Thursday, November 19, 2009

Romance is in the air

This seems to be the season for whispering sweet nothings. K and C are engaged in a very public courtship as I blogged here – its progressing at such a snail’s pace that its probably more exciting to watch grass grow. K has threatened to abduct and carry away C, and C is saying “bah” as women are wont to do !

But there’s another rumour doing the rounds. Yesterday curious things happened with Colgate Palmolive’s share price. The speculation is that Reckitt Benckiser (makers of Dettol) and Colgate Palmolive (makers of, well, Colgate) are looking coyly at each other. It appears that Reckitt is sending strong signal that he/she is ready to marry. What is not clear is who the target of its affection is. Is it Colgate, or is it SSL (makers of Scholl and Durex) ?

If its Colgate, then its not clear who is the bride and who is the groom. For they are both roughly equal. It's supposed to be a marriage of equals. But then women’s lib has not yet reached the corporate world where the tradition of the man abducting the woman and running away with her is the usual norm. So who will pop the question and who’ll say Yes, is not clear.

It is also rumoured that Colgate does not really want to marry. But then its perhaps scared of that stodgy, old man (wheeze, wheeze) who’s much bigger, has a bigger fortune and is capable forcibly lifting her up and running away with her. So why not this strapping Reckitt, who at least is of the same age and has similar taste in music – both like P.Diddy rather than Harry Belafonte which the old man likes. You get the drift …

Why is romance in the air ? Consumer goods companies are struggling for growth. They are being ripped apart by retailers who sell their own brands for a lot less than these companies (after all somebody has to pay for all the ads they air). Then come the discounters who are refusing to stock their products at all. Consumers reeling from the recession are penny pinching. All told, general misery. So the hope is that by marrying they can share the costs (like having only one house, like sharing the same bed, …. because businessmen have to invent important sounding words, these are called synergies). And the stodgy companies who stayed in Europe and North America have belatedly realised that they are in the Old World and that the New World is in China, Brazil, India, Indonesia and the like. Since they are scared of venturing into such strange lands on their own, why not marry somebody who’s already there.

So will Reckitt or Colgate pop the question to each other ? Who can fathom the minds of people who are all dewy eyed (Sri, are you listening ?!). The papers will make interesting reading.