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Print Edition: Feb 5, 2012

Infosys CEO S.D. Shibulal
Downward Guidance: Infosys, India's second largest IT exporter, reported encouraging results for the third quarter ended December 2011. Net profit jumped 33 per cent to Rs 2,372 crore, or Rs 41.51 a share, albeit aided by the depreciating rupee. However, CEO S.D. Shibulal (left) forecast a flat March quarter in dollar terms. He also said the firm would grow 16.4 per cent in 2011/12 - this is a downward revision of almost three percentage points from the higher end of the earlier outlook.

CORPORATE
Just when we thought we had heard the last on the Satyam saga, Mahindra Satyam filed a suit against its former board of directors, some employees and its former auditor, PwC India. The audit firm responded by filing a suit against founder and former promoter B. Ramalinga Raju and others, claiming damages of Rs 100 crore for deliberately concealing vital information that led to the Rs 14,000 crore fraud.

  • As the economy stares at a downturn, what are the choices for B-school graduates? Fast moving consumer goods has emerged the sector of choice , with Hindustan Unilever the preferred recruiter. According to a Nielsen survey, management consulting, IT consultancy and services, investment banking, banks, and retail are the hot sectors. Google, Aditya Birla Group, Accenture, Infosys and Axis Bank are among the top picks.
  • Indians are in demand as deans. The latest to be appointed is Soumitra Dutta, currently with INSEAD. He will become the 11th dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell on July 1. Johnson is the first major school in the US to hire a dean from a school outside the country.

Finally, the government notified its decision to allow 100 per cent foreign direct investment in single-brand retail. This means premium global chains such as Nike, Gucci and Louis Vuitton will be able to go solo with their Indian operations. Firms such as Swedish furniture giant Ikea can now open stores in India. Foreign retailers, however, will have to live with the rider that at least 30 per cent of their goods must be sourced from domestic small and cottage industries.

Internet real estate is up for grabs. Organisations can now apply for domain names with ICANN, which oversees the Internet's naming system. They no longer need rely on.com, .org, and .gov to build ties with customers and strengthen their brand power. However, the fee is steep, at $185,000 per application.

  • Downturn or no downturn, some CEOs are taking home big bucks. Apple CEO Tim Cook received a one-time stock award worth $376 million, the largest given by any firm in a decade.
  • Tim Cook may have it easy, but Wall Street's biggest firms, facing a slump in investmentbanking revenue, are mulling freezing compensation levels for some junior bankers.

MARKETS

The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) recorded stellar year-on-year growth of 5.9 per cent in November. The figure for October was also revised to -4.7 per cent from the previous estimate of -5.1 per cent. The manufacturing sector index, which accounts for the lion's share of the IIP, grew 6.6 per cent in November compared to -5.6 per cent in the previous month. It remains to be seen if the revival will encourage the Reserve Bank of India to cut rates later in January.

It's election season and the government seems overeager to please the electorate. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) wants cash-rich public sector units (PSUs) to draw up aggressive investment plans in 2012/13 and diversify into infrastructure to help revive the economy. In all, 17 PSUs have investment plans of Rs 1.76 lakh crore for the next financial year.

Investment proposals in India dipped 45 per cent to a five-year low in 2011 as companies halted projects citing administrative roadblocks. New investment proposals in the country stood at Rs 10.5 lakh crore in 2011 compared with Rs 18.9 lakh crore a year earlier, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.

Foreign investments by Indian companies stood at $1.46 billion in December. As many as 415 transactions were carried out by various companies during the month.

16% Rise in indirect tax collections during April-December 2011. Total indirect tax collection stood at Rs 285,787 crore compared to Rs 246,168 crore in the same period a year ago. The increase is mainly due to a mop-up from the services sector.

8.5% Jump in car sales in December on account of high discounts. Sales rose for the second month in a row after falling for four straight months. However, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has cut its growth forecast for 2011/12 for the third time to zero to two per cent. In comparison, it had forecast 14 to 16 per cent growth in April 2011.

ECONOMY
Moody's has upgraded India's rating of short-term foreign currency bank deposits from speculative to investment grade. The rating suggests acceptable ability to repay short-term obligations. This will help Indian banks raise overseas deposits at better rates. Banks are trying every trick in the book to increase their profits.

State Bank of India has reduced processing fees on home loans. It has cut the fee on loans above Rs 75 lakh to Rs 10,000. The fee has been cut to Rs 6,500 on loans for Rs 30 lakh to 75 lakh. Separately, HDFC Bank will charge Rs 50 every month if a customer's savings or current account remains inoperative for a year. The bank will also charge customers if they deposit over Rs 100,000 in cash during a day in their savings account at the home branch.

COMING UP
  • Amid the global downturn, the World Economic Forum's annual meet will be held from January 25 to 29 in Davos. Leaders are expected to discuss fiscal imbalances and income disparities. The shift of concern from environmental risks to socio-economic risks and vulnerability to cyber attacks comes after the findings of a recent study by WEF.
  • PlastIndia 2012 will be held in Delhi from February 1 to 6. India is poised to become the third-largest consumer of plastics. Consumption is estimated to grow from 7.5 million tonnes to 15 million tonnes by 2015.

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