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Wal-Mart set to enter Indian retail next year
Signs up Bharti Enterprises as partner
New Delhi, November 27
The world biggest retailer, Wal-Mart, is set to enter the $300 billion Indian retail market through a tie-up with Bharti Enterprises and open its shops next year.

No to FDI in retail
New Delhi, November 27
Not dithering under pressure from India Inc, the UPA government today stood firm on its stand of not permitting FDI in retail, but reiterated that it was welcome in logistics.

Developed world abusing anti-dumping laws: Nath
New Delhi, November 27
Criticising the US and the EU for “use, misuse and abuse” of anti-dumping provisions, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath today called for greater transparency relating to these laws and procedures.

Trade curbs may sour Indo-US ties
New Delhi, November 27
In a firm signal to India to open up its economy in an accelerated pace, the US warned that the relations between the two countries might see “negative change” if New Delhi failed to keep pace with the expectations.

RIL to supply piped gas
New Delhi, November 27
Nearly 20 million homes in 100 cities across the country would have access to piped gas in the next four years at one-third the price of LPG cylinder, said Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani here today.

Unlimited bandwidth from next year: Maran
Union IT & Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran being welcomed by Ericsson India Managing Director Mats Granryd at the inauguration of the company's new R&D facility in Chennai on Monday. Chennai, November 27
Union Information and Communication Minister Dayananidhi Maran today said the Centre would “rewrite” the broadband policy, bidding adieu to 256 kbps speed limit and provide unlimited speed in January next.


Union IT & Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran being welcomed by Ericsson India Managing Director Mats Granryd at the inauguration of the company's new R&D facility in Chennai on Monday. — PTI


A jewellery house employee holds the ring “Dance of the Angel” in Kiev on Monday. The gold ring contains 837 brilliants and has a gross weight of 5.57 carat, the jeweller said.
A jewellery house employee holds the ring “Dance of the Angel” in Kiev on Monday. The gold ring contains 837 brilliants and has a gross weight of 5.57 carat, the jeweller said. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 

 

Corus puts off Board meeting to give more time to CSN
London, November 27
Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus today postponed the EGM of its shareholders and the court meeting, scheduled for December 4 to decide on Tata Steel's offer, till December 20 to give "additional time" to Brazilian firm CSN.

Sonia calls for public-civil society partnership
New Delhi, November 27
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today called for economic reforms with a human face, by bringing about the benefits of GDP growth to the vast majority of countrymen through social transformation.


UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi speaks at the India Economic Summit, 2006, organised by the World Economic Forum and the CII in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi speaks at the India Economic Summit, 2006, organised by the World Economic Forum and the CII in New Delhi on Monday.

Haryana CM visits Shanghai SEZ
Chandigarh, November 27
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is leading an official delegation in China, has expressed the hope that his state would surpass Shanghai in industrialisation in 15 years.

Emaar MGF, Accor form JV, to build 100 budget hotels
New Delhi, November 27
Real estate developer Emaar MGF and Accor today announced a 50:50 joint venture for setting up formula one brand of budget hotels in metros in India at an investment of $300 million in the 10 years.
Models showcase designer Malini Ramani’s creations at the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour-2006 in Bangalore on Sunday night.
Models showcase designer Malini Ramani’s creations at the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour-2006 in Bangalore on Sunday night. — PTI

Muthoot Group to open 20 branches in North
Chandigarh, November 27
Muthoot Finance, the flagship company of Rs 10,000-crore Muthoot Group, plans to open 10 branches each in Punjab and Haryana by next year.

MRO centre planned at Bangalore
New Delhi, November 27
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd is set to enter into a joint venture agreement with global aerospace major Pratt and Whitney Canada (P&WC) for an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre in Bangalore.

Tata Power Q2 net up 60 per cent
Mumbai, November 27
Tata Power Company Ltd today posted a 60 per cent surge in net profit after tax for the second quarter at Rs 202.32 crore compared to Rs 125.67 crore for the year-ago period.

Cairn fixes price band of Rs 160-190
New Delhi, November 27
Cairn India Ltd will raise a minimum of Rs 5,260.8 crore by offering 32.88 crore equity shares in an IPO the price band of which was set at Rs 160 to Rs 190 a share.

Punj Lloyd may set up oil refinery
New Delhi, November 27
Punj Lloyd is exploring possibilities to set up an oil refinery in the Takhtamukai region of Russia.

 

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Wal-Mart set to enter Indian retail next year
Signs up Bharti Enterprises as partner
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
The world biggest retailer, Wal-Mart, is set to enter the $300 billion Indian retail market through a tie-up with Bharti Enterprises and open its shops next year.

"Wal-Mart was keen to get into India. I think they have chosen the right partner," Bharti Chairman Sunil Mittal said.

Mr Mittal said the two companies intended to open "several hundred" stores across India under the Wal-Mart brand name.

''This partnership with equal stakes will operate in areas where the government allows foreign investment in retail like cash-and-carry and logistics,'' he said.

With the current government regulations permitting FDI in cash-and-carry and logistics but not in the front-end retail, the two companies have signed an MoU for the former business.

Bharti had also spoken to France's Carrefour and Germany's Metro, according to reports. "It is going to be a large investment, we are going to be a big player in this market," he said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc operates Wal-Mart discount stores, super centers, neighbourhood markets and Sam's Club locations in the US.

Bharti Enterprises Ltd. already has a joint venture, FieldFresh, with the El Rothschild group for supplying fresh agri- products to overseas retailers.

Many foreign retail conglomerates like Metro AG and Tesco are queuing up to enter India's retail segment.

The tie-up follows the opening of the first stores of Reliance Industries' retail unit earlier this month. Other major Indian conglomerates such as the Tata and Aditya Birla groups are also moving into the sector.

Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani said there was room for six to eight new players in the retail sector. Reliance Industries is investing $5.6 billion in its retail project, which ranges from convenience stores to hypermarkets and expects revenue of $22 billion from retail operations by 2010/11.

Organised retailing counts for 3 per cent of the total retail market, compared to China's 20 per cent and Thailand's 40 per cent, but is forecast to rise to 15-18 per cent by 2011/12.

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No to FDI in retail

New Delhi, November 27
Not dithering under pressure from India Inc, the UPA government today stood firm on its stand of not permitting FDI in retail, but reiterated that it was welcome in logistics.

The scene of action was the ongoing India Economic Summit, which saw a clash of industry titans and the government on the issue of opening FDI to retail. Reliance Industries Ltd Chairman Mukesh Ambani, CMD Bharti Enterprises Sunil Mittal and Godrej Group Chairman Adi Godrej took issue with Mr Ajay Dua, Secretary, Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP), on opening up of the retail sector.

Mr Dua said the reluctance of the government in this regard emanated from protecting employment generated in large numbers by the “mom and pop stores”. He said entry of large corporates would threaten employment of the 21 million people employed in such stores.

The official argued that the 300 billion retail market was growing at the rapid rate of 15-20 per cent, which would require a gargantuan investment of $30-40 billion in the organised retail sector. This would further grow to $60 billion by 2010.

Nevertheless, there was a huge area of logistics where investments from corporates, including foreign companies, were welcome, Mr Dua said.

The panel of industrialists led by Mr Ambani, Mr Mittal and Mr Godrej did not see reason in Mr Dua’s argument. — UNI

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Developed world abusing anti-dumping laws: Nath
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
Criticising the US and the EU for “use, misuse and abuse” of anti-dumping provisions, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath today called for greater transparency relating to these laws and procedures.

“In Brussels there has been the biggest growth among lawyers specialising in anti-dumping laws,” Mr Nath said, regretting that India was being targeted in particular in this regard.

He was addressing a session on India’s global growth agenda at the on-going India Economic Summit, organised jointly by the World Economic Forum and the CII here.

Defending India’s stand on agriculture-related issues in the WTO, the minister said it was West’s hypocrisy to blame India of protectionism.

“The basket of protectionism was, in fact, heavier on the Western side vis-a-vis India’s stand,” he said, arguing that “A 35 per cent increase in imports every year cannot be termed as protectionism”.

“We are willing to negotiate commerce but not subsistence,” Mr Nath said.

Pointing that there is good optimism on India despite infrastructural hurdles, the minister said, “Despite bottlenecks in infrastructure, the economy had developed resilience, and was moving forward on a calibrated growth agenda, step by step, milestone by milestone”.

“The competitiveness amongst Indian states in attracting investment, the slow but sure attitudinal change in the polity, in bureaucracy and in government, were positive indices,” he said.

Expressing “amazement” at India’s achievements in recent years, Mr Hoang Trung Hai, Minister of Industry of Vietnam observed that India’s success had risen from the talent of her people.

“Though Vietnam too has logged 7.5 per cent growth and moved from an agriculture-based to an industry based economy, the high-tech sector there is not as developed as that in India,” he said. However, Mr Hai felt that India needed to mobilise its agriculture sector to create more wealth for rural people.

“The direction is right, the question is the speed,” said Mr Hans-Joachim Korber, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Metro, Germany, calling for opening up the food sector, both basis agriculture as well as processed foods.

Describing India as one of the most important food factories of the world, he spoke about company’s investment in educating farmers to ensure quality on its shelves.

Mr Kevan V Watts, Chairman, Merrill Lynch International, UK, described Indian financial and capital markets as well developed, but cautioned that financial services and software alone cannot carry the entire burden of growth.

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Trade curbs may sour Indo-US ties
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
In a firm signal to India to open up its economy in an accelerated pace, the US warned that the relations between the two countries might see “negative change” if New Delhi failed to keep pace with the expectations.

“Competitive liberalisation is occurring throughout Asia, and if high regulations persist in India, the relationship might see a negative change,” said Mr Karan K. Bhatia, US Deputy Trade Representative at the India Economic Summit organised here.

He said besides the political, cultural and demographic ties that both countries might have in common, continuation of India’s economic reforms would determine future growth in economic relations.

Mr Bhatia said no further concession could be expected from his country to further the WTO talks.

“We understand India and its concerns and I am hopeful of successful talks in the next Doha round of trade talks but we will not make any new offers to the developing countries,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.

On the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, he said, “The nuclear agreement is not an anti-China movement by the US, but a manifestation of India-US bilateral relations”.

India’s bilateral trade with the US is more than 20 per cent of its total trade and this trend is rising, with $30 billion mark not being far away. US direct investment in India has also increased over the past few years, he added.

Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Ashwani Kumar said the way forward for India-US relationship would incorporate serving the common interests of the two countries. He said the nuclear agreement was the reflection of the improved relations between them and the trust placed by each other.

Mr John Pistole, Deputy Director, FBI, said in the post 9/11 environment, cooperation with free and peace-loving countries was essential. It was important to look at strategic partnerships and these could be made more meaningful through collection, analysis and sharing of information, he added.

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RIL to supply piped gas
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
Nearly 20 million homes in 100 cities across the country would have access to piped gas in the next four years at one-third the price of LPG cylinder, said Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani here today.

“By 2010, around 20 million homes in India will have access to piped gas. We plan to supply natural gas in 100 cities in the country at one-third lower price than an LPG cylinder,” Mr Ambani said while addressing delegates at the ongoing India Economic Summit here.

The piped gas being provided through city gas networks is around 30-45 per cent cheaper to LPG cylinder mainly due to use of cost effective technology, he said. Only a few cities like Delhi and some in Gujarat have gas networks providing clean piped gas to households.

Petroleum Secretary M.S. Srinivasan said with newer gas discoveries and plans to increase import of LNG and natural gas through transnational pipeline projects from Iran, Turkmenistan and Myanmar, the share of gas in the energy fuel mix will be about 25 per cent by 2025.

He ruled out any immediate cut in petrol and diesel prices.

On alternate fuels to reduce import dependence from levels of 75 per cent at present, the official stressed that better economic value could be realised through the use of bio fuels for captive power generation.

“By 2020, we expect 2-3 per cent of high diesel use will be replaced by bio-diesel,” he said.

“RIL is in the process of developing disease-resistant, high-yielding varieties of jatropha, one of the known sources of bio-diesel. The oil extradition out of the seeds will also be not very hi-tech and can be easily grown by local farmers,” Mr Ambani said.

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Unlimited bandwidth from next year: Maran

Chennai, November 27
Union Information and Communication Minister Dayananidhi Maran today said the Centre would “rewrite” the broadband policy, bidding adieu to 256 kbps speed limit and provide unlimited speed in January next.

Speaking after inaugurating Ericsson’s new research and development facility here, Mr Maran said as the country was moving towards an era of unlimited bandwidth, the policy was set for a major overhaul.

He said BSNL and MTNL were working on aggressive schemes to offer new bandwidth and unveil the same in January next.

“This will mean goodbye to the present 256 Kbps speed,” he said.

Mr Maran said while increasing the bandwidth, the department also wanted to increase the penetration of personal computers, which was still below the desired level.

By the year 2010, 500 million people in the country would be connected through either landlines or mobile, he said.

The DoT had drawn up massive plans to provide mobile connectivity in the rural areas, by setting up towers, using the universal service obligation fund of Rs 7000 crore, Mr Maran said. — UNI

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Corus puts off Board meeting to give more time to CSN

London, November 27
Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus today postponed the EGM of its shareholders and the court meeting, scheduled for December 4 to decide on Tata Steel's offer, till December 20 to give "additional time" to Brazilian firm CSN.

"The Board of Corus has decided it is in the best interests of Corus shareholders to allow CSN some additional time to satisfy its pre-conditions and to determine whether it will put forward a formal offer," Corus informed the London Stock Exchange today.

CSN had approached the Corus Board on November 17, with a proposal of 475 pence per share in cash to acquire the London-based steel company. CSN is in the process of studying the books of Corus to enable it to launch a formal bid.

The Brazilian firm had rivalled Tata Steel's 455 pence-a-share bid last month, which was recommended by the Corus Board.

"Since the CSN announcement, Corus has made due diligence information available to CSN and has also made senior management available to expedite this process with a view to enabling CSN to satisfy its pre-conditions as quickly as possible. However, to date, no formal offer has been received from or announced by CSN," Corus said.

"In the light of this, the Board intends to propose resolutions to shareholders at each of the EGM and the court meeting convened for December 4 to adjourn those meetings until December 20," it said.

CSN had earlier said its formal offer would be subject to certain pre-conditions, which include completion of due-diligence, finalisation of financing arrangements and a recommendation from the Corus Board.

"The Board of Corus has decided that it is in the best interests of Corus shareholders to allow CSN some additional time to satisfy its pre-conditions and to determine whether it will put forward a formal offer," the communique to the LSE said.

The company said it had postponed the meetings on its own and CSN was not aware of it and added that there could be no certainty that an offer would be made by CSN despite giving it more time.

CSN's Chief Executive Benjamin Steinbruch, who owns 45 per cent of the Brazilian firm, had earlier told the Financial Times that Corus was being "fair and professional" as a special team from the Brazilian firm met in London to study its accounts. "We are confident that we will be able to move to a formal bid," Mr Steinbruch was quoted as saying.

Corus said that if circumstances changed between the time of this announcement and the date for the proposed EGM and court meeting, it would drop the move to seek adjournment of the meeting till December 20. — PTI

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Sonia calls for public-civil society partnership
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today called for economic reforms with a human face, by bringing about the benefits of GDP growth to the vast majority of countrymen through social transformation.

In a critical evaluation of the social sector projects undertaken by the Manmohan Singh, she said the government had to play a key role in institutionalising the framework for social transformation.

Expressing concern that the benefits of economic reforms have not perculated down, she called for public-civil society partnership for greater investments in education, healthcare and nutrition to bring about social transformation in the country.

“Alliance of the public sector and civil society is necessary for social transformation. Industry must be an integral part of such an alliance. The government needs to develop the framework for institutionalising this collaboration,” she said while addressing the India Economic Summit organised by the World Economic Forum.

"India is bursting with growth but there is also widespread want. There is India of new aspirations but there is also the burden of inequality. We are still very low in the UNDP index of growth. We need to galvanise ourselves into a collective effort to improve on this," she added.

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Haryana CM visits Shanghai SEZ
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is leading an official delegation in China, has expressed the hope that his state would surpass Shanghai in industrialisation in 15 years.

Mr Hooda was speaking at an interactive session organised at the Pudong SEZ in Shanghai today, where he and members of the delegation were welcomed by the Vice-Chief of Pudong district, Mr Qian Peiyao, according to an official press note issued here today.

Haryana had now started its journey towards industrialisation in a big way. Haryana, due to its proximity to the national Capital, had received many proposals for setting up of SEZs. He said the purpose of his visit to China was to study the Chinese model and to replicate its best practices in Haryana. He also invited Mr Peiyao to visit his state.

Mr Peiyao gave a presentation on the important features of the Pudong SEZ. He also traced the growth pattern of the SEZ over the past 16 years. This session was followed by a detailed interaction with the delegates in which information pertaining to setting up of SEZ, tax incentives available and infrastructure financing was discussed.

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Emaar MGF, Accor form JV, to build 100 budget hotels
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
Real estate developer Emaar MGF and Accor today announced a 50:50 joint venture for setting up formula one brand of budget hotels in metros in India at an investment of $300 million in the 10 years.

In the first five years, the JV — Budget Hotels India Private Ltd — will roll out 50 hotels with a capacity of 5,000 rooms each while the remaining 50 hotels with the same capacity will be set up during the second phase.

''The company has a two-phase plan to set up 100 hotels with 10,000 rooms space over the next 10 years,'' company Executive Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Shravan Gupta said here.

The company currently has 20 sites available for 10 hotels in major cities, to be operational within two years.

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Muthoot Group to open 20 branches in North
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Muthoot Finance, the flagship company of Rs 10,000-crore Muthoot Group, plans to open 10 branches each in Punjab and Haryana by next year.

Chairman of Muthoot Group M.G. George Muthoot while inaugurating the company’s second branch in the city in Sector 35 today, said, “We already have eight branches each in the two states and plan to add new branches within one year. We will open our second branches in Amritsar and Ludhiana and new branches in Rohtak and Sonepat next month,” he said.

Major emphasis would be on foreign remittances in Punjab, Mr Muthoot said, adding that the company would also be promoting the gold loan scheme, which offers loan against gold deposits at competitive rates of interest. 

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MRO centre planned at Bangalore

New Delhi, November 27
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd is set to enter into a joint venture agreement with global aerospace major Pratt and Whitney Canada (P&WC) for an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre in Bangalore.

HAL and P&WC officials are close to signing an agreement in this connection, P&WC Commercial-Service Centres Vice-President Claude Lachapelle said. Mr Lachapelle said the MRO centre, which could service about 150 aircraft engines every year, was likely to come up by the middle of next year.

Earlier, P&WC had signed long-term business agreements with Kingfisher Airlines and Air Deccan for engine maintenance. Globally, P&WC designs, develops, manufactures turbofans, turboprop and turboshaft engines for business, general and regional aircraft and helicopters. — PTI

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Tata Power Q2 net up 60 per cent

Mumbai, November 27
Tata Power Company Ltd today posted a 60 per cent surge in net profit after tax for the second quarter at Rs 202.32 crore compared to Rs 125.67 crore for the year-ago period.

Total income for the latest quarter rose by 16.58 per cent at Rs 1,279.17 crore against Rs 1,097.21 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2005, the company said.

"The company is now in the implementation phase of several new projects and this augurs well for future growth," Tata Power Managing Director Prasad Menon said.

Work on the 250-MW coal-based power plant and 100-MW diesel generating sets for Mumbai were progressing well and the company had commenced work on a 120-MW project in Haldia, 100-MW wind power plants in Maharashtra and 1,000-MW Maithon project, he was quoted as saying in the communique. — PTI

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Cairn fixes price band of Rs 160-190

New Delhi, November 27
Cairn India Ltd will raise a minimum of Rs 5,260.8 crore by offering 32.88 crore equity shares in an IPO the price band of which was set at Rs 160 to Rs 190 a share.

The IPO of 32.88 crore equity shares is over and above Rs 3,700 crore, the company raised last week in private placement of 20.96 crore equity shares at Rs 176.48 a share.

"This implies Cairn India (would have a) market capitalisation of approximately Rs 28,245-Rs 33,541 crore ($6.32-7.50 billion)," the company said here.

The final offer price for the IPO will be determined following a book building exercise expected to be completed in mid-December.

A company official said Cairn India would hold roadshows beginning this week at 19 cities across the country. Roadshows for the IPO would also be held in the UK, the US, West Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong. — PTI

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Punj Lloyd may set up oil refinery

New Delhi, November 27
Punj Lloyd is exploring possibilities to set up an oil refinery in the Takhtamukai region of Russia.

"Punj Lloyd Chairman Atul Punj met me and expressed interest in three projects, including an oil refinery project,” Mr Aslan Khuako, Takhtamukai region's administrative head, said on Friday.

However, Mr Atul Punj said the discussions with Mr Khuako were informal and there was no definite plan as of now. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Sonata Software
New Delhi, November 27
Sonata Software Ltd has bought a 50.1 per cent stake in Germany's TUI InfoTec, an IT company headquartered in Hanover, through its UK subsidiary, Sonata Europe Ltd, for 18 million euros. ''Transition of work from TUI InfoTec to the JV has already started. Our focus will be on the execution of a joint plan, to ensure that the objectives of the JV are met ,'' company President and Managing Director B. Ramaswamy said. — PTI

UTV-Astro JV
Mumbai, November 27
UTV Software Communications Ltd said today it had entered into a term sheet with Astro Multimedia International (BVI) Ltd for establishing a television channel joint venture business in India, South Asia and South-East Asia. The company and Astro would hold 50 per cent each of the equity capital of the joint venture, UTV Software said. The joint venture would develop, produce and operate one or more TV broadcast channels targeted at the 15 to 25 age group in India, South Asia and South-East Asia. — PTI

Akula named Social Entrepreneur
New Delhi, November 27
Mr Vikram Akula, Founder and CEO of SKS Microfinance Private Limited, has been named the India Social Entrepreneur of the Year. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi presented the award to Dr Akula during the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit. Dr Akula said: "This award is an affirmation of the entrepreneurial spirit of the poor women working across India." SKS Microfinance, based in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, applies global business practices to the field of microfinance. — TNS

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