1)The Indian Railway has embarked on one of its ambitious projects so far by trying to get people to book their long-distance tickets through their cellphones. The railways has so far managed to have platform tickets vended through mobile phones – like in Bengaluru. They have also successfully charted out ways to book suburban train tickets on mobiles – as proposed in Mumbai – but officials agree that long-distance tickets are a different proposition altogether. Sources said a top-level technical team from the Centre for the Railway Information Systems(CRIS) is at work on it.
2)Its not just economic reforms that the Manmohan Singh government is keen to push ahead. A slew of reforms in other areas including ushering in competition and private sector play in sectors, which are hitherto to a monopoly of state-run organisations, are on the cards. Top on the agenda of the government is to introduce competition in areas to reduce monopoly of a few players including the state-run organisations. This would mean that there will be more private participation in areas where only state agencies have been operating.
3)Production output from India’s factories in June is likely to improve with annual growth seen at 5-7 per cent as against 8.1 percent in the same month last year, according to economists. The June data for the Index of Industrial Production(IIP) is to be re- leased on Tuesday. In May this year, the IIP grew 3.8 per cent due to dismal performance by the manufacturing sector.
CORPORATE / INDUSTRY
4)After exiting the coffee retail business in December 2004, Tata Coffee is now considering a re-entry into the business by setting up a cafe chain across the country. The company, which sold its 34.3 per cent equity in Barista to NRI investor C Sivasankaran, is waiting for the non-compete contract it signed with Barista to expire.
5)For the first time its listing three years ago, Fortis Healthcare has registered profits from its hospital chain business. The quarter ended June 30,2008, saw Fortis make a net profit of Rs 94 lakh as against a net loss of Rs 23.5 crore in the corresponding period last year. Fortis results, experts say, are not just about the performance of its hospitals, but an indication of the revenue generating potential of Indian healthcare segment.
MONEY & BANKING
6)THE government is expected to formally announce the merger of State Bank of Saurashtra(SBS) with the State Bank of India(SBI) this week. The merger had received the approval of the Union Cabinet earlier this month. SBS is a fully-owned subsidiary of SBI.
7)Futures trading in Indian currencies is set to be a reality soon. The Securities and Exchange Board of India(Sebi) is expected to clear the applications of the National Stock Exchange(NSE), the Bombay Stock Exchange(BSE) and the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX), the largest commodity exchange of the country for starting currency futures at its board meeting on August 13.
8)Eyeing a bigger share in the domestic market, private sector lender Bank of Rajasthan will ramp up operations and is planning to raise Rs 250 crore by way of private equity placements for funding expansion. The bank plans to scale up its presence in the domestic mar-ket and has sought the approval of the Reserve Bank of India to open 30-35 branches in FY09, taking its total branch strength to around 500 from the current 463, the bank’s Managing Director and CEO, Mr P L Ahuja, said.
9)The early impact of the fall in oil prices has been showing on the Indian equity market. As the sentiment improved, the short covering boosted the valuations. The trend is likely to continue this week. Dalal Street may draw support from weakening crude oil price.
10)Foreign companies looking to list on Indian stock exchanges may find it easier to do so soon. The government is set to relax the rules for floating Indian Depository Receipts(IDRs), making it easier for foreign companies to raise equity capital from India. Companies issuing IDRs will now be able to redeem them into underlying shares soon after the float. The corporate affairs ministry, which is expected to unveil the liberalised norms by September, is planning to drop the one year lock-in for such conversion of the IDRs into underlying shares.
11)The association of Mutual Funds in India(Amfi) has proposed to introduce a common application form and a common online platform for mutual fund transactions under the aegis of Amfi or an independent agency appointed by it to make mutual funds more investor-savvy. “We are working on a common application form as there is no need for a separate form for mutual funds of different firms,” said Amfi Chairman A P Kurian.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
12)Companies going for large mergers and acquisitions would have to notify the Competition Commission of India within 30 days of signing the Shareholders Agreement or Asset Purchase Agreement, according to a top official of the commission.
13)Energy, base metals and bullion futures prices on the national bourses continued to remain weak on the week ended on Friday, mainly on a weak overseas markets, amid lack of fresh buying interest by local players. Among the major commodities, crude oil prices have lost more than 20% or $30 from their all time high levels. In the bullion segment, silver futures registered a biggest fall of 8.6% over the last week following the weakness in yellow metal. Gold futures remained weak last week in the absence of fresh buying support from investors, as the dollar rebounded against the euro and comments by European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet.
14)Guarseed sowing has significantly progressed following rainfall in the major growing region of Rajasthan. Though the crop has already been delayed by around three weeks, traders said that within 3-4 days, sowing will be completed. The prices of the commodity slipped substantially in the last one week on rains, resulting in good demand from the overseas market.
15)It may become mandatory for developers to design and construct buildings, which consume more than 500 kw, according to Energy Conservation Building Code. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), the statutory body under the power ministry, may make it must for developers to adhere to energy-efficiency norms. ECBC sets minimum energy performance standards only for commercial buildings or complexes with a load of 500 kw or more.
16)Hurt by subprime crisis in the United States and Europe and global slowdown, most of the property funds have increased their internal rate of return(IRR) expectations from realty developers from 20-22 per cent to 27-30 per cent, to provide cushion in case of any major crash in realty market in the coming months.
17)Real estate firm Suncity Projects plans to invest about Rs 6,000 crore over the next four years to construct various properties, including SEZ and townships, across the country. The company has acquired 4,000 acres in different cities where it will develop more than 10 projects in the housing, commercial, shopping mall, hotel, SEZ and township segments.
18)Jain Housing and Construction Limited on Saturday forayed into the Hyderabad marketby launching its residential project – Carlton Creek. The company, whose portfolio comprises over 150 residential projects including 4.5 million sft of completed projects and over 10 million sft of ongoing projects, will create 1,120 two and three-bedroom apartments at Khajaguda near Gachibowli in Hyderabad.
BUSINESS PROCESS OUTSOURCING
19)The business process outsourcing(BPO) companies are concerned about security issues and investment demands from infrastructure and technology upgradation follwing the move by the Department of Telecommunication(DoT) to allow employees to work from home. Clients in the present environment are very strict about data confidentiality and privacy, BPO companies told Business Standard.
20)Outsourcing firms such as WNS, ExlService and Genpact have warned that rising salaries could eat into their profit margins. They are also worried that fattening pay packets in India could prevent them from sustaining their competive advantage.
21)The Indian information technology(IT) industry, dominated by software services and BPO segments, is rapidly seeing the emergence of product companies and a latest study has projected that India could account for roughly 2%, or $11 billion, of global product business in 2015.
22)INFOSYS Technologies is investing Rs 1,250 crore to set up a new campus in Hyderabad that would be the company’s largest facility in the world, said NR Narayana Murthy, chairman of the board and chief mentor of Infosys. The 447-acre campus will be housed in its special economic zone(SEZ), a virtual tax-free zone aimed at promoting exports. The company, which is the second larget exporter in the country, has a campus in Hyderabad, employing around 11,000 people.
23)Pune-based IT company Zensar Technologies is planning to set up an IT special economic zone(SEZ) with an investment of over Rs 25 crore in the country next year. Besides, it would also hire 700 people this year. “We have not yet decided about the location for our proposed SEZ, which will be cover 5-10 acres. It will come up early 2009,” Zensar Technologies global CEO Ganesh Natarajan said.
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