ICICI Venture-Nagarjuna project to finally start construction

The joint venture project, launched in 2006, has finally received necessary permissions, but the JV partners are not sure about the future of residential space in the planned construction

Two years after launching an ambitious plan, Hyderabad-based ‘Jubilee Hills Landmark Projects’ will finally see the light of day. ICICI Venture Funds Management Co Ltd and Nagarjuna Construction Co Ltd, the joint venture partners, have decided to start the construction of the project within the next three months.

“We have got most of the permissions in place and we will be commencing construction in the next three months,” said Sanjeev Dasgupta, president for real estate, ICICI Venture.

The project was launched three years ago. However, due to the slowdown in the realty market, the joint venture partners were not sure about the viability of such a high-end project. The civic authorities were also not very co-operative while giving the necessary permissions.

“Hyderabad has gone through lot of changes in the last eighteen months in its development regulation which has blocked most of the approvals for new developments,” said Mr Dasgupta.

The project is coming up at a prime location, near the 350-acre KBR Park in Hyderabad, with a five-star deluxe hotel, service apartments, retail showrooms and premium residential space. This project was supposed to start in 2006 but could not take off as the group failed to get the required permissions in place.

Again, due to lacklustre demand for high-end projects during the past one year in Hyderabad, most developers stayed away from such projects. During the last year, the city witnessed sales of only affordable homes or those in the price range of Rs15 lakh to Rs30 lakh, said an industry source.

ICICI Venture and Nagarjuna are planning to start with the hotels, which will include retail showrooms. However, the partners are still not sure about developing the premium residential space, which they had planned. They want to wait and watch the market for some time before taking action on the residential project.
 

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Government removes cap on financial bids for port projects

The move is expected to reduce litigation from those left out, expediting projects. Besides, more bidders may get better financial offers for the government

The Indian government has removed the cap on the number of players who can participate in financial bidding for port-expansion projects under public private partnership (PPP) to minimise litigation and get better returns, reports PTI.

Until now, the government allowed only five technically-qualified players to participate in financial bidding, which led to litigation and slowed down projects, a shipping ministry official said.

"The government has now done away with the cap. The move is expected to reduce litigation from those left out, expediting projects. Besides, more bidders may get better financial offers for the government," the official said.

"Now, all technically-qualified players will be allowed to make financial bids," he added.

The shipping ministry's decision follows a similar move last year by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to remove the limit on the number of private players who could bid for PPP road projects.

The official said that the government will award six port projects by March-end, in addition to the seven that have been already given out so far this fiscal.

"Besides, the government will invite RFPs (request for proposals) for eight more PPP projects by March end," the official said.

The government has planned to undertake 276 capacity expansion projects at various ports across the country, entailing investments of around Rs55,000 crore under the National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP).

Under the NMDP, the total capacity of the 12 major ports in the country is envisaged to go up to 1,016 million tonnes (MT) by 2011-12 from 570MT at present. Besides the major ports, India has around 200 minor ports.
 

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Retail sector wants industry status, hike in FDI limit

Organised retailers in the country have said that the sector should be given industry status, and have called for easing of foreign investment norms in the forthcoming Budget

Barely recovering from the slump in the economy, organised retailers in the country on Wednesday have said that the sector should be given industry status, and have called for easing of foreign investment norms in the forthcoming Budget.

"Industry status has been a long-standing demand of the retail sector. Besides, we also want a relaxation in the foreign direct investment (FDI) norms," Retailers Association of India chief executive Kumar Rajagopalan told PTI.

Sharing similar views, Koutons Retail India chairman DPS Kohli said, "Industry status has been a recurring demand of the retail sector for many years since only then will the retailers be able to fully enjoy the benefits of organised financing, insurance and fiscal incentives."

According to industry figures, only around 5% of the estimated $450-billion Indian retail sector is currently organised.

Calling for easing of FDI norms, Mr Rajagopalan said, "No industry in India has grown without FDI participation and for retail to emerge as a big player, more FDI should be allowed." Besides, he said that even if FDI norms are not relaxed in the Budget, the government must give a clarification on foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and foreign private equity (PE) funding route as there is a lot of ambiguity.

Mr Kohli said that clarity on the issue will help Indian retailers raise funds from abroad as the global liquidity condition is showing signs of improvement.

At present, the government allows 51% FDI in single brand retailing and prohibits any foreign investments in the multi-brand segment.

Delhi-based Vishal Retail's chief executive Ram Chandra Agarwal said, "Easing of FDI norms will bring much needed funding which is very important for the sector at this time. Besides, it will also bring along more competition."

He also said that the government should rationalise the tax structure and eliminate multiple layers of taxation, adding that such measures will help in making the sector more organised.

Franchise India chairman Gaurav Marya said that the government should make a special budgetary allocation to franchising businesses in its small and medium enterprises (SME) from the finance allocated to financial institutions.

"There are 3.5 crore small and medium business units in India of which retail sector constitutes 1.8 crore units. Credit is a major hurdle in growth of franchising," he said.

Supporting the stand of the retail sector players, global consultancy firm Ernst & Young (E&Y) said that funding is the biggest aspect for successful growth of the segment.

"Allow more FDI and grant it industry status. Both the steps will help retail to access capital and become competitive and will ultimately help the consumers by giving them more choices," E&Y partner and industry leader for retail and consumer product practice Pinaki Ranjan Mishra said.
 

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