Bangkok: Thailand’s People Power Party (PPP), which campaigned for the return of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, won the most seats in the nation’s first election since the 2006 coup, according to exit polls.

“This is a victory for people and democracy," Surapong Suebwonglee, PPP spokesman, told state-owned TITV. “We will set up a coalition government, but it’s too early to say who we will partner with. We need one more party."

Popular figure: Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

A coalition with one of the other 29 parties running in the election will likely be required for a majority in Parliament. Thaksin’s now-banned Thai Rak Thai Party won a record 75% of the seats in the 2005 election. The junta said it ousted him due to alleged corruption and disrespect for the king.

“This heightens uncertainty as people who are anti-Thaksin will get upset," Malcolm Cook, programme director for Asia and the Pacific at the Lowy Institute said. “It’s a question of whether this is acceptable for the people who led the coup."

PPP had 256 seats compared with 162 for the Democrat Party, of the 480 House of Representatives seats up for grabs, according to a poll by Bangkok-based Suan Dusit Rajabhat University.

“I would rather not comment until we know the official results," Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told state-owned Channel 9 television. “If the results actually turn out to be the same, I won’t have much to say anyway."

Thailand’s economy, which grew the slowest of six South-East Asian nations in the third quarter, has suffered from the coup, missteps by the military-backed government and uncertainty as to when democracy would be restored.Bloomberg

Rs100 crore revolving fund for infra projects

New Delhi: The government has notified setting up of a Rs100 crore revolving fund that is aimed at assisting infrastructure projects, under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, in the pre-tender period.

Announced in the 2007-08 Budget, the India Infrastructure Project Development Fund (IIPDF) would bear the expenses for conceiving new PPP projects, which may include feasibility studies, environment impact studies, financial structuring and legal review in the pre-tender period.

The fund would bear up to 75% of the cost of projects until the bidding stage, people familiar with the matter said.

In addition, the fund would also assist projects that closely support the best practices in PPP project identification and preparation.

Infrastructure projects, which qualify for the funding, could be revenue generating commercial projects, efficiency enhancement or cost-saving projects and non-revenue generating projects with hidden economic returns.

The fund with an initial corpus of Rs100 crore can be scaled up through budgetary support, if need be. Envisaged as a revolving corpus, the fund would get replenished by fee earned from successfully bid projects.

According to estimates, India requires nearly $488 billion (Rs19.3 trillion) to build infrastructure such as roads, power, ports to sustain high economic growth rate during the 11th Plan period. IIPDF would be administered by an empowered institution headed by the additional secretary in the department of economic affairs.

The empowered institution would select the projects that are eligible for funding until pre-bidding stage. Besides, it would set the terms and conditions under which the funding would be provided and recovered.

Union finance minister P. Chidambaram had earlier said that although finances were available, there were not enough infrastructure projects on the shelf in the states.

He had noted that large private funds were looking at India with interest.

After the launch of two funds for infrastructure projects, including the $5 billion fund by Citigroup, Blackstone, IDFC and IIFCL combine, other similar initiatives are waiting to be launched in India, he had said.PTI

Safexpress to raise funds via pvt placement

New Delhi: Logistics solutions provider Safexpress Pvt. Ltd is planning to raise funds through private placements to part finance its Rs550 crore expansion plan, including construction of warehouses across India to strengthen supply chain infrastructure.

“We are planning to invest Rs550 crore in the next three years on logistics infrastructure expansion, including private placements, of which 60% will be funded through debt that will be finalized by March next year," Safexpress chairman and managing director Pawan Jain said. “The remaining amount will be raised through internal accruals."

Jain said the company would build warehouses in 32 different cities spread across 7 million sq. ft of space for which the company has started buying land and construction has begun at some sites.

Driven by capacity expansion, the company is also aiming to double its turnover in next three years. “Growing at a rate of 40%, we are targeting Rs1,000 crore turnover by 2010 from Rs500 crore currently," Jain said.PTI

2 Israeli developers to invest in Chennai project

Jerusalem: Two Israeli developers, Property and Building Corp. and Electra Real Estate Ltd, have agreed to buy land in Chennai for a $400 million (Rs1,584 crore) commercial and residential development project.

The companies, each owning 45% of the joint-venture project, expect to pay a combined $58 million for the 35 acre site, Tel Aviv-based Property and Building said in a statement to the city’s stock exchange on Sunday. The land is near IT parks which is under construction and that is expected to employ 100,000 people, it said.

“The purchase is in line with the company’s strategy of investing in India in places that are near IT parks with well-developed infrastructure," Property and Building chief executive officer Segi Eitan said. The companies expect to purchase an additional 7 acres “in the next few weeks". The value of property development in India will probably climb to $90 billion by 2015 from $12 billion in 2005, as the country’s economic growth fuels demand for better housing and more shopping malls, Moody’s Investors Service said in June.

The two companies plan to build 320,000sq. m of homes and 106,000 sq. m of shops on the Chennai property.

Property and Building is 65% owned by billionaire Nochi Dankner’s Discount Investment Corp. Ltd. Electra is controlled by Gershon Zelkind through his Elco Holdings Ltd, an Israeli company with interests in electrical appliances and real estate. Bloomberg

GSM operators keep up pressure on spectrum

New Delhi: GSM mobile operators have asked the government to seek afresh the views of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on spectrum allocation norms and suspend till such time, distribution of initial or additional frequency.

Meeting this condition means that no new GSM operator will be issued a letter of intent (LoI) and licences, and existing GSM operators will have no new competition—both bad for the sector’s growth.

Weighing options: Telecom secretary D.S.Mathur.

But these are some of the conditions that the GSM lobby wants the department of telecom (DoT) to meet in order to ease the tension arising out of the new formula for apportioning spectrum and permission to use dual technology.

On behalf of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Akhil Gupta, joint managing director and group director (strategy and business development) of Bharti Airtel, has been deputed to negotiate with the government.

The first meeting between Gupta and telecom secretary D.S. Mathur was held last week, according to a note by Mathur. Surprisingly, the COAI has completely ignored the “scientific" report of the telecom engineering centre, which was once accepted in principle by the government, and also demand for surrendering the extra spectrum held by them beyond the contractual limit of 6.2Mhz.

People familiar with the development in DoT are of the view that existing operators are increasing pressure on DoT every day, because they do not want any new LoI to be issued, so as to ensure the existing oligopoly and abnormal profits.

According to Mathur’s note, COAI has refused to accept Trai’s recommendations with regard to four metros and A category circles. PTI

Dunlop raises $90 mn in debt from hedge funds

Kolkata: Ruia group’s Dunlop India Ltd has raised $90 million (Rs356.4 crore) from a clutch of offshore hedge funds to restructure loan and to meet other corporate needs in a structured deal which offers them an option to pick up to 15% stake in the tyre maker’s paid-up capital.

“We have recently signed a deal with a clutch of offshore hedge funds headed by Spinnakar Capital Group to raise $90 million in loans. We have also raised Rs121 crore in rupee loan from Deutsche Bank," Dunlop chairman Pawan Kumar Ruia said.

The loan was raised by the Mauritius-based holding company of Dunlop and Falcon Tyres, Dil Rim and Wheel (DRW), which bought both the company from the Chabbrias at a total consideration of Rs200 crore.

To facilitate the loan, DRW has gone into some structural change with the assets of the company. Dunlop transferred its “non-core" assets into two subsidiaries and shares of these two units were pledged to two other firms controlled by DRW, which in turn had been pledged to Spinnaker Capital.PTI

Most Indian CEOs fail to beat stress: Assocham

New Delhi: Indian chief executives may be adept at managing businesses, but a majority of them are inept at handling stress, said a survey by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

The study found that 68% of Indian CEOs, managing businesses with a turnover exceeding Rs1,000 crore, were unable to beat stress and other related diseases.

In its report on ‘CEOs ways to manage stress’, Assocham said of the 400 Indian CEOs surveyed, only 32% succeeded in countering stress and fatigue through yoga, sports, morning stroll and music.

Managing stress: Assocham president Venugopal N. Dhoot.

“CEOs in the age group of 50-65 take time off in morning for yoga and prefer to play golf, visit hill stations and parks to overcome their day-to-day stress and fatigue," Assocham president Venugopal N. Dhoot said in a statement.

The report observed that younger CEOs in the age group of 30-45 years are more health conscious compared with those in the age group of 50-65.

“Going to gym motivates and inspires the younger CEOs to handle pressure and encounter stress and fatigue," it said.PTI