Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Humpy won gold and Harika won Silver in the World Women's Team Chess Championship.

MARDIN: The Indian team met another nemesis in China and went down 1.5-2.5 to miss out on a medal and sign off fourth in the World Women's Team Chess Championship

For the Indians, Koneru Humpy played out a draw on the top board against world champion Yifan Hou while Donavalli Harika also did not disappoint on the second in splitting the points with Ju Wenjun

Humpy was the pick among the Indians and the world number two also won the gold medal on the first board with her fine 6/8 performance. Harika was the other medal winner from India to win a silver for her performance on the second board.

In the last round, Humpy did not let Yifan do much and got an easy draw as black with exchanges at regular intervals while Harika was her solid self yet again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Madhucon to set up Indonesia power plant

A consortium led by Madhucon Projects (Nama Nageswara Rao, Chairman) has received a letter of intent to set up 300 mw (2 x 150 mw) coal-fired power plant at south Sumatra in Indonesia. The mine-mouth project would be set up on a build-operate-transfer basis.

The project would come up close to a coal mine owned by PT Madhucon Indonesia at Dawas. This mine is expected to assure the supply of coal to the project and also offer significant cost benefits.

According to sources, the power project would cost about Rs1,800-2,000 crore. The company would achieve financial closure for the project in about a year’s time and would have another 36 months from there to complete the project. The company officials were not available for providing the details.

A special purpose vehicle would be incorporated to handle the power project and Madhucon Projects would hold about 65% stake in the SPV, while its other group companies would hold the remaining 35%.
However, Madhucon will have to sell the power produced to the Indonesia government-owned energy company PT PLN.

According to a communiqué from the company to the exchanges, the SPV would enter into a 25-year power purchase agreement with PLN.

The state-owned company has a monopoly over electricity distribution in Indonesia. Under the Indonesian laws, though the private companies are allowed to sell power to the consumers directly, they have to use PLN’s electricity network to reach the consumers.

Interestingly, the company’s Dawas coal mine spread in about 8,600 acre is expected to have significant coal reserves to the tune of about 900 million tonne.

The mine would commence production sometime in February 2012.

The company, which has a mining licence for Dawas site, would use the mined coal for its new power project and explore the possibility of exporting it to India.

Meanwhile, Madhucon Infra, a subsidiary of Madhucon Projects Ltd, is also setting up a 1,920 mw coal based power project near Nellore in AP. The construction of Phase I of 300 mw is said to be complete and is heading towards synchronisation.

The project, being set up by an SPV Simhapuri Energy, would enter into Phase II of another 300 mw sometime in August 2012. The company has applied for clearances for Phase III of 1,320 mw, which would commence activities in the second half of 2012.

Karuturi to Construct Sugar Factory in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Dec 26: Karuturi Agro Products, a subsidiary of Indian giant Karaturi International, (Sai rama Krishna Karuturi, Chairman) is set to establish a sugarcane factory in Ethiopia.

The factory, with an estimated capacity of crushing 7,000 tonnes of cane a day, is to be built in Ethiopia's Gambella Regional state.

Some 15,000 hectares of Karuturi land in Gambella will start producing sugarcane in three years, said Assefa Arega, manager of Karuturi's sugarcane plantation. The company expects the crushing plant to be ready in time for the harvest.

Karuturi is currently undertaking a feasibility study and work on the sugarcane crushing factory, including site identification, supplying and installation, will commence early in 2012.

The sugarcane plantation and the factory will be adjacent to each other, said Assefa.

Karaturi Group is one of the biggest flower exporters in the world and has its farms in Ethiopia and Kenya. Establishing a sugar factory in Ethiopia is expected to return significant economic benefits in terms of domestic demand and also for import, he said.

The Ethiopian Sugar Corporation is to import 300,000 quintals of sugar by February 2012 to fill the supply gap in the country. It is estimated that the sugar, mainly from Brazil and India, will cost Ethiopia $33 million.

Neighbouring countries like Djibouti, Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia rely on imported sugar, according to a local newspaper, and this dependence could reduce once the new factory comes up.

LaPlace movie theater completes face lift

New Year's brings a season of turning over new leaves and starting fresh. But this year, few can claim to be starting fresher than Vishu Mandava, owner of the Hollywood Cinemas 7 movie theater in LaPlace.

A pair of new high-backed movie seats await installation at LaPlace's newly renovated Hollywood 7 movie theater.

This past week, crews have completed the installation of hundreds of new high-back, rocker-style seats in the theater's seven auditoriums. And with that, Mandava -- who bought the then-neglected facility a year and a half ago -- will put the finishing touches on months' worth of renovations.


"Everything is new," Mandava said during a recent tour of the theater in which he showed off the upgrades. "We've replaced almost everything" over the past 16 months.


That starts with a renovated lobby, which Mandava connected to the Baskin-Robbins ice-cream parlor next door -- which he also owns -- to allow patrons to bring ice cream into the theater. It also includes the two new digital projectors recently installed so the theater could offer 3-D films, as well as a number of smaller touches, such as fresh paint and the like.


With the installation of the new seats -- which include leather headrests and cup holders -- the overhaul is complete.


"People used to have to go to (the AMC) Clearview (Palace) or to Baton Rouge to see 3-D movies," said Mandava. "Now they can come here."


Mandava, who also runs the Hollywood Cinemas 9 theater in Kenner, said renovation plans there have been shelved until he learns whether the locally owned Southern Theatres chain intends to go through with its plans to build a competing multiplex in the Jefferson Parish city.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Former Tennis Player Wins First Professional Tournament

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Saketh Myneni, a 2010 graduate of the University of Alabama, won his first professional tennis tournament at the International Tennis Federation's Futures Tour in India this past November.

Myneni won both the men's singles and doubles tournament, a feat not shared by many of even the best professional tennis players.

"I am really happy to have won my first professional event and I feel pleased with my efforts the entire week," says Myneni.

As a result of his win, Myneni gained 18 points to go towards his ATP ranking. Based on more recent tournament play, Myneni now has 21 points in singles play and is ranked around 700th in the world, says Billy Pate, UA's men's tennis coach. Myneni now plans to focus his efforts on increasing his ATP ranking so that he may compete in higher-level tournaments.

"My main goal is to play on India's team in the 2012 Davis Cup tournament," says Myneni. "My short term goals are to try and compete with the best athletes in the world, increase my ranking and also to stay healthy."

Coach Pate says he believes that Myneni has a good chance at making the Davis Cup team despite his current ATP ranking.

"Saketh's major goal is to play in the Davis Cup for India," says Pate. "He has a good chance on his current path and has certainly captured the attention of the Indian federation--the people who will make decisions on which wildcards to allow into higher level events."

In light of winning the India F9 tournament, Myneni credits his time spent at UA to be a large contributing factor to his success.

"Playing for the Crimson Tide has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life," says Myneni. "I got to travel and play in one of the toughest leagues in the country, if not the best. By doing so, it helped me mature my game immensely and gave me a lot of exposure. I also got to learn a lot about myself from the outstanding staff who worked with me during my playing time."

4G Identity Solutions Wins the Prestigious ET Now ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ Award 2011

An able thought leader and a successful architect of Identity innovation, Dr. Sreeni Tripuraneni, Chairman & CEO of 4G Identity Solutions has received the prestigious Indiamart ET Now ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ Award 2011, at an award function held at Mumbai, India on 28th November 2011. The award was presented by the chief guest Legendary N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys Technologies.

'Leaders of Tomorrow' salutes the spirit of entrepreneurship and celebrates the success of India's best Small and Medium Enterprises. This award will inspire future leaders to tread a path of success and triumph. The award will celebrate the success stories and honor entrepreneurs who have transformed stumbling blocks into stepping stones driven by their passion,Determination and undying spirit of entrepreneurship.

More than 50,000 nominations have been received across 13 different categories for the Leaders of Tomorrow Award 2011 and after thorough review of the nominations by the process experts Ernst & Young around 70 companies per category have been shortlisted, which were invited for the preliminary jury round. After the preliminary jury round, 5 companies per each category have been invited for the final jury round. The award is decided by a diverse panel of independent, impartial jury from various backgrounds to execute the judging process headed by Mr. Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations. 4G Identity Solutions has emerged a winner in IT/ITES-BPO/VAS category for its pioneering vision, strong financials and the state of the art solutions and its impeccable project delivery.

On winning the award, Dr. Sreeni Tripuraneni, Chairman & CEO, 4G Identity Solutions said “This award recognizes our high standards of quality and the significant investment we have made in identity innovation. Our unrelenting efforts have resulted in implementation of national scale Unique ID solutions and improved Government services delivery. This honor acknowledges the pioneering efforts we have made over the years and I extend my thanks to all the people who have contributed in transforming the dreams to reality.”

4G Identity Solutions has also won “Aadhaar Excellence Award” from Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in Enrolment Agency category for its excellent efforts in Aadhaar Enrolment services. Dr. Sreeni Tripuraneni received the Aadhaar Excellence Award from Mr. Nandan Nilekani – Chairman, UIDAI on 29th September 2011 on the occasion of 1st year anniversary of Aadhaar project launch.

Holding The Aces

Live online rummy proves a moneyspinner for this company.

Deepak Gullapalli had a feeling that the cards before him held his future. He liked playing rummy and many a time as a Master’s student in Middlesex University, London, Gullapalli and his friends unwound with a game in the evenings. They were also online gaming junkies. It didn’t take him long to put two and two together and end up with an idea for an online portal for rummy. So in 2005, Gullapalli quit his internship at a consultancy, and came to India to set up Ace2three.com, making it the first portal for rummy in India.
 
Today, with 600,000 registered users, the portal owned by Head Infotech expects to clock Rs 25 crore in revenues this year. “We have tried to create the same user experience online as one would find offline,” says Gullapalli. About 8,000-10,000 tournaments per day are played on the website with an average 15,000 players logging in. The stakes: cash prizes of up to Rs 15,000 per day.
 
Though the Hyderabad-based company has a posh address today, it started in a small 100 sq ft room on the terrace of Gullapalli’s Hyderabad residence, where he and his two software developer friends started their “small project.”
 
Starting Trouble

The initial plan was to sell the game on CDs, pitting players against the computer. But a game where one played against the computer was difficult because it involved use of sophisticated software. Also, Gullapalli realised that rummy is more fun when playing against live players. So the partners worked on an online version where players could play each other over a network.
 
The Ace2three team built a basic prototype for two players in 2006 that they later upgraded to a multiplayer game. But there were still no plans to go commercial. “We didn’t have a revenue model then as it was only a play-for-fun portal,” he says.
 
The three friends had invested Rs 30 lakh but the money was starting to dry up. So in 2007, they started a subscription model where for Rs 200 per month players could log in for a game. But it met with little success. The slow internet connections, frequent disconnections and the game itself crashing added to their woes, says Gullapalli.
 
A loan of Rs 30 lakh from investors at mol.com, solved their money problems in 2007. And two years later, they received a fresh injection of close to Rs 1 crore from an angel investor. This funding brought stability to the business.
 
Yet another fillip to the growth plans came from an investment of Rs 7 crore by Matrix Partners in 2010.
 
With this they moved their server to Chennai from the UK to reduce the lag time (the time taken by the server to respond to commands given on the computer), although costs increased by 50%. “From 50,000 users in 2009, we’ve been growing 20-30% month on month,” says Gullapalli.
 
To handle the growing user base, the company plans to add more servers to the six it has currently. The company can now handle up to 10,000 users simultaneously. In the next two years, the addition of more servers will allow up to 50,000 players to access games simultaneously.
 
About 70-80% of the users of Ace2three.com, play for fun, while a small percentage of them play for cash (between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000). Only 20% of the players take part in cash tournaments where the players have a prize pool, Ace2three charges a 10% fee—the site’s sole source of revenue. The tournaments can have a minimum of two and a maximum of 1,000 players. The lowest prize pool for a tournament is Rs 100.
 
All users are given an Ace2three virtual wallet and chips. They settle dues via credit cards or bank accounts. Unlike other online portals, the gaming site does not have any advertising revenues. “We don’t want the customer’s focus to be away from the website,” says Gullapalli.

On The Cards

Avnish Bajaj, CEO, Matrix Partners, believes the market for online gaming is huge. “Our research shows that almost 100 million have played rummy [offline],” he says. “Currently Ace2three has penetrated less than 5% of the market, so they have a huge market ahead of them. And for any nascent industry, 5-10% is good penetration,” he adds.

Though there are plenty of competitors like Games 24X7, rummy.com, zapak.com and ibibo, Ace2three is confident of growth.

To attract more users, the portal is planning to introduce more regional variants of rummy along with other games of skill like Bridge. With these new offerings, they hope to hit the 1.5 million registration mark by March 2012. Then, revenue will be Rs 50-60 crore by FY12-13.

In 2012, Ace2three intends to design games for Facebook and launch apps for the iPhone and Android. As they scale up, more challenges are bound to show, but the founders are confident that they are holding the right cards.