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Cover Story

  • This is the 15th edition of BT 500, which means we’ve been publishing this listing pretty much ever since Business Today was launched.
  • Last year, only Unitech made it to the top 100 list. Several real estate companies have listed on the exchanges since then. Backed by apparently endless investor appetite, these companies gained sharply in the market capitalisation sweepstakes, but is this appreciation durable?
  • Some of the biggest gainers on the stock market recently have been companies that most of us have probably never heard of. Which are these companies, what do they do and what’s so hot about them?
  • Real estate, financial services and infrastructure firms made hay as the sun shone on Dalal Street. But these may tumble the hardest as markets return closer to fundamentals.
  • Despite the hype (and paranoia) around it, retail on D-street remains a one-stock story—that of Pantaloon.
  • The booming infrastructure and manufacturing sectors have helped these multinationals maintain their impressive standing.
  • Investors have been lukewarm to the FMCG and pharma sectors. But the future looks brighter than the immediate past.
  • The top three IT companies are still among the 10 most valuable companies in India, but D-Street’s appetite for IT stocks in general seems to be on the wane.
  • Both companies are riding the telecom boom and growing fast, but there’s little to suggest that the #2 will overtake the leader anytime soon.
Dec 16, 2007
Editors note From the editor

From the editor

This year's BT 500 list of India's most valuable companies reflects the overall bull run on the bourses. But as we analysed the market cap of the BT 500 companies, some distinct trends emerged, which our special cover package will help you discern.
BT More Seductive wheels

Seductive wheels

Ah! To own that ultimate luxury on wheels-feels like heaven, doesn't it? So, what stopping you? Check out what's on offer from the BMW stable. BT More test drove all of them and came back mighty impressed. Kushan Mitra

Warm it up

Long misty days and icy winds are often the norm if you are going up north for a holiday this winter. But hey, that’s no reason to worry, as long as you have the correct set of second skins. This issue, we tell you about two winter icons—the parka and the overcoat.

Bangalore's pub culture: Then and now

It’s not just about beer and music any longer in Bangalore, as India’s Pub City has now become home to a wide assortment of lounge bars, restobars and cigar lounges.

In the lap of luxury

This winter, choose from a range of watches, perfumes, shoes and other items which are high on desirability.

Burn that belly fat

Sick and tired of those usual stomach crunches and people telling you to lose flab? Here are five exercises that will change the way your stomach looks and feels. So, get down to it and get started.

Know your cocktail glasses

So, you know your Bahama Mama from your Mint Julep but would like to improve your knowledge on the right cocktail glass to serve the poison? Here's a look at the glasses that can make or break your cocktails.

Eyeing the Indian pie

BT More looks at a couple of multinational bigwigs who have launched Indian wines in recent times.

Let the spirits flow

There is a nip in the air and this is indeed the time to throw those lavish garden parties. And what better way to impress your guests than to mix some exotic cocktails that are particularly suited for winter. BT More sweet-talked a few experts to share their secret cocktail recipes for our readers.

A beer drinker's delight

This guy downs a pint before you can say ‘wow’. BT More got Martin da Costa to taste the best new foreign beers in India and deliver his verdict.

'Booked' for the weekend

Spending the weekend relaxing at home and don’t really have anything to read? Here are excerpts from three new books—all of which take you on journeys not just to different lands but also to different eras.

The best Indian wines

India's wine industry is yet to outgrow its infancy, but some of our best wines can hold their own against more celebrated rivals.

Wine needs pampering

They are expensive and delicate. And faulty storage can turn your favourite red wine into vinegar. So, what do you do if you don’t have a cellar at home? Read on and pick up a few crucial tips on how to store your wine as well as other liquor bottles.

Walk the vine(s)

Chic and posh are two words often associated with wine. But how is it made? Rahul Sachitanand spent some time at Grover Vineyards to find out.
Trends PE exits: This is as good a time as any

PE exits: This is as good a time as any

Private equity investors are reaping a rich harvest. According to data from Venture Intelligence, a firm tracking VC and PE investments, there were 58 PE exits in the first nine months of 2007 (40 during calendar year 2006). Of these, 14 were via the IPO route, the same as in the previous year.

Kurukshetra redux

Aristotle onassis, asked why he had so few friends, once retorted: ‘When you are rich, you have friends; when you are very rich, you make enemies.’

Economy watch

The unemployment rate is still high despite high GDP growth rates.

India the riskiest economy

India, Turkey and Hungary are the riskiest economies in the world because of high current account deficits and relatively high consumer price inflation.

Bumps ahead

The economy is slowing down, but the long-term story remains intact.

"India growing fastest for us"

Sonny Sannon, President, MasterCard Worldwide, South Asia, Middle East and Africa (SAMEA), was in India recently to celebrate 25 years of MasterCard here. He met BT’s Mahesh Nayak and discussed his plans for India. Excerpts:

US looks beyond big pharma

Three of the largest us wholesalers of generic drugs, Mckesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, are talking to Tier-II and Tier-III FDA (Food and Drugs Administration)-approved plants in India to source drugs from them.

Grey market rules the roost

As the primary market gains momentum, the grey market is witnessing a flurry of activity as well, with IPOs commanding huge premiums.

Indians pay very high taxes

According to Mercer’s Worldwide Individual Tax Comparator Report, Indians pay much higher taxes than their Asian counterparts.

Outsourcing woes exposed

Here’s some bad news on the outsourcing front. A Gartner study says companies lured into outsourcing by the promise of cost savings, the primary reason for travelling down this path, are getting into long-term problems that outweigh any short-term gains.

Cane juice takes on cola

Cane juice is emerging as an alternative to colas in India’s Silicon Valley. Cane-O-La, the country’s first branded sugarcane juice, was launched recently and has met with an encouraging response.

Softening the crude blows

Consumers can take heart. soaring crude prices are not going to swell their fuel bills for now.

M-ads are coming of age

It may be irritating for many consumers, but even as many of us frown when we receive SMS ads on our phones, advertisers say there is great potential in this new medium. Mobile advertising or Mads is the new buzzword in the Indian marketing sphere.

East Bangalore is as hot as it gets

The once quaint east Bangalore suburbs are the latest target of retailers after realtors spotted them first. It seems there is no more space for a major retail venture to pitch tent.

To be precise

Poverty is a shame and the widening gap in incomes is frightening; 300 million of us have overwhelmed the considerations of 750 million others.

Numbers of note

31: The average number of villagers projected to show up in an Indian city every minute for the next 43 years (700 million people in all), according to a Goldman Sachs study

Instant tip

Has the long and sustained bull run in the stock markets finally run out of steam?
The BT 50 Index Offshore advantage: What next?

Offshore advantage: What next?

The relative cost advantage of leading offshore destinations has declined almost universally.
Deal Watch Deal watch

Deal watch

Noted Noted


Just wondering...

We were just wondering how India’s first “manufactured” limousine, the Tata Indigo XL, has been doing. It was supposed to make buyers of Honda Civics and Skoda Octavias think twice because it offered huge amounts of legroom and lots of fancy features.

Indians most upbeat about life

A study by insurer AXA Asia Life has revealed that 82 per cent of the “mass affluent”—the top 25-35 per cent of the population—in India have neither started planning for, nor taken care of their retirement needs.
Policy Watch Easy greenbacks

Easy greenbacks

 A bird’s eye view of what’s hot and what’s not on the government’s policy radar.

Looking for more?

Budget time is approaching again. there is talk of new TAXES. And now it appears that the Finance Ministry is keen on levying a tax on all transactions on the commodity exchanges.

Queueing up

Over the last one year, the problem was one of freeing air waves from the defence forces to improve civilian telecom services. Even as this problem is being resolved, there is a new one—that of allocation.

Rest the collector

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s report card on tax collections over the last seven months has earned applause from all around.


To gather a crowd is a basic qualification for a grassroots politician. Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar is going one step ahead—getting them to Delhi. And no small pack—he has invited all the village heads across the country later next month.
Top Mind Beware of smishing

Beware of smishing

It is called ‘Smishing’, or phishing over SMS. How does it work? You will receive a message saying “Thank you for signing up for X or Y service, you will be charged Rs 10 per day.

Now, an Indian cryogenic engine

India has successfully groundtested an indigenously developed upperstage cryogenic engine for use on the next GSLV rocket mission in 2008.
Editorial Realty show

Realty show

Take the top three automotive companies by market cap (Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki and Bajaj Auto) and pit them against the top three real estate companies, DLF, Unitech, and Housing Development and Infrastructure.
In This Issue Health insurance - High on hopes

Health insurance - High on hopes

A large population and pent-up demand are fuelling the growth of health insurance in India, but commercial health insurance is still some way from becoming a profitable business.

The dough in distribution

Providing financial services to loaded Indian consumers is cool. What’s even cooler is distributing financial products— and every bank and broker worth its net worth is aiming for a slice of the estimated Rs 20,000-crore pie.

MNCs' second wind

It’s a trend that’s increasingly becoming prominent. Multinational corporations (MNCs) that have been in the country for years and years with precious little to show for their efforts are finally beginning to make the big moves in a local market that’s hit a tipping point.
Money A shot for the markets

A shot for the markets

SEBI has given its nod for new derivative products. What does it mean for you?

Trend spotting by design

A new ELSS fund will use software to allocate assets after assessing market movements.

More ways to save taxes

Why you don’t need to worry about taxes if you make the right investments.

Double barrel MF schemes

Many funds are bundling add-on insurance with their plans. We try to find out who should invest in them, when and why.

Mind your margin

Margin funding is a double-edged sword—while boom times can double profits, busts double your losses. Brokers are ready with margin credit to increase their volumes and at the same time, provide leverage to their customers.

It's a roller coaster ride

Riding the bull will not be a cakewalk as stocks don’t come cheap anymore. With the stock market pausing for a breather, investors must take a focussed approach.
Event Ga ga over golf

Ga ga over golf

Corporates of all shapes, sizes and standings test their golfing as well as networking skills at Round One of the 13th Business Today-Honda Pro-Am Championship.

Slugfest of the Minds

The auditorium of Mumbai’s Welingkar Institute of Management filled to capacity to watch the brightest B-school minds from the West Zone battle it out for a spot in the finals of the national B-school challenge.
Book Microtrends: a book of small things

Microtrends: a book of small things

An American pollster number-sifts to zero in on some interesting trends.

The next Asia

The Next Asia is a compilation of 50 essays Stephen Roach's wrote over 2006-07 on not just Asia, but its relevance to the rest of the world.
Treadmill Of twists, tweaks and spider curls

Of twists, tweaks and spider curls

It's interesting what a big difference simple tweaks to age-old exercises can make. To know more read on.

Five tips to avoid winter allergies

Winter is here and brings with it, apart from parties and gaiety, all those annoying allergies that kill the fun. But don’t worry, there are ways to fight them.
Printed Circuit The best mouse ever

The best mouse ever

Logitech’s new MX Air takes the computer mouse to a hitherto unthinkable height.

Find your way with the new Blackberry 8820

The Blackberry 8820 from Airtel can be loaded with Airtel’s ‘Wayfinder’ application, now, the maps are a constant download.
Current Portal (under)play

Portal (under)play

Much before Orkut and Facebook made social networking au courant,— at the height of the dot.bust in 2001—launched its practical and selective online community that worked on a need-based, pull model in the US.

In full flow

Russell E. Planitzer’s pet peeve these days is poaching. The CEO & Chairman of NewRiver, a knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) firm operating out of India, says the aggressive overtures of the bigger Indian IT firms are affecting his ramp-up plans.

It's never too late

In April this year when AOL launched its India portal, many said it was quite late in coming to India (compared to global rivals like Yahoo, Google and MSN, or even Indian players like Bennett Coleman’s Times Internet and rediff. com).

Brick & MTAR

CIRCA 1970. Three professionals, with a seed capital of Rs 3 lakh, set up a precision engineering company.  Government entities are its customers. Today, valued at Rs 1,000 crore, this Hyderabad-based company, MTAR Technologies, makes precision machined parts for nuclear power reactors.

The power of one

More than a decade and a half after India produced its first indigenously designed supercomputer in 1991, the country has booked itself a place on the international supercomputing bandwagon.

The power of widgets

With the launch of OpenSocial, Google officially began an era of widgets, which was something quite unique to Facebook till recently.

Blurred picture

This is one platform that keeps showing signs of resurrection every few months. Reliance Communications (R-Comm) recently signed an agreement (worth $500 million) with Microsoft to deliver IPTV in India on the Microsoft Mediaroom Platform.

Can SBI stay no. 1?

In the 12 months to September 30, ICICI Bank’s low-cost deposits rose 40 per cent as against the State Bank of India’s (SBI) 14 per cent. So, is SBI Chairman O.P. Bhatt losing sleep? Not really.

Croma steps on the gas

If its builders deliver on time, then the Tata Sons-promoted Infiniti Retail will have 100 plus Croma outlets all across the country by 2010.

The mirror cracks

It began with a small sit-in demonstration and chakka jam convened by the All India Minorities’ Forum and an organisation called Furfura Sharief Muzhaddia Anath Foundation to protest the continued presence of Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen in India (and Kolkata).

Telecom's policy pitfalls

What’s the surest way to ensure that India misses its telecom target of 500 million wireless connections by 2010? Just continue waffling about spectrum, infrastructure and rural connectivity as we currently are.

India once more for MIT

The International Innovation Initiative (I3 or I-cubed) will make it easier for researchers at MIT to get venture funding for their projects. According to Hockfield, the initiative aims to help address world problems such as climate change.

Carrefour's Wal-Mart act

More than two years after IT started scoping out the Indian market, French retail giant Carrefour has finally found a way to get started without hitting the foreign direct investment (FDI) hurdle.

Taking guard, tentatively

By the time this magazine hits the stands, Subhash Chandra’s Indian Cricket League would have showcased its debut Twenty20 match in Panchkula (Chandigarh), with Chandigarh Lions squaring off against Delhi Jets.

Shutters down, for now

It is what one could call a lose-lose deal. Unable to overcome protests from middlemen and traders in Uttar Pradesh, Reliance Retail has decided to discontinue its fresh produce business under the Reliance Fresh brand in the state.

Outsourcing, the organic way

Knowledge service like credit analysis, equity analysis and economics research are some areas in which Infosys BPO (formerly Progeon) has built a major presence.

All in the game

The latest foray of Rs 1,000-crore Apollo International Ltd (AIL) is into logistics. Apollo Logi-Solutions (ALL) is the sixth diversification of AIL, which is a part of the $1.2-billion Apollo Group (that has major interests in tyres and healthcare).

To India's credit

The exit of two high profile CEOs—Charles Prince of Citi and Stan O’Neal of Merrill Lynch, thanks to an estimated $400- billion global subprime mortgage losses— is a stark reminder as to how a lack of understanding of risk can pose a big problem for the banking sector.

Another retail IPO

Ten years after he launched discount store chain Subhiksha out of a middle-class neighbourhood in Chennai, R. Subramanian is finally taking his baby public.

Think global, act local

Seven acquisitions in less than three years—that’s a feat that most companies would find difficult to pull of successfully. But that’s exactly what Aegis BPO, Essar Group’s BPO venture, has done.

Irons in the Indian fire

Thirty months after making an official entry into India, the world’s fourth-largest steel producer Posco’s 12 million tonnes per annum (TPA) mega-steel plant in Orissa is still mired in controversies.

Digital deals

It’s a space many media and advertising houses want a toehold in. With good reason. If projections of media services major ZenithOptimedia are anything to go buy, the online advertising market in India is expected to touch Rs 2,250 crore by 2009.
People Eyeballing Microsoft

Eyeballing Microsoft

Nearly a decade after joining Adobe, Shantanu Narayen, the company’s India-educated President and COO, has been elevated to the top job at the desktop software publishing company.
Leadership Spotlight Big brand, big ideas

Big brand, big ideas

It’s all about thinking big. That’s what drives Venugopal Dhoot, Chairman and Managing Director of the Videocon Group, who is in the race to acquire the London-based Burren Energy, valued at nearly $4 billion.
Letters Leading from the front

Leading from the front

After reading 'We want to be FMCG’S No. 1' (BT, December 2, 2007), one comes to the conclusion that progressive organisations committed to excellence, the world over, pursue a vision.
Jobs China Calling

China Calling

When 24-year-old Arvind Nagasayanam preferred Huawei China over a stint in the US in 2001, most of his peers raised an incredulous eyebrow. Not without reason, though.
Reporters Diary Backpacking with hill shepherds

Backpacking with hill shepherds

On a trek in the Garhwal Himalayas, BT’s Anusha Subramanian comes back with lessons in micro-financing and community-owned tourism.
Back of the Book Instant green nirvana

Instant green nirvana

Landscaping gets a new twist with fully-grown anytime, anywhere trees.
Drive Mobile navigator

Mobile navigator

The new Nokia N95 8GB comes with an AGPS-based navigation system built into it.
60 minutes 'Fidelity International  will be in Investing mode for next five years'

'Fidelity International will be in Investing mode for next five years'

Ten years ago, Barry Bateman realised, there was space for a new global consumer finance brand. A decade down the line, Fidelity International is managing assets of $299.4 billion outside the America with a sizeable presence in Asia-Pacific. As Bateman explains, India and China will be Fidelity’s growth drivers over the next 15-20 years.