Monday, July 20, 2009


Its the biggest and the most high-profile deal in Indian entertainment. Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Big Entertainment (RBE) has finally sealed the funding for its much-hyped 50:50 joint venture with Hollywood’s iconic director Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks.

DreamWorks Studios will get an initial funding of $825 million, which includes equity from Reliance ADAG to make films for a global audience. The company would make five to six films per year, and the first production would start this year for release in 2010. Of the $825 million, $325 million will be equity infused by Anil Ambani as his personal investment, $150 million will come from The Walt Disney Company as a distribution advance, and the rest will be funded by JP Morgan via debt.

India's top-10 firms added Rs 1,42,000 crore to their market capitalisation last week with country's most valued firm, Reliance Industries crossing Rs 3 trillion mark after two weeks.

The country's most-valued firm, Reliance Industries Ltd, added Rs 24,395 crore to its market valuation taking its total market cap to Rs 3,04,292 crore. Shares of RIL surged nearly 9 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) to end the trade at Rs 1,933.40 on Friday...

The Financial Express

A palpable improvement in economic conditions and low inflation have helped the retail sector stage a recovery in the recent past. After two bad quarters, same store sales (SSS) have again turned positive. While discretionary spending remained low, value retail has been the show stealer during this recovery.

This trend is expected to continue into the coming quarter, as monsoon sales would start soon. This will boost revenue growth for lifestyle retailers. However, despite growing sales, profit margins will continue to be under stress on account of increasing share of value retailing.

The Economic Times

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


The website of Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, recorded more than 20 million hits in merely 15 days since its launch on March 23, 2009. Between April 9, 2009 and April 25, 2009 Tata Motors Ltd, the manufacturer of Nano and India’s largest commercial vehicle company, received 203,000 orders for its much-awaited car.

The strength of India’s automobile sector is not just limited to the success of a single wonder-car. Contrary to the global automobile sector, Indian automobile companies have continued their growth even in the current situation of economic slowdown. Indian automakers sold 929,596 vehicles in May 2009, up 8.86% compared to the corresponding month of year 2008, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Association (SIAM), the apex Industry association representing 44 leading vehicle and vehicular engine manufacturers in India. This is in sharp contrast to the U.S. automobile market, which recorded 33.7% decline in May 2009, when compared to the corresponding month a year ago with sales sliding to 925,824 vehicles. There are certain sections in this sector, which are feeling the pinch of economic slowdown. But the Indian auto companies are seeking only some tax cuts from the government to run their business smoothly, not bailout packages.

India: An Attractive Market For Global Companies

Toyota Motor Corporation, the largest automaker of the world that has relatively smaller presence in the Indian market so far, has recently brought its Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) model Toyota Land Cruiser in the car market of India with a price tag of about $170,000 (Rs.80 lakh). The success of SUVs such as BMW X5, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne etc. offered by other global competitors signaled Toyota that it can no longer afford to avoid this segment of the Indian market. So it decided to face the challenge with no other model but its flagship SUV brand Land Cruiser.

Toyota has a joint venture in India named Toyota Kirloskar Motors Private Limited, in which 89% stake is owned by Toyota and Kirloskar Group, one of India's largest Engineering and Construction Conglomerate, holds the rest. With the demand getting better, Toyota Kirloskar has decided to raise its production. During 2008, it sold 51,800 units that include the models such as Innova, Corolla Altis, Camry and SUV Prado.

Global automotive companies are also using India as a manufacturing hub for their exports market. Toyota Kirloskar is identifying export markets for the small cars produced by it in India. The company is setting up its second plant at Bidadi near Bangalore, the capital of the south Indian state of Karnataka, with an investment of about $680 million (Rs.3,200-crore), which is expected to produce about 100,000 units per year. Toyota might export these small cars to Russia, Brazil and China in the initial stage.

Another Japanese company Suzuki Motor Corp, which specialises in small cars, holds more than 54% stake in India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. Suzuki had identified the opportunity in India as early as in 1981 when it partnered with the Government of India and formed the joint venture company in the following year as Maruti Udyog Ltd. In 1983, it brought Maruti 800, a 796 cc model that was dubbed as India’s first affordable car. The model became so successful that even after 26 years; it is one of the best-selling cars in India, although the company plans to gradually phase it out now. Suzuki got the majority control of this company in 2002 with 54.2% stake, when the Government of India sold its stake to Suzuki as part of its disinvestment strategy.

Relying on the Indian market is now paying off to Suzuki a handsome reward. Today, Suzuki not only controls 62% market share in India’s domestic car market (and about 50% share in the total car production of India), but also getting a much needed cushion for its global operations contributing almost half of the Suzuki’s global consolidated profits. Maruti Suzuki’s share in Suzuki’s profit moved up to 46% in 2008-09 from 30% in 2007-08. At a time when Suzuki is facing a downturn in all of its key markets such as Japan, the U.S. and Europe and a 14% fall in its net sales in 2008-09, Maruti Suzuki posted 14% increase in its net sales. Now, in order to save costs and ease its burden, the Japanese parent is considering shifting a major portion of its small car manufacturing activities to India.

The dominance of Suzuki in the small car segment in India has forced Japan’s second-largest carmaker Honda Motor Co. to introduce its first small car named ‘Jazz’ in India on June 11, 2009. It aims to sell 20,000 units of its first small car in India, in the first year. Honda has invested about $345 million (Rs.1,620 crore rupees) in the country and has plans to invest another $210 million (Rs.10 billion) for its second plant, which will increase its production capacity in India to 160,000 vehicles annually by 2010.

Renault-Nissan Automotive India, a 50:50 JV between Nissan Motor Company, Ltd of Japan and Renault S.A. the French automaker, has targeted to gain 5.7% of the total market share in the passenger cars segment of India by 2012. Nissan has allocated 350 billion yen for its global investment plans in 2009 and India will likely receive the largest share of the amount. It has set up a car manufacturing plant in Chennai, the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, that will cater to the exports market also. It plans to export 110,000 units by 2011. Nissan Motor India will begin its exports to Europe from the second half of 2010. Nissan’s light commercial vehicle project with the Hinduja Group’s, the London headquartered diversified conglomerate, flagship company Ashok Leyland is also expected to take off in 2011.

General Motors Corporation, the world's second-largest automaker, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S., has its Indian operations that continue to grow at healthy pace, hence are not being included in the U.S. filing for Chapter 11. Expansion plans of GM India are intact. The company is going ahead with its plans to introduce three new cars this year. GM India has invested more than $1 billion in India over the past 14 years. Its manufacturing facility in Gujarat, the western state of India has an annual capacity of 85,000 vehicles, while its facility in the state of Maharashtra produces 140,000 vehicles per year. To compete with Tata’s Nano, GM India plans to introduce a new mini car by the end of 2009. One can expect that if General Motors emerges from bankruptcy in the next 2-3 months, its India operations would have a more effective role in the reshaped GM.

Indian Automobile Market: Going Strong Even In Tough Environment

Indian automobile sector’s growth is primarily driven by the two-wheeler segment, which continued its fast pace in May 2009 with sales reaching at 727,937 units, 12.5% higher than the sales in May 2008. In the two-wheeler market, the motorcycle segment grew by 12.34% at 576,000 units compared with 513,000 units in May 2008. Passenger car sales grew a bit slow, but remained positive, with 2.47% growth at 113,490 units. The one segment, which is not having good performance, is the commercial vehicle segment comprising of trucks and buses. This segment reported a drop of 13% in sales to 60,642 units last month.

Maruti Suzuki, the largest car manufacturer of India, registered a 10% growth with its sales reaching at 62,878 units during May 2009 when compared to the corresponding month in the previous year. Earlier, in April 2009, the company had sold 64,857 cars with a growth of 9% over April 2008. Hero Honda Motors Ltd, the largest two-wheeler manufacturer of the world, sold 359,000 motorcycles with year-on-year growth of 21%. It is noteworthy that Hero Honda, a joint venture of India’s Hero Group and Japan’s Honda Motor Co. Ltd., is the world’s largest two-wheeler company for the past seven years primarily on the strength of domestic consumption, because it exports only to those countries where Honda is not present due to non-compete arrangement with Honda Motor.

Trends In The Recent Years:

If we look at the production figures of Indian automobile sector in the recent years, it’s quite visible that the growth continued to be very strong till 2006-07 with annual growth in the range of about 14%-17%. For the last two fiscal years, production has stagnated, particularly due to pressure on commercial vehicle segments. This segment has suffered due to two reasons, a) very high interest rates, and b) slowdown in the economy. Now, with the banks easing the interest rates again and an improvement in the economic outlook, it is expected that sales of the commercial vehicle segment would start picking up in the next few months.

India Emerging As A Prominent Force In Global Auto Market

Indian auto companies have started increasing their presence in the global auto market. For this purpose, these companies are not only focusing on increasing their exports, but also acquiring companies, brands and assets overseas. The most prominent example of a foreign acquisition by an Indian company was the acquisition of the U.K. based Jaguar and Land Rover, two iconic British brands by India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer Tata Motors Ltd in March 2008. Tata Motors had acquired these two brands from Ford Motor Company for a net consideration of $2.3 billion.

The company has just introduced the Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) brands in the Indian market giving the discerning Indian customer direct access to these prestigious brands. The launch of JLR by Tata Motors in India mirrors the growing aspirational value among consumers in the Indian market - not only to own a car, but also associate with a brand and upgrade to a luxury car, a segment that is growing at more than 25% annually. Such aspirations have seen more than 7,500 luxury cars added to the Indian roads in 2008, up from 5,000 in 2006, according to estimates.

In fact, Tata Motors had started looking beyond Indian markets quite early, when it set up its first assembly operation in Malaysia in 1974. Currently it has franchisee/joint venture assembly operations in Kenya, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Russia and Senegal. In 2004, Tata Motors acquired Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Company, South Korea’s second largest truck maker, which has got rechristened as Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicles Company now. Thanks to this acquisition, two-thirds of heavy commercial vehicle exports out of South Korea are from Tata Daewoo. In 2005, Tata Motors had acquired a 21% stake in Spanish bus and coach manufacturer Hispano Carrocera with an option to acquire the remaining stake as well. Tata is using Hispano’s presence to expand its reach in other markets. In 2006, the company formed a joint venture with Marcopolo, a Brazil-based company specialising in body-building for buses and coaches. In the same year, Tata Motors entered into another joint venture with Thailand-based Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant Company to manufacture and market the company’s pickup vehicles in Thailand.

Bajaj Auto, the second largest two-wheeler manufacturer of India, registered 25% increase in its exports during 2008-09. It has set up a manufacturing facility in China to cater to the exports market.

Overall, India exported 1.53 million vehicles in 2008-09, up 23.6% from the previous fiscal year. A segment-wise break-up of India’s exports suggests that passenger vehicles segment registered the highest 53.7% growth in 2008-09, followed by 22.5% growth in two-wheeler segment.

Better Times Ahead For The Indian Auto Sector

The coming months are set to be exciting for the Indian auto sector with a series of new models being introduced, both by domestic and foreign companies. With the inflation touching almost zero, the Indian banks are expected to cut their lending rates sooner or later. India’s finance minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, in an attempt to spur the growth rate again, has already urged the banks to reduce interest rates. Indian auto industry is set to benefit from the lower rates, as it will increase the demand for vehicles.

Rural initiatives of the new government will have a positive impact on the rural demand. The benefit of rural demand getting stronger will spread across segments including tractors, commercial vehicles, two-wheelers, multiple-purpose vehicles and small cars. With the low penetration level of two-wheelers in the country, the companies still have a sizable potential upside left. Once the industrial production starts improving, which is expected by July or August 2009 according to economists, the commercial vehicle demand will also pick up.

The Indian automotive sector aptly showcases the country’s prowess in manufacturing, indicative of a marked shift from the earlier perception of outsourcing and services based economy, such that some of the leading global automotive companies plan to make India their manufacturing and exports hub.

The country’s automotive sector that has grown at about 15% over the past five years is projected to grow to $145 billion by 2016 from $35 billion, according to the Automotive Mission Plan (AMP) 2006–2016. India will emerge as the destination of choice for design and manufacture of automobiles and auto components during the period involving investments worth more than $40 billion.

While the Indian auto sector has witnessed steady growth as domestic and global companies launch new models and increasing capacities, global automobile manufacturers in their home countries are seeking bailout packages and reporting bankruptcies. For instance, the Indian unit of the U.S.-based General Motors Corporation, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S., continues to grow at a healthy pace and is not being included in the U.S. filing for Chapter 11.

And Tata Motors, part of India’s largest diversified Tata Group, launched models of its U.K.-based marquee brands Jaguar and Land Rover that it bought from U.S.-based Ford Motor Co., into the Indian market on June 28. See our Special Report that outlines the current state of India’s automobile sector and how it is emerging as a manufacturing hub for the global companies.

India is the preferred destination for Doing Business among the emerging BRIC countries, comprising of Brazil, Russia, India and China based on key factors that include, protecting investors’ interest; getting credit; employing workers; starting a business; and trading across borders, according to the rankings in the global report on ‘Doing Business 2009’ by the World Bank and its affiliate the International Financial Corporation.

India occupied the top slot in three of the parameters – protecting investors, getting credit and employing workers; while emerging second in trading across borders and starting a business. India’s improving business environment is a reflection of the regulatory reforms by the Government to bring uniformity in urbanisation across its regions to bridge the urban-rural divide, representing what it calls an “inclusive approach” to development.

This approach is reinforced in the Financial Budget 2009-10 announced by the Indian Finance Minister on July 6, committing increased investments in the infrastructure sector to more than 9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2014 from 5% currently, apart from other rural development and welfare programs. This opens scope for investment opportunities, in the form of Public Private Partnership (PPP) developments that the government has championed.

Regional variations remain, however, due to internal pressure groups and anti-reforms voices within certain state governments. Cities such as Ludhiana in the north Indian state of Punjab; Bhubaneshwar, capital of the eastern coastal state of Orissa; Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat and Hyderabad, capital of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh rank high in ease of doing business. In contrast, Kolkata, the capital of the East Indian state of West Bengal ranks lowest.

India Inc.’s distinct preference for the U.K. was highlighted as Indian companies emerged as the second largest investor in the U.K. in the financial year 2008-09, replacing Japan as the largest Asian supplier of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects and ahead of China by about twice the number.

Indian companies set up 108 new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects during the period, moving up five places when compared to the previous year, creating and safeguarding about 8,000 jobs according to the U.K.’s Department of Trade and Industry.

India’s affinity for the U.K. is marked by its historic ties, similar legal, accounting, finance and judicial systems. The English language and Parliamentary democracy are as Indian as they are English.

The U.K., however, needs to keep its competitive edge vis-à-vis other European countries that are moving aggressively to capitalize on Indian companies’ growth ambitions. Indian FDI in the European Union (E.U.) soared to $3.4 billion (€2.4 billion) in 2008 from zero in 2004, according to Luxembourg-based Eurostat, the EU statistical office.

In the Indian Financial Budget announcement for the fiscal year 2009-10, the first budget since the Indian National Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government won its second consecutive term to power in May this year, the infrastructure sector emerged winner as it was accorded top priority by the Indian Finance Minister.

This reinforces the government’s commitment to augment the antiquated infrastructure of the country, vital to achieve a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 9% per annum from the current 6.7%. The lack of adequate infrastructure is responsible for pushing back India’s GDP growth by about 2% annually, according to estimates.

The minster responded to an urgent demand for new infrastructure, announcing that 9% of the country’s GDP will be spent on infrastructure by 2014, from the current 5%. Estimates suggest that a third of this investment will come from private companies, paving the way for unprecedented investment opportunity under Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

“However, the Finance Minister missed this opportunity to address sectoral reforms and liberalization in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms, falling short of the investors’ expectations who sent the Sensex, the benchmark index of the Bombay Stock Exchange down 870 points to 14,043.40 (5.83%) on Monday, the level that it was at in the month of May. The minister further disappointed by not being explicit on the aspect of disinvestment of the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).” says Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman, IndusView Advisors Ltd, the India-focused cross-border advisory firm.

“India's challenge is not only to augment its antiquated infrastructure, but also to build new infrastructure to keep up with its $1 trillion economy and the aspirations of its 1.2 billion population that grows by 16 million people each year”

“The government’s spotlight on Infrastructure Development heralds the importance it attaches to the sector as a means to counter the prevailing economic woes.” added Rangar

Recognising that good infrastructure are a vital pre-requisite to build a strong nation, infrastructure development had been accorded key priority for the 11th Five-Year-Plan for the years 2007-2012 and the 12th plan period 2012-2017 with projected investment requirement of $500 billion and $1.5 trillion respectively by the Prime Minister's Committee on Infrastructure.

“These initiatives pale when compared to China that spends about 11% of its GDP for infrastructure development, indicative of the scope and extent of scaling up needed in infrastructure development in India to match global standards.” added Rangar

“The Interim Budget for the financial year 2009-10 announced in February by the Finance Minister of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), focused on infrastructure development, easing of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) norms and economic stimulus packages announced last year, had set the ground for how the alliance was approaching the General Elections that took place in May.” said Rangar

The minister was way short of taking the initiative further as various sectors including, pharmaceutical, retail, telecommunication, aviation, insurance, among others keenly awaited reforms to facilitate higher foreign investments. These sectors collectively have the potential to attract more $200 billion worth of investments over a period of five to ten years.

Indian Telecom: Scope of Growth & Investment

“India’s mobile telecommunication services sector has defied the economic recession. The incumbent mobile telecommunication service providers collectively add more than 10 million new subscribers a month, which is more than the population of Finland, home country of largest mobile handset manufacturer Nokia Corp., taking the country’s total tally of wireless subscribers to 400 million.” explains Rangar

To ensure quality service to match the growing subscriber base and achieve the target of 45% tele-density, the telecom sector is estimated to need about $73 billion during the next five years.

The world's fastest-growing mobile telecom services market estimated to reach a subscriber base of more than one billion by 2014, exposes the growth potential in investments that the sector can attract from aspiring global mobile telecom service providers.

Pharmaceutical Sector: Prescription for M&As

The Indian Pharmaceutical sector is positioning itself to be among the top five centres of global innovation as the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Government of India outlined its roadmap for the sector up to the year 2020 (Vision 2020). It foresees investments of about $2 billion annually, under the public-private partnership model.

“This spells out the scope of growth for global pharmaceutical companies and can fuel the next wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in a market where consumer spending on healthcare increased to 7% in 2007 from 4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1995 and is expected to rise to 13% of GDP by 2015.” says Rangar

India also offers the benefits of low cost research and development (R&D), a domain in which it is estimated to capture about 10%-20% share of the world’s R&D business by 2020 from less than 1% currently.

Expansion by global pharmaceutical companies in to emerging markets like India becomes imperative as about $103 billion worth of patented drugs will go off patent in the next few years.

Retail Sector

“The retail sector in India is witnessing a huge revamp as traditional markets make way for new formats such as departmental stores, hypermarkets, supermarkets and specialty stores. Easing regulations in the sector would help bring the benefits of organised retail to customers.” said Rangar

The overall retail market is expected to grow to more than $1 trillion from $262 billion by 2016, with organised retail at $165 billion, according to the Investment commission of India.

Aviation Sector

India’s aviation sector presents investment opportunities of $110 billion envisaged up to 2020 $80 billion in new aircraft and $30 billion in development of airport infrastructure. The investments will be needed to cater for approximately 300 million passengers that are expected to be airborne by 2020, according to estimates.

“With such sectoral growth indicators, the need of the hour was to take existing initiatives to the next level of implementation and completion, with enough scope of ramping up and innovation. To that extent, the finance minister would have helped by being more generous and explicit in his policy initiatives.” said Rangar

Friday, July 03, 2009


With India's exports declining for the eighth month in a row in May and the need to arrest the decline assuming urgency, the Government may convert the US and Europe into focused markets.

"We have been trying to help exporters diversify their markets in the last few months. There is a need to arrest decline in exports...we may have to convert the US and Europe into our Focus Market Scheme," Director General of Foreign Trade, R S Gujral, told exporters in an open-house meet organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), here today..

The Economic Times

India has been able to retain its position as a preferred investment destination despite the global economic downturn, says the pre-budget economic survey.

"FDI flows in 2008-09 were also reflection of the confidence of foreign investors in the growth prospects of the Indian economy...India continues to retain its position as a preferred destination for investments," said the pre-budget economic survey tabled in Parliament today.

The Economic Times

A sharp meltdown during the last year notwithstanding, Indian stock market has emerged as the best performer among its global peers for a time-frame of five years with a return of over 65 per cent for investors, according to Economic Survey.

In the five-year period ending December 2008, the Indian stock market benchmark Sensex posted a positive return of 65.2 per cent, the Survey showed, even as a number of global markets such as Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan, posted negative returns...

The Economic Times