Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

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.

But for J.C. Sharma, managing director of Bangalore-based real estate firm Sobha Developers, it makes business sense to combine the selling power of “new economy” Internet and “old economy” real estate. 

While speaking to Journalists at Reuters India Investment Summit in Bangalore, Sharma said the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) demand has gone up to 17 percent this year compared to less than 10 percent of demand last year -- thanks to the power of Internet.

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.

Infrastructure still top-of-mind in India

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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.

The Reuters India Summit comes to Bangalore

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On Wednesday, the Reuters India Investment Summit comes to the information technology hub of Bangalore.

The city has become synonymous in the West with outsourcing and “cheap labor” but is rapidly emerging as a hot spot for research and development. Bangalore is also marching ahead in the information technology value chain. Some companies like Wipro actually outsource work from India to Egypt.

A “cash cow”

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By Don Durfee

Safe havens have been few and far between during the global economic crisis, but one has been fairly reliable: infrastructure. So it’s not surprising that many companies are betting on the biggest infrastructure opportunity of them all, China’s $585 billion spending package.

One of those is NWS Holdings, a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s New World Development. Speaking at the Reuters China Investment Summit, executive director Tsang Yam Pui spoke glowingly about the company’s investment in a project to develop 18 rail container terminals around the country.

AUDIO – Wait a minute, we have to pay for all this stuff?

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Unfortunately, we do.

All the infrastructure projects in the world sound great! They look awesome on paper, they’ll make people’s lives better and they’ll let us go visit our friends and families in about half the time it used to take.

It’ll be a dream world!!

Well, unfortunately, we are going to have to pay for all these projects at some point and all of the guests at this year’s Reuters Infrastructure Summit acknowledge that the paying is the hardest part.

Any questions for the MTA?

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With New York subway riders and motorists bracing for the second round of fare and toll hikes this year, we imagine some of you may have questions for Lee Sander. The chief executive of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the nation’s biggest public transit system, speaks at the Reuters Infrastructure Summit early Thursday. Post your questions for Sander below. Our MTA-commuting reporters will add a selection of them to their own long list and publish the answers on this blog.

AUDIO – Everything has a cost

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There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Or bridge. Or turnpike.

Every project we’re talking about at Reuters first-ever Reuters Infrastructure Summit has an enormous cost — sometimes in the hundreds of billions of dollars. And governments are looking for ways to pay for it all.

Enter public-private partnerships (or P3s as we cool, infrastructure types like to say these days). In these deals, governments will lease or sell an asset to a group of investors for a certain big up-front fee and then they will pay the government a certain per-year fee for the right.

AUDIO – Finding a model; then build, baby, build!

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Infrastructure spending. Public-private partnerships. Government buildouts.

This week, all of these kinds of phrases are much on the mind of our guests at the first ever Reuters Infrastructure Summit held in New York, San Francisco and Washington.

While infrastructure means different things to almost all of our guests (schools, roads, bridges, etc) — one of our first guests, Petra Todorovich, talked at length about the need for high speed rails.

Audio – For best M&A results? Don’t forget the fish and the booze!

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There is an entire industry out there about what to do to make a merger a success. Many of us know bankers or lawyers who work for weeks and hours on end just to make sure their deals are perfectly done with all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted.

Millions of dollars are spent on just teaching people the best way to get a transaction from idea to completion.

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