Saturday, December 27, 2008

'Amortisation deductions for intangibles have a material impact on tax rates'

IFRS transition should be in a phased manner

A common myth about IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) is that transition is swift and painless, observes Mr N. Venkatram, IFRS Country Leader, India, and Partner in Deloitte Haskins & Sells, Mumbai. There is a belief that since India has adopted accounting standards which are based on the international standards, conversion for most companies would entail passing a few more journal entries, in order to transform accounts as per Indian GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) into IFRS financial statements, he explains.

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'The evaluation of impairment is based on management’s internal assessment'

‘Grab the opportunity, but retain focus during acquisition’

Chennai, Dec. 24 We saw a few days ago how a major deal was reversed within hours. Are there lessons in this on what can go terribly wrong with a big-ticket mergers and acquisitions too quickly? “Globally, recent years have seen a rise in investor activism,” observes Mr N. Venkatram, IFRS Country Leader, India, and Partner in Deloitte Haskins & Sells, Mumbai.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Non-performance should be dealt with seriously'

Fight ‘fear of recession’ first

How is the recession, the full effect of which may yet be coming, impacting our IT (information technology) companies? While a few big companies are suffering, some small players are managing quite well, observes A. Krishnan, Founder, Maximus People Solutions, Chennai.
Among the smaller companies, he finds a commonality: that they had some kind of a foresight and invested in long-term strategies and were better equipped to face the bad time. Regardless of the size, they saw what was coming ahead and/or were not complacent, adds Krishnan, during the course of a recent e-mail interaction with eWorld.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

'I see a generation gap in many Indian family firms'

Families especially good at buffering stress

Have family businesses, despite their wars, shown a greater resilience during times of economic crisis, such as what we currently see? “Generally speaking, yes,” says Mr Nigel Nicholson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School ( http://www.london.edu/ ). There is often a fierce determination among people who found and co-own businesses to fight for their existence, he adds, in the course of a recent email interaction with Business Line.

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'Many enterprises consider IT security as a discretionary budget item'

‘Create a risk-aware IT behaviour’

India, the emerging economic superpower, is waking up to certain hard realities, observes Jagan Nathan Vaman, CEO, Secude Solutions India Private Ltd ( http://www.secude.in/). Indian enterprises will increasingly become soft targets for terrorists and cyber attacks, he sombrely adds, during the course of a recent e-mail interaction with eWorld. “There is a saying in Sanskrit Heyam dhukkam anagatham — Avert the danger before it arises. Early adoption of IT (information technology) security and IT governance best practices will help guard against such threats,” advises Vaman.

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Top tips for the business traveller and the tourist

Takeaways from the Mumbai attacks

What are the key takeaways for the authorities and civilians from the way Mumbai handled the recent terror attack crisis?
“We tend to think of terrorist incidents as mass bombings, etc. However, in reality, terrorist’s use of firearms is very prevalent worldwide,” says Mr Raymond E. Foster, a retired Lieutenant of the Los Angeles Police Department, auth or, and college lecturer. He is also, as Wikipedia mentions, one of the leading authorities in law enforcement technology, police research, and counterterrorism strategies. He is the editor of ‘Hi Tech Criminal Justice Newsletter’ ( http://www.hitechcj.com/ ).

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Monday, December 8, 2008

What difference can BPM make for SMEs?

Not on paper

IBM buying FileNet, AptSoft and ILOG; Oracle acquiring BEA Systems; and SAP purchasing Yasu Technologies… Yes, we are talking about BPM, or business process management, which is all about “efficiently aligning an organisation with the wants and needs of clients”, as Wikipedia defines it.
BPM is already being touted as one of the key technologies in our current economic climate, reports http://www.insurancenetworking.com/. “IDC reports that the BPM market is growing 44 per cent each year, and could grow to a $5.5-billion market by 2011.”
Within the country, how is BPM seen as evolving in the long term? For the kind of growth that our companies have witnessed, there is a dire need for them to automate, and bring in systems and processes in place, and BPM is best suited to facilitate this, says Vivek M. Jain, CEO, StrApp Business Solutions, Bangalore ( http://www.strapp.net/), a company that works on BPM systems and custom Web applications, apart from working on automating defined ISO processes.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

'Cost and availability of finance will be the most important challenges faced by the buyers'

Proactive M&A approach foreseen

Given the current lull in the deal space, what is the outlook for M&A (merger and acquisition) activity in 2009? Companies will be aggressively looking at corporate restructuring options to unlock value, that is, strengthen the balance sheet and P/L, foresees Mr Rohit Berry, who leads the M&A practice in BMR Advisors (www.bmradvisors.com).

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

'India is a country with tremendous potential for tourism'

Tickets, please

Meet Ananth Narasimhan, CEO, Atyourprice.in, who is happy that several of his online customers get tickets which are cheaper than the market price by 40-50 per cent. “As for corporate users, our software has been effective in not only reducing the number of travel admins and vendors but also creating an effective way to implement travel policies,” he adds, during a recent email interaction with eWorld.

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Is being a zero-debt company a comfort factor?

Go beyond financial analysis

Can reassurance be infused into the economy and the financial markets by mandating an additional set of disclosures in reporting by companies and financial institutions? "Though our reporting structure is amongst the best in the world, the realty sector's reporting and accounting practices need more crystallisation," says Mr V. R. Srinivasan, Director & CEO, Brics Securities Ltd, Mumbai (www.bricssecurities.com).

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'To be educated and smart is not the same as being intelligent'

What is crucial in dealing with loss is not to lose the lesson

Pain, crises, problems and clashes. These seem to be increasingly enmeshed in our lives. We are permanently in `the emergency ward,' bemoans Swami Dayananda Saraswati, founder of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Coimbatore (www.arshavidya.in). To get out of the `ward,' to resolve and avoid conflict in our world, the work that needs to be done is just to honestly try to understand one another, he prescribes.

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the FVCI investment is now permitted only in the 10 specified sectors

Issues in the FVIC route?

As per the recent approvals granted, the FVCI (foreign venture capital investment) vehicle is, inter alia, permitted to invest in the infrastructure sector. But what is the meaning of `infrastructure,' wonders Mr Punit Shah, Leader, Financial Service Tax practice, Pricewaterhouse Coopers. "The issue for consideration here is whether infrastructure should be understood generally or as defined in the exchange control regulations or as per the Income-Tax Act, 1961," Mr Shah adds, during the course of a recent email interaction with Business Line.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

'The global liquidity crunch has no doubt affected fresh FDI inflows into India'

Deal space post meltdown

The falling Sensex and the erosion of market cap may make some of the Indian companies likely targets for acquisition, primarily because a large number of the Indian blue chips have fundamentally robust business models and with falling demands in the West, companies with a thirst for expansion will have to look towards India and China, says Mr Shinoj Koshy, a London-based law expert specialising in M&A.

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Are there issues that arise when following the SEBI guidelines?

Issues in share-based payments

India soon needs a more detailed and comprehensive literature on share-based payment transactions, urges Mr Kamal Agarwal, a Senior Professional in a member firm of Ernst & Young Global.
He emphasises that a single standard which could apply to all forms of entities is imperative. "Hopefully, convergence with IFRS by 2011 would provide this," adds Mr Agarwal, during the course of a recent email interaction with Business Line.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

'Self-regulation always comes with a strict penal consequence for non-compliance'

Road to global relevance?

The Companies Bill 2008, currently inching its way through the legislation process, has evoked interest among professionals, as during the many earlier occasions. Perhaps, things may pan out differently this time, making our corporate law globally more relevant, even if the route were to be more onerous.
A positive view, that is, and Mr Kaushik Dutta, National leader IFRS practice PricewaterhouseCoopers, seems to agree. "The Bill is futuristic and will greatly be instrumental in bringing in an era of transparency, self-regulation and ease of operation for Indian companies to be relevant as key players in the global economic landscape," says Mr Dutta, during a recent email interaction with Business Line.

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'The Competition Commission will need to attract the best talent from the market'

Should competition law focus on `concentration'?

The Competition Act, expected to be operationalised soon so as to supersede the archaic MRTP (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices) Act, is seen as an attempt to make the Indian laws more contemporary and bring them in line with the modern anti-trust laws.
But there seem to be a few niggling areas of concern, such as whether deals that not long ago raced at a fiery pace may now meet with obstinate speed-breakers.
The new Act deals with the challenges of monopolies and seeks to ensure the sustenance of competition for the benefit of industry and consumers, concedes Mr Prasanto Sengupta, Director, Corporate Finance, KPMG India.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

'Bengalis are passionate about technology'

Mobile users as content creators

Sample these observations: Out of 200 students, only one of them did not have a mobile phone, and he too was planning to buy one during Durga Puja. Over 60 per cent of the students currently use Nokia phones. More than 75 per cent use feature-rich phones — the colour ones with GPRS. And with most of them willing to spend in excess of Rs 15,000 on a handset, over 80 per cent want to purchase an N-Series Nokia phone as their next stop.
These are among the findings of Tunespray’s ‘College Road Show – Trip Report – September 2008’ from a mix of engineering, business, marketing and computer science students in Durgapur, Kolkata, Jadavpur, Siliguri, Kharagpur and Asansol.
“You should plan a trip to Kolkata and stop by our incubation centre,” invites Rahul Nandi, Founder and CEO of Tunespray.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

'Globally, the tele-shopping channels are known to sell all genres of products and services'

Home shopping, a habit-changing concept for Indian consumer

‘Home shopping’ via a television channel is not an entirely new medium for the Indian audience. For long, viewers in India have watched Asian Sky Shop aired on different channels. However, what is new, and catching early eyeballs, is the concept of a 24-hour channel wholly dedicated to home shopping.
First on the block is HomeShop18, a Network 18 venture, launched in April this year. Growing at 30 per cent month on month, the company is targeting to achieve ‘a run-rate breakeven’ in the first year of its launch. With more channels looking to grab a share in this market, one can expect to see more action in this space over the next 12 months — a clear indication of the growing retail space in India.
“Home shopping is a habit-changing concept for the Indian consumer,” says Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop18 in an interview with Brand Line. “Retail trends are changing drastically. However, for e-commerce to evolve in the consumer retail space, consumers at large have to be aware of the benefits of the medium.”

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

'The last five-six years have been an ‘employees market’ in the IT industry'

5 phases of HR evolution in IT

Given the current scenario, do not take up a career in the IT (information technology) sector just because you think it is a white-collar job and offers attractive compensation, advises Dr Srinivas Kandula, Global Head-HR, iGATE.
Take up an IT job only when you believe in it and if you have keen interest and aptitude, he adds. “If these are missing, you will have an unhappy career, earn a sub-optimal salary, and lead a miserable life.”

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Monday, October 20, 2008

'Application delivery challenges are costing organisations millions of dollars'

`Made for each other? Not always'

Today's networks are still not intelligent and flexible enough, bemoans Harvinder Rajwant Singh, Country Head - India, F5 Networks. He wonders if this is because application developers and network administrators belong to two different worlds.
"Applications are not developed understanding the challenges of the networks and application developers assume that bandwidth and processing power of a server is entirely dedicated for a single application, whereas in the real world it's a shared resource for any such corporate."

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

'What are the issues that arise in the accounting of CERs?'

Accounting debates on carbon credits

While there can be no two opinions on whether carbon emissions should be reduced, there appears however to be a continuing debate among companies on how to appropriately account for carbon credits. "At present there is no authoritative literature under the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in India or the US, or the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) on CER (certified emission reduction) accounting," says Mr Rahul Chattopadhyay, Associate Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IFRS practice. "Most Indian companies show earnings out of carbon credit trading as other income as they are not recognised by tax laws."

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Monday, October 13, 2008

'With the rise of oil prices, airlines are in cost-cutting mode'


‘Slowdown will last at least 3-4 quarters more’

Despite the hit that it has taken in the mortgage space (with contribution from mortgage business coming down from 20 per cent to 12 per cent), the Mumbai-based BPO player Adventity is confident that the company is in line with its target of expanding to 8,000 people in the next 12-18 months, from the current 4,500.
Kumar Subramanian, CEO, Adventity, told eWorld in a recent interview that he expects the slowdown to last at least three to four quarters more and companies that do not have capital or staying power will probably sell out to larger players.

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'Every country has gone through liquidity crises in the past'

Understanding liquidity crunch

What is `liquidity crunch' that is in great focus these days? Why is it a problem? Where are its roots? What is its magnitude? Do we have examples of such a crisis in our history books? These and more questions are currently top on the minds of most of us.
"Liquidity crunch is a situation where it becomes considerably difficult (and expensive) to raise funds for banks as well as for businesses," explains Mr N. Muthuraman, former Director-Ratings, Crisil Ltd. "At present, we are witnessing liquidity crunch both in global and Indian credit markets, though for very different reasons," he adds, during the course of a recent email interaction with Business Line.

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Consortia are common in EPC…

Averting double tax in EPC

Appropriate structuring of EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contracts is essential to minimise both direct and indirect tax costs, says Mr Satish Aggarwal, Partner, Ernst & Young. He suggests that the establishment of one-to-one correlations between the individual activities and the considerations payable would help minimise the possibility of double taxation, something highly undesirable especially in the context of infrastructural pr ojects such as construction of dams, power plants, urban housing facilities and other areas of national importance.
For starters, the concept of EPC is quite common in the infrastructure, real estate and industrial construction sectors. “EPC contracts include all activities ranging from initial conceptualisation and design, providing or procuring the required goods and services from various sources, to construction, installation and commissioning of the project,” explains Mr Aggarwal, in the course of a recent email interaction with Business Line.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

'Execution excellence lies in implementation'

Strategy is a commodity whereas execution is an art

Real success stories in the corporate world have been those where the management has focussed on execution and working with people, rather than just on strategy, says Dr Srinivas Kandula, Global Head-Human Resource, iGATE Global Solutions Ltd, Bangalore.
“Time has come for organisations to focus less on intellectuality, analysis and strategy and more on implementation and making it work,” he urges, during a recent interaction with Business Line.

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What are the implications of goodwill impairment?

Impairment in the goodwill party

The current generation of CFOs (chief financial officers) could be set for a sobering experience with a slew of goodwill impairment announcements looming large on the horizon, says Ms Nandini Chopra, Valuations Services Head at KPMG in India.
The grim scenario she foresees is of a number of C-class executives having to admit that their company overpaid for acquisitions during the bull market times of recent years; or that their newly merged business has not performed as expected.

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Do you see fundamental changes in our realty sector?

PE returns to realty financing

Already there were some signs of a slowdown in the realty price spiral; and now the Indian realty sector has begun witnessing the impact of the sub-prime crisis, says Mr Rajiv Sahni, Partner, Ernst & Young, New Delhi. "Recently one of the largest and high-profile IPOs had to be pulled out because of the market jitters," he reminds. "Overseas listings have been deferred due to similar factors."

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'We are always looking for opportunities with good professional firms'

`We approached, met? and formalised'?

BMR Advisors, a Delhi-based professional services organisation offering a range of tax, risk, M&A advisory and managed services, has entered Chennai by acquiring K. Ravi & Co, a CA firm set up in the 1980s. This becomes the fourth location in India, adding to BMR's offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Globally, the firm of 26 partners and over 375 people has offices in New York, London, San Francisco, and Bahrain.
When asked why Chennai is attractive for BMR, Mr Bobby Parikh, Managing Partner of BMR Advisors, speaks of the city as a location that has a diversified economic base anchored by automobiles, IT, ITES, IT hardware, financial services and real estate.

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'While the loyalty programme thanks past behaviour, rewards programme encourages future behaviour'

Marketing magnified

“With the advent of customer-level strategies, every marketing action targeted towards a customer is linked to that customer’s profit contribution. That is the beauty of implementing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)-based strategies and therefore marketing executives can be held accountable, said Dr V. Kumar in an interview with Business Line.

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'Organised retail in India is still at its infancy with low penetration levels'

Pay through the mobile phone

Even at a 3 per cent conversion of every mobile bill payer onto an mCommerce solution, the industry would be worth around Rs 3,000 crore, estimates Sanjay Swamy, CEO, mChek.
The Bangalore-based company provides mobile-based security and payment services, enabling users to transact, through their mobiles, the payment of utility bills and insurance policies, buying airline, bus and movie tickets, and recharging their prepa id mobile accounts, among other services.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

'Indian companies making outbound investments have their own wish-list'

Top tax issues MNCs face in cross-border transactions

While there has been an upsurge in the general level of cross-border transactions, both inbound as well as outbound, the tax law dealing with the same has not kept pace with the increase in the complexity and growth in the level of sophistication of such transactions, bemoans Ms Shefali Goradia, a partner with BMR Advisors (www.bmradvisors.com).

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'European companies have been slower to outsource and offshore as compared to the US...'

‘Discretionary IT spends down’

Niteen Tulpule, Director-Corporate Finance, KPMG, decided to play it safe when eWorld asked him about the recovery from the US slowdown. “It is still early to comment on the timeframe for a turnaround at this point. The full impact of the sub-prime crisis has still to play out.”
However, he sees positives in commodity prices coming off their recent highs and oil prices declining as well as some positive economic data trickling in from the US.

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'In India, offsets are applicable for all contracts above Rs 300 crore'

Positives in the new procedures for defence procurement

When speaking at a recent seminar in New Delhi, the Defence Minister, Mr A. K. Antony, spoke of increased transparency in defence deals and tendering process. He highlighted that a major change in DPP-08 (Defence Procurement Procedure-2008) was the inclusion of broad details of the trial methodology forming part of the RFP (request for proposal) so that vendors were aware right at the outset about the modalities for product evaluation.
The much-awaited DPP-08, which supersedes the 2006 policy, carries several key amendments, effective from September 1, 2008, informs Mr K. Ganesh Raj, Industry leader - Defence & Aerospace, Ernst & Young P Ltd.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

‘Revenue Recognition’

‘Accounting guidance needed on revenue recognition in layaway sales’

Not only is the retail sector in India seeing a number of new entrants, but also new and interesting formats like home shopping via television channel and online portals (e-commerce).
Layaway sale — a popular concept in countries such as the US, the UK and Canada, with big retailers and small-time stores, alike, promoting such sales and attracting customers through this model — is gaining momentum in India and one is li kely to hear a lot more of this in the future, says Mr Rajiv Goyal, Director, Ernst & Young India Pvt. Ltd.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

'The online astrology market is in its nascent stage'

Astrology, online

GaneshaSpeaks.com is an emerging online astrology service firm that provides astrological guidance using Indian Vedic astrology principles via mobile, the Internet, telephony as well as offline.
Hemang Arun Pandeet, Founder, GaneshaSpeaks.com, while acknowledging that offline is where astrology finds the largest market and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future, is confident that online astrology services have the potential to become a good alternative for the serious Net user and believes it can become an industry by itself within the next five years.

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'FedEx leads the air express transportation market in India'

‘Outlook is bright for express sector’

The face of the logistics industry is changing, feels Mr Rajesh Subramaniam, Senior Vice-President, International Marketing, FedEx Services. “Previously logistics managers were focused on reducing costs. The decision today has become more marketing-focused, with enhanced services and customer satisfaction being the key,” he explains during the course of a recent interaction with Business Line.

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'Our Indian standards are very largely based on the IFRS'

Accounting is like scorekeeping

All of a sudden, conferences and seminars on IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) are the in-thing, where you can find accounting professionals busy taking notes and asking questions, so that they are ready for the 2011 deadline when India will be converging with IFRS.
But why should we be focussing on the IFRS now? When posed that query, Dr Kamal Gupta, former Technical Director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), asks in response, "Can India be isolated, if more than 100 countries already adopt IFRS, and more than 150 will adopt it by 2011?"

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'How can India better its rankings?'

Franking boosts ranking

Doing business in India is not getting easier. Our rank in the World Bank's recent report `Doing Business 2009' (www.doingbusiness.org) is 122, a fall from 120 last year, in a list of 181 countries, ending with Congo. Among the countries ahead of India are Mauritius (24), Colombia (53), Pakistan (77), Kenya (82), China (83), Sri Lanka (102), and Nepal (121). It may be a consolation, though, that Brazil (125), Indonesia (129), Sudan (147), Iraq (152) and Afghanistan (162) are behind us in the tally.
The country's performance in the sub-indicators has seen a major fall, especially in `trading across borders' (minus 9), `starting a business' (minus 7, from 121 last year to 114 now), `dealing with construction permits' (minus 5), and `protecting investors' (minus 5).
"On the overall ranking, India went down by two places from 120 to 122, especially because other countries reformed more and moved up faster," says Ms Sabine Hertveldt of the Doing Business Project, IFC (the International Finance Corporation), Washington DC, speaking to Business Line over the phone, shortly after the release of the report.

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'Indian companies have been typically carrying significant bench strength for future projects'

Extend the tax holiday for SMEs in IT

Even as those in the IT (information technology) industry clamour for tax incentives, others wonder if IT has not matured enough to be able to sustain itself without any further fiscal support of tax incentives from the Government.
"Over the period, Indian IT/ITeS companies have definitely moved up the value chain, and the sector is currently poised at the `growth stage' of its lifecycle," says Mr K. R. Girish, a Bangalore-based chartered accountant with KPMG, and also the Convener for Economic Affairs and Public Policy, CII, Karnataka.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

'Cricket is certainly at the forefront of growth of sports in the country'

“The law should protect investments in sport”

Earlier this year, the Indian sports industry saw one of the biggest financial investments, to date, with the launch of the Indian Premier League (IPL). With it also came concepts such as ‘auction of players’, ‘franchisee model expansion’ and direct corporate involvement, into the Indian sports market. With India’s recent success in the non-cricketing arena at the Beijing Olympics, financial investment into other sports is also likely to increase.
“The first season of the IPL has given us a glimpse of what is possible,” says Nandan Kamath, a sports lawyer and Director at the Bangalore-based sports career management firm GoSports and adds that the pace of growth in other sports will primarily be determined by how well our Indian sportsmen, sportswomen and teams perform in those disciplines.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

'Seven changes in business model can be undertaken by the bank management'

‘India growth story is intact’

Mr Saurabh Tripathi, Partner and Director of Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Mumbai, reminds us that India, for long, was a 5-6 per cent growth story, and that a dip to 7.5 per cent (from 9 per cent) is not such a bad state to be in. He believes the India growth story is intact and says that there are many areas where Indian companies will show the world a different way of doing business.
While consulting has not matured as an industry in the country with huge under-penetration compared to more mature economies, he says the consulting share of emerging markets (including India) will go up in the future.

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'Both accounting and teaching are knowledge-based service professions'

Smart learning

Chennai-based learning and mobile technology company Valued Epistemics Private Ltd (VEPL), through Wizdom.in, offers online learning programmes to develop verbal and quantitative skills for GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and delivers this ‘adaptive learning’ programme to one’s mobile phone or PC. In line with its strategy of perfecting the platform and using it to launch multiple programmes over a period of time, the company is re-launching its GRE off ering as http://www.greedge.com/, while retaining Wizdom.in as the brand name for the learning platform that powers it.
VEPL Managing Director Anand Kannan holds a Ph.D from Purdue University, US. He worked with Nokia in the US for several years as a research engineer and has been involved in projects in wireless LAN research, GSM and CDMA radio technology, entry-level mobile application development and business model development for low income markets.

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'Absence of clarity on tax treatment of overseas M&A transactions is a key issue'

Issues that tax companies

The new direct tax code that the Government is planning to introduce, to replace the current Income-tax Act, is expected to emphasise transparency and taxpayer-friendliness. Similarly, making suitable amendments in the indirect tax provisions would be a welcome step towards getting more clarity and achieving simplification and transparency.

While such moves encourage not only tax compliance but also convey the right messages to the tax paying community, there is a need, in the interregnum, to look at a few current issues that worry corporates, says Mr Uday Ved, Head of tax and regulatory services, KPMG India.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

'Most PE players are apprehensive about investing in listed companies'

Negotiations and due diligence are taking longer than usual

What is the outlook for cross-border deals in the coming 12-15 months? "There is likely to be a decline in cross-border deals," feels Mr Ranjan Biswas, National Director, Transaction Advisory Services, Ernst & Young. "Outbound deals (Indian firms acquiring overseas), which has so far been very strong for Indian companies, will be a challenge in the coming times, given the low business confidence and the rising cost of funding," he explains, during the course of a recent email interaction with Business Line.

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'Financial institutions find us attractive because we give their customers a great experience'

‘Indian market is ready for loan applications online’

One is once again witnessing a proliferation of online offerings, with newer companies targeting niche verticals. BankBazaar.com claims to be the first neutral company worldwide to provide customised competing loan offers from leading banks and NBFCs.
Mr Arjun Shetty, COO, BankBazaar.com, says, “We provide loan applicants with an easy platform to compare rates between different financial institutions and to apply for the loan online, all within 15 minutes and without needing to speak to anybody.”

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'We see a strong potential for our electrical business in India'

‘Hybrid engines definitely need some push in India’

Eaton India, part of the global $13-billion diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corporation has introduced the diesel electric hybrid power systems and is the first company to make the technology commercially available for trucks and buses. “Our hybrid customers are reporting fuel savings of 30 to 60 per cent.
“With the growing road network in India, the impetus on improving infrastructure and the increasing concerns over the environment, there is scope to make use of the technology for a more fuel efficient and safe environment around us,” said Mr Shyam P. Kambeyanda, Managing Director, Eaton India, during a recent interaction with Business Line.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

'India's KPO segment spells a huge opportunity area in the technology space'

BPOs: Tremendous headroom

"Global demand for offshore (BPO) delivery will continue to remain strong in the long term and there is tremendous headroom for growth" says Mr Niteen Tulpule, Director-Corporate Finance, KPMG, in an email interview with Business Line. "Demand for jobs is likely to remain high and this will be on a pan-India basis in the future."
He believes that there is a big opportunity in the KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) space and that one will witness a lot of M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activities, especially in the analytics segment.

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'SMS forwarding is a bottleneck, which other handsets are easily integrated with'

‘iPhone poses security challenges’

Looks like the iPhone, which was launched recently in India with a lot of fanfare, may not be without its own set of hitches.
Rajat Khare, CEO, Appin Security Group (ASG) — an Information Security R&D organisation offering security services such as protection from hackers, application security, and piracy prevention — sees several challenges in the use of iP hone, at least in the early stages. He is of the view that without a proper convergent network in place, all the features that the iPhone has on offer cannot be fully utilised.

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'Trademarks may be created either by publicity and advertisements or by continuous R&D'

When the going gets tough for foreign taxpayers

Globalisation has brought in not just newer methods of conducting business but also controversies, in the taxation space. Of late, one has seen a spurt in the number of taxation-related decisions by various tribunals and courts.
An expert in the field of international taxation, Mr S. P. Singh, Senior Director with Deloitte Haskins & Sells, India, has been closely associated with the development of transfer pricing and international taxation in India.

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'The southern consumers are very brand conscious and prefer super premium teas'

‘Tea industry challenged by supply crisis, climatic hurdles’

India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, with last year’s production exceeding 900 million kgs. However, this year, the tea industry is going through a supply crisis, especially from the north-east region. There has been a very small carry-forward stock from last year, and the current crop has been delayed due to climatic reasons. Crop from South India, while good, has not able to make good for the shortfall.
Mr M.C. Appaiah, Chief Operating Officer of the Kolkata-based Duncans Tea Ltd, told Business Line in an interview that he expects a big shortfall in the domestic industry, thereby creating pricing pressure in the second half of the year.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

'Being an entrepreneur and helping other people become entrepreneurs drives me'

`Weekend start-up'

Sashi Chimala was probably among the first 100 engineers to be shipped from India to work onsite in the IT (information technology) industry in the US. His first assignment was with Burroughs Corporation (later renamed Unisys). This was almost three decades ago, when outsourcing and offshoring was unheard of, and IT had not yet become a `fashionable' industry to work in.
Talking about those early days in the IT Industry, Chimala says ...

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Time to fill a position is a specific metric

Turn passive job seekers into active ones

While the offshore growth story has seen Indian IT and ITeS companies hiring in a big way in the last few years, it has brought its own set of challenges, with ‘talent’ being one of the key issues.
“Innovative techniques will improve an organisation’s cost per hire and retention rates,” says Dr Cabot Jaffee, Chairman, Global Talent Metrics, US, a provider of HR products and services that help organisations combat human capital challenges, including talent acquisition, selection, engagement and retention.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

'Mature BPO players are providing platform-based solutions to many of their customers'

The transforming BPO landscape

The last few years have seen the Indian BPO (business process outsourcing) industry ride the offshore wave to its advantage, both in terms of business as well as employment opportunities.
However, with the current slowdown in the US (a geography the Indian BPO industry has been overly dependent on), and the issues relating to sub-prime that one has seen over the last 18 months or so, it was natural to believe that the industry may be in for a rough time, in the days ahead, with a negative impact on growth and hiring. S. Vaitheeswaran, Vice-President & SBU Head, Infosys BPO, views the situation slightly differently and actually sees enough opportunities for growth, as the industry looks to go further up the value chain with new business and delivery models.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

'One should also look at using the waste to generate power'

‘Changing lifestyles leading to more garbage in Chennai’

Chennai, Aug. 20 The Chennai-based Neel Metal Fanalca Environment Management Pvt Ltd, a joint venture between Neel Metal Products Ltd, India and Fanalca, S.A Colombia, has said that it is targeting to break even this financial year.
The company, which has invested over Rs 30 crore in its operations here, operates in four zones in Chennai and is involved in sweeping of roads, door to door collection and transfer of garbage to transfer station and transporting it to landfills. The company gets a tipping fee from the corporation for the garbage sent to the landfill and is free to sell the material segregated.
During a recent interaction with Business Line, Mr Vinay Maheshwari, Director, Neel Metal Fanalca, stressed the need to go beyond waste management.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

'Our plan is to firm up the automobile vertical as it is yet to become mainstream'

‘Your scrap is my asset’

With continual improvements in supply chain practices, coupled with the adoption of JIT (just in time) inventory methodologies, it may be logical to expect the elimination of inventory build-up and the problem of surplus inventory. But no, sale of scrap material is an integral part of the manufacturing process, says S. JaganniVasan, founder and managing director of Matex Net Pvt Ltd, Bangalore. “And I believe this will continue to grow,” he adds.

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'Healthcare cannot be compromised'

Understanding urology

Urology, also known as genito-urinary surgery, has come a long way, says Dr C. L. Ashok Kumar, Consultant Urologist, Chennai. “The patient must utilise the technology usefully in the correct perspective instead of dissection, discussion and hair-splitting,” he advises, during a recent lunch-hour interaction at Business Line.

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'CFOs were beginning to hear the "broking" word for the first time'

`Insurers have begun to collaborate more often than to confront'

Has insurance broking really taken off in India? The answer to this really depends on one's expectations, says Mr C. Radhakrishna, co-promoter, India Insure. "It is a brand new industry segment, born (unlike as in other countries) in a regulated and restricted market, where it has been difficult for the broker to demonstrate value addition to the demanding corporate customer," he adds.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

'Books have been the key driver of our growth'

Making e-com a compelling buy

The founder and COO of online shopping mall IndiaPlaza.in (formerly Fabmall.com), K. Vaitheeswaran, says his is ‘a small but ambitious’ company. Over the next three years, he is looking at making the company amongst the top three book retailers (including physical retailers) across the country. In July 2007, when the seventh Harry Potter book was launched worldwide, IndiaPlaza was the largest retailer in India for this book, surpassing all physical chains and has since repeated this feat in a few more titles, he says. The company recently announced the IndiaPlaza Golden Quill Book Awards, offering two cash awards worth Rs 1 lakh each, as a likely annual feature.

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'To destroy formula film-making and invent new narrative techniques are the needs of the hour'

`The idea is to set up a global market for ethnic Tamil films'

According to estimates, there are over eight crore Tamils around the world. From the oldest Tamil communities in southern India and in the North-Eastern fringes of Sri Lanka, Tamils also form a major emigrant community in countries such as Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore, Mauritius, Australia, Canada, the US, and even Europe. With such a captive audience at its disposal, no wonder that some film-makers are looking at ways to crack that market.
Meet Mr Perumal Samy Srinivasan. After `divorcing' journalism early, the `rebel' from Coimbatore could not resist the pull of the visual canvas. "Well, it all started as just an adventure into a creative domain. Maybe the adventurous thought was the spark. No clue where I would end up," says Mr Srinivasan who is making a Tamil movie that starts and ends in just 90 minutes with live recording of sound on the spot.

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'M&A deals are always high profile transactions attracting a lot of attention'

Why MBOs win over simple M&As

Management buy-out (MBO) deals help in reducing the scope for disputes. Mind you, some disputes can derail the entire transaction. All that we get to hear after such a `failed deal' is one scorned party voicing its opinion, if at all. "As the buyer is fully aware of the business, there are fewer chances for dispute about the quality of the business. MBOs do really add value to the M&A deals through greater synergy value flowing from independence and autonomy to the management and strategy, backed with sufficient commitment on investment. Such higher synergy value provides for sufficient cushion for the buyer and seller to compromise on many areas of dispute," notes Mr M. R. Rajaram, a chartered accountant by profession, who has been associated with ICI India for more than 35 years.

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'The world has become addicted to artificially cheap Chinese goods'

`China has run out of road with its low-cost labour strategy'

Teenage labourers, torn between corruption and administration, and a communist nation with capitalist ambitions and home to the cheapest goods one can ever desire: that pretty much sums up China these days. Their price does the trick, and that too every time. What drives the Chinese? "I believe we are all fundamentally the same: we all want a better life for ourselves and our children. The Chinese are no exception. But unlike some other countries, they are still emerging from an era of great isolation and deprivation. Take, for example, Li Luyuan, one of the women whose story I tell in the book. She comes from a poor family of watermelon farmers in eastern China, but dreams of a job as a saleswoman, far from the life her parents live," remarks Ms Alexandra Harney, author of The China Price.

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'3G is the next big step in mobile communications'

3G policy: What’s in it for customer, investor?

The third generation is finally here! Yes, 3G, the most anxiously awaited by telecom operators and subscribers has arrived. The higher speed that 3G provides will enable subscribers to download data much more quickly such as gaming, video calling and downloading video clips etc. But that’s from the side of the consumers. What does 3G hold for you, if you are an investor in telecom companies? “While all this sounds hunky-dory, there are big questions that operators will have to face once they launch services. Since India has one of the lowest average revenues per user (ARPU) globally, the demand for such services may be quite limited,” cautions Mr Prashant Singhal, Telecom Industry Leader, Ernst & Young. However, he provides a silver lining.

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'Preventing foreign inflows, an act of ‘insanity’'

Investors should consider fixed income assets: Rogers

Hapless investors who have had enough of disappointments from stocks this year, could look at other opportunities. Short-term fixed income could be ‘one option’, says American investor and financial commentator Mr Jim Rogers.
“I am selling short longer-term fixed income assets in various parts of the world. Long rates will be going higher in most of the world,” he adds. “Commodities remain the ‘other alternative’.”
With Asian governments such as like India and China already beginning initiatives to douse the inflation fire, short-term bond yields may not drop further, making them relatively safe investments.
“The Chinese are rightfully trying to stop it as are several other governments. Once inflation takes hold, it is very difficult and expensive to break it,” Mr Rogers told Business Line from Singapore over the email.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

'Today the university syllabus lacks on the content needed by the IT industry'

‘Regulate software training’

If you thought computer training is too dull a subject to talk about, think again. Here is S. Gopal, CEO of Nace Solutions P Ltd, Chennai, who is aggressively growing a training company. Starting with one centre at T. Nagar in the city a year ago, and having today more than 17 centres in South India and one in Kingdom of Bahrain, he has plans to touch the 200-centre mark in India by 2009. Though originally thought of as ‘National Academy for Computer Engineering’ Nace — which is a part of the two-decade-old Swamy Abedhanandha Educational Trust that runs a polytechnic in Thellar, Vandavasi Taluk, Tiruvannamalai — offers both proprietary and open source technology training.

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'For drug discovery and development, students need to be educated to an appropriate level'

Young people underestimate the prospects and opportunities in India

Every time when we swallow a tablet, we ignore the technique behind its making. A tablet is not made on a tablet press as commonly believed; instead it is made in the `granulation' process: a technique mastered by a native of Thirukkovilur.
Meet Dr Bindhumadhavan Gururajan, Senior Scientist, working to develop products at Anglo-Swedish drug company AstraZeneca's Research and Development centre at Leicestershire, UK. While today he is recognised as a renowned expert on granulation, for Dr Bindhu (as he is affectionately called), it was not easy to know that powdered sugar would be difficult to compress into a tablet and granulated sugar would be easy to compress!

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