Business Today

Roundup: Events of the fortnight

     Print Edition: Sep 30, 2012

At his last annual general meeting as Chairman of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata, due to retire in December, was full of beans. Along with successor Cyrus Mistry, he announced tieups with Starbucks and PepsiCo. Addressing shareholders of Tata Global Beverages in Kolkata, Tata said the group would not walk away from West Bengal despite the state cancelling the Nano project.

CORPORATE

The Supreme Court has ordered Subrata Roy's Sahara conglomerate to refund Rs 24,000 crore, along with 15 per cent interest, to more than 20 million small nvestors who had invested in Sahara's optionally fully convertible debentures between 2008 and 2011. The money mopping operation was termed illegal.

  • Tech Mahindra bought Hutch's India call centre for $87 million. Hutchison Global's clients have committed to procure services worth $845 million over a five-year period from it.
  • India's private sector services business expanded at its fastest pace in six months in August. The HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index for India's services sector, based on a survey of about 400 private sector companies, rose to 55 in August from 54.2 in July, marking nearly a year of uninterrupted monthly growth. In comparison, China's services sector grew at its slowest in a year in August, even though firms are hiring more workers at higher wages.

The CBI has filed First Information Reports against five private firms which were allocated coal blocks in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The FIRs level charges of cheating and conspiracy against JLD Yavatmal, Jas Infrastructure, AMR Iron and Steel, Vinni Iron and Steel and Navbharat Power.

The market has not cheered the move, but JSW Steel has decided to go ahead and merge JSW Ispat Steel with itself. Shareholders will get one share of JSW Steel for every 72 shares of JSW Ispat. After the merger, it will have revenues of Rs 43,000 crore.

Corporate debt restructuring will soar to Rs 3.25 trillion this fiscal year, about 13 times the annual budget for building roads, says rating agency Crisil. Companies are under stress due to the worsening economic slowdown, which threatens to weaken the banking system, it added.

  • With Apple's iPhone and Google's Android dominating the market, it is easy to think of Silicon Valley as the centre of the mobile universe. But the industry's largest global venture capital investments during the first half of the year were all made by companies based outside the US. Xiaomi Tech, the Beijing-based maker of cell phones, secured the largest investment with $216 million. India's Sistema Shyam, a mobile services provider, followed with $158 million in funding.

Harvard University's largest cheating scandal in recent history has shaken the academic world. The university is investigating allegations that approximately 125 undergraduate students cheated on a spring take-home final exam.

ECONOMY
The Supreme Court has allowed 18 iron ore mines to resume mining in Karnataka after suspending their operations for over a year on environmental concerns. This will add five million tonnes in annual production.

Morgan Stanley has cut India's economic growth forecast for 2012/13 to 5.1 per cent, the lowest among private forecasters, citing weak external demand, low private investment and poor government finances.

Barely a month after Time labelled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an "underachiever", The Washington Post has referred to him as a "tragic figure". The ruling UPA's managers fumed, but no apology was forthcoming.

Three leading think-tanks - National Council for Applied Economic Research, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and National Institute of Financial Management - are likely to submit their report on the quantum of black money by December.

On average, Indians make payments of about Rs 55,000 crore a year using credit cards, which is nearly 30 times the amount spent through debit cards. Yet debit cards outnumber credit cards in the country by 15 times. At the end of 2011/12, there were 17.6 million credit cards, which rose to 18 million by June 2012, according to RBI data.

$15.5 billion India's trade deficit in July. Annual exports fell 14.8 per cent to $22.4 billion during the month, while imports fell 7.6 per cent to $37.9 billion. Weak demand in the US and Europe led to lower overseas sales.

1.1% Decline in domestic air traffic in July, compared to a year ago. This is the worst performance for any market, according to the International Air Transport Association. After expanding at 20 per cent plus rates through 2010 and early 2011, the Indian market stopped growing at the end of 2011.

MARKETS
SBI has reduced its interest rate on fixed deposits by 50 basis points for most maturity periods. However, for deposits between 241 days and a year, the downward revision is one percentage point to 6.5 per cent. This is the fifth time in the last six months the bank has cut deposit rates.

Air travel has become costlier, with major carriers increasing fuel surcharge on domestic tickets by Rs 150 to Rs 250 and $15 on a one-way international ticket.

Reliance Industries has been listed on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange, becoming the first major Indian firm to participate directly in the global oil futures market.

Coming Up
  • The government is planning to come out with a business development index, which will be based on economic parameters, to reflect the strength of the Indian corporate sector.
  • SEBI may soon ask companies and merchant bankers to limit any business transactions among themselves to the bare minimum. It could also direct them to provide investors with a detailed analysis of how an Initial Public Offering price range was arrived at. The proposed steps are aimed at safeguarding investors' interests and ringfencing the IPO market from possible overpricing of public offers.

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