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Crystal Lagoons to build largest manmade lagoon in India

By Deepak Arora

DUBAI: Crystal Lagoons, the current holder of two Guinness World Records and the patented technology developer of giant crystalline lagoons, is expanding its global presence with its first project in India with the launch of a 6.5-hectare lagoon in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Located at the heart of the Dream City project, which is currently under phase one of development by leading Indian real estate company, D.S. Kulkarni Developers ltd., the mixed-use community will feature a sparkling crystalline lagoon used for recreational activities and, due to the layout of the lagoon, a means of transport throughout the development via water taxis.

“Entry into the Maharashtra state, home to 114 million people, marks Crystal Lagoons 12th MENASA project and takes the global tally to over 300,” said Carlos Salas, Middle East Regional Director, Crystal Lagoons.

The one million square metre project will be home to eight thousand luxury residential units and 50,000 people when completed as well as a host of office buildings, targeting both NRIs, local buyers as well as investors. The development will also cater to a burgeoning tourism market and the city’s four million inhabitants with a five star hotel, marine club, multiple restaurants, malls and multiplexes.

Health and well-being will also be a key feature of Dream City with a number of exotic gardens and ample green space set to provide a sense of tranquility and spirituality within a culturally rich lifestyle in the gated community. A partnership with English Premiership side, Liverpool Football Club, and over 30 other sports and games will ensure a platform for future champions is in place.

“This landmark signing underscores Crystal Lagoons global expansion and further highlights our expertise in creating manmade lagoons through the application of our revolutionary technology. Since the company launched we have created a number of unique leisure-centric destinations and added bodies of water to a range of developments and enhanced real estate value that otherwise would not be possible,” said Salas.

“Dream City represents an important milestone for Crystal Lagoons and our partnership with DSK Group gives us a unique opportunity to contribute our expertise towards a world-class project at the heart of a new cultural and sustainable icon for the region and for India,” added Salas.

In addition to the many sports available on land, Crystal Lagoons will also incorporate a diverse range of experiences for keen water sports enthusiasts and families alike. Not only will the network of canals provide a means of transport they will also provide opportunities for kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing and swimming.

A total of 100,000 cubic metres (310,600 gallons) of water will be required to fill the 6-hectare lagoon, which will be fringed by a range of recreational areas and estimated to be in the region of US$200 million investment and will be one of the biggest Lagoons in Asia once completed.

Under a phased development over a decade-long period, the lagoon is scheduled to be operational upon completion of phase one of the project, which has a scheduled launch date of Q2 2016.

DSK Group has over 30-years’ of experience in real estate, travel and tourism as well as automobiles, education and finance.

Crystal Lagoons currently has a global portfolio of 300 projects located in 60 countries from South America to the Middle East, and holds two Guinness World Records’ titles with high profile locations in San Alfonso del Mar, Chile and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which is currently the world’s largest lagoon at 12,5 hectares.

The only global company with the technological capability to make the development of giant controlled manmade bodies of water economically viable, Crystal Lagoons is positioning itself as offering a unique product differentiator to high profile tourism projects around the world.

The lagoons use up to 100 times less chemicals than traditional pool systems, and only two per cent of the energy required by conventional filtering technologies, making them incredibly sustainable.

Crystal Lagoons has revolutionized the real estate markets worldwide by enabling to build up project in places previously deemed unthinkable, and by changing the lifestyle of people, providing a safe and sustainable environment.

India a bright spot with growth rate of 7.5 pc: Jaitley

NEW DELHI, Dec 27: Voicing “great satisfaction” over the performance of the Indian economy in “a year of turmoil and volatility” globally, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday dismissed criticisms about the economy not having taken off as “cynicism -- a way of life in India”.

Looking back at 2015, Jaitley said India has been the bright spot with growth prospects of 7-7.5% despite global slowdown and adversities, and expressed optimism that the growth rate which is “quite good” would improve further in the months to come.

India has responded well to the challenge posed by the slowdown in global economy, he said, but acknowledged that “there are areas (in which) we have to respond faster”.

“As the year ends, I look back with a sense of great satisfaction,” Jaitley said in an interview, during which he underlined that India’s fiscal fundamentals are “extremely sound”.

Outlining his priorities for the New Year, the finance minister said he would continue with structural reforms and the priorities would include GST, rationalising direct taxes, further easing the system of doing business.

“After having done that, I would like to concentrate essentially on three things -- more money for physical infrastructure, more money on social infrastructure and lastly more money on irrigation because that is a neglected sector.”

Asked about murmurs that the economy has not really taken off, Jaitley dismissed such grumblings as without merit and said that “the revenue collections do not go up without the economy taking off”.

“Cynicism is a way of life in India. You can question any other data but you cannot question the actual rise of revenue and the actual rise of revenue is showing that the economy is doing better,” he said.

Asked whether the Indian industry was also prone to such cynicism, Jaitley said, “Well, I think a section of the Indian industry has overstretched itself and those who have overstretched themselves see this as a universal problem.”

Exports hit India’s growth story in 2015, fall to be steeper in 2016

NEW DELHI, Dec 26: Exports have been a drag on India’s growth story in 2015. Traders are feeling the pinch, the government is worried and policymakers are brainstorming to come up with measures to boost shipments.

The only consolation: A falling rupee, which has depreciated by 4.5% in 2015, has helped exporters in some sectors earn more dollars.

Low commodity prices and a global slowdown, driven by faltering Chinese economy, is all set to take exports to their lowest in five years in 2015-16. This in turn could derail the recovery process.

With exports getting affected, and domestic demand subdued, capacity utilisation levels for key sectors will take time to improve, which will delay the recovery process of companies.

“Regardless of the causes (of drop in exports), the effect has been a drag on growth,” the Mid-Year Economic Analysis tabled in Parliament last week said.

In November, exports fell for the 12th straight month, declining 24.43% year-on-year to $20.01 billion. But a 30.26% decline in imports to $29.80 billion ensured that the trade deficit remained on track at $9.78 billion in November against $16.23 billion a year ago.

For the first 11 months of the calendar year, exports reached $243.68 billion against $323.2 billion for the whole of 2014.

“Going by the current trend, we may end up with exports of $265 billion in 2015, a 21.9% decline from 2014,” said SC Ralhan, president, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO). “Given the global situation, the situation will take time to improve. Much will depend on commodity prices.”

On a cumulative basis, exports in the first eight months of 2015-16 stood at $174.3 billion, compared to $213.7 billion a year ago, a decline of 18.5%. In 2014-15, India’s exports totalled $310.5 billion.

“The policy challenge is to uplift growth by boosting domestic demand,” said DK Srivastava, chief policy adviser, EY India.

Policymakers are also worried that a recent agreement among the US, Japan and 10 other countries, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), will further hurt prospects for India’s exports. The TPP removes tariff and non-tariff barriers among participants. And as products from participant countries turn cheaper, Indian goods will lose favour.

Rating agency Crisil blames India’s focus on Asia, which accounts for almost 50% of total goods exported, as the primary reason for the decline. It is more than the combined share of Europe and the US at 31.8%.

During April-October period of the current fiscal year, India’s exports to Asia declined nearly 19% and that to Europe by 11.2%.

And, as cheaper Chinese goods flood the world market, India’s export competitiveness will also take a hit.

“The threat of competition from cheaper Chinese imports” actually hit trade in 2015, said Dhananjay Sinha, head, institutional research of Emkay Global Financial Services.

According to rating agency Crisil, India should look at other regions, especially Africa, to boost shipments.

Focus on projects like Make in India, which can help revive domestic demand, can also counter falling exports, said Gokul Chaudhri, leader, direct tax, BMR & Associates LLP.

The government, though, is optimistic. “There is no crisis in India on the export front and while there is a need for caution, there is no need for alarm,” the commerce ministry said recently.

But if numbers are anything to go by, the Centre sure has its task cut out for 2016.

GST can be India’s Brahmastra against global headwinds: Sunil Kanoria

By Deepak Arora

Sunil KanoriaNEW DELHI, Nov 26: The new ASSOCHAM President Sunil Kanoria has said that it was time lawmakers across parties passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill on GST without further delay. This would send a strong signal to investors that India’s economy can overcome serious global and domestic challenges with political will.

Sunil Kanoria said GST can be a “Brahmastra” for the Indian economy against a very difficult global economic scenario, affected by demand slowdown, uncertain geo-political situation after the Paris terror attacks and an unprecedented crash in vital commodities.

“GST will harmonise indirect taxes by doing away with multiplicity of taxes. It will also reduce cost of production, which will be then passed on consumers, thus lowering inflation. More striking would be the display of a political unity and the will to rise up to national cause. That will be a great positive for revival of investment, both domestic and international, something most needed at this point of difficult international times,” the new Assocham President said in his maiden media interaction.

Kanoria is the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of SREI Infrastructure Finance.

In response to a question on the raging issue of supposed ‘intolerance,’ the new president of ASSOCHAM said, “The very fact that we are tolerating the intolerance itself is an adequate proof to say that we are a tolerant country.”

Kanoria added that India's GDP growth can rise by 1 to 1.5 percent by GST alone, going up to 9 percent by 2018-19 from the present estimated 7.3 percent if the government gives massive thrust to infrastructure development.

“The stipulation of additional one per cent duty should not be imposed and the GST should help country to make one India rather than divide India,” he said.

He urged the principal Opposition Congress Party to rise up to the national call and support the Goods and Services Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The newly elected ASSOCHAM President requested upon the Government as well to reach out to all the political parties for a common cause.

“If the Congress Party or any other national or regional party has some specific concerns, the government should look into the same and address it as far as possible. There can always be a middle ground. Besides, the passage of the Bill would not mean casting it in stone; as the nation starts implementing the new taxation regime, some important lessons can be learnt and incorporated by subsequent changes in the law. But, if there is one thing that our nation needs from its political leadership, it is the GST,” said Sunil Kanoria.

On the present state of the economy, the ASSOCHAM President said one of the main worrying aspects is lack of appetite for fresh investment which is further discouraged by lack of demand as is evident from the latest IIP numbers showing the slowest growth industrial output in four months (3.6 pc) during September.

Kanoria said that the critical challenge was to generate jobs for the one million Indians joining the workforce every month. The only way out was “Employment promotion through entrepreneurship.” This would be the theme of his ASSOCHAM presidency.

He felt that the challenge was to become a nation of job creators rather than jobseekers. For that improving the ease of doing business was a critical first step. So was better infrastructure and more affordable access to finance and information, especially in small towns and villages.

Kanoria cautioned poor rural demand thanks to two successive failures of Monsoon is clearly affecting the economic growth across different sectors—agriculture, industry, and services. Besides, there is a real threat of food inflation widening its scale well beyond pulses and onion.

“Recent spurt in pulses (53 percent) and onion prices (85 percent) even on a wholesale price index, spells out an urgent need for a holistic approach on food production and management and how the entire rural economy should be well integrated with the rest of the economy”.

On another serious issue of bank NPAs, he said “we cannot afford to delay the full recapitalization of the banks while concerted efforts should continue to address the structural problems of the sector like steel, power, roads, highways where the maximum level of stress assets is locked up. In this regard, the Bankruptcy law should be passed urgently and implemented so that assets locked in bad loans are released and given to new promoters.”

One suggestion was to have an empowered infrastructure dispute resolution mechanism, which would quickly solve the many problems that existing projects had got into, which was also deterring fresh investment.

On global economic head winds, Kanoria stressed upon the need to remain vigilant with regard unfolding geo-political situation after the Paris terror attack and continuous problems in China. Japan has again gone into recession while the Federal Reserve has queered the pitch of raising or not raising the interest rates.

“We need to give a lot of credit to RBI for ensuring stability in the foreign exchange rates even as most of the currencies of the emerging economies have seen a sharp erosion. But a constant vigil needs to be kept”.

Sunil Kanoria takes over as new ASSOCHAM President

By Deepak Arora

Sunil KanoriaNEW DELHI, Nov 25: Mr Sunil Kanoria, vice-chairman of reputed non-banking finance company, SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited, on Wednesday took over as new President of The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Mr Kanoria has succeeded Mr Rana Kapoor, Yes Bank Managing Director and CEO, following conclusion of ASSOCHAM's 95th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in New Delhi.

With an impeccable record as an expert in the field of finance, Mr Kanoria has been instrumental in bringing over Rs. 34,000 crore (over USD 5 billion) of consolidated assets under SREI which became one of the first NBFCs to get listed on the London Stock Exchange.

He is also the joint Managing Director of SREI BNP Paribas, a 50:50 joint-venture between SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited and BNP Paribas Leasing Group, France.

Mr Kanoria conceptualized the brand ‘Quippo’. Be it launching the country’s largest infrastructure equipment rental company or catering to the high growth verticals such as construction, telecom, energy and oil & gas, under his guidance, brand Quippo has become the leader in the equipment rental industry.

Mr Kanoria has been associated with several industry associations - Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC), Hire Purchase & Lease Association, Kolkata (HPLA), Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata (MCC) and Federation of Indian Hire Purchase Association (FIHPA). Sunil held the prestigious position as Member of the Working Group on Construction for the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-07) of the Planning Commission, Government of India.

He is currently a council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) as a nominee of the Government of India.

Mr Sandeep Jajodia, chairman and managing director, Monnet Group and Mr Ved Jain, past-president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) have respectively been elected as the Senior Vice-President and Vice President of ASSOCHAM for 2015-16.

Canara Bank celebrates 110th Founder's Day

By Deepak Arora

BANGALORE, Nov 19: Canara Bank celebrated its 110th Founder’s Day at Jnanajyothi Auditorium here on Thursday.

On this occasion the Chief Guest Subhro Kamal Mukherjee, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Karnataka, inaugurated 51 branches across the length and breadth of the country and dedicated them to the service of the nation.

He also distributed sanction letters to a cross section of customers under different segments.

Canara Bank Managing Director and CEO Rakesh Sharma, Chairman T N Manoharan and Executive Directors P S Rawat and Harideesh Kuamar also attended the Founder's Day function.

Canara Bank to raise Rs. 2,400 crore by issuing tier II bonds

NEW DELHI, Nov 19: Canara Bank today said it will raise an additional capital of Rs. 2,400 crore by issuing bonds on private placement basis to support its asset growth.

The decision to raise the additional capital was taken at Board meeting of the bank today.

“The Board of the bank...has permitted to raise an additional capital of Rs. 2,400 crore through issue of Basel-III compliant tier II bonds by way of private placement”, Canara Bank said in a regulatory filing.

The public sector lender said the coupon rate on the bonds would be as decided by the Bond Committee of the bank.

The Bengaluru-headquartered bank said the capital raised will be utilised to support the asset growth during 2015-16 and also to maintain healthy level of Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR).

Canara Bank to open 250 branches: Rakesh Sharma

MANGALURU, Nov 17: Canara Bank plans to open 250 branches across the country in 2015-16, Rakesh Sharma, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, said here on Monday.

Speaking to newsmen here, he said the bank, which opened 1,000 branches in 2014-15, has 5,734 branches and 1,932 ATMs in the country. He said the process of recruiting around 3,000 clerical staff, will be completed by March 2016.

Sharma said the bank has set a target of bringing its gross NPA (non-performing assets) below four per cent by the end of the current financial year.

Canara Bank’s Diwali gift to Micro Women Entrepreneurs

By Deepak Arora

BANGALORE, Nov 5: Inaugurating the “Canara Utsav” Diwali sales - cum - exhibition of products manufactured by Women Entrepreneurs organized by Canara Bank at Sri Gururaja Kalyana Mantapa here on Friday, Mrs Anita Sharma, wife of Rakesh Sharma, Managing Director and CEO of Canara Bank, said that Canara Utsav is a unique support extended by a nationalized Bank to Women Entrepreneurs.

She congratulated the women Entrepreneurs for the personal efforts put forth by them in addition to support by the Bank and advised them to work with greater enthusiasm to improve their business to greater heights.

Mrs Anita Sharma interacted with each Entrepreneur and appreciated the products displayed by them.

S S Bhat, Chief General Manager heading the CSR division of the Bank at the Head Office, advised the women entrepreneurs to upgrade their business by collecting information through social media and assured the women further support in their endeavors.

Ravindra Bhandary, General Manager, heading the Bangalore Metro Circle of the Bank, called upon the women entrepreneurs to make use of “Mudra Loan Scheme” to avail financial assistance from the Bank to improve their business and obtain coverage under the “Jan Suraksha” Insurance Scheme of the Government of India.

Ananthayya Achar, Senior Official in-charge of CSR Division of the Bank gave information about the free trainings available to the public through Bank Sponsored Training Institutes and advised the women to take benefit of the same to fine tune their skills as well empower their children.

As many as 70 stalls have been put up by Women Entrepreneurs in the three days Mela displaying various products like handicraft items, eco-friendly products, garments, food products and Terracota Diyas for Diwali etc. Wooden, stone, metal Artifacts made by trainees of Bank’s Artisan Training Institute, Jogaradoddi are also displayed in the Utsav.

Canara Bank Q2 profit down by 15.63 percent

BANGALORE, Nov 4: Canara Bank on Wednesday said it posted a stand-alone net profit of Rs.528.86 crore for the second quarter of 2015-16 against a net profit of Rs.626.84 crore in the same period last year.

Net profit declined by 15.63 percent on a quarter-on-quarter basis.

The bank's total income from operations increased to Rs.12,477.95 crore against Rs.11,915.21 crore recorded in Q2 2014-15.

Canara bank incurred a total expenditure of Rs.10,533.85 crore in the quarter under review against Rs.10,289.67 crore.



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