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Weeklu Business Digest

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2009

Weekly Business Digest
Week ending July 5, 2009

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[Type the abstract of the document here. The abstract is typically a short summary of the contents of the document. Type the abstract of the document here. The abstract is typically a short summary of the contents of the Networth – Everything finance document.] The Finance Club of IIMB 05/07/2009

Table of Contents India Business News World Business News Food For Thought

INDIA BUSINESS NEWS

Indian Stocks Advance, Driving Sensex Higher for a Second Week India’s stocks rose, driving the benchmark index higher for a second week, led by Larsen & Toubro Ltd. (L&T), after the government pledged investment in the nation’s railways and left freight and passenger fares unchanged. L&T, the largest engineering company, added 2.6%. Tata Steel Ltd., the biggest producer of the metal, increased 4.2% on speculation it will avoid higher costs to transport raw materials after the government announced the railway budget. on June 15, the Bombay High Court had ordered RIL to sell the gas for 44% less than the government-set price.

Indian business in declined 20%: FICCI

Gulf

has

ABG Plans to Raise $150 Million to Fund Expansion ABG Shipyard Ltd., bidding for control of Great Offshore Ltd., plans to raise $150 million to fund expansion, reviving a proposal from April last year. ABG, which originally sought to raise $200 million, will seek shareholder approval for the new plan on July 7, Chief Financial Officer Dhananjay Datar said in an interview in Mumbai, where the company is based.

Indian companies with interest in the Gulf have witnessed their business in the region decline by 20%. According to Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), strict visa rules in many countries in the Middle East are obstructing easy flow of manpower for project execution. Also, direct and indirect subsidies to domestic companies there have made it more difficult for Indian businesses to offset their losses, FICCI said in a statement.

EPF interest rate maintained at 8.5% The interest rate on Employees Provident Fund will remain at 8.5% this year. The decision to keep interest rates unchanged was taken despite the workers’ unions demanding 9.5% interest rate. Currently, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation offers the highest rates on deposits.

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Moves Supreme Court Reliance Natural Resources Ltd. filed a petition in Supreme Court today, seeking implementation of a lower court order asking Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) to supply natural gas to the company. Earlier,

RBI Data Bank Rate Repo Rate Reverse Repo Rate PLR 6.00% 4.75% 3.25%

India Tea Output in First Five Months Drops 10% on Dry Weather Tea production in India, the world’s largest grower, fell 10% in the five months to May after dry weather in the nation’s biggest growing region damaged the crop, the state-owned Tea Board said.

Air India Debt Doubles to $3.2 Billion after Paying for Planes Air India, the national carrier that delayed last month’s salary payments due to a cash shortage, more than doubled its debt after paying for new planes from Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS. The state-owned carrier’s borrowings totaled 152.41 billion rupees ($3.2 billion) as of June compared with 65.5 billion rupees in November 2007, Aviation Minister Praful Patel said.

12.75% - 13.25% 3.5%- 9.6%

Savings Rate

Fuel price Hike Making a departure from the past precedence, the government on Wednesday bypassed the Cabinet to raise petrol prices by Rs 4 per litre and diesel rates by Rs 2 a litre with effect from Wednesday midnight. "The hike was necessitated because of rising international crude oil prices which have doubled to $70 per barrel since December," Petroleum Minister Murli Deora told reporters in New Delhi. Deora only consulted party leadership and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to decide on the hike. Usually, the fuel price revisions are referred to the Cabinet.

India Economy May Grow 7.75% This Year, Ministry Says Indian economic growth may accelerate to as much as 7.75% this year amid signs of a “bottoming out” in the U.S. and harvests benefiting from monsoon rains, the finance ministry said before next week’s budget. “The speed at which the Indian economy returns to a high growth path in the short term depends on a revival of the global economy, particularly the U.S. economy,” the annual Economic Survey prepared by officials advising Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

Key Indices BSE Sensex NSE Nifty NASDAQ DOW JONES S&P 500 FTSE 100 14,913.05

WORLD BUSINESS NEWS

China urges dollar stability 4424.25 1796.52 8289.81 896.42 4236.28 China reiterated its call for a stable dollar and for the need to diversify the international monetary system. The largest holder of foreign currency reserves, China has reportedly asked to debate proposals for a new global reserve currency at next week's G-8 summit, though some officials deny the claims.

SEC eyes tighter exec pay rules The SEC may change how companies are required to disclose stock options given to executives, a change that could profoundly affect the reporting of executive pay. As an example, Citigroup reported CEO Vikram Pandit received $10.8M in compensation in 2008, a number that would have risen to $38.2M under the potential new rule.

Lear goes bankrupt FDIC gets tougher on bank buyers As expected, auto-seat maker Lear filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the eighth major auto-part supplier to do so since 2005. The company obtained $500M in bankruptcy financing, and its restructuring plan is supported by key lenders and bondholders. FDIC is expected to propose stricter guidelines today for private-equity firms looking to buy failed banks. The FDIC has to walk a fine line on the issue, reducing the agency's potential cost of bank failures by encouraging more types of investors while simultaneously preventing largely unregulated private-equity firms from acting too aggressively.

GMAC becomes a corporation GMAC converted to a corporation from a limited liability company, a move that could allow it to sell shares to the public, though it wasn't clear when or if GMAC might choose to do so.

Lukewarm bids for BoA asset manager Bank of America is getting lower than expected bids for Columbia Management, its asset management unit, and may break Columbia into two pieces to boost results. Bank of America, which has been trying to sell the unit since the beginning of the year, is hoping to get at least $3B but bids have been closer to $2B after BlackRock, the most likely suitor, closed a major deal earlier this month to buy Barclays' BGI investment unit instead.

Home sales inch up May's Pending Home Sales were +0.1% from April to 90.7. Prior sales were revised to +7.1% from +6.7%. It's the fourth straight monthly gain; the last time that happened was in 2004.

Citi hikes credit card rates Citigroup has sharply raised interest rates on as many as 15M credit card accounts, months before new legislation curbing these increases goes into effect. In a statement, Citi said the changes "reflect the dramatically higher cost of doing business in our industry as we work to preserve the broad availability of credit."

UBS nearing tax settlement According to Swiss newspaper reports, UBS will pay 3-5B Swiss francs ($2.77-4.62B) in the next two weeks to settle a U.S. tax probe, and is under pressure by the Swiss central bank to sign the deal in order to bring stability back to the Swiss banking sector. However, some following the case are skeptical the U.S. government would drop its probe without major concessions from Switzerland.

Vodafone mulls T-Mobile bid Vodafone is reportedly considering a bid to buy T-Mobile UK in a move that would shake up the U.K. mobile phone market and potentially face resistance from regulators. The deal would create a company with around 35M subscribers, or about half of the U.K. mobile market. T-Mobile UK has underperformed for several years, and JPMorgan has been appointed to advise parent company Deutsche Telekom on strategic options for the business.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT ‘Buy China’ Pesticide Withers Those Green Shoots So you think China’s 6% growth will power a global recovery. Think again. Economists, for example, can’t put a gloss on how ugly Japan’s data are getting. Exports and output are plunging, unemployment is at a 25year high and those all-important summer bonuses are evaporating. The best we can say is that sentiment among large manufacturers was less gloomy in June than expected. Where is that smidgen of hope coming from? China, which rarely misses a chance to declare victory over the global recession. Officials in Beijing say stimulus spending and record lending are sparking a recovery in the third-biggest economy. Export-led Japan would seem perfectly placed to benefit. That is, until you check the evidence. Shipments to Japan’s biggest trading partner fell 29.7% in May, more than April’s 25.9%. It suggests China’s growth isn’t helping the rest of Asia very much. China acted quickly to shield its economy from the global crisis. Manufacturing in May expanded for a fourth month. Central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan says things may keep improving in the third and fourth quarters. It’s also worth noting that Japanese exports to China are falling less severely than elsewhere. Shipments to the U.S. fell 45.4% in May.

No Engine China isn’t turning out to be an engine of growth for Asia. One possible explanation is protectionism, as China works to encourage exports while curbing imports. The country objects to the “Buy American” provisions in U.S. stimulus efforts, yet it is using similar tactics. Another reason may be that China’s revival is more spin than reality. Either way, talk that China would feed the “green shoots” dynamic that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke introduced into Wall Street’s lexicon four months ago isn’t working out. Nor will the Asiadecoupling theory that’s being resurrected. Yes, Asia is less reliant on the U.S. than it was a decade ago. Its fortunes are still intricately tied to what happens in the $14 trillion U.S. economy. The longer the U.S. is on its back, the harder it will be for Asia to maintain modest growth. One reason for a resurgence of the decoupling argument so convincingly debunked last year is actual growth. Even with the U.S., Europe and Japan mired in recession, economies in China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia are still expanding. That’s impressive given the state of credit markets. Fast Forward Fast-forward one year, though. If the U.S. economy is still weak in July 2010, Asia will have a hard time supporting growth from within. At the moment, stimulus efforts are starting from a low base. Over time,

Exports to Europe slid by the same amount.

government spending and low interest rates may get less traction. The Asian market won’t close the gap. Much of the region’s internal trade involves intermediate goods used in the production of other products -- many of which go to the U.S. and Europe. A world without growth will force Asia to retool economies toward greater domestic consumption without the cushion of robust demand. What’s more likely is an inwardlooking period as opposed to regional cooperation. Groups such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations talk a lot about linking their combined fortunes and outlooks. Meetings, photo opportunities and communiques don’t hide the stark reality that Asian economies compete more with each other than join hands. ‘Buy China’ China has been expanding efforts to help exporters with bigger tax benefits, loans from state-owned banks and other steps. Many “Buy China” directives are coming from Beijing. And don’t expect China to allow the yuan to appreciate much in the second half of 2009, regardless of market pressures. Such policies suggest China is losing confidence in its 4 trillion-yuan ($585 billion) stimulus plan. They are also a reminder of the limits to governments’ ability to boost growth with public largess alone. Growth may slip as stimulus spending wanes amid political opposition to a widening fiscal deficit, says Ma Jun, Deutsche Bank AG’s Hong Kong-based China economist. That casts doubts on predictions that Chinese gross
Sources for the issue Bloomberg Reuters

domestic product will expand 8% in 2010. The omnipotent reputation many assign to leaders in Beijing is being challenged. Take this week’s Internet fiasco. China postponed the deadline for personal-computer makers to include state-backed antipornography software on new PCs after U.S. officials and business groups urged it to scrap the rule. China is normally a model of implementation. The speed with which it builds state-of-the-art airports, high-speed rail lines and Olympic stadiums is impressive by any scale. Its censorship efforts were exactly the opposite: sloppy and illconsidered. Economic-stimulus efforts appear to be benefiting from greater competence. That may be a boon for 1.3 billion Chinese trying to get a share of the nation’s growth. The benefits for those outside China are much more limited.…...

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