New Delhi: The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has invited bids for laying two natural gas pipelines, which will partly include the one already being laid by Reliance Industries (RIL) to transport gas from its eastern offshore fields, reports PTI.
The oil and gas regulator has invited expression of interest (EoI) for a pipeline from Chennai (in Tamil Nadu) to Nellore (in Andhra Pradesh), according to an advertisement by the board.
This section is part of the 600km Kakinada (in Andhra Pradesh) to Chennai that RIL was authorised to lay to transport natural gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields.
PNGRB has similarly invited bids for a line from Kakinada to Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, which form part of RIL’s under-implementation 1,100km Kakinada to Basudevpur (in Orissa) pipeline.
The board invited bids even through the question whether the regulator is empowered to give firms the authorisation to lay pipelines is to be decided by the Supreme Court.
PNGRB had previously invited bids for 1,585km pipeline from Mallavaram on the east coast of Andhra Pradesh to Bhilwara in Rajasthan, 1,680km line from Mehsana in Gujarat to Bhatinda in Punjab and 740km Bhatinda to Srinagar via Jammu line.
A consortium led by Gujarat State Petronet (GSPL) emerged a winner in the bids but the regulator is yet to issue formal authorisation in absence of the court decision on its authority to do so.
Section 16 of the PNGRB Act, which gives the board the powers to authorise entities to lay pipelines and build city gas distribution networks, was notified only on 15th July this year.
Irrespective of the Section 16, PNGRB had during past three years gone ahead with invitation of bids for city gas projects and pipelines, a move that has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
The apex court has posted the matter for hearing in August 2011.
A PNGRB official said RIL has been slow in implementing the two pipelines as well as the 670km Chennai-Tuticorin pipeline and so the board invited EoI to lay the sections.
RIL, on the other hand, has written to the PNGRB saying it has already completed acquisition of right-of-user (ROU) for the pipelines and the delay, if any, in the implementation was due to the uncertainty over who the government is going to allocate gas from KG-D6 fields.
The company says it does not have freedom to market the gas and a pipeline will become infructuous if the gas was allocated to regions other than where the line has been laid.
RIL was authorised to lay the two pipelines besides the Kakinada to Bharuch line in Gujarat, which is already operational.
The market opened a tad above its previous close, but volatile trade ahead of the futures and options expiry on Thursday kept the indices in a tight range leading to a flat close.
The market opened with minor gains on the back of mixed global cues. Choppy trade resulted in the key indices dipping in and out of the red ahead of the futures and options (F&O) expiry. The market touched the day’s low in noon trade, but volatility continued amid low volumes on limited participation of institutional investors as the calendar year comes to an end. The market closed flat.
The Sensex ended at 20,025.42, down 3.51 points or 0.02%. The benchmark touched a high of 20,090.41 and a low of 19,981.76 during the session. The Nifty settled 2.10 points (0.04%) lower at 5,996. The index scaled an intraday high of 6,010.90 and slipped to a low of 5,982.25.
Despite the volatility in the market, the market breadth was positive today. The Sensex had 19 advancing stocks against 11 in the declining list. The Nifty closed with 30 gainers and 20 losers. Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index added 0.07%, while the BSE Small-cap index ended 0.33% higher.
The top performers on the Sensex were HDFC Bank (up 2.02%), Tata Power (up 1.75%), Reliance Communications (up 1.72%), Wipro (up 1.31%) and ITC (up 0.94%). The laggards on the index were Tata Motors (down 2.53%), ICICI Bank (down 0.92%), State Bank of India (down 0.90%), Reliance Industries (down 0.75%) and ONGC (down 0.66%).
Today’s sectoral gainers were BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.63%), BSE Healthcare (up 0.47%) and BSE TECk (up 0.34%). The losers were led by BSE Oil & Gas (down 0.74%), BSE PSU (down 0.46%) and BSE Auto (down 0.35%).
Markets in Asia ended mixed on speculation that China could adopt harsher policy tightening measures in the New Year to curb rising prices. Mixed economic data from
Japan also kept investors on the sidelines.
The Jakarta Composite surged 0.96%, the KLSE Composite gained 0.38%, the Straits Times advanced 0.77% and the Seoul Composite rose 0.55%. On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite tumbled 1.74%, the Hang Seng declined 0.93%, the Nikkei 225 tanked 0.61% and the Taiwan Weighted was down 0.24% in trade today.
Futures trading in sugar resumed on Monday on a positive note, after a gap of 19 months, as the country’s top two national commodities exchanges MCX and NCDEX launched new contracts.
In May 2009, the government had banned sugar trading in the futures market for six months, to curb spiralling sugar prices. Later, the ban was extended till September 2010. However, despite the ban, sugar prices in the domestic market continued to hold firm and touched a high of Rs4,065 per quintal in January 2010, as the production in 2009-10 was estimated at 18.8 million tonnes, much below the consumption level of around 23 million tonnes.
Markets in the US closed steady on Monday as a blizzard moving across the north-eastern region dampened investor sentiments. However, stocks recovered from an early decline, led by financials. Meanwhile, retail sales, excluding autos, rose to $584 billion from 5th November through 24th December from a 4.1% gain last year, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which measures retail sales by all payment forms.
The Dow fell 20.73 points (0.18%) at 11,552.76. The S&P 500 added 0.74 points (0.06%) at 1,257.51. The Nasdaq rose by 4.25 points (0.16%) at 2,669.85.
Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the equities segment on Monday, having pumped in funds worth Rs246.31 crore. Domestic institutional investors were net sellers of stocks worth Rs113.89 crore.
Dish TV India (down 0.15%) has expanded its channel capacity by 50% to 648 MHz from the earlier 432 MHz by entering into a long-term contract for additional transponders on Asiasat with ‘Antriksh’. The move will benefit existing customers of the company as the new transponders are closely located to the current transponders, which will allow channels beamed from it to be made available to existing users.
This expansion will help the company to increase its standard definition (SD) channel capacity to over 320 and high definition (HD) to over 30 which will be substantially higher than any competing DTH operator in HD as well as SD transmission.
Cipla (up 0.33%) has informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that it has received fresh notices from the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority of the government of India. The company said that it has received further demand notices from the government demanding an amount of Rs47.70 crore in respect of the drug Salbutamol and an amount of Rs25.40 crore in respect of the drug Ciprofloxacin.
These demands are contrary to the Supreme Court orders and the company has received legal advice that entire amounts demanded by the government are not tenable and sustainable.
Auto-maker Mahindra & Mahindra (up 0.73%) today said it will raise the prices of its products across all categories in January due to increase in commodity rates. However, the company declined to comment on the quantum of the price increase. The hike follows the decision by auto major—Tata Motors—to hike vehicle prices by up to 1.5% from January.
Even as economic activity picks up, the real estate sector is stuck due to funding constraints and fewer buyers
After a tough 2008-09, there was a feeling that developers would change their high-rise focus to help more average-income buyers find decent housing. There were some who did a little in this direction this year. But most others forgot the bad times quite quickly and returned to their previous high-end ways.
Now, as 2010 draws to a close, it doesn’t appear like the real estate business has very much to celebrate about. Till a couple of years ago, high prices and equally high interest rates did not deter people from buying a house. Today, the continuing uncertainty is keeping more and more buyers back.
In the face of sluggish demand, developers are stuck with large unsold properties and heavy debt. A tight liquidity situation has made it even more difficult for them to arrange for finance. And with some big names in the net for bribing housing finance officials to secure loans, the situation is getting tighter. Even the extended festival season beginning with Dassera, through Diwali and into Christmas and the New Year has not helped revive business.
If anything, the widening investigation into the bribes-for-loans scandal has already increased the risk weightage for the sector and it will make it even more difficult for the players. On 24th November, eight finance sector executives, including the chief executive of LIC Housing Finance and a Bank of India official, were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for sanctioning loans to real estate companies, bypassing the rules and accepting illegal payments to do so. These deals were allegedly facilitated by Mumbai-based Money Matters Financial Services.
The scandal puts a huge question mark on the credibility of an already-tarnished real estate sector, public sector lenders, as well as valuations of real estate securities. Some of the big names involved are Lavasa Corporation, DB Realty, Oberoi Realty Limited, Emaar MGF Realty, Kumar Developers and Mantri Realty. Also, work at the Lavasa project and DLF’s first project in Goa has been stalled for violation of environmental norms.
The extent of the malaise in the real estate sector was evident in yet another scam involving numerous influential people, even top army officials. In this case, a six-storey building originally planned for Kargil war heroes and widows, was illegally converted into a 31-storey structure and the flats allocated former service chiefs, serving army officials, bureaucrats, politicians and their family members.
One of the politicians found to have benefited was Ashok Chavan, who had to resign as chief minister of Maharashtra. The Adarsh Housing Society building, located in the vicinity of sensitive naval installations in Mumbai’s plush Colaba area, violates coastal regulation zone laws. The CBI is also investigating this case.
Both the bribes-for-loans and Adarsh scandals erupted in the past couple of months and it may be a little early to gauge the effect they will have on business.
Among the costliest real estate deals in 2010 was the sale of a four-storey commercial building at Worli by the Nusli Wadia Group to Axis Bank for Rs640 crore. The private lender plans to set up its headquarters in this building.
Some industry analysts have suggested periodically that for the property business to revive, prices would have to correct soon. But it seems they have only got costlier and nearly out of reach of average-income people. Today, residential rates are at back to the peaks touched before the financial crisis. As a result, many of the projects we see advertised over colourful spreads in most publications are running empty. This has led developers to offer big bonuses for those managing to entice buyers and bigger discounts for those signing up.
Brokers have been gifted luxury cars like the BMW and even foreign trips, while buyers have been given incentives through schemes like’90:10’ financing. The recent decision of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cap the loan-to-value ratio for housing loans by banks to 80%, has increased the risk weightage for residential loans of over Rs75 lakh, further dampening overall sentiment for the sector, particularly in Mumbai.
For developers, financing options have only got tougher as the RBI has periodically tightened the purse strings of banks and alternative financing routes that are also costlier is eating into the bottom lines of most companies. Some real estate companies came up with the largest initial public offers this year—DB Realty (Rs1,500 crore), Prestige Estates (Rs1,200 crore) and Oberoi Realty (Rs1,000 crore). However, this fund-raising happened before the scandals came to light, and other companies that hoped to raise funds similarly, have put off plans.
According to real estate consultant Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the value of investment grade real estate in India for under-construction projects crossed $100 billion in 2010. Mumbai was at the top in the real estate investment chart, followed by Delhi (including Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Gaziabad in the national capital region), where maximum construction activity is in progress, and the five other major cities.
The commercial property segment performed better than the residential segment, as business houses resumed expanding their presence in various cities, with the recovery post the recession. Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi were the top choices for office space. The information technology business grabbed the most properties, also in Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata.
With high land cost a major issue for developers who are looking to provide affordable housing, some enterprising companies launched residential projects on the outskirts of cities and even beyond. Tata Housing, HDIL, Matheran Realty and Shapoorji Pallonji were among the names who took up such initiatives. But these were too few and far in between.
With the economy continuing to improve, the prospects for commercial properties are looking better. But in the residential sector, if sluggish demand and high rates have not made developers change their high-end plans, it is difficult to imagine what will.