India Business Net (June 1, 2007)

Top Story

ECONOMY GROWS A SCORCHING 9.4 PER CENT

NEW DELHI : The Indian economy grew 9.4% in 2006-07, the fastest in 18 years, on the back of an impressive performance by services and the manufacturing sector. Rival China grew higher at 10.7% in 2006. Services posted a healthy 11% clip, up from 9.8% the previous year. The manufacturing sector grew 12.3% against 9.1% in 2005-06, data released by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) on Thursday showed. The agricultural sector, however, grew only 2.7% in 2006-07, from over 6% in the previous fiscal. Rising interest rates pulled down the construction sector growth rate to 10.7% from 14.2% in 2005-06. The scorching pace of GDP growth has catapulted India into the elite trillion-dollar club of a dozen economies. The GDP value at market prices stood at Rs 41,25,724 crore, equivalent to nearly $101 trillion at the current exchange rate. The market capitalisation of Indian stocks also crossed the trillion-dollar mark three days ago. Reacting to the strong GDP numbers, the benchmark Sensex jumped 133 points to close at 14,544 on Thursday. (For details log on to: http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165834)

Financial Sector

CALL RATE DIPS TO 0.5 PER CENT ON LIQUIDITY FLUSH

MUMBAI: The continued abundance of liquidity today pushed the call rate, at which banks lend to one another for the night, to 0.5 per cent, the lowest since the debt market got organised. The rate touched an all-time low of 0.25 per cent in 1993 in the aftermath of the securities scam identified with Harshad Mehta, when the debt market was under-developed. The rate had closed at 1.25 per cent on Wednesday. As the rate plunged in intra-day trade and money became available nearly free of charge, the Clearing Corporation of India put a floor of 0.10 per cent to its lending rate under the collateralised borrowing and lending obligation (CBLO) scheme. Under CBLO, funds can be borrowed by pledging government securities. This is unlike the call money market, which is unsecured and without collateral. According to market players, the floor suggested that no one could lend below it. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/
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RBI TO REMOVE PRUDENTIAL LIMITS ON BANK BORROWINGS

MUMBAI: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is planning to do away with the prudential limits on bank borrowings in the call market. This will help the banking regulator to assess the market effectively and conduct liquidity management operations aimed at correcting the market mis-matches. It would also enable closer monitoring of the movements in call money rates (short-term lending rates). The inter-bank call rates have been trading volatile, with the overnight rates crashing below the one per cent mark on Thursday. The rates hit an intra-day low of 00.50 per cent and ended the day in a band of 00.50 per cent to 00.75 per cent. The inflow of Rs 20,000 crore into the banking system after a bond maturity pushed the call rates down. The dollar sterilisation in the forex market is also adding to the liquidity. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/
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TRANSPARENCY MOOTED IN FIXING BENCHMARKS RATES

MUMBAI: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) feels that the concept of arriving at benchmark prime lending rates (BPLR) needs to be made more transparent. Currently, the fixing of BPLR is arbitrary than rule-based, according to the central bank. In its Report on Currency and Finance 2005-06, the RBI said, “Though the RBI has been advising banks to evolve their own BPLR by taking into account the cost of funds, transaction cost and reasonable cover for the riskiness, fixation of the BPLR continues to be more arbitrary than rule based.” The PLRs of five largest banks have increased to 12.75-15.75 per cent from 10.25-12.75 per cent a year earlier. Although interest rates are market-determined, some downward stickiness has been observed in banks’ BPLR. Around 82 per cent of bank lending is at sub-PLR rates, which is a cause for concern. Lending at rates below the BPLR, lacks transparency, affecting both the borrower and the lender, said the RBI. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/
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RATE TINKERING TO CONTINUE DESPITE FULL CONVERTIBILITY

MUMBAI: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will continue to manage exchange rate volatility even when the rate becomes more flexible, as it has significant employment, output and distributional consequences. As India moves towards fuller capital account convertibility, at best only two out of the three objectives of an independent monetary policy – open capital account and exchange rate regime – would be feasible, said RBI. However, the impact of foregoing the rate objective would be significantly different for the reserve currency countries and emerging market economies, such as India, said RBI. In the reserve currency countries, which specialise in technology-intensive products, the degree of exchange rate pass-through is low, enabling exporters and importers to ignore temporary shocks and set stable product prices to maintain monopolistic positions, despite large currency fluctuations. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/
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UTI BANK MAY BE AN EXCEPTION TO RBI DIKTAT

MUMBAI: UTI Bank’s PJ Nayak, who sparked debate around splitting the post of chairman and managing director in private banks, may be an exception to the RBI rule. Last week, RBI has asked all large private banks to split the Number 1 post into two — part-time chairman and CEO & managing director and get it endorsed from their respective boards. However, it’s felt that PJ Nayak, who is likely to get a two-year extension as chairman, subject to approval from the bank shareholders, would be allowed to hold executive powers. The central bank’s directive, some feel, could be aimed at other private banks with executive chairman. Even Mr Nayak awaits the shareholders’ nod and a final approval from RBI, the bank is going ahead with its growth plans. The UTI Bank board will meet on Friday to consider the issuance of around $600 million GDR, which will take care of its capital needs for the next two years. In 2005, the bank had raised $239.3 million by way of GDR. The bank also has plans to raise $754 million in the first half of this year through an MTN issue. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/CompaniesA-Z/
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PSU BANKS ROPE IN NGOs, MFIs TO EXPAND BUSINESS

KOLKATA: This is likely to generate some buzz in the banking industry, the business of engaging NGOs, micro-finance institutions (MFIs) and cooperative societies as an extended delivery channel. State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest bank, is leading the way in outsourcing and has directed regional offices to use NGOs and MFIs for bringing in new businesses, as well as for collection of deposits and disbursal of small-ticket loans. Others public sector players like Bank of India (BoI) and Union Bank of India have also started engaging NGOs, cooperative societies and post offices. They are, however, using these third parties mainly to identify new customers and cross-sell financial products. Majority of the banks are, in fact, treading the path cautiously and avoiding the use of third parties for cash transactions for sheer security reasons. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Finance__Insurance/Banking/
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IT’S PREMIUM TIME FOR LIFE INSURANCE COMPANIES

NEW DELHI: The life insurance industry in the country has found reasons to cheer despite the government’s failure to move ahead with the much-needed reforms in the sector. In 2006-07, the sector registered over 100% growth, with the total collection of first-year premium, including individual, group and single, touching Rs 76,406 crore. Of this amount, Life Insurance Corporation’s (LIC’s) first-year premium stood at Rs 55,935 crore, a growth of 91% over the previous year. Among the private sector players, ICICI Prudential, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, SBI Life, HDFC Standard Life, Max New York Life and Aviva Life Insurance top the list. ICICI Prudential collected a total first year premium of Rs 5,254 crore in 2006-07. According to industry sources, the life insurance industry registered a 102% growth even during the first month of the current financial year. LIC registered 159% growth, while the private players recorded 44% growth. “However, it would be difficult to maintain a 100% growth rate during the course of the current financial year. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/
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NHB RELAXES AGE NORMS FOR REVERSE MORTGAGE LOANS

NEW DELHI : National Housing Bank (NHB) in its guidelines on the proposed reverse mortgage loans for senior citizens, has underlined that the scheme would be restricted to the self-acquired, self-occupied residential properties owned by senior citizens, having a residual life period of at least 20 years. Further, it also said the primary lending institutions (PLIs) may consider ensuring that the equity of the borrower in the residential property (Equity to Value Ratio—EVR) does not at any time during the tenor of the loan fall below 10%. The PLIs have been advised to be selective in considering lump-sum payments option and may frame their internal policy guidelines, particularly the eligibility and end-use criteria. It may be noted that finance minister P Chidambaram in his budget announcement for 2007-08, said the scheme would be launched to support senior citizens, who have few social security options. The scheme seeks to provide social security to senior citizens. Under this scheme, the lender would pay a monthly sum to the borrower against the security of a house. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165784)

REAL GDP SEEN AT 9.2 PER CENT IN FY 2007

MUMBAI : Real GDP growth in 2005-06, accelerated to 9% from 7.5 % witnessed in the year before. The improved performance was supported by a turnaround in the growth of agriculture and allied activities and a sustained growth in the services sector, the Reserve Bank of India said in its Report on Currency & Finance released Thursday. The industrial sector maintained a high growth of 8% and is expected to be 10.2% in 2006-07. The 2005-06 rate was, however, lower from its previous year’s level of 8.4%. Growth in agriculture and allied activities was enabled by food grains and non-food grain production like horticulture, livestock, fisheries and plantation crops, the RBI report said. Industrial sector growth was mainly driven by manufacturing activity. Real GDP in services sector remained the key driver of growth at 10.3%. Trade, hotels, transport, communication, financing insurance, real estate and business services contributed significantly to the growth of services sector. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165801)

INTERVENTION NECESSARY TO INCREASE CREDIT PENETRATION

MUMBAI : Although India has a well-diversified financial system with a wide variety of credit institutions, credit penetration continues to be relatively low in comparison with several other developed and emerging economies. The RBI in its Currency & Finance Report has pointed out that, this is despite the fact that several measures have been taken in the recent past to bring more and more people, especially the underprivileged and low income households, into the banking fold. In an ideal world competitive pressures would ensure that the banking needs of all the segments of the population are met. However, the experience shows that some intervention may be required to ensure that people with low incomes are provided with credit facilities at a reasonable cost.Concerted efforts, therefore, need to be made to increase the credit penetration in the country, said said the report. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165805)

RBI OUTLINES ACTION PLAN FOR FINANCIAL INTEGRATION

MUMBAI : The Reserve Bank of India in its Currency & Finance report has suggested that some policy actions that would result in integration of the government securities yield and swap rates include progressive reduction in SLR, more flexibility with regard to short sale, securities financing arrangements and open regime in respect of arbitrage between the curves. The swap curves have often traded below the government securities curve. Volatility of swap rates in response to changes in short term rates has at times been higher than yields on government securities, said the report. According to the report a high degree of correlations between the long-term government bond yield and short term treasury bills rate indicates the significance of the term structure of interest rates in financial markets. Integration of the foreign exchange market with the money and government securities markets has facilitated liquidity management by the RBI. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165806)

RELIANCE MONEY TARGETS 10,000 KIOSKS BY MARCH 2008

KOLKATA : Reliance Money Ltd is changing tack in order to move a step beyond the retail business, which has so far been its mainstay. RML, which intends to compete with strong retail brokerage players like ICICI Direct, will soon start catering to institutional clients in a more organised manner, though retail will continue to be its focus. The company plans to pay more attention to an area that has already seen considerable demand, courtesy wholesale investors who are increasingly providing significant business to securities broking outfits. RML, said Mr Sudip Bandyopadhyay, CEO, is currently providing a range of trading options to clients. The latter can, incidentally, call and trade as well. The idea is to increase the number of outlets RML currently has in order to reach out to more customers. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060103800500.htm)

BNP PICKS UP 50 PER CENT STAKE IN SREI INFRASTRUCTURE FINANCE

MUMBAI: France’s largest bank BNP Paribas will acquire 50 per cent stake in Srei Infrastructure Finance’s equipment financing business, which is being spun off into a separate company, for Rs 775 crore. The stock market gave a thumbs-up to the deal, with the share price of Srei rising 19.97 per cent, the maximum permissible limit in a day, to close at Rs 71.80 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The deal, the first of its kind in the country’s booming infrastructure sector, would help Srei Infrastructure to unlock shareholders’ value, said Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Hemant Kanoria. “The market capitalisation of the company is around Rs 600 crore. The deal values the equipment financing business along with insurance broking at Rs 1,500 crore, two-and-a-half times of its total market cap,” he said. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/
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Information Technology

DATAMATICS TECHNOLOGIES EYES 60 PER CENT GROWTH RATE IN FY2008

MUMBAI: Datamatics Technologies, a Mumbai-based IT solutions and services company, is targeting a growth rate of 60 per cent this financial year. It is also looking at acquisitions in both the business process outsourcing (BPO) segment as well as in the products space in the US and Europe. Apart from ramping up its sales team, the company also announced plans to amalgamate its associate IT services business – Datamatics Limited. The merger procedure will be completed by the end of 2007-08. Rahul Kanodia, vice-chairman and chief executive officer of the company, said the amalgamation would allow them to cross-sell products and services among the existing customers, provide end-to-end solutions, and most importantly provide platform-based BPO services. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286289)

LATIN AMERICA LURES INDIAN IT FIRMS

MUMBAI: While China is tipped to emerge as a major sourcing centre for IT and back-office skills in the next few years, Eastern Europe and Latin America are quickly gaining in popularity, primarily due to a concept called “near-shoring” (proximity to the client) and “time-zone” advantage. Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica are the most mature sourcing destinations in South or Central America, and it is Indian vendors that are leading the charge. Mexico’s benefits include its cultural ties and physical proximity to the US and Canada, including shared time zones and frequent flights with short travel times that make it the most accessible low-wage market for the North American companies. TCS announced some time ago that it was expanding operations in Latin America by setting up its first Global Delivery Centre (GDC) at Guadalajara in Mexico. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286301)

Communications

VSNL ROLLS OUT WIMAX SERVICES IN BANGALORE

MUMBAI: The Tata-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL) has rolled out WiMax services in India. To begin with, the global communications company will offer the services to enterprise customers in Bangalore. VSNL will extend its WiMax network to about 120 cities across India for enterprise customers and in five cities for retail customers by the end of this financial year. WiMax refers to high-speed internet access over a wireless connection and it is a low-cost way to provide internet connectivity in places where laying cables is difficult. “We are proud to be the first company to launch WiMax-based services in India. This will help VSNL offer very high quality and seamless connectivity to our enterprise customers,” VSNL president (global data & mobility solutions) Vinod Kumar said in a statement in Mumbai. “The launch of WiMax by VSNL offers a wireless solution to last mile connectivity issues faced by enterprise customers and opens up exciting possibilities for retail customers. WiMax has the potential to offer high-speed, wireless connectivity for data and Internet applications,” it said. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/CompaniesA-Z/
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Economy

INFLATION, AGRI TO BE KEY DRIVERS OF GROWTH

NEW DELHI : Agriculture growth supported by a good monsoon and sustained inflation would be key to sustaining the 9.4% GDP growth, economists said. If inflation is not contained, the economy could face the threat of overheating, economists added. The economy grew at 9.4% in 2006-07, the fastest in the last 18 years, on the back of impressive performance by services and manufacturing sectors, which propelled it into a trillion-dollar economy, only the 12th country to reach that figure. However, a drought or a natural calamity could stunt growth, economists said. Though there are no immediate signs of overheating, the government must try to cut down on the widening trade gap besides containing inflation, economists said. High inflation is an indication of demand being greater than capacity, which in turn may lead to overheating. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165802)

GOVT TO SCRAP ADDITIONAL IMPORT DUTY ON LIQUOR

NEW DELHI : Bowing to continuous pressures from the US and the EU, and after being taken to the WTO over high tariffs on wines and spirits, India has agreed to waive off additional customs duty (ACD) of up to 150% on these products by July. The scrapping of duty is expected to bring down the price of foreign liquor. The move to make the tax structure compatible with international commitments would be made through an executive order, a senior commerce ministry official said. He, however, ruled out the need to bring a central legislation for permitting states to levy additional taxes. “We are planning to scrap additional customs duty by July and allow states to impose taxes equivalent to the levy on domestic wine and spirit makers,” the official said. The collection from the levy was only Rs 60 crore per annum, the official said, adding, its removal would not cause much harm. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165812)

FISCAL DEFICIT DECLINES TO 3.5 PER CENT IN 2006-07

NEW DELHI : The government seems to be on course to achieve its targets under the Fiscal Reconstruction and Budget Management Act (FRBMA). Finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday announced a decrease in fiscal deficit to 3.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2006-07 from 4.1% a year earlier. This is even better than the revised estimate of 3.7% according to Budget 2007-08. Revenue deficit, too, has declined, Chidambaram said. “Revenue deficit is down to 2%, the same as the revised estimate for the fiscal,” he said. It was pegged at 2.1% in the Budget estimate. The decline has been attributed mainly to the buoyancy in tax collection. The government collected Rs 2,41,806 crore from indirect taxes and Rs 2,30,091 crore from direct taxes, Chidambaram said. The improvement in the deficit figures are a combination of higher GDP and the buoyant tax collections. The government has claimed that its attempts at controlling expenditure have started to show results. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165804)

Energy

GAS GRID TO CRISS-CROSS WHOLE OF GUJARAT

MUMBAI/VAPI: Gujarat State Petronet Ltd, a group company of the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation, plans to connect all 25 districts of the state with 2,200-kilometre high pressure gas pipeline laid down across the state. While inaugurating the gas pipeline stretch connecting Vapi industrial belt with Surat and further on to Dahej LNG receiving station of Petronet LNG Gujarat, chief minister Narendra Modi said the state government emphasized to have gas based economy. Explaining the rationale behind two new proposed LNG terminals in the state Modi said his government is committed to bring gas from all the possible sources that include imported LNG and gas from the GSPC discovered Krishna Godavari basin. Presently, GSPL has a pipeline network of 1,200 km from Surat to Bharuch to Dahej to Vadodara to Ahmedabad to Kalol to Himmatnagar to Morbi and supples gas to 26 customers in cities like Surat, Dahej, Bharuch, Anand, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Kalol, Himmatnagar, Morbi, and now in Vapi. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286282)

NUMALIGARH REFINERY PLANS OUTLETS IN NORTH

NEW DELHI/ NUMALIGARH (ASSAM): The Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) plans to expand its footprint beyond North East by setting up petrol stations in states like Rajasthan and Haryana and exporting fuel to Bangladesh. NRL, popularly known as ‘accord refinery’, has received permission from the government to set up 510 retail outlets to sell petrol and diesel. A roadmap has been prepared for setting up the retail outlets in different parts of the country in a phased manner, company Managing Director B K Das told PTI here. Altogether 73 retail outlets, 42 in the North-East and 31 in other parts of the country including West Bengal, Rajasthan and Haryana would be set up this year, he said. NRL plans to increase its market share in the north- eastern region to 30 per cent in the next three years from the present 11 per cent, he said. Currently, IOC and its Assam Oil Division have the lion’s share in the region. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286274)

GORLAS GROUP FORAYS INTO OIL AND GAS SECTOR

HYDERABAD : The Rs 45-crore Gorlas Group, with interests in urban infrastructure, has entered the oil and gas exploration and production sector by forging joint ventures with Indian and global players to tap the resources in Cambay area and abroad. Alkor Petroo Ltd, a group company, has about 74,000 sq km in seven blocks under various stages of exploitation. It has acquired through successful bidding operational blocks in Cambay basin (2), Republic of Yemen (3) and Egypt (2). The company has working joint ventures with ONGC, GSPC, Jubilant Oil & Gas and HOEC for Indian operations. Abroad, it has tied up with Geo Global, Canada and Gallo Oil (Jersey), Indonesia, along with the Indian companies in consortium arrangement, according to Mr G. Saibabu, Chairman and Managing Director. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060101061100.htm)

REVIEW BG’S FARM-IN DEAL WITH ONGC, INVESTMENT COMMISSION TELLS FM

MUMBAI : Investment commission chairman Ratan Tata’s letter on British Gas (BG)-Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) farm-in deal has taken a new twist following the intervention of finance minister P Chidambaram. The finance minister held a meeting with the investment commission to discuss the issue and its future. As reported by FE, Tata had taken a serious objection to the summary manner in which the British Gas proposal for farming into three ONGC deepwater blocks in the Krishna Godavari basin was rejected. Tata had warned of an adverse reaction from the international investors. However, the petroleum ministry refused to reconsider Tata’s plea. Informed sources told FE that with Chidambaram’s entry the issue has been revived once again. The members of investment commission during their interaction with the finance minister have argued that such instances would hurt the image and reputation of the government especially when the government has launched series of efforts opening up economy and bring in more transparency. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165815)

IOC SCOUTS FOR GAS FOR INTERNAL USE AT HALDIA UNIT

KOLKATA : Taking a cue from a number of hydrocarbon strikes in Orissa and the East coast in general and Reliance’s investment in gas pipeline to Haldia, IndianOil has began scouting for approximately 1.2 million standard cubic metre of gas a day (mmscmd) for internal consumption of its Haldia refinery. According to sources, apart from Reliance – which has promised supply of natural gas to the state by 2009-10 – IOC is also in discussion with its public sector counterparts GAIL and ONGC for possible supplies in the region. GAIL has plans to bring natural gas to the State by 2011. Natural gas will replace roughly 300,000 tonnes of costly light sweet crude consumed by Haldia refinery to produce low sulphur furnace oil and naphtha for use as feedstock in the captive power plant (60 MW), hydrogen plant and boiler. Use of low sulphur crude is mandatory to abide by the environmental stipulations on emissions of power plant and other plants. As per the existing guidelines, power plants cannot use feedstock having more than stipulated sulphur content. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060105990200.htm)

Power

TATA POWER COMPANY TO RAISE RS 14,000 CRORE TO FUND NEW PLANT IN MUNDRA

MUMBAI: Tata Power Company (TPC), the country’s biggest private power utility, would raise up to Rs 14,000 crore in loans to fund the Rs 18,000 crore ultra mega power project in Mundra in coastal Gujarat. The company had appointed SBI Capital Markets as head arranger for the funds, said S Ramakrishnan, executive director, finance. The remaining Rs 4,000 crore would be funded through internal resources. Besides, the company is also in talks with Asian Development Bank (ADB) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) for raising a part of the Rs 14,000 crore. “ADB and IFC are also keen on picking up stake in the Mundra project,” Ramakrishnan said. The Tata group company is also considering the option of having the project part-funded by export credit agencies. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286300)

LANCO-GLOBELEQ, FOUR OTHERS EXTEND BID BOND VALIDITY

MUMBAI : Despite Lanco-Globeleq consortium faces the risk of disqualification for the alleged misrepresentation in the bidding process of 4,000 mw Sasan ultra mega power project (UMPP), it has extended the bid validity up to July 5, and also the bid bond of Rs 120 crore up to September 13. The others who have also extended the bid bond include Reliance Energy Ltd, which lost to Lanco-Globeleq by a margin of 9 paisa in the tariff, Tata Power Company, NTPC and Jaiprakash Group. As reported by FE, these bidders were asked to file proposals relating to the extension of bid bond by the Sasan Power Ltd, which, at its board meeting held on May 25, extended the bid validity up to July 5. The extension of bid bond till September 13, was necessary as the bid bond validity was upto August 13. The Sasan Power Ltd preferred extension in validity of bid and bid bond as the power minister Sushilkumar Shinde has once again sought the opinion from the law ministry. Interestingly, L&T, Essar, Sterlite and Jindal Power which have lost bids have not extended their bid bond period. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165816)

Chemicals & Fertilisers

TATA CHEMICALS EYES FERTILISER UNITS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

MUMBAI : Tata Chemicals, which failed to acquire Egyptian Fertilizer Company, is once again looking out for acquisitions in the Middle East, where low cost of gas makes fertiliser projects viable, to ramp up its fertiliser business. The company will also aim at a fertiliser capex in India dramatically, once gas from the KG basin is available. “Middle East is definitely on our acquisition radar, we are very keen to increase our presence in that market to take advantage of the abundant and low-cost gas available,” Homi Khusrokhan, managing director, Tata Chemicals, told FE. “Our Bangladesh project has been in limbo for a while due to the political unrest in the country, but we are very keen on that. Once gas from the KG basin is available, we will look at increasing capacity substantially within India as well,” he added. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165782)

Steel

JSW STEEL TO GIVE FREE SHARES TO THE DISPLACED

KOLKATA: Amid a raging debate about the impact of land acquisition on those losing land, JSW Steel has announced a package that entails giving free shares to landholders who sell their land to JSW Bengal Steel, the company floated for the Rs 35,000 crore, 10 million tonne steel plant at Salboni in West Medinipur, around 200 km from Kolkata. This is the first time that a company has announced that it will give shares to those losing land over and above a compensation package. The Jindal package for Bengal will have three components: employment for at least one person per family losing land, compensation for land price (50 per cent in cash and 50 per cent annuity from Life Insurance Corporation) and free shares at par equivalent to the land price. A trust, to be administered by the district magistrate or the West Bengal government, will be set up for the shares, which will have a lock-in period till the first phase of the plant is complete, which will be March 2011. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/
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Automobiles

TWO-WHEELERS MARKET GROWTH MAY SLOW DOWN

LONDON: Rising interest rates and tighter credit threaten to slow the breakneck growth of India’s motorcycle market to single digits this year, according to the country’s largest producer. Pawan Munjal, managing director and chief executive officer of Hero Honda Motors, said he thought India’s motorcycle sector still might show similar growth to last year’s 13 per cent rise in sales. However, defaults have caused banks to withhold credit, forcing the company to look for alternatives. “We are still gunning for double-digit growth, but it’s difficult to say,” Munjal said. Hero Honda is one of the world’s largest producers of motorcycles, with a 50 per cent share of the Indian market. The growing ubiquity in India of two-wheelers, which include motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, is symbolic of the country’s emerging middle class and rising incomes. India sold 6.2 million two-wheelers in 2005 compared with 1.3 million passenger cars. Sales rose to 6.5 million last year. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286302)

ASHOK LEYLAND FORAYS INTO USED TRUCK MARKET

CHENNAI: Commercial vehicles major Ashok Leyland Limited, the flagship company of the Hinduja Group, has announced its foray into the used vehicles market. Stating that Ashok Leyland would be the first commercial vehicle manufacturer in the country to enter the used vehicles market, the company said in a press release that used Ashok Leyland vehicles, under its new venture called Altrux, would be purchased from the market and re-conditioned by the company using a 140-point check to ensure trouble-free operation. All Altrux vehicles will come with a six-month warranty. The refurbishment of the truck-cab, body and chassis, will be carried out by qualified personnel that will ensure optimum performance and enable the buyer to operate the vehicle right from the delivery point. All re-conditioned vehicles will carry approved documents that will certify their authenticity and facilitate easy financing. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/
storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286265)

AMTEK AUTO SET TO BUY OUT UK COMPANIE’S FOUNDRY BUSINESS

NEW DELHI: The $1-billion Amtek Group’s flagship Amtek Auto is close to acquiring the foundry business of the UK-based auto component major JL French Castings. The deal is estimated between Rs 150 crore and Rs 160 crore and includes the company’s operations in Whitham in the UK. Amtek would fund the acquisition through $250 million foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) it issued in May 2006. According to sources, Amtek Auto is acquiring the company to gain a foothold in the aluminium case components business and to gain market access to the European Union. Auto component analysts believe the foundry will help bring expertise to Amtek Auto in the manufacturing of cylinder heads, transmission case and engine blocks. Amtek Group CFO Santosh Singhi declined to comment on the prospective deal. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Auto/
Amtek_Auto_set_to_buy_out_UK_cos_foundry_biz/articleshow/2090237.cms)

MINDA GROUP IN JOINT VENTURE WITH FRANCE’S VALEO

NEW DELHI: The AK Minda Group, which makes auto components, has entered into a joint venture with French component major Valeo for manufacturing security systems for cars. Both the partners expect to invest about Rs 75-80 crore in the next three years in the 50:50 joint venture. A K Minda Group chairman Ashok Minda said, “We expect the joint venture to clock about Rs 300 crore in the next three years. We hope exports to contribute about 20-25% to the total revenues.”The group’s consolidated revenues currently stand at Rs 300 crore. The joint venture — Minda Valeo Security Systems — would operate out of the group’s manufacturing facility in Pune. iThe JV company plans to integrate its security products with Minda Group’s current security systems business.The company will largely cater to the domestic market. Minda Valeo is currently in talks with various four-wheeler manufacturers to supply its auto security products, which includes locks, electronic security systems and engine immobilisers. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/
Auto/Auto_Components/Minda_Group_in_JV_with_Frances_Valeo/articleshow/2090270.cms)

PIAGGIO PLANS € 65 M DIESEL ENGINE FACILITY IN PUNE

CHENNAI : Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd, which today launched the Ape’ Truk, a sub-one-tonne vehicle, plans to invest a € 65 million (Rs 353 crore) in a diesel engine facility at Pune, according to Mr Ravi Chopra, Chairman and Managing Director. At the launch of the Ape’ Truk, a commercial vehicle, Mr Chopra said Piaggio Vehicles, a subsidiary of Piaggio & C Spa, Italy, sees India as a global sourcing hub through the diesel engine facility. It is now a global sourcing hub for three-wheelers for the markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The Ape’ Truk is positioned in the segment catering to the large three-wheeler commercial carriers and the smaller four-wheel commercial carriers. In two-three years Piaggio would consider a passenger vehicle on the Truk platform, Mr Chopra said. The commercial vehicle application would serve to expand Piaggio’s reach and complement its own diesel three-wheeler Ape’. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060105980200.htm)

Trade & Investment

UBS INDIA AMONG 23 FDI PLANS CLEARED

NEW DELHI : The Government cleared 23 proposals allowing foreign direct investments worth Rs 418.33 crore, including those of UBS India, Christian Dior Couture, BT Telecom India and Bombay Stock Exchange. A proposal from UBS India Private Ltd for bringing in Rs 224.1 crore was cleared, which the company would use to acquire “existing non-banking financial companies as operating subsidiaries”. This was the largest investment amount to be approved on Thursday. Similarly, a proposal from BT Telecom India Private Ltd to bring in Rs 142.6 crore was approved, to enable the company to become an operating-cum-holding firm. The company has been allowed to use these funds to make downstream investments. The Government also approved SSIPL Retail Private Ltd (erstwhile Moja Shoes Private Limited) to bring in Rs 26.5 crore for additional FDI of up to 20 per cent. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060105251000.htm)

Media & Entertainment

CRICKET TELECAST RIGHTS ON A STICKY WICKET

MUMBAI: Even as stakeholders ride a boom, they keep looking for the signal that the top has been reached. With Nimbus’ contract to telecast the Afro Asia Cup falling through and Zee saying it was walking out of its deal for India’s matches on neutral venues, broadcasters say the value of cricket rights has already reached its zenith and the decline has set in. This gains further credence from two other developments. Earlier, it was said, there were too many investors chasing too few stocks, which was, the rights to telecast matches controlled by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Zee and Ten Sports have come together and Set Max is understood to have lost interest in cricket after telecasting the World Cup. Doordarshan need not bid since a recent law passed by the government gives it free the feed for all cricket matches involving India, dubbed events of national importance. That leaves only ESPN-Star– the former rivals came together in a joint venture a few years ago – and the new kid on the block, Harish Thawani’s Nimbus, as the serious contenders. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286303)

RAJ TV PLANS CABLE NETWORK TO TAKE ON SUN TV

MUMBAI: Raj TV, basking under the new-found patronage extended by Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK party, is in talks with leading cable operators including Hathway to launch a state-wide cable network to take on Sun TV. Raj’s move comes amidst chief minister Karunanidhi’s high-profile feud with the Maran family led by grand nephew Dayanidhi Maran and just days after it announced plans to launch a Tamil language channel with the DMK’s blessings. “It is true that we are looking at getting into the distribution business in Tamil Nadu and are in talks with a few MSOs. Nothing has been finalised as yet,” Raj TV CEO M Rajendran told ET from Chennai. Sources said Chennai-based PVK group is also holding similar talks with Raj TV. Sun TV’s bouquet of channels reign supreme in the state, while cable arm Sumangali is a virtual monopoly. Raj’s entry into distribution and the expansion of its network is bound to put Sun on the backfoot. “Yes, we are aware of Raj TV talking to the current fringe operating MSOs, as well as cable operators who they are trying to woo to get on to their side. We are internally strategising how we can combat this move,” a Sun TV official, on condition of anonymity said. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/
Media__Entertainment__Art/Media/
Right_Links_Raj_TV_plans_cable_network_to_take_on_Sun/articleshow/2090186.cms)

BRAI LOSES TEETH TO REGULATE AUDIO/VISUAL CONTENT

NEW DELHI: The proposed broadcast regulatory authority of India (BRAI) will have no powers to regulate audio/visual content but will only be a tariff-fixing body as is the case with the telecommunications industry’s Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Content regulation will be in the hands of the broadcast service provider (BSP), according to the broadcast content code, which will be discussed with the industry on Thursday. According to the proposal, each BSP must categorise content o the basis of theme, subject matter treatment, language and audio-visual presentation. It is up to the BSP to ensure all programmes are broadcast in accordance with the scheduling rules. The content will be categorised into three groups – U, U/A and A and each of these programmes would have a specific time slot in which they will be scheduled to be aired. There is also a category S, which denotes scientific, technical, and medical content meant for professionals or students. The BRAI is an autonomous body proposed to be set up by the Broadcast Bill, which is expected to be tabled in the next session of Parliament. Under the scheduling rules, category U and category S content can be aired at all times while category U/A (suitable for all above the age of 12) can only be aired between 8 pm to 4 pm. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165787)

CONSUMERS CAS HAPPY, CHOOSE FREE-TO-AIR

NEW DELHI : Television audiences freed by the Conditional Access System are indifferent to saas-bahu serials and cricket telecasts, if a six-month review of CAS is anything to go by. “The penetration has only been about 35 per cent in the CAS areas. The initial hitch of a shortage of set top boxes (STB) cannot be an excuse after April,” said Mr Jayraman, CEO, Hathway Cable and Datacom, speaking on the company’s experience in the notified areas of South Mumbai and South Delhi. With DTH credited for capturing another ten per cent of the remaining audience, it leaves more than half of television viewers with free-to-air channels. “From a consumer perspective, CAS seems to have been a success. Now, viewers can pay Rs 75 for the 70 odd free channels. The inflated theory that general entertainment, movies and sports are all that TV audiences crave for has been proven otherwise. Maybe broadcasters should review the Rs 5 per channel charge for paid channels,” said Mr Jayraman. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060106370100.htm)

Corporates

26 PER CENT MAKES MALLYA AIR DECCAN CO-PILOT

BANGALORE : Liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s UB (Holdings) Ltd, which owns Kingfisher Airlines, has picked up a 26% stake in India’s first low-cost carrier, Bangalore-based Deccan Aviation, for Rs 550 crore, Deccan Aviation managing director GR Gopinath said here on Thursday. While Gopinath will be executive chairman of Deccan Aviation, Vijay Mallya will be the vice-chairman. Though the two airlines will continue to operate as separate entities, Kingfisher said the combination would be the largest player in domestic aviation with a marketshare of 33%, ahead of Jet-Sahara’s 30.9%. However, according to March figures released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Air Deccan had a marketshare of 17% and Kingfisher 10.6%. Deccan Aviation will issue 3.52 crore new equity shares to the UB group at Rs 155 per share, at a premium of Rs 8.80, or 6%, over the Deccan Aviation’s closing price of Rs 146.20 at the NSE on Thursday. UB Holdings has paid an advance of Rs 150 crore while the balance would be paid over four weeks. The deal has triggered an open offer, which, if successful, will eventually raise UB Holdings’ stake in Deccan Aviation to 46%. Gopinath said the entire Rs 550 crore would come through preferential shares. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165833)

ADITYA BIRLA NUVO INTEGRATES BPO BIZ UNDER SINGLE ENTITY

MUMBAI : Aditya Birla Nuvo, which acquired Canadian BPO Minacs Worldwide last year for $125 million through its subsidiary Transworks, is integrating the operations of the two BPO arms under Aditya Birla Minacs Worldwide. The integration will be complete by April 2008. Consequently, Transworks will be gradually phased out as a brand and the new company will reach out to clients across the globe under one common platform. “Since merging cross-border companies is not an easy task, the financials would be accounted for separately, but operations will be unified,” Adesh Gupta, wholetime director and chief financial officer, Aditya Birla Nuvo, told FE. The company has hired McKinsey to help derive synergies from the two BPO operations. Aditya Birla Minacs Worldwide is also looking at beefing up its presence overseas. After setting up a global delivery platform in the Philippines, the company has now set its eyes on Latin America. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165764)

DECCAN BUY GIVES MALLYA UPPER HAND

NEW DELHI, MUMBAI : By becoming the largest strategic investor in Air Deccan, UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya will really “Fly the Good Times”. Acquisition of 26% stake in Air Deccan, and the possibility of raising it to 46% via an open offer, will help Mallya to establish a stronghold on both the low-cost and the top end of the market, allowing him a major say in domestic air fares. “Stake purchase in Deccan Aviation will give Mallya a huge power in terms of regulating prices in the market. Kingfisher, which caters to the premier market segment, will now also control 64.5% of the low cost market commanded by Air Deccan. This deal will have a big impact in the industry in determining the airfares, which Jet Airways could not influence through the acquisition of Sahara, which was also a full service airline,” an aviation analyst said. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165762)

TRAVEL PORTALS SEE 30-50 PER CENT INCREASE IN REVENUES

NEW DELHI: Keeping pace with a boom in the aviation sector and cheaper airfares, more disposable income and the increasing appetite of Indians to travel abroad, coupled with the rising temperatures and a rising rupee, the revenues of Indian online travel websites have increased by nearly 30-50 per cent during these summer vacations. The travel website travelguru.com clocked peak monthly revenues of Rs 22 crore this season compared with Rs 9 crore last year, a rise of 144 per cent year-on-year. As the monthly revenues have been around Rs 15 crore this year, the revenues of Rs 22 crore this summer imply an almost 50 per cent rise during this season. Another popular travel website makemytrip.com is hoping to increase its revenues to Rs 1,200 crore this year as compared with Rs 550 crore last year, an increase of 118 per cent. Yatra.com, which was launched last year, has also seen 40 per cent rise around the summer holidays. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286287)

TATA TEA EYES 42 PER CENT STAKE IN HIMALAYAN

MUMBAI: Last September when Tata Tea met analysts to discuss their $677 million Glaceau acquisition, bottles of Himalayan mineral water on the dais were hurriedly replaced with Glaceau’s Vitamin Water. Himalayan could be back on stage tomorrow when Tata Tea meets the media to announce its March quarter and annual results. The Tata Tea board meeting tomorrow is expected to pass a resolution for the Mount Everest (Himalayan’s parent) acquisition. A week after Tata Tea’s exit from Glaceau, in a $1.2 billion stake sale to Coca-Cola, unconfirmed reports said that Tata Tea is likely to pick up 42 per cent in Mount Everest Mineral Water. Owned by NRI Dadi Balsara, Mount Everest is reportedly offloading 11 per cent stake to Tata Tea at Rs 145-150 per share. As of December 31, 2006, promoters held 21.53 per cent stake in Mount Everest. The remaining stake will be purchased by Tata Tea through an open offer. The deal is expected to cost Tata Tea roughly Rs 250 crore — roughly one-tenth of the profits that the Tatas made through the Glaceau stake sale. The Tatas are also expected to get management control after the acquisition. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286288)

KIRLOSKARS TO TAKE OVER KOLHAPUR STEEL

MUMBAI/PUNE: Pumps manufacturer Kirloskar Brothers Ltd has decided to acquire Kolhapur-based steel castings company Kolhapur Steel Ltd for a consideration of approximately Rs 18 crore. Members of a bankers’ consortium comprising the IDBI Bank (formerly United Western Bank), Canara Bank and Pune-based Shree Suvarna Co-operative Bank and representatives of Kirloskar Brothers Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect on Wednesday at Kolhapur. Sources in Kirloskar Brothers confirmed the signing of the MoU, but declined to offer any details about valuations and how the new acquisition will be accommodated within the group. “The finer details of the deal are being worked out and a formal announcement will be made in a month’s time,” a senior functionary in the company told Business Standard. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286306)

EVOKE VENTURES MAKES INDIA FORAY WITH `FUSE` BRAND

CHENNAI: Evoke Ventures, an international retail arm of the Chennai-based Rs 200-crore GKK-Taurus Group, is foraying into the Indian retail market with the launch of its ‘Fuse’ premium accessories label. The Fuse product range includes leather accessories, footwear, clothes, perfumes and costume jewellery. The company, which has been retailing the ‘Fuse’ brand of accessories in New York, Paris, Barcelona, Tokyo, Shanghai and Cape Town for the last couple of years, has opened its first exclusive retail outlet at the Park Sheraton in Chennai. It plans to open nine more outlets, largely in the major Indian cities over the next couple of years. Exclusive shops are planned in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai by the end of the year, and in Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Goa, Chandigarh and Kochi by mid-2008. The company expects to garner a revenue of about Rs 3 crore in the first year of operations in the country. It has earmarked a brandspend of about Rs 3.5 crore for this year. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286267)

HIDESIGN TO CONSOLIDATE FOREIGN OPERATIONS

CHENNAI/BANGALORE: Leather goods maker Hidesign plans to consolidate its presence in the international market by opening more stores in Russia, Hong Kong, China and S Africa. “We are present in over 20 countries outside India and they account for 65 per cent of our revenue. These markets are highly profitable for us because we are able to sell our products at more than twice the price when compared to India,” Hidesign’s CEO Kunal Sachdev said. Sachdev said that Hidesign intends to enter three more countries through the JV route. It is part of a plan to add 20 more stores in the international market in the coming years. The company has big plans for the Indian market. It will enhance the number of stores from 27 to 70 stores over the next three years in India. Hidesign, in which French luxury brand Louis Vuitton is picking 20 per cent, is one of the few Indian retailers, which has been successful in the UK. (For details logon to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286266)

CHARTERED FINANCIAL ANALYST EXAM IN INDIA ON: DELHI HC

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Around 7,000 Indian students registered with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) institute can heave a sigh of relief, now that the Delhi High court(HC) has granted them permission to appear for their exam in India scheduled for June 3. The Court has stayed the All India Council for Technical Education’s (AICTE’s) order banning CFA’s Indian operations, but only with respect to the stay on examination. It ruled that all the other issues of application and registration et al would be heard later. The court has asked the CFA to file counter affidavits and rejoinder till September 20. The CFA institute had, on May 24, moved the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on AICTE-notice to wind up its operations in India. S R Mallela, member Board of governors, Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI), said: “ICFAI welcomes the interim relief given to the students to appear for the exams. Other aspects of the Guwahati High Court’s judgement still remain and can be resolved later.” (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286333)

ICAI, IGNOU TIE UP FOR COURSES

NEW DELHI: The board of studies of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and various universities are working together for improvement of commerce education in India. With the aim of avoiding repetitive study of subjects in chartered accountancy (CA) as well as in graduation, as part of the university system, the ICAI has tied up with the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), for specialised B Com and M Com courses. “We have identified common subjects like accountancy, auditing, costing, financial management, corporate laws, taxation, information technology and strategic management. In such joint research programmes, the ICAI’s contribution will be application-oriented whereas the university system will provide theoretical foundation,” said Sunil Talati, president, ICAI. “The motive of such harmonised learning is to create a value-added CA course,” he said. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286293)

INDEPENDENCE KEY TO UNBIASED AUDIT

NEW DELHI: Any system of corporate governance must monitor the functioning of the executive management—both actively through the board of directors and passively through the market for corporate control. The effectiveness of passive monitoring in turn depends on the quality of corporate financial reports. Corporate financial reports that have been prepared and presented using the appropriate accounting principles and methods help analysts to value the company accurately. If the company is found to be performing below potential, institutional investors begin to sell off its shares. Retail investors take the signal and sell their shares too. This threat of losing control motivates the incumbent management to improve the performance of the company. Moreover, transparency in corporate financial reporting enforces accountability and thus improves corporate governance. It is the auditor of a company who provides reasonable assurance to the users of financial statements that those statements provide true and fair view of the financial position and operating performance of the company. Users of financial statements rely on the assertion of auditors because the auditing profession establishes and continually updates the ‘body of knowledge’, establishes the code of ethics that protects the independence of auditors to enable them to formulate unbiased judgement and disciplines members who are found guilty of professional misconduct. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=286292)

ADIDAS, REEBOK KICKSTART INTEGRATION

NEW DELHI: Global sports goods companies, Adidas and Reebok, have kickstarted the process of integrating their resources in India, with Adidas’ $3.8 billion acquisition of Reebok in 2005 beginning to pay off. All back-end functions such as sourcing, transportation, information technology, human resources, warehousing, as well as managing and setting up factory outlets, are in the process of being integrated. At the front end, however, both brands will remain independent and will be distributed and marketed separately. Adidas will continue concentrating on high-performance footwear, and Reebok’s focus will remain on lifestyle sports goods. The integration process is expected to take a total of three-four years. Anne Putz, team leader, Corporate PR, Adidas AG, Germany, told ET: “We will generate synergies in areas such as sourcing, transportation costs, warehousing, back office functions and other similar areas. This also takes place on a global basis.” Putz added that both Adidas and Reebok will maintain separate brand identities, with independent marketing strategies and products all over the world. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/CompaniesA-Z/
Adidas_Reebok_kickstart__integration/articleshow/2090352.cms)

HEWLETT PACKARD TO EXPAND REACH IN DIGITAL PRINTING

MUMBAI: Hewlett Packard has devised a new strategy to expand the market for digital printers — to enable users to execute print jobs via internet. The print market is dominated by traditional offset machines which churn out high volumes at low costs. Digital printing, though not viable for very high-volume print jobs, scores over traditional printing as it offers a high level of personalisation and allows users to print dynamic content. HP is exploiting these aspects of digital printing by making machines that enable print-on-demand services for short-run projects, required to be customised for every user. Graphic arts represent 86% of the total printed page while home, office, photo and other pages account for the remaining 14%. Yet, digital prints account for only 6% of graphic arts with over 94% of graphic arts coming from analog printers, says VS Hariharan, vice-president – graphics arts business, HP Imaging and Printing Group, Asia Pacific & Japan. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/
Cons_Products/HP_to_expand_reach_in_digital_printing/articleshow/2090210.cms)

LOGIX MICROSYS LOOKING AT US BUYOUTS

BANGALORE: Bangalore-based automotive e-retailing solutions provider Logix Microsystems is looking at acquisitions to increase its market share in the US. The company, which provides customised web marketing platforms to auto dealers and car manufacturers, is close to buying a US-based company in the next 60 days. The deal is estimated to be in the sub-$10 million category. Company MD Sanjay Soni told ET, “We are in talks for buying two companies in the US. We expect to close one in the next 60 days. This is a company providing online solutions to the auto industry, which will complement our offerings.” Logix had acquired CarSite a few months ago, the automotive portal business of PowerOne Media, in an all-cash deal of about $1-2 million. While the buy has helped Logix increase its sales presence in the US market, Mr Soni says that with a current market penetration of about 4%, there is still room to grow. “We want to increase our market share to about 10-12% by FY08,’’ he says, adding that inorganic growth will add clients and give access to products. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/
Services/Logix_Microsys_looking_at_US_buyouts/articleshow/2090199.cms)

FINLAND FIRM INCAP BUYS TVS ELECTRONICS UNIT

CHENNAI : Incap Contract Manufacturing Services Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Incap Corporation, Finland, expects its electronics manufacturing services business in India to double in its first year of operations and sustain a 50-100 per cent growth in the coming years. Incap Contract today finalised a Rs 41.12-crore deal acquiring the TVS Electronics Ltd contract manufacturing unit at Tumkur, 80 km west of Bangalore. Briefing reporters on Incap Corporation’s plans here, Mr Juhani Hanninen, President and CEO, Incap Corporation, said that this was the company’s first facility outside Europe. The € 89-million (Rs 480 crore) Incap Corporation expects to double its business by 2010 with more than half its revenues coming from facilities outside Europe. The company manufactures electronics and mechanical components and equipment for use in industrial electronics, electrical power technology, telecommunications, healthcare and security. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/
stories/2007060104090400.htm)

SREI INFRASTRUCTURE, BPLG IN EQUIPMENT FINANCE JV

MUMBAI : SREI Infrastructure Finance (Srei) has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with BNP Paribas Lease Group (BPLG), the leasing arm of BNP Paribas, for equipment finance. BPLG will infuse capital amounting to Rs 775 crore in the 50:50 joint venture, whose name is yet to be finalised. Hemant Kanoria, vice chairman and managing director, Srei, who will also act as the MD of the new JV, said “The infrastructure equipment business and insurance broking will be carved out and will be managed by the JV.” The new venture will help BPLG in increasing the company’s market share in financing agriculture, information technology, medical and other equipment. Extra capital was being infused into Srei without the dilution of shareholders’ capital. The partnership with BPLG will help Srei in lowering its cost of funds for its asset finance business and also in strengthening its core activities and its position in the sector, he added. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165771)

LARSEN & TOUBRO INVESTING RS 2,500 CRORE IN EXPANSION

MUMBAI: Larsen & Toubro’s capital investment for the current fiscal will be around Rs 2,500 crore. The company will set up new factories and expand its operations across the country over the next few years, said Mr A.M. Naik, Chairman & Managing Director. Orders were growing at 35-40 per cent but execution was only at 19-20 per cent, owing to both paucity of skilled manpower and capacity constraints, he said. L&T hopes to finalise a location for its shipbuilding operations. Currently, this business is operating out of its existing facility at Hazira where only smaller ships can be built. An investment of Rs 2,000 crore would be required for a new shipbuilding facility. L&T also targets Rs 4,000 crore in revenues from its power in four or five years, from Rs 800 crore to Rs 1,000 crore currently. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060106030200.htm)

MADRAS CEMENTS HIKING PRODUCTION CAPACITY

CHENNAI: Madras Cements Ltd, which has reported a nearly four times jump in net profit in 2006-07, expects to sustain and improve its output during the current year supported by a growth in demand. Over the next two years it plans to add 40 lakh tonnes to its existing production capacity of 60 lakh tonnes. According to a press release from the company, the performance can be attributed to a tight rein on costs. The company is doubling its wind power generation capacity to 120 MW, which would substantially contribute to the control on energy costs. Optimal use of rail and road transport and planning has also helped to keep the logistics cost under control. Interest costs have been kept down through a control on working capital and debt. Its long-term debt as of March 31, 2007, stood at Rs 80 crore, according to company officials. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060102550300.htm)

SHASUN CHALKS OUT RS 200-CRORE CAPEX OUTLAY

CHENNAI : Shasun Chemicals and Drugs Ltd has chalked out a capital expenditure outlay of Rs 200 crore to enhance capability in its UK acquisition and for a greenfield project coming up at Visakhapatnam. Shasun expects to emerge as a Rs 1,000-crore company by the end of the current year as a result of its expansion plans. According to the Shasun’s Director, Mr Vimal Kumar, the capital expenditure is to be met through debts and internal accruals. Over Rs 80 crore is to be spent on enhancing the capability at its UK subsidiary. Shasun Chemicals acquired Rhodia’s custom synthesis and contract manufacturing business in the UK through Shasun Pharma Solutions Ltd, its UK subsidiary. Shasun Chemicals will spend Rs 120 crore on the greenfield project at Visakhapatnam to manufacture API (active pharmaceutical ingredients). The work on the 52-acre site is set to begin soon. “And, we hope the commercial production at the new facility will start in the fourth quarter of 2008-09,” he said. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060101081100.htm)

DIC INDIA PLANS RS 52-CRORE CAPITAL EXPENDITURE

KOLKATA : DIC India Ltd (formerly Coates of India), 65.76 per cent held by the $10-billion Dainippon Inks and Chemicals of Japan, has chalked out a capital expenditure of Rs 52 crore on modernisation of all its existing printing ink units in the next three years. The company, to meet this and also for working capital requirements, has proposed a rights issue within a price band of Rs 210-230 per equity share (including premium) in the ratio of one equity share for every three held by existing shareholders, to mop up some Rs 50 crore. Under-subscribed portion, if any, will be picked up by the promoter group (DIC of Japan) in addition to their entitlement, as per prescribed SEBI norms. Talking to Business Line after the company’s 59th annual general meeting here , Dr P.K. Dutt, Managing Director, now appointed as also Chairman of the company, said some 50 per cent of the capex would go towards the new liquid ink manufacturing plant in Noida, said to be only the second modern printing inks unit of its kind East of the Suez. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060101091100.htm)

SUBHIKSHA BETS ON MANGO FOR SALES PUSH

NEW DELHI : The Chennai-based retail chain Subhiksha is using mango to drive up its sales through a new promotional campaign. The campaign suggests that the retail chain offers the best, cheapest and widest varieties of mangoes through its 750 currently operational outlets. While the `Safedi’ variety sells at Rs 32 per kg in the market, Subhiksha has priced it at Rs 19.50 per kg across the country. Alphonso in Mumbai is selling at Rs 220-250 per dozen, while the retail chain’s price is Rs 190 per dozen. “When the mango season starts sometime in April, all other fruits’ sales dip, while there is a phenomenal surge in the sales of mangoes. So we decided to tap this phenomenon to our benefit,” said Mr R. Subramanian, Managing Director, Subhiksha. “We could carry out this campaign across the country because we had the reach, the sourcing abilities that allowed us massive volume procurement, which in turn helped us cut down on the fruits’ retail costs,” said Mr Subramanian. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060101001100.htm)

THALES EYES STRONG PRESENCE IN INDIA

CHENNAI : Thales, a France-based international electronics and security systems group, is in talks with authorities in large cities for contracts in signalling, security and civil applications in rail transport systems, according to Mr Jean-Paul Lepeytre, Senior Vice-President and Deputy Director (Security Solutions and Services). Speaking to Business Line on the sidelines of a news conference organised by the company to inaugurate its software centre, he said that Thales recently bagged a multimillion-euro contract to provide a ticketing system for the New Delhi Metro rail subway. Thales, which operates in the Defence, aerospace and security segments, entered new service lines five years ago of transportation, civil security, energy and information assurance (including e-governance). Today these lines contribute 3.2 billion to its revenues of over 10 billion. Thales sees potential in India for systems aiding rail, mainly urban, bus and other modes of transportation, Mr Lepeytre said. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/01/stories/2007060104060400.htm)

RETAIL INSTITUTES TO CREATE 2.2 MILLION JOBS

NEW DELHI : Manpower crunch in the retail sector has led to a massive jump in training institutes for the retail sector from just 6, two years ago, to 50 today. More importantly, some of the most prominent names in the business of education have jumped in with their own courses. The Rs 1,250 crore retail manpower training sector is growing at over 50% per annum. But within the sector, training for front-end jobs is growing at over 100% annually. According to industry estimates, retail alone will throw up 2.2 million jobs by 2011. Nearly 80% of these would be front-end jobs. Presently there are around 50 institutes offering post-graduate courses in the country, including colleges like the Narsee Munjee Institute of Management, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Birla Institute of technology and recently NIFT as well as the National Institute of Design who have initiated PG courses in retail. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=165779)

Source: India Press Agency (IPA)- June 1, 2007

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