Monday, November 29, 2010

Need for more Investments from Europe in Infrastructure, Energy and Manufacturing: Anand Sharma – meets EU Trade Commissioner

Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister of commerce & Industry, today had a substantive meeting with the EU Trade Commissioner Mr. Karel de Gucht in Brussels to review India EU economic engagement and specifically take stock of the progress of India EU Broad Based Trade and Investment negotiations. Both Ministers expressed satisfaction on the status of on going negotiations and agreed on a roadmap which will enable early conclusion of negotiations. A joint Ministerial statement will be presented to the leaders at the India EU Summit to be held in Brussels on 10th December 2010.

Shri Sharma expressed optimism for an early conclusion with balanced gains for both India and EU. Shri Sharma and Mr. Karel de Gucht agreed that a conclusion of this agreement would send a strong message to the global community and would also give an impetus to the Doha round of WTO. EU is India’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade touching $ 70 billion last year and a conclusion of this agreement will catalyze greater trade and investment flows. Shri Sharma observed that there has been a considerable enhancement in India’s investments in EU and at the same time the Indian economy is ready to absorb much greater investment flows from Europe in all areas including infrastructure, energy, renewables and manufacturing.

Consignments of Indian generics transiting through Europe have faced difficulties in the past in context of seizures by EU authorities. EU Trade Commissioner assured Shri Sharma that a solution will be found to the satisfaction of India, and the required statutory changes in European regulations would be made.
Coal Resources in the Country

As per the latest National Inventory on Indian Coal Resources by GSI, as on 1.4.2010, the total coal resources assessed are about 276.81041 billion tones of which about 110 billion tones or 40% are proved reserves. The extractable reserves are estimated to be around 55 billion tones. At the current level of production of about 550 million tones per annum, the extractable reserves of coal in the country would last for about 100 years. However, the extractable reserves will increase as more coal reserves come into proved category.

Besides this coal is also imported, the import of coal in 2009-10 increased from 59.003 mts. In 2008-09 to 73.255 mts. i.e. an increase of 14.252 mts. The extent of increase in import of coal during 2008-09 over the previous year was 9.209 mts.

To encourage production of coal, captive mining is now permissible by private companies engaged in the generation of power, production of iron and steel, production of cement, coal gasification and coal liquefaction and other end uses, to be notified by the Government from time to time. In this regard 208 coal blocks with 48.82 billion tones reserves have been allocated so far to the government companies and approved captive end users for captive mining. As far as foreign direct investment (FDI) in coal sector is concerned, 100% FDI under the automatic route is allowed by the Government. Besides, the Coal Mines (Nationalization) Amendment Bill 2000 was introduced in Rajya Sabha in April, 2000, which seeks to permit private participation in coal mining, without the existing restriction of captive use, in order to augment coal production in the country.

This information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Coal and Statistics and Programme Implementations, Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.
MSTC LTD. Presents Dividend Cheque to Steel Minister

The Chairman-cum-Managing Director of MSTC Limited, Shri S.K.Tripathi today presented a cheque of Rs. 15.48 crore to the Union Minister of Steel, Shri Virbhadra Singh as a dividend for the year 2009-2010.

MSTC limited is a Government of India Public Sector Undertaking engaged in Trading under the administrative control of Ministry of Steel. Government of India holds 89.85% of shares in MSTC. The Company has reported a Profit After Tax (PAT) of Rs. 86.10 crores for the 2009-10 and declared a dividend 783% on its paid up share capital. In addition, Rs. 66.08 crore approx. was transferred to reserves of the Company taking them to Rs.406.28 crore as on 31.3.2010. MSTC is a cost effective company operating with a total manpower of 316 persons. Its per employee Profit After Tax comes to Rs. 27.25 lakh, which is one of the highest among the public enterprises. MSTC is a schedule ‘B’ Miniratna Category –I Company and is giving dividend continuously since its inception.

Extension of the pallet transport system at Bhushan Steel

Bhushan Steel Ltd., India, has issued an order  to SMS Logistik systeme, Germany, for the extension of the pallet transport system for hot-rolled coils at the Angul location in the federal state of Orissa.

Together with the hot rolling mill from SMS Siemag, the first coil conveying system was delivered to Bhushan Steel already in 2009. In the present extension, a pallet transport system will link a new storage bay to the existing system and thereby enable the facilities located there, such as the shearing lines and levelers, to be optimally supplied with hot-rolled coils.

The coil transport will first of all take place through a tunnel under-neath a road. The coils will then be lifted up by a lifting table to store level, from where they will be  conveyed along the bay columns to the crane takeover positions.

The modular structure and high flexibility of the pallet transport system allow existing plants and facilities to be extended without any problems.

The supply scope of SMS Logistiksysteme comprises the complete engineering as well as the manufacture, erection supervision and commissioning of the transport equipment, including the automation and the material tracking.

Nanshan Aluminium expands its storage and transport capacities

Shandong Nanshan Aluminum Co.,Ltd., China, has placed an order with SMS Logistiksysteme, Germany, to expand the storage and transport capacities of the works in Longkou in Shandong Province.

The way was already paved for this capacity increase at the beginning of the year by Nanshan Aluminium, when the order was placed for the rolling mills. This has now been followed by the order forexpanding the storage and retrieval machines for the high-bay store. Besides an automated crane for the flat store and two storage and retrieval machines for the high-bay store,the supply scope of SMS Logistiksysteme comprises the structural steelwork for the complete shelf system including the roof and wall linings as well as the cooling system.

The order volume also contains a driverless Automatic Coil Transporter (A.C.T.) which further strengthens the fleet of A.C.T. already supplied in 2006 for the new finishing bay.

SMS Logistiksysteme will supply the mechanical equipment, the entire automation technology and the logistics software.

The hot coils are cooled in a controlled manner by using a ventilation system in order to minimize the dwell times between the individual rolling processes. The coil management, tracking of the material flow and monitoring of the cooling process are performed with the aid of the logistics software developed by SMS Logistiksysteme.

                                                                           SMS SIEMAG

Luoyang Wangi orders a 250-m-long high-bay store from SMS Logistiksysteme

Luoyang Wanji Aluminium Processing Co., Ltd., China, has placed an order with SMS Logistiksysteme, Germany, for the supply of a fully automated 250-m-long high-bay store and of a transport system based on freely navigable vehicles (A.C.T.)  The equipment items are intended for a newly erected aluminum rolling mill in the eastern Chinese province of Henan.

The high-bay store consists of three rows of shelves with a total storage capacity of 1,400 coils on six levels. In the two aisles. Two storage and retrieval machines travel at a speed of up to 200 m/min. The large store length of around 250 m arises from the layout and space requirements of the neighboring cold rolling mills and of the finishing shop.

In the finishing shop, the coils are distributed by two driverless Automatic Coil Transporters (A.C.T.). These transporters are supplied with transport orders by the warehouse management system, which is likewise part of the supply.

Commissioning of the high-bay store is expected to be concluded by mid-2012.

This new order from China enables SMS Logistiksteme to extend its run of records in the construction of high-bay stores. At the beginning of the 1990s, the highest store, allowing up to 15 coils to be stacked vertically and with a storage capacity of more than 4,000 coils, was supplied to the then firm of BREGAL; in 2007, the Ping’ An group placed an order for the world’s highest-altitude high-bay store for coils on the Tibetan plateau; and now, at 250 m, the longest coil high-bay store is being implemented at Luoyang Wanji Aluminium Co., Ltd..

Siemens to provide wastewater treatment system to the largest international jewelry industrial park in China

Siemens (Tianjin) Water Technology Engineering Co. Ltd. (SWTE) has received an order from Shenzhen Zhongying Precious Metal Co. Ltd. worth several million US dollars. In the scope, Siemens will provide a wastewater treatment system capable of handling 9,000 tons per day of domestic wastewater for Shenzhen Lilang International Jewellery Industry Park (SZLIJIP). The solution will use Siemens advanced MemPulse membrane bioreactor (MBR) system. This engineering project will be the first of its kind for Siemens in China with underground MBR construction from a private-owned investment enterprise. The wastewater treatment system is scheduled to start up by mid of 2011.

“Gujarat NRE’s Australian Operations report Half yearly PAT of Rs. 120 Crores”

Kolkata, 29th November, 2010. The company has been receiving numerous requests from investors seeking to understand the impact on the half yearly profits of the company on a consolidated basis post declaration of the half yearly results of the Australian subsidiary last week. This more so in view of the growing impact of the Australian business in the working of Gujarat NRE Coke Limited (GNCL).

In this regard, we are pleased to advise that the stand alone profits of the company for the half year ended 30th Sept'10 has been Rs. 29.96 crores. On the other hand, Last week The Australian subsidiary of GNCL, Gujarat NRE Coking Coal Ltd wherein GNCL holds 77% stake; reported a net profit of A$ 29.4 million ( Rs 120.67 crores approx) for the half year ended Sep 2010 as compared to loss of $6.1 million (Rs 23.69 crores) for the half year ended 30th September 2009 . The same is being attributed to the fact that the Australian subsidiary has been successful in ramping its production to around 2 million tonnes per annum and simultaneously bring down its production cost and a robust coking coal price in the current FY. The positive effect of Australian results would be visible in the consolidated balance sheet of Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd. since it holds 77% stake therein.

The company is in the midst of mine development with further investments in excess of $ 350 million to increase production to 6 Million Tonnes per annum by 2014-15.  Gujarat NRE is also happy to advise that during the last couple of months the company has been able to develop a market for the run of the mine production to alternate buyers. Gujarat NRE has been ramping up coking coal production rapidly in the Australian mines, surplus coal after sales to GNCL in India is now being sold to external customers. We have already sold a few shipments of unwashed coking coal to third party customers in China during the current quarter. With the expected ramp up in product and continued decrease in the production cost and the sustained coking coal price of $200 + per tonne, the profitability is expected to improve further in the coming years.

Speaking on the results Mr Arun Kumar Jagatramka said “GNCL holds controlling stake in the 2 Australian coking coal mines with a target production of 6 million tonnes of coking coal in 4 years time.  The potential value thereof is several times the present net worth/market cap of GNCL and would get reflected over next few years. We do not believe in short term returns but rather believe in longer term growth of the company and creating much larger wealth for all stakeholders in the long term. This is in addition to the value that remains and continues to grow due to our dominant position in coke business. “

“From experience I can say that those investors who have patience and confidence in the company, did realise a gold mine in the form of GNCL in the last decade. I personally believe that decade to 2020 would see much higher investor returns than what we saw in the earlier decade, but this does not come without the current perceived pains that we are happy to endure and always look forward to having such investors who are prepared to be on this journey with us.”

Gujarat NRE Coke Limited is the largest merchant coke producer in India with capacities of around 1.3 million tonnes per annum. GNCL has also invested in clean energy by establishing 87.50 MW WTG.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Who should run stock exchanges?

By tilting its definition of ‘anchor investor' to fit only public financial institutions and scheduled commercial banks the Committee has effectively shut the door on other entities.


The Bimal Jalan Committee on the ownership and governance architecture for stock exchanges has virtually endorsed the National Stock Exchange model for future stock exchanges in the country. This becomes clear from the recommendation that the existing norm of five per cent ceiling on ownership in a stock exchange be tweaked to permit ‘anchor investors' to hold up to 24 per cent and aggregate of such investors to hold up to 49 per cent. While on the face of it this does appear to support well-heeled institutional investors or high net worth individuals to come forward to set up a market for trading in equity and other related instruments, by tilting its definition of an ‘anchor investor' to accommodate only public financial institutions and scheduled commercial banks the Committee has effectively shut the door on the prospects of any other entity entering this field. This is not to suggest that the NSE model has not served the interests of Indian capital market well. Indeed if anything, the reputation for a sophisticated and well developed market for corporate instruments that India has acquired in recent years is owed largely to the innovation of electronic screen-based trading by the NSE when it commenced operations in 1994.

But the larger question is whether the economy could visualise alternative models of ownership of stock exchanges. The Committee quite rightly recognises that there is something to be said for a well-dispersed ownership arrangement comprising institutions and retail investors helping in reducing the likelihood of decisions being made in the interests of any particular segment of the market. True, it has also referred to the possibility with a well diversified ownership compounded by restrictions on maximum stake that an investor can acquire, there is a risk of investor apathy creeping into the management of stock exchanges. Thus, while there are two opposing arguments one looked in vain for some explanation as to why the Committee felt that a financial institution sponsored, concentrated ownership model is best suited for setting up a stock exchange. This is all the more unfortunate in as much as the Committee underscores the vital role that stock exchanges perform in capital formation in an economy, and ownership structure has implications for an efficient regulatory framework.

The complicated structure of a ceiling on profits of stock exchanges linking fair returns to yields on 10-year gilts and premiums for risk and illiquidity of investments that the Committee has recommended (listing of shares of an exchange has been ruled out) is a throw back to the era of licences and price controls. Perhaps this was inevitable as the Committee's principal recommendation virtually rules out fresh entrants.

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Rio Tinto announces new global Centre for Underground Mine Construction in Canada

 
  

Rio Tinto has announced a key strategic partnership in Canada, teaming with world leading researchers to create the Rio Tinto Centre for Underground Mine Construction.

The new Centre will be based at the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) in Sudbury, Ontario, and will focus on innovative rapid mine construction and ground control for mining at depth.

Rio Tinto is investing C$10 million over five years in the centre, completing a suite of five global long term Rio Tinto research centres around the world.

The work with CEMI will assist Rio Tinto’s development of new excavation systems through The Mine of the Future™ programme, focusing on significantly improving the construction and operation of underground mines.

As part of this programme, Rio Tinto will conduct a full scale performance verification trial in 2012 at Northparkes’ copper and gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, as the first of three new underground excavation systems.

Rio Tinto Head of Innovation, John McGagh, said: “In order to satisfy the global demand for minerals we will need to go deeper to access new resources. By partnering with CEMI, Rio Tinto is supporting research into high speed underground mine construction.

“This collaboration is in keeping with our long term commitment to innovation. It’s part of our strategy to collect the world’s experts and develop mutually beneficial partnerships to develop technologies which address the future requirements of Rio Tinto. Put simply, there is no other mining operation in the world attempting to take the approach that we are on this scale.”

CEMI President/CEO Doctor Peter K Kaiser said Rio Tinto’s support would enable CEMI to collaborate with recognised researchers on ground control and machine performance issues.

“With test sites, possibly on three continents, it will be of strategic importance to strengthen collaborations with expertise beyond our boundaries,” Dr Kaiser said.

“In collaboration with Rio Tinto, CEMI will be able to expand its research and development programmes and increase its global reach.”

Rio Tinto General Manager Underground Innovation Dr Fred Delabbio said: “Our partnership with CEMI provides an opportunity to combine experts from the civil and mining industries.  The Centre’s research into high speed underground mine construction will include implementation of mechanised tunnelling and shaft sinking systems and CEMI will assist in the development of innovative support systems and in minimising the risks for such technologies.”

Key areas that CEMI will work on include:
• developing and designing innovative support methods for different excavation systems;
• establishing reliable predictions of rock behaviour to ensure effective construction technologies are selected and utilised;
• advanced rock mass characterisation technologies;
• performance of mechanical rock excavation based systems from an equipment and ground management perspective;
• pillar design and underground excavation stability projects such as rock fracture modelling.

The Centre for Underground Mine Construction is the fifth global long term Rio Tinto research centre.

• The Rio Tinto Centre for Mine Automation – in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney
• The Rio Tinto Centre for Advanced Mineral Sorting – a partnership with the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre at The University of Queensland
• The Rio Tinto Centre for Materials and Sensing - at Curtin University in Perth
• The Rio Tinto Centre for Advanced Mineral Recovery – in collaboration with the Imperial College in London 
• The Rio Tinto Centre for Underground Mine Construction – in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation in Canada

About CEMI

The Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), located in Sudbury, Ontario, is continuing its R&D efforts to facilitate the delivery of step-change research initiatives which are deemed critically important to the mining industry. It strives to establish excellence in strategic areas of research: deep mining, mineral exploration, integrated mine engineering, environment and sustainability. 


About Rio Tinto
 

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.


Mobile Number Portability in India

 

 

Yet another milestone achieved by the Telecom Industry – Mobile Number Portability launch being announced from Haryana Licensed Service Area on November 25, 2010.

 

COAI and the GSM industry warmly welcomes the implementation of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in India. It began with the DoT’s initiative of MNP project on April 17, 2009 by granting Licenses to two M N P operators Syniverse Technologies India and M N P Interconnection Telecom Solutions India. COAI worked very closely with DoT, TEC and all operators to ensure smooth and early accomplishment of MNP.

                                                                                                                 

Mr. Sanjay Kapoor, Chairman COAI congratulated the Ministry and lauded the efforts of the industry on the successful launch of MNP, and stated that  “Inspite of the complex Indian Telecom Market, the M N P has been successfully implemented by the unified effort of the, Ministry of Communication, TRAI and the Telecom Industry.”

 

Mr. Sanjeev Aga, Vice Chairperson COAI, said that it is a feat not only for the Industry but for the common man as well, as M N P will provide unprecedented freedom of choice, maximize customer satisfaction and allow service providers to showcase their brand value.

 

Mr. Rajan S Mathews, Director General COAI stated that “Indian mobility market is a unique experience. It is the most competitive market with ten to twelve players operating in twenty two telecom circles and probably the first in the world to introduce affordability at this scale. Introduction of MNP will further pave the way for more customer freedom and choice.  

 

From a user’s perspective, mobile number portability creates an ability to switch mobile network without the possible cost and inconvenience of a change of their telephone number. It also creates for mobile users the benefit of something akin to a personal number. This would remove the last major obstacle to the freedom of choice by consumers and would promote fair and effective competition in the market.

 

Mr. Mathews further added that “It should be appreciated that MNP is a complex process that involved huge investment by all the operators in terms of upgradation of network, procurement of hardware, software etc. However, the entire industry along with DoT and TRAI has done a remarkable job to implement MNP in a time bound manner to ensure enhanced customer satisfaction and competition in the Indian market.”

Siemens to modernize aluminum cold rolling mill in Bahrain

Siemens VAI Metals Technologies has received an order from Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill Co. B.S.C. (GARMCO) in Manama, Bahrain, to equip its aluminum cold rolling mill no. 2 with new automation and drive systems. The modernization is intended to improve plant availability as well as to ensure consistently high product quality. The cold rolling mill will be upgraded during a scheduled plant shutdown at the end of February 2011.
Steel demand seen rising 9-10% this fiscal


Domestic steel demand is likely to rise by 9-10 per cent for the 2010-11 fiscal, according to JSW Steel officials. The demand will be driven by the automobile, infrastructure and consumer durables sector.

“Demand from the auto sector looks very promising this year and is expected to increase by 20 per cent from last year,” said Mr Sharad Mahendra, Vice-President, JSW Steel Ltd. He added that raw material prices are also expected to increase in the coming quarter which would continue to be a problem for steel companies. Coking coal prices in the January-March quarter are expected to be $225 a tonne as against $210 currently.

Mr Mahendra was speaking at the sidelines of the mJunction India Steel 2010 summit.

Also at the summit, Essar Steel said that prices of long and flat steel products are expected to rise in the short term to match the increasing raw material prices.

“There is pressure on steel prices to go up to neutralise the impact of high raw material prices,” said Mr Vikram Amin, Executive Director (Marketing and Sales), Essar Steel Ltd.

However, he could not comment on how much the prices would increase by. “It is difficult to comment on the exact price rise as this needs to be negotiated with the customers,” he said.

Costs for iron ore and coking coal have surged this year after the miners moved to a quarterly pricing mechanism. As a result, in quarter two, profits dipped for most steel companies despite increasing sales.

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Faultlines in global trading



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While protectionism is a threat, the world's trading system is also at risk from indiscriminate currency tweaking that endangers market stability.


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For more than a year emerging market economies (EMEs) have occupied the pride of place as the hub of world economic growth while America still sobs at the sink. To those living in East Asia, China and India, that may come as no surprise, given the problem-free, though protracted, recovery after September 2008. Investments are booming to the point where — in China, for instance — inflation is beginning to hurt. Given Ireland's messy economic situation, Europe's debt woes and the now-on-now-off start to recovery in the US, is the balance of economic power shifting away from London and New York to Mumbai or Shanghai?

It would be tempting to assume so; circumstantial evidence suggests EMEs have de-coupled from the developed markets so much that they influence the rate of global economic growth. But Dr. D. Subbarao, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, warns against any tendency to downplay the importance of the US or Europe. For all their sluggish performance these past two years, for all the weak signs of recovery in the US, the cold reality is that the two blocs determine world trade as the biggest exporters and importers. This has been so since the end of the Second World War and continues to be the case now. The East Asian miracle and the Chinese export juggernaut, as well as exports from the other EMEs, worked in large part because the doors to the markets of the West were wide open and strong economic growth generated employment and consumer demand. But, as the RBI chief warns, danger lurks round the corner in the form of protectionism because recovery is dragging and employment stays flat; shutting the doors to imports would hurt the emerging economies because of the value of such trade in their GDP — a strong enough reason for China to be most reluctant to strengthen its currency. The EMEs, in other words, are not de-coupled and, by that token, their expansion is, at best, fragile. But there is another reason why it is tentative; the recent currency crisis exposes a major fault line in the global marketplace, with more countries wanting to export and therefore retain a competitive edge with weak currencies; not just China but almost every export-dependent country is fiddling with exchange rates to maintain their market shares and trade surpluses.

The world's trading system thus runs a risk of protectionism, to be sure, but also from indiscriminate currency tweaking that endangers the stability of the marketplace with a glut of exporters and few buyers. Problem is, the WTO and the IMF can do precious little.

http://twitter.com/umeshshanmugam

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mechel Increases Its Stake in the Charter Capital of Toplofikatsia Rousse AD up to 100%

Moscow, Russia – November 24, 2010 – Mechel OAO (NYSE: MTL), one of the leading Russian mining and metals companies, announces acquisition of 51% stake in the charter capital of Toplofikatsia Rousse AD (TPP “Rousse”), located in the Republic of Bulgaria. As the result Mechel has increased its stake in the charter capital of the power station up to 100% from the previously owned stake of 49%.

Consolidation of 100% stake in Toplofikatsia Rousse AD is implemented in line with Mechel’s power segment development strategy. It provides new opportunities for realization of electric power in promising European market and will strengthen Company’s position in power industry.

After Mechel’s acquisition of 49% shares of Rousse TPP in 2007 the station secured stable consumption of steam coal manufactured by Southern Kuzbass Coal Company OAO. During the past heating season Europe faced difficulties in gas supplies, while Kuzbass coal allowed TPP to continue operations amid rising prices on power-plant fuel. Furthermore the utilization of Kuznetsk Coal Basin’s high quality coal allows the station to fulfill strict European requirements on environmental protection with regard to sulfur and volatile substances emissions without additional investments. The balanced value chain contributes to decrease in the Company’s expenses and improves power and heat generation efficiency.

Toplofikatsia Rousse runs all municipal heat distribution systems of Rousse city as well as remote stations and heat sites. TPP provides nearby facilities and citizens with steam, heat and hot water.

Viktor Gvozdev, CEO of Mechel Energo OOO, commented on the event: «The continuous development of the Group’s power segment is necessary for the effective work of the whole Group. The stake increase up to 100% is Mechel’s logical step in strengthening its positions in power industry and increasing efficiency of its operations in prospective European power market following the strategy of increasing output of high value added products».

“Small Business SaturdaySM” Gathers Momentum

 

One Million People (and counting) Pledge Their Support for Small Business on Facebook

 

WHAT:

 

November 27th marks the first-ever Small Business Saturday, an answer to Black Friday, which is designed for big box retailers, and Cyber Monday, which is centered on  e-tailers. Small Business Saturday is a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. 

 

Since the launch of the Small Business Saturday initiative on November 8th, the movement has gathered tremendous momentum.

 

·         Consumers and business owners are flooding the Small Business Saturday Facebook page with support: One million people have pledged their support by ‘liking’ Small Business Saturday on Facebook (www.facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturday);

·         More than 100,000 card members (and counting) have already registered for the $25 statement credit. In response this show of public enthusiasm, American Express has increased the cap to 200,000.

·         10,000 small businesses have signed up for free Facebook advertising as part of the Small Business Saturday, and those ads are currently running.

·         Twitter is abuzz with consumers and small business owners rallying around Small Business Saturday: nearly 18,000 tweets have been sent using the hashtags #smallbusinesssaturday and #smallbizsaturday;

·         Elected Officials  are taking note: Nearly three dozen elected officials have declared November 27 as Small Business Saturday, including the Governors of Connecticut, Florida, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Utah, and the Mayors of  Boston, MA, Louisville, KY, New York, NY, Phoenix, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT and Topeka, KS.

·         Grassroots organizations are putting wind in the sails nearly a dozen local merchant organizations have created Small Business Saturday events and/or are offering special deals.

o        In Portland, OR, Supportland, a local loyalty program is offering triple points on Small Business Saturday when residents shop at small businesses in the Supportland network. Points can be used to purchase goods at participating local businesses.

o        The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has merged their Shop Local campaign with Small Business Saturday to encourage holiday shoppers to keep their business within the local community. By visiting www.ShopOurMembers.com shoppers will be able to find over 50 Myrtle Beach area businesses participating in the campaign, each offering special holiday discounts and specials to customers.

·         Small businesses are getting creative and launching Small Business Saturday-themed promotions of their own:

o        Terrapin Station Winery in Maryland, which normally closes its tasting room for the season in October, is opening just for Small Business Saturday;

o        Always Christine photography in Michigan is offering a 27% discount to anyone who mentions Small Business Saturday when they come in on November 27;

o        Stella & Dot jewelry in Connecticut is giving all of its net proceeds from a line of $19 bracelets designed for little girls to Girls Inc.

 

WHO:

 

Joining American Express in declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday are an initial group of more than a dozen advocacy, public and private organizations.

 

WHERE:

 

In partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Trust Main Street Center, Small Business Saturday will be celebrated with on-the-ground activates in the Main Street communities of Boston, MA, Cedar Falls, IA and Port Townsend, WA. The movement is national, however, and every American consumer is encouraged to patronize small, independently owned businesses.

 

LOVE STIMULATES BUSINESS

                                         

  A boy has designed an online logo directory when his girlfriend’s  father challenged him to earn one crore rupees before he would allow his daughter to marry him. This is a story of a boy and a girl who had an love affair since their college days and wanted to marry each other.

                                           

                                But when the boy approached her father for the marriage proposal, he asked the boy to earn one crore rupees first and then he will allow them to marry. The boy tried everything to achieve the target, but it was not an easy one. When he was frustrated at last, the idea of designing a logo directory strike in his mind. So he designed a website where all types of business can be listed by displaying their logo and link their website or business detail with it. The name of his website is www.onlinepages.in.

 

                               According to Jitendra Malsaria, the founder of onlinepages.in, it is ‘India’s first logo directory’ and a perfect advertising solution because business no matter small or big can brand their logo. When someone clicks on their logo, linked website or the business detail will be opened. In less than a month, he has got some big clients in his list and getting many inquiries also.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Spoken English Skills: The Backbone of the BPO Industry

By Prashant Banerjee, Associate Marketing Manager, Pearson Clinical and Talent Assessment

 

Picture this - A customer service executive in an Indian BPO works in a business process that requires investigating customer problems related to retail banking. The investigation involves written and verbal correspondence with overseas customers, who are native speakers of the English language, in order to give updates, assurances, and eventually a resolution to their problems. Customers who contact the parent company of the BPO tend to be upset and expect a speedy resolution of their query.  Calling a customer is always a faster option to wrap up a query, as compared to writing a business letter.  Calling also saves the customer the suspense of knowing whether they’re receiving a resolution, besides the opportunity for the customer service executive to offer real-time verbal assurances about quality. However, despite the obvious desirable outcomes of a telephonic interaction with a customer, this employee rarely picks up the phone to talk to customers. His unwillingness to talk to a customer is rooted in his limited language and communication skills. Nevertheless, this limitation remains under the management’s radar with no grave concerns raised about his performance since this person is able to function in his role reasonably well by adhering to business procedures and policies, including religiously writing largely scripted business letters to customers!   Customers who do not receive calls from this person have a service experience, which is different from what they desire.  The ultimate consequence for the company is loss of business as some of these customers are not completely convinced of assured service standards and hence decide to do business with the company’s competitors.  

The above vignette highlights an important aspect of employment in a BPO business – there are often ingenious ways to get around personal limitations in communication skills when interfacing with customers who are native speakers of the English language. Even as employees manage to perform as per the company’s expectations, they might not be doing what is best for the business – talking to customers.  The stark and simple fact about the BPO industry is that business process outsourcing tends to take place from English-speaking countries to those where English is not the first language.  This entails that a BPO employee who is required to invest a significant amount of time and effort in speaking to customers, actually has adequate facility with the English language. While language training programs and online self-learning modules can help build telephone etiquettes and drive home the importance of standard parameters of communication skills such as avoiding fillers, varying one’s acknowledgement, appropriate greeting and closing lines etc, these methods cannot teach an employee spoken English language skills. Especially, the ability to understand and respond verbally to native speakers of the language is not something that can be taught in an induction program before an employee hits the floor.  Let’s face it – although communication goes beyond language skills, the latter is still a core competency within communication that cannot be substituted justifiably!

With the multi-billion dollar Indian BPO industry being attacked in recent times by political rhetoric reflecting anti-outsourcing sentiments from the US as well as actual outsourcing bans as in the case of Ohio, there is a need to relook standards of spoken English language proficiency that BPOs in India are willing to accept for incoming recruits. This relook is pragmatic because customer satisfaction over the telephone is intrinsically linked to communication and language skills of the employee. A collective build up of dissatisfaction with customer service from non-English speaking countries will only serve to fuel further anti-outsourcing sentiment in the west.  Adding to this urgency is rising competition from other hotspots for outsourcing such as the Philippines, China or countries in Latin America. In these countries, overall standards of English proficiency might be higher or improving rapidly due to factors such as more concerted governmental efforts to promote the English language and greater cultural familiarity with the west.

Traditional methods of assessing language competency by language trainers are cumbersome and are often fraught with subjective decisions.  What progressive BPOs that rely on language and culture training programs need to understand is that the steady stream of hopefuls seeking BPO jobs should be screened in a standardized, efficient and reliable manner that reduces or even better, eliminates human involvement completely.  Given the wide range of business processes within a company, each with varying ratios of non-voice to voice components, such a screening would also eliminate wrong matches between language capability and the business process requirement. The cost of a wrong match is not apparent right away or even in the long run, as in the case of the employee in the vignette. However, when more and more such individuals, who are skilled in other aspects and would be better suited to other responsibilities, find their way to speaking roles they are unwilling or incapable of performing, the end result for the BPO will be a disconnect with customer needs, eventually leading to loss of brand reputation and business.

Clearly, the Indian BPO industry needs to take major strides in the direction of upgrading the pool of proficient English-language speakers in order to stay ahead of the race and achieve their business goals for their parent companies in the west.

RUSSIAN MANUFACTURER ORDERS COMPLETE SYSTEM FOR CONTINUOUS PRODUCTION OF FOAM INSULATED PIPE

Endless production delivers outstanding product characteristics

 
Munich, November 24, 2010 – In early 2010, KraussMaffei Berstorff launched a new, complete system for continuous production of PUR-insulated pipe. Worldwide customer reaction to this innovative technology has been extremely positive and demand for the new system is growing. Technopark, a plastic pipe producer headquartered in St. Petersburg, recently ordered a complete line.

 

Escalating demand for foam-insulated pipe

“The current drive to reduce energy consumption, including capturing off-heat, and to exploit geothermal energy sources and biogas can be expected to produce strong growth in demand for production systems to make insulated pipe,” says Michael Hofhus, manager of the Pipe Product Group at KraussMaffei Berstorff. The most recent example is the order from Technopark. The Russian company is an important pipe manufacturer, operating several extrusion lines to produce a wide spectrum of pipe grades for different applications. Technopark is now expanding its production capacity with the new system from KraussMaffei Berstorff, which it will use to produce pipe for district heating systems by encasing media pipes, made of crosslinked polyethylene, with polyurethane foam insulation and a PE outer sheath. “Two key factors in this purchase decision were KraussMaffei Berstorff’s ability to supply the complete production line as a system partner and the outstanding quality of the end product coming off this line,” commented Michael Hofhus.

 

Quality all along the line

The line is engineered for continuous production of insulated pipe. The media pipe is unwound continuously from the steel drums, on which it is supplied line, centered as it passes through a retarder and fed into the foam-contouring unit. The pipe is encapsulated with PUR foam, a PE sheath is applied, the product is cooled and then wound onto rolls as it emerges from the haul-off. The biggest insulated pipe systems produced on this line have an outer diameter of 180 millimeters; the diameter of the media pipe itself is 110 millimeters. With very low manpower input, this endless process delivers production speeds of up to five meters a minute. The district heating pipe systems that come off the production line can be laid very easily, quickly and at low cost. The number of joins required can be sharply reduced. The continuous production process developed by KraussMaffei Berstorff produces pipe systems for district heating with consistently excellent insulation results. It virtually eliminates the problems of leakage and thermal bridging, which are all too familiar in connection with discontinuous production processes.

Evraz Completes Modernisation of Steelmaking at NTMK

Evraz Group (LSE: EVR) (“Evraz” or the “Company”) announces the completion of the modernisation of its converter shop at NTMK, Evraz’s steel mill in the Urals, Russia. As a result, the converter shop’s annual capacity increased by 0.7 million tonnes to 4.5 million tonnes of steel

Reconstruction of converter No 4 and caster No 3 was the last stage of a large-scale modernisation project. The total cost of the modernisation of the No 4 converter amounted to 1.6 billion roubles (approx. US$50 million). Investment into the modernisation of caster No 3 totalled 1.7 billion roubles (approx. US$55 million).

The NTMK steelmaking facilities now consist of four upgraded converters and four continuous casting machines. Implementation of gas cleaning and extraction equipment significantly decreased emissions at the converter shop. The total investment in the converter shop modernisation was 9.7 billion roubles (approx. US$310 million).

Alexander Frolov, Evraz’s CEO, said, “Following its modernisation, NTMK now has advanced converter production facilities which meet current standards. This investment in the steelmaking facilities will reduce cash costs of steel production at NTMK and provides a cleaner and safer environment for the workforce.”

                                                                             HERTWICH

Two-chamber melting furnaces for OTTO FUCHS

OTTO FUCHS KG, Germany, has placed an order with Hertwich Engineering, Austria, for the supply of two turnkey two chamber melting furnaces for approx. 50,000 tpy annual production.The new Ecomelt-type furnaces are designed to ensure minimal metal loss and most economical operation and will replace obsolete induction furnaces.

HERTWICH

SMS group

Helical ultrasonic inspection stations made by Hertwich Engineering guarantee and document that aluminum billets are free from defects

Hertwich  Engineering, Austria, has been awarded four orders for ultrasonic billet  inspection stations, all of them of helical type for volume inspection.

Two stations have already been successfully commissioned for Hammerer Aluminium Industries GmbH (HAI) at its Ranshofen, Austria, and Arad, Romania, works. The remaining two UT stations are scheduled to be commissioned around the end of 2010 at Dubai Aluminium Company  Ltd. (DUBAL), United Arab Emirates, and at IMPOL d. d. Aluminium Industry, Slovenia, respectively.

All four UT stations are designed for helical inspection of the entire billet volume to detect faults and inclusions, meeting the requirements of ASTM B 594 class A or B, with flat bottom hole of 1.2 or 2.0 mm, and surface faults 2mm deep. Billet diameters range from 125 to 450mm.

The number of probes per unit is determined to meet specific throughput requirements (100,000 to 150,000 tpy).

Fully  automated ultrasonic inspection equipment is an indispensable instrument to certify and document that billets are free from defects and to achieve best economy of operation. The volume inspection is mandatory for billet suppliers to the automotive and aircraft industries.

 

Hertwich Engineering GmbH is a company of the SMS group, which is, under the roof of the holding SMS GmbH,a group of companies internationally active in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry. It consists of the two Business Areas SMS Siemag and SMS Meer. In 2009, some 9,000 employees worldwide generated a turnover of EUR 3.9 bn.

 

 

 

 

Third Summit on the Global Agenda to Take Place in Dubai from 29 November to 1 December

  • The Summit on the Global Agenda will take place in Dubai from 29 November to 1 December 2010
  • Over 600 experts from 60 countries will take part

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 24 November 2010 – The World Economic Forum will host its third Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai from 29 November to 1 December 2010. The Summit is held in partnership with the United Arab Emirates represented by the Government of Dubai.

During the three-day Summit, this unique gathering of the Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils – which consists of the world’s most relevant thought leaders from academia, business, government and society – will bring together over 600 participants from 60 countries. They will engage in interactive workshops and sessions to set priorities for the most compelling ideas to improve the state of the world and identify relevant risks and innovative responses to address the world’s challenges.

                                                           SMS group

DUBAL Aluminium orders batch homogenizing plant from Hertwich

Dubai Aluminium Company Ltd. (DUBAL), United Arab Emirates, has placed an order with Hertwich Engineering, Austria,for the supply and commissioning  of a batch homogenizing facility.

The scope comprises two batch homogenizing furnaces as well as one air cooling station. Due to the reversing air concept and regulation by flaps, some 20% faster heating of the logs is achieved besides improved temperature uniformity. The facility is fully automated and heating is regulated through measurement of the air and metal temperatures.

The same concept is employed in the cooling station to ensure efficient cooling.

Commissioning is scheduled for the end of 2010.

Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd’s Australian Subsidiary Gujarat NRE Coking Coal Ltd

 declares excellent H1 results as Turnover Doubles, Record Growth in Profits

 

Kolkata, 24th November, 2010. M/s. Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd’s Australian subsidiary, M/s. Gujarat NRE Coking Coal Limited has announced its results for the half year ended 30th September 2010. The company has declared an impressive result with turnover doubling as well as a registering a record profit growth.

The total revenue from operations for the 6 months period ended 30th September 2010 was $154.7 million which is more than two fold increase from the revenue of $67.6 million reported for the half year ended 30th September 2009. The Gross Profit for the half year ended 30th September 2010 was $53.4 million as compared to the gross loss of $7.5 million for the previous half year ended 30th September 2009. The net profit for the half year under consideration was $29.4 million as compared to loss of $6.1 million for the half year ended 30th September 2009

Commenting on this remarkable result, Mr Arun Kumar Jagatramka, Chairman Gujarat NRE said, “We are extremely satisfied with the result and this only speaks of our commitment towards  future development of the mine, our capability of excellent project management in achieving the desired result and the hard work put up by all in the company. I would like to congratulate the entire staff of Gujarat NRE for this impressive show and would urge them to carry on this good work.” He further added, “We are making huge investments in development of our mines and increase production to 6 Million Tonnes per annum by 2014-15. The Company has placed an order with Joy Mining for the supply of a brand new longwall system at NRE No 1 Colliery in the year 2011 as well as an upgrade to the longwall system at NRE Wongawilli Colliery in the year 2013.” In order to sustain current and proposed operational activities at NRE Wongawilli, the Company during the quarter has commenced a 33 KV Power Project, which will be owned and operated by Integral Energy and would provide a long term reliable source of power to the mine, informed Mr Jagatramka.

“The price of coking coal has been on the rise and has doubled over last year. With increase in production at a higher price, the margin increases many fold and the company is poised for an excellent growth trajectory. The impressive half yearly results can be attributed to doubling in production at a double the last year’s price”, said Mr Jagatramka. The coal produced is sold to the major offtake partner Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd, the Indian parent company, which is the largest met coke producer in India. However, with increased production, the company has also exported a few shipments to other parties as well in China and elsewhere.

Cancún Climate Summit Can Yield Successes, U.S. Negotiator Says
 

By Karin Rives
Staff Writer
 
Washington - Nations won't be able to agree on a legally binding climate treaty this year, but they can make progress in a number of key areas that could - "maybe" - lead to a final deal next year, the U.S. chief climate negotiator said.
 
"What we're seeking now in Cancún is a balanced package of decisions," U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern told international journalists in Washington on November 22. "Rather than insisting on a legal treaty before anything happens, we should move down the pragmatic path of concrete operational decisions."
 
The United Nations-led 16th Conference of the Parties (COP-16) in Cancún, Mexico, between November 29 and December 10, will be the biggest climate meeting of the year in hopes of taking negotiations forward.
 
The immediate goal, Stern said, is to make good on nonbinding commitments made at last year's climate summit in Copenhagen ( http://www.america.gov/cop_15.html ).
 
If done right, he said, representatives from 192 countries could set up a "green fund" that will handle financial climate assistance to developing countries, start implementing significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, put in place a system of transparency and accountability, and rapidly advance climate-adaptation and forest-protection programs.
 
A key provision of the nonbinding Copenhagen Accord, drafted by the world's largest economies at the 2009 summit, required developed countries to raise $30 billion from 2010 to 2012 to assist developing countries. This so-called "fast track" pot of money for developing countries, many of which are already grappling with the effects of climate change, would be followed by a much larger commitment of $100 billion annually by 2020.
 
U.S. BOOSTS FAST-TRACK FINANCING IN 2010
 
The U.S. Department of State released a fact sheet November 22 showing that the United States spent $1.7 billion in 2010 ( http://www.state.gov/g/oes/rls/rpts/faststart/index.htm ) on fast-track financing programs in developing countries.
 
Climate assistance from the State and Treasury departments, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development, more than tripled from $316 million in fiscal year 2009 to about $1 billion in fiscal year 2010, which ended September 30. Over the same period, the three agencies increased their assistance for nations adapting to climate change tenfold to reach $244 million.
 
"This financing is being used in a range of projects all around the world, from adaptation activities in Africa and the small island states, to assisting Indonesia with efforts to reduce deforestation, to helping Andean countries address the impacts of tropical glacier retreat," Stern said. "In our view, these investments are not only good for developing countries, they are important for our own economic, environmental and national security well-being."
 
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) should remain the venue for future negotiations, Stern said. "It has history and credibility on its side and we should try to make progress there."
 
But, Stern said, "It is incumbent on all countries there who want the UNFCCC to remain the venue for climate negotiations to make it work because year after year of stalemate will inevitably lead to a migration to other places. ... That's not something that the United States is looking for."
 
EMISSIONS TARGET STANDS
 
The United States, the world's second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, announced last year it will reduce emissions 17 percent by 2020. Stern said he believes the country will meet that target as new vehicle-emissions standards and restrictions on factory emissions take hold and regulators and lawmakers continue to look for alternatives to fossil fuels.
 
Comprehensive climate change legislation will likely remain stalled in Congress, but there could still be pieces of energy and environmental legislation passed that contribute to a reduction in U.S. emissions, he said.
 
A Norwegian journalist asked whether the recent election of some members of Congress who openly question the science behind climate change will affect U.S. climate commitments and diplomacy. Stern said the question keeps coming up and that he's been responding with a long-ago quote from a former New York senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
 
"Everybody is entitled to their opinions, but they're not entitled to their own facts," Stern said. "And that's something some of our friends in Congress are going to have to learn."
 
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)
Coal India moves closer to stake buy in Peabody Energy's Australian asset

Coal India Ltd is moving closer to picking up a participatory stake in Peabody Energy's Australian asset for less than $200 million.

The joint venture will offer CIL access to equity coal for shipments to India.

On joint ventures

Responding to queries on its joint ventures abroad, the CIL Chairman, Mr Partha S. Bhattacharyya, said, “There seems to be a closer meeting of minds with regard to our discussion for Australian asset (of Peabody). It may lead to concrete end in the near future.”

He later admitted that the discussions were on with Peabody and the pricing differences had “narrowed” down.

The deal includes buying stake at a particular mine of Peabody in Australia and also a long-term offtake agreement.

“The deal will cost less than $200 million,” Mr Bhattacharyya said.

He, however, clarified that the company was yet to formulate any firm proposal in this regard for consideration of the board.

Meanwhile, the fate of a similar joint venture discussion with the Massey Energy for assets in the US has become uncertain, as the US-based company itself is reportedly up for sale.

Massey Energy

On CIL's interest in acquiring Massey, Mr Bhattacharyya said that the company had not received any such offer so far.

The CIL Chairman, however, was bullish in striking long term coal offtake deals with global majors.

“We have received a large number of proposals offering huge quantities for long term offtake. We are hopeful in striking such deals ensuring import of thermal coal in the country beginning this fiscal provided the pricing issues are resolved,” he said, adding that the company has involved the Central Vigilance Commission in formulating such deals.

“This is the first time we are entering in the global arena and we do not want to take any risk with regard to either our joint venture or long term procurement interests,” he added.

Underground mines

On the domestic front, the company's initiative to open high capacity (3-5 mt) underground mines may be successful as a number of bids are received for developing and operating a coking coal block (Kapuria) under Bharat Coking Coal Ltd.

It may be mentioned that the previous CIL tender for such projects did not receive any participation.

The company has also awarded the first of the 20 proposed washeries to Heavy Engineering Corporation, Ranchi. HEC will build the 5 mt washery with Chinese technology.