Friday, August 29, 2008


The Hindu Business Line

Cisco Systems Inc, the world's largest maker of networking equipment, agreed to buy PostPath Inc for $215 million, adding e-mail and calendar software to challenge Microsoft Corp. PostPath's programs compete with Microsoft's Exchange, which runs e-mail and organising systems for corporations. The software will be combined with Cisco's WebEx video-conferencing product, acquired last year for $2.63 billion, the company said in a statement. Cisco and Microsoft are battling for customers that want to curb travel expenses by substituting Web conferences for face-to-face meetings.


Priyanka Sangani
The Economic Times

Shortly after the turn of the century, when bento boxes had become Japan’s best-known contribution to the culinary world, came the wildly popular conveyor belt sushi restaurants. Also known as sushi-go-rounds, the customers, once in, could simply pick little portions of fresh sushi and sashimi of their choice from a moving conveyor belt.

The final bill would be calculated based on the number and type of sushi portions consumed. The idea combined Japanese minimalism, the ‘Just-in-Time’philosophy and their loathing for wastage. But we digress. In the India Inc of today, listening to HR honchos and CEOs holding forth on their single biggest concern — talent management —is a little unnerving.

It would suggest they’re readying to run a sushi-go-round rather than a BPO or a financial services giant. Just replace the sushi and sashimi with skilled workers or potential employees, and you get the picture. In a perfect world, businesses would like nothing better than a wide variety of talent flowing steadily on a conveyor belt giving them the freedom to pick what they choose optimally and pay for the bite instead of the whole platter.

Peter Cappelli, director, Center for Human Resources at Wharton Business School calls it “talent on demand”. If you thought likening people to vinegared rice-and-fish rolls is farfetched listen to a bit of shopfloor terminology from K Ramkumar, the chief human resources officer at India’s largest private bank ICICI. “In this country, there is a lot of raw material. We don’t have to import it, but it needs a lot of processing.

There is a lot of wastage, but we have our process shops to fix that. It doesn’t matter if you get me magnetite or hematite — bring me anything with some iron in it, and we can make steel out of it,” he says. And steelier stuff follows, as he makes no bones about his company’s recruitment policy being a kind of supply chain process – sourcing raw material and turning them to finished products.

And that assembly line lingo is rapidly becoming HR jargon in hyper-growth companies is confirmed when the folks at Wipro sing from the same score sheet. The talk is about how ‘Just In Time’ hiring has enabled the company to have new employees ready and lined up, even before the business realises that it needs those many more people. “Large companies have a stable pattern of growth, and so we can start the process of finding the right people even before the business puts in a requisition for talent, resulting in shrinkage of cycle time,” says Pradeep Bahirwani, vice president-talent acquisition, Wipro Technologies.


Writankar Mukherjee, Kolkata
The Economic Times

Telecom operators may be betting on 3G in India, but the latest study has indicated that operators will have to redesign their business models to make data services affordable for Indian consumers.

The study has highlighted that issues such as revenue sharing between operator and content developer are one of the main reasons behind premium pricing of data services, and hence their limited success.

The study is part of a report on 3G in emerging markets conducted by an international research and consulting firm, Strategy Analytics. The firm estimated that the total mobile phone subscriber base in India would reach around 800-850 million by 2013, of which around 271 million subscribers will be using 3G services.

The report said only limited number of services like ringtones have tasted success due to high price of mobile value-added service (VAS). The current data average revenue per user (ARPU) of operators in India is around $0.7 per month. “Though the rollout of 3G will definitely benefit the data services portfolio of operators, it does not guarantee its success,” said Strategy Analytics head (global wireless practice) David A Kerr. There is virtually no demand for data services in the rural belt due to high tariffs and low user spend. “3G services will gain acceptance in rural areas only when localised content can be offered at a very nominal price,” the study notes.


The Financial Express

Mumbai-based Olive group, after completing 25 years in real estate industry, is expanding to the Information Technology (IT) sector. Speaking to media persons in Mumbai, P V Mathai, chairman of Olive Builders, said that as part of the diversification, it would associate with the USA-based Millennium Consultant Inc, which has operations in Bangalore and Kochi. The future expansion plan includes infrastructure development, hospitality industry and retail sector.

Govt wants IT townships in all states

Rajat Guha & Niranjan Bharati, New Delhi
The Economic Times

IT townships may no longer be the monopoly of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh or Haryana. Soon, all states will have at least one such township. The Centre has asked all the state governments to carry out feasibility studies for setting up such cities with a minimum area of 40 sq km.

These townships are expected to attract an investment of over Rs 1 lakh crore in software, hardware and electronic equipment industry, a government official said. He said the proposal would be merged with Nasscom’s project to set up 43 IT townships across the country. Nasscom is currently identifying sites for them in consultation with state governments.

The department of information technology (DIT) would be the nodal agency while ministry of urban development will be responsible for developing urban infrastructure in these areas. “The Centre would provide funding for these townships on a case-to-case basis,” a DIT official said, adding that each of the proposals would require separate vetting from the Cabinet.

States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are in the process of appointing consultants for identifying land and calculating the cost of setting up such townships. Investments on these townships would be shared by the Centre, states and private developers.

The residential townships will be based on the walk-to-work concept. This means professionals working there will be encouraged to live close to the workplace. “Each township is likely to entail an investment of Rs 500-650 crore, depending on the area,” a source in the urban development ministry said.

Sources said the proposed townships will be extension of satellite of adjacent major town. For example, IT township in Faridabad would be called Faridabad Plus. Similarly, the township near Mohali will be called Mohali Plus. The projects would be implemented in phases and expected to come up by 2012. The genesis of IT townships is traced back to the Nasscom-McKinsey report that envisaged IT exports of $60 billion by 2010.


The Economic Times The Hindu Business Standard The Financial Express

BPL Mobile and Research in Motion (RIM) on Thursday announced the launch of Blackberry Connect software 4.0 on a range of handsets from BPL Mobile.

With the software, users will be able to access Blackberry services with support from Blackberry enterprise server and Internet service.

"Blackberry Connect Software enables users to enhance their mobile communications and productivity by connecting to the feature-rich and sophisticated Blackberry services," BPL Mobile President Sunzay Passari said in a statement.

Blackberry Connect software provides support for push-based wireless email access, wireless email reconciliation and attachment viewing.


Ravi Menon, Bangalore
Business Standard

Bracing up to counter the US slowdown effect, Cognizant Technology Solutions is further expanding its presence in India. The company, which is targeting around 10-15 percent of its revenue to come from outside the US and European markets in the next two to three years, will invest approximately $46 million (Rs 201 crore) to further expand its infrastructure in Kolkata.

A company source said the company would add about 500,000 sq ft of office space in the first phase of its new fully-owned tech-complex coming up on 20 acres in Bantala, a special economic zone designated area. “Once completed, this new facility will be able to accommodate around 4,000 employees,” the company said. Cognizant currently employs around 5,000 personnel out of Kolkata in six development centres – one fully-owned and the rest leased facilities.


New Delhi
The Economic Times The Statesman DNA

Chipmaker Intel on Thursday said a Rs 5,000 PC (excluding the monitor price) could be made available in the next 3-6 months.

The low-price point would be achieved with the help of its low-cost Atom processor, it said. “As demand soars and costs come down, it’s possible to achieve the Rs 5,000 price point within the next 3-6 months,” Intel Asia-Pacific V-P and GM Navin Shenoy said.

Earlier this year, the chipmaker launched its Atom processor for low-cost desktops and laptops. Intel India also announced the launch of an industry-wide movement—Connected Indians—involving the government, industry associations and private enterprise to mobilise people, resources and infrastructure to get citizens connected to the Internet. “Internet will propel India into the next decade,” said IT minister A Raja.


New Delhi
The Economic Times The Financial Express The Hindu Business Line

Just how fast things move in the Internet world. Sample this: earlier today Zenith Computers and Microsoft announced a laptop at a price point of 15K that they claimed was the lowest priced so far. While the industry was still debating the claim, Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology, A Raja announced that the industry is working on nettops and netbooks that would hit the market at the 5K price point. The promise, of course, is that it will hit the stands in the next few months.

But about the devices first. Nettops and Netbooks will be compact mobile devices that children, first time users can use for basic computing applications, listening to music, e-mailing and surfing the net. They can also be used for playing basic online games, social networking and making VOIP calls.

Based on Intel's Atom processor, which is the lowest power and lowest priced chip from the chip-maker's stable, the industry including Acer, HCL,Lenovo, Wipro, Zenith, Intex, Novatium, showcased various designs at an event organized in New Delhi on Thursday.

The industry and government came together at the Connected India Movement event where various stakeholders came together to pledge their support to an initiative to connect a billion Indians. The event marked industry alliance with the government, NIIT, Tata Teleservices, Tata Communication, Relaince Communication, CII, Assocham, WiMax Forum and MAIT, coming together to kick-start what they termed as a low cost connectivity initiative for India. Intel has also signed a MoU with bsnl to jointly propagate broadband Internet and WiMAX.

Two remarkable things about the event were that it gave the industry the dream to have as many connected computers in India as exist in the world today (read one billion). The other interesting thing was that Microsoft was conspicuous by its absence in an event of substantial magnitude.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The Economic Times

Microsoft Corp released on Wednesday a second test version of Internet Explorer 8, delivering a feature-complete upgrade to the world's most widely used Web browser.

The world's largest software maker said the latest version -- beta 2 -- of Internet Explorer, which has a market share of about 75 percent, comes with new features to enhance privacy, ease-of-use, and security.

Microsoft first released a test -- or beta 1 -- version of IE 8 in March, but that was aimed at letting Web developers take a first look at the new browser. This latest version is aimed at a broader consumer audience. The company would not disclose when it planned to officially launch IE 8 nor how many people are expected to download the test version of the new browser.

It released Internet Explorer 7 in October 2006. Microsoft has pledged to deliver more regular updates of Internet Explorer, whose lead has been chipped away by Mozilla's Firefox browser.


The Economic Times

Telecom equipment maker Ericsson said on Wednesday it had signed a broadband deal in Saudi Arabia.

A spokeswoman for Ericsson, the world's biggest mobile network maker, said the five-year contract was with Emaar, developer of the King Abdullah Economic City project.


Saikat Das, Mumbai
The Economic Times

In an attempt to lift its economy, the government of Meghalaya is all set to woo investors showcasing its future potential in different sectors within the state.

Mentioning that “Indo-Bangladesh partition has taken a heavy toll in the local economy of the state which has a 440 KM border with Bangladesh, Ranjan Chatterjee, Chief Secretary, the government of Meghalaya, said “Meghalaya is currently growing at 5.6 per cent per annum. We need to have a lot of accelerated business movements to reach a target of 9.9 per cent.

Initially, the state government wishes to bring investment in the sectors like Infrastructure, power, tourism (including medical & cultural tourism and golf tourism), IT, ITes, Agro, horticulture, floriculture and education. The authorities are already in talks with big companies to strike deals in PPP model. Mahindra Resort is one of them.

The government also puts emphasis on setting up knowledge parks, hydal and thermal power plants and biotechnology firms.


G Balachandar, Chennai
Financial Chronicle

The Tamil Nadu government has been hard-selling the state as a global hub for automotive and electronic sectors and has been a front-runner in the country in attracting big-ticket investments in these two sectors.

"The government team, comprising officials from the industry department and director of Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance and Export Promotion Bureau, which has been instrumental in hard-selling Tamil Nadu and bringing large ticket investments into the state, will be participating in a IT conference, organised by Indo-Taipei Association and explain the advantages of Tamil Nadu being their manufacturing base," a government official on condition of anonymity said.

The state government had also proposed to create a separate Taiwan Economic Zone near Chennai to attract Taiwanese makers of electronics and hardware components, light engineering products and footwear components.


DNA The Financial Express
Fujitsu India Ltd has appointed Tata Elxsi Ltd, the technology arm of Tata Group as the national system integration partner. As per the alliance, Tata Elxsi will take the entire range of Fujitsu India products including the business of servers, workstations and storages to the market from the system integration perspective.


Sreekala G, Hyderabad
The Economic Times (Bangalore edition)

Enterprise software major Oracle and leading IT services firm Satyam Computer Services are planning to cash in on the growing momentum in the mid-size business segment in India to expand the JD Edwards product line.

Satyam is looking at doubling its JD Edwards consultants from 500 to 1,000 in two years. The company also expects revenues from this practice to go up from 5-6% to 7-8% in two years. JD Edwards is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

“We are targeting mid-market segment to expand our JD Edwards product line. It is part of our strategy as this product line is priced competitively and does not require highly complex implementation procedure. In fact, our mid-market segment business is growing at over 24% annually,” said Lenley Hensarling, group vice-president (JD Edwards), Oracle Corporation.

According to him, partners like Satyam help Oracle to expand its clientele in the mid-market segment in India especially in smaller cities.

“Besides manufacturing and distribution sectors, we will focus on other key industries including foods & beverages, oil and natural gas, real estate and infrastructure to expand the JD Edwards product line. Emerging companies in these segments wanted to adopt enterprise software as it will help them achieve scale and efficiency,” he said. Oracle also owns other enterprise resource planning (ERP) software like Peoplesoft and its own ebusiness suite.

While JD Edwards is specifically used to target mid-size customers, others are mainly implemented among large clients. The $22.4-billion company has acquired 165 customers in Asia Pacific for the JD Edwards products line in the last two years. Overall, it has over 1,000 customers in Asia Pacific.

Satyam also has a strong ERP practice and large manufacturing clientele making it a suitable partner for Oracle to market the JD Edwards product line. Consulting and enterprise business solutions business contributed 44.7% of Satyam’s revenues in the first quarter of 2009.


New Delhi
The Economic Times

Global distribution system company Galileo on Wednesday launched a software that will monitor the amount of carbon emissions made during a flight from one destination to other.

Air travel, which contributes about two per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions, is rapidly becoming a major contributor to the release of the green house gas, said Bruce Hanna, President and CEO, Galileo.


Saahil Anant, New Delhi
Financial Chronicle

EMC, an information infrastructure and solutions company, on Wednesday announced its five pronged India “Go-to-market” strategy, with an aim to consolidate its position in the Indian market over the next three years. The company plans to make relevant products specially targeted at small and medium businesses and plans to increase its market share from $ 284 million to $1.1 billion by 2011.

The company currently has channel partners in 30 cities and aims to increase the number to 40 by the end of 2009. It also plans to double its partner base from a current 100 partners to 200 partners, aiming at the commercial market.

EMC started out first in 2000 in Bangalore. EMC started investing in India in 2003, majority of it going into building the infrastructure at its Bangalore R & D centre. EMC which is currently a 2000 employee company in India, also plans to hire more people.

Alok Ohrie, president of EMC India and SAARC region, said that he would expect growth essentially to come from storage, backup, archiving solutions and content management. The main concentration will be on sectors of telecom, government and SMB’s.


The Economic Times Mail Today Mint Business Standard

Dell Inc unveiled four low-cost computer models Wednesday designed for China, India and other emerging economies in a new bid to tap the potential of high-growth markets outside the United States.

The two notebook and two desktop PCs are the first Dell models designed especially for emerging markets, said Steve Felice, the US computer maker's president for the Asia-Pacific. They are meant for small business users and are to be sold in 20 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Strong sales in Asia helped Dell turn in better-than-expected results in the first quarter despite a slowing US economy. It is due to report its latest quarterly results Friday, and analysts are watching whether it can maintain its growth pace.

``Our success is going to be largely dependent on our ability to expand globally,'' Felice said in an interview.

Dell and rivals Hewlett-Packard Co., Taiwan-based Acer Inc. and China's Lenovo Group are expanding aggressively in emerging economies as sales growth in the United States and other developed markets slows.

Dell's first-quarter sales in China, India, Russia and Brazil _ markets known collectively as BRIC_ grew by 58 percent, about 10 times the US rate, Felice said. He said Dell expects 20-30 percent annual growth in those markets in coming years.

Prices for the new Vestro notebooks will start at 3,299 yuan (US$475) and for the desktop PCs at 2,999 yuan ($440), according to Felice.

``We used to design products for global requirements and distribute the same product globally,'' he said. ``In this situation, we started with talking to emerging country customers, designing a product for emerging countries, and our initial launch of the product is only in emerging countries. That's a big departure in our strategy.''

The move reflects a growing focus by global computer, automobile, consumer goods and other companies on creating products for increasingly prosperous customers in China, India and other emerging economies.


Samsung was pretty boastful about its high-capacity SpinPoint N2 1.8-inch drives when they launched back in June of 2007, and now the company’s decided to show them off a bit — check out this hot new creditcard- sized external model in glossy black with a flip-out USB connector. Specs are the same as before — 4200rpm, 27MB/s read and 23MB/s read — but sadly the most important spec is that it is China-only for now and pricing is in the stratosphere, with the 120GB version clocking in at RMB1999 ($293).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The Economic Times

Hewlett-Packard expects to close its $13.25 billion acquisition of Electronic Data Systems on Tuesday but did not give any details on possible job cuts, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In an interview with the newspaper on Monday, HP chief executive Mark Hurd said the company would not disclose financial expectations from the acquisition or details of how many EDS employees might be laid off until a September 15 meeting with stock analysts.

EDS shareholders approved the deal last month. The EDS deal was the result of a decision made over the past three years to fuel growth by focusing on software and services, Hurd said.

It became clear HP’s outsourcing business was too small to get the multibillion-dollar contracts it would need to compete with rivals, he added. The EDS deal will vault HP to second place in technology services, behind International Business Machines.


The Economic Times

South Korea's LG Electronics Inc said on Tuesday it had agreed with Taiwan's Quanta Computer Inc to end PC-related patent disputes that had lasted for eight years and started negotiating royalties.

The agreement came after the US Supreme Court in June ruled in favour of Quanta, rejecting LG's argument that it had placed explicit limits on how its patented technology could be passed on


The Economic Times The Hindu

NASSCOM on Tuesday expressed its support to the new UK point-based system, which will govern intra-company transfers and work permits, going forward.

NASSCOM also advised its member companies to register for the new PSB system introduced by the UK Government, on priority.

"The new PBS system will transform the immigration process and operationally make it more efficient, in addition to simplifying this for companies. The UK Home office's PBS is applicable to all companies who employ workers in the UK," NASSCOM said in a statement. "This is very critical given the UK Home office's announcement on October 1, 2008 being the last date of applications and November 24, 2008 as the date when the new system goes live.

From now on anyone wanting to go to or remain in the United Kingdom on an Intra-company transfer (ICT)/work permit will need to show that he/she has enough points to qualify under the new points based system (PBS) being introduced by the UK Government.

NASSCOM, as a part of its Global Trade Development initiative, has been working with the UK Government to improve the UK immigration policies. The points based system, to be implemented later this year is a culmination of these efforts.

The objective of the UK Government, under the broad heading of 'managed immigration', is to boost Britain's economy by bringing the right skills into the UK from around the world and ensuring that the UK is easy to visit legally, the statement added.


New Delhi
Business Standard

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Tuesday offered 300 acres to The US India Business Alliance (USIBA) for setting up an American Technology Park in Haryana with American Standards.

The offer was made in a meeting held here on Tuesday with a three-member delegation of (USIBA), which came to meet the Chief Minister in connection with the allotment of land for the Technology Park.

Proposing various sites for setting up this Technology Park, Hooda said that Village Madina in Rohtak district and area adjoining IMT Rohtak are ideal places for this park. IMT, Rohtak, has fast access to New Delhi through and was an established education centre of Haryana, he added.

Hooda Said that Kharkhoda in Sonipat District could also be considered for this purpose. The proposed areas were pollution free and are at a drive distance of hardly one hour from the National Capital Region.

Prices of land were also much lower in these areas as compared to Gurgaon and Faridabad. Land could also be allotted at the proposed IMT Faridabad to USIBA for the proposed project, he added.


The Financial Express

The Andhra Pradesh government has exempted value added tax (VAT) on the sale of goods for certain purposes to any unit located in any special economic zone (SEZ). The government has amended the Andhra Pradesh Value Added Tax Act to that effect.

Sources said that the proposal was made in the overall national SEZ policy drafted by the Union government, that the goods sold to the SEZ for its establishment and maintenance need not pay sales tax.

"No tax shall be payable by any (registered) dealer in respect of sale of any goods made by such dealer to a registered dealer for the purpose of setting up operation, maintenance, manufacture, trading, production, processing, assembling, repairing, reconditioning, re-engineering, packaging in an unit located in any SEZ …," says the proposed section 7-A being inserted into the VAT Act through amendment. The amendment bill was approved by the state Assembly on Tuesday.

The State has about 70 SEZs have obtained approvals, while 46 SEZs have committed an investment of about Rs 32,000 crore. These include 33 IT and ITES SEZs spread across 15 districts in the State.

Further, the government also proposed an amendment enabling to deduct tax in full from the bills of works contractor, wherever a separate provision for tax at the rate of 4 percent is provided in the estimates in respect of works of government and local bodies. As of now, only 2.8 percent tax is being deducted while the contractor is provided 4 percent tax to the contractor over and above the estimates. This would reflect in the accounts of the government works including irrigation projects, source said

Hewlitt Packard launches desktops for children

New Delhi
Business Standard The Economic Times The Hindu Business Line DNA The Hindu

Targeting the kids segment, PC vendor Hewlitt Packard today launched customised desktops featuring Enid Blytons's famous cartoon character Noddy, priced between Rs 26,000 and Rs 60,000.

The desktops initially would be available in the four major cities Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

Later, it would be available in other centres as well, HP India Head of Consumer Marketing, Personal Systems Group Shubhodip Pal said.

The desktops have skins featuring Noddy and his friends.

Pal added, "We have continuously worked towards positioning our HP Pavilion range to create relevant offerings appealing to the dynamic market."

Apart from launching HP Noddy Pavillion desktops, the company has also entered into a partnership with education firm 'Just Because its Children and Millenium Entertainment International', producers of mall entertainment to present live Noddy shows in India.

The show titled 'Noddy and the Treasure Map Adventure' would be performed live across key cities in India.

This 60-minute musical adventure show, featuring Noddy would be an education-meets-entertainment show with loads of interactivity for the audience.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The Economic Times

Singapore Telecommunications said it has bought a 60 per cent stake in Singapore Computer Systems for S$140 million ($99 million) as it seeks to boost its IT business.

The deal, which will trigger a mandatory offer for all shares in Singapore Computer Systems, values the computer services firm at S$233 million, according to data.

SingTel, Southeast Asia's largest telecoms group, said in a statement it acquired 93.1 million shares in Singapore Computer Systems from Green Dot Capital, a unit of state investment firm Temasek Holdings, at S$1.50 each. Temasek is also the parent company of SingTel.

The purchase price represents a 12 per cent premium to the company's closing share price on Friday of S$1.34. The mandatory offer for the remaining shares in the company will also be made at S$1.50 each.

Citigroup advised Temasek and ANZ is advising SingTel's IT services business NCS.


The Times of India (Delhi edition)

Deaf people, who communicate through their cellphones using SMS messages, can now interact in their native or American sign language, thanks to a new software developed by engineers that has led to demonstration of two way video communication. “A lot of people are excited about this. The point is you will be able to communicate in your native language.

For deaf people that’s American Sign Language.” principal investigator Eve Riskin, a University of Washington professor of electrical engineering said. Video is much better than text-messaging because it’s faster and it’s better at conveying emotion, said Jessica DeWitt, a UW undergraduate in psychology who is deaf and is a collaborator on the MobileASL project.

A large part of her communication is with facial expressions, which are transmitted over the video phones. Low data transmission rates on US cellular networks, combined with limited processing power on mobile devices, have so far prevented real-time video transmission with enough frames per second that it could be used to transmit sign language


The Economic Times

US Consul General Aileen Crowe Nandi on Monday paid glowing tributes to Indian economy, saying the nation was emerging as the most favoured destination for overseas investment.

"India is emerging as the most favoured destination for overseas investment and an important trading partner for the US," Nandi said.

She was addressing a symposium on 'Doing Business with USA', organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"Trade between India and the US is doubling in every three years. Indian industry has huge opportunity for cooperation with US companies in the energy sector, especially to promote clean energy technologies," Nandi remarked.

According to her, the key four challenges needed to be addressed to enhance Indo-US trade are infrastructure development, bilateral investment promotion, financial sector reforms and cooperation in clean energy technologies.

US companies are keen to partner with their Indian counterparts in IT, science and technology, pharma, biotech and space, Nandi added.


G Balachandar, Chennai
Financial Chronicle

At a time when Indian states like West Bengal are caught up in controversies over acquisition of large tracts of land for industrial development, Tamil Nadu, which has seen no major issues over SEZ developments, plans to adopt the successful Perambalur SEZ model for the proposed IT Investment Region (ITIR) project in the state.

ITIR model has recently been conceptualised by the Centre to boost growth in IT/IT enabled services (ITeS) and electronic hardware manufacturing. ITIRs would be a combination of production units, public utilities, logistics, environmental protection mechanisms, residential services and administrative services. The region may include one or more SEZs, industrial parks, free trade warehousing zones, growth centers duly notified by the Centre,

While the state government will play the lead role in setting up the ITIRs by identifying the suitable site and preparing the proposal, Centre will examine the proposal, approve and monitor the progress through a special committee. Centre will also ensure the availability of external physical infrastructure linkages and support to the region.

Tamil Nadu, which houses large operations of Indian and global software giants as also the manufacturing operations of global electronic majors, has proposed to set up an ITIR near Chennai. Spread over 1,600 sq km, with its boundaries connecting Chennai, Kanchipuram, Chengalpet and Mahabalipuram, the ITIR zone will connect the Chennai–Bangalore NH 4 up to Kanchipuram, Chennai–Tiruchi NH45 up to Chengalpet, and Chennai–Mahabalipuram IT corridor (OMR), besides linking Mahabalipuram, Chengalpet and Kanchipuram.


Batuk Gathani, London
The Hindu Business Line

India now ranks among the first five largest investors in British companies and equities, spearheaded by the Tatas, who made ambitious purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover auto brands.

Many Indian companies are on “serious lookout” to acquire “strategically placed” British companies, including stock broking and financial firms in London, which is the heart of the European commerce and industry.

At the sane time, India, according to Geneva-based UNCTAD, has emerged as a “favourite spot” for European companies busy shifting service operations abroad to escape from high administrative and management costs. A European banker says “it is now a two-way traffic”.

Indian companies coming to Europe prefer to operate from London, as the city is seen as the “correct gateway” to oil-rich Middle East and commodities-rich African markets.

In African markets, some Indian companies benefit from the presence of well-established Indian business communities, particularly in Nigeria, East, Central and South Africa.

An Indian banker based in London stated that since March this year borrowing abroad has been made easier by the Reserve Bank of India and Indian companies can now borrow up to $ 50 million each for spending in rupees equivalent.

It is argued that while the RBI initiative may not translate into greater flows, it widens this field for Indian companies sourcing capital for business needs. Indian companies incorporated in the European Union countries also find it convenient to borrow from European banking institutions, at much lower rate of interest and extended repayment schedules.

The common sense strategy is to ensure that commitments are honoured diligently and on schedule.

The Indian business community has enviable management and administrative skills, and European companies at the middle and lower levels are finding it hard to cope with rising capital and administrative costs.

This enables Indian companies to move on.

The latest Infosys deal to buy Axon Group is another chapter in the saga of Indian companies on a buying


New Delhi
The Hindu Business Line

NIIT, the talent development corporation, on Monday said it has been accorded Superbrand status by the Superbrands Council. NIIT has been adjudged as a Business Superbrand 2008, commanding consumer respect, loyalty and trust from amongst consumer brands across categories, a company release said. The award was received by P. Rajendran, Chief Operating Officer, NIIT.


Sangeetha G
Financial Chronicle The Hindu Business Line The Hindu DNAHindustan TimesDeccan Herald The Economic Times The Statesman

Bharti Retail has entered into a ‘strategic partnership’ with IBM under which the software major will provide technology and services that will enable scaling up of its operations in the long term.

IBM will leverage its worldwide expertise in the retail sector and introduce best practices and innovations that will assist Bharti Retail’s future plans.

According to Vinod Sawhny, president and chief operating officer, Bharti Retail Ltd, the partnership has laid the foundation on which future business functions would receive support for the next 10 years.

“This alliance is in line with Bharti Retail's efforts to be a customer-centric and trusted retailer,” he said.

Dr Jai Menon, director Bharti Airtel & Group chief information officer, Bharti Enterprises said: “we look forward to replicating the unprecedented success we have had with them in the telecom sector by consolidating, managing and delivering business process transformation that will drive innovation and enhance value for all Bharti Retail customers.”

The current scope of the deal includes project management, infrastructure for data centers, applications, security and network and support for end-user services. The scope of work will keep evolving as Bharti Retail’s business continues to grow.

Bharti Retail has launched neighbourhood stores in Punjab called Easyday and is expanding the chain with multiple consumer friendly format stores in India. The partnership with IBM will provide Bharti Retail an edge in the sector, including faster supply of products and cost efficiency, he said.

Bharti Retail will also draw upon IBM’s global technology expertise like automated attendance terminals to help maintain a very low PC footprint —approximately one PC per 30 employees.

“Our goal is to provide Bharti Retail the support it needs to be a customer-focused retail enterprise committed to delivering high value to their customers,” said IBM vice-president (client) Ashish Kumar.

This partnership will also help Bharti benefit from IBM’s ability to leverage a cross-industry play across telecom-insurance — retail in providing ease of accessibility and differentiated service to its clients.


The Economic Times The Hindu

With an investment of $4 million, Cybernet-SlashSupport (CSS) engaged in Tech Support, Software Testing and Development and Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM) services today announced that it has opened a new IT Services facility in city.

The new facility, located on a leased two acre land at Madras Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) near Tambaram, would become operational from September 2008, a company release said.

The current expansion in the MEPZ is part of the company's ongoing strategic plan to have facilities across the city that will ease problems of employees commuting to work. "Our presence in MEPZ also provides us with long term SEZ advantages. As part of phase I expansion, we expect the new facility to house 350 people over the next six months" Cybernet-SlashSupport COO Sridhar Kulasekharan said.

Recently, the company announced its expansion in the Middle East market. The company set up a new offshore NOC (Network Operating Center) in Chennai in June this year, the release added.


The Hindu Business Line The Financial Express

Frontline Consulting Services (FCS) has set up its India development centre in Madhapur near here. It plans to induct about 1,000 engineers.

The Vice-President (Technology), FCS, Vikram Takru, said that the company had grown to about 250 people in Hyderabad during the year and this move to a new facility will expand the company presence and services portfolio.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company provides technology consulting, services and product development work for independent software vendors. It has developed solution connectors that help speed up technology deployments.

“We are also looking at establishing a campus in Hyderabad and hope to get support from the Andhra Pradesh Government to fuel the next phase of growth,” he said.

Speaking to newspersons after inauguration of the centre, Takru said about 50 percent of revenues came from consultancy services and the rest from services and products that the company has developed for small and medium businesses.

Ajay Raina, Business Manager of Rockwell Software (part of Rockwell Automation), said that the company, along with FCS, is in the process of deploying technology solutions that will simplify data gathering process at the Tata Nano project coming up at Singur.

“Most of the work has been completed and simulations are now underway at the Tata Pune plant. Once we get the nod to install them, we will shift and implement them at the project site,” he said.


New Delhi
The Economic Times (Delhi edition)

Ad agency Euro RSCG has launched India’s first marketing operations management (MOM) solution––Euro RSCG 24X7––powered by US-based marketing software company Assetlink. MOM systems allow marketers to centrally streamline, access, retrieve and reuse their lead generation and branding campaigns across geographies. The agency expects advertisers with large regional advertising budgets to benefit by deploying Euro RSCG 24X7 system as it will ensure consistency in branding across all their regional ads, besides helping cut costs by recycling existing marketing assets. HDFC Bank has signed on as Euro RSCG 24x7’s launch customer.


The Economic Times (Bangalore edition)

Japanese imaging and optical products corporation Canon on Monday announced entry into high quality digital document printing vertical through its partner GK Vale by introducing Canon Image Press CL7000. The technology will allow GK Vale, a photo printing and photography equipment retailer, to provide large format prints to its customers, Canon India, president and CEO, Kensaku Konishi, said. “This printer belonged to the business world, now we are bringing this technology to customers. We believe customers want to see images on paper rather than on devices,” he said.

Canon plans to invest Rs 100 crore by 2012 to establish new showrooms and camera repair centres in India. It got a revenue of Rs 500 crore last year and expects to touch Rs 700 crore in 2008, while next year its aims to achieve Rs 1,000 crore from India. Around 15 percent comprises service revenue even as it projects the service contribution to go up to 35 percent, said Konishi. GK Vale plans to bring in 22 such printers in a year with an investment of Rs 30 crore, CEO Anand Sukumar said. The printer, which can publish 70 copies a minute, is available at GK Vale’s iprint Centre at Indiranagar branch.


New Delhi
Deccan Herald

HCL Infosystems Limited, on Monday unveiled its HCL Infiniti Orbital K Series range of desktops based on Triple Core AMD Phenom X3 8000 processor. AMD Phenom Triple-Core processors, is designed to integrate three computational cores on a single die of silicon, thereby improving application performance. Priced at Rs 33,000 onwards, HCL Infiniti Orbital K Series desktops will be available through HCL’s wide distribution network.

Monday, August 25, 2008


August 25, 2008
Financial Chronicle

Speaking at a technology conference in Las Vegas in February, Kagermann seemed to suggest that SAP would achieve a 35 percent operating margin quickly, an utterance that sent its stock up sharply, surprising SAP officials. So in May, executives seized on the subject at Sapphire, SAP’s annual analyst conference, and people who attended said Apotheker gave a full-throated endorsement of the goal of higher margins.

Knut Woller, a software analyst at UniCredit in Munich, said the novelty of having a numbers-oriented executive like Apotheker at the top had electrified SAP watchers eager for a trimmer company. ‘‘Apotheker will make it more about sales, simply by virtue of the reason that SAP has to compete,’’ he said.

Kagermann has also left his successor a good amount of wiggle room, analysts said. By promising to reach a margin of 35 percent ‘‘in the medium term,’’ he is saying it could take as few as three years, or as many as six, while still dangling a juicy target in front of analysts.

‘‘There is no fundamental reason not to achieve it,’’ Kagermann said.

The man who transitioned from professor of theoretical physics in the fairytale town of Heidelberg to market-moving executive no doubt has more cunning in him than simple labels let on.

With his swoosh of wavy gray hair and narrow, rimless eyeglasses, Kagermann, 61, conveys the impression of a mad scientist, though his genial, informal manner keeps him approachable.

Whether talking profit margins or the future of software development, Kagermann rocks back and forth in his chair, often blinking furiously, as if to convey the point that no thought worth having should be pondered lightly.

Kagermann joined SAP in 1982 as a software developer, working out of what is now Building 6 on an enormous company campus that looms over the village of Walldorf, outside Heidelberg. The work force has exploded from about 100 then to over 51,000 now.


August 24, 2008
The Times of India (Delhi edition)
Poland’s biggest telecoms operator, Telekomunikacja Polska, acknowledged Friday that it had paid young, hip-looking film extras to stand in queues for the national launch of Apple’s iPhone. “It was a marketing move. We thought it was a pretty interesting strategy,” TP spokesman Wojciech Jabczynski said. TP is controlled by France Telecom, which owns the Orange mobile telephone brand. The iPhone, which had its initial launch in the Unites States in July, went on sale at Orange’s Polish stores on Friday after the stroke of midnight. On Thursday evening, apparent queues began forming outside stores across Poland, with some in the line offering to sell their slot to passers-by for 100-300 zlotys ($45-135). “The aim was to attract attention. The people in the queues told passers-by about the iPhone,” said Jabczynski.


Arun S, August 24, 2008
The Financial Express

Ascendas, the Singapore government-owned industrial park developer, which has so far been focusing only on the IT sector in India, would soon invest a total of Rs 3,000 crore in two massive projects—one near Mumbai and another adjacent to Chennai—to develop townships, start high-value engineering and electronics industries as well as special economic zones (SEZ).

Speaking to FE on the sidelines of a conference here on Saturday, Pang Yee Ean, senior vice-president (India Operations), Ascendas, said, “At the Indian government's invitation, we are looking at investing Rs 1,500 crore each near Mumbai and Chennai. This initial investment will go into industrial development and creating townships. The sectors that we are looking at are high-value engineering and electronics. Some part of these projects will be in new SEZs.”

Ean said the Rs 3,000 crore investment is significant, as companies from Japan, Europe, Taiwan and China have evinced keen interest in being part of the projects. Without disclosing the names of the companies, Ean said, “these companies are quite optimistic about the Indian economy and are keen to tap the huge domestic market here.”


New Delhi, August 24, 2008
The Economic Times

The Indian Air Force software experts from Bangalore based Software Development Institute (SDI) indigenously developed software patches to make Su30-MKI avionics compatible with NATO operational philosophy.

This wholly indigenous effort has saved valuable foreign. The IAF is participating in the exercise Red Flag, which is an advanced aerial combat training exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in USA.

Frontline Indian Sukhoi fighters are pitted against US and NATO air forces' F-16s and F-15s in complex and advanced network centric operations -- the toughest test for flying machines and men.

"The SDI software has made the Su30-MKI platform more versatile and compatible with other Air Forces," said Wing Commander JS Gavankar, Software Engineer from SDI presently with the IAF contingent at Nellis.

The avionics software developed by the SDI has reduced the cockpit workload and has assisted in increasing the pilots situational awareness multifold, said Wing Commander J Singh, Flt Cdr of 20 squardon.


Pune, August 25, 2008
The Indian Express

Mansoft, a it solutions provider and a wholly owned subsidiary of Doha based Mannai Corporation ,has strengthened its base in India by setting up a second resource centre in the city. The first centre of Mansoft in India has been operational in Mumbai since the last two years.

The new resource centre in Pune was recently inaugurated by Keith Highley, chairman, Mansoft. Atul Pradhan, managing director, Mansoft, Alekh Grewal, COO, Mannai Corporation, Said Abu Odeh and K. Venugopalan, directors of Mansoft were present on the occasion.

The centre in Pune is equipped with the latest in computing technology and is designed to support the delivery of business solutions and technology training to its team as well as clients. It has come up at SP Infocity, the specialized IT / ITeS SEZ at Phursungi, stated a press release.


August 25, 2008
The Economic Times

Monitors frame our relationship with our computers and a great computer is only as good as its monitor.

That's why it's important to ask yourself: "What do I want to do with this computer" before purchasing, says Jaroslav Smycek of the Hannover Consumer's Center.

Although nearly all flat screen monitors are based on LCD technology, there are differences between the models. "Twisted nematic (TN) Film models are popular. These screens are in the lower end of the price range," says Josef Reitberger of "CHIP" - a Munich-based computer magazine.

Apart from the price, one of TN Film's major advantages is its fast-image formatting. But as that can only be measured in milliseconds, it's generally only important to gamers.

Office applications are more concerned about factors such as contrast, viewing angle and colour consistency. "Multi-domain Vertical Alignment (MVA), Patterned Vertical Alignment (PVA) and Super In-plane switching (S-IPS) displays hold the advantage here," says Reitberger.

But they cost more than TN displays, which sell for less than 200 euros ($317). MVA and PVA displays start at around 500 euros.

"IPS displays cost around 2,000 euros. They're for people like graphic designers," says Peter Knaak of the Berlin-based Stiftung Warentest, a consumer goods organization.

Frequent computer users are well served with an investment of several hundred euros, say experts. After all, a good monitor should outlive two PCs, says Reitberger.


Makarand Gadgil, Mumbai, August 25, 2008
Business Standard

After approving the Videocon Group’s Rs 8,000-crore Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) project, the Maharashtra government is now eyeing two more such projects, which will attract an investment of Rs 16,000-20,000 crore and create around 15,000 jobs.

A senior official of the state industry ministry said, “Talks are currently at the nascent stage and we will not be able to divulge the names of the investors now. However, we can confirm that we are in talks for such projects, which have tremendous potential to create jobs.”

Both the projects are promoted by large Indian corporate groups in joint venture with international leaders in chip manufacturing technology. In one of the projects, the JV partner is a leader in mobile phone chip manufacturing, the official added.

The Maharashtra government has shown the companies sites in Navi Mumbai and Pune and they have conveyed their willingness to set up projects there, he said.

“Whatever may be the obstacles, we are sure that we will able to bring at least one project to the state and make the state another Silicon Valley or Taiwan,” he added.

Friday, August 22, 2008


San Francisco
The Economic Times

After years of false starts aimed at bringing the Web to TV sets, Yahoo Inc said on Wednesday it is working with Intel Corp to create Web computer channels that run alongside TV shows.

The Web company and world's largest chipmaker are working on what they call the "Widget Channel," which will enable TV viewers to interact with and watch a dynamic set of TV widgets -- small Web-based applications that complement TV shows.

Widgets will appear in the corner of a TV screen and work something like a picture-in-picture window of advanced TV sets. These small windows let viewers chat with or e-mail friends, watch videos, track stocks or sports teams or keep up with news headlines or weather by using a TV remote control.

Widget TV services are being designed to run on a new class of Intel chips for consumer electronics that enables high-definition viewing, home-theater-quality audio, 3-D graphics, and the fusion of Internet and TV features.

Devices based on Intel's CE3100 chip are due in the first half of 2009, Intel said. Comcast Corp, the largest US cable TV operator, said in a separate statement with Intel that it planned to offer TV Widgets next year that work on televisions, set-top boxes and other TV-connected devices.


San Francisco
The Economic Times

Intel Corp's latest chip design will conserve more power than its current processors and deliver vastly faster graphics images as the No. 1 chipmaker seeks to push its technology beyond just personal computers as that market slows.

Intel's Core i7 chip, based on a design code-named Nehalem, will start production in the fourth quarter of this year, and ultimately will be used beyond just desktop machines and computer servers that are the backbone of corporate networks. Pat Gelsinger, head of Intel's digital enterprise group, on Tuesday demonstrated computers running core i7, at the Intel Developer Forum conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

He and Dadi Perlmutter, who heads Intel's mobility group, both said Intel is counting on the proliferation of mobile devices -- such as handheld computers, super-slim laptops and smart phones -- that are connected to the Internet to help boost profits. Perlmutter cited a goal of 1 billion mobile devices using basic Intel chip designs -- called Intel Architecture -- being sold in the next 10 years.

Because of Intel's recently launched, tiny, power-sipping Atom chip, battery life in Internet-connected devices will rise, they said. Intel also recently started selling its Centrino 2 collection of chips used in notebook PCs that it says promise longer battery life. But new high-speed wireless connection technologies such as WiMax could hamper battery life. "As much as we get more efficient in how we use the battery we're always finding more ways to leech off the battery," said Matt Eastwood, an analyst at market researcher IDC.

"A lot of these technologies that will be living on the periphery like WiMax are going to be pretty battery hungry." Nehalem's design will allow for microprocessors that can boost the speed of individual cores of a chip -- or electronic brains -- in response to the workload demand by diverting power from other parts of the chip that aren't being used.


The Economic Times

IBM plans to spend $300 million this year to build 13 “cloud computing” data centres where businesses can store information for quick retrieval in case their computer systems are destroyed in a disaster. Cloud computing refers to services accessed via the web that seem to exist in a cloud over the Internet.

The computing giant, which will unveil the plan on Wednesday, is building the sites in 10 countries, including China, Japan, Turkey, Poland, France and the United States. IBM has so far rolled out the cloud-computing data recovery technology to fewer than five of its 154 existing data centres, the oldest of which was built more than 40 years ago. The technology encrypts data on computers, automatically sending it to IBM’s cloud computing centre over the Internet.

If a customer’s computer breaks down or a data centre is destroyed, lost data can be restored via the web in two to six hours, IBM vice-president Mike Riegel said. Older technology known as ‘data mirroring’ is far more expensive than cloud-computing technology and relies on two sets of data in two locations. But it also allows for systems to be restored in less than an hour, he said. IBM’s rivals in this area include Hewlett-Packard and privately-held SunGard.


San Francisco
Financial Chronicle

Acknowledging that most online shoppers cannot be bothered with auctions, eBay planned to announce Wednesday changes to its fee structure that emphasize fixed prices over bidding. The move is intended to help eBay compete more effectively with and other big online retailers.

The announcement, timed to increase sales during the year-end holiday shopping season, is just one of the changes eBay has made in the last few months aimed at reducing its dependence on its auction business, which is growing more slowly than fixed-price sales. It provides yet more evidence that consumers are losing interest in auctions now that online shopping sites have become more affordable and easier to use.

‘‘Buying online has changed,’’ said ScotWingo, chief executive of themarket research firm ChannelAdvisor.

‘‘Retail sites no longer make customers choose between convenience and price.’’ Lower upfront feeswill enable sellers to offer a bigger selection, helping eBay better compete with fixed-price retailers, Wingo said. ‘‘The current system puts eBay at a disadvantage.’’ Among the changes that were to be announced Wednesday was a new pricing plan for sellers who offer fixedprice items in eBay’s ‘‘Buy It Now’’ format.

Starting in mid-September, sellers will pay only 35 U.S. cents to list an item for 30 days, a reduction of about 70 percent in upfront fees.

EBay also announced that it would no longer allow most customers to pay by check or cash, a change aimed at curbing fraud. Users will need to pay with a credit card or through eBay’s PayPal online payment service.


The Economic Times Deccan Herald

The Karnataka government is considering to set up an authority exclusively for the information technology, biotechnology and nano technology in order to promote these sectors.

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa made the announcement after Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies N R Narayana Murthy made out a case for such an authority last night at the launch of Karnataka Government's flagship IT event, 'Bangalore', to be held here from November 6.

The state government had decided to come out with a semi-conductor policy for Karnataka, given the vast opportunities in the sector, Yeddyurappa said at the function last night.

Meanwhile, Narayana Murthy said that the IT, BT and nano technology sectors need such an authority, separate from the other industries, to cater to their requirements.

These three sectors are "non-polluting", create high-quality jobs and contribute in a big way to exports, he said.

"It is important to have IT, BT, nano technology authority with full powers to ensure that the needs (of these companies in these sectors) are dealt in a friction-free manner", Murthy said. Just like the single window agency under the Industries department, the IT, BT and nano technology needed such an exclusive set up, he suggested.

He requested the Chief Minister to look into the possibility of creating an IT, BT, nano technology authority to which all the prospective investors would go.

Murthy also stressed the need for the government to "make life easy for IT companies to start operations in Karnataka".


Seema Sindhu, New Delhi
Business Standard

Small and medium-sized IT firms are increasingly getting into the automotive design business. They are poaching employees from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to tide over the manpower crunch.

Design jobs are normally done by mechanical engineers. According to Nasscom, of the almost 200,000 mechanical engineers passing out annually, less than 25 percent are employable. Also, only 20-40 percent remain in this field and around 80 percent shift to software and IT services.

IT companies have thus started resorting to poaching employees from OEMs and automobile manufacturers. Attractive compensation, overseas travel, multiple customer engagement, diversified engineering activities and creative and open work culture lures employees to IT firms.

Vikas Khanvelkar, MD, Designtech Systems Ltd (a leading CAD and CAM solutions providers), says: “The poaching is a matter of concern to all auto OEMs and component manufacturers.”

Harish Sheth, CMD, Setco Automotive, says: “Design engineering does not only relate to drawing a product using the latest software packages. Behind the product development lie key challenges that use experience. These challenges are benchmarking, value analysis/value engineering, productionisation, environment impact. A significant amount of training, organising and mentoring is required to harness this existing talent.”

Losing a design engineer costs OEMs at least two years of training and more than Rs 200,000. Attrition across OEMs is 15-25 percent.

The talent crunch is likely to get worse. Suman Bose, country director, Dassault Systems, India, says: “The auto sector is growing in all possible sub-segments and therefore this gap is going to widen more. Unless fresh engineers with specialised skills enter the industry, there would always be exchange of employees.”

Dataram Mishra, MD and CEO, CADES Digitech Private Ltd , says: “There are not many automotive degree courses in the country. Most automotive design engineers are from mechanical engineering background. A specialised course can produce better informed/exposed design engineers.”

Satish, head of operations, Axcend, concurs that the shortage is quite severe. Engineering services being a reasonably new service arena, Indian IT firms face acute shortage of professionals. The industry currently requires at least 15,000 design engineers in the automotive domain and the demand is expected to grow at least 40-50 percent year-on-year.


Mumbai Mirror

Telecom giant BSNL has bagged the ‘IT Service Provider’ award in this year’s edition of the ‘Maharashtra IT Awards’. Chandra Prakash, chief general manager for Maharashtra Circle of the state-run teleco, received the award on behalf of his firm from Vilasrao Deshmukh, state’s chief minister, at a function organised by the Government of Maharashtra here on Wednesday.


Amiti Sen, New Delhi
The Economic Times

It is celebration time for special economic zones (SEZ). The government has decided to extend service tax exemption to developers and SEZ units for authorised services rendered not just within the zones but outside as well. Right now, the finance ministry provides tax exemptions only for services availed inside SEZs.

The announcement on the extension of the tax sop is expected to be made soon. Once the extension is notified, SEZ developers and units will be relieved from paying service tax on a number of areas like port-handling, inland transportation, courier and banking.

The Centre is also working on certain additional incentives for SEZs. These may include benefit of input duty reimbursement schemes (drawback and DEPB) for supply of goods from domestic tariff area (DTA) to SEZ developers. “The finance and commerce ministries have reached an agreement on exempting SEZs from paying service tax on authorised services availed outside the zones. The announcement is likely to be made shortly,” a source said.

SEZ unit owners and developers have been demanding that they should be exempted from paying 12% service tax on authorised services that are provided outside the zone. The commerce department, pushing the case, argued that the SEZ Act already provides for exemptions for services consumed either inside or outside an SEZ as long as it is for an authorised operation within an SEZ. The finance department was not providing exemption on services consumed outside the zone as it was misinterpreting the Act, it said.

“As long as the service availed by the developer or unit falls within the list of activities authorised by the government, it should not matter whether it is rendered inside the SEZ or outside,” the source said. The finance ministry seems to have finally agreed to the suggestion.

The Centre may also favourably rule on the proposal to give benefit of input duty reimbursement schemes like duty drawback and DEPB schemes to supply of goods from outside SEZ to units in SEZ and developers. Since SEZ is considered a foreign territory, the commerce department had said that sales to SEZs should be considered as exports and be eligible for drawback and DEPB benefits. “The proposal is being looked at and may also be given the green signal,” the source said.

The Economic Times Business Standard

Property developer Modern India today said it is in talks with two-three private equity (PE) firms to raise Rs 100 crore for its proposed Rs 675 crore IT SEZ at Khapoli in Mumbai.

"We are in discussion with 2-3 PE firms to raise upto Rs 100 crore," Modern India Chairman and Managing Director Vijay Jatia said here.

The proposed SEZ, to come up on 43 acres of land, has received nod from the Board of Approval but is awaiting notification.

"We have already acquired 36 acres of land and is in the process of acquiring additional 6-7 acres for which we have already started discussions," Jatia said.

Construction work for the SEZ is expected to start by December this year. Apart from raising Rs 100 crore from PE firms, Modern India plans to raise Rs 400 crore as debt from local financial institutions.

"We are in talks with banks here and a public sector bank has agreed to syndicate the entire debt," Jatia said declining to reveal the identity of the bank.

Modern India itself would put in Rs 100 crore from internal accruals into the project and it expects the remaining Rs 75 crore to come as advances from companies intending to set up shops there, he said.


Vijay C Roy, New Delhi/Chandigarh
Business Standard

STPI’s only office is in Mohali and more than 250 companies are registered with it.

The Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) may set up its second office in Kapurthala (Punjab) soon. According to sources, the feasibility study by STPI officials is complete and a formal notification in this regard is awaited from STPI.

Earlier, the state government had proposed to the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology to set up its second STPI office in Kapurthala. For the proposed IT park, the state government has identified 50 acres of land in Kapurthala. Sources revealed that the feasibility study has been done by the concerned department and if everything materialises, it is likely to give a push to the IT industry in the state.

STPI has a office in Mohali (Punjab) and more than 250 companies located in Panchkula, Mohali and Chandigarh (tricity) are registered with the Mohali centre It is worth noting that the setting up of the STPI Office at Mohali sends positive signal to the Software Industry operating in the country and they decided to expand their operation to Mohali (Punjab).

Besides, the Punjab government has also initiated the process to identify promising land parcels in the state to drive SEZ activity in the IT/ITeS sector to attract investment in the state. Recently, following a brief presentation by Ernst & Young, it was felt that Punjab Infotech, the nodal agency for IT investment promotion in the State, should prioritise projects in areas such as Mohali, Ropar, Kapurthala, Patiala, Jalandhar, Amritsar, and Ludhiana.