Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Reserve Bank of India Ignores Oil Price Drop; Maintains Interest Rate

IndusView, Tuesday 2 December 2014 (London): The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left its benchmark rate unchanged at 8.00% Tuesday, failing to take advantage of the drop in international crude oil prices and the resulting deflationary effect on India’s biggest import item.

The India crude basket, computed by the petroleum planning and analysis cell, was $72.51 per barrel on November 27 compared with $90.50 per barrel on October 9. The Indian basket of crude oil is based on the weighted average of Middle East sour grades (Dubai and Oman) and the North Sea Brent sweet grade of London.

Despite the lower oil price, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said he was still awaiting more proof that inflation was under control.

“Lower oil prices keeps inflation low and could have served as a cue for the RBI to reduce interest rates and foster GDP growth,” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman of London-based consulting firm IndusView. “It increases prospects of the Narendra Modi government meeting its fiscal deficit target for 2014-2015. A lower RBI rate would have helped ensure it also meets its GDP growth target.“

India imports more than two-thirds of its oil requirements, which constitutes 37% of total imports. A one-dollar fall in the price of oil saves the country about $648 million. Every $10 a barrel fall in prices lowers retail inflation by 0.2 of a percentage point and wholesale inflation by half a point, experts estimate. Lower oil prices, therefore, have a three-fold effect spread across the economy.

Cheaper energy moderates inflation, which has already fallen from over 10% in early 2013 to 6.5%, bringing it within the central bank’s informal target range. This should lead to lower interest rates, boosting investment.

Cheaper oil also cuts India’s budget deficit, now representing 4.5% of GDP, by reducing fuel and fertilizer subsidies: along with food subsidies, the total is $41 billion in the year ending March 2015—14% of public spending and 2.5% of GDP.

The government controls the price of diesel and compensates sellers for their losses. But, for the first time in years, sellers are making a profit. As in China, cheaper oil should reduce the pain of cutting subsidies. Since Oct. this year, India has ended diesel price subsides and raised the price of natural gas.

Gross domestic product expanded 5.3% in the July-September quarter from a year earlier, as a manufacturing slump took the bounce out of Asia’s third-largest economy. Growth in the previous quarter was at 5.7%. 
Thanks to growth in services and stronger-than-expected farming after a bad monsoon, the reading was higher than predicted by economists polled by Reuters, who on average forecast growth of 5.1%. On a year-on-year basis, trade deficit increased by 28.1 per cent during Q2 FY 15 (Jul-Sep) as compared with a decline of 24.1% in Q1 of 2014-2015.

Prime Minister Modi is keen to promote India as an investment destination. Moves are afoot to schedule Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first bilateral visit to the United Kingdom for an event on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The trip will be his first bilateral visit to Europe. U.S. President Obama is also due to visit to India as Chief Guest of its Republic Day parade on Jan. 26.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Indian PM Modi Could Learn From US Economic Recovery While In US


IndusView, Monday September 29 (London): While the United States Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) is expected to raise interest rates in Spring 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to maintain them in order to battle un-simmering inflation.

The world’s largest economy registered an annualized growth of 4% in the second quarter 2014, beating expectations of 3.1% and confirming its recovery is back on track. The U.S. central bank has kept America’s short-term interest rates near zero since the end of 2008, as it battled to fuel growth after the financial crisis. A rise next year would represent the first rate increase in more than eight years; the last increase occurred in June 2006.

In India, industrial growth, which had revived in the April-June quarter and grew by 4.2%, slipped in July to a mere 0.5% for want of stimulus. The only sector that performed well was power generation with an increase by 11.2% year-on-year (y-o-y). Capital goods and durable consumer goods have underperformed, indicating weak demand. Inflation going by the wholesale price index dropped to 3.7% – its lowest in five years – but inflation at the retail level remained high at 7.8%.

“Prime Minister Modi could learn a lesson or two from the U.S. economic revival,” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman of London-based consulting firm IndusView. “India still needs to boost growth while the U.S. economy seems back on track.”

The U.S. is the only ‘superpower’ in the world today, with almost nine times India’s GDP and with a per-capita 33 times more than India’s. The U.S. is also the best example of the power of entrepreneurship enhancing prosperity of its people.

Modi will attend the United Nations General Assembly session in New York and then fly to Washington DC for the meeting with Obama at the White House on September 30. In his invitation letter, President Obama reiterated his invitation — that first came in a phone conversation with Modi on May 16 — and resolved to work closely with Modi to make India-U.S. relations “a defining partnership for the 21st Century”.

Modi, who was denied visa by the U.S. in 2005 due to the Gujarat riots, said he was of the view that “re-energizing the partnership between India and the U.S. would send an important message to the region and beyond”. Modi was Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat when violence against its minority Muslim population resulted in the deaths of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. 

“The U.S. and India have always been unfriendly friends. Now is the time to make themselves friendlier,” said Rangar. “From energy, to defense, to counter-terrorism, to trade, America and India have many overlapping national interests and need to strengthen their relationship to realize their efforts to collaborate.”

The U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution designating Sept. 30 as U.S-India Partnership Day. The resolution emphasizes the mutual benefits of a thriving U.S-India partnership, stressing the importance of increasing collaboration in order to promote stability, democracy, and economic prosperity in the 21st century.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

India PM Modi’s 100 Days in Office: Kaizen Not Magic Wand

IndusView, Wednesday 3 September 2014 (London): A visit to Japan is perhaps the best statement of Narendra Modi’s 100 days as Prime Minister of India, a honeymoon time typically used by new governments to push symbolic and substantive changes capitalising on voter sentiment that ushered them into power.

Accompanied by some of India’s top business leaders, Modi wooed Japanese corporate investors and promised Japanese Kaizen management style, noted for rigour and efficiency, in his own bureau, the Prime Minister’s Office.

For those expecting a shimmery display of new reforms, there was little to cheer. But for those awaiting deeper structural changes, the effects of which would be felt over months and years but not necessarily within 100 days, numerous observations were to be made.

“Modi is managing expectations against a magic wand solution to India’s problems,” said IndusView Chairman Bundeep Singh Rangar. “Expect deeper structural and slower policy changes, even painfully slow involving consensus building, rather than cosmetic quick-fixes. The blue print for such Kaizen style changes were spelt out in his party’s election manifesto five months ago.

The first 100 days of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) marked changes in tax policy, land acquisition, environment approvals, financial inclusion, manufacturing and labour laws.

Modi wishes to emulate Japan in terms of quality, zero defect and delivery systems while carrying out skill development. He’s outlined single window-clearances as a way to ease business, simplify procedures, quicken processes and use technology.

Kaizen, Japanese for "good change," has been applied in business to continually improve all functions across the corporate chain of command. It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics. By improving standardized activities and processes, kaizen aims to eliminate waste and improve productivity.

Modi’s reputation for effective and honest administration, built over a decade running the state of Gujarat, has won support in India's business community. Some of the prominent business leaders accompanying Modi to Japan include Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises that owns India’s largest mobile network Airtel and is partners with Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; Kumar Managalam Birla, Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, one of India’s largest conglomerate multinational corporations and partner of Canada’s Sun Life Financial Inc.; and Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), ranked last year at No. 99 on the Fortune Global 500 list of the world's biggest corporations. RIL contributed about 14% of India’s $300 billion worth of exports last year.

There have been a number of key structural reforms over the past 100 days even as India announced 5.7% growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the latest quarter, the fastest in two year. These include higher foreign direct investment (FDI) in insurance and defense; agreement on Goods and Services Tax (GST) in FY15; a number of reforms to boost manufacturing, including creating Special Economic Zones (SEZs), single window clearance, excise duty cuts for labor intensive sectors such as food processing and footwear, reforms to the Apprenticeship Act, the inclusion of 15 million people into the banking sector and an $1.65 billion venture capital fund for small and medium enterprises.

Reforms for capital markets, include allowing American Depositary Receipts (ADR) and Global Depositary Receipts (GDR) for a larger group of securities, make it easier for foreign portfolio managers to set up shop in India by taxing their gains from transactions only as capital gains, and the lower withholding tax of 5% on corporate bonds extended till mid-2017 from mid-2015. Further, Indian bonds are now allowed to be cleared internationally, which takes them a step closer to the process of including them in international bond indices. 

Since coming into office, Modi has demonstrated his commitment to restoring India’s leadership within the subcontinent and on the world stage. Aside from Tokyo, he has visited Bhutan, Nepal, and Fortaleza, Brazil for the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit. He has also invited all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders to his inauguration. Modi has shown that India’s foreign relations are a priority for his government. A trip to Washington DC is also planned on September 30.

"The more integrated India is into global markets and the economic architecture of Asia, the more India’s economy will grow and benefit the entire global economic system," said Rangar. “Investors expect policy measures from the new government to put India on a high-growth path on a sustainable basis."

Modi’s silence on troubling domestic phenomena, including communal violence in Uttar Pradesh and other social issues across the country, is seen by his critics as a leader poorly suited to lead a pluralistic country. Opposition politicians have similarly alleged that since Modi’s rise to power, communal violence has spiked across India. That assertion, however, is apparently not supported by the latest data from India’s Home Ministry.

“On domestic issues, both economic and social, Modi’s approach is looking to be quieter and more gradual,” said Rangar. “It’ll take far longer than just 100 days to nurse a country of 1.2 billion people into good economic health”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed in his speeches that he does not believe in setting 100-day goals or agendas, as his government is here to govern for its full term of five years. But his government, aware that its performance will be judged by the media and myriad experts as it nears 100 days in office, is preparing for a series of press conferences to showcase its achievements since taking charge on May 26. 

As soon as the PM took the oath of office, a website was up and running with constant updates of thoughts, speeches, and movements of the PM. The Finance Minister has been tweeting regularly about policy, as have other ministers. The greater use of technology and social media for public interaction is also one point on the Prime Minister’s 10-point agenda announced on May 30. Instead of press conferences and media events, the new government is communicating through tweets, Facebook, and websites. E-auctions for government projects has also found mention in the 10-point agenda.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Reserve Bank of India Holds Interest Rates for Third Meeting in Inflation Fight

IndusView, Tuesday 5 August 2013 (London): The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 8%, resisting calls from the country's businessmen and policy makers to cut interest rates to help revive economic growth.

The Indian central bank kept its overnight lending rate steady at 8% for its third policy meeting in a row. The decision was in line with the expectations of most economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. Only one out of 15 analysts surveyed expected a quarter-percentage point cut to 7.75%, with the rest of them predicting no change.

"It is appropriate to continue maintaining a vigilant monetary policy stance as in June, while leaving the policy rate unchanged," said Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman of London-based advisory firm IndusView. “Getting inflation under control is the best way to encourage sustainable long-term growth.”

India's economy expanded 4.7% in the year ended March, the second consecutive year where the gross domestic product has risen less than 5%. India hasn't had two successive years of below-5% growth since the late 80s.

India's economy has been showing some encouraging signs recently. May industrial production picked up to 4.7% year-over-year, up from 3.4% the previous month. Business confidence increased in June, hitting a 17-month high.

The RBI has been focusing on the consumer-price inflation rate, which has fallen more than expected in recent months. The increase in consumer prices has cooled from an average of 10% in 2013 to 7.3% in June, the slowest rise since the central bank started measuring consumer price index (CPI) in January 2012.

High oil prices have a crippling effect as they push up the prices of food and other commodities because of the increased transportation costs. Vegetable prices rose 9% while fruit prices rose nearly 21% year on year in June, when monsoon was 48% below average, although rainfall improved in July, the second month of the monsoon season.

India's heavy reliance on imported oil—especially from Iraq, which accounts for about 13% of its imports — makes the country more vulnerable than most to conflicts in the Middle East.

The weather is another source of concern, with the lower-than-normal rains from the monsoon—which runs from June through September — likely to reduce the supply of grains and vegetables and push up prices. Most of the country's farmlands depend on rainwater for irrigation.

“Sentiment on domestic economic activity appears to be reviving, with data suggesting a firming up of industrial growth and exports,” said Rangar. “Economic reforms announced by the new government of Narendra Modi should create a congenial setting for a steady improvement in domestic demand and supply.”

Monday, July 28, 2014

Modi's Business Agenda by Knowledge@Wharton

In the months of campaigning since his first rally last September, Narendra Modi covered more than 200,000 miles in the process of holding 5,827 public meetings to convince voters to throw their support behind him as India’s next leader.
It was a strenuous schedule that has brought its due reward — Modi will be India’s next prime minister. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 282 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha (as the lower house of Parliament is called). This is the first one-party majority in the country in 30 years. In addition, along with his pre-poll allies, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Modi can count on a whopping 336 seats.
It may be a cliché, but is nevertheless true: The tough part for India’s new government starts now. The challenge has very little to do with religion or caste equations, though these were used to criticize Modi during the electioneering process. (Rival politicians labeled him the “butcher of Gujarat” and the “merchant of death” in reference to his lack of action to stop massive anti-Muslim violence that broke out in the state in 2002, when Modi was chief minister. Some of his close aides were found guilty of taking part in the violence, but Modi has denied any responsibility.)
The economy will be at the top of the prime minister’s new agenda. Modi inherits a nation where GDP growth has slowed to 4.5% (2012-2013). The International Monetary Fund has projected a marginally improved 4.6% for 2013-2014, 5.4% in 2014-2015 and 6.4% the next year. India’s wholesale price index was 5.2% in April, down from 5.7% in March, but the consumer price index (CPI) was up to a three-month high of 8.59%. In March, it was 8.31%. Inflation restricts the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) ability to reduce interest rates, a necessity to jumpstart capital investment.
Among the few positive indicators for the Indian economy is a reduced current account deficit. Non-oil imports in April were $22.7 billion, 21.5% less than a year ago. This will reduce pressure on the current account deficit, estimated to be around $35 billion in 2013-2014 from $88 billion the previous year. But this figure has been managed by imposing a 10% import duty on gold; in April, gold imports at $1.75 billion were 74.2% lower than the $6.78 billion in April 2013. Modi pointed out during the campaigning that this has only spurred gold smuggling. The amount of gold seized at just one Delhi airport has gone up 26 times since the previous year. Although Modi has promised to reverse the impost, even gold will not provide a silver lining to the deficit numbers.
No Magic Wand
At the same time, expectations are very high. When the exit polls started reporting that that Modi’s party was the likely victor, the Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index (BSE Sensex) recorded 650-point and 557-point jumps on two consecutive trading days. When the actual results were declared on Friday, the Sensex crossed 25,000, a jump of more than 1,000 points in intraday trade. Since September 15, the Sensex has gone up 22%. Deutsche Bank has set a Sensex target of 28,000 by year-end.
All this market euphoria is being caused not by the population at large, but by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) who have been pouring money into the capital markets. They put more than $1 billion in equities in May, before the results were announced. According to The Economic Times, the calendar 2014 inflow could cross $40 billion. (This creates the potential for other problems, however — a stronger rupee and uncompetitive exports.)
The bullish mood was ushered in by a Goldman Sachs report titled, “Modi-fying Our View,” released in November. Its main point was that the country had been raised to “market-weight” because “optimism over political change, led by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate … Modi, is dominating economic concerns.”
Industry has been clamoring for lower interest rates, but governor of the RBI Raghuram Rajan has not yet budged on the issue. BJP treasurer Piyush Goyal has been a stern critic of the high-interest-rate regime. Rajan himself recently told a symposium in Switzerland that “ultimately the interest rate that is set is set by me…. The government can fire me, but the government doesn’t set the monetary policy.” Deepak Parekh, chairman of the Housing Development Finance Corporation, India’s leading housing finance company, has warned that replacing Rajan could lead to a sovereign rating downgrade.
Modi has no magic wand to fix all of these issues, so perhaps the best thing he can do is to indicate that the country is open for business. “India needs a CEO more than it needs a PM,” says Bundeep Singh Rangar, chairman of London-based consulting firm IndusView. “That is what Modi can deliver.”
Regaining Investor Confidence
India’s rise on the global stage has “taken some body blows in the past few years,” says Wharton management professor Jitendra Singh, who will be the next dean of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “For the next government, there are three critical deficits they must begin to address immediately: a deficit of governance; a deficit of integrity and trust, and the fiscal and budgetary deficits. While there are many specific issues one might pinpoint, I believe most can be traced back to these deficits.
“To illustrate in somewhat more concrete terms, when the ruling government attempts to make retroactive changes to tax laws, despite an unfavorable ruling from the Supreme Court of India, it is the metaphorical equivalent of taking an axe to one’s own leg as far as the response of the global business community is concerned,” adds Singh. He is referring to Vodafone’s acquisition of the Indian telecom assets of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecommunications for $11 billion in 2007 and the tax demand of $2.2 million made belatedly on that transaction. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Vodafone. In his 2012 budget, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee (now President of India) introduced a clause making such transactions taxable with retrospective effect from April 21, 1962. As a result, deals between companies that no longer existed and others remembered only by geriatrics suddenly became the focus of the taxing authority’s attentions.
Officials began looking Vodafone’s way because India was facing the reality of lower revenues, a byproduct of lower growth. Consider what has happened to Nokia: The company faces two substantial demands today — one a tax on royalty payments and the other a sales tax. While the company is fighting it out in the courts, the India unit has been left out of Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s handset assets worldwide. Some 5,000 workers at the Chennai factory have reluctantly accepted a voluntary retirement offer. Meanwhile, a similar plan is also being rolled out at Foxconn India, one of Nokia’s principal suppliers. “We need an environment with regulatory certainty and clarity,” says Karan Singh, partner at Bain & Company India. “We need to regain investor confidence.”
“As long as India sends the message that every other objective would be subordinated to achieve politically expedient ends, investors will not trust the country with their capital,” adds Ravi Aron, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. “The appalling antics of India’s tax babus [bureaucrats] with Vodafone are a case in point. Other companies facing similar cases include IBM, Morgan Stanley and Nokia. These are companies that are welcomed with open arms by the world. The Congress government took a hatchet to their business plans.”
According to Manish Sabharwal, co-founder and chairman of staffing services company TeamLease Services, companies make such investments with the expectation that they will have long payback periods. “Uncertainty around taxation, or the lack of predictability around regulations, holds back the virtuous investment cycle.”
As an example of the second deficit — a deficit of integrity and trust — Singh notes, “When a sitting cabinet minister is sent to jail on charges of large-scale corruption, it cannot but erode confidence….” He is referring to an incident from 2010, in which telecom minister A. Raja was forced to resign after it was found that he conspired to illegally undercharge companies for 2G frequency allocation licenses, which are needed to create spectrum subscriptions for mobile phones. “We need a corruption-free business environment,” adds Wharton operations and information management professor Kartik Hosanagar.
Singh’s third deficit relates to the subsidy issue. India has been likened by some economists to a “dole economy” for the number of subsidies it gives on various items. For example, there are subsidies on fertilizers, petrol, diesel and even cooking gas. Very little of it actually reaches the intended groups, however. “Especially when the economy is slowing down, it is imperative to manage the financial affairs of the country better, and scale down or delay handing out subsidies, so as not to run significant current account and budgetary deficits, which have inevitably led to negative economic consequences,” says Singh.
Deepak Parekh said in 2012 that the government’s flagship job guarantee program, which assures 100 days of employment in a year (at Rs. 100, or approximately $2 a day) to members of a rural household is “a disincentive for [people] to work.” Critics say the subsidy has kept residents of rural areas from coming to cities to take construction and infrastructure jobs; the migrant labor hasn’t been missed because the Indian economy has slowed — but that could change if the market picks up.
Infrastructure: A Top Priority
Modi’s agenda, however, cannot be concentrated solely on undoing damage. To begin with, there are areas he will not be able to do much about. The employment guarantee scheme, for instance, cannot be touched; politically, it’s poison ivy. But there still remain a lot of areas for reform. “The new government must push reforms,” notes Singh of Bain. “We need turbo-charged economic growth.” More specifically, he says Modi must focus on infrastructure, manufacturing, the much-debated but so-far-abortive all-India goods and services tax, education, jobs and health.
According to Saikat Chaudhuri, executive director of Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management and an adjunct professor of management, when India’s economy was flourishing at more than 8% annually “the numerous problems were not as visible, despite being well-known.” Now that growth has slowed, “it is imperative to start acting in a concerted manner to remove the obstacles,” he notes. “This is a very critical juncture in India’s evolution. The new government’s actions should be geared towards psychological benefits as much as the substantive ones.”
According to Chaudhuri, the immediate priority action points should be: instilling confidence in domestic and global stakeholders by projecting a sense of urgency, as well as conveying a vision for what economic and geopolitical role India wishes to play in the future; kick-starting some type of reform, whether it is around foreign direct investment (FDI) or privatization of labor, in order to send a signal that the government has moved beyond its earlier paralysis on such issues; aggressively moving forward with infrastructure development, and tackling corruption and administrative inefficiency head on.
Over the longer term, Chaudhuri adds, Modi’s government needs to develop a comprehensive slate of reforms to achieve the aforementioned long-term vision, strong and equitable policies for land acquisition and a roadmap for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
Hosanagar, who says tackling corruption should be the first priority, agrees with Chaudhuri on the importance of creating infrastructure and jobs. “Infrastructure is the single-most important reason why India falls behind China,” he notes. His other priorities are skills improvement and employment generation. “There are not enough jobs to engage such a young population,” he adds.
According to Sabharwal, “The next government should have two goals around jobs — increase the total number of jobs and expand the share of formal jobs. Expanding the total number of jobs is crucial because the farm to non-farm transition will not accelerate until we raise manufacturing employment from 12% of total employment and reduce self-employment from 50% of total employment.” He adds that increasing the share of formal jobs is also crucial because “100% of net job creation in the past 20 years has happened in informal jobs. Informality is not only the slavery of the 21stcentury, but it has also created a huge productivity drag on the economy, with subscale enterprises that don’t have access to credit or create career corridors.”
Wharton marketing professor Jagmohan S. Raju says greater efforts toward job creation would give “each citizen the opportunity to contribute to the nation’s growth. Jobs provide dignity and the self-confidence that will also lead to equality.”
But with job creation also comes the need to institute labor reforms — and it won’t be easy, Aron notes. “Organized labor, which accounts for just 9% of all labor in India, is a formidable political force. Any government that tries to reform labor does so at its own political peril.”
Aron looks at some disquieting numbers. “Data from (the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy) show that capital investment growth is the lowest it has been in an 11-year period, with firms shelving more than $100 billion in projects. In nine of the past 12 months, capital goods production — a leading indicator of the extent of production-related investment in the economy — has contracted.”
Labor reform could be one catalyst. Investment is another. “Massive investments are needed in the physical infrastructure to lower the cost of manufacturing inputs,” Aron notes. “The government owns large chunks of public enterprises, where capital is locked up producing very low returns. In the case of public firms, such as Air India, there is chronic erosion of capital.” Even as Modi was sweeping the polls, an RBI report indicated that the government should reduce its holding in public sector banks (PSBs) to less than 50%. Socialistic elements in Parliament had allowed divestment in PSBs only on the condition that the government retain majority holding. With the Left a spent force — it has been decimated in the polls in former stronghold West Bengal — disinvestment may well become the first feasible reform.
More ‘Dwarfs’ Than ‘Babies’
Along with the big picture, it is necessary to look at the small picture. The real wealth of a nation comes from entrepreneurship, not mega-investments by government or big business, observers say. According to Bharti Jacob, managing partner at SeedFund, there is urgent need to encourage and enable entrepreneurship in India. “The government should stay out of it,” she says. “But it should create an environment that encourages innovation and new company formation.”
“India is a hostile habitat for entrepreneurship in terms of regulations that make it complicated and painful to start and run a business,” adds Sabharwal. “The biggest manifestation of this is the substantially stunted firm size. (Companies with less than 49 workers account for 84% of manufacturing employment). India has more dwarfs — companies that are small and will stay small — rather than babies — companies that are small but will grow. The reason obviously includes the labor laws, but the inspector raj, the compliance raj and the permission raj, which have remained unchanged since 1991, are also responsible.”
Laurent Demortier, CEO & managing director of Avantha Group-owned company Crompton Greaves, says the country also needs to bolster research and development capabilities. “With the increased global footprint of the Indian manufacturing industry, India should incentivize R&D and aim to make the country a global R&D hub in select sectors. This will encourage product innovation to make a home in India.”
According to Vinayak Prasad, co-founder ofFrog8, a company in the payments space, the new government needs to force regulators to stop taking baby steps toward enabling adoption of electronic payments. “Cash is still king and extremely costly,” he notes. “The requirements of [identity verification] make it very expensive to get customers. Digital [identity verification] is key, and the government or regulator needs to be more aggressive.” Prasad is talking about one end of the problem. The other end — inclusive banking — is probably more important; 41% of the population in India is unbanked. The only way to get them into the fold is to marry technology to banking. Banking spread has been hindered by over-regulation. “The RBI is in anxiety management mode,” says Prasad.
Sabharwal talks about another issue. “India only has 50 cities with more than a million people while China has 400,” he notes. “We have 600,000 villages; 200,000 of them have less than 200 people. Politicians dream of taking jobs to people, but what we need is to take people to jobs. Unlike Chinese New Year, where 300 million people get on a train and go home, we don’t have a mass migration at Diwali, Chaath, Eid or Christmas. We should.”
India “(does) not need a business-friendly regime,” Aron notes. “What we need is an administration that pursues a rational regime of laws that will grow the economic pie as well as redistribute it equitably. In early 2000, the share of manufacturing in FDI inflows was more than 60%; it fell to about 40% in 2005 and to 20% in 2008. The drought of investment in manufacturing and in increasing the productive capacity of business in India is a self-inflicted misery…. It is time that we went from ‘made in spite of India’ to ‘well-made in India.’”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NanoStruck Announces Binding Agreement on Terms for Strategic Acquisition

  •  $5.20 million average annual revenue of the target business for 2011 – 2013
  • Intellectual Property strengthened – co-ownership of 8 additional patents
  • Consolidated revenue potential for NanoStruck; plan for further growth
  •  Clean Technology in the Mining, Water Treatment and Energy Industries

July 15, 2014 - VANCOUVER, Canada – NanoStruck Technologies Inc. (the “Company” or “NanoStruck”) (CSE: NSK) (OTCQX: NSKTF) (Frankfurt: 8NSK) announces the signing of a binding agreement to acquire a technology business in order to strengthen the Company’s technology and operations and for the combined companies to further grow revenue and profit.

Upon completion of accretive acquisition, the Company will be able to consolidate financial results of the two companies. The target business has had annual revenue of between $4.23 million and $7.03 million with a pretax profit between $0.46 million and $1.21 million for the years 2011-2013.

The target business is focused on providing clean technology solutions in the mining, water treatment, clean energy and specialty chemicals industries. It has facilities for beta testing and running pilot plants using physical, chemical and thermal processing. NanoStruck will look at introducing and applying its nanotechnology into the various above processes, as applicable.

Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman of the Board said: “This acquisition is transformative for both parties. It helps realize our strategic goals of growing revenue, increasing technology prowess and expanding in new markets. Our combined teams and technologies will result in formidable water treatment, mine tailings and minerals processing technologies being offered in key target markets.”

With the acquisition, the Company will be able to accelerate the commercialisation of its technology for recovery of precious metals from mining ores and tailings. The target business has a suite of Intellectual Property, in both its patents and knowhow, that is used to develop proprietary technologies. The combined companies can further unlock the potential value of these technologies. NanoStruck intends to tap into its suite of mining industry shareholders to generate new business for the combined companies.

NanoStruck’s shareholders include Gordon McKinnon, a director of a number of mining exploration, development and mineral royalty companies including Canadian Orebodies Inc., Mineral Streams Inc. and PhosCan Chemical Corp.; Clinton Barr, a leading geologist, who worked for mining and metallurgy companies Noranda Inc. and Inco Ltd. as a project geologist; Richard Buzbuzian, a mining and capital markets executive formerly at New Dawn Mining Corp. (ND.TSX), a Zimbabwe focused gold producer; and Garry Clark, Executive Director of the Ontario Prospectors Association, that nurtures the province’s mineral exploration industry. He also sits on the Minister of Mines Mining Act Advisory Committee, the Ontario Geological Survey Advisory Board and is a director of several small listed exploration companies.

This acquisition will further strengthen NanoStruck’s suite of Intellectual Property, global operations as well as mineral ores and mine tailings processing capabilities. It will result in the Company co-owning eight patents that have already been granted with further development of IP to be jointly pursued.

The parties have signed a binding agreement subject to the signing of a definitive purchase and sale agreement upon completion of final due diligence and regulatory approval. While there is no certainty of concluding a definitive agreement, both parties are pursuing its completion on a best efforts basis. The target company’s current Chief Executive Officer will remain CEO of the acquired company as part of a retention package to ensure continuity of the business. All financial figures used above are unaudited figures provided by the target business. The counter party cannot be named at this stage for confidentiality reasons.
About the Company
NanoStruck Technologies Inc. is a Canadian Company with a suite of technologies that remove molecular sized particles using patented absorptive organic polymers. These versatile biomaterials are derived from crustacean shells or plant fibers, depending on requirements of their usage. Acting as molecular sponges, the nanometer-sized polymers are custom programmed to absorb specific particles for remediation or retrieval purposes. These could be used to clean out acids, hydrocarbons, pathogens, oils and toxins in water via its NanoPure solutions. Or to recover precious metal particles in mine tailings, such as gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium using the Company’s NanoMet solutions.
By using patented modifications to conventional technologies and adding polymer-based nano-filtration, the Company’s offers environmentally safe NanoPure solutions for water purification. The Company uses Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines as a benchmark for water quality and safety to conform to acceptable agricultural or drinking water standards in jurisdictions where the technology is used.
Additionally, the Company’s technology can be used to recover precious and base metals from mine tailings, which are the residual material from earlier mining activities. By retrieving valuable metals from old tailing dumps, the Company’s NanoMet solutions boosts the value of existing mining assets and reduces the need for new, costly and potentially environmentally harmful exploration and mining.
The Company’s current business model is based on either selling water remediation plants or leasing out units and charging customers on a price per liter basis with a negotiated minimum payment per annum. For processing mine tailings, the value of precious metal recovered is shared with tailing site owners on a pre-agreed basis.
For further information contact:

Nelson Hudes, Public Relations
T:            +1 905 660 9155
E:            Nelson.Hudes@NanoStruck.com

Raj Kurichh, Chief Marketing Officer
T:            +1 905 813 0900
E:            Raj.Kurichh@NanoStruck.com

This press release contains forward-looking statements. The use of any of the words "anticipate", "continue", "estimate", "expect", "may", "will", "project", "should", "believe" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Statements relating to "reserves" or "resources" are deemed to be forward-looking statements because they involve the implied assessment, based on certain estimates and assumptions that the resources and reserves described can be profitably produced in the future.

Although the Company believes that the expectations and assumptions on which the forward-looking statements are based are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements because the Company can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. Since forward-looking statements address future events and conditions, by their very nature they involve inherent risks and uncertainties. These statements speak only as of the date of this press release. Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated due to a number of factors and risks including various risk factors discussed in the Company’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the three and six months ended March 31, 2014, filed on May 29, 2014, and for the year ended September 30, 2013, filed on January 28, 2014, under the Company’s profile on www.sedar.com.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Golden Day’s Journey Into Zimbabwe with Bundeep Singh Rangar, CEO of NanoStruck Technologies Inc.

Mr. Rangar spent the day of June 13 travelling in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, attending meetings and also had the opportunity to visit Mazowe Gold Mine in the picturesque countryside of Zimbabwe. I had the opportunity to document the day’s events, an exploration into this new Canadian technology and the exciting, productive prospects of gold mining in Zimbabwe. John Mapondera, Executive Chairman of Locan Holdings Pvt Ltd assisted hugely in providing the connections for Mr. Rangar in the Zimbabwean mining industry, and facilitated the day in Zimbabwe.

"I believe it is one of the best technologies that's out there or precious metal retrieval from mine ore and mine tailings" Mr. Rangar

NanoStruck’s cutting edge technology has achieved great results in water filtration and cleansing and they are now venturing into the world of mining, specifically gold recovery in tailing dumps. Their technology harnesses the power of nature, using a programmable powder made from crustacean shells to filter and absorb, enabling unwanted or wanted products like gold to be extracted.

The first meeting was with Desmond Matete, the Executive Director and acting CEO of the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe. The bank has international and local investors and its role is to support the energy, transport, housing, water, agriculture and mining sectors with financial support through capital and lines of credit. It is a diversified bank with interest in new technology and innovation. This meeting was an opportunity for Mr. Rangar and Mr. Matete to share their ideas and knowledge in their respective fields; Mr. Rangar explained to Mr. Matete the nanotechnology and its ability to extract high levels of gold from tailings, using the Nirvana sample as an example.

"We share the revenue by supplying the technology...We give the know-how, we give the chemicals". Mr. Rangar 

In a project sample named Nirvana, NanoStruck achieved an 88% recovery of gold from tailings, with 96% recovery after roasting as opposed to the much lower 10% of other companies’ attempts.

"People from the environmental management agency would be very happy with that". Mr. Matete

Mr. Rangar explained that in the near future his company would like to have part ownership of a dump, using pre-existing leaching plants to then apply their technology. The physical processes of grinding, milling and separation are performed by lots of companies, he explained, but NanoStruck also has a unique patented technology. It does not use cyanide, chemicals are recycled and the powder is organic, readily available and inexpensive. The water is also purified. Mr. Matete was pleased about the environmentally friendly nature of the process and agreed that 10 million tonnes of tailings across Zimbabwe would make a very strong business case for investment, with as much as 9.1g of gold/ton to be recovered.

Further beneficial elements of NanoStruck’s presence in Zimbabwe, would be the possible creation of a research centre, creating a facility for companies and providing high end jobs for engineers and a means of testing samples, not only for gold but other metals too.

"...Ensuring the mining industry operates in an environment that would lead to growth and development of the sector itself, as well as contributing to the socio-economic development of the country". Mr. Matyanga

                   Meeting at the Chamber of Mines      Mr. Rangar and Mr. Mapondera

The second meeting of the day took place at the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe. Mr. Matyanga the Mineral Economist/ Technical Advisor there explained about the organization and its role in society. The Chamber of Mines represents the interest of the mining industry in Zimbabwe. It works with the government and the stake holders, and acts like a union. It is funded by membership subscriptions and has diverse investment from local and foreign countries. Mr. Rangar then gave a breakdown of NanoStruck’s technology in mining to Mr. Matyanga, the importance of this technology in safe and effective gold extractions from tailings, and the great use it could be in the mining industry of Zimbabwe in general. Mr. Matyanga pointed out that bio leaching had been tried out in Zimbabwe with some success, as high as approximately 75% recovery of gold. Mr. Rangar was impressed with this figure but emphasized through his Nirvana sample analysis that the nanotechnology could give better results, at 88% recovery before roasting, making NanoStruck the most commercially viable investment. Another figure in favor of this new technology is that initially 71% of gold can be extracted versus 2.1% of iron, which normally is the other way around.

"We want to create a centre of excellence where we can bring our licensed technology. Collaborate, develop this further...do something locally". Mr. Rangar

Mr. Matyanga expressed his concerns of the environmental impact of the process of this gold extraction, but Mr. Rangar emphasized that his company started out as having a clean mandate and that all their processes do not harm the environment as organic materials are used, recycling is carried out and water purification takes place. Cyanide is not used by NanoStruck.

Mr. Matyanga was impressed with this and was happy to share all this new information and statistics to the Chamber’s members, for further analysis. The members can then contact Mr. Rangar personally and new relationships could be forged. 

In the afternoon, we were driven to the Mazowe Gold Mine, formally known as Jumbo Mine-established in 1890 and also formally a Lonrho mine. This mine is located within the beautiful scenery of the Mazowe area, about 40km NNW of Harare. Allen Mushayavanhu, Senior Geologist of the mine was happy to hear about the technology used by NanoStruck in gold retrieval from tailings and supplied some statistics of the mine, together with the information supplied by the Metallurgist, Charity Nyaruwata. The mine gold, Mr. Mushayavanhu said, was not refractory and was easy to liberate, but they were not processing the tailings as they did not have the appropriate installations. Mr. Chifamba who was in South Africa and in charge of the mine was working on bringing in new plants, using floatation. This Mazowe Mine was very old and here are the interesting facts and figures supplied:

  •      Approximately 4 million tons of tailings
  •      An average of 0.8g/ton of gold as well as silver
  •      The current head ore was approximately 4g/ton of gold
  •      Recovery approximately 87-90%
  •      Residual gold in tailings was 0.4-0.5g/ton
  •      Historic tailings richer, so average concentrate of gold was 0.8g/t
  •      Nearby mines also had historic tailings

Mrs. Nyaruwata was interested in Mr. Rangar’s presentation and technology but she encouraged that he and partners should contact Mr. Chifamba, for a better understanding of the Mazowe Mine and a means of relaying of information between the two groups. She explained that the mine’s processes were old and simple and the plant was unfortunately down at the moment. Her interest in NanoStruck was apparent however. She gladly took the group on a tour of the tailings dump, allowing Mr. Rangar and associates to witness a Zimbabwe gold mine and its workings, particularly the 1953 tailings dump using cyanide. The cyanide goes back to the factory and according to her, would not impact the environment. A hands-on experience of this gold mine I believe was very valuable to Mr. Rangar’s understanding of the gold mining industry in the country; a taste of what is possible in such a mineral rich, African country, and the need for new technology.

                 Mazowe Mine Building                  Rock Formation in Mazowe Area

Later that day, we returned to Harare and to the prestigious Royal Harare Golf Club, where a meeting had been set up with Toindepi Muganyi, Executive Director of the Freda Rebecca Gold Mine. This was an opportunity to share information on gold tailings stats and an introduction for Mr. Muganyi into NanoStruck’s technology and findings in lab tests on Nirvana gold samples.

Mr. Muganyi explained that his gold mine used simple processes but very effectively produced good results such as an average of 0.6g/t of tailings, having 20 million tons of historic tailings. His mines produced two tons to three tons of gold per year, supplying 15%-20% of Zimbabwe’s gold and contributing 1% of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP). His confidence in the workings of the Freda Rebecca Mine made him come across as a bit wary of NanoStruck’s technology, as he thought the costing would be too high. He was happy to provide connections to Mr. Rangar and encouraged that to go forward more sampling should be done and the right protocol should be followed, working with the right people. Mr. Mapondera and Mr. Rangar understood Mr. Muganyi’s valuable words and ideas and his position in the mining industry in Zimbabwe. It was a valuable meeting for both parties.

               Mazowe Tailings Dump       Mr. Rangar, Mr. Mapondera and Mrs. Nyaruwata         

The day concluded with a dinner meeting with a Zimbabwean stock broker, Ritesh Anand whose company is called Invictus. He works with Zimbabwean equities and asset management, and was a valuable source of local knowledge and a good connection for NanoStruck and its progression in Zimbabwe. Mr. Anand is passionate about his country and wants to empower people, which is something Mr. Rangar and NanoStruck also wants to do.

This golden day exploring Harare and Mazowe was a day of sharing information and a great way to create a groundwork for further developments in Zimbabwe and beyond. I learnt a huge amount about my country’s gold mining industry and the potential of NanoStruck technology to be used in collaboration with the existing framework, providing the best environmentally friendly processes for gold extraction in the future. New technologies open up a whole new world of possibilities and encourages countries to broaden their horizons in an exciting golden age.

By Lucy Tingay