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from Breakingviews:

Diageo throws money at Indian empire-building

By Robert Cole and Una Galani

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Diageo is engaging in some expensive empire-building in India. An under-powered tender offer meant an earlier attempt to take control of Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits was only partially successful. Now the world’s biggest spirits maker has more than doubled the price it is willing to pay, offering $1.9 billion to raise its stake to 54.8 percent from 28.8 percent.

At 3,030 rupees a share, the new offer equates to 38 times historic EBITDA. That’s eye-popping even for a consolidated industry desperately chasing the last drops of emerging markets growth: Heineken paid 17 times trailing EBITDA for Asia Pacific Breweries in 2012, for example. At least it makes this offer more likely to succeed.

A 20 percent premium to United Spirits’ share price over the last 60 days looks more reasonable – but the stock has already been lifted by bid hopes, and by optimism that an election victory for Narendra Modi will make India more business-friendly. Nor can Diageo justify the price through synergies, since there are few overlaps with its own existing operations in India.

from John Lloyd:

Modi: Democrat or divider

India’s 815 million voters started the five-week voting cycle earlier this week. It’s already being celebrated as a triumph just for taking place -- “the largest collective democratic act in history,” according to the Economist.

The winner will matter. India now punches far below its demographic weight -- its 1.24 billion people are served by just 600 diplomats, about the same number as the Netherlands. The United States, with 314 million people, has 15,000. But that apparent lack of interest in making a mark on the world seems about to end.

from India Insight:

Young professionals in Bangalore favour Modi’s promise, shrug off riots

As far as Vinod Hegde is concerned, Indian prime minister candidate Narendra Modi bears no responsibility for the 2002 Gujarat riots. More to the point, Hegde doesn't care.

Hegde, a 26-year-old stockbroker in Bangalore, said that for people like him, the Gujarat chief minister is the only choice to lead India after countrywide parliamentary elections that began this week.

from Global Investing:

Buying back into emerging markets

After almost a year of selling emerging markets, investors seem to be returning in force. The latest to turn positive on the asset class is asset and wealth manager Pictet Group (AUM: 265 billion pounds) which said on Tuesday its asset management division (clarifies division of Pictet) was starting to build positions on emerging equities and local currency debt. It has an overweight position on the latter for the first time since it went underweight last July.

Local emerging debt has been out of favour with investors because of how volatile currencies have been since last May, For an investor who is funding an emerging market investments from dollars or euros, a fast-falling rand can wipe out any gains he makes on a South African bond. But the rand and its peers such as the Turkish lira, Indian rupee, Indonesian rupiah and Brazilan real -- at the forefront of last year's selloff --  have stabilised from the lows hit in recent months.  According to Pictet Asset Management:

from Breakingviews:

Modi win is blow for Tesco, good for investors

By Andy Mukherjee 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A win for Narendra Modi would be bad news for Tesco and its rivals, but good news for other investors. The Indian opposition leader’s party says it won’t allow foreign supermarkets to enter the country if it wins the general election. But that is just one discordant note in a manifesto that is sweet music to financial markets.

from Breakingviews:

Ranbaxy sale shows risk in Japanese M&A adventures

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Daiichi Sankyo has just reminded corporate Japan of the dangers of overseas adventures. The drugmaker is handing control of its ailing Indian affiliate Ranbaxy to local rival Sun Pharmaceutical in a $3.2 billion deal. The investment has lost almost 40 percent of its value in six years.

from India Insight:

Bandhan eyes India’s banking league with RBI licence

Kolkata-based Bandhan Financial was little known in India’s corporate arena. But a new banking licence from the Reserve Bank has given Managing Director Chandra Shekhar Ghosh and his 13,000 employees a reason to cheer.

“This is a different type of win. In the last 13 years they (employees) have been working hard and now they have got the recognition,” said Ghosh. “I hope that this is not a big challenge, the challenge is to develop the skills of the staff, it will take some time.”

from India Insight:

Facts and figures for India’s 2014 general election

Voting in the 2014 election begins on April 7. More than 814 million people -- a number larger than the population of Europe -- will be eligible to vote in the world's biggest democratic exercise.

Voting will be held in 10 stages, which will be staggered until May 12, and results are due to be announced on May 16. Elections to state assemblies in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will be held simultaneously.

from India Insight:

Dharavi’s once-booming leather industry losing its edge

A busy street in Asia’s largest slum Dharavi leads to a quiet lane where Anita Leathers operates its colouring unit. As children play near shops that sell everything from mobile phones and garments to raw meat and sweets, the mood at the leather unit is sombre.

The leather business is one of the biggest contributors to the Mumbai slum’s informal economy, estimated to have an annual turnover of more than $500 million. About 15,000 small-scale industries, spread over an area of 500 acres, deal in businesses such as pottery, plastic recycling and garment manufacturing.

from India Insight:

Markets this quarter: Sensex gains 5.7 percent, L&T surges 19 percent

By Aditya Kalra and Sankalp Phartiyal

Indian shares posted record highs in March as strong foreign buying sent blue-chip stocks such as Larsen & Toubro higher and boosted overall investor sentiment ahead of a general election.

Provisional data showed foreign investors bought shares worth more than $3 billion in March, pushing the BSE Sensex to a life high of 22,467.21 points on the last trading day of the quarter. While the index rose 6 percent during the month, it rose 5.7 percent in the Jan-March period.

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