Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

from Sakthi Prasad:

Real Estate – To invest or not

Abhijit Mukherjee of Dr Reddy'sEveryone of us has our own ideas about a dream home and usually wonder if it makes a good investment or not. 

But for Abhijit Mukherjee, president of the pharma firm Dr. Reddy’s, the choice is very clear -- He is not a big fan of real estate investment. 

While speaking to Reuters journalists at the India Investment Summit in Bangalore, Mukherjee cited the American example of a recent real estate crash and wondered whether India, too, is headed in the same direction. He said buying a house and holding it for value appreciation over a number of years is not a good idea.

Notwithstanding his skepticism, he said he is thinking of changing his apartment. But he was quick to add that it is not a very exciting investment.

from Sakthi Prasad:

The brave new world of Ideas

Rostow Ravanan of MindtreeThe world was built on ideas and in the absence of innovation, mankind would have continued to live in stone age.

Of course, Rostow Ravanan, chief financial officer of Mindtree, would subscribe to the view that new ideas are absolutely necessary to promote business growth. Well, who wouldn’t? While talking to journalists at Reuters India Investment Summit, he vigorously defended his company’s foray into designing smart phones saying it is a new idea, which may as well pay off.

from Sakthi Prasad:

New Contracts are like honeymoon

L.Ravichandran of Tech MahindraAs the old adage goes, it is easy to build a new house as compared to remodeling an old one. If one would like to extend this adage to the new-age IT industry, then we could use what L. Ravichandran, president, IT Services of Tech Mahindra, told the Journalists at Reuters India Investment Summit in Bangalore: it is easy to negotiate new contracts with the clients rather than renegotiating old ones. He likened the new contracts to that of a honeymoon -- both the customer and the service provider are happy. But, of course, he did not extend his metaphor to old contracts by likening it to a marriage gone vinegary.

Ravichandran also pondered over the fate of fixed lines telephones. According to him, the fixed line phone will not be done away with altogether. Instead, it will be increasingly used to deliver other digital services like broadband internet, IPTV etc.  So in a perverse way, landlines may continue to be used, but not much to make phone calls though.

from Sakthi Prasad:

Old business in New bottle

J.C. Sharma of Sobha DevelopersWhen the term “real estate” is mentioned, people immediately get images of bricks, cement, sand, gravel, dusty construction sites and so on. And the business is rightfully termed as “brick-and-mortar” or categorized as “old economy.”

 Many youngsters nowadays would prefer to work in swanky offices of a software company or an investment bank instead of sweating it out in dust and heat at construction locations.

from Sakthi Prasad:

India Investment Summit comes to Bangalore

After completing the Mumbai leg, the 2010 India Investment Summit is set to arrive in the garden city of Bangalore on Wednesday. Long known as the pensioner’s paradise, Bangalore is fast morphing into a global, multicultural city. The city is also emerging as a favourite destination among young Indian professionals aspiring for a blue-chip career in the information technology business. But despite Bangalore’s success in the IT industry -- the showpiece of a rising India -- the city’s infrastructure has not been able to keep pace with its phenomenal growth over the last decade or so. Frequent power cuts, traffic-choked roads and lax urban planning often leave city dwellers and foreign investors in mute frustration. However, despite these issues, multinational companies have kept their faith in the city.

Executives of real estate, technology and pharmaceutical firms will be exclusively talking to Reuters journalists about their companies’ growth plans, challenges they face and business opportunities that are available within the wider context of India investment story.

Stay tuned.

A bubble in the real estate market?

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INDIA-URBANISATION/Have you tried buying or renting a house in Mumbai recently? If so, then I won’t be surprised if you think real estate prices are plain expensive, and incredibly so. But that’s almost always been the case in India’s commercial capital. After all, when was the last time someone told you they got a cheap house in the city?

So is the real estate market in a bubble? We asked Adi Godrej, the man who controls Godrej Properties, if things could get bubblicious. This is what he had to say: “I don’t think we are in a bubble, because demand is strong, but we could get into a bubble.”

Paranoid governments and conspiracy theories

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Adi Godrej

Adi Godrej

Adi Godrej, who marshals his namesake $2.5 billion diversified group, believes the Indian government is “paranoid” about the possible effects of allowing more foreign investments into sectors such as airlines.

“They (the Indian government) have not allowed foreign airlines to invest in private airlines, and they cite security. I don’t see what security would be compromised,” Godrej told the Reuters India Investment Summit in Mumbai.

Infrastructure still top-of-mind in India

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INDIA/
On Monday, we kick-off the 2010 India Investment Summit. We’ll have exclusive interviews in Mumbai and Bangalore. In 2006 we held the first Reuters India Investment Summit. It was my first time in India. I’ve had the privilege to return every year. How time flies. Here we are four years later. Some of the key players may have changed but the big, over-arching theme is still the same: Infrastructure. It’s the key to realizing the country’s potential but bureaucracy, tough financing and hesitant overseas investment have slowed development in the sector, calling into question the future of India as a powerhouse.

India has had only mixed success in its efforts to accelerate construction of roads, bridges and power plants. The statistics are mind-blowing…the country is growing at 8.5% and has a population of 1.2 billion that is making a mad-dash from the countryside to sprawling cities. Call them growing pains…in India’s expanding cities there is an acute need to speed project approvals, implement new financing models and attract overseas investment for much needed infrastructure. But, while the business opportunity is tremendous investors looking to India as a way to play the emerging markets are wary given the history of missed deadlines and red tape that makes getting projects completed a challenge.

Lady Gaga may not be the only one singing a new tune in November

USA/
The 2010 Reuters Washington Summit included 4 days of on-the-record interviews with policymakers, congressmen and Obama Administration officials here in the DC bureau. The interviews covered a wide range of topics…from the impact of the mid-term elections to the importance of the Lady Gaga vote.

With less than six weeks to go before the mid-term elections the focus was on what a potential shift in power to a Republican-controlled Congress could mean for policy priorities in the coming year. We heard from Senators’ McCain, Dodd, Gregg and Bingaman. On the House side we spoke with the man responsible for getting Democrats elected…Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He called this election season a “tough and challenging environment,’ but predicted Democrats would retain control of the House.

Five weeks: It’s an eternity in the world of politics

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By Christopher Doering carper

Five weeks:  It may not be a lot of time for many people, but with the pivotal mid-term elections looming on Nov. 2 Delaware Senator Tom Carper said five weeks is an eternity for Democrats to use to turn the tide in their favor.

“Today, five weeks a lot happens. A lot of minds change in five weeks,” Carper, a self-proclaimed “optimist”, told the Reuters Washington Summit.

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