Sunday, July 31, 2005

Delphi & Varroc ties-up for OE market in India

DELPHI Corp and India's Varroc group has announced a strategic alliance to build motorcycle catalysts for the Indian motorcycle original equipment (OE) market. Delphi has a long history in the global design and production of motorcycle catalysts while Varroc manufactures parts for motorcycle and passenger car equipments such as plastic-moulded components, engine valves, forgings, starter motors and electronic ignition systems. The alliance - Varroc Exhaust Systems Pvt Ltd - will enable harnessing of their respective expertise, facilities and resources to set up a motorcycle catalyst manufacturing plant in the Varroc facility in Pune and help meet current motorcycle emissions standards in India. Delphi will provide the catalyst technology and manufacturing equipment.

SAIL approves new slab cluster for Bhilai

THE board of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has approved the proposal for setting up a new slab caster with associated facilities for second steel melting shop (SMS II) at Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) with an estimated cost of Rs 520 crore. The new single-strand slab caster is expected to have a capacity of eight lakh tonnes per annum (TPA) that would help the plant to produce value added/special quality of steel besides ensuring higher utilisation the converters. The installation of the slab caster with associated facilities such as RH degasser and ladle furnace will further augment Bhilai Steel Plant's capabilities to produce high quality plates and rails conforming to the stringent specifications for Indian Railways. The addition of a new caster along with associated facilities for secondary refining to the existing facilities of three slab casters, one combi caster and one bloom caster, will enable the shop to enhance steel production.

Ranbaxy gets temporary FDA nod

RANBAXY Laboratories Ltd has received tentative approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to manufacture and market glimepiride tablets, 3 mg and 6 mg used for treatment of diabetes. The total annual market sales for Aventis Pharmaceuticals' Amaryl tablets were $336.6 million. Glimepiride is indicated as an adjunct to diet and exercise to lower the blood glucose in patients with non-insulin-dependent (Type II) diabetes mellitus whose hyperglycemia cannot be controlled by diet and exercise alone.

HM-Mitsubishi to expand business in India

MITSUBISHI Motors Corporation of Japan one of the biggest brands in the automobile segment is all set to expand its operations in India jointly with Hindustan Motors Ltd. Hindustan Motors now makes Mitsubishi's Lancer sedan and assembles the Pajero sports utility vehicle, at its plant on the outskirts of Chennai. According to the agreement the two companies will work together in "driving forward MMC (Mitsubishi Motors Corporation) business strategy in India". Hindustan Motors is also expected to explore the possibilities of supplying Mitsubishi with automotive parts made in India. Hindustan Motors would start producing another model in the Lancer range in January 2006. Hindustan Motors would also add other Mitsubishi models such as Pajero, Outlander and Grandis to its line up of imported built-up models. All these brands would be sold through Hindustan Motors' sales network. In 2004, Hindustan Motors sold about 2,200 units of the Lancer and Pajero.

Reliance buys AMP Sanmar

Reliance Life Insurance a susbsidiary of Reliance Capital Ltd. has bought AMP Sanmar Life Insurance Company. The proposed acquisition is expected to mark the immediate entry of Reliance Capital Ltd. into the exciting growth area of life insurance in one of the world's fastest growing and most under-served markets. Reliance Capital Ltd. already has a subsidiary, Reliance General Insurance Co Ltd, which is present in the non-life insurance business. AMP Sanmar Life Insurance Company is a joint venture of AMP, Australia and the Sanmar group. Headquartered in Chennai, it has over 90 offices in India, 9,000 agents, and more than 900 employees. The decision to sell the company was taken consequent to AMP's intention to exit the insurance business in India.

Salora goes international

Salora International Limited has announced a strategic supply and distribution agreement with a leading Malaysian company to distribute its range of TEAC brand consumer electronic gadgets in India. The product range includes plasma TVs, CTVs, LCD TVs, digital audio and video systems, computers and communication products. Salora has also signed up with a Korean company to distribute their popular 'iRiver' MP3 players in India. The 'iRiver brand' has 18 models of MP3 players, which will be available between the price range of RS 5,000 to RS 20,000.

Hindustan Lever posts profit for q2

India's top consumer goods maker, Hindustan Lever Ltd., has reported a forecast-beating 17 percent rise in quarterly profit on improved sales and claimed that it was ready to fight to stay the market leader. In its second quarter to end-June, the brand's net profit rose to 3.0 billion rupees from 2.56 billion a year earlier. Sales rose more than 10 percent to 28.36 billion rupees, also beating a median forecast of 27.82 billion. Hindustan Lever had seen net profit slide for five consecutive quarters on high raw material costs and sluggish sales. It was also caught in a price war in detergents and shampoos with the local arm of Procter & Gamble last year. But it has since raised product prices, relaunched some brands, and benefitted from tax changes and fiscal benefits for new plants in some states.

HC dismisses Ranbaxy's plea against overpricing

Government of India is getting closer to nailing India’s largest drug maker Ranbaxy for allegedly overcharging consumers on its anti-bacterial drug Roscilox from the late 90s. The Delhi High Court had dismissed a petition from Ranbaxy challenging the government move to recover Rs 4.65 crore, saying the city-based company circumvented the law and frustrated its objectives. After a series of discussions with the government explaining why it will not pay, Ranbaxy chose to file the petition last month after the drug price watchdog National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) launched a fresh recovery drive. Ranbaxy tried to avoid payment saying it did not own the drug, while the government claimed that Ranbaxy manufactured it through its erstwhile subsidiary Hyderabad-based Oscar Laboratories Ltd which was amalgamated into Ranbaxy in 1999. Ranbaxy continued to make the antibiotic after the amalgamation and had printed the brand name on its price list to the dealers. Ranbxy held that the Oscar Lab had exemptions available to small scale manufacturers, which the court said, is limited to the subsidiary as Ranbaxy was not a small scale company.

Raymond to focus on branding

Raymond Limited, India's leading textile and apparel brand, has decided to sharpen its focus on the branded garments business segment with a view to boost market share and profitability. The company will significantly increase the number of its exclusive branded garment stores in major Indian cities in the current year in addition to the multi-brand outlets. Raymond has four readymade garment brands in the domestic market - Park Avenue, Parx, Manzoni and an exclusive prêt-a-porter line of ready-to-wear designer clothing Be. Currently, Mumbai-headquartered Raymond earns a large chuck of its revenue from the flagship textile business and the branded apparel segment accounts for a small portion of its portfolio. Raymond proposes to invest Rs.8 billion in the current year to expand its business interests in both Indian as well as international market. Raymond plans to increase the number of its exclusive Park Avenue brand stores for formal readymade garments and accessories for men by more than 12 in as many months within India. The Rs.20-billion Raymond Group has business interests in fabrics, readymade garments, designer wear, denim, cosmetics and toiletries, engineering files and tools, prophylactics, and air charter operation.

ITC posts profit for q1

ITC, India's biggest tobacco brand and owner of the nation's second-largest hotel chain, posted a 20 percent gain in first-quarter profit, helped by tax savings and higher occupancy at its hotels. Net income in the three months to June 30 rose to 5.58 billion rupees, or $128.3 million, from 4.65 billion rupees a year earlier.

Sales of cigarettes account for almost 58 percent of total revenue. ITC owns WILLS one of the top brands of cigarattes in India. ITC's net sales gained 25 percent to 22.69 billion rupees in the quarter that ended June 30. Gross sales increased to 39.61 billion rupees from 33.39 billion rupees in the year-earlier period. ITC's food, garment, stationery, match and incense-stick business posted sales of 5.63 billion rupees in the year that ended March 31, 2005.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Lotte India reports loss for q1

Lotte India Corporation Ltd has reported a net loss of Rs 1.29 crore on sales and services of Rs 30.26 crore for the first quarter of 2005-06 which ended June 30, 2005 against a net profit of Rs 30 lakh on sales and services of Rs 24.98 crore for the corresponding quarter in 2004-05. Lotte India made a net profit of Rs 1.17 crore on sales and services of Rs 120.11 crore for the year ended March 31, 2005.

ONGC restores 70% normal gas supply

OIL and Natural Gas Corporation has restored about 7.2 million standard cubic metres per day (mscmd) of gas supplies from the Mumbai High fields. This is about 70 per cent of the normal gas supply. The restoration of supply has been done from Bombay High South, which had earlier dropped to 20 per cent after the Bombay High North, a key oil facility, was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday evening. The Mumbai High fields produced 11 mscmd of gas and 2.6-lakh barrels of oil per day prior to the accident. Arrangements have been made to supply gas by bypassing the destroyed facility. ONGC hopes to restore gas supplies to normal production in a few weeks, while 70 per cent of the lost oil output is likely to be restored in four weeks. There are no storage facilities on the process platform. As part of the continuous process, crude oil collected from the wells is processed and dispatched by pipelines.

SBI & LG join hands

State Bank of India Card and LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd. (LGEIL) the two mega brands in the banking and electronics segment respectively have got together to launch the LG - SBI credit card. The LG - SBI card is India’s first CO-branded credit card for the consumer appliances industry and can be used at more than 200,000 outlets in India and more than 30 million outlets around the world displaying the Visa logo. The LG - SBI card will leverage the extensive national distribution networks of both LG and SBI Card to drive penetration. Designed as a customer loyalty and rewards program, the LG - SBI card combines all the well-known features of State Bank of India card with a series of exclusive rewards, benefits and promotional offers from LG Electronics India for the CO-branded cardholder.

Catch now enters cola market

The Rs 800-crore DS Group — makers of Baba tobacco products and Catch salts — is all set to compete directly with the cola majors like Coca-Cola and Pepsi in India with a range of aerated soft-drinks under its flagship brand, Catch. DS Group has started test marketing the brand in Delhi and Mumbai markets. Available in cola, orange and lemon flavours, the aerated drinks are being sold in 200-ml PET bottles. The new range of aerated beverages, are being produced and bottled at DS Group's existing facility which makes flavoured water under the Catch Clear brand. DS is foraying in the Rs 7,000-crore soft drink market when Coke & Pepsi are sharpening their focus on non-cola brands.

TVS Motor launches Victor GX

TVS Motor Company is to strengthen its branding in the 125 cc motorcycle segment with the launch of 110 cc Victor GX this quarter. The new launches are part of TVS Motor's overall growth plan that includes a plant to make step through vehicles in Indonesia and three-wheelers. The product basket at the entry level segment would also see an addition shortly with the launch of another variant of its entry level brand, StaR. The new vehicle will be slightly more expensive than the last version of StaR, and take the number of vehicles under the StaR brand to three. In the Indian market, TVS Motor aims to increase its marketshare in motorcycles- its mainstay to 18 per cent from the current level of about 13.7 per cent.

Satyam loses Senior Vice President to Scicom

Scicom Infotech has announced the appointment of Mr. Neeraj Nityanand as President of the brand's US operations and Global Head of Sales and Marketing. Mr. Nityanand joins Scicom from Satyam Computer Services one of the leading brands in the Information Technology segment. Mr. Nityanand will be primarily responsible for the creation of a new generation of outsourcing business models for products and services in the technology and R&D space. Mr. Nityanand's experience spans over 20 years in engineering and executive level management positions in multiple energy and high technology brands in R&D, production, finance, sales and marketing and international business development. Prior to joining Satyam, Mr. Nityanand was President and Managing Director of Unocal Bharat Ltd., the Indian subsidiary of Unocal Corporation, a global integrated oil & gas company, overseeing all exploration and production (E&P) and gas marketing activities in India. Mr. Nityanand received his B.Tech from IIT Kanpur, MS in Metallurgical Engineering and Material Science and an MBA, both from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.

Hari is brand ambassador of GAIL

World junior Champion, Grandmaster P. Hari Krishna who clinched the recent Grandmaster Tournament in China has been appointed as the Brand Ambassador of GAIL (India) Limited. With the sponsorship of GAIL India, Hari Krishna has been consistently improving his performance in domestic and international tournaments, which has ultimately resulted in his highly inspiring victory in China. This win should approximately earn Hari Krishna 23 points and taking him into the 2660s in ELO ratings.

Indian Rayon posts 16.6% growth

Indian Rayon, a major Aditya Birla Group brand, has reported a turnover of Rs. 485.08 Crores for the quarter ended 30th June 2005, a growth of 16.6% vis-à-vis Rs. 416.12 Crores achieved in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. While all businesses registered a good growth, Garments and Insulators have been the major contributors. Profit before Tax and exceptional item at Rs. 46.59 Crores is higher by 50.6%, driven by the Textiles, Insulator and Carbon Black business.Net profit for the year at Rs. 30.75 Crores against Rs. 20.87 Crores in the corresponding quarter of previous year is higher by 47.3%. Indian Rayon has paid Rs. 0.68 Crores towards a VRS at its Rayon division. In the corresponding quarter of the previous year the brand had made an exceptional profit of Rs. 4.16 Crores on the Sale of its Global Export division (Rs. 4.01 Crores) and other investments (Rs. 0.15 Crores).

Blue Star reports 40% rise in profit

Blue Star a leading brand in the fmcg sector has reported a 40% growth in net profit to Rs50.5mn with the total income of Rs2.30bn for the quarter ended June 30, 2005 representing a growth of 29% over the corresponding period last year. Earnings Per Share increased to Rs2.80 from Rs2.01. New order inflow grew a significant 41% to Rs3.36bn. Blue Star has bagged several orders during the quarter including orders from big brands like RMZ Infinity, Bangalore; Nicholas Piramal, Baddi; Merryl Lynch, Mumbai; Wipro, Gurgaon; E-City, Lucknow; Tech Park One, Pune; IIT, Chennai; Mastek, Mumbai & Pune; Hewlett Packard India, Mumbai & Bangalore; Amity University, Lucknow; Airtel, Bangalore and Marina Mansion, Dubai. It may be recalled that Blue Star had reported a net profit of Rs391.6mn on a total income of Rs9.30bn for the year ended March 31, 2005. The brand continued its trend of attractive dividends by declaring a dividend of 100%.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Big brands loose professionals to ADAE

Anil Ambani led Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises (ADAE) has started picking up top notch professionals from the industry. Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises has hired professionals from both private and public sectors in the last one month. These professionals are being hired to lead in the areas such as branding, marketing, information technology (IT), technology development, and human resource development. These professionals have been selected from big corporate brands like Bharti Tele-ventures, Airtel Enterprise Services, and Nokia. Public sector from where the professionals were hired include NTPC, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B). Gautam Doshi, an eminent chartered accountant has joined the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises as group president and he will be a key member of the leadership team . Sanjay Behl joined Reliance Infocomm as head of branding. Rajeev Batra joins the team as vice president-Information Technology (IT) .Nalini Gupta, joined Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises as marketing advisor-chairman’s office. Ramachandran, a professor at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) was recently appointed as directors on the board of Reliance Infocomm Ltd (RIC).

Dr Reddy's plans to sell Goa facility

DR REDDY'S Laboratories Ltd one opf the leading brands in life saving drugs segment has announced its plans to dispose of the finished dosages facility at Goa. The decision was taken by the company board at its meeting this week to take on record the unaudited financial results for the first quarter of current fiscal ended June 30, 2005. The board plans to seek shareholders' approval through postal ballot on the decision. At present, Dr Reddy's has seven finished dosages facilities. Of this, five are located in India and two in the UK. The brand also has six active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) facilities in India - all of which were USFDA inspected. The Goa facility had commenced commercial operations only around six months ago. The decision to dispose of the formulations facility located at Goa was an outcome of the brand's reassessment of its formulations manufacturing strategy and the taxation strategy.

SBI reports 15.54% rise in profits in Q1

State Bank of India has reported a 15.54 per cent increase in net profit in the first quarter of 2005-06, despite a substantial increase in provisions against bad loans and losses in securities trading. The reported rise in net profit is a result of higher interest income and lower operating. State Bank of India has earned a net profit of Rs 1,222.83 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2005 against Rs 1,058.40 crore in the year-ago period. Total income increased to 10,742.85 crore (Rs 9,205.29 crore). Net interest income rose by 19.88 per cent to Rs 3,541.34 crore (Rs 2,954.07 crore). Net interest margin (NIM) improved to 3.14 per cent from 2.99 per cent. Gross advances increased to Rs 2,20,523 crore (Rs 1,66,387 crore). Deposits have registered a 13.76 per cent growth at Rs 376,141 crore (Rs 330,648 crore). In Q1 2005-06 , retail advances had grown by Rs 2,771 crore against Rs 1,382 crore in the year-ago period. Housing loans increased by Rs 1,861 crore to Rs 26,849 crore. Home loans constitute 54.55 per cent of SBI's retail advances.

Hygiene eyes Rs.19 Cr. turnover in 2005-06

Hygiene Wear International Limited, an Indore-based brand in the baby diapers and nappy pads segment, eyes a turnover of Rs 19 crore in 2005-06 in India which was Rs 12-crore in 2004-05. Hygiene Wear International Limited, has a tie up with US-based Braco Manufacturing Co. which manufactures a range of diapers and nappy pads under the brand name ‘Koochees’. Hygiene occupies a 15 per cent market share in India, and in north India the brand enjoys a 27 per cent market share. Apart from its regular products, Hygiene Wear also markets ‘adult diapers’ product for diabetics, paralytic and other bed-ridden patients. Hygiene exports its products to the Unietd States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Cameroon, Seychelles, Algeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Mahindra launches MaXX Pik Up FB

Mahindra and Manhindra (M&M), India’s market leader in utility vehicles, has launched its indigenously designed engineered brand new utility vehicle, the MaXX Pik Up FB in Ahmedabad this week. With the launch of this vehicle, the Mahindra and Mahindra eyes to consoliadate its position of a leading brand in the segment with a market share of over 65 per cent in India from the current level of around 63 per cent. Mahindra and Mahindra aims at a market share of over 75 per cent in Gujarat from the current level of around 70 per cent. MaXX Pik Up FB comes with flat cargo box, which opens all three sides for effortless loading and unloading. The single wall cargo box affords the vehicle, the highest payload of 1160 kilogrammes in its category, while the 63 HP DI Turbo diesel engine is fuel effecient, the powerful nine-inch booster brakes, rigid from suspension, radial tyres all afford more safety. The vehicle will sport the white, green and maroon colours and is being launched across India. The price of vehicle ex-Ahmedabad is Rs 4.23 lakh.

Karthikeyan is brand ambassador of ESPN-Star

The speed master of India Narain Karthikeyan has been signed as the brand ambassador of ESPN-STAR Sports. The leading sports channel in India and world over has also secured five-year rights to telecast live the Formula One World Championship in India. Under the terms of the agreement, ESPN-STAR Sports will broadcast live and exclusive coverage of all 19 championship races of F1 from 2006 till 2010 season. Karthikeyan has been roped in to promote the No.1 brand. ESPN-STAR Sports has also signed Narain Karthikeyan for promoting and building F1. He will be an integral part of the channel's plan to promote motor sports in India. Karthikeyan, currently racing in the F1 championship, will participate in various on-ground promotional events, including screenings, road shows to be organised in selected cities across India.

Bharati plans $ 1bn. investment in India

One of the most well known Telecom brand of India, Bharti Tele-Ventures (BTVL) has announced huge plans about expanding their position in the Indian market. The telecom major is aiming to invest around USD 1 Billion in the various services under the Airtel brand name during the current financial year. This is around a 15% improvement over the investment Bharti Tele-Ventures made last year, which came to around USD 875 million. The major part of this investment from Bharti Tele-Ventures would go into expanding the mobile business, which in return brings the brand its maximum revenues. Rest of the investment would be used for expanding the company’s fixed line telephony service. Bharti provides telephone and broadband services through this line of business and is expanding at quite a hectic pace in the Indian market. Airtel happens to be the biggest GSM based mobile service provider and it would like to continue dominating this segment of the Indian market while it faces strong competition from Hutch and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. Essar recently made big inroads into this market when they purchased BPL Mobile for a record price for this field in the history of Indian Mobile Telephony.

Leatherman launched in India

LEATHERMAN, the American multi-utility tool brand has been launched in India and announced a strategic tie-up with Young India Films, a Chennai-based company, according to which Young India is now the exclusive distributor for the brand. According to the marketing strategy deeveloped by Young India Films the sales executive and enitre range of brand is just a phone call away. Soon there will be an exclusive Leatherman store at one of the upmarket shopping areas in Chennai and in a few high-end stores. By the year end the range will be available in the othermajor cities of India. A Leatherman compact utility tool is for everyone - be it a software engineer, automobile engineer, traveller, trekker or a do-it-yourself enthusiast. The utility tool range starts at Rs 2,500 and goes up to Rs 9,500. Some of the popular range that is available in India is the Core, Wave, Juice, Squirt, Fuse and the Super Tool 200.

Colavita launches Extra Virgin Olive oil

Colavita Italy, one of the world's largest olive oil brands, recently announced the launch of authentic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and “Colavita Pasta” in India. Colavita has introduced the three grades of Olive oil, namely “Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil” - a Certified Authentic Product of Italy, “Colavita Pure Olive Oil”, and “Colavita Pomace Olive Oil”, and several variants of pasta, including “Colavita Penne Rigate”, “Colavita Spaghetti” and others “Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil” is the most superior quality of Olive Oil, derived from the finest Italian Olives. The brand has a firm hold in the Indian Olive Oil market. Colavita products are now available in select retail stores across India. The company has successfully launched its products in cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Pune, Cochin, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Guwahati, and Hyderabad, and is planning to further expand into other cities as well.. International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that has found Colavita to be in compliance with the ISO 9002 quality system. It is available in packs of 250 ml, 500 ml, 1 litre, and 5 litres, and is priced at Rs. 160, Rs. 290, Rs. 540, and Rs. 2200

Oracle plans to buy Citbank's share in i-flex

After having courted IBM, i-flex has finally drawn Oracle's attention for a strategic investment. The US software brand is said to be focussing on Citibank's 44% stake in i-flex. Oracle is all set to invest Rs 3,000 crore for investing into buying out a majority holding in i-flex. It is expcted that major software brand Oracle would end up owning i-flex solutions entirely, in next 12 to 18 months. The 5,000-strong i-flex posted a turnover of Rs 1,139 crore and a net profit of Rs 232 crore during fiscal 2004-05. Year-on-year, its revenues have been growing over 30%. On Tuesday, i-flex scrip closed at Rs 880.85 on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), showing a loss of Rs 28.40 (3.12%). The 30-share BSE sensitive index gained 47 points to close at 7,552.77.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Rains affect production at Asahi India's Taloja

THE production work at Taloja factory of one of the leading brands in glass segment in India, Asahi India Glass's near Mumbai has been completely stalled due to unprecedented rainfall in the State. Water has flooded key electrical and oil utilities causing energy starvation at the plant. While the actual cost of repair is unknown, it is estimated that the brand will take three to four weeks to bring the furnace back into production mode. This will have a substantial cost in terms of loss of sales and the consequential profits. Asahi Inda has decided to do a `hot repair' of the furnace. This unprecedented halt in production is expected to affect Asahi India's performance in the financial year 2006, in the approximate range of Rs 20-25 crore operating income, which is a preponement and not an extra expense. Started in 1987, Asahi India Glass Ltd, manufacturer of automotive safety glass and float glass, is a joint venture between the Labroo family, Asahi Glass Co Ltd of Japan and Maruti Udyog Ltd.

NTPC reports 24.15% rise in profit

Indian Public Sector Unit power brand National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has recorded a 24.15 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 1,308.70 crore against Rs 1,054.10 crore reported in the same period last year. Total income for the quarter has risen to Rs 6,609.50 crore from 5,729.60 crore in the corresponding period of previous year
ING Vysya Life Insurance Co Ltd. (ING Vysya Life) one the leading private sector brands in India in the insurance segment has announced its strategic tie-up with Exide Industries Ltd. Exide Industries Ltd. is all set to become a major shareholder and partner of ING Life Insurance Co. Ltd. as the business continues to expand its market share and premium income across India. According to the agreement Exide will acquire the 49.13 per cent stake held by GMR Industries Ltd. (GMR) and an additional 0.87% through its subscription to a concurrent capital call, resulting in Exide achieving a 50% interest in the company. The proposed transaction is yet to get the go ahead of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA). Exide is all set to purchase GMR's 49.13 per cent for Rs. 203.2 crores. A simultaneous capital infusion will raise a further Rs. 50 crores of which Exide will invest Rs. 28.40 crores. The total capitalisation of the brand following the latest capital call will increase to Rs. 440 crores from Rs. 390 crores. After the capital call and relevant regulatory approvals, ING Group will continue to hold its 26 per cent holding, the maximum stake currently allowed under FDI regulations, Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd. 14.87 per cent* and Enam 9.13 per cent.

Oberoi plans expansion in Gurgaon & Mumbai

At the 55th annual general meeting of East India Hotels Limited (the flagship company of the Oberoi Group) the group announced its plans of opening a luxury Oberoi brand hotel in Gurgaon and another project of 440 room hotel in Bandra-Kurla in Mumbai which is expected to start soon. The average occupancies of this leading brand of hotels during the financial year 2004-05 increased to over 67 per cent as against 61 per cent in the previous year. There has been an increase in the East India Hotel's total revenue by 24 per cent, the operating profit rose by over 55 per cent, and the net profit after tax and extraordinary items by over 17 per cent. The dividend has also been increased to 40 per cent from 30 per cent in the previous year.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Emami signs Chiranjeevi as brand ambassador

Emami, the personal and healthcare brand in India, has signed in Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi as brand ambaasador. Chiranjeevi will feature in Navratna Oil commercials, which will hit the media within a month's time. Many stars have already endorsed the Emami as brand ambassadors including Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and Bollywood stars Sunny Deol, Govinda, Madhuri Dixit and Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassadors. Navratna Oil at present enjoyed leadership position as a traditional cool oil and a cure for sleeplessness and headaches. Aggression is expected to be the key word for the brand in the coming years as the brand's strength was in geographical spread and loyalty. The company would work to expand the market and Navratna Oil's share.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Zodiac to invest in retailing in India

With increasing competition in the post-quota regime, Zodiac Clothing one of the top brands in clothing segment has decided to invest further in domestic retail chains. The Zodiac group had earlier picked up a 2.93-per cent stake in Shoppers' Stop and is now looking at picking up further stakes in more retail chains However, there are no intentions of increasing its investments in Shoppers' Stop post the retail chain's IPO. Zodiac intends focusing on the Indian retail market. The Rs 151-crore Zodiac Clothing is currently on a retail expansion spree with plans of setting up 300 new stores. The company has already invested in a wholly owned subsidiary for the acquisition of a shirt manufacturing facility in the UAE and to expand its network of retail stores. Besides, Zodiac has decided to beef up the presence of its Zod brand of club wear and has recently launched its first Zod store at High Street Phoenix in Mumbai. Commenting on the opening of its first Zod store. Having stepped into the readymade casual wear market, Zodiac has been waiting for Zod to get established before investing in an exclusive shop for the brand.

John Abraham is Samsung's Brand Ambassador

Samsung has launched its new, sporty bar type colour mobile phone handset the SGH C210 in the Indian market. The company states that the SGH –C210 is the lightest bar type phone in its category. Bollywood star John Abraham will be this phone's brand ambassador. The latest brand launched by Samsung has some useful power packed features like 65K UFB LCD Colour Screen, Java, Wap, GPRS for internet connectivity, MMS messaging capabilities and a 1000 phonebook and a 200 SMS memory.

TIL posts 21.9 % net rise in sales

TIL Ltd has registered a 21.9 per cent increase in net sales to Rs 84.85 crore in the first quarter ended June 30 from Rs 69.59 crore in the same period last year. Gross income was at Rs 85.12 crore compared to Rs 70.06 crore. Total expenditure increased from Rs 55.61 crore to Rs 66.60 crore. Net profit increased from Rs 49 lakh to Rs 1.22 crore.

Texmaco Ltd posts 274% rise in profit

K K Birla group engineering outfit, Texmaco Ltd, has posted a 274% rise in net profit at Rs 3.28 crore in quarter ended June 30, 2005 from Rs 60.68 lakh in the same period of the last fiscal. The turnover during the period has improved considerably from Rs 34.87 crore in the first quarter of 2004-05 to Rs 57.7 crore in the corresponding period of 2005-06. The heavy engineering division has made a real turnaround and posted a profit of Rs 4.01 crore compared with Rs 1.19 crore in the year-ago period.

Shree cement posts Rs 26 Cr. profit

Shree Cement has one of upcoming brands in the Indian cement market has reported a marginal improvement in net profit in the quarter ended June 30, 2005 at Rs 26 crore from Rs 25.9 crore during the corresponding period of the last fiscal. Turnover has declined marginally from Rs 142.70 crore in the quarter ended June 30, 2004 to Rs 142.5 crore in the corresponding period of the currently financial year. Shree Cement has claimed that it has achieved highest-ever sales in Jung Rodhak brand during June 2005.

KPIT Cummins posts profit for q1

Pune-based Information Technology consulting brand KPIT Cummins has posted a 4.07 per cent rise in consolidated net profit at Rs 6.39 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2005 against Rs 6.14 crore in the same quarter of previous fiscal. Total income from operations grew to Rs 69.96 crore in the reporting quarter against Rs 60.86 crore in the corresponding period of last fiscal. The Indian Information Technology market flodded with big brands is growing everyday. Almost all brands reported profit in the q1 results with Tata Consultancy Services at the top.

Audi plans A4 launch in '06

A4, Audi's entry level car, is all set to be launched early next year in India. The brand will be priced in the Rs 22 lakh-24 lakh range and positioned in direct competition with brands like Mercedes `C' class. Audi hopes to sell 30-35 units of its well known brand A4 in the first quarter of next year The Audi stable in the country comprises the A6, A8 and TT Coupe and has sold 50 cars in the last four months in India. While the TT Coupe and Audi A6 petrol versions have been homologated, the A6 diesel, A4 petrol and diesel versions are in the process of getting homologated. The brand currently has two dealers in the country, EuroMotors in Delhi and Island City Motors in Mumbai. Jubilant Enpro, the dealership facility at Bangalore is all set to be opened in October to service the needs of the company's South-based clients. The market seeding for brand Audi has already begun. As part of its marketing and branding strategy, the company is bringing the Audi Golf Tournament to the country this winter.

General Motors launches Corsa Elite

General Motors India today launched a brand new Special Edition of the Opel Corsa 1.4 Elite targeted at the discerning and exclusivity-seeking customer following an overwhelming response to a previous Limited Edition of the vehicle. Available at an ex showroom Delhi price of Rs 539,634 each, the Special Edition Corsa Elite is available in two premium colour shades - Shimmering Black and Crystal Mica Based on the Corsa 1.4 GSI, the brand new Special Edition redefines value for money proposition and offers a host of incremental exclusive features including a unique Triple Information Display (TID) system. It comes with exclusive features like Italian leather upholstery, 14'' Alloy Wheels, leather wrapped steering wheel, deep burl wood finish on TID dome, centre console, instrument panel, triple Information Display (TID), sporty aluminum foot pedals, chrome exhaust pipe and cigarette lighter and ashtray

Carat India appoints N P Sathyamurthy

N P Sathyamurthy, has been appointed as the chief planning officer of Carat India. MR Sathyamurthy’s previous experience includes five years with Heinz in sales & marketing and in brand management, and 10 years in media planning with agencies like Mudra, O&M and Euro RSCG. MR Sathyamurthy recently resigned as the director general of the Media Research Users Council, MRUC, where he spent three years. MR Sathyamurthy has been associated with brands like Hindustan Lever, Philips, Microsoft, Intel, Nokia, Gillette, American Express, Castrol, Prudential ICICI, HDFC, Asian Paints, Castrol, Vimal, Rasna and Dhara amongst others. MR Sathyamurthy was responsible for syndicated research products like the Indian Research Survey (IRS), Indian Listenership Track and the new Consumer Classification System. He is a faculty member at MICA and six other premier management institutes. He will take up his assignment at Carat India as soon as he completes his hand-over at MRUC.

BMW plans $40 million plant in India

German luxury car maker BMW has sought permission from the Indian government to set up a $40 million manufacturing plant. The proposed plant will be located in the town of Chengelpet in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which already is the home to global car majors Ford Motor Co. and Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. A proposal from BMW AG and BMW Holdings BV is awaiting clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. The proposed plant is expected to assemble automobiles from knocked down kits, and import built-up units as well. BMW, the world's largest premium car maker, would buy out its subsidiary, BMW India Pvt. Ltd., which it set up in 1997. BMW AG will buy 30 percent of the stake and BMW Holding will buy the remainder. The German brand will also issue fresh shares to itself. BMW makes the popular 3-series saloon, the Mini and the 1-series compact, besides the Rolls-Royce brand.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Thomson ties up with VSNL

The Thomson Group known for its Technicolor, Grass Valley, RCA and Thomson brands, has announced its strategic tie-up with Tata group's Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, (VSNL) to combine their expertise to come up with new technologies for the Indian market. Through the partnership, Thomson will gain a foothold in the Indian market and will leverage the reputation of the Tatas, the brand recognition of Tata Indicom and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd's expertise and presence to grow its broadcast, network and telecom activities. Thomson's expertise in digital video technologies will offer significant benefits to Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd and the companies will explore new opportunities in managing and delivering content for third parties.

Honda to invest Rs. 650 Cr in India

Japanese car brand Honda Motor is planning to invest Rs 650 crore in the Indian car market in the next three years. Out of which the company is all set to put in Rs 150 crore this year to up capacity at its Surajpur plant, from 30,000 to 50,000 units. The balance Rs 500 crore is expected to be spent on productionising new models and doubling capacity further to 100,000 units per annum. The entire investment is to be funded by Honda Siel’s internal accruals The investment is part of Honda’s fresh fourth-gear strategy for India. Buoyed by a fast growth in Honda car brands in India the company is planning to introduce a new volume model, the Civic, in the Indian market. In addition to meeting the growing demands of its existing models — City and Accord— the increased capacity of the plant would also accommodate the start up of local production of the new Civic, within the next year. The new Civic, which will roll out in the US soon and debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in October this year, will have a specially-developed Asian variant which will come to India. While Honda’s Japan plant will be the mother unit for this model, the company will source from Thailand, given it’s importance in Honda’s strategy post the Indo-Thai FTA, say sources. Capacity expansion and new production introduction is part of Honda’s long-term plan to emerge as “the best” automobile brand in India.

Indian delicacies steel show at New York

Indian delicacies from Basmati rice to ready-to-eat curries, spicy chutneys & pickles, crunchy snacks, the best of Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri teas and an exclusive array of Indian wines & beers were werew the star of show at the prestigious 51st Summer Fancy Food Show organized by the NASFT at New York's Jacob Javits Center July 9-11. The Indian brands present at the show were Richi Rich, Bikanervala Foods, Bombay Exports and Imports, Clique Exports, Kashmir Apiaries Exports, Green Leaf Private Ltd, Shakti Bhog Foods Ltd, Speedway Food and Beverage Pvt. Ltd., Bansirams along with a wide range of other brands. Not to be forgotten were the Grover Vineyards' range of wines: Cabernet Shiraz-Red Wine, the most acclaimed red wine brand in India, Blancs de Clairette, the noble Indian white wine, Rose-Dry, the Pride of India and La Reserve Red Wine, the first barrel-aged wine.

Essar buys 64% in BPL

The Essar group one of the leading brands in the mobile phone segment acquired a 64 pct stake in BPL Communications Ltd for over 44 bln rupees, in one of the largest acquisitions in the Indian telecom sector. The agreement was signed after highly competitive bidding by seven to eight foreign players, besides some very keen Indian players in the field. The deal follows Essar's recent consolidation of its position in its joint venture with Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom, operating in India under Hutch brand, by acquiring an additional 3.4 pct equity. Essar plan to merge the two big brands Hutchinson and and Essar with Hutchison to retain it majority stake in the merged entity. Hutchison, which holds 53.4 pct in Hutchison Essar, is believed to have agreed to chip in funds in the merged entity at a later stage.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Himatsingka records Rs. 11.27 cr Profit

SILK fabric manufacturer and exporter Himatsingka Seide Ltd plans to invest Rs 400 crore in setting up a bed linen fabrics unit at the Hassan Special Economic Zone in Karnataka. The Indian brand repeoted an increase of 11 per-cent in its net-profit at Rs. 11.27 crore in q1. Sales revenues for the quarter increased 11 per cent to Rs 34.17 crore from Rs 30.79 crore in the corresponding previous quarter The brand expects to finance this new unit through internal accruals and a term loan. Himatsingka intends to take a term loan under the government's Technology Upgradation Fund scheme. The Karnataka Government has allotted 100 acres at Hassan SEZ for Himatsingka's new unit that will have a capacity of 20 million meters per annum. Construction activity at the new project is expected to start by September and the project is expected to be completed within 12 months. On reaching full capacity, the turnover of this new unit will be around Rs 475 crore. With this proposed investment, Himatsingka is targeting a turnover of Rs 700 crore by 2007-08.

Astra Microwave plans Rs 25 Cr. growth

With the increasing demand for its products and services both in the Indian and International markets, Astra Microwave Products Ltd (AMPL) has embarked upon an expansion programme involving an investment of Rs 25-crore. The India-based microwave components manufacturer is one of the few private brands engaged in designing and manufacturing of high value-added Radio Frequency (RF) and microwave super components and sub-systems for applications in defence, space and communication systems. During the fiscal ended March 2005, Astra Microwave Products Ltd registered a growth of 87 per cent in revenues at Rs 65 crore, from Rs 34 crore in the previous fiscal, while the net profit improved by 127 per cent at Rs 23 crore (Rs 7.5 crore). As at the end of the fiscal, the company's order book position stood at over Rs 105 crore.

REL shareholders say yes to pref share

THE Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) shareholders on Tuesday approved a preferential issue of shares worth Rs 1,750 crore. Of this, shares worth Rs 1,500 crore would be allotted to Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises (ADAE) at a price of Rs 573 a share. The balance would be allotted to about six foreign institutional investors. Ministry of Environment and Forests, had given the necessary environmental clearance for the 7,480-MW Dhirubhai Ambani Energy City project at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh. The Reliance Industries Ltd board has already re-confirmed the in-principle availability of gas for the project. Following the preferential equity allotment, the net worth of the company is expected to go up to Rs 8,200 crore from Rs 6,500 crore at present. This constituted an almost 90 per cent premium over the average weighted price of under Rs 300 per share paid by the Reliance Group for acquiring shares in the company.

Reliance Energy posts 42% growth in q1

RELIANCE Energy Ltd (REL) one of the leading brand names of India posted a net profit at Rs 156.63 crore for the first quarter of 2005-06, registering a 42-per cent growth over Rs 110.01 crore in the first quarter last year. The surge in profits came even as the utility brands income from its core activity - sale of electricity - fell during the period to Rs 783.24 crore from Rs 799.2 crore. The bulk of profits seems to have come from the Rs 58-crore rise in other income, mainly interest income, which stood at Rs 134.76 crore against Rs 76.92 crore last year. There was a rise in income from EPC and contracts at Rs 166.44 crore (Rs 143.58 crore). Thus, the total income for the quarter stood at Rs 1,084 crore, up 6 per cent from Rs 1,020 crore. The cost of energy purchased decreased 6 per cent to Rs 275 crore, owing to lower per unit cost. Reliance Energy Ltd shares dipped Rs 6.15 to close at Rs 650.40. The company ranks third among Indian private sector companies in terms of net worth that stood at Rs 6,514 crore as on June 30, 2005.

FIL launches Tuk 3 in Andhra Pradesh

FIL Industries Limited today launched in Andhra Pradesh a new brand of fruit drink, Tuk 3. The drink has been launched under Fruitfil, the umbrella brand of the juice division of the Srinagar-based Rs 100-crore-plus FIL group with an aim of tapping the everyday growing Indian fruit drink market. FIL, which is the latest entrant into an estimated Rs 600 crore fruit beverages market in India, is also planning to launch mango and apple drinks in the coming months under the brand Frugo’. With the launch of Tuk 3, the company has entered into the retail domestic fruit drink market. Tuk 3, an all season drink comes with a combination of Seabuckthorn (Ladakh Berry), Kashmiri apples and Indian mangoes. With the fruit beverages market spread into the drink, nectar and juice segments, FIL Industries Limited plans not to just target juice drink industry but also ‘fun and refreshing’ industry which is three times larger.

Glaxo plans to withdraw non-profitable drugs

Glaxo Smithkline (GSK) one of the leading brands in life saving drug making in both India as well International market is streamlining its product portfolio in a bid to weed out unprofitable brands. The latest brand to disappear from its product basket is antibiotic Furadantine. The drug maker is expected to focus on high value products in the product patent regime. It is expected that with this descision of Glaxo Smithkline of withdrawal the rival brand Ranbaxy will be gaining . Gramoneg by Ranbaxy is the only substitute for this drug. The drug is used for postoperative urinary tract infection, cystitis, pyelonephritis, pyelitis etc. Withdrawal of the particular drug brand can be attributed to the fact that the drug has become resistant to the organisms due to reasons ranging from incomplete dosage, drug not being used for proper indication under medical supervision and without being prescribed by an experienced physician.

Ecco Shoes launched in India

Danish major Ecco shoes launched its operations in India with the introduction of its premium golf footwear priced at Rs 26,999. The brand also launched its formal and casual range for men and women. Ecco shoes will initially be available in three cities - New Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh and will be retailed out of Shoetree outlets. In the first year of operations, a budget of Rs 10 million will be allocated to support a very selective marketing effort focused at the concept stores. The brand expects to sell approximately 15,000 pairs within the first year of operation with a break even expected between the second and third year. The brand offers a wide range of products, which includes formal, casual and golf shoes. The formal range of shoes predominantly consists of office wear for men and costs anywhere between Rs 8,299 – Rs 12,000. The casual range is priced between Rs 7,349 - Rs 12,000. The golf range, for men and women is priced at Rs 10,399 - Rs 26,999 and Rs 6,399- Rs 10,299 respectively.

General Motors plans cheaper Corsa

With an aim to strengthen the brand amongst middle income buyers, General Motors (GM) has decided to introduce a cheaper version of Opel Corsa. The variant, Opel Corsa 1.4 Elite, will be introduced this week with a price reduction of over Rs 50,000-80,000 from the existing ones which are priced in the range of Rs 5.88-6.26 lakh. Todays leading brands by General Motors Chevrolet Optra (Rs 8.7-12 lakh) was launched in September 2003 and Tavera (Rs 6.7-10.80 lakh) in May 2004. General Motors so far has been able to sell about 17,000 Optras and 18,120 Tavera. General Motors has set a target to sell 38,000 Chevrolets by December this year. The aotumobile major is trying to expand its brand equity with Chevrolets. These cars, from the General Motors-Daewoo Automotive Technologies (GM-DAT) stable, are making inroads into Europe and other developing markets such as India wearing the Chevrolet badge.

LIC & SBI, front runners for UTI

The Government of India is no mood to sell UTI Mutual Fund to any private player and has insisted that one of the existing sponsors buy it by this fiscal. Finance Ministry has appointed SBI Capital as the merchant banker to carry out the valuation of the country's largest fund house that manages assets worth Rs 22,000 crore. Unit Trust of India AMC may be sold to the highest bidder among the four existing sponsors -- State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation, Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda out of which Life Insurance Corporation and State Bank of India appears to be the front runners . Top officials of these leading brands in their respective segments have given a presentation to the Ministry of Finance last week on the future course of action for the country's largest fund house including buying out the stakes of other players. Unit Trust of India AMC has been one of the fastest growing funds in the country and targets Rs 26,000 crore in AUM by the end of this fiscal, a growth of over 25 per cent. The fund is now geared up to expand its branch network to 15 more cities this fiscal over and above the 56 cities they are already into. Unit Trust of India AMC plans to expand its branch network to 100 cities in the next two years.

Bagga plans high sales for Khodays Liquor

Bagga Millennium Liquor India Pvt Ltd, which grabbed the marketing and distribution rights of the Khodays liquor brands on long lease, is expecting volume sales up to 2.5 million cases in 2005-06. Bagga's initial focus is on Red Knight Whisky, a semi-premium brand, which is attempting a comeback in markets such as Haryana and Punjab, where it once enjoyed good share. The brand is averaging about 70,000 cases monthly, and its sales for the full year should be in the vicinity of a million cases. Along with Red Knight Whisky, the other brands receiving initial focus include Peter Scot Whisky, which is expected to mop up sales of 2.5 lakh cases in the current year, and the economy priced Democrat Whisky.

Tata Tea plans sale of six estates

After divesting 17 tea estates of South Indian plantations in favour of workers, Tata Tea the leading tea brand has now turned its focus on the remaining six estates in the south India and was weighing a completely different option, most likely an outright sale. Out of the remaining six estates one is in Kerala and the rest in Tamil Nadu. Tata Tea's plantations in southern India were located in the Western Ghats in the western part of the state of Kerala and adjoining part of the state of Tamil Nadu. The former, in Idukki district of Kerala, were located in an area knwon as the Kanan Devan Hills. The brand managed to get almost a 97 per cent participation from the workers. The other estates in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu and one estate in the Trichur district of Kerala formed part of the Anamallais plantation area. On the branded business front, Tata Tea was reassessing the business. Tata Tea has already restructured the brand, "Agni".

Silver Smith opens 1st retail showroom

Silver Smith India Ltd. has launched its first retail showroom under the brand name of "Niche" on Monday in New Delhi.The company hoped to make "Niche" household name and trend setter in the jewellery segment. Silver Smith India - listed on all major stock exchanges in India - was incorporated in 1994 to process raw silver and gold into value added jewellery items at its fully automated and integrated manufacturing facilities.

Zenith adjuged second in PC manufacturing

The recently released IDC-Dataquest Report on the Dataquest top 20 Information Technology companies in India shows that Zenith is the second-largest Indian PC Manufacturer after HCL Infosystems. Zenith has shown a higher market share than Wipro, Dell, and Acer; its market share is at par with IBM/Lenovo, just after Hewlett Packard. Zenith's profit reached new heights after it entered the laptop market in August 2004. Zenith launched seven laptops, under the brand name the 'power of seven', which did well in the Indian market. Its laptop sales increased 350 per cent within two quarters; the only Indian brand to register this volume of growth in 2004-05. As a result, Zenith declared a dividend in 2004-05 and invested further in its manufacturing facilities. The Indian notebook market has grown by over 140 per cent last year with sales touching 2.2 lakh units, compared to the previous year's 75 per cent. Since laptops are a high margin product, this has significantly added to the Zenith's bottomline.

NDTV eyes international presence

After achieving a huge brand equity in India NDTV now plans to move foriegn. The news broadcaster has chalked out for itself a business proposal envisaging providing consultancy to TV channels abroad and, in the process, picking up equity stakes in such ventures. The Indian brand is planning to enter the international arena in the financial year of 2006-07. NDTV is looking at forming joint ventures with local TV companies in various countries, including those nearer home in Asia. Such ventures, admittedly, would bring in revenue from consultancy, apart from extending the NDTV brand name globally. What is not clear at this stage though is whether the Indian company would convert its equity shareholding in joint venture to have full-fledged NDTV channels in those countries.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Indian Beer wins 13 medals

`COBRA Beer`, the brainchild of Indian-origin entrepreneur Karan Bilimoria, has won 13 gold medals for its beers and wines at the prestigious Monde Selection awards in Brussels this year. The awards include 11 gold medals won by the Cobra Beer, which is a record in itself. Of the Gold Medals, two were awarded to Mount Shivalik, the Indian brand of the Cobra Group launched just four months ago. The brand had won two gold medals in its very first entry in 2001 and repeated the performance in the next two years, also the international trophy in 2003 for its consistent performance for three years. In 2004, it won six golds, and this year, it scooped a record 11 golds and two grand gold medals. The major beer brand Cobra had expanded its operations in India, South Africa and the US with offices in Mumbai, Cape Town and New York. It is currently exporting beer and wine to 30 countries and brewing the beer in Holland, Poland, South Africa, Belgium and India.

Coke, Pepsi to concentrate on non-cola brands

With growth patterns across the world tilting in favour of non-cola beverages, soft drink brands Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are sharpening focus on their non-cola portfolios in India as well. This year, for example, though cola brands have registered roughly the same growth as last year, non-cola brands have been growing at anywhere between 30-50 per cent After aggressively pushing the fruit-based Maaza earlier this year in new flavours and packaging, Coca Cola is now in the process of rolling out a low-calorie variant of its clear lime brand, Sprite. Sprite Zero, as the product is called, is being pushed as having less than one calorie. The introduction of Sprite Zero comes close on the heels of another mint-lemon variant — Sprite Ice. Rival brand Pepsi has rolled out 7-Up Ice and limited edition flavours of Mirinda such as BlackBerry. The carbonated soft drink market in India is estimated at Rs 7,000 crore. In the non-carbonated segment, Coca-Cola is in the process of setting up small-format cafes called Georgia Junctions, to generate growth for its Georgia coffee. Pepsi, meanwhile, is busy focussing up visibility of Lipton Ice tea, which it has introduced jointly with Hindustan Lever. Both firms are also focussing diet variants of their flagship cola brands.

Bajaj Auto to invest in Indonesia

India's second-biggest motorcycle brand, Bajaj Auto Ltd is all set to set up a manufacturing plant in Indonesia to tap south east Asian markets The Pune-based motorcycle brand, which enjoys a huge brand equity in the scooter segment and dominates the market for three-wheeled motorised rickshaws in India, is also planning to set up a plant in Brazil in about 18 months. The brand is expected to use its large cash pile to fund its global forays. which uses technology from Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd to make some models in the world's number two bike market after China, will look to entering other south east Asian markets.

Reliance Info introduces Wild Macaw

Reliance Infocomm Ltd one of the top Information Technology brands in India is out with a new initiative, The Wild Macaw club is set to cultivate outdoor travel as a habit and create new learning experiences. The target audience would be in the age group of 13 to 30 years, of travel enthusiasts, who like to discover, explore and have a passion for outdoor learning. The brand in looking at companies, schools and colleges for tie-ups. The Wild Macaw will be offering a line up of activities, including outdoor session for discussions, lectures and projects on various themes. Camping, trekking, rock climbing, nature trails, cycle treks, beach walks and jungle trips will be planned regularly. The Wild Macaw celebrated its launch with the culmination of a month-long contest, with the winners going for their first fun and education trip to Crocodile Bank for one night and two days. The club has also tied up with organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund, Dakshinachitra and Jungle Lodges & Resorts Ltd to leverage their experience in this area.

Tata Consultancu plans venture in Pakistan

Information Technology could well be true that money and business are the greatest levellers, knowing no nationality or ideology. Indias top brand Tata Consultancy Services, which last month inked a pact to set up an information technology services company in China, is now planning to set up a training centre in Pakistan. The training facility is intended to target engineering students who pass out of colleges in Pakistan and provide them the skills and capabilities required to close the gap between their academic training and industry requirements. Tata Consultancy Services has been talking to various government agencies in Pakistan as well as to the Nasscom equivalent in that country that is known by the name of P@SHA. In fact P@SHA had sent a delegation to the Nasscom annual conference in Mumbai that was held in February this year. This venture by the top Indian technology brand could prove to be a medium to bridge the gap between India and Pakistan and prove to be a blessing in disguise.

IDBI Capital ties up with India Post

With an objective to use the vast India Post network, IDBI Capital Market Services Ltd, a leading brand in financial services segment, on Monday entered into a strategic tie up with in the presence of the Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, with India Post for retailing government securities to investors. Under the scheme, government securities could be purchased or sold through India Post branches in India. However, the scheme would be available only in select post offices in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai and Delhi initially. Rest of the branches in India would be covered soon. IDBI Capital, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), is one of the active players in the retail government securities market.. Any individual who is above 18 years of age or a Hindu Undivided Family will be eligible to buy government securities. However, to invest in government securities, one must have a demat account with any depository participant of National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) or Central Depository Services Ltd (CDSL). The minimum face value to be purchased/sold is Rs 10,000 and in multiples of Rs 1,000 thereafter with a maximum face value of Rs 10,00,000.

Indian Airline posts profit in q1

Indian Airlines (IA) the desi brand in aviation segment has recorded a net profit of Rs 28.45 crore during first quarter of current financial year, up from Rs 5.95 crore in the year-on period. The number of passengers carried also increased by 10.1 per cent and 6.4 per cent. The budgeted net profit was Rs 12.29 crore. The operating profit was up from Rs 15.25 crore in April-June 04 to Rs 34.75 crore in the same period this year. Indian Airlines also increased its total revenue by 18.4 per cent in April-June 05 compared to that in last year's corresponding period. Indian Airlines owed the success despite of continuously rising petroleum prices, to strict cost control measures and improved physical performance. There was improvement in physical performance such as available tonne kilometres (ATKMs), revenue tonne kilometres (RTKMs), number of passengers carried, overall load factor and seat factor - both when compared to corresponding period previous year and budgeted targets.

Tata steel signs up Australian Coal Co.

Tata Iron and Steel Company Ltd (TISCO) a major part of India's top business houses entered into a strategic agreement with Australia-based AMCI Pty Ltd to acquire five per cent stake in Carborough Downs coal project. The brand will acquire five per cent stake in the Carborough Downs coal project, which is owned and operated by AMCI Australia Pty Ltd, a sub-brand of AMCI Holdings. It has also signed an offtake agreement for a proportion of the production over the life of the project. The project life is estimated to be 14 years and approximately 58 million tonnes of raw coal is likely to be mined during this period. There is a further potential resource of 100 million tonnes of raw coal in the unexplored areas and deeper seams, it ad ded.

Hero Honda declares q1 results

Hero Honda Motors Ltd one of the leading brands on Indian roads in Low Motor Vehicle segment reported on Monday a 7.5 per cent increase in net profit for the quarter ending June 30, 2005, at Rs 204.4 crore against Rs 190 crore in the same period last year. The turnover of the brand has jumped by 15 per cent to Rs 2007.6 crore from Rs 1,745.2 crore in the first quarter of last fiscal.

Barista Creame Debuts in India

Barista Coffee one of the top brands in cafe outlets in India and world over has launched its new sub-brand of premium café - Barista Crème in Delhi. The Wi-Fi-enabled Barista Cremé also has a Corner Bookstore outlet. At the latest sub-brand the coffee is expected to be freshly roasted and cookies baked every three hours.As part of the expansion plan Barista has lined up 60 espresso bars with a special focus on South India.

Indian Diamond to debut in Middle East

India has never sparkled this way for a very long time. For the first time Indian jewellery brands are all set to make a debut in International market. India's top diamond brands Nakshatra and Asmi are all set to be launched in Middle East by D'damas, the largest retailing jewellery brand chain in the Middle East in association with the Gitanjali Group. The Gitanjali Group also announced its strategic tie-up with Bollywood film director Rakesh Roshan for his forthcoming film KRRISH, wherein the brand would launch a signature line of jewellery, inspired by the film, this is in keeping with D'damas completing two years. It was truly an evening to remember, where the gorgeous Bollywood beauty Celina Jaitley along with other models set the ramp on fire adorning jewellery from Nakshatra, Asmi, D'damas fit for royalty, at a fashion show by designer Vikram Phadnis.

Lotto aims 10% market share in India

Lotto Sport Italia, the licensee of Sierra Industrial Enterprises Pvt Ltd , aims at a ten per cent share of the Indian branded footwear market by the year 2007-08. The branded footwear market in India is likely to touch Rs 650 crore by 2007-08 from present 500 crore and Lotto aims at sale of Rs 65 crore by the next three years. Lotto has 20 distributors in 20 major states of India, and Lotto today is present in over 512 stores. The brand plans ten exclusive outlets over the next five months to be spread in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam, Bhuvaneshwar, Ranchi, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat. Two of these ten outlets are already operational in Delhi and Vadodara. The brand aims to sell its shoes over 1000 outlets by 2007. As its growth strategy the brand plans to continue manufacturing and selling shoes for football, calcetto and tennis. Calcetto is a smaller version of soccer, where there are six players in a side.

Iriver signs up Salora International

IRiver, a portable digital, audio-visual device brand from ReignCom Korea, recently launched in in India has entered into a strategic tie-up with Salora International as its exclusive national distributor and service partner. ReignCom is focusing on new and emerging markets such as India, Saarc, Middle East and GCC and Africa. The company plans to launch stores across India as well as make the brand available through "strategic placement and relationships" with over 400 tier-1 and 10,000 tier-2 retail outlets. Salora enjoys a good brand equity in the Indian market consumer durabl0e, telecom and IT distribution segment, and has a network and distribution reach in 20 state locations in India. The brand also launched www.iriverindia.com, a dedicated portal for frequently asked questions, updates, downloads and online offerings for India.

Videocon takes charge of Electrolux

Allwyn and Kelvinator, two well known brands of refrigerators which had almost lost its market share are all set to hit the Indian market again. Videocon has taken control of Electrolux’s manufacturing facilities in the country and Aniruddh Dhoot has been appointed in charge of the Electrolux brand, by father Venugopal Dhoot. The acquisition of the three white goods brands is expected to help Videocon shore up its volumes in the refrigerator and washing machines market where it has lost share heavily due to the entry of the Korean brands LG and Samsung in India . Electrolux, as a result of this strategic partnership with the Videocon Group, will move from a subsidiary to a licensing model. The licenses will be managed through a new branch office of AB Electrolux in India which, together with Videocon, will promote the sales of Electrolux products.

Friday, July 15, 2005

BSNL takes group policy from LIC

BHARAT Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) the major telecom brand in India has taken a corporate group life insurance policy from the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) for it 3.5 lakh employees for a sum assured of Rs 4,770 crore. Under the scheme, 10,000 senior BHARAT Sanchar Nigam Ltd executives are insured for a sum of Rs 5 lakhs against a monthly premium of Rs 500. Of the premium, 30 per cent goes towards group coverage, while the remaining 70 per cent are accumulated in a group savings fund, which will be provided to the employees with returns. Besides senior executives, 40,000 officers would be covered for an insured sum of Rs 3 lakh each against a premium of Rs 300. The largest number comes from the 3 lakhs non-executive employees who will get a life insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh each. The policy given by Life Insurance Corporation ( the biggest brand in life insurance) includes life insurance component, which provides cover against natural death, a double accident benefit in the case of accidental death where the claimant will get twice the sum assured. There will also be a retirement benefit in the cover.

HDFC reports 21% rise in net profit

HOUSING Development Finance Corporation has reported a 21-per cent increase in net profit for the first quarter ended June 30, 2005. Net profit for the quarter amounted to Rs 247.28 crore as against Rs 204.62 crore during the corresponding year-ago quarter. Income from operations, at Rs 932.55 crore, showed a 22.5 per cent increase year-on-year. Income from interest on loans showed a 33.85 per cent increase, at Rs 760.67 crore (Rs 590.68 crore). Total expenditure rose by 21.98 per cent, and amounted to Rs 622.94 crore for the quarter (Rs 510.67 crore). Of this, interest and other charges increased by 22 per cent, at Rs 566.86 crore (Rs 464.46 crore). Gross profit (after interest and before depreciation and taxation), rose by 23.53 per cent, to Rs 311.82 crore (Rs 252.41 crore). Loan approvals during the quarter ended June 30, 2005 amounted to Rs 4,628 crore as against Rs 3,567 crore in the corresponding period last year, representing a growth of 30 per cent. Loan amounted to Rs 3,437 crore, (Rs 2,690 crore), representing an increase of 28 per cent. The loan portfolio (including loans outstanding, deposits and investments in preference shares and debentures for financing real estate-related projects) as on June 30, 2005 amounted to Rs 39,081 crore as against Rs 30,246 crore as on June 30, 2004, representing an increase of 29 per cent.

Videocon to raise fund through GDR/FCCB

VIDEOCON Industries Ltd the major Indian brand in Home appliance and consumer durables segment is expected to take a decision on raising Rs 5,000 crore through issue of global depository receipts (GDRs) and/or foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) at its board meeting on July 23. The company on Friday informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that the board would consider granting approval to issue of GDRs or FCCBs and equity shares through prospectus/letter of offer or circular and/or by private placement on preferential basis and/or on rights basis.

Cancer drug enters phase-I/II trials

DRUG major brand Nicholas Piramal India Ltd has claimed that its prospective anti-cancer drug molecule has entered into Phase I and II clinical studies. After obtaining the necessary permissions from the Canadian regulatory authorities, a patient was recently infused intravenously with P276-00 at an Oncology centre in Canada. It is expected that it could take 9-12 months to enrol 30-35 patients to complete the Phase I/II study that will help determine a safe and possible efficacious dose, which will be used for further clinical studies. The prospective cancer drug molecule is the first in a series of compounds from the company's research centre to enter into clinical trials. It is an inhibitor of a key protein that is required by the cells to divide. Based on the initial laboratory data, P276-00 appears suitable as an agent to treat lung, breast and colon cancers.

Tata Coffee to raise short-term loans

TATA Coffee Ltd plans to raise short-term debt to fund the acquisition of six tea and coffee estates from Tata Tea. Tata Coffee is acquiring 4,300 hectares from Tata Tea for Rs 55 crore. These high-yielding top estates are located in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and produce some 6 million kg of tea and about 500 tonnes of coffee. Tata Coffee has two small tea estates in Coorg and Chikmagalur districts of Karnataka that roduce some 1.2 million kg. With the proposed acquisition that is set to conclude by end-August, Tata Coffee's total tea holdings will increase to around 4,000 hectares, whereas the total coffee holdings would increase to over 7,000 hectares

Tata Consulatancy net profit rises by 33%

TATA Consultancy Services (TCS) has reported a net profit of Rs 578.86 crore which is a rise of 33 percent for the first quarter ended June 30. The higher net profit was on account of increased international business, better employee utilisation and improved cost management. Consolidated revenues rose by 24.56 per cent, year-on-year, to Rs 2721 crore. TATA Consultancy Services has added 68 new clients during the quarter. The company hired 2,690 employees during the quarter under consideration. In another development Tata Infotech Ltd has been merged with TATA Consultancy Services. Tata Infotech Ltd has become biggest brand in Information Technology segment by becoming the first Indian information technology company to cross Rs. 10,000 crores.

Ayush fails in Indian market

Hindustan Lever (HLL)’s ayurvedic brand Lever Ayush, launched with high expectations in 2002 is under review as the brands is not rising up to the expectations the in the traditional retail market, ironically a turf Hindustan Lever is master with. The brand has been withdrawn from retail shelves some time ago, and is not expected to return back in the market. Interestingly, the brand did comparatively well when marketed through its direct selling channel Hindustan Lever Network, a relatively newer distribution route for HLL. Hindustan Lever decided to market Ayush through its direct selling business last year, with a view to lift its sagging sales. Hindustan Lever tarrgeted annual sales of Rs 200 crore in a span of 2-3 years of its launch but the brand has not been able to notch up more than Rs 20 crore The brand was launched by the company at a time when the Rs 3,000 crore healthcare market was witnessing a robust growth of about 15%, almost 50% more than non-herbal products in the category. Ayush was pitched against entrenched competitors like Dabur, Himalaya Drug Company and Ayur. However, the brand failed to make any significant impact on the market and competition.

Price of Fiat Palio cut by 22,000

Fiat India Private Ltd has announced a cut down on the prices on its flagship brand Palio. The price reduction from Fiat, with immediate effect in Mumbai, will be implemented for all the three Palio models. Price reduction in other parts of India will be made over the next few days. With this reduction the top end model Palio -1.25 litre ELX will now be available at Rs. 4.15 lakh which means Rs. 22,000 less than its current mark up. The price of Palio 1.25 EL is also expecetd to be reduced accordingly. The descision to reduce the prices is said to be taken to beat the tough competetion given by latest brands Swift and Getz.

Tata Infotech merged with Consultancy

The Tata group today merged its information technology-enabled services business by merging Tata Infotech Ltd (TIL) with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Tata Infotech Ltd became the first Indian Information Technology company to cross Rs 10,000 crore sales ad has now become the biggest brand in this segment. The merger is proposed to be effective from April 1, 2005. The shareholders of Tata Infotech Ltd will receive one equity share of Tata Consultancy Services for every two shares held. The Tata Consultancy Sservices shares’ face value is Re 1 while Tata Infotech Ltd share has a face value of Rs 10. Post amalgamation, the paid-up share capital of Tata Consultancy Services will increase from Rs 40.01 crore to Rs 48.92 crore. After the Tata Infotech Ltd merger, Tata Consultancy Services will be the first Information Technology company in India with sales of over Rs 10,000 crore. Wipro, with net sales of Rs 8,160 crore in 2004-05 will be second largest company and Infosys Technologies, with sales of Rs 7,130 crore, will rank third in the pecking order.

Samsung's profit fell

Samsung Electronics declared on Friday that its second-quarter net profit fell by nearly half from a year earlier. The leading brand in computer hardware segment blamed this on the falling prices of computer memory chips due to which it became harder to squeeze profit from its two other main products, flat-panel screens and mobile phones. The company is the world's top manufacturer of memory chips and flat screens. It is also the world's No. 3 maker of cellphones, after Nokia and Motorola But before the quarter ended, signs emerged for a turnaround for the brand in the second half as the prices of computer memory chips were stabilizing, and demand for mobile phones, flat-panel screens for TV sets and computers and memory chips for digital music players and mobile phone handsets were on the rise in the Indian as well as international market. By revenue, Samsung's cellphone business is its largest operation, generating one-third of its 13.6 trillion won, or $13 billion, in sales in the latest quarter, as well as one-third of the company's quarterly net profit of 1.69 trillion won. The net profit for the second quarter was a 46 percent decline from the 3.13 trillion won Samsung earned a year earlier but a slight improvement over its 1.5 trillion won in the first quarter. The sales figure represents a 9.3 percent decrease from a year earlier.

Readers Digest in Indian languages soon

READER'S DIGEST is exploring the possibility of launching a vernacular edition under a new brand in the coming 6-12 months. Different from its English the new edition will be targetting at a new socio-economic segment and is expected to be an Indian version of the mother brand with a cover price, which will be different from its existing English edition. The main challenge for a new vernacular brand will be distribution because of lingual diversities of India. Relying heavily on its direct marketing initiatives to get sales, Reader's Digest has always been a subscription-driven magazine. Pegging its subscription growth rates at 14 per cent, the magazine is also expecting a revenue growth of close to 20 per cent this year. Reader's Digest is 50-years-old brand in India with over 48 editions in 19 languages existing in almost 60 countries.

Mirc Electronics appoints Vivek Sharma

Mirc Electronics, which operates the consumer durable brands Onida and Igo, has roped in Vivek Sharma from advertising agency RMG David to head its sales and marketing section. The seat fell vacant sometime back when V Chandramouli quit it to join Cadbury. Onida is the single largest selling Indian brand. Overall, this is the third largest selling colour television brand in the India, after LG and Samsung. The Mumbai-headquartered durables firm Mirc had recently extended the brand portfolio of Onida from consumer electronics to the home appliances category, encompassing airconditioners and washing machines.

Hindustan Times launched in Mumbai

Hindustan Times, the no.1 brand in Delhi made its much-awaited Mumbai debut today with a cover price of Rs 2.50. The newspaper group from Delhi without wasting time has announced the launch of HT’s maiden public issue by August-end in the financial capital of India. HT Media Ltd, the company behind one of the biggest brands of North India, Hindustan Times had filed a draft red herring prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on April 21. Promoters hold 77.11% of the pre-issue equity share capital in HT Media, while Henderson, according to media reports, has a 15.83% stake (company sources said Henderson has a 17% stake), while Citicorp holds 7.06% of the pre-issue share capital. HT Media is a KK Birla group company. Hindustan Times, meanwhile, is starting a fresh multi media campaign in order to establish its brand with its Mumbai launch. While the outdoor campaign has begun early evening on Wednesday, April 13, the second phase of television campaign will begin today. In addition, the company is also running a contest – ‘HT Seven Lucky offer’. The contest is all about preserving seven out of the first 14 issues of HT, and writing a slogan. The lucky reader could even win a Mercedez Benz car.

Movado plans expansion in India

The $330-million Movado Group Inc. of USA is looking at the possibility of launching Movado Boutique retail concept in India.It would be an extension of the Movado brand philosophy of innovative design, reaching beyond watches to a range of products for modern living including leather accessories and eye wear. Present since 2000 in India, Movado at present has 34 retail outlets, with six in Kolkata.The group plans to have as many as 50 stores by the end of the fiscal year. Priced betweenRs 20,000 to Rs 3 lakh per watch the brand plans to sell around 300 pieces of watch this year. Movado has also roped in film actress Twinkle Khanna as the brand ambassador for its watches in India. This retail concept is mall-based and limited, and 30-35 stores are planned in prime locations within premiere 0f malls. There are currently over 25 Movado Boutiques in New York and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, south Florida, greater Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas and California. In India Movado would roll out boutiques in a couple of years and simultaneously launch other accessories.In a parallel development, Movado has launched its new collections - Dolco, Fiero, Rondiro, Strato and Vivo.

Sony Ericsson sees fall in profit

Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Ltd.,one of the leading brands in the mobile-phone handsets segment in India and world over declared the second-quarter results according to which profit fell 19 percent as competition increased. Net income at London-based Sony Ericsson, the world's sixth- biggest mobile-phone maker, declined to 75 million euros ($91 million) from 89 million euros a year earlier. Sales rose to 1.61 billion euros from 1.50 billion euros. Sony Ericsson has blamed the tough competetion with No. 1 brands like Nokia. Sony Ericsson is all set to take on its rivals with music phones using Sony's Walkman brand and by introducing cheaper handsets in China and India.

Radico Khaitan launch new Vodka brand

Radico Khaitan Ltd is likely to unveil its vodka brand, Magic Moments very soon in India as well as International market. As per the expansion plans, Radico Kaitan has initiated talks with various parties for acquiring bottling plants, distilleries and liquor brands. The company had earmarked Rs 85 crore for acquisitions of bottling units and distilleries this year. Radico Khaitan has already expanded its two flagship brands vertically. While its 8 PM whisky was expanded to the rum and brandy categories, Old Admiral, the whisky, was enlarged with rum and brandy segments. Incidentally, both the brands have been recognised as two of the fastest growing top-10 brands in the region as reported by Millionaires Club 2004 survey conducted by the leading Belgium magazine Drinks International. While the whisky brand grew at 38 per cent in the last four years, the brandy registered a growth of 48 per cent. Its Contessa rum too found a place in the club.

Coca Cola serves legal notice to Haksar

The leading soft drink brand Coca-Cola India Inc has served a legal notice on well-known photographer and Chennai-based ad man Sharad Haksar for ‘‘illegally’’ using the branding of the company in a creative hoarding put up on Nungambakkam High Road.The controversial hoarding has a dry hand pump and lined-up empty pots in the backdrop of the Coca-Cola brand advertisement with a slogan ‘‘Drink Coca-Cola’’. Coca Cola India has served the legal notice to Haksar on the pretext that he had used the branding of Coke in his creative work without Coca Cola's permission which has done considerable damage to brand equity in south India of the soft drink major. The brand is already facing a protests in Kerala on the charges of over exploitation of ground water. It is intresting to know that Sharad Haksar also happens to be a photographer for Coca Cola India so efforts are on to sort out the issue through discussions.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Korean brand i-river comes to India

Reigncom, a $450 million Korean portable digital device maker, is expected to bring some 18 models of mp3 players and portable video players to India and the SAARC countries, starting September. The Reigncom sells these devices under the brand i-river. Its products will be distributed by India based Salora International Limited. Priced between Rs 5,000 ($116)and Rs 20,000 ($465), these devices use flash memory chips at the low end and miniature hard disk drives at the upper end. Users will be required to download music onto the devices, from the Internet portal Napster for instance. Salora is also expexted to distribute, later, a touch screen based portable digital video player that also comes loaded with gaming capabilities in India.

Ready-to-eat fish for north Indians

Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) now plans to launch Ready-to-eat fish curries in markets across North India as a result of the technology developed by them. In a public-private enterprise, the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) in Cochin — which falls under ICAR — has developed the technology for packaging and processing of the curries. Indian Council for Agriculture Research has commercialised and transferred the technology to M/S. Forstar Insta Foods, Mumbai, with HACCP certification. Today ICAR DG Mangala Rai officially launched the product under the brand name ‘‘Secrets of the Sea’’. The curry would be packaged in flexible heat stable pouches developed by Central Institute of Fisheries Technology and is expected to have a shelf life of one year.

Gecics Global aquires Creditek Corp.

Ahead of a major rebranding initiative, Gecis Global, the former business-process-outsourcing arm of General Electric Co., has made its first acquisition since spinning off from its parent company about six months ago. It has acquired Creditek Corp., a Parsippany, N.J., provider of order-to-cash and receivables-management services. Gecis is expected soon reveal a new brand name and branding initiative to establish its presence as an independent service provider. Last year, private equity firms General Atlantic and Oak Hill Capital Partners purchased 60% of the company from General Electric.