Monday, 31 December 2007

Unified visit visa soon

Unified visit visa soon
By Ahmed Abdul Aziz (Our staff reporter)/KHALEEJ TIMES31 December 2007

ABU DHABI — The Naturalisation and Residency Departments (NRDs) at the Ministry of Interior have completed all preparations to implement the unified system of issuance of visit visas in all the emirates, Colonel Nasir Al Awadi Al Minhali, director of the Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residency Department (ADNRD) disclosed yesterday.

The move comes with a view to weeding out the menace of illegal workers from the country.

Talking to Khaleej Times, Al Minhali said, “The new system will restrict the issuance of visit visas for immediate relatives only, such as parents, brothers or sisters.”

Al Minhali added that workers who had entered the country on business visas would face life ban. “The NRDs across the country will reject any application to amend the status of the applicant from his/her business visa to worker’s visa,” Al Minhali noted.

Al Minhali said the measures would be implemented soon after getting the approval from the Minister of Interior, Shaikh Saif bin Zayed.

APJ Abdul Kalam launches his own epaper - Billion Beats

Busy as ever even after leaving Rashtrapati Bhavan, India's ''missile man'' A P J Abdul Kalam donned the role of a ''media man'' by launching a fortnightly e-paper Billion Beats to highlight the stories of India's ''islands of success'' and to establish knowledge connectivity.
Apparently frustrated over Indian media's lack of focus in highlighting the country's success stories, Kalam, along with his associates launched the e-paper on his website recently.

''We have the islands of success in every field of activity and we have to connect them to make a garland,'' he said in his message to first edition of the e-paper being brought out by his associate V Ponraj.

Typical of Kalam, the idea to have his own media medium struck him while he was coming out of a television interview in New Delhi. As he drove out of the studios, Kalam vented his frustration to his associates saying, ''why are we not highlighting the success stories of achievers. Why are we not bringing unsung heroes to the forefront.''

''Why an overdose of politics, murder caste war why '', Kalam was quoted as saying in the inaugural edition by M Anantha Krishnan, its National Affairs Editor, explaining the reasons that prompted the former President to launch the new initiative. Kalam also wants his new venture to establish ''knowledge connectivity'' among people.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Who all are the biggest winners in the market?

Who all are the biggest winners in the market?
31 Dec, 2007, 1555 hrs IST,DEEPAK MOHONI,

The market bounced back last week, with the Sensex finishing 5.45% or 1,044 points higher, the Nifty up 5.43% and the CNX Midcap gaining 6.63%. Tata Steel was the biggest winner among the Sensex stocks with a 12.9% gain. Other gainers were Reliance Energy, DLF, Bhel, Wipro, HDFC and Hindalco with gains between 7% and 12%. Bajaj Auto was the biggest loser among the Sensex stocks with a 6.5% loss. Maruti Suzuki lost just 0.8%, and was the only other Sensex stock to finish lower.

Era Construction was the biggest winner among the more heavily traded non-Sensex stocks with a 38.7% gain, followed by Everonn Systems with a 38.3% gain. Mercator Lines, Parsvnath Developers, Adani Enterprise, Videocon Industries, Essar Oil, Alok Industries, IOC, Ansal Infra and Mundra Port all gained between 17% and 33%. Ispat Industries was the biggest loser among the more heavily traded non-Sensex stocks with a 2% loss. There were no other significant losers.

Intermediate Trend: The indices remain in intermediate uptrends, with last week’s rally helping them avert the downtrend threat. The uptrend has started from the Sensex’s November 22 low of 18183 for the Sensex and Nifty, while the CNX Midcap index has been in an uptrend since October 22.

The uptrend will end if the Sensex falls below 18886, the Nifty under 5676 and the CNX Midcap below 8430. Our market is one of the very few that has managed to escape an intermediate downtrend. The uptrend will become more stable if the global rally evolves into an intermediate uptrend.

Outlook For ’08: The market’s long-term (major) trend remained up during all of ’07. The Sensex had gained 46.57% or 6,420 points until Friday, and the Nifty 53.28%. The CNX Midcap outperformed them with a gain of 74.39%.

Reliance Energy was the biggest winner among the Sensex stocks with a 314.7% gain. Larsen & Toubro, Reliance, Bhel, Tata Steel, State Bank, DLF and HDFC followed, with gains between 80% and 188%.

Infosys was the biggest loser among the Sensex stocks with a 19.9% loss. Other losers were Tata Motors, Cipla, Wipro, TCS, Mahindra, Satyam Computers and ACC with losses falling between 7% and 19%. The bull market will end if the indices close below their previous intermediate bottoms. These stand at 18183 for the Sensex, 5394 for the Nifty, and still 6463 for the CNX Midcap.

We will enter ’08 with a strong possibility that we are in a bubble, as the market caps of several underachieving companies are rising on hope and hype, rather than performance. Hence, there can be a correction — perhaps along the lines of the one seen in May ’06. However, bubbles are always unpredictable, and stocks can continue to rise beyond most expectations before the bubble bursts.

Short-Term Outlook: Global markets were rallying again after dipping on Thursday night and Friday morning, and this should lead to further gains at the start of the new week. A fresh global intermediate uptrend can mean more gains ahead. Europe and the US were rising again on Friday, and a global intermediate uptrend appears to be on the cards now.

Strategy: Fresh long and medium-term purchases should be made only after the next intermediate downtrend ends, and provided the bull market continues. Day traders should find the mid-caps more profitable, as the larger moves are happening in this category once again.

The intermediate uptrend looks stable for now, and swing traders can carry positions overnight on the long side with normal risk. Please note that all forms of short-term trading will succeed only with a proper risk and money management strategy.

Global Perspective: Most major global markets rallied all week, except for a sell-off on Thursday night and Friday morning. However, most of the main global indices are still in intermediate downtrends, but a persistent rally should lead to an early confirmation of an intermediate uptrend.

Several global indices went into these intermediate downtrends after making lower intermediate tops, and there’s a question mark on the global bull market. A closing below its last intermediate bottom of 12700 will be a bear market signal for the Dow, and such an event can well trigger a global bear market too.

The Sensex’s gain for ’07 (until Thursday) stands at 46.6%, making it the fourth best performer among 40 well-known global indices considered for the study. Shanghai heads the list with a 98.4% gain. Indonesia and Pakistan follow with gains of 47.1% and 51.7%, respectively . (These rankings do not take exchange rate effects into consideration). The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 7.2% and the Nasdaq Composite 10.8% during the year.

(The author is an independent technical analyst)

'Making money will not be easy in '08'

'Making money will not be easy in '08'
31 Dec, 2007, 0454 hrs IST,Shakti Shankar Patra, TNN

At ET Intelligence Group, we have always strived to help readers take well-informed decisions. And we leave no stone unturned in doing this. Apart from providing analytical insights and expert opinions to anticipate the trends in ’08, we decided to lend an ear to what the celestial elements are telling us.

To have a better understanding of what ’08 has in store for us, ETIG caught up with renowned astrologer Bejan Daruwala .

According to this fond worshipper of Lord Ganesha, India’s best period started from September 3, ’07. Mr Daruwala — who had predicted India’s emergence as an economic superpower way back in January ’00 — claims that India will have a great time in the next few years and will emerge as a powerhouse some time around the year ’12.

“In ’08, Jupiter will land up in India’s sun sign Capricorn. This ensures prosperity and good luck,” he says. He further enunciates that other natives of Capricorn, including Ratan Tata, Baba Kalyani of Bharat Forge and Vikram Pandit of Citibank, will have a wonderful year ahead.

Mr Daruwala emphasises that ’08 will see Saturn teaming up with Virgo, which means only the ‘practical-minded and ruthless’ will survive. Companies that emphasise on cutting down unnecessary expenses and are willing to overhaul old management practices will do well. Similarly, Capricorn, the big daddy of all sun signs, will ensure that managements that act with a strict hand do well.

However, Mr Daruwala feels the Sensex may not reflect the strength of the Indian economy to the fullest. “The year ’08 will see the Sensex fluctuating wildly and money-making won’t be as easy as it has been in ’07,” he says. He further predicts that the months of March, June, September and December will be particularly tough for the market.

Looking beyond the economic scenario, Mr Daruwala sees the country facing a few new problems. He cautions that the next 2-3 years will see the emergence and rise of new forms of terrorism. He foresees that India and Pakistan will have a more permanent and long-term truce.

On a more positive note, Mr Daruwala opines that India’s favourable time had begun when Atal Bihari Vajpayee took over as prime minister, and both he and Manmohan Singh are lucky for the country.

Daily Exchange Rates - Monday, 31 December 2007

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Picnic time is calling out

Picnic time is calling out By Manjari Saxena, Staff Reporter, and Layla Haroon, Special to Explore
GULF NEWS Published: December 22, 2007, 00:23

Nature is decked out in its best. So what are you doing sitting indoors? Pick a cool spot to enjoy during this lovely time

Nature is making its presence felt with red, gold and green spread out all over the UAE. The weather is perfect.

And our photographers go “trigger-happy” this time of the year, capturing people who’ve been making the best use of the cool weather by becoming one with nature.

The extended Eid break may be over, but the weather — and the colours — will be around for another couple of months.

So, for those who were travelling during the holidays or stayed at home due to the heavy traffic in the greener areas in and around Dubai — and, of course, for those who cannot get enough of the season — we provide our pick of picnic spaces and pack a hamper for you .

Mushrif Park, Dubai

Far from the madding crowd, the 400-hectare Mushrif Park is not just another green space.

Along with the usual children’s play area, a train, leisure games and barbecue areas, the park also offers swimming facilities. Entry fee is Dh10 for cars; swimming fee is Dh10 for adults and Dh5 for children.

Jumeirah Beach Park, Dubai

Opened in 1989, the Jumeirah Beach Park, as the name suggests, is a combination of a pristine beach and park with beautiful landscaping.

You can either bring a hamper or cook on-site in the barbecue areas of the park and beach. In the evenings, you can stroll on some of the lovely walking areas in the park.
Entry fee is Dh5 per person and Dh20 per car.

Hatta, Dubai

Enjoy a day at the Hatta Rock Pools, nestled in the Hajjar Mountains, amid rippling waterfalls and turquoise pools.

Another place to check out while in the oasis is the Heritage Village.

Green Mubazzarah, Al Ain

Al Ain is known as the Garden City of the UAE, as it has many public parks.

Located at the foot of Jebel Hafeet, the garden provides recreational activities such as desert safaris, sand skiing, abseiling, rope climbing, camping and hiking on scenic trails.

The place also has bowling, snooker and billiard centres. Free sheds, with benches and barbeque stands, are provided.

Ain Al Faydah, Al Ain

Situated around a lake created by underground springs at the foot of Jebel Hafeet Mountain and surrounded by jagged cliffs, the Ain Al Faydah picnic resort offers everything from ten-pin bowling to swimming pools.

Besides enjoying a boat ride on the lake, you can spread a blanket and sit in the beautifully manicured gardens or pitch a ball in the playground.

Central Gardens, Al Ain

This is one of the largest parks that helps brand Al Ain as the “Garden City”. A musical dancing fountain attracts large numbers of visitors.

Equipped with a large playground, it offers an adventurous picnic deal with wall climbing, grass skiing and other activities.

Sharjah National Park

This is the largest park in Sharjah. The park boasts a miniature City of Sharjah with models of the most prominent buildings.

Facilities and entertainment include barbecue area, children’s play areas, a duck pond, a giant slide, a cycle track with a horror tunnel and an infrared beam to squirt water on unsuspecting cyclists.

You can also skate on Rollerblades. Entry is free.

Jazeerah Park, Sharjah

Located in the Khalid Lagoon, as the name suggests, the park is an island and is one of the most popular tourist spots in Sharjah.

The facilities include an amusement park for children, a mini zoo, swimming pools, an artificial waterfall and train rides.

The park offers some stunning views of the Blue Souq, Corniche and the Sharjah fountain. Entry is Dh5 for adults and Dh2 for children.

Lulu Island, Abu Dhabi

A barren, man-made island in front of Abu Dhabi’s coastline serves as a scenic and peaceful picnic spot.

With its lovely beach, this place is a hub for water sport aficionados.

It has two restaurants, four coffee shops, two stretches of beach on the northern and southern part of the island, changing rooms, cafeterias, two artificial freshwater lakes, mosques and a duned area.

You can cook, play and swim. A short boat ride (free of charge) takes you from the Abu Dhabi Breakwater to the Heritage Village. Entry is Dh15 per person. Children under five are admitted free.

Shaikh Khalifa Park, Abu Dhabi

With its distinctive architectural design and landscaping, the Khalifa Park is the newest recreational landmark in the city.

It has an area dedicated for women and children — with a swimming pool and an amphitheatre, all linked by a train.

An aquarium, marine museum, a historical museum and a monorail time tunnel are added attractions. Entry is Dh5 per person.

Bedouin Village, Abu Dhabi

Also known as the Heritage Village, the Bedouin Village allows a glimpse of the simple pre-oil-era nomadic life of Abu Dhabi.

Original artefacts are kept here along with permanent structures such as the ruler’s mud-brick house, amid a traditional mosque and souq.

For those interested in a traditional get together, a picnic plan to the village is a must. Admission is free.

Enjoy anon.

Other places to picnic in
Dubai Creek Park
Mumzar Beach Park, Dubai
Safa Park, Dubai
Zabeel Park, Dubai
Dubai Creek Park
Umm Suqueim beach, Dubai

Buheira Corniche, Sharjah
Al Khan Corniche, Sharjah
Al Khan Beach, Sharjah
Qanat Al Qasba, Sharjah
Public beaches in Khor Fakkan, Sharjah

Public beaches in Fujairah

Al Hili Fun City, Al Ain
Al Hili Gardens, Al Ain
Al Ain Zoo

Heritage Park, Abu Dhabi

Dubai from the sky: Shaikh Zayed Road

Dubai from the sky: Shaikh Zayed Road
Staff Report/GULF NEWS

Dubai from the sky: Shaikh Zayed Road
Staff Report

Shaikh Zayed Road, which has five lanes on each side with a barrier in between, stretches 55km from the Dubai World Trade Centre roundabout to the border of Abu Dhabi.

Nearly 27 kms of the road was constructed trhrough two major projects in 1993 and 1998.

The Shaikh Zayed Road is one of the most important highways, meeting other main roads such as Al Ain Road, Hatta Road, Emirates Road, Jebel Ali-Lehbab Road and other arterial and main roads.

With 13 interchanges to ease traffic flow, on peak days the number of vehicles using the road touches 200,000.

Some of the most impressive and glitzy buildings like Emirates Towers office and hotel complex can be found on this road. The striking new headquarters building is at present taking shape close to the Dubai World Trade Centre roundabout beside Shaikh Zayed Road.

Photos and news by Asghar Khan and Kiran Prasad/Gulf News

Dubai from the sky - Global Village & Emirates Road

Dubai from the sky: Global Village and Emirates Road

The Emirates Road used to follow the outskirts of Dubai, but thanks to the ever expanding development it is rapidly becoming part of the city.

At one end of the road is the Green Community, which has now firmly taken root as a favourite place to live despite its remote location on the road to Jebel Ali.

One of the other key stopping off points on the Emirates Road is Global Village, the popular expo of worldwide culture which attracts millions of visitors every year.

Photos and news by Asghar Khan and Kiran Prasad/Gulf News

Just say it

Just say it
By Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary, Staff Writer GULF NEWS Published: December 28, 2007,

They are two simple little words - thank you - but put together, with complete sincerity, they are so powerful that they can change lives, situations, even the future. With 2008 around the corner, how about getting some attitude - of gratitude?

A fortnight ago, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at a resort in Umm Al Quwain. Thanks to the kids and their activities the day's schedule was hectic and by late evening, almost all the adults were tired and those who could stay awake were relaxing by the pool.

I decided to go for a stroll on the beach to take in the cool breeze and reflect on the activities of the day.

I chose a nice spot on the beach and sat down to watch the sunset. The colours that lit up the sky were simply breathtaking. Tracers of pink and swatches of purples lay in artless abandon on a backdrop of bleeding crimson ... I wished I had taken along a camera but my mind's eye
came in handy.

Slowly, the colours bleached as though the sky had been sprayed with a giant hose of a decolorant and scraps of greys and faded pinks clung on as the backdrop paled into slate.

Soon night swept in draped a voluminous black cloak and in a swish revealed the crystal work of stars. It was pure theatre and I was watching it free of charge.

The breeze soon picked up so I decided to resume my walk. The sand was cool under my feet, the sea like a vast spill of ebony ink and the moon hung almost full as though held at that spot by an invisible puppeteer's hand. Nature was putting on another spectacular show. Once again, free of charge.

The only sound was the lapping of the waves. I was sure that if I concentrated hard enough, I would be able to hear the beat of my heart.

And that's when a familiar but not-so-regular emotion washed over me - the feeling of absolute gratitude for the moment. The sheer beauty of nature that was all around me, giving me everything and asking for nothing in return, except to be in the moment.

I felt blessed for having the chance to be a part of that night.

Back in my room, the calming experience I had just enjoyed kept returning to my mind and set me thinking: would it sound silly if I thanked Life for the evening? After all, how many such evenings had I experienced in the recent past? In fact, when was the last time I was overcome with gratitude for the free abundance of so many things life offers me every day, every week?

I thought of the way we say 'Thank you'. It is specifically for something we have received or in general for nothing really; just politesse, because it's so easy to say it without really thinking about it.

And to me that was like a thorn in the flesh. Did I really think through my expressions of gratitude?

Were they simply reflexive responses or had I said some 'Thank yous' that were as deeply felt as other emotions like the anger when someone cuts you off on the highway or jumps the queue with impunity or arrogance when someone does not return your call? It's so easy to feel some emotions so strongly.
You know the ones I mean. But what about a 'thank you'?
Quite often, we seem to miss the wood for the trees. We expect a lot of things to be the way they are and forget to acknowledge the fact that someone, somewhere, known or unknown, is responsible for making it easy for us.

We take things for granted to the extent that when we wake up, the coffee should be brewing and the croissant shining with a buttery glaze. And warm. Better still, served to you on a plate with a monogrammed napkin tucked in by its side.

You think I am going too far?

Well, I have the right to pontificate on my life and I don't think I am not guilty of that charge. Quite often I fail to see the silver lining in the clouds and focus instead on the grey ... and grumble and groan and whine about it all.

Cicero, the Roman philosopher, got it right: "Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all others."

New-age psychologists believe that more than anything else, a feeling of gratitude for all the things we enjoy in life can fill us with happiness.

When you count your blessings, you actually tend to discount the inconveniences in life. You tend to grumble less, feel less stressed out and thus produce less stress hormones in your system.

Fewer negative thoughts mean your mind is free ... to think of more and better ways to improve your state.

It's called positive psychology, says Dubai-based clinical psychologist Maya Selisel Sidani.

Till recently, psychology was focused on the treatment of a particular mental ailment. It essentially meant taking a patient who was in, let's say, a 'minus 5' state of mind to a condition where he/she became normal or achieved a state of mind termed zero.

But positive psychology does not involve any treatment procedures as such. It examines the individual's
state of mind and focuses on lifting his/her mood from, for instance, zero to plus five.

"Gratitude definitely affects our sense of happiness," says Sidani. She quotes the theory put forward by American Psychology Association president Martin Selignan who explains how gratitude impacts our sense of happiness.
According to Selignan there are three components
to happiness:

A pleasant focus on things that give us pleasure - such as listening to beautiful music, watching a play, enjoying a dinner ... basically activities that provide us direct sensory pleasure.

Engagement: This is about the depth of our involvement and commitment to relationships such as (with) our spouse, family, romance, hobbies. When we do things with passion and are involved in these, there |is a natural sense of fulfillment and happiness.

The meaning of life: Doing things that give a larger, greater meaning to life such as using (your efforts) to serve a larger social end.
According to Sidani, the last category is the one that deals with feeling a sense of gratitude ... by trying to find meaning to life through doing noble deeds, participating in charity drives, etc.

So, how important is it be grateful for small things in life? Does it take a life-changing experience to make people realise the value of expressing gratitude? In what way can a person express gratitude?

To find out, Friday met a few people:

A humbling experience
Brian Senelwa's life changed for ever when he learnt that he had lost his first child, a baby boy. "That's the time I realised how fragile life is,'' says the export manager in
a Dubai FMCG company.

"The experience (I underwent) was humbling. It made me appreciate and be grateful for (everything)," he says.

Senelwa, who hails from Kenya and has two children, Christina (5) and Antony (2), is keen to instill the value
of gratitude in his children as they grow up.

"I believe in the power of gratitude. I once read a book called The Attitude to Gratitude, which pointed out the importance of appreciating what one has in life.

"Of late, with the kind of mechanical lifestyles (we lead), we are rushing through the day and I think I have forgotten to thank God for the beautiful and important things he has given me.

"When I watch television - the tragedies, the violence, pestilence, murders - I feel fortunate to be in Dubai. Of course I have had my share of ups and downs in life, many financial and personal problems, but I am thankful to God for having given me some friends who have stood by me and given me the strength to bear it all.''

Senelwa, who had a very tough childhood in Kenya, is all praise for his mother for having instilled in him the right attitude to gratitude.

"My mother, Margaret, was a source my inspiration. She brought up my sister and me single-handedly after my father passed away (I was nine years old at the time). We lived frugally, but she taught me humility and an appreciation for what we had in life.

"Eight things I will always be grateful for and thank God for…

My kids.
My health and well-being.
To be surrounded by friends.
The beauty of nature. I often travel to Hatta and Oman and am awestruck by the beauty of the desert.
My job. I love doing what I do.
For having hope. I have always looked forward to better things.
Second chances in life. Very often we commit mistakes and I am grateful I have been given a second chance to improve on them and redeem myself.
For every new morning in my life.
I had a near fatal accident in Kenya, but escaped unhurt!

* * *

Shemsah Musabih, an accredited Life Coach, specialising in relationships, says: "People sometimes focus on bad times and forget the pleasant and positive things in their lives. I truly believe a sense of gratitude ignites positive feelings in you.''

She has experienced many things in her life that fill her with a very positive feeling.

"I was born in USA but spent most of my life in the UAE. One of the strongest memories I have of my childhood is of my mother showing pictures of starving children to my brothers and me whenever we refused our food. She used to remind us of what they didn't have and all the things that we had to be grateful for.

"My father always reminded us to thank God whenever we saw people who were suffering, sick, or poor and for us not being that way.

"We also grew up being told that there's a blessing and wisdom behind everything that we go through - the good and the bad. We may not understand it now, but someday, when we look back upon our lives, we will realise the truth.

"I believe that we get what we deserve and we have to earn what we want in life. The only way we can prove that we will be grateful for the things we want and won't take them for granted, is by being grateful for the things that we have.

"By being grateful, we realise that we have so many reasons to celebrate and share happiness. It puts life into perspective and keeps us going.''

One of the fondest memories she has of childhood is of spending a summer with her father in London.

"It was just him and I. I felt very close to him and he made me feel very special. We didn't do anything out of the ordinary. We went shopping, to the park and simply hung out together.

"I've spoken about it so many times, however, now that I think about it I never actually thanked him, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say "Thank you Baba for making me feel special".

Shemsah's lists things she is grateful for:

The family that I grew up in. (That experience moulded me into who I am today).
My husband and son (my inspirations and support).
My friends and relationships (my balance in life).
My health and beauty.
My experience through postpartum depression (It taught me to be more compassionate and grateful. I am a better woman, wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, and citizen because of it).
My knowledge and Islam (My empowerment).
Being half American and half Emirati (I got the best of both worlds).
My safety and security (I'm grateful that I'm living in a
place like Dubai).
My time (I am grateful for each day that I am able to wake up and do the things that I want to do and share my time with the people that I love).
My food, clothes, house, wealth and nannies (I am grateful for not having the stress of not knowing where I am going to sleep tonight, or how I am going to get my next meal).
* * *

Lillian Yordi has wonderful memories of a warm Venezuelan home filled with family that makes her so full of gratitude for all the nice times she had. I crib about things and I think it is human nature to do so.

But I (am always brought back to reality) when I see things around me and I realise how lucky I am to be alive; that makes me reflect and to be grateful just for being healthy and happy.

"I am happy when I am surrounded by my family, friends and people that I care about and love. I thank God for all the beautiful things in my life - my kids, my husband and family.

Zordi recalls the happy memories of Christmas: "I can remember how every year my mother would purchase all the ingredients and then gather all of us around to begin preparing and making 'Hallacas' (a Venezuelan dish for Christmas) and special desserts, treats and decorations.

"She had a magic touch that made our lives special. I don't recall saying 'thank you' to her but I carry that feeling of gratitude in my heart and I share it with my kids. I hope to follow my mother's example by making my children's lives special."

Reliance plans $24 bn investment in petrochemicals

Reliance plans $24 bn investment in petrochemicals

DUBAI: Reliance Industries, India's largest company by market value, plans to spend $24 billion over the next ten years in setting up petrochemicals projects in the Middle East, company Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani is reported to have said.

"We plan to set up a number of petrochemical plants in the next decade, with each costing $4-6 billion," the Dubai-based Gulf News quoted Ambani as saying.

Ambani had yesterday told a conference here that building five billion dollar petrochemicals plants in the Middle East will be the best way for Reliance, India's biggest producer of chemicals, to meet India's quadrupling demand of chemicals in the next 10 years.

Reliance wants to tap the growing demand for chemicals in Asia, especially in China and India.

"Dubai will be the gateway to our future investment in this part of the world and beyond," Gulf News quoted Ambani as saying. "We will increase our headcount in Dubai, which will be the nerve centre of our international operations."

Ambani, who had yesterday at the petrochemical conference said that Reliance would aggressively pursue acquisitions as part of a new strategy to grow, told Gulf News his company was not yet ready for big-ticket acquisitions.

"We will need to grow and invest in our own expansion for at least 10 more years, before entering into big-time acquisitions," he was quoted as saying.

Plastic bags on its way out? Global data says 'no'

Plastic bags on its way out? Global data says 'no'
28 Dec, 2007, 0025 hrs IST, TNN

Plastic bags are less of a problem than people think. In EU and Australia in volume terms, they are "less than one per cent of the waste". Moreover, plastic bags only account for two per cent of the total 47.5m tonnes of plastic that are produced for use in the EU each year.

Global Viewpoint

Peter Woodall, who runs the communication campaigns for the UK Packaging and Films Association (PAFA) and the Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC), blames the "popular media" for continuing to call the product a disposable bag. And this is not just a UK phenomenon. A Decima research poll from April 2007 showed that close to 80 per cent of Canadians reused their bags twice or more and that 72 per cent would return their bags for recycling if the facilities were available. Around 50 per cent of the Canadian population currently has access to some sort of bag recycling program, according to the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA).

Paper Bags in Comparison

Paper bags are even worse for the environment over the whole lifecycle of a bag, including the production of a bag in Asia, shipping it to the US or the EU for use, and then often shipping it back again to Asia for recycling. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paper bags generate 70 per cent more air pollutants and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags, because four times as much energy is required to produce paper bags and 85 times as much energy is needed to recycle them.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover

It is important for people need to understand the full benefits of light plastic carriers from the cradle to the grave. The key is getting people to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover. The plastic bag has excellent credentials and it is extremely reusable, but people are not educated to reuse. Instead of adopting a knee-jerk reaction to the use of plastic bags, it is important to look at the facts and analyse them.


Biodegradable bags have a future, but only as niche market players. Another problem would be of diverting land traditionally used to grow food to growing raw material for bags, especially as the added demand on the land for biofuel is already increasing the prices of certain basic commodities.

In the EU, around 50,000 tonnes/year of biodegradable plastics are currently used, compared with 47.5bn tonnes/year of normal plastic, according to Plastics Europe. It is felt that a five per cent market share of around 2m tonnes/year could be a realistic target for bioplastics.

The future lies in an effort to reduce the energy and materials consumed in the making of plastic bags without sacrificing strength. Already it has been seen that plastic bags in circulation use 70 per cent less polymer than those produced 20 years ago.

Innovation is essential if the industry is to survive in developed countries. One-quarter of the plastic bags used in wealthy nations are already produced in Asia, according to Worldwatch, and imports into the US and the EU from Asia are rising.

The majority of plastic bags used in the EU are also imported from Asian countries, with only a small number of producers left in Europe, mainly in Spain, France, Turkey, and central and east Europe


It is 50 years since the first plastic bags for bread, sandwiches, fruits, and vegetables were introduced in the US, and there seems little chance that their days are numbered quite yet. But thicker, reusable bags and more biodegradable options seem set, at some stage, to replace the flimsier varieties we are more familiar with.

If plastic bag makers want to persuade governments not to take knee-jerk reactions based on half-truths, then there clearly needs to be more life-cycle analysis for plastic bags, allowing the real problems to be identified and addressed.

Plastic shopping bags are a valuable resource that can be reused and recycled over and over again. The plastic recycling industry is already a job-creating $2bn market in North America, growing at 14 per cent per year.

The plastic and chemical industries now need to sit down with environmentalists and policy makers to ensure it is this business that continues to grow — not the production of thin bags that are produced cheaply, but that are thrown away after a single use.

Chevron to recruit from India for global operations

Chevron to recruit from India for global operations
29 Dec, 2007, 2119 hrs IST, TNN

KOLKATA: Global oil major Chevron has for the first time decided to directly recruit from Indian campuses for its global operations. For starters, the $205-billion major will visit Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to pick up talent. This is part of an overall effort to recruit over 6,000 people globally in 2008.

“We are focusing on India in our endeavour to recruit new engineers. In 2008, we plan to visit IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras as part of our recruitment initiative,” Jeet S Bindra, president, Chevron Global Refining, said.

“To start with, we are targeting IITs for direct recruitment. In coming years, we would like to broadbase our effort and target campuses across the country,” he added.

He was speaking on the sidelines of Chemcon 2007, a chemical engineering congress, organised by Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Mr Bindra heads Chevron’s refining operations, which had by end-2006 a capacity of refining 2 million barrels of oil per day. Mr Bindra is also on the board of Reliance Petroleum (RPL), a company in which Chevron picked up a 5% stake in 2006. RPL was formed by Reliance Industries to take up an export refinery in Jamnagar.

“Globally, Chevron has similar initiatives to attract talent in countries like South Africa, Singapore and the UK,” he added. With the latest initiatives India will soon join their ranks a global talent base for Chevron which is building up a sizeable presence in India.

To tap into India’s prospects and develop its businesses in India, the US oil giant created Chevron Petroleum India in 2006. Additionally, Chevron Lubricants India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chevron Corp, sells branded products including ‘Delo’ for commercial vehicles and ‘Havoline’ for passenger vehicles and two-wheelers.

These products along with its brand of industrial lubricants, ‘Rando HD’, which are all sold through the bazaar trade consisting of the company’s own dealer network. Chevron also operates two blending units at Chennai and Taloja, near Mumbai.

Vijay Mallya wants to sell Indian wine in France

Vijay Mallya wants to sell Indian wine in France
27 Dec, 2007, 1335 hrs IST,M Padmakshan, TNN

MUMBAI: The Vijay Mallya-led UB group is in no mood to remain content with its acquisitions of spirit and wine companies abroad. It is now daring to do what the purists may dub heresy — selling Indian wines to the French.

Traditionally, the wines made in France set the benchmark for quality around the world. The standard of wines made elsewhere is determined by how close it is to the wines made in France. Mr Mallya is venturing into the world’s wine capital with products made from the grapes of Baramati and Nashik.

The group is also planning to export to the UK, a whisky drinking non-wine making country. It will try its luck in New Zealand also, which is among the new line of wine making countries.

“We will be able to begin our export of wines to these destinations by the end of February. We are looking at the variety and table wines for this purpose,” Vijay Rekhi, the second in command in UB group after Mr Mallya, told ET.

The UB group has already established a network in the UK through London’s 10,000 Indian restaurants, selling Kingfisher beer for over 10 years. The distribution network comes handy to sell Indian wines there. Also the network it has now accessed through the acquisition of Bouvet-Ladubay in France also will be used as a platform for selling Indian wines in Europe.

The wines being made for consumption abroad have not been christened so far. “We will give an ethnic name that reflects India’s tradition and culture to our export brands,” Mr Rekhi said.

Though all the Indian companies do export some wines abroad, they have not been able to make a mark, largely due to the absence of an effective distribution and marketing facilities. But a big group, touted as the No-3 spirit company in the world, which does not face the handicap of the small players, is expected to take Indian wines to places.

“The samples we have sent to these markets got encouraging response,” Mr Rekhi said.

Interestingly, most of the wine grapes used in India has its origins in France. The “noble” varieties of wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignor Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier and Clairette etc, are the examples. UB, though No-1 in the spirit and beer market in India for over a decade was the last to enter the business of wine making in India. The Indian wine market which is about 200,000 cases a year was marked by mid-sized and small players, until two years ago.

The small size of the market must have been the deterrent for big players but then the global spirit and wines major Seagram now renamed Pernod-Ricard set up a winery in Nashik and produced wine with brand name Nine Hills.
The booming economy and the projections of growth are suddenly viewed as a platform for a colourful future for the wine industry in India. UB entered the scene after Seagram, by setting up a winery in Baramati and Nashik, two hilly regions in Maharashtra conducive for grape growing.

UB’s foray into the Indian wine market also coincides with its acquisition of Bouvet-Ladubay, a prominent wine company in France. The synergy is expected to work wonders for UB’s wine business.

4 Indians win media awards in Dubai

4 Indians win media awards in Dubai
29 Dec, 2007, 1235 hrs IST, PTI

DUBAI: Four Indians have been awarded by a Dubai-based media group for excellence in fields like animation and photography.

Among the total 11 winners of Ibdaa Media Student Awards 2007, presented at a gala ceremony held at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre here, were Santosh Nayak from Sir J J Institute of Applied Art who won in the Animation category and Sagar Pitale from L S Raheja School of Art for Graphic Designing.

Besides, Varun Dahisaria from Rachana Sansad College of Applied Arts, India, came first in Digital Photography and Derryk Mas carenhas from Rizvi College of Arts, India won the award for Print Advertising.

Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority presented the awards on Thursday evening.

The students were selected from more than 2,200 media student entries across the globe, including from Egypt, India, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Philippines, the UK and the UAE for the sixth edition of the award.

Besides cash prizes, the winners were also awarded internship opportunities with leading media organisations such as CNN, MBC, CNBC Arabia, Xische, Team Y&R, Motivate Publishing, Nikon, Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Arabian Radio Network (ARN).

Mohamed Al Mulla, director, Dubai Media City, and coordinator general of the Ibdaa Awards, said, "The awards mark the pinnacle of achievement for the talented youngsters and their remarkable creative skills. This recognition will lead to promising careers with top media organisations, not just for the winners but for all the short-listed participants as well."

2008: Difficult but not depressing

2008: Difficult but not depressing
28 Dec, 2007, 0312 hrs IST,Saumitra Chaudhuri,

Managing high oil and food prices will be the challenge, even as modest growth in the developed world eliminates concerns that would have arisen had the slowdown resembled recessionary conditions.

There are two opinions about what may be happening in the US economy, and by extension to the rest of the developed world and then to the emerging economies of the world. There is widespread consensus that the US economy will slow in 2008.

The difference is about by how much? In both 2004 and 2005, the world’s largest economy had been running a bit ahead of the long-term trend value of 3%, though it had scaled back to 2.9% in 2006. In any case, this was nowhere as far out as in the closing years of the last decade when it had exceeded 4%. The idea that growth would be slower still in 2007 had preceded (or had quietly subsumed) the outbreak of the subprime crisis in August 2007.

Since August 2007, the world’s financial markets and US and European lenders have taken a beating as the subprime mortgage asset and the Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDO) structures imprudently built on weak ground started to give way.

This compounded the uncertainty about the extent of the adverse economic implications for the US economy and the rest of the world in 2008. First, the difficulties of banks and other intermediaries, as also the increase in risk pricing, suggested that credit delivery would slow and in any case happen be at higher interest rates, suggesting that US consumer spending would slow more than expected.

Second, the decline in home prices (through the wealth effect) was set to further compress consumer expenditure. Why Europe should follow suit was much unclear, except the premise that given the surprisingly large exposures to US subprime assets by many European banks, a generalised outbreak of credit flu would sweep the Euro-zone.
There is no home-grown problem in either the mortgage or consumer lending markets in Europe. The only place in Europe that there is a problem is in the United Kingdom. Where aggressive lending and ill-advised means adopted to fund balance sheets, have worked in tandem with a very long house price boom, to land many deposit and non-deposit taking financial companies into rather hot water, as both regulators and government have seemingly been caught flat on both feet.

The extreme view is that the US is headed for a recession in 2008, defined as two successive quarters of negative growth. This is however something of an undercurrent, whispered but not quite said out aloud in polite company: A product of the general sense of gloom that has pervaded the world’s financial capital, as not only has a nice big business gone out of the window, but the pride of the market have taken big losses and seen the top men leave — albeit in gilded parachutes.

Thus the gloomy end of the spectrum is the argument of a strong likelihood of “near recessionary” conditions emerging in the US economy in 2008. That is, conditions where growth would be close to, or even below 1%, rather than the recent 3% growth trend. It must be noted that most big banks maintain growth forecasts of 1.5%. Those, with a penchant for seeing code and subliminal images in public communications, may not be wrong in this case, to read it as 1% plus a readiness to take it further down on the receipt of the bad news, widely believed to be on the way.

That the particulars of our immediate circumstance distorts our view of the rest of the world, is a common human failing — no stranger even to the cerebrally over-endowed and chronic over-achievers who populate the world of high finance.

The other viewpoint is that while US growth will slip, it will not do so by much. This conclusion derives from the fact that the US economy has recorded strong growth even as late as the third quarter of 2007, and anecdotal information on the December shopping season do not suggest a squealing of the brakes. In fact, except for the home-building sector, all other sectors are doing well, with GDP growth excluding the problem-stricken sector at 2% in the third quarter of 2007.

In fact, this economy grew more strongly in the third quarter of 2007, than it had in the first and second. This conclusion is also supported by the employment figures. Unemployment in November 2007 was 4.7%, broadly unchanged from earlier in the year and low by historical standards. The data on non-farm employment creation has also continued to be healthy through 2007 including in October and November.

The Euro-zone has had a revival of strong growth since 2006. In the third quarter of 2007 the region grew by 2.8%, with none of the major economies of the region showing signs of weakness. From all of this the only conclusion that emerges is that while 2008 will be a slower year, it will not be depressing. That has implications for inflation and on the extent of monetary accommodation possible in the US and elsewhere.

Recessionary conditions in the developed world would have compressed export demand of emerging economies, creating possible slumps in the prices of some manufactured commodities, which price signals passed through to home markets, would have squeezed operating margins and acted as potential disincentives for investment. That these things will not come to pass in 2008 is good news. However, the flip side is that the demand for crude oil, industrial raw materials and grain will not fall.

The main lesson of the past months is that the world can live with $80 to $90 per barrel oil. Between November 2005 and 2007, wheat prices doubled and though more acreage is coming under the crop, it is unlikely that augmented output will soften wheat prices by much in 2008-09 — though over the medium-term it is a possibility. India is both an importer of oil and of wheat.

Managing the inflationary burden of high oil and food pries will be the big challenge through 2008-09, even as modest economic growth in the developed world eliminates concerns that would have arisen had the slowdown resembled recessionary conditions.
(The author is economic advisor, ICRA)

Be wise in what you ask for

Be wise in what you ask for
29 Dec, 2007, 0003 hrs IST,Vithal C Nadkarni, TNN

On New Year, be careful of what you ask. You might actually get it! That warning has been variously attributed to Vyasa and Valmiki. In the Mahabharata, for instance, Vyasa narrates an intriguing ‘explanation’ behind Draupadi’s becoming a common wife to the five Pandava princes. She’s supposed to have propitiated Siva with her austerities in her previous incarnation. When the blue-throated Lord asks his devotee to choose a boon, she begs for a groom with all the great qualities.

Not being content to voice her request once, the pushy girl goes on to repeat her wish five times. “So be it,” says the Lord. “Since you spoke five times, five husbands you shall have, but in your next life.” Now why didn’t the Lord grant her wish immediately? Perhaps he wanted to spare his devotee the agonies of the Great War, which was certain to occur once his heroic bratpack made its bid for kingly spoils from older, entrenched bloodlines. Nor does Siva excuse his devotee’s excess in the story as narrated by Vyasa. His motto seems to be, “You have only to ask and you shall have it.”

This is not unlike what the Australian TV-producer Rhonda Byrne has articulated in her best-selling The Secret, namely, for better or worse, you’ll get what you wish for. So, be very careful.

Valmiki’s version of the power of misplaced wishing involves Ravana and his brothers. The Danava brood wins over Brahma with their tapasya and is asked to make their wishes: Ravana asks for immunity from all the gods, anti-gods, the nagas and other semi-divine beings in the seven worlds. His attempt is to cover all the major bases from which he anticipates attack. But he neglects to include puny humans, which proves to be his nemesis. He might have been saved had he eschewed toxic thinking and chosen as his youngest sibling Vibhishana did, namely, constant proximity to the Lord and His good cause.

The mighty Khumbhakarna, too, slips in his unseemly hurry to ask for the Indrasana or sovereignty over the gods. He asks for Nidrasana instead, which involves suzerainty over inordinate sleep and inertia.

Closer to our times watch the paradox of “millions longing for immortality who do not know what to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon,” writes the novelist Susan Ertz. Just think of the prospects of living forever in a world gone to pot from pollution and perverted nature. Mere quantity isn’t enough. Think of the quality. Strive for it.

Cheer up, the outlook is not so bad

Cheer up, the outlook is not so bad
27 Dec, 2007, 0548 hrs IST,T T Ram Mohan, TNN

The year ends on a sombre note for the world economy. The impact of the subprime crisis in the US is stretching out. Whatever the prospects of an economic depression, the barrage of morose comment is certain to generate pervasive mental depression.

Cheer up, the outlook is not so bad. The US economy will slow down appreciably but still looks unlikely to go into recession, that is, two successive quarters of negative growth. The global economy too will slow down but growth will still be good by past standards. The Indian economy will continue to grow strongly and the stock market should provide attractive returns over the coming year.

The fundamental basis for optimism about the world economy is this: major economic crises have their roots in big supply shocks (e.g., a sharp rise in oil prices) or a currency crisis (caused by foreign investors’ lack of confidence in an economy) or a banking crisis. None of this appears likely today.

The world economy has shown an uncanny ability to live with high oil prices. But prices above $100 still have the potential to cause damage. During the year, prices inched towards the $100 mark but they have since shown signs of softening. A big factor is the US intelligence agencies’ assessment that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 and is still quite far from acquiring the bomb. This renders a neocon-inspired strike on Iran rather difficult in the coming year. That is good news for oil prices.

The US is hugely indebted and foreigners hold a huge amount of US government securities. The US is theoretically vulnerable to a currency crisis. But currency crises are more common when debt is foreign currency-dominated. This is not true of the US.

The US enjoys an even bigger advantage. As the world’s sole superpower and the biggest economy, the US will remain the choice of central banks and other investors for some time to come. While investors may lower their US holdings in their portfolios, a big sell-off that could trigger a currency crisis is just not on the cards.

What about a banking crisis? Banks’ losses are expected to rise in the months to come as the crisis unfolds. Many of the off-balance sheet vehicles floated by banks are now coming on to their balance sheets. As banks are expected to carry a minimum of regulatory capital against balance sheet assets, it is argued that their ability to extend credit will be impaired and we could see a credit crunch.

This is true, of course, but a credit crunch does not imply a banking crisis. A banking crisis involves the failure of several banks, that is, the net worth of several banks gets wiped out. There is nothing so far to suggest that such a crisis threatens American banking. Large banks operate with a capital adequacy ratio of over 12% against the regulatory minimum of 8% or so. They are well placed to absorb the impact of the subprime crisis and also to boost their capital.
That is because, as Citibank and UBS have shown, there are overseas investors willing to provide capital.

US banks have non-core assets that could be sold off at a pinch. Secondly, as the Financial Times points out, the global US banks are sitting on a gold-mine in the form of their investments in Chinese banks — the nine biggest stakes are worth $81 billion compared to the write-offs announced of $50 billion. So, yes, banks’ ability to lend will be constrained but this falls well short of a banking crisis.

The prospects, therefore, are of a slowdown in the US economy but not a recession. A US slowdown will drag down global economic growth, of course, but strong domestic demand in emerging markets can be expected to mitigate this impact. Despite what is believed to be a crippling credit crisis, world economy growth in 2008 in PPP terms will not be much lower than the rate of 4.4% seen in 1999-2008.

India’s own growth prospects remain bright. In 2008-09, we can expect growth of the order of 8%-8.5%. Exports are bound to be impacted by external conditions and the appreciation of the rupee. But investment will remain strong.
The big change in the Indian economy in recent years is that it is becoming investment-driven: investment has outstripped consumption in its contribution to growth every year since 2002-03. Businessmen are looking far beyond the present global conditions and they like what they see in India, so they will invest and invest.

India’s stock market should continue to deliver good returns. The earnings outlook remains good. Moreover, the Indian stock market is showing signs of attracting new classes of investors (US pension funds, oil wealth, Japanese retail investors, etc). The combination of strong fundamentals and FII flows augurs well for the market.

There is an economic crisis in our midst alright. But it is not formidable in relation to crises we have seen in the past. On balance, it is still amenable to concerted policy action. Not a bad note on which to usher in the New Year.

Stocks to buy: Kotak Mahindra Bank, Titan Industries, Salora Intl, 3i Infotech, Colgate Palmolive

Stocks to buy: Kotak Mahindra Bank, Titan Industries, Salora Intl, 3i Infotech, Colgate Palmolive
28 Nov, 2007, 0719 hrs IST, TNN

Kotak Mahindra Bank
CMP: Rs 1,122.35
Target Price: Rs 1,363

Motilal Oswal Securities has initiated coverage on Kotak Mahindra Bank with a buy rating and a price target of Rs 1,363. “Kotak (Bank) is aggressively building up its banking franchise, with focus on affluent customers and retail services. Its asset management business should see exponential growth,” the Motilal Oswal note to clients said.

“Though its insurance business has been losing market share, we expect better utilisation of Kotak’s distribution strength to change this. We believe KMB deserves premium valuations, given the strong growth expected across its businesses, fast traction in earnings, and quality management,” the note added.

Titan Industries
CMP: Rs 1,531.70
Target Price: Rs 1,850

Merrill Lynch has initiated coverage on Titan Industries with a buy rating and a price target of
Rs 1,850, terming it a “high growth domestic consumption story.” “We expect Titan’s watch business to benefit from mix up-trading and distribution moving more towards high margin channel of ‘World of Titan’”.

“In jewellery, we expect volume growth to remain explosive at around 40% as Titan forays into second-tier cities with the new value format “Gold Plus”,” the Merrill note to clients said. “In the premium “Tanishq” format, larger stores and higher efficiencies should drive margins. Lastly, we expect the new venture of prescription eyewear to take off and account for 4% of EBITDA (earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) FY10,” the note added.

Salora Intl
CMP: Rs 223
Target Price: Rs 312

Parag Parikh Financial Advisory Services has assigned a buy rating to Salora International with a price target of Rs 312. “The company derives 85% of its revenues from the telecom & infocom distribution business and more than 90% of the EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) from the business of distribution, thus making it a clear contender for a re-rating from a CTV components manufacturer to a full-fledged distributor,” the PPFAS note to clients said.

“The company has active plans to get into retailing of products that it is already distributing; the modalities of the same will be out very shortly. The company is very well placed to show a topline growth of above 35% for some time in our expectations,” the note further said, adding that the recently initiated restructuring of the CTV components business will keep overall profitability intact.

3i Infotech
CMP: Rs 134.60
Target Price: Rs 175

ICICI Securities (I-Sec) has initiated coverage on 3i Infotech with a buy rating and a price target of Rs 175. “3i Infotech, with a balanced mix of software products and services (~1:1), has differentiated itself from peers by adopting a diversified business model with a strong foothold in high-growth areas.

With software services providing stability to revenue stream, products add non-linearity to the overall business model,” the I-Sec note to clients said. Additionally, the sharp rupee appreciation, which has baffled the whole software sector, is relatively a lesser concern for 3i Infotech as it derives around 31% revenues from the domestic market and the net dollar exposure is estimated to be less than 10%. Also, 3i Infotech remains comparatively aloof from other sectoral worries such as the subprime issue, impending economic slowdown in the US, wage inflation, attrition,” the note added.

Colgate Palmolive
CMP: Rs 410.35
Target Price: Rs 482

Citigroup Global Markets has assigned a buy rating to Colgate Palmolive with a price target of Rs 482. “Colgate’s business has demonstrated strong growth over the eight quarters, with sales growing in excess of 15%. It has gained share in rural areas through its ‘Cibaca’ brand and has also rolled out innovative toothpaste variants at the higher end, which have gained strong acceptance and helped accelerate growth,” the Citigroup note to clients said.

“With major capital expenditure behind it, and incremental tax and excise savings from its new plants, cash generation is likely to accelerate. We estimate about Rs 1,230 crore of free cash generation over the next three years, more than two times of what was generated over the previous three years and as such, dividend payout could increase,” the note added.

Disclaimer: The above stocks are picked up at random from research reports of brokerage houses. Investors are advised to use their own judgement before acting on these recommendations. ET does not associate itself with the choices.

India's market cap crosses Rs 70 trillion mark

India's market cap crosses Rs 70 trillion mark
30 Dec, 2007, 1429 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: Investors' wealth on the Indian bourses has crossed Rs 70,00,000-crore milestone for the first time in history, with an average increase of over Rs 40 crore in every minute of trading during 2007.

The total wealth, measured in terms of cumulative market capitalisation of all the listed companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange, has surged to a record high of Rs 70,38,538 crore (over $1.7 trillion), the latest data available with the bourses show.

This marks a ten-fold surge in the total market value in just about four and a half years. It stood at about Rs 7,00,000 crore in May 2003.

The investors' wealth has grown by Rs 34,14,181 crore, or about $970 billion, since the beginning of 2007. Taking into account the 249 days of trading so far this year, this means an average gain of about Rs 13,711 crore a day or about Rs 41 crore a minute.

At the end of 2006, the total market capitalisation stood at Rs 36,24,357 crore ($812 billion) .

During this period, the stock market's benchmark Sensex has grown 46.6 per cent from 13,786.91 points on December 29, 2006. It settled at 20,206.95 points on Friday last week, while it registered a record intra-day high of 20,498.11 points on December 13.

The surge of 94.2 per cent in the market cap during 2007 is more than double of the rise in the Sensex, as close to 100 new companies got listed on the bourses in the year. The bourses saw as much as 101 IPOs during the year, including that of the country's currently fourth most valued firm DLF Ltd.

OVL hits oil in Najwat block off Qatar shores

OVL hits oil in Najwat block off Qatar shores
28 Dec, 2007, 0448 hrs IST,Rajeev Jayaswal, TNN

NEW DELHI: ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) has struck black gold in Arabian Gulf block off Qatar. The Najwat Najem block is the first overseas project executed by OVL wherein the company has both 100% ownership and is the sole operator.

“As per preliminary indications, oil has been encountered in the Shuaiba and Arab formations. The second well will also be completed by January 2008. We are hopeful that this will lead to the development stage,” a source in the petroleum ministry said.

The exact size of the discovery is not known yet as it has not been formally approved. OVL spudded its first appraisal well in the Najwat Najem structure on July 6, 2007. OVL had firmed up two locations for evaluating the structure and assessing and proving its commerciality.

OVL signed an appraisal, development and production sharing agreement (ADPSA) with the Qatari government on March 2, 2005 for the Najwat Najem oil structure appraisal in the country as an operator. The agreement came into effect on May 19, 2005 with the signing of the Emiree Decree (termed the effective date).

ADPSA is for a period of 20 years from the date of the Emiree Decree and comprises of an initial two year appraisal phase followed by a development phase. The minimum work committed during the appraisal phase is reprocessing and interpretation of 200 sq km of seismic data, a preliminary G&G study, drilling of two appraisal wells and an integrated multi-disciplinary study to assess the potential of the area.

The Najwat Najem oil structure is located in the Arabian Gulf in offshore Qatar at a distance of about 100 km north east of Doha Port. It lies at a distance of about 18 km off the Halul island in the state of Qatar. The Jurassic lime stones are the main reservoirs of this structure.

The Najwat Najem oil structure is in the Persian Gulf, at a water depth of approximately 135 feet.

India's November oil product sales up 5.5 pct

India's November oil product sales up 5.5 pct
28 Dec, 2007, 1327 hrs IST, REUTERS

NEW DELHI: India's domestic oil product sales in November rose 5.5 percent from a year earlier to 10.6 million tonnes, official data showed on Friday. Domestic diesel sales were up 10.3 percent to 4.1 million tonnes from a year earlier, the data showed.

HPCL sells Jan stem to Emirates National Oil Co

HPCL sells Jan stem to Emirates National Oil Co
27 Dec, 2007, 1316 hrs IST, REUTERS

SINGAPORE: Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) has sold via tender 25,000-30,000 tonnes of January-loading fuel oil to Emirates National Oil Co (ENOC) at an undisclosed price, traders said on Thursday.

The 380-centistoke (cst) cargo, of 4.0 percent sulphur and 0.998 density, is for loading on Jan. 14-16 from its Vizag terminal, on a free-on-board (FOB) basis.

HPCL last sold a similar lot, for Dec. 15-17 loading from Vizag at a discount of $20-21 a tonne to Singapore spot quotes, on an FOB basis. The cargo was also picked up by ENOC and was re-sold into the Singapore marine fuel market, the world's largest, traders said.

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Saturday, 29 December 2007

Adnoc to supply full term crude for February

Adnoc to supply full term crude for February
Reuters GULF NEWS Published: December 28, 2007, 00:32

Tokyo: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) will supply full term volumes of crude oil to its Asian customers for February, the same as January, in line with expectations, traders said yesterday.

On top of the contracted volumes, Adnoc is expected to supply additional spot barrels to some lifters upon request for a third straight month, they added.

Adnoc occasionally sells extra crude to its term buyers in Asia, its main export market, though exact volumes to be supplied were not immediately known.

Three lifters had received written notices that they would get full term volumes for a third month in February and did not ask for extra barrels. "It was exactly at the contracted levels," one source said. "We had been thinking that there would be no cuts."

Traders said Adnoc was likely to supply additional volumes of light sour Murban crude for February as spot cargoes to some lifters in need, but one said the volumes will be limited.

When lifters decide to take additional spot crude from Adnoc, they buy at the grade's official selling price without having to pay a premium in the spot market. The spot differentials for middle-distillates-rich Murban crude for February loading have stayed at a premium of around 20-25 cents a barrel to Adnoc, reflecting winter demand.

A trader said Adnoc offered additional offshore Upper Zakum crude to some lifters, but it was not clear whether any lifter accepted the offer.

Amrita Super Star Caravan in Dubai - 28 December 2007

Dear all,

Excellent, enthralling, everlasting - words are not enough to express the sheer joy of watching the young dynamites as well as the Superstars perform live. And what a performance by Shivamani to end the show.
May AMMAs blessings and God's grace be with all these talented stars to perform better and better in the coming years too.

Ramesh Menon

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Movie Review - Taare Zamin Par

Movie Review - Taare Zamin Par

Every Child is Special
Dear friends,

Do not miss watching this movie. Excellent one to end 2007 Indian Hindi movies on an ever high note. Every working parent should watch this and for all those who dictate their way with their children this will be a great lesson. Congratulations to Amir Khan and the young Darsheel Safary and also to Tisca Chopra and Vipin Sharma for brilliantly living their roles throughout. Good songs and photography too.

Take all those kids and loved ones along.


Ramesh Menon

If it’s Tuesday, it must be the night of poets

If it’s Tuesday, it must be the night of poets
By Silvia Radan (Our staff reporter/KHALEEJ TIMES)27 December 2007

ABU DHABI — After the success of the previous edition, the second session of the Million Poet Competition opened on Tuesday night in the capital, in the presence of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The competition, organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), is taking place at Al Raha Beach Theatre on a weekly basis, every Tuesday. The 48 competitors who have been chosen from an impressive list of 10,000 applicants were all present on stage on the first night, to open the 15-week long live show.

Just like in the previous session, the poets, both men and women, come from all over the Gulf region and beyond, but their poetry, either modern or traditional, is in Arabic language and style.

Each Tuesday night, eight competitors recite their verses and the judges pick two winners, while the public also chooses its two favourites, voting through SMS, which is announced the following week.

By the end of the 15 rounds, 24 poets will be left in the competition, but only one will be crowned the Million Poet, receiving not only the prestigious title, but also Dh1 million.

The previous session, which ended in March this year, was the highest rated show in the Gulf region and it became the latest hit on a TV series.

Visit visa only for immediate relatives

Visit visa only for immediate relatives
By Ahmed Abdul Aziz (Our staff reporter/KHALEEJ TIMES)27 December 2007

ABU DHABI — The Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residency Department (ADNRD) took new measures this month to stop issuing visit visas to bring friends and workers to the emirate, according to a senior official at the department.

Colonel Nassir Al Awadi Al Minhali, Director of ADNRD, told Khaleej Times yesterday in an exclusive interview, “The ADNRD allows issuing of visit visas only for immediate relatives, such as parents, brothers, sisters, wives and children.”

The ADNRD would not issue visit visas for the firms because they were allowed to obtain only employment visas after getting temporary mission permits from the Ministry of Labour (MoL).

The new protective measures were aimed at weeding out the phenomenon of illegals from the country.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has completed a study, after the 2007 amnesty period that ended on November 3, to find out the factors that contribute to the problem of illegals in the country.

The study showed that about 25 per cent of the illegals entered the UAE on visit visas.

“The ADNRD has taken the new measures also to curb begging by people entering the county on visit visas. Both the people found begging and their sponsors would face stiff penalties for violating the country’s law,” added Al Minhali.

The visitors found begging in the streets would face penalties such as deportation with life ban. “For the sponsors, the officials will transfer the case to the General Prosecution after imposing stiff penalties on them such as suspension of issuance of visit visas on the sponsor’s code number in the ADNRD’s system,” he said.

“Moreover, we are preparing a database to register all the absconding cases filed by sponsors and the number of visit visas they had applied for. Further, the MoI will launch intensive campaigns to find illegals,” added Al Minhali.

The companies could apply for visit visas only for delegations. This was a special case and the ADNRD would demand bank guarantees ranging between Dh2,000 and Dh5,000, depending on the applications.

“We will also not accept any applications to bring workers on businessmen visas unless the sponsor provides proof that they are really businessmen such as the contracts they have signed, copy of visa card and bank account sheets,” said Al Minhali.


New development project for Mubazzara

New development project for Mubazzara
By Aftab Kazmi, Bureau Chief GULF NEWS Published: December 27, 2007, 00:13

Al Ain: Mubazzara, a prime tourist attraction in Al Ain, is to undergo a beautification drive through a multi-million dirham project launched by Al Ain Municipality.

Mubazzara, located in the south of the city, is a lush green valley in the foothills of Jebel Hafeet, the highest mountain in the UAE. It is a major recreational centre for people coming from across the country and neighbouring GCC countries.

New facilities

The project includes enhancement of the clusters of chalets in different parts of the valley, a children's play area, ornamental plants and trees and development of new facilities.

A municipality source said ornamental plants would be planted in and around the chalet area.

As part of the project three water tanks will also be constructed to store around nine millions gallons of water for irrigation.

The project has been announced by the municipality's Public Gardens Section, which says its intentions are to offer world-class facilities for tourists.

A large number of visitors come to Mubazzara during the weekends, national holidays and festive occasions. The area was packed during the recent Eid Al Adha holidays. The site was given special attention by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It has been jointly developed by Al Ain Municipality and Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. Mubazzara has hot springs and a number of other attractions. The area has lately seen many rapid developments.

The authorities, said the source, have a plan to develop Mubazzara into a fully-fledged tourist resort with all modern facilities and services.

Conference centre

The plan includes a club house and golf course, a visitors' centre, a planetarium and a conference centre.

The planned golf club will have an 18-hole course and a nine-hole short course along with a media centre.

Earlier this year, the municipality contracted a private firm for the maintenance and development of Mubazzara and its surrounding areas.

The Dh50 million contract will cover the maintenance and landscaping of Zakhir, Ain Al Faydah, Mubazzara and some surrounding areas for four years.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

"Keralotsavam" at KSC Abu Dhabi

We kindly request your presence in our Stall at KSC "Keralotsavam" , which is going to be held on 27th, 28th and 29th December 2007 [Thursday, Friday, Saturday]

Everday 6:00 PM onwards

Venue: Kerala Social Centre, Madinat Zayed between Murroor Street and Najda Street Opp. Side of Khaleej Times Office & Al Manhall Clinic

France implements major projects in UAE

France implements major projects in UAE
United Arab Emirates, Economics,

Industrial sources in the UAE stated that France succeeded in receiving new agreements to implement major projects in the field of gas and petrochemicals in addition to signing an agreement to expand the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The director of the Civil Aviation Department in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Khalifa, stated that the Airport De Paris Authorities won a deal worth 700 million dirhams ($190 million) to expand the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The Airport of Paris Authorities had set up the Abu Dhabi International Airport 20 years ago in similitude of the Airport of Charle Digol in Paris.

Sources in the UAE said that the operations of expanding the Abu Dhabi International Airport which will be implemented by the Airport of Paris Authorities are worth 400 million dirhams out of the total 700 million dirhams. The sources clarified that some of the expansion works will be assigned to other companies on top of which is setting up a second tarmac at the airport.

Daily Exchange Rates - Wednesday, 26 December 2007

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Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Kerala declared 'Total Banking State'

Kerala declared 'Total Banking State'

THIRUVANATHAPURAM: Kerala was on Monday declared "Total Banking State" providing at least one bank account for every household.

This was announced by Union Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal at a meeting of the State Level Bankers Committee.

Kerala is the third state to achieve the status after Himachal Pradesh and Goa.

Addressing the meeting, Bansal praised the role played by the banking community in the state for the achievement.

The declaration marks the culmination of a year-long campaign launched by SLBC with the involvement of all nationalised banks, cooperative banks, peoples representatives and self-help groups like 'Kudumbashree,' Chairman and Managing Director of Canara Bank M B N Rao said.

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