Business Today

Cover story | March 22, 2009

Gaining ground in a downturn

Most companies prefer to stand still during a slowdown but, as a clutch of players in financial services have shown, there’s no better time than now to turn the heat on the competition.

Just what the doctor ordered

People don’t stop falling sick in a slowdown. In fact, more people are likely to take ill in troubled times. That’s good news for the health care sector. E. Kumar Sharma reports.

Medical marvel

Opto Circuits has benefited from operating in the almost recession-proof area of medical devices.

No heavy burden

Everest Kanto isn’t just the second-largest player globally in its sector, it also has the most varied product range.

In a niche of its own

AIA Engineering isn’t just another engineering company. In fact, it has few competitors—globally.

Safe harbour

Mundra Port hasn’t been hit by the slowdown in exports and the economy—not so far, at least.

No heavy burden

When exports are down in the dumps, how is Allcargo Global Logistics holding its head high above water?

On solid ground

Diversifications into related areas in the good times are coming to Simplex Infrastructures’ rescue in the downturn.

Into the headwind

Hero Honda defies the down-cycle in the auto sector with robust earnings growth and gains in market share.

Dawn in the dusk

Sun Pharma rises out of the gloom thanks to its distinctive four-pronged game plan.

Ringing in the gains

Bharti Airtel says its superior products and services give it an edge over competition. Not all consumers may agree. So, what explains India’s #1 mobile operator’s relentless growth?

No bridge too far

The robustness of Larsen & Toubro’s core business of engineering & construction helps it counter the tough times. Plus, it has newer growth engines that are revving up.

Winners in the downturn

They’ve been posting robust double-digit growth for two quarters now even as their peers struggle to come to terms with the downturn. Virendra Verma finds out what makes these companies tick when business dips?


Don‚??t let the tax bite

The market meltdown that battered the Equity-Linked Savings Scheme funds is now promising to make them winners. Here’s why you should consider investing in them this time.

In This Issue

Winners in the downturn

They’ve been posting robust double-digit growth for two quarters now even as their peers struggle to come to terms with the downturn. Virendra Verma finds out what makes these companies tick when business dips?


India's hottest start-ups

This is Business Today’s Third Annual Listing of hottest start-ups and, pretty much like the two previous lists in 2007 and 2008, this listing is also completely subjective.

Editor's Note

From the Editor: March 22, 2009

For most companies, the current global economic meltdown is akin to living with a sudden grid collapse for weeks and months with no end in sight. But how many of them are nimble and capable enough to come out of it bigger and better? Business Today did a quick check.

Top Mind

Race and Joblessness

US Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that unemployment among Asians in the US has doubled in the last four months.

The gold rush

Gold prices can cross its all-time high if fears of the financial meltdown get worse.

The 'Plug-in' hybrids

These are hybrid cars that feature a regular internal combustion engine and a battery pack. Is that new? Well, the concept of a “Plug-in” hybrid is rather new, at least from a commercial availability point of view.

Deal Watch

IBN18 Stake watch

IBN18 Broadcast, a Network18 group company, has announced its decision to acquire a 43.4 per cent stake in Viacom18 Media for Rs 305 crore from BK Holdings, a subsidiary of TV18. Following the acquisition, IBN18 Broadcast's stake in Viacom18 will now increase to 50 per cent.


The World of Sen

The world’s eminent social scientists pay homage to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on his 75th birthday in this important collection.


Better the contrast!

With just a bit of foresight, and an informed workout, can be turned into an opportunity that’ll not just make your gym routine more exciting, it’ll help you see noticeable increase in size/results as well.

Printed Circuit

A great educational tool

The Asus Eee Top 1602 costs a packet,but could become your pre-teen’s best friend.


Sudden exit

He is known to take risks and strike big deals, but is in unwind mode at the moment. Kunal Dasgupta, 54, one of the longest serving CEOs of any media company, called it quits from MSM (formerly Sony Entertainment Television).

Leadership Spotlight

The crisis manager

Deepak Shantilal Parekh is almost as famous a brand as HDFC, the institution that he has helmed for decades. This is probably why the government decided to call on him to help sort out the Satyam mess.


How bad is the fall

The 5.3 per cent GDP growth is below the most conservative projections. There are few signs of it improving.

Instan tip

The fortnight’s burning question. Will FDI for the current fiscal surpass last year’s figure of $32.4 billion and continue to grow in 2009-10?

Who needs reforms?

Though rigid labour laws did not deter large-scale lay-offs over the last few months, the case for reforms is still strong.

Numbers of note

Rs 36.5 crore: The amount of money lost by banks between April and December 2008 due to credit card frauds in India. ICICI Bank tops the list with 8,280 cases, losing Rs 11.5 crore

Did somebody say pay hike?

Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting company, which recently projected such a hike in its 13th annual Salary Increase Survey, has now sounded a cautious note.

The new meeting halls

As the Indian film industry staggers from the effects of the economic slowdown, multiplexes across India are rolling out the red carpet for corporate events to generate some moolah.

The Megapixel wars aren't over

Nikon launched the D3X, a monster of a camera with a 24.8 megapixel resolution. At the same time, Nikon’s Compact Digital camera range wearing the Coolpix brand began to feature devices with 12 megapixel sensors.

How Slumdog made its millions

After the Oscars, Slumdog Millionaire is raking in money from the book and the film. Here’s the business behind the phenomenon.


Bon Appetit

While most companies have been forced onto the back foot by the slowdown, fast-food companies are doing rollicking business.

‚??We weren‚??t a consumer electronics company‚??

Over the last decade, Dutch giant Philips has been making a marked shift away from its heritage of incandescent bulbs, radios and televisions. Gerard J. Kleisterlee, President and CEO, tells BT’s Rahul Sachitanand why the re-invention was necessary and what the firm’s new plans are.

Debunking of a downturn myth

The global slowdown this time has not spared even the entertainment industry, which was believed to be recession-proof.

Distress sales on the anvil

Customers–both corporate and individuals–are keenly watching as developers blink first to lower their prices.

Why Deficit is not equal to Stimulus...

The UPA government blames the economic stimulus measures for a rising fiscal deficit. But this is not even half the truth.


Automakers: Tightening the screws

As demand slows down and profitability takes a hit, India’s automobile companies are pulling out every trick from the cost-cutting book— and a few from outside—to stay on the road.

Protect or Perish

In businesses, big or small, ranging from manufacturing to music, the fight for intellectual property is getting intense. Neglect it and you could be out of business.

The political economy

With another coalition a certainty, it’s time to discount party philosophy as pointers to the reforms. Expect convenience, not conviction, to dictate the economic agenda.


Mukesh Ambani’s ambitious retail rollout has a long way to go, with just Rs 1,000 crore of the Rs 25,000 crore earmarked for the project being utilised in the past two years. The economic slowdown has set Reliance Retail back—by at least 18 months—but the good news is that it seems to be getting its strategy right at the mass end.

Back of the Book

Google goes rural

Google retrofits a bus with VSAT equipment and computers and video screens to ride out the dusty country roads of semi-urban towns in Tamil Nadu in a journey aimed at making Internet a point of relevance in people’s lives rather than just a matter of interest. As its bus traverses through small towns to understand Internet illiteracy, Nitya Varadarajan shares the experience.


'Corporate romance is often tinted with hard realities of cycles'

For the first time in a decade, off-site meetings are being replaced by on-site meetings, guest houses are replacing hotel stays, normal carriers are being replaced with low-cost carriers, and travel is being substituted with video conferences.


An American dream gone sour

Visa curbs alone won’t hurt Indian aspirants as much as it is feared. Here’s why.


Jobs under fire

Measures like layoffs and retrenchment, which in normal times would have attracted lots of criticism, are now being conveniently fobbed off by managements under the pretext of recession.

60 minutes

'Google isn‚??t our only competitor'

Yahoo’s stock is at around $12, down more than 100 per cent from the high of around $28 that it had reached after the bid.