Business Today

Upfront

     Print Edition: Nov 11, 2012

Events of the fortnight that you may have missed -

CAR WARS:

  • This festival season will see car makers competing for priceconscious customers. Top of the heap is Maruti Suzuki's new Alto 800, with a starting price of Rs 2.4 lakh, in petrol and CNG versions. Not to be left behind, Hyundai and Tata Motors have announced steep price discounts on the Eon and new variants of the Nano, respectively.

CORPORATE

  • Tulsi Tanti
    Tulsi Tanti, the founder Chairman of Suzlon Energy, faces a cash crunch that has crippled his company's ability to complete projects in time. The windturbine manufacturing company defaulted on its foreign debt after bond holders rejected a request to extend the time for repayment. The company's foreign currency convertible bonds - totalling $220.8 million (Rs 1,150 crore) -were due for redemption this month. Also see, businesstoday.in/suzlon-debt.
  • The Telecom Commission has decided that spectrum given to operators in the 900 MHz band would be replaced with frequency in the 1,800 MHz band at the time of renewal of licences, beginning 2014. This is a setback to incumbent operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular, BSNL, and MTNL, The move would mean the operators together take a hit of over Rs 1.15 trillion (one trillion equals 100,000 crore) to migrate their 900 MHz network and subscribers to the 1,800 MHz band.
  • The Supreme Court has refused to stay the central government's decision to allow foreign direct investment in retail. But the court said the policy suffers from a lack of legal sanction. This, the court said, could be cured if the Reserve Bank of India amends regulations in the Foreign Exchange Management Act. It allowed the Centre two weeks to get the rules amended.
  • Tata Motors will look at rationalising its product range and overhaul its image. Managing Director Karl Slym said the company would look to launch a nextgeneration version of its Nano, the world's cheapest car, for the US market in about three years.
  • Kingfisher Airlines does not figure in the winter slot allocation list released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the sector regulator. Kingfisher's absence, as well as a 19 per cent decline in domestic flight capacity across airlines from a year earlier, are likely to result in an increase in airfares in the winter season.
  • India can take some comfort that it is not alone in posting slower growth. Neighbour China's economy grew 7.4 per cent in the July-September quarter from a year earlier, the slowest pace since the first quarter of 2009.
  • US exports to Iran rose by nearly a third this year, chiefly in grain sales. The jump to $199.5 million in the first eight months of 2012 from $150.8 million a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data, is surprising given Western efforts to isolate Iran economically because of its nuclear programme.
  • Microsoft's Surface tablet is now open for pre-order on the official company website. India is not on the list.

ECONOMY

  • RBI Governor D Subbarao
    Inflation accelerated to a 10-month high in September on the back of higher diesel prices. This puts paid to hopes that the Reserve Bank of India will cut interest rates soon, despite the government sending it signals to ease monetary policy to revive growth. The annual rate of inflation, based on the monthly wholesale price index, stood at 7.81 per cent in September, compared with 7.55 per cent in the previous month and 10 per cent during the corresponding month last year.
  • Bangalore has outpaced bigger property markets such as Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai with 140 per cent growth in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, even as sales in most other cities stagnated or even plummeted. In the first quarter of the current financial year, 15.58 million sq ft of residential space was sold in Bangalore, giving the city a market share of 13.9 per cent. In comparison, sales in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and the National Capital Region fell 60 per cent and 57 per cent, to 15.98 million sq ft and 28.86 million sq ft, respectively. Mumbai and Delhi still lack what it takes to be worldclass cities, according to a recent United Nations report. Mumbai ranked 52 among 95 cities while Delhi came in at 58th.
  • $596 mn: Venture capital investments, spread across 157 deals, in the first nine months of 2012. This is more than 22 per cent below the $768 million invested across 153 deals during the same period in 2011, according to Venture Intelligence. Information technology and IT-enabled services were the popular targets.
  • 251 mn: Estimated sales of mobile devices in India in 2013. This is an increase of 13.5 per cent over 2012, according to research firm Gartner Inc. The mobile handset market is expected to show steady growth through 2016 when end-user sales will surpass 326 million units.

MARKETS

  • State Bank of India, the country's largest bank, has slashed the processing fee for home and auto loans till December 31. For home loans, SBI will now charge a processing fee of 0.125 per cent of the loan amount for advances of up to Rs 25 lakh, against 0.25 per cent earlier. On car loans, the bank will charge a minimum of Rs 510 and a maximum of Rs 5,100 as processing fee.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has revised priority-sector lending norms, widening the scope for extending credit to agriculture, housing, and small and medium enterprises. Now, loans up to Rs 2 crore to firms involved in farming and allied activities will be treated as lending for direct agriculture.

COMING UP

  • A US judge is scheduled to sentence former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta, 63, on October 24. A jury convicted Gupta in June of tipping off his friend and business associate, Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, about Goldman's boardroom secrets.
  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India has invited bids for 12 new Indian Premier League franchisees. The last date to submit documents is October 25. The cities for which bids have been invited are Ahmedabad, Cuttack, Dharamshala, Indore, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Kochi, Nagpur, Noida, Rajkot, Ranchi, and Visakhapatnam.

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