Barclays India freezes retail business

Barclays, which will keep its branch network to satisfy the RBI requirement, is not alone in paring down its retail business. The Royal Bank of Scotland is awaiting RBI permission since July 2010 to sell its retail business to HSBC. RBS has 31 branches here

Mumbai: The domestic arm of the British lender Barclays, which has been rejigging its operations here, today said it is freezing the retail business in the country, a move that comes a day after it sold nearly three quarters of its credit card business to StanChart India, reports PTI.

“As part of our decision to consolidate and build a sustained profitable Indian business based on our competitive strengths globally, we have decided to not book new retail loans here. However, we will continue to maintain our deposit business, while focusing on wealth management, large corporates and investment banking services. All the existing loans will, of course, continue as normal,” the official spokesperson of Barclays India told PTI through an email.

Yesterday, StanChart India had told this agency that it bought 1.6 lakh of the 2-lakh standard credit card portfolio of Barclays, valued at around Rs175 crore, for an undisclosed sum.

But the bank said it bought cards at a huge discount to the book value of Rs175 crore. Barclays, which did not confirm the deal officially, has around 3 lakh customers under its credit card business.

The plan to quit the retail business will see at least 150 people getting the pink slip, according to a Barclays’ insider. This comes four months after Barclays, which is fighting to revive profitability, sacking 50 people here, following its decision to merge the sales team of its commercial and investment banking units.

The latest job cuts will represent about 17% of the bank’s remaining 850 employees in the country, said the source.

It can be noted that Barclays, which will keep its branch network to satisfy the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) requirement, is not alone in paring down its retail business. The Royal Bank of Scotland is awaiting RBI permission since July 2010 to sell its retail business to HSBC. RBS has 31 branches here.

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Soon an export policy for Indian wine

Looking at the popularity of Indian food overseas, wine makers feel that there is huge potential for domestic wine across the globe

In order to boost wine sales overseas, the Indian government is planning to formulate an export policy to make them at par with its global peers. All India Wine Producers’ Association (AIWPA), along with Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) are working together to formulate a scheme to increase exports of India made wines.
 
Jagdish Holkar, president, AIWPA, told Moneylife that “There is an urgent need to understand the value of Indian wines and to promote it. We have received good response from the Commerce Ministry. Currently we are looking into various factors relating to wine export and the wine industry. After that we will meet with other stake holders and then prepare a final draft.”
 
The AIWPA and APEDA have identified few countries where Indian wine can be promoted in big way. They are also emphasising on developing a bilateral trade with various nations with initiatives such as wine tasting programmes.
 
“We will have discussion with Ambassadors of around 20-25 nations. Various Secretariats and Ministries of the Indian Government will also be consulted during the process. Apart from this, around 2-3 potential buyers from each of these countries will also be invited and we would facilitate some business to business meeting,” said Mr Holkar.

The countries identified for promotion of Indian wines, include the US, UK, Germany, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Japan, Korea and Singapore among others.
 
Over the years, Indian food has become popular across the world. Especially in the UK, the Chicken Tikka Masala, a popular Indian dish, is found to be most favoured dish and often is called as ‘a true British national dish’. Mr Holkar feels that the popularity of Indian food would help domestic wines to gain popularity across the world, provided they promote and export it overseas.

In the 1980s and 1990s, a revival in the Indian wine industry took place as international influences and the growing middle class increased started increasing demand for the beverage. By the turn of the 21st century, demand was increasing at a rate of 20-30% a year.

The overall consumption of wines in India is about 400,000 cases a year of which 85 percent are table wines and the remaining are the expensive varieties. Out of the 400,000 cases, about 50,000 cases are imported from various sources. According to a report by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), 8% of the wine demand in India is accounted for by major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Bangalore.

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SIAM may lower FY11-12 car sales growth forecast again in January

“During the Auto Expo next month, we are going to revise our sales projections for the fiscal... I feel the passenger car segment will again be downgraded,” SIAM senior director Sugato Sen told reporters

New Delhi: The Indian automobile industry is likely to see a downward revision of the passenger car sales growth forecast for 2011-12 for the third time this fiscal in January due to sluggish demand over the last few months, reports PTI.

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the passenger car segment may not even see single-digit growth in the current fiscal.

“During the Auto Expo next month, we are going to revise our sales projections for the fiscal... I feel the passenger car segment will again be downgraded,” SIAM senior director Sugato Sen told reporters here.

In October, SIAM had significantly lowered its passenger car sales growth forecast for 2011-12 to 2%-4%, the second revision after pegging it at 10%-12% in July, as against its projection of 16%-18% announced at the beginning of the current financial year.

In the April-November period this fiscal, domestic car sales declined by 3.53% to 12,19,509 units from 12,64,142 units in the year-ago period.

“We may not see a decline in car sales for the entire fiscal... The numbers may be just at the same level of last fiscal,” Mr Sen said.

After four consecutive months of decline, the domestic car segment witnessed a turnaround with 7% growth in sales in November this year on account of a marginal revival in demand, coupled with a low base.

However, sales in December are likely to be lower than the November numbers, said Mr Sen.

Car sales in India have been declining on a year-on-year basis since July, mainly due to the severe impact of labour issues on Maruti Suzuki India’s (MSI) production.

Sales registered their steepest monthly decline in nearly 11 years in October this year, tanking by 23.77% on account of a huge drop in output by MSI due to labour trouble, coupled with high interest rates and fuel prices.

Talking about the passenger vehicle segment, Mr Sen said: “It may see a growth of around 2%.”

In October, SIAM had estimated that the passenger vehicles segment would grow by 4%-6% this fiscal. It had earlier forecast 10%-12% growth in July, a stark downward revision from its initial projection of 16%-18% at the beginning of the fiscal.

It had said utility vehicle sales were likely to increase by 9%-11%, as against the estimate of 10%-12% announced earlier.

On total vehicles sales, SIAM had revised its projection marginally upward to 11%-14% for FY 11-12 from 11%-13% announced in July.

SIAM had revised its growth projection for the two-wheeler segment upward in October to 13%-15% from 12%-14% announced three months earlier, while the estimate for commercial vehicle sales was increased to 13%-15% from the earlier estimate of 12%-14% in July.

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