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Business dull,65 B-schools to close shop 

Hemali Chhapia TNN 

Mumbai: On the academic floor,the MBA programme was once supreme.Arrogantly and unambiguously,it became the final sign-off to schooling,attracting not only those interested in business but also all those who wanted to master the tools of management.
That hubris,thanks to its own profligacy,is now being shaken.The Indian management education sector grew so wildly when demand was rampant (today there are 3,900 management schools with close to 3.5 lakh seats) that supply overshot demand by a long straw.And now comes the fallout.
In a dramatic,though not entirely unexpected development,as many as 65 business management colleges across India are planning to close down;these institutes no longer see business sense in offering an MBA course,preferring to use the land for more lucrative ventures.In fact,experts predict that many more management colleges may close down in the days to come.As S S Mantha,chairman of the All-India Council for Technical Education,puts it,Colleges in remote India and institutes of poor quality are not getting students. 
For students who choose not to apply to any of these lesser-known colleges,the decision is a no-brainer : the curriculum is far from business reality,faculty is minimal and,most importantly,very few respectable companies participate in the recruitment drives.


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Students make B-line for IIMs,shun anonymous colleges 

Mumbai: As many as 65 business management colleges across India are planning to close down.Realising there is no business wisdom in offering an MBA course,they are using the land for more lucrative ventures.
At one time,the archetypal Indian MBA did join anonymous business colleges.But now with no job offer at the end,the decision is no longer complicated: a young graduate would rather take up a job or prepare harder for another shot at an entrance exam which is the gate to a better B-school,says Stephen D'silva,director,Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.
However,while the lower-rung management schools are being bypassed,there are still tens of thousands who make a B-line to join an IIM.
Pankaj Chandra,director of IIM-Bangalore,boasts of the lakhs of students who sign up to take the Common Admission Test (CAT) for close to 3,000 seats that the IIMs have on offer.It is a great time to do an MBA.The brightest ones still want to do an MBA, he adds.
Having said that,the manner in which Indias business education sector has developed poses a vital question: Is the MBA for everyone
Across the country,academics,irrespective of the institute they are affiliated to,are relating to Henry Mintzberg of McGill University,Montreal,who devoted a book to his contention that conventional MBA programs train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences.
Mintzbergs line Warning : Not Prepared to Manage has become a popular catch phrase in internal meetings that B-school boards and faculty members hold.


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nytlogo152x23.gif
Behind the Google Goggles, Virtual Reality

SAN FRANCISCO — It wasn’t so long ago that legions of people began walking the streets, talking to themselves.
On closer inspection, many of them turned out to be wearing tiny earpieces that connected wirelessly to their smartphones.
GOOGLE-articleInline-v2.jpgWhat’s next? Perhaps throngs of people in thick-framed sunglasses lurching down the streets, ****ing and twisting their heads like extras in a zombie movie.
That’s because later this year, Google is expected to start selling eyeglasses that will project information, entertainment and, this being a Google product, advertisements onto the lenses. The glasses are not being designed to be worn constantly — although Google engineers expect some users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed, with the lenses serving as a kind of see-through computer monitor.
“It will look very strange to onlookers when people are wearing these glasses,” said William Brinkman, graduate director of the computer science and software engineering department at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. “You obviously won’t see what they can from the behind the glasses. As a result, you will see bizarre body language as people duck or dodge around virtual things.”
Mr. Brinkman, whose work focuses on augmented reality or the projection of a layer of information over physical objects, said his students had experimented on their own with virtual games and obstacle courses. “It looks really weird to outsiders when you watch people navigate these spaces,” he said.
They have not seen the Google glasses. Few people have, because they are being built in the Google X offices, a secretive laboratory near Google’s main Mountain View, Calif., campus where engineers and scientists are also working on robots and space elevators.
The glasses will use the same Android software that powers Android smartphones and tablets. Like smartphones and tablets, the glasses will be equipped with GPS and motion sensors. They will also contain a camera and audio inputs and outputs.
Several people who have seen the glasses, but who are not allowed to speak publicly about them, said that the location information was a major feature of the glasses. Through the built-in camera on the glasses, Google will be able to stream images to its rack computers and return augmented reality information to the person wearing them. For instance, a person looking at a landmark could see detailed historical information and comments about it left by friends. If facial recognition software becomes accurate enough, the glasses could remind a wearer of when and how he met the vaguely familiar person standing in front of him at a party. They might also be used for virtual reality games that use the real world as the playground.
People flailing their arms in midair as they play those games is a potentially humorous outcome of the virtual reality glasses. In a more serious vein is the almost certain possibility of privacy issues and ubiquitous advertisements. When someone is meeting a person for the first time, for example, Google could hypothetically match the person’s face and tell people how many friends they share in common on social networks.
This month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research and advocacy group for Internet privacy, asked the Federal Trade Commission to suspend the use of facial recognition software until the government could come up with adequate safeguards and privacy standards to protect citizens.
Mr. Brinkman said he was very excited by the possibilities of the glasses, but acknowledged that the augmented reality glasses could pose some ethical issues.
“In addition to privacy, it’s also going to change real-world advertising, where companies can virtually place ads over other people’s ads,” he said. “I’m really interested in seeing how the government can successfully regulate augmented reality in this sense. They are not really going to know what people are seeing behind those glasses.”


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Citigroup exits HDFC,pockets $2bn 

Makes 7,000Cr Profit On 6-Year Investment;US Bank In Hunt For Capital 

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 

Mumbai: The hunt for capital to meet new regulatory requirements has compelled Citi to sell it 10.92% stake in HDFC for an estimated $2 billion which makes it the largest equity offering ever.The shares are being offered through a book building process to institutional investors.
Citi had informed us they would sell their stake to meet Basel III requirements, said Deepak Parekh,chairman,HDFC.Citi is managing the deal on its own and is offering 8.78% held by Citigroup Strategic Holding Mauritius and Citigroup Holdings Mauritius.
The 14.52 crore shares are being offered at a price range between Rs 630 to Rs 703 per share.The higher end of the band is the closing share price as on Thursday while the lower-end marks a discount of 10.45% to the closing price.Sources said that over 10 foreign institutional investors have shown interest for the entire issue.This includes large funds like Fidelity and Templeton.
Citi gets two major benefits from selling its stake in HDFC.First it books a profit equivalent of Rs 7,000 crore which will go straight to its bottom line at a time when it is going through a difficult phase.Second,exiting HDFC will reduce its capital requirement under Basel IIIa new international agreement on capital requirement for banks.Under Basel III,any equity investment by a bank in a financial firm is directly deducted from the banks equity capital while reckoning the banks capital adequacy ratio.
In a way Citis stake sale is apositive for HDFC as a potential sale by Citi was a sword hanging over HDFC.
In recent years,given Citis troubled financial position in the US,analysts have speculated that Citi might choose to book profits in HDFC to improve its finances in its home markets.Particularly after it emerged that there was no scope of strategic partnership between Citi in India and HDFC.
According to sources,Citi was keen on converting its financial investment into a strategic interest.However,strict Reserve Bank of India guidelines made this a challenge.Subsequently,in 2008 after Citi was hit by the subprime crisis it began liquidating assets globally but said it would continue to hold HDFC as it was among its core assets.The American bank had acquired a 9.75% stake in HDFC from Standard Life in May 2006.Standard Life,which is HDFCs partner in the insurance and mutual fund business,had built up its stake over 10-years from 1995 when it first signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the mortgage company for an insurance joint venture.
In June 2011,Citi had sold a 1.5% stake in HDFC in a $230 million deal citing its need to bring down its holding below 10% to reduce its capital requirement under Basel III.At the time of the sale Citi had categorically stated that it does not intend to sell any further stake in HDFC.

THE STORY SO FAR 




1977 


HDFC,promoted by ICICI,Aga Khan Foundation and IFC,comes into existence 

1978 


Floats Rs 4-crore IPO.ICICI,Aga Khan Foundation and IFC hold 15%.

1995 


Signs MoU with Standard Life of UK which picks up stake in the mortgage company 

2000 


Issues second private placement to Standard Life 

2002-03 


Standard Life increases stake to 14% through open market purchase

2006 


Standard Life sells 9.77% stake,which it had acquired for Rs 350 crore to Citi for Rs 3,020 crore 

2012 


Citi seeks to raise over Rs 10,000 crore from its 9.85% HDFC stake sale

Pc0201100.jpg 

 


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AFRICA ON RADAR TOO 
Sahara may bag new Bdesh capital project 

Roy Set For Retail,Education,Mining Foray 

Piyush Pandey & Shubham Mukherjee TNN 


Sahara India Parivar,which has been in the news more for issues relating to cricket and acquisition of an iconic London hotel,has been silently charting a bigger game plan,which includes getting into diverse areas like education,retail,mining,oil exploration and banking.Besides,it also includes entering newer markets such as Bangladesh and Africa.And at the centre of it all is a Rs 80,000-crore project to create a new capital of Bangladesh New Dhaka and a real estate development project spanning five different locations in that country,land for part of which it has already acquired.
But for managing worker and chairman Subrata Roy,it is his romantic girlfriend Air Sahara he wants to talk about the most.(Sahara sold the airline to Jet Airways for Rs 2,000 crore six years ago.) Roy believes aviation cannot be just a fancy of the rich and the flamboyant but it should also make abundant business sense.We should understand the importance of air transport in the economy of a country and what it stands for connectivity. 
He also underscores the need for lower navigation charges,lower cost of fuel,besides concession and subsidy if the airline business is to survive.
Fresh into a new bonhomie with Kingfisher boss Vijay Mallya (they are partners in the F1 team Sahara Force India ),Roy is in favour of the government bailing out the ailing airline because of the same economic necessity connectivity.There will be chaos if it is allowed to fail, he said and added quite radically that the government should also regulate the sector more to ensure that there are fewer players in the sector,so that they do not bleed to compete.An opponent of the open skies policy,which brought flying closer to the common man,he does not see reason in the argument that competition actually helps consumers bring down prices.
Roy by his own admission is most passionate about the media business (he is also launching tablets) but he beams as we change direction towards Dhaka.We are going into Bangladesh in a big way.I have finalized work of Rs 80,000 crore.It is a country,where we have lots to do.I have sent the proposal to the Bangladesh Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina ) for the New Dhaka project and hope to meet her next month. He is not asking much from the government.Give us a sovereign guarantee and we will not need money.We have selected 40 sq km of land,50 km from Dhaka and it is available to us.We will get the land,build our own structures and sell it, he said.Sahara,which has real estate assets worth Rs 85,000 crore (according to the Sahara website),also built a hill station in Maharashtra from scratch Amby Valley.
Apart from Bangladesh,Sahara is also scouting for mining and exploration assets in Africa.Roy says that since most industrialists have to spend 50% of their productive time managing the system and chasing clearances,most of them are of the view that its easier to do business outside India.Quizzed if he wants to opt out of the country he maintained a stoic defence: I will stay and fight the system. 
Banking is something strategic for the group as it has experience in dealing with deposits of people and naturally wants a licence.We are the only company to have dealt with five crore people where no bank reaches.We have sent a proposal to the Reserve Bank of India seeking a licence, he said.
The action on retail will begin in March where it plans to invest Rs 17,000 crore.We plan to set up one lakh organized distribution centres and the first such centre will come up in Rajasthan next month.They will work as modern kirana stores, he said.
This would be followed by an entry into the education sector,sometime in 2013.We will enter in a big way by setting up universities,distance education centres but at the centre of it would be a project to take English to our villages.Only 2-3 % of population know English,and is a big opportunity to bring people from all strata into the mainstream, he said without providing any other details.
For most of its proposed businesses in India,it plans to leverage on its field staff earlier involved in para banking and its network of 4800 offices all over the country.The group which has interests in insurance,mutual funds,media and entertainment and hospitality has an outstanding liability of Rs 24,000 crore towards repayment of investors.
Despite his conflicts with regulators the Sebi and the RBI over various issues recently and ongoing court cases,Roy is in a zone of his own.He is writing a book,which he describes as a philosophical,cultural and emotional experience.Its titled L ife i s t o o B e a u t iful,L e a r n i t t o L ove i t a n d w ill b e r ele a s e d later this year.


Pc0201500.jpg 



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Did govt force SBI to clear air on KF loan 

Sidhartha TNN 

New Delhi: It isnt always that a bank or a company keeps silent while its share price tanks based on media reports.But this is precisely what happened on Wednesday when the State Bank of India management decided to stay quiet while shareholders lost Rs 12,000 crore amid reports that the countrys largest bank was offering a fresh lifeline to cashstrapped Kingfisher Airlines despite the carriers inability to clear its dues.
It was not until late in the evening when SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri,who had been declining comment through the day citing client confidentiality,told a newspaper that the bank had not given any fresh loans.His colleague R Venketachalam,deputy managing director in-charge of the mid corporate group that is handling the Kingfisher account,too woke up to the steep fall in the banks share price and clarified that the bank was not considering any fresh exposure.But the statements came at least three-four hours after the stock markets had shut for the day.Minutes before the SBI executives spoke,the finance ministry denied any knowledge of the development and said there was no move from the government to push any loan decision to a company.The government,which lost over Rs 7,200 crore due to the decline in SBI share price,had responded earlier in the day when finance secretary R S Gujral dismissed another report suggesting that the revenue department had decided to unfreeze Kingfishers bank accounts.
When asked on Thursday if the government prompted SBI to clarify on the new reports,finance ministry officials refused comment.Chaudhuri continued to remain evasive and did not respond to a text message sent to him.In fact,even bankers are wondering what prompted this sudden silence period in SBI as there is no clarity from the countrys largest lender on what the future course of action is.All they know is that last Friday,SBIs subsidiary SBI Caps presented a new roadmap to bail out Kingfisher by providing fresh assistance of Rs 2,200 crore.



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Sesa Sterlite worlds 7th biggest resources firm 

Piyush Pandey | TNN 

Mumbai: Anil Agarwal,the billionaire chairman of the London listed Vedanta Resources has hit two birds with one stone by announcing the merger of his Indian firms Sesa Goa,Indias largest iron ore producer and Sterlite Industries,one of Indias largest nonferrous metals mining companies.
One,the merged entity Sesa Sterlite,a new behemoth with Rs 1,00,000 crore of market capitalisation will join the elite league of resource firms to the likes of BHP Billiton,Vale and Rio Tinto to be featured amongst the seventh largest resource firm in terms of profitability.
Second,the debt of the parent firm Vedanta Resources will be deleveraged to tune of $6 billion by transferring it to the new entity,thereby making Vedanta eligible to raise fresh funds for further acquisitions.
According to fine prints of the deal,3 Sesa Goa shares will be given for every 5 existing Sterlite shares,making it Indias most profitable firm in the private sector after Reliance Industries.The groups holdings in oil and gas producer Cairn India will also be consolidated within Sesa Sterlite,which will hold a 58.3 percent stake in Cairn India after the transfer besides consolidating Vedanta Aluminium and the Madras Aluminum Company Limited into Sesa Sterlite.
When asked for comments,Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal told ToI,Sesa Sterlite,with world class low cost assets in high growth markets will grow two fold in the next three years as we can leverage the strong balance of the combined entity that will have strong cash flow. 
Post consolidation,Vedanta will become the holding company owning 58.3% in the operating country Sesa Sterlite with exposure to zinc,lead,silver,iron ore,oil and gas,copper,aluminum and power assets.However,groups 79.4% shareholding in Komkola Copper Mines will continue to be directly held by Vedanta.


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Chinese,Indian tourists spend big: Study 

Manju V TNN 

Mumbai: Did you know that an Indian tourist in Australia spends Rs 3.37 lakh on an average Or that desi travellers contributed nearly $4 billion (almost Rs 20,000 crore) to the US economy in 2010 In a reflection of the changing global trend,tourists from India and China are increasingly acquiring the status of big spenders.Data on the average sums spent by a tourist per trip substantiates this pattern.In Australia and South Africa,tourists from these two Asian countries outspend those from the US and the UK.
Of all the countries that Indians travel to,it is in Australia that they spend the most per trip,followed by the US and South Africa.Data from Down Under is relevant as it is the country where the average spend/tourist is the highest,according to United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) statistics for 2010.Average spend/tourist includes all expenses incurred on the trip like airfare,hotel tariff,food,shopping,etc.
On an average an Indian tourist spent Rs 3.37 lakh on her Australian holiday,according to data provided by Tourism Australia for the 12-month period ending September 2011.It is Rs 1 lakh more than what an average British or American tourist spent in Australia in the same time period (see box).The French and Italians spent more than Indians though,as their average tourist spend was Rs 3.4 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh.The Chinese beat them with an average spending of Rs 3.9 lakh.The Saudi Arabians topped the list with each visitor spending Rs 7.4 lakh on a trip,but there were only around 11,000 of them.
In South Africa too,Indians and Chinese outspend those from the US,France,Germany and Canada.According to the South African Tourism annual report,2010,the average amount spent by an Indian tourist was Rs 82,000.In comparison,n the average spend/German tourist was Rs 67,000;for British tourists it was Rs 70,000 and Rs 78,000 for American tourists (see box).Tourists from neighbouring countries like Angola,Congo,Swaziland show higher average spending as they buy electronic goods from South Africa,said a tourism official.If the African countries are excluded,then the Chinese top the list of high spenders in South Africa with their average tourist spending Rs 1.23 lakh.
The picture alters dramatically if instead of average spend/tourist,the total spending by tourists of a specific country is considered.India is nowhere near the top.This is mainly because despite globalization and increased disposable incomes,the number of Indians travelling abroad i comparatively lower.The UNWTO ranked China at number seven in its international tourisms top spenders list in 2005.In 2010,China climbed up to number three position as its nationals spent a staggering $55 billion abroad,a 152% jump.For the last six years,Germany has held the top slot ($78 billion),followed by the US ($75 billion).


Pc0102000.jpg 



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Exports grow slowest in 3 months at 4.3% in Feb 

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 

New Delhi: The countrys exports grew an annual 4.3% at $24.6 billion in February as the global economic slowdown hit shipments to key markets such as the US and Europe,provisional data released on Friday showed.Imports in February rose an annual 20.6% at $39.8 billion,leaving a trade gap of $15.2 billion.
Exports during April 2011-February 2012 registered a growth of 21.4%,at $267.4 billion,while imports rose 29.4% at $434.2 billion leaving a trade gap of $(-)166.8 billion for the period.Commerce secretary Rahul Khullar expressed concern over the widening trade deficit.There is a large ballooning of the trade deficit.October onwards,export started coming down sharply whereas the lag in imports deceleration was larger.The two big drivers for high import bill are crude oil and gold and silver, he said.
Indias exports have slowed significantly from a peak of 82% notched in last July due to the slowdown in key markets.A software glitch had prompted the government to rework the numbers.The Commerce ministry has already cautioned that 2012-13 would be a difficult year for exports due to the slowdown in Europe and the US.
Roughly speaking,exports through the year should be in the neighbourhood of $292- $ 298 billion.Imports will be close of about $480 billion and we are looking at a trade deficit in the order of $175-$ 180 billion, said Khullar adding that the numbers were provisional and subject to change.
The commerce department was earlier estimating a trade gap of $150- $160 billion.The government had set a target of $300 billion in exports for 2011-12 and the trend suggests that it would be close to it.In the 11-month period,oil imports increased by 41% per cent to $132.6 billion.
We have to import coal,fertilizer and vegetable oil.It is a double whammy... you are paying higher prices for these things.These are essentially demand constraints compelling us to import these goods, Khullar said while detailing the surge in oil imports.


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