Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NTPC pays total dividend of Rs.2968.36 crore for 2008-09

NTPC Limited has paid a total dividend of Rs.2968.36 crore for the financial year (FY) 2008-09, which amounts to 36% of its paid-up capital. This is the highest ever dividend declared by the Company. The Shareholders of the Company have approved a final dividend of 8%, amounting to Rs.659.63 crore at the 33rd Annual General Meeting held recently.

A cheque amounting to Rs.590.37 crore was presented by Shri R.S.Sharma, CMD, NTPC to Shri H. S. Brahma, Secretary (Power), Govt. of India, being the share of Government of India towards final dividend for the FY 2008-09 in New Delhi. Other senior officials from Ministry of Power and NTPC were present on the occasion.

The Company had earlier paid to Govt. of India an interim dividend of Rs.2066.30 crore in February 2009. Thus, NTPC has made a total dividend payment of Rs.2656.67 crore to the Government of India for the FY 2008-09 as against Rs.2582.87 crore for the last FY 2007-08.

This is the 16th consecutive year that NTPC has paid dividend.

The Audacity of Greed: Free Markets, Corporate Thieves, and the Looting of America by Jonathan Tasini

September 2009 – Ig Publishing
A critical examination of the people and values responsible for the collapse of the American economy, and a prescription for valuing the American workforce.
“Jonathan Tasini is one of the country’s premier labor writers. Not just a reporter, he brings a
wealth of firsthand, frontline, experience to every issue he tackles. —Barbara Ehrenreich
"This is must reading for anyone who wants to know how we got into this financial mess – and
what it will take to get out of it.”—Katrina Vanden Heuvel “In order to comprehend the entirety of our nation’s economic system, an understanding of working-class Americans and the labor movement is absolutely essential. Nobody understands that better than Jonathan Tasini. His writing is infused with a thorough knowledge of not only labor, but how corporate greed —James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters New York: Over the past quarter century, we have lived through the greatest looting of wealth in human history. While billions of dollars streamed into the pockets of a few elites in the corporate and economic class, the vast majority of citizens have lived through a period of falling wages, disappearing pensions, and dwindling bank accounts—all of which led to the personal debt crisis that lies at the root of the current financial meltdown. 
In The Audacity of Greed: Free Markets, Corporate Thieves, and the Looting of America,
long time labor and economics writer Jonathan Tasini examines the phony ethos of the freemarket that robs everyday Americans, and exposes the individuals responsible for the looting of America. From corporate executives who funded their lavish lifestyles at the public’s
expense, to the politicians who let it happen, Tasini argues that we need a cultural and
philosophical revolution that punctures the fable of market fundamentalism and, by doing so,
values the contributions made by ordinary Americans throughout the economy.
Talk with author Jonathan Tasini, including: prescriptions to improve the current economic situation include:
• How free-market fundamentalism was used create the largest wage gap in American history
• Which individual players, corporations, and leaders were responsible for the recent economic
• Solutions for a cultural overhaul that values American workers, such as establishing a living
wage, creating national health and pension plans care system for all, fair tax reform, and more.

Ten Indian hotels named amongst the world’s favourite


Mumbai, 24th September 2009:  Ten Indian hotels have made it to this year’s annual global Expedia® Insiders' Select list of the world’s favourite hotels with The Oberoi Grand in Kolkata claiming top spot among the favourite Indian hotels featured.  The other Indian hotels on this year’s list include The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra; The Oberoi, Mumbai; Shangri-La Hotel, New Delhi and Lemon Tree Amarante Beach Resort, Goa.  (See list below)


Chateau Beauvallon, near the town of Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Canada was named the world’s favourite hotel.


Now in its third year, the annual Expedia Insiders’ Select list represents the extensive range of hotel types offered by Expedia globally and those that have been recognised by Expedia travellers for consistently delivering excellent service, a great overall experience and providing notable value. The list represents an easy-to-browse directory of the top 1,000 of over 100,000 hotel properties globally offered by Expedia and is comprised of hotels ranging from boutique to chain properties in a variety of destinations.


With more people booking travel on Expedia sites than any other online travel company in the world, the Expedia Insiders’ Select list was compiled using a combination of hundreds of thousands of Traveler Opinions® from Expedia customers. This was combined with insights from Expedia’s own network of hundreds of experts worldwide, systematically comparing hotels and resorts to similar properties to determine the best value for money.


Expedia is home to more traveller reviews than any other online travel company, with Traveler Opinions available on the Indian site as well.


Arthur Hoffman, Managing Director, Expedia Asia Pacific, says: “The fact that ten Indian hotels have their presence on this year’s Insiders’ Select list confirms our belief that India offers world-class accommodation and shows that international travellers are impressed by both the quality and value of the accommodation they find in India.”


“Capturing the experiences of hundreds of thousands of hotel guests to select the world's favourite hotels based on value, service and customer ratings, Expedia’s Insiders’ Select provides Indian travellers with yet another option to browse and select from our extensive range of hotels to make the best choice,” he said.


Mr. Hoffman said that when booking their trips, and as part of their overall research, Indians should consult reviews posted online from other travellers. “Independent traveller reviews provide invaluable insights and suggestions, and help travellers to make the best choices and to maximise their overall travel experience,” he concluded.


The full list of the world’s favourite hotels is available at  


Indian hotels which made it to the the Expedia Insiders’ Select list:




Overall global ranking





The Oberoi Grand




The Oberoi Amarvilas




The Oberoi




Shangri-La Hotel

New Delhi



Lemon Tree Amarante Beach Resort




The Gateway Hotel Ganges




The Ambassador Hotel

New Delhi



Taj Lands End




Taj President




Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa



N.S.  Sekhsaria is the new Chairman of Ambuja Cements Limited  -  Suresh Neotia to step down after two decades


Mumbai: 23rd September, 2009:  Mr. Suresh Neotia, one of the founding promoters and the Chairman of Ambuja Cements Ltd, has stepped down from the Board of the Company for personal reasons.


It may be recalled that Mr. Neotia, along with Mr. N.S. Sekhsaria, entered the corporate world by setting up the Company’s first cement plant with 0.7 million tonnes capacity in Gujarat in 1983.  In spite of being a new entrant in the industry, together they built a highly dedicated and committed team for Ambuja Cements. Thanks to their vision and leadership, the Company never looked back in performance, be it quality of product, operating parameters, brand reputation, employee satisfaction and care for key stakeholders.  The Company has, today, grown to a size of over 22 million tonnes with a market capitalization of over Rs.15, 200 crores.


Mr. Neotia informed the Board that he would like to retire from corporate assignments and would prefer to spend his time on things that are dearer to him.


In appreciation of his outstanding and invaluable contributions in providing excellent stewardship to the rapid and impressive growth of the Company, the Board has conferred upon Mr. Neotia the status of Chairman Emeritus.


As a consequence, Mr. Sekhsaria, the present Vice Chairman, has been appointed as the Chairman and Mr. Paul Hugentobler as the Vice Chairman of the Company.


These changes will be effective 24th September, 2009.

Sonata Software among Top 10 Global R&D Service Providers


Mumbai, September 29, 2009    

Sonata Software today announced that it has been rated as a leader in R&D Services, in a comprehensive industry study conducted by Zinnov Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd. In a first-of-its-kind study conducted across service providers from China, India and Eastern Europe, Sonata has been ranked among the Top 10 R&D Services players globally. Sonata is also 6th in the Software Products segment. The ranking is based on multiple parameters including innovation & expertise, people strength, operations, business models and financial strengths.

Sonata has been providing services to software product companies since 1992. With a product DNA, 650+ product releases last year and a set of service offerings spanning the entire software R&D lifecycle – Product Management, Product Engineering, Quality Assurance, Sustenance and Professional Services – Sonata is equipped to partner with R&D initiatives of technology companies, especially in the software products segment.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr B Ramaswamy, President and Managing Director of Sonata stated, “We are delighted to receive this recognition from Zinnov. This rating reinforces Sonata’s leadership position in this segment and is a testimony of our ability to provide innovative solutions that deliver real business results.”

Mr Pari Natarajan, CEO, Zinnov Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd. said, “To assist business leaders in spearheading global engineering initiatives in their organizations and in order to facilitate them in identifying right partners, Zinnov conducted this innovative study. Sonata with its deep technical expertise, product innovation, track record of having executed sizable R&D services engagements, and innovative output-based pricing models, offered a compelling mix to be ranked on our Top R&D Service Providers’ list. Among the mid-sized players, Sonata is unique in their ability to support R&D clients on their go-to-market initiatives.”

The Zinnov Global R&D Services Providers rating is yet another feather in Sonata’s cap. Earlier this year, the company was also rated #2 in the Black Book of Outsourcing, among providers catering to this segment.

 About Zinnov Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd:

Founded in 2002, Zinnov – meaning Zeal in Innovation – is a leading management consulting company providing services in the area of Offshore Advisory, Market Expansion and Human Capital Optimization to Fortune 1000 companies. Zinnov works collectively with clients to tackle prevailing organizational challenges by analyzing the changing dynamics, improving performance, and building institutional capability. The services delivered to its clients through advanced reasoning and analytical techniques, provides solutions that help in integrating organizational vision, business definition and processes.

About Sonata Software Limited

Sonata Software, headquartered in Bangalore, India, is a leading IT consulting and services company. Sonata's customers are located across the US, Europe, Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. Its portfolio of services includes IT Consulting, Product Engineering Services, Travel Solutions, Application Development, Application Management, Managed Testing, Business Intelligence, Infrastructure Management and Packaged Applications. As per the industry rankings released by NASSCOM for 2008-09, Sonata Software figured among the Top 20 IT Software Services Exporters in India for the second consecutive year. Sonata Software has also been ranked Global #2 in the 2008 Top Ten ESO : Outsourced Software Development in The Black Book of Outsourcing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Xerox to Acquire Affiliated Computer Services



  • ACS shareholders to receive $63.11 per share in cash and Xerox stock
  • Accelerates Xerox’s growth in $150 billion business process outsourcing market
  • Creates $22 billion global enterprise for document technology and business process management


NORWALK, Conn., and DALLAS, Sept. 28, 2009 – Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX) and Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (NYSE: ACS) today announced a definitive agreement for Xerox to acquire ACS in a cash and stock transaction valued at $63.11 per share or $6.4 billion as of the closing price of Xerox stock on Sept. 25. This acquisition will transform Xerox into the leading global enterprise for document and business process management, and will accelerate its growth in an expanding market.

The world’s largest diversified business process outsourcing (BPO) firm, ACS is a $6.5 billion company with revenue growth of 6 percent and new business signings of $1 billion in annual recurring revenue during its fiscal 2009. 

“By combining Xerox’s strengths in document technology with ACS’s expertise in managing and automating work processes, we’re creating a new class of solution provider,” said Ursula M. Burns, Xerox chief executive officer.  “A game-changer for Xerox, acquiring ACS helps us expand our business and benefit from stronger revenue and earnings growth.

“Xerox becomes a $22 billion global company, of which $17 billion is recurring revenue – a significant boost to our profitable annuity stream,” she added.  “The revenue we generate from services will triple from $3.5 billion in 2008 to an estimated $10 billion next year.” 

Under the terms of the agreement, ACS shareholders will receive a total of $18.60 per share in cash plus 4.935 Xerox shares for each ACS share they own. In addition, Xerox will assume ACS’s debt of $2 billion and issue $300 million of convertible preferred stock to ACS’s Class B shareholder. On an adjusted earnings basis, the transaction is expected to be accretive in the first year.

“We’re proud of our significant profitable growth over the past 20 years and our ability to manage our clients’ operations
with a global infrastructure and workforce,” said Lynn Blodgett, president and chief executive officer, ACS.  “We also know that for ACS to expand globally and differentiate our offerings through technology, we need a partner with tremendous brand strength and leading innovationXerox offers that and more to bring our business to the next level while strengthening theirs.” 

ACS’s expertise is in managing paper-based work processes and providing specialized BPO and information technology services for industries that range from telecommunications, retail and financial services to healthcare, education and transportation.  
Business process outsourcing is estimated to be a $150 billion market, growing at a rate of 5 percent per year.  Through its multi-year contracts with more than 1,700 federal, state, county and local governments, ACS is the largest provider of managed services to government entities in the United States. 

“When ACS was founded, we had a vision of becoming a best-in-class company by working harder than our competitors. More than 20 years and 74,000 employees later, as the world’s top BPO company, we have now found a partner to help us reach even greater heights,” said Darwin Deason, founder and chairman of ACS.
  “This is a tremendous outcome for our shareholders driven by the commitment of a strong management team and incredibly dedicated employees.  At closing, I will become one of the combined company’s largest individual shareholders, and I intend to remain a long-term investor because I could not be more optimistic about the future of the combined company.” 

With this acquisition, Xerox is confident it will achieve significant incremental revenue growth
by leveraging Xerox’s strong global brand and established client relationships to scale ACS’s business in Europe, Asia and South America.  In addition, Xerox will integrate its intellectual property with ACS’s services to create new solutions for end-to-end support of customers’ work processes. 

Xerox expects to achieve annualized cost synergies that will increase to the range of $300 million to $400 million in the first three years following the close of the transaction. The synergies are primarily based on expense reductions related to public company costs, procurement and using ACS’s expertise in back-office operations to handle some of Xerox’s internal functions.

The transaction, which
has been approved by the Xerox and ACS boards of directors and ACS special committee, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010.  ACS will operate as an independent organization and initially will be branded ACS, a Xerox Company.  It will be led by Lynn Blodgett, who will report to Ursula Burns. 

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of domestic and foreign regulatory approvals and the approval of ACS and Xerox stockholders.   


About Affiliated Computer Services

Headquartered in Dallas, ACS 74,000 professionals support thousands of multinational corporations and government agencies in over 100 countries from 500 locations. It offers business process outsourcing support in areas that include finance, human resources, information technology, transaction processing, and customer care.

About Xerox

Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., Xerox Corporation’s 54,000 people represent the world's leading document management, technology and services enterprise, providing the industry's broadest portfolio of color and black-and-white document processing systems and related supplies, as well as document management consulting and outsourcing services.  

Ready for almost any task

Munich, September 25, 2009 – KraussMaffei’s CX injection moulding machine series (35 to 650 t) is a range of extremely versatile machines. Austrian plastics processor MKW has recently installed its 100th CX machine as part of a step-by-step replacement programme for its previous C series machines. The company will be using the machine for processing thermoset materials.


Complete with options

MKW, headquartered in Weibern/Upper Austria has broad-based activities in the fields of plastics and metal processing. Versatile is a description that also applies to the latest addition to MKW’s machine park – a CX 80-750 DUR from KraussMaffei. Currently, the machine is equipped for the DuroSet process, working with free-flowing granulate. At the same time, it is prepared for handling polyester moulding compounds, which are not free-flowing. MKW is now rolling out thermoset injection moulding activities. As soon as it was operational, the CX gave an impressive demonstration of the expanding application spectrum for plastics, which are increasingly replacing metals. In this case, the CX was producing components for office furniture that would normally be made of diecast metal. The manufacturing cell includes an LRX 50 linear robot for transverse parts removal, also supplied by KraussMaffei.


From a small start to a flourishing company group

MKW, the acronym for Metall- und Kunststoffwerk Weibern (Weibern Metal and Plastics), began in 1960 as a two-man operation. Today it is a successful group of companies with around 400 employees. In addition to its main plant in Weibern, MKW has plants in Haag/Upper Austria, PreŇ°ov in Slovakia and Ermolino near Moscow. The company still specializes in both plastics and metal processing, working with wire, sheet metal, galvanizing and powder coating. The metal-processing capability is complemented by MKW’s extensive injection moulding experience and intensive know-how. The company has its own development team and an in-house mouldmaking department.

SMS Siemag inaugurates new office complex and modernized piping shop


On Friday, September 25, 2009, the doors opened to the newly built office complex and the modernized piping shop at the Hilchenbach location of SMS Siemag AG, Germany.

 More than 300 guests attended the official opening ceremony, among them the Siegen-Wittgenstein District Administrator Paul Breuer, the Mayor of Hilchenbach Hans-Peter Hasenstab, and representatives of the Employers’ Association of Siegen-Wittgenstein, Siegen Chamber of Commerce, the district, the town of Hilchenbach, the Works’ Council, the IG Metall Trade Union, the architectural, construction, and trades companies responsible for the work, as well as the family companies of Siemag Weiss KG.

Commitment to the location

Dr. Heinrich Weiss took the opportunity to emphasize that the invest­ment program will go ahead despite the current financial and eco­nomic crisis. It is scheduled to run up to 2012 and dedicated to boosting the competitiveness of the works in Hilchenbach. “Here in Hilchenbach, where our family-owned company was founded more than 130 years ago, we are building Europe’s most modern and pro­ductive heavy machinery workshop. Simultaneously, we will continue to push forward technical development – with a special focus on green technology and resource-saving machine and plant design. Products like these enable our customers to produce even more competitively so they can emerge from the crisis along with us stronger than ever.”

Dr. Kay Mayland used the occasion to thank the shareholders of Siemag Weiss KG for the coming investments that clearly prove their commitment to the location. He also thanked all the project teams and companies that played a part, and explained the further stages for increasing the efficiency and improving the production logistics of our manufacturing shops between now and 2012. “The alterations and extensions,” said Dr. Mayland, “are already everywhere you look on the company site. Next up is construction of a new gear manu­facturing shop and a new training workshop. We are also investing in even more powerful machine tools and machining equipment. The delivery traffic problem has been eased, and that will also prevent future tailbacks on the B508 federal highway. Now our new routing system directs the 70-plus delivery trucks per day from Obere Schweisfurth via the south of the site, so only outgoing traffic uses the west gate to reach the B508.”

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Government of Pakistan, World Bank Announce Trust Fund for Conflict- Affected Areas of the Country

New York, September 24, 2009 ─ The Government of Pakistan and the World Bank announced today the establishment of a Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), designed to restore infrastructure, services and livelihoods in the country’s conflict-affected areas of Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and parts of Balochistan.

The conflict in the NWFP and FATA led to one of the worst security crises in Pakistan’s history, displacing 2.7 million people and severely disrupting the lives, livelihoods, and provision of normal public services.

“Today, three months after the military campaign in the Swat Valley began, security is improving and schools have reopened in most places,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “It is critical now to reach the millions of people touched by this massive disruption with quick and effective assistance. I am delighted to announce that the World Bank has agreed, at the request of Pakistan and its partners, to create and manage this trust fund which will provide a coordinated financing mechanism for investments to support reconstruction and peace building.”

The MDTF, which was announced at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Summit today, will support a comprehensive reconstruction and development strategy. This will be guided by a post-conflict needs assessment currently being prepared by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations, and European Commission. It will assess damage and reconstruction needs and provide a strategy for addressing the underlying grievances fueling the conflict such as social inequities, endemic poverty, and weak governance.

Zoellick said a strong international response is needed to help Pakistan overcome these and other development challenges. The international community’s determination to help Pakistan cope with its conflict and its consequences was highlighted at the Tokyo Conference where over $5 billion was pledged.

“We hope to see a strong support from Pakistan’s development partners to this important trust fund,” said Zoellick. “Our experience with the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund and other such mechanisms has demonstrated again and again the value of pooling financial assistance under the overall leadership of a government. We should apply this experience in Pakistan.”

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Must Read

RICHES AMONG THE RUINS:  Adventures In The Dark Corners Of The Global Economy


Called the “Indiana Jones” of international finance by Forbes magazine, Robert P. Smith is one of the world's most fearless financial adventurers.  Over the past three decades, he has made, lost, and made back tens of millions of dollars by investing in emerging markets and downtrodden economies.  Despite his unassuming presence, Smith has undertaken daunting risks, both physical and financial, and experienced adventures Hollywood couldn't begin to invent.  As Smith explains, he took the first intrepid steps in the business of “buying promises” — buying various forms of government debt in the world's battered economies from pessimists and selling them to optimists.

In RICHES AMONG THE RUINS: Adventures In The Dark Corners Of The Global Economy (Amacom, $24.95), Smith presents a gripping account of the early days of modern globalization up to the present.  Readers follow Smith as he makes a killing trading dollar-denominated, government bonds in revolution-torn El Salvador in the early 1980s; learns invaluable business lessons in Vietnam; tries to culminate a deal in Baghdad after the fall of
Saddam; and loses more than $15 million dollars in one day betting that post-communist Russia won’t default on its debt.  We travel with him through the precarious and exhilarating world of the debt trader as he negotiates with difficult businessmen in Istanbul; ducks shakedown artists in Nigeria; and alternately charms and infuriates corporate big shots in Guatemala.  At once adrenaline-fueled and utterly compelling, RICHES AMONG THE RUINS is the gripping story of one man’s quest for fortune where others feared to tread.

Beyond the thrill of traveling along on Smith's adventures, RICHES AMONG THE RUINS culminates with an objective analysis of current economic conditions and the future promise of the United States.  Smith cites our politically stable democracy, highly literate and relatively cohesive population, and the fact that millions of people still flock to our shores in search of a better life, as proof to inspire long-term confidence.  “In short, the United States, for all its economic problems, is and will remain a stable and relatively predictable place to invest, create a business, and thrive,” Smith declares.  He does warn, though, that the United States, like the whole global economy, needs to focus on narrowing the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

Riveting reading for anyone interested in how the global economy works, RICHES AMONG THE RUINS is also an exciting adventure story.  Robert Lenzner, national editor of Forbes magazine, says “Smith’s adventures read like a spy novel.”  While Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs declares, “If you want to understand what goes on behind the scenes in international business and finance, and be treated to a fascinating account of the adventures of a financial entrepreneur who knows the most remote areas of the world on intimate terms, this is the book for you.”

About the Authors

Robert P. Smith is the founder and managing director of the Boston-based Turan Corporation, which specializes in trading emerging markets' sovereign debt and evaluating creditor claims against foreign governments.  Smith is a noted authority on developing-world debt and has been cited or quoted in such magazines and newspapers as The Wall Street Journal, Africa Economic Digest, The Financial Times, International Business, and various publications of Euromoney Publications of London.  He is a sought-after speaker and has addressed numerous professional groups on matters relating to emerging markets.  He and his family live in Boston and New York.

Peter Zheutlin, a freelance journalist, is the author of Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride and co-author, with Thomas Graboys, M.D., of Life in the Balance: A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease.  He lives in Needham, Massachusetts.

By Robert P. Smith with Peter Zheutlin
Publisher:  Amacom
Price:  $24.95 / hardcover
ISBN-13:  978-0-8144-1060-8

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ensuring Rural Connectivity for Economic and Social Development


The government’s rural roads program “Rural Transport Improvement Project (RTIP)” is helping to provide rural communities with improved access to social services and economic opportunities.

The improvements in the Upazila Roads have changed the face of the countryside. RTIP has improved and maintained more than 2400 km of rural roads and built or improved 108 growth center markets and 28 jetties. The July 2009 data shows that RTIP has maintained more that 1400 kms of roads and 24,929 person-years of employment in the project areas. RTIP impact area covers over 44,000 square km in 21 Districts of the country.

The average travel times and transport costs have already reduced by more that 50 percent as of December 2007. The next and final round dry period data collection for the Socio-Economic Monitoring and Evaluation (SEME) study will be completed by June 2010. The new and well maintained rural roads have made it easier for the children to go to the school. Health care facilities are now more reachable. Economic opportunities opened up as now people can access the markets easily.

RTIP adopted an integrated approach to rural trace and transport infrastructure development by focusing on the physical improvements of inter linked roads, small bridges and culverts, growth center markets and river jetties.

The World Bank is supporting the Government’s “Rural Transport Improvement Project”. The World Bank has already disbursed around 75% of committed US $190 million. The Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) is implementing the project. RTIP is also working to enhance the capacity of relevant government agencies to better manage rural transport infrastructure. RTIP started on July 2003 and was supposed to end this year. Now the project is extended and will end on 2011.

Financing Agreement for US$ 20 million Additional Financing of the Flood Rehabilitation Component under RTIP, was signed on February 7, 2008. Further US$ 7 million savings from the main RTIP will also be spent for flood rehabilitation. The Flood component is progressing well with more than a third of the physical works having been completed.

Policy and institutional reforms supported by the project include developing a comprehensive rural road transport safety framework and implementing sustainable enhancements to LGED’s capacities in planning, monitoring, finance, asset management, administration and governance.

The Government has requested the World Bank team recently for a follow up project with LGED which is currently under consideration of the Bank.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Balmer Lawrie shareholders approve dividend of 200%



Kolkata, 24th September, 2009


The shareholders of Balmer Lawrie & Co. Ltd. have approved a dividend of Rs.20 per share at the Annual General Meeting held today. This is the highest ever dividend declared by the company. The company achieved significant milestones in business and operations in the financial year 2008-09, inspite of recessionary pressures prevalent in the economy.


The Company recorded its highest ever gross turnover of Rs.1776 crore as against Rs.1571 crore last year, showing a 13% growth.  The profit before tax rose to Rs.152 crore as compared to Rs.130 crore last year, an increase of more than 16%. Similarly, the net profit stood at Rs.102 crore against Rs.87 crore last year reflecting a growth of nearly 17%.  The earning per share stood at Rs.62 as compared to Rs.53 last year, one of the best for comparable companies.  In view of the improved performance, the board recommended dividend of Rs.20 per share as compared to previous year dividend of Rs.17 per share.


In terms of growth, four businesses, i.e. Industrial Packaging, Greases & Lubricants, Travel & Tours and Logistics Infrastructure & Services have once again been the main revenue drivers.


The Industrial Packaging Division which is the largest manufacturer of steel drums / barrels continued to hold its lead position in the market. Though the performance of the Industrial Packaging Division in the first half of the year was buoyant, the latter half it showed a decline on account of the global economic downturn.  However, the demand has since stabilized and it is expected that the volume and market share shall remain stable in the current year. The performance of the Greases and Lubricants Division was stable despite the unprecedented situation on account of the volatility in crude oil.


The Logistics Services SBU which offers comprehensive range of logistics solutions, including Air Import Consolidation, Sea freight forwarding, Customs clearance, Handling of Project Cargo, Chartering of aircrafts & vessels and Door-to-Door Logistics was largest contributor to the profits. Though, the Logistics Infrastructure SBU managing Container Freight Stations, Warehousing and Distribution activities performed exceedingly well in the first half of 2008-09, its performance in the second half was adversely affected due to global recession resulting in slowdown of the exim trade.


The Travel and Tours SBU performed well in face of adverse circumstances.  The commission on ticketing has been reduced to 3% (as against 5% earlier) by the domestic carriers and some international carriers, while the European carriers are now following a 0% commission regime.  While the business performance from the domestic travel exceeded the budgeted figures, the international and other sectors fell marginally short of expectations.  The wider customer base and high quality service provided by the Travels and Tours SBU was responsible for significant improvement in both its turnover and profitability.


The Leather Chemicals SBU also achieved growth in both volumes and turnover despite the difficult leather industry scenario.


As part of its corporate social responsibility, the company has launched two flagship programmes namely “Balmer Lawrie Initiative for Self Sustenance (BLISS)” aimed at promoting self-sustenance of disadvantaged/economically backward sections and “Samaj Mein Balmer Lawrie (SAMBAL)” aimed at improving the overall development of habitations/communities in and around the company’s work centers. 

More than 30 million people use Opera Mini — the world’s most popular mobile browser Gained a new user every second in the month of August
September 24, 2009 — Oslo, Norway
Opera Mini further asserted its claim as the world’s most popular mobile Web browser, as usage surged more than 10%, according to Opera’s State of the Mobile Web report for August 2009. Now, more than 31.9 million people use Opera Mini to browse the Web from their mobile phones. In August, Opera Mini gained at least one new user every second.
The report, published monthly, provides information on the top global trends affecting the mobile Web. The full report is available from (English only). In addition to the top global trends and country snapshots, the report highlights trends in Europe and examines countries that may soon become world leaders in mobile Web usage.
Global trends
In August 2009, more than 31.9 million people used Opera Mini, a 9.9% increase from July 2009 and more than 147% compared to August 2008.
Those 31.9 million people viewed over 13.9 billion pages in August 2009. Since July, page-views have gone up 15.7%. Since August 2008, page-views have increased 234%.
Opera Mini users generated nearly 209 million MB of data worldwide in August. Since July, the data consumed went up by 11.7%. Data in Opera Mini is compressed by up to 90%. If this data were uncompressed, Opera Mini users would have viewed over 1.9 PB of data in August. Since August 2008, data traffic is up 222%.
The top 10 countries for Opera Mini usage are (in order): Russia, Indonesia, India, China, Ukraine, South Africa, United States, Nigeria, United Kingdom and Poland. There is no change to the top 10 countries this month.
Trends in Europe
The top 10 countries using Opera Mini in Europe (not including the global top 10 countries) are Germany, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Netherlands, Slovakia, Lithuania and Romania.
Growth rates in Europe: Turkey leads the top 10 countries with 218.8% growth in users this year, followed by France (100.7% growth) and Czech Republic (72.2% growth).
As in several other regions around the world, Google and Facebook are popular among mobile Web users in Europe, surpassed only occasionally by country-specific search engines and social-networking sites.
Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets are ubiquitous in Europe, followed by a few popular Samsung and LG devices.
Gatecrashing the top 10?
Although the top 10 did not change this month, within the top 30 countries, several countries have exhibited rapidly accelerating user growth and may soon crack the top 10. Usage in Vietnam, currently ranked 11, grew an impressive 20% month-over-month. The Philippines, Kenya and France also stand close to displacing some of the countries in the top 10.
Over the past month, the fastest growing countries for Opera Mini usage within the top 30 are Australia (52% since July 2009), Georgia (34%), Vietnam (20%), Kenya (19%), France (16%), Philippines (15%), Brazil (14%), Kazakhstan (13%), Pakistan (11%) and Malaysia (10%).

Cessna Finance Corporation Offers New Finance Options

WICHITA, Kan., Sept. 23, 2009 – Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today that its sister company, Cessna Finance Corporation (CFC), has initiated a new finance program with lower rates available for Cessna's single-engine piston and Caravan aircraft purchased in 2009.

"We are finding many people are ready to buy a new aircraft but are unsure about where to finance the purchase, so CFC initiated this program to ease their concern with a smoother process and lower rates," said John Doman, vice president, Worldwide Propeller Aircraft Sales.

"And since many of these aircraft are used for business, they may also qualify in the United States for accelerated depreciation, an option of the 2009 Federal stimulus package that is set to expire this year," Doman said. "It really is an excellent time to buy a new Cessna."

The CFC program offers new rates for the entire Cessna line of propeller aircraft: the Cessna 172, 182 and 206 high-wing pistons, the Corvalis and Corvalis TT high-performance pistons, and the 208/208B Caravan/Grand Caravan turboprops.

The IMF and Civil Society : Engaging Civil Society in the Reform of IMF Governance

Representatives from civil society organizations met with the IMF Executive Board in an informal seminar to discuss CSO recommendations on IMF governance reform.

On September 8, 2009, representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) met with the IMF Executive Board in an informal seminar at Fund Headquarters to discuss CSO recommendations on IMF governance reform.

The recommendations were contained in the final report of the Fourth Pillar process, a consultation among CSOs on IMF governance reform that was set up at the request of IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The report and Executive Directors’ discussion covered an assessment of the roles and responsibilities of the IMF Board of Governors, the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the Executive Board, and Fund management, as well as procedures for selecting the Managing Director.

The Fourth Pillar report will be formally received by the Managing Director when he meets CSOs to discuss their proposals during the IMF Annual Meetings in Istanbul. The report was compiled by Domenico Lombardi—a scholar on the Bretton Woods Institutions—as the culmination of a five-month consultation with nearly 200 CSO representatives, think tank analysts, and academics from about 50 countries. The report has been translated into French, Spanish and English to ensure wide dissemination.

The Managing Director originally proposed the idea of engaging civil society in September 2008 to broaden the inputs to Fund’s governance reform and in response to calls from CSOs for a voice in the process. The Fourth Pillar process was aimed to augment and contribute to the work already undertaken by:

  • the IMF Independent Evaluation Office, which released a report on “Governance of the IMF” in May 2008;
  • the IMF Executive Board, whose examination of governance reform proposals centered on the Working Groupon IMF Corporate Governance 2008 chaired by Thomas Moser, the Executive Director for Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic, , Poland, the Republic of Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; and the IMF Executive Board, whose examination of governance reform proposals centered on the Working Groupon IMF Corporate Governance 2008 chaired by Thomas Moser, the Executive Director for Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic, , Poland, the Republic of Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; and
  • the April 2009 Report of the Committee of Eminent Persons on IMF Governance Reform, chaired by Trevor Manuel, Minister of Finance of South Africa.

The Fourth Pillar process was undertaken in several steps over the past five months: identifying a CSO—The New Rules for Global Finance Coalition—to coordinate the consultation; setting up a website outside the Fund to enable CSOs to consult among themselves; and organizing several videoconferences—supported by extended interpretation and translation services—to facilitate CSO participation from different regions. Videoconferences with participants from academia, NGOs, and the private sector were organized with Argentina; Ghana; India; Indonesia; Kazakhstan; Kenya; the Kyrgyz Republic; Mexico; Peru; South Africa; and Uruguay.

Over the course of the Fourth Pillar process, CSOs were also provided opportunities to contribute their views to Fund staff who drafted the Board paper on governance reform discussed by the Executive Board in July as well as the subsequent Executive Board Report to the IMFC for the Annual Meetings. A set of CSO recommendations for the July paper was posted on the Fourth Pillar website.

Motorola Named Sustainability Leader by Dow Jones Sustainability Index for Sixth Straight Year

2009-2010 Dow Jones Sustainability World and North American Indexes (DJSI) ranked Motorola as a leader for its environmental, social and economic performance


SCHAUMBURG, Ill. - September 23, 2009 - The 2009-2010 Dow Jones Sustainability World and North American Indexes (DJSI) have ranked Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) as a leader for its environmental, social and economic performance, the company announced today. Motorola received the highest score among communication technology companies in several categories, including brand management, codes of conduct and compliance, corporate citizenship and philanthropy, and privacy protection.

"Motorola is proud of the progress we are making every day in sustainable practices that have helped earn Motorola recognition by Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the sixth year in a row," said Karen Tandy, senior vice president, public affairs and communications, Motorola. "To help build a more sustainable world, we invest in underserved communities and support programs that make science, math and engineering accessible and compelling to young people. We are aggressively working to reduce our carbon footprint, improve the environmental profile of our products, help our customers to be greener and improve the social and environmental conditions in our supply chain."

Launched in 1999, the DJSI are among the first global indexes tracking the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide. As a member of DJSI World, Motorola is among the top 10 percent of the largest 2,500 companies in the Dow Jones World Index.

The annual review of the DJSI family is based on a thorough analysis of corporate economic, environmental and social performance, assessing issues such as corporate governance, risk management, branding, climate change mitigation, supply chain standards and labor practices. It accounts for general as well as industry-specific sustainability criteria for each of 58 sectors defined according to the Industry Classification Benchmark.

This week Newsweek ranked Motorola No. 21 on its inaugural Green Rankings of the 500 largest U.S. companies, based on each company's environmental footprint, policies and practices, along with its reputation among its peers.


About Motorola
Motorola is known around the world for innovation in communications and is focused on advancing the way the world connects. From broadband communications infrastructure, enterprise mobility and public safety solutions to high-definition video and mobile devices, Motorola is leading the next wave of innovations that enable people, enterprises and governments to be more connected and more mobile. Motorola (NYSE: MOT) had sales of US $30.1 billion in 2008. 

Economic Stability, Economic Cooperation, and Peace—The Role of the IMF

Remarks by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
At the Global Creative Leadership Summit
New York City, September 23, 2009

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you very much. I am the Managing Director of the IMF and I am going to talk to you this morning about peace. Some people might find that strange. But it is my abiding belief that peace and economic stability are intimately entwined. If you lose one, you are likely to lose the other. Peace is a necessary precondition for trade, sustained economic growth, and prosperity. But it can also work the other way. Economic stability, and a rising prosperity that is broadly shared—both within and among countries—can foster peace. This is most likely to happen in an atmosphere of economic cooperation, of openness, of a multilateral approach to economic and political problems.

Ultimately, peace and prosperity feed on each other, reinforce each other. I believe history teaches us this lesson. We all remember how the Great Depression created fertile ground for a devastating war. More recently, in many parts of the world, economic instability has provoked political upheaval, social unrest, and conflict. With increased international cooperation since the second world war, it is no coincidence that we have seen fewer conflicts among nations together with greater economic prosperity, encompassing an ever-increasing share of the world’s population.

Let’s flash forward to the present day. Over the past two years, the IMF has devoted much time and effort to fighting the global financial crisis, the greatest economic slowdown since the Great Depression.

This is a truly global crisis. It is affecting big countries and small countries, rich countries and poor countries, countries that made policy mistakes and countries that did not. It tells us that problems in one country can rapidly echo across the globe. It has exposed the deep and complex web of connections running through the global economy.

Thankfully, we can see light at the end of the tunnel even if the crisis is by no means over. Financial conditions have improved and the growth engine seems to be starting up again. We are now forecasting a global recovery in the first part of 2010. But even if growth recovers, it might still take some time for employment to follow. Unemployment might very well continue rising next year, even as the economy bounces back. For people losing their job, the crisis is not over. In many countries, particularly those without adequate social safety nets, poverty will persist. And with this comes risks to social stability.

The stakes are particularly high in the low-income countries, where populations are especially vulnerable. Until recently, the news from this part of the world was good. We saw the longest and broadest economic expansion among the low-income countries in modern history, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. But two dramatic shocks in rapid succession—the food and fuel price shock and the global financial crisis—caused fortunes to be reversed. And it’s not over—East Africa is now being hit hard by a devastating drought.

The consequences could be disastrous. Our colleagues at the United Nations and World Bank think that up to 90 million people might be pushed into extreme poverty as a result of this crisis. Social indicators are deteriorating. In many areas of the world, what is at stake is not only higher unemployment or lower purchasing power, but life and death itself. Economic marginalization and destitution could lead to social unrest, political instability, or a breakdown of democracy. We could see war. This is what we must avoid.

The IMF and the crisis

With this in mind, let me talk a little about how the IMF has responded to the crisis. Not so long ago, the global economy stood at the edge of the abyss. With the collapse of Lehman Brothers, uncertainty turned to outright panic, and economic activity began a downward spiral. People raised the specter of another Great Depression, and these fears were not unfounded. But today’s world looks different. The crisis is not over, but I hope the worst is now behind us. We seem to have averted disaster.

I contend that this was no mere accident. It was not just good luck. Rather, it came from the bold decisions taken by policymakers the world over, and—just as importantly—from an unprecedented degree of economic policy cooperation. Countries faced a common threat with a common response. We saw this in fiscal policy, in monetary policy, and in financial sector policy.

In a sense, the IMF stands at the apex of this multilateral response, promoting the global public good of economic stability.

On the eve of the crisis, the global economy had become increasingly integrated, with booming trade and deeper financial linkages. This all came to a halt as trade collapsed and capital flows dried up. Many emerging markets and low-income countries faced immediate financing needs. The IMF stepped into the breach. Recognizing the unique role of the IMF, world leaders pledged to triple our lending capacity, and more than double concessional resources for poorer countries. The IMF is committed to using the funds as effectively as possible—emphasizing more upfront financing in larger amounts, a greater emphasis on prevention, and more flexible lending.

Our role goes beyond lending. We also add value with forecasts and our policy advice. And as this crisis unfolded, I think we proved our worth with our realistic forecasts, both for growth and for credit losses. Likewise, we also helped as a policy advisor, emphasizing in particular the need for common, coordinated, action. The IMF was among the first to pinpoint the policy responses that have now become part of conventional wisdom, especially the fiscal stimulus and the need to restructure the banking system.

We also urged countries to avoid the mistakes of the Great Depression. We reminded the world that resorting to protectionism and closing borders would backfire, exacerbate the collapse in world trade and growth, and make everybody worse off. We also called for maintaining financial and aid flows to vulnerable countries.

Avoiding war

As I noted, the crisis is not over. Indeed, its human and social costs might get worse before they get better. This is especially true in low-income countries. Here, we don’t just care about growth for growth’s sake, we also want to safeguard peace and prevent war. Indeed, when low-income countries were doing well over the past decade or so, the incidence of war declined significantly. The great fear is that this trend could be reversed.

Wars might justifiably be called “development in reverse”. They entail huge economic costs and are the cause of great suffering. They lead to death, disability, disease, and displacement. One particular issue that causes great strain on the country itself and neighboring countries is the issue of refugees. Already, in the world today, there are about 9 million refugees and a further 14 million who are internally displaced—in each case, about half are in low-income countries. So this is a major risk factor.

Wars also increase poverty. They reduce growth potential by destroying infrastructure and leading to a loss in financial and human capital. They divert resources toward violence, rent-seeking, and corruption. They weaken institutions.

Most wars since the 1970s have been wars within states. It is hard to estimate the true cost of a civil war. Recent research suggests that one year of conflict can knock 2-2½ percentage points off a country’s growth rate. And since the average civil war lasts 7 years, that means an economy that is 15 percent smaller than it would have been with peace. The overall cost of a typical civil war, including forced migration and increased disease, amounts to around 250 percent of GDP on average. Of course, no cost can be put on the loss of life or the great human suffering that always accompanies war.

The causality also runs the other way. Just as wars devastate the economy, a weak economy makes a country more prone to war. Economic factors matter more than many people think. The evidence is quite clear on this point—low income or slow economic growth increases the risk of a country falling into civil conflict. Poverty and economic stagnation lead people to become marginalized, lacking a stake in the productive economy. With little hope of employment or a decent standard of living, they might turn instead to violent activities, where income opportunities might be higher. Dependence on natural resources is also a risk factor—competition for control over these resources can trigger conflict and income from natural resources can finance war.

And so we can see a vicious circle—war makes economic conditions and prospects worse, and weakens institutions, and this in turn increases the likelihood of war. Once a war has started, it’s hard to stop. And even if it stops, it’s easy to slip back into conflict. During the first decade after a war, there is a 50 percent chance of returning to violence, partly because of weakened institutions.

We must strive to avoid war at all costs. How can the IMF help? At a broad level, by helping countries maintain or consolidate economic stability. The most obvious way to do this, as I mentioned already, is by providing financing when needed. Without this, governments might be forced to cut social safety nets and essential public services. Economic activity might be further disrupted, and employment opportunities diminished. Here, the IMF is delivering—support to low-income countries over the next year or two will be three times what was available before the crisis. And to ease the burden, we will charge zero interest on all concessional lending through 2011.

Our lending has made a difference. Countries with sustained program engagement over the past two decades saw bigger boosts to growth than those without such involvement. We are trying to do better still, reforming the way we lend to low-income countries, and making this lending more flexible and better tailored to individual country circumstances.

Our lending programs in these countries always emphasize poverty reduction and protecting the most vulnerable. For many people in these parts of the world, when food prices triple, when jobs are lost, when remittance flows are cut, public social benefits are often the only answer. Without this lifeline, the risk of violence increases. I am pleased to note that most low-income countries with a program backed by the IMF have budgeted higher social spending and many are making efforts to better target spending toward the poor. This is one of our top priorities.

The IMF also places great emphasis on good governance. About 40 percent of the conditions in our low-income country programs focus on improving public resource management and accountability. We also provide advice and technical assistance to resource-rich countries, allowing them to better manage their revenues, again contributing to social stability. Many low-income oil producers managed the most recent oil boom much better than in the past, a very good sign.

The IMF also extends special help to countries in post-conflict or other fragile situations—again through lending and technical assistance. We help rebuild or strengthen institutions and economic management—essential elements of state building. I talked about making our lending facilities more flexible—one way we are doing that is by creating a more flexible emergency facility that can be used by countries coming out of conflict. Sure, the IMF’s role is a limited one, but our support can also open the door to much-needed aid flows. Sustained help is critically important given the risk of a relapse into civil conflict.

The IMF’s mandate

Let me return to my main point. When the nations of the world come together to address common challenges in a spirit of solidarity, we can attain a virtuous cycle of peace and prosperity, and avoid a vicious cycle of conflict and stagnation. On first glance, this might seem incidental to the role of the IMF. But it is not. It underpins our mandate.

This becomes clear when we look at the origins of the IMF, and the lessons of the 20th century. The nations of the world came together after the first world war. But instead of promoting economic cooperation, they were motivated by more myopic considerations. In particular, the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles sowed the seeds of economic ruin in Germany, which in turn was one of the causes of the second world war.

One of the people who saw this clearly was John Maynard Keynes, one of the founders of the IMF. He strongly condemned “the policy of reducing Germany to servitude for a generation, of degrading the lives of millions of human beings,” For he saw clearly the implications: “If we aim deliberately at the impoverishment of central Europe, vengeance, I dare predict, will not limp. Nothing can then delay for long that final civil war between the forces of reaction and the despairing convulsions of revolution, before which the horrors of the late German war will fade into nothing”. Keynes instead urged the people of his day to “base our actions on better expectations, and believe that the prosperity and happiness of one country promotes that of others, that the solidarity of man is not a fiction.”

Keynes’ admonition was ignored. Countries instead embraced the economics of self-interest, and retreated to isolationism. What followed was the unprecedented collapse in global economic activity in the 1930s, with dire social and political consequences. Economic warfare soon led to real warfare. The resulting second war world war left tens of millions dead and many countries around the world in ruins.

After the war, the nations of the world gathered once more. They vowed never to repeat the errors of the past. They embraced multilateralism and a cooperative approach to economic and financial policies. Leaders wanted to create a new world.

This strategy took many dimensions. The United Nations was founded to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” while promoting “social progress and better standards of life”. In my own continent of Europe, leaders embarked upon a remarkable process of economic and political integration. They were determined to forever banish the specter of war from the continent and realize the dream of “perpetual peace”—that great unfilled dream of so many philosophers over the centuries, including Saint-Pierre, Rousseau, Bentham, and Kant. Remember too that peace was aided by external financial support from the Marshall plan and internal financial support from the development of comprehensive social safety nets. It was economic and social stability that cemented the peace.

The IMF was born at this defining moment in history, forged in the furnace of a multilateral milieu dedicated to peace and cooperation. Its mandate was economic stability—promoting monetary cooperation and facilitating an expansion of trade and employment that benefited all people. It would oversee the global financial system and lend to members with balance of payments needs. It was understood that with stability would come peace and security.

And as the founding fathers gathered at Bretton Woods in 1944, peace was foremost on their minds. The pessimism expressed by Keynes a quarter century earlier now turned to optimism. As the conference ended, Keynes declared that by working together “this nightmare, in which most of us present have spent too much of our lives, will be over”. And in a sign of the times, he expressed his confidence that “the brotherhood of man will have become more than a phrase”. United States Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau shared this conviction, linking peace to shared prosperity and denouncing the economic policies of the interwar years. He declared that “Economic aggression can have no other offspring than war. It is as dangerous as it is futile. We know that economic conflict must develop when nations endeavor separately to deal with economic ills which are international in scope.” This is our legacy. From this stems our mandate.


Let me sum up. I have argued this morning that economic stability and peace go hand in hand. This is especially true when countries come together to cooperate on the international stage. The IMF was created to fight the economic roots of war. Its sits at the heart of multilateral efforts to achieve economic stability between countries and within countries.

As we look at the current global financial crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, the risks were incredibly high. The global economy could have faced a meltdown. But we pulled back from the brink, and the IMF certainly played its role. Even if it is too early to declare victory, we did what the founding fathers expected of us. And to quote Robert Frost, that has made all the difference.

Thank you very much.