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Print Edition: May 27, 2012

Adding Another Pearl: Wipro has announced the acquisition of Australian analytics product firm Promax Applications Group in an all-cash deal of A$35 million, its 17th in the IT business since 2002. Wipro Chairman Azim Premji (left) and IT business CEO T.K. Kurien have more reason to cheer, having beaten rival Infosys in quarterly revenue growth rates. Wipro, however, guided to a tepid June quarter.

CORPORATE
Top telcos, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, have joined hands to protest telecom regulator TRAI's spectrum auction proposals. They have warned that if implemented, these could lead to a 100 per cent jump in call rates. The telcos are seeking an 80 per cent cut in the base auction price. TRAI has proposed a base price of Rs 3,622 crore per MHZ of spectrum in the 1,800 MHZ band. which is over 10 times the 2008 price, and an even higher price for spectrum in the 900 MHZ band.

Adidas may lose Rs 1,350 crore as fraud hits its Reebok business in India. Ergo, it will cut one third of the Reebok stores. It is a rare instance of a multinational acknowledging questionable practices at its Indian operations.

  • Reliance's troubles with the petroleum ministry, with whom it once enjoyed a cosy relationship, are far from over. In the latest episode, the ministry has imposed a penalty of about Rs  6,600 crore on Reliance for its dipping gas output from the KG-D6 block. The ministry said RIL had violated the production sharing contract and drilled fewer wells.
  • Cipla has done it again. A decade after drastically cutting HIV drug prices, the pharma major has now taken on competitors by slashing prices of key cancer drug by 75 per cent. This is expected to bring down prices of drugs that combat kidney and lung cancers, and brain tumours. See also businesstoday.in/pharma-future Steel tycoon Laxmi Mittal retained his top spot in Britain's rich list for the seventh year in a row. Although Mittal's net worth came down by pound 4,814 million, he and his family were still the richest with a net worth of pound 12.7 billion, as per the annual The Sunday Times Rich List released recently. Mittal is marginally ahead of Russian iron ore magnate, Alisher Usmanov, who takes second place with an estimated worth of pound 12.3 billion.
  • Issues of corporate governance - or the lack of it - are hitting News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch hard. UK lawmakers said he is unfit to lead a global company. Murdoch's British unit have misled Parliament about the extent of phone hacking at its now defunct News of the World tabloid.
  • Rising subscription costs charged by academic publishers is snowballing into a major debate over access to academic research. Harvard University has encouraged its faculty members to make their research freely available through open access journals. It has also asked them to resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls. Prices for online access to articles from two major publishers have increased 145 per cent over the past six years.
ECONOMY
Growth has slowed sharply in the core sectors, on account of a fall in crude oil, natural gas and petroleum refinery output. The eight key industries reported a growth of just two per cent in March as compared to 6.5 per cent in the year-ago period. Weaker demand is hitting Indian manufacturing hard, showed the the HSBC India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index. The PMI was at 54.9 in April as compared to 54.7 in March, a slow pace of growth in recent times. Services sector growth gained momentum, rising to 52.8 in April from 52.3 in March, largely on account of the rise in new businesses.

The Reserve Bank of India has issued final norms for implementing the Basel III international accounting standards, which are intended to avert a credit crisis by strengthening the lenders'capital base. Indian banks may need at least $30 billion as capital over the next six years. starting January 1, 2013 till March 31, 2018. This buffer capital must be in the form of equity.

Indian firms' investments overseas declined in April, with total outbound foreign direct investment at $2.67 billion (around Rs 14,200 crore) as compared to $2.77 billion in March. Most Indian chief financial officers are not optimistic about the risk environment improving, according to Dun & Bradstreet.

38% Jump in bilateral trade between India and Japan in 2011/12. After the signing of the comprehensive economic partnership agreement last year, bilateral trade rose to $18.3 billion versus $13.4 billion last year. India will export 2 million tonnes of iron ore to Japan annually for the next three years.

Rs 10,843 cr Estimated direct selling business in India by 2014/15. It is worth Rs 5,229 crore now.

Rs 13.72 trn Power sector funding required in the 12th Five-Year Plan. Power generation needs about Rs 6,38,600 crore and electricity distribution Rs 3,06,235 crore.

MARKETS
UK-based FTSE 100 index made its debut on the National Stock Exchange on May 3, clocking a turnover of around Rs 500 crore. Most of the trading was in futures, which recorded a turnover of Rs 275 crore.

Moody's has placed Life Insurance Corporation's current rating, 'Baa2 stable', under review for a possible downgrade. The reason: the insurance giant's increasing exposure to the public sector. In the latest quarter of the financial year 2011/12, LIC pumped in nearly Rs 22,000 crore in public sector units, out of its total equity investment of Rs 45,000 crore. The global ratings agency has also placed ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank under review for a downgrade.

Coming Up
The government is planning to re-start its disinvestment programme from June with a stake sale in Rashtriya Ispat Nigam.

A new steel policy will be finalised in a couple of months. It will focus on achieving 10 per cent growth to meet the projected demand of 200 million tonnes by 2020. Steel output is around 72 million tonnes now, with a compounded growth of 5 per cent.

Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover is planning new models at its UK plant. It intends to invest around »200 million to expand its facility by 50 per cent.

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