PE investments fall by half during March quarter this year

There has been a dearth of mega deals during the March quarter, which was the main reason behind the decline in the overall PE deal activity

New Delhi: Private equity (PE) investment fell to $1.88 billion across 90 deals during the quarter ended March this year less than half compared to the same period last year, reports PTI.

This was the third consecutive quarter of deceleration, says a report from research firm Venture Intelligence.

During the first quarter of calendar year 2011, private equity firms had invested $3.61 billion across 107 transactions.

Venture Intelligence said there has been a dearth of mega deals during the quarter, which was the main reason behind the decline in the overall PE deal activity.

There were six reported PE investments worth over $100 million and none above $200 million during the quarter ended March, compared to 9 such deals in the same period last year, which included five transactions over $200 million.

Healthcare and life sciences cornered bulk of PE investments as the sector attracted $581 million (31% of the value pie) across 14 investments during the period.

Three of the six investments worth over $100 million each during the quarter went into the hospitals and clinics sector. About $110 million was infused into Care Hospitals (by Advent International) and $100 million each invested into DM Healthcare and Vasan Healthcare (by Olympus Capital and by the Singapore Government-owned GIC, respectively).

Healthcare was followed by IT & ITEs companies with $308 million across 35 reported investments and BFSI (banking, Financial Services and Insurance) firms with $280 million across 11 investments.

The trend of the larger PE firms buying out the stakes of earlier PE/VC investors in Indian companies gathered momentum during the quarter.

The GIC-Vasan deal was one such case (which saw a part exit for Sequoia Capital India). The $104-million deal by General Atlantic in Fourcee Infrastructure also witnessed the complete exit for Mayfield, and the $50-million investment by Warburg Pincus saw part exit for Motilal Oswal PE.

Meanwhile, PE-real estate firms made 12 investments (amounting to $477 million across 10 deals with disclosed values) during the quarter ended March 2012.

The largest PE-realty investment announced during the first quarter of this year was GIC's $100 million investment in a Godrej Properties office project in Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex--the only deal over $25 million reported during the period.

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EPFO may provide 8.6% interest rate for 2012-13

“EPFO is working on income estimates to provide 8.6% rate of return on provident fund deposits during this fiscal,” a source privy to the development said.

Faced with criticism for slashing interest rate on deposits by 1.25% for 2011-12, the retirement fund body EPFO may raise it to 8.6% for this fiscal to benefit about 50 million subscribers.

Last month, the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had brought down the rate of interest to 8.25% for 2011-12 from 9.5% provided in 2010-11, evoking sharp criticism within and outside Parliament.

“EPFO is working on income estimates to provide 8.6% rate of return on provident fund deposits during this fiscal,” a source privy to the development said.

He further said the EPFO's apex decision making body, Central Board of Trustees (CBT), headed by the labour minister could meet next month to take a call on the issue.

The source said EPFO can provide higher returns in the current fiscal as the government has increased interest rate on Special Deposit Scheme (SDS) 1975 to 8.6% from 8% with effect from 1 December 2011.

The EPFO has parked about Rs55,000 crore in the scheme which was launched by the Central government on 1 July 1975 to provide better returns to non-government provident funds and other such funds.

“EPFO was finding it difficult to maintain rate of return above 8.5% because of low interest rate on investment in SDS. But since that income would go up, it would be easier to provide interest rate over 8.5%,” EPFO trustee D L Sachdev said.

He said the other investments made by EPFO are well managed by the fund managers and yield rate of returns which are higher than 8.5%.

During the previous CBT meeting, the unionists had demanded matching EPFO's interest rate with that of Public Provident Fund (PPF). The government has hiked PPF rate to 8.8% from 8.6% last month.

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Sony launches 3D home theatre projector

When combined with Sony's Iris 3 technology of 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast, the projector can produce screen sizes of up to 200 inches diagonally for cinematic viewing in the comforts of a home, an official statement said

Sony India launched 4K home theatre projector systems with 3D capabilities and said it plans to sell at least 100 units during the year.

“Our new VPL-VW1000ES 4K home theatre projector will allow viewers to be totally immersed in the experience with the action unfolding before their eyes in a new level of realism,” Sony India's DGM, Professional Solution Division, Munetaka Satoru said.

The product employs an entirely new SXRD 4K panel, producing outstanding device contrast and 2,000 ANSI lumens of brightness. When combined with Sony's Iris 3 technology of 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast, it can produce screen sizes of up to 200 inches diagonally for cinematic viewing in the comforts of a home, an official statement said.

A separate workstation which will enable projection of content shot in 4K will be launched and sold separately.

"We have not yet worked out the launch schedule of this workshop. We have yet to decide on which configuration of this workstation has to be launched in India," a senior company official said.

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