Business Today

Upfront

     Print Edition: March 4, 2012

UP polls
UP in Arms: The Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls will set the stage for who will rule at the Centre in 2014. The first phase of elections recorded an impressive 64 per cent turnout, an indication of high voter interest in deciding the fate of the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party. If Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, with Congress support, manages to upset BSP supremo Mayawati's 'elephantine ambitions', businesses aligned to the major contenders will also see a change in their fortunes.

CORPORATE
It is just not cricket. Sahara wants to part ways with Board of Control for Cricket in India and stop sponsoring Team India. This means the board will take a hit of over Rs 2,200 crore - Rs 1,700 crore as franchisee fee and Rs 534 crore as Team India sponsorship fee. Subrata Roy, Founder and Chief Managing Worker of Sahara India, broke his ties after BCCI turned down his request that the price of Sahara's marquee player Yuvraj Singh be added to its overall purse for the IPL auction.

BT RETRO
Car sales may slide for the first time since 2002/03. Sales need to grow 10-12 per cent in February-March to achieve this fiscal year's growth target of two per cent set by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. This is despite the 7.6 per cent jump in sales in January. India's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki expects to close the year with a 10-11 per cent decline. See also businesstoday.in/carsales

Amazon firmly set its sights on India, with an entry via Junglee. com. The latter will display over 12 million products and 14,000 brands for Indian consumers. The world's largest online retailer has chosen to leave out India's biggest online retailer Flipkart from its vendors list. This may cost it a few crores, but that hardly matters to a behemoth like Amazon, which reported revenues of $48 billion in 2011.

This seems the season of change. in boardrooms. Subodh Bhargava, Chairman of telecom tower company Viom Networks, quit citing his discomfort with the speed of the business. Dhanlaxmi Bank Managing Director and CEO Amitabh Chaturvedi quit following disagreements over the functioning of the bank. Falguni Nayar quit Kotak Investment Banking as Managing Director to become an entrepreneur.

  • Google Inc and Facebook removed content from some Indian domain websites following a court directive warning them of a crackdown. The two are among 21 companies ordered to develop a mechanism to block material considered offensive to religious sentiments after private petitioners took them to court.
  • The world's largest diversified commodities trading house Glencore and the world's fourth biggest diversified miner Xstrata have agreed on an all-share merger worth $90 billion - the largest-ever deal in the industry. It comes during a surge in demand for commodities, especially in emerging nations. As the world's biggest exporter of coal for power plants and a top copper producer, the firm will compete with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
ECONOMY
Ban on Iran & After
As China and India are big users of Iran oil, will the US, EU ban hold?
The Indian economy is estimated to grow 6.9 per cent this financial year, its slowest in three years. Industrial output growth slowed sharply in December to 1.8 per cent - versus 5.9 per cent in November 2011 - as high interest rates and weak global conditions continued to hurt the economy. Growth slid to 3.1 per cent in core sectors including steel, cement, fertilisers, crude oil and refinery from over six per cent in November. Against this backdrop, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will present the Economic Survey for 2011/2012 on March 15 and annual Budget for 2012/13 on March 16.

Excise duty collections in January fell one per cent to Rs 12,319 crore from Rs 12,458 crore in the corresponding period a year ago. Service tax collections jumped 34 per cent to Rs 7,734 crore. Revenue from customs duty increased by 2.5 per cent to Rs 11,393 crore. The government may fall short of its full year direct tax collections target of Rs 5.32 trillion. (A trillion equals one lakh crore.)

162.4% Growth rate of Facebook's Indian market, which is second only to the rate in Brazil. Multilingual flavours such as Punjabi and Bengali versions are the order of the day. The social networking site has filed an IPO to raise a record $5 billion.

10% Rise in exports in January, amounting to $25.4 billion, primarily due to the depreciation of the rupee. This comes after a dismal, singledigit export growth in November and December. Imports rose 20.3 per cent to $40.1 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $148.7 billion. Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar forecast a tough situation in 2012/13 and ruled out any incentive for exporters in the Budget.

MARKETS
The Securities and Exchange Board of India has come out with norms for auctioning of shares. Exchanges are required to open a separate window for this purpose. The size of the offer should be at least one per cent of the paid-up capital of the company. Promoters will also have to offer a minimum of 25 per cent of the shares on offer to mutual funds and insurance companies.

Mobile phone operators are reporting a drop in calls and rise in costs. India's largest wireless operator, Bharti Airtel, slumped on Dalal Street after unexpectedly reporting a profit decline. The second-largest operator by subscribers, Reliance Communications, reported its 10th straight quarter of declining profit, with a 61 per cent fall.

COMING UP
The government will come out with monthly retail inflation data based on the all-India Consumer Price Index. The first nationwide CPI numbers will come out on February 21. For the record, the government has discontinued the practice of releasing weekly primary and food inflation data based on the Wholesale Price Index. It will however continue releasing the monthly headline or overall inflation data.

More than 100 participants will showcase their work at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week during February 15-19 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The Japanese delegation is expected to add to the glamour quotient.

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