Indian textile exporters target fresh markets

Following tough competition from China and South Korea as well as lack of incentives, many Indian textile exporters are unwinding their positions from traditional markets like the US and the EU. These exporters are now focussing on markets like Japan, the Latin American countries, New Zealand and Australia. 

“The US market is a comfortable zone and a better bet for all of us as it offers good quality and quantity potential for textile exporters. However, due to incentives withdrawn by the Indian government, our battle with countries like China and Korea has become even tougher,” said a senior official from Nahar Spinning Mills Ltd.
 
According to the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), during the first half of the current financial year (April to September 2009), Indian garment exports tumbled 7.3% compared to last year. In October, the country's apparel exports were hit severely and declined by 17.6% to $603 million over the year-ago period.
 
Indian apparel exports to the US, the world's largest market, declined by 6.5% to $2.27 billion during January to September this year compared to $3.1 billion in the same period a year ago. However, during the same period, China's exports to the US increased by 2% to $17.20 billion while Bangladesh's exports rose 2.4% to $2.70 billion.
 
"The government must introduce fiscal relief measures to save garment exports out of India," said AEPC chairman Rakesh Vaid, adding that there are fears of the industry suffering collateral damage. "Stimulus packages and other steps announced so far have had negligible impact on the Indian apparel industry. These measures were either release of withheld benefits or the restoring of benefits withdrawn earlier."
 
With weak US markets and despite marginally better recovery signs from EU countries, the Indian textile industry is not expecting higher margins, said an official from the Synthetic and Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council (SRTEPC).
 
Accordingly, the trend is likely to continue for another two to three years with a 2% drop in exports to these nations, the official from Nahar Spinning added.
 
Textile exporters from India are not against the idea of exporting textiles to the newer markets like Japan, Latin American countries, New Zealand and Australia but would have preferred to  enjoy their earlier privileges which the government has withdrawn, he said.
 
The government has provided better pricing for the newer markets and with less competition, the textile exports to these markets will increase, the official added.
 
“We have just started (exports) and have not rigorously entered these markets as we are to still studying and understanding them,” the Nahar Spinning official said, adding that it would take at least another six months to a year to do well in these markets.
-Aaron Rodrigues
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Promoters tank up on preferential allotments in Sistema Shyam

Promoters of various companies have been known to pamper themselves by allotting preferential shares at prices significantly lower than prevailing market prices. With equity markets enjoying a solid run, greedy promoters seek to make a killing by allotting shares of the company to themselves at a steep discount, while selling existing holdings at an enormous profit.

In much the same manner, promoters of Sistema Shyam Teleservices, a mobile service provider, are looking to cash in on the current boom, at the cost of minority shareholders of the company. Recently, the Department of Telecom (DoT) gave its nod to the Russian government bid to pick up a 20% stake in the service provider for an estimated Rs3,200 crore. Sistema Shyam has said it could subscribe ‘‘fresh equity shares of nominal value of Rs 10 each at the rate of Rs 49.31 per share approximately for an investment of up to $676 million.” This will come as a rude shock to the minority shareholders of the company (forming 2.5% of total shareholding), who will be left watching from the sidelines as the promoters make a quick buck in the secondary markets. The company has called for an extra-ordinary general meeting (EGM) on 10 December 2009, for discussion of the proposal.
 
Although SEBI had in 1994 tightened rules for preferential allotment to deter promoters from taking unjust advantage at the cost of minority shareholders, promoters continue to find ways to manipulate the system to their benefit. Although such allotments are completely legal and within the framework of SEBI guidelines, they are still unfair to the minority shareholders of the company.
 
Sistema Shyam offers its mobile telephony services under the MTS brand name in the country. Russian telecom giant Sistema has a 74% stake in the joint venture with Indian based Shyam Telecom, which has more than 2 million fixed-line and mobile subscribers in seven circles of the country.
 
Interestingly, Sistema was looking at merging Sistema Shyam with its main asset and top Russian mobile operator, MTS, earlier this year. The decision to merge the Indian entity was to be based on its capability to deliver appropriate returns.
–Sanket Dhanorkar
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Office rents are falling in Tier I cities

After witnessing astronomically high premiums, office rents in central business districts (CBDs) of all major Tier I cities are falling and there are some offices available on rent for as low as Rs20 per sq ft, said property dealers.

“The total market revival across the key real estate market, marked by increasing absorption and reducing vacancy is likely to be achieved by the second quarter of FY10 for most Indian cities,” said Anshul Jain, chief executive, DTZ International Property.

The supply in the office space arena is increasing and the demand is suppressed. The slowdown has also contributed to the availability of office space as companies started retrenching staff and reorganising their resources, resulting in additional office space being available with such firms.

According to a report by DTZ, the CBD in Delhi, including the National Capital Region (NCR), has around 52 million sq ft (msf) of office space, out of which 41% is vacant. Similarly, in Mumbai’s CBD out of the total 48 msf, 29% is vacant, while in Bengaluru 23% out of 76 msf office space remains vacant. Kolkata has 13 msf office space, out of which 16% is vacant. Pune and Chennai, with an office space of 36 msf and 38 msf respectively, have the percentage of vacant space at 34% and 36% respectively, the report said.

Even the rates for many Information Technology (IT) parks have fallen drastically. “Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), the famous IT corridor in Chennai, quotes a lease rent of Rs20 per sq ft. The rates can’t go lower than this and also won’t increase in the next seven months,” said Sorabh K Jain, principal, Sun Apollo Real Estate Advisors Pvt Ltd.

According to industry sources, the IT Parks at OMR are leasing the space for ceremonies like marriages to earn some money till they can rent it to some tenant. The irony is, during the boom time in 2007, the same location used to attract rents as high as Rs7,500 per sq ft.

In Mumbai too, office rents have fallen and many institutions located at main business areas like Nariman Point are looking at shifting to other places where the rent is lower. Many of these institutions are planning to move to suburban areas instead of paying rents as high as Rs300 per sq ft for Nariman Point properties. Recently, SBI Life Insurance Ltd took about 50% office space in Andheri-based office complex Rustomjee Natraj for Rs80 per sq ft. Earlier, the same office complex developed by the Keystone group used to attract office rent of around Rs140 per sq ft.

Despite falling office rentals, some overseas property investors are planning to invest in these CBDs. Property investment and development group Hongkong Land Ltd, a $12 million company is planning to invest $500,000 in Tier I cities. 
— Pallabika Ganguly
 

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