Companies & Sectors
Microsoft India: Exodus of top executives continues

Microsoft India continues to lose top executives, with Ravi Venkatesan, chairman and corporate vice-president, being the latest to resign

Software giant Microsoft may have managed to keep its clients for the Windows operating system and MS Office, but the company's Indian unit is finding it difficult to keep top executives from exiting the organisation. On Thursday, Ravi Venkatesan, chairman and corporate vice-president of its India operations, resigned to pursue other opportunities. He had joined Microsoft from Cummins India.

Microsoft said in a statement, "A successor (to Mr Venkatesan) will be named in the near future and Venkatesan will partner with Microsoft international president Jean-Philippe Courtois to ensure a smooth transition with his successor."

A few month ago, Rajan Anandan, managing director of Microsoft, left the company abruptly. After a short stint in angel funding, early this month he joined Google as vice-president for India sales and operations. Mr Anandan was with Microsoft for two years. Prior to Microsoft, he was vice-president and country general manager at Dell India.

According to an internal memo at Microsoft India, Rakesh Bakshi, associate general counsel and director for legal and corporate affairs, is also on his way out.

Last year in August, Srini Koppolu, a veteran at Microsoft and corporate vice-president and managing director, also left the company after 21 years with the company. Mr Koppolu, who started Microsoft India Development Centre (MSIDC) with a team of 20 people saw the group grow to over 1,500 people working on a 20-product group.

Similarly, Neelam Dhawan, Microsoft's first woman managing director in India, also left the company in 2008, to return to HP India as managing director. Ms Dhawan's departure happened at a time when India and three other countries were opposed to Microsoft's plans to make its Office Open XML file format a standard format in the country.

It is natural to wonder about the reason for the exit of so many top executives from Microsoft. The following blog comment at Mini-Microsoft ( describes the problem: "People are leaving and the leadership never meets the employees. We have box manufacturers trying to sell software. We have a chairman who I have not seen in six months in person. I have seen him on TV and the newspaper a few times. We now spend so much time reporting and having conference calls that I cannot meet my customer. Do the Redmond people care about what is happening in MS India? Who can I complain to if I have a problem?"


After Swan, focus now on Unitech in 2G scam

The charges against Unitech, according to the CBI's FIR, was that it offloaded 60% of its shares to Telenor, a Norway-based telecom company and earned a profit of 267% even before the roll-out

Mumbai: After the arrest of Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, the focus of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was now on another real-estate house-Unitech-which earned a quick profit of nearly 267% by off-loading 60% of shares after getting spectrum in 2007-08, reports PTI.

Sources in the agency said that officials of the Unitech would be questioned soon again after the CBI was through with the interrogation of Shahid Balwa, promoter of Swan Telecom and managing director of the DB group, a real estate house.

The charges against Unitech, according to the CBI's first information report (FIR), was that it offloaded 60% of its shares to Telenor, a Norway-based telecom company and earned a profit of 267% even before the roll-out.

"Unitech was allotted UAS licences for 22 circles for Rs1,658 crore. It offloaded 60% of its stake in the licences to Telenor of Norway for Rs6,100 crore even before the roll-out," the FIR said.

Some of the officials of Unitech have already been questioned by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate and since now some more evidence had surfaced, there would be a fresh round of questioning, CBI sources said.

According to the FIR, "the estimated loss to the government by grant of licences to these two companies (Swan and Unitech) alone comes to Rs7,105 crore. On a pro-rata basis, the estimated loss for all the 122 circles is more than Rs22,000 crore."

Swan was allotted UAS licences for 13 circles for Rs1,537 crore and it sold 45% stake before roll-out to UAE-based Etisalat for Rs4,200 crore, the FIR said.

In a five-page FIR, the CBI charged that the officials of the Department of Telecom and some private companies entered into a criminal conspiracy and caused wrongful gains to them. It said the licenses were issued at a very nominal rate based on prices fixed in the year 2001.

"As per the information received, all this was done in a criminal conspiracy between DoT officials and private companies in order to award licences to the company for a heavy consideration by putting a cap on the number of applicants against recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and by awarding licences to private companies on first-come-first-serve basis on the rates of 2001 without competitive bidding," the FIR said.


Sensex, Nifty continue to be in a bear grip: Thursday Closing Report

If today's lows hold, we might see a short rally

The market opened flat, tracking the Asian peers that were trading lower in the morning on worries of interest rate hikes by countries across the region that have been hit by high inflation. Domestic concerns over the broader implications of the 2G spectrum scam also hurt investor sentiment. The benchmarks touched the day's bottom in late morning trade. A marginal pull-back was noticed after the announcement on easing of weekly food inflation, but the markets continued their southward journey after a brief period.

The realty sector, which was badly bruised yesterday, emerged among the top losers today. The indices made feeble attempts to push up into the green, but came down again on selling pressure and ended lower again today.

We expected the market to bounce today but the Sensex fell 130 points to 17,463, while the Nifty fell 28 points to 5,226. The Sensex opened with a small gap up of 11 points at 17,603, while the Nifty opened with a negative gap of eight points at 5,246. Within half an hour, the indices slipped below yesterday's close and made a new short-term low. It traded within a range for most of the day, never getting anywhere near yesterday's high and the bears prevailed at the end. Today's high-low range was narrower than yesterday's, exhibiting indecisiveness about the next move.

Remember, the monthly picture is weak and the weekly trend is firmly bearish. The daily trend is yet to show any sign of revival. However, there is a slight hope on the intra-day movement. If today's lows hold, we may see a weak rally tomorrow, provided there is no further negative news. The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange was 564:1148.

The market breadth on the Sensex and Nifty was balanced today. The Sensex closed with 16 losers and 14 gainers while the Nifty had 25 advancing stocks and an equal number of declining stocks. In the broader markets, the BSE Mid-cap index fell by 0.11% and the BSE Small-cap index declined 0.86%.

The top gainers in the sectoral space were BSE Auto (up 0.83%), BSE Power (up 0.82%) and BSE Healthcare (up 0.58%). BSE TECk (down 1.54%), BSE IT (down 1.53%) and BSE Realty (down 1.03%) were the major sectoral losers.

Reliance Infrastructure, which was the top Sensex loser yesterday, recovered today and emerged as the top gainer (up 9.45%). It was followed by Jaiprakash Associates (up 5.25%) and Tata Motors (up 2.37%). State Bank of India (down 3.64%), Bharti Airtel (down 2.80%) and Sterlite Industries (down 2.53%) were the major losers on the index.

Food inflation declined to a seven-week low of 13.07% on 29th January, as prices of potatoes and pulses eased, even as consumers continue to feel the pinch of high prices of vegetables. Food inflation, which snapped a three-week rising trend, fell by nearly four percentage points from 17.05% in the week ended 22nd January. It was 22.08% a year ago.

The last time food inflation came down to such levels was in the week ended 11th December when it was at 12.13%.

Markets in Asia, except the Shanghai Composite, settled in the red for the second day on worries about rising prices and the effect on interest rates. Analysts opined that consumer prices in China are expected to remain high for some months. US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's comments last night that unemployment is expected to remain high for some more time also weighed on investor sentiment.

The Hang Seng tumbled 1.97%, the Jakarta Composite declined 1.28%, the KLSE plunged 2.09%, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.11%, the Straits Times declined 1.64%, the Seoul Composite tanked 1.81% and the Taiwan Weighted fell 1.89%. Bucking the trend, the Shanghai Composite gained 1.62% today.

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net sellers of stocks worth Rs609 crore on Wednesday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net buyers of equities worth Rs115 crore.

Government-owned BEML (up 1.05%) has announced plans to invest Rs360 crore for setting up an aerospace manufacturing complex in Bangalore. The company said it is scouting for acquisition of small firms to strengthen this business. The plant, which is expected to become operational in 2012-13, is to come up on a 25-acre plot in the aerospace special economic zone at Devanahally, BEML chairman and managing director VRS Natarajan said today.

Engineering giant Larsen & Toubro (up 0.62%) and Cassidian, a division of leading European aerospace and defence group EADS, have announced a joint venture in defence electronics manufacturing. The joint venture will establish bases of operation at Talegoan, near Pune, and Bangalore. It will be involved in the manufacture, design, engineering, distribution and marketing of systems used in electronic warfare, radars, avionics and mobile systems like bridges for military applications.

Sterlite Technologies (up 5.51%), a leading global provider of transmission solutions for power and telecom industries, has won a third contract for development of transmission systems in the country. The company's wholly-owned subsidiary has been selected to strengthen the transmission grid in the western region on 'build, own, operate and maintain' basis. The project would be commissioned within 36 months and the company would operate and maintain the transmission system for a minimum 35 years.


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