India Insight

Environmentalists cheer news of scrapping of power project

INDIA-VEDANTAEnvironmentalists are hailing news that India’s ministry of environment and forests has scrapped a proposed power plant by Larsen & Toubro in eastern India close to a nesting ground for endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

But Greenpeace is quick to point out that there are ports proposed near all of Orissa’s mass nesting areas, and that these should be denied permission, as well.

It is a tough fight, one that is pitting environmentalists, tribals and villagers against large companies and government agencies keen on tapping resources and building infrastructure to keep pace with India’s robust growth.

The fate of dozens of mining projects, power plants, ports, even highways and special economic zones will be determined by India’s ministry of environment and forests, with reports every day of protests that have sometimes turned violent.

Like in mineral-rich Orissa state, where hundreds of indigenous people are battling to stop London-listed miner Vedanta Resources from extracting bauxite from what they say is their sacred mountain, in an eerie echo of the blockbuster “Avatar” movie.

from DealZone:

Reliance aims big with $12 bln bid for LyondellBasell

Ranked by Forbes as India's richest man with a net worth of $32 billion, Mukesh Ambani Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, is no stranger to taking risks.

The move by conglomerate Reliance Industries, controlled by Ambani, to bid for bankrupt LyondellBasell is a calculated one. Markets seem to think this is a bargain and investors pushed up Reliance's stock nearly 4 percent on Monday.

If the deal, which sources say may be worth $12 billion,  goes through, it would catapult Reliance into the ranks of top petrochemical makers such as Saudi Arabia's SABIC, Germany's BASF and Dow Chemical Co.

from DealZone:

No bruised egos as Bharti-MTN redial once again

Exactly one year ago, squabbles over control forced Bharti Airtel and MTN to ditch their hope of forming a global telecoms group, but both emerging markets-focused companies are back on the negotiating table to thrash out a $61 billion merger.

What's changed?

MTNFor a start, both firms are now publicly talking about a detailed structure for the combined entity, something that was missing last time.

As part of an initial deal worth more than $23 billion unveiled on Monday, Bharti will pay in cash and shares for 49 percent of MTN, while MTN pays cash and stock for an effective 36 percent stake in the Indian firm. Previous merger talks collapsed when the South African firm proposed a new structure that would have seen Bharti become an MTN unit.

Dark horse Tech Mahindra wins race to acquire Satyam

Tech Mahindra, part of Indian business group Mahindra & Mahindra, won the race to acquire Satyam Computer Services on Monday, in a deal that’ll help the mid-sized outsourcer gain in size and also lift clarity on Satyam’s fate.

In a race that saw only a handful of bidders, Tech Mahindra beat rivals such as engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro and U.S.-listed Cognizant Technologies. Tech Mahindra agreed to buy a 31 percent stake in Satyam at 58 rupees, a 23 percent premium to Satyam’s last closing price.

(Click here to watch a Reuters Insight video)

Tech Mahindra, established more than 20 years ago as a joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra and British Telecom, faces the daunting task of reshaping Satyam, a company at the heart of India’s biggest corporate scandal.

Fraud-hit Satyam pins hopes on shaky white knights

Three months after its founder Ramalinga Raju shocked markets by disclosing India’s biggest corporate scandal, Satyam Computer Services is desperately pinning its survival hopes on its auction set for April 13.

But only a handful of bidders are in the race due to lack of clarity over Satyam’s accounts and potential legal liabilities from U.S. lawsuits. Even if the company manages to find a buyer for a 51 percent stake, it’ll take a long time to instill confidence among employees already jumping shipand nervous clients.

What about the role of the government, whose appointed-board is due to choose the buyer the same week the country heads for national elections? Will the government remove its handpicked board or continue to keep a watchful eye on any new strategy chalked out by the new buyer?