Thursday, September 24, 2009

MTS India reaches 2 mn subcribers

MTS today announced that it has reached a base of 2 million subscribers. According to a latest reports on Indian Telecommunications, MTS also became the fastest growing Indian telecom service provider (wireless and wireline) with a month-on-month growth rate of 16.8% in August 2009. In fact, MTS was the only telecom brand to have registered a double-digit month-on-month growth in August across all CDMA and GSM operators.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

M.Stanley says SingTel may raise stake in Bharti-MTN

Singapore Telecommunications could maintain a 25 percent stake in the combined entity created as a result of a potential merger between India's Bharti Airtel and South Africa's MTN, Morgan Stanley said in a report on Wednesday.

''We do not expect the Bharti-MTN transaction to have material dilutive impact to SingTel's EPS (earnings per share),'' analysts at the U.S. investment bank said.

Intel CEO says looks beyond PCs as market matures

Intel Corp rolled out a software developers' platform on Tuesday and stressed it will step up efforts to boost revenue from consumer electronics and other markets beyond its core, maturing personal computer business.

Chief Executive Paul Otellini expects personal computer sales volume this year to ''likely'' at least match 2008's, underscoring growing expectations that consumer spending is driving a mild recovery for the depressed market.

Yahoo to spend $100 mn to promote its brand

Yahoo Inc. said Tuesday it will spend $100 million to promote its brand globally.

"Our vision is to be at the centre of people's online lives - to be at the place where their world meets the larger world," Yahoo said in a statement quoting the company's chief marketing officer Elisa Steele.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rediff MoneyWiz Introduces all-new Watchlist

Rediff MoneyWiz, the personal finance service from, recently introduced its improved Watchlist feature. The Watchlist helps users monitor a personalised list of stocks and mutual funds with real-time quotes. Users can set alerts to receive email notification when a stock or fund crosses high or low price levels set by them.

Titan launches its "Raga Flora" collection in Bihar

Titan today launched the ''Raga Flora'' collection, an exquisite range of watches for women in the festive season of Durga Puja and Diwali.

Speaking at the launching ceremony here, Mr Somprabh Singh, Marketing manager of Titan said, ''Raga flora collection expresses the desire of every woman to adorn, enchant and mesmerise. The Raga flora collection represents a feminine insight and the global trend of ''bling'' resulting in a delightfully contemporary form.''

Infosys bags award for IT services

Infosys Technologies was named for 2008 'Partner in Progress' award from Sears Holdings Corporation.

In a press release here today the company said Infosys received the award for superior Information Technology services and outstanding client support.

Philips launches 'Cinema 21:9' LCD TV

Electronic lifestyle brand Philips India today launched its latest ''Cinema 21:9'' LCD television here.

The Blu-Ray enabled 21:9 will also provide wi-fi connectivity, gaming and DVD platforms in its 8.3 million pixel screen. The company is also planning to launch this Rs 4,50,000 21:9 in Delhi by 2009-end and then expand it to other larger metros across the country.

Virtusa ranked among the best IT employers in India

Virtusa Corporation, a global IT services company, which offers a broad spectrum of business consulting and outsourcing services, has announced that it has been ranked in Dataquest (DQ) IDC’s Best Employer Survey 2009.

Wipro expands presence in United Kingdom

IT major Wipro Technologies has expanded its facility in Reading in UK, and opened a new office in London to strengthen its presence in old Blighty.

The facility at Reading was inaugurated by Mayor of Reading Mr Fred Pugh yesterday.

This center was an extension of the existing development center facility, which had been bought by Wipro. It would be used for building centers of excellence, delivering customer projects and training purposes, a company release said here today.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Australia's Bega cheese, Pauls Zymil milk in India

Australian dairy brands, Bega cheese and Pauls Zymil easy to digest milk, were launched in Kolkata Thursday and would soon be available in other Indian cities as well, an official said.

"The brands will be initially available in eastern and northeastern India, followed by launches in northern, southern and western India," Debraj Sanyal, director iMBiz Pvt Ltd, told reporters at a press meet. iMBiz will distribute and market the brands in India.

Aircel signs tower sharing deal with Datacom

Telecom major Aircel has signed a $400-million tower sharing agreement with Datacom Solutions, part of the Videocon group, the companies said Thursday.

According to the deal, Datacom, which holds a licence to roll out mobile telecom services but is yet to launch operations, can use at least 5,000 Aircel towers for 16 months.

Aircel, which currently owns around 15,000 towers across the country, will in turn create value by increasing tenancy and reducing costs across its towers.

Sify Technologies Among India’s Top 20 Best Employers

Sify Technologies Limited (Nasdaq National Markets: SIFY), a leader in Enterprise and Consumer Internet Services in India with global delivery capabilities, today announced that it has been ranked among the twenty best IT companies to work for in the 'DQ Top 20 - IT Best Employers 2009' survey conducted by Dataquest and the IDC Group. Making a first time entry into the DQ-BES survey, Sify has been ranked 13 this year. The company scored on its transparent online appraisal system.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GM Daewoo launches new mini-car Matiz Creative

GM Daewoo hopes to make inroads into the mini-car market with its first such vehicle now on sale in South Korea and due to come to Europe at the start of 2010. It will be assembled at GM plants in India, Vietnam, Columbia and Uzbekistan.

The Matiz Creative is the result of a 295-billion-won ($239 million) 27-month research and development programme based on mini-vehicle designs from Daewoo's US parent company General Motors (GM). The company believes the vehicle will become an industry benchmark in the mini-car world due to its design, performance and safety.

Facebook grows, makes a profit

Facebook, the world's largest social network on the internet, is finally turning a profit, the privately held company said.

The Silicon Valley, California, company, which was started six years ago by a student at Harvard University, said late Tuesday that it had reached a positive cash flow for the first time and also passed the 300-million user mark.

Adobe buys Omniture for $1.8 bn

Adobe Systems is to buy internet services firm Omniture for $1.8 billion, the company said Tuesday. The deal will mark the biggest acquisition by Adobe since its $4.3-billion purchase of Macromedia in 2005.

Omniture, based in Utah, makes software that allows firms to analyze the use of their internet sites and help them maximize advertising and retail opportunities. Adobe, whose key products include Photoshop and Flash, will pay $21.50 a share for Omniture, a 45-percent premium on the company's closing price prior to the acquisition.

Desi movies, Firangi titles - the new Bollywood fad

Ever noticed the growing list of English titles for movies that are actually out and out Hindi? To name just a few upcoming films, there's "Wanted", "All The Best", "Jail" and "Kites"!

Movies with English names are a new fad in Bollywood. While some filmmakers argue that their script demands it, others admit it helps sell movies in the global market.

Yamaha launches superbike V Max for Rs.20 lakh

Two-wheeler manufacturer Yamaha India Wednesday rolled out a super bike, V Max, priced at Rs.20 lakh.

The company also launched a limited edition of the Fazer and SZ Series models ahead of the upcoming festive season.

"We are expecting almost three times the sales in the two months of the festive season (starting October)," said Yamaha chief executive and managing director Yuki Mine Tsuji.

"We are targeting selling 2.5 lakh units in India by this year," Tsuji told reporters. The company is also aiming at garnering a 10 percent market share by 2012.

UPSC to accept job applications online by next year

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the recruitment and selection body for government services, will accept online job application by next year.

"UPSC will be introducing system for online application procedure by next year for all exams and recruitment," UPSC chairman D.P. Agrawal said at a function late Tuesday evening.

UPSC conducts examinations for recruitment to various government jobs including civil, medical, defence, engineering, foreign and central police services.

"UPSC handles about 12 lakh applications annually. Introduction of the online application facility will help in easing the mammoth work of scrutinising the applications," Agrawal said at a function organised by the Institution of Engineers, Delhi.

He said about 800 UPSC employees have been trained in the use of computer technology.

"This is an ongoing process and the commission is planning to give advance training to its officials with the help of outside expert agencies," Agarwal said.

New Google Fast Flip seeks to convert Net into newsstand

So far, you have been spending time browsing to read news on Internet. But now, top search engine and content giant Google will help you read news, as if you were actually flipping newspapers or magazines.

The new tool is "Google Fast Flip" that allows you to swiftly flip through the pages of any kind of news and read on further if you are interested in a particular article. The product has already been launched, reports publishing house CyberMedia.

"We're adding a new experiment to Google Labs: Google Fast Flip -- a new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles," said Krishna Bharat, distinguished researcher with Google News, in an official blog post.

"Like a print magazine, Fast Flip lets you browse sequentially through bundles of recent news, headlines and popular topics, as well as feeds from individual top publishers."

As flipping through content is made very fast, you can quickly look through a lot of pages until you find something interesting. Google also provides aggregation and search over many top newspapers, magazines and wires.

You can also share content with your friends and community. This apart, Fast Flip does some customisation by taking cues from selections a reader makes to show more content from sources, topics and journalists that he or she seems to like.

Available at the test version gives you complete freedom of choice, says Google, adding you can select any magazine displayed on the homepage as though you are picking it up from a newsstand.

Google has partnered with nearly 50 top publishers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Fast Company, ProPublica and Newsweek.

They will share revenues from contextually relevant ads, giving them an opportunity to grab the eyeballs of new readers. The company said it has also made a mobile version of Fast Flip.

Hotel prices fell by 17 percent: Report

The average price of a hotel room around the world fell by 17 percent in the first six months of 2009, according to a report by

Part of hospitality major Expedia group, offers more than 100,000 quality hotels and serviced apartments worldwide.

According to its latest Hotel Price Index, hotel prices globally were lower than they were five years ago when the index was first prepared. Consumers are now paying the 2003 prices, it said.


Orchid gets US approval for two drugs

Chennai: City-based Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for abbreviated new drug applications (ANDA) for Piperacillin and Tazobactam injections.

The FDA has granted 180-day generic drug exclusivity for marketing the products. Orchid will sell the drugs in the US in partnership with Canada's Apotex.


Tata Consultancy opens office in Buenos Aires

Kolkata: IT service provider Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has opened a new global delivery centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

TCS will initially employ about 250 professionals at the new centre. "We are proud to be the first company to open its doors in the new technology district of said Buenos Aires," S. Ramadorai, chief executive and managing director of TCS.

"Our growing presence in Latin America continues to be of strategic importance to our overall business growth and we remain committed to working in close collaboration with institutions and universities in Argentina."


Irish group unveils first project in India

Hyderabad: Quinn Property, part of Ireland's Quinn group that has diversified interest in areas such as chemicals, insurance and hospitality, Wednesday unveiled its first Indian project, a commercial building, built on an investment of $100 million in Gacchibowli area here.

Called Q-City, the $32-billion group Quinn hopes to attract companies from the IT, telecom and financial services to take up space at the the nine-storey building.


Marico listed on Bangladesh bourses

Mumbai: Fast moving consumer goods major Marico Ltd Wednesday said its wholly-owned subsidiary, Marico Bangladesh Ltd (MBL), has started public trading in the Dhaka and Chittagong Stock Exchanges.

The company Wednesday signed listing agreements with the two bourses and commenced trading soon after, Marico said in a regulatory statement.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Microsoft launches new Zune

Microsoft Corp launched a slimmer, revamped version of its Zune handheld music and video player on Tuesday as the software giant makes its latest attempt to compete with Apple Inc's ubiquitous iPod.

The touch-screen Zune HD, which features a radio receiver and wi-fi, is priced just below Apple's comparable iPod Touch in the hopes of grabbing market share as the U.S. holiday shopping season nears.

The device, which goes on sale on Tuesday, has a claim of technical superiority over Apple's iPods, with a state-of-the-art organic light emitting diode screen and ability to relay high definition video to a television.

But it will struggle to make an impact on the stylish iPod, which took the digital music player mainstream when launched in 2001 and now controls more than 70 percent of the market. The original Zune did not come onto the market until 2006.

Microsoft announced the pricing of the new models last month, pitching its black 16 gigabyte model at $219.99 and platinum 32 gigabyte version at $289.99. Customized red, green and blue colors are also available.

At the time, that was well below $399 Apple charged for the 32 gigabyte iPod Touch, but Apple has since cut prices and is now offering an updated version of the same memory size for $299. Apple also now offers a 64 gigabyte Touch a video camera on its iPod Nano model.

There are no plans to add a camera to the Zune, marketing manager Brian Seitz said on Monday. He also said there were no plans to create a Zune phone, which might rival Apple's popular iPhone, despite recurring talk in the tech industry. He did, however, say that Zune's capabilities could be added to other platforms, including Windows Mobile, suggesting that a smartphone with a Zune function may yet be realized.

Microsoft's player is backed by the Zune Marketplace, which rivals Apple's iTunes store, where users can stream, buy or rent music, videos and films.

The device features only a handful of applications, such as MSN weather and some video games, but it is planning to add applications featuring social networking sites Twitter and Facebook in November. Unlike Apple, Microsoft does not have an open marketplace for application development, and is not charging for them.

(c) Reuters

Sify Selects Cisco to Help Build Optical Network Across India

Cisco today announced that Sify (Nasdaq National Markets: SIFY) has selected the Cisco® ONS 15454 Multi Service Transport Platform (MSTP) as the foundation of Sify's optical network. The decision is part of Sify's strategy to enhance its existing core network to meet its customers' ever increasing demand for sophisticated network services and to address the rapidly evolving India market. The announcement highlights Cisco's expertise and leadership in optical networking and emphasizes the growing relevance of flexibility, manageability and scalability in service provider networks.
The Cisco ONS 15454 Multi Service Transport Platform, a core component of the Cisco's Optical Solutions and Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) architecture, offers capabilities, reliability and scalability required for service providers to offer any-play services. The platform offers unprecedented flexibility and scalability to build a mesh optical network using state of the art technologies - multi-degree colorless and directionless ROADMs, Carrier Ethernet Switching, SDH Cross-connect and Transponders/Muxponders for all services including data, voice, video and storage.

Realty firm HDIL to pay tax on extra income

Realty firm Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) Monday denied having evaded taxes but said it would pay tax on additional income of Rs.350 crore following raids by the income-tax department last week.

Income-tax department officials had conducted raids on HDIL office premises and promoters' residences Sep 11-12.

"During the course of the raid, HDIL has agreed to offer approximately Rs.350 crore as income to be booked in remaining quarters of financial year 2009-10," the company said in a regulatory statement.

Income of Rs.350 crore as calculated by income-tax department are based on initial entries in books of accounts mostly relating to the current financial year, the statement said.

"There is no undisclosed income, tax evasion, levy of penalty for any previous years or current year as reported, and there will not be any substantial change to tax liability or revision in income booked of earlier accounting years," the company said.

Exim Bank to fund overseas plantation acquisitions

State-run Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) will fund Indian firms to acquire plantation estates in African and South American countries, a top official said here Monday.

"As these countries allow ownership to overseas investors, we will fund acquisition of farmlands, especially plantation estates by credit-worthy investors and financially-strong plantation firms," Exim Bank chairman and managing director T.C. Venkat Subramanian told IANS on the margins of a planters' conference.

Countries like Mozambique and Madagascar in Africa and Argentina in South America have opened up for overseas investments in the farm sector for growing cash crops, including plantation commodities like coffee, tea and spices.

"China has already made inroads in these countries, with a number of Chinese firms and investors buying large tracts of farm lands for growing a variety of crops for local and overseas markets. Indian planters should explore such opportunities, as the sector has come out of a prolonged cyclical downturn till last year," Subramanian said.

R. Viswanathan, India's ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, had declared in Chennai recently that Indian missions would assist prospective investors explore buying of farmlands or plantations in South America.

"As a premier export finance institution, we will process investment proposals and estimate the fund required and the risk element involved for us as well as prospective investors," Subramanian said.

Addressing the 116th annual conference of the United Planters' Association of Southern India (UPASI), he said proximity to Africa and favourable soil, climate and lower labour costs would make investments in the farm or plantation sector rewarding in the long-term.

"Though Latin America is far away, access to developed markets in North America and Europe across the Atlantic make investments in these countries a value proposition," Subramanian told about 600 planters of coffee, tea, rubber and spices, who have gathered here for the two-day annual conference.

Set up in 1982 under the Export-Import Bank of India Act 1981, the Exim Bank integrates the country's foreign trade and investment with the overall economic growth.

The Mumbai-based bank also plays a key role in the promotion of cross-border trade and investment.

Yes Bank in pact with French firm to raise $20 mn

Private sector lender Yes Bank Monday announced that it has entered into an agreement with Proparco, a French multilateral development finance agency, to raise $20 million (Rs.97.45 crore) subordinated debt.

"The bank intends to raise up to Rs.500 crore by way of subordinated debt forming part of upper and lower tier II capital by end of March 2010," it said in a statement.

The instrument has a maturity of 15 years with a call option with Yes Bank at the end of 10 years from the date of subscription.

The debt qualifies for inclusion in upper tier-II for capital under Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, the bank statement said.

Proparco is the private sector investment arm of the French multilateral development finance agency Agence Fran�aise de Developpement (AFD).

"This capital raising has been done to further augment our tier-II capital base and our capital adequacy and enhance the long-term resources of the bank," said Yes Bank managing director and chief executive Rana Kapoor.

Added Proparco chief executive Luc Rigouzzo: "The focus areas in India for Proparco are clean energy, microfinance, health and education, and Yes Bank has a strong track record of investment and innovation in these sectors."

British supermarket launches Indian clothing collection

Britain's second largest supermarket chain, Asda, has launched a line of Indian clothing in the first such move by a high street retailer in the country.

The 13-piece collection, including sequined embellished salwaar kameez, churidar, kurta and dupatta, is being launched to coincide with the start of Eid festivities.

Part of the George line, the clothes have been designed with a team in India, and are made using authentic Indian materials. The store also received inputs from a panel of customers.

Priced at between seven and 26 pounds, the clothes are suitable for all customers, not just South Asians, George brand director Fiona Lambert said.

"We are extremely proud to be launching UK's first mainstream range of traditional Asian clothing. We have the broadest socio-demographic group of all the supermarkets and we wanted to offer affordable clothing suitable for all our customers," Lambert said.

The Indian clothes are to be rolled out in 21 Asda stores in Britain.

Brianna Ragel, editor of Asian Woman magazine, said: "This definitely marks a turning point for ethnic clothing on high street."

Wal-Mart, Asda's US parent company, launched a Bollywood-inspired collection in Canada earlier this year.

Sri Lanka, Reliance Industries in oil exploration talks

The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries is in talks with the Sri Lankan government for exploring oil in the island country.

The government is "in talks with Reliance for petroleum exploration", Sri Lanka's Minister of Investment Promotion Navin Dissanayake told reporters here Monday.

Reliance Industries has shown interest in some oil blocks in the Munnar and Southern basins, he said.

Cairn Energy's India unit has already invested around $400 million in a block in the Munnar fields.

"So, if Reliance is coming, it will be into that figure at least," said Dissanayake.

The minister will go to Mumbai to hold talks with Reliance Industries officials in this regard.

He added that Sri Lanka was also in talks with Mahindra group to set up a IT park at an investment of $70 to $100 million.

Besides, another major Indian industrial group, Aditya Birla Group, has sought to build a $50-million Carbon Black factory in the island country, Dissanayake added.

Intel announces reorganization

Intel announced a major reorganization Monday that will combine the divisions that design and market chips for PC's and mobile devices.

The move was seen as a powerful illustration of the growing importance of mobile chips, where Intel has not enjoyed the same dominance it has held for 20 years in the market for the microprocessors that power PCs and servers.

Under the plan, most of the company's design and marketing will be placed under the Intel architecture group, a new division led by Sean Maloney, who previously led Intel's sales and marketing efforts, and by Dadi Perlmutter, previously in charge of the company's mobility group.

Manufacturing operations will be headed by Andy Bryant, Intel's chief administrative officer. The changes will allow Intel chief Paul Otellini to focus more time on the company's long-term strategy and drive the company's growth initiative, Intel said.

The Silicon Valley bellwether also announced the departure of veteran executive Pat Gelsinger, who had led the company's research and development initiatives. Gelsinger is joining EMC Corp as president and chief operating officer of information infrastructure

products, the data storage company said Monday.

Luxury Cancun hotel offers guests opportunity to help Mayans

A luxury hotel in the Mexican Caribbean resort city of Cancun is offering guests the opportunity to help poor Mayan communities in Quintana Roo state during their vacations.

The "Lazos Mayas" (Maya Ties) project seeks to expand a volunteer programme to guests, who "each day show more interest in becoming involved in the destinations they visit", said representatives of the Ritz-Carlton Cancun Hotel, one of the most luxurious properties in the Mexican Caribbean.

Guests making a donation of 1,500 pesos ($110) per person will be able to participate in "all types of work, from simple tasks like painting and gardening, to implementing recycling programmes", Ritz-Carlton public relations manager Paulina Feltren told EFE.

The work will be performed in cooperation with the non-profit Kanche association, which is promoting activities based on the sustainable management of natural and cultural resources with the goal of having Mayan communities earn income from eco-tourism.

The hotel already has experience offering guests alternative tourism activities, promoting a programme for many years to protect the sea turtles that nest on its beach, Feltren said.

The Ritz-Carlton has been able to save more than 1,200 turtle nests and release over 180,000 hatchlings, thanks to support from guests, Feltren said.

Lodging at the 365-room Ritz-Carlton Cancun costs anywhere from $190 to $570 a night.

Percept aims for world cinema from India

Having made critically acclaimed films like "Kanchivaram", production house Percept Picture Company (PPC) is aiming high - offering Indian cinema with global appeal.

"We want to create world cinema out of India. We tried 'Firaaq' and 'Kanchivaram' as a very amateur step and succeeded. Now we will create a commercial film for the world in an Indian language and target the global consumer," said Shailendra Singh, joint managing director of PPC.

The studio also has 15 movies lined up, of which nine are ready to hit the screen.

"While 'Firaaq' has won 14 awards, 'Kanchivaram' has won the National Award for the best film and for us as a film studio, it doesn't get bigger. We are terribly excited," Singh told IANS in an interview.

Asked about the studio's choice of making a regional film like "Kanchivaram", which is in Tamil, Singh said: "It's about picking the right subject that appeals to more people.

"Hollywood makes its scripts with global sensibilities and we make it with local sensibilities. But 'Kanchivaram' deals with a father-daughter relationship and the plot itself is universal."

Most of PPC's line-up of 15 movies are commercial. "We've got nine negatives ready for release. One or two are under production and among the remaining, four will go into production in 2010. We've got films lined up till April and every month we will have a new product," said Singh.

"We have got an inventory of nearly Rs.200 crore (Rs.2 billion) to be released. We hope we succeed because if we don't, we will not shut down but will definitely go slow," he added.

Some of the forthcoming movies include "Jail", "24X7 Raftaar", "Yeh Hosla", "Raat Gayi Baat Gayi?", "Bum Bum Bole", "Grrrr" and "8".

Singh admitted that bringing the movies on board during an economic slowdown has not been easy.

"We've lost 50 percent of our revenue, courtesy recession. Our product was Rs.500 crore (Rs.5 billion), it has now become Rs.200 crore (Rs.2 billion). Overnight our digital, satellite, music...all (income) gone, so it's only theatrical now," he said.

"And for that you get only one-third share, which means for the investment to recover, a movie should do three-times the business, which is next to impossible. We have also fallen short of syndication."

Singh added that unlike other studios, PPC doesn't believe in rushing its content.

"We do things nice and steady, but we do it very calculatedly. We released 'Jannat' at IPL (Indian Premier League) time, 'Malaamal Weekly' during exams, and 'Hanuman' in the middle of Muharram.

"We believe in right date, right time, right price and kind of thinking. We are not in a rush to release our films. Every Friday, six-eight films are releasing and becoming flops...we are not into that hara-kiri," said Singh.

He pointed out that umbrella content packaging - where the same content caters to different audiences - is now passe.

"In India, the consumer is fragmented. There are different economic class groups and there are different social groups. We have to cater to all of them in a customised manner and price it accordingly. There cannot be one content for everybody...that stage is over now," he explained.

Highlighting PPC's strategy, Singh said: "At the end of the day, the agenda for PPC is clean, good and healthy content with value for money. We believe in creativity and content. We feel that somewhere down the line, the consumer wants a good story told well at the right price and we are running a marathon."

PPC also plans to release Priyadarshan's "Kanchivaram" in select theatres across the country by October-end.

Big Pictures takes 'Ghajini' to South Korea

Big Pictures, a subsidiary of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG), is trying to tap the international market and has sold the rights of Aamir Khan starrer superhit action thriller "Ghajini" in South Korea.

It has also sold the broadcast and digital rights of its four films -- "13B", "Luck By Chance", "Karzzzz" and "Rock On!!" -- in China.

"Within just a year of its launch, our international sales team has tapped into major markets for the proliferation of Indian cinema. Indian cinema is gaining ground with the entry of 'Ghajini' into South Korea and our four titles into China," said Jawahar Sharma, COO of International Film Business at Big Pictures, in a statement.

"China is a crucial market because of its size, and we are happy that we have found warm welcome in the largest country in the world," he added.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Microsoft-Yahoo deal to have antitrust probe

Advertising and search alliance between Microsoft and Yahoo is under scanner

The US Department of Justice is looking into the advertising and search alliance between Microsoft and Yahoo, the companies said Friday.

Yahoo and Microsoft, which trail a distant second and third respectively to Google in the internet search market, announced their deal in late July in a bid to combine forces and challenge the web giant.

Under the arrangement, Microsoft will provide search and related advertising tools on Yahoo's pages, in return for a 12-percent revenue cut during the first five years of the deal. Yahoo estimates the pact will add $500 million to annual operating income while cutting capital expenses by $200 million. READ MORE>>>

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Encyclopaedia Britannica comes to Television

Remember those big Encyclopedias which we had in our school libraries, most of us even feared to touch them but gradually we became so used of referring them that we consulted it for everything and we found it there.
With the digital revolution, Encyclopedia Britannica moved to compact discs and Internet and siumulatously to our cell phones.
Bringing that knowledge legacy forward, they have now become pioneer in providing content for Learning packages on DTH Platform.
Britannica India has partnered with Tata Sky to launch Active Learning, an interactive channel package for active learners.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL) today announced its MTalk plan that offers local calls at just 1 paisa per second, with 1-second billing, plus full talk-time for lifetime! STD calls are charged at 2 paisa per second. At nominal Msaver rentals of just Rs.1 per day each, customers can also choose to get 50% off on local calls, 50% off on STD calls, and 100 SMSes every day. MTS have coined this simple concept “The Power of 1”.

MTS rolls out mobile telephony services in Jharkhand

MTS, the mobile telephony services brand of Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd (SSTL) was launched in Jharkhand today. MTS brand has over 100 million subscribers globally. In India, MTS already has a subscriber base of over 1.7 million and is present in 6 telecom circles including Bihar, Kolkata, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. MTS will continue to roll out its network in other circles to have an all-India footprint by Q3 of 2010. MTS India was recently recognized as the “Most Successful New Telecom Operator” by the Ministry of Telecommunications & IT.

Since its launch in Bihar in July this year, and having expanded to cover 28 of the 37 districts there, MTS has now launched in Jharkhand with up to 60% of the planned coverage in the state including 7 districts of Ranchi, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Lohardaga, West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum and Giridih, in Phase I. MTS will be available in Devghar & Sahibganj by mid-September, while all remaining districts will be covered by end of October. MTS Jharkhand subscribers will enjoy roaming facility in neighboring states of Bihar and West Bengal and all over India. MTS is currently available at 6500 retail outlets in Jharkhand, and will be available at 10, 000 retail outlets by end of this year.

ISB Launches 'IDIYA' - A B- Plan Challenge for Working Professionals

The Indian School of Business (ISB) has launched 'ISB Idiya' - a unique initiative that invites ideas for innovative social ventures from working professionals in India. The competition is not open to students who are pursuing any full time programme. The competition is being led by the Net Impact - a social responsibility club at the ISB.

Speaking on the significance of 'ISB Idiya', Ajit Rangnekar, Dean, ISB, said, "We would like to encourage social entrepreneurship amongst youth in India through ISB Idiya. We hope that new age business models from young people will change the social sector scenario in India. This initiative will support aspiring entrepreneurs from idea generation to execution through mentorship and entrepreneurial training."

The event was launched by Vijay Mahajan, Chairman and Founder of Basix. "The world of business is not always about maximising social good. If you want to work with social entrepreneurship, the fuel for this has to be commercial," he said He also spoke on the role of business schools in providing the right fertile ground for potentially sound social venture since they straddled the world of economy, enterprise and policy.

The business plans will be evaluated on the following criteria:

-- Social Business Context
-- Business Plan and Innovativeness
-- Financial Sustainability and Profitability
-- Social Impact

Sony Ericsson launched Panel SDK for devs

Sony Ericsson launches the Panel SDK in a drive to encourage developers to create content for the XPERIAT X2. The eye-catching interface includes a new range of interactive Panels on the home screen offering business, fun and communication features. By providing unparalleled real estate and marketing visibility, the Panel interface makes the developer central to the user experience.

The Panel SDK includes a Panelizer which turns existing Flash, Java and Windows Mobile® applications into Panels for the XPERIAT X2 , and a native software development kit which allows developers to be the first to create panels for the Windows Mobile® 6.5 platform.

Using the Panelizer, developers are able to maximise the investments they have already made creating compelling applications. In just a couple of clicks and with no separate tool purchase, the Panelizer gives developers a low-cost way to turn their content into the unique Sony Ericsson Panel experience. Panels are then just one touch away from the consumer's home screen, allowing developers to truly shape the user's mobile entertainment experience.

Besides supporting Panels and native applications, the XPERIAT X2 is also equipped with a Java Runtime that makes Java/Capuchin applications run as well integrated as native applications.

Applications accepted as panels will be made available on Sony Ericsson's market place, PlayNowT arena, giving developers access to an even wider range of consumers using other Sony Ericsson handsets. Developers from around the world also benefit from the 70% net revenue share offered by PlayNowT arena, which is available in 18 countries.

"Putting developers' applications directly in front of consumers is a crucial focus for us," says Christopher David, Head of Developer and Partner Engagement at Sony Ericsson. "We created the Panel SDK to streamline the development process, minimising the time it takes to get applications directly to the consumer and providing developers with additional revenue opportunities."

How it works
Developers can submit their applications by following these simple steps:

-- Go to Sony Ericsson's Developer World website
-- Download the Panel SDK and follow the short Panel SDK tutorial
-- Go to and upload 'Panelized' applications
-- Within 30 days the submission approval process will be completetions. Successful applications are automatically available for wider usage on PlayNowT arena.

Honda Siel to export engine parts to Japan

Car manufacturer Honda Siel Tuesday said it would export engine components to Japan from October.

"This export programme is due to a shortage of Japanese supply," Honda Siel president and chief executive Masahiro Takedagawa told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

The company will export crank shaft and the connecting rod manufactured at its Tapukara plant in Rajasthan. Honda Siel has another factory at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh.

"Honda Siel has bagged the export order due to a rapid increase in the sale of small cars in Japan, which has led to a capacity constraint at Honda facilities for these engine components," Takedagawa said.

The company will produce 54,000 sets of the crank shafts and connecting rods for export over six months.

The exports will help integrate Honda Siel with the Japanese company's pan-Asia supply chain network.

Honda Civic given a facelift

Auto manufacturer Honda Siel Cars Tuesday launched a refurbished Honda Civic sedan with alternations in its design, such as a five-point metallic front grille and a new bumper.

The new Civic is available in three variants that will come in two models - Elegance and Inspire. The car is priced in the range of Rs.11.8 lakh to Rs.14.13 lakh at showrooms in Delhi.

The company has also introduced dark smokey headlights and crystalline octagonal tail lights in the car to give it a "contemporary look".

"The new Honda Civic carries forward the legacy of the Civic which is already the most refined and advanced car in the segment," said Honda Siel president and chief executive Masahiro Takedagawa.

The car will have an additional colour option of polished metal besides the regular available colours.

"With the new look, we are confident we can revive the sales that suffered a setback due to global meltdown. However, the market will decide how many units we manage to sell," Takedagawa said.

Honda Siel is also offering an additional two-year warranty in addition to the existing two years, and will also offer a 24-hour roadside assistance.

The company plans to expand its dealership from 106 to 112 by the end of current financial year, said Takedagawa.

Jet Airways, pilots asked to resolve issues through talks

The civil aviation ministry Tuesday asked the Jet Airways management and its pilots to sort out issues through dialogue rather than inconvenience thousands of passengers. It also asked states to examine administrative action to ensure normal flight operations.

Civil Aviation Secretary M. Madhavan Nambiar's appeal came after some 400 Jet Airways pilots reported "sick" Tuesday, resulting in the cancellation of nearly 200 flights leaving an estimated 20,000 passengers stranded.

"Our view is very clear. We have said we'd like this to be solved. Both sides should come to the table," Nambiar told a news conference here. He added that all states were also requested to examine the need to invoke provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act.

When asked how the government was treating the mass "sick leave" being resorted to by pilots, the aviation secretary said both the ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation were examining the issue.

"We will see what are the violations. These are matters that will be examined," he said. "Any act on the part of pilots that results in last-minute cancellation of flights and harassment of passengers will be treated as an act against the public interest."

He said Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal had met with him and Director General of Civil Aviation S.N.A. Zaidi to give an update on the issue and had sought their help in ensuring that the pilots report back at work.

"Jet Airways understands that the pilots are also meeting. They have to sort it out."

Asked to respond to the complaints by passengers that they were not informed about the mass strike in advance, the aviation secretary said Jet Airways has been asked to look into the matter on an urgent basis.

"Jet Airways has to take real proactive steps to ensure proper re-endorsements (of tickets) and proper warning to passengers in the next couple of days," said Nambiar and hoped the matters will be sorted out at the earliest.

Mercedes-Benz launches its heavy duty truck in India

Premium car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz India Tuesday launched its globally acclaimed third-generation truck Mercedes-Benz Actros 4841K in the country.

The Actros is its largest selling truck model worldwide, the company said in a statement.

"Over 600,000 Actros trucks have been sold worldwide since its inception in 1996 and the Actros continues to remain one of the most trusted brands in the heavy tonnage applications segment," said Mercedes-Benz India managing director and chief executive Wilfried Aulbur.

"The new Mercedes-Benz Actros will be a valuable partner for the vibrant Indian mining and infrastructure operators and we have high expectations from this product in India."

The truck has a multi-function steering wheel and a driver information system to ensure the safety of the driver, vehicle and cargo during transportation, the company said.

Tata Docomo launches pay-per-character Diet-SMS

Tata Docomo, the GSM brand of Tata Teleservices, Tuesday launched a short messaging service (SMS), called Diet-SMS, which enables customers to pay on a per-character basis.

"The cost of any Diet-SMS will be only one paise per character used, thereby providing complete value to customers," Tata Docomo said in a statement.

The company, frontrunner in the pay-per-use business model in the mobile telephony segment, will not charge for space between words.

Tata Docomo has launched services in eight telecom circles and a countrywide rollout is expected to be completed this year.

"In all of the eight circles where we have launched our GSM services, we made the promise of introducing path-breaking innovative products and services, and never-before tariff options. Diet-SMS is another way of fulfilling that promise," said Tata Docomo president Deepak Gulati.

"We broke the per-minute pricing paradigm for voice calls when we launched our services. With Diet-SMS, we are doing it again, this time on the SMS front."

Tata Teleservices to Provide Real-Time Charging on Its GSM Network

When Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL), India's fastest growing pan-India dual-technology telecom service provider, was looking to launch its GSM-based prepaid service offerings in the rapidly growing Indian market, it selected Telcordia (, a leading global provider of communications network software and services for IP, wireline, wireless and cable. Just a few months later, the Telcordia solution was implemented, enabling TTSL to launch its innovative and exciting prepaid offerings on its new GSM Network.

Presently, Tata Teleservices relies on Telcordia® Real-Time Charging to deliver a highly scalable, reliable and cost-effective real-time charging solution for its nearly 40 million CDMA subscribers.
elcordia serves the growing Indian communications market through Telcordia Technologies India Private Limited, which was established in 2006 and is headquartered in Gurgaon. The company includes Telcordia India Labs, a state-of-the-art facility based in Chennai that provides dedicated software resources for mobile, fixed line and cable operators throughout India.

India is experiencing an unprecedented rate of subscriber growth, especially in the prepaid market, and the challenge for communications service providers (CSPs) is to attract new subscribers, retaining existing ones and increasing service use to boost revenue. As such, there is a greater need for CSPs to differentiate their service offerings by providing relevant, interactive and personalized services. Telcordia Real-Time Charging makes it easy to create and deploy customer-specific rules for rating, discounting and promotions, and enables CSPs to differentiate their service offerings and personalize the telecom experience for its customers.

REVA to Unveil Two New Models at Frankfurt Motor Show

REVA Electric Car Company, pioneer andtechnology leaders in the EV market will unveil two new models at the upcoming 63rdFrankfurt International Motor Show(IAA) –REVA NXR (next revolution) and REVA NXG (next generation).

REVA NXG is a sporty two-seater with a targaroof and is designed by Dilip Chhabria of the internationally renowned automotivedesign company - DC Design. The carwhich will go into production in the year 2011 will have a top speed of 130kmph and a range of 200 kms.

REVA NXR is a four-seat, two-door hatchbackfamily car suitable for urban driving that can be booked and ordered from theshow onwards, with production scheduled to commence at the beginning of 2010. Thecar will run on a Lithium Ion battery and will have a top speed of 104 kmph anda range of 160 kms on a full charge. InIndia the NXR will be available as a lead acid battery variant giving a rangeof 80 km per charge and top speed of 80 kmph.
Both the REVA NXR and the REVA NXG will feature the REVive telematics technology.Further technology and pricing announcements will be made at IAA.

Both new models will be manufactured atREVA’s new green manufacturing plant in Bangalore. The new models will receivetheir first boost of charge from solar power at the new plant which will bebuilt on LEEDS guidelines with rainwater harvesting, solar charging, solarheating, and natural ventilation with an intent to reduce carbon footprint.

REVA’s new website - will begoing live during the unveiling the cars at Frankfurt and customers will beable to register on the priority list for the new cars on-line.

Microsoft India Announces Strategic Alliance with TCS

Microsoft India and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) today announced a strategic alliance between the two companies to launch Microsoft-TCS virtualization Center of Excellence (CoE) in Chennai. Designed to help customers experience the right approach to applying and managing virtualization across IT architectural layers (namely server, machine, application and desktop) in their business environments - the CoE will leverage best of breed Microsoft technologies (such as Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008) to showcase virtualization scenarios to customers. The Microsoft-TCS virtualization CoE is a joint initiative by the companies to accelerate the adoption of virtualization technology in India.

The Microsoft-TCS virtualization CoE will deliver a heightened user experience that will help customers demystify Virtualization: migration from physical to virtual environments, user experience and performance, management of physical and virtual infrastructure from a single console - and experience how virtualization technology deployment in the datacenter can enable improved performance, higher availability and lower cost of ownership of IT infrastructure.

With a holistic approach to virtualization, Microsoft addresses its customers' end-to-end virtualization requirements - with technologies and solutions spanning across the datacenter to the desktop, and from implementation to management (both virtual and physical resources).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lifestyle, Pay panel and NREGA push up consumer durables sale

Evolving lifestyles, sixth pay commission and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Nrega) have pushed up sale of consumer durables by reducing replacing cycle by half, says a study.

Replacement cycle for television has come down to 4-5 years from 9 years, while for household appliances it has fallen to 7-8 years from 12 years, according to a joint report by Assocham-Ernst & Young.

An average 21 per cent hike in the salary of nearly five million employees of the Central government in the wake of the sixth pay commission released an additional spend of 3.7 million dollars, while the Central budget has allocated 8.15 billion dollars under NREGA in 2009-10, said Assocham president Sajjan Jindal.

More than 44.7 million households were provided employment in 2008-09 under NREGA, while both their number and wage are likely to go up this year as the government has commited a daily wage of Rs 100 this year, Mr Jindal added. Further improvement in income level of households could further bring down replacement cycle of consumer durables.

The report says a fast rate of obsolescence in technology is also bringing down prices of products and making them affordable to lower income groups as well.

Mr Jindal urged manufacturers of televisions and domestic appliances to design and offer low-cost products to tap a market of 121 million households with income levels in the range 1,500 to 10,000 dollars.

The report says sale of consumer durables will further pick up with expansion of rural electrification, road network, irrigation and telephone connectivity.

Under Bharat Nirman, the government has planned electrification of 1,25,000 villages during the eleventh plan and this, the report says, will electrify an additional 23 million households affording an opportunity to use electric and electronic appliances. According to Central Electricity Authority, 76.5 of the country's villages had been electrified as on March 31, 2008.

Similarly, 1,46,185 km of new rural roads will connect 66,802 habitations and drinking water provided to 55,067 uncovered habitations during the plan period, the report says. The plan also envisages irrigation to 10 million hectare and telephone connectivity to 66,822 villages.

All these initiatives will further open up markets for consumer electronics and appliances such as televisions, audios, refrigerators, air coolers and air conditioners, concludes the report.

Tata Steel sales up 25 pc in Aug

The world's eighth largest steel company, Tata Steel, which suffered a loss of more than Rs 22 billion during last quarter, today annouced that it has recorded a substantial increase of 25 per cent in the sales of its India operations in August.

According to the sales and production figures of the company's India operations released here today, the total sales during August 2009 was 492000 tonnes, 25 per cent higher than that of August 2008.

Production of hot metal (597000 tonnes), crude steel (552000 tonnes) and saleable steel (526000 tonnes) also went up by 15 per cent, 16 per cent and 14 per cent respectively as compared to the corresponding period of last year.

The production figures of hot metal was a highest ever record for any month.

German July industry orders jump on defence boost

German manufacturing orders lifted higher than expectations in July, bolstered by defence spending, data from the Economy Ministry showed on Monday.

The seasonally adjusted 3.5 percent rise compared with a Reuters poll forecast for a 2.0 percent rise and added to signs the industrial sector is supporting economic recovery.

''For the near term, the outlook for the German economy looks bright as it can still benefit from the best of both worlds: stimulus-driven private consumption and blossoming out industrial activity,'' said Carsten Brzeski from ING Financial Markets.

He said the data raised the prospect that manufacturing ''could take over the baton'' in the second half of the year from a subsidy scheme to trade in old cars, which boosted auto sales sharply but has now come to an end.

The July rise was led by a 17.2 percent increase in domestic orders for investment goods. A spokesman for the Federal Statistics Office said this was in part thanks to a big order for military vehicles in July.

On July 6, Germany's Rheinmetall announced it had clinched a 3.1 billion euro ($4.35 billion) contract to supply the German army with 405 Puma armoured vehicles, which the company makes along with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

The German orders increase was the fifth in a row according to revised Bundesbank data published after the ministry issued the figures. Prior data had pointed to a third straight rise.

Germany's manufacturing sector has been suffering a slump in step with the global economic downturn, with orders falling steadily from late 2007 until spring of this year.

Foreign orders fell 2.3 percent in July, the data showed. Demand for intermediate goods rose 5.2 percent, while orders for investment goods rose 3.2 percent, the ministry said.

Data from the Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) released last week showed Germany's overall industrial sector came close to returning to growth in August on a jump in output and new orders.

Cadbury bid boosts sentiment, lifts FTSE

Britain's top share index added 1.4 percent by mid-session on Monday, as a bid for Cadbury by Kraft boosted investor sentiment which helped banks and commodity shares gain strongly.

By 1046 GMT the FTSE 100 was up 69.74 points at 4,921.44 following a 1.2 percent gain on Friday, its biggest percentage gain in two weeks as it snapped a three-session losing streak.

Cadbury surged over 40 percent after Kraft Foods, North America's biggest food group, announced a $16.7 billion bid, which was rejected by Cadbury, the world's second-largest confectionary group.

Cadbury shares received a further boost as investors speculated on a possible counterbid by the world's biggest food group Nestle AG, though the Swiss group declined to comment.

''From a market sentiment point of view, takeovers are exactly what are needed to keep the rally going after a fairly sluggish week,'' said Ian Horsley, indexes trader at Spreadex.

The news put wind in the sail of other food producers with Unilever up 2.9 percent.

Associated British Foods gained 4.1 percent to a 14-month high after the foods and drinks group increased its full-year earnings forecast on the back of strong results from its Primark discount chain.

Miners, which strengthened along with metal prices, were the second best performers.

Lonmin, reportedly a takeover target for Xstrata, rose 4.6 percent, with the latter 1.9 percent higher, while Vedanta Resources and Antofagasta climbed 2.2 and 1.9 percent respectively.

The oil price was in focus ahead of Wednesday's OPEC meeting which is expected to maintain current output levels.

Royal Dutch Shell, BG Group, Tullow Oil and Cairn Energy added between 0.3 and 3 percent.

Banks also saw demand with the Sunday Telegraph reporting Lloyds Banking Group, up 3.2 percent, is looking to convert 6.79 billion pounds worth of preference shares into common equity in a further bid to shore up its finances.

Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC were between 0.5 and 2.1 percent higher.

BA TAKING OFF British Airways gained 2.6 percent following a press report it was considering a bid for Lufhansa's UK airline BMI.

Weekend agreement by G20 finance ministers and central bankers to keep economic stimulus measures in place for longer added to the positive sentiment.

China is experiencing a ''V'' shape economic recovery and growth will be back to normal by 2010, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, quoting an adviser to the central bank.

With the United States closed for the Labor Day, however, the Cadbury news was the biggest influence, helping to lift other defensive sectors such as tobacco and beverages.

British & American Tobacco added 2.3 percent, Imperial Tobacco rose 2.2 percent while Diageo and SABMiller gained 1.8 and 2.3 percent respectively.


CavinKare launches dairy product in Kerala

With the aim to have a national footprint in the near future, the Rs 700 crore FMCG major, CavinKare, today launched its dairy brand 'Cavin's Milk' in Kerala.

Speaking to reporters here today, Company General Manager S Kannan said the product would be available in three variants -- Cavin's toned milk, Cavin's standardized milk and Cavin's full cream milk.

'' The growing milk consumption of Kerala provocated us to step into the State with the launch of the Cavin's milk and we are confident of satisfying the customers,'' he added.

Spelling out the future plans, Mr Kannan said '' we are aiming to expand the dairy business on a pan-India basis and the launch of the dairy brand in Kerala, was the first step towards that goal.'' The company, which has a strong presence in Tamil Nadu, also aims to introduce other dairy products and aims to sell around one lakh litres of milk daily in one to two years in the State, he added.

Garnier launches new 'Facelift' range

Leading cosmetic brand, Garnier launched its new ''Facelift'' range here.

The range was unveiled by critically acclaimed actress Chitrangda Singh at the Olive yesterday.

Speaking at the launch, Chitrangda, said '' I am involved in two projects- '2 Days, 2 Nights and a Morning' and ' Dhruv''. And it would be fabulous to work with director Vishal Bhardwaj someday.''

Big Bazaar launches third store in Chennai

Big Bazaar, India's largest hyper market chain, part of Future Group, today enhanced its reach with the launch of its third store in the metropolis.

Spread over 42,168 sqft area, the Big Bazaar store, located at Royapuram in North Chennai, would serve as a convenient shopping destination for the people in the area, which houses Royapuram, the oldest Railway station in the country.

The people of this densely populated area now have the latest variety of merchandise across categories at the best prices with the launch of the third store.

As part of the inaugural offer, Big Bazaar has announced several concessions and packages to attract the customers.

To make it a destination store catering to every single household need of customers, other shops in shops that form a part of it, included Food Bazaar (for food and groceries); One Mobile (for all mobile phone related needs) and Depot (for books, music and stationery).

On the fashion needs, the store also has a Fashion@Big Bazaar, which offers a wide range of formal, casual, ethnic and denim apparel for women, men, children and infants.

The store also offers, a wide collection of accessories such as sunglasses, watches and handbags; as well as general merchandise products including plastics, crockery, utensils, home care and home fashion products, footwear, toys, luggage, sports goods and gifting options.

Speaking at the launch function, Big Bazaar South Zone Business head Venkateshwar Kumar said in view of the overwhelming response the other two stores had received, the time was now right to expand the operations by launching the third store which would fulfill all the household requirements of customers under one roof.

Videocon to acquire 12.5% stake in Anadarko's Indonesian block

Videocon Industries today said it will acquire a 12.5 per cent interest in a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with the US-based Anadarko Petroleum for an Indonesian offshore oil and gas block at USD 11.1 million.

In a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Videocon said it has signed an agreement with Anadarko Indonesia Nunukan Company for acquiring a 12.5 per cent stake in the PSC. The PSC would cover the area of Nunukan Block, located off the shores of Indonesia, and the joint operating agreement between Videocon Indonesia Nunukan Inc and three other parties would be made effective from August 1, 2009.

Besides, Anadarko Indonesia Nunukan company has also entered into a similar pact with BPPL Ventures Indonesia, an arm of Bharat Petroleum Corp, under which BPPL Ventures would acquire a 12.5 per cent interest in the Nunukan Block.

Pursuant to the closing of the agreement, Anadarko would hold a 35 per cent stake, Medco E&P Nunukan would hold 40 per cent, while BPPL Venture and Videocon would hold 12.5 per cent stake each in the PSC.

MPAA, multiplexes launch campaign to curb camcord piracy

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) collaborated with the Indian film industry and leading Indian multiplexes and Monday launched an initiative to stop camcord piracy in the country.

Called the �Make a Difference' campaign, it was launched here at the Big Cinemas Odeon in the presence of MPAA CEO and Chairman Dan Glickman, PVR Cinemas CEO Amitabh Vardhan, and Adlabs COO Tushar Dhingra.

"As we continue to release more Hollywood titles in India, the number of camcords coming out of the country is likely to rise. However, we are sure that the �Make A Difference' training package for cinema staff will go a long way in helping them prevent camcording, identify camcorders as well as assist enforcement authorities when they are caught making these recordings," said Glickman, who is currently in India, in a statement.

Other multiplexes like Fame Adlabs and Fun Republic will also be a part of the nationwide training.

Industry statistics claim more than 90 percent of newly released movies around the world that end up appearing illegally on the streets and on Internet sites originate from illegal copies made in cinema halls.

MPAA has a wholly owned local office Motion Picture Dist. Association (India) Pvt. Ltd. (MPDA) that works closely with local industry, government, law enforcement authorities and educational institutions to protect the film and television industry.

According to the US India Business Council - Ernst & Young 2008 report on "The Effects of Counterfeiting and Piracy on India's Entertainment Industry," the Indian film industry lost $ 959 million and 571,896 jobs due to piracy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Suzuki to spend $215 million on new India factory

Japan's Suzuki Motor said it plans to invest about 20 billion yen ($215 million) to build a new car factory in India, aiming to upgrade its production facilities in the face of growing competition.

Suzuki, which controls about half the Indian car market through unit Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, said late on Saturday that the new facility would come on-line as early as 2011 and have an annual output capacity of about 250,000 cars.

The plant will expand its existing Manesar facility in the state of Haryana, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from New Dehli.

The investment will not alter Suzuki's annual production capacity of about 1 million cars in the country because it plans to shift about 250,000 units of capacity from its ageing Gurgaon facility to Manesar.

Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki told a briefing on Saturday that the investment would likely come to about 20 billion yen, according to a public relations official.

Suzuki is bracing for tougher competition in the Indian market.

Tata Motors' Nano, the world's cheapest car, hit the roads in July. Toyota Motor Corp, Ford Motor Co, General Motors [GM.UL] and Volkswagen are all set to launch small cars in India next year.

Telefonica and Unicom to swap $1 bln in shares

Spain's Telefonica said on Sunday that it had reached a deal with China Unicom whereby each would buy $1 billion worth of each other's shares as part of a strategic alliance.

The Spanish telecoms company said in a regulatory statement that its stake in Unicom would rise to about 8.06 percent, while Unicom would hold between 0.885 and 0.892 percent of Telefonica.

Under the terms of the deal, Telefonica will buy 693,912,264 new shares in China Unicom at HK$11.17 each.

China Unicom has agreed to buy 40,730,735 of Telefonica shares at 17.24 euros each. Telefonica closed on Friday at 17.38 euros, up 1.02 percent on the day.

Telefonica said each company would either pay for the new shares issued by the other in cash, or Telefonica would pay for new shares in Unicom with its own shares.

The two companies have agreed not to issue, offer or sell a significant number of shares to any of their leading competitors, or to make significant investments in key rivals.

Bosch Aftermarket expects to grow 20 pc

Despite the company's margins being under pressure due to rising inputs, Bosch Aftermarket, a spare parts provider to the auto sector, is expecting 20 per cent growth during this year, with no plans to increase prices of its products.

''We continue to grow around 20 per cent in the current year ...and going forward we hope to continue the trend,'' Bosch Vice president (Automotive Aftermarket) K Ravi told reporters here.

By August, the aftermarket business of the company has seen a growth of 23 per cent and last year, it had reported a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, Mr Ravi informed.

Mr Ravi maintained that the sales have not been hit by a deficient rainfall in the country, but admitted that the tractor business was hit in some parts of the country, particularly in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

''To a certain extent, the business was affected in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra...but now with rainfall picking up pace, things have improved,'' he said.

The company said it has no immediate plans of increasing the prices of its products.

''Its true that our margins are under pressure but we are not going to increase the prices of our products as no one is willing to shell out more money...but we will look at cost cutting measures wherever possible,'' he added.

The Aftermarket division will spend Rs 30-40 crore for expanding its network of car service stations from present 330 to 500 by the end of 2010 and also plans to expand its dealership base for two and four wheelers from the present 140 each to across all the disricts of the country.

''We will spend Rs 30-40 crore for expanding our network of car service stations but the amount will mainly be for building infrastructure and providing technical support,'' he said.

On the capacity expansion front, Mr Ravi said though the company is not able to meet demand, it has also no plans to add further capacity at its manufacturing facilities as they are operating at their ''maximum level''.

''We are operating at full capacity but still are not able to meet demand...we are geeting good orders for our products but these are short term orders,'' he added.

To meet the increase in demand, the company plans to import five to six per cent of spare parts from Bosch's other facilities located outside India.

During this year, the company targets to sell 20 million spark plugs as compared to 19 million sold in previous year.

Asked whether the company has any diversification plans, Mr Ravi said there are no such plans.

Zain to sell 46 pc stake

Kuwaiti telecom firm Zain is in the final stages of selling 46 percent of the company to a group of Asian investors, in deal that would value the investment at $13.7 billion, Al-Arabiya television reported on Sunday.

Zain Chief Executive Saad al Barrak confirmed that shareholders were in talks but declined to offer details or to comment whether the talks were with India's Reliance Communications.

Zain is the Gulf Arab region's second-largest telecoms firm by market value. Al-Arabiya did not offer a source or further details.

Barrak said last week that Zain, whose shareholders voted to scrap individual ownership limits on Aug 31 amid a restructuring, was in negotiations to sell a stake in its African business.

Removing the ownership cap on the group means any local or foreign investor would be free to bid for control of the firm as a whole.

Two banking sources told Reuters in August that India's Reliance Communications had started talks to buy Zain's African operations.

The offer of 2 dinars per share reported by Al-Arabiya represents a 28 percent premium to Sunday's closing price of 1.56 dinars and values the stake at 3.93 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($13.68 billion), according to Reuters calculations.

Zain shares rose 5.4 percent on Sunday on the heels of a 20 percent rise in the past month as speculation of a bid has intensified.

Zain said on July 20 it was reviewing a possible sale of its African operations, excluding Morocco and Sudan, after French media and telecom conglomerate Vivendi broke off acquisition talks.

Zain's biggest shareholders are Kuwait's sovereign wealth fund, the Kuwait Investment Authority, which owns 24.608 percent and family-owned conglomerate, the Kharafi Group, which holds at least a 10.86 percent stake, according to the Kuwaiti bourse website. Analysts estimate Kharafi owns about 20 percent in Zain through its units.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Moser Baer to develop solar power project in Maharashtra

Moser Baer India, with business interest in optical storage media, is developing a 1 MW solar power project in Chandrapur in Maharashtra.

When completed, it will be one of the largest solar projects in the world using the latest thin film technology, the firm said. Thin films improve the efficiency with which solar cells convert sunlight to electricity.

The company won the contract from Mahagenco, a Maharashtra government-owned power utility, on the basis of a global tender that attracted 20 bids.

The project will be commissioned in consortium with SunEnergy GMBH of Germany, the company said in a statement.

"The agreement terms include commissioning of the project by January 2010 and maintenance of the project thereafter," the firm's spokesman said.

"This project, I am sure, will herald the widespread deployment of such solar farms in the country," said Moser Baer executive director Ratul Puri.

Audi to assemble its sports utility vehicles in India

German luxury car manufacturer Audi AG Thursday said it would start assembling its sports utility vehicle (SUV) Q5 at its Aurangabad plant in Maharashtra from next March.

"We will start local assembling of our SUV Q5 at the Aurangabad plant. This year we are expecting to sell 200 units, while it should go up to 500 units from next year," Audi India managing director Benoit Tiers told reporters here.

The Indian subsidiary of Audi would start a new line of production for the SUV with an initial capacity of 500 units per year, Tiers said.

"India is the second country after Germany where the Q5 will be assembled," he added.

Audi currently assembles its luxury sedans A4 and A6 at the Aurangabad plant.

The models are imported to India in a completely knocked down version to avoid the 116 percent duty slapped on completely built units. Knocked down units attract only 60 percent duty.

Audi plans to invest about 30 million euros in the country till 2015, and the new production line would be part of this investment, Tiers said.

The company last year sold 1,050 units and has set a target to cross 1,500 units this year.

"We have already sold 1,128 units this year. If everything goes well, I hope and we have a good chance to sell 1,700-1,800 cars in 2009, which will be an increase of about 70 percent," Tiers said.

Barista to invest Rs.40 crore this fiscal

Barista Coffee Co, one of India's leading espresso chains, will invest Rs.40 crore to expand its network this year, a top company official said here Thursday.

"We'll invest Rs.40 crore this year to open 100 new coffee outlets across India. We are targeting nearly 25 percent of revenue growth this year," said Barista's chief operating officer (COO) Sanjay Coutinho.

Of the new outlets, 80 would be espresso bars, 10 highway outlets and 10 Barista Cr�me lounge bars, Coutinho told reporters during an interaction.

Barista, owned by Lavazza, Italy's largest coffee company and sixth largest coffee roasters globally, had a turnover of Rs.150 crore last fiscal.

The company has 230-odd espresso bars at some 30 locations in India. It also has cafes in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

"We'll start outlets Nepal in the next two weeks. Initially, we'll open two in Kathmandu and Pokhra," Coutinho said.

Among other plans, he said the company has applied for licence to serve beer and wine at its existing espresso outlets.

"We've applied for the licence but since we've not received anything we can't share anything on this."

Barista is also going for "customisation" of its menus, Coutinho said, adding: "We're seriously thinking of converting some of our stores into vegetarian outlets at places where majority of the population is vegetarian."

Maintaining that Barista had a "huge opportunity to grow", he said it was exploring new business models like opening cafes at three-star or four-star hotels in India. "But it's still in a fluid stage and we are just holding talks."

Cafe Coffee Day boasts of 65 percent of India's Rs.400-crore coffee bar market, while Barista commands 25 percent.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Top 30 SEO Companies in India has evaluated and highlighted the Top Indian SEO Company, and others, for this month.

The strategy behind social media optimization is an art. It takes a lot of thought and effort to get a link to the top of search engine results. "Only a company who understands the intricacies of organic optimization will be able to accomplish that," explains has reviewed these companies for quality and customer service. The 30 Best Indian SEO Firms include:

1. SEOValley Solutions

2. PageTraffic

3. Position2, Inc

4. Seo Workz Company

5. Techmagnate

6. Varshyl Tech

7. Communicate2

8. Samyak Online


10. Seo Expert Company India

11. eBrandz Inc

12. Valuepitch interactive

13. Antya Web Private Limited

14. REGALIX Inc.

15. SEO Logistics

16. Performetris

17. Web Net Creatives

18. VTech SEO India

19. Thrifty SEO

20. Niche United IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

21. SEOXperts India

22. Cignus Web Services India

23. Cyberframe

24. Glosoft India

25. Palcom Web Pvt. Ltd.

26. SEO Discovery

27. Empowered SEO

28. Webgainmedia

29. BrainPulse SEO Sercives

30. E2 Solutions

Sony plans to come out with 3-D TV next year

The Japanese electronics company Sony Corp plans to introduce a liquid-crystal-display television capable of playing 3-D programming by the end of next year, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Sony is to announce its plans for the new TV next week at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, an unnamed source familiar with the plans told the Journal.

Movie studios and electronics producers see 3-D video for the home as a big money maker, and Sony's rivals, including South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co and LG Electronics Inc and Japan's Panasonic Corp, have said they plan to introduce 3-D products as well.

At the moment, however, 3-D films in theatres are just getting off the ground, so the initial choice of such movies on video would be limited.

The 3-D plans come as Sony has lost money in its television division for five years in a row and is undertaking cost-cutting measures.

Accor to expand footprint, add 50 hotels by 2012

Global hospitality chain Accor Wednesday said it would invest $130 million (Rs.636 crore) in expanding its India network to 50 hotels by 2012.

The hotel major currently operates five hotels with a capacity of 1,100 rooms under three brands: Mercure - a four-star midscale hotel, Ibis - a three-star hotel in the economy category, and Novotel - a five-star brand.

After the expansion, the number of rooms under its management will increase to over 10,400.

"We will have six brands by 2012, Sofitel, which is a five-star luxury hotel; Pullman, which is in the five-star category, and Formule 1, which is a budget hotel brand," said Asia Pacific chairman and chief operating officer Michael Issenberg.

As part of its growth plans, Accor will concentrate on Novotel, which will see the number of its rooms go up to 4,279, and Ibis, which will increase capacity to 3,126 rooms.

"By early 2010, there will be three Ibis hotels in Gurgaon, Mumbai and Pune, with seven more being completed by 2011," said Uttam Dave, Accor's head of development in India.

Accor operates in India through two principal joint venture partners.

The first is Interglobe, with which it is developing the Ibis chain of hotels and three hotels that are a part of Aerocity - the hospitality precinct at Delhi International Airport.

The other partner is Emaar MGF, which will help it develop the Formule 1 brand of budget hotels.

In addition to the principal partners, Accor has smaller tie-ups for specific properties.

"We operate in India through various management agreements and joint ventures," said Dave.

The investment of $130 million will be split up between managed properties and joint venture entities.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tata Tea scouting for new name, identity, says Tata

Tata Tea is scouting for an alternate name - and a new brand identity.

Tata Group chairman Ratan N. Tata told shareholders that the change was being considered to "reflect the diversified portfolio beyond tea" that includes bottled water and health drinks.

Emphasising that Tata Tea was no longer a tea company, Tata said: "It is a beverage company. We are now into branded products like coffee, water and ready-to-drinks."

Vice chairman R.K. Krishna Kumar told reporters after the annual general meeting that a few names have been already identified. "A decision on a new name would be taken in 3-4 weeks."

Tata Tea is also planning for financial integration of its global operations and tax implications are currently being studied.

"Operation integration has already happened with the formational of a virtual global company and the financial integration is currently being considered," Krishna Kumar said.

The company is currently studying the tax implications of such merger, he added.

Krishna Kumar said the "new enterprise" could achieve a consolidated turnover of $10 billion in five years, compared to around $1 billion now.

While replying to shareholders, Ratan Tata said the company had planned a capital expenditure of Rs.40 crore on a stand-alone basis and Rs.150 crore on a consolidated basis for 2009-10.

On new products, Tata said a company subsidiary, Mount Everest Mineral Water, would soon launch a bottled water brand for the "mass market".

Mount Everest currently sells only premium drinking water under the Himalayan brand.

Skoda's August sales up 33 percent

Skoda Auto India Tuesday reported sales of 1,463 units in August as against 1,103 units in the like month last year, reflecting a year-on-year growth of 33 percent.

According to the company, its Skoda Octavia and the New Skoda Laura proved to be the hottest selling cars in the high-end C+ segment with sales figure of 627 units in August 2009.

The C+ segment in India comprises cars such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Altis, Chevrolet Optra, Volkswagen Jetta and Mitsubishi Cedia, apart from Skoda Octavia and Skoda Laura.

The Skoda Superb secured sales figures of 276 units in August, having garnered a 21.7 percent share in the D segment between January and July. Its share was 5.8 percent in the corresponding period last year.

The D segment includes Hyundai Sonata, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat and Nissan Teana in addition to Skoda Superb.

"Our combined leading position in the C+ and D segments is a result of the new engine options and choice of variants introduced through our two new launches - the Superb and the Laura as well as the expansion of our dealer network in the country," said Skoda India board member Thomas Kuehl.

Lockheed Martin to fund Delhi undergrads' next-gen UAV

Impressed by the talent of a group of engineering undergraduates who won top honours at an international competition for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), US aerospace major Lockheed Martin announced Tuesday it would fund their efforts to create a new generation machine that would have civilian and military applications.

"Here is a group of students who are undergraduates and have worked on a technology they don't even have classes on," said Ray O. Johnson, Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer, while announcing the company would ink a deal with the Delhi Technology University (DTU), to which the 10 students belong.

"We will provide the broad parameters of the design requirements to be implemented by the students," he added.

While congratulating the students, Johnson said: "This partnership is one more example of Lockheed Martin's long-term commitment to India and the partnerships which we seek to develop and nurture."

The company will provide the student group with Lockheed Martin-generated design space to structure their efforts. The team will be required to make an initial design and then develop a flying prototype - with the drones hopefully going into production by the Commonwealth Games in October 2010.

"These will be ideal vehicles for carrying out aerial surveillance at the Games' venues and also for controlling traffic," P.B. Sharma, the vice chancellor of the DTU, which was previously known as the Delhi College of Engineering (DCE).

Sharma, along with other DTU faculty, had guided the 10 students who won the director's award for the best team effort for demonstrating a successful flight of a UAV at the 2009 Association of Unmanned Vehicles System International (AUVSI) Student Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) competition.

Explaining the salient features of the new UAV, Rochak Chadha, a third year student of electronics and communications engineering, said the effort would be to increase its endurance to 10 hours from an hour the existing machine can stay aloft.

"It will also run on an electric motor against the present petrol engine, we will downsize the autopilot and change the camera system for greater resolution and clarity," Chadha added.

Speaking about what motivated the team to start work on the existing craft, Chadha said: "Technology for UAV's is woefully lacking and the defence forces have to import these from Israel. We wanted to work on the ultimate level of robotics and to create something that was commercially viable."

"The global UAV market is currently estimated at $3.4 billion and has the potential to rise to $7 billion in 10 years," he added.

Asked if the defence ministry has been approached for potential purchase of the UAV, Sharma replied: "The defence ministry and ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) are aware of our capabilities. But more than that, there is tremendous potential for the machine in the civilian sector."
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