Aqua Logistics eyeing acquisition in Far East

Logistics provider plans a Rs50-crore acquisition of a company in the Far East and will expand its footprint in the Middle East

Logistic solutions provider Aqua Logistics plans to acquire a company in the Far East, which will facilitate Indo-China trade, in the next two months, a top company official told PTI.

"We have already identified the company in the Far East market and discussions are in the advanced stages. We will acquire the company soon," Aqua Logistics vice-chairman MS Sayad told reporters on Tuesday.

The acquisition will be at around Rs 50 crore, Mr Sayad said.

Far East countries include China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.
The Mumbai-based company also plans to expand its footprint in the Middle-East market in the next five to six months.

"We are planning to set up our offices at Dubai and Hong Kong in the next six months. We are confident that we can secure the Middle-East market," he said.
Aqua Logistics is engaged in freight forwarding services with agents to provide end-to-end solutions to its clients.

In order to extend its scope of services, the company ventured into project cargo and contract logistic segments in FY07.
 

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Maruti recalls its A-Star cars in thousands

Following on the heels of troubled automakers Toyota and Honda, Maruti recalls one lakh units of its hatchback ‘A-Star’ to replace faulty fuel pump parts.

The country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India is recalling about one lakh units of its flagship export model 'A-Star' to replace a faulty fuel pump part, reports PTI.

According to sources, the company is replacing a faulty rubber gasket in about one lakh cars—manufactured before August 2009 and sold in domestic as well as overseas markets—to prevent any possible fuel leakage.

The problem was discovered in an internal survey by the company but no complaint has been received so far, they added.

A company spokesperson commented, “At Maruti Suzuki, we constantly monitor quality of our products through feedback and internal analysis. In one such exercise in November 2009, we came across an anomaly reported in the fuel tank in some of the vehicles and by December, 2009, we started contacting the customers through letters.”

The company started replacing the gasket from December 2009, and has so far changed the part in about 50,000 units.

Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) had launched its fifth global model—A-Star—on 19 November 2008. The 998cc K10B petrol-engine car is manufactured only in India at its Manesar facility.

The recalled vehicles belong to a lot made till August 22 last year, the spokesperson said.

"No problem has been reported by customers. However, as a proactive step, we decided to check all vehicles from the lot, around one lakh units including those exported overseas. We are changing fuel pump gasket and 'O' ring at no cost to customer," he added.

The final cost for this replacement would be shared with the supplier partner after completion of the entire exercise.

A-Star is currently exported to about 70 countries and is sold as Suzuki Alto in Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Some of the other major markets are Chile, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria and UAE, where it is sold as Suzuki Celerio.

Japanese car major Nissan also sells A-Star in the European market under a contract manufacturing agreement with MSI's parent Suzuki. Nissan sells the model as Pixo.

In December last year, A-Star had crossed the one-lakh mark of overseas shipments in less than a year of selling the car in the global markets. It started the export of the car since January 2009. The company is expecting to double its exports of A-Star this fiscal on the back of robust demand. It exported 70,023 units in 2008-09.
 

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Marine tourism picking up along Brahmaputra river

The Brahmaputra river has witnessed a rise in cruise operations in the past few months, with more cruise operators entering this region.

With international tourists avidly exploring India’s North East region, the mighty Brahmaputra river is turning into a hot destination for cruise operators. According to industry experts, marine tourism has shifted focus from Kolkata (the Ganges) to the North East (Brahmaputra) with a number of new cruises being planned in this region.

“The river here is much more attractive than the Ganges. At every 50km interval, there is a sanctuary or a hill, which makes the place attractive from the tourism perspective. In addition, it is less crowded compared to Kolkata and other tourist places. In Kolkata, accessibility to an island for keeping the vessels is an issue. There are islands available only beyond Farakka where, again, law and order becomes a problem. However, with Brahmaputra, there are no such problems, which makes it ideal for marine tourism. We do see a lot of tourism opportunities coming up in this region in future,” said Arun Roy, director, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Guwahati.

The Assam Bengal Navigation Co (ABNC), which operates two vessels on this stretch, is planning to launch a third vessel soon, following a good response from tourists. The company was among the first ones to operate a river cruise service along the Brahmaputra. The high occupancy rate of these cruises further supplements the growing demand for such trips. ABNC has its hands full for the next holiday season between October to December and many people are still on the waiting list.
 
This is not a single isolated example of booming tourism in this region. Another cruise operator named Brahmaputra Cruise Pvt Ltd launched its first luxury cruise in January 2010. According to IWAI officials, a Delhi-based cruise company will soon launch its services along the Brahmaputra.

Hemanta Doley, director, Brahmaputra Cruise, which is already fully booked for its departures planned in March 2010, said “We are hopeful that this beautiful and unexplored destination will attract more tourists. Within one or two years, more tourists will start touring these destinations. We have started just a month ago and the response is not bad. We also have small vessels which provide the option of offering our services at lower prices.”

Speaking about tourists’ increasing demand for cruise services, Mr Roy said, “If you look at the number of tourists who go to Kolkata, many tourists also want to go to the North East region because of the architectural beauty, the tribes of Nagaland and Shillong’s beauty. These tourists also prefer a trip along the river. Most of the tourists on these cruises are British, with a sizeable number of German and French tourists.”

Echoing a similar point of view, DT Joseph, former secretary, ministry of shipping, said, “Marine tourism is picking up at many places in India. While Kerala and Goa are already booming, the Brahmaputra region is also looking up. Overall, water tourism is picking up and I think in the next two years, it will become big business.”

The price of these cruise packages ranges from $205 to $350 per night.

 

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