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Maruti Suzuki will produce 10,27,000 units in this fiscal, crossing the million milestone for the first time in its history
The country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) will produce over a million cars this fiscal, enabling the company to cross the milestone for the first time, its parent Suzuki Motor Corp (SMC) said on Friday, reports PTI.
"Maruti Suzuki now forecasts production of 10,27,000 units for the fiscal year from April 2009 to March 2010, meaning that its production will exceed one million units on both a calendar-year basis and a fiscal-year basis for the first time," SMC said in a statement on its website.
Maruti Suzuki produced 9,66,069 cars from January to December 2009, up 27% from the year ago, it added.
In expectation of continued growth in the Indian car market, MSIL will invest Rs1,700 crore in new facilities at its Manesar plant to increase annual output to 550,000 units from the current 300,000 units, the statement said.
"The new facilities are scheduled to start operating in spring 2012. As a result, MSIL will have annual production capacity of 1.25 million units (700,000 units at its Gurgaon plant; 550,000 units at its Manesar plant)," it said.
SMC, which now holds 54.2% stake in Maruti Suzuki, started car production in India with the Maruti 800 in 1983, when the car market was about 100,000 units per year. It had partnered the Indian government in an erstwhile joint venture Maruti Udyog Ltd. It became the majority shareholder when the government exited from the joint venture.
Today MSIL commands 55% share in the market, which has grown to over 1.5 million units per annum. The company sell popular models including the Alto, Estilo, Wagon R, Swift, Dzire and the SX4.
With an eye on better valuations, NTPC adopted the ‘French Auction’ model for its follow-on public offer. The lukewarm response to the issue is prompting a rethink on this mechanism
In a first for an Indian company, state-run power utility NTPC Ltd took recourse to the ‘French Auction’ route for selling the institutional portion of its follow-on public offer (FPO). The rationale was to garner higher valuations through better price realisations. However, expectations have turned out to be largely misplaced, with the issue taking a beating. The government is now rethinking whether the French Auction model is appropriate.
Under the French Auction method, the highest bidders get a priority on allotment. As such, qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) were expected to jump onto the bandwagon, since they get preference on the price bids they place for the shares. However, the government failed to take cognisance of some preconditions essential for the success of any issue based on this model.
For a French Auction to work its magic, two conditions have to be satisfied—first, a robust demand should exist for the shares, where potential buyers are willing to fight it out for getting more allocation. This is where the Google IPO (which adopted the Dutch action rout) worked wonders. Second, there should not be a reference market price (as is the case in an IPO). If such a price exists, then the offer should be substantially lower than the prevailing price, so as to attract buyers’ attention. Both these conditions were conspicuously missing from the NTPC issue. At Rs201, the floor price of the issue was not low enough to offer any significant upside in terms of the prevailing market price of Rs205. Not only was there no element of mystery as regards the price (being a follow-on public offer), but more relevant was the complete apathy towards the issue, especially from retail and foreign investors.
Under conventional book-building, even if you bid high and if the book gets built at the middle of the price band, you will still get the discovered price. But in case of a French Auction, the fund manager is stuck with the higher price—and the higher allocation as per the model.
Next on the government’s divestment agenda are Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and NMDC, where it is likely to replicate the French Auction model for the institutional portion of the public offers. Unfortunately, many of the issues that weighed upon NTPC’s offer feature prominently in these offers as well. Unless market conditions and investor sentiments improve dramatically, these public offers may go the NTPC way.
Increasing competition and loss-making revenue models have been forcing Network18 to go in for cost-cutting measures, including laying off employees. At the same time, the media company has been pumping money into its cash-strapped, loss-making businesses
Media and entertainment company Network18 Media and Investments Ltd, which has been pumping money into its cash-strapped, loss-making businesses to keep them alive, is finally taking a call on the situation. According to sources, the media company has laid off about 350 employees, mostly technical and production employees from its Web operations. It (the layoff) also includes some journalists, the majority of whom have now joined Zee Business.
According to a source, who wishes to remain anonymous, the company has not offered any increment this year. Even its Web-based commodities operations employees have not received any increment since the last one-and-a-half years, the source added. Network18 has also reportedly closed its technical analysis beat from the Web operations of moneycontrol.com and wants to outsource the same to cut costs.
In November too, Network18 laid off around 200 permanent employees as part of a restructuring exercise aimed at merging broadcast operations of its Hindi and English business news channels. According to a filing by the company to the Bombay Stock Exchange, the 'one time' restructuring cost it Rs4.50 crore on account of rationalising the workforce.
During the quarter to end-December, Network18 reported a consolidated loss of Rs21.30 crore from Rs44 crore, as total revenues increased to Rs370 crore from Rs222.76 crore, a year ago. It also swung into positive earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) with Rs8.11 crore from a loss of Rs38.90 crore in the same period last year. Network18's operating profit margin remained poor at just 2%.
In a release, Raghav Bahl, managing director, Network18, said, “We are holding on to cash, equivalents and liquid investments in excess of Rs1,000 crore across group companies. If revenue growth momentum continues as projected, we hope to enter a strong profitability and cash generation phase in the next few quarters."
During the third quarter of FY10, Network18 also received cash infusion from Nokia and GS Home Shopping into its Web business. Nokia Growth Partners, an investment fund owned by Finnish mobile handset maker Nokia Oyj, has invested $10 million (Rs48 crore) in Web18 Holdings. Similarly, South Korea’s GS Home Shopping, the world’s third-largest home shopping network, has invested $18.50 million in HomeShop18, a Network18 subsidiary.
These investments have given Network18 a 'comfortable' position. "Both the Web and HomeShop businesses have welcomed strategic capital (from Nokia and GS Home Shopping) in Q3, putting both operations in a comfortable cash position to aggressively scale up their ambitions," Mr Bahl said in a release.
At the same time, the media company has been pumping money into its cash-strapped, loss-making businesses, to keep them alive. Unfortunately, several group companies and subsidiaries of Network18 are so heavily weighed down by losses, that their net-worth has been completely eroded. Belying their glitzy public images and continuing expansions, they are essentially sick companies.
The revenue model of media companies, especially those with a bouquet of TV channels, has always been under tremendous stress. Obscene salaries, lavish overheads and large dollops of equity options made these companies among the most expensive operations in India relative to their revenues. Quarter after quarter, we have marvelled at the ability of TV channels to survive the deluge of red ink that would have drowned companies in any other sector.
The launch of ET Now, a business news TV channel, by the deep-pocketed Times group has created more pressures for peers like CNBC TV18, NDTV Profit and Zee Business. With its 'complete package' for advertisers, including a business daily and TV channel, the Times group is snatching away a major chunk of ads from other media companies.
Moneylife had reported about this earlier (see here). The properties and titles of Network18 are spread across print, Web and television (news, business, general entertainment and music) and almost all of them are making losses. Last month, Network18 had to rescue its sister concern, Infomedia, the publishing unit of its group company TV18, by infusing liquidity through inter-corporate deposits of Rs58.50 crore. Network18 had also supported Infomedia when its rights issue failed in January.
Incidentally, Network18 has been busy launching and acquiring several new businesses with funding mostly through public money and later from bank finances. Virtually nothing has been funded through internal accruals, raising doubts about the inherent viability of the businesses.