Trent plans two-five more stores by end of March

With an investment of Rs7 crore per store, the company plans five new stores by March 2010 and another seven to nine in the next fiscal year

Tata group company Trent Hypermarket Ltd, which owns Star Bazaar, plans to open two to five more stores by March 2010.
“We are planning to add two to five more retail stores by the end of this financial year. The investment per store would be Rs7 crore,” said Gordon Reid, chief operating officer, Trent.

“We are rapidly expanding and thus plan to add seven to nine stores by the next financial year,” Mr Reid added.

The new stores will come up at Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, Mr Reid said, adding that the company will over the next one year, focus on the southern and western regions.

The retail chain has four stores in India. Star Bazaar’s first hypermarket store was started in Ahmedabad in 2004. It has another two operational stores in Mumbai and one in Bengaluru.

The company has shortlisted Ahmedabad and Bengaluru for opening two of its planned stores.
On Star Bazaar's revenues, Mr Reid said that same-store sales grew by 41% this fiscal (for nine months) as compared to the same period last fiscal.

"We have done well in all categories of products; FMCG and general merchandise have been extremely good," he said.

Star Bazaar offers a wide arrange of apparel, sourced from different parts of the country, under a number of private labels.



Financial closure of Gammon’s berth at Paradip port likely by March

Gammon Infrastructure’s iron ore berth planned at Paradip port in Orissa will see financial closure by March 2010

The iron ore berth planned at Paradip port in Orissa will see financial closure by March 2010, say company officials from Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd (GIPL). Along with the port project, two other projects in roads and hydro-power are also likely to achieve financial closure.

“We will see financial closure for the Paradip port project, the Muzzaffar–Patna road project and the hydro-power project in Sikkim by March 2010,” said Parvez Umrigar, managing director, GIPL.

GIPL, in a consortium with Noble Group and Minerals and Metals Trading Corp (MMTC), is developing a deep draught iron ore berth at Paradip port in Orissa. This Rs505 crore build-operate-transfer (BOT) project was awarded to the consortium in July 2009.The concession period for this project is 30 years, including the construction period of 3 years.

GIPL’s 66MW hydro-power project in Sikkim will also achieve financial closure by March 2010. The power project is being developed by GIPL’s wholly owned subsidiary Sikkim Hydro Power Ventures Ltd. The concession period of this project is 35 years, excluding the construction period. The hydro project has been with GIPL since 2007.

GIPL also plans financial closure for its Patna-Muzzaffar road project by March 2010. The road is being developed on a BOT annuity basis. This Rs900-crore project is being developed by a wholly owned subsidiary of GIPL. The company had received the notification of interest (NOI) for this project from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in October 2009. NHAI currently is in the land-acquisition process for the project. The concession agreement for this project is likely to be signed by January or latest by February 2010.


TV18 & IBN18 smothered under huge interest costs

High interest costs will feature as a permanent expenditure on these companies’ books, leaving almost nothing for shareholders of these cash-guzzling businesses

The December quarter results have thrown up a new reality show for two top television channels: large interest costs that are leading to relentless net losses.

Here is the grim financial picture. IBN18 has reported a small operating profit of Rs4.98 crore for the three months ended December 2009. But net loss was Rs10.96 crore. The reason: IBN18’s consolidated interest costs and other financial charges are up by a whopping 82%, an increase of Rs6.51crore to Rs14.5crore, from Rs7.98crore for the corresponding year-ago period. On a nine-month basis, interest costs and other financial charges are up by a massive 123% in December 2009, an increase of Rs18.08 crore to Rs32.77crore, from Rs14.69crore last year.

TV18 too has registered a huge net loss of Rs41.52 crore for the same quarter. For TV18, although December quarter interest costs have come down by 14%, the nine-monthly interest costs have registered a rise of 25% to Rs85.01 crore, from Rs67.94 crore for the same period last year. Clearly, unless the business turns cash-flow positive, continuous borrowing would lead these companies into a deadly spiral of more and more debt just to keep the operations going.

For over six quarters now, these companies are making losses, requiring them to borrow money to fund their operations. TV18 made a rights issue last year—but at the rate money is flowing out, it will again need additional capital. Will this mean further borrowings? If so, how will the increased debt be serviced with cash flows continuing to be negative? Analysts and experts have all along assumed that all this borrowing was temporary. But it now appears that TV18 has been forced to pile up debt in large quantities just to ensure business survival. With losses continuing even after a full year of economic revival, these interest costs—and net losses—will not disappear easily. High interest costs will feature as a permanent expenditure on their books, leaving almost nothing for shareholders of these cash-guzzling businesses.


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