“Affordable Housing” Gets Trendy
Last month, Tata Housing launched 1,000 Nano homes – Shubh Griha in Boisar, Mumbai. Within three weeks, over 15,000 forms were purchased by customers through the Tata Housing offices across India as well as from 12 State Bank of India branches across Mumbai and Micro Housing Finance Corporation. Encouraged by the demand, the company increased the number of flats on offer from 1,000 to 1,300 units. According to the company, there will be no new bookings for the additional units and the allotment of units will be announced by the end of June 2009. The company also has plans of advancing its 15,000 Nano homes by two years. “We would like to provide a house for each one of the customers who have booked,” said Brotin Banerjee, managing director and chief executive officer, Tata Housing.

Affordable housing is becoming a trend. Unitech, the country’s second-largest property developer, has announced what it calls Uni Homes – affordable apartments priced between Rs10 lakh - Rs30 lakh in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Lucknow. The company is planning to invest Rs1,700 crore this year to build these homes. Meanwhile, banks have started reducing their home loan rates which will make these flats a bit more affordable. Recently, ICICI Bank has reduced its floating rate for home loans to 12.75% from 13.25%.

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Tata Motors launches Jaguar, Land Rover in India
Tata Motors Ltd launched its prized possessions, the Jaguar and Land Rover, in India with a price tag of Rs6.3 million onwards. Tata will sell the Jaguar, which had its origins in a motorcycle sidecar company, XF and XKR series for between Rs6.3 million and Rs9.2 million, while Land Rover's Discovery and Range Rover would be priced between Rs6.3 million and Rs8.9 million.

"We are planning to come up with seven franchises in different metros in India. By mid-July, we will receive proposals and, in the next 3-4 months, negotiate with those individuals and select our franchisees. Our tradition is to work with independent dealers globally," said Bob Grace, director-overseas operations, Land Rover.

According to media reports, Land Rover was in discussion with the Indian government for supply of sophisticated and modern military vehicles to the armed forces.

"We have already started the discussions with the Indian government for sale of Land Rovers, but we cannot comment on the status of the talks as it is confidential," Grace said.

However, he said the company is developing a new model in its research and development centre in the UK, which will primarily address the defence needs of most countries around the globe, including India.

Asked about the current status of JLR asking for financial assistance from the UK government, Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Sons Ltd said: "We are in discussion with the UK government on loan guarantee. We are hopeful that we will find a solution to it. Our funding plans for JLR will progress further...”

"Sustaining downturn is extremely important... I would like to see these two brands to come out of the downturn and the companies will have new vehicles and new models....the loan that we are talking to, would be allotted to the company by European Banks," he added.

The company would also decide about assembling the premium cars in India depending upon the business scales by the two iconic brands, Tata said. Last year, Tata Motors, the country's largest vehicles maker, bought Jaguar and Land Rover for $2.3 billion from Ford Motor Co and to fund this, had taken a $3 billion bridge loan. -Yogesh Sapkale with Pallabika Ganguly [email protected]

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