Thursday, August 26, 2010


World Economy
Europe risks double-dip recession: Stiglitz
Orders for durable goods increased less than forecast in July, a sign one of the few remaining bright spots in the US economy is cooling. Bookings increased 0.3%, figures from the Commerce Department showed on Wednesday in Washington. Excluding transportation equipment, demand unexpectedly fell. Manufacturing is slowing after leading the US out of the worst recession since the 1930s as consumers cut back on spending. The factory pullback will probably contribute to deceleration in growth in the second half of the year after business surged last quarter. This overall loss of momentum is noticeable, measurable and its cause for concern, said Robert Dye, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh, whose forecast was the lowest among those surveyed. Manufacturing is still leading the recovery, but not nearly with as much vigor as earlier. 

BHP reveals big profit, to face Potash questions
BHP Billiton, the worlds biggest miner, fired a warning shot to its takeover target Potash Corp and potential counter bidders, showing off its best half-year profit in two years and a hefty balance sheet. BHP, with a $39 billion hostile offer out for the top global fertiliser maker, said it was cautious on the short-term global outlook and that the economy in China, its biggest customer, would slow from recent highs. Following a broad recovery in prices for the majority of BHP Billitons products, the short term outlook for commodities is mixed, the company said on Wednesday in announcing its results. But BHP is still in a strong position to raise its Potash offer, as widely expected, with $45 billion in debt lined up and annual cash flows of $24.5 billion. The groups net debt fell to $3.3 billion, with net gearing down to a mere 6%. BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers is set to face questions from investors and analysts in London about the $130 per share bid, launched a week ago. Shareholders are worried about the risks BHP is taking on, expanding into a market it has never served, as it aims to tap an expected boom in demand for potash from farmers trying to boost crop yields to feed fast-growing countries like China and India. 

Ireland credit rating cut by Standard & Poor's
Irish bond yields jumped to the highest since May after Standard & Poor's cut the country's credit rating one step by to Aaon concern the rising cost of supporting its struggling banks will swell the budget deficit. S&P increased its estimate for recapitalising the banking system to as much as ¤50 billion ($63 billion) from a previous estimate of as much as ¤35 billion. Ireland's rating, now the lowest since 1995, is still one level better than Italy's and three above Portugal's. It is seven steps higher than Greece's junk status. "A further downgrade is possible if the fiscal cost of supporting the banking sector rises further," S&P said in a statement yesterday. The extra yield demanded by investors to holdIrish 10-year debt over German bunds rose to a record. .

Corporate News
Vedanta to get entry pass with guarantee plan
Cairn Energy will seek the governments approval to transfer millions of dollars in bank guarantees to Vedanta Resources,implying that the Anil Agarwal-controlled company will be responsible for meeting the oil exploration obligations it had committed to. The Edinburgh-based oil & gas explorer will write to petroleum minister Murli Deora seeking permission to transfer management control of its Indian unit to Vedanta. By doing so, it has met an important demand of the government,which has been insisting that it has the right to decide whether or not to approve the proposed sale of up to 60% stake in Cairn India to Vedanta for $9.6 billion ( 45,000 crore). Last week, the government sought clarifications from Cairn on the bank guarantees it gave as security for timely performance of its exploration obligations when it had bid for hydrocarbon blocks. In its reply, the company is saying these obligations will be the responsibility of Vedanta, said a person familiar with Cairns plans. Cairns response is likely to reach the government before the end of this week. The contents of the governments letter and Cairns response to it were described to ET by persons familiar with them. 

Virtual consolidation underway in Indian telecom market
India's largest private telcos Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications claim that virtual consolidation is underway in the country's crowded telecoms market, with new entrants scaling down their roll out plans and shying away from reducing tariffs further. Although 14-15 telcos continue to exist consolidation has already begun in the virtual sense, says Mahesh Prasad, president for wireless services at Reliance Communications (RCOM). In most circles, only about six operators continue to sustain market momentum, The intensity of competition has come down, says Mr Prasad. Some of the new entrants in the telecoms market have not rolled out networks in many geographies despite being granted spectrum. Many new entrants did not bid for 3G and broadband spectrum. All this are tell-tale signs that consolidation has started in the minds of companies, says Sanjay Kapoor, chief executive of the country's largest telco by both customers and revenues Bharti Airtel. 

Cipla to invest Rs. 1,000 cr in near future, to acquire Meditab Specialities
Drug major Cipla will invest Rs. 1,000 crore in the immediate and near future in factories, expansion of existing facilities and infrastructure, said Y K Hamied, chairman and managing director. Addressing the 74th annual general meeting (AGM) of the company here today, he said a new research and development (R&D) centre is being set up at Patalganga in Navi Mumbai and the Vikhroli R&D unit in Mumbai is being expanded. The company will also invest in biotechnology, in China and India. A few months earlier, Cipla had said it'd invest $65 million (`300 crore) in a phased manner over three years to acquire 40 per cent in a biotech company in India, and 25 per cent in a Hong Kong-based company with manufacturing units in Shanghai. It also entered into a deal to invest about Rs. 50 crore in the Manipal Group-promoted Stempeutics Research to access stem cellbased therapies.

Ranbaxy settles patent dispute with Roche
Daiichi Sankyo-owned Ranbaxy Laboratories has settled its patent dispute with Swiss major Roche for the latters drug valganciclovir sold under the brand Valcyte, reports Our Bureau. The settlement was disclosed in a filing to a US Appeals court in Washington so that it can be dismissed at the lower court. The request was granted on Tuesday, news agency Bloomberg said. The terms of the settlement are not known. The Ranbaxy spokesman declined to comment while an e-mail sent to the Roche spokeswoman in Basel,Switzerland remained unanswered. Ranbaxy is the first generic company to challenge valganciclovirs patent in the US. This means Ranbaxy can launch its generic version before valganciclovirs patent expires in 2015 with a 180- days marketing exclusivity if it succeeds in its patent dispute. 

Adanis ink $1.65-b deal for sourcing coal
Adani Enterprises on Wednesday announced a $1.65 billion deal with the Indonesian government and its mining company PT Bukit Asam for setting up rail and port infrastructure in the island nation for sourcing coal to India. Adani Enterprises, through its Indonesian subsidiary PT Adani Global, has entered into a binding tripartite agreement for setting up a dedicated rail and port project with the Indonesian government and PT Bukit Asam, Indonesian government owned coal mining company. As per the agreement, we will be investing $1.65 billion (approximately Rs 7,500 crore) in building infrastructure, which includes port and railway lines in South Sumatra province of Indonesia, Devang Desai Chief Finance Officer Adani Enterprises told PTI in an interview. The company plans to commence construction as soon as it is granted all the necessary clearances. We look to start construction there in the next three months after getting all the clearances and would be completed in 48 months, he said. As per the deal we have exclusive rights over 60 per cent of the coal from coal reserves of Bukit Asam in the province, Desai said.

Nasscom inputs may soften UK stand on tier-I, II visa cap
There could be some relief for Indian IT companies that are worried about the proposed cap on UKs tier-I & tier-II highly skilled and skilled visas. UKs immigration minister Damian Green, who is on a three-day visit to India, has indicated that the inputs from Indian IT industry body Nasscom will form an important part of the final decision on the permanent UK visa cap that will be put in place from April 1 next year. A delegation from Nasscom will be in London over the next couple of weeks to present important figures and statistics on the intra-company transfer (ICT) route under tier-II skilled immigration. While an interim cap of around 20,000 is already operational for tier-II visas since July 19,2010 to the end of March 2011, ICT visas have deliberately been exempted from the cap, Mr Green told ET. Depending on the Nasscom recommendations to UKs migration advisory committee (MAC), the independent body of economists that provides the UK government with evidence-based advice on migration, there is a possibility that ICT visas, which are used by Indian companies in a big way, may be exempt from the annual cap .The consultation process is on till September 17, 2010, and the Nasscom delegations visit to the UK comes at an important time. Nasscom will recommend that the quotas under tier-II should not apply to the ICT category,as is currently being followed. We will formally make the presentation to the British government to leave the ICT route out of the annual quotas soon, Ameet Nivsarkar, VP, Nasscom, told ET. 

Mukesh transfers 34% RIL stake to investment cos
Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and promoter of Reliance Industries (RIL),has restructured his shareholding in Indias most valuable company by transferring his 34% stake to a set of investment firms including a large number of limited liability partnerships (LLPs). RIL informed the stock exchanges about the transfer of shares among the promoter group, known as inter-se transfer in market parlance, without disclosing the rationale but tax experts said the move would make the promoters shareholding more tax efficient. As many as 32 investment companies transferred nearly 106 crore shares, amounting to 34% stake on August 17 to 61 firms, including 27 LLPs, RIL said in regulatory filings. Prior to the transfer, these 32 firms owned 39% of the company. In all the promoters own 45% of RIL through 74 firms, according to the shareholding pattern on June 30 this year. 

Religare promoters make open offer for additional 20% stake
Religare Enterprises founders Malvinder and Shivinder Singh on Wednesday made an open offer to the company shareholders at 457 a share, which will increase their stake further by 20%. Under the offer the Singh brothers propose to acquire over 2.8 crore shares for the 20% stake in the financial services provider. On its successful completion, their stake in the company would go up to 85.1%. The offer opens on October 13 and will close on November 1, Religare said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange. The promoters will shell out about 1,280 crore for hiking their stake in the company. On Tuesday, the promoters had said they will infuse 857 crore in the company by way of fresh share issue, preferential allotment and warrant conversion. 

Bond traders rake in big bucks with money market arbitrage
Bond dealers have made a neat profit over the past few days by arbitraging between the money market and the Reserve Bank of Indias reverse repo facility. For a brief spell on Monday and Tuesday, overnight call money rates under the collateralised borrowing and lending obligation (CBLO) fell below 1% to 0.30% and 0.50%. Some banks managed to strike deals and borrow money at such low rates and park it the next day with the RBI, where they receive 4.5% under the reverse repo while some others lent money borrowed from the CBLO facility to others in the call money market the next day. CBLO is an instrument managed by the Clearing Corporation of India (CCIL) under which banks can pledge government securities to raise money 

Funds flaunt better returns nos to woo foreign clients
Domestic asset management companies (AMCs) are increasingly competing with foreign multi-strategy funds, which invest only in India, for a pie of their business. Their pitch to overseas investors is that returns from diversified equity schemes of domestic mutual funds are superior to that from India-centric multi-strategy funds managed by overseas fund managers. However, unlike overseas funds, which manage clients money, local AMCs are sticking to the role of advisors, where they give research-based advice to overseas investors for a fee. We are telling overseas investors that equity funds here are easily fetching better returns than India-focused multi-strategy funds, including the ones run by Indians overseas, said a top official with a bank-owned mutual fund. 

India tops Asia in luring FII inflows
India has emerged as the star performer in terms of attracting foreign inflows into the domestic equity market. In the past month, the net inflow into India has been significantly higher than the whole of Asia put together. This despite the fact that the undertone of most recent reports by leading foreign institutional investors (FIIs) has been cautious. According to data collated from Bloomberg, India registered net inflows of $2.07 billion (`9,700 crore) last month. This is much higher than the net inflow of $1.35 billion into the rest of Asia. Japan is the only other leading Asian economy that witnessed significant inflows, of $1.27 billion. The FII inflow data related to China, however, was not available on Bloomberg. 

After Indore, SBI plans merger of other associates
The State Bank of India has said following the merger of State Bank of Indore,the bank will now look at integrating the remaining associate banks. SBI has also agreed to pick up any unsubscribed shares in the upcoming 583-crore rights issue of State Bank of Mysore, where it holds 92.3%. Speaking to newspersons in Mumbai, bank chairman OP Bhatt said: I will discuss with the government whether we should go ahead with (a merger of) some more banks and if the answer is yes, we will talk to the remaining five associate banks. He added that SBI would prioritise the mergers, based on which will be relatively fast and easy. From Thursday, State Bank of Indores branches will cease to exist and SBI will become a large bank, Mr Bhatt said. SBI had earlier intended to merge all its associates and began the process with State Bank of Saurashtra, which was to be followed by the merger of State Bank of Indore in 2008. The amalgamation was delayed due to union protests and has been completed only now. Following the latest merger, SBI will be left with five associates: State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad. 

Mutual Fund
MFs in a fix over redemption as investors turn cautious
Mutual funds worst fears about the fate of their equity schemes after capital market regulator Sebi imposed restrictions on fees to distributors last August are being realised. In the four-month period between March and July, over 2% or eight lakh of the domestic mutual fund industry's 4.11 crore folios have been closed in the absence of distributors support to the industry, which has been finding it tough to attract redeemed investment back into their funds. People who had invested in 2008 are booking profits at current levels. Distributors, too, are not keen to market equity funds, as these products don't yield high commissions, said Waqar Naqvi, CEO, Taurus Mutual Fund. Two of the largest fund houses, in terms of assets and investor base, UTI Mutual Fund and Reliance Mutual Fund have lost 1.65 lakh equity folios each over the past four months, though they have added folios in the fixed income segment in the period.

Reliance Mutual Fund unveils NFO
Reliance Mutual Fund, part of Anil Ambanis Reliance Capital, on Wednesday announced the launch of new fund offer (NFO) for Small Cap Fund, which will invest in small cap companies. The NFO will open on August 26 and close on September 9. The scheme proposes to invest at least 65% of the corpus in equity and equity-related instruments of small-cap companies, which may go up to 100% of the corpus, Reliance MF said in a statement. We feel that select small caps are potential large caps of tomorrow because of their benefit of high growth prospects. Valuation gap is also visible between small caps and large caps, Sunil Singhania, fund manager for Reliance Small Cap Fund, said.

GPPL IPO oversubscribed 7.23 times on Day 3
The 500-crore public offering of private port developer Gujarat Pipavav Port got a good response from institutional buyers and was oversubscribed 7.23 times by the end of the third day of issue on Wednesday. The IPO got total demand for over 79.85 crore shares against 11 crore equities on offer for public,as per the data available with the NSE. In the portion reserved for the qualified institutional buyers, the issue got subscribed 13.2 times over, the NSE data showed. Wednesday was the last day for QIBs to bid. The issue, which opened on August 23 closes on August 26 for the non- QIB investors (HNIs and retial). This model helped several companies attract more participation from the non-institutional investors. This model was followed in the recently-concluded public offers of SKS Microfinance, Bajaj Corp and EIL, where a huge response was seen from retail and HNI categories. 

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