Abuse Of Power By Mobile Operators-II

I think a lot of cell-phone users will agree with Mangesh Tayade (“Harassed by Airtel”, Moneylife, 19th November). I have full sympathy for his problems with Airtel. I have also suffered; in my case, it was forced payment for caller tunes at Rs30 per month. All major mobile operators play this revenue-earning game on innocent consumers. If you complain, the customer-care desk keeps on...

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  • The great coal hunt continues as firms tap global markets

    Another company has now tied up a foreign coal source. A subsidiary firm of Nava Bharat Ventures is acquiring a coal mine in Zambia

    In another example of how getting coal thousands of miles away from another continent is much easier than getting it from a few hundred kilometres within the country, Nava Bharat (Singapore) Private Limited (NBS) a subsidiary of Nava Bharat Ventures Limited (NBVL), has signed a share sale and purchase agreement (SPA) for acquiring 65% equity stake in Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL), with the Government of the Republic of Zambia holding the Golden Share.

    This news pushed the stock to a high of Rs405, and it ended the day at Rs399, up 6% from the previous day’s close of Rs378.

    As per reports, MCL, which is estimated to have a capacity of two million tonnes of washed coal per annum, is expected to start operating on
    1 March 2010 after the new investor, Nava Bharat, completes the financial closure.

    As per the filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the company said that a group of individuals (Zambian Consortium) had joined NBS to form Nava Bharat Consortium (Nava Bharat). According to the company announcement, the acquisition was made pursuant to the selection of Nava Bharat against a global tender issued by ZCCM in late 2008 for inducting a private majority partner.

    Nava Bharat’s move underlines once again how there is now a beeline to acquire coal sources abroad. In early December, Moneylife Digital had reported that JSW Energy’s fuel requirement would be met by a mix of domestic coal sources and imported coal, since uninterrupted coal supply from domestic sources was not easy.

    “Domestic coal has its own challenge. If we want to ramp up capacity, there are issues. We have tried to enter this space very differently with a mix of domestic coal and imported coal. We have around three to five years to explore various sources for coal allocation. A lot of capacity is coming in, but we have to keep an eye on the challenges which we will face in procuring domestic coal. The reason for this is that we are not seeing a huge amount of coal capacity actually coming on stream,” said Pramod Menon, chief financial officer, JSW Energy Ltd.

    “We believe it is ideal to have a (supply) mix of domestic and imported coal. We have most of our projects dependent on imported coal located near ports, so we have the infrastructure in place,” Mr Menon had told us.

    JSW Energy imports coal from Indonesia and Mozambique. It owns two coal blocks in Mozambique. Coal sourced from this country will fuel JSW’s power plants dependent on this source in about three to four years. Mr Menon added that, “We need to de-risk the dependence on a single source by working out arrangements with multiple parties. Over time, you will find us addressing these risks.”

    Meanwhile, P Trivikrama Prasad, managing director of Nava Bharat, said that the company has successfully demonstrated its strengths in executing small-scale, coal-based power projects in the past. He said that this new venture will benefit from the same experience, and the company expects to be able to complete this project through a prudent financial structure that will optimise the opportunity for all stakeholders involved.

    Nava Bharat and ZCCM are committed to optimise the mine operations to obtain positive cash flows soon and to establish a 2x150MW power plant by utilising low-grade coal from the coal mine which has reserves of about 65 million tonnes of washed high-grade coal and an equivalent quantum of
    low-grade coal for use as feedstock for the proposed 300-MW power plant.

    The overall integrated project entails capital outlay of about $550 million which will be funded by non-recourse project debt and equity. The filing also said that Nava Bharat’s share of equity for this integrated project is about $108 million and that of ZCCM is about $57 million and the actual commitment would vary upon finalisation of the project cost and financing structure. Currently, the company is in talks with some leading banks for the proposed financing of the MCL project.

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    Sensex sheds 119 points, ends at 16,601

    Higher advance tax figures from India Inc—suggesting greater profit growth and improving economic prospects—fail to uplift Indian markets

    The Sensex declined 119 points from Friday’s (18 December 2009) close, ending the day at 16,601, while the Nifty declined 35 points to 4,953, despite reports of higher advance tax figures from India Inc for the third quarter.

    Among index heavyweights, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) rose 1%. As per reports, stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has asked the government to consider appropriate action against RIL for allegedly routing funds to dummy companies for buying large quantity of its shares in 2000.

    Ranbaxy Laboratories remained flat even after the company said it will launch hypertension drug Olmesartan Medoxomil developed by the company’s parent, Daiichi Sankyo, in six African countries.

    Nava Bharat (Singapore), a subsidiary of Nava Bharat Ventures, has acquired 65% equity stake in Zambia-based Maamba Collieries Ltd (MCL). The stock shot up 6%.

    Prime Focus rose 3% as it earned $18 million for providing visual effects in a recently released film, ‘Avatar’.

    Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) will consider a proposal for restructuring of the businesses of ETC Networks Ltd, a subsidiary of the company. At the end of the day, ETC Networks was up 5% while ZEEL rose 4%.

    MRF declined 7%. The company reported 68% growth in operating profits for the financial year 2008-2009 over the corresponding period last year. However, sales rose only 12% during the same period.

    As per reports, Indian firms paid 24% more in advance tax for the October-December 2009 period year-on-year, suggesting higher profit growth as economic recovery picked up pace. The advance tax paid by the top 100 firms was up more than 30% in the December 2009 quarter. The country’s corporate advance tax had fallen by 3.7% in the June 2009 quarter, but grew by 14.7% in the September 2009 quarter due to a strong recovery in banking, auto, and consumer durables sectors.

    According to the latest data release from fund-tracker EPFR Global, emerging-market equity funds took in $571.40 million in the week ended 16 December 2009, a slower pace of inflows than that seen earlier in the year.

    Still, inflows into developing world stock funds have now surpassed $75 billion for calendar year 2009, well beyond the previous record of $54 billion set in 2007. Meanwhile, diversified global emerging market funds soaked up $404 million and Asia funds, excluding Japan, posted net inflows of $301 million. India equity funds took in $64 million over the week, putting their intake for the year ahead of the previous record of $3.40 billion in 2005.

    During the day, finance secretary Ashok Chawla said that there are no plans for any additional borrowing this year and added that not much can be done about food price inflation with steps including monetary policy.

    Kaushik Basu, chief economic adviser to the finance ministry said that inflationary expectations in India will die out soon. He also added that inflation in India was sector-specific, present in food prices, and would therefore need sectoral intervention.

    Meanwhile, companies planning to list may reportedly have to ensure that at least a quarter of their total equity lies with the public, as the government sets about its stated mission to ensure that investors get a wider selection of stocks to choose from. Under the proposed plan, already listed companies will be required to divest at least 5% stake every year from 2010 to reach the prescribed threshold. Under the current rules, companies have the option to go public with 10% or 25% equity dilution. The government is scrapping the rules allowing companies to go for an initial public offering with 10% dilution.

    During the day, Asia’s key benchmark indices in South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore were down by between 0.17%-3.12%, while indices in China, Japan, and Taiwan rose by between 0.29%-0.43%.

    Japan’s exports fell at the slowest pace in 14 months in November 2009 as demand from Asia supported the nation’s recovery from its worst post-war recession. Shipments abroad slid 6.2% from a year earlier, the smallest drop since September 2008, the finance ministry said.

    Meanwhile, China’s industry minister said that the government will aim for economic growth of about 8% in 2010, even as it faces a tougher time boosting domestic consumption as a driver of growth.

    The economy minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said that Dubai, which faces more debt maturities in 2010, may receive more aid from either the UAE federal government or wealthy fellow emirate, Abu Dhabi.

    On Friday, 18 December 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 21 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 6 points and 32 points respectively.

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