Top 10 Trustworthy Indian Corporate Groups

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Ever since the Satyam debacle, corporate trustworthiness took a major blow in India. Satyam scam turned out to be major eye opener and exposed that it is not only the politician driven manipulation in the public sector. However, the scams that conspired after the Satyam saga have exposed a dirty nexus of corporate groups, politicians and even media.

CWG, 2G scams have trumped every other scam in recent times by the sheer amount of money involved and also in terms of the involvement of some of the most respected individuals and companies in India. Going by the current proceedings, 2G scam alone might unearth the dirty deeds of a lot more corporate groups in India.

In times like these, the first thing that gets affected is the investor interest in a corporate group. Growth and operational parameters aside, investors tend to factor in management capabilities and overall trustworthiness of the companies they look to invest in.

Equitymaster recently conducted a survey to understand which corporate groups attract maximum trust from investors for their financial reporting. The most trustworthy companies this year though similar to most trusted companies in 2009 does have elements of surprise given the current state of events

 10 Most Trustworthy Indian Corporate Groups

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Surprised? Atleast I was initially, to see Tata Group as the most trustworthy group.

  • The recent 2G scam has bought Tata group as a front runner in terms of the involvement in the 2G scam even though nothing has been proven as yet. But, investors seem to have given Tata Group the benefit of doubt and Tata Group gets voted as the most trustworthy group with 61.2% votes.
    Come to think of it, Tata Group despite its possible involvement in the 2G scam has always remained clean and transparent in its dealings. It has only polished its brand with innovations like Tata Nano and is one of the only Indian brand to have gone truly global with its Corus Steel and Land Rover acquisitions.
  • Infosys has taken the second spot but with only 16.9% votes. The survey suggests that the recent corporate restructuring and Mr. Murthy’s exit has created a shadow of doubt in terms of trustworthiness. There have been US visa acquisitions also in the recent past which could have caused trust concerns with the company.
    However, Infosys is one of the most transparent companies when it comes to financial reporting and their annual reports are by far the most extensive in the industry
  • HDFC has taken the third spot as the most trustworthy corporate group in India. L&T has taken the 4th spot with 4.3% votes. Both HDFC and L&T have not come under any scrutiny for any malpractice or financial reporting manipulations
  • Ambani brothers seem to have a taken a hit when it comes to investor trustworthiness for financial reporting. Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani was coined as one of the master player and a manipulator of the stock market but investors always had trust in the company. Anil Ambani group lags Mukesh Ambani group possibly for the alleged involvement in the 2G scam.
    Of all the earlier literature I have read in the past, Reliance group was the poster child of Indian stock markets and Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani leveraged the stock markets for raising cash whenever he needed. I am not sure if the same can be said about the Ambani brothers now.
  • ICICI Bank is one of the least trusted corporate groups in India and takes the second last spot with mere 1.1% of surveyed investors voting in favor of the trustworthiness of the bank.
    I am not sure of ICICI’s financial reporting credibility but the bank sure seems to have irked consumers with its sketchy and often over the top charges for no reason.
  • The least trustworthy corporate group does not come as a surprise to me. Airtel is the least trustworthy corporate group in India and a mere 0.9% of surveyed investors considered the group trustworthy.
    To a certain extent, majority of telecom operators in India would rate very low when it comes to trustworthiness be it financial reporting standards or pricing plans

Like with all surveys, there is an element of doubt when it comes to the validity of data and surveyed sample.

But, if someone asked me as well I would have come up with similar ranking especially the top 4. Tata group is one of the oldest and most respected corporate group of India with exemplary leadership.

Infosys seems to be taking a beating from all corners and the brand which generally garners positive media attention has seen a lot of negative buzz around it in the recent past. This sure is not going to bode well with the investor community.

As to Ambani brothers, they have problems of their own especially Anil Ambani led companies.  Above all, investor awareness has increased considerably when it comes to understanding of how the company operates and their business practices. Now, Revenues and profits are not the only criterion for investors to invest their hard earned money in companies.

Management and leadership is becoming a key aspect to gauge transparency and credibility of businesses and I think Satyam deserves credit to a certain extent to have bought this change in perception.

What’s your take on the most trustworthy corporate groups in India? Do you think the survey captures the sentiment of investors at large or would you rank these corporate groups differently?

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