Malaysia’s UT Group in Talks for $40 Million JV with Pratap Reddy - Malaysia-based Usaha Tegas (UT) group, owner of Maxis that controls mobile service operator Aircel in India, is in advanced stages of negotiations with Sindya Properties, a firm owned by Apollo Hospital’s Pratap Reddy, to form a $40-million joint venture (JV). If the deal goes through, the Malaysian firm will invest about $35 million, while the rest will be brought in by the Reddy family. The Reddy family and the UT group already co-own the telecom venture Aircel. The proposed deal with Sindya Properties may possibly be the first investment by the group in India’s property market. Sindya Properties is a privately held firm and has Pratap Reddy’s daughter Suneeta Reddy on the board. (The Economic Times)

Vodafone-Essar to Raise $2.04 Billion - GSM major Vodafone-Essar is planning to raise $2.04 billion (around Rs 10,000 crore) bridge loan to be used for general corporate purposes. Vodafone-Essar has appointed SBI Capital Markets to raise the funds. SBI Capital Markets has been talking to various public sector banks to raise the amount. The funds will be used for expansion of infrastructure and network, bidding for 3G spectrum and for other general corporate purposes. The funds are proposed to be raised within two months. (Business Standard)

LIC Hikes Stake in Cummins India - The country’s largest insurer Life Insurance of India (LIC) has raised its stake in diesel and natural gas engines maker Cummins India to 5.42% through open market purchase for Rs 19.06 crore. LIC has acquired 11 lakh shares, representing 0.55% stake, at a price of Rs 2 each via open market purchase. (Business Standard)

SFIO to Probe 325 Companies, 25 Individuals - The government has expanded the probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to 325 companies and 25 individuals related to Satyam Computer Services and other companies of Ramalinga Raju. The special investigating arm of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is already looking into the accounts of Satyam and of two Maytas companies run by Raju’s two sons. This investigation will be done under Section 240 of the Companies Act, 1956, under which the investigating agency can ask companies to furnish books and papers relevant to or necessary for the investigation. SFIO can also ask individuals related to the affairs of the company to appear before it in person. (Business Standard)

Lightspeed to Invest $100-120 Million in India in Three Years - Lightspeed venture partners, the US based venture capital (VC) firm, will invest $100-120 million in India over the next three years. Lightspeed has initiated discussions with a few firms in the media and the financial services sectors. The VC firm is likely close a few deals by December end. The size of these deals will be $30-40 million. The firm is scouting for start ups and mid sized companies. Lightspeed plans to invest in both technology as well as non technology sectors, including healthcare, education, media and financial services space. The firm manages over $2 billion of committed capital and invests across US, China, India and Israel. (The Economic Times)

Juniper Networks to Invest $400 Million in India in Four Years - Network management major, Juniper Networks, will invest $400 million in India in the next four years. The company is in talks with all the new entrants in the telecom space including Unitech, Datacom and Swan to manage their upcoming networks. The company plans to set 5 warehouses in addition to the existing 7, to support the local demand and is also ramping up headcount at its R&D center in Bangalore. An additional R&D center is set to some up at Bangalore by midyear. (The Economic Times)

ONGC Will Not Divest Stake in MRPL to HPCL - Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has decided that it will not divest any part of its stake in Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals (MRPL) to Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL). The upstream major has a 72% stake in the 9.6 million tonnes MRPL but has been unable to do much more in terms of setting up a retail network to sell the fuels produced. There are barely six outlets now in Karnataka when the original plan was to create a base of 1,500. HPCL has 17% in the refinery and is believed to be keen on enhancing this further to over 30 per cent. This can only be done by buying a part of ONGC’s stake. (Business Line)

Asim Ghosh Retires as Vodafone Essar CEO, to Continue on Board - Vodafone Essar chief executive Asim Ghosh has decided to retire on March 31 after being at the helm for over 10 years. He will, however, continue to be a non-executive member on the Vodafone Essar board. Marten Pieters, who is currently a director on the board of Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular, will take over from Mr Ghosh. Mr Ghosh joined the company in August 1998. At that time, it was a single-circle operation offering services in Mumbai under the Max Touch brand with 1,40,000 subscribers. Under his tenure, the foray into Kolkata and Gujarat, among other circles, took place through the inorganic route. New operations were launched in Karnataka, Chennai and Andhra Pradesh, to name a few. (The Economic Times)

Nomura to Raise $3.3 Billion by Selling Stock - Japan’s largest investment bank, Nomura Holdings Inc may raise as much as ¥300 billion ($3.3 billion) selling stock to replenish capital after posting a record quarterly loss. Nomura may sell common stock during a 12-month period starting February 19. The move follows Nomura’s January 27 announcement that it will raise funds and consider selling unprofitable units after posting a ¥342.9 billion loss for the three months ended December 31. Top executives including Watanabe are forgoing bonuses and taking pay cuts of up to 30 per cent after Nomura’s shares slumped 63 per cent in the past 12 months. (Business Standard)

Bhushan Steel Makes Open Offer to Buy 26% of Orissa Sponge at Rs 300/Share - Bhushan Power & Steel has made an open offer to buy an additional 26% stake in Orissa Sponge Iron & Steel for Rs 300 a share, as part of its decision to acquire a majority stake in the company. The open offer is for the acquisition of 52 lakh shares of Rs 10 each of Orissa Sponge from its existing shareholders. The shares would be bought at a price of Rs 300 a piece. The open offer would begin on April 3 and close on April 23. The open offer comes in the wake of Bhushan Steel raising its stake in Orissa Sponge to about 15% last week by acquiring shares from the open market. (The Economic Times)

GlaxoSmithKline Plc in Discussions to Acquire Piramal Healthcare for $1.5 Billion - British pharmaceutical major GlaxoSmithKline Plc is in discussions to acquire Indian generic drug maker Piramal Healthcare for nearly $1.5 billion.  The talks, however, are at an early stage and could still fall apart. Other drug firms, including France's Sanofi-Aventis SA, have also shown interest in Piramal. (The Economic Times)




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