London, Mumbai have world’s priciest offices

London, Mumbai have world’s priciest offices

Seattle: London and Mumbai tenants paid the most for high-quality offices this year, while Singapore rents grew the fastest as economic growth attracted international banks to Asia, said CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., the world’s largest commercial real estate broker.

London’s West End led with average annual rents of $328.91 (about Rs13,000) a sq. ft at the end of the third quarter, compared with $180.80 for the UK capital’s main financial district.

Mumbai had the second most expensive leases at $189.51, CB Richard Ellis said in its semi-annual Global Market Rents survey. The report reflects rents as of 30 September.

Asia’s booming economies drove up demand for financial and computing services in the region, catapulting Mumbai to second spot and fuelling Singapore’s 83% growth in rents in the year ended 30 September. The dollar’s decline also drove up costs.


Societe Generale to raise €200 mn for India

Tokyo: Global investment management company Societe Generale Asset Management SA plans to raise up to €200 million (Rs1,170 crore) in equity by September 2008 to invest in residential property developments in India, a company executive said on Wednesday.

The fund management division of Societe Generale, which has already started investing in Japan, said the next Asian markets it is likely to enter will be South Korea and Singapore.

The French asset management firm is ready to establish a foothold in India, which it said has been relatively untouched by foreign investors compared with China.

“China is already largely invested by international funds because the country has been open for 10 years for international investors. But that is not the case for India," Jean-Christophe Ginet, global head of real estate at Societe Generale Asset Management, said on the sidelines of a property conference in Tokyo.

“We are in the middle of the first closing... with €50 million, and the final size would be 200 million," Ginet said, adding that the first sum would be raised by January and the final closing would be next September.


Japan, India to finalize trade pact by mid-2008

Singapore: Japan and India on Wednesday agreed to work for the conclusion of a bilateral free trade agreement by mid-2008, moving up their previous target date by six months, officials said. The new Japanese Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh made the decision in Singapore. “The Indian side said the talks on an economic partnership agreement with Japan are moving forward and that New Delhi wanted to conclude it mid-next year," said a Japanese government spokesman, Mitsuhide Iwaki.


Defence to fully vacate spectrum by March 09

New Delhi: The department of telecommunications (DoT) on Tuesday said the country’s defence forces would completely vacate radio spectrum by March 2009, after an optical fibre cable (OFC) network is established.

In a presentation to the secretaries from the ministries of finance, home and economic affairs, DoT said “around 100MHz of spectrum for 2G (second generation) and 3G (third generation) services would be available with the completion of the OFC project, leading to a closure of all defence microwave links."

The presentation, a copy of which was seen by ‘Mint’, added that DoT and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd are implementing an optic fibre project with an estimated cost of Rs1,040 crore.

India has around 209 million wireless subscribers and seven-eight million new customers are being added every month, making it the fastest growing wireless market in the world.

Pankaj Mishra

Promoter ownership up by 4%: Citigroup

New Delhi: Indian companies are firming their grip on the stock markets with promoter holdings rising by 4% in the country’s 500 biggest listed entities, according to a study by the brokerage division of global financial services firm Citigroup.

Promoter holdings went up to 58% in the Bombay Stock Exchange-500 companies in the second quarter this fiscal from 54% in the previous three months.

In contrast, foreign institutional investors, mutual funds, banks, insurance companies and retail investors cut down their holdings.

“For the latest quarter, promoter ownership has gone up, while ownership of all other categories has come down," Citigroup’s India research head Ratnesh Kumar said. “This has been mainly due to stronger performance of high promoter stake companies, rather than a major sell down by any category of investors."


Religare lists at 75% premium on BSE

Mumbai: Financial services provider Religare Enterprises Ltd on Wednesday listed at a premium of 75% over the issue price of Rs185 a share on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

The scrip opened at Rs323.75 and shot up to Rs592 within minutes. It closed the day at Rs521.70.

A total of 1.85 million equity shares changed hands at the bourse.

On the National Stock Exchange, the scrip opened at Rs323.75, touched a high of Rs601 and closed at Rs525.30. A total of 1.78 million shares changed hands at the exchange.

The company, led by promoters of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, had issued 7.57 crore equity shares in the initial public offering at Rs185 each, a circular on the stock exchanges said.

Religare is a holding company of 11 subsidiaries engaged in offering financial services targeted at retail, high net worth individuals, corporate and institutional clients.


PowerGrid Corp to augment Bihar’s grid

Patna: Central transmission utility Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd (PGCIL) on Wednesday signed an initial accord with Bihar government for strengthening the state’s power transmission network at a cost of Rs1,204 crore.

PGCIL will complete the project possibly by the end of 2009, chairman R.P. Singh said.

Under the pact, 16 new grid substations will be set up and 33 existing substations of Bihar State Electricity Board will be augmented.

Bihar has also entered into agreements with NTPC Ltd and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd for upgrading the defunct Barauni and Kanti thermal power plants and setting up new generating units.


Uphaar fire case: court defers sentencing

New Delhi: Additional sessions judge Mamta Sehgal on Wednesday deferred announcement of the quantum of sentences in the Uphaar cinema case as the arguments remained inconclusive. A fire at the cinema had led to the death of 59 people in 1997.

The judge said she may pronounce the sentence against all the 12 convicts, including cinema hall owners Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, on Friday.

Sushil Ansal is chairman of Ansal Properties and Infrastructure Ltd while Gopal Ansal is the chairman of Ansal Buildwell Ltd. The Ansal brothers have been held guilty for the offence of causing death by a rash and negligent act, though not with a wilful intent.


India to head World Tourism Organisation

New Delhi: India’s tourism industry is expected to get a boost as the country is set to head the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).

India will assume the chair of the executive council of WTO at its General Assembly in Colombia on 26 November. Tourism and culture minister Ambika Soni would represent India at the meet.

Soni got a clearance for the overseas travel during the Parliament session because of the importance of the event. Travel by Union ministers abroad during the session is discouraged unless it is important.


New mining policy to introduce key changes

Hyderabad: In a major shift from the existing policy, the new mining policy would enable the prospecting (exploration) license holder to automatically obtain mining lease as well, said Union minister of state for mines, T. Subbarami Reddy.

The Union cabinet is currently deliberating on the new national mining policy, which would be cleared during the winter session of Parliament, he said.

Under the existing policy, the prospecting license holder is required to apply for mining lease and there was no guarantee that he would obtain the lease, the minister said.

“Prospecting involves huge investments and with no guarantee to obtain mining lease, investors were hesitating to pump in funds for prospecting activities," the minister said.

Secondly, the new mining policy would also enable the mining leaseholder to transfer the mining activities in favour of a specialist, which is currently not possible in the existing policy, Reddy said.

C.R. Sukumar

Securities scam: IT dept moves SC on dues

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will take up on 3 December the income-tax department’s plea that it should get priority over banks and other creditors while using ‘Big Bull’ Harshad Mehta’s attached assets for clearing their dues.

The I-T department has challenged a special court’s order asking it to refund more than Rs546 crore along with interest at the rate of 9% to the custodian after State Bank of India and Standard Chartered Bank alleged irregularities in assessing Mehta’s tax liabilities.

Mehta, the kingpin of the 1992 securities scam, allegedly owes Rs1,743 crore to the tax department for assessment years 1992-1994.


Tata Chem to join sweet sorghum consortium

Mumbai: The country’s leading manufacturer of inorganic chemicals Tata Chemicals Ltd has tied up with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics for entering the Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Research Consortium.

The institute’s director general William Dar and Homi R. Khusrokhan, managing director of Tata Chem, signed the agreement in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

The partnership would go a long way in enhancing the commercialization of sweet sorghum for bio-ethanol production, Dar said.

Production of ethanol from sweet sorghum as a bio-fuel can provide additional income to dry land farmers and does not compromise their food security.

The Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Research Consortium promotes the technology for producing bio-fuel through public-private partnership.

Staff Writer

Toyota Kirloskar enters used car business

Bangalore: The Indian unit of Toyota Corp., Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd (TKML), said it has entered the used car business in the country, allowing customers to buy new Toyota cars in exchange for old cars of other companies. 

The “Toyota U Trust" business for used cars has been launched in Bangalore and Chennai and would be expanded across the country in a year, said the company in a statement. The company will also sell old cars of other car makers to customers.

“The used car market in India is almost as big as the new car market," said M. Kawabata, deputy managing director, TKML. “The secondary market is important even for the growth of new car segments and we are looking at 10-15% of new car business," he added.

Staff Writer

Puravankara wins bid for Andhra project

New Delhi: Leading real estate developer, Puravankara Projects Ltd, has won the bid from Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corp. for the development of a mixed-use project on 6.5 million sq. ft of land in the hi-tech city in Hyderabad.

Bangalore-based Puravankara’s bid for the land deal was for Rs630 crore, a company statement said. The company plans to invest over Rs3,500 crore in the project. Puravankara would use the land for mixed development of high-end ultra luxury retail, residential, commercial and hospitality complexes.

Shabana Hussain

PVR to open Gold Class, Lounge cinemas in Delhi

New Delhi: India’s leading developer and operator of multiplexes and single-screen cinema halls, PVR Ltd, is extending its Gold Class Cinemas and Lounge initiative to the national capital.

First launched in Bangalore, the Gold Class Cinemas and Lounge is aimed at high-end consumers looking for a luxurious cinema viewing experience.

In New Delhi, it would be housed in Select Citywalk mall in Saket and would be inaugurated on 23 November.

Tickets at the Gold Lounge would be priced at Rs700-800 per person as against Rs150-200 in the regular multiplexes.

Priyanka Mehra