Headlines (08 September 2008)

GENERAL

1)Having successfully wrested a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, India is preparing to press Australia to supply uranium to its reactors, hoping to build on Canberra’s support during negotiations in Vienna. Sources said the issue would be taken up with Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith who arrives in India on Tuesday.

TOI

ECONOMY

2)The services sector is expected to grow at more than 9.5% during the current fiscal, according to a CII services sector snap poll. The majority of the CEOs did not expect the services growth to de- cline during the current year. The major imediments to services growth as revealed by the CEOs were global economic slowdown, deceleration in the economy and shortage of talent and skills.

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CORPORATE / INDUSTRY

3)Mumbai-based pharma firm Wanbury Ltd is betting big on contract research and manufacturing services(CRAMS) with proposed acquisitions worth about Rs 400 crore this financial year. The company is learnt to have started initial discussions with a couple of companies in the European Union as part of the proposed buyouts.

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4)Keeping in tune with its ambitious plans to set up a 10,000-MW, coal-based thermal power capacity by 2011-12, the Adani Group is in an advanced stage of negotiation to acquire more captive thermal coal blocks in Indonesia.

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5)The 101-year-old Alembic, India’s oldest pharmaceutical company, has chalked out an aggressive expansion plan to double its turnover within 2 to 3 years by foraying into the regulated markets of the US and Europe as well as contract manufacturing.

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MONEY & BANKING

6)The rupee is set to weaken further on Monday following a likely strengthening of the dollar against other global currencies. Besides, a rising demand for the green-back from Indian companies to meet their import obligations is also set to weaken the Indian currency. On Friday, the rupee closed at 44.64-65 to a dollar, down 0.66 per cent over the previous close of 44.35-36. During the day’s trade, it fell as low as 44.75, a level it last traded on December 21,2006.

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7)IDBI Bank is planning the merger or sale of its wholly-owned subsidiary, IDBI Homefinance(IHFL) by the end of this fiscal. The bank’s board is likely to take a decision on the matter by the end of March next year. IDBI Bank took over the erstwhile Tata Home Finance in September 2003 and renamed it as IHFL, solely meant for selling home loan products.

ET

8)Singapore-based DBS Bank, which has decided to beef up its Indian operations by adding eight new branches to the existing two across India in the next one month, may launch credit cards in the next two to three years. The bank, which traditionally focus on small and medium enterprises(SME) and corporate banking, would also focus on retail banking in coming years, said Pranam Wahi, general manager and chief executive officer of the bank, at a press conference in Kolkata recently.

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INSURANCE

9)Birla Sun Life Insurance has launched a unit-linked pension plan. “Birla Sun Life Insurance Freedom 58 Retirement Solution” allows customers to accumulate their premiums and offers the option to direct investments into any of the 5 fund options. Customers can reduce their policy premiums from the second year. They can also change premium allocation at any time and also have unlimited top- up premiums and fund switches.

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10)Customers can look forward to improved services from New India Assurance, National Insurance, United India and Oriental Insurance – the four public sector general insurance companies – which are cur- rently engaged in a turf war with private players. Taking a cue from private players, the public sector insurers will soon begin online sales of health, motor, household and shop insurance policies. Plans are also afoot to set up call centres to address grievances. These are signs of change for the state-owned companies, which are trying to set the house in order after losing 42 per cent of the market to private players.

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MARKETS
 
11)EQUITIES appear poised for a surge on Monday after the Nuclear Supplier Group(NSG) on Saturday reached a consensus on the Indo- US nuke deal agreeing on a clean waiver for India, allowing it an entry into the hallowed nuclear club. Dealers expect the Sensex to surge by as much as 500 points, fuelled partly by short-covering of positions. The next keyt trigger would be the outcome of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries(Opec) meeting in Vienna on Wednesday. In the wake of slowing demand, an economic downturn and fall in crude oil prices, Opec may decide to trim the supply to avoid a further fall in prices of crude oil.

ET

12)Reliance Industries (RIL) has retained its position as India’s largest corporate entity in terms of market capitalisation which stood at a whopping Rs 3.02 lakh crore as on September 5. RIL is way ahead of ONGC, which is the second in line with a market cap of over Rs 2.29 lakh crore.

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13)DLF, Bharti Airtel and ONGC and Cairn India have made their way to the Dow Jones Bric 50 Index, a bluechip index measuring performance of 50 largest and most liquid companies in Brazil, Russia and China.

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IPO

14)FUTURE Ventures India, the venture capital arm of the Kishore Biyani-owned Future group, has received regulatory approval for its initial public offering(IPO). However, the Securities and Exchange Board of India(Sebi) has put some riders on the firm as it will be the first public offering by a venture capital company in Indian capital market history.

ET

COMMODITIES

15)Gold prices will continue to show weakening trend this week and is likely to further shed up to Rs 600 in the futures market on the back of lower crude oil prices and strengthening US dollar, say analysts. The prices of the precious metal would hover in the range of Rs 12,000-11,100 per 10 gram, Karvy Comtrade’s analyst, Bhavna Glory said. “Gold is likely to shed Rs 500-600 per 10 gram this week,” she pointed out.

DC

16)After Anil Ambani group and Indiabulls, financial services major Kotak group is set to become the third leading corporate house to enter commodity bourse arena with plans for a majority stake in Ahmedabad Commodity Exchange. The regional commodity ex- change has sought clearance from the commodity market regulator Forward Markets Commission for selling a majority stake to the Kotak group, sources said. The Ahmedabad Commodity Exchange, which deals in castor seeds futures, has an average daily trading volume of about 5,000 tonne, exchange officials said.

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17)Favourable weather conditions and an increase in acreage in India, continue to increase soybean exports, while at the global level, soy futures continue to see a downturn amid an absence of fresh supportive news. According to a statement from the ministry of agriculture in New Delhi on Friday, the area under cultivation for soybean crop increased from 8.7 million hectare last year to 9.5 million hectare this year.

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18)Guar seed futures, which have been on the rise, are likely to de- cline in the short term(three months) as the arrivals from the fresh crop hits the market beginning October. The production is expected to increase 20 per cent to 10.5 lakh tonnes against 8.5 lakh tonnes last year. However, the prospect of the crop will depend on the rains in September.

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REAL ESTATE

19)Keppel Puravankara Development, the joint venture between Bangalore’s Puravankara Group and Keppel Land of Singapore, has announced that it will developa Rs 580-crore residential project in Bangalore, its third such in the country. The Elita Horizon project,located off Kanakapura Road in south Bangalore, will comprise 1,138 apartments on 20 acres.

ET

20)Realty firm Anant Raj Industries plans to invest about Rs 4,300 crore in the next three years to develop various properties across North India as it aims to earn Rs 2 crore rental everyday by 2010. “We want to build and lease. Our focus area is to develop IT park, IT special economic zones(SEZ) and hospitality projects,” Anant Raj Industries executive director Amit Sarin said.

ET

21)Robo Silicon and Robo Infrastructure Pvt Ltd will be developing a 12-storeyed residential complex near Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. The project would come up at Brindavan Gardens and Gujjana Gulla in the outskirts of Guntur. “This is the first 12-storeyed building out- side Hyderabad in the State. It will set the standard for a whole new luxury lifestyle with world-class specifications and amennities in Guntur,” Mr C V Subba Rao, Chairman, Robo Silicon, said in a release.

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

22)India’s IT lobby is roping in colleges to mould suitable boys and girls for the sector. Come October, the National Association of Software & Services Companies(Nasscom) is starting a vocational training model at Indian universities, beginning with Pune University. The model replicates the practices in like Germany and Brazil, which have set certain benchmarks in IT and BPO training, says Ganesh Natarajan, chairman, Nasscom. “We first want to test this model in Maharashtra and then scale this initiative 10-fold by going to cities like Lucknow, Bhopal and Mohali and north-eastern cities,” Natarajan adds.

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23)SATYAM Computer Services is on course to review its acquisition strategy – it may now look at a big-ticket rather than niche small deals. The country’s fourth largest software exporter has taken a cue from its competitor, Infosys Technologies, which has proposed to acquire UK-based Axon for $753 million. Satyam will now weigh the merits of switching from a “string-of-pearls” acquisition strategy involving niche small buy-outs to big-ticket ones, Satyam Computer Services chief financial officer V Srinivas told ET.

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INTERNATIONAL

24)HSBC Holdings Plc Chairman Stephen Green foresees financial markets shifting toward Asia as emerging markets grow faster than the rest of the world economy. “This is an irreversible trend” and Wall Street “will no longer be the centre of the universe,” Green, 59, said today at the Spruce Meadows Changing Fortunes round-table in Calgary. While London won’t shrink, it’s likely to lose market share, he said.

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