Agni Property raises $12 million from two venture capital firms

Agni Property Group has raised $12 million from Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Foundation Capital and India-based Helion Venture Partners. Both firms are investing $6 million each for a minority stake in the company.

Headquartered in Delhi, Agni Property Group partners with property developers in various cities for selling mainly new properties and charges a commission on the asset value of the property. Agni Group expects revenues of $25 million by 2011.
The company has already partnered with more than 170 developers across 19 locations in India.

The company also plans to enter broker housing finance for buyers through Agni Finance. This unit will work with housing finance majors to help buyers get loans.


Big-size banks necessary to meet economy demand: Lenders

Mumbai: Two of the country's biggest lenders today called for larger banks with scale and capital to meet the growing needs of the country, which is growing at a faster pace and is poised to attain double-digit economic expansion, reports PTI.

Stating that the balance sheet size of this (SBI) bank is at par only with the tenth largest lender in China, State Bank of India chairman OP Bhatt said that in the next five years, there would be an addition of up to 500 million people to the middle class, which would demand huge support from banking and financial sector.

Public sector banks will have to play a pivotal role in helping the large middle class populace meet its aspirations, he said, expressing reservations if the state-owned institutions had wherewithal to meet the demand.

"I suspect if the PSBs will be able to cope with the demand though I hope I am proved wrong," he said, addressing a banking summit organized by the Indian Merchants Chamber here.

Mr Bhatt also expressed concerns if there was enough liquidity to fund the growth, saying the situation was not at "comfort" level.

ICICI Bank's chief executive and managing director Chanda Kochhar said Indian banking sector would have to grow at 25% every year or 2.5 times over the next five years if our country were to sustain the 8%-10% per annum growth rate.

Agreeing with Mr Bhatt, she said, the country needed to deepen the bond, debt and take-out financing markets so that banks could meet the funding requirements necessary for infrastructure development.

The government has set a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure sector in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan period and is on the way to set up a Rs50,000 crore dedicated infrastructure fund.

Both MR Bhatt and Ms Kochhar said achieving the financial inclusion objective would not be enough to fuel growth and help the vast majority of the poor jump out of poverty. They said financial conclusion would have to be complimented by holistic approach with attention in areas like education, health and vocational training.

Mr Bhatt said in the next 5-7 years the banking and financial services industry would face a severe capacity crunch in terms of talent to serve the growing needs of the middle class.


IOC beats Reliance to become the nation’s top refiner

New Delhi: State-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has surpassed Reliance Industries (RIL) to regain its position as nation's biggest refiner after it completed expansion of its Panipat unit, report PTI.

"We have this week completed expansion of our Panipat refinery (in Haryana) to 15 million tonnes (from 12 million tonnes)," IOC director (refineries) B N Bankapur said today.

Before the expansion, IOC's eight refineries had a total crude oil refining capacity of 51.2 million tonnes a year and together with its subsidiary Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL), it had a combined refining capacity of 61.7 million tonnes.

After the Panipat expansion, IOC group's refining capacity has increased to 64.7 million tonnes, ahead of 62 million tonnes of refining capacity that RIL has at Jamnagar in Gujarat.

IOC was the largest oil refiner in the country before Reliance started its 29 million tonnes a year only-for-exports unit adjacent to its 33 million tonnes a year plant at Jamnagar.

"This year we have raised Haldia refinery capacity by 1.5 million tonnes to 7.5 million tonnes," Bankapur said.

IOC is mulling raising the capacity of its Koyali refinery in Gujarat to 16 or 18 million tonnes a year from current 13.7 million tonnes a year.

"We will conduct feasibility of raising Koyali refinery capacity to either 16 or 18 million tonnes in next 3-4 months," he said.

Also IOC has sought approval from the Supreme Court to raise capacity of its 8 million tonnes Mathura plant to 11 million tonnes.

IOC's refining capacity would rise to 80 million tonnes by 2012 after it commissions a 15 million tonnes a year unit at Paradip refinery in Orissa.


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