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BW Businessworld

Fall For Good?

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You may have felt it at the mandi already, and it's  official now. Prices of primary articles have fallen. For the December 17 week, food inflation plun-ged to a five-and-a-half-year low of 0.42 per cent, giving respite to the government. Vegetable prices, which fell further below levels a year ago, led the current drop. The fall in prices have ignited hopes that the overall inflation will fall below 9 per cent. "If the trend continues, you will have year-end inflation around 6 per cent. But it cannot be lower than six," says finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. High inflation has caused enough worries to the policymakers, forcing the Reserve Bank of India to undertake monetary tightening policies. The central bank has upped interest rates several times in the past few months and in the latest monetary review on 16 December said that inflation remained one of the prime concerns. Now analysts expect the fall in food indices will prompt the RBI to initiate measures that will boost growth in the next month's monetary review.

TCS At The Top
The new year for now will see a new topper at the BSE. On 30 December, IT major TCS overtook Reliance Indus-tries as the largest company by market capitalisation. RIL has been the most consistent at the top for many years, except for a few pauses; the most recent being in August 2011 when it lost the title to Coal India. It regained the position soon, but was overtaken by another, ONGC.

IPO Scam?
In a surprise move, stock-market watchdog Sebi has barred seven companies from raising money from the public for suspected misuse of funds from initial public offerings, irregulari-ties in pricing and poor disclosure of information. Sebi says it will refer such entities to the enforcement directorate for forex violations, and to the tax department if it suspects black money is involved in such transactions.

Telecom Norms
The Telecom Commission has recommended key policy changes. It has, for one, okayed telecom regulator Trai's proposals on mergers and acquisitions — between companies that command a combined market share of up to 35 per cent. The commission has also permitted spectrum-sharing between operators.

Spreading Wings
Hero Eco group, owners of Hero Electric, Hero Cycles, etc., is set to buy UK's electric vehicles maker Ultra Motor for an undisclosed sum. The move is part of the Vijay Munjal-promoted company's plans to expand in Europe, China and Taiwan.

Nano Repair
It could be one of the biggest replacement exercises in India's auto industry. Tata Motors has asked about 140,000 Nano owners to bring back their cars for change of the starter motor free of cost. The automaker, though, says this is not a recall. Anyways, the move may cost the company about
Rs 110 crore.

Little Master's Big House
That's a century. Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar has insured his new five-storey bungalow in Bandra for Rs 100 crore — one of the highest taken by an individual. The premium for the cover is not known yet.

NTPC's Big Bet
State-run power major NTPC will invest Rs 18,346 crore to develop two projects in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Its board has okayed projects totalling 2,900 MW electricity generation capacity.

Sole Owner Now
Tata Power will buy out BP Alternative Energy's entire holding of 51 per cent in their joint venture, Tata BP Solar, for an undisclosed sum. BP Alternative Energy is the renewable energy arm of UK's energy giant BP. Despite the buy-back, Tata BP Solar will continue to access certain BP technologies till 2013.

Parting To Gain
Sony will sell its stake in its South Korean joint LCD partner Samsung. The joint venture, S-LCD, was set up in 2004. The move is expected to help Sony stem years of losses in the television business.
The Leap Year
For the tiny South Pacific country, Samoa, it was a leap in time, literally. In a move to align the island's time with key trading partners, it crossed westward over the international date line and erased Friday, 30 December 2011, from its calendar. That's simply beating time.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 09-01-2012)