Thursday, August 28, 2008

3i to invest Rs1,000 crore in port firm (CVR Group)

Hyderabad: Global private equity firm 3i Group may invest Rs 800 -1,000 crore for a 15-26 percent stake in Krishnapatnam Port, the developer and operator of an all-weather, deep-water port in Andhra Pradesh. It is considered the biggest investment by a foreign private equity firm in India’s port sector.

The UK-based firm has filed for approval with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the agency that clears overseas investments into India, said Chinta Visweswar Rao, Chairman of Hyderabad-based CVR Group, which controls Krishnapatnam Port.

The company has not yet signed an agreement with 3i Group, though the usual practice of firms is to tie up partnerships with foreign investors before seeking FIPB approval.

"We preferred to sign the agreement only after the foreign investor obtained clearance from FIPB," Rao said.

Krishnapatnam Port Co. was formed by CVR Group to develop and operate a Rs10,000 crore, 100 million tonnes (mt) a year capacity port on the country’s eastern coast, at Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district.

Krishnapatnam port is being developed in three phases. The port, the deepest in the country with a depth of 15.6m, has around 6,000 acres of so-called custom bonded area, or space where goods can be stored.

Ramakrishna Karuturi, world's largest producer of rose buds

Let a million roses bloom is the credo of Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, who became the worlds largest producer of roses last year. His has been a meteoric rise through smart acquisitions and timely forays. The journey has been rosy for the most part, and has come despite stiff competition from established players worldwide.

Karuturi, a mechanical engineer with MBA from the US, founded the company in 1995 as a 100% export-oriented unit in Bangalore. “There was more value in this business than the cable business I started off with, he says. In 1999, he set up an internet auction portal by the name Rose to derive benefits of weeding out intermediaries through the use of the Internet. The same year, he set up a second production facility for roses near Bangalore taking the total size of his rose farms to 10 hectares.

Roses for Valentines Day in 1998 earned him his first million. There was an order to supply 22 tons of roses to Europe, and the Air France flight that was to ship it, got cancelled. There was no flight to the destination after that. The buyers were not ready to wait, they would have switched to another supplier.

I was the president of the flower association and bought up the entire stock that was lying there on the tarmac at a a throwaway price as the sellers were desperate to get rid of it. I drove a truck all the way to Chennai, and finally after some haggling, got all the stuff in a Lufthansa flight. That consignment alone netted me my first million, says Karuturi reminiscing in his Embassy Centre office in Bangalore. By 2003, the company was the countrys biggest producer of roses through efficient farming techniques. Producing in India was getting costlier and the customs regulations did not make matters any easier.

So in 2003, he took a call. To be, or not to be in India, as he puts it. Finally, he decided to kickstart the next acres of farms in Ethiopia, a country which has been wooing investors and giving out lands at much cheaper rates. The wholly-owned subsidiary, Ethiopian Meadows Plc is now the epicentre of the groups activities. In 2006, he got his largest order from Tesco and that has been a terrific partnership. All the partnerships that we have had with the retail chains have endured, says Karuturi.

He made the leap from just another producer to the worlds largest producer of roses last year when he acquired Dutch firm Sher Agencies for $69 million. That acquisition boosted the revenue of Karuturi, which is also into food processing and software services, to Rs 4 billion from a billion rupees. The capacity now grew to 650 million rose stems from 150 million with this single deal. That changed everything, says Karuturi.

Growing at over 30% annually, the company acquired one lakh acres of land in May this year, and will soon add 6.5 lakh acres on long lease in Ethiopia for which he has garnered $250 million through debt and equity. This addition will put Karuturi on the fast track as a horticulture major. Here he plans to grow paddy, palm and sugarcane for both sugar and ethanol, while other crops such as sorghum and vegetables would be rotated to take advantage of the growing global demand for these commodities.

We are going to process crude palm oil for trading in ethanol. With the global energy crisis getting serious, there are plans for tapping the big oil companies selling ethanol for blending with petrol, he says. When he is not dabbling in shipping roses to almost all of the worlds big chains, horticulture and his Bangalore-based internet connectivity business, he likes to go on long drives with his family.

Through his business he has come across some interesting clients like a UK customer who wanted a heart-shaped bouquet made with 2,000 roses. Now that must have blown away his fianc says Karuturi with a guffaw. Much in the same way as he has ridden over competition from around the world and come up trumps.

I got my largest order in 2006 from Tesco. Since then, all the partnerships with the retail chains have endured.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Doctor to make HEAL-ing global

A CHARITY that started life in the city is set to go global, helping thousands of children languishing in the slums of India.
Peterborough was the birthplace of HEALHealth and Education for All.

Now its founder Dr Koneru Prasad, who started by donating his ancestral home in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, to house orphaned children, will be casting his net across the Atlantic and further afield.

In the coming months, HEAL American will take shape. Also on the horizon are branches in Canada and, eventually, every state in India.

Next month a glitzy event in Peterborough is set to raise cash that will be used to provide shelter, education and health care for the poorest of children in India.

And as soon as it is over, the kindhearted GP at the Westwood Clinic in Wicken Way, Westwood, Peterborough, will be off to Atlanta to set up a branch of HEAL, the organisation he founded in 1992.

And he is also recruiting for Cycle 2010, after the resounding success of Cycle India 2008, where 30 cyclists from the UK (many from the city), US and India raised £100,000 by cycling through the beautiful countryside of Andhra Pradesh in south India.

In the 16 years since HEAL was set up four projects have been launched, including a children's village, a boys' hostel and a health centre.

The charity's next big step is to raise £250,000 to build a school for children languishing in the slums of Hyderabad, another south Indian city.

And Dr Prasad is hoping the charity evening on Friday, September 26 will help move him closer to this dream.He said: "We need more than £100,000 a year for 1,000 children."

The money from the dinner and dance will go towards building new villages and schools, accommodation for destitute children and also a health centre."

He said the work was enormously rewarding."Our first baby Mamatha came to us at two months old and I didn't think she would survive because she was so dehydrated," he said."

But I went there in July and she was fully grown and a beautiful young lady who has joined a college and is studying engineering."It is so satisfying to see."

In two to three years time, she will be looking after herself."To see the fruits and results of your work in your lifetime is so satisfying.

"In spite of such traumatic backgrounds, they are still achieving and living their lives." Dr Prasad is set to cut down the hours he spends at Westwood Clinic and will travel to India twice a year to help poverty-stricken children.

For more information on the charity, visit

RMMI: Moving faster to stay ahead

Thanks to the world-wide boom in commodity prices, mining and metals majors are scouting for hot investments, be it in Africa, India, Indonesia or China. RAK Minerals and Metals Investment (RMMI), established under the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), is no exception.

Earlier this year RMMI made two prized acquisitions one at Congo where it has acquired a copper mine and the other a mining firm in Armenia. Not to speak of the much wider understanding RAKIA has established with South Sumatra province of Indonesia where RAKIA entered into an MoU that covers the entire mining-to-export chain of coal industry that transcends beyond the industry verticals and looks at developing and supporting other possible industries.

The Province of South Sumatra, which holds the largest resources of coal in Indonesia, aims to capitalise its strategic location and get the full benefits from its natural resources and agriculture-based economy to induce social and economic growth in the region by attracting investments in the minerals/ore processing industry, agro-businesses, bio-technology industries and oil and gas refineries.

In April this year, RMMI has acquired 7.24 per cent stake in Thailand's Padaeng Industry Pubic Company Ltd, the only producer of high quality zinc in South East Asia which has enabled Madhu Koneru, managing director of RMMI and executive director of Trimex International, to earn a place in the Padaeng director board. The unique strength of RMMI in a very crowded and competitive global mining and metals industry is the unique forging of ties between RAK Ceramics and Trimex, a multi-national minerals conglomerate providing turnkey industrial and mineral solutions. RAK Ceramics and Trimex hold 50 per cent share each in the venture that was floated in 2006.

“RAK Ceramics and Trimex have a long history, both in the Gulf and in the mineral industry. The companies share several managerial and operational synergies that have developed into a history of successful collaboration, which has in turn naturally progressed into a joint venture,” according to Madhu Koneru, managing director of RMMI.

Madhu Koneru , a graduate in commerce from the Delhi University, started his career with the Trimex Group, his own family concern in 1992 as a trainee. Three years later he was appointed general manager and became the company's executive director in 1996. During this time, he has also been a member of the boards of directors of Al Ghanem Industrial Company, Kuwait, and TJ Shipping and Logistics.

In his role as managing director of RMMI on behalf of Trimex, Madhu is focused on building RMMI into a world-leading mining solutions provider in the metals and minerals industry.

PVP Ventures plans major investments in power

PVP Ventures Ltd is set for major investments in the power sector with the proposed merger of Malaxmi Energy Ventures with itself. According to information provided by the Company to the stock exchanges, the PVP Ventures' board will consider and accept the valuation report for the merger by PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd.

Mr Prasad V Potluri, Chairman and Managing Director, PVP Group, told that with the merger, PVP Ventures will emerge a large player in the independent power projects arena. For PVP Ventures, power project development and generation will emerge as a major investment area other than real estate development where it has large projects.

Malaxmi Energy has a significant stake in two major power projects - 50 per cent in Navabharat Power Pvt. Ltd and 26 per cent in Simhapuri Energy Pvt. Ltd - which are in advanced stages of implementation with confirmed coal linkages. With the merger of Malaxmi Energy with PVP Ventures, the power projects would come under a subsidiary PVP Malaxmi Energy Ventures, he said.

Assets: Navabharat Power is a special purpose vehicle promoted by Malaxmi and Navabharat Ventures which is setting up a 2,250 MW coal-based power project in Dhenkanal district, Orissa. It has been allotted coal linkages and coal blocks. The clearances and approvals for the power project are also in place, he said.

Simhapuri Energy is a joint venture between Malaxmi and Madhucon Projects for a 540 MW (270 MW x 2) power project at Krishnapatnam, Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh. The financial closure for the first phase has been achieved.

Malaxmi Energy, promoted by the technocrat Mr Yarlagadda Harish Chandra Prasad, gives PVP Vent not just the assets but also an expert management team with experience in power project development, Mr Potluri said.

Future Plans: Over the next 12-18 months, PVP Malaxmi Energy would look at setting up power projects of capacity of 8,000 MW, which would be implemented in the next 5-7 years. The Company's investments in these projects would be around Rs 4,000 crore.

On the funding, Mr. Potluri said over Rs 2,000 crore revenue from realty projects over the next five years would be utilised for investments in the power projects. This money would be PVP Ventures' share of revenue from a 70-acre township it is implementing in Chennai jointly with Arihant and Unitech. Also, funds would be sourced by the SPVs for the power project and through strategic financing.

According to PVP Ventures officials, the Chennai township project (coming up on the former Binny Mills' lands at Perambur) is going through the process of approvals and the Company is looking at a launch around Diwali. In the pipeline is a 1,300-acre residential project in Hyderabad, near the international airport. The Company also has lands in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam, where more developments are planned.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sharath, Humpy to receive award

CHENNAI: The Raja-Lakshmi award for the year 2008 will be presented to table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal and chess player Koneru Humpy on November 19 in the city, a release from the Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation said.

The award carries prize money of Rs. 1 lakh, a citation and a memento. The awardees will also receive the Dr. K.V. Rao and Dr. Jyoti Rao award of $2,000 in association with the Telugu Fine Arts Society, New Jersey.

Harika wins World Junior Girls Chess title

Gaziantep (Turkey) : International Master Dronavalli Harika lived up to her top billing by annexing the World Junior Girls Championship crown with one round to spare after beating Narmin Kazimova of Azerbaijan in the 12th and penultimate round.

Harika took her tally to an unassailable 10 points out of a possible 12 and steered a full point clear of Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine who was held to a draw by Anastasia Bodnaruk of Russia.

Harika became the second Indian girl ever to become the Junior World champion after Koneru Humpy won it in 2001. Harika had won the 2006 World under-18 girls title and was unlucky to miss out of this title last year when she lost the last three rounds after being in lead.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Harika maintains lead

Dronavalli Harika checkmated Bulgaria’s Adriana Nikolova to maintain her half-point lead after the girls’ eighth round in the World junior chess championship at Gaziantep, Turkey, on Sunday.

The top seeded Andhra girl now has seven points and plays teammate Soumya Swaminathan in the ninth round as Indian girls kept alive hopes of bringing home more than one medal.

Research vision of a 'superstar'

Cancer the focus as work of Jasti Rao brings grants and attention to Peoria medical school
PEORIA — When Dr. Donald Rager was tapped in December 1999 to be the interim dean at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, the medical school presented him with a list of six problems they wanted the new dean to tackle.

High on the list was the level of medical research and experiments conducted by the college. Or rather, the lack thereof.

"The research efforts in Peoria were anemic," said Rager, a longtime Peoria doctor specializing in internal medicine, "and we didn't have a plan for the development of a robust research program. That was very high on the list of problems."

Shortly after his hiring, Rager set about creating an advisory committee, comprised of the college's senior administrators and department heads, to address the school's weak research endeavors. Though presented with a difficult task, it did not take long before the committee found a potential solution.

A few months later, in early 2000, a Texas-based researcher named Jasti Rao made a presentation at the Peoria campus. Then a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Rao spoke about breaking down cancer research around four basic mechanisms that relate to the spread and growth of cancer instead of focusing on details on particular growths.

The approach, along with Rao's personal ambition and caliber of work, wowed Rager. He began reading Rao's papers and learning more about his background and rising profile in the field of cancer research. Eventually, the school decided to bring him into its fold.

And, as chance would have it, Rao was looking to move.

"This was an absolutely extraordinary magical moment that he should come along at a time when we were talking about how to forward the research efforts in Peoria," Rager said.

In Houston, Rao worked on brain tumors but did so in a clinical setting. Because he holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and no medical degree, it was likely he would not head up his own department.

On top of that, his studies were being limited to brain tumors only, whereas Rao wanted to branch out and investigate cancers growing in the prostate, breasts and lungs.

Then in July 2000, Rao returned to Peoria and laid out what would be needed to draw him to the medical college.

"The specifics amounted to about a million and a half (dollars)," Rager said with a laugh. The sum covered new equipment and supplies as well as salaries for Rao and his research team. "And I said, 'Jasti, I want to recruit you in the worst way, so I'm going to try to find a million and a half, but keep your fingers crossed.' "

The money may seem like a lot, but in the nearly eight years since he arrived, Rao, a lean man with silvery hair who speaks with a thick Indian accent, has brought in roughly $16 million in grant funding to the area.

His lab, which has brought on 20 to 30 staffers, publishes about 10 to 20 papers a year, and Rao, now senior associate dean for research at the college, has secured seven RO1 grants - prestigious research grants doled out by the National Institutes of Health. Several million dollars in state funding also has been funneled to his research.

"In the world of brain tumors, everybody recognizes his name," said Dr. Ian McCutcheon, a professor of neurosurgery at M.D. Anderson and a former colleague of Rao's.

His name or face may not be known to the average citizen, but his advances in the field of medical research have been raising the profile of Peoria. Attracting talent, cash and name recognition, Rao's extensive cancer research continues to bolster the city's academic reputation.

"The bottom line is that this place is growing and we have the right people in the right places," said Dr. Dzung Dinh, a professor of neurosurgery at the medical school. Dinh, who lobbied the college heavily to hire Rao, said before his arrival little was being done in terms of cancer research. "He's the catalyst for all this growth."

In the coming weeks, the Illinois Medical Center, a $28 million project, will take shape.
Complex in nature, Rao's main work investigates the invasive characteristics of malignant brain tumor cells, which infiltrate normal brain tissue and can spread throughout the brain. By manipulating proteases, or enzymes, Rao hopes to inhibit a tumor's growth or possibly shrink it all together.

The experiments are limited to lab mice, but the hope is one day to bring them to clinical trials with patients. He is also investigating umbilical cord blood stem cells that could one day cure cancer and heal spinal injuries.

Part of Rao's success comes from his tireless work ethic, which involves long days and occasional work on the weekends.

"I get up usually around 3 a.m. and go to bed around 10 p.m.," Rao said with a straight face. But instead of wearing him down, his schedule seems to empower him. "If I don't enjoy it, I don't work," he said.

Dr. Sara Rusch, current dean at the medical college, said the campus is focusing its research in certain fields instead of trying to be all things to all people. Unlike the University of Chicago or M.D. Anderson, the school cannot afford to maintain research efforts in a variety of topics. By carving out a niche in cancer research, the college has a better chance at gaining recognition for its work.

"I think that's the dream," she said. "Over the next five, 10 years it should blossom."
That's a vision that many share, including state Rep. David Leitch, who called Rao a "superstar," albeit one who can walk the streets virtually unnoticed

"I tell him and laugh - but I'm not really joking - that I look forward to when he wins the Nobel Prize," he said.

Leitch, R-Peoria, said officials are still moving toward establishing a world-class cancer center that would give scientists like Rao great laboratories and facilities for their research. With better tools at their fingertips, Leitch said the future is full of possibilities.

"Who knows what he'll do next," Leitch said.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gullapalli and Associates and Stream57 Announce Collaboration to Provide Education to Healthcare Learners Through Online Channels

Gullapalli and Associates, LLC (G&A), an educational firm specializing in the development of collaborative educational strategies and Stream57, a leading provider of fully customizable webcasting and rich media solutions, today announced a joint collaboration to identify, develop and integrate unique new media learning formats and methodologies into comprehensive continuing medical education strategies aimed at healthcare providers.

Today's healthcare providers need to keep abreast of ever-advancing medical knowledge, skills and techniques requiring the rapid dissemination and adoption of evidence based medicine. The collaborative framework between these two organizations will deliver new and exciting ways of providing continuing medical education that leverage diverse learning styles and innovative formats and channels to reach and impact the healthcare learner.

Combining Stream57's cutting-edge webcasting and rich media capabilities with G&A's expertise in developing educational strategies with key stakeholders--medical societies, associations, patient advocacy groups, academic centers of excellence, and research centers - will result in more effective and efficient educational programs.

"We have designed and executed e-learning and training modules for numerous organizations, and have witnessed firsthand the successful results that these unique approaches can achieve," says Stream57 President Ben Chodor. "We're excited to be working with G&A to help extend these modern media formats across the healthcare industry."

"We are confident that this collaboration with Stream57 will allow the healthcare learner to more quickly and completely access, absorb and integrate the newly acquired information to better enhance the care and outcomes of their patients," states Dr. Venkat Gullapalli, CEO of Gullapalli and Associates. "Integrating the expertise of both companies ensures that healthcare providers receive and participate in practice-impacting educational activities that truly deliver measurable results at the patient level.

About Gullapalli and Associates
Gullapalli & Associates (G&A) is the leading firm specializing in the development of collaborative educational strategies with a variety of CME stakeholders, ensuring consistent educational strategy, goals and objectives. G&A identifies and manages a range of strategic partnerships, channels, and resources to augment the impact of the education provided.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dronavalli Harika to receive Arjuna

New Delhi 5, August:
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has decided to confer the prestigious Arjuna award for Dronavalli Harika (Chess).

Friday, August 1, 2008

Two track medals for Anjuli Cherukuri

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Anjuli Cherukuri of Salisbury Center brought home a pair of bronze medals from the open women’s track and field competition at New York’s 31st Empire State Summer Games which concluded Sunday in and around Binghamton.

Cherukuri took third place Friday in the javelin competition with a throw of 32.87 meters then matched that finish with her showing in Saturday’s pole vault. Cherukuri cleared the bar at 3.04 meters, the same height at silver medalist Carol Melice of Ithaca but used more attempts.