ICICI Bank board approves merger of Bank of Rajasthan

The Board of Directors of ICICI Bank Ltd approved the amalgamation of Bank of Rajasthan with itself. The proposed amalgamation is subject to the approval of shareholders of both banks and Reserve Bank of India (RBI), it said in a regulatory filing.

The proposed amalgamation would substantially enhance ICICI Bank's branch network, and especially strengthen its presence in northern and western India. It would combine Bank of Rajasthan's branch franchise with ICICI Bank's strong capital base, to enhance the ability of merged entity to capitalise on the growth opportunities in the Indian economy.

ICICI Bank and Bank of Rajasthan ended 0.34% down at Rs832 and 9.97% up at Rs158.80, respectively on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex closed 0.15% up at 16,469.55 points.
 

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Madhucon Projects wins 64 km of NHAI annuity project in Bihar

Hyderabad-based infrastructure development company, Madhucon Projects Ltd said it received a letter of award (LoA) from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for four laning of Chhapra-Hazipur section on National Highway-19 in Bihar.

The work involves constructing a 64 km highway on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) annuity basis. The company won the project under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) III for semi-annual annuity of Rs65.43 crore. The concession period is five years including construction period of 910 days. The company has accepted the LoA and is proceeding with the forming of a special purpose vehicle in the name of Chhapra-Hajipur Expressways Ltd.

Madhucon Projects ended 2.80% up at Rs147 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex closed 0.15% up at 16,469.55 points.

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The show must go on: The multiplex growth story remains intact

Over the past few years, multiplexes have helped in bringing back audiences to the theatres. They remain ambitious on their plans for doing the same in the long run

Over the past one-and-a-half years, falling consumer confidence and a slowdown in the real-estate sector has led to many major multiplex chains delaying their expansion plans. But the long-term multiplex growth story remains intact, as by 2013, the number of multiplex screens in India is likely to cross 1,600, according to the FICCI-KPMG ‘Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report’. Convenient geographical locations, tax exemptions and good positions in places like malls are encouraging people to spend more on recreation, which is subsequently leading to the growth of multiplexes in India.

While earlier, a film was released in approximately 250 centres, increased penetration of digital screens has enabled filmmakers to release their movies in 700-800 centres now. This can be due to lower costs per print and ease of transport of prints to remotely located screens. Multiplex owners have announced aggressive growth plans not only in the metros but in regional markets as well.

Jehil Thakkar, executive director, media and entertainment, KPMG said, “This (multiplex) market depends a lot on the real-estate sector. There is room for improvement and growth seems likely for multiplexes. Expansion plans are mainly for regional markets like Tier-II and Tier-III cities. There is a thirst for regional cinema and with more multiplexes in these regions, it will only boost the market.”

Small players are also keen on expanding their horizon as Prem Sadhwani, operational manager, Movietime Cineplex Private Limited told Moneylife, “Currently we have only three multiplexes in the two big cities, Mumbai and Delhi. We plan to come up with two more in Mumbai, and depending on the business and circumstances we might look at expanding more.” Satyam Cineplexes had plans to reach the target of 100 screens by 2012—targeting metros and Tier II cities, and its plans seem to be on track.

Fun Multiplex Pvt Ltd operates 81 cinema screens in 24 locations. Talkie Town, the cinema exhibition brand of Fun Multiplex Private Limited, has plans to roll out 150 value screens in Tier II & Tier III cities by the end of 2011. Vishal Kapur, COO Fun Multiplex Private Limited said, “We recently opened a five-screen multiplex in Amritsar—the largest in the city. Apart from this, we will be opening new multiplexes in Bhatinda, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Cochin, Chennai and Kolkata.”

PVR Cinemas, the leading player in this segment, has around 32 cinemas with 136 screens spread across the country. Reliance MediaWorks, which operates through Big Cinemas, currently has 500 screens spread across India, Malaysia and the US. Cinemax, a Kanakia group company, currently operates through 29 locations with 94 screens operational and has plans to expand and increase the number to 400 screens across the country.

The industry has also seen the commencement of miniplexes, which are multi-use theatres with two screens and a seating capacity of 75 per screen. These miniplex owners are also aggressive on expansion plans and aim at setting up over 500 miniplexes in the coming years.  

Devang Sampat, senior vice president, Cinemax India Limited said, “We are aiming to launch 11 locations with 44 screens spread across the country in cities like Bengaluru, Pune, Delhi and other cities.”

The only worry for multiplex owners is the waiting period for operations to begin. On an average, a multiplex requires at least 40 licenses to start operations and the period of acquiring these licenses takes around three months. Mr Kapur explained, “Licensing is a State subject. In general, an approval of the plans and inspection on completion is needed from the following departments in the local administration—town planning, public works department, electrical department, fire department, health department and the police. Post these approvals, the local administration head (the district magistrate or the district collector) issues a licence. In metros, the final licence is given by the office of the police commissioner.”

Multiplex owners feel that a single-window clearance mechanism would work wonders in encouraging the industry to prosper and grow.

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