Saturday, January 31, 2009

MNC software firms step up hiring in India

At a time when top Indian tech firms including TCS, Infosys and Wipro plan to slow down their linear growth by hiring less number of people, multinational software companies such as IBM, Accenture and Cap Gemini continue to hire more software professionals in order to expand their offshore capabilities. Despite lower growth in revenues from top markets such as the US and Europe, Indian offshore vendors are seeing an attrition rate of 11-13%.

“Our attrition rate is still around 11%, which is not significantly down,” said Pratik Kumar, executive VP-HR, Wipro. “We find that smaller captives operating in niche areas, apart from MNCs, are still hiring,” he added.

Captive organisations of large enterprises in the US and the UK are seeking to increase their offshore teams in order to lower their operational costs. Tesco, the world’s second-biggest retailer, plans to add a few hundreds more professionals to its existing team of around 3,000 employees at the Bangalore centre.

“We want this centre to become the engineering hub for us, and there is a lot of scope for scale expansion,” Mike McNamara, director (operations and information technology) at Tesco told ET in an interview earlier this month. The retailer saves around $60 million every year by outsourcing to India. Captives, such as Tesco, are seeking to hire professionals with specialised skills, which is opening newer avenues for experienced workers.

“Openings in the IT industry are becoming more specialised and specific with people looking at roles which are very clearly aligned with their skills,” said Madhu Rao, country head, Allegis India, which is a part of the $5-billion Allegis Group.

In another instance, Atos Origin – the European IT major – has plans to double its workforce in India from the existing level of 3,300 to 6,000 in the next one-year. Accenture has already announced that it would be increasing its India headcount from the current level of 37,000 to 50,000 in a year.

GC Jayaprakash, principal consultant at Stanton Chase International, said movement among IT pros is happening more with the laterals and those looking at moving to a different location. Today, openings in the IT industry are more to do with specific skills and are for professionals who have experience of 5-7 years.


Survey reports 38% recruiters anticipate new jobs in 2009

Thirty per cent of recruiters anticipated new jobs to be added in 2009 while 9.5 percent predicted layoffs, according to a recent survey.

Over 40 per cent recruiters in pharma, IT, ITes, retail, telecom, banking feel that there will be creation of new jobs in 2009, the survey, covering over 1500 recruiters and conducted by, a leading job website, said.

According to the survey, 37.8 percent expected replacement hiring while 14.3 percent expected freeze on recruitment procedure.The real estate industry expected a 16 percent layoffs in the sector in the coming months.

As per the survey, the overall job index fell from 776 in November to 697 in December 2008, a drop of 10 per cent in new jobs. Overall, it implied a 31 per cent decline in new jobs since July 2008.

City wise, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata witnessed a decline in new jobs. Most of the cities saw a decline in jobs, notably Delhi - NCR, registering a drop from 841 in November to 697 in Decmber.

Mumbai moved up marginally from 692 in November to 717 in December. Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Cochin, Baroda, where jobs grew or declined by a small margin, remained less affected.


2009 world unemployment could rise by 40 million, says UN

The global economic downturn could see 40 million more people lose their jobs by the end of the year, taking the unemployment rate to its highest in a decade, the U.N. labor agency said Wednesday.

The number of unemployed in 2009 will largely depend on how effective governments' economic stimulus measures are, the International Labor Organization cautioned.

Worldwide unemployment by the end of the year will range between 210 million and 230 million people, the agency said in its annual Global Employment Trends report.

That is a marked increase on the 179 million who were unemployed at the end of 2007 and the estimated 190 million at the end of 2008, the ILO said.

The worst case scenario assumes growth slows rapidly and that an economic recovery will be delayed into 2010.

This would boost the global unemployment rate to 7.1 per cent, a decade high and well above the 2007 rate of 5.7 per cent and estimates for a 2008 rate of 6 per cent. Over the last ten years, the rate has ranged from 5.7 per cent to a peak of 6.3 in 2003 and 2004.

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said that although many governments have started to support their economies, ``more decisive and coordinated international action is needed to avert a global social recession.''

``Progress in poverty reduction is unraveling and middle classes worldwide are weakening,'' he said.

The latest predictions are based on an economic growth forecast of 2.2 per cent, published by the International Monetary Fund in November and expected to be adjusted downwards.

``Unemployment will rise with a downward revision, but I believe it will still fall within the range,'' said Lawrence J. Johnson, who heads the ILO's employment trends unit.

The report had originally forecast world unemployment would range between 198 million and 230 million people, but Somavia said the lowest estimate has probably been overtaken by events.

If the worst case scenario materializes, around 200 million more people would become working poor, unable to earn more than $2 per person a day.

In this outlook, the total number of working poor would be 812 million, or 26.8 per cent of the world's work force, the report said, using poverty estimates by the World Bank.

In 2007, some 609.5 million were working poor, 20.6 per cent of the world's work force at the time.

In addition to fiscal and monetary interventions, the world economy also needs creative measures improving the social situation of workers, the report said.

``There is a need to focus measures on vulnerable groups in the labor market, such as youth and women, who are most likely to be pushed into poverty and find themselves trapped there for many years,'' it said.

Governments should give special attention to small and medium companies because they provide the bulk of jobs and are most affected by the financial crisis, the report said.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Amercian Kodak to layoff 4,500 employees

Eastman Kodak Co posted a sharp quarterly loss and said it would cut up to 4,500 jobs this year after suffering a dramatic decline in demand for digital cameras and commercial printing equipment.

The report sent shares of Kodak down 25 per cent to a historical low, making the company one of the biggest percentage losers on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

The maker of cameras, picture frames and consumer printers and provider of commercial printing services, also plans another round of restructuring to cut costs, the latest in a string of such moves dating back to at least 2003.

About a year ago, Kodak said it had completed an expensive four-year restructuring that transformed it into a maker of digital photography products and printers. During that restructuring, Kodak halved its workforce, which now stands at about 26,900 people.

The company said on Thursday it would reduce its workforce by between 3,500 and 4,500 positions in 2009. Kodak late in 2008 had earmarked 1,000 to 1,500 jobs to be cut in 2009, and on Thursday said an additional 2,000 to 3,000 jobs will be cut.

Standard & Poor's Equity Research Analyst Erik Kolb questioned if Kodak's cost cuts would be deep enough, and wondered what strategy it can dream up to spur sales.

"They were late to the game in their shift to digital and they have been playing catch-up since," he said. "Now, given the deterioration of consumer spending trends, they are still struggling to turn the business away from film sales."

Since late 2003, Kodak has focused on the expanding market for digital devices and services, hoping to outpace the drop in demand for film. But the economy has soured, and consumers are scaling back on vacations and other events that typically spur use of photography services.

Its fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations was $137 million, or 51 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $215 million, or 75 cents per share. Kodak called the results preliminary because additional asset-related charges may be recorded for the period.

Excluding special items such as restructuring and legal costs, Kodak's loss was 8 cents a share, far short of analysts' expectations of a profit of 19 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates. Revenue fell 24 per cent to $2.43 billion. Sales of products like still and video cameras and digital picture frames fell 36 per cent.

"During the last three months of the year, we experienced dramatic declines in several of our key businesses due to the slowdown in consumer spending and significantly reduced demand for capital equipment," Chief executive Antonio Perez said in a statement.

The Rochester, New York, based company's new restructuring aims at "rationalising selling, administrative, research and development, supply chain and other business resources in certain areas and consolidating certain facilities." In addition, it will waive wage increases in 2009.

In all, the moves are expected to save Kodak $300 million to $350 million a year. It expects to take charges in the range of $250 million to $300 million for the restructuring, which is expected to take place primarily in the first half of 2009.

Analyst Shannon Cross said Kodak spent about $139 million on dividend payouts in 2008, adding that the dividend "must be at risk... given the substantial pressure on operating cash flow." But despite its desire to cut costs, a spokesman for Kodak said it has no plans to change its dividend.


Is Wipro set to hire 8,000 freshers?

Is the country's third-largest IT company bucking the hiring trend? Yes, so says the website ITexaminer.

According to a report on the site, Wipro is making around 8,000 campus offers this fiscal year. In an email sent to all freshers seeking jobs in areas such as technical support and offshoring, the IT major has invited applications for 15,000 seats, says the report.

In the mail, the company's corporate vice president for human resources, says that nearly 14,000 offers were made last year, with the students expected to join by the end of this fiscal. He emphasised that there has been no delay in new recruits joining the company, and that those who received offers this year are expected to join the firm within the next fiscal year.

Incidentally, for the first time ever, Wipro in its Q3 report, showed a drop in its employee headcount in the IT services business by about 1,100 as compared to the earlier quarter.

The company went down by 1,092 software engineers and 226 BPO employees during the quarter. Wipro had 96,965 employees as of December 31, 2008, which includes 75,385 employees in IT business unit and 21,578 employees in the BPO unit.

In the JAS quarter, the company had 97,552 employees as of September 30, 2008. Though volumes have grown year-on-year (y-o-y), the number of employees has remained stagnant at year-ago levels.

Tech giants NEC, Hitachi announce 27,000 job cuts

High-tech giants NEC and Hitachi said on Friday they were cutting up to 27,000 jobs as Japan Inc. buckles under the strain of the global economic crisis.

NEC Corp. said it was slashing 20,000 jobs worldwide by March 2010 - half of them regular workers - as it sinks deeper into the red. About 40 percent will be in Japan and the rest overseas, NEC president Kaoru Yano told a press conference.

Hitachi Ltd. said it would shed up to 7,000 jobs as it forecast a net loss of 700 billion yen ($7.8 billion) in the current financial year to March. It will try to move full-time workers around within the company to minimise job losses, company president Kazuo Furukawa said.

"We will take various measures but may not be able to avoid cutting some regular workers," he said.

NEC announced the job losses after saying it expects a net loss of 290 billion yen ($3.2 billion) in the year to March as recessions in major economies from Japan to Europe and the United States hammer demand.

"It is regrettable that we have to announce such a big downgrade," Yano said. "We must cut waste."

Computer maker Fujitsu Ltd. said its net losses ballooned to 36.1 billion yen ($403 million) in the nine months to December, and forecast it would end the year to March in the red.

"I have absolutely no confidence in the fiscal year 2009," Fujitsu chief financial officer Kazuhiko Kato told reporters. "I have no clue what the outlook will be."

Japan is in the midst of its first recession in seven years as the global slowdown saps demand overseas for cars, computers, cameras and other key exports.

A slew of gloomy economic data released on Friday suggested the recession is deepening, with factory output falling a record 9.6 percent in December.

Japanese companies have also been hit hard by a strong yen, which recently soared to a 13-year high against the
Layoffs dollar.

There was more bad news from the car industry as Honda Motor Co. reported that its net profit dived 89 percent to 20.24 billion yen in the fiscal third quarter as car sales slumped.

All Nippon Airways meanwhile said it expects an annual net loss of nine billion yen -- its first in six years -- as travel to North America and Europe declines due to the global economic crisis.

There was also fresh misery in the banking sector as Mizuho Financial Group posted a net loss of 50.55 billion yen in the nine months to December due to the global financial crisis.

Mizuho has been badly hit by financial market turmoil and losses on toxic mortgage-backed securities. A year earlier it had made a net profit of 393.03 billion yen.

The group downgraded its outlook but still hopes to end the current financial year to March in the black. It expects a net profit of 100 billion yen, down from an earlier projection of 250 billion yen.

"The dislocation of the global financial markets stemming from US subprime issues has worsened with the failure of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and has caused an economic downturn on a global scale," it said in a statement.

"As a result, the economic situation in and outside of Japan has been deteriorating rapidly."


Starbucks & AOL join in cutting jobs

Joining major companies cutting jobs as recession deepens, popular coffee giant Starbucks and internet services major America Online plans to lay off about 6,700 employees in the coming months. Starbus, which has reported a 69% drop in profit for the first fiscal quarter, has announced slashing its headcount by 6,000 and closing of 300 stores.

AOL chief executive Randy Falco sent an internal memo to employees about plans to cut jobs — 7,000 or 10% of its workforce.

Electronics parts maker Jabil Circuit says it is cutting 3,000 jobs mostly overseas, or nearly 4% of its work force, because of the global economic turmoil.

St Petersburg, Florida-based Jabil Circuit said about 10 of its global plant sites will be affected, and about 10% of the cuts will take place in the United States. It currently has 85,000 workers.

The company expects $55 million a year in cost savings as a result of the cuts, and will take a related pretax charge of about $65 million over fiscal 2009 and 2010.

About 3,000 Thai workers have reportedly lost their employment in the first month of 2009, while more than 60,000 others are at risk of losing their jobs soon, according to the ministry of labour.

Since the New Year, 50 private firms have closed, causing 2,863 employees to lose their jobs. Another 102 companies are likely to be impacted by the economic crisis, with 68,122 employees’ jobs to be affected. Of this number, 23,296 workers are likely to be laid off, while another 44,826 may be asked to reduce their working hours, director-general of the department of labour protection and welfare Amporn Nitisiri said in Bangkok.

In Malaysia more than 10,000 have lost their jobs since January 1, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan has said.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

VCs bullish on Indian IT Sector

The year 2009 is slated to be an interesting year for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists (VCs) alike. Even as the global recession continues to haunt industries, many VCs are very bullish on India. A global venture capital firm has invested a sum of Rs 20 crore in Appnomic Systems, an infrastructure management services (IMS) company.

Pramod Haque, managing partner at NVP, a global venture capital fund said, I know this time the recession is different and may take longer time to recover than earlier. But we see tremendous opportunities as an outcome of the recession.

I feel is it is good time to invest in growth equity sectors as the valuations are down. I see more opportunities due to slowdown. But it is true that certain VCs are following a certain trend in the US and fewer companies are getting funded today. I see that trend to continue till end of 2009 or early 2010, he said.

The Bangalore-based Appnomic with operations in India, Middle East and Africa will use the funds to strengthen its existing market presence, expand into the US market and further build out its innovative product and service offerings.

The managed services market is already a mature industry however, the offshoring of infrastructure management services (IMS) to India is still in its infancy. The market opportunities for IMS in India is predicted to be as large as the application development and maintenance sector, said Haque.

The growing pressure on corporations to better handle the complex IT requirements demanded by internal and external regulators is accelerating the need for simplification and efficient management of IT at a low cost, and we believe that about 75% of infrastructure management opportunities can be offshored, said D Padmanabhan, MD & CEO of Appnomic Systems P Ltd. Appnomic has the next generation technology, proven customer traction and seasoned team necessary to capitalize on the growing market needs.

The company started 2.5 years ago has 390 employees and experiencing a 100% growth. The company has about 23 customers in banking, Internet portal sites, BPO and remote management.

I don t feel why the Satyam (SATYAM) incident must dampen our investment plans since even in the US, the Bernard Madoff incident has seen a $50 billion fraud case in the US recently. So incidents like these keep happening but don t affect us in any way.

NVP has made significant investments in India over the years. In fact, we have made about seven or eight direct investments and about 20 cross based operations in India.

Recently the company has invested in three companies Persistent, Adventity and Yatra.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'Bloody Monday' sees over 50,000 job cuts

Tens of thousands of job losses were announced in the US on Monday. American economists say they expect the recession to worsen this year.

US heavy vehicles maker Caterpillar said it would cut over 20,000 jobs to deal with the challenging global business environment.

The company had earlier announced axing 15,000 workers in 2008. The people who will lose their jobs amount to about 18 per cent of the company's total workforce. Caterpillar currently employs about 1,13,000 workers.

Last week, Microsoft said it would cut 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months.

Research-based biomedical and pharmaceutical company Pfizer/Wyeth has announced a layoff of 20,000 workers while Texas Instruments will axe 3,400 employees.

In Europe too, more than 10,000 job cuts have been announced.

Financial firm ING has announced that 7,000 employees will be sacked.

Other companies that have recently announced job cuts include electronic giant Philips which will axe 6,000 workers and UK's steel manufacturer Corus which will layoff 3,500 among others.

Hoping to deal with the financial crisis soon, US President Barack Obama is lobbying for a quick Congressional passage of his $825 billion stimulus package.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Internet users rise 17 pc in 2008, says IAMAI study

The number of active Internet users in the country has grown by nearly 17 per cent in 2008 over the same period a year ago, a study says.

According to a study by Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International, India has 45.3 million active users at the ended of September 2008, of which 42 million are from the urban community.

"Urban users continue to dominate Internet use contributing to 42 million of the 45 million odd users," a study by the organisations 'Internet in India' finds.

In the same period last year, the number of active users in urban India was 36 million, which shows a year-on-year growth of 16.66 per cent.

"The growth rate was alarming compared with the rest in past years as well as with some other countries notably China where the number of Internet users are more than 250 million," IAMAI President Subho Ray said.

Study defines active Internet users as those users, who have used the Internet at least once in the last one month, which is an internationally accepted benchmark for enumerating internet users

Meanwhile, the study also found that the number of "claimed" Internet users in September 2008 was 57 million compared with 48 million of last year. Claimed users are those, who have used the Internet sometime but not in the last one month.

I-Cube (Internet in India) study is conducted annually by IMRB International and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).


Monday, January 26, 2009

TCS on a hiring spree; To hire 15,000 employees

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said on Friday that the company expects to add 15,000-18,000 people to its headcount over the next 12 months, compared with nearly 8,700 in the three months to December. TCS currently has about 144,500 staff.

However, CEO S Ramadorai said in an interview that the company expects to slow its rate of hiring new staff this year, as a broad economic downturn affects its global clientele.

Ramadorai said some contracts and projects were being delayed or cancelled, but the company expected to achieve some earnings growth in 2009 despite the worsening global economic outlook.

"We are confident of some growth, but what that amount is difficult to say," he said. "Yes, we are winning some contracts, but then there are delays in the decision making on a number of contracts," he said, adding there were hold-ups in implementing deals that had already been signed as well as several project cancellations.

"The slowdown is very obvious and very visible, and we think it will continue for the foreseeable future."

TCS, part of India's Tata Group, posted a lower-than-expected 1.6 per cent rise in October-December net profit on January 15.


UK firms eye India to beat recession

India is top on the priority list of many British corporate houses as many companies having business in India have been able to survive the economic slowdown. Now over 500 UK firms want to expand in India.

"We are no more just talking about India, we are here in India," said Sharon Bamford, chief executive officer of UK-India Business Council. The council opened its office in Mumbai on Thursday.

"India is in a better position than most other nations to face recession," Bamford said."Our survey shows that over 500 UK firms want to expand in India.

" Three companies, incuding architectural firms Benoy, Sturgis and service office provider Avanta have already opened their offices in India this month. Nuclear power generating and ancillary firms from UK want to be part of the nuclear power opportunity in India.

Seventeen such companies, including Rolls Royce, have met Indian government officials.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tatas to slash 5,000 jobs at Corus, Jaguar

Indian conglomerate Tatas are expected to cut as many as 5,000 jobs at their steel and auto subsidiaries in the UK -- Corus and Jaguar Land Rover -- in the coming weeks. About 3,500 jobs are anticipated to go at Corus this week itself, while Jaguar Land Rover is expected to see another 1,500 layoffs in the coming weeks, The Sunday Times has reported.

"Britain's largest steelmaker, Corus is poised to cut up to 3,500 jobs this week in one of the biggest blows yet to the faltering manufacturing sector. "Further large-scale job losses are expected within weeks, with Jaguar Land Rover understood to be considering another 1,500 layoffs," the newspaper said.

Tata group firm Tata Steel had purchased Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus for about 6.7 billion pounds (12 billion dollars approx.) in 2007.

Another group entity Tata Motors snapped up luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover last year for more than two billion dollars from American auto major Ford. Meanwhile, the report noted that job cuts at Corus are likely to "overshadow this week's announcement by Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, of aid for the car industry".

The UK government is expected to come up with assistance to boost the country's car industry, which is hit by the economic downturn. "It is understood the planned job cuts (at Corus) will come across the company's 23,000-strong British workforce, and are not expected to lead to the closure of any large sites," the report said.

Quoting one industry insider, the Sunday Times said, "This is not about site closure. This is about making Corus in the UK competitive".


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