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Heavy-weights lead from front
Mon, 14 Mar 01:30 pm

Indian stock markets continued to trade in the positive on buying interest in heavy weights from oil & gas and metals. Despite the weak sentiments of the global stock markets, the Indian stock markets continue to trade strong. All stock indices except auto are trading in the positive territory. Stocks from the oil & gas, metals and consumer durables lead the pack of gainers.

The BSE-Sensex is up by 150 points while NSE-Nifty is trading 45 points above the dotted line. Both BSE Midcap and BSE Small cap indices are up by 0.3% and 0.2% respectively. The rupee is trading at 45.17 to the US dollar.

Oil & Gas stocks are trading strong with GAIL and HPCL leading the gains. However, Indraprastha Gas and Chennai Petro are trading weak. GAIL plans to raise about US$225 m (Rs 10 bn) via the External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) route to fund its expansion plans. The company plans to raise the amount by early next fiscal. Raising money via ECB will help the company reduce its borrowing cost as the cost of funds in overseas markets is lower than domestic markets. The company expects to raise the ECB funds at a marginal rate of 7.30% pa at a time when the average cost of debt prevailing in the Indian markets is anywhere between 9-12%. It may be noted that GAIL has a gas transmission network of around 7,847 km across the country and has plans to double the same over the next 4-5 years. It has also outlined capex plans worth Rs 350 bn over the next few years so as to meet its expansion plans.

Telecom stocks are trading mixed with MTNL, Reliance Communication and Idea Cellular trading firm, whereas Bharti Airtel is trading weak. Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest mobile service operator by subscribers, withdrew its bid to buy out government’s 30% stake in its subsidiary Bharti Hexacom. Bharti Hexacom offers mobile services to over 14 m customers in 6 north-eastern states (excluding Assam) and Rajasthan. The government owns 30% stake in Hexacom through public sector company Telecom Consultants of India. The government had demanded a substantial premium over the Rs 18 bn base price fixed by consultant Deloitte and also sought an additional 6-month extension to conclude the sale process.

Bharti Airtel had said that its financial bid would be valid only till Mar 13, 2011 and also demanded the bank guarantees for its bid to be returned after this date. Bharti Airtel’s exit may force the telecom department to list Hexacom to get the best price. According to DoT records, Hexacom had revenues of Rs 1,346 crore and a profit of Rs 331 crore in FY08 and a net worth of Rs 918 crore. These numbers are estimated to have gone up substantially during FY09 and FY10; and this seems to be the premise on which the government seems to be demanding a substantial premium over the consultant’s base price.

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