Sunday, May 08, 2005

Infrastructure Watch

The Volkswagen investment ping-pong ball has now landed in Vizag, AP. The AP government is offering Volks 350 acres of land. In addition Volks wants all arbitration to be in London, not in the local courts (who can blame them?), and are seeking a Special Export Zone status for unit. Does that mean that Volks will only manufacture to export? Suits us fine anyway I guess. Importantly they have decided to go in for manufacturing and not assembling CKD kits.

Tata Motors launched a much awaited sub-tonne commercial vehicle called ACE in the Indian market. It is aimed at becoming the critical last mile connector in the hub-and-spoke model of an Expressway based transportation system. Meanwhile Ratan Tata told The Week magazine that the Rs 1 lakh car should be out by 2008. Way to go buddy!

The world's richest Indian is finally coming into India. Decades ago when Laxmi N Mittal broke up with his father's Ispat group, the deal was that the father and brothers would concentrate on the Indian buisness while Laxmi would grow his business abroad - a pact they both broke recently. Laxmi went on the build the biggest steel empire in the world, while the Ispat group grew sick and was a small player even in India. LNM investment in India would build a bigger capacity than any steel company in India currently has (5 mtpa versus Tata Steel's global turnover of 6 mtpa).

A consortium of Indian companies led by The Chatterjee Group (TCG) has bought Basel NV a JV between Royal Dutch/Shell and BASF. Interestingly the deal is valued at $5.16 billion which would make it the biggest foriegn investment by an Indian corporate entity (at least till the ONGC $6 bn stake purchase in Yugansk happens). I wonder why the papers are not reporting that.

You can now party smart with PartySmart, a herbal solution for hangovers, now available from The Himalaya Drug Company. Talking of herbal solutions, growing of medicinal plants appears to be becoming a highly organized business. Contract farming is coming in, in a big way and promises to become a win-win situation for the corporates who provide the seeds and a purchase guarantee, the land owners who provide the land, and the landless laborers who provide the labor. Banks are eager to give loans and insurance companies to provide cover.

Talking of power, to override a major power crisis in the state, the Maharashtra government wants to quickly add a capacity of 12,500 MW - probably the biggest fast track power capacity addition in India ever. They have however run into trouble with the Centre on the process of selecting the developers. Irrate consumers in Maharashtra can console themselves with the drive towards corporate honesty, during power cuts. Lets at least hope that the new efforts to get Dabhol off the ground quickly enough succeed.

Update: Apparently the media is going gaga over the Basel deal, and it is the biggest by an Indian corporate ever. Congratulations Mr Purnendu Chatterjee!