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Thursday, December 31, 2009

RBI to review rates only on Jan 29 ?

Thu Dec 31, 2009

HYDERABAD, India, Dec 31 (Reuters) - The Indian central bank will review interest rates at its next policy review scheduled for Jan. 29 and not before, a deputy central bank governor said on Thursday.

"Wait for 29th. It can't be speculated. If it has to happen, it will happen on 29th. You will have to wait for that," said K.C. Chakrabarty, a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, when asked whether and when the central bank would adjust rates.

India and South Korea are widely expected to be among the first Group of 20 nations to follow Australia and raise interest rates as they recover from the global slowdown.

Some economists expect inflation in India to reach 8 percent by the end of the fiscal year in March, above the RBI's comfort level.

Indian Stocks Set for Biggest Annual Gain in 18 Years

December 31, 2009

Dec. 31 -- India’s stocks are set for their biggest annual gain in 18 years, led by NTPC Ltd. after the Economic Times reported the government may relax a rule to allow power producers to sell at market prices.

NTPC, the nation’s biggest power utility, surged to a two- year high. Economic Times reported that NTPC and other energy suppliers may get approval to sell about 10 percent of their power at market-determined prices, boosting profits. Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd., the No. 1 copper and zinc producer, climbed to a four-week high after metal prices rallied.

The Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index, or Sensex, gained 135.63, or 0.8 percent, to 17,479.45 at 10:08 a.m. in Mumbai. The gauge has risen 80 percent this year, sparked by a rally after the election victory of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ruling coalition in May, on expectations he will introduce measures to boost economic growth.

“The government is serious about reforms,” said Kishor Ostwal, managing director of CNI Research (India) Ltd. in Mumbai. “The spectacular gains this year has been due to the market- friendly policies of the Manmohan Singh government.”

The Sensex has more than tripled in the past decade, compared with a 5 percent drop in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. The S&P CNX Nifty Index on the National Stock Exchange rose 0.7 percent to 5,207.20. The BSE 200 Index increased 0.8 percent to 2,185.60. The markets are closed tomorrow for a public holiday.

The National Stock Exchange and rival Bombay Stock Exchange, Asia’s oldest, plan to start trading 55 minutes earlier at 9 a.m. from Jan. 4.

NTPC added 2.9 percent to 239.75 rupees, the highest since Jan. 17, 2008. Eighty-five percent of the output from power producers such as NTPC is currently sold to state government utilities on long-term contracts.

The government may allow NTPC to sell a part of the remaining power to bulk buyers such as sugar mills and steel factories, the report said. Power Secretary H. S. Brahma declined to comment on the report when contacted on his mobile phone.

Reliance Infrastructure Ltd., the nation’s third-largest utility, climbed 0.8 percent to 1,160 rupees, its sixth day of gains.

Sterlite advanced 0.6 percent to 86.5 rupees. Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange gained as much as 1.2 percent to $7,415 a metric ton, the highest price since Sept. 4, 2008.

Hindalco Industries Ltd., the biggest aluminum producer, rose 0.8 percent to 161.1 rupees. Aluminum rose 0.8 percent to $2,260 a ton on the London exchange.

Overseas funds bought a net 3.85 billion rupees ($82.4 million) of Indian equities on Dec. 29, taking their investments in stocks this year to 830.7 billion rupees, the nation’s market regulator said yesterday.

Purchases by global investors have reached $17.4 billion this year, poised to surpass the record $17.65 billion of net inflow into stocks in 2007.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

GV Krishna Reddy entrepreneur of the year

29 Dec 2009, ET Bureau

At the age of 76, most others prefer to sit back and savour the sepia-tinted moments of their life, but not GV Krishna Reddy, the GVK Group’s patriarch. He won his first construction contract when he was barely 22 and more than five decades later, his infrastructure flagship has an asset base of over $5.24 billion.

But his penchant for taking risks hasn’t diminished a bit. The entrepreneur now has ambitions to scale up his conglomerate to $10 billion over the next five years. His agility can only be matched with his razor-sharp memory as he recalls his early days.

“I was just 22 years old when I began my career in the construction business. We bagged the contract to build the Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam canal works, the largest masonry dam. It was one of the toughest jobs, but I gained enormous confidence to take risks. I tend to work harder and try to achieve targets wherever there are problems,” says GVK.

It isn’t easy to meet tough deadlines, hectic schedules and take up punishing site visits year after year and still be hailed as a people’s person by your colleagues and peers. GVK’s style of functioning has been described as “democratic”.

He brings to the table five decades of experience that stands taller than his 6-feet-3-inch frame. His early morning meetings with the senior management help him stay connected with the business. The Osmania University graduate follows a hands-off approach regarding day-to-day operations, but is hands-on when it comes to issues relating to strategy.

He believes in visiting project sites himself. In fact, he is quite ready to attend meetings soon after an 18-hour flight from the US. “I am completely in awe of the way he works. Last week, he travelled to Delhi from Hyderabad, then flew to Dehradun by a chopper and returned to Hyderabad the same day after attending a host of meetings.

At his age, I wonder if I’d be able to do anything like this. The reason for GVK to achieve such growth is perhaps his passion. Also, the company has had the first-mover advantage in hotels and power plants in Andhra,” says E Sudhir Reddy, chairman and managing director, IVRCL Infra.

A true entrepreneur that he is, he didn’t limit himself to construction. He was the first player in the prelaminated particle board business; the first to build a five-star hotel in hometown Hyderabad and the first fast-track independent power producer.

From cash contracts to owner-developer, it has been an eventful and productive journey for the infrastructure flagship, GVK Power and Infrastructure (GVKPIL). Today, it has an asset base of over $5.24 billion (Rs 25,000 crore). It underwent consolidation in 2007, bringing all its power, airport and road assets under one roof — GVKPIL.

The list includes such trophy assets as the Mumbai International Airport, which operates the country’s busiest airport and the Jaipur Expressway. The consolidation was meant to create a comprehensive infrastructure company, a large balance sheet and better positioning in terms of unlocking operating asset value.

GVK reckons that the Mumbai International Airport is the most difficult airport to build, as it has only 2,000 acres of land unlike the newer airports which are much bigger in area. But this has not deterred the group from looking at a larger role in India’s airport business.

India Inc's top guns may post 45% rise in Q3 net

29 Dec 2009, ET Bureau

India’s top companies could see an over 45% jump in aggregate profit for the three months ending December.

The 30 firms, which constitute the benchmark Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), could post a 25-30% increase in standalone net profit from a year ago period, according to an ETIG study.

The key to an improved show would be the low-base effect, the gains in December would be spectacular compared to the poor numbers a year ago. The October-December period last year, the quarter that followed the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers, was a disaster for most BSE-500 companies (excluding oil marketers and banks).

Their aggregate net profit (adjusted for extraordinary items) had shrunk more than a quarter to Rs 35,618 crore from a year ago. Lehman’s bankruptcy sowed a panic that pushed financial markets to the brink and felled global economic activity from industrial production to foreign trade.

Indian companies, too, were caught in that downturn, but have since made a comeback with a revival in demand, helped by the government’s stimulus package, moderation in input prices and softening credit costs.

The same set of 450-odd companies posted a total net profit of Rs 51,777 crore in the September quarter, after successive quarterly earnings growth. If these companies were to maintain the same profit levels in the current quarter, their net profit would jump 45%, as per the study.

Government data on industrial performance, as measured by the index of industrial production (IIP), which rose 10.3% in October from a year earlier, indicates that the expectations from this quarter are not misplaced. Noting the IIP numbers and exports, which grew 18.2% in November, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee last week said the economy may “resume the spectacular growth rate of 9% experienced during the pre-downturn period” in the next 2-3 years.

“Going by the GDP and IIP numbers, Indian companies, in general, should perform well and results should be in line or exceed expectations,” said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, equity head at Delhi-based broking firm SMC Capitals.

Advance tax collections, another pointer to the approaching results season, have also risen over 22% in the October-December quarter on a sharp jump in payments from automobiles, consumer goods and metal firms. Domestic bourses, too, seemed to have taken note of a possible improved show. Last Thursday, the Sensex rose 129 points to close at 17,360, just short of the one-year high recorded in mid-October.

“The stock prices of top 200 companies have already factored in the expected result performance in Q309. So, nothing big is expected out of them unless there is a big surprise in their results,” said DD Sharma, retail research vice-president, Anand Rathi Financial Services. But mid-cap companies, which closely track the results season, might react to the results, he added.

The December quarter could also see revenues turning around to touch double digits, though their growth would be modest compared to the improved bottomline. “We expect industries such as metals, automobiles, infrastructure, real estate and pharmaceuticals to report a year-on-year topline growth,” said DR Dogra, managing director & CEO of credit rating agency Credit Analysis & Research (CARE).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Change in copyright law mooted

Press Trust Of India, Thu, Dec 24, 2009

Musicians to have greater say over their works, according to amendment.

New Delhi: Musicians, writers and cinematographers are a step closer to getting royalty for their works used commercially.

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved amendments to the Copyright Act of 1957 for introduction in Parliament. One amendment will give "independent rights to authors of literary and musical works in cinematograph films, which were hitherto denied and wrongfully exploited by producers and music companies," said Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

Another amendment ensures that the authors of works, particularly songs included in the cinematograph films or sound recordings, receive royalty for commercial exploitation of such work, Soni said.

"It has been proposed to introduce a system of statutory licensing to ensure that the public has access to musical works over the FM radio and TV networks and at the same time the owners of copyright works are also not subject to any disadvantages," she said.

The News Broadcasters Association had been apprehensive about the amendments and asked the government to ensure that nothing was done to hurt the "well-established and understood rights of broadcasters to fair use of material, including broadcast reproduction rights."

Earlier, only the film's producer had the copyright of the product. After the amendment in the Act, however, the term of copyright for cinematograph films has been extended by making the producers and principal director as joint authors (of the film).

Soni said the amendments were proposed by the HRD Ministry to gain clarity, remove operational difficulties and address newer issues that have emerged in the context of digital technology and Internet.

The newly introduced copyright term will be for 70 years and can be extended by another 10 years provided the producer enters into an agreement with the director.

Amendments are being made to bring the Act in conformity with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Internet Treaties, namely WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) which have set the international standards in these spheres.

WCT deals with the protection for the authors of literary and artistic works such as writings, computer programmes, original databases, musical works, and works of fine art and photographs.

WPPT protects certain related rights of the performers and producers of the phonograms. "While India has not yet signed these treaties it is necessary to amend domestic legislation to extend the copyright protection in the digital environment," Soni said.

The amendments are in conformity with WCT and WPPT, wherein through a new section in the Act, it is proposed to ensure protection to the right holders against circumvention of effective technological measures for protection of his rights like breaking of passwords.

Other amendments made in the music and film industry include provision of statutory licence for version recordings and authorship to ensure that while making a sound recording of any literary, dramatic or musical work the interest of the copyright holder is duly protected.

A clause for addressing the concerns of the physically challenged has been introduced, which aims at giving a fair deal to such people by allowing the production of copies of copyright material in formats specially designed for the physically challenged.

The physically challenged need access to copyright material in specialised formats like Braille text, talking text, electronic text and large print for the visually challenged, and sign language for the aurally challenged.

Currently the cost of production of materials in such formats is very high. With additional requirement of royalty payments the price of such materials to the target groups would be even higher.

Maruti Eeco MPV to be launched at 2010 Auto Expo

Maruti Suzuki, which already dominates the Indian small car market with their massive range of compact cars, is now gearing up to launch yet another model named ‘Eeco’ at the upcoming Auto Expo 2010. The company, which will replace its already-bombed ‘Versa’, next month, will be launching the aforesaid compact multi purpose vehicle on 7th January’10. India’s leading carmaker claims that the new MPV is likely to find takers in the rural markets; where such vehicles are used as a means of transport. Pegged as a family car with dual usage (cargo plus passengers), it has been built on the Versa platform and Maruti expects to sell about 40,000 Eecos in the first year. It is BS IV compliant and comes strapped with a 1200 cc petrol engine {and returns 15.1Km to a litre of petrol (as per ARAI). To be sold in three variants: 5-seater standard, 5-seater AC and a 7 seater, the car will be under C segment and is likely to be priced below Rs. 4 lakh.

Shashank Srivastava, chief GM for Maruti Suzuki, said, “The Versa was perhaps positioned incorrectly. Its initial positioning was two luxury cars in one - but customers did not view the Versa as a luxury car. We have learnt from customer feedback and the Eeco is not being positioned as a luxury vehicle at all. In fact, it will be priced lower than the Versa". Srivastava also asserted that the Omni van was selling well and, together with the Eeco, Maruti would aim for a larger slice of the 'C' segment that accounts for 8,000-10,000 unit sales per month. Depending on demand, the Eeco may also be launched in the cargo version.

The 1196ccc engine of Eeco generates 73bhp of raw power at 6000rpm and a high torque of 101Nm@3000rpm. The Eeco uses the 5 speed manual transmission system with the Diagonal Shift Assistance (DSA) technology which allows for a gear change without any break in continuity of the action, thereby improving the gear shift feeling. It will be available in six colours – Metallic Glistening grey, metallic silky silver, Metallic Midnight Black, Metallic Blue Blaze, Bright Red and Superior White. Furthermore, the Eeco is ELV (End of Life for Vehicles) compliant which means it uses Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Chromium within permissible limits.

According to Maruti’s official note, “Eeco is India’s answer to the big fat Indian family car. Functional in nature, Eeco has balanced design proportions. While the 155/R13LT sized tubeless tyres add to the smooth, yet powerful drive with a good grip on the road, the dual tone interiors in shades of beige and grey provide a rich and spacious feeling. Since its passenger-orieneted, the seats have been especially designed with integrated head-rest to make for a comfortable ride. Sliding doors eases entry and exit for passengers even in congested road conditions and the digital meter cluster adds to the driver convenience.”

Maruti Suzuki managing executive officer (engineering) I.V. Rao said, “The new car represents the growing expertise of our engineers to conceive, design and produce vehicles here. This is also in line with parent Suzuki Corp’s vision of turning India into a global hub for small car research and development.”

KCR dares Centre to delay Telangana

NEW DELHI: Incidents of violence, resignations from elected Telangana leaders, and dire threats to the Central government to immediately begin the creation of the new state took centrestage on Thursday in response to the Centre’s statement on Wednesday mooting “wide-ranging consultations” before proceeding on the Telangana commitment.

This forced the Centre to seriously mull a second states reorganization commission but TRS’ K Chandrasekhara Rao was quick to shoot down the proposal. Congress’ Telangana MPs demanded a time-frame for the creation of the new state.

Mr Rao made an impassioned speech to the Joint Action Committee formed by Telangana leaders from his party, the Congress, TDP and PRP, warning the Centre that dithering on its Telangana promise would spark a fire "which even the military will not be able to control". He spoke of Telangana as having a “history of sacrifices” and said “the people...would not be afraid of laying down their lives".

Backing up his words, the leader sent in his resignation as MP along with another TRS MP, while 11 Congress MPs and two from TDP also sent in their resignations. Though TRS and TDP leaders sent in their resignation to the Speakers of the Lok Sabha and state assembly, Congress MPs and several Congress MLAs faxed their resignations to party chief Sonia Gandhi. A total of 82 out of the Telangana 119 MLAs sent in their resignations to the Speaker or Ms Gandhi, as the case may be.

The violence in the protest against the Centre’s move to put the Telangana decision on hold began on Wednesday night itself near the Osmania University Campus in Hyderabad. By Thursday, it swelled further on the first day of the bandh called by the TRS. The shutdown has been called off on Christmas day but is unlikely to put an end to the on-going protests. TDP MLAs Nagam Janardhana Reddy and E Dayakar Rao who went to express solidarity with the Telangana cause were attacked on the Osmania University Campus and students damaged and upturned their vehicles.

Violent protests were also reported from other regions of Telangana with state transport and private buses being burnt, government offices being set on fire and protesters blocking rail and vehicular traffic.
Mr Rao’s appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Ms Gandhi was backed by Congress’ own Telangana MLAs. “There is some confusion after the Centre’s statement on Wednesday night. There is no retraction on the formation of the state but there is nothing to suggest that it will take any further steps either. We just want to the Centre to spell out the time-frame for the new state. We are not against consultations,” Mr Ponnam Prabhakar, who was among the 11 MPs who faxed their resignations to Ms Gandhi said. The Congress leaders have sought time to meet Ms Gandhi but were unsuccessful and instead met her political secretary Ahmed Patel on Thursday. Nizamabad MP Madhu Yaskhi Goud said that Mr Patel had promised them that the Congress would not go back on its Telangana promise.

Thirteen state ministers of the Congress, who hail from Telangana also wanted to quit but were stopped by chief minister K Rosaiah who made a strong appeal for clam and peace in the state on Thursday morning as the agitation appeared to be getting out of hand.

ET Bureau

UN: Climate Deal Depends on India, China, Brazil, South Africa

23 December 2009

Copenhagen Climate Summit Ends with Meaningful First Step Deal

The head of a United Nations panel on climate change says several developing nations have emerged as key players for any future deal on global warming.

Speaking in New Delhi on Wednesday, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the emergence of India, China, Brazil and South Africa as a grouping was the most significant outcome of the climate talks in Copenhagen.

The four countries form what is called the BASIC group. Pachauri says developed nations will not be able to craft an agreement on climate change without them.

But he also had a warning for India, which says it safeguarded its interests by not signing a legally binding carbon emission cut.

Pachauri said India cannot allow its "words or actions to be interpreted as being only in India's national interest."

The next global meeting on climate change is scheduled for next year in Mexico.

On Tuesday, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi by phone to discuss continued cooperation on climate change.

Also Tuesday, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh hailed efforts by the BASIC group in thwarting what he called "relentless efforts" by rich countries to impose legally binding targets for carbon emission cuts.

He also said India is satisfied with the outcome of the Copenhagen summit, partly because the gathering failed to reach a legally binding agreement on specific targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Eight Indian-origin CEOs at big US cos: Forbes

New York, Dec 22 (PTI) People with Indian roots are fast climbing up the American corporate ladder and today there are as many as eight such CEOs including the likes of Indra Nooyi and Vikram Pandit, who run big US corporations, according to a Forbes list titled, 'Eight Indian CEOs At Big US Companies.'

PepsiCo's Madras-born Indra Nooyi tops the list Indian-origin CEOs in the US.

"The chief executive of PepsiCo would be prominent no matter what. The fact that the current one--Indra Nooyi--is an Indian immigrant makes her all the more noteworthy," Forbes said.

The Nagpur-born Vikram Pandit, the embattled CEO of the ailing Wall Street giant Citigroup, is the other prominent native Indian in the corner office.

US, UK protest as India gets tough on visas

TNN 23 December 2009,

NEW DELHI: The tightening of visa norms following the unearthing of terror missions of Lashkar jihadi David Coleman Headley has raised a storm of protests from countries such as UK and US.

The new rules, to be notified next week, will apply to anyone needing a visa to come to India, even those of Indian origin. Essentially, they will stop the current system where an Indian tourist visa doubled up as a business visa.

The new rules say that if you are in India on a tourist visa and have stayed for over 90 days, you need to take a two-month "time-out" before returning.

This will hit hard thousands of foreign nationals living in India on long-term tourist visas. They prefer tourist visas to avoid the cumbersome process involved in securing a visa that can give them the right to residency.

There is another category which will be affected by the change in visa regime -- foreigners who arrive in India on tourist visas and use the country as the base for travel to nearby nations.

The change, prompted by the discovery of how Headley moved in and out of the country while plotting terror strikes against India, has caught many foreign tourists unawares, provoking howls of protest. The MEA too has asked the home ministry to reconsider these provisions, which are seen as drastic by many.

Headley was in India on a multiple-entry long-term visa when he charted out terror targets for Laskhar-e-Toiba. The videos prepared by him during his reccee of Mumbai were used by Lashkar terrorists in the 26/11 attack.

The protests have already led the home ministry to introduce a "rider" to make things easier, but this has not abated calls for a review of the decision.

British business secretary Lord Peter Mandelson, who is in India, met home minister P Chidambaram to request that the government rethink the visa policy. He said it would hurt British tourists who make India a base while travelling in the region.

The British High Commission confirmed to TOI that a letter had been sent to the Indian government over the last two days, asking for a review of the proposed visa guidelines.

Officials later indicated they would be "flexible" if, at the time of applying for a visa, the applicant tells the Indian visa officer that he will also be travelling to other countries in the region, using India as a hub. The visa will reflect the itinerary of the tourist, affording him more flexibility.

But it will entail, just like in any other country with multiple-entry visa norms, considerable paperwork. Here too, the discretion will lie with the visa officer concerned, which is always ground for irregularities.

Some government departments have questioned whether there is enough manpower to deal with the increased paperwork.

The issue represents the tussle between competing objectives of effective counter-terrorism and boosting tourism. While government feels that easier visa norms make it possible for terrorists like Headley and, early on, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammad Maulana Masood Azhar, to seek to target India, a tighter visa regime is fraught with the risk of putting off tourists.

Business visa norms have already been tightened after the government decided to clamp down on their misuse to bring in Chinese workers. Now, these workers will be required to take employment visas.

For Pakistan origin people from third countries, coming to India now will become a story of long waits because their visas will have to be processed by the home ministry in Delhi, which is not known for its efficiency or fast pace. This means Indian families with kin in Pakistan or other countries will find it difficult to have family events without going through interminable waits at the visa offices.

This would apply to people with third country passports but who have a Pakistani parent or even grandparent.

You may have to wait till April 2010 for mobile number portability

Dec 2009

NEW DELHI: The mobile users in India may now have to wait till April 2010 to be able to enjoy mobile number portability (MNP) services, a facility Facts on Indians mobile connections
Are touch-screen cellphones user-unfriendly?

that allows users to change their operator while retaining the number.

MNP was earlier scheduled to be implemented from January 1, 2010, in metros and large circles, while the rest of the country was slated to have access to this from April. At a review meeting on Friday to evaluate MNP preparedness between operators, DoT and Trai officials agreed to extend the deadline for metros to April 2010.

Both private operators and state-run telecom firms - BSNL and MTNL - during the meet said that while equipment for MNP was already in place, they can be tested and commission only by March next year.

In another move that could derail the implementation of MNP in the country, the home ministry has also pointed out that minority shareholders of US-based Telcordia Technologies were only a front, and had no experience in running telecom operations.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nifty ends below 5000 Mark

Friday, December 18, 2009

Indian markets ended lower today amid losses in Asian markets and a decline in realty and oil & gas counters. The Sensex fell 174 points to end at 16,719.

On the NSE, Nifty ended at 4,987, down 54 points.

Realty, oil & gas and banking stocks led the broad based decline in the markets. The BSE realty lost 2 per cent. Sobha Developers, Orbit Corp and Unitech shed over 3 per cent each.

The oil & gas index on the BSE fell 1.7 per cent. RIL and Gail India were down more than 2 per cent each.

Bank stocks also ended lower today. IDBI fell 3.2 per cent and Bank of India dropped 2.4 per cent. ICICI Bank also slipped 2 per cent to Rs 808.

In the Sensex pack, Reliance Industries was the top loser. The stock ended 2.3 per cent lower at Rs 1,010. Sterlite Ind and ICICI Bank shed more than 2 per cent each.

Tata Motors, however, was the biggest gainer. The stock closed up 3 per cent at Rs 732.

Asian stock markets retreated on Friday as worries — from weak job figures in the U.S. to the prospect of more stringent capital requirements for banks — checked appetite for riskier assets. European indexes rose.

Most Asian markets, fatigued after a massive rally since March, were down about 1 percent or less while the dollar fell from a three-month high against the euro but rose versus the yen.

Negotiations back on track; India says pressure paid off

Copenhagen, Dec 17 (PTI) India today said "sustained pressure" applied by the developing countries had led to the resumption of the two-track climate negotiations here, hours after the process appeared floundering as a group of developed nations worked on a secret document.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said the negotiations had resumed on the two track process, even as he hailed the US announcement on a USD 100 billion annual financing fund as a "very important step".

"I think one good thing happened today, the negotiations have resumed on the two track process. I think the sustained pressure brought to bear by the developing countries has paid off," he said later.

He said India has a 75 per cent agreement with the US on "transparency" while 25 per cent disagreement (rpt) disagreement on "Monitoring, Reporting and Verification".

Monday, December 14, 2009

No solution in sight for political crisis in Andhra

Hyderabad December 14, 2009

The political crisis in Andhra Pradesh, triggered by the Telangana issue, showed no signs of easing on Sunday. It was not clear from the ministers, who had yesterday decided to quit opposing the formation of Telangana, if they would press for acceptance of their resignations or withdraw them. The ministers, all hailing from the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, are likely to spell out their stand soon.

Andhra Pradesh Congress committee president D Srinivas hoped that no minister would step down and appealed to the legislators to withdraw resignations. The developments in the state have been conveyed to the Congress high command and the latter would take a decision on the matter. Ministers from the Telangana region are expected to meet shortly to chalk out their future strategy.

Congress senior legislator JC Diwakar Reddy, who was the first to submit his resignation, asked the Centre to depute an emissary to clarify doubts that arose after the central party issued statements on the Telangana issue.

Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) president K Chiranjeevi today met chief minister K Rosaiah at the latter’s residence and submitted a memorandum urging him to take steps for maintenance of law and order in the state. Chiranjeevi later told reporters that his party MLAs had submitted resignations in deference to the wishes of people of their respective constituencies.

Telugu Desam (TDP) MLAs Devineni Umamaheswara Rao (Mylavaram) and Chinnam Ramakotaiah (Nuzividu), former mayor of Vijayawada city P Anuradha and party leader B Umamaheswara Rao sat on an indefinite hunger strike in Vijayawada, the epicentre of the anti-Telangana protests.

Andhra MP Rajagopal arrested at Hyderabad airport

14 Dec 2009,

HYDERABAD: Congress MP from Vijayawada L. Rajagopal was arrested Monday at the airport here soon after he landed to launch an indefinite fast to oppose the proposed division of Andhra Pradesh, police said.

Tension prevailed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad on the city outskirts as Rajagopal's supporters tried to resist the arrest.

Police have taken Rajagopal to an undisclosed location in view of threats by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), student bodies and Congress leaders from Telangana region to stop him from launching any protest here.

The industrialist, whose Lanco Group of companies has huge business interests in Hyderabad, is against the central government's decision to give separate statehood to Telangana region, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad.

As tension was mounting in the city following TRS' allegations that Rajagopal was bringing hired goons from Vijayawada to create trouble in Hyderabad, police Sunday night raided several hotels and lodges in the city and arrested several supporters of the MP.

Andhra and Rayalseema regions of the state are witnessing protests for the last four days against the government's decision to initiate the process for granting separate statehood to Telangana

Volkswagen rolled out its first made-in-India car 'Polo'

The German Auto major Volkswagen rolled out its first made-in-India car ‘Polo’ at its plant at Chakan, near here in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

Chavan who welcomed the company's decision to set up Rs 3,800 crore plant at Pune with an annual capacity of manufacturing 110,000 cars, said the state government would extend support to it to achieve its full capacity utilization at the earliest.

"We have promised our voters that we will solve the energy problem in Maharashtra and put stop to load shedding in next three years," he said, adding that the government was committed to remove all difficulties relating to development of infrastructure for industrial growth.

The Chief Minister said the government was looking out for more employment generation opportunities and appealed to foreign investors to consider opening their new plants in backward regions of the state such as Vidarbha, Konkan and Marathwada.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tremors felt in Mumbai and western Maharashtra

Mumbai, Dec 12 (PTI)

Mumbai and parts of western Maharashtra experienced mild tremors this evening.

Tremors were felt in Sangli, Osmanabad, Ratnagiri and Satara districts and minor shocks were felt in Mumbai suburbs.

There were no immediate reports of any damage to life or property due to the quake, sources said.

The intensity of the tremors on the Richter scale was being ascertained, they said.

In Mumbai, a number of people felt mild tremors, and the police control room received several calls.

Volkswagen rolled out its first made-in-India car 'Polo'

Saturday , Dec 12, 2009

The German Auto major Volkswagen rolled out its first made-in-India car ‘Polo’ at its plant at Chakan, near here in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

Chavan who welcomed the company's decision to set up Rs 3,800 crore plant at Pune with an annual capacity of manufacturing 110,000 cars, said the state government would extend support to it to achieve its full capacity utilization at the earliest.

"We have promised our voters that we will solve the energy problem in Maharashtra and put stop to load shedding in next three years," he said, adding that the government was committed to remove all difficulties relating to development of infrastructure for industrial growth.

The Chief Minister said the government was looking out for more employment generation opportunities and appealed to foreign investors to consider opening their new plants in backward regions of the state such as Vidarbha, Konkan and Marathwada.

Violence mars bandh on united AP

December 12th, 2009
Bandh in support of unified state was successful amid tensions in Anantapur, Kadapa and Kurnool districts on Friday. In some places, windowpanes of buses and lorries were broken.

In Anantapur district, protesters stalled traffic on all highways, including National Highway No. 7. As thousands of RTC and private buses were stopped, organisations suffered loss to the tune of lakhs of rupees. Protesters torched the jeep of panchayat raj at Gooty. Activists of all parties and organisations took out a huge rally in Anantapur. Rail rokos were organised in Anantapur, Guntakal, Dharmavaram, Chennekothapalli, Penugonda and Hindupur.

Bees stung students, who tried to climb water tank in the Sri Krishnadevaraya University, to commit suicide. Among the six students injured, three were shifted to the Anantapur government hospital. All offices and business establishments were closed.

In Kadapa district, effigies of the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and the TRS president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, were set on fire at various places.

Councillors of Badvel and Rajampet municipalities and local body members resigned en masse. Lawyers boycotted courts and took out rallies. Several youth tried to commit suicide by climbing cellphone towers, water tanks and high rising buildings at various places.

The police prevented CK Dinne sarpanch Nagendraprasad Reddy, former Utukur MPTC member Satyanarayana Reddy from torching themselves.

Some persons destroyed Yerraguntla bus stand on Thursday night. Four RTC buses and 10 lorries were destroyed in Kadapa, Rayachoti and Pulivendula. Protesters damaged RTC inquiry office in Pulivendula RTC depot.

The police prevented protesters from damaging RTC buses of Telangana districts in Kadapa RTC garage. Congress Sevadal leader Nityananda Reddy and some others were taken into custody. Lorries of Telangana districts were destroyed at various places. Several trains were stopped. As heavy trees were felled, traffic was hit on Mydukur-Proddutur highway.

In Kurnool district, students broke windowpanes of two buses and two students attempted suicide in Nandyal area. Protesters damaged head post office, railway station and two private banks in Nandyal town.

Protesters also attacked ticket counter in Adoni railway station and MPDO office at Tuggali. Pilgrims were hit as bandh was total at Mantralayam.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Volks Wagon, Suzuki could create auto powerhouse in India

Mumbai, Dec. 9

Volkswagen and Suzuki could end up becoming an automobile powerhouse in India in the coming years following their decision to go in for a global cross-holding of equity.

VW will buy 19.9-per cent stake in Suzuki for ¥222.5 billion or $2.5 billion by January and the latter would invest half the amount to pick up a stake in the German carmaker. The companies said they had reached a common understanding to establish a close long-term strategic partnership. The goal is to establish a cooperative relationship while respecting each other's independence. Both VW and Suzuki also plan a joint approach to the growing worldwide demand for more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Suzuki is one of the biggest car brands in India thanks to the Maruti association for over 25 years now. In contrast, VW is a new entrant and due to launch its first locally made car, the Polo, early next year. VW's arm, Skoda, has been here for some time and carved a niche for itself as a premium brand.

Till not so long ago, General Motors had a 20 per cent stake in Suzuki and was tipped to use this as a plank to grow its India business. However, GM decided to buy out the ailing Daewoo business in South Korea and exited Suzuki.

How will the Suzuki-VW script pan out in India? For the Japanese carmaker, the biggest plus is access to VW's diesel engine technology. It now uses the GM-Fiat 1.3-litre diesel powertrain but will be inclined to moving to VW in the medium term.

Asked about the implications of the deal, Mr R. C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki, said: “The partnership would help in R&D areas and for entering new markets for both companies, where one may not have had presence before.”

For VW, the partnership will mean a foothold in Suzuki's cost-competitive foundation carefully built over the years. Localisation is the biggest challenge and VW may not have to worry much on this score now thanks to Suzuki and its robust in-house base of critical parts.

Sources say VW could even consider sourcing Suzuki's petrol engines till it reaches the kind of volumes that justify local manufacture of its own range. In fact, the possibilities of a Fiat sourcing arrangement for diesel engines cannot be ruled out, they add.

Both companies will, however, continue with their individual branding strategies in India. Synergies will help in keeping costs in check or sharing common platforms but the retail efforts will be exclusive.

VW buys $2.5 bn stake in Suzuki, a foothold in India

Dec 10, 2009

Europe’s Volkswagen will buy 19.9 per cent stake in Indian carmaker Maruti’s Japanese parent Suzuki for about $2.5 billion, a move aimed at enhancing its presence in small car segment in Asia.

Maruti Suzuki accounts for over half the cars on Indian roads, giving Volkswagen the volumes it needs to topple Toyota as the world’s largest carmaker with an estimated sales of seven million units this year. In return, Suzuki would benefit from the European company’s expertise in hybrid cars. “The automobile industry is going through a fundamental shift. Alliances are at the top of the agenda and they are indispensable for competition,” Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was quoted by Bloomberg as having told reporters in Japan.

While Volkswagen would pay $2.5 billion (over Rs 11,500 crore) for the partnership that will focus on making cars for emerging markets, Suzuki would use half of this amount to buy Volkswagen shares.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MiG-29Ks for Gorshkov aircraft carrier reach India

New Delhi, Dec 5 (PTI) Ending a year-long wait, the first batch of MiG-29K naval fighter jets, purchased from Russia for the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, arrived in Goa last evening, three years ahead of the warship.

These MiG-29Ks are part of the 16 ordered for USD 526 million in 2004 along with Gorshkov, which is expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy only by 2012-end.

"The first batch of the MiG-29K fighters' parts have landed in INS Hansa, the naval air station in Goa, last evening," Navy spokesperson Commander P V S Satish said here today.

The aircraft parts, packed in containers in a knocked down condition, landed here by an AN-124 cargo aircraft, considered to be the biggest operational military aircraft of Russian-Ukrainian origin.

Major cities at risk from rising sea level threat

December 2009
The predicted rise in sea levels would engulf island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific, devastate coastal cities such as Calcutta and Dhaka and force London, New York and Shanghai to spend billions on flood defences

Sea levels will rise by twice as much as previously predicted as a result of global warming, an important international study has concluded.

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) calculated that if temperatures continued to increase at the present rate, by 2100 the sea level would rise by up to 1.4 metres — twice that predicted two years ago.

Such a rise in sea levels would engulf island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific, devastate coastal cities such as Calcutta and Dhaka and force London, New York and Shanghai to spend billions on flood defences.

Even if the average global temperature increases by only 2C — the target set for next week’s Copenhagen summit — sea levels could still rise by 50cm, double previous forecasts, according to the report.

SCAR, a partnership of 35 of the world’s leading climate research institutions, made the prediction in the report Antarctic Climate Change and Climate. It far exceeds the 0.59 metre rise by the end of the century quoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. This was based on a “business as usual” approach by governments that allowed temperatures to rise by 4 degrees. It will underpin the negotiations in Copenhagen.

SCAR scientists said that the IPCC underestimated grossly how much the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets would contribute to total sea-level rises.

One of the world’s leading experts on climate science has called for the world to intensify efforts to control global warming by actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

In an interview with The Times, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said that geo-engineering, where carbon is stripped from the atmosphere using specialist technologies, would be necessary to control runaway damage to the climate. “At some point we will have to cross over and start sucking some of those gases out of the atmosphere.”

He added that world leaders meeting in Copenhagen should aim for a tighter target of no more than a 1.5C rise in global temperatures.

The IPCC report predicted that the melting of ice sheets would contribute about 20 per cent of the total rise in sea levels, with the majority coming from the melting of glaciers and the expansion of the water as it warms. It said that it was not able to predict the impact of melting ice sheets, but suggested this could add 10-20cm.

The SCAR report uses detailed climate observations over the past century linking temperature to sea levels to produce a more sophisticated estimate. It puts the likely contribution from ice sheets at more than 50 per cent.

The calculations were carried out by Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor of Physics of the Oceans at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Sceptics seized upon his figures as further evidence of the unreliability of climate change predictions.

“It’s 50cm, 60cm, 100cm — 60m if you ask James Hansen from Nasa,” said Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation . “The predictions come in thick and fast, but we take them all with a pinch of salt. We look out of the window and it’s very cold, it doesn’t seem to be warming. We’re very concerned that 100-year policies are being made on the basis of these predictions”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cricket-India on top rankings

Sun Dec 6, 2009

India won the final test against Sri Lanka by an innings and 24 runs on Sunday to clinch the three-match series 2-0 and secure their place at the top of the test rankings for the first time.

Sri Lanka may have thwarted India through the fourth day, but Zaheer Khan sliced through the remaining four wickets to take India to a 2-0 series win and the No. 1 spot in the ICC rankings. Zaheer started with a ripper in the first over to get rid of Kumar Sangakkar and finished his best performance of the series with his eighth five-wicket haul. This was the third time in the last four years that India had won two matches in a row; two of those braces came against Sri Lanka.

In comparison with day four, the end came swift. Sangakkara was yet to get his eye in again when Zaheer bowled the perfect left-armer's outswinger that took the edge. After that it was all a matter of time: both Rangana Herath and Nuwan Kulasekara succumbed to sharp short deliveries from Zaheer. Muttiah Muralitharan scored a quick 14 but edged Harbhajan Singh to MS Dhoni to kick off India's celebrations.

India wrapped up the tail in 7.4 overs to seal a 2-0 series victory that saw them displace South Africa at the top of the test rankings.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sehwag at 293 short of 7 for a world record third triple-century -India 726-9

Sehwag's 293, a robust 100 not out from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and a string of half-centuries by the middle order fired the hosts to their highest ever total of 726-9 declared in reply to Sri Lanka's 393.

The tourists, trailing by 333 runs on the first innings, were 11-0 in their second knock at stumps on the third day on a wearing track at the Brabourne stadium.

Tharanga Paranavitana and Tillakaratne Dilshan survived three overs of spin before close, but Sri Lanka face a daunting task to avoid defeat over the next two days.

India's total surpassed their previous best of 705-7 declared against Australia at the Sydney cricket ground in January, 2004.

Sehwag had moved from his overnight score of 284 to 293 when he tapped a flighted ball from Muttiah Muralitharan back to the bowler who took the catch on second attempt.

A hush descended at the stadium where some 15,000 home fans had packed the stands anticipating a world record by the swashbuckling opener.

Sehwag returned to a warm applause for his 254-ball effort which was studded with 40 boundaries and seven sixes.

Off-spinner Muralitharan's first success after 21 overs costing 124 runs broke a second-wicket stand of 237 between Sehwag and Rahul Dravid that had lifted India to 458-2.

Sehwag's two triple centuries, matching Australian legend Don Bradman and West Indian great Brian Lara, were 309 against Pakistan in Multan in 2004 and 319 versus South Africa in Chennai last year.

Dravid fell soon after for 74, edging a wild drive off seamer Chanka Welegedara to wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene to make it 487-3.

Dravid, who survived a confident appeal for a catch at the wicket off Rangana Herath earlier in the morning, hit five boundaries and a six.

But Sri Lanka's misery under the hot sun did not end as the famed Indian middle order flexed its muscle to lead a run-riot.

Sachin Tendulkar hit 53, sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 71 with Venkatsai Laxman, when he was bowled by seamer Nuwan Kulasekara soon after lunch.

Laxman chipped in with 62 and Yuvraj Singh made 23, before both were dismissed before tea on a dusty pitch that provided turn to the slow bowlers.

Dhoni dominated the last session with a sparkling century that was achieved with a six off Herath over the mid-wicket boundary.

The Indian captain, who was on 50 when the ninth wicket fell, hit 50 off the last 56 runs in the company of number 11 Pragyan Ojha, who made just five.

Dhoni finished with six sixes and three boundaries, closing the innings as soon as he reached his hundred.

All the four specialist Sri Lankan bowlers conceded over 100 runs with Herath being the most expensive with 3-240 from 53.3 overs. Muralitharan finished with 4-195 from 51 overs.

India lead the three-match series 1-0 after an innings and 144-run victory in the second Test in Kanpur last week

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

India could be a new pole of global growth: World Bank president

Dec 01

Change is the great constant of the world economy. India was still a colony when the allied powers shaped the international architecture at the end of World War Two. Today, India is a rising economic power that is contributing to world growth in new and powerful ways.

With India’s strong human capital and cutting-edge innovation, it is clear the knowledge and technology content — the real competitive smart-edge of India’s exports — is going to rise.Economic reforms in India and China, and the export-driven growth strategies of East Asia all contributed in the last 20 years to a world market economy that surged from about 1 billion to 4 or 5 billion people. This shift offers enormous opportunities. But it has also shaken an international economic system forged in the middle of the 20th Century.

The international architecture needs to accommodate India and other powers whose growth rates far exceed those of developed countries. We must recognise this reality and anticipate the future — shape it or be shaped by it.

India is already an indispensable part of the global conversation. Its voice at the G-20 table is an important force for designing a future global architecture, not least because it has well-managed the impact of the economic crisis and is helping support the world’s recovery.

Shifting influence is also reflected in the numbers. As India’s $1.2 trillion economy returns to growth rates of eight to nine per cent, we can expect it to grow not only as a market but as a supplier of a range of services and increasingly knowledge-intensive goods.

With India’s strong human capital and cutting-edge innovation, it is clear the knowledge and technology content — the real competitive smart-edge of India’s exports — is going to rise. India’s increasing globalisation will be driven by the country becoming a source for some of these specialised products. As it further integrates with global production chains, it will do so not by making more of the same, but by making products of new value.

Of course, India still faces enormous challenges as a developing country yet if it can remove bottlenecks that slow its economy, then India is well positioned to become one of the new poles of global growth.

India will need innovative financing to move on its massive infrastructure agenda. I hope the World Bank Group can help to attract global partnerships for knowledge and funding. Access to finance is another area where changes will mean a difference to the lives of millions of citizens, that difference being a share in the opportunity of India’s growth.

There are also huge technology advances that India can put to work to make government more efficient, to make service delivery easier to monitor and track, and public financial flows more visible. Half a billion Indians now have cell phones.

This translates into a powerful information flow to — and critically from — some of the remotest and poorest areas.
A sustainable globalisation means an India that shares some of its remarkable achievements more widely. Call it South-South cooperation or good global citizenship, India has much to offer the world: lessons from its model of economic development; cooperation between private and public sectors to generate microeconomic efficiency and macroeconomic stability; working on global financial regulation as part of the G-20 task forces; and considering ways forward on migration and cross-border labour mobility.

Everyone cites India’s Green Revolution. But I’m even more intrigued by what is known as SRI, or system of rice intensification, and I know this is also an area of interest for PM Manmohan Singh. Using smart water management and planting practices, farmers in Tamil Nadu have increased rice yields between 30 and 80 per cent, reduced water use by 30 per cent, and now require significantly less fertilizer. This emerging technology not only addresses food security but also the water scarcity challenge that climate change is making all the more dangerous. These are all lessons for our world.

India’s status as a rising economic power is closely connected with how it can create opportunity and inclusion. It’s not an option to exclude hundreds of millions of Indians from the country’s growing prosperity. One in three of the world’s poor are in India and the country has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world, with 44 per cent of children born underweight. Actions to address poverty widely — and education, health, rural roads and livelihoods more specifically —have a renewed urgency.

The World Bank Group can support India through assistance with urban development, transport and power infrastructure; elementary and secondary education; and agricultural and rural development. India is now the biggest client for IFC, the group’s private sector arm, with $1 billion a year invested over the last three years. IFC is improving access to infrastructure and finance, and addressing climate change as central to its work. Working together, India and the World Bank Group can become even stronger partners as India rises both at home and abroad.

Dubai tourism already pressured by the global economic downturn

Nov. 30, 2009,

With its massive residential, commercial and leisure developments built on oil revenue (and, as it turns out, a foundation of shaky debt), Dubai has been steadily modeling itself for more than a decade into an upscale tourist destination and a regional entrepot for those people and companies looking to do business in the Persian Gulf region.

Already pressured by the global economic downturn, its success could be in further danger as Dubai World, the emirate's investment and holding arm, teeters on the edge of defaulting on $60 billion worth of debt. Those IOUs piled up during its relentless expansion of domestic and foreign investments, largely in real estate.

Dubai Will Hang Over Market SentimentDubai's debt problem may be small in the greater scale of things but it could still have ramifications for how other sovereign-related debt is treated and cap any recovery in global risk appetite.
In addition to major projects on its home turf, Dubai World owns about 6% of the outstanding shares of casino giant MGM Mirage and a half stake in that company's CityCenter project -- an $8 billion-plus mixed-use development on the Las Vegas Strip. At one point earlier this year, the partners were busily suing each other over Dubai's World financial obligations to get the project finished, an early sign of the country's troubles.

All was eventually settled amicably with CityCenter being fully funded and on track to open its first phase next month. On Monday, Jim Murren, chief executive of MGM Mirage, acknowledged the company has "no financial exposure" to Dubai World's troubles and noted the partners negotiated a cross-default provision as part of the agreement.

Global aspirations
Long an island of peace and prosperity in a volatile region, the relatively laid-back emirate has had considerable success attracting visitors drawn by everything from its world-class horse races (sans gambling) and an indoor ski slope to the chance to buy into "the World" -- a development of 300 man-made islands arranged roughly in the shape of the seven continents.

Its government takes a far more relaxed approach to recreation than most of its neighbors, with alcohol freely available and beach attire common. There are no cane-wielding clerics patrolling the streets, and while it is far from say, New Orleans when it comes to atmosphere, it is practically Gomorrah compared with other nations in the region, like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

That has attracted both homegrown and international chains to build out thousands of rooms, with Hilton Hotels, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. , Hyatt Hotels Corp. , Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC and Marriott International Inc among the companies boasting branded properties there.

By some measures, things have held together relatively well during the recession. Tourist arrivals to Dubai were up 5% through the first half of 2009, largely on the back of slashed hotel rates and an aggressive marketing campaign. Its Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said 3.85 million visitors came in the first half of the year. In contrast, 10 years ago Dubai had about 3 million visitors annually; 20 years ago, it was barely 600,000.

Dubai World

However, while the total number of guests staying at hotels is up so far this year, a glut of new supply has dragged down average occupancy to less than 70% from the more than 87% experienced between January and June last year, according to a survey by STR Global.

Dubai ended the first half with about 58,000 hotel rooms, an increase of 17%, and thousands more are due to enter the pipeline in the next few years. (Las Vegas, which also is suffering in the downturn, has just more than twice as many hotel rooms but about five times as many annual visitors.)

Worse, revenue per available room, a key industry metric known as RevPAR, fell by 36% just last month, STR said, as rates were slashed. A cursory check of online-travel sites will turn up four- and even five-star hotel properties offering accommodations for as little as $100 a night.

Those drops are taking a toll even as oil prices stay near the $80 mark. Unlike some of the other emirates like Abu Dhabi, Dubai gets just 6% of its revenue from oil and gas. Production peaked in the early 1990s, the same time it began marketing itself as a commercial center and began a building boom that continued until the bottom fell out of the global real-estate markets last year.

"There was lot of development, a lot of high-end hotels and retailers moving in, trying to make Dubai a luxury destination," said Michelle Chang, an analyst with Morningstar. "The downturn put a damper on that."

Longer term, the prospects for a rebound "are hard to say, but in the near term, the added capacity is likely to put added pressures on all the operators," she elaborated.

Globally, with capacity growth slowing down, Chang added that "generally speaking for 2010, we are expecting occupancy to stabilize but room rates to remain fairly depressed."

Market watch Reports

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sensex soars on robust Q2 data, easing Dubai woes

Mumbai, Nov 30 (PTI) The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex today snapped the two-day 3.3 per cent losses, to close with a significant gain of over 294 points or 1.71 per cent, driven by the more than expected GDP growth at 7.9 per cent amid easing tension in the Dubai debt crisis.

The Sensex, which had lost 223 points on Friday on the Dubai bubble, recovered to close with a gain of 294.21 points to 16,926.22 soon after a report showed the economy grew by a significant 7.9 per cent in the second quarter of this fiscal, up from 6.1 per cent in the previous quarter. This is the fastest GDP growth in over 18 months.

The Benchmark touched the day's high of 17,026.91 during the day, as 26 of the 30-BSE Sensex counters closed higher and four ended lower.

Reactions to India's Q2 GDP growth of 7.9%

30 Nov 2009, REUTERS Report

NEW DELHI: India's economy grew by 7.9 percent in the quarter through September from a year earlier, shattering forecasts as stimulus measures boosted demand and manufacturing activity surged.

Here are reactions to the GDP figures:

ATSI SHETH, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MACRO-SUTRA "Our sense is that this was a quarter where we had three excellent factors; abundant liquidity, global recovery and domestic demand was stimulated. So while the headline number has surprised on the upside, it hasn't yet blown all future expectations out of the water." "We think this will be the highest growth rate this fiscal year as agriculture will be a drag in the third quarter, which was the harvest season. We expect a negative number for agriculture in the third quarter.

"On the fiscal side, we think they will remove some measures introduced in 2008 next fiscal year, while the RBI is already poised to raise rates in January. We do not think this number will bring forward or delay the central bank's decision as the situation is yet not clear about the extent of post-festival moderation though it is clear growth momentum is strong enough not to be collapse on account of a rate hike."

RUPA REGE NITSURE, CHIEF ECONOMIST, BANK OF BARODA, MUMBAI: "Numbers are a big surprise, but I still feel there is a concern for sustainability. In the third quarter the agriculture growth is bound to be negative and if the rabi (winter) crop is also a problem, then the overall GDP growth is also bound to suffer."

"We are expecting growth at 6.5 percent with upward bias for the year as a whole. As long as credit doesn't pick up sizeably, the Reserve Bank of India is unlikely to hike rates."

A. PRASANNA, ECONOMIST, ICICI SECURITIES PRIMARY DEALERSHIP, MUMBAI: I think most people had underestimated the services sector growth number. However, we need to watch the farm sector number. This is just the first estimate of the kharif (summer) crop and more estimates will come later. Also, another mitigating factor is government spending. One should look at GDP number setting aside the farm sector.

The non-farm sector, industry and services, are on a strong footing. But I don't think one should overreact as at the beginning of recovery there can be one or two quarters with such surprises." "I continue to maintain that RBI may hike rates by 50 basis points in January and CRR (Cash Reserve Ratio) by 50 bps. Inflation is not out of hand, and I don't expect RBI to do something outside before the January monetary policy."

RAJEEV MALIK, ECONOMIST, MACQUARIE CAPITAL, SINGAPORE: "The strength is mainly from agriculture. Industry performance is broadly in line. While the number is much better than expectations, I suspect the agriculture number will show a decline when revised numbers are announced."

"The December quarter will show agriculture declining, because that's when the harvest shortfall will get captured, but industry is where bulk of the juice is and there was no new information there because monthly industrial data had been doing well in any case." "Overall a very positive report but exaggerated by the performance of agriculture."

"I don't think they (RBI) are going to be swung by what agriculture has done on a technical basis." "We still think RBI would begin liquidity management rather than rate hikes in December-January."

India GDP Growth Roaring

India's Economy Grows at Fastest Pace since Global Financial Crisis

India's economy beats growth forecasts

NEW DELHI -World reports.
India's economic growth surged in the third quarter at a much faster pace than expected, increasing the odds that the central bank will hike interest rates in January to head off a burst of inflation.

Gross domestic product grew 7.9% from a year earlier in the July-September period, accelerating from a 6.1% expansion in the previous quarter and marking the fastest growth since the January-March quarter of 2008, the Central Statistical Organization said Monday.

The reading was higher than even the most bullish forecast in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of 13 analysts, where the median estimate was for a 6.3% rise.

The government didn't release quarter-on-quarter figures, but according to HSBC calculations, GDP grew at a sizzling 13.9% annualized pace from the previous quarter, likely the fastest since the government started releasing GDP data every three months in 1996.

Officials from the Reserve Bank of India and the Planning Commission, the country's top policy think tank, said they were likely to revise upward their economic growth forecasts in response to the figures, suggesting the economy's strong performance caught the authorities off guard.

"This is better news than we sort of expected," the RBI's new Deputy Governor Subir Gokarn told reporters.

The data underscore India's smart rebound from the deep global downturn last year, and provides more evidence that Asia is leading the recovery. Growth was led by manufacturing, mining and social spending, which rose on the back of government stimulus measures and previously unpaid salary increments to civil servants.

Activity at India's factories and mines has been humming as sharp interest rate cuts and fiscal stimulus measures lift demand for automobiles, steel and cement. A protracted slump in exports has also abated while overseas investors have poured billions into the country's stock market.

The agriculture sector, which employs nearly 60% of India's workforce, also defied most analyst forecasts for a decline by posting a modest increase.

"The GDP numbers indicate response to initiatives taken by government in various policy measures including injecting stimulus, which we did in three doses over the last 11 months," said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mukherjee said he thinks growth will likely to top the ministry's current 7% forecast for the current fiscal year ending March 31. The RBI currently expects the economy to grow by around 6% this financial year while the Planning Commission tips a 6.5% expansion.

The data sent Indian stocks prices higher, helping recoup some of last week's declines when global markets swooned after Dubai's government said it was seeking a freeze on Dubai World's debt repayments. Government bonds fell.

The benchmark 30-stock Sensex ended 1.8% higher at 16,926.22 while the 6.90% 2019-dated bond fell to INR97.54 from its previous close of INR97.99. Yield on the note climbed seven basis points to 7.26%.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Planning Commission's deputy chairman, played down the impact of the Dubai crisis on India's economy. Dubai's construction boom has relied heavily on Indian workers, who send money back home to relatives.

"What I know is that the direct exposure of our banks to Dubai is very, very low and you cannot necessarily conclude that there will be negative impact on remittances," he said.

The strong GDP growth could mean an earlier a rate hike by the RBI, which many economists had been expecting to wait until March or so before withdrawing some of its monetary stimulus. Inflation is set to accelerate in the coming months as a favorable statistical base effect that masked a steady rise in prices since the turn of the financial year in April is now wearing thin.

"Today's data strengthens the case for the Reserve Bank of India to exit from its very easy policy settings," said Sonal Varma, an economist with Nomura Financial Advisory and Securities.

"We expect the policy rate hiking cycle to begin in January with a cash reserve ratio hike likely this December," she said.

Dubai govt won't guarantee Dubai World's debts

Investors face huge losses as Dubai abandons debt company

The Government of Dubai said today that it will not stand behind its wholly-owned subsidiary Dubai World, prompting fears that the company’s creditors could lose billions of dollars.

Today's comment, from Abdulrahman al-Saleh, the director general of Dubai’s Department of Finance, effectively confirms that country does not have enough money to repay Dubai World’s $60 billion of liabilities. Deloitte, the accountancy firm, has been called in to restructure the giant business.

Last week, the state-owned conglomerate sought a six-month standstill on repaying its debts.

Dubai World's borrowings include a $3.5 billion Islamic bond that was due to be repaid by Nakheel, the property developer behind the Palm Jumeriah islands, in two weeks.

Many creditors had assumed that the structure of Islamic bonds implied there was state backing for this type of financing and Dubai’s failure to support the Nakheel debt could have damaging implications for the wider Islamic market.

UK banks are among 70 institutions to have loaned Dubai World money in recent years as the company grew rapidly and bought foreign assets such as the Turnberry golf course in Scotland and P&O ports. Dubai's Department of Finance said creditors will be affected in “the short term” by the Dubai World's restructuring.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has arranged $2.3 billion of loans for Dubai World since 2007, although it is not known how much the bank could lose if the company defaults.

The Financial Services Authority, the City watchdog, is understood to be discussing possible exposure to Dubai World losses with the UK banks.

There had been hopes the Dubai government would issue a statement on Dubai World earlier this morning.

Markets across Europe and Asia had rallied this morning after this weekend’s intervention by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates, which will provide an emergency liquidity facility for local lenders.

Abu Dhabi, Dubai's rich sister nation, also said it would provide support on a “case-by-case” basis.

However, hours of silence from the Dubai government knocked investors' confidence and the FTSE fell 47.72 points to 5,198.96 in early afternoon trading.

There are also fears that US shares could plunge for a second day.

US shares tumbled more than 154 points on Friday, but the number of shares changing hands was relatively small since many investors were away following Thanksgiving on Thursday.

It is thought that today’s trading in America would give a more realistic reaction to Dubai’s financial woes as people return to work.

Dubai’s main stock exchange slid more than 7 per cent and Abu Dhabi markets fell more than 8 per cent. Today is the first time UAE investors have had the chance to react to last week’s announcement following the four-day religious holiday for Eid al-Adha.

It has also emerged today that Nakheel has requested that all three of its sukuks (Islamic bonds) traded on the Dubai stock exchange be suspended. This includes the $4 billion sukuk due to mature on December 14, which triggered the current crisis.

The group’s statement said the three sukuks would remain suspended “until it is in a position to fully inform the market”.

Jebel Ali Free Zone, a division of Dubai World, made an interest coupon payment on its 7.5 billion Dirham (£1.24 billion) sukuk, which matures in 2012. The payment, believed to be around 130 million Dirhams, was confirmed by banking sources in Dubai.

Dubai stock market crashes

Nov 30, 2009

Dubai stock market has crashed post Dubai World debt restructuring. The index was down close to 7%. Dubai World, the government's holding company, had asked for delays on payments of debts worth £35bn. The announcement sent shock waves through global stock markets amid fears that Dubai would default on its debt payment.

Following the announcement on Wednesday 25 November by the Government of Dubai, Nakheel has asked for all three of their listed Sukuk’s- Nakheel Development Limited, Nakheel Development 2 Limited and Nakheel Development 3 Limited to be suspended until it is in a position to fully inform the market. Nakheel, owned by Dubai World, has a $ 3.5 bn Islamic bond maturing on December 14

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dubai in deep water as ripples from debt crisis spread

Work has been halted on the artificial islands

Fears of a dangerous new phase in the economic crisis swept around the globe yesterday as traders responded to the shock announcement that a debt-laden Dubai state corporation was unable to meet its interest bill.

Shares plunged, weak currencies were battered and more than £14 billion was wiped from the value of British banks on fears that they would be left nursing new losses.

Nervous traders transferred the focus of their anxieties from the risk of companies failing to the risk of nation states defaulting. Investors owed money by Mexico, Russia and Greece saw the price of insuring themselves against default rocket.
Although the scale of Dubai’s debts is comparatively modest at $80 billion (£48 billion), the uncertainty spooked the markets, with no one sure who its creditors are. Several banks rushed out statements to reassure investors that their exposure was small.

The FTSE 100 plunged by 171 points to 5,194 — its biggest one-day fall in eight months in one of the most jittery days in the financial markets since the depths of the banking crisis.

The Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority were monitoring events closely and are demanding figures from UK banks on their loan exposures to Dubai.

According to a senior government official, Dubai’s crisis is regarded as modest and manageable for Britain, but there were growing fears that Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich neighbouring emirate that has in the past given rescue loans, would leave Dubai to its fate.

Dubai World, the state-owned corporation that began the panic on Wednesday by demanding a standstill on its interest payments, worsened the mood when it postponed a teleconference for its bond holders, saying the phone lines were overwhelmed.

Gerard Lyons, chief economist with Standard Chartered, said: “The market reaction shows how vulnerable some economies are to the aftermath of the debt binge. This highlights how fragile confidence is.”

The Eid al-Adha religious holiday in the Middle East, and the closure of financial markets in the United States for Thanksgiving, exacerbated the sense of uncertainty in markets that were open for business.

A computer crash at the London Stock Exchange, which by coincidence is 21 per cent owned by the Dubai Government, left dealers unable to trade for three and a half hours.

Shares in HSBC slumped by 5 per cent, wiping £6.2 billion from its value. According to the United Arab Emirates Banks Association, HSBC has £11 billion of loans outstanding to the UAE, of which Dubai is one of seven emirates. HSBC declined to comment.

More than £2.6 billion was slashed from the value of Barclays, while Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, both partly owned by the taxpayer, saw their values fall by £1.7 billion and £1.5 billion respectively.

One analyst said that the fears were overdone because Abu Dhabi would eventually come to the rescue to save the UAE from embarrassment. Dubai World has liabilities of £36 billion, about three quarters of Dubai’s total state debt. Its subsidiary Nakheel built The Palm Islands development, but the property bubble in the emirate burst a year ago, leaving buildings unfinished, debts unpaid and paper fortunes erased.

Sreesanth wrecks Lanka on his return

FANTASTIC RETURN: Back in the Test side after a 19-month hiatus, S. Sreesanth breathed fire on the third day of the second Test in Kanpur on Thursday.

Kanpur: Banishing the demons from the past, S. Sreesanth whipped up a display of compelling swing bowling at Green Park here on Thursday.

At peace with himself and bowling with sustained hostility on a sub-continental track, Sreesanth posed searching questions to the batsmen. His mind and body were in harmony.

The comeback paceman’s five for 75 in the Sri Lankan first innings has put India on course for a comprehensive win in the second Test.

Wilting under pressure

Bowled out for 229 and following on, the visitors were tottering at 57 for four when bad light ended third day’s play. There was no devil in the pitch but the Sri Lankans wilted in the cauldron.

The dismissals of Mahela Jayawardene — skipper Kumar Sangakkara had set out for a non-existent single after playing Pragyan Ojha to mid-wicket — and Sangakkara — loose stroke outside off stump to Harbhajan Singh — in the dying moments summed up Sri Lanka’s day.

Skipper Dhoni led smartly and the Indian plans fell in place. The dismissals of Mahela and Tharanga Paranavitana are cases in point.

The fleet-footed Mahela danced down to debutant left-armer Ojha in the Sri Lankan first innings to loft the ball over the man at mid-on.

When Ojha returned for his next over, Sachin Tendulkar was moved to a deeper, wider mid-on; the bait was laid. Mahela, on 47, attempted the stroke again and Tendulkar accepted the offering gleefully. The experienced Mahela failed to notice the subtle change in the field.

Surprise move

When the Sri Lankans followed on, Dhoni surprised the visitors by introducing occasional off-spinner Virender Sehwag, who foxed the left-handed Paranavitana with a delivery that came in with the arm from round-the-wicket.

Earlier, Sreesanth opened the path for India, bowling with much heart and craft in a morning spell of 9-2-28-3. He returned for a crucial burst after lunch.

Operating to a telling line around the off-stump, Sreesanth set the batsmen up by denying width and room, and gradually dragged them wider for the fatal inside-edge or the outside nick.

The Sri Lankans were sucked into the trap. Paranavitana (38), Sangakkara (44), Thilan Samaraweera (2) and Prasanna Jayawardene (39) were all dismissed attempting extravagant strokes with limited footwork.

Sreesanth switched his line to the right and the left-handers effectively. And he varied his pace cleverly.

A gem

When the Sri Lankans batted a second time, the paceman prised out Tillakaratne Dilshan with a gem. The ball pitched on off, moved and lifted to find the edge.

A wonderful wrist and seam position makes Sreesanth an engaging swing bowler. The cocking of the wrist that is held straight is the key to his bowling.

Sreesanth generated impressive speeds and generally bowled a fuller length that is mandatory for swing.

He mixed the one leaving the batsman with the delivery either swinging or angling in. The short-pitched delivery and the yorkers were effective variations.

Pace bowling is much about rhythm and Sreesanth was running in smoothly, his action blending with release.

He harried Paranavitana in the morning and hit the left-hander on the helmet with a sharp bouncer to set up a soft dismissal; Dhoni took a low diving catch.

After ending the threatening association between the Jayawardenes — Prassana appeared to have got a thin nick chasing a widish delivery — Sreesanth bowled the left-handed Rangana Herath with a peach of a delivery that pitched on middle and hit off. It was his fifth strike.

Spinners impress

There was some encouragement for the spinners and Harbhajan and Ojha performed their roles. Delivering from wide of the crease, Harbhajan breached Angelo Mathews’s forward defence with a well-flighted ball that angled into the right-hander.

The off-spinner consistently got the ball to straighten when the batsmen played for turn. Ojha was steady and stuck to his task.

Catching was the only area of disappointment for the Indians. Mahela was let off thrice. In the first innings, he edged Sreesanth between first slip and the ’keeper; both failed to move. And Harbhajan saw Rahul Dravid at slip put down Mahela in either innings. Both were sharp chances.

India Inc, banks play down Dubai blues

November 28, 2009

Analysts say the crisis may discourage realty firms from venturing into that market

The stock markets skidded today as Dubai’s debt woes sparked fears over corporate and bank exposure to a key trading partner. But Indian companies and banks played down the impact, saying the exposure was not significant and they had already pulled out or stopped taking work in Dubai since the slowdown last year.

The banking regulator and the government also tried to calm sentiments by saying the impact looked marginal. The central bank, however, has asked for data from Indian banks on their exposure to Dubai World, the centre of the crisis.

On Wednesday, the Dubai government said it would ask creditors of two of its companies, Dubai World and real estate developer Nakheel, for a standstill on debt worth billions of dollars as a first step towards restructuring.

A host of Indian companies such as L&T, Nagarjuna Construction, Omaxe, Afcons Infrastructure and Country Club of India said they were reviewing their options in Dubai.

A M Naik, chairman of construction and engineering giant L&T, said, “Dubai does not have any prospects and we are concentrating on other emirates such as Oman, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and so on.” The company has a total exposure of Rs 100 crore in Dubai projects and has already recovered 90 per cent of dues from its projects there.

Delhi-based realty developer Omaxe, which had bought two plots from Nakheel, a Dubai World company, for around Rs 450 crore and paid Rs 45 crore as the first instalment, is yet to get development rights from Nakheel and is said to be exploring exit options. "Nakheel has put the project on hold and has not handed over the plots. We are asking for refund for the project,'' said Rohtas Goel, chairman of Omaxe.

Though around $55 billion of deals were announced between companies in India and the UAE, many have not seen the light of the day. For instance, the joint venture between L&T and Dubai Aluminium (Dubal) to set up a three-million tonne alumina refinery in Orissa is still in limbo even after four years, according to brokerage CLSA.

The joint ventures between DLF, the country's largest developer, and Dubai World companies — Nakheel and Limitless — did not take off as the JV partners did not go ahead with the projects.

Analysts said the Dubai crisis could discourage both realty and construction companies from venturing into that market.

"There will be a negative impact, since this is a situation where prices are expected to come down in Dubai. These players would have acquired projects to sell them at a particular price. With pricing taking a beating, the profitability of these projects reduces. Construction firms, which had gone to Dubai to carry on contract jobs, would also be affected, since payments would get delayed and project sizes will be curtailed, thereby affecting their bottom line. Commitments from Dubai-based companies into India will also reduce,'' said Anuj Puri, chairman of international property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.

The importance of the Indian link to Dubai and the UAE, of which Dubai is a part, can be gauged from the fact that Indians constitute 40 per cent of its population, forming 10-12 per cent of India's inward remittances. Thirty one per cent of the 5.3 million Indians in the Gulf region are in the UAE, CLSA said.

Even DP World, part of Dubai World, runs five container terminals in India, accounting for 40 per cent of India's container traffic.

Indian companies had already become cautious in taking up projects in Dubai since the economic slowdown last year. "We do not take up any projects in Dubai unless funding is secured there. But we will work in other emirates,'' said a senior executive from Afcons Infrastructure which is executing the Rs 700-crore Dubai Race Course Connectivity Project.

Real estate giants DLF and Unitech said they had zero exposure in Dubai’s realty markets.

Dharmendra Raichura, managing director of BSEL Infrastructure, which is building a waterfront project and six towers in Emirates City in the nearby emirate of Ajman at a cost of Rs 1,762 crore, said he expected the turnover to fall by 10 to 15 per cent and defaults by 8 to 10 per cent in the project. "But it is nothing new. Sales have been down 10 to 12 per cent since the last 12 months,'' Raichura said.

Hyderabad-based Nagarjuna Construction Company Limited (NCCL), which is executing two projects in Dubai, has completed 45 per cent of a pipeline project and sold one tower in a realty project. ''We will study the market and start construction of the second tower if the market improves", said Y D Murthy, executive vice-president, finance, at NCCL.

Bank of Baroda, which had an exposure of around $200 million (Rs 928 crore at today’s rates) to Dubai World, said the amount was due for repayment only after 2011. "It is paying interest and there are no overdues. So, we have absolutely no immediate concern,” a senior bank executive said.

However, talking about the bank’s total loan book, Bank of Baroda Chairman and Managing Director M D Mallya told PTI: “We have only 7-8 per cent of our total loan book in the entire Gulf region, which amounts to Rs 10,000 crore. These accounts are well-maintained and unlikely to cause any kind of impact on the balance sheet.” Out of the total Gulf loan exposure, Dubai constitutes nearly half of the loan book, which comes to less than Rs 5,000 crore, Mallya said, adding that the industry needed to wait a few more days to get a clearer picture of the crisis.

Other banks said the impact on their operations was marginal. State Bank of India officials said the bank has only a $50- million exposure to Dubai World and there was no reason to worry over the "low" exposure.

Some analysts played down the impact on the markets, saying the money involved was not as big as in other cases in the past. However, valuations of some real estate initial public offerings set to hit the market may come under pressure

Friday, November 27, 2009

Asian markets feel impact of Dubai crisis

HK Shares End Sharply Down On Dubai; Biggest Points Drop This Year

Hong Kong shares fall almost 5 per cent as Middle East crisis looms

Wall Street Poised For Sharp Decline On Dubai World Crisis

Dubai debt shakes world markets

Dubai shock! Why it happened, how it hits India

Europe Options Signal Concern Stocks May Drop Further on Dubai


Taiwan's stock market felt the shockwaves from the Dubai debt crisis on Friday, as did other markets in the region. The weighted index of the Taiwan stock exchange fell by 3.21% with financial stocks leading the decline. Solar energy was one of the few stocks to buck the trend and stand firm.

The market on Friday opened already 124 points down on yesterday's closing figure. By close of trade that loss had doubled, with the index shedding 248 points to finish the day at 7,490.91.

Markets in Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea proved a huge drag on the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific banking shares traded outside Japan. The MSCI dropped 4%, reflecting widespread fears that Dubai's debt could create another world financial crisis.

Dubai crisis?What impact will this have on the global economy?

Concern over Dubai’s debt problems has driven down Europe’s share markets for the second day running. What impact will this have on the global economy?

Earlier, the state-owned Dubai World announced that it would delay repaying some of its debt.

The biggest underlying fear is that Dubai's problems could reignite the financial turmoil of the credit crisis, lowering global demand for a whole range of commodities, including oil.

The Gulf state, which has less oil money than many of its neighbours, has grown to rely on trading and tourism.

Has development in Dubai been too swift? Will Dubai manage to keep afloat? Could this reignite the financial turmoil? Have you invested or are you working in Dubai? Have you been affected?

Dow futures at 6 a.m.: down 234.

November 27, 2009

Dubai's sovereign-wealth woes could mean U.S. market correction, 'firesale of prime properties from London to New York'

CNBC’s “Squawk Box” opens at 6 a.m. by warning of “reigniting worries of a global financial turmoil,” and the possibility of big “downdraft” in U.S. markets.

Reuters, DUBAI/TOKYO: “Investors recoiled from risky assets on Friday and dumped shares in Asian banks and builders, fearing a Dubai debt default could reignite the financial turmoil of the credit crisis. Stocks from Tokyo to Mumbai were haunted by suspicion of lenders' exposure to Dubai firms that built islands in the Gulf, planned cities from Pakistan to Africa and fashioned the financial hub of the world's biggest oil exporting region. Dubai, part of the oil-exporting United Arab Emirates, said on Wednesday it would ask creditors of state-owned Dubai World and Nakheel to agree to a standstill on billions of dollars of debt as a first step toward restructuring.”

Good Friday morning. It could be Black Friday for more than retailers. While we were focused on turkey and football, markets around the world took a licking following Wednesday’s announcement by Dubai that it couldn’t pay debts of Dubai World, one of the globe’s biggest sovereign wealth funds. The possibility of default created panic in markets, with many sell-offs around 3%. The story sneaked up on many revelers in the U.S., buried on page B3 of the Thanksgiving Day New York Times “(Dubai Asks for Stay on Debt Payments”). Now, Treasury, the West Wing and the Street are paying close attention to the potential fallout.

TRADERS FEAR THIS IS MORE OF A DOMINO THAN A BLIP. The concern is less the size of the potential default than the specter of global credit contagion. The reaction shows that despite early signs of global recovery, the markets suspect there’s another shoe to drop. Here’s a speed read of the coverage as Americans head out to door-buster sales:

THE PSYCHOLOGY -- FT banner – “Dubai sends markets into turmoil”: “Stock markets around the world were convulsed yesterday as investors scrambled to understand the implications of Dubai World’s restructuring and unexpected debt standstill. The lack of information about Dubai’s flagship government-owned holding company, made worse by a religious holiday in the Middle East, prompted indiscriminate selling of stocks linked to the region. The cost of insuring against default in emerging markets around the world also leapt. ‘In the absence of definitive information, it’s hard to see the market treating this as an isolated one-off,’ said one trader.”

THE FRENZY -- DRUDGE banner, with photo of Dubai’s palm islands: “DUBAI IN DEEP WATER.” The (London) Times banner: “Dubai in deep water”: “Fears of a dangerous new phase in the economic crisis swept around the globe yesterday as traders responded to the shock announcement that a debt-laden Dubai state corporation was unable to meet its interest bill. According to a senior government official, Dubai’s crisis is regarded as modest and manageable for Britain, but there were growing fears that Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich neighbouring emirate that has in the past given rescue loans, would leave Dubai to its fate.”

Large, diversified financial institutions provide significant value to our economy, by meeting the needs of large, globally active firms which spurs job creation and growth.

REAL-ESTATE FALLOUT – FT p.1: “Real-estate investors are preparing for a firesale of prime properties from London to New York should Dubai decide to raise cash by selling liquid assets held by its investment companies … Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, was one of the busiest investors in ‘trophy’ properties during the global property boom. Its investments range from the Adelphi in Strand, London, and Grand Buildings in Trafalgar Square to the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York.”

“US MARKETS BRACING FOR SELLOFF ON WORRIES ABOUT DUBAI’S DEBT” CNBC. “Market Insider” column, by Patti Domm: “US markets are bracing for a shakeup Friday after investors fled risk assets globally on concerns about Dubai's debt rescheduling. Markets worldwide reacted to concerns about bank exposure to the debt, particularly in Europe, and fears it is a signal of greater problems in emerging markets. The news comes as investors are closing out the year, many with sharp gains. It also comes at a time when there's been heavy buying by funds and others seeking the comfort of US treasurys. The Dubai story was the topic of concern Wednesday but many traders made an early exit ahead of the holiday and stocks traded quietly.”

Dubai debt fears hit world markets hard

27 Nov 2009, AGENCIES

LONDON: World stock markets tumbled on Thursday as investors fretted over the debt problems at Dubai World, a government investment company, and the continuing slide in the dollar, which earlier fell to a 14-year low against the yen.

Markets are usually relatively quiet when Wall Street is closed for a holiday, as it is Thursday for Thanksgiving Day. Not so today, as the rest of the world digested the stunning news from Dubai that the government's flagship investment company was in financial trouble.

European markets followed Asia lower with the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closing down 170.68 points, or 3.2 per cent, at 5,194.13, having been out of action earlier for over three hours because of technical problems.

Germany's DAX fell 188.85 points, or 3.2 per cent, to 5,614.17 while the CAC-40 in France was 129.93 points, or 3.4 per cent, lower at 3,679.23.

Sentiment in stocks was dented by the news that Dubai World, which is thought to have debts totaling around $60 billion, has asked creditors if it can postpone its forthcoming payments until May. That stoked fears of a potential default and contagion around the global financial system, particularly in banks and emerging markets.

"Fear of sovereign default in the Middle East rattled the markets," said Jane Foley, research director at

Banks bore the brunt of the selling in Europe, amid fears of potential exposure to Dubai. In London, Royal Bank of Scotland PLC was down nearly 8 per cent, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE. In Germany, Deutsche Bank was the biggest faller on the DAX, down around 6 per cent.

Investors were also keeping a close eye on associated developments in the currency markets after the dollar slid to a new 14-year low of 86.27 yen, while the euro pushed up to a fresh 15-month high of $1.5141.

By late afternoon London time, the dollar had recouped some ground and was trading at 86.55 yen, down 0.9 per cent on the day, while the euro was 1 per cent lower at $1.4988.

The continued appreciation in the value of the yen continued to dent Japanese stocks as investors worry that the rising currency will have a detrimental effect on the country's exports. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 58.40 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 9,383.24.

Dubai saga leaves Indian banks, infrastructure, realty cos in limbo

27 Nov 2009, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: The Dubai debt fiasco rattled equity markets across the globe particularly battering realty, infrastructure and banking names, which have their exposure to the emirate.

Dubai said on Wednesday it wanted creditors of Dubai World and property group Nakheel to agree a debt standstill as it restructures Dubai World. Dubai World's debt burden stands at $59 billion of the total $80 billion debt of the state. The government of Dubai has authorised the restructuring of Dubai World to be spearheaded by the Dubai Financial Support Fund.

Even as a number of corporates declared their non-exposure to the real estate sector in Dubai, investor sentiment was badly bruised.

"Dubai debt crisis came as a nasty surprise and acted as a trigger for the market, which was otherwise also ripe for correction and looking for some major trigger for correction. Though market participants were not confident and had no conviction to buy in to a market at upper band of trading range, bears were not having courage to push the sales aggressively. But yesterday's events in Dubai led to a panic situation; leading to sharp losses in many bank stocks across Asia and Europe; plus a general selling trend in eqities, and an appreciation in dollar.

What will be the real impact of the Dubai issue will depend upon how the newly appointed Dubai World's chief Aidan Berkett will handle the restructuring of this investment and property giant. But it has triggered much awaited correction in global equities, which can last longer then expected. So traders be cautious, lighten the long positions and wait for situation to calm down or let the restructuring happen or help to flow in from friends and neighbours of Dubai. For now, extreme caution is warranted," said DD Sharma, senior vice president-research at Anand Rathi Securities.

The Dubai government's announcement prompted Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service to sharply cut their ratings on several government-related entities. Moody's slashed some units to junk status and S&P said the restructuring could be considered a default.

Engineering and construction firm, Punj Lloyd said it has no exposure in the real estate sector in Dubai. Developer DLF and Punjab National Bank also said they had no current exposure to Dubai.

On the other hand, engineering major Larsen & Toubro's exposure to Dubai is in the range of $20 million to $25 million. Bank of Baroda said it has total loan book exposure of 7-8 percent at around Rs 100 billion in the United Arab Emirates.

Other than Larsen & Toubro, which has been the most aggressive Indian company in the GCC region, smaller infrastructure companies, also have a strong presence. (See table top)

In the banking space, Bank of Baroda is the most active with 10 branches in the Gulf, but mostly small banking exposure, mainly for remittances. Meanwhile, ICICI Bank which has three branches across the Gulf region said there is no material non-India linked exposure to Dubai corporates.

However, Krishna Sanghavi of Kotak Mahindra AMC was of the opinion that the exposure of Indian companies to Dubai being limited, it may not have a substantial impact on our markets. "From a pure India perspective, the financial markets are impacted by the global sentiment. Certain sectors may also be under pressure on account of their business in terms of realizing that the existing money lent or to be received from these geographies or to an extent of implications where the existing order book may not be implemented at the right time frame. However, it is difficult to find any particular sector with a substantial exposure to the geography which can have a grave impact on the business models or the financials of the companies. India continues to be a domestic consumption story although there are companies which have had a vision of expanding to newer geographies. However, in the overall international exposure, Dubai will have a relatively lesser presence and domestic investors need not be worried from an Indian market perspective," he said.