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Cover story | December 28, 2008

The race for cover

For India Inc. terror cover was the priority of the insurance industry ever since the Mumbai serial car bomb blasts of March 12, 1993, that severely damaged the Bombay Stock Exchange building. Now, India Inc. is scurrying to buy fresh terror cover even while others rush to augment their terror policies in the wake of 26/11 attacks. Nitya Varadarajan reports.

The big business in keeping safe

The devastating terror attacks on several Mumbai landmarks have taken the wind out of the economy and forced many foreign businesses to temporarily shun India. But one sector has never had it so good: the security industry. While most Indian companies are facing bleak times, security firms are having their day in the sun. Anusha Subramanian reports.

The cost of terror

The Mumbai terror attacks punctured business sentiment already deflated by a spreading slowdown. The economic stimulus now needed is not just of liquidity but of foolproof security and targeted expenditure.

Good, but not good enough

Price reduction on Friday, rate reduction on Saturday and tax cuts on Sunday. The first weekend of December saw the government announcing a slew of both fiscal and monetary measures. But a flagging economy needs more.

Staying the course

Many foreign business people scheduled to visit Mumbai in the coming days might have cancelled or put off their trips, but the expatriates who have made this country, and more so Mumbai, their home are not packing their bags yet just because of the terror attacks. Anusha Subramanian, Kushan Mitra and Suman Layak report.

Moment of reckoning

The attacks came at a time when the economy wasn't in shipshape due to the global credit crisis. Now, the government needs to act decisively to minimise the impact of the terror attacks on the economy. Rishi Joshi and Rachna Monga go into the details.

When gunfire drowned piped music

Mumbai's five-star hotels are a stage for furious networking for the business community. On 26/11, they became a death trap. BT brings you accounts of a few who made it out alive.

Funding terror

Terrorists find many sources of money—and, surprisingly, quite a lot of it is legitimate. Even as India plans to beef up its security and surveillance systems, it is equally important to choke the funding lines to the terror organisations. Shalini S. Dagar reports.

'Look at prevention, reaction, resumption'

Andrew Horne, Managing Director, Xerox India, is not only a corporate veteran at the American firm but also an alumnus of the Royal Military Academy who served for six years with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. He spoke to Kushan Mitra on how companies could be prepared for extreme eventualities like the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.

How other economies fought terror

Devastating Al Qaida attacks rattled the economies of the US, UK and Spain but swift government policies prevented their economies from tanking. Can India learn from them? Puja Mehra finds out.

December 28, 2008

Money

Dealing with debt

For many families, loan repayments can get rough and uneasy. So, how can one manage one’s loans better.

The storm in ESOPs

The stock market meltdown has hit the wallets of executives of India Inc. and even their retirement plans. It has taken a toll on the value of your ESOPs. What are your options now?

In This Issue

The cost of terror

The Mumbai terror attacks punctured business sentiment already deflated by a spreading slowdown. The economic stimulus now needed is not just of liquidity but of foolproof security and targeted expenditure.

Meet the iron man

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower’s General Manager, Karambir Kang, displayed a dedication to duty and superhuman resolve when he continued to supervise rescue operations for over 60 hours despite losing his immediate family in the recent terror strikes in Mumbai.

Business ideas that work

At a business plan contest in Chennai, participants whip up innovative ideas, but fall short on pitching it right.

Special

How we ranked the banks

The data for the study was based on the published annual reports of banks and RBI. All the figures used were as reported for the financial year 2007-08, 2006-07, 2005-06, 2004-05 and 2003-04.

An inflexion point

Institutions with a lower appetite for risk are better able to face the global financial storm. The KPMG annual Best Banks Survey is a check-point on the performance of the banking system.

Axis Bank: In cruise control

Chairman Nayak’s policy of looking before venturing has made Axis Bank immune to many of the industry’s woes.

Bank of India: The bank that came in from the cold

T.S. Narayanasami is the man with the Midas touch. After working his magic at a couple of other public sector banks, Narayanasami has succeeded in taking Bank of India to the top of the heap in the BT-KPMG Best Banks study. Here’s how.

Life beyond credit

With their traditional business of lending fraught with risk, banks are looking to beef up non-interest income by hawking third-party products like mutual funds and insurance.

'We are in good shape to recover'

Alex Wilmot-Sitwell’s visit to India in early November was against an extraordinary backdrop. It came at a time when UBS worldwide is struggling to recover from a financial crisis that has taken down rival Lehman Brothers. In an exclusive chat with BT’s Rachna Monga, Wilmot-Sitwell talks about the long-term implications of the financial crisis for UBS as well as its plans for India.

Corporation Bank: Practical banking

Keeping NPAs in check is religion here, but so is giving genuine defaulters a chance.

International banking: Global isn't a bad word

Although a few Indian banks did burn their fingers in their overseas forays, there’s still a sea of opportunity on foreign soil. There are, of course, risks, too.

Karnataka Bank: Tech-driven

Karnataka Bank is innovating in product delivery in rural and semi-rural areas.

South Indian Bank: Eye on defaults pays

Did you borrow from this bank? It loves you but won’t let you get away with defaults.

Union Bank: Banking on efficiency

Union Bank of India under M.V. Nair is setting new benchmarks in efficacy.

Yes Bank :The 'yes' factor

It emerges trumps amongst smaller banks. CEO Rana Kapoor has a game plan to take it into the big league.

Editor's Note

From the editor: December 28, 2008

The true cost of terror is impossible to comprehend or calculate. Yet, making an effort to understand it is important to prepare for the job of prevention and repair that lies ahead. This is exactly what we have attempted in our cover story. Our cover package goes beyond just cost assessment and evaluates our responses and remedies.

Top Mind

#Mumbai@Twitter

What is it? #Mumbai was what users who posted updates on the site Twitter had to put as the tag line when updating information about the Mumbai attacks.

Obamas crack team

Barack Obama has announced his core team. Here’s a look at who’s who.

Policy Watch

Chidambaram‚??s farewell gift

With the terror attacks making travellers even more reluctant to fly, this is the time to rationalise the high state taxes on jet fuel to bring them back.

Noted

Noted

Demerged: By Ahmedabad-based textiles conglomerate Arvind, its branded apparel and retail businesses into two separate companies as part of its plan to raise funds later. Both the demerged companies will become subsidiaries of the company. Arvind’s branded apparel business will be merged with Arvind Lifestyle Brands and its discount store chain Mega Mart with Arvind Retail. The demeger will come into effect from April 2009.

Deal Watch

Deals struck by Indian companies

Every month, we bring you a listing of the biggest deals struck by Indian companies in India and abroad. Here are the deals struck in November 2008

Book

Explaining India, one problem at a time

Nilekani’s book is wonderfully anecdotal but falls a trifle short on analysis, says Srivatsa Krishna.

Treadmill

Cheaters prosper: Build killer biceps

If you are like most people at the gym, you are familiar with the ‘cheat biceps curl’. This is because most lifters, more men than women, like to curl as much weight as they can.

Printed Circuit

Print more

Digital photography+photo printer=great sense!

People

People who matter

What would you give for a shot at US major league Baseball—an arm perhaps? Well, that’s exactly what Rinku Singh, 20, and Dinesh Patel, 19, gave at a competition organised in India—the Million-dollar Arm contest.

'The biggest concern for us is the Asian market'

R. Mukundan, 42, will be one of the youngest Managing Directors of Tata Chemicals when he takes charge of his new assignment from the current Managing Director, Homi Khusrokhan, who retires December-end. In a chat with BT, Mukundan shares the challenges for the company and how he plans to take them on, especially in the US, where the company has acquired a chemicals firm. Excerpts:

Trends

Where‚??s Rs 2 lakh crore gone?

The government has injected lots of funds into the banking system, here’s where it’s gone.

Instant tip

The fortnight’s burning question. Do you think the cut in petroleum prices is a wise decision and can be sustained?

'A 6 per cent growth is quite good'

James H. Quigley, CEO, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, was in the capital to attend the three-day India Economic Forum. In a conversation with BT’s Manu Kaushik, he spoke on the economic crisis and its impact on India. Excerpts:

India Inc. reworks pay norms

The downturn is making firms change their salary structures, says a Mercer study.

Numbers of note

$513 million: Amount of money deposited by NRIs in Indian banks in September 2008—the highest since December 2006

E-commerce goes high on life

From diamonds and MP4 players to lingerie and stamps—Indians are buying and selling everything on the web.

The world in recession

Even as India struggles to stave off any further slowdown, some of the biggest economies of the world have already sunk into a recession. These include the US, the UK, Japan, France, Germany and Singapore.

A quick look at the way some of these economies have performed over the last three quarters

Booming underground

Underneath the thousands of portals and social networking sites we visit, lurks a fl ourishing underground market for fraudrelated services. According to a recent study titled ‘Report on the Underground Economy’ by Symantec’s Security Technology and Response (STAR) organisation, the total value of these goods could be over $276 million (Rs 1,380 crore) between July 2007 and June 2008. Here’s how the Internet underground makes its money and why it is hard to nail.

To be precise

"The world is not going to miss participating in an economy growing between 7 and 8 per cent"
A.M. Naik, Chairman, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), talking about the impact of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, in BusinessWeek online

Just wondering...

What happened to the Investment Commission set up by the government with much fanfare in December 2004 with the objective of, among other things, improving FDI flow into India?

Slow net gains

As more Indians get connected and access a host of news and social networking sites, India’s Internet traffic is showing a marked increase. According to Akamai Technology’s Quarterly State of the Internet Report for the third quarter of 2008, India had 2.6 million Internet protocol (IP) addresses—up 23 per cent over the second quarter this year. Most Indians continued to use the internet for e-mail and social networking.

Current

The FM Ltd

P. Chidambaram’s record as Finance Minister resembled that of the economy he presided—high on potential, low on performance.

Annus Horribilis?

2008 was supposed to be Tata Motors’ date with destiny, but how things have changed! So, is it their fault or are they just a victim of circumstances?

Starting up all over again

The promoters of Zandu Pharma and Fem Care Pharma recently sold their stakes at attractive valuations. All the deals were struck above the prevailing stock prices of the two companies, an enviable feat considering the depressed economic and market conditions.

The E to Z of Ayurveda

Will Emami’s acquisition of Zandu Pharma change the landscape of the consumer products sector?

Back of the Book

Wine country

A first-of-its-kind study of the wine market in India shows that 65 per cent of the nation’s wine consumers live in two cities—Delhi and Mumbai—yet the Rs 300-crore industry is growing at 25 per cent. Dhiman Chattopadhyay goes into the details.

Jobs

Downturn? Insurance spawns a spurt in jobs

India is in the grip of a slowdown and at a time when virtually every sector is cutting down on hirings, insurance seems to be standing its ground. What’s more, the Mumbai terror attack, and the ones before it, will only increase the demand for insurance.  Manu Kaushik reports.

Letters

Mallya loves a spirited fight

Reading your cover story Fighting the Bad Times (BT, December 14), the most striking impression one gets is of Vijay Mallya being a spirited fighter.

Event

Eastern approaches

The BT Acumen 2008 eastern zonal finals again proved that Kolkata is the hot spot of debates and quizzes, as the best of B-schools fought it out. Somnath Dasgupta reports.

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