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FEB. 11, 2007
 Cover Story
 BT Special
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Taxing Times
The phase-out of central sales tax is yet another move towards ushering in the national goods and services tax (GST). The compensation to the states, in lieu of CST phase-out, will include revenue proceeds from 33 services currently being taxed by the Centre as well as 44 new services of an intra-state nature that will be traded by the states. However, VAT is the way forward, though much needs to be done to iron out the anomalies in the current VAT regime.

India, Ahoy!
Indian investments overseas are growing and how. For instance, total Indian investment in Latin America and the Caribbean has topped $3 billion (Rs 13,500 crore) so far. The latest investment is by ONGC Videsh, which acquired an oilfield in Colombia for $425 million (Rs 1,912.5 crore). Earlier, ONGC bought an offshore oilfield in Brazil for $410 million (Rs 1,845 crore).
More Net Specials
Business Today,  January 28, 2007
Vodafone’s Sarin: Desperate for an Indian foothold
The battle for Hutchison Essar (HEL) could be Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin's toughest battle ever. India is a market that Vodafone desperately needs a strong foothold in. Its presence in India is restricted to a 10 per cent holding in Bharti Airtel that it acquired in 2005. Increasing that holding does not look easy, which explains Vodafone's interest in HEL. But already, there are murmurs among Vodafone shareholders that the asking price of $20 billion (Rs 90,000 crore) is too high. "Sarin is a rational bidder and is never known to bid in a hurry," says a Mumbai-based investment banker.

Number of Note

For Sarin, 52, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, who took over his current position at the world's largest mobile phone company in 2003, the last few years have been packed with action and controversy. He came close to acquiring AT&T Wireless, which finally went Cingular's way. Then, late last year, he sold his company's 25 per cent holding in Swisscom and also spoke of focussing on emerging markets. Worryingly, he has been under fire from Vodafone's shareholders for an indifferent performance in 2006 -a loss of £21.8 billion (Rs 1,89,660 crore) on revenues of £29.3 billion (Rs 2,54,910 crore). Vodafone has over 190 million subscribers globally but its presence in Asia is restricted to a 3.3 per cent holding in China Mobile and the stake in Bharti. His problem: the mature markets have a cellphone penetration level of about 90 per cent; this gives him very little headroom for growth. Clearly then, HEL is critical for Sarin. With a subscriber base of over 23 million and a presence in 16 cellular circles, HEL will put Vodafone back on the growth path. Given that India is the world's fastest growing mobile telecom market, a robust presence here is just what Sarin needs to face his detractors with confidence.


1.4 million: The number of people of Indian descent who live in Britain

Rs 26,000 crore: The amount that 25 lakh NRIs from Kerala pump into the country's economy every year

Rs 4,000 crore: The estimated size of the fake medicine market in the country, according to Assocham. This is almost 20 per cent of the total market for pharmaceuticals in India

10-15 million: The number of jobs the Indian retail sector is expected to generate over the next five years

0.37 per cent: Percentage of Indian GDP spent on higher education, compared to 1.41 per cent in the US, 1.07 per cent in the UK and 0.5 per cent in China

$9 billion (Rs 40,500 crore): Net FDI (foreign direct investment) flows as per BoP (Balance of Payment) projections for 2006-07. It was $7.75 billion (Rs 34,875 crore) in 2005-06

$63 billion (Rs 2,83,500 crore): The record FDI investment that China drew in 2006

$11 billion (Rs 49,500 crore): The total value of the Indian wedding industry, which is growing annually at 25 per cent

5,664: The number of women in India who have passed the Common Proficiency Test (CPT), the entry-level examination in the series to become a chartered accountant, till date

$100 billion (Rs 4.5 lakh crore): Total valuation of India's telecom sector. The turbo-charged industry contributes 13 per cent to India's GDP figures

$100,000 (Rs 45 lakh): Value of the jewel-studded soft-drink can that Pepsi will give away to a lucky fan during the Super Bowl XLI halftime show. The design for the sterling-silver can encrusted with 300 diamonds, 100 sapphires and 100 rubies was inspired by past Super Bowl rings, as well as by the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the winning Super Bowl team


ANNOUNCED: By Kingfisher Airlines, a partnership deal with Toyota Motorsport GmbH to enter the high-profile Formula 1 circuit. With this two-year deal, Kingfisher Airlines will become an official partner for the Toyota Racing Team.

BAGGED: By the Taj Group of hotels, the deal to renovate and run Delhi-based budget hotel Rail Yatri Niwas on a 15-year lease. The group will add food courts within the complex and run the hotel under the banner of its budget brand Ginger. The hotel will be closed for renovations.

ANNOUNCED: By GSM mobile telephony operators, the launch of mobile instant messaging (MIM) services. Operators such as BSNL, MTNL, Bharti Airtel, Hutchison Essar, Idea, Aircel, Reliance Telecom and Spice are expected to commercially launch this service soon. Initially, MIM will be offered only in English. The companies are working on expanding the number of languages in which this service will be offered.

RECORDED: By India's advertising industry, a growth of 23.4 per cent in 2006, the highest in 10 years. According to monitoring agency TAM Media Research, the industry closed the year with Rs 16,300 crore in revenues against Rs 13,200 crore in 2005 (Rs 11,800 crore in 2004). Radio, internet and the print media have posted the fastest growth in ad revenues in 2006, with 58 per cent, 52 per cent and 24 per cent growth, respectively.

INKED: By Stanford University and IIM Bangalore, an agreement for a student exchange programme. Under this, IIM Bangalore will send 16 students to Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. The exchange programme is expected to cost students between $1,800-2,000 (Rs 81,000-90,000). Reliance boss Mukesh Ambani has offered to pay three-fourths of the students' travel costs.

RAISED: By the Ambani family, the promoter group shareholding in India's biggest private sector company, Reliance Industries, to over 50 per cent. Their stake in RIL stands at 50.62 per cent at the end of December, 2006, up from 49.92 per cent at the end of the September quarter.



Oct 27, 1930 to Jan 17, 2007
Lalit Mohan Thapar, or LMT, or Lalli-depending on how well you knew him or where you figured in his circle of friends and acquaintances-died as he had lived: as a fighter. True, he could not maintain the pre-Independence eminence of the Thapar Group, which he took over from father Karam Chand Thapar in 1962, but LMT, his friends and critics alike (he had no enemies) will tell you, was different. Balance sheets mattered, but friendships mattered more. And so did the good life-the Scotch, the cigars, the horse races, the dogs, the chalets and, of course, the company of beautiful people.

A member of India's industrial aristocracy, he made common cause with his peers in the face of impending liberalisation. The so-called "Bombay Club" of which LMT was a member, however, achieved little of the level playing field it had set out to. The crowning glory of his career will have to be the takeover of Sinar Mas, an Indonesian company that, at one point, seemed poised to overrun the India paper market.

An alumnus of Doon School, Thapar, who was one of India Inc's finest dressers, was an engineer from the University of South California. In the evening of his life, LMT, a bachelor, passed on the baton to nephew Gautam.