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AUGUST 14, 2005
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Redefining Consumer Finance
Jurg von Känel, a researcher at IBM's J. Watson Research Centre, and his colleagues are working on analytical software that would
simplify consumer finance
and make it more secure as well. An oxymoron? Känel doesn't think so.

Security Check
First, it was Mphasis. Then, the Karan Bahree sting operation by UK tabloid, The Sun. The bogey of data security appears to be rearing its ugly head in right earnest. How can the Indian call-centre industry address this challenge?
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Business Today,  July 31, 2005
Property Pashas

The real estate sector is witnessing the emergence of a new breed of ambitious developers. Some want to go national, others are going international and all of them are competing hard to give the customer the very best of homes, offices and malls.

There's a new bull in the property market. Sameer Gehlaut, the 31-year-old Chairman and CEO of online stockbroking firm IndiaBulls announced his grand entry into the Indian real estate sector by sewing up two big-ticket deals to buy up prime mill lands in space-starved Mumbai. The combined price tag: Rs 717 crore.

Cut to Delhi. The middle-class borough of Kalkaji is not where you expect to meet one of the leading realty barons of the country. But the four-storey Omaxe Constructions' headquarters stands out amid the clutter and the congestion. And when you walk into the office of Rohtas Goel, Omaxe's Chairman-cum-MD, and glance at the wooden flooring, expensive furnishings and a snooker table, you get the whiff of new money.

Ten kilometres away, on the sixth floor of Arunachal Building on Barakhamba Road, another property baron sits in another opulent office with large and expensive idols of Balaji and Shirdi Sai Baba everywhere. This is the headquarters of Parsvnath Developers. Chairman Pradeep Jain's office has a tape-recorder playing Sai Baba mantras around the clock. Both Goel and Jain have plenty in common. Both had modest starts; the former was a contractor and the latter a property broker, who later became a contractor. Both were unheard of even three years back. And both have turnovers in excess of Rs 300 crore, with projects spread across 12 cities in the country. In Hyderabad, there's Pawan Kumar Agrawall, 47, MD, Ambience Properties, which has a turnover of around Rs 100 crore. Agrawall has footprints in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, Vishakapatnam, and Tirupati, and is comtemplating projects in Kolkata, Bangalore and along the Mumbai-Pune expressway.

The Hottest Clusters In India
Design Inc.

These upstarts are nipping at the heels of established biggies like the Hiranandanis in Mumbai, K.P. Singh of DLF and the Chandras of Unitech in Delhi, who are also in expansion mode. Niranjan Hiranandani, MD of the Rs 750-crore Hiranandani Constructions and the man behind Powai-Mumbai's most sprawling and contemporary suburb-is developing a 92-storey project in Dubai. Christened 23 Marina, the project is expected to offer the ultimate living experience. On completion, 23 Marina will be the tallest residential complex in the world. K.P. Singh, Chairman of the DLF Group, recently acquired 17 acres of NTC mill land in Mumbai for Rs 702 crore and is expected to build a commercial-retail complex there. The Rs 496-crore DLF group is working towards a national footprint and has started projects in 11 cities, including Kolkata, Chandigarh, Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin and Hyderabad. Sanjay Chandra, Director of the Rs 623-crore Unitech Ltd, is also expanding in a big way. In Kolkata, he is setting up the city's largest residential project (10 million square feet) at Rajarhat, and a 5 million square feet it park. Unitech's footprint spans Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai and will soon do smaller cities such as Agra, Varanasi and Mohali. The Chandras also plan to launch a Rs 1,000-crore property fund called cig Property Fund. "This fund will not only support smaller developers financially, but give ideas, build relationships and add value to their projects," he says.

"Most large developers across the country want to have a national footprint today," says Anuj Puri, MD, Chesterton Meghraj Property Consultants. According to Puri, a majority of them aren't particularly keen on tying up with foreign companies. "Banks are bending backwards to finance their projects and demand is so high that they are sold out, often within moments of their launch," he says. "What do I need FDI (foreign direct investment) for?" questions Jain of Parsvnath Developers.

However, not everyone thinks like Jain. Ravi Purvankara, Chairman of the Rs 100-crore Purvankara Properties of Bangalore, feels foreign investment is the next big thing in real estate. "Foreign firms bring a sense of transparency to a market that has a reputation for generating black money," he contends. Purvankara has formed a 49:51 joint venture, Keppel Purvankara, with the Singapore-based Keppel Land. The JV will invest Rs 1,000 crore in two ventures in Bangalore. Arun Poddar of the Kolkata-based Rs 200-crore Poddar Projects has also tied up with an overseas company for a township project in Bardhaman. Says Jugal Khetawat, Director of the Kolkata-based Rs 250-crore South City Projects: "FDI will bring in more money and also result in the inflow of advanced building technologies. We have tied up with a foreign company for the development of two townships in West Bengal for which Expressions of Interest have been invited." The fine print of both proposals is being worked out.

The reaction to the entry of foreign players may be mixed, but intense competition among various players is resulting in improved quality and world class facilities. "The customer is spoilt for choice," says Sumit Dabriwal, Executive Director of the Kolkata-based United Credit Belani Group, which is developing a 262-acre Rs 1050-crore township just outside Kolkata. Chandra will shortly introduce webcams at various Unitech project sites so that buyers can monitor the progress of the projects from their homes. Apartments in Omaxe's Forest residential complex in Noida will each have a 500-square feet bathroom, complete with a steam room, jacuzzi, shower cubicle and a massage chair. And landscaping a residential complex-adding a lake here, a hillock there-is now standard practice.

The real estate boom is fuelled by the easy availability of finance. Last fiscal, HDFC disbursed loans worth Rs 86,798 crore to 2.6 million families, informs Renu Sud Karnad, Executive Director, hdfc. Quoting a Merril Lynch report, Pia Singh, MD, DLF Retail Developers and daughter of K.P. Singh says: "The real estate sector will add $50 billion (Rs 2,20,000 crore) to GDP by 2010." That's great news for developers. But fierce competition among these pashas will ensure that the consumer will remain the real king.

Sameer Gehlaut
31/ Chairman & CEO/ Indiabulls

TURNOVER: Rs 168 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: Just acquired Jupiter Mills and Elphinstone Mills in Central Mumbai.
These mark its debut in the realty sector
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: Jupiter Mills, Elphinstone Mills

Indiabulls properties has been involved in two of the largest real estate deals in Indian history. First, it acquired Jupiter Mills for Rs 276 crore. Then it bought the 7.8-acre Elphinstone Mills for Rs 441 crore. "We believe that the rentals that will accrue with respect to the costs that have been incurred are fully justified," explains Gagan Banga, Executive Director, Indiabulls. He says the company will continue to look at any space that is commercially viable. Residential property is not on the agenda for the moment, though. With no indication of real estate activity slowing down in central Mumbai, this company may just be in the news again. Indiabulls Properties is a 51:49 joint venture between Farallon, a San Francisco-based fund manager, and Indiabulls

Niranjan Hiranandani
55/Managing Director/Hiranandani Construction

TURNOVER: Rs 750 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 30 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 20 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Residential and commercial
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to rich
FOOTPRINT: Mumbai, Dubai

Achartered accountant by qualification, Hiranandani dabbled in textiles before real estate took over his life in 1981. "The sector was then characterised by black (money) transactions and uncouth people," he recalls. But that didn't stop him from becoming, arguably, the biggest name in the business. He finds it difficult to pinpoint the big break in his career. "The emergence of transactions in white (money) or having schools and hospitals in townships-every step, in that sense, has been a break," he says. Wonder what the next big one will be?

Mofatraj P. Munot
61/ Chairman/ Kalpataru Construction

TURNOVER: Rs 250 crore
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 4.5 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Residential and commercial
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to high-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Mumbai, Pune

Mofatraj P. Munot's entry into the business was facilitated by the fact that his uncle was already in the real estate space. "I got into the business in 1961 and broke off on my own in 1969," he recalls. The Emergency intervened and he relocated to the Middle East. "I learnt a great deal from overseas professionals and understood technology, project scalability and how to implement turnkey projects," he informs. He also got to work on projects like airports and hospitals "where the quality orientation was very strong". Today, his brand name is associated with plush apartments and high-quality commercial complexes. Which was his big break? "I think it is yet to take place," he says.

Sanjay Chandra

TURNOVER: Rs 623 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 40 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 25 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Residential and commercial
PROFILE OF BUYERS: High-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Delhi, Gurgaon, Greater Noida, Noida, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Agra, Varanasi and Mohali

An MBA from Boston University, Sanjay Chandra is quite different from his peers in the industry. "Real estate development is a passion with me," says Chandra, adding that he's mainly focussed on residential projects and IT parks. "We have been growing at 40 per cent every year and I want to maintain that growth," he says. The project that is closest to Chandra's heart is the 300-acre Karma Lakelands in Gurgaon, which will have 300 homes built around a golf course. Unitech is also building the largest mall in the country at Entertainment City in Noida. Spread across 142 acres, it will also have an amusement park and will be completed in 2009.

Harshavardhan Neotia
44/MD/Bengal Ambuja Housing Development

TURNOVER: Rs 2,100 crore (Rs 2,000 crore from cement)
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 3 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Residential and commercial
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to high-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Kolkata, Durgapur, Siliguri, Shantiniketan

Harsh Neotia pioneered the concept of public-private partnership in the housing industry, when he undertook the Udayan project on a 25-acre plot on Kolkata's Eastern Metropolitan Bypass in 1994. The project had three segments (for high income buyers, middle income buyers and low income buyers) and the profits from the first were used to partially subsidise the latter two. This model has now become the industry-norm in West Bengal and is even being replicated in other states. Since then, Neotia has promoted a number of residential and commercial projects.

Rohtas Goel
42/Chairman & Managing Director/Omaxe Construction

TURNOVER: Rs 450 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 1.5 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 6 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Condominiums, townships, specialty malls
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to very rich
FOOTPRINT: Palwal, Rohtak, Raipur, Faridabad, Kundli, Noida, Gurgaon, Delhi, Greater Noida, Agra, Lucknow, Patiala, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Sonepat, Jaipur

He's another contractor who made it big. Rohtas Goel started Omaxe Construction in 1987. Today, it is present in the National Capital Region and 12 cities. Goel is setting up townships in Lucknow, Sonepat and Kundli; wedding malls (wedding halls and shops selling trosseau's and the like) in Agra and Patiala; malls in Ludhiana and Amritsar; and a group housing complex in Faridabad. His first big project was Omaxe Executive Floors in Gurgaon in 2000. Why this fascination with small towns? "If Mumbai can have Navi Mumbai, Delhi can have New Delhi, then why can't Agra have a New Agra, or Jaipur a New Jaipur?" he responds.

Pradeep Jain
42/Chairman/Parsvnath Developers

TURNOVER: Rs 306.85 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 7 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 40 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Apartments, penthouses, bungalows, plots, malls and shopping arcades
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Lower middle class to high-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Mohan Nagar, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Gurgaon, Kochi, Faridabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Sonepat, Agra and others

Pradeep Jain started out as a small-time property broker to the Ansals at the age of 19. His first residential project: Parsvnath Estate (Greater Noida) in 2001. Today, Parsvnath is developing projects worth Rs 8,000 crore in 21 cities and towns across the country. His target: sales of Rs 800 crore this fiscal and Rs 2,300 crore by 2010. Jain, who bid Rs 621 crore for the NTC mill land that DLF bought for Rs 702 crore, is keen on entering the Mumbai property market and is participating in all the bids for mill lands. He has also bid for projects in Mauritius, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Kushal Pal Singh
74/Chairman/DLF Group

TURNOVER: Rs 496 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 29.5 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Townships, condominiums, row houses, penthouses, bungalows, IT parks, office complexes and malls
PROFILE OF BUYERS: High-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Jallandar, Noida, Mumbai. Plans to enter Lucknow shortly

Kushal Pal Singh, the man behind Gurgaon, made headlines recently when he made an entry into the Mumbai property market by acquiring 17 acres of NTC mill land in the heart of the metropolis for a whopping Rs 702 crore. "We want to have a national footprint," says Singh, who is reputedly the richest realtor in the country today. The net asset base of the DLF Group is Rs 15,000-20,000 crore. DLF has recently launched IT Parks in Chandigarh and Kolkata, and will soon be entering Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune.

Ravi Purvankara
48/Chairman/Purvankara Projects

TURNOVER: Rs 100 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 25 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 15 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Residential and commercial
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Upper middle class for residential, and MNCs and large corporates for commerical properties
FOOTPRINT: Bangalore, Chennai and Dubai.

Ravi Purvankara is an inheritor who made good. The turning point of his career came when he shifted base from Mumbai to Bangalore in 1987. The project: the 600-apartment Purva Park in the heart of Bangalore. "There were very few large residential buildings back then," reminisces Purvankara, who sells 250-300 apartments a month. He is among the first to tie up with an overseas developer. Commenting on the 7-hectare property he's promoting with the Singapore-based Keppel Land, he says: "Foreign firms bring a sense of transparency to a market that has a bad reputation for slush money and underhand deals." Purvankara is well entrenched in Dubai and is also considering projects in Colombo.

Dharmesh Jain
37/Chairman & Managing Director/Nirmal Group

PROJECTS COMPLETED: 3 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 15 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Commercial and residential
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to high-income groups

Dharmesh Jain is not joking when he says he visits his sites sometimes at 4 a.m. Real estate was a childhood passion. "The biggest kick about being in the business is that you see every part of your dream unfold," he says. The Nirmal Group has been inexistence for 30 years and Jain entered the business straight after college in 1988. His dream: to make Mulund the best suburb in India. The turning point: Nirmal Lifestyle, the country's largest mall. His current passion is a 5-star hotel he is constructing in Mumbai. "It will be ready in the next three years," he says.

C.L. Raheja
64/Chairman/K. Raheja Corp.

PROJECTS COMPLETED: About 15 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 2 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Commercial and residential
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to high-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore

Quiet and efficient' is an appropriate description for the K. Raheja Corp. with a presence in Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore, the group is a name to reckon with in both residential and commercial properties. Names such as Mindspace (which is spread over a sprawling 8 million square feet), and Raheja Vihar in Mumbai and Raheja Towers in Chennai and Bangalore are well-known establishments. C.L. Raheja is the current head of the group. His office said he would not meet Business Today for this article.

Anand Mahindra
50/Chairman/ Mahindra Gesco Developers

TURNOVER: Rs 93 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 8 (Sizes not available)
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: Over 12 (Sizes not available)
PROJECT CLASS: Residential and commercial
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to high-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Mumbai, Pune and Delhi

Mahindra realty & infrastructure developers limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of M&M, joined hands with Gesco Corporation, originally the property division of Great Eastern Shipping, to form Mahindra Gesco Developers. Today its projects are spread across Mumbai, Delhi and Pune, and in most cases bear "The Great Eastern" or the "Mahindra" brand names. Mahindra Gesco has a good mix of residential and commercial projects. Some of its better known projects are Mahindra Heights and Mahindra Gardens and The Great Eastern Centre in Mumbai, and The Great Eastern Plaza in Pune.

TURNOVER: Rs 200 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 4 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 4 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Commercial and residential
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Lower middle, middle and upper middle class
FOOTPRINT: Kolkata, Bardhaman

Arun Poddar pioneered the concept of big ticket suburban projects in Kolkata. In order to entice buyers, he devised a unique scheme: he offered to refund the entire cost of the flat after 30 years and even bought and endorsed Indira Vikas Patras in the names of flat buyers. "Most people cashed out early," he laughs. His other innovations: windmills for pumping water, clinics and Calcutta School of Music branches at some of his properties. "It costs Rs 10 per person to provide these facilities, but they make a middle class person's life that much easier," he says.

Sushil Ansal
66/Chairman/Ansal Properties & Infrastructure

TURNOVER: Rs 350 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 15 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 10 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Townships, apartments, penthouses, bungalows, farm houses, hotels, multiplexes, shopping malls, educational institutions and hospitals
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle to upper middle class
FOOTPRINT: Gurgaon, Greater Noida, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Kundli and Sonepat

Sushil Ansal is the man behind several high-rise office complexes, cinema halls, shopping malls, colonies and apartments in Delhi. Ansal Plaza in south Delhi was the first state-of-the-art mall in the country. Now, Ansal is building 12 Ansal Plazas across north India. The Ansal Properties Group is also getting into tier-II cities like Kundli, Sonepat, Panipat, Ludhiana, Jallandar, Bhatinda, Mohali, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Meerut and Lucknow in a big way. "Kundli will be the Gurgaon of north Delhi," says Ansal. He is also working on a new concept-service apartments in malls. "I expect these to be very popular, since these apartments will be close to restaurants, shopping malls and bars," says Ansal. He also wants to take the company global by tying up with a developer overseas. The Ansals have developed properties in the CIS, Iraq, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Irfan Razack
52/Director/Prestige Group

TURNOVER: Rs 250 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 6.35 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 2.65 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Single family residences, apartments, villas, row houses, software campuses and retail facilities
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to high-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad

From humble beginnings in the textile business, the Razack brothers, Irfan and Rezwan, have built a Rs 250-crore realty business. The Razacks have seen Bangalore morph from just another town in south India to the bustling technopolis it is today. Their creations include marquee names in Bangalore such as the Forum Mall, Angasana Spa and UB City. The group is also expanding rapidly in Chennai and Hyderabad. Irfan is now expanding into construction-related areas such as property and construction management, which aims to provide a slew of support services for buyers, ranging from power supply, payment of bills and maintenance of common infrastructure.

C. Subba Reddy
50/Managing Director/ Ceebros Property Development

TURNOVER: Rs 125 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 3 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 6 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Residential apartments
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to high-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Chennai. Plans foray in other southern cities

C. Subba Reddy started with small projects around Chennai and gradually built up his Rs 125-crore business over the last 27 years. "I perceived the need for high-quality compact apartments in Chennai and decided to focus on that segment," he says. Rather than any single project, Reddy claims close contacts with clients (including one family, of which three generations bought flats from him) is the reason behind his success. Reddy has now entered the hospitality industry with a Rs 40-crore, 110-room 5-star hotel called Rain Tree. "We are also getting into the promotion of townships, schools, hospitals, auditoriums and IT parks," he says.

Lalit Kumar Jain
42/CMD/ Kumar Builders

TURNOVER: Rs 100 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 10 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 3 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Residential, commercial, office spaces, IT parks and multiplexes
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to high-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore

He inherited his company from his father, but Lalitkumar Jain was instrumental in making it one of Pune's largest real estate promoters. Over the years, he has sold properties to 13,000 customers in Pune and is now expanding to Mumbai and Bangalore. His forthcoming projects range from residential and office spaces to multiplexes, retail outlets and IT Parks. Commenting on the fads that keep changing every few years, Jain feels that what starts out as a fad very often ends up being a necessity a few years down the line. His goal: to live up to his company's tagline-We build trust.

Pawan Kumar Agrawall
47/Managing Director/Ambience Properties

TURNOVER: Rs 100 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 1 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 3 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Independent houses, row houses and commercial complexes
PROFILE OF BUYERS: High-income groups
FOOTPRINT: Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Pune-Mumbai expressway, Kolkata, Bangalore, Tirupati and Visakhapatnam

Ask for swapnalok, a shopping-cum-commercial complex, in Secunderabad and chances are that nine out of 10 people will guide you to S.D. Road where it has been in existence since 1987. Taking off from this first project, Pawan Kumar Agrawall has come a long way. Another project, Whisper Valley, near the tony Jubilee Hills area of Hyderabad, is another landmark. In the pipeline is a mega residential township project on the Pune-Mumbai Express Highway comprising 1,750 independent villas and town houses, 1,800 apartment units, club houses, recreation facilities, a super speciality hospital, an international school and a shopping mall. He also has projects on hand in Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati.

P.N.C. Menon
57/Chairman/ The Sobha Group

TURNOVER: Rs 1,000 crore
PROJECTS COMPLETED: 6 million square feet
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE: 8 million square feet
PROJECT CLASS: Townships, condomimiums, town houses, row houses, bungalows, offices, IT parks, malls
PROFILE OF BUYERS: Middle class to very rich
FOOTPRINT: Bangalore. Planning to expand to eight cities across the country by 2009

In 1976, a 28-year-old small-time interior decorator from Kerala landed in Muscat with Rs 50 in his pocket and dreams of making it big. "I remember driving around in a non-air-conditioned pick-up truck (in 50 degrees Celsius heat) because I couldn't afford a vehicle with an AC," says Menon. But his luck turned and he soon became a big building contractor. In 1993, he decided to foray into his motherland. "Bangalore was then just taking off and we decided to operate from here," he says. Today Sobha builds annually six million square feet of residential and commercial space every year. The boy from Kerala has come a long way.




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