Orkla Scouts for Target in Consumer Goods Space - Norway-Based Orkla Group, which acquired south Indian packaged food brand MTR in 2007, is scouting for other acquisition targets in the branded consumer goods space. The diversified company is also looking to set up production facilities for its aluminium materials and chemical businesses, besides plans to enter the financial services business in India. The group would look at inorganic acquisitions for its branded consumer goods as well as its aluminium parts business. The company has branded consumer products in segments like packaged food, chocolates & confectionery, detergents & personal care products, hygiene & cleaning solutions and textiles. (The Economic Times)

Novartis Open Offer to Begin on May 20 - Swiss Drug maker Novartis AG's open offer for acquiring an additional 39% stake in its Indian subsidiary will begin on May 20 and close on June 8. The offer by Novartis AG is to acquire up to 1,24,64,710 shares, representing a 39 per cent stake in Novartis India, at a price of Rs 351 per share. Earlier in March, the drug firm had said its Swiss parent's open offer for hiking its stake in Novartis India would begin on May 14, but on Friday rescheduled the offer date. Further, Novartis AG has deposited in an escrow account with Bank of America NA, an amount of Rs 4.40 crore in cash as per market regulator Sebi's regulation. ()

Govt. Lifts Ban on Wheat Futures - The government has lifted the ban on wheat futures. The move comes even as the country is expected to record a bumper harvest of wheat for the second consecutive year. The exchanges now need to bring their contracts for the commission’s approval. However, there are fears that should the Left be part of any coalition, the decision could again come under review. (The Economic Times)

M&M, Caterpillar in Engine JV Talks - Automobile and farm equipment major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is in advanced stages of talks with US-based construction equipment maker Caterpillar for a 51:49 joint venture, which will make engines for the US firm’s tractor range. The discussions could also cover Caterpillar’s remanufacturing business (Cat Reman) that refurbishes and restores used machinery and technologies to their original condition and specifications. (The Economic Times)

Ashok Leyland-Nissan JV to Be Delayed - Commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland’s joint venture with Nissan to manufacture Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) near Chennai will be delayed by six months due to the current economic slowdown and delay in land acquisition. The company will scale down investment in the project. Meanwhile the company has brought down capex plan by Rs 1,000 crore for the next three years to Rs 2,000 crore from Rs 3,000 crore, which was earlier planned. (Business Standard)

Blackstone Shelves Plan for Asian Fund - Blackstone Group LP, the world’s biggest buyout company, canceled a plan to start a hedge fund that initially aimed to invest as much as $1 billion in Asian companies affected by events such as mergers and reorganisations. Blackstone decided not to proceed with the Asian event- driven fund after a review of the market environment and its strategic priorities globally. The fund was to be managed by Blackstone AMN Advisors. (Business Standard)

Tatas, M&M, Maruti Join Hands For Hybrid Models : In their quest for alternative technology at lower costs, domestic auto makers are now working together to develop future technology. The Tatas, Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki are working on a shared technology basis to develop hybrid and battery-powered vehicles. In the first phase, they are aiming to demonstrate their fleet of vehicles for the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010 in the country. ( Hindu Business Line


HotSpot to invest Rs 200 cr for retail expansion: Mobile retail chain HotSpot is scouting for acquisition to strengthen its presence in the organised retail space.The company, which recently had acquired stake in Cellucom, is looking to invest Rs 200 crore for its retail expansions. (Hindu Business Line


BSA Motors eyes 18-20% eBike market share: Last to enter the electric bike (eBike) segment in the country, BSA Motors is eyeing a market share of about 18-20 per cent by the end of this financial year.Part of the Rs 15,646-crore Murugappa group and a strategic business unit of Tube Investments of India, BSA Motors today announced the launch of five bike models in Andhra Pradesh and hinted at entering the western and northern regions shortly.( Hindu Business Line


Cobra Indian scales down, plans strategy to turn around : Cobra Indian Beer Pvt Ltd (CIBPL), the wholly owned subsidiary of the UK firm Cobra has put in place a major restructuring of its operations on all fronts to haul it out of losses and grow. The company has scaled down its presence from 24 States to 13, rationalised its product portfolio, and is in the process of re-negotiating all its contract brewing and distribution arrangements. It has also brought down its staff strength from 178 to 99. With the company incurring a cash burn of around Rs 3 crore a month during fiscal 2007-08 (August-July) and efforts to find a suitable partner not materialising, it decided to put in place its own strategy for a turnaround, according to Mr Ravi Kaza, Managing Director, CIBPL. (Hindu Business Line)

Indians are world's greenest : The second annual survey conducted by the National Geographic Society and international polling firm GlobeScan on environmentally sustainable behaviour, the results of which were released on Wednesday, showed that Indian consumers have overtaken Brazilians to take the top spot with a Greendex score of 59.5. The Chinese retained the third spot with 55.2. At the bottom of the ladder in the 17-country survey are over-consumptive Americans (43.7), Canadians (43.5) and Japanese (49.3). ( Economic Times)



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