Saturday, October 20, 2007

What are p-notes? - restiction on which caused SENSEX to fall 1744points on 17th Aug,2007 and Market closed for an hour!

The 30-share index, SENSEX; which reached a life-time high this week, crashed 1744 points, after the SEBI put up its suggestion late on Tuesday evening. The market was closed for an hour. The p-Notes are said be behind the hugh surge in foreign inflows, which caused the latest market rally. "The steps taken by SEBI are in the right direction," the Finance Minister P.Chidambaram said. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Tuesday proposed to tighten the rules for purchase of shares and bonds in Indian companies through the participatory note (p-Note) route. The move is aimed at arresting the surge in foreign inflows through p-notes.

So, what are these p-notes? Why such a havoc about them? What makes them so special? P-Notes are financial instruments used by investors or hedge funds that are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India to invest in Indian securities. Indian-based brokerages buy India-based securities and then issue participatory notes to foreign investors. Any dividends or capital gains collected from the underlying securities go back to the investors. Participatory notes are like contract notes. These are issued by FIIs to entities that want to invest in the Indian stock market but do not want to register themselves with the SEBI. SEBI was not very happy about participatory notes because they have no way to know who owns the underlying securities, it feared that hedge funds acting through participatory notes will cause economic volatility in India's exchanges.

I feel that this step taken by the SEBI is good step towards improving clarity of FII investments. Many are saying this should have been done a lot before, say 6-7 years back. But at that time p-notes were not that much a highly weighted investment instrument by the FII. As a report says "the notional value of PNs has zoomed from 20% of FII/sub-account assets in March 2004 to 51.6% in August 2007, in other words from Rs 31,875 crore to Rs 3,53,484 crore!". While FIIs were net investors to the tune of $8.5 billion during the last calendar year, expectations are that they would invest close to $12 billion this year. This would take the market's exposure to P-Notes to over $5 billion, if the same ratio were maintained for the next three months.

What exactly were the restrictions put by SEBI on p-Notes - check out in next post.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

India's Retail Sector is Booooming...?

Retail in India has gained a surprising importance in past year as we see many corporate gaints investing in billions into this sector. India has topped the AT Kearney’s annual Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) for the third consecutive year, maintaining its position as the most attractive market for retail investment. The Indian retail market -- one of India's fastest growing industries -- is expected to grow from US$ 350 billion to US$ 427 billion by 2010. According to Euromonitor International, the Indian Retail market will grow in value terms by a total of 39.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011, averaging growth of almost 7 per cent a year.

The food Retail and Mobile Retail is growing at a high pace. Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Mumbai-based petroleum gaint Reliance Industries, has opened around 100 fruit and vegetable stores under "Reliance Fresh" brand in less than a year, already invested around Rs:2500 crore (US$ 0.637 billion!) and plans to invest about Rs:90,000 crore ($22.99 billion!) in setting up retails stores in various formats- hyper markets-supermarkets, speciality stores, discount stores...etc. Also Bharti Wal-Mart is setting up itself to enter into this sector soon. So look out for more billion dollar investments in these sector in comming year 2008.

Reading all this how's you feeling? Mind blowing reports with huge numbers about India's Retail sector, feeling great? Read next.....

Very few people think of the other part. The government decision on January 24 allows up to 51 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in “single brand” retail stores. Nike, Nokia or Levi can establish stores, but multi-brand retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour are excluded, for now. Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told the leaders of the world’s richest corporations that India was seeking to increase its FDI to $US10 billion by 2006-2007, up from the $6.5 billion invested in 2005.Retail activities such as door-to-door selling, street carts and market stalls, act as a last resort for the unemployed, given the lack of jobs in manufacturing and agriculture. Many in the retail trade are living below the poverty line. A report published in December 2004 by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPAS) entitled “FDI in India’s Retail Sector: More Bad than Good” stated that retailing is “probably the primary form of disguised unemployment/underemployment in the country”.The report continued: “Given the already over-crowded agricultural sector, and the stagnating manufacturing sector, and the hard nature and relatively low wages of jobs in both, many million Indians are virtually forced into the services sector. Here, given the lack of opportunities, it is almost a natural decision for an individual to set up a small shop or store, depending on his or her means or capital. And thus a retailer is born, seemingly out of circumstance rather than choice.” The report is spelndid, you can view it here :-

Although the Indian government hails foreign investment as an economic boon, the growth has largely benefitted the wealthy to the detriment of large sections of workers, small business and farmers. The opening up of the Indian economy and deregulation has resulted in substantial public sector job cuts, the destruction of industries, land seizures and cuts to food and fuel subsidies. There are approximately 40 million people and 11 million outlets in India’s retail sector. Many of these are marginal businesses—small shops and stalls, street vendors and hawkers—which will be destroyed by competition from large retail outlets and chains. Many people, who have no alternate source of income or work, will be left completely destitute.

(I have written this article with lot of research. I want to know your comments over this.Thank you.)