Warren Buffett bowled over by Indian hospitality

"I am just overwhelmed by the welcome I have received from the moment we got here. They treat me much better in India than they do in the United States," Warren Buffet, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said during his interaction with the Karnataka chief minister

Bangalore: Indian hospitality on Wednesday received a strong endorsement from Warren Buffett, the world's third richest man, who said he was treated much better here than back in the US, reports PTI.

"I am just overwhelmed by the welcome I have received from the moment we got here. They treat me much better in India than they do in the United States," said the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway at a brief meeting with Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa early Wednesday morning.

"I want to transport all this... I believe in free trade," he said in a lighter vein.

"We had a great dinner last night (Tuesday night)... I met some very interesting people, had a great conversation. I couldn't feel more welcome and more delighted to be here," said Mr Buffet, who is staying at Taj West End during his visit to the country.

"This is my first trip to India and the first foot I placed on Indian soil was in Bangalore... and it won't be the last," said the 80-year-old billionaire.

"When I come back, I will be 100 in 2030," he joked, but quickly added that he planned to come back much before that and was hopeful of seeing business expand here by then.

"We want to be where the action is and the action is here," Mr Buffett, who on Tuesday admitted to having made a late entry into India, said.

Mr Buffett, who viewed a short presentation on investment opportunities in Karnataka and the Global Investors meet held in 2010, said he was impressed by the speed of implementation of the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed during the Investors Meet.

"... It is very impressive," he said, lauding the efforts of the Karnataka government in facilitating the establishment of a Nestle food processing plant in a short timeframe of barely 10 months.

Mr Yeddyurappa extended an invitation to Mr Buffett to be the chief guest at the Global Investors Meet in 2012 during the nearly half-hour-long meeting.

The chief minister, attired in a formal suit, briefed Mr Buffett about the investment opportunities in Karnataka, the progressive policies of the state government, the close to 400 MoUs signed at the Global Investors Meet and the speedy implementation of several of the projects.

"I invite you to invest in Karnataka in different sectors and assure you all the support and coordination from our government," Mr Yeddyurappa told the legendary investor.

To a question as to what Karnataka needs to be doing to woo more investors, Mr Buffett said, "You are doing the right thing."

Asked what his own assessment was on the impact of the Japanese crisis on the re-insurance sector, he said, "It is very early to assess that."

"Much of the loss is uninsured... It is a wild guess at this point, but I would say that it will be probably be between half a billion and a billion dollars. To put that in perspective, Katrina (hurricane) cost us $3 billion and we are much larger. It is a significant amount of money, but it is not what I call a super catastrophe from the financial standpoint," he said, but added that it was a great tragedy from the human loss point of view.


ED conducts searches at Hassan Ali CA’s residence

The Enforcement Directorate conducted searches at the residence of Sunil Shinde, the chartered accountant of Hassan Ali Khan, who is facing charges of money laundering and tax evasion. However, the agency refused to divulge any further details

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today carried out searches at the Pune residence of Sunil Shinde, the chartered account of businessman Hassan Ali Khan, who is facing charges of money laundering and tax evasion, reports PTI.

Searches are being conducted at Mr Shinde's residence since morning, ED sources said. However, the investigating agency declined to provide further details, saying the operation was still on.

Mr Khan, the Pune-based stud-farm owner, has been arrested on charges of stashing away huge amount of black money in banks abroad.

The 53-year-old is also facing a Rs70,000 crore tax demand notice from the Income Tax Department.


India needs to focus more on digital infrastructure: James Murdoch

With digitization, the Indian industry will finally have the incentives to invest and create. Even more important, local customers will have the content and choice—worthy of the nation’s rich diversity

India has around 120 million TV households and yet there are only about 30 million home which have digital channels. This shows the need for the country to focus more on creating digital infrastructure said James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive, News Corp, Europe and Asia.

Speaking at the FICCI FRAMES 2011 in Mumbai today, he said, "Digitisation brings content distribution and connectivity together-and helps them come alive. That is why the nations most determined to modernise their economies have put digital infrastructure at the top of their priorities. Digitization needs funding, it's true. So it is crucially important to relax investment and ownership regulations and align them to this objective."

Though India has a large population, its creative potential remains below expectations. "If India's economy had a creative sector on the scale, relative to overall GDP, of Britain's, for example, instead of a $15-billion industry we would be talking about a $120-billion industry," Mr Murdoch said.

"Digitisation is the key to unlocking the potential of the creative sector. With digitisation, the Indian industry will finally have the incentives to invest and create. Even more important, Indian customers will have the content and choice worthy of their nation's rich diversity. The second area is what we can do to bring Indian creators, storytellers, and journalists to the world's conversations. And this can only be done by ensuring that India's creative market is competitive at home," he added.

AT present there are 550 TV channels in the country out of which around 400 are active. There are 106 channels which still use the analogue system to broadcast signals to 90 million homes. In addition, there are 300 TV channels ready to start broadcasting the moment they get licenses. Due to the dearth of digital infrastructure, broadcasters are forced to use analogue system and pay more money as carriage fees.

Mr Murdoch said, "When competition is stifled by infrastructure, the scarcity of bandwidth drives the operator to price channel placement instead of investing in greater capacity. This makes things more expensive for the channel operator who has to recoup that higher cost out of advertising, spread ever so thinly across a fragmenting audience."

India is a young country-and there are more mobile devices than TV sets in country. In order to reach out more to the audience, content providers from the media need to cater to this segment as well.
"In India, there is more demand and scope for content for handheld devices," said Sachin Pilot, minister of state for communications and IT. He assured all possible help to the media and entertainment industry from the government.

During the inaugural session, FICCI and KPMG released a report on Indian media and entertainment (M&E), which expects the segment to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% to $28 billion by 2015, due to positive industry sentiment and growing media consumption. (Read FICCI-KPMG expects Indian media and entertainment industry to touch $28 billion by 2015:).


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