Monday, March 31, 2008

Lehman sues Japanese broker for $350 million

Lehman Brothers filed a lawsuit against major Japanese trading company Marubeni on Monday, demanding US$350 million in damages in an unfolding case of alleged massive fraud.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is seeking to recoup funding it provided last year to a Japanese health care company. The U.S. bank says employees of Marubeni Corp. helped arrange the deal.
A Lehman Brothers official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing policy, said the lawsuit demands 35.2 billion yen ($350 million). Other details were not immediately available.
The Tokyo District Court confirmed the lawsuit had been filed.
Marubeni Corp., which has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, said it has not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment. It reiterated it has no obligation to repay the money.

Friday, March 28, 2008

India’s First Movie Rental Company, Movie Mart Now Offers DVD Selling Services

Movie Mart, India's first movie rental company has added another feather to its cap by launching its online DVD selling facility. It has thus become the largest online DVD selling website across all geographies. The company boasts of displaying entire inventories in the website, a unique proposition setting it apart from all other competitors. It has also partnered with a leading logistics company for safe and quick delivery of DVDs.

Movie Mart has always in the past been recognized as a company concerned about the quality of the service rather than the growth which is proved well by the testimonials it receives (and displayed) in the website. At Movie Mart growth has always been a non-stop journey. The company expects about one million subscribers all over India in the coming months."
There are more reasons to hangout at Movie mart -one can download good quality movies from old to latest movies in Hindi, English or any other regional language from Movie mart from any places in India. This is probably the only DVD rental service probably in the World, which allows selecting your own movies. The company has begun selling DVDs and VCDs on line at 15% off on MRP.The orders are shipped within 24 hours (Subject to availability) by fastest courier to all over the world.

TERI Hosts an Exhibition of Resource and Energy Efficient Campus Designs

As part of its planned growth and expansion, The Energy and Resources Institute intends to impart an earth wide outlook through a system of education that would enable audible thinking towards global sustainable development. The forthcoming School of Management (SoM) at TERI Gram would provide vanguard facilities to over three hundred students and faculty and create an environment that would encourage hands and feet to move in unison with hearts and minds that have a deep commitment to ethical actions.

TERI invited six architectural firms to prepare environmentally conscious campus designs for the upcoming SoM. An exhibition of the architectural schemes was put up at the TERI Head office at Lodhi Road.

Commenting on the exhibition, Dr Leena Srivastava, Executive Director, TERI said, "By providing a living environment that is fully integrated within its eco-system and that is a conscious demonstration of efficient utilization of all resources, we would like to ensure that our students have sustainability concepts deeply ingrained in them."

29 Students from India Named 2008 Goldman Sachs Global Leaders

The Goldman Sachs Foundation and the Institute of International Education (IIE) today announced that an extraordinary group of 29 second-year students from leading Indian colleges have been named as 2008 Goldman Sachs Global Leaders, the third class of students in India to be so honored.

Since 2001, the Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Program (GSGLP), developed by The Goldman Sachs Foundation and IIE, has been a pioneer in identifying and developing some of the world's most promising future leaders. Students are selected through a rigorous competition on the bases of academic excellence and leadership potential. Today's honorees are among 150 outstanding second-year students selected this spring from over 100 of the world's top colleges and universities.
The selection of this year's students continues a recent expansion of the programming India. Along with other philanthropic initiatives, the expansion of the program demonstrates the commitment that both Goldman Sachs and IIE have made to the region.
Participating colleges and universities in India include The Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), Lady Shri Ram College (New Delhi), Loyola College (Chennai), Mt. Carmel College (Bangalore), St. Stephen's College (New Delhi), The National Law School of India University (Bangalore), Nizam College (Hyderabad), Presidency College (Kolkata), St. Xavier's College (Mumbai), Birla Institute of Technology and Science (Pilani), and Fergusson College (Pune.)

"Global Leaders are extremely talented academically and have already shown proven leadership abilities and a strong interest in global affairs," said Brooks Entwistle, Managing Director and C.E.O., Goldman Sachs India, as he lauded the 29 Indian 2008 Goldman Sachs Global Leaders. "India plays an increasingly important role in the global economy, and these Goldman Sachs Global Leaders will undoubtedly take on critical leadership roles in business and society here and around the world."
Over the past eight years, 900 students from more than 20 countries have been honored as Goldman Sachs Global Leaders. They have built an extensive network with each other and, with modest seed funding from the program's Social Entrepreneurship Fund, have joined forces to launch innovative social ventures, including a school in rural India, a technology education program in China, an art therapy program for AIDS-affected children in Namibia, and a micro-enterprise initiative for women entrepreneurs in Macedonia.
Each Global Leader receives a $3,000 grant for educational expenses, as well as continued support for their academic and professional advancement through an international alumni network. In addition, 75 of this year's 150 Global Leaders, including 15 from Indian universities, will be selected to participate in the annual Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Institute in July in New York City. At the Institute, they will engage in meaningful dialogue with experts from the private, public and nonprofit sectors about their own leadership roles and critical global issues such as environmentalism and emerging markets. Past Institute speakers have included executives from Goldman Sachs and other companies, diplomats from the United Nations, and leaders of influential non-governmental organizations.
"Our world today requires leadership that is culturally fluent and well-prepared to address complex issues that have global impact," said Stephanie Bell-Rose, President of The Goldman Sachs Foundation. "This program invests in the talented young people who make up the next generation of global leaders to ensure that they possess the skills and the networks they need to lead us to a better future."
According to IIE President and CEO Allan Goodman, the Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Program addresses the critical need to develop leaders for an interdependent globe. "These students have an extraordinary understanding of the world around them, and an unwavering desire to continue to learn how to work across cultural and national borders to solve global problems. Through the Global Leaders Program, they are learning to think and work in ways that will prepare them for a world in which international cooperation will offer the best solutions to our most pressing political, social, and humanitarian concerns," he said.

The Goldman Sachs Foundation was funded in 1999 with a $200 million donation from The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. The Foundation's mission is to promote excellence and innovation in education worldwide. The Foundation is an important extension of the tradition of philanthropy and public leadership at Goldman Sachs. Grants have been awarded in excess of $114 million since its inception, providing opportunities for young people in more than 20 countries.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is a leading nonprofit organization specializing in the international exchange of people and ideas. Its expertise enables institutions and individuals to build capacity in their home countries and regions. IIE designs and implements over 200 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals, and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. These programs include the Fulbright Student and Scholar programs as well as corporate training and scholarship programs. IIE also conducts policy research and provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities. The Institute of International Education has a network of 19 offices worldwide, over 900 college and university members, and more than 5,000 volunteers.

An independent nonprofit organization founded in 1919, the Institute of International Education (IIE) is among the world's largest and most experienced international education and training organizations. The Goldman Sachs Foundation awarded a grant to IIE to create the Global Leaders Program, and IIE administers the Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Program in partnership with The Goldman Sachs Foundation. With a mission of Opening Minds to the World®, IIE assists donor agencies to build the international competence necessary to address global problems and forge creative solutions. Last year, more than 20,000 men and women from 175 countries received scholarships and professional training through IIE programs. Fifty-eight Institute grantees, Trustees, and Fulbright alumni have been awarded Nobel Prizes. One of IIE's key goals is to build leadership skills and enhance the capacity of individuals and organizations to address local and global challenges. In addition to administering the Fulbright Student Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State since that program's inception, the Institute also designs and implements international exchange and scholarship programs on behalf of many far-sighted donors and sponsors, including governments, foundations, and corporations around the world.

Reliance Energy buys back 650,000 shares

The Anil Ambani promoted Reliance Energy has bought back 650,000 equity shares of the company since the start of the offer Tuesday at nearly Rs.1,279.23 a share aggregating Rs.831.5 million ($21 million).
The company's board had approved buy-back of equity shares up to Rs.8 billion ($200 million), amounting to 10 percent of the company`s equity and free reserves.
The remaining Rs.12 billion was intended for sale in the second phase, subject to necessary approvals by the shareholders. JM Financial Consultants is the manager to the buyback offer.

At noon Friday, shares of the company were trading at Rs.1,310 up by Rs.28.20 from its previous close at the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Indo-Asian News Service

Inclusion of Sterlite Industries in the S&P India 10 Index

Sterlite Industries (India) Limited ("Sterlite") (NYSE:SLT) is pleased to announce that it has been included in the recently launched S&P India 10 Index (the "S&P India 10"). The S&P India 10 is designed to provide investors with tradable exposure to the Indian equity market as well as serve as a basis upon which to create investment products.
Sterlite is the only company from the Materials sector in the S&P India 10.
The S&P India 10 comprises ten of the largest and most liquid Indian companies which trade on developed market exchanges namely the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the London Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, included companies must already be a constituent of the S&P/IFCI India Index, with a float-adjusted market capitalization above US$ 500 million and six-month average daily trading value above US$ 1 million.

About Sterlite Industries
Sterlite Industries is India's largest non-ferrous metals and mining company with interests and operations in aluminum, copper and zinc and lead. It is a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources plc, a London-based diversified FTSE 100 metals and mining group. Sterlite Industries' main operating subsidiaries are Hindustan Zinc Limited for its zinc and lead operations; Copper Mines of Tasmania Pty Limited for its copper operations in Australia; and Bharat Aluminum Company Limited for its aluminum operations. The company operates its own copper operations in India. The company recently entered the commercial energy generation business and is in the process of setting up a 2,400MW independent power plant through its wholly owned subsidiary, Sterlite Energy Limited. In 2007, it generated revenues of $5.9 billion and net income of $1.1 billion. Sterlite Industries is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange in India and the New York Stock Exchange in the United States. For more information, please visit www.sterlite-industries.com.

Adobe Unleashes Photoshop Free-for-All (Adobe Photoshop Express)

Adobe, the maker of Photoshop, has put a scaled-down set of editing tools online for free use. The user can upload up to 2 GB of photos to Photoshop Express and manipulate them through the Web browser at no cost. In beta form, Express will be available only in English to U.S. residents, though Adobe said it will provide availability in other languages and countries in the future.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does it cost to edit the picture with Photoshop? As of right now, the only cost is Internet access with a modern Web browser.
Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) Systems has launched an online photo editing tool that's free to anyone who wants to edit, store, sort and show off their digital photos -- up to 2 GB worth.
The product is Photoshop Express, and it's currently available in beta form. Express borrows some of the technology behind Adobe's well-respected and widely used professional-grade photo editing solution, Photoshop CS3, and it delivers them via a Web browser through a rich Internet application (RIA) that was built using Flex. Flex is Adobe's free, open source framework for building RIAs.

During the beta period, Adobe says it will solicit feedback on product features and functionality and evolve the solution over time. The premise behind it all, noted Doug Mack, vice president of Consumer and Hosted Solutions at Adobe, is to provide "a convenient, single destination where you can store, edit and share photos whether you're at home, school or on the road."

Online Tooling
Photoshop Express lets users upload photos via a Web browser and then edit them with a set of standard tools for removing blemishes and red-eye, converting to black and white, cropping and resizing. In addition, the application lets users add special effects, Adobe said, like Pop Color, which selects an object in an image, mutes the background color of the photo and lets the user swap the object's color so it jumps off the page.
The Sketch effect, for example, turns photos into drawings, while the Distort feature lets users distort facial features or objects within the images for a comical or artistic effect.

All About Sharing
Photoshop Express also lets users have an online gallery that's hosted by Adobe. It lets users share and show off their photos and creations, as well as create animated slide shows.
Photoshop Express works with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. In addition to an Internet connection, the only other key requirement for it all is an up-to-date version of Flash Player 9, which is also free. In beta form, Express will be available only in English to U.S. residents, though Adobe said it will provide availability in other languages and countries in the future.

What's Next?
With a free editing tool now available online, the obvious question is, what's next? Will Adobe, which also sells a consumer-focused Photoshop Elements editing application, offer additional features, such as extra storage capacity for a charge?
"Adobe currently plans to keep Photoshop Express free," Anne Yeh, a spokesperson for Adobe, told TechNewsWorld, though she did note that, "Eventually, additional features and storage will be available on a subscription basis."
While there is some overlap in functionality, Yeh also noted, the different applications in Adobe's Photoshop family are designed specifically for the needs of different audiences.
"Unlike Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Express beta is entirely Web-enabled," she noted. "It's free and easy to use, allowing today's connected generation to get in, make quick edits, and get out again, fixing and enhancing photos quickly and sharing them, including showing [them] off on their favorite social networking site's blogs, and the Photoshop Express Album."
Photoshop Elements 6 is designed more for the hobbyist photographer, she said.
https://www.photoshop.com/express/landing.html

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Marden Entertainment of Italy Signs Agreements with Switch Media Services and Bollywood Network of India at FICCI FRAMES 2008

Marden Entertainment S.r.l. of Italy today signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Switch Media Services India Pvt. Ltd. and a Declaration of Intent with Bollywood Network for developing local creative content through developmental programmes as well as facilitating market access for the industry globally.

The agreements were signed on the concluding day of FICCI-FRAMES 2008.

In terms of the agreement, Marden Entertainment and Switch Media Services will work towards creating digital assets and distribute them globally via online video over the internet using Switch Media Platform and also to develop mobile phone applications pertaining to the film, 'The Choice".

Switch Media will provide its video management platform and undertake to commercialise the project for online video and mobile consumption in the primary markets of Italy, Europe, The UK and the US and the secondary markets of the projects in Asia, Australia, the Emirates, South Africa and South America.

Get Ready for the Ride of Your Life…with Reebok's HexRide

Since Reebok created the first-ever track and field spike back in 1895, it has always held innovation as it's paramount global brand value. Over the years, Reebok has paved the way with innovative technologies such as The Pump, DMX and ERS cushioning systems, Kinetic Fit system and many more. For spring 2008, Reebok launches the new state-of-the-art technology - HexRide. HexRide will be featured in performance running footwear.

Reebok's HexRide running footwear collection features a hexagonal, honeycomb-style build which is one of the top strength to weight ratio constructions engineering can offer. Providing consumers with the best of both worlds, HexRide technology features exceptional cushioning while still providing a lightweight ride. The evolution of Reebok's Hexalite technology, which was previously only featured in the heel or forefoot of the shoe, HexRide technology is dramatically larger and more impactful, both functionally and visually, covering the entire bottom of the shoe. HexRide technology will be featured in performance running styles such as the SmoothFit HexRide (suggested retail price Rs 5990) Operator HexRide (suggested retail price Rs 5490) Hex Exec (suggested retail price Rs 4490) and HexRide Rally (suggested retail price Rs 6490).

Mr. Sajid Shamim, Director Marketing and Product, Reebok India Company said, "Reebok's Hex Ride Footwear Collection is both innovative performance and fashion- forward lifestyle product. The hexagonal build is a natural, efficient, and energy saving pattern allowing more stable and softer ride. The HexRide products will play an integral role in Reebok's new spring 2008 collection."

Cross-Platform Marketing, Content & Services will Drive Growth of Mobile Entertainment, Says US Guru at FICCI FRAMES 2008

Mr. Ralph Simon, Chairman Emeritus & Founder, Mobile Entertainment Forum-Americas, today provided a glimpse of 'mociology', the study of peoples' lifestyle using the mobile phone and 'mosionomics', the study of business opportunities and models opening up in the mobile platform.

Giving the keynote address at the FICCI-FRAMES 2008 session on 'Mobile Entertainment: Opportunities in emerging business models, Mr. Simon said: "Web business models have come to dominate the mobile space, where content and services will drive growth. Operators, therefore, need to support and add value and collaborate very closely with mobile specialists," adding, that Bollywood fans will see cross-platform experiences of their movies, stars and content.

He said the new content formats are the future of the entertainment industry and therefore looking at mobile from a purely licensing perspective will not maximize value and sticking to old technologies will kill laggard companies.

Wipro Technologies Bags Corporate University Xchange Award

Wipro Technologies, the global IT services business of Wipro Limited (NYSE:WIT) announced that it has been awarded at the 9th Annual Corporate University Xchange (CorpU) Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Corporate Learning. Wipro was recognized with the Best Practice Award in the Corporate/College Partnerships category. Wipro is the only Indian company to win this award this year.

The prestigious CorpU Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Corporate Learning recognize global corporate and government learning organizations that create exciting, impactful programs that result in measurable improvements in employee and business performance.

"Each of these winning programs has a measurable impact on a company's ability to execute their business strategy," said Sue Todd, president and CEO of CorpU. "We congratulate them."

India TV Neck-to-Neck with Aaj Tak in Aggregate Ratings

Living up to Rajat Sharma's promise to viewers and advertisers, India TV has beaten Star News in aggregate ratings for the Week 12, 2008 (TAM CS 15+ HSM) with a share of 18 per cent. India TV is now only marginally behind Aaj Tak, which is at 18.4 per cent.

In the CS 25+ ABC HSM category, India TV is at 18 per cent, which is the same as Aaj Tak. Thus in this core TG, India TV is the joint leader among Hindi news channels.

At a share of 19 per cent India TV is numero uno in CS Female 25+ ABC.

At 35 minutes per viewer (all day) in CS 15+ HSM, India TV continues to deliver higher time spent than any other Hindi news channel.

At 20 per cent, India TV is the top Hindi news channel in the top 6 metro cities, in both CS 15+ AB HSM and CS 25+ AB HSM.

Bigflicks.com to invest $100 mn in three years

Bigflicks.com, an online video-on-demand (VoD) and video rental business unit of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, is planning to invest $100 million by 2011 to expand its business both in India and overseas.
The company has aligned its VoD business mainly for the overseas market to tap non-resident Indians while its video rental unit would be focussed completely on the domestic market, said Kamal Gianchandani, chief operating officer.
"Our businesses, VoD and rental, are focussed on two different markets. They cater to different needs and audiences. But our unique selling point for these markets is content aggregation which no one is doing," Gianchandani told IANS.
"In the domestic market, we are planning to spend $100 million over three years to expand our rental business," he said, adding the company wanted to increase its number of stores to 150 by 2009 and 500 by 2010 from the present 26.

He said the stores were currently operational in six cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Chandigarh. The expansion follows the franchise route for expansion.

"We will also start a video delivery service. Viewers can have videos delivered at their doorstep. They can register through our portal. We also plan to set up call centres where one can call in and order movies."

The Bigflicks.com official explained that the company would offer both rental and subscription options at Rs.250-500 a month for unlimited content.

"The domestic home video market is booming. Despite a plethora of channels, some even catering to niche audiences, one cannot deny the fact that there is a need for movie rental and we are trying to fill that gap."

He said the market currently had a few small players and that it may take a year or two for a project like what was being planned by his company to succeed. "But the potential in this type of a business is phenomenal."

The firm has also lined up huge expansion plans for the growing diaspora market. "We will increase our presence in all major markets where there is huge Indian presence - the US, Britain, Middle East, Europe."

"VoD is too futuristic a business as far as India is concerned because of low broadband penetration. But the potential of this kind of business is huge in overseas markets."

Indo-Asian News Service

Jaguar, Land Rover in the black soon, says Tata Motors

A day after striking a deal to acquire British automobile firms Jaguar and Land Rover for $2.3 billion, Tata Motors Thursday said it will turn the two companies around and make them profitable ventures again.
"As a consolidated entity the companies are profitable," said C. Ramakrishnan, president and chief financial officer of Tata Motors. "Jaguar and Land Rover will operate as two distinct entities owned by Tata Motors UK Holding Company."
Ford acquired Jaguar for $2.5 billion in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.75 billion in 2000. But the US auto major put the two firms on the market in 2007 after posting losses of $12.6 billion in 2006 - the heaviest in its 103-year history.

"A net margin of three percent on the combined turnover will be a sizeable money from operations to start with," said Piyush Parag, an analyst with Religare, the finance arm of drugs major Ranbaxy Laboratories.
Ramakrishnan remarked that the turnaround would also require additional money to be pumped into the ventures. "The additional funds will be met out of internal accruals of the two companies," he said.

Asked about the cost saving measures the Tatas have drawn up for Jaguar and Land Rover, Ramakrishnan said: "We have just signed the shareholders agreement. It will take another 3-4 months to get other approvals and plan ahead."

According to analysts there will be some pressure on the Tata Motors balance sheet for a year or two. "The net profit margin may slide by 15 percent for the next two fiscals," said Parag.

"Consolidated margin will be down for Tata Motors as the expenses will be higher during the initial years."

But from the long term perspective the acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover was positive for Tata Motors, he said, adding there is also nothing much to worry in the short term as necessary money has been raised to pay the sellers.

Tata Motors is also evaluating proposals to sell some of its investments to raise money. "We will disinvest some our holdings to meet our fund needs. We will also look at a mix of equity and debt," said Ramakrishnan.

For the $2.3 billion Tata Motors will pay Ford, the company, India's largest automobile maker, has already raised a $3 billion bridge loan from a consortium of bankers.

The company official said the extra money was raised to meet incidental expenses needed towards the purchase.

Indo-Asian News Service

Ashok Leyland raises $200 million from overseas

Ashok Leyland, India's second largest commercial vehicle maker, has raised $200 million from international markets for investments both in the domestic market and overseas, a top company official has said.
"The deal got successfully completed at a time when the global financial markets are in turmoil," said K. Sridharan, the company's chief financial officer. "It has been concluded at a very competitive rate."

The external commercial borrowing follows recent joint venture agreements with Nissan to make light commercial vehicles, engines and gearboxes in India.

According to officials, the overseas investment could either be for acquisitions or to set up plants abroad to make commercial vehicles, probably for the Avia brand.

Indo-Asian News Service

US media hails Tata's hello to Jaguar, Land Rover

"Ford says 'Tata' to Jaguar, Land Rover". After running a news agency story on the mega auto deal with this tailor-made headline, many US publications looked in admiration at Tata's hello to the luxury British brands it acquired.
Some of the papers saw the $2.3 billion purchase as a stunning triumph for Tata and showed their admiration for the Tata's winsome acquisition style.
In stories put out on their websites within hours of the announcement Wednesday, they said the deal was good for everyone - Tata, Ford and the two brands. Some added a caveat that the Indian company was inviting trouble.

USA Today saw the deal as "one of the most significant shifts of clout in the auto industry" where Ford Motor was handing the keys to its high-class brands to an Indian company "perhaps best known for its heavy trucks".
The paper said the deal came at a time when the auto industry, particularly in North America and Europe, was focused on China as the next big world player. It quoted David Cole, chairman of the Centre for Automotive Research, on the Tata-Ford deal: "This represents a first, with an Indian company really stepping outside as an investor with a significant couple of brands."
The Wall Street Journal said: "For Tata, the deal extends the company's global reach in the auto sector and shores up its competitive standing against Indian rival Mahindra & Mahindra, which already had plans to enter the US market in 2009." Mahindra had also vied for Jaguar and Land Rover.
The Journal's online auto editor, David Patton, considered the deal good for Ford, who could not make money from the brands, and for Jaguar and Land Rover too, because Tata would prove a good steward.
In a video interview on the Journal's website, Laurie Harbour, of advisory firm Stout Risius Ross, said Tata, in its quest for quick growth and to compete globally, is buying strong brands known for quality and reliability with the big capital it has. This is something the Chinese companies are unable to do, giving the Indians an edge, she commented.
Fortune said the Tata group chairman Ratan Tata's hands-off ownership style could win him crucial support in his bid to fold the acquired brands into Tata.

"Well, it seems to come naturally to Tata and his people. It was evident in the Corus deal, and it seems to be at work again in their Jaguar and Land Rover plans," the magazine said.

But the magazine also went into the chequered past of Jaguar and Land Rover, and opined that Tata's optimism about growth of the acquired companies could be hit by worsening economic problems in the US and elsewhere.

The magazine, which had recently named 70-year-old Ratan Tata among the 25 most powerful people in business globally, also thought that he and his group had not been grooming a worthy successor to him.

Jaguar, Land Rover deal not without challenges: experts

With the acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover, does the Tata group have the two big cats of the British automobile industry by the tail? Analysts are posing this question given the implications of the future emission norms in Europe. But Tata Motors are confident of addressing the challenge.
According to analysts and automobile engineers, Tatas Motors may get choked with fines on Jaguar and Land Rover - the brands acquired for $2.3 billion from Ford Motors Wednesday - when the proposed emission norms come into force by 2012.
"The maximum permissible emission limit will be 130 grams per km per model. The manufacturers may be fined if their models emit more," said Krishnasami Rajagopalan, senior analyst with Frost and Sullivan and a qualified automobile engineer.

Vehicle makers have an escape route if they average out their emissions over the entire fleet and set off the excess in some against lower emissions in others, he said.
"But for Tata Motors, having just two models in Britain could pose challenges," Rajagopalan, who heads the consultancy's Automotive and Transportation Unit, told IANS.
Nevertheless, C. Ramakrishnan, president and chief financial officer for Tata Motors, was confident of addressing the challenges. "The two models will meet the emission norms. Necessary agreements have been signed with Ford for sourcing engine technology."
The engine supply agreement signed with Ford Motor is mutually satisfactory and will be for a period of 5-9 years depending on the model. "There are some normal technologies that come along with an acquisition. Some other technologies do come under licensing agreement," said Ramakrishnan.
Car manufacturers, including premium and sports car makers, generally work on alternative powertrains such as hydrogen, fuel cells, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, then plug-in hybrids.
"Though Ford is already developing alternative powertrains, will it be ready to share its technology with Jaguar and Land Rover owing to its engine supply pact with the Tatas?" queried Rajagopalan.
"This could eventually result in the technology being accessed by Tatas and indirectly by Fiat through Tata," he said, while adding that car makers may be allowed to trade on emission certificates as in the case of carbon trading.
The other challenge for Tata Motors is the flexibility available to cut costs at the production sites in Britain, the process of integration and the challenges posed by the market, said Piyush Parag.
Tatas have decided to retain manufacturing of Jaguar and Land Rover in their home country, it will have also have to contend with higher cost of production and rising material prices in Western Europe, said Rajagopalan.
"The biggest challenge for Tata Motors is to balance the increase in costs with tradition, quality and performance of Jaguar and Land Rover. It remains to be seen if this will push Tata to look at low cost manufacturing in the near future."

This apart, since Tatas Motors will have separate supplier base for their India operations and that in Britain, the benefit synergies of scale may not be available - at least for the first five years.

But Ramakrishnan said the group could look at the possibility of sourcing some components from India. "Both the companies have competent high quality vendors. Nevertheless we will explore the possibilities to synergise all our operations."

Indo-Asian News Service

Obopay India and YES BANK Launches Instant Money Transfer Facility Using Mobile Phones

The secure Obopay mobile payment solution will now allow YES BANK customers to send money from any mobile number to any mobile number instantly, either using a mobile application downloaded on their mobile phones (J2ME), or a web application having GPRS connectivity (WAP) or through the popular instant messaging services using the SMS facility. YES BANK customers now have the opportunity to transfer upto Rs 25,000 per transaction to potentially 240 million mobile users in the country using the SMS facility, so long as these users are registered with the YES BANK-Obopay Mobile Payment Solution service. Customers can instantly withdraw cash received through such transfers from over 21,000 ATM’s across the country using the YES BANK debit card.

“Together, Obopay and YES BANK are giving Indian mobile consumers power over their money no matter where they are,” said Obopay Executive Director Aditya Menon, "This service is built for today’s mobile lifestyle, making funds available to consumers anytime they need it and makes your money truly mobile in every sense. We’re excited to bring this innovative service to new and existing YES BANK customers in India”
Commenting on this Strategic Alliance, Mr. Rana Kapoor, Founder/ Managing Director & CEO, YES BANK, said “We are pleased to announce our alliance with Obopay India to relentlessly serve the growing consumer demands and enabling YES BANK customers transact anywhere, anytime. The Bank is committed to executing a concerted strategy by continuously launching innovative and secure banking channels to enhance customer satisfaction and increase focus on providing convenience and choice to our clients”.
YES BANK customers can sign up for this unique service nationally through forms available at 60 YES BANK Retail Branches and across 75 ATM’s in Mumbai and National Capital Region (NCR). Customers registering for this service by April 30, 2008 will be given a special incentive of Rs 100 by Obopay which will be credited to the customers account. The incentive will be provided in two parts - Rs 50 at the time of registration and another Rs 50 on completion of three successful transactions.

Real Image's Advance Forensic Technology to track down Piracy in Cinema

Real Image Media Technologies (RIMT), India’s leading developer and provider of Digital Media Technology in the film, video and audio domain, has announced that all cinemas equipped with its Qube Digital Cinema System within the country were being enhanced to include the highest level of anti-piracy measures. Utilizing security concepts and solutions designed by the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a body formed by the major Hollywood Studios for the D-Cinema market, Real Image has improved the capabilities of its very successful Qube Cinema system to even serve the non-Hollywood E-Cinema market.
Qube E-Cinema systems are already installed and functioning in over 500 screens across India and have been adopted by several key companies including E-City, Pyramid Saimira, Cinemeta Entertainment, Shree Venkatesh Films as well as numerous independent theatres in the country.

The security improvements are in two key areas:
The first improvement is in Qube’s E-Cinema security through incorporation of Thomson’s NexGuard Forensic Watermarking (FWM). This advanced system incorporates the serial number of the Qube E-Cinema system into the image in a totally invisible manner. Presently, secret but visible marks are being incorporated into the film prints by producers, as well as Real Image and other digital cinema players in the country, these marks have the major disadvantage of being visible and therefore easy for a pirate to identify and cover up in various ways. For example, if the serial number of the digital cinema system is shown as a visible number on the screen, this number could be blanked out by the pirate whenever it occurs. Alternatively, the picture could be framed in such a manner as to avoid showing this mark if it is in any of the edges of the image.

Now, Thomson’s FWM technology places totally invisible marks on the image which can be identified using Thomson’s detection system from any pirated copy that is found as a Video CD, DVD or Internet download. Being invisible, a pirate will not be able to cover up these marks and since Thomson’s technology is very robust, these marks will survive compression of the image into a Video CD, DVD or many forms of Internet download.
The second enhancement is in the concept of the Trusted Device List which allows only specific authorized devices to be used for projection. The output of all Qube E-Cinema servers is already encrypted using the HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) standard, and this serves as a basic form of protection. However, it is still possible to use a HDCP compatible monitor rather than a HDCP projector to screen the feature film and copy it in high quality by using a video camera. By utilizing the concept of the Trusted Device List, the Qube server will now only output picture to a specific projector unit that is authorized. Thus, all other HDCP monitors and any future illegal HDCP decoders will not function with the upgraded Qube system.
The source of any pirated copy can thus be conclusively identified and the offenders brought to book – saving the industry crores of losses every year. Being invisible also means that the movie viewer will not be distracted in any manner from enjoying the film.
Real Image believes strongly in intellectual property (IP), being a manufacturer of equipment that is based on our own unique IP. The Company began work on the Trusted Device List and Thomson FWM technology implementation early in 2007.
Says Co-founder and Director - RIMT, Senthil Kumar, “We believe that the rollout of these powerful new anti-piracy security features will ensure that we are able to prevent any illegal exploitation of content and can correctly identify any defaulters. This will be a big advantage for our huge industry that is facing tremendous losses due to illegal copies in the market. We look forward to the day, in the not too distant future, when films are released purely digitally and piracy is no more a threat.”

Simplex Infrastructures bags orders worth Rs 653cr

Simplex Infrastructures Ltd., one of India’s leading infrastructure solutions providers, today, announced bagging of projects worth Rs. 653 crore from different segments. These orders include civil and structural construction work of Hotel Ritz Carlton, Bangalore worth Rs. 139 crore; cement plant - Chandra Cement Works, Maharashtra worth Rs. 116 crore from ACC; sewerage system and allied works worth Rs. 175 crore from Indore Municipal Corporation; thermal power plants worth Rs. 207 crore and piling works worth Rs. 16 crore.

Commenting on this, Mr. Rajiv Mundhra, Director, Simplex Infrastructures Ltd. said, “We are proud to have bagged orders in various infrastructure verticals. It speaks of our strength as a company with diverse business portfolio. It is because of this, we have been able to tap the best out of different segments in the industry. With this, we see our capabilities - management and execution - strengthening exponentially.”

He added, “Simplex Infrastructures has been progressive and has maintained its robust growth consistently. This is a remarkable achievement for us with our book swelling up to Rs. 10,100 crore. We hope to continue the steady progress in future as well.”

New AMD Phenom(TM) X3 8000 Series Processors and AMD 780 Chipsets Create the Ultimate Mainstream Desktop Platform

AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced the availability of AMD Phenom(TM) X3 8000 series triple-core processors, providing gamers and digital media enthusiasts with exceptional performance at mainstream price points. AMD Phenom X3 processors are designed to improve multi-threaded application performance over dual-core processors at the same clock speed. As the world's only triple-core x86 processor, AMD Phenom X3 processors bring multi-core technology to a broader audience in search of desktop PCs that easily handle today's digital entertainment workloads.
When paired with the AMD 780 series chipset, AMD Phenom X3 processors can deliver significant enhancements in gaming and high-definition experiences for mainstream PC customers. This AMD desktop solution can provide a full HD experience with support for the latest and most demanding formats, including VC-1, MPEG-2 and H.264 on a mainstream PC. With the AMD Unified Video Decoder (UVD), the solution can process HD playback on the better-suited GPU rather than the CPU so consumers may enjoy a smooth HD viewing experience--less lag, stalling and dropped scenes--in the latest Blu-ray titles.

"In 2007, AMD committed to delivering AMD Phenom triple-core processors in Q1 2008 and today the company makes good on that promise," said Bob Brewer, corporate vice president, strategic marketing, AMD. "AMD understands that today's PC applications are best accelerated with a range of multi-core products from quad- to triple- to dual-core processors, and that's why we now deliver the broadest multi-core desktop lineup in the industry."
AMD Phenom X3 processor and AMD 780G chipset based desktop PCs offer DirectX 10 game compatibility, so casual gamers can now enjoy enhanced gaming experience such as truly lifelike 3D graphics and dynamic interactivity in the latest game titles. Gamers looking to scale their performance with the addition of a discrete graphics card can accelerate their performance with ATI Hybrid Graphics Technology. This technology can harness the graphics power of both an ATI discrete graphics card and the motherboard GPU in tandem, delivering in some applications up to 70 percent improvements in 3D performance.( 1) In addition, the AMD 780G chipset is the second generation AMD chipset to feature AMD OverDrive(TM), a simple user interface that brings performance tuning to the masses.(2)
AMD Phenom(TM) X3 8000 Series Triple-Core Processors

AMD Phenom X3 8400 and AMD Phenom X3 8600 processors can improve performance over dual-core processors on single-threaded applications and can scale with the same applications that scale with quad-core. AMD Phenom triple-core processors can also increase performance for multitasking usage models and multi-threaded applications, aligned with similar benefits available with AMD Phenom X4 quad-core processors.

AMD will be collaborating with ZT Systems to premiere the first system featuring the new AMD Phenom X3 triple-core processor on QVC during the Computer Shop broadcast, which is scheduled to air March 31 at 10 p.m. EDT.

"New ZT Affinity desktops featuring the AMD Phenom X3 8400 triple-core processor deliver 'The Latest Technology for Less,' empowering a broader range of customers to experience the performance and multi-tasking capability of true multi-core technology," said Russell Carlisle, VP of Marketing, ZT Systems. "The ZT Affinity 5202Zi is a perfect fit for consumers looking for a stylish, affordable compact PC with the power they need for today's cutting-edge digital entertainment."

Availability

Systems powered by AMD Phenom X3 processors 8400 (2.1GHz) and 8600 (2.3GHz) are expected to be initially available from leading OEMs and system builders. For processor pricing details, please visit www.amd.com/pricing. For press collateral pertaining to the new AMD Phenom X4 and X3 models including product specifications and availability, images and partner support, please visit www.amd.com/phenom/presskit.

About AMD

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) is a leading global provider of innovative processing solutions in the computing, graphics and consumer electronics markets. AMD is dedicated to driving open innovation, choice and industry growth by delivering superior customer-centric solutions that empower consumers and businesses worldwide. For more information, visit www.amd.com.

ExxonMobil and Petronas Sign Agreement for New Production Sharing Contract

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc., a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), and the Malaysian national oil company, PETRONAS, will continue to work together to help ensure sustainable energy supplies for Malaysia under a planned new 25-year production sharing contract.
At the signing ceremony for the main principles agreement for the new contract, Mark Albers, senior vice president, Exxon Mobil Corporation, said, "We are proud of our partnership and collaboration with PETRONAS that have allowed us to develop and deliver energy supplies to help meet growing Malaysian and international energy needs.

"This agreement will let our partnership continue to grow and enable the use of ExxonMobil world-class technologies and project execution capabilities to efficiently develop the substantial petroleum resources offshore Peninsular Malaysia."

The contract includes commitments to implement significant enhanced oil recovery activities and for major investments to continue conventional oil development.

The ExxonMobil subsidiary has invested more than US$15 billion in Malaysia over the past 40 years. The company operates 43 platforms in 17 fields as one of Malaysia's major suppliers of crude oil and natural gas. Daily operated production is about 150,000 barrels (gross) of oil and approximately 1.2 billion cubic feet (gross) of natural gas. About 96 percent of the affiliate's 1,150 employees are Malaysian nationals.

About ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia

Subsidiaries and predecessors of Exxon Mobil Corporation have operated in Malaysia for 115 years. ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc. currently operates under six production sharing contracts with the Malaysian national oil company, PETRONAS. Esso Malaysia Berhad (EMB) is a significant refiner and marketer of high-quality petroleum products to retail and industrial customers. Additionally, EMB is one of the largest suppliers of liquefied petroleum gas to Malaysian residential, business and industrial sectors. Another affiliate supplies a portfolio of specialty chemical products to the growing marketplace in Malaysia.

About PETRONAS

PETRONAS, the acronym for Petroliam Nasional Berhad, is wholly-owned by the Malaysian government and is vested with the ownership and management of the country's hydrocarbon resources. A Fortune 500 company, PETRONAS is actively engaged in the various spectra of the oil and gas and related activities in more than 30 countries worldwide. In Malaysia, its upstream activities are undertaken and managed through production sharing contracts with a number of international oil and gas companies as well as with subsidiary PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd.

Tata pleases, Ford 'disappoints' British workers' union

The head of Britain's largest workers union Wednesday reiterated his support for Tata's acquisition of the luxury car brands Jaguar and Land Rover, but said he was disappointed by seller Ford's failure to retain a stake.
"If Jaguar and Land Rover had to be sold, then Tata was the best option," said Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, as Ford announced the sale of the two British iconic cars to Tata Motors Ltd.
The deal, announced Wednesday, already has the union's seal of approval, after it secured Tata's assurance that it will not shed jobs at the three Jaguar and Land Rover factories at Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Halewood and would continue to source Ford-made engine and components from its factories in Bridgend and Dagenham.
"We would have much preferred Ford to keep the companies in the family, so to speak, especially with Land Rover being so profitable," Woodley said.
"But with the commitments Tata have given to the future of Jaguar-Land Rover and the long-term supply agreements for components, especially engines from Bridgend and Dagenham, we're obviously pleased they are in the game."
However, Woodley added that there was disappointment that Ford had decided against taking a stake in the new future.
"That is a big disappointment," he said.
According to sources in Unite, union officials would have liked to see Ford take a minority stake, as it did while selling off the luxury car Aston Martin to two Kuwaiti investment companies last year. Ford retained a $77 million stake in Aston Martin.
This, the union officials feel, would have helped to "lock in" long-term commitments made as part of the agreement signed Wednesday between Tata and Ford.
The nervousness may be explained by the fact up to 40,000 jobs were at stake at a time of a global economic slowdown.
"On the positive side, Tata has not only given us a long-term commitment, but they are an industrial company as well," Unite's Andrew Dodgson told IANS.
"Tata recognise the iconic brand value of Jaguar-Land Rover - that they are British-engineered and British-made cars and so it is important to keep them in Britain," he added.
Ford acquired Jaguar for $2.5 bn in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.75 bn in 2000 but put them on the market last year after posting losses of $12.6 bn in 2006 - the heaviest in its 103-year history.
Tata was named by Ford as the preferred bidders in January as it beat off competition from fellow-Indian carmaker Mahindra and Mahindra and American buy-up specialist One Equity.
While the three Jaguar and Land Rover factories in Britain employ some 16,000 people, the number swells to between 30,000 and 40,000 when ancillaries are taken into account, according to Dodgson.
Indo-Asian News Service

Praise for Tatas for Jaguar, Land Rover deal

The workers at Jaguar and Land Rover are not the only people who praised Tata Motors for the $2.3 billion deal with Ford. Commerce Minister Kamal Nath Wednesday joined corporate India in complementing the Tata group for spearheading India Inc's globalisation drive.
"My congratulations to the Tatas and entire corporate world as they have held India's private sector flag high. The world is looking at India," Kamal Nath said at the sidelines of a meeting here.
"The most important thing is that world is recognising India's credibility," he said, adding the $2.3 billion deal was also a sign of the rising globalisation of Indian companies even at a time when there was a global slowdown.

"The acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover has been a culmination of a process of acquisition overseas by the Indian corporate," said the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Ficci) in a statement.
"With the meltdown in US and repercussions in Europe, Ficci is convinced India Inc will have many more opportunities of buying up valuable companies in these markets, provided the growth momentum of the Indian economy is sustained."
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) said the agreement signed by the Tatas also marks the transparent and business-like manner in which the group has negotiated with Ford, which needed to be complimented.
"The Indian industry has been doing an extremely good job in acquiring foreign assets. But the way the Tatas have done it makes India proud," said Venugopal N. Dhoot, the president of the industry lobby.
Indo-Asian News Service

Tata deal shows 'India has arrived': Sunil Mittal

Tata Motors' acquisition of the prestigious Jaguar and Land Rover car brands shows that "India has arrived" on the world scene - something American politicians now need to wake up to, Indian industrialist Sunil Bharti Mittal said Wednesday.
He spoke after meeting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He was leading a delegation of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
"India has arrived and is being accepted by all. The welcome we are seeing in the United Kingdom is just fantastic. We are very, very proud of the house of Tatas," Mittal, president of the CII, told IANS.

"Globalisation is a two-say street. Now, it is time for American politicians to realise that globalisation benefits everybody, as the UK has understood," said Mittal, who is CEO of Bharti Enterprises.
Mittal said he was "delighted" with the news about the deal between Tata Motors and sellers Ford.
"Jaguar and Land Rover are iconic brands known to the entire world. For Tata to pick them up is fantastic," he added.
Mittal also said he had a "very good meeting" with Prime Minister Brown as a follow-up to the British leader's visit to India in January.
Brown and the 15-member delegation discussed key issues in areas of skills building, climate change and global trade talks.
"Gordon Brown wants India to fully participate in the Doha Round of Talks at the World Trade Organization. He wants us to move ahead on the NAMA discussions (on manufacturing tariffs)," Mittal said.
"He said the world will move on agriculture, so that's a message we will be carrying to (Commerce Minister) Kamal Nath."
The meeting was the third between CII members and the British prime minister in the last 18 months.
Britain is India's fourth largest trading partner globally and the second largest in Europe, after Germany.
The delegation included CII chief mentor Tarun Das, Hindustan Motors chairman C.K. Birla, and Dabur India chairman Anand Burman.
Indo-Asian News Service

British government welcomes Tata buy

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Digby Jones - who has just won a campaign to be allowed to drive a Jaguar - said Wednesday the British government welcomes the "long-term commitment" shown by Tata Motors in purchasing the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.
"The Tata Group is already a major investor in the United Kingdom, with recent acquisitions including Corus, and in automotive terms Tata Motors has also had its European Technical Centre in the West Midlands for several years," he said in a statement minutes after Ford announced the sale of the iconic brands to Tata Motors for $2.3 billion.
"We welcome their long-term commitment now to developing the Jaguar and Land Rover brands as part of their British businesses," said Jones, who earlier this month won a feisty battle against the government's green lobby to be allowed to be driven in an official Jaguar rather than a low-emission hybrid car.

"These businesses have every reason to face the future with confidence - Land Rover is at record production levels, Jaguar has exciting new products, and both brands are supported by a committed, expert workforcem," Jones said.
"UK Trade and Investment will do everything it can to promote the Jaguar and Land Rover brands around the world," he added.
Jones' comments came amid much speculation in London that Prime Minister Gordon Brown would make a statement on the acquisition by the Tatas during Question Hour in the British parliament.
Although he failed to do so, Jones gave interviews on the deal, speaking to the media all the way from Bangkok, where he is on an official visit.
Meanwhile, the UK-India Business Council (UKIBC) said the deal is an "outstanding example of the UK's open economy" and its ability to attract offshore investment and talent.
"Vodafone's acquisition of Hutch and Tata's previous acquisition of Tetley and more recently Corus are leading examples of this," said Sharon Bamford, chief executive of the UKIBC - the lead organisation supporting the promotion of bilateral trade, business and investment opportunities between the two countries.
UKIBC chairman Lord Karan Bilimoria said the purchase is the latest example of the newfound confidence of Indian companies.
"Less than two months ago, I sat in the new Tata Nano, and I witnessed history in the making. Indian companies are growing more confident in the global economy, and with this deal the country is on the move like never before," he added.
Indo-Asian News Service

Tata deal an honour for India, say analysts

Corporate analysts Wednesday hailed Tata Motors' deal with Ford Motor to buy two iconic British auto brands Jaguar and Land Rover as not just a milestone for the Tata group but a historic moment for India.
"This is a landmark deal and it is a landmark deal for India also," says Deven Malkan, a noted commentator and editor-in-chief of Corporate India magazine.
"The deal has all the ingredients of a lion-hearted industrialist. The critics had earlier tried to run down the Corus deal and look at the Tata Steel's share price today - it is flourishing," he said.

"Tata is a conservative and staid industrial house and before jumping into the deal fray everybody in the market knows that they would have first made sure of raising funds along with a study of the deal and its ramifications."
Sanjay Choksi, president of automobile appraisal group Western India Automobile Association, said: "This deal will help Tata Motors in gaining prestige and enhancing the Tata brand in the automobile world internationally."
"I think buying a readymade company also paves the way for the enhancement of indigenous automobile industry. Though the automobile industry here has a lot of tie-ups with major international giants, but this deal will certainly bring about a change in the Indian car world," Choksi said.
Hormazd Sorabjee, editor of "AutoCar", said: "It is a big thing not just for the Tatas but also for the Indian automotive industry. It means a lot."
However, he contended that the deal and the transfer of technology from the Ford Motor would not have much impact in the domestic field.
"The cars are from the extreme high-end spectrum, which means it will have limited buyers in the domestic market. But then if you look from the international band, then it will certainly have an impact on the fortunes of Tata Motors," Sorabjee said.
Moreover, Sorabjee felt that even the high-end technology transfer may not have much impact on the domestic front, "though some changes might be felt in the Indian automotive industry, in the coming days."
Indo-Asian News Service

Be British, buy Indian - live life the Tata way!

Sip Tetley tea in the morning, drive a Jaguar built with Corus steel to office, work with Tata Consultancy software and over the weekend take your Land Rover to the countryside before fine dining in a Taj hotel.
This seems to be the message of the $28.8 billion Tata group to the British people. For Tetley, Corus, Jaguar and Land Rover are UK based companies taken over by the Indian group.
The Tatas own 98 operating companies around the world with a market capitalization of $56.52 billion.
The acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover takes the overseas operating companies to 100, another landmark number.

The Tata's passage to Britain is over 100 years old through Tata Limited, a subsidiary of Tata Sons.
However it was in the new millennium that the Tata group initiated its new phase of globalisation when it acquired the Tetley tea brand - the market leader in Britain and Canada.
Tetley contributes a lion's share of the Tatas' tea business today.
The next major acquisitions came in 2005 when Tata Chemicals bought the soda ash maker Brunner Mond Group, Tata Technologies acquired INCAT International a technology company and TCS bought the business process outsourcing (BPO) division of Pearl Group.
The year 2007 saw Tatas acquiring British steel maker Corus, one of the largest European steel makers.
And on Wednesday the group announced the acquisition of two more iconic British brands - Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Company, US.
All these acquisitions make Britain a major overseas market for the Indian group.
At the last count the Indian group has around 20 companies in Britain and several thousand employees.
On the information technology domain, TCS has a good presence in Britain and Ireland while Tata Interactive Systems operates in the e-learning space.
Tata Motors has an engineering technology centre in Warwick while the group's hotel chain Taj has two hotels in Britain.
The telecom company VSNL International also has a presence in Britain.
Indo-Asian News Service

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Factsheet on the Tata group

A factsheet on the Tata group, India's largest private sector business conglomerate, founded by Jamsetji Tata in the mid 19th century:

Past titans: Jamsetji Tata, Sir Dorab Tata, Sir Ratan Tata, J.R.D. Tata, Naval Tata
Chief Executive: Ratan Naval Tata, 70
Headquarters: The landmark Bombay House in downtown Mumbai
Promoter companies: Tata Sons and Tata Industries
Shareholding: About 66 percent of equity capital of Tata Sons held by philanthropic trusts endowed by members of the Tata family
Decision makers: The Group Corporate Centre comprises Ratan Naval Tata, N.A. Soonawala, J.J. Irani, R.K. Krishna Kumar, R. Gopalakrishnan, Ishaat Hussain, Kishor Chaukar, Arun Gandhi and Alan Rosling
Number of companies: 98, of which 27 are listed

Areas of interest: Seven business segments covering information systems and communications, engineering; materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals
Group turnover: $28.8 billion in 2006-07, equivalent to 3.2 percent of the country's GDP
Market capitalisation: $56.52 billion as on March 19, 2008
Shareholder base of listed companies: Around 3 million investors
Countries of operation: Over 80, spread over six continents
Employees: 289,500
Some global companies acquired: Tetley of Britain in 2004, Daewoo Commercial Vehicles of South Korea in 2004, Eight 'O'clock Coffee of US in 2006 and Anglo-Dutch Corus in 2007
Some popular brands: Tetley (beverages), Tanishq (jewellery), Titan (watches), Voltas (cooling appliances), Rallis (agro-chemicals), Westside (garments), Tata Indicom (telecom), Taj Air (in-flight catering), Nelco (electronics)
Some brand ambassadors: Tennis ace Sania Mirza, cricketers Saurav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan, formulae one racer Narain Karthikeyan, and actors Aamir khan and Naseeruddin Shah
Some major companies: Indian Hotels, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea, Tata Coffee, Tata Motors, Titan, Rallis India, Voltas, Tata Chemicals, Tata Steel, CMC, Tata Communications, Tata Elxsi, Tata Power, Tata Investment, Tata Metaliks, Tayo Rolls, Tinplate, Trent, Tata Teleservices and Nelco
Indo-Asian News Service

Major overseas acquisitions by Tata group

With the takeover of two British automobile marquees Jaguar and Land Rover, the $28.8 billion Tata group, with 98 companies in its fold, will add another prominent entry to its growing roster of global acquisitions.

Barely a year ago, it paid over $12 billion to acquire Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus, in what remains the largest buy-out deal overseas by an Indian company till date.

And going by what senior executives of Tata Sons - the holding arm of the group that has 27 listed companies - maintain, the appetite for such mega mergers and acquisitions is only growing with each deal.
Tata Steel has made three major acquisitions worth some $13 billion in the past few years.
"A journey that began long ago is gathering pace," said chairman Ratan Tata on the overseas foray of the group that has interests in consumer goods, chemicals, energy, services, engineering, materials and IT systems and communications.
"From IT and tea to automobiles and steel, Tata companies are spreading their wings to find a place in the global sun," he says.
Here's a look at some notable acquisitions by the Tata group companies overseas in the past few years:

Tata Steel:
The company, which celebrated its centenary in August last year, wants to boost its annual output of 8.7 million tonnes to 15 million tonnes by 2010, and take it upwards to 30 million tonnes by 2030. More stunning moves on the mergers and acquisition front can definitely be expected, it says.
In January 2007, the group pulled off India's biggest ever takeover of an overseas company to buy Anglo-Dutch steel-maker Corus in a $12 billion deal that made it the combined entity the world's fifth largest producer of the commodity.
This came just over a year after it acquired Singapore's NatSteel, which also has a presence in Thailand, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia followed by the acquisition of Thailand's Millennium Steel for a $421 million.

Tata Motors:
South Korea's Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Co was acquired by the company in March 2004 for $102 million and gained, in the process, a market share of 30 percent and access to markets where it had no prior presence.
This was followed by the acquisition of a 21 percent stake in Spanish bus maker Hispano Carrocera for $18 million with an option to pick up the remaining stake at a later date. This helped the company get technology to make top-end busses.
Another company in the fold - Tata Technologies, which provides automotive engineering and design services - bought Britain's Incat International for $53 million.

Tata Consultancy Services:
This company, which was earlier a division of Tata Sons, has been among the most aggressive shoppers for companies overseas. It has acquired six companies in recent months, though the net value of the deals is no more than $100 million.
In the second half of 2005, following the merger of group company Tata Infotech into its fold, TCS acquired financial services company FNS of Australia for $26 million and then Chile's outsourcing major Comicrom for $23 million.
TCS, which has 160 offices in 30 countries, also entered into a structured deal with the British insurance major, the Pearl Group, which essentially called for the two entities to set up a subsidiary with TCS as the majority partner.

Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd:
The Tata group acquired the former state-run, international telecom carrier a few years ago. The company has made several overseas acquisitions since then with the aim of becoming a top-end services provider in the industry.
Some of the acquisitions include undersea cable company Tyco of the US for $130 million, Internet service provider Dishnet's India division for $64.28 million and international telecom service provider Teleglobe of US for $239 million.

Tata Chemicals:
Following its acquisition of Hindustan Lever Chemicals, Tata Chemicals was on the lookout for a steady supply of phosphoric acid for its newly acquired plant at Haldia.
It, accordingly, took over two overseas for a total value of $215 million - Indo Maroc Phosphore of Morocco in March 2005 and Brunner Mond Group of Britain in December last year. Morocco produces over 50 percent of world's rock phosphate.

Tata Tea:
In 2000, Tata Tea bought British giant Tetley for a $407 million - in what was then the largest such deal by an Indian company - and started scouting for similar deals to become a global tea and related drinks brand.
Another acquisition has been a 33 percent stake in South African Joekels Tea Packers for an undisclosed amount that was announced this month. It had earlier acquired the US-based Good Earth Corp for $32 million.
The company's other picks include Czech Republic's Jemca and 30 percent stake in the US-based favoured water manufacturer Glaceau for $677 million.

Indian Hotels:
This company, which runs the Taj Group of hotels, acquired several hotels abroad for $121 million in the past few years. It has set aside $100 million for future acquisitions in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US.
In December 2006, it acquired W, a hotel at the Woolloomooloo Bay in Sydney, then it took over the management of The Pierre, a luxurious landmark hotel on New York's Fifth Avenue. India Hotels has 39 hotels in India and 18 worldwide.
Another acquisition was Campton Place Hotel in San Francisco

Tata AutoComp Systems:
This company - which makes auto components from 14 plants, three engineering centres and three export-oriented units for clients like General Motors, Ford and Toyota - acquired W? Weidinger of Germany for $7 million last year.

Tata Interactive Systems:
A pioneer in simulations business in India, this company too made acquired several companies overseas - Notably Tertia Edusoft GmbH of Germany and Tertia Edusoft AG of Switzerlandm - and is keen on more buy outs in the future.
Indo-Asian News Service

Citibank Launches Citigold Select for High Net Worth Clients

Citibank today announced the launch of its super premium offering Citigold Select, which provides high net worth affluent customers a holistic suite of both retail banking and wealth management products and solutions that include investments, insurance, mortgage, business banking, retirement planning, succession planning and wealth transfer.
Citigold Select builds further on Citibank's existing successful and leading proposition for high net worth customers, 'Citigold', which is extremely popular with the HNI customers. With Citigold Select, the Bank will specially cater to its top Citigold clients whose needs are increasingly getting more complex and specific, requiring a higher degree of specialization.
The needs of each client are taken care of by a dedicated and experienced Relationship Manager who is supported by Service Relationship Managers and the Citigold Select advisory team consists of Portfolio Counselors and a team of Investment, Insurance and Treasury Specialists. All of them work in partnership with the client to derive financial strategies that are customised to the client's financial goals.
Launching Citigold Select, Mr. T R Ramachandran, Head, Retail Banking, Citibank N. A., India said, "The launch of Citigold Select is in accordance with Citibank's strategy to offer superior products and services to meet the increasing aspirations of its sophisticated client segment. Our unique proposition stems not only from the depth of our expertise and our global capabilities, but also the breadth of our product range which is unrivalled in the affluent high net worth segment. We bring the best of retail banking and wealth management advisory to our clients, with products ranging from transactional accounts, mortgages, car loans, insurance, credit cards and investments, all the way through to trusts, managed accounts and private investment tranches unique to each individual client's requirements. The launch of Citigold Select is our latest initiative to add enhanced value to our clients."
According to Mr. Sameer Kaul, Head, Branch Banking, Citibank N. A., India, "The Citigold Select offering represents Citibank at its absolute best, bringing together unique global capabilities of Citi in products and services, and harnessing the best of technological innovation for every individual client. Our emphasis on the HNI segment demonstrates the growing sophistication of the Indian market and the increasingly complex needs and expectations of these individuals. The Citigold Select banking experience would ensure that clients' day-to-day banking and transactional needs are well taken care of - with seamless precision, within time, every time."
Citigold Select highlights:

-- Experienced and Senior Citigold Select Relationship Manager

-- Team of experts including portfolio counselors and expert research analysts

-- Quarterly investment research report "Standpoint"

-- Business Specialist to help create solutions that suit the financial needs of your business

-- Equity Brokerage and Advisory Services, brought to you by Citi Smith Barney

-- Citibank Ultima card

-- Jet Platinum credit card

--- Trust services

-- Art Advisory services

-- Exclusive meets and events across genres - business, financial and lifestyle

About Citi

Citi, the leading global financial services company, has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Citi's major brand names include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney, Banamex, and Nikko. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com or www.citi.com.

What makes a good business website?

The most important function of any small business site is to give customers and potential customers information about the business and what it does.
A good place to start when creating a useful and successful business is to include information on:
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What the business does
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The product/s or service/s the business provides
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How the business be contacted

Taking these ideas one step further, you can allow customers to interact via the website. This could be as simple as having a contact form, or as advanced as allowing customers to buy products or services online via the website. You could also use your web site to add value for your customers providing them with additional support. For example if you included an FAQ section, it gives your customers 24-7 access to answer common questions but also can free you up from answering the same question time and again.

It may be useful to consider your other forms of advertising when thinking about content for your website. Often with other forms of advertising you will have limited space and a limited number of words. A website gives you the ideal chance to be more verbose and expand on the information in your other advertising materials.

To make your website successful you need to provide something of value to your customers. However just creating a site with valuable content that remains static will not keep people coming back time and again.

Think for example about your TV, if your favourite program was on you would probably watch it. Now what if all it ever showed was the same episode over and over and never showed anything else? You would probably watch it a few times but would soon get bored. The same is true of a website, no matter how good the information if it never changes people will get bored and stop visiting it.

One of the things that you can do is put up news items about your business. For example you could post news items about new products or new distribution deals. Another thing you could do is to have a deal of the week or month with a voucher that visitors to the site can print out. Doing this is also another way of adding valuable content to your site.

Without valuable content people have no reason to visit your site or recommend it to their friends. So whether you update your site everyday or just once in a blue moon make sure you have valuable content. The best content is often detailed information about your products and/or services, after all that is what your website is there to promote.

How Indian businesses are crowdsourcing for innovation?

From Ideawicket Innovations: Click on Photos to open fullpost




Reducing Risk with Online Advertising

How can online advertising fraud be detected and prevented? What should we look at, where should we look, and what methods and tools should we use?
These questions are relevant to anyone who buys online advertising. According to HBS professor Ben Edelman, an expert on the design of electronic markets, these are the kinds of concerns you should think about when setting payment terms and dealing directly with suppliers.

One tool to deter fraud: pay later.

Edelman's new research on a major advertising affiliate network demonstrates that by delaying payment by two to four months the network could eliminate more than 70 percent of fraud without decreasing profit. As he explained in his blog:

"By delaying payments, a merchant or network differentially harms bad affiliates (who rightly worry they may get caught) without unduly harming good affiliates (who know they'll get paid, and who receive a bonus in compensation for the delay). With a suitable delay, a merchant or network can deter many bad affiliates while retaining the good."

"Even if you deal with suppliers indirectly, that doesn't mean you couldn't have some say in the terms by which they are paid," Edelman tells HBS Working Knowledge. "Indeed, if you paid your suppliers more slowly they'd almost certainly pay their suppliers more slowly, which would have the desired effect.

"You have no control, and yet you have full control merely by not sending the check too quickly."

Edelman explains more in this Q&A, as well as the motivation behind his working paper "Optimal Deterrence When Judgment-Proof Agents Are Paid in Arrears—With an Application to Online Advertising Fraud."

Martha Lagace: How prevalent is fraud in online advertising?

Ben Edelman: In online advertising, it's often hard to know whether you've received the service you've contracted to receive and have paid for. You've got a bill. Have you also received the benefit of the service—the customers? Certainly you have some customers, but are they new customers, customers you wouldn't have gotten had it not been for the advertising?

An advertiser faces a bit of a conundrum. On one hand, you can pay the bill and continue receiving the advertising service. But, on the other hand, it's tough medicine to pay a bill without being sure that you've gotten what you were supposed to get. How do you know you're not being cheated?

I've been looking at this for five years from a technical perspective. But it has struck me that this is basically an economic problem, namely a problem with incentives. The fraudsters do what they do with reasonable comfort that they won't get caught. And they know that if they do get caught, it won't be all that bad. If the best that can happen is to get paid full value and if the worst is to be paid zero, they're guaranteed to come out positive.

There's an information asymmetry here. In particular, the merchant doesn't know whether the advertising supplier is what I call a good type (someone who is actually providing the contracted service) or a bad type (someone who is using one scam or another in order to get paid despite not actually having done the work or provided the benefit).

Q: Which online advertising markets are hotbeds for fraud?

A: There are two in particular that involve the largest number of unsupervised or poorly supervised suppliers.

First, any advertiser buying pay-per-click ads is subject to the problem of click fraud, among other problems arising out of improper placement or clicks that are somehow of reduced value.

Pay-per-click ads are a big market. They're more than 90 percent of Google's revenue. For Google, about half of pay-per-click traffic is placement on Google's own site, but the other half is placement that Google arranges on other companies' sites. To make an extra few dollars a day, someone might click on his own ads or hire a buddy to do so.

The second area of fraud—in some ways even more interesting to me—is online affiliate programs. The word "affiliate" simply means that the ultimate advertiser, the merchant, thinks of himself as being at arm's length from the advertising partner. "I don't know how good he is," a merchant might say to himself, "but I'm only going to pay him when he closes a sale."

The view is that because the merchant is only paying for purchases—not merely for people looking at or clicking on an ad—the system is either fraud-proof or dramatically less prone to fraud than other kinds of advertising. An advertiser might think: "Faking that a person paid money is very hard. You need a credit card, and if I'm getting the order, how bad can it be?"

In fact, fraud is not impossible. Maybe it's a little bit harder. But it certainly is the kind of thing a determined adversary can perpetrate if so inclined and if the money is there to make it profitable to do so.

But because these have been perceived to be low-fraud marketplaces, advertisers have omitted many of the kinds of protections that you would ordinarily expect when dealing with little-known suppliers; for example, easy tasks like determining whether the supplier is a bona fide business entity, or cross-checking the supplier's street address with its phone number and tax ID number. These very obvious and easy things haven't been done in many instances because they were believed to be superfluous. If fraud is impossible, then why should we waste our time looking?

Q: How could someone commit fraud in that scenario?

A: First, suppose there was tracking software on a user's computer. Many consumers have had this problem. You're browsing the Web, and you start getting pop-ups all over the place, perhaps five a minute. The pop-ups are coming from within your computer, not from the sites you're visiting. So suppose there was software on a (user's) computer that could track that the user was on the Dell Web site looking at a new Dell laptop. In one view, that would be a great time to force the user through one of the affiliate links back to Dell. And if the software did that, the Dell Web site would conclude, "This user got to the Dell Web site through an affiliate link. Therefore we should pay that affiliate a commission if the user makes a purchase."

The problem is, of course, that the affiliate did not actually cause the transaction. The transaction would have occurred anyway, and so any amounts paid to that affiliate are entirely wasted. Dell pays the money and gets no benefit; all the sales that occur would have resulted anyway. In principle, Dell would never know.

Second, suppose there was an ordinary banner ad on the Web. It could be on any site. And in the course of viewing that ad, just looking at it as you look on the page in which it appears, your computer is forced to go through one of these affiliate links and load up, say, the Dell site, potentially in a window that's only one pixel by one pixel—one tiny dot on your screen, so you can't see it. But in the background your computer has clicked through this tracking link, and loaded up the Dell site. If you made a purchase from Dell within the next seven days, Dell would believe that you had been referred to its site through the corresponding affiliate, when in fact the affiliate did nothing. In fact, the affiliate did less than nothing: The affiliate wasted some of your bandwidth making you load a site you hadn't requested.

The affiliate probably has to make hundreds or even thousands of people load the site in order to find one user who was going to buy a Dell within the next seven days. But when they find that user, the fraudsters really hit the jackpot: They bought an ordinary banner ad for fractions of a penny, got the benefit of the banner ad because they can still show a banner ad in the banner-ad spot, and there was as an ancillary source of revenue; namely, for that proportion of who were about to buy a Dell anyway, they get 2 percent of the purchase price. Two percent of a new Dell laptop—that's real money. And it's not just Dell. There are plenty of other merchants with these same marketing programs.

Q: How should consumers protect themselves from potential fraud?

A: It's highly desirable to keep your computer free of the sorts of bad software that I've described. There is a good reason for users to want to be free from these pop-up ads, not to mention the even more pernicious software that tracks every page you view, every product you buy, every Web site you look at.

It's also important to realize the externality that results from cleaning up a computer. Every time you clean up your computer or help a less-savvy friend clean up his, you're making the world a somewhat better place. It's a safer world in which to advertise, and a safer world in which to do business if more computers can be trusted to do what their operators want rather than what some unknown third party hopes to accomplish.

Q: What are the lessons for businesses and merchants? What should they know before signing a contract?


A: The main insight in my paper is that default contract terms—obvious contract terms—are not the only possible terms.

It may be that you pay most of your suppliers on standard Net 30 terms, and that makes sense for most suppliers most of the time. But even something as simple as how quickly a supplier is paid could be an important strategic decision. Paying more quickly might offer a benefit sometimes—consider a cash-strapped supplier that really needs the money and will offer a big discount for fast payment.

Delaying a while could also be beneficial sometimes in separating the wheat from the chaff. In this context, delaying payment distinguishes the rule-breaking affiliates from the good ones who are actually helpful. Rule breakers know that the longer they have to wait, the more likely they are to get caught. The more likely they are to get caught, the less likely they are to get paid.

So just by paying more slowly, it seems to be possible to reduce the number of bad affiliates and thereby reduce waste and increase profit.

My paper's main contribution is in presenting a methodology. How to compute the optimal delay given the particulars of your business is different depending on how prevalent bad affiliates are, the profit margins of bad affiliates, and what I call the discount rate of good affiliates—how quickly your good suppliers need to get paid. If they have to borrow money to support their business dealings with you, how are they borrowing it and how much does it cost? As a function of all of that, it's possible to compute a profitable range of delay and then to compute an optimal point within the range.

Typically it seems like a delay between two and four months would often be appropriate. It sounds like a long time, but if you could get rid of a substantial share of online advertising fraud, waiting two to four months wouldn't be bad. And crucially, for the good advertising partners, the ones who are being asked to wait two to four months to get paid, you're going to pay them a bonus. You'll have enough savings from imposing a delay and deterring fraud to pay a substantial bonus, more than the interest rate times the amount at issue. You can pay them a bigger bonus than that. So in principle they should thank you. They'll thank you for the bonus, maybe shrug about the delay, but on balance be pleased.

The idea here is to make everyone better off, except of course the fraudsters.

Q: What would it take to eliminate the remaining potential for fraud?

A: It's hard. For fraudsters whose profit margin is extreme, I don't have a tool in this toolkit to deter them. If the cost of committing the fraud is actually zero, we can't deter them when the worst we could/can ever do is not pay them. Because in the best state of the world for them they get paid; in the worst state, they get zero. If their costs are zero, then they are always going to be somewhere in the positive side of the equation.

For anyone with real costs of committing the fraud, be they costs of designing the fraud or costs of scaling it up, this method seems to work in principle, subject to the algebraic constraints of whether it can be implemented profitably.

As to other methods of fraud detection, I have programs in my testing lab by which I test advertising software and look for fraud. Some of them are manual while others are automated. There's no reason why I should have more sophisticated tools than online advertisers, yet in practice many online advertisers don't have these kinds of tools even when they are spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on potentially fraud-ridden advertising.

Q: Why is it so difficult to tackle fraud of this kind through the courts?

A: Many of the fraudsters are hard to find, particularly when advertisers have been under the mistaken view that fraud is impossible. Advertisers have entered into contracts with persons who either are or claim to be in the most far-flung of locations. I looked at one advertiser with fraudulent partners in Morocco, in Tanzania, literally all over the world. They couldn't be farther from the centers of business in the United States. Furthermore, figuring out whether partners really are where they say they are can be a challenge. One shouldn't assume that they're telling the truth about their location when they are lying about everything else.

So that's one important constraint in using the legal system to get redress.

Another constraint is the sense by many advertisers that it's their own fault: "We paid him for the last six months, and now we find out it was fraud. How can we sue when we ourselves paid the bill?" That's wrong as a matter of law. In fact, it sounds like a typical successfully perpetrated fraud. But the people who decide how to proceed often lack legal experience. They are marketers and advertisers, not legal professionals.

There are also serious agency problems within many companies. Often advertising buyers are compensated in proportion to how much advertising they buy. For example, an affiliate program manager might be paid a modest salary plus 10 percent of year- over- year growth in the size of the affiliate program. But consider the incentives of someone paid in that way. If there is fraud in the affiliate program and the staff person recognizes it and ejects it, that means the program is smaller and her bonus gets smaller. In fact, her bonus might be disproportionately smaller because it's based on growth, so if you took out the 10 percent of fraud in the program, there goes this year's growth and the Christmas bonus. So in many companies the incentive to get to the bottom of this quickly and successfully is tempered by the incentive of staff to do what is in their personal interest.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: I am working on other aspects of online advertising contracts that seem potentially suboptimal to me. For example, I've been looking at the shape of the compensation function—the bonuses offered to advertising partners as volume increases. Typically the more you sell, the more you get paid, and disproportionately so. Sell 20 percent more and you might get paid 25 percent more.

There's a certain logic to that. A productive salesperson is worth more. But often these contracts have sharp points at which the curve changes direction all at once, which can produce odd incentives. Even more strikingly, many of the compensation functions have jumps—sell just one more unit and your commission will go up 10 percent. These arrangements are readily gameable. If you need to sell one more unit and you can't find anyone to buy it, buy it for yourself or for your buddy.

Because these systems can be gamed, firms spend extra money on online advertising. That money might be better spent in increasing compensation for everyone rather than increasing compensation for the few who choose to game the system and increase their own profits. I'll have an article about that later in the year.2008 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Top Bear Stearns brokers to get bonuses to stay

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is offering bonuses to the top brokers at Bear Stearns Cos. to get them to stay with the company after it is acquired, JPMorgan said Tuesday.
The packages, which would go into effect when JPMorgan’s buyout is completed, are aimed at keeping Bear Stearns’ best-performing brokers from leaving for another investment bank.
“It’s been a challenging time for their brokers, and we want to make sure they know our desire to continue with the business,” said Jes Staley, chief executive of JPMorgan’s Asset Management Group.

Bear Stearns employees have seen most of their stock holdings get wiped out after JPMorgan this month offered to buy the struggling investment bank for a small fraction of what it was valued at a few weeks ago.

The package offers are a gesture to tell the brokers to “hold tight,” Staley said. “Our hope is to keep all the talented Bear brokers who are there.”

Staley would not confirm how much the bonuses were worth.

But a person close to the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the private nature of the negotiations, said that cash-and-stock bonuses of as much as 100 percent of annual output have been offered to top performing Bear Stearns brokers. The top performers are defined as those who earned at least $500,000 in commissions and fees over the past year.

Brokers earning $250,000 to $500,000 in commissions and fees will receive half their annual production, the person confirmed. And advisers will get an additional bonus based on the average annual rise in their production in the next three years.

Brokers producing less than $250,000 have not been offered a retention package.

The retention packages, first reported by Dow Jones Newswires, are yet another attempt by JPMorgan to keep Bear Stearns employees on board with the buyout plan.

On Monday, JPMorgan tried to appease disgruntled Bear Stearns employees by rising its buyout price fivefold, from $2 a share to $10 a share. Bear Stearns employees — who collectively own about one-third of the embattled investment bank — have a great deal of their wealth tied up in Bear Stearns stock, which was worth nearly $80 a share earlier this month.

JPMorgan does not appear concerned about the deal falling through at this point due to shareholder backlash. JPMorgan now has a 39.5 percent stake in the company, and Bear Stearns board members — who have pledged to vote in favor of the deal — together have a nearly 10 percent stake.

But retaining Bear’s talent is key to the success of the integration of the risk-taking investment bank Bear Stearns into the commercial bank JPMorgan Chase.

“Those folks really drive the value and the business,” said David Hinkel, a mergers-and-acquisitions consultant at Towers Perrin, soon after JPMorgan sweetened its offer Monday.

Hinkel said it is unusual for a buyer to take charge of retention efforts. Typically, he said, the buyer is not allowed to speak directly to employees of the acquired company until the deal is finalized.

© 2008 The Associated Press
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