Posts tagged ‘Maruti Suzuki’


Bureaucrats at the till | The Economist

INDIA’S biggest banks tend to have official-sounding names, worthy of a central bank. There is State Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Bank of India and even Central Bank of India (the actual central bank is called the Reserve Bank of India, or RBI). That is because, starting in 1969, the entire financial system was nationalised. Although the government has grudgingly permitted private-sector banks over the past 20 years, the 27 public-sector banks (PSBs), which are listed but majority-owned by the government, still account for 70% of lending. That is a worry, because the PSBs are in terrible shape, having lent freely to companies that cannot pay them back. In response, both the government and the RBI are imposing various reforms—but not the most obvious one.

Indian banks dodged the global financial meltdown in 2008. But they promptly embarked on a frenzy of lending to big companies, sowing the seeds of a home-made crisis. The PSBs gleefully funded infrastructure projects that never got the required permits, mines with an output made much less valuable by slumping commodity prices, and tycoons whose main qualification was friendship with government ministers. PSBs have tried to gloss over the problem for years, but the RBI is now forcing them to admit the true extent of the damage.

The reckoning has been brutal: 3 trillion rupees ($44 billion) of loans have been recognised as “non-performing” by banks in the past two quarters, the vast bulk of them at PSBs; 17% of all loans there have either been written off, provisioned for or categorised as impaired, according to Credit Suisse, a bank. More losses are in the pipeline. The revelations have driven the combined market capitalisation of the 27 PSBs down to that of a single well-run private lender, HDFC Bank, founded in 1994.

Tidying up a mess on this scale is never easy, but it is proving particularly tricky in India. The absence of a bankruptcy law (one was enacted in May but it will take months, if not years, to become operational) leaves bankers powerless in the face of defaults. Indian lenders recover just 25% of their money from delinquent borrowers on average, and only after four years of haggling, compared with 80% in America in half the time. A creaky judicial system piles delays upon delays.

Worse, as quasi-bureaucrats, Indian bankers are loth to do the one thing that would help a recovery, which is to sell iffy loans to outside investors and move on. Such investors exist, albeit in limited numbers, but doing business with them can be treacherous: if the borrower’s fortunes recover after a sale and it pays back the new owner of the loans in full, bankers fear government auditors will accuse them of selling the distressed loans on the cheap. Best for the bankers to do nothing, and hope that the situation somehow improves.

The government wants to change this dynamic. A new “bank board bureau”, headed by an unimpeachable former government auditor, has been created to insulate bankers from government meddling, and so give them cover to sell assets at less than face value. Much of what it suggests is sensible: giving longer terms to PSBs’ bosses, for example, and ensuring they are not judged merely on how quickly they increase the bank’s loan book—part of the reason the PSBs ran into trouble before. The government also wants to halve the number of PSBs through mergers.

Source: Bureaucrats at the till | The Economist


India unveils fire-fighting budget to placate voters, sustain growth | Reuters

The government unveiled a fire-fighting budget on Monday that seeks to win back support among rural voters for Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government and sustain growth against a grim global backdrop – all without borrowing more.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley‘s third budget marked a strategic shift by addressing rural distress in a country of 1.3 billion, where two-fifths of families rely on farming and are reeling from two years of drought.

At the same time it hiked public investment in India’s woeful infrastructure by 22.5 percent, while taking further steps to revive corporate investment that Modi needs to create new jobs for India’s burgeoning workforce.

“We have a shared responsibility to spend prudently and wisely for the people, especially for the poor and downtrodden,” the 63-year-old finance minister told lawmakers in his 100-minute address.

India holds several state elections this year, including in the farming state of West Bengal, with the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, going to the polls in 2017. A strong showing will be vital to Modi’s chances of a second term.

Despite commanding a large majority in parliament’s lower house, Modi’s government has failed to pass several key measures since sweeping to power almost two years ago, raising doubts over the impact of its reform agenda.

Jaitley called Asia’s third-largest economy a bright spot in a gloomy global landscape, and reiterated a forecast that it would grow by 7.6 percent in the fiscal year that is drawing to a close.

Source: India unveils fire-fighting budget to placate voters, sustain growth | Reuters


Xiaomi’s Big Bet on Indian Internet Revolution Starts to Pay Off – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The sales are a significant rise compared with the three million phones the company said it sold in its first year of business in India.

Xiaomi aims to sell 80 to 100 million smartphones this year and has been valued by investors at $46 billion. But increasing competition at home, from companies who mimic Xiaomi’s business model of selling high-end phones at low prices, will make it tough to meet its sales target. So the five-year-old startup is setting its hopes on growth in India. Xiaomi found success in China by combining razor-thin profit margins on hardware with glitzy product launches that helped build its fanbase.

The closely-held company needs to prove that it can export its business model to other countries to continue to justify its high valuation.

Xiaomi introduced its first model, the Mi 4i, outside China, at a launch in New Delhi in April. In August, it said it would begin assembling its entry-level Redmi 2 Prime in India.

Xiaomi’s recent success in India shows that its model can work there, said the company’s Vice President Hugo Barra. Since January, sales in the South Asian country increased 45% quarter-over-quarter, on average.

The firm’s Indian office is tweaking Xiaomi’s model of Internet flash sales, designed to boost demand and cut costs. During the company’s sale for the Hindu holiday Diwali, items were sold for as little as a rupee. “Some people bought a Mi TV for one rupee,” Mr. Barra said. One rupee is equal to $0.02. The heavily discounted deals meant that Xiaomi spent nothing on marketing. “This is an idea the India team came up with that you will see reused in other markets,” he said. The company still faces challenges in India.

While Xiaomi says it sold three million phones in its first year in India, market leader Micromax Informatics Ltd. says it sells three million phones a month. While the Chinese company relies mostly on online sales to cut costs, the majority of Micromax’s sales are in brick-and-mortar retail outlets, where most Indians still shop.

It remains unclear how much India can help bolster Xiaomi’s balance sheet. While smartphone sales are booming in India, the market is still tiny.

Xiaomi’s Mr. Barra says the company will slowly add to its catalogue of products in India, which currently includes phones and a handful of accessories like headphones and a fitness tracker. In China, Xiaomi sells everything from water purifiers to power strips.

Next up could be the company’s line of Internet routers, Mr. Barra said, which includes a model with six terabytes of storage.

“We are looking at bringing the router family to India,” he said. But don’t expect the smart bathroom scale to show up in India right away, or even the company’s newest gadget: a cut-price Segway-like device. “We carefully select things that will sell in India in good volumes. We have to be thoughtful and plan carefully.”

Source: Xiaomi’s Big Bet on Indian Internet Revolution Starts to Pay Off – China Real Time Report – WSJ


Maruti Suzuki Q1 profit jumps 56 percent; lower costs, higher sales | Reuters

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd(MRTI.NS), India’s top-selling carmaker, said on Tuesday first-quarter net profit rose 56 percent helped by lower costs, favourable foreign exchange rates and higher sales, but still missed bullish analyst estimates.

A Suzuki badge is reflected on the body of a Maruti Suzuki Eeco car at a Maruti Suzuki stockyard on the outskirts of Ahmedabad April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

Maruti, controlled by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T), said profit for the April-June quarter was 11.9 billion rupees ($185.94 million), up from 7.6 billion rupees in the same period a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit of 12.35 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose about 18 percent to 130.8 billion rupees, the company said, as India’s car trade continues to grow. India is expected to become the world’s third-largest car market by 2020, moving up three places.

“During the quarter, higher volumes, cost reduction efforts, lower sales promotion expenses, and favourable foreign exchange helped improve the performance,” the company said in a stock exchange statement.

Total expenses as a percentage of net sales fell to 91 percent during the quarter from about 96 percent in the year ago period, while finance costs were halved to 190.4 million rupees. Maruti, which imports certain car components from Japan and also pays royalty to its Japanese parent, Suzuki, is benefiting from the yen’s weakening.

The carmaker, which sells about one in every two cars in India, wants to increase its share of the premium car segment at a time when rivals like Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Ford Motor Co (F.N) are launching cheaper, compact cars – Maruti’s mainstay.

Maruti has had little prior success in the premium segment and is now planning an aggressive rollout of new vehicles and dealerships to capture buyers with deeper pockets – a move that is expected to boost margins and profits, say analysts.

Next week Maruti will launch the S-Cross – a crossover between a sport-utility vehicle and a hatchback – the first car to be sold at its new Nexa showrooms. These spruced-up showrooms will differ from existing dealerships in design and service, managing director Kenichi Ayukawa said recently.

“It is a very good strategy because as income levels rise we will see that more and more consumers will prefer premium vehicles,” said Nitesh Sharma, auto analyst at Mumbai-based brokerage, Phillip Capital, adding that it will boost margins.

Shares in Maruti, valued by the market at about $20 billion at Monday’s close, were trading 0.5 percent higher at 4,200 rupees a share at 0850 GMT in a weak Mumbai market.

Maruti’s shares have risen more than 25 percent since January – the highest among major automobile companies in India.

($1 = 64.0000 rupees)

via Maruti Suzuki Q1 profit jumps 56 percent; lower costs, higher sales | Reuters.


India Poll Prospects Drive Auto Shares – India Real Time – WSJ

Shares of most automobile companies in India surged on Tuesday on expectations that the pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party will emerge victorious when national election results are announced Friday.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.532500.BY +1.97%, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.500520.BY +1.40%, Tata Motors Ltd.500570.BY +0.81%, Ashok Leyland Ltd.500477.BY +1.19% and Hero MotoCorp Ltd.500182.BY +3.17% were trading around their 52-week highs when markets closed Tuesday evening.

“This (share-buying) is mainly sentiment-driven,” said an analyst at a Mumbai-based brokerage, who did not wish to be named.  He expected auto shares to trade even higher if a BJP-led government with a clear majority were to emerge the winners of India’s federal election.

The analyst said investors are hoping that a government led by BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would take strong steps to revive economic growth, increase foreign investment, and boost industrial growth, which would in turn improve market sentiment and demand for new vehicles in India, the world’s sixth-largest car producing market.

via India Poll Prospects Drive Auto Shares – India Real Time – WSJ.

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* U.S., European Auto Makers Find Slow Going in India

WSJ: “Sleek new compact cars sporting the Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai brands stand out on the streets of India’s business capital against the mishmash of aging buses and black taxicabs.


The view is similar across India, a country where consumers have an affinity for smaller and fuel-efficient cars and, increasingly, for Asian auto brands. Much harder to spot are the logos of top Western mass-market car makers such as Volkswagen AG, VOW3.XE -0.88% General Motors Co. GM -0.73% and Ford Motor Co. F -0.63%

Profit margins are thin in India, where hatchbacks sell for as low as $5,000. Maruti and Hyundai together hold 54% of the nation’s new-car sales.

While major players in China, Asia’s other big and growing car market, the three are struggling to expand sales here. Each reported Indian sales fell between 16% and 20% year-over-year in the 12 months ended March, sharply underperforming the 2.2% rise among all passenger vehicle sales in the nation, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Their combined share of the car market stands at just 9%.

Some industry executives say these companies lack the compact models that consumers prefer in India, and have too few sales and repair outlets in the country.

Others say razor-thin profit margins on small cars make India a highly competitive and unprofitable market, and may explain the Western companies’ small shares. India’s compact hatchbacks usually sell for between $5,000 and $10,000 each.

“It isn’t that the international companies are incompetent, it is just that there is not much of a prize [in India] yet. It is a much, much smaller profit pool,” compared with markets like China, said Max Warburton, European and Asian autos analyst at investment research firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

Maruti, the Indian unit of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Co., 7269.TO +7.53% and Hyundai Motor Co 005380.SE -2.33% . together hold 54% of the nation’s new-car sales, thanks to a broad sales and service networks and a loyal following for their cars and hatchbacks, which last year took seven spots out of the 10 best-selling models in India.

Japan-based Honda Motor Co. 7267.TO +3.18% and Toyota Motor Corp. 7203.TO +5.03% also are gaining here despite the overall market’s stagnant sales following several boom years. Asian-brand cars account for around 64% of the nation’s market.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen hasn’t launched a new compact model in India since 2010, save for refreshed versions of existing cars, while Ford launched just one, the new Fiesta, in 2011. GM launched its Sail U-VA last November.”

via U.S., European Auto Makers Find Slow Going in India –


* Suzuki to Start Building Gujarat Plant Early 2013

Good news for India.

WSJ: “The local unit of Suzuki Motor Corp.  expects to start building its third factory in India early next year to meet potential growth in demand for its vehicles in the local market and overseas.

R.C. Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.,  said Friday that car sales in India will likely grow in single digits this financial year and the next due to the current slowdown in Asia’s third-biggest economy, as well as uncertainty over the pricing of diesel fuel and gasoline.

The Gujarat plant will be Maruti’s first outside the northern state of Haryana, where a July 18 riot by about 3,000 workers at its Manesar factory resulted in the death of a senior manager, injured more than 100 people and forced the company to suspend production.

The violence was the worst since the company began producing cars in 1983.

But Maruti executives say the plan to build the new plant in Gujarat isn’t linked to the labor unrest in Manesar.

Gujarat has a long coastline, and the new plant will enable the company to save on logistics costs in shipping its cars overseas, especially to Europe. Maruti exports its cars to more than 125 countries.

“The Gujarat project is going along online. We hope that in the early part of next year, we should at least get the groundbreaking done in Gujarat,” Mr. Bhargava told reporters.

Maruti has acquired 700 acres for the third plant from the Gujarat government. It will initially have an annual capacity of 250,000 cars a year when it opens in the financial year starting April 1, 2015. The capacity could be increased to 2.0 million vehicles a year, Maruti has previously said.

The company is investing a total of 40 billion rupees ($740 million) in Gujarat.”

via Suzuki to Start Building Gujarat Plant Early 2013 –


* India arrests after riot at Maruti plant leave one dead

BBC News: “At least 80 people have been arrested after violent clashes between workers and managers at a Maruti Suzuki factory near the Indian capital, Delhi.

One person died and more than 85 were injured, including two Japanese nationals, in the riot at the Manesar plant on Wednesday evening.

Maruti, India’s biggest carmaker, has halted production at the factory.

Managers and workers blame each other for starting the clashes, which follow months of troubled labour relations.

The violence at the vast factory in Haryana state is believed to have erupted after an altercation between a factory worker and a supervisor.

Workers reportedly ransacked offices and set fires at the height of the riot. A charred body was found afterwards in a damaged conference room – the identity of the person who died has not yet been established.

Dozens of staff, both management and shop-floor workers, were taken to a nearby hospital.

Security has now been tightened at the plant, which employs more than 2,000 people and produces more than 1,000 of Maruti’s top-selling cars each day, and accounts for about a third of its annual production.

Maruti Suzuki, a joint venture between Maruti and Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corporation, has a 50% share of India’s booming car market.

It has been hit by a series of strikes since June 2011, when workers went on a 13-day strike demanding the recognition of a new union.”

via BBC News – India arrests after riot at Maruti plant leave one dead.

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