Monday, April 27, 2015

Ella Foundation claims breakthrough in Ebola vaccine research

Hyderabad-based Ella Foundation (Krishna Ella : Founder) , which has taken up indigenous research for finding a potential vaccine for the deadly Ebola virus, has claimed success in preliminary vaccine trials on the virus that affected thousands in Central Africa, causing heavy fatalities.

Ella Foundation, which is founded by the promoters of Bharat Biotech, said it has completed preliminary animal (using mice) experiments of the virus `glycoprotein', with the targeted adenovirus, and the "immune response results have been good."

The foundation said it would follow this up with toxicology tests before going for clinical trials involving human beings.

The foundation said it used adenovirus (which causes common respiratory problems in humans) because the use of the samples from Ebola virus itself could create problems.

Krishna Ella, who started the foundation with his wife Suchitra Ella, has said that the foundation has completed preliminary studies on an Ebola vaccine.

''We have found that mice have developed anti-bodies in the animal trials. It is up to the government to take up the research further,'' he said.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Krishna Ella said that India lagged behind in starting research on the deadly virus, while the US, European Union and China have invested significantly to find a vaccine.

''The vaccine candidate at the foundation laboratory is a human adenovirus engineered to contain an optimised synthetic gene based on viruses from the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Its platform uses controlled production of the glycoprotein,'' he said.

Foundation's lead scientist Nagendra Hegde, who led the experiment, said that the ribbon-like structure of the virus sports a coat dotted with spike-like proteins called glycoptrotein. ''Development of immune responses against this protein holds the key in protecting people against the disease that killed hundreds in Africa,'' he said.

Multinational pharma majors, including GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Novavax are currently spearheading research to develop Ebola vaccine, with committed budgets of close to $500 million, Hegde pointed out.

Ella Foundation, which has won the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grant for fostering innovation in global health research, feels that it is beyond its means to further the research. ''The government must step in to use the results to take it to the further level, ie, human clinical trials,'' Krishna Ella said.

Ella Foundation had earlier helped Bharat Biotech in the development of H1N1 pandemic influenza in the early stage.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Woodlands teen Shobha Dasari keeps winning with words

Shobha Dasari knows how to spell success.

After taking the title of co-champion in the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee, the 14-year-old whiz-with-words from The Woodlands is preparing to head to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

It will be her third year to go and her last chance to compete. The event is only open to students who have not yet graduated eighth grade and Dasari heads to high school next year.

"The anxiety doesn't kick in until a week before the bee," she said. "Nationals are really fun. The excitement hasn't worn off. I also know what to expect, and that makes things easier for me."

She has a month to practice. Her mother Usha is her primary coach and her brother Shourav, who is also a competitive speller, enjoys helping out as well.

"He likes to find crazy words in the dictionary that I don't know how to spell," Dasari said.

She was inspired to compete after reading a book her mother bought her at the school book fair, titled "How to Spell Like a Champ."

Dasari participated in her first spelling bee while in third grade. The next year, she won her first competition. Now, she competes in a number of different bees each year, which means practicing is a constant part of her schedule.

"My only off-season is the beginning of the school year, but I'm still studying even then," Dasari said. "It's a lot like a sport. Athletes in their off-season still train, because they don't want to lose it."

Besides, she enjoys spelling and going to the bees. "I consider myself a pretty competitive person," she said. "I also just like learning the words and the stories behind the words."

Dasari added that the competitions make for an ideal setting to meet other students her age with similar interests.

"You meet other spellers, and I've made a lot of friends that way that I'm still in touch with," she said.

She is looking forward to heading to "Bee Week," which is slated for May 24-29.

This is Dasari's fifth year to compete at the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee and third time as co-champion. After 15 rounds with 55 total spellers from 42 Texas counties, she took home the prize alongside Siddharth Krishnakumar, a seventh grader at Pearland Junior High West in Pearland ISD.

"Boutonniere" was the winning word for Dasari.

The bee was broadcast live on television and streamed online on March 28.

Connie Hill, director of interactive education at Houston Public Media, explained that the Houston bee is the second largest local spelling bee in the nation.

She said that this is the seventh year Houston Public Media has sponsored the local event for Scripps.

"The Scripps spelling bee is pretty much the highest level academic event," Hill said. "It's been going on for so long and it has a national profile. For those who compete in this, it's like the World Series."

Hill said schools start joining the program in August and enroll through Scripps.

At every school, a dedicated spelling bee coordinator helps with the effort. In the fall, schools start conducting their on-campus bees.

"Each school chooses how they want to do it; they can do it by classroom or grave level," Hill said. "Every school produces one champion."

Those students then head to the play-off competitions in February. "We narrow it down to 50 or 60 final spellers at our spelling bee," Hill said.

This year, there were 27 girls and 28 boys, ranging in age from 7 to 14.

Hill is impressed with Dasari's achievement. Just making it to the Houston bee is a major accomplishment, she explained.

"That's one of the highest records - to make it for five years to the final level," Hill said. "And she's made it to nationals for two years already. She will definitely be one to watch."

In the spelling world, Dasari is a star. "Other spellers from all over the country know who she is," Hill said. "She's a celebrity."

For the past few years, Dasari was enrolled in Pearland ISD. Her family moved to The Woodlands over the summer and this year, she is a student at McCullough Junior High.

When Dasari is not spelling, she enjoys art and studying Indian classical dance. She recently started playing viola.

When she can no longer compete in the spelling bees, she plans to spend more time studying her favorite subject, science.

Her mother Usha said that Dasari excels at whatever she tries to do – whether it's art and music or spelling competitions and science fairs.

"The spelling bee taught motivation and dedication to Shobha," she said. "Certainly, she's very well-rounded, and we're very proud of her."

Bee Week 2015 will take place May 24 to May 29. For more information about the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee,

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In Florida, Dr. Krishna Tripuraneni's 'Nirvana' Estate Hits the Market For Rs.158 crores

A mansion on South Florida’s Manalapan peninsula that was blessed by Buddhist monks from Thailand has just come onto the market with a price tag of $25 million i.e Rs.158 crores.

The 16,087-square-foot ‘Nirvana’ lies on an acre-and-a-half of oceanfront property in Palm Beach County, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Lake Worth Inlet to the west. The home features a Zen garden, as well as a Buddhist prayer room, and is being marketed as a spiritual space for a sophisticated buyer.

“The family gave it the name, it’s not a marketing ploy,” says Senada Adzem, director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman, who has the listing. “They had monks flown in to bless the home after they completed it. The marking of the blessing is on every door in the house. It’s very, very spiritual.”

But the home is not for minimalists looking to flee from luxury. It boasts six bedrooms and 13 bathrooms, a full spa with a steam room and a sauna. There is a home theater, a dance club, a library, gym, and tennis court. The property also contains an infinity-edge pool, Jacuzzi, tiki hut and outdoor bar, as well as a private dock to accommodate a yacht of up to 130 feet in length.

The owners, Dr. Krishna Tripuraneni, a gastroenterologist, and his wife Nirmala Tripuraneni, are selling the home because their son, Venkat, is headed to Bollywood, and the parents wish to spend more time there, Adzem said. Reached at the home, Venkat Tripuraneni said he has the lead role in a Bollywood film that has not yet been named.

Venkat Tripuraneni described the home’s dance club, which has lighted flooring, and explained that it was designed by a set designer for the film Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta. “We have a big poster signed by him in that area, right next to the dance floor. You can actually see the setting and it very much resembles what we have. It smokes up and has lasers,” Tripuraneni said.

Monday, April 20, 2015

ASU men's basketball's Sai Tummala named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar

Arizona State University men's basketball junior forward Sai Tummala was one of two Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award recipients Friday.

The award is dedicated after tennis legend Arthur Ashe, the first African-American tennis player to win in singles tournaments at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and Australian open.

It highlights outstanding performances by student athletes of diverse backgrounds, both in the classroom and in competition.

A member of Barrett, The Honors College, Tummala studies biological sciences (with an emphasis in animal physiology and behavior) and recently passed the MCAT examination.

Tummala, a Brophy High School product, averaged 4.2 minutes per game in 14 games played in 2014.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

N.R.Thiagarajan (NRT): Freedom Fighter, Parliamentarian, MLA, MLC, CLP leader in Madras Assembly.

N.R. THIAGARAJAN (RAVILLA) (1913 - 1969) 

NRT was a freedom fighter, architect of development of Madurai, Parliamentarian, builder of the Congress Party and Man Friday of Sri. Kamaraj.  

He was born on 16th April 1913, as the fourth child of Rathnasamy Naidu and Venkatammal in Karisalpatti Village.  He had his education in his native village and he was drawn to national movement at a very young age.  He was the key organizer of civil disobedience movement and quit India movement in the Madurai district. He was imprisoned many times and spent about 51/4 years in Vellore, Alipuram and Tirunelveli prisons. He launched movements for boycott of foreign goods and promotion of swadeshi goods.

At the young age of fourteen N.R. Thiagarajan joined in National movement and Congress Party. He started his political carrier as the president of the village Congress Committee of his native village Lakshmipuram Pudupatty.  Latter he became Taluk Congress Committee secretary of Periyakulam.  In 1946 he became the president of Madurai District Congress Committee president. NRT was the key person of all the political activities of Madurai.  He was a very powerful orator and he could inspire thousands of youths in freedom movement and Congress party. He was responsible for building Congress from the Grassroots in Madurai District. 

He had close association with Periyar. He organized Temple entry of Harijan in many Temples of Periyakulam Taluk. NRT was a great social reformer and worked for the emancipation of Dalith and women. Sri. P. Kakan a great freedom fighter and minister from the Dalit Community was a close friend and Associate of N.R.T. 

After India’s independence he was elected as the first President of the prestigious Madurai District board in 1949.  He was the president from 1949 to 1954.  Madurai District was one of the biggest districts of Tamilnadu consisting of present Madurai, Theni and Dindugul Districts.  During this period he could develop a five year plan for the development of Madurai District.  His focus was on primary education, primary health, rural housing, linkage roads to rural areas, drinking  water supply, irrigation works for agricultural development and industrial development.  He laid the foundation for the industrialization of Madurai.  Then chief ministers of Tamilnadu Rajaji, Kamaraj and Kumarasami Raja gave whole hearted support for his efforts to develop Madurai region.  

As the president of the District he gave importance to education.  He had a vision to start schools colleges and an university in Madurai District.  As the District Board President he could start about 500 primary schools and 32 high schools in remote areas of Madurai District.  The first Rural Arts and Science College in a remote village of southern TamilNadu was started in Uthamapalayam because of his tireless efforts in 1956. He started about 16 primary health centers and maternity centers in Madurai District. 

Because of his initiatives industrial estates were started in Madurai,  Theni, Dindugul and Palani. Theni, his native town had very positive features for textile industry and cotton cultivation.  Because of his efforts, an irrigation scheme was implemented to irrigate above 12000 acres of dry land with Vaigai river water in Theni region.  It helped the farmers to cultivate cotton in large areas. He invited Sri Jawaharlal Nehru to inaugurate the first textile mill in Theni in the year 1962.  Because of NRTs efforts now the region has emerged as one of the textile hubs of south India. 

As the District Board President immediately after independence he took extraordinary efforts to provide transport facilities to the villages of Madurai district.  N.R.Thiagarajan was a great parliamentarian.  He served in the Assembly and Council of Madras Legislature.  He was known for his oratory skills in the legislature. He was the leader of the Congress Party in the Legislative Council of TamilNadu Assembly between 1964 to 1969.  He was the opposition party leader in the Legislative Council, when DMK came to power from 1967 to 1969.  He was an active member of the Madras Assembly between 1957 to 1962.  He asked the highest number of questions in the assembly and made assembly sessions very productive.  He was responsible for the establishment of university in Madurai and he actively worked for the selection of the site for the university and its inauguration.  The governor of TamilNadu nominated him as a member of the first senate of Madurai University. 

As the District Board President, he had a vision to build a dam in the vaigai river to develop agriculture in the dry regions of Madurai District.  He impressed Kamaraj on the benefits of constructing a dam in Vaigai river in Madurai District.  About 40000 Acres have got irrigation facilities from the Vaigai dam. In 1950’s there were no medical college in the state outside Chennai. As the president of the District Board he sent a proposal for starting a Government Medical College in Madurai and he allotted the District Board land to the construction of Madurai Medical College.  Now the Madurai Medical College has been upgraded in to an all India institute serving around 12 Districts of south Tamilnadu.

He had a close and special relationship with Sri. K. Kamaraj.  Like Kamaraj, NRT was also started as a humble grass root worker. NRT was the right hand of Kamaraj in politics and he could translate the ideas of Kamaraj in to reality.  NRT was the member of the TamilNadu Congress Working Committee for more than twenty years. As the president of District Panchayat he regularly visited hundreds of village panchayats and closely studied their issues and problems. Local Body leaders of Madurai District elected him to Legislative council of Madras as their representative in 1964. 

NRT was a great Gandhian and he was actively involved in Gandhian movement.  He was the President of Madurai District  Bhoodhan Movement and helped Acharya Vinobha to collect 4,000 acres of land for Bhoodham.  He personally participated in the Pathayathra of Vinobha.  He also donated his personal land for bhoodhan.

NRT tirelessly worked for the people and the nation upto his last day.  He died in the year 1969 at the young age of 56.  He is still remember for his contribution for the development of Madurai, Dindugul and Theni Districts. Government of Tamilnadu honoured him by naming the district hospital in Theni as N.R.Thiagarajan Memorial District Hospital.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pranjala Yadlapalli wins Asian junior championship

New Delhi: India's Yadlapalli Pranjala clinched the Asian Junior Tennis championship title after a come-from-behind victory over top seed Chinese Zheng Wushuang here today.

The second seeded Indian won with a 5-7 6-2 7-5 scoreline in the final against her formidable rival, who happened to be her doubles partner in the event.

It was double delight for the 16-year-old Pranjala as she had won the doubles trophy yesterday.

Coached by former Davis Cup player Ilyas Ghouse, Pranjala trains at GVK Tennis Academy in Hyderabad.

"This competition is next to junior Grand Slams. The competition was intense. My opponent in the final is higher-ranked player and I had lost to her in the second round of ITF Grade I event in January. I am glad I could beat her this time," the Class XII student said.

Pranjala, who has started playing on the ITF Pro circuit, said she will train for the next two three weeks and then she has a ITF grade I junior event lined up, followed by the junior French Open championship.  

Arikapudi RamanaRao who wowed Tamil Nadu

Arikapudi Ramana Rao is a rarity in Indian volleyball. 

Not only did he excel for his native state (Andhra Pradesh), Rao also shone in Tamil Nadu, his `second home'.Rao carved a niche for himself as a coach too, becoming in 1986 an FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) instructor, the first Indian to do so. 

It is no surprise then that Rao, the national team's head coach during the Asian volleyball championships in Perth, Australia, in 1991, is among the chosen few to have won both the Arjuna award (in 1977-78) and the prestigious Dronacharya award (in 1990-91). 

Born in Chamallapudi village near Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, volleyball caught Rao's attention relatively late, at college."While studying at Hindu College in Guntur, I used to play both basketball and volleyball regularly since both courts were side-by-side," recalls Rao.He did well for the college in both disciplines. "There came a point when I had to choose between the two, and I went with volleyball," says Rao. It was a master-stroke because soon after his graduation, Rao got an offer to join the Southern Central Railway (SCR) team in Hyderabad. "At SCR, I had an opportunity to play in various nationallevel tournaments which gave me the exposure. Soon, I featured in the Indian team which was a huge high," he says. 

In 1970, Rao shifted base to the erstwhile Madras, courtesy an offer from State Bank of India (SBI) "They (SBI) had to wait for about six months before I joined, since Railways were reluctant to relieve me. I had to report on April 30, 1970, and I got my relieving order only a day prior to that," says Rao. But that didn't affect Rao's performance and he soon made his mark with his new employers in his new home. "SBI had a great side, and most of the members were part of the state side." 

He may have been a part of numerous victorious squads throughout his glittering career, but winning the maiden national title for his adopted state remains close to Rao's heart. "The 1975-76 nationals in Trichy where we won the title were special. We were two sets down in the final, and the crowd, which had gathered in large numbers, left the stadium disappointed. By the time we pulled things back, there were very few left to cheer us," says Rao. 

However, many fans came to congratulate Rao the next day after learning about Tamil Nadu's spectacular win through the newspapers. "Be it during a practice session or during a game -we were always cheered by the spectators in Madras. 

If not for the crowd, I don't think there will be volleyball or the players," he says. 

2 Kammas among 18 Indian American Kids Win 2015 National Geographic State Bees

2 Kammas among Eighteen Indian American youths from around the USA were recently named winners of the 2015 National Geographic State Bees.

Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to inspire students to be curious about the world. 

As state winners, each youth will receive $100 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to represent their respective states in the national finals of the Bee at the National Geographic Society headquarters from May 12 to 14. 
The winners, by state, are:

Shriya Yarlagadda, 6th Grade, Grand Blanc East Middle School, Grand Blanc.

Ajaya Tummala, 8th Grade, Caddo Middle Magnet School, Shreveport.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Satya Nadella tops global CEO pay chart

NEW YORK: With a pay package of $84.3 million (Rs 525 crore) a year, technology giant Microsoft's Indian-origin chief Satya Nadella has emerged as the top-paid CEO in the US, as per a new list.

The Equilar 100 CEO Pay Study, an analysis of CEO salaries at the 100 largest public US companies as measured by revenue, was last year topped by Oracle's Larry Ellison, who has been now pushed by Nadella to the second position.

Another Indian-origin CEO, Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, is ranked 19th with $19.08 million. Legendary investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway is ranked last at 100th position with a total compensation of $464,011 million.

Ellison ($67.3 million) is followed by Steven Mollenkopf of Qualcomm at the third place on the list with $60.7 million.

Others in the top-ten include Robert Iger (Walt Disney), Larry Merlo (CVS Health), K Rupert Murdoch (Twenty-First Century Fox), W James McNerney, Jr (Boeing). James Gorman (Morgan Stanley), David Cote (Honeywell International) and Kenneth Chenault (American Express).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

General Motors Names Dhivya Suryadevara Vice President, Finance and Treasurer

DETROIT -- General Motors has named Dhivya Suryadevara GM vice president, Finance and Treasurer, effective July 1, replacing Niharika Taskar Ramdev. Suryadevara will retain her current responsibilities as CEO and chief investment officer of GM Asset Management.

"Dhivya's experience in leading our asset management team will serve her well in this important role for the company," said Chuck Stevens, GM executive vice president and chief financial officer. "I'm confident that she will build on the great work the team has accomplished under Niharika's leadership. Niharika has done an excellent job over the past year as we improved our investment grade ratings and introduced a comprehensive capital allocation framework."

Suryadevara will direct GM's global treasury operations, including capital planning, capital market activities, worldwide banking and participate in business development, risk management and investor relations. Taskar Ramdev will lead the finance team for GM International, GM's operating segment which generates $14 billion in revenue and comprises nearly 100 markets outside of China, including India, Africa and the Middle East.

Suryadevara was named chief investment officer of GM Asset Management in July 2013, with responsibility for approximately $80 billion in assets across GM defined benefit plans. She was previously managing director of investment strategy and fixed income for GM Asset Management, where she was responsible for investment strategy and asset allocation for GM's pension plans. She also led the plan's fixed income and de-risking efforts including in-plan initiatives and lump sum and annuitization transactions. Suryadevara began her GM career in 2004 in treasury.

Nidhi Surapaneni wins AITA Title

15-year-old Nidhi Surapaneni, who had a trail-blazing AITA debut in Gwalior on Saturday with her stellar performances in the Road to Wimbledon event in New Delhi

It has been a wonderful outing for Nidhi, who raised the level of her game by several notches once she made it to the knockout stage of the Amity University (AU) sponsored Rs 2.5 lakh women's tournament, which she won, according to reports received. Nidhi scalped third seeded Moulika Ram with 7-6(7-4), 5-7, 6-2 in the pre-quarterfinals. 

To prove that it was no case of isolated brilliance, she stunned the top seeded Akshara Iska while coming back from a second set loss for a 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 semifinal conquest. She was also tested in the final by the other surprise player, Asha Nandkumar before clinching the title with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 verdict.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Rao Mulpuri's Smart-glass maker View is raising $100M

Smart-glass startup View Inc. is raising up to $100 million in fresh capital.

The company is raising the round at a $750 million valuation, according to a report from VentureWire on Thursday. The company raised $100 million in early 2014 led by Madrone Capital, a private equity firm associated with the heirs to the Walmart fortune. Prior to this latest funding, the company raised $339 million over several rounds from investors such as Khosla Ventures, 

NanoDimension, Corning, GE Capital, the Westly Group, DBL Investors, Sigma Partners and Navitas Capital.

Founded in 2006, CEO Rao Mulpuri now heads up the Milpitas-based company formerly known as Soladigm. Prior to joining View, Mulpuri was president of Novellus Systems Japan and served as vice president and general manager of the Integrated Metals business unit.

The tint on glass made by View is controlled by electrical charges, which can be applied automatically when lighting changes or can be controlled on demand. According to the company, the windows can cut 20 percent on heating and cooling costs, 20 percent from lighting costs and can reduce electricity use by as much as 25 percent at peak-use times.

Since launching commercialization of the product in 2011, View said it had shipped to more than 100 dynamic glass projects in North America for use in hospitals, hotels, universities, government buildings and businesses. The company figures its potential market is about $100 billion, based on about 10 percent of the world's buildings making use of its glass.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lake County spelling bee champ Aniket Nuthalapati crowned

Aniket Nuthalapati, an eighth-grader at Aptakisic Junior High School, was the winner of the Lake County Final Spelling Bee competition March 19. Aniket will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 24-30. All expenses for the seven-day trip will be paid cooperatively by the Lake County Regional Office of Education and the Jelly Belly Candy Company. 

5 Kammas Among New Fellows of the American College of Physicians

Bhuvaneswari Burugupalli

Nearly 50 Indian American and other South Asian physicians from around the United States, Canada and other countries were among the 301 new Fellows of the American College of Physicians recently approved for election by the credentials committee. 

5 Kammas in the list were Arkansas: Latha M. Achanta, Indiana: Bhuvaneswari Burugapalli, Maryland: Raghuram Chava, Ontario: Padmaja R. Naidu, Pennsylvania: Srikanth Nagalla

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Turbo Megha Airways may start regional airline TruJet in this month

HYDERABAD: Turbo Megha Airways, the third regional airliner from south India, hopes to receive first two ATR flights and final approval from regulator DGCA in a month to commence operations by April.

Vankayalapati Umesh, Founder and Managing Director of Turbo Megha, said the airliner has finalised the brand as 'TruJet' and final touches were now being given to the two ATRs to be delivered over the next few weeks to help begin operations of the first phase.

The Hyderabad-headquartered regional airline was among the six to receive nod from the civil aviation ministry in November 2014.Air Costa was the other regional player to come out of Vijayawada, now in residual Andhra Pradesh, commencing operations in October 2013.

Andhra Pradesh has already announced slashing value-added tax (VAT) on ATF and Telangana had also announced its intensions in this direction. "This should help bring down operational costs significantly," he said.

Umesh's first venture Turbo Aviation is currently providing ground handling services to the domestic carriers like SpiceJet, apart from operating private nonschedule charter services for the corporate houses, film stars and politicians using Cessna aircraft.

Turbo Jet Engines, a subsidiary of Turbo Aviation, is now in the process of setting up an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility for aircraft components at the GMR Aero Park near the Hyderabad International Airport.

Turbo Megha Airways proposes to fly to Vijayawada, Tirupathi, Rajahmundry, Bangalore and Aurangabad in the first phase.

Success story of an Entrepreneur: Keshav Kantamneni

How Keshav Kantamneni ended up buying Uniply Industries

Matchmaker, investment banker, entrepreneur. That, in a nutshell, is Keshav Kantamneni, who has just bought a ₹170-crore wood panel manufacturer.

When Uniply Industries gave Globality Partners, a financial advisory firm headed by Kantamneni, the job of finding a buyer, the entrepreneur in him woke up. Realising the potential of the BSE-listed company, Kantamneni decided to make a bid for the firm in his individual capacity.

The 32-year-old, a product of the Kellogg School of Management, requested the Globality team to exclude him from the transaction, and “started doing the math to buy it myself”.

From then on, everything happened in quick succession in the ₹126-crore deal, including appointing D & A Financial Services as his merchant banker, announcing his plans to the stock exchange last week, and coming out with an open offer to buy up to 45 lakh shares, representing 26 per cent of equity capital of Uniply.

He made an offer of ₹13.50 for a share of ₹10 face value in February. Kantamneni acquired the promoters’ holding of 36 per cent, held by BL Bengani and others, for ₹2.5 crore. (Share price as on 1-April-2015,   37.95 means tripled in 45 days)

In addition the company owed banks ₹55 crore, and other creditors ₹50 crore, which he will have to bear.

Uniply has three factories in Chennai. The company closed 2013-14 with a turnover of Rs 172 crore. Kantamneni, who is using his own funds for the transaction, has big plans for this maker of ply, wooden panels and doors. He plans to add value to Uniply’s existing business and strengthening supply chain linkages.

He targets more acquisitions. “So, you can expect another announcement from me,” he says with a wink.

Shriya Yarlagadda wins Michigan Geographic Bee

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Shriya Yarlagadda, a sixth-grader at Grand Blanc East Middle School, took first place at the 2015 Michigan Geographic Bee held Friday, March 27, at Western Michigan University.

The competition featured 101 geography  students in the fourth through eighth grades from across the state.

Shriya will move on to the national competition May 11-13 at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Shriya  also was awarded a $100 prize plus an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington to represent Michigan at the finals; the second- and third-place winners were awarded $75 and $50, respectively.

This was the eighth time WMU played host to Michigan's Geographic Bee. Similar competitions took place on the same day in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and Department of Defense schools around the globe.

Southwest Ohio has a new reigning spelling champion Abhilash Yarlagadda

CINCINNATI -- Southwest Ohio has a new C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N speller, eighth-grader Abhilash Yarlagadda, from Sycamore Junior High School.

Ken Chen, of Wyoming Middle School, placed second, and William Culbertson, of Walnut Hills High School, placed third.

Yarlagadda will represent the Tri-State at the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., later this spring.