Monday, August 31, 2009

Tata Motors posts Rs.329 crore loss in Q1

The high-priced acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and dipping volumes have taken their toll on Tata Motors, which reported a loss of Rs.328.78 crore in the first quarter ended June 30, as compared to a profit of Rs.719.69 crore logged in the same quarter the previous fiscal.

The company's consolidated gross revenue for the first quarter of the current fiscal stood at Rs.16,953.63 crore, while it was Rs.15,496.28 crore in the year-ago period.

However, it said the financial performances in the two periods under review were not comparable as it had acquired the Britain-based luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover in June 2008.

Increased borrowing to support investments and new product development in addition to adverse global market conditions were cited as the main reasons for the losses.

Maytas diverted Rs.390 crore to Satyam: Khurshid

Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Monday said prima facie some evidence indicated that funds had been transferred from Maytas Infra to scam-tainted Satyam Computers, now Mahindra Satyam.

"When the accounts are stated, this will become clear as to where the money has gone," said Khurshid while briefing reporters on a new Company Law Board (CLB) order regarding Maytas Infra.

"But there is prima facie some evidence that about Rs.390 crore has gone from Maytas to Satyam", he added.

In the order, the CLB allowed Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services to take over management control of Maytas, which is Satyam spelt backwards.

IL&FS is the biggest stakeholder with 37.1 percent in the cash-strapped company and will be required to infuse up to Rs.55 crore as liquidity support, according to the CLB order.

Of its total equity in the company, 22.6 percent is the form of shares pledged to it by the original promoters.

Business Briefs: Unitech, Satyam to be listed on Morgan Stanley index

Realty major Unitech and IT firm Mahindra Satyam were included in the Morgan Stanley Capital Index in the Emerging Market category from Monday, a company official from Unitech said.

Mahindra Satyam will also be included in Morgan Stanley's Global Standard Indices.


Parsvnath gets nod for Rohtak project

New Delhi: Realty major Parsvnath Developers Monday said it has received a letter of intent for grant of license for developing approximately 118 acres of a township at Rohtak in Haryana.

The project, with a realisation value of approximately Rs.700 crore, will have about four million square feet of saleable area and would comprise plots, residential properties, shopping centres and schools.


Alliance Foods to expand in South India

Chennai: The Mumbai-based Alliance Foods, which became the first company to launch ready to cook breaded prawns in India this month, will be expanding operations in South India before going national, the company says.

Having launched the product in Bangalore Aug 15, the Rs.100-crore Alliance Foods will introduce its Cambay Tiger brand in Hyderabad and here next month and later in Cochin.

"In Chennai, we are talking to all major retail chains like Spencers. Our focus will be on retail chains and not neighbourhood shops," said Aruna K.R, sales manager in charge of the southern region.


TERI, Nikkei to hold seminar on Kyoto Protocol

New Delhi: Nikkei's Global Eco-Business Forum, a conglomerate of government and private sector business enterprises from Japan and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), will organise a seminar on Kyoto Protocol Sep 5.

The seminar, to be held in Delhi, will explore setting up of partnerships and collaborations in India for introducing energy technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions.


Amitabh brand ambassador for Max New York

New Delhi: Life insurance firm Max New York Life Monday announced the appointment of actor Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador for Max Vijay, a product targeted at the poorer sections of society.

"Max Vijay is a unique product that has been designed keeping in mind the savings and protection needs of the common people," the company said in a statement.

Uniform licence fee for telecom operators soon

The government is mulling a uniform licence fee for various services offered by telecom operators, a top official said here Monday.

"The DoT (Department of Telecommunications) is considering implementing a uniform licence fee," said Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura at a conference organised by the Internet Service Providers Association of India.

Telecom operators currently pay between 6 percent and 10 percent of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to the government as licence fees for the right to offer telephony and related services.

This move, when implemented, will cover not just mobile and fixed-line phone operators but also those with licences for national and international long-distance phone services and Internet access services.

In its recommendations for the budget for fiscal 2010, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the apex body of GSM operators, had called for a uniform licence fee of 1 percent of AGR, excluding the 5 percent Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund charge.

USO fund is the corpus set up by the government, wherein every telecom operator has to shell out about 5 percent of their AGR (including licence fee) to facilitate rollout of telecom sevices in rural areas.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

LG to unveil 15-inch OLED TV for sale in Nov

South Korea's LG Electronics <066570.KS> said on Sunday it would launch a 15-inch television set using organic display technology next month, the largest commercial model so far.

Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AM-OLED) displays, which use self-glowing materials, have better picture quality, consume less power and are thinner than widely used liquid crystal displays (LCD) that need backlight units.

But high price has kept it from becoming a mass-produced technology in the market dominated by cheaper LCD panels. OLED screens are making inroads into high-end mobile phones but costs to apply the technology for PCs and TVs are still prohibitive.

Sony Corp <6758.T> launched the world's first OLED TV in late 2007 but has not followed with new models yet.

LG, the world's second-biggest TV brand, said in a statement that it would be unveiling a 15-inch AM-OLED TV at the IFA 2009 consumer electric show in Berlin in September.

The TV set would be commercialized in Korea in November and offered overseas next year, it said.

Research firm DisplaySearch expects the market for OLED TV to reach 2.33 million units in 2013 compared with estimated 320,000 units in 2011, according to data provided by LG.

''We are planning to unveil a 40-inch grade (OLED) product in a not too distant future,'' LG quoted an executive as saying.

S African mobile giant MTN faces 'identity crisis' in Bharti deal

MTN's $23 billion deal to merge with the Indian telecom major Bharati Airtel is being delayed as the company does not want to "lose its identity" and wants its South African base to be the "mother ship" of the new entity that will span two continents.

MTN CEO Phuthuma Nhleko that the deal is a "big and complex transaction" and the company has to ensure that it "continues to grow from its South African base and does not lose its DNA".

"We do not want to repeat what happened some 10 years ago when there was a wholesale movement of capital from South Africa," Nhleko told the Sunday Times.

"We are trying to achieve our strategic objectives while the financial objectives must remain palatable. We must ensure that the South African base is the mother ship from which the company continues to grow."

The proposed deal will see Bharti get a 49 percent stake in MTN with the latter getting 36 percent in the Indian company.

The two will merge to become a massive global player, with 200 million subscribers between them and MTN will gain instant access to India, where Bharti has a market share of around 25 percent.

Nhleko said MTN's size meant that opportunities for growth from greenfields operations in Africa and the Middle East were increasingly limited. This meant growth through mergers and acquisitions, probably outside Africa and the Middle East, where it is has huge interests. "

"For us, the logical conclusion is that it has to be eastwards. About 70 percent of new global subscribers in 2010 will be from China and India," Nhleko said.

Analysts here speculate that the deal was being delayed because Bharti would end up in a preferential position but Nhleko was adamant that it was based on a strategic partnership involving cross shareholding.

"What's ideal is a full integration. But there are all sorts of regulatory, political and national identity issues we have to consider if we were to fully integrate the companies," Nhleko said.

Nhleko said while the focus has been on MTN and Bharti, there is another important player in the deal - Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), the Singapore exchange's biggest company and a 30 percent shareholder in Bharti.

He said SingTel was "an integral part of the deal", not only because it will lower costs but also because of additional synergies.

"SIngtel has a strong innovative hub in Singapore and there is an understanding that there will be symbiosis, and we will then have a far larger innovative base," Nhleko said.

The two groups broke off negotiations last year but have been talking again, at least officially, since the end of May. They have extended their deadline a few times and now have until the end of September to reach an agreement

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ford India to launch small car in India

Ford India Friday said it will launch a small car in 2011 in order to tap the growing market for compact cars in the country.

"The launch will be a game changer. It will take us into the centre of Indian market," said Ford Motor executive vice president for Asia Pacific John Parker.

The car will be priced between Rs.3-4 lakh. "It will be in the range that 70 percent Indian consumers buy," Parker told reporters on the sideline of the annual convention of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Ford has invested about $500 million in India since 2008.

The company will also launch a refurbished version of its sports utility vehicle - Endeavour - next month.

"We will launch a significantly improved Ford Endeavour in a week's time. Consumers were looking for higher technology in the product and they will get the same," said Ford india president and managing director Micahel Boneham.

'Volkswagen expecting 2 mn car sales in India'

German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen expects to sell two million cars in India by 2014.

"We are looking at a 10 percent increase in sales next year and Volkswagen forecasts two million car sales in India by 2014," said Jochem Heizmann, a member of the Volkswagen board, on the sidelines of the annual convention of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) here.

He also highlighted on the company's strategy in India.

"We see a very big potential for Volkswagen in the Indian market. We plan to stat from a low peak to come to 75 percent in two years here," he pointed out.

Samsung optimistic about cell phones business

Electronics major Samsung India Friday said it expected its mobile phone business to contribute 25-30 percent of its $2.5 billion turnover this year.

"We have targeted a total (consumer home appliances, information technology business and mobile) turnover of $2.5 billion this year of which 25-30 percent will come from mobile business, we expect," Samsung India Country Head Sunil Dutt said during the launch of the world's first open market handset (OMH) phone.

Asked what would be the driving factor behind this turnover, he said: "The mobile industry has been growing consistently and our company is growing more than the industry growth."

The industry has grown by five to six percent in the first half of the current year. But Samsung's mobile phone business portfolio has grown 100 percent, which Dutt hoped to maintain throughout the year.

"We hope to maintain that growth this year also," he said.

He further said the eastern and southern Indian markets were growing faster, adding that recession has not hit the mobile phone industry that hard.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Art market looking up - India Art Summit proves it

After a year that saw a price drop of at least 30 percent across all segments of modern and contemporary art and a purge of inferior products, the Indian art market is looking up again, say organisers of the India Art Summit 2009 in a post-fair review.

According to Neha Kirpal, associate director of the India Art Summit, galleries raked in nearly Rs.26 crore ($5.2 million) from sales --about 50 percent of the Rs.50 crore worth of art on offer. The footfalls, said Kirpal, stood at 5,000 on day one and touched 40,000 by the last day.

"This is similar to last year. In 2008, we sold 50 percent -- Rs.10 crore out of exhibits worth Rs.20 crore on display. Globally, art fairs sell around 20 to 30 percent of art shown," Kirpal told IANS.

Collectors and amateur buyers are once again looking for the best deals in a market distilled by credit squeeze, free of dubious galleries that inflated the prices of young artists and repeated sale of art works at auctions for greater profits.

An analysis by organisers of the art summit - a four-day mega fair in New Delhi's Pragati Maidan Aug 19-22 - shows that the nearly Rs.2,000-crore (nearly $400 million) Indian art market had redefined itself with a new lot of young and first-time buyers, revival in the purchase of high-end art by collectors and the entry of Korean and Chinese buyers and investors in the market.

The summit featured 54 galleries, including 17 foreign ones, and nearly 500 art works.

The focus was on contemporary and interactive art - with a special video lounge and an installation park, education sessions with lectures on markets and aesthetics by an international forum of curators, collectors, market watchers, analysts, artists, historians and auctioneers.

"Call it the churning in the market in the last quarter of 2008 and the first eight months of 2009 in the run-up to the fair, but the business and sale dynamics of art have changed. After the tough economic environment last year, all the galleries looked at the summit as a place for collective investment, and not as a place to transact direct business," Kirpal said.

"What they got in return was a new understanding of the potential of the Indian art market. It was a collective realisation. Earlier, our source of information was individual submissions by one gallery."

Even the 17 foreign galleries sold international artists like Anish Kapoor, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Salvador Dali and Picasso.

German gallery Beck & Eggeling, which displayed eight original etchings by Picasso dated between 1930 and 1968 priced at $104,000-105,000, sold two. Works by Laura William sold out completely, Kirpal said.

Sunil Gautam, managing director of Hanmer MS&L, which organised the show, said: "The biggest problem with the market is poor awareness. Not many people are comfortable with quality art because they don't know much.

"So this time, we organised curated walks by students of Jawaharlal Nehru University who enlightened viewers and even first-time buyers about the art on display and the artists.

"There was a new buzz. And I realised that there were many people - especially youngsters - who were willing to buy provided they were tutored."

Kirpal said: "Delegations from 11 museums from across the world attended the summit to check out the wares."

China was represented by the prestigious Arario gallery. Several top Indian galleries showcased artists from other Asian countries.

"We managed to create an environment that is conducive to buying art and there has been a shift in sentiment towards buying. Even school children purchased photographs at Rs.500-1,000 with their pocket money - along with regular buyers across all price bands from Rs.40 lakh to Rs.2 crore," Kirpal said.

Bolstered by the response, the fair next year will focus on content - with diverse showcases - and more international representation. "We expect 75 foreign galleries," Kirpal said.

Explaining the dynamics of the market over the last decade, Maithili Parekh, the country head of Sotheby's which partnered the summit, said the Indian art market has gone through a period of exponential growth over the decade.

"Indian artists were represented by top galleries and renowned museums curated shows of Indian art. Every new auction set price records till the recession brakes were applied and the market was forced to re-adjust its values," she said.

"However, it allowed us to step back, recalibrate, separate the wheat from the chaff, good art from the less-than-good art, regroup and move on."

Tata Steel posts Rs.2,239 crore loss in first quarter

Leading steel maker Tata Steel Thursday said it posted a consolidated loss of Rs.2,239 crore (Rs.22.39 billion/$448 million) in the first quarter this fiscal as compared a profit of Rs.3,915 crore (Rs.39.15 billion/$783 million) in the previous corresponding period.

The losses, the Tata group company said, was due to poor demand in the US and Europe and low steel prices. Tata Steel had acquired Corus, Europe's second largest steel maker, in 2007.

In a regulatory statement, the company said its consolidated net sales fell to Rs.23,180 crore (Rs.231.8 billion/$4,636 million). This amount stood at Rs.43,375 crore (Rs.433.75 billion/$8,675 million) during the corresponding period last year.

Deficient monsoon will not affect sales: Maruti Suzuki

Passenger car leader Maruti Suzuki Thursday said a deficient monsoon and the consequent drought will not affect its sales in the hinterland as rural India constitutes hardly 15 percent of its total market.

"The deficient monsoon will have a very minimal effect and any effect will only show after November," said Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer of Maruti's marketing and sales division.

According to Pareek, the rural segment which is expected to be the worst-hit by the drought, contributes a mere 15 percent to the company's sales.

"The sectoral dependence on agriculture is still very less. Besides, the resilience in the economy is improving so we do not expect any impact on our sales," Pareek told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.

Maruti Tuesday relaunched its Estilo brand with a facelift hoping to push up sales.

The company is also confident it will come out of its sales slump during the upcoming festival season.

Maruti Suzuki is also on course to design a car on its own and launch a Made-in-India vehicle by 2012.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RCom launches rural wireless internet

Telecom operator Reliance Communications (RCom) Tuesday announced the launch of a high-speed wireless internet service plan and other initiatives aimed at 500,000 villages.

"RCom's rural thrust would drive internet penetration across rural and suburban terrain and provide value-added services specific to the rural needs," said RCOM's wireless division president S.P. Shukla.

"The Indian telecom wireless rural subscriber base is now over 125 million. The next wave of telecom growth is emerging from rural India. With rural base expected to double in the next few years, RCom is committed to drive this exponential growth through innovative and ground-breaking service offerings and tariffs," said Shukla.

According to RCom president Mahesh Prasad, mobile telephony is rapidly overcoming the challenge of access in rural areas.

"Our goal is to offer to this large rural population innovative products and services customized for rural and local needs, and tap the highly potential but relatively unaddressed market topography," Prasad said.

The company's rural drive will comprise three initiatives: BharatNet Plan, GrameenVAS and M2M (Machine to Machine) solutions.

The BharatNet Plan, a high-speed wireless Internet service, will cover over 20,000 rural locations, and is RCom's strategy to drive rural Internet penetration.

BharatNet will be offered at Rs.98 a week. "Driving Internet penetration across the country beyond major cities is a key priority for us," said Prasad.

GrameenVAS will offer value-added services (VAS) to cater to specific needs of rural mobile phone users. Services will include providing market rates, agriculture and animal husbandry updates and weather forecast in multiple Indian languages.

M2M applications will aid automation of agro- and irrigation services, water level monitoring, data gathering for milk and agri-cooperatives, fisheries, poultry, and soil analysis.

HCL Tech in pact with New Zealand's Optimation

Industrialist Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies Wednesday announced a pact with Optimation, a top company in information and communication technology in New Zealand, to offer services to the government there.

The pact calls for the two companies to draw on each other's strengths to also offer solutions to clients in optimising their business processes.

According to Virender Aggarwal, the head for HCL's Asia Pacific operations, the pact will result in significant number of local talent, expansion of training facilities in New Zealand and the setting up of a competency centre planned in Auckland.

"By providing the training infrastructure, we are directly addressing the wider industry skills shortage and investing in the future of our business," he added

The financial details, however, were not specified.

"HCL's willingness to engage on a fixed outcomes basis and to share risk is in tune with our own business philosophy," said Optimation's chief executive officer, Rhoda Holmes.

"In the current economic climate, we expect this approach to have broad appeal for New Zealand businesses looking to reduce costs and to get more business value out of their existing IT investments."

Infosys to open IT SEZ in Thiruvananthapuram shortly

The IT special economic zone (SEZ) being developed by software major Infosys on a 50-acre plot adjacent to the Technopark IT campus here will open shortly.

The SEZ would have two separate buildings, one is almost ready and work on the other is progressing, said M. Vasudevan, senior business development manager of Technopark.

"Each building has a capacity to seat 1,500 professionals. The first one will open shortly, some last bit of work on common amenities and a food court remains. The other building is also nearing completion," Vasudevan told IANS.

At present, Infosys has a development centre in the Technopark campus that employs more than 1,500 professionals.

According to some officials, Infosys preferred to open both buildings together by 2009-end or early next year after completing all works, but the state government wants the IT major to open the first building at the earliest.

The agreement for transferring land to Infosys for the project was signed in 2006 and the ground-breaking ceremony took place in 2007.

Opel decision only before Frankfurt auto show

Canada's auto-part maker Magna may have to wait yet another month to lay its hands on Opel.

Reports here say General Motors will not decide the fate of the loss-making Opel division until the start of the Frankfurt Auto Show next month. The world's premier auto show begins Sep 17.

Opel is likely to unveil two new models - a new version of Opel Astra with low-emission engine and a new Opel Ampera - at the auto show. The latter will be an electric car on the lines of the Chevrolet Volt.

Canada's Magna and the Savings Bank of the Russian Federation (called Sberbank) have jointly submitted a $775-mmilon bid for a 55 percent stake in Opel. Brussels-based financial investor RHJ International is the rival bidder.

German-based Opel was put under a trust when GM filed for bankruptcy protection in June and later got $50 billion from US and Canadian government to emerge from bankruptcy last month. GM, which now has a 35 per cent stake in Opel, wants to sell this division as part of its restructuring.

But the new board of directors last week didn't name Magna and the Russian bank as the new buyers as they have reservations about GM's intellectual property falling into Russian hands.

Reports in the local media Tuesday quoted Fred Irwin, chairman of the German government-backed trust that owns 65 per cent of Opel, as saying that GM is still working on a "commercially viable solution" for Opel. He said GM will make an announcement to sell Opel by the start of the Frankfurt auto show. He said the auto show is 'incredibly important' for Opel as it will present its new models.

GM vice-president John Smith also met officials on the German task force Tuesday, telling them the auto giant was working on its differences with the bidders on GM patents, financial liabilities, and keeping jobs.

He is likely to meet representatives from Magna Wednesday. Based at Aurora near Toronto, Magna enjoys the backing of the German government as it has promised to keep most European jobs.

Galla Foods launches two fruit beverages

The Chennai based fruit beverage maker Galla Foods Wednesday launched two fruit drinks - mango and apple-litchi blend - to consolidate its presence in the country's booming Rs.2,000-crore market for such soft drinks.

Jay Galla, managing director of the Rs.38-crore company, told a launch conference here that the company's drinks would be wholesome thanks to the 14 percent pulp content for mango-based drinks against 10 percent for most other competing products.

"The pulp content in our mango drink is higher. Yet the price is lower than competition," he said.

The 275 ml and 550 ml mango packs will be retailed at Rs.12 and Rs.22 respectively, while apple-litchi blend will cost Rs.13 and Rs.24.

The fruit beverage market has three categories - fruit drink (pulp content up to 20 percent), nectar (pulp 20-80 percent) and juice (100 percent fruit juice). Fruit drinks constitute nearly 76 percent of the total market.

According to Galla, his company will be focussing on the mango drink segment as it constituted 90 percent of the total fruit beverages market.

With competition vending in pack sizes 200ml, 250ml (price band Rs.10-15) and 500 ml (Rs.25), Galla has gone for lower price offering higher quantity.

Part of the Amara Raja group, the four-year-old Galla Foods with a 20-tonne per hour capacity plant at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh exports the bulk of its fruit concentrates and pulp to Europe, Japan and the US.

It is now looking at the domestic market, having launched its mango nectar (24 percent pulp content) last year.

Budweiser beer launched in north India

The national capital and its neighbouring regions just got a fresh new beer to guzzle with the launch of Budweiser by the leading global brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev here Wednesday.

The brand has already been launched in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Daman and Dadra, and sold about 1.5 million cases there.

Priced at Rs.30 for a pint and Rs.50 for 650 ml, the company plans to sell about 2.5 million cases of Budweiser in the country by December.

"As the Indian beer segment has witnessed double digit growth year-on-year, the country offers an important market with immense potential. The launch of Budweiser in north India will further enhance our influence in this crucial market," said Anheuser-Busch India chief executive Raja Mukherji.

The announcement comes after the successful integration of Anheuser-Busch InBev's Indian subsidiaries, which was initiated following $52-billion acquisition of the American beer giant Anheuser-Busch by the European brewing major InBev last November.

Anheuser-Busch InBev India currently owns and manages three breweries with a total capacity of more than 700,000 hectolitres -- Regent breweries in Madhya Pradesh, Bangalore-based Dasappa and Crown brewery in Andhra Pradesh.

The brands Budweiser and Tennent's Super are manufactured locally.

The company invests on an average about $10 million year-on-year in its breweries, Mukherji said, adding that "Indian laws on alcoholic beverage are cumbersome. The industry is to fighting to get simpler norms and hope we achieve that."

"Drought may retard growth to 6.2 percent"

The biggest threat to the Indian economy is drought that will bring down growth to 6.2 percent this fiscal, says the research arm of global consultancy Moody's.

"GDP growth in 2009 will be mildly slower than in 2008, followed by a notable acceleration in the subsequent three years. India's GDP growth for fiscal 2009-2010 is forecast to slow to 6.2 percent," Moody's said in a statement Wednesday.

"Having survived the global recession, which has turned out to be only a mild drag on India's economic performance, the emerging powerhouse is now facing a new threat," Sherman Chan, economist with Moody's said Wednesday.

"As a number of regions have already declared their drought status, the quantity and quality of crops will certainly decline this year, significantly hurting the agricultural sector," Chan said.

"The drought is clearly taking the steam out of India's growth momentum, and another emerging concern is food price inflation. Unlike general commodities, food prices in India have not retreated despite weaker global demand."

According to Moody's, as agricultural output accounts for less than a fifth of India's GDP, the drought may have only a limited impact on the overall recovery. However, as two-third of the population depended on farm income, it could have widespread ramifications.

"In an attempt to support farmers, policymakers set price floors for certain agricultural products, which has essentially blocked the disinflationary effect from easing demand. To maintain a steady level of income for farmers, policymakers will likely hike food prices."

According to Chan, once households scale back consumption, service sectors will also begin to feel the squeeze due to deficient monsoon.

"Moreover, with much lower output this year and a strong government mandate to ensure adequate domestic supply, farm exports are likely to fall dramatically, extending the monsoon pain to other sectors such as trade and transport," she added.

"This will contribute to stronger inflation both domestically and in the global marketplace, as India is one of the world's largest agricultural exporters, especially for rice."

On the positive side, Moody's said that as the US and major European economies gradually come out of recession, export growth may return to double-digit territory as early as next year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Maruti Suzuki launches Estilo

Maruti Suzuki launched a new petrol version of its hatchback Estilo, priced between Rs.3.12 lakh and Rs.3.95 lakh at showrooms in the national capital. The group also dropped the car's "Zen" prefix.

The new model is equipped with a 998 cc, three-cylinder petrol engine. According to the company, it is not only more powerful compared with the earlier version but also better in terms of fuel-efficiency, besides being compliant with the latest emission norms.

The hatchback will be manufactured at the Gurgaon plant where the company's "A-Star" and "Ritz" models are produced, Shinzo Nakanishi, managing director and chief executive of the carmaker, said at a glittering event here.

"The car delivers a superior fuel efficiency of 18.2 km per litre," Nakanishi said. The event included a ballet dance, performance by a gynmnasts' group and a percussion recital by a set of three drummers.

The company plans to invest Rs.1,000-Rs.1,500 crore to build its first research and development centre in the country, to be built over 700 acres in Rohtak in Haryana. The land was handed over to the company last week.

The new Estilo is available in eight colours, including four new ones - ecru beige, emerald Blue, dusky brown and quantum orange - apart from the existing silky silver, uperior white, bright red and midnight black.

For More on Maruti Suzuki Estilo go to

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fortis acquires 10 Wockhardt hospitals

Super-speciality hospital group Fortis has acquired 10 hospitals from Wockhardt for Rs.909 crore, the company said Monday.

With this acquisition, the Delhi-based Fortis will add 1,902 beds, including 534 beds in the two ongoing greenfield projects of Wockhardt in Bangalore and Kolkata, taking its total capacity to 5,202 beds in 38 hospitals.

Wockhardt will retain some of its speciality hospitals, and will use the proceeds from the sale of the 10 hospitals to part repay its debt of Rs.2,500 crore.

The business transaction is set to close by December on completion of agreed conditions.

Fortis said there would be no change in the management of the acquired hospitals as the company wanted to work with the existing teams.

"We will be working with the existing team of Wockhardt with Vishal Bali as the chief executive officer," said Shivinder M. Singh, chief executive and managing director of Fortis Hospitals.

The acquisition will enable Fortis to expand its footprint in the southern cities, and attain planned set-up of 40 hospitals and add 6,000 beds by 2012, Singh said.

Fortis, which started its first hospital in 2001, has a network of 28 hospitals with a capacity of 3,300 beds.

Currently, most of the group's hospitals are located in north Indian cities.

Gas pipeline opens at world's largest aluminium smelter

Emirates Aluminium (Emal) and Abu Dhabi Gas Industries (Gasco) opened the natural gas pipeline at the world's largest single site aluminium smelter here, WAM news agency reported Sunday.

The pipeline, connected to the Emal power plant, will provide it with reliable and uninterrupted supply of natural gas.

"This is an important milestone for Emal," said Emal CEO Duncan Hedditch.

Natural gas-fired power stations have 70 percent lower CO2 emissions than coal-fired power stations used in most aluminium smelters across the world. Aluminium smelting requires reliable, sustainable and long-term access to energy.

Toyota launches sports utility vehicle Fortuner

Japanese car maker Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Monday launched its sports utility vehicle (SUV) Fortuner here.

Priced at Rs.18.45 lakh -- ex-showroom in Delhi -- the Toyota Fortuner is now available in India in only its diesel variant.

The car is available in five colours -- white, silver, grey, black and light blue.

"Fortuner has sold 250,000 units in more than 60 countries since its launch in 2005," said Toyota Motor Corp senior managing director Akira Okabe at the launch.

The SUV will be assembled at Toyota's Bidadi plant off Bangalore, Okabe told reporters.

Powered with five-speed manual transmission, the Fortuner offers high-ground clearance, long wheelbase, climate control air-conditioning, steering control switches, third row seats and leather interiors.

Toyota expects to sell about 2,000 units of Fortuner this year.

"We are confident that we will sell about 52,000 vehicles (of the existing models) plus about 2,000 units of Fortuner this year," said Toyota Kirloskar vice chairman Vikram Kirloskar.

"Automobile market in India has shown robust growth in India. Toyota will introduce new models and expand its network to capture this growing market," added Toyota Kirloskar managing director Hiroshi Nakagawa.

The company plans to launch a compact car in the Indian market by the end of 2010 or by January 2011.

Toyota's current market share is close to three percent in the passenger car segment, which it expects to grow in double digits with the launch of its compact car.

"We have not enjoyed much profit because of the recession. Globally, Toyota has fared miserably and compared to that, India is much more profitable," Nakagawa said.

The company may also scale down its investment in the country in order to ride out the rough weather, he added.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Birthday - Blogger completes 10 years today

Many Many Happy Returns of the day to Blogger and my fellow Blogger users.
Blogger has today gifted all its users a revamped 'Post Editor', which looks next generation in the first look.
I will be doing the full review later today but right now I am in the celebration mood. Like most of the bloggers, My first and last choice was always Blogger, the ease of use, so many features, that too free of cost. I never thought I will be shifting to Wordpress or anyother blogging platform.
Blogger has become synonymous to blogging for million around the world. I know today thousands of users will be paying their gratitude to Blogger for such a nice experice all these day and I hope this will coontinue in future. I leave the rest for others to jot down.

Blogger History:

  • On August 23, 1999, Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs. As one of the earliest dedicated blog-publishing tools, it is credited for helping popularize the format.
  • In February 2003, Pyra Labs was acquired by Google under undisclosed terms. The acquisition allowed premium features (for which Pyra had charged) to become free. About a year later, Pyra Labs' co-founder, Evan Williams, left Google.
  • In 2004, Google purchased Picasa; it integrated Picasa and its photo sharing utility Hello into Blogger, allowing users to post photos to their blogs.
  • On May 9, 2004, Blogger introduced a major redesign, adding features such as web standards-compliant templates, individual archive pages for posts, comments, and posting by email.
  • On August 14, 2006, Blogger launched its latest version in beta, codenamed "Invader", alongside the gold release. This migrated users to Google servers and included some new features.
  • In December 2006, this new version of Blogger was taken out of beta.
  • By May 2007, Blogger had completely moved over to Google operated servers.
  • In October 2008, Turkey temporarily blocked access to Blogger.

  • Blogger was ranked 16 on the list of top 50 domains in terms of number of unique visitors in 2007.

Blogger releases new 'Post Editor' - 10th B'day Gift to users

In the bid to give users more stable posting experiece, Google Blogger today launched new post editor. Blogger's new post editor has been activated in all the existing Blogger accounts, howver one can go to settings and change it to the old post editor.

At the first glance, this post editor is refreshing and good if you are bored of you good old post editor.
But, I have found some problems, which I think Blogger will get rid of in the meantime. It seems that this Blogger Post Editor dows not recognise Keyboard shortcuts while editing in the HTML mode. Apparently, I tried using 'Ctrl + B' to make the text Bold, which was not working.

New Post Editor Features:

  1. Improved Image Handling

When you upload an image to the new post editor it will appear as a thumbnail in the image dialog box. That way, you can upload several images at once, and then add them into your post at your convenience. The thumbnails will be available until you close the post editor.

When you add an image from the dialog into your post it will be placed at the insertion point instead of at the top of the post.

If you don’t like where an image is in your post, you can drag it around to another spot. If you drag it towards the left side of the editor it will float to the left, likewise for the right, and if you leave it in the center it will be centered. You can drag the image between paragraphs and other block elements. Unlike in the current editor, dragging in the new editor preserves the link to the full-size version of the image.

You can easily resize or remove an image with the image size “bubble.” Click on the image (Firefox 3 users may need to double-click) to bring up the bubble, and resize the image instantly. You can resize any image, including ones added by URL, but if you resize an image that was uploaded through the post editor we resample the image on our servers to keep the download size small. 

2. Improved Raw HTML

If you use Edit HTML, especially to add tables and other advanced HTML to your posts, you should find that the new editor has a number of enhancements to make the experience less frustrating, or, dare we say it, even pleasant.

By default, the current post editor replaces any newlines in your post with
tags. This can cause problems when you want to use newlines to make table or list HTML clearer, since the inserted
s will mangle the formatting significantly. The new post editor does not introduce
s within tables, lists, scripts, styles, preformatted blocks, or objects.<

Since they won’t destroy the formatting, the new post editor adds clarity newlines to the HTML that’s generated by Compose mode. For example, if you create a list in Compose mode and then look at it in Edit HTML, you’ll see that there are newlines before each of the tags.

3. Other New Features
  • Add your location to your posts with geotagging
  • Posts are now timestamped at the date and time they are published, not when they were orignally created.
  • Vertical resizing. You can now change the height of the post editor by dragging the resize handle in the lower right (near the labels field). The size is saved in a per-user, per-blog preference.
  • Easy link editing in Compose mode. Just click a link and you’ll have the option of changing its URL or removing the link
  • Full Safari 3 support on both Windows and Macintosh. The old editor is pretty quirky on these browsers, but the new editor works as you’d expect.
  • New Preview dialog that shows your post in a width and font size approximating what you’d see on a blog.
  • Placeholder image for tags (such as those from video embeds) so that you can see and drag them around Compose mode.
  • New toolbar. This toolbar looks better, loads more quickly, and has undo and redo buttons. By popular demand, the full justification button has returned. We’ve also added a strike through button and improved the color palettes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ericsson CEO clueless about fate of Nortel deal

Swedish telecom major Ericsson, whose acquisition of Nortel's wireless business here last month has been challenged by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) and Canadian opposition parties, says it is still in the dark about the fate of the deal.

Ericsson was the highest bidder at $1.13 billion at last month's court supervised auction of Nortel's wireless division.

The 124-year-old Toronto-based Nortel, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection since January, is selling its businesses one by one to pay off debtors.

BlackBerry maker RIM, which was shut out of bidding for refusing to sign non-disclosure agreements, and opposition parties say the deal is against "national interest" as it puts sensitive Canadian technology in foreign hands.

Bowing to their pressure, the government asked a parliamentary committee to review the deal.

Top representatives from RIM, Nortel and opposition leaders have already appeared before the committee and the ball is now in the government's court.

Under the Investment Canada Act, the government can review deals if the assets sold are more than $312 million. But the Nortel assets have been valued only at $149 million.

However, BlackBerry maker and opposition parties are dead set against the deal on grounds of "national security".

Ericsson Canada CEO Mark Henderson admitted Friday that he was in the dark about whether the government will review the deal.

"We have met with them openly and tried to give them all the information that they need...and also to submit facts around any concerns around national security. So we are openly discussing with them and waiting for their decision," Henderson said.

Stressing that the takeover of Nortel's wireless business by Ericsson presented no threat to Canada's security, he said: "The provision was really around items like terrorism...(but) this is a company that has been in the country for almost 60 years. We have built some of the biggest telecommunications systems in this country."

China Mobile picks Taiwan firm to supply electronic readers

China Mobile Ltd, the world's largest mobile phone carrier, has decided to pick Taiwan's electronics giant Hon Hai Group as its supplier of electronic readers, a top company official said Saturday.

"We have picked Hong Hai Group to make electronic readers for us and we believe the electronic reader market will be huge," said Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile, on the second day of his nine-day visit to Taiwan.

Hon Hai, which has designed electronic readers for the Joint Innovation Lab, formed by China Mobile, Vodafone, Softbank and Verizone Wireless, is expected to ship the first batch of electronic readers for China Mobile in the first half of next year, group officials said.

Earlier this year, China Mobile said it would buy 12 percent of Far EasTone, Taiwan's third-largest telecom operator, a planned deal that has been frustrated by the island's regulations that bars foreign firms from investing in direct telecommunication operations.

GM board refuses to accept Canada's Magna as Opel winner

General Motors Friday postponed its decision on whether Canada's Magna International was the winning bidder for its Opel brand.

Magna, which is the world's third largest part maker, and the Savings Bank of the Russian Federation (called Sberbank), had jointly submitted a bid in July to acquire a 55 percent stake in the troubled General Motors' Opel.

Brussels-based financial investor RHJ International is the rival bidder. Two other bidders - Italy's Fiat and China's Beijing Automotive - opted out of the fray.

Opel is on the block as the ailing General Motors, which has received $50 billion bailout from US and Canadian governments, undertakes massive restructuring plans.

At their meeting Friday, GM's board of directors failed to come to a decision whether to accept the winning bid by the Canadian auto company and the Russian bank.

"The GM Board of Directors met today to discuss options for Opel. No decision was taken,'' a statement by the auto giant said after the meeting.

The German government has given its financial backing for the joint bid by Magna and the Russian bank.

But reports said GM's new appointed board of directors wants to know from the German government about financial backing for a rival bid by RHJ International.

Magna and Sberbank have offered $775 million to acquire a 55 percent stake in Opel and its UK unit Vauxhall. GM will retain 35 percent, and Opel employees acquire 10 percent under the deal.

But GM chief negotiator John Smith reportedly has reservations about Magna's offer because it will give its Russian partner access to GM intellectual property and control over some of its Chevrolet operations in Russia.

Magna's consortium with the Russian bank has the backing of the US, Canadian and German governments because of the emerging middle class in Russia which could fuel Opel's long-term recovery.

Being the majority stake holders in GM currently, the US and Canadian governments also have a big say in the bidding process.

The German government is also a big player as it negotiated and underwrote a deal to transfer Opel assets to a new company before the GM bankruptcy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Satyam probe almost over, says Salman Khursheed

There is enough material for successful prosecution in the Rs.78-billion Satyam fraud case and as soon as the Andhra Pradesh High Court sets up a fast track court there will be further progress in the matter, the government said Friday.

"As far as the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and the ministry of corporate affairs are concerned, the investigations are more or less over. There may be some minor things still to be done," Minister of State for Corporate Affairs Salman Khursheed said.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference here, Khursheed said an additional charge sheet would be filed as the trial court has granted permission for it.

"We have permission to file an additional charge sheet based on information available during the last few weeks," Khursheed said, adding: "We have got enough material for prosecution and that's why charge sheet is filed."

When his attention was drawn to attempts of the accused to avoid lie-detector test, the minister said: "These are matters of legal procedure."

"The CBI is obviously in good hands. We have an outstanding legal team looking after it. Whatever is required will be done," Khursheed said.

"The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and IRS (Internal Revenue Services) are still looking into some leads. We need to hear from them before we can make an assessment of the approximate figures of the amount involved. Obviously it was pretty huge," he said.

The ED and IRS are also looking into diversion of Satyam funds. The ED is looking into two Maytas firms as well to understand whether their relation with Satyam required any investigation, the minister said.

Maytas Infra and Maytas Properties are promoted by the family of B. Ramalinga Raju, the disgraced founder of the fraud-hit Satyam Computers.

Raju stunned corporate India Jan 7 by admitting the accounting fraud. The accused face charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy, falsification of records and forgery.

The scam-hit company was later taken over by Tech Mahindra, the IT arm of the Mahindra group.

Khursheed said his ministry was happy with the recent developments in Satyam after Tech Mahindra bought the IT major.

"We have no reasons to be dissatisfied as this is a success story having moved from crisis to rehabilitation. For the present, we are happy with the progress but a lot more has to be done," he said.

Asked about Mahindra Satyam firing some employees, Khursheed said the ministry looked at the pattern of entire software industry and did not find it unusual.

He added that there was no serious concern or problem about criminal liability as far as Mahindra Satyam was concerned.

"But there are problems for them as far as American litigation is concerned. They are in touch with us as to how we can be of any further help. We will certainly examine that."

When asked if the ministry would take action against PriceWaterhouse Coopers, the auditors of the fraud-hit Satyam, Khursheed said the government was waiting for the Institute of Chartered Accountants to report on the matter.

Nokia chief meets Manmohan Singh

Nokia Corp president and chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday and discussed government policies and steps taken by the company to ensure affordable connectivity in India.

Kallasvuo also discussed the need for re-energizing the telecom industry and how Nokia could participate in increasing telecom mobile penetration in the country.

The Nokia chief is in India on a three-day visit and has met key government officials and industry players.

Coca-Cola to invest $5 bn in Mexico

The Coca-Cola Company plans to invest $5 billion over the next five years in Mexico to boost its presence in the country.

Mexico ranks second after US in market share of the company.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent made the announcement during the inauguration of a juice plant of the company in Tepozotlan town in central Mexico Thursday. Mexican President Felipe Calderon also attended the function.

Kent said the new investment would go toward infrastructure, technology, equipment, social programmes, environmental initiatives, marketing and training, with a special emphasis "on protecting employment".

Calderon said Coca-Cola has found "the best investment conditions" in Mexico and that the new commitment will help revitalise the country's economy, which is reeling under recession.

The reduction in imports by the US, its No. 1 trade partner, a decline in remittances from Mexicans living abroad, and a drop in tourism due to swine flu pandemic have pushed the country into recession.

Coca-Cola has invested $200 million in the new plant in Tepozotlan which is expected to provide jobs to some 1,500 people. The plant will produce 140 million beverage crates annually.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nokia introduces microfinance schemes to push sales

Nokia India Wednesday said it will roll out microfinancing schemes in 12 states in an effort to push its mobile phone penetration in the country.

"India is second in terms of the company's revenue. We have tied up with a host of stakeholders to deliver this service to our customers," said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, president and chief executive of Nokia Corp.

"We aim to remove the affordability barrier," Kallasvuo told reporters here.

Nokia initially offered microfinancing scheme on a pilot basis in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Under this project, the company is offering an easy payment scheme as low as Rs.100 per week over a period of time.

Nokia is also planning to venture into netbooks, which are small, light and inexpensive laptop computers suited for general computing, accessing web-based applications and rich internet applications.

"We are in discussions with Intel for a product in the convergence market," said D. Shivakumar, vice-president and managing director of Nokia India.

Nokia, with 190,000 retail outlets across the country, Wednesday also launched an information solution called "Nokia Life Tools" for easy access to news and information relating to agriculture, education and entertainment.

"As we introduce Life Tools and microfinancing options across India, we are forging associations with multiple stakeholders to effectively deliver solutions that create opportunities for financial and social well-being for rural consumers," Shivakumar said.

Nokia, which has about 1.1 billion users globally, has its biggest manufacturing facility in Chennai.

"We have invested about $250 million in the Chennai unit and have employed 8,000 people," Kallasvuo said, adding: "We export almost half of our production to 59 countries."

Easy online access could doom retailing business

Researchers have warned of a surge in online trading and 'anti-retail movement' that could doom retail outlets over the next 10 years.

Some traditional retailing is likely to become obsolete by 2020, as manufacturers choose to sell directly to the public and consumers prefer to deal directly with wholesalers.

Research by Australian Centre for Retail Studies of Monash University (MU) predicts that industries most likely to feel the crunch of this consumer-led change would include computers and gaming, entertainment and media, consumer electronics and beauty.

Businesses that offer experiential retailing such as furniture and household goods, clothing, recreation and outdoor supplies are likely to thrive.

Researchers Sean Sands and Carla Ferraro predict the shift in consumer buying habits, fuelled by the internet and online retail spaces such as eBay, means retailers will need to think outside the box and provide new ways to engage with their customers.

"Consumers are growing tired of 'filters' reducing the transparency of their interaction with the producer of the goods, reducing authenticity of the goods and services they purchase."

They want more direct access to the sources of goods and expect more from the retailer - it's not enough to source the goods alone, retailers need to source better, more often and for less," Sands said.

"This shift has occurred over the last decade, accelerated by the internet and our growing desire to be part of the creation process for the products and services we choose to buy."

Sands said the changing landscape means retailers would have to fight harder for customer share and come up with innovative and inventive ways to retain customer loyalty.

They have produced the Retail 2020 report, which outlines key retail trends for the next ten years based on extensive research conducted in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

BSNL employees demand wage hike, go on strike

Around 270,000 employees of state-run telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) went on strike for two days starting Wednesday, demanding a bigger hike in wages than had been offered.

"Around 20,000 BSNL engineers and 250,000 group C and D employees have gone on a strike for two days (Aug 19, 20)," senior member of BSNL Employees Union Dilip Das told IANS.

Altogether nine BSNL unions have gone on strike among which BSNL Employees Union is the largest one. All the nine unions are striking together under a conglomerate body -- The United Forum of BSNL Unions.

Apart from a higher wage hike than the management had offered, the other demands are regularisation of casual contract labourers and implementation of promotion policy.

"This large scale strike would definitely affect services to the customers," said Bipin Guha, a BSNL customer in the city.

Soumya Roy, chief general manager, West Bengal Circle of BSNL, told IANS: "This strike will affect services to some extent. But we are addressing major equipment faults in the state immediately."

HLL Lifecare enters herbal product market

Contraceptives manufacturer HLL Lifecare Ltd Wednesday entered the herbal products market with the launch of an ayurvedic health product, "Chyavanules-Chyawanprash".

The product, launched here by HLL chairman M. Ayyappan, has been developed by Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, a healthcare centre specialised in ayurveda and traditional medicines.

Chyawanprash in a granular form is targeting people above 30 and those who are living a very hectic life, the company said, adding that "it contains no ghee and is therefore absolutely fat-free".

The product will be first introduced in Kerala, Delhi and Punjab, followed by the rest of the country. It will be sold through pharmacies, modern trade outlets and websites.

Microsoft seeks stay on 'Word' sale ban

Microsoft Tuesday sought stay on a court injunction which bars it from selling its popular Word document creation software in the US for violating a patent belonging to a Canadian company.

Toronto-based i4i had dragged Microsoft to court in 2007 for using its patented technology in the software without its permission.

In its ruling last week, the US District Court in Tyler, Texas, banned Microsoft from selling Word 2003, Word 2007 and future versions of the software that use i4i's technology without a licence.

The court also ordered Microsoft to pay $290 million to i4i and directed it to comply within 60 days.

In an emergency motion filed with US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Tuesday, Microsoft requested it to put the injunction on hold pending appeal.

Microsoft contended that i4i was not entitled to the injunction.

The Microsoft motion said: "It is undisputed that i4i does not have a product that could fill the gap left in the market by the injunction; rather, i4i's products run as add-ons to Word.

"The district court acknowledged the absence of future harm, but deemed it irrelevant focusing instead on harm that i4i allegedly suffered years ago.''

Reacting to Microsoft's motion, i4i chairman Loudon Owen said he expected it considering the importance of Word software to the Microsoft business.

"We firmly believe the jury verdict and judgment were both fair and correct and we have been vindicated through this process,'' Owen was quoted as saying.

Microsoft Office, which includes Word, accounted for more than $3 billion in worldwide sales in Microsoft's most recent fiscal year and is used by literally millions of businesses and consumers for everyday tasks like word processing and making spreadsheets and presentations.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Research in Motion is world's fastest growing company: Fortune

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) tops Fortune magazine's list of the world's 100 fastest-growing companies.

It is the first time that Fortune has opened its list of the top 100 fastest growing companies to businesses from around the world.

Apple, which is BlackBerry makers' main rival in the global smart phone market, is way down the list at 39th spot.

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., which is the world's biggest fertiliser company, is another Canadian firm among the top 10 in the Fortune list.

Among the top 10 are also two companies from China -- and Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

Others in the top 10 are California-based Sigma Designs, Ebix of Atlanta, Texas-based DG Fastchannel, CF Industries of Illinois, Arena Resources of Oklahoma and Massachusetts-based Bruker Corp.

BlackBerry maker RIM currently controls 56 percent of the smart phone market in the US.

Based at Hamilton near Toronto, RIM has just reported net revenue of $3.42 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 -- up 53 percent from the same period last year.

Defying market forecasts, it has posted a record quarterly profit of $643 million as against $482.5 million during the same period last year.

The wireless communication giant, which has currently about 12,000 employees on its rolls, has also extended its market from corporate types to common consumers.

Giving credit to them for this, Fortune magazine says RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are "more than holding their own" against Apple head Steve Jobs.

Apple had mounted a huge challenge to the BlackBerry maker last year by launching its iphones.

However, Fortune warns RIM that competition is "getting increasingly stiff" with changing consumer demands.

Currently, BlackBerry has a subscription base of about 29 million in about 150 countries.

At about $80, RIM shares are still almost half of the $150-peak they touched early last year.

To be eligible for the list, foreign companies should be traded on a US exchange and file quarterly reports. Fortune ranks the companies on the basis of three years of revenue and profit growth and total return.

Anil Ambani, Spielberg secure $825 mn for DreamWorks

The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group has sealed its $825-million deal with Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios with investment banker JP Morgan syndicating $325 million debt, the two groups announced late Monday.

Anil Ambani's Reliance Big Entertainment has matched the syndicated debt raised from JP Morgan and institutions like Bank of America, City National Bank, Wells Fargo, Comerica, Union Bank of California, SunTrust, California Bank and Trust and Israel Discount Bank.

This apart, Walt Disney Studios that will handle the marketing and distribution of films made by DreamWorks in markets outside India, is also extending a loan for the project, a statement from the studio said.

"This will allow us to move ahead quickly into production with our first group of films," Spielberg was quoted as saying in the statement, along with his long-time associate and partner in the project Stacey Snider.

The studio intends to make five-six films each year.

"Our partnership with Stacey and Steven is the cornerstone of our Hollywood strategy as we grow our film interests across the globe," said Ambani, who had been in talks with Dreamworks for over a year.

"Given our faith in the business plan they presented to us and despite the current economic climate, we were always confident this day would come. Now Stacey and Steven can focus on producing more of the great films for which they are renowned."

Among the first films in the pipeline are one on civil rights leader Martin Luther King for which Spielberg has already obtained the rights, and a remake of the Hollywood classic "Harvey" that stars James Stewart and an invisible giant bunny.

Some of the other films include "39 Clues", "Cowboys and Aliens", "Dinner For Schmucks", "Motorcade" and "Hereafter" in a mix of genres including thrillers, action, comedy and family drama.

The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group ranks among India's top three industrial houses with interests in areas including telecommunications, energy, finance, entertainment and infrastructure development.

The group's entertainment business owns 428 cinema screens across India, the US, Malaysia and Mauritius, contributing 11 percent to the domestic industry's box office collections and 35 percent from the Hindi movies screened in the US.

Its entertainment business has its presence across several platforms, including FM radio, music, sports, gaming, animation, Internet and mobile portals, direct-to-home TV, Internet TV and mobile TV.

Last year, it also entered into pacts to develop Hollywood projects with firms of such stars as Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey and George Clooney.

'Kaminey' earns Rs.330 mn over weekend

Director Vishal Bharadwaj's dark thriller "Kaminey" has turned out to be a goldmine, earning about Rs.330 million in its first weekend at the box office.

Produced by UTV Motion Pictures, the fast-paced crime drama, released Friday, has made good business despite the fact that it wasn't released in major cities of Maharashtra the same day due to swine flu scare.

"Kaminey" was released worldwide with 1,200 prints and it hit theatres in Maharashtra Monday.

"The film has surpassed all expectations with the kind of business it did in the first weekend of its release and critical acclaim that it has generated in India and around the world," said Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO, UTV Motion Pictures.

"The success of 'Kaminey' is testament to what can be achieved when you bring together a visionary director, talented cast and crew, compelling script, great production values, aggressive marketing and sound distribution strategy," added Kapur.

According to a press release from UTV, the movie has already become Bharadwaj's and leading casts' biggest hit ever. It has also been the second biggest opening of the year in India as well as the US and UAE. The film got biggest opening in Pakistan as well as Australia.

Monday, August 17, 2009

'Kaminey' going strong at box office

Vishal Bharadwaj's unusually titled and much-awaited dark thriller "Kaminey", starring Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, is turning out to be a strong player at the box office.

"'Kaminey' is the biggest opening for any Shahid, Priyanka and Vishal Bhardwaj film so far. We are completely delighted with the moviegoers reaction who have loved the film. The response has been fantastic," Girish Johar, AVP, UTV Motion Pictures, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

The movie which released Friday marks the acting debut of "Taare Zameen Par" writer Amole Gupte, who has impressed audiences in the film.

The audience are lapping up the movie for a heady mix of Shahid's two avatars, edgy and power-packed music and fast-paced narrative.

"'Kaminey' has received rave reviews and the movie has witnessed strong box office collections across locations. With the opening up of multiplexes in Mumbai today (Monday) we have seen the expected rush in advance bookings and expect the strong response to continue throughout the week and the coming weekend," said Tushar Dhingra, COO BIG Cinemas.

Though the movie did not release in Mumbai Friday thanks to the swine flu scare in Maharashtra, it hasn't affected the collection of the film, said Amit Awasthi, manager, programming and operations of Spice Cinemas, Noida.

"'Kaminey' has done very good business. We have collected a gross of around Rs.2.5 million over the initial weekend. The reaction has been mind-blowing as the holiday period proved to be a boon," said Awasthi.

"However, it was only 75 percent of the audiences who liked the film despite good reports and the rest didn't quite appreciate it," he added.

Nevertheless, "Kaminey", which released with 1,200 prints worldwide, is scoring well over multi-starrer "Life Partner", which released on the same day.

"We are running 26 shows for 'Kaminey' in a day while six shows are kept for 'Life Partner' which has not been liked at all. The comedy is not that good. We collected only Rs.400,000 over the weekend with the latter movie," said Awasthi.

A source from PVR cinemas said: "'Kaminey' has done exceptionally well and the reaction has been fantastic. We are hoping the movie will stretch at least for the next two weeks. However, 'Life Partner' has done only average business."

The movie has now opened in Mumbai theatres.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nokia India to offer Microsoft Office application soon

Two worldwide contenders in the mobile arena Nokia and Microsoft have agreed for an partnership that would allow the Nokia users to work with Microsoft‘s office application on their mobile phones.

This concord is not been announced officially but it came in knowledge as Microsoft sees its supremacy being gradually more dared by rivalry like Google Docs which allow the access to web-based office application on phones and getting better and more "web-friendly".

As now the users are using their phones to view, edit and transfer official documents, spreadsheets and presentations, from their phones itself. So it was only an issue of time when Microsoft had to partner with Nokia and possibly the world's largest manufacturer of mobile phones would be together.

On the other side Nokia is in front of newer competitors of phones as well as software's platforms with iPhone and more ever with freshly Google's Android platform.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ISRO Bhuvan website down due to heavy traffic

It was the Independence Day gift of ISRO to Indians in the form of Satellite mapping system Bhuvan, but the gift has utrned sour. Due to the heavy user traffic on Bhuvan website, it has went down. The website states that :

"Site is heavily loaded with users. Please bear with us for the delay. View in IE 6.0 or above only."
Website Link:

“Bhuvan, an ambitious project of ISRO was started to take Indian images and thematic information in multiple spatial resolutions to people through a web portal through easy access to information on basic natural resources in the geospatial domain. Bhuvan showcases Indian images by the superimposition of IRS satellite imageries on 3D globe. The degree of resolution showcased is based on the points of interest and popularity, but most of the Indian terrain is covered upto at least 5.8 meters of resolution with the least spatial resolution being 55 meters from AWifs Sensor.

ISRO' Bhuvan launched | Download Bhuvan

ISRO, today launched the beta version of its web-based 3-D satellite imagery tool, Bhuvan. Bhuvan will use information captured by India's seven remote sensing satellites. Bhuvan will offer superior imagery of Indian locations.

Bhuvan Features

  • Visualise 2D and 3D image data along with rich thematic information on Soil, wasteland, water resources etc.
  • Fly to locations ( Flies from the current location directly to the selected location)
  • Heads-Up Display ( HUD) naviation controls ( Tilt slider, north indicator, opacity, compass ring, zoom slider)
  • Navigation using the 3D view Pop-up menu (Fly-in, Fly out, jump in, jump around, view point)
  • 3D Fly through (3D view to fly to locations, objects in the terrain, and navigate freely using the mouse or keyboard)
  • Drawing 2D objects (Text labels, polylines, polygons, rectangles, 2D arrows, circles, ellipse)
  • Drawing 3D Objects (placing of expressive 3D models, 3D polygons, boxes)
  • Snapshot creation (copies the 3D view to a floating window and allows to save to a external file)
  • Measurement tools (Horizontal distance, aerial distance, vertical distance, measure area)
  • Shadow Analysis (it sets the sun position based on the given time creating shadows and effects the lighting on the terrain)

Bhuvan’s edge over Google Earth

Google Earth’s Zoom levels up to 200 mt – ISRO’s Bhuvan Zoom levels up to 10 mt
Google Earth: Single layer information – ISRO’s Bhuvan: Multi-layer information
Google Earth: Images upgraded every 4 years - ISRO’s Bhuvan: Images upgraded every year
Google Earth: No alternate viewing options – ISRO’s Bhuvan: Options of viewing on different dates
Google Earth: Uses international satellites – ISRO’s Bhuvan: Uses Indian satellites

How to Download & Install Bhuvan?

Register here. Download the Bhuvan plugin from here (its actually Skyline’s terraexplorer plugin) and Microsoft’s DirectX.

In order to install the plugin, you need to have the administrator privilege in your machine. The product works only in IE and is quite buggy to start with.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Flydubai strengthens presence in Africa

Flydubai, Dubai's first low cost airline, is set to expand its network in Africa with the announcement of flights to Djibouti from Sep 1, WAM news agency reported Monday.

"Djibouti is an important trading destination with established commercial links with Dubai, most notably through DP World, which operates the Port of Djibouti," said Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive officer of Flydubai.

Speaking about the new flight, which will run thrice a week, Djibouti Transport Minister Ali Hassan Bahdon said the new route would bring enormous benefit to Djibouti nationals and expatriates living in the country.

"There are very few direct flights from Djibouti to Dubai, so we anticipate strong demand for the Flydubai service from both the business and leisure markets," he said.

"Our ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai are incredibly important as our country becomes a gateway to Africa in the same way that Dubai is regarded as the entry point to its own region," he added.

Launched in March 2008, the Dubai government-owned Flydubai aims to serve at least 14 destinations by the end of this year.

Dying Nortel's CEO steps down, board trimmed

The final curtain fell on dying Nortel Monday when its president and CEO Mike Zafirovski stepped down even as the company trimmed its board of directors from nine to three.

In another announcement, the 124-year-old Canadian tech giant reported a 25 percent fall in its second-quarter revenue from the same period last year, doubling its losses to $274 million.

After suffering losses of $5 billion last year and then undergoing bankruptcy protection in Canada and the US in January, Toronto-based Nortel announced last month to wind itself up by selling its various businesses to pay off creditors. It sold its next-generation wireless business to Ericsson for $1.13 billion in a court-supervised auction in New York last month - a move contested by BlackBerry maker as against "national interest".

Zafirovski, who took over as CEO in 2005 after an accounting scandal, said: "I am extremely proud to have been associated with this company.

"The board members and I came to Nortel because we really believed in the value of Nortel's people and technology. Although solid progress was made in many areas, at the end, the capital structure and legacy costs coupled with the economic downturn proved too difficult to surmount."

Zafirovski, an American who joined Nortel from Motorola, said: "We have taken many steps. We have completed the organizational moves of Nortel's businesses to vertically integrated, stand-alone business units, and on June 19th, we announced that we would work to maximize value through the sale of these businesses."

The dying Nortel will now have a three-member board comprising John A. MacNaughton, Jalynn H. Bennett and David Richardson, with Richardson serving as the new chairman.

Outgoing chairman Harry Pearce said: "We have reached a logical departure point. Mike (the outgoing CEO) made a commitment to see the process through the stabilization of the company, sale of its largest assets and the right plans and people to continue operating our business and serving customers. He has done so."

A Canadian corporate giant, Nortel accounted for almost one third of the total valuation of all the companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) till the dotcom bust of 2000 did it in. Its market capitalization plummeted from almost $400 billion just before the dotcom bust in September 2000 to $5 billion within two years as its stock sank from $124 to $0.47.

Then came the accounting scandal of 2004 which left its reputation in tatters. In 2006, the telecom giant had to shell out $2.5 billion to settle shareholder class actions.

When the global economic crisis hit last year, Nortel was already in very bad financial shape. As markets shrank and credit avenues dried up, the company sank deeper.

Bankruptcy protection was its last option to survive, but it too failed to save it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Airtel launches prepaid data card in NCR

Telecom major Bharti Airtel Sunday launched its wireless data card for prepaid users in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR) that will enable Internet connectivity for laptops and other computing devices while on the move.

The data card can work on all the partner networks of Airtel when on national roaming and is compatible with GSM network while on international roaming, the company said in a statement.

"As market leaders, we have always ensured that Airtel customers get the best value, enjoy the finest services and benefit from cutting edge products. Prepaid customers can now use data card at a monthly rental of Rs.348 and enjoy 500 MB free data every month," said Shashi Arora, Bharti Airtel's chief executive for mobile services in Delhi and NCR.

Airtel has recently been adjudged the top telecom service provider of 2009 by the Voice and Data magazine that is dedicated to telecom and Internet services.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Berger Paints plans new plant in south India

Berger Paints India is planning to set up a greenfield plant in south India, a top company official said here Friday.

"We will set up a water-based paints plant in south India on an investment of Rs.100 crore. It will have a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes per annum," said Kuldip Singh Dhingra on the sidelines of the company's annual general meeting.

The major paints maker will set up the plant either in Karnataka or Tamil Nadu over the next two years, Singh told reporters.

The new venture will be funded through internal accruals and conversion of warrants.

The company is investing in water-based paint as the segment is growing faster than the solvent-based paints, Dhingra said.

According to him, while the annual industrial volume growth of the water-based segment is around 15-17 percent, that of solvent-based paints is only 8 percent.

Eighty percent of the company's business is decorative coatings, with the remaining 20 percent being a mixed bag of protective, automotive, general industrial and powder coatings.

The company is also putting up a Rs.5-crore plant in Goa to make 500 tonnes of resin annually, which would be commissioned by December.

Emulsion and resin are used for making water-based and solvent-based paints.

Berger is also setting up an emulsion plant in Gujarat next to its existing facility at a cost of Rs.26 crore.

The plant, with an annual production capacity of 2,000 tonnes, will be commissioned by April 2010 and will help bring down yearly cost of inputs for water-based paints by 15 percent.

However, the company has shelved plans for setting up of an automative paint plant near Pune because of the economic slowdown.

"The decision to build an automotive paint plant in Pune has been deferred following the slowdown in the automobile market. We will take a call once the sector starts reviving," said managing director Subir Bose.

Berger's current paint making capacity is 200,000 tonnes a year, of which 60 percent is water-based, Bose said.

The company is expected to post a 30 percent profit growth this fiscal.

"Last year was an anomaly, but this year we expect to achieve about 30 percent growth in our net profit," Dhingra said, adding that sales were expected to grow 12-13 percent this fiscal.

The company posted a net profit of Rs.88.7 crore last fiscal.

Oriental Insurance to start incentive scheme for employees

State-run non-life insurer Oriental Insurance will introduce an incentive scheme this fiscal for its high performing employees, a top official said here Friday.

"We will measure the performance of each branch on the metrics like policy issuance, claims settlement, business growth," said M. Ramadoss, chairman and managing director of Oriental Insurance.

"If a branch meets the requisite grade, all its employees will get incentives," he told reporters on the sidelines of an insurance seminar.

Earlier, the government had asked all the primary state-owned non-life insurers - National Insurance, New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance and United India - and reinsurer General Insurance Corp (GIC) to come up with incentive schemes.

The government has also given some directions to these five companies to formulate their respective incentive policies.

However, employees unions are not happy with these guidelines and said only a few workers would benefit if the incentive schemes were implemented according to the government directions.

"If one goes by the guidelines given by the government, the incentive scheme is not workable. Not more than 25 percent of the workforce will benefit from the incentive scheme," J. Gurumurthy, secretary of the All India Insurance Employees Association, told IANS.

As per the government directions, employees of the five insurers will be considered for performance linked cash incentive only if two conditions are satisfied - the net profit should not be less than Rs.200 crore and the solvency ratio should be above 150 percent.

"When a company satisfies the above two conditions, then the incentive amount payable should not exceed 0.7 percent of the insurer's gross domestic premium and 20 percent of the gross salary of the employee," Gurumurthy said.

Now Reliance Industries speaks on gas dispute

Breaking its silence on the ongoing dispute with the Anil Ambani group over gas from Krishna-Godavari basin, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Friday said it will comment on the matter only in the court.

"Our legal advisors have counselled us to refrain from commenting on the issue," said Atul Chandra, president of the petroleum business with Reliance Industries, while reading out a written statement before reporters here.

"We emphatically refute and outrightly reject the baseless and motivated allegations and insinuations made by Anil Ambani and his associates against Reliance Industries and its chairman Mukesh Ambani," Chandra said.

The comments came after a series of charges levelled by the Anil Ambani group, ranging from the manner in which the capital expenditure for the Krishna-Godavari basin was approved and how a valid contract was flouted.

In June, the Bombay High Court had directed Reliance Industries to supply 28 million units of gas from the Krishna-Godavari basin to Anil Ambani's Reliance Natural Resources for 17 years at $2.34 per unit after assigning 12 million units to a state-run power utility NTPC.

But Reliance Industries challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court, which heard the case July 20 and fixed Sep 1 as the next date of hearing. It also asked all parties to file their replies on the government position on the matter by then.

Since then, the matter has figured on several occasions in parliament, even as the Anil Ambani group made its stand on the issue public, besides seeking to bring out the facts and figures on the matter.

Reliance Power buys Jharkhand's Tilaiya firm

The Anil Ambani-led Reliance Power fully acquired Jharkhand Integrated Power, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) floated to implement the 4,000-MW Tilaiya ultra mega power plant project, from Power Finance Corp.

The coal-based thermal power plant is being developed in Jharkhand at an estimated cost of Rs.20,000 crore.

This is the third ultra mega power plant secured by the company.

In addition, Reliance Power's two 4,000-MW ultra mega power plants are under implementation - the Sasan project in Madhya Pradesh and the Krishnapatnam plant in Andhra Pradesh.

Ushacomm ties up with US firm

Telecom software company Ushacomm and the US-based Talisma Corp have tied up to provide a solution to telecom operators that will help them retain their existing subscribers even in highly competitive scenarios.

"The solution will create new offers for existing customers and also reduce the cost of acquiring new subscribers," UshaComm executive director Saugata Banerjee told reporters here.

"The telecom operators are already facing tremendous challenges in retaining their customers. In the present scenario, the service providers are very keen to hold on to their existing subscribers because of high cost of acquiring new ones or due to the imminent implementation of mobile number portability (MNP)," Banerjee said.

MNP will allow subscribers switch to new users without changing their number. MNP is expected to be implemented by the year-end.

The state-of-the-art software solution called TIB-X (Telco in a box) is an amalgamation of billing system (business support system), customer relationship management system and business intelligence system, said Ushacomm marketing head Tamal Bardhan.

While customer relationship major Talisma is providing the CRM software, Ushacomm will provide the other two.

"The TIB-X will help the operators profitably launch and sell new offerings to their existing customers and help launch campaigns specifically targeted at particular subscribers," Banerjee said.

GAIL to supply gas to Rajasthan power plant

State-run gas major GAIL India will supply gas to the 160-MW power plant in Ramgarh, Rajasthan.

The company has signed a gas sales and transmission contract with Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam in this regard, GAIL said in a statement issued Friday.

The agreement was signed in Jaipur Friday in the presence of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Petroleum Secretary R.S. Pandey and GAIL managing director B.C. Tripathi.

According to the deal, the gas major would supply 0.95 million units of gas for a period of 12 years for the Ramgarh plant.

The supply will be sourced from RJ-ON/6 block, where production will begin from mid-April 2010, with the entire offtake ability is expected to be available by April 2011.

The company has also signed a sales and purchase agreement with SGL consortium, the contractors of the RJ/ON-6 onland oil block in Rajasthan

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fox STAR Studios to distribute Shah Rukh's 'My Name Is Khan'

Actor-producer Shah Rukh Khan and filmmaker Karan Johar have inked one of Bollywood's biggest deals with a Hollywood studio. Fox STAR Studios will finance and distribute their forthcoming film "My Name Is Khan", reportedly spending Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion / $20 million) in the process.

Shah Rukh and Karan, who are co-producing the film, announced their tie-up with Fox STAR Studios, a joint venture between 20th Century Fox and STAR, at a press conference here Thursday.

"We are very happy that Fox STAR Studios is taking responsibility of a film of this stature that too in a different language, though we do speak a bit of English in the film as well. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to take Indian cinema further," said Shah Rukh.

Though they didn't talk about the money, Fox STAR Studios have reportedly bought distribution rights for around Rs.100 crore for the film about a Muslim (Shah Rukh) who suffers from the Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that impacts social interaction abilities. He is arrested as a suspected terrorist in post-9/11 Los Angeles after authorities mistake his disability for suspicious behaviour.

Fox STAR Studios will market and distribute "My Name Is Khan" in India, while its sister companies, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox International, will distribute the movie in the US and other territories respectively.

Karan Johar is wielding the megaphone after three years to narrate the emotional journey of a Muslim man from India in the film, in which Shah Rukh has teamed up with Kajol. In the past, the two have starred in hits like "Baazigar", "Karan Arjun", "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge", "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" and "Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham".

Talking about the movie, Karan said: "I'm almost petrified when it comes to making a movie with Shah Rukh and Kajol. Together, they have given iconic love movies and so they raise the level of expectations each time they are paired.

"This time it is again a love story but with a different treatment. It won't be like 'Dilwale Dulhania...' or 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', nor will it have songs shot in Egypt or Switzerland. But it will still leave a mark in the hearts of people."

The partnership on "My Name Is Khan" follows Fox STAR Studios' distribution deal with multiple Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire" in India earlier this year.

For BlackBerry, it is globalisation abroad and protectionism at home

Preaching globalization abroad and protectionism at home. That seems to be the mantra of Canadian corporates.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) may have worldwide operations but at home it is preaching economic natonalism.

Shut out of the auction for Toronto-based Nortel's wireless business last month, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie sought government intervention to stop its sale to foreigners in "national interest".

The reason why the BlackBerry maker was shut out of the auction was its refusal to sign the non-disclosure agreements with Nortel which is selling its businesses piece by piece after suffering losses of $ 5 billion last and operating under bankruptcy protection since January.

The BlackBerry maker's nationalist card seems to be working.

After Swedish Ericsson's winning Nortel's wireless technology (called long-term evolution or LTE) with its $1.3 billion bid July 28, corporate and political pressure has forced the Canadian government to review the sale.

A Canadian parliamentary committee will hold an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the sale. The committee will hear top representatives from RIM, Ericsson, Nortel and industry about the implications of the sale for Canada.

Reports say opposition MPs would try to pressure for the Tory government to spike the sale to Ericsson.

The panel discussion follows its last year's rejection of the foreign takeover of space assets of Canada's MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) in the name of loss of key technology to foreigners, Canadian taxpayers' investment in the company, and national security.

The parliamentary committee will question Ericsson Canada president Mark Henderson about the implication for Canada of this sale. BlackBerry co-CEO and founder Mike Lazaridis may be asked to explain what implications the sale to a foreign company will have for Canada's technology sector and national security.

The opposition calls the deal "murky" and wants the government to safeguard national interest.

The same committee had last year rejected the sale of space assets of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) to America's Alliant Techsystems, forcing the government to stop foreign takeover a Canadian company for the first time in decades.

Canadian multinationals may be on the prowl for acquisitions abroad, but at home they shamelessly preach protectionism.

TCS eyeing Indian Railways outsourcing contract

Software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is eyeing a Rs.2,500-crore Indian Railways outsourcing contract, a top company official said here Thursday.

"CMC and we will certainly look at it very seriously, it needs lot of experience. We have done projects for the British and US railways," TCS chief executive and managing director S. Ramadorai told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar organised by Calcutta Management Association.

CMC is another Tata group software company.

Incidentally, rival outsourcer Wipro is also eyeing the contract.

The railways ministry plans to procure a human resources management system and other modules for integrating and automating its payroll, accounting and pension functions.

Talking about the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector's performance after the slowdown, he said: "BFSI has stabilized during the last quarter. Signs of bottoming out is visible as some of them have declared handsome results."

TCS derives 44 percent of its revenues from the BFSI sector, Ramadorai said, adding that other deals in the pipeline were "healthy".

As for hiring during the ongoing slowdown, he said his company was looking at "a balance" of domestic and international recruitments.

TCS recruited 18,000 professionals last year.

"Last year in India, TCS hired 18,000 professionals and those people will be joining from the third quarter this fiscal," Ramadorai said.

Asked about fresh acquisition plans, he said organic growth would drive the company's future strategies. "We make very strategic acquisitions."

Last year, the company acquired Citigroup Global Services, the India-based business process outsourcing (BPO) division of Citigroup.

Earlier, in his address at the seminar, Ramadorai said TCS would remain focused with its investment and expansion plans in Latin America and Europe as it envisaged "much room to grow" in these markets.
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