Need To Know | Manas Mishra to be Mudra Connext head

Need To Know | Manas Mishra to be Mudra Connext head

Mumbai: Manas Mishra has been appointed executive vice-president of Mudra Connext, a media agency of the Mudra Group. He will take charge as the national head of Connext, overseeing its operations across six cities of India (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Kochi) and will be based out of Mumbai. Prior to this appointment he was general manager at Mediaedge:cia as its Mumbai head.

Manas has at least 13 years of professional experience across Communication Groups such as WPP, IPG and Publicis Groupe.

— Staff Writer


Analysts lower India’s growth forecast

New Delhi: India’s economy may grow 6.7% in the fiscal year to March, slower than an earlier estimate of 7.5%, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said. Asia’s third largest economy may expand 5.8% in the year to March 2010, compared with a previous forecast of 7%, Tushar Poddar, an economist at Goldman Sachs in Mumbai, said in a report on Monday.

Separately, Morgan Stanley said on Monday it had cut its forecast for India’s economic growth in the fiscal year starting April to 5.7% from 6.5% due to high cost of capital, falling consumer loan growth and reduced demand. Morgan Stanley expects agriculture and allied sectors to expand 3.1% in fiscal 2009-10. Industry will grow 4.4%, while services are forecast to rise by 7.2%.

Industrial production growth in India tumbled to 1.3% in August, the slowest pace of expansion on record.

The Reserve Bank of India responded on 1 November by using all three of its main tools together for the first time since 1997, aiming to reduce borrowing costs and stoke growth.

The central bank lowered its repurchase rate to 7.5% from 8%, reduced the cash reserve ratio to 5.5% from 6.5%, and cut the amount of money that lenders are required to keep in government bonds to 24% from 25%.

— Bloomberg and Reuters


2,600 OBC seats vacant in Central universities

New Delhi:More than 2,600 seats reserved for students from the other backward classes, or OBCs, in Central universities are lying vacant, the human resource development ministry said on Monday.

While 8,240 seats were earmarked for OBC candidates in 24 Central universities, only 5,599 have been filled up so far, Sunil Kumar, joint secretary in the ministry told a conference of university vice-chancellors in New Delhi.

The Delhi University tops the list where 2,023 seats out of 2,389 reserved for OBC students are lying vacant, followed by Banaras Hindu University with 109 vacancies, he said.

— Pallavi Singh


Bid deadline for Tilaiya power project extended

New Delhi: The Union government has delayed the deadline to bid for a 4,000MW power project in Tilaiya, Jharkhand, after requests from companies caught in the financial crisis, said power secretary Anil Razdan. Tata Power Co. Ltd and Lanco Infratech Ltd were among the companies that requested the delay, Razdan said on Monday. The last date for bidding to build the plant has been moved to 1 December from early November, he added.

— Bloomberg


Govt to help ensure funds for power projects

New Delhi: The Union government said it will ensure funds are available to build large power generation projects that can help beat shortages in the country.

The government doesn’t expect funding constraints for power projects that are part of India’s five-year Plans, power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said on Monday.

— Bloomberg


ONGC one step closer in move to buy Imperial

Moscow: Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) confirmed it got approval from Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service to buy explorer Imperial Energy Plc., whose shares tumbled 10% to 957.5 pence (Rs711) in London after a report that the Union government wants ONGC to pay less than agreed for the company.

ONGC still needs permission from the Russian government because it’s controlled by a foreign state, the company said on Monday. India wants ONGC to pay less than the $2.6 billion (Rs12,298 crore today) agreed in August because oil prices have since fallen 45%, ‘The Economic Times’ reported Monday, citing an unnamed minister.

— Bloomberg


Power Finance plans to raise $4 bn by March

New Delhi: State-run Power Finance Corp. Ltd (PFC) plans to raise $4.2 bn (around Rs20,000 crore) in the year ending March to help fund projects.

The company raised Rs12,000 crore as of September and plans to sell as much as Rs400 crore of bonds this month, chairman Satnam Singh told reporters in New Delhi on Monday.

PFC, which calls bids to build 4,000MW projects on behalf of the government, is “open" to funding a similar-sized plant to be built at Tilaiya in eastern India, Singh said.

— Bloomberg


Suzlon shares fall after Goldman cuts rating

Mumbai: Makers of wind turbine generators, Suzlon Energy Ltd, declined on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut the stock’s rating and its price estimate, citing difficulty in getting additional orders.

Suzlon closed down Rs1.75, or 2.48%, at Rs68.95, after losing as much as 6.8%. The stock has fallen 82% this year compared with a 49% drop in the benchmark, 30-share Sensex. Goldman Sachs cut Suzlon’s rating to “neutral" from “buy" and reduced its target price by 74% to Rs76.

— Bloomberg


SKS Microfinance raises $75mn in PE funding

Hyderabad: Microfinance and micro-insurance company SKS Microfinance Pvt. Ltd said it has raised $75 million (Rs355 crore) from Sandstone Capital, claiming it the world’s largest private equity (PE) investment in microfinance till date.

The fourth round of equity funding takes the total equity of SKS to Rs610 crore. The latest equity infusion amidst the global financial turmoil reflects the confidence of investors in SKS and its operating model, said Vikram Akula, SKS founder and chief executive officer.

The existing equity partners in SKS include Sequoia Capital, Vinod Khosla, Sidbi, Unitus, Columbia Ventures Corp., Kismet Capital and SVB India Capital Partners, an affiliate of Silicon Valley Bank.

— C.R. Sukumar


Tata’s Advinus sets up 100% subsidiary in US

Mumbai: Tata group promoted contract research and drug discovery company Advinus Therapeutics Ltd has announced that it has started US operations by setting up a wholly-owned subsidiary, Advinus Therapeutics Inc., based in North Carolina. The US company will be headed by former assistant vice-president (global business development) of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. Eric Nelson as global head of business development and marketing and strategy. Advinus chief executive and managing director Rashmi Barbhaiya said his company has a growing client base in the US, and will now have multiple drug discovery alliances and collaborations with both large pharma and biotech companies based out of the US. “One of the main reasons to start the US operations of our company is to build on these relationships and to expand into new ones," he added.

— Staff Writer


Overseas sales of iron ore fines attract 8% tax

Mumbai: The government has imposed an 8% tax on overseas sales of iron ore fines, removing a flat tax of Rs200 a tonne, the finance ministry said in a notification dated 7 November.

Out of every 100 tonnes of iron ore produced in India, 60 tonnes are fines and the rest are lumps.

— Bloomberg


Economic slowdown results in lower inbound tourism to India

New Delhi: The number of foreign tourists visiting India from January to October was recorded at 4.32 million, a growth of 9.3% over the 3.95 million from the year-ago period, reflecting a slower growth than the last year. The slower growth this year -- around 5 percentage points lower than the 14.1% expansion recorded in the first 10 months of 2007 over the same months of 2006 -- was primarily due to a global economic slowdown, Sunil Rao, executive director at QS Consultants India Pvt. Ltd, a hospitality advisory firm in Delhi.

Between January and October, 2006, 3.46 million foreign tourists visited India.

According to estimates made by the ministry of tourism on the basis of data received from major airports, the foreign exchange earnings (FEE) during the January-October period this year was Rs40,712 crore as against Rs34,748 for the corresponding period last year. In dollar terms, the FEE for the period this year stood at $9.7 billion compared with $8.3 billion in 10 months of 2007, a government statement said on Monday.

In October, which marks the beginning of the peak season for the hotel and tourism sector in India, 452,560 foreign tourists came to India, which grew marginally by 1.8% over the 444,564 tourists in the corresponding period last year. The growth in October 2007 was 13.6% more than the same month (391,399) the previous year.

— Regina Anthony


Retail rentals fall as retailers shun expansion plans

New Delhi: With most retailers going slow on their expansion plans in response to slower consumer demand, retail rentals in major cities across the country fell by as much as 20% during the third quarter of 2008 (July-September), says a study by real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield.

Traditionally strong retail high street locations reported significant slide in rental values. Rentals on Linking Road and Kemps Corner in Mumbai saw a 20% fall, Karol Bagh saw an 18% fall, Ganesh Khind Road in Pune and Cathedral Road and RK Salai in Chennai both saw a 13% decrease in rentals. This is, prominently due to caution in expansion plans of retailers, which is leading to a slowdown in demand, the report said.

Mall rentals also saw a correction. Rentals in Mumbai markets such as Ghatkopar fell by 11% and in Vashi by 10%. The National Capital Region, comprising Delhi and its suburbs saw rental correction of around 6-9% in locations such as Noida and Gurgaon. Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata retail markets remained stable while Ahmedabad saw the highest fall in rental values of 20% in Kankaria Lake.

The expected mall supply for 2008 has also been reduced by 36% to 10.61 million sq. ft. from previous quarter estimates of 16.77 million sq.ft. The drop in the estimated supply is largely due to delays in project completion, the report said.

— Shabana Hussain


Britain lifts ban on civilian nuclear exports to India

London: Britain has lifted a ban on exporting sensitive nuclear technology to India for civilian projects, it said Monday, after an international accord to relax rules in September.

Since 2002, Britain has refused all export licence appli which runs the police.

Tsvangirai, who defeated Mugabe in March elections, has rejected their proposal as unworkable.

Mugabe said that Zimbabwe would form a government soon, despite the disagreement.



Market loses ground on GM, economic fears

New York: The Dow and the S&P 500 cut gains on Monday, while the Nasdaq briefly turned negative, as investors fretted about General Motors and doubts surfaced whether China’s stimulus plan would avert a deep global economic slump.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 49.46 points, or 0.55%, at 8,993.27. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 1.54 points, or 0.17%, at 932.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.41 points, or 0.02%, at 1,646.99.

GM shares were down 22.7% at $3.37 on the New York Stock Exchange after brokerage Deutsche Bank cut its stock price target to zero.

— Reuters