PSUs to utilize Funds for Corporate Social Responsibility made Mandatory A shocking decision towards implementation of transparency came from the government, when it made it mandatory for the state run firms to explain the under utilization of funds earmarked for corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects.  The unspent amount has to be used within two fiscal [...]

Infrastructure development firms are currently facing a tough time, when they have over Rs.15,000 Crore locked up in the ongoing highway projects. The reason of such lock up is the lack on the part of officials, who are reluctant to approve even routine cost escalations for fear of being pulled up by the auditor. Issues [...]

However India’s biggest capital good equipment company BHEL owned by the government is plannning a $500 million investment to build a solar cell factory in at Sakoli which is part Union heavy industries minister Praful Patel’s constituency Bhandara.Talk about how dumb you can get. BHEL hardly has too much expertise in the solar panel industry and with solar cells in massive oversupply,it is almost sure to lose money. However that is how things work with Indian government companies where investment is made at the whims of ministers rather than rationality and business sense.BHEL is currently trading at one of the lowest valuations in its 10 year history and its not a big wonder why. The company has benefited in the past as did other machinery and engineering companies from an infrastructure invesment boom. However those glory days are over for the company as it faces competition from the Chinese companies and decreasing orders flow. Praful Patel the minister has already spent a few years in the airline ministry presiding over the conversion of the state owned carrier Air India ino a basket case. Now its the turn of BHEL to be turned into a basket case as well.

At the time of independence in 1947, India’s capital market was relatively under-developed. Although there was significant demand for new capital, there was a dearth of providers. Merchant bankers and underwriting firms were almost non-existent. And commercial banks were not equipped to provide long-term industrial finance in any significant manner. By the early 1990s, it was recognized that there was need for greater flexibility to respond to the changing financial system. There was a need for these financial institutions to directly access the capital markets for their funds needs.So a number of infrastructure finance companies were set up.Some of them have become fully private like ICICI while others have been partly privatized. like REC and PFC.Besides a number of private companies have recently become big players in the infrastructure financing space like SREI,L&T Finance etc.Note with almost $1 trillion expected to be spent on infrastructure in India over the next 5 years,the scope for these companies is immense if they manage their assets-liabilities in a decent manner

Note corruption is nothing new for the Big 4 firms with another one PriceWaterhouseCoopers caught red handed in the massive billion dollar Satyam corruption scam.Two of the partners of PWC were sent to jail in the fraud which involved cooking the books for almost 8 years.Having a Big 4 auditor is a must for any well known big public company.However the reputation of these Big 4 continues to get besmirched with newer scandals.It does not take a rocket scientist to guess that bribes were involved as rules were circumvented and Corporation Bank top brass was also involved.Government Tenders are a massive hotspot of corruption as they are opaque and powers rest with a few.Lack of transparency results in massive embezzlement of taxpayer money.Corporation Bank.Note Relaince India’s biggest company is facing an investigation along with the oil and gas regulator DGH.Recently LIC Housing Finance one of India’s largest housing finance companies was involved in a scam as well alongwith top official form other PSU Banks for taking bribes.This resulted in a massive stock price fall for a number of these companies.Expect Corporation Bank stock to take a similar dive hurting the shareholders.Investing in the Indian stock market has become more dangerous than ever where a corruption scam hides under every stone.Government companies which are considered safer by investors too are being proved problematic with PSU CEOs now being jailed for scams.India’s largest aluminum company NALCO CEO has been jailed for accepting gold bricks in bribes

Power Finance Corporation (PFC) will raise ~$1 billion through a follow-on-public offer (FPO) which is the first divestment by the Government for FY12.Note the government of India has set a target to raise $9 billion through divestment of public sector (PSU) companies stocks.PTC India Financial Services another company operating in the same segment offering finance to power generation companies came out with an IPO.Despite advantages of growth,a good business model in India’s booming Energy Sector,the valuation of the company had been kept too high leading to 20-30% losses from the IPO price.However PFC does not have a high valuation trading for around 9-10x P/E which is comparable to the competitors like REC.However the valuation is not very low also keeping in mind the rising interest rate environment which is making life tough for the Indian Banks and financial intermediaries.Power Finance Corporation has substantial advantages of growth,a good business model in India’s booming Electricity Sector where the List of Power Companies are growing exponentially.The valuation of the company also has been kept at a reasonable level at a discount of around 5% from the prevailing stock market price.The growth of the company has been impressive but a rising interest rate environment,competition from other power finance government providers like IFCI,IDFC,REC makes the issue neutral.It is always possible to buy the stock later or buy competitors in the same space like REC.The stock is a good buy for the long term given the fundamentals,good business sector,however current short term macro problems does not make it a great buy currently.