to see a recovery.
On demerged lifestyle business
Raymond in its current form has a total enterprise value of approx Rs 7,000 crore but Singhania has said that the lifestyle business itself could command a value of approx $1 billion. He highlighted that the company has been adopting better governance practices and it will continue. He is pushing for governance premium and says the lifestyle deserve multiples that some of Raymond's listed peers have commanded. Singhania sees no reason why lifestyle business cannot grow in double digits and also says that the focus is on moving the return on capital employed (ROCE) of lifestyle from 18 percent currently to 21 percent.
TImeline for demerger
He said that it will between to nine and 12 months to complete the demerger.
On real estate
Last month, Raymond sold its 20-acre land parcel in Mumbai's Thane area to Xander-backed Virtuous Retail South Asia (VRSA) for Rs 700 crore as part of the textile firm's ongoing asset monetization plan. Singhania highlighted that the group managed to sell land at a hefty valuation in a bad real estate market and also added that the company will either develop or sell its Thane land with focus on creating shareholder value.
On sticky royalty issue
Singhania stated that the old company, Raymond Ltd, will house the real estate division but needed to shore up its revenues as real estate division was picking up which has led to the proposal that the lifestyle business will pay royalty for the Raymond brand. He added that the demerger ratio says a shareholder will own both shares so they should not be worried on the royalty issue. He comforted shareholders by saying that the brand is being held by Raymond Ltd itself and is not held but him personally so all royalty payments stay within the group.
He said that the company has received feedback on brand and royalty payment front which its team is looking into and added that the royalty revenue from new company to the old is capped at Rs 25 crore. He assured shareholders there is an Internal discussion in progress and that a committee will address the issue.
Upping promoter stake
Raymond disclosed on stock exchanges that the promoter group will be upping its stake via preferential issue through a combination of equity shares and compulsorily convertible preference shares cumulatively amounting to Rs 350 crore at Rs 674 per share by Raymond Ltd to JK Investo Trade (India) Ltd., and and post equity allotment and CCPS conversion promoter stake will push holding to 48.21 percent. Singhania said that the promoter has increased stake at every opportunity but cannot comment on the future.
On listing FMCG business
Singhania said that Raymond has an internal revenue target to list its fast moving consumer goods business but cannot disclose numbers yet.
Singhania said that he will focus on what is best for business and not for him personally, adding that Raymond is a professionally run co and that the recent announcements are just the beginning with plenty of surprises ahead.