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A Lopsided Order

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First, the good news. India's exports touched $303.7 billion in 2011-12, surpassing the official target of $300 billion for the fiscal year, according to data released by the commerce ministry. This is 21 per cent higher than the $251.1 billion a year ago. The growth comes despite weak demands from Indian exporters' traditional markets such as the EU and the US. Now the bad news. Imports in 2011-12 spiked 32.1 per cent to $488.6 billion, leading to a record trade deficit of $184.9 billion. And this surge — mostly due to the spate in petroleum and gold imports — is likely to raise the current account deficit to 4 per cent of GDP. This contradicts the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council's forecast of 3.6 per cent. There is more. Last month, exports fell 7 per cent year-on-year, slipping into the negative zone.

Bold Move

It seems Essar Oil might end its Rs 9,000-crore debt restructuring exercise this month-end. The energy giant is planning to raise debt to pay off its Rs 6,300-crore sales tax burden to Gujarat. It has approached State Bank of India to arrange for a long-term loan of six years with an average interest rate of 12.5 per cent. If approved, SBI's Essar Oil exposure will be about Rs 9,500 crore.

Scion's Stake

Agnivesh Agarwal, son of Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal, has taken a 60 per cent stake in Chennai-centred scanning and laboratories firm, Primex Healthcare. This is Agnivesh's first investment in a personal capacity. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

Weighed Down

Courtesy the new 2 per cent import duty on polished diamonds, gems and jewellery, exports fell 17.69 per cent in March to Rs 22,756 crore, says the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, an industry body. That said, FY2011-12 saw a 4.64 per cent rise in exports to Rs 2,04,823.66 crore, against Rs 1,95,735.84 crore in the previous fiscal.

Bearish Outlook

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has pegged India's FY2012 GDP growth rate at 6.9 per cent. This is slightly lower than its January estimate of 7 per cent. India is the only emerging economy for which the IMF has done so. In 2013, the IMF says India will grow 7.3 per cent. The government has projected a growth rate of 7.6 per cent for FY2013.

Another Take Off

He is at it, again. Five years after selling off his low-cost carrier Air Deccan, Captain G.R. Gopinath is set for a repeat. He has received a no-objection certificate from the civil aviation ministry to start an airline. All the best, captain.

Brand Ride

Finally, it's done. German auto giant Volkswagen-owned Audi will buy Italy's motorcycle-maker Ducati Motor. The long-awaited deal, reportedly valued at $1.12 billion, is aimed to expand Audi's brand portfolio. Ducati is owned by European investment major Investindustrial.

Booked At Last

Last week, seven people were arrested in connection with the $1.7 billion-Olympus accounting fraud. The arrests, including those of former Olympus Corp president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and some ex-bankers, came four months after the scandal, considered one of Japan's biggest, was discovered.

Mobile Hub

In a move to cement its presence in India, RIM has launched a new smartphone, Curve 9220, priced at Rs 10,990. This is the first time that RIM has launched a phone globally from India. Meanwhile, Lava has announced the launch of Xolo X900, the first smartphone in the world with ‘Intel Inside'. The phone is based on Intel's smartphone reference design powered by its Intel Atom processor.

Bond Issues

There is double-edged relief for Spain. The debt-ridden country has managed to sell `2.5 billion of bonds at auction on 19 April. But rising yields may make it difficult to tame its deficit.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 30-04-2012)