Intel Capital invests USD 23 million in Indian tech firms

Intel Capital, Intel Corporation’s global investment unit, on Thursday said it has invested USD 23 million in three Indian technology companies – July Systems, KLG Systel and MCX.

However, the firm did not reveal the amount the three companies have received individually.

Funding would come from the USD 250 million Intel Capital India Technology Fund, established in December 2005, Intel Capital said in a statement.

“This fund invests in Indian technology companies to stimulate local technology innovation and the continued growth of India’s information technology industry,” it said.

July Systems provides mobile internet solutions, which enables media brands to publish, distribute, monetise inventory and personalise services for consumers.

KLG Systel provides smart grid and energy management and efficiency solutions to power utilities and end-users.

MCX, a leading commodity futures electronic exchange in India, has permanent recognition from the Indian government for facilitating online trading, clearing and settlement operations for futures market across the country.

“Intel Capital’s investment in July Systems, KLG Systel and MCX reinforces our commitment towards fostering Indian innovation,” President of Intel Capital and Executive Vice- president of Intel Arvind Sodhani said.

Since 1998, Intel Capital has invested more than USD 200 million in Indian technology companies across 10 cities, the statement added.

Videocon forays into mobile services

Diversified business conglomerate Videocon Group on Thursday launched its mobile services division at an investment of Rs. 14,000 crore.

The group, which has presence in household appliances, Oil and Gas, Retail, Direct-to-Home services, entered the GSM telecom space by offering a scheme of ‘sub 1 paise effective tariff’

Videocon Group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot said the new division, Videocon Mobile Services, planned to cover 100 cities in 100 days.

Pepsico engages 12,000 farmers in contract farming

Riding on high sales of its snacks brands like Lays and Uncle Chipps, Pepsico has engaged 12,000 farmers across the country for contract farming of potato.

“There are 12,000 farmers doing contract farming of potato for us involving 16,000 acres of land,” Executive Vice-president of Pepsico Holdings (agro-business) Nischint Bhatia told PTI.

He said that out of the 12,000 farmers, 6,500 of them are in West Bengal working 2,600 acres.

Bhatia said Pepsico’s contract farming had picked up very fast, adding that the company had procured 22,000 tonnes of potato in the last harvesting season.

He said that with the growing sales of its snacks brands, the company would adopt for more in the country for contract farming.

At present, Pepsico is involved in the contract farming for potato only.

Bhatia said that farmers were ensured a captive off take even in periods of glut and also a remunerative price.

He said Pepsico was buying potatoes at Rs. 6 per kilo from the farmers, which was higher than what others were getting by selling the crop to the intermediaries.

Asked whether the company would enter into contract farming for other crops, Bhatia said that the company was planning to follow a similar line for oats.

He said oats were presently being imported for its Quaker Oats brand and the company was in talks with various agricultural universities for cultivating it in the country.

“It is still in the research stage and may take three to four year’s time,” Bhatia said.

He said oatmeal was becoming a popular breakfast cereal in India due to health reasons.

Coca-Cola liable to pay damages worth Rs. 216.26 cr


Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar submitting a report on damages caused by the Coca-Cola plant to Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday

The High Power Committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar on the extent of damages caused by the Coca-Cola plant at Plachimada in Palakkad district of Kerala has recommended to the government that a dedicated institution should be set up to adjudicate on individual claims for compensation.

In a report submitted to the Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran here on Monday, the Committee indicated that the cola company had caused multi-sectoral damages amounting to Rs. 216.26 crore through operation of its plant and other actions, and was obliged to pay compensation to the affected people. (The local people had organised a long drawn out agitation against depletion of water sources and pollution by the company.)

It recommended that the State government could either set up a Tribunal under Article 323 B of the Constitution or request the Centre to form an Authority under the Environment (Protection) Act to determine the compensation and enforce payment. The Authority could be vested with all the powers necessary to deal with the situation created by the company as was done in Tamil Nadu to deal with issues arising from tanneries and other polluting industries. It also suggested that the company, located in a drought-prone area, should not resume its operation.

The Committee observed that the company had violated the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, the Environment (Protection) Act, the Factories Act, Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Indian Penal Code, Land Utilisation Order, the Kerala Ground Water (Control and Regulation) Act and Indian Easement Act. “The fact that Coca-Cola factory at Plachimada has caused immense damage to the environment and people and their livelihood and health is supported by impeccable evidence.”

It estimated that the agriculture loss from the activities of the Company would come to Rs. 84.16 crore. Health damages came to Rs. 30 cores and wage loss and opportunity cost to Rs. 20 crore. The cost of providing water to the villagers came to Rs. 20 corres. It also estimated the damage from pollution of water resources to be Rs. 62.10 crore.

“The Committee has come to the conclusion that the company is responsible for these damages and it is obligatory that they pay the compensation to the affected people for the agricultural losses, health problems, loss of wages, loss of educational opportunities and the pollution caused to the water resources. The value of water extracted and depleted has not been calculated though it needs to be compensated.”

The 14-member committee consisted of officials and experts in law, environment, health and water resources.

Committee’s observations, recommendations

* The Coca Cola Company at Plachimada has been causing environmental degradation by over extraction of ground water and irresponsible disposal of the sludge.

* The Coca Cola Company is culpable under several laws in force.

* The water resources of the area have been affected and water scarcity has been compounded.

* By passing off the sludge as manure, the Company has not only misguided the farmers but has become responsible for the soil degradation, water contamination and consequential loss of agriculture.

* There has been a steady decline in the agriculture production in the area.

* The production of milk, meat and eggs also has suffered.

* Metals like cadmium, lead and chromium have been detected in the sludge and this has affected the health of the people.

* The general health of the people has been affected with skin ailments, breathing problems and other debilities.

* Low birth weight of children has also been noticed.

* Environment of the village has been acutely damaged by polluting water and soil.

* Drinking water has become scarce and women have to walk long distances. This has deprived them of their wages, and this needs to be compensated.

* Children have dropped out of schools on account of the social, health and economic factors caused by the pollution and this opportunity cost has to be compensated.

* The Grama Panchayat has been providing drinking water in tanker-lorries ever since the wells and water bodies have been rendered useless by the Company by its extraction of water and disposal and effluents

Infrastructure investment in 11th Plan to be close to $500 bn: Montek

The Planning Commission on Monday said investment in the infrastructure sector in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-12) will be close to the target of $500 billion, thanks to a better-than-expected show by the telecom sector.

“It does look as if we will achieve (investment in infrastructure sector) not fully, but very close to USD 500 billion…This will be primarily because of over achievement in telecom,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said ahead of the government-sponsored meet on infrastructure, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Commission had set a $500 billion target of investment in the infrastructure sector during the Eleventh Plan Period.


Replying to questions on growth prospects during the Eleventh Plan, Mr. Ahluwalia said it was likely to be 8.5 per cent in the next fiscal 2010-11 and nine per cent during 2011-12, the last year of the Eleventh Plan.

Following the global crisis, the growth rate during 2008-09 slipped to 6.7 per cent from over nine per cent during the three preceding years. It is estimated to be 7.2 per cent during the current fiscal.

The growth target for the plan period will be considered at a meeting of the full Planning Commission scheduled tomorrow evening chaired by the Prime Minister.

For the Eleventh Plan, the Commission had set a growth target of 9 per cent, which is not likely to be achieved mainly because of the impact of the global crisis on the country’s growth.


Referring to the developments in the infrastructure sector, Mr. Ahluwalia said telecom sector has been doing exceedingly well and the performance would overshoot the target, both in urban and rural areas.

As far as the road sector is concerned, he said, the contracts for building 4,000 km would be awarded during the current fiscal, which would be twice the number of contracts given in the preceding two years.

Contracts for constructing 7,000 km roads are likely to be awarded during 2010-11, he said, adding the initial problems with regard to concession agreements have been sorted and the private investors have started showing interest in the sector.

One area which has not been doing as well as the other sectors is the port, Mr. Ahluwalia added.

The Plan panel chief further said the power sector, in terms of capacity addition, would do better than the Tenth Plan.

“We think we have a good chance to add 62,000 MW of capacity during the Eleventh Plan period, this could be more if very special efforts are made, but we are not taking credit for that,” Mr. Ahulwalia said.

“We think 62,000 is definitely lower than the target of 78,000 MW, but it is almost three time of what was actually created (21,000 MW) in the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-07),” he said.

He pointed out, “It is the private sector capacity addition which exceeds target. The capacity expansion in private sector would be 120 per cent of the target whereas it would below the target in the public sector.”

The full Plan panel meeting tomorrow will also consider and approve the mid-term appraisal of the Eleventh Plan, the official sources said.

The approval of the mid-term appraisal is significant as after the full Plan panel’s nod, it would go to the National Development Council. The Council is expected to meet next month, sources said.

Honda to recall 410,000 vehicles for brake problem

Honda Motor Co. on Tuesday said it is recalling about 410,000 Odyssey minivans and Element small trucks because of problems with the brake pedals

Honda Motor Co. will recall more than 410,000 Odyssey minivans and Element small trucks because of braking system problems that could make it tougher to stop the vehicle if not repaired.

The recall includes 344,000 Odysseys and 68,000 Elements from the 2007 and 2008 model years.

Honda said in a statement that over time, brake pedals can feel “soft” and must be pressed closer to the floor to stop the vehicles. Left unrepaired, the problem could cause loss of braking power and possibly a crash, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said.

“It’s definitely not operating the way it should and it’s safety systems, so it brings to the recall status,” he said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported three crashes due to the problem with minor injuries and no deaths, Martin said. Honda notified NHTSA of the recall on Monday, he said.

Honda has traced the problem to the device that powers the electronic stability control system, which selectively brake each of the wheels to keep the vehicles upright during an emergency situation.

When the device, called a “vehicle stability assist modulator,” tests itself when the vehicles are started, it allows a small amount of air into the hydraulic brake lines. Over time, an air bubble in the lines can cause a loss of braking power and require that the pedal be pushed farther toward the floor than normal to stop the vehicles, Martin said.

“Although not all vehicles being recalled are affected by this issue, we are recalling all possible units to assure all customers that their vehicles will perform correctly,” Honda said in a statement.

Under the recall, which Honda said it volunteered to do, Honda said that owners should wait to get a letter from the company before scheduling a repair because the parts are not yet available. Letters should go out toward the end of April.

Drivers who fear that they’ve lost braking power should have their dealer check the brakes sooner, Martin said. The dealer can “bleed” air bubbles out of the hydraulic lines, which should fix the problem until the parts arrive for the final repair, he said.

Honda technicians will put plastic caps and sealant over two small holes in the device to stop the air from getting in, Martin said.

The automaker is still preparing a list of affected vehicles. After April 19, owners can determine if their vehicles are being recalled by going to .

The safety recall is Honda’s second in the past two months. In February it recalled 952,118 vehicles globally due to air bag problems.

It comes on the heels of Toyota Motor Corp.’s spate of safety recalls that include more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for braking and sudden acceleration problems.

One of the Toyota recalls is a braking software problem that causes the pedal of the Prius gas-electric hybrid to momentarily drop toward the floor.

Ford Motor Co. had a similar software problem with its Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids. The company told owners of 17,600 cars to bring them in for a software update because a glitch can give drivers the impression that the brakes have failed when they haven’t.

The automaker called the repairs a “customer satisfaction program” and said it was not a full-fledged recall.

U.S. Fed to hold rates low as economy slowly improves

A television indicates that the Fed will keep interest rates unchanged on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York on Tuesday

Interest rates will be held in the range of 0-0.25 per cent for an extended period in anticipation of “low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations”, the United States Federal Reserve’s said

Interest rates will be held in the range of 0-0.25 per cent for an extended period in anticipation of “low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations”, the United States Federal Reserve’s said today.

Following the Fed’s announcement, equity markets closed at an 18-month high and US Treasury yields declined, according to reports.

The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee, which last met in January, hinted at improving conditions in the U.S. economy, pointing out that business spending on equipment and software rose “significantly” and household spending expanded moderately. However the latter remained constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit, the FOMC cautioned.

The FOMC added a note of explanation on its efforts to bolster the mortgage finance market through credit securities purchases. “To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve has been purchasing $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and about $175 billion of agency debt,” it said.

Commenting on the overall macroeconomic picture the FOMC said that economic activity continued to strengthen and that “the labor market is stabilizing”. However, it added that employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls. With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to be subdued for some time.

Nine out of ten members of the FOMC voted for the FOMC to hold rates low. The one dissent vote came from Thomas M. Hoenig, who held that “continuing to express the expectation of exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period was no longer warranted because it could lead to the build-up of financial imbalances and increase risks to longer-run macroeconomic and financial stability.”

‘Gold jewellery business may grow by 30 p.c. during ‘Akshaya Tritiya’

An array of collections at a jewellery store in Kolkata.

Gold jewellery business is expected to grow by up to 30 per cent during Akshaya Tritiya, a festival considered auspicious for buying the metal, against the year-ago period on increased consumer confidence, a market expert said here on Monday.

“We are hoping that Akshaya Tritiya, to be celebrated on May 16, will increase gold jewellery business by 25-30 per cent compared to the previous year,” All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) Director Sumesh Wadhera said.

He said, while gold prices have more or less stabilised at Rs. 16,500-17,000 per ten grams, the consumer confidence to buy jewellery has also improved.

Gold was on Monday trading at Rs. 16,463 per ten grams on the futures market, while it was at Rs. 16,745 per ten grams on the spot market in Delhi. In the international market, the precious metal stood at USD 1,103.80 an ounce (28.34 grams).

Mr. Wadhera said, the rise in customs duty is just Rs. 100 per 10 grams and will not have much impact on domestic demand.

The government had raised customs duty on gold and platinum to Rs 300 per ten grams from Rs 200 per ten grams in the Union Budget 2010-11.

He said the overall Indian jewellery market is likely to grow by 10-12 per cent, while in the southern region, growth is expected to rise by up to 25 per cent.

Eight-ten per cent growth in gold jewellery business is expected for the south Indian region, while 18-20 per cent for branded and diamond jewellery, Mr. Wadhera added.

Google opens online store for business applications

Information technology administrators of the business clients can buy the software with just a few clicks in the new shop.

Google Inc. will sell the online services of other business software makers in an effort to fill its own product gaps and persuade more companies to rely on applications piped over the Internet.

The online store marks another step in Google’s crusade to convert the world to “cloud computing,” the idea of running applications in web browsers instead of installing them on individual hard drives. The information entered in the programs also is stored in data centres run by third parties such as Google.

More than 50 software makers have agreed to sell their Internet programs through Google, which will keep 20 per cent of the sales. The prices are expected to range from $50 annually to several hundred dollars annually per user.

Intuit Inc., a maker of business accounting software, and Concur Technologies Inc., a maker of expense reimbursement software, are among the best-known vendors peddling their wares in Google’s store.

All the applications sold in Google’s store can be melded with Google’s own cloud computing services, said Vic Gundotra, the company’s vice-president of engineering.

Google views cloud computing as a way to deepen people’s dependence on its services and generate more revenue beyond the Internet search advertising that provides virtually all its income.

Cloud computing also provides Google with a weapon that could weaken one of its biggest rivals, Microsoft Corp.

Although it’s introducing more online alternatives, Microsoft still makes most of its money from individual computer licenses of its Windows operating system and software programs.

The applications store could also could provide fodder for the low-cost computers that will run on a Google operating system named after its Chrome web browser. The first computers using Chrome OS won’t have a hard drive, meaning they will need Internet access and cloud computing services to perform the tasks routinely done on Windows-powered machines.

Google began offering a free online suite of e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet and calendar applications in 2006. It has been selling a more sophisticated package of online services for $50 per user for the past three years.

Cloud computing can be a tough sell to corporate decision makers worried about security risks and business disruptions if a technology glitch or major meltdown blocks access to vital applications and data stored on external servers.

Google has invested billions of dollars during the past five years to keep its systems up and running. Nevertheless, Google’s applications users occasionally have been cut off from their e-mail accounts and other services.

About 25 million people working for more than 2 million businesses, government agencies and schools use Google’s online applications, according to the company.

Infotech mulls acquisitions

Infotech Enterprises, specialising in engineering and geospatial services, is looking at aggressive acquisition strategy in line with the thinking of its shareholders.

Company Chairman and Managing Director B. V. R.Mohan Reddy told reporters here on Friday that the company however would only focus on value buying with about Rs.400 crore cash reserves and roughly about Rs.40 crore being added every quarter.

He said a couple of buyouts could happen in the first quarter of new fiscal. On the recovery of the IT sector with recession easing, he said it had been slow and it would take some time to achieve impressive growth the sector was used to at one point of time. The fourth quarter of the current fiscal would be flattish compared to the third quarter though the overall annual growth would be better than that of last year.

Infotech, while continuing to focus on engineering services which accounted for 66 per cent of its overall revenue, would look at avionics and nuclear power engineering as major thrust areas, he said.

Apart from its expertise in aerospace in terms of aircraft engine and sound support, it was now eyeing cockpit electronics. With focus shifting to nuclear power plants, nuclear power engineering offered huge opportunities world-wide including India and these plants would require a sizable amount of customisation.

BSE launches Sensex mobile streamer

The country’s premier bourse, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), today launched its Sensex mobile streamer, a platform that would allow investors to access streaming Sensex data at their fingertips.

The facility will also help investors make critically-timed trades.

The mobile streamer can be accessed on the BSE’s Website. The software is easily downloadable on GPRS-activated SIM cards and Java-enabled handsets.

The Sensex mobile streamer was launched in the presence of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.

“BSE is proactively making available the critical information to investors on their mobile phones free of cost. We look forward to adding more features and functionality improvements over the coming months,” BSE’s Managing Director and CEO, Madhu Kannan, told reporters here.

Ad rules to take in use of Twitter and Facebook

Proposal would extend Advertising Standards Agency role to include marketing activity on social media and microsites

 Tighter controls on the how Twitter accounts and Facebook profiles are used in company promotions are set to be introduced under new digital advertising restrictions partly designed to protect children.

The Advertising Association, the industry body which represents the UK advertising and media industry, has agreed a set of proposals to tighten some digital advertising practices so that they are policed by the Advertising Standards Authority in the same way as TV, press, poster and radio ads.

The ASA regulates all paid-for digital advertising, such as banners and display ads on websites, but so far does not police advertising activity on a company’s own website, a campaign microsite or the via profiles on sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

“The industry has delivered a clear mandate that first and foremost will protect consumers and children [and] that will also protect editorial content,” said Rae Burdon, chief operating officer at the AA.

The recommendations still have to be accepted by the Committee for Advertising Practice, which is overhauling the non-broadcasting advertising code and will launch a consultation on the proposals. But with such broad industry consensus, it is thought that the new rules will come into force in the third quarter this year.

“This is a significant step for both advertising and the internet,” said Nick Stringer, director of regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau, a key player in the year-long negotiations to agree the new proposals.

The extension to the ad code will ensure that all online marketing will have to be responsible, legal, honest and truthful under the same regulations as, say, press and poster ads.

The process to develop the new codes stalled last year when it emerged that Google was balking at being involved in the necessary extension of the funding and industry levy collection mechanism of the ASA. A deal was reached with Google and the search engine industry in November.

Auto sales in February a new record

A view of parked cars in Chennai Port Trust. The February sales surpassed the previous record of 11,14,157 units achieved in January this year.

The Indian auto industry today said its February sales have been the highest ever for a month breaking the earlier record, which was set only in January this year, as consumers rushed to beat a possible hike in prices following the Budget.

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the total sales in domestic market stood at 11,29,783 units, up 34.98 per cent over 8,37,017 units in the year-ago period.

The February sales surpassed the previous record of 11,14,157 units achieved in January this year.

The domestic passenger car segment too posted the highest ever sales at 1,53,845 units against 1,15,505 units, up 33.20 per cent, in the corresponding month last year. It was the 11th straight month of growth for the segment.

Earlier, the car manufacturers had touched the peak in January this year at 1,45,905 units.

During the month, all the major manufacturers, including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor and General Motors reported their individual best sales ever.

“The highest ever sales by the auto industry was achieved mainly because of the preponement of buying as people truly anticipated an excise duty hike in the Budget. Also it was pushed little by pent up demand,” SIAM Director General Dilip Chenoy told reporters here.

The industry is expected to continue the robust uphill drive in the current month also as customers would try to avoid another obvious price hike in April on account of shifting to a stricter emission norms, he added.

Indian businessmen urged to invest in Britain

Sir Richard Stagg, British High Commissioner to India interacts with the students of Asian College of Journalism

 Britain’s recession is as much an opportunity as a threat for foreign investors, according to British High Commissioner Sir Richard Stagg, who encouraged Indian businessmen to go global with their companies and pitched Britain as the best place to start.

Sir Richard, who was addressing a gathering of businessmen here organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry Chennai and U.K. Trade and Investment, pointed out that the fact that nearly 600 companies had already invested in the U.K. signalled how attractive an environment the U.K. is.

He admitted that the U.K.’s challenge was to maintain its position as the biggest inward investment market in Europe and concluded by saying that Britain saw the arrival of investment from India as “critical” to the U.K.’s growth.

Gayathri Sriram, Chairperson, CII Chennai zone, stressed the potential for Indian businesses to invest in the U.K. beyond the traditional interest in manufacturing, including infotainment, e-publishing and green industries. Guests were treated to a region-by-region analysis of the U.K.’s strengths by Paul Grey, Head of UKTI at the British High Commission in New Delhi.

Deputy High Commissioner Mike Nithavrianakis laid stresson the flexibility of the labour market and the lack of barriers to business. He also mentioned opportunities for contracts for small and medium enterprises in the London 2012 Olympics.

India is the second-largest foreign investor in the U.K. and improving foreign direct investment flows into the U.K. is hot on the British government’s agenda. The meeting comes just two weeks after Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Business Secretary Peter Mandelson agreed to increase the flow of FDI between India and Britain.

On Monday, a Global Investment Conference in London saw 250 chief executives from businesses across the world addressed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who announced a new investors’ charter setting out his government’s commitments

Role model for entrepreneurs


Sunil Cherian, who started BurgerMan kiosk in Chennai, now owns ventures in Hyderabad and Bangalore


Sunil Cherian, chairman and CEO, BurgerMan Foods India Pvt Ltd.

HYDERABAD: Eureka moment it was. At 22, Sunil Cherian was flipping for a business idea when hunger drove him to a restaurant in Chennai. Call it stroke of plain luck or whatever, he found himself seated next to the kitchen door and as he watched, the burger he ordered was served in a jiffy.

It was then that the bun base for BurgerMan was laid. Patty would soon be ready.

“I wanted to start a company which is 25 sq. feet, but had no idea what to start… As soon as I reached home, I drew 5×5 feet area on a chart and tried accommodating microwave and stuff into that space. I knew it had to be burgers,” Cherian recollects.

And in December 2006, with Rs.2 lakh investment, the first Burgerman kiosk opened outside Stella Marie College in Chennai.

Today, the tally from Chennai alone has gone up to 50 while Bangalore and Hyderabad boast of 25 and 30 of these 25-square-feet spaces respectively. Burgerman that began as Cherian’s college project today is a profitable business venture doing a business of Rs.3 crore per annum, set to touch Rs.5 crore by the end of this year.

“I always wanted to start something big,” he says. But with limited budget at his disposal, Cherian veered towards making it big in terms of numbers.

Armed with a plan, he went about scouting for places in Chennai, which was when he realised how expensive real estate space was. “My business acumen is simple. I convince corporates to let out their extra space. I convinced supermarkets in Chennai to let me set up kiosks in their waste space and today they are huge businesses,” he says. Burgerman has tie-ups with nine corporates as of today.

Customer is the king

He makes it a point to position his outlet outside commercial spaces. “We don’t want to be inside some building. We want to offer our customers the convenience of consuming our burgers on the go.” Isn’t he apprehensive of being engulfed by international fast food chains?

“We see ourselves as an Indian brand selling an international product. Our taste is very Indianised,” the ‘Kiosk CEO’, as Cherian is referred to in the media asserts.

Honda launches CB Twister

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, a fully-owned subsidiary of Honda Motor Company of Japan, launched its first mass segment bike “CB Twister” in Chennai on Monday.

Addressing presspersons V. Sridhar, Vice-President (Manufacturing), said the 110cc bike would be the best in class in terms of initial acceleration and pick-up. This would create a new segment and expand the two-wheeler market in India.

The bike with three variants, namely, kick-drum-alloy, self-drum-alloy and self-disc-alloy, will be available in five colours by the end of this month, Mr. Sridhar said.

The company was planning to achieve sales of 12.5 lakh two-wheelers this fiscal against 10.70 lakh units in the previous year.

The plan was to cross the 15-lakh mark in 2010-11, he said.

According to P. Rajagopi, Regional Head (South), the concept behind the development of new models of two-wheelers was to meet the increasing demand from growing young population. He said the Tamil Nadu market contributed more than 9 per cent share for Honda in India.

The bike is equipped with maintenance free battery and viscous air filter for more

Exciting features of CB Twister concept

* Golden Colour handlebar

* Blue back speedometer for CB Twister

* Chrome tinted rear view mirrors

* Dual tone seats

* red lined alloy wheels

* Distinctive front cowl

* Petal shaped front disc brake for the CB Twister concept

Nokia, Intel team up in phone software race

Nokia, the world’s biggest maker of mobile handsets, said on Monday it would merge its Linux Maemo software platform, used in its flagship N900 phone, with Intel’s Moblin, which is also based on Linux open-sourced software, to create a new platform, MeeGo.

“They have understood the only way to beat Microsoft, Google and Apple is to do it through scale — get the platform to more devices,” said John Strand, owner and head of Strand Consult after the announcements at the Mobile World Congress fair.

“However, they have not realized it’s not about getting to many platforms, it’s about making something the consumer likes. The bees don’t go for the biggest garden, they go for the most beautiful flowers,” Strand said.

The cellphone industry is increasingly focusing on smartphones, devices with computer-like capabilities that have fatter margins than ordinary phones, whose sales may overtake those of other phones as early as this year.


Microsoft’s long-awaited revamp of its mobile software follows a lukewarm reception for Windows Mobile 6.5 in October, which most analysts viewed as a poor competitor.

It has been losing the battle for advanced phone users over the past few years, taking just 8.8 percent of the global smartphone systems market last year, according to technology analysis firm Canalys, down from 13.9 percent the year before.

“We hope seven’s our lucky number,” Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told a news conference.

In the launch of Windows Phone 7 Microsoft has put an emphasis on appealing to everyday users as well as its core business market.

Phone 7 handsets to be made by companies including HTC, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, will feature touch screens with quick access to social networking functions from Facebook, music and video through Microsoft’s Zune software and games linked to its Xbox system.

Microsoft said its main network carrier partners are AT&T and France Telecom’s Orange and the new phones will be in stores by the holiday season at the end of the year.

“We’re really trying to go after the life market. People work, they live, and I think on their phone they don’t make a big distinction, so we need to support all aspects of somebody’s life,” Ballmer told Reuters Television in an interview.

However handset makers such as HTC, Samsung and Motorola are also turning to Google’s Android operating software, which is not only free but attracting a fast-growing developer community and already has 4.7 percent of the market.

Microsoft is the only major phone software maker to charge a license fee to handset makers.

Ballmer told Reuters Television he had no plans to change the company’s charging policy.

“Windows Phone 7 is a massive bet by Microsoft to try and get themselves back in the game. They’re going to throw a lot of money at it to reassert themselves in the sector,” said Ben Wood, director of UK-based telecoms research firm CCS Insight.


Meanwhile the news from Intel and Nokia came as more of a surprise to the industry.

Nokia only rolled out its first Maemo phone — the result of a five-year development project — three months ago, with analysts seeing Maemo boosting the firm’s chances of succeeding in the higher end of the market.

The market for software platforms on cellphones is led by Nokia’s Symbian, but it has lost much ground lately to Apple, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion and to Google.

Nokia said it was still committed to using Symbian in most of its smartphones, but would use the new MeeGo in the most advanced models.

The software deal announced on Monday is also set to boost Intel’s chances of getting its chips into the cellphones of the Finnish company, which controls around 40 percent of the global phone market.

“We believe the partnership … will result in significant sales volumes for Intel,” said CCS Insight analyst John Jackson.

Nokia’s shares closed up 0.3 percent at 9.49 euros. The DJ Stoxx European technology sector index fell 0.3 pct.


Google said it was relaxed about the development.

“Google benefits when anyone produces a great phone that enables the Web experience,” Vic Gundotra, who leads Google’s mobile engineering, told reporters. “If Intel and Nokia can deliver innovation we think that’s very exciting.”

Network operators have wanted a smaller number of operating systems, as supporting them is timely and costly, but the number has in recent years only increased.

Samsung, the world’s second-biggest handset maker, joined the party on Sunday by unveiling its first phone to use its own new operating system, called ‘bada’.

But now the open-source computer operating system Linux is starting to win traction, with Google using Linux for its Android platform, and Nokia rolling out its top-of-the-range model N900 using Linux Maemo.

“There has been a step change for Linux in mobile,” Morgan Gillis, head of the wireless Linux system user foundation LiMo, said in an interview. “No other operating system now matches the vendor coverage of Linux.

Nortel may now sell off its patents

Nortel, under liquidation to pay off its debtors, on Thursday hinted at selling its huge inventory of 4,000 patents related to cutting-edge, next-generation wire technology.

The 125-year-old Canadian icon, which was once the world’s top telecom equipment maker, has been selling its various businesses to pay off its debtors since June last year.

The Toronto-based company had filed for bankruptcy in the US and Canada in January last year after suffering huge losses and mounting debt.

Nortel, which faces a long-term debt of $4.5 billion and owes billions to its suppliers and pensioners, has so far raised $3 billion by selling its major businesses.

In a statement here Thursday on its on-going liquidation, Nortel said, “While numerous milestones have been met, significant work remains to be completed.”

The company said it is now “focused on a number of key actions, including the completion of announced sales and the sale of remaining businesses and assets, as well as exploring strategic alternatives to maximize the value of the company’s intellectual property (over 4,000 patents).”

The patents for its next-generation wireless technology – called long-term evolution (LTE) – are being eyed by a number of competitors, including Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIM) and Nokia.

Though Nortel has not yet announced on patent sales, media reports have hinted that the company might auction them like its major businesses or offer them under long-tem agreements or enter into a joint venture with new partners.

Nortel’s patent inventory has been estimated to be worth about $1 billion. Though the company announced last year not to sell its patents, it may be forced to do now to raise the remaining debt and meet pension claims.

As part of its liquidation, Nortel has already sold its next-generation wireless business to Sweden’s Ericsson for $1.13 billion, its enterprise division to America’s Avaya Inc. for $900 million, and its optical networking and carrier Ethernet business to the US network specialist Ciena Corp for $769 million.

At its height, Nortel employed more than 90,000 people worldwide and accounted for more than a third of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Motorola to split, Sanjay Jha to head mobile unit

Bihar-born Sanjay Jha, currently the co-CEO of Motorola, will be the new chief executive officer of its handset and home businesses as the mobile phone maker on Thursday announced it will split itself into two independent, publicly traded companies from early next year.

One company will comprise Motorola’s mobile handset and home (television set-top) businesses and the other will include the enterprise mobility solutions and networks businesses, the company said in a statement.

Based at Schaumburg on the outskirts of Chicago, Motorola employs more than 60,000 people around the world.

“The combination of mobile devices and our home (basically TV set-top boxes) business brings together two highly complementary and innovative organizations,” said Jha.

“Together we will be best positioned to lead in the convergence of mobility, media, and the Internet. Our expanding portfolio of smart phones and end-to-end video content delivery capabilities will enable us to provide advanced mobile media solutions and multi-screen experiences for our customers,” Jha said.

Greg Brown, the other co-CEO, will head the remaining enterprise mobility and network businesses.

After the decision was announced, Brown said, “We are the leading mission-and business-critical technology solutions provider with a commitment to innovation. As an independent company, we will continue to build on our long-standing tradition of strong customer relationships, leading-edge product development, quality, thought leadership, and solid financial performance.”

Motorola chairman David Dorman said the re-structuring will provide “operational and strategic flexibility” for the two companies and position them for future success.

The telecom giant said both businesses will be well capitalized to execute their business plans and seize future opportunities.

Though both the companies will use the Motorola brand, Jha-run mobile devices and home business will own the brand name. It will license the brand name royalty free to the enterprise mobility and networks business.

With its mobile business in decline, Motorola had announced in 2008 to put the cell phone unit into a new company. But the plan was shelved because of the global crisis.

Motorola has not been able to produce a wonder handset to repat the popularity of Razr phone released in 2005.

CEOs press Indian government for faster clearances, uniform tax

Investors and CEOs assembled at the World Economic Forum requested the Indian government to expidite clearances for projects in India and establish a uniform tax rate.

Several of them interacted with Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who assured them that within the defined Foreign Direct Investment policy, the government would not only ensure speedy clearances but also facilitate them.

However, “the issues which they had were improving the mechanism in states for cutting down the time for approvals and rationalisation and uniformity of the taxes throughout the country,” Sharma said.

Sharma, who had several meetings in small groups with CEOs, apprised them of India’s ambitious tax reforms through the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will replace most of the taxes at the Central and the state level.

Sharma said India’s FDI policy regime assures investors of security of investment, intellectual property rights, data protection and exclusivity.

After establishing itself as a services hub for the world, India would work towards becoming a global sourcing centre for manufacturing.

The factory production contributes about 20 per cent to the country’s GDP against over 55 per cent from the services.

With an intention to increase the share of manufacturing in economic production, the government will soon come out with a national policy.

“We have started work on the manufacturing policy. We want to make India the production hub of the world,” he said.

Mr. Sharma said India and China are being clubbed as the two important emerging economies witnessing a shift of the economic balance of power.

“The shift is clearly acknowledged. And the new world economic order is headed in the right direction, reflecting the ground realities,” he added.