India's Q2 GDP grows 7.9%

Belying predictions, the Indian economy grew by a significant 7.9% in the second quarter of this fiscal, up from 6.1% in the previous quarter, essentially due to a good showing by the industry and the services sector. The growth compares favourably to the figure of 7.7% recorded in the July-September quarter in the previous year.

 Consequently, the economy rose by 7% in the first half ending 30th September of the current fiscal on the back of stimulus packages and revival of domestic demand, giving hopes that final figures for the year could be much higher.
 
"While loan growth remains anaemic, strong GDP numbers and rising WPI will likely result in a tightening of policy rates in January. However, as mentioned in our earlier notes, with liquidity remaining in surplus, liquidity tightening measures will likely precede rate hikes. We maintain our call of 125bps tightening in 2010 as inflation is primarily supply side drive and excess tightening would have implications for the Indian rupee," said Rohini Malkani, Economist, Citi India.
 
The government, including finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, the RBI and the Planning Commission had predicted a growth of about 6%-7%, while global agencies and analysts forecast it to be even lower. The prime minister's economic advisory panel had pegged the economy to grow by around 6.1% in the second quarter due to the impact of a weak monsoon on agriculture.
 
Tushar Poddar, Vice President & Chief Economist, Goldman Sachs India said, “Although the growth momentum is strong, we believe the impact of the drought on agricultural growth would be seen in the next quarter. Looking ahead to 2010, we would expect the role of the private sector to start increasing more rapidly while that of the government to ease gradually. There are upside risks to our FY10 GDP growth forecast of 5.8%. For FY11, we expect GDP to grow near-trend at 7.8%. We believe the recovery in activity will drive the INR stronger and expect the Reserve Bank of India to start hiking rates in January. We also continue to recommend short US dollar and Indian rupee positions".
 
During the quarter to end-September, financing, agriculture and real-estate growth stood at 7.7%. The surge in GDP numbers was helped by the manufacturing sector, which grew 9.2% in the second quarter vis-a-vis 5.1% a year earlier.
 
Analysts were expecting a growth rate of 6.1%-6.6% in the second quarter. The economic growth of close to 8% in the second quarter is also remarkable in the context of just 0.9% expansion in farm production due to a weak monsoon and continued contraction in exports due to slackening demand overseas.
 
However, the manufacturing sector grew by 9.2% in the July-September period compared to 5.1% in the corresponding period of the last fiscal and mining and quarrying grew by 9.5% versus 3.7% recorded in FY09.
 
Community, social and personal services expanded by double digits at 12.7% against 9%. Despite being affected by the international slowdown, trade, hotels, transport and the communications sector grew by 8.5%, which is lower than 12.1% a year ago.
 
Financing, insurance, real-estate, and business services rose by 7.7% against 6.4%. Electricity, gas and water supply were up 7.4% compared to 3.8%. Construction rose by 6.5%, down over 9.6% a year ago.
 
It was after September, that growth declined to 5.8% in the subsequent two quarters last year. So, if the trend continues, the growth rate is expected to be much higher in the second half of this fiscal.
 
The size of the domestic economy stood at Rs17.90 lakh crore in the first half of FY10.
-Yogesh Sapkale [email protected]
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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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