Welcome to Moneylife Foundation Corporate Governance awards, 2021. These awards are different for a number of reasons. For one, the initial shortlist was based on direct nominations from several famous investors, analysts, fund managers and researchers, who in themselves would have comprised a top jury. We are personally aware of their work and their long experience of watching listed Indian companies very closely. The nominations themselves gave us, the jury a very filtered list of companies to start with. The jury comprised R Balakrishnan (with vast experience in research, rating, investment and fund management), Prof JP Singh (retired professor of IIM Ahmedabad), Debashis Basu, trustee MLF with our deputy editor Yogesh Sapkale as Member-coordinator. Secondly, we have adopted a unique evaluation process, which we have described below.
Mr M Damodaran, former Chairman of SEBI, will give out the awards in an online event. This is an award for corporate governance, not good corporate citizens, or corporate social responsibility. But beyond checking all the boxes on governance and performance, each of these companies has showed remarkable sensitivity to all their stakeholders – customers, suppliers and employees and citizens. Our video interviews with each of the finalists brings out this facet very vividly.
Here are some of details about fabulous five of 2021.
KPR Mill, started by three brothers from an agricultural family understand and empathise with the thirst for education and a better life. They run a very large, continuing educational programme for their employees especially women. More than 27,000 employees have benefitted from it. What is unique is that 200 of their own employees have been placed in the IT industry – a unique programme. It has also separately set up classes to coach students for the UPSC examinations.
Laurus Labs: The mantra of Dr Satyanarana Chava, founder of Laurus Labs, a first generation entrepreneur is ‘winners never cheat, even in difficult times’, the title of a book by billionaire businessmen Jon Huntsman of high integrity. His investors are convinced he lives by this dictum.
Natco Pharma is of course famous for bringing in low cost medicines through patent challenges. We have also come across several heart-warming stories about the founder, including how he paid salaries to all employees by selling his own land holdings when the company was passing through difficult times.
Suven Pharma has always taken the difficult road of innovation, which can never succeed unless the business is run with impeccable integrity and honesty every single day. Both Suven and Natco have been frank in communicating to investors that revenues will remain uneven, given their unique business models.
Thejo Engineering, though listed in the SME segment of BSE, has set an extremely high standard, which emphasises transparency, accountability and integrity in all its business dealings, even at the cost of losing business.
In the lead up to the awards programme, we conducted a series of interviews with each of the five finalists which can be viewed below: