Yahoo! to close its offices worldwide for a week

Internet firm Yahoo!'s offices worldwide will remain shut from 25th December through 1st January as part of a cost-cutting measure, reports PTI.


According to the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! is shutting down its offices, except for 'essential functions', for about a week, as the company searches for new ways to cut costs during the recession.


Apart from Yahoo!, other companies like Adobe and Apple would also close their offices during the holidays. Adobe and Apple would close their offices from 24th December to 1st January.


The Internet company's move is its first mandatory world-wide shutdown, although it has encouraged US employees to take the week off in the past, the report said, citing Yahoo! spokeswoman Dana Lengkeek.


"Shutting down during a traditionally slow week allows employees to recharge, and the company to reduce operating costs for the week," the daily quoted Lengkeek as saying.


The report noted that US employees can use vacation time or take unpaid leave for the days not covered in the holiday schedule, while employees from outside the US would be paid as per the local laws.


Yahoo! has already laid off about 700 people in spring as a cost-cutting move.



JK Tyre scouting for acquisitions in South-east Asia

Aiming to expand its global footprint, JK Tyre and Industries Ltd is exploring the possibilities of acquiring a company in the South-east Asian region, reports PTI.


"We are looking at various opportunities, including acquisitions in the South-east Asian region but nothing has been decided yet," JK Tyre vice-chairman and managing director Raghupati Singhania said.


The process is at a very initial stage and the company would proceed slowly, he added.


In 2008, JK Tyre acquired Mexican tyre major Tornel for Rs270 crore. Currently, about 75% of Tornel's annual production of 66 lakh units is sold in the Mexican domestic market.


"Right now we are not interested in any American firm as we have already made inroads into that market. We are looking at other markets," Mr Singhania said.


On the domestic front, the company is set to hike rates of its products by up to 10% by early next month on account of increasing commodity prices.


"The prices of all raw materials have gone up. Natural rubber, synthetic rubber, nylons—all are becoming expensive. Our team is looking at reviewing the prices to suitably adjust our margins," Mr Singhania said.


By early next month, the company will increase prices of tyres across all categories, he added.

"It (the price rise) will be between 5% and 10% depending on various raw materials used in different types of tyres," Mr Singhania added.



2009: Good for investors, tough on MFs

Investors got the upper hand in 2009, while fund houses struggled to cope with regulatory changes and upheavals in the economy, even as the industry shrugged off recession blues with its assets hitting an all-time high of Rs8 lakh crore, reports PTI.


The year was particularly significant as market regulator SEBI acted in favour of the investors and eased norms making it easier for them to invest in mutual funds. The key changes include abolishment of entry load on purchase of schemes and allowing mutual funds (MFs) to be traded on the stock exchanges.


"Even though these are early days, both (regulatory changes) have deep potential for a positive impact. The abolition of entry load is a significant game-changer as it completely transforms the business model of the fund distribution industry. For fund companies as well as distributors, it throws up a challenge of managing a big change if they have to flourish," MF tracking firm Value Research's chief executive Dhirendra Kumar said.


According to market analysts, the move for introduction of MFs on exchanges as well as an improvement in the state of the economy would increase reach of MFs across the country.


With high volatility in the stock market during the year, investors looked for avenues of mutual gains and lesser risk to reap returns on their investments. This was evident with the average assets under management (AUM) of the industry hitting an all-time high of Rs8,07,546 crore, an increase of Rs3.86 lakh crore at the end of November, according to latest figures available on the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) website.


Analysts believe that the improving economic conditions and relatively good performance of the Indian stock markets show the promise that lies ahead for the MF sector and 2010 should be a better year.


"The total AUM should definitely climb in 2010 and I believe an increase of 20%-25% in industry AUM is possible by end-2010," global financial research firm Celent analyst Anshuman Jaswal said.


During 2008, the industry had incurred heavy losses when the fund houses became poorer by about Rs1,50,000 crore, which left the industry shattered with a huge liquidity crunch. At present, the industry, considered a safe haven for investors, consists of 37 fund houses.


Despite a rebound in the performance of fund houses, equity schemes continued to lag compared to debt and other liquid schemes as investors preferred to park money with funds promising assured returns, although analysts are upbeat that equity MFs would perform better going forward in 2010.


Equity schemes have recorded inflows to the tune of Rs2,104 crore so far this year, while income funds have witnessed investments of Rs2,87,500 crore.


However, Mr Kumar sounded a note of caution, saying that flush with excess funds, investors are only parking money for the short-term with MFs.



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