Need to Know | R Sridharan to be new State Bank of India MD

Need to Know | R Sridharan to be new State Bank of India MD

Mumbai: The Union government is set to appoint R. Sridharan, State Bank of India’s deputy managing director and group executive for subsidiaries, as its managing director, according to a finance ministry official who did not wish to be named.

“The ministry has cleared his file and the government notification is expected any day," the official said. Currently, the bank has one managing director, S.K. Bhattacharya, who is in charge of credit and risk management. Sridharan will be the second managing director. This post has been lying vacant for quite sometime now.

Sridharan was not available for comment.

—Anup Roy


Anil Shrikhande to head Rolls-Royce India

New Delhi: Rolls-Royce Plc. on Thursday announced the appointment of Anil Shrikhande as president Rolls-Royce India. Anil will assume leadership of all Rolls-Royce operations and activities in India and South Asia.

Prior to joining Rolls-Royce, Anil held a number of executive positions at Boeing, including vice-president, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, and president, Boeing India. In his previous roles in India he has served as the president of Unisys India and also a board member of Tata Uniysys.

—Staff Writer


Deutsche Bank infuses Rs325 crore capital

Mumbai: The Indian franchise of Deutsche Bank AG on Thursday announced a capital infusion of Rs325 crore to fund its growth.

“The current capital infusion will take Deutsche Bank group’s total capital in India to over Rs6,000 crore, making it among the most highly capitalized foreign banks in India," a bank statement said. The bank has infused capital three times in the past three years, with two tranches totalling Rs2,095 crore in 2007-08 and Rs500 crore in 2006-07.

Gunit Chadha, chief executive officer, Deutsche Bank India, said, “The current capital infusion further underscores India’s significance in Deutsche Bank’s global strategy. We have tremendous confidence in India and this fresh capital will allow us to offer greater local balance sheet financing for our corporate, institutional and retail clients."

—Anita Bhoir


Subbarao to address media tomorrow

Mumbai: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D. Subbarao will address the media on 6 December, an RBI release said, but it did not specify the agenda of the press conference.

The market is expecting RBI to cut its key policy rates such as repo and reverse repo sharply to boost consumer demand. Repo rate is the rate at which banks borrow from the central bank and reverse repo is the window at which banks park their excess funds. Yield on the benchmark 10-year paper closed at 6.84% on Thursday, its lowest since April 2005, expecting rate cuts. Inflation for the week ended 22 November dipped to 8.4% from 8.84% in the previous week. Analysts expect the inflation rate to drop further in coming weeks, giving RBI the handle to go for a sharp cut in its policy rates.

—Anita Bhoir


GoM set up to track ’10 Games construction

New Delhi: The Union government is concerned about the pace at which infrastructure projects sanctioned for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi are being built and the availability of hotel rooms in the Capital for the event. According to Union minister for science and technology Kapil Sibal, the Centre has formed a group of ministers (GoM) to monitor the construction work.

“There is a shortage of hotel rooms. We don’t think that as many hotels that we wanted constructed will be built," Sibal said after a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday.

The GoM, headed by Union urban development minister S. Jaipal Reddy, will comprise Union minister for culture and tourism Ambika Soni and Sibal. “There is an element of urgency (in ensuring these works are completed)," Sibal said.

Asked whether the government plans any special security package for the Commonwealth Games, the minister said all security measures required will be in place for the event.

—K.P. Narayana Kumar


Economy to bounce back from crisis: Subbarao

Hyderabad: The Indian economy will be the first among the world economies to recover from the ongoing global economic crisis, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D. Subbarao said at Hyderabad on Thursday.

However, he admitted that “the impact on India is turning out to be stronger than we had earlier expected since the global crisis is turning out to be deeper and longer than we had earlier expected".

The RBI governor spoke informally to reporters on the sidelines of an international seminar on ‘Mitigating Spillovers and Contagion—Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis’, jointly organized by RBI and the Bank for International Settlements, or BIS.

He said it will be difficult to precisely estimate how long the impact on India will continue, “but one thing that I do want to say is that when there is an upswing, confidence is restored to the market and when the world economies start recovering, India will be the first and fastest to recover."

On the measures to manage a balance between growth and inflation, the RBI governor said inflation has been coming down for the last three weeks and there was a moderation in growth. The governor said the liquidity position has been very comfortable since mid-November and a number of banks have reduced their lending rates.

“There are a number of measures to stimulate demand. Fiscal policy is also an important instrument to stimulate demand. Rate adjustment is not the only avenue for stimulating demand although it is an important avenue," he said.

—C.R. Sukumar


Govt may cut petrol prices next week

New Delhi: With the assembly polls in major states concluding, the Union government may slash petrol price next week by Rs10 a litre, diesel by Rs3 per litre and domestic LPG by Rs20 per cylinder in line with fall in global oil prices.

“Polling in Rajasthan will end today (Thursday) and with it, electioneering in four major states. And so a revision in fuel prices is likely to be taken to the cabinet at its next meeting scheduled on 11 December," said a government official who didn’t wish to be identified.

For the first time in three years, state-run Indian oil marketing firms are selling petrol at a profit of Rs14.89 a litre and diesel at Rs3.03 per litre.

But they continue to lose Rs17.26 on sale of every litre of kerosene through public distribution system (PDS) and Rs148.32 per 14.2-kg domestic LPG cylinder.

“The Congress-led coalition is keen on rolling back the Rs5 a litre hike in petrol, Rs3 per litre increase in diesel and Rs50 per cylinder hike in LPG prices announced in June. As oil firms continue to make losses on LPG, some of the margins on petrol may be used to bring down the cooking fuel price," the official said.



Tata Motors sees gains on duty cut speculation

Mumbai: Tata Motors Ltd, India’s biggest truck maker, gained the most in more than 15 years in Mumbai trading on speculation that the government may cut excise duty on commercial vehicles to revive demand.

Tata Motors rose Rs17.70, or 13%, to Rs150.95 on Thursday. The jump was the biggest since 4 February 1993, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company’s stock has fallen 79% this year.

The government may cut the excise duty on commercial vehicles and announce a slew of other measures this weekend to stimulate the economy, ‘The Indian Express’ newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information from.

If the excise duty is slashed, it will help manufacturers to pass on some price cuts to consumers, said Vaishali Jajoo, an analyst at Angel Broking Ltd in Mumbai. Still, demand may not immediately revive as getting credit for vehicle purchases remains difficult, she said.

The excise duty on commercial vehicles is currently 14%, Jajoo said. According to data by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, commercial vehicle sales in the domestic market fell 3% during the April-October period.



Mirc sees fast growth in mobile phones turnover

New Delhi: Mumbai-based consumer electronics firm Mirc Electronics Ltd is fast expanding its newly launched mobile phones business. The company, which sells products under the Onida brand, expects the mobile segment to account for at least half of its sales in five years.

“In the next three-five years, our mobile turnover should be equal to the turnover of the other categories put together," said chief executive G. Sundar. The firm, which currently sells about 50,000 mobile phones a month, plans to begin local manufacturing soon.

“Our target is to start selling at least one million handsets by March-April next year. Post that, we might look at manufacturing mobile phones at out plant located in Wada (Maharashtra)," Sundar said.

Mirc sells some 17 models, priced between Rs2,500 and Rs9,990. It posted sales of Rs1,542 crore in 2007 and hopes to end the fiscal year to March with Rs1,700 crore.

The company also manufactures LCD TVs, DVD players, home theatre systems, air conditioners and washing machines.

“Currently, the mobile market is estimated at Rs30,000 crore and the other appliances and electronics market is also around Rs30,000 crore. Mirc is trying to replicate the existing market structure," said Purnendu Kumar, associate vice-president, retail and consumer goods, at management consultancy KSA Technopak India Pvt. Ltd.

Despite ambitious plans, Mirc is not investing heavily in advertising. “We will first establish our distribution strength," said Sundar.

—Vijaya Rathore


Trident to reopen from 21 December

New Delhi: The Trident at Nariman Point in Mumbai, the five star hotel operated by the Oberoi group run by East India Hotels Ltd, which sustained damage mainly to its lobby and its top floor in the terror attacks over a week back, will reopen all its rooms, facilities and restaurants for guests on 21 December, the group said in a statement on Thursday.

“We haven’t got a fixed budget for re-doing the hotel and are repairing it piece by piece. Whatever the cost is will be covered under insurance. I don’t think it will cost a lot. Both our properties in Mumbai are insured by New India Assurance Co. Ltd and they we are fully covered against loss of profit and damage during this period," said S.S. Mukherji, vice-chairman at the Oberoi group, told ‘Mint’ over phone from Kolkata.

Mukherjee added that while the 550 rooms and suites in the hotel spread over 22 guest floors were not damaged much, the lobby was and the upper floor had a lot of cracked glass because of the impact.

“We will repaint the rooms and repair carpets wherever necessary. We are working mostly with glass companies and 3-4 different contractors for wood, mirror and marble repair. Mainly, we are working with people on security," Mukherji added.

On when the Oberoi, Mumbai will reopen, he said, “We are still assessing the total damage in all the room. I can’t imagine we can reopen that before 4-6 months at the least," Mukherji said.

—Regina Anthony Nair


Ashok Leyland truck sales slump 67% in Nov

Mumbai: Heavy truck sales at Ashok Leyland Ltd, India’s second largest commercial vehicle maker, slumped by two-thirds in November, data showed on Thursday, and analysts said demand would remain sluggish in the coming months.

A slowing economy that has resulted in a sharp drop in construction activity and a liquidity crunch have squeezed demand for commercial vehicles in India, they said.

Ashok Leyland, which makes trucks and buses, said its domestic sales tumbled 66.7% to 1,788 units in November from 5,366 in the year-ago period.

Earlier, Tata Motors Ltd, the top vehicle maker, said its commercial vehicle sales fell 40% to 16,229 in November, with heavy trucks falling as much as 60%.

“Medium and heavy commercial vehicles continue to get hurt by lack of demand for goods movement, drop in road freight rates and high financing costs," Kotak Securities said in a note.

Tata Motors had last month shut production at its plants for up to six days to avoid a build-up in inventories, while Ashok Leyland has cut shifts till the end of the year.

“We expect weak headline numbers in coming months too," CLSA Asia Pacific Markets said in a note, attributing it to the production cuts announced by the company.

Ashok Leyland, which has a joint venture with Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. Ltd to make light commercial vehicles, rose 3.06% to Rs13.80 but is down 73.5% this year.