M&M eyes global SUV market with its S Korean buy

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) said today that it would use its purchase of South Korea's Ssangyong Motor to become a global player in the sports utility vehicle market. Pawan Goenka, president of M&M's automotive and farm sector, said the merger would help both companies expand in the global market.

"We believe that Ssangyong and Mahindra make powerful companies to create a global SUV brand," he told reporters after the Indian company signed a preliminary agreement to buy a controlling stake in Ssangyong. The company is South Korea's smallest carmaker, mainly a manufacturer of low-priced but robust SUVs such as 'Rexton', 'Kyron' and 'Actyon' that sell globally. It also makes sedans. M&M shares closed lower at Rs617 on the BSE; while the benchmark Sensex shut at 18,311.


Personal finance Tuesday

Standard Chartered launches preferred banking offering, ICICI Lombard launches student medical insurance, SBI Mutual Fund goes Live with Intellect GUB

Standard Chartered launches preferred banking offering

Standard Chartered said on Tuesday that it launched its Preferred Banking proposition for the fast growing emerging affluent segment. Preferred Banking is a powerful and complete solution that combines savings, borrowing, protection and investments delivered by well-trained relationship managers and enhanced with an attractive rewards programme.

Standard Chartered is the first Bank in India to introduce a differentiated offering for the emerging affluent segment, the lender said in a release.

In India, the emerging affluent is a sizeable and rapidly growing customer segment at 18% per annum with needs that have been largely underserved and undifferentiated. A Preferred Banking customer would have a net monthly income of Rs60,000 to Rs2 lakh or funds under management of up to Rs5 lakh or a mortgage of Rs50 lakhs to Rs1 Crore.The target segment is defined as young, upwardly mobile, techno literate professionals between 25 to 40 years of age, who are looking for recognition, convenience and rewards, and solutions, StanChart said in the release. 
ICICI Lombard launches student medical insurance

ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co Ltd, the country's largest private sector general insurance company has launched student medical insurance plus plan as an add-on cover to fulfil the various criteria of universities abroad. It supplements the Overseas Student Travel Insurance plans introduced by ICICI Lombard to extend the coverage of unexpected medical and non-medical expenses.

The plan offered by ICICI Lombard makes life simpler for a student who is oblivious to the fact that medical expenses in a foreign land can be really expensive, particularly in a country like the US, the insurer said in a release.
The Plus Plan additionally covers treatment for mental and nervous disorders, including alcoholism and drug dependency, in-patient medical expenses related to pregnancy, medical expenses for inter-collegiate sports injuries, cancer screening and mammography examinations, childcare benefits and even hospitalization in case of Swine Flu / H1N1 influenza.

SBI Mutual Fund goes Live with Intellect GUB
SBI Mutual Fund, India's largest bank sponsored mutual fund, has successfully implemented Intellect GUB. Implemented by Laser Soft Infosystems Ltd, a subsidiary of Polaris Software Lab Ltd, this deployment will run on a fully integrated front-mid-back office fund management solution available on the latest and superior technology platform.

SBI Funds Management (SBIFM) has migrated its portfolio of around $8.2 billion to Intellect GUB and will gain the double benefits of higher throughputs by reduced manual interventions and significantly better control in a dynamic regulatory environment, the fund house said in a release.


Smart-phones to make up half of Asian sales by 2015

Singapore: Smart-phones will make up over half of Asian mobile phone sales by 2015, with 477 million units likely to be sold, reports PTI quoting an industry report.

Consultancy Frost and Sullivan said smart-phones would account for 54% of the Asia-Pacific mobile market in five years, up sharply from 5% in 2009.

The sharp take-up rate for smart-phones will be a huge revenue boost for telecom operators as it means a surge in demand for data services, the consultancy said.

The consultancy said data usage from smart-phones would generate over $38 billion for the region's telecom operators by 2015, from slightly over $1.3 billion last year.

Smartphones are high-end mobile devices providing faster access to data connections such as e-mail and Internet browsing than so-called feature phones, which have less computing ability.

Subscribers usually pay more for mobile data services, translating into higher average revenue per user (ARPU) for operators keen to make up for flat or declining earnings growth from feature phones.

"Smartphones are critical to every operator's mobile broadband business case, as a smartphone user's ARPU typically increased by 25% to 100% after adoption depending on the market," said Marc Einstein, the consultancy's industry manager.

"The Asia-Pacific market is particularly interesting for smart-phones as there has been significant uptake in emerging markets like China, India and Indonesia, even among prepaid users," he said in the report.

Apple's phenomenally popular iPhone and Research in Motion's BlackBerry, a favourite with corporate users, are largely credited with sparking consumer interest in smart-phones in the last few years.

Despite the upbeat assessment, telecom operators still need to overcome a few hurdles, Frost and Sullivan said.

"Eighty per cent of Asian mobile users use prepaid cards, and in fact in many markets are as high as 97%, making smartphone subsidies impossible for most users," said Mr Einstein.

"Furthermore, there is a lack of public Wi-Fi, particularly in emerging markets, which has been a smartphone saviour in the US and other developed markets.


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