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L&T CEO tries dinner diplomacy to convince Mindtree founder

In a bid to assuage concerns over L&T’s bid to take over Mindtree, SN Subrahmanyan, MD and CEO of the engineering conglomerate, has invited Krishnakumar Natarajan, the IT service firm’s co-founder and Executive Chairman, to dinner.

“I called Mr Krishnakumar and invited him for lunch and dinner. I don’t have a tussle with anyone,” Subrahmanyan told BusinessLine. “He is an iconic gentlemen. I have the greatest respect for people who start a business and develop it because I’ve not been able to do that…it’s (Mindtree) a lovely company.”

In what is billed as Corporate India’s first hostile takeover bid in the IT sector, L&T on Monday said it has entered into a definitive share purchase agreement with VG Siddhartha and his related entities, Coffee Day Trading Ltd and Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd, to acquire a 20.32 per cent stake in Mindtree. L&T will purchase this stake at ₹980 per share, aggregating to approximately ₹3,269 crore. Mindtree’s founders have condemned the takeover bid and vowed to fight it.

L&T’s top executives said they will engage with their peers at Mindtree and drive home the point that there will only be a change in the shareholding structure, and that there are no plans to change the Mindtree management or merge it with one of L&T’s software companies.

White knight?

“There is a major shareholder moving out and here you’ve got a great company coming in to protect you from everything. Nobody will touch you, hopefully, with our interest there. That is the way one has to look at it,” Subrahmanyan said.

According to sources, it is unlikely that Krishnakumar will change his decision even if he accepts the invitation to have a meal with the L&T chief.

L&T is meanwhile gearing up to pick up an at least 26 per cent stake in Mindtree.

Source: The Hindu