KEC International to acquire SAE Towers for $95 million

New Delhi: RPG Group company, KEC International, today said that it would acquire US-based SAE Towers Holdings for $95 million, reports PTI.

"KEC International's board has approved the proposal to acquire US-based SAE Towers Holdings, a limited liability company and its subsidiary companies in Brazil, Mexico and USA," the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

KEC International is likely to acquire the company for a purchase consideration of $95 million, it said.

SAE Towers is engaged in manufacturing and supply of power transmission towers, related hardware, sub-station structures and poles for power transmission.

The transaction is expected to close this month, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.


TRAI to issue guidelines on unsolicited calls soon

Hyderabad: Telecom watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will issue guidelines that would address the problem of unsolicited mobile calls and SMSs later this month, reports PTI.

"We have held consultations on that (unsolicited calls and messaging). We issued a consultation paper also and held an open house discussion. We are finalising our regulation on unsolicited commercial communication. It should be out during the course of this month. We will issue guidelines," Dr J S Sharma, TRAI chairman told media persons on Monday.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had to face an embarrassing situation recently when finance minister Pranab Mukherjee himself got an unsolicited call form a telemarketing company.

A Raja, Union minister for telecommunications and IT immediately instructed the ministry to take steps against such calls that "encroach" into the privacy of telecom consumers.

TRAI's earlier attempts to curb the menace did not yield any results.

The Do-Not-Call registry introduced three years ago by the telecom regulator proved ineffective for various reasons.

"It is true it did not work (Do-Not-Call registry). We are looking at that. I do not want to give any points at this stage. We have to strengthen the do not call registry so that it is efficient and effective. Wait for few days. By the end of this month we will have necessary regulation in the place," Mr Sharma said on the sidelines of a discussion on the consultation paper on national broadband plan.

Replying to question on the BlackBerry issue, he said the TRAI was not consulted on the issue.

Speaking on the broadband plan, he said the TRAI has projected that by 2014, the country will have one billion mobile subscribers.

The idea is that we will be able to reach broadband connections to everybody including all the 220 million basic telephony subscribers, Mr Sharma said.


Auto dealers take customers for a ride by charging premiums

Auto companies are busy producing more and more vehicles to meet increasing demand in the domestic market. However, many dealers,sub-dealers are asking buyers to cough up 'on money' or premium for immediate deliveries

Remember the heady days of the mixed economy when an Indian who wanted to buy a bare-boned Bajaj scooter - or any other vehicle for that matter - had to wait for a few years to get actual delivery?

History - of sorts - seems to be repeating itself in the Indian automobile market. Only this time, it's a problem of plenty. Manufacturers are notching up impressive sales figures, but many customers, who want to buy a vehicle, are finding it difficult to get possession even after making full payment in cash. That's because various automobile dealers also want to earn some extra bucks in the boom.

Therefore, if you pay extra 'on money' (read premium) then you can get any vehicle that is being sold in the country immediately. If you would rather not spend the extra money, then you will have to wait for almost eight months (in a few cases) before you get possession. The scenario is the same for some top-selling cars and two-wheelers (especially scooters).

Moneylife contacted various dealers in Mumbai to ascertain the ground reality. If you wish to buy Toyota's 'Innova' diesel version, then it takes at least a month to receive the delivery of your car. Toyota Innova's petrol versions are not readily available with dealers in Mumbai and buyers have to wait for two to three months. This is surprising, considering that the demand for the petrol variant of the car is supposed to be on the lower side because of comparatively higher fuel cost and low mileage.

The wait for Toyota's sports utility vehicle 'Fortuner', which was launched on 24 August 2009, is even longer. The company had an order backlog of 6,000 units for its SUV within a month of its launch. Dealers have kept bookings on hold and there is a waiting period of six to seven months for new buyers. The Toyota Fortuner is the latest favourite toy among politicians and other well-connected individuals.

Toyota is not the only company whose vehicles are in good demand. From Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors to new entrant Nissan, all automakers are finding it difficult to meet the demands from markets.  

"There is huge demand in the Indian automobile market. Our manufacturing facilities are coming up with around 1,00,000 vehicles a month. This is around 20% more than our capacity, every month. In fact, in the current fiscal, our production is around 24% more than last year. At the beginning of this fiscal, the growth estimates were around 12%-15% for the industry but much greater bounce has been seen in recent times, resulting in a shortfall in delivery and a (supply) mismatch in the market. As a counter-measure, we are trying to increase production at all our facilities by 'de-bottlenecking' operations and streamlining processes," said a Maruti Suzuki official, preferring anonymity.

During April-July, Indian automakers produced 898,429 passenger vehicles, an increase of 31.7%, while they sold 899,795 units, including 756,659 units in domestic markets. This represents a growth of 33.8% in domestic sales and 9% growth in exports from the year-ago period.

The mismatch between the automobile industry's expected growth rate and the higher-than-expected demand from consumers is believed to have led to this situation of customers having to wait for the vehicle of their choice.

However, what is the ground reality? If you are ready to pay the extra premium in cash, then you can buy and take delivery of almost any vehicle from dealers. In fact, we made a few unannounced visits to the warehouses of various dealers - where there is absolutely no space to stock existing inventories. On the other hand, auto manufacturers, riding high on current demand levels, are speeding up production schedules.

According to a Tata Motors official, the company has built up stocks to ensure that the demand for the forthcoming festive season can be met immediately. "Production is matched with demand, but at times a waiting period does develop for exceptional models in a range," the official said.

Consumers wanting to buy the Nissan Micra's variant 'XL' have to wait for one month while for the top-variant 'XV', the period is two to three months - depending on the city from where you want to make the purchase. "We hope to reduce the waiting period to less than two months. We had not factored that in our initial production period schedule but now because of our flexibility in the manufacturing line we are able to amend the production schedule. We have an order book of around 4,000 cars, out of which we have already delivered 2,000 cars," said an official from Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd.

To meet the increased demand, while auto manufacturers are ramping up production, others are setting up new plants at a faster pace. The Maruti Suzuki official said, "On a longer-term basis, we have invested in a new manufacturing plant that will add 2.5 lakh units to our capacities, by 2012. Efforts are underway to complete this new manufacturing plant faster, in view of the market demand situation."

The demand-supply mismatch and 'extra premium' scenario is prevalent in the two-wheeler segment as well. Surprisingly, scooters (almost all of which are gearless now) are in huge demand, even compared to the booming motorcycle market. The delivery period for scooters is also much more than motorcycles, with Honda's 'Activa' having a delivery period ranging from two months to eight months across the country. Many dealers across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region are citing non-availability of stocks as the primary reason for the delivery problems, purposefully overlooking their overflowing warehouses.

A sub-dealer of Honda told Moneylife, "The on-road price of the Activa is Rs50,800, but if you want the delivery tomorrow then you have to pay (a) premium of about Rs10,000. For a new Activa, there is a waiting period of seven months. Earlier, there was a premium of Rs4,000 to Rs5,000 but now it has gone up to Rs10,000 due to supply problems."

This sub-dealer says that authorised dealers are not charging any premium for immediate delivery. He says, "You don't have to pay the premium if you buy it from authorised dealers but you have to book the bike first and wait for seven months. They will not take a single (extra) paisa on (the on-road price) but will put you on the waiting list."

According to other sub-dealer, who deals in all kind of two-wheelers, for an Activa, the delivery period is almost six months. If you want urgent delivery, then you can pay Rs63,000 and take possession of the vehicle. The other option is to pay 80% of Rs63,000 and take delivery in three days by paying the balance amount.

So have Indian automakers grossly underestimated demand for their products? With stronger rural demand expected due to the good monsoon and the festival season coming up, would delivery schedules hit more bumps on the road? Or are a few middlemen going to play spoilsport by creating an artificial scarcity for vehicles - further muddying the waters, on and above the production constraints that Indian Big Auto seems to be facing?

According a report by brokerage Sharekhan Ltd, "We expect dealers to utilise the festive period (24th September to 7th October) to step up inventories to feed the festive demand. The industry has been vocal about vendor-side constraints limiting the final output. Almost all the players indicated a 10%-15% volume loss during the month because of component shortages. Our channel check revealed shortages primarily in bearings, tyres and castings," the report added.



pushkar kulkarni

6 years ago

dear lance

tvs wego is good vehicle. so far i have done 2000 km approx, 1 problem.average is 40 + approx in city, can carry 2 adults easily, very stable.overall good vehicle, comparable or better than activa.pick up is medium unlike access-very high pick up, can be risky for youngsters/ ladies.i am happy . b t w these are genuine comments , nobody has paid me anything for it!!!



In Reply to pushkar kulkarni 6 years ago

thanks Pushkar,

it really helps.......i have been riding a kinetic nova for the past 6 years but it has given me a lot of maintenance issues after the first 3 years. I was initially thinking of buying the activa but the waiting period is 8 months at the authorized dealer whereas every other tom, dick and harry dealer is selling it for immediate delivery at a premium ranging from 10000-13000.

I don’t think it is worth those extra bucks and so started evaluating the wego. The reviews on CNBC overdrive and other sites were very good. I also took a couple of test drives and found the bike reliable (actually it is very difficult to assess a vehicle in test drive since most vehicles will be good in the initial period).

Your review helps since it is first hand user information and also u have used it for reasonable kms. thanks once again.

God Bless !!!


6 years ago

On Sunday, I again visited two-wheeler dealers, both new and old vehicles, at Ulhasnagar near Mumbai, which is one of the biggest market. I was surprised to see a 2010 Activa for sale as secondhand vehicle. But the real shock was.....its price was Rs54,000 (Acitva's showroom price is Rs48000). The dealers said, if you want new Activa at Rs48000, then go to the authorized dealer, pay the money upfront and wait till February 2011 for taking delivery. This 2010 model, I am giving immediate delivery.

pushkar kulkarni

6 years ago

very interesting article. i got tvs wego in 4 days time in july2010 in pune.activa/ suzuki access had waiting timed of 3/1 month resp..why shd i wait for a brand if eqvt available at same price and early delivery??for the cars , it seems ridiculous of paying premium. bad old days are back?? some of these companies shd not land into fate similar to peugeot !!all noise without any substance.many of the dealres still operate with rationing mindset, they have to face the real competition.



In Reply to pushkar kulkarni 6 years ago

Hello Pushkar,

Can you please give a first hand feedback on the Wego.



6 years ago

Thanks for sharing your story Prakash, always good to hear the fellow consumers' experiences.


6 years ago

Nice article. Those were the days when after over a decade when Bajaj scooter allotment matured, people celebrated it. Same with FIAT, though waiting was less than a decade. This was again noticed when Maruti 800 was launched in early 80s. Intermediaries booked cars only to earn a hefty premium (of around Rs. 50,000 if I am not mistaken). Once again this was noticed when it launched Maruti 1000. In my personal case, I was offered a whopping Rs. 2 lacs for my allotment card (# 51 all India). Brokers would call up even at 11 pm. Since I had booked only to own one, I never succumbed to luring offers. But then I faced a different con from the dealer (South Central Mumbai).

Firstly, when the sales person pitched to book the car with them, he said it will cost Rs. 5000 less than any other dealer. So, I booked with him, only to be told later (aftre paying up more money) that the company had increased the price by Rs. 5000 (what a coincidence) and I should pay up only then I will get the delivery. I crossed check with Maruti office in Bandra and they gave in writing that they had not increased it. We then filed a case in Consumer Court and won the case and dealer had to pay back Rs. 5000 + expenses.

Second con I faced with the same dealer was that, after paying the full amount and waiting for weeks for the car, they kept on telling me that I will have to wait further as my color (metallic blue, which was almost first in Mumbai) had not arrived. Not satisfied with the reply, I visited the showroom and found the same color car ready for an out of turn delivery to a filmstar (now famous for his role in Hollywood film on Indian slum children). I demanded to see the booking register and found that he had booked and paid for the same color but after me. I immediately noted down the engine, chassis number and insisted that the same car be delivered to me as per the booking order. The dealer was left with no choice and face.

This trend of waiting was once again brought in with Honda City in early 2000 and has continued till now in many models and makes.

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