SBI, Macquarie see huge opportunities in infrastructure

As population growth and demographic change continue to exert pressure on India's existing urban infrastructure, the country would require a total funding of more than $1 trillion for a radical overhaul in its existing systems

State Bank of India (SBI) and Macquarie Capital (Macquarie) have said that they see a huge opportunity in infrastructure investment, given that India’s infrastructure deficit presents a tremendous opportunity for investors.

“Over the next 10 years, the total funding requirement for infrastructure in India is anticipated to exceed $1 trillion, as population growth and demographic change continue to exert pressure on India's existing urban infrastructure. We are confident that the SBI & Macquarie joint venture is well positioned to participate in this growth,” said R Sridharan, managing director and group executive for associates & subsidiaries, SBI. 

SBI Macquarie Infrastructure Management Pvt Ltd (SMIMPL)—a joint venture between SBI and Macquarie—will manage a soon-to-be-established domestic fund, SBI Macquarie Infrastructure Trust (SMIT), which will invest in infrastructure projects and companies in India after obtaining registration with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the company said in a release.

SMIMPL on Thursday appointed Macquarie Capital's senior managing director Varun Bajpai as chief executive. It also appointed SBI's general manager Praveen Gupta as deputy chief executive of SMIMPL.

The appointments of Mr Bajpai and Mr Gupta come at a time when some analysts are forecasting India’s GDP growth to accelerate to around 8% next year. There is also a renewed optimism over future economic reforms. Infrastructure remains a priority for India, the SMIMPL release said.

According to the Planning Commission, India’s infrastructure investment requirements over the next five years are estimated to be nearly $500 billion. 

Macquarie and SBI recently established the Macquarie SBI Infrastructure Fund (MSIF), for international investors, with a first close of $887 million in capital commitments alongside a direct co-investment of $150 million from SBI, bringing total capital raised to $1.04 billion.



TV channels switch over to more realistic content

Social soap operas are not working for television audiences any more. The trend is now favouring much more realistic content where viewers can relate to characters and incidents that are being telecast

TV programmes have come a long way. After having experimented with comedy, social dramas and kitschy soap operas, the industry is now focusing on realistic content.

“Television channels are now looking out for realistic content, which viewers can relate to. One of our current shows on air on Mi Marathi channel is based on realistic content, called ‘Check Mate Khel Sampla’,” said Umesh Ray, chief executive officer and joint managing director, SP Telefilms Pvt Ltd.

Sony Television is also gravitating towards a more realistic genre of programmes. It has tied up with producers like Hats Off Production, Sphere Origin and DJ’s Creative Unit for producing realistic content.

SP Telefilms is producing a serial called ‘ABCD’, which will be based on the education of the girl child in small towns and villages. “We are coming up with the show by February 2010. It will run for 256 episodes,” said Mr Ray.

“Balaji Telefilms was the trend setter with its ‘saas bahu’ kind of television content, which was followed by other channels. After Colors launched ‘Balika Vadhu’, the trend switched to more realistic content. ‘Balika Vadhu’ is the same ‘saas bahu’ drama story, presented in a more realistic form,” said Ajit Thakur, executive vice president and business head, Sony Entertainment Television (SET).

“Television channels are now coming up with content based on rural life. Viewers from Tier II and Tier III cities can easily relate to these programmes. This kind of content is now more popular than the typical ‘saas bahu’ kind of content,” said Sheetal Malpani, media analyst, Brics Securities Ltd.

Zee has tied up with Swastik Pictures of Siddharth Tewary and Vikas Seth and is producing a daily soap called ‘Agle Janam Mohe Bitya Hi Kijo’. Swastik has also tied up with other TV channels and is producing serials like ‘Mata Ki Chowki’. Recently, Zee TV has tied up with film producer Rajshri Productions and is producing a fictional show called ‘Yahan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli’. SAB TV has also tied up with DJ’s Creative Unit for a program called ‘Left Right Left’, a serial based on the lives of soldiers.

“In the non-fiction category, the trend started with game shows, moved to talent shows and now hardcore reality shows are popular. ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (KBC) started the trend of game shows. Seeing its success, other channels launched many game shows. Over the years, a fatigue factor has set in; game shows like KBC II were not working. This genre was taken over by talent shows. Now the trend is more towards hardcore reality shows like ‘Fear Factor’,” said Mr Thakur.

Meri Aawaz Suno’, which was telecast on Doordarshan, started the talent show trend. This show was a singing competition. Then came along ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, another singing competition show launched by Zee Television. Following the success of these shows, a host of other song-and-dance shows were telecast by various channels. A few of these shows were serials like ‘Indian Idol’, ‘Nach Baliye’, ‘Voice of India’ and ‘Jhalak Dikhla Ja’.

Now this genre has been taken over by more realistic, hardcore reality shows. Popular serials currently being aired are shows like ‘Fear Factor’, ‘Big Boss’, ‘MTV Hero Honda Roadies’, ‘Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao’ and ‘Perfect Bride’.


Sumitomo denies stake sale in Swaraj Mazda

A few reports have said that Tata Motors is eyeing Sumitomo’s stake in Swaraj Mazda. Although Sumitomo has denied these stake sale reports, analysts say that the move by Tata Motors should be looked more as a technology takeover rather than consolidation of its market share

Japan's third-largest trading house Sumitomo Corp on Thursday denied that it was in talks with Tata Motors Ltd for selling its stake in Swaraj Mazda Ltd.

"Certain news agencies have today reported that Sumitomo Corp is in talks with Tata Motors for the sale of stake of Swaraj Mazda. However, this news report is not true," Sumitomo said in a note.

Established in 1983, automobile company Swaraj Mazda is owned by the Sumitomo Corp and Punjab Tractors Ltd with a technical collaboration with Isuzu and Mazda of Japan. Earlier in 2009, Sumitomo purchased Punjab Tractors' stake taking its shareholding to 53.5% in Swaraj Mazda.

Earlier, media reports said that Tata Motors, India’s largest vehicle maker, was negotiating to acquire Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo’s 53.5% stake in Swaraj Mazda and Tata Motors’ stake would go up to 73.5% if the open offer, which has to be at least 20% of the target company’s equity capital, is fully subscribed.

In the wake of new players—such as General Motors (GM) and its Chinese partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and a joint venture between Ashok Leyland and Nissan—entering the light commercial vehicles (LCV) segment, the move from Tata Motors was seen as a technology takeover rather than consolidation of stake in Swaraj Mazda.

Tata Motors has a market share of around 65% in the Indian commercial vehicle (CV) segment. Its share in the LCV market is higher, at around 68%. Swaraj Mazda, on the other hand, is a small player with just 3% share in the Indian LCV market, with a presence mainly in north India.

The Indian LCV market, valued at around Rs9,000 crore, is growing at 40% on an annual basis, faster than the commercial vehicle market as a whole. The Indian CV market is around Rs22,000 crore.

"Swaraj Mazda, which has a minuscule market share of 3% in the LCV market, will not help to increase Tata Motors’ share by a considerable amount. However this move will help to improve its presence in the northern region. Also, in the long term, Tata Motors will have access to Isuzu’s technology since Isuzu has an edge in diesel and hybrid technology," said Sandeep Patil, research analyst, Kisan Ratilal Choksey Shares and Securities Pvt Ltd, in a note.


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