The phone hasn’t stopped ringing for Vikram Bakshi in the past one week. But these are not the regular business calls he used to get while charting the day-to-day business of popular fast food chain McDonald’s in the northern and eastern parts of the country. The calls are from Delhi’s industrialists and businessmen, who want to offer Bakshi all kinds of help that he might need in his management strife with McDonald’s, which rather uncharacteristically issued a public notice on August 30 in some select newspapers, announcing that Bakshi would no longer be the managing director of the JV company that runs the business.
In Delhi’s cut-throat competitive business environment, where gaming the powerful is a much cherished art, seeing a rival—however remote he might be—down is generally received with concealed glee. However, there seems to be no such response in the case of Bakshi, who is well known to the Delhi’s powerful business gentry, all of whom have good words to say about him and are eager to offer help. Stunned as Bakshi is regarding his ouster as MD, so is Delhi’s business circle. It is not uncommon for business partners to fight, break up or patch up, but there’s usually a long series of events predating such fracas. However, no one had any clue, including Bakshi, about the move of the US fast food giant. People close to Bakshi say he never mentioned any problems with McDonald’s; there was absolutely no hint of what was to come and putting a public notice was, indeed, humiliating.
Bakshi may be known as the “burger and fries man” to the outside world, considering his claim to fame at McDonald’s. However, Delhi’s business circles would prefer to call him a real estate person. He ventured into real estate and construction in the early 1980s and built the prestigious 14-storey Mohan Dev building on Tolstoy Marg in the heart of the capital. The list of tenants he has speaks much about his business skills—AT&T, Societe Generale and Schlumberger, to name just a few. He later also set up an interior decorating firm that designed offices for BBC, Schlumberger, Otto and Liz Claiborne, amongst others.
Bakshi also owns property in plush Jor Bagh and Golf Links, people close to him say. Ask his tenants, past and present, and no one has any complaints against him. There’s a near unanimity in the response that, “He’s easy