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The Mint Report for 11 March 2010

The Mint Report for 11 March 2010
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First Published: Thu, Mar 11 2010. 09 26 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Mar 11 2010. 09 26 PM IST
Fortis Healthcare could become India’s largest hospital company. It says it will buy a 23.9% stake in Parkway Holdings, one of the biggest healthcare firms in Asia. Fortis will pay $685.3 million to acquire the stake from investment firm TPG Capital in an off-market deal. Buying the stake will get Fortis four seats on the Parkway board of directors. It will also make the group chairman of Fortis, Malvinder Mohan Singh, the new chairman of the Parkway board of directors.
Fortis’ latest deal is its second major acquisition in less than a year. In August the company had picked up 10 hospitals from Wockhardt for Rs909 crore. And in 2005, it acquired Escorts Heart Institute in Delhi for Rs650 crore.
ICICI Bank has stopped offering customers free credit cards. While customers who already have free cards will not be affected, ICICI will charge new customers. The move signals a change in business strategy for the bank. While ICICI had 7.5 million credit cards in circulation in 2009, it now has just 5 million. And across the sector, non-performing assets in the credit-card portfolios of the Indian banking industry have almost tripled from 5-8% in the fiscal year 2008 to 15-20% in 2009.
Even if India’s 3G auctions are held on time next month, there could still be delays in actually allocating spectrum to the winning bidders. That’s because India’s defence forces, which currently use the spectrum to be auctioned, may not free it up by the 30th September deadline. The military is supposed to get a new optical fibre network to compensate for the spectrum it’s giving up. But BSNL, which is building the network, has struggled to find vendors who meet the stringent specifications for building it.
Food inflation rose at a steady rate towards the end of last month. India’s food price index went up 17.81% in the week ending 27 February. That’s slightly lower than the previous week, when the index rose 17.87%.
While prices of food items have moderated a little, prices of fuels have gone up. India’s fuel price index rose 11.38% in the last days of February. In comparison, the previous week saw a rise of just 9.59%.
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First Published: Thu, Mar 11 2010. 09 26 PM IST