Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

from Abhiram Nandakumar:

A garage, a beaker and a Bunsen burner

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, one of India’s most influential businesswomen and among the world’s most powerful women, says she’s an accidental entrepreneur.

Mazumdar-Shaw has shown that modest garage start-ups can extend beyond software and hardware companies. She set up what is now India's largest listed biotechnology company in 1978 and she encourages others to follow suit.

“Today a lot of early stage research work can be done in a garage,” she said at the Reuters India Investment Summit.

Mazumdar-Shaw reckons opportunities for bio-tech startups are huge, considering the demand for sophisticated technology like genomic based systems, diagnostics for cancer stem cells, and high-end synthetic biology. All these are usually developed in small labs across the country.

HK Exchange’s Arculli plays it cool

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Spilling a piping cup of hot coffee down yourself in front of a room of journalists seconds before they start firing questions at you isn’t in your standard media training handbook.FINANCE-SUMMIT/
But 72-year-old Hong Kong Exchange Chairman Ronald Arculli, isn’t a man who gets easily ruffled. While the Reuters reporters went off in a frenzy bringing in tissues and mopping down the table, he just sat there keeping his cool,having not got a drop on his crisp white shirt or tie.

Aside from his role at Hong Kong Exchange, Arculli is a senior partner at law firm King & Wood, and his legal training shines through in interviews.

from Sakthi Prasad:

From coffee beans to brick buildings

M.R. Jaishankar of Brigade EnterprisesM.R. Jaishankar, chairman and managing director of real estate firm Brigade Enterprises, the youngest of 12 siblings, started his career in the family business of growing coffee beans.

 But after a nasty labor dispute, which resulted in the burning down of his factory in 1984, he saw an opportunity in the real estate business in the then sleepy Bangalore city -- and tasted big success.

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. 

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.

Recession’s perfect storm speeds up change in ad industry

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Why is it that the United States’ advertising as a proportion of marketing services is at its lowest point since 1977, maybe even lower than since the Second World War?

You may have guessed it it’s the recession.

But it will get better, Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising giant WPP, said.

“The recession is less worse,” Sorrell said, repeating a favourite phrase of late, and while it’s the biggest recession since 1929 it is also “a perfect storm” that has brought forward change. 

200MB? It’s only human nature to want more

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Broadband subscribers want as much speed as they can get their hands on, even if it’s way beyond what’s needed by the most avid downloader of music, keen watcher of video or biggest Facebook addict, reckons cable operator Liberty Global’s CEO.

Maybe he would say that, but Mike Fries says today’s subscribers are signing up for speeds of 100-200 MB to be safe in the knowledge they won’t be left behind whatever the next stage of the Internet — a bit like owning a car with a top speed way beyond the limit.

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