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Founder's Message

Founder
MR M.R. JAISHANKAR
CMD
"2016 has been a challenging year so far for companies, the state, the country & the world. Most countries in the world are struggling with troubled economies. The silver lining seems to be, United States, whose GDP is growing at a healthy rate of 3%, plus considering it is the largest economy contributing to 25% of the world’s economy. Though China’s GDP is growing at 6.5% & India’s at 7.5%, both countries have the problem of excess manufacturing capacities which were built to meet the expected demand of higher growth rates. India’s growth rate is questionable after the government changed the base data for calculations. What is surprising & distressing is that the State of Karnataka, generally considered as a progressive state, had a growth rate of 6.5% last year, which is below the national average.

The Central Budget - 2016, in general, was a commendable exercise by the Finance Minister. He was able to deftly handle many difficult issues. Thanks to the benefit the country is deriving from low oil prices in the international market, we can only hope that industrial growth picks up the way it is expected by the Government. It is sad that most State Government’s are not keeping pace with the vision of the Prime Minister and the efforts of the Central Government, to give a bigger push to the Indian economy.

The Central Budget has done its bit to give a push to the Real Estate Sector, particularly to affordable housing. So also, the much talked about Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), which should help unlock a lot of capital for commercial property developers and help bring in foreign exchange to the country. However, the concept of Smart Cities requires more clarity and much more fund allocation for the initiative to succeed.

Real estate sector continues to be plagued by excessive taxes, duties, charges under various heads by the Central, State & Civic Governments, resulting in an impact of more than 30% of the product price (whether it is affordable housing or otherwise) incurred by the consumer. To realise the dream of ‘Housing for All’ by 2022, an essential element is to reduce the numerous taxes and charges on the housing sector.

5 State Governments are in election mode. The results are important to the present Government at the Centre to implement many major policy initiatives – GST for example. One wonders why so much of governance time is lost due for conducting elections at the Centre, State & Civic bodies at different times? If elections are held together for all, huge saving of resources and time could be achieved. The Indian election commission has the capability & has already excelled in conducting National & State elections very efficiently.

With bank interest rates in the downward mode, if the ruling party in the Centre does well in the State elections & gains majority in the Rajya Sabha, and if the country receives good monsoon during the next few months, there is no reason why the consumer & investment sentiment should not change for the better very quickly. With this hope, optimism for the future continues."
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ARCHIVE INDEX
"A few thoughts…" is a column that our CMD Mr M.R. Jaishankar writes regularly for our house journal Brigade Insight. A few of his columns are reproduced here."
April 2014

THE hot news, transformational in nature, which is on everyone’s mind, is the kind of electorate support the Aam Aadmi Party received in the Delhi Assembly elections. One could see the freshness of their approach, genuineness in their statements and a desire for change by the citizens of Delhi. I only hope and wish AAP succeeds in administration, if they agree to form the government.

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Very unfortunately, in the last few years, the Indian economy has lost direction and has slid in importance and stature in the world economy. The only possibility of regaining the lost credibility would be to have a strong leadership and a stable government which cares for the nation and its people. I hope the April-May 2014 elections will bring such a government in to the Parliament.

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In the last two to three months, the Central Government has taken some positive policy steps, though only after getting pushed against the wall. Investors, always eager for positive news, have lapped it up. The silver lining, of course, is the appointment of a very forward looking and intelligent RBI Governor—Mr Raghuram Rajan.

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Brigade Cosmopolis on Whitefield Main Road, our joint venture residential apartment project with GIC (Govt of Singapore Investment Corporation), was launched in October. It has been very well received by customers. Brigade Symphony on KRS Road in Mysore, a well planned residential project with plentiful amenities and large open spaces, has received a similarly satisfying response.

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The first phase of our large Affordable Value Homes project—Brigade Meadows, next to Art of Living in South Bangalore—is nearing completion. It is good to know that CNBC Awaaz has recognised the project as the 'Best' in its category. This should auger well for the launch of the second phase, to begin shortly.

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Brigade Group has recently introduced ESOPs (Employee Stock Options), to begin with, to its middle- and senior-level managers. It is probably the first initiative of its kind among Real Estate Developers in the country and one hopes it helps in motivating the staff to perform better.

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I am glad Mr Aroon Raman, Wharton educated industrialist and fiction writer, has joined the Board of Brigade Enterprises Ltd as an Independent Director, in place of the late Dr A. Ramakrishna. The Group will surely benefit from his guidance and support.

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Our corporate philanthropic support to the Centre for Indian Music Experience or IME (an interactive museum of music coming up in South Bangalore) is certainly helping to speed up project completion. The base building was unveiled by the Chief Minister Sri Siddaramaiah, in the presence of Sri S. M. Krishna, MP, and Sri Ananthkumar, MP.

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As 2014 approaches, I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



April 2013

BY the time this issue reaches its readers, suspense over the Karnataka Assembly Elections will be over. I hope and pray we get a stable government which can give us good governance. The patient and hospitable citizens of Karnataka deserve a government that cares about the development of the State and the welfare of its people. Going by past experience, is this a case of wishful thinking and expecting too much?

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The political situation in the Centre is a cause for even greater concern. In another year, if not earlier, the nation will go to the polls to elect a new government. So we are sure to witness all kinds of permutations and combinations amongst the political parties, with the common purpose of unseating the current government. Narendra Modi gives us hope, but it remains to be seen whether internal NDA politics will trouble him more than his competitors. His performance at the India Today Conclave was brilliant.

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After allowing the steadily growing economy to slide, our government seems to have woken up from a deep slumber. They are making the right noises and pronouncements. Investors and businessmen would want the feel good factor to come back. Whether it is too little, too late, is the question. International money is fungible. International investors don't have patience or any special love for India. Although India, with its vast population, has tremendous potential, erratic policies of the government can lead to the flight of capital. Political uncertainty for the next one year will certainly not help our cause.

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The silver lining for Indian business may come from positive developments elsewhere. With the US economy showing signs of recovery and the worst being over in Europe and Japan, the world economy is more likely to bounce back than slide. The decrease in prices of gold and oil is a definite indicator of better times ahead. How much of a rub off effect it will have on India remains to be seen.

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I tend to feel that big brother China has taken undue advantage of our country's political instability. We are left with the impression of being surrounded on all sides by them. On the east, they have control over 
two strategic islands in the Bay of Bengal near the Andaman Islands, thanks to Burma. On the west, they plan to build a highway cutting across Pakistan to access the Arabian Sea. On the south, they have entered Sri Lanka. It is extremely important that our government protects the sovereignty of the nation.

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2013 should be a better year for Brigade Group; having launched a few projects already and with the imminent launch of several more projects in the Whitefield area. After much effort, we entered the Hyderabad market with the launch of premium apartments—Brigade at No. 7—in the prime Banjara Hills area.

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As part of our CSR and neighbourhood improvement initiative, we redeveloped the 3-acre BBMP Park, adjacent to the 17th Cross Malleswaram over-bridge. The newly greened and developed park has been well appreciated by its many users. The 5-acre open space on the other side of the bridge is being developed into a nice playground for multipurpose activities. This will be especially enjoyed by children. Incidentally, while on the subject of children, our Brigade Foundation is amongst the first to have embraced RTE students in all its three schools.

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What commitment, determination and innovation can do to urban living is aptly demonstrated by the city Medellin in Colombia, South America. Let us hope against hope that Bangalore will experience a similar reinvention, to make it “a greater city than any other city and a city of the future”, in the words of our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.



April 2011

Having entered our 25th year of operations, after a lot of internal deliberations, I am happy to release the organisation’s Shared Vision and Mission statements and Core Values. This should stand in good stead for the decade ahead and give Brigadiers a clear sense of direction, enabling them to work with a unified sense of purpose and to achieve set goals and objectives. Every Brigadier has to remember and constantly remind oneself of Brigade Group’s core values and ensure these shared values are not compromised in any way.

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Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, which had its soft opening in mid-March, has received very encouraging feedback from guests and industry professionals. This well-appointed 230-room, 5-star deluxe hotel with six F&B outlets and a 1000-seater banquet hall, is bound to be amongst the best hotels in Bangalore, and will be the pre-eminent Sheraton Hotel in the country. General Manager Martin Wuethrich from Switzerland and Executive Chef Gustavo Maurelli from Italy will bring their international expertise to lead Sheraton Bangalore in the path of success.

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It is a fantastic achievement by the Indian Cricket Team to have won the ODI World Cup, after a gap of 28 years. It is very difficult to live up to expectations, having been the favourites to win the Cup. The credit undoubtedly goes to the players for their outstanding teamwork, superb leadership of Captain Dhoni and Coach Kirsten, and performing when it mattered most in the knock-out stage. Many analogies can be drawn to the corporate world from the strategies adopted in winning the Cup.

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India’s 2011 provisional census figures, indicating a population of 1.2 billion+, is certainly a cause for worry, and not celebration. Speedy urbanisation is a matter of great concern to city planners. Meeting the infrastructural needs of the growing population will be a huge, daunting task. Our planners have to work overtime to ensure that demand for space and services are met, if one has to stop proliferation of slums in urban centres. There is a great need to decentralise growth by ensuring development of each and every district and taluk centre.

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The Karnataka State and Central budgets for 2011 have been passed. Unfortunately, policies and tax rates are being tinkered with frequently, leading to confusion and a loss of direction to the business community. Real Estate hardly finds favour with the tax authorities. A few examples: in Karnataka, stamp duty rates on Joint Development Agreements have been increased by an unbelievable proportion and the VAT applicability principle in the construction industry has changed to compound the confusion. In the Centre, tax exemption to SEZ units is withdrawn by imposing MAT; Service Tax is imposed for hospitality business … the list goes on and on.

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Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign was much needed and, hopefully, will serve as an eye opener to the government and corrupt people. The spontaneous response to Anna’s fast from all sections of society was most encouraging and heartwarming. High corruption in society is what is coming in the way of India’s planned and sustained growth, and stopping the country moving from good to great. If people’s simmering discontent about corruption in every sphere of life is to be avoided, fast and inclusive development across the country is the only answer. Otherwise, Egypt’s Tahrir Square kind of situation is not far off in our country. If one determined Narendra Modi and one determined Nitish Kumar can make so much of a difference in Gujarat and Bihar, imagine what a small battalion of such people could do to the growth of India. By showing honesty and progress, if Nitish Kumar can get 80%+ seats in the Assembly (highest ever by any party in any state in the country since elections came to be held), why don’t other politicians realise good development will ensure re-election and continuance in power?
Let us hope for the best!



April 2009

The last 7-8 months have been the most challenging in this millennium. Economies the world over have been badly affected. Relatively speaking, India is less affected than the western economies and countries whose GDP is exportdependent. Indian exports comprise less than 20% of our GDP, as compared to 40% in the case of China and about 60% in the case of East Asian economies like Japan. Though, by and large, India is perceived as less dynamic and aggressive during the boom time, in the present circumstances, the country would be classified as conservative, wise and not greedy. Probably, the same rationale is applicable to Brigade Group also.

When will the economy recover to its previous glory? In my opinion, not in the immediate future, although one can say with reasonable confidence that the worst is behind us. There are several predictions that in 6–18 months, there will be a marked improvement in the world economy. A lot will depend on the US, which is the world’s largest economy, with its GDP 14 times bigger than India and with less than 30% of the population of our country.

The response by the developed countries to the global recession has been swift and substantial, which has helped in preventing the ‘recession’ from becoming a ‘depression’. Other than reduction of interest rates by 2-3%, the Indian government hasn’t taken many positive steps, as compared to say China, which is pumping in USD 250 billion+ to stimulate their economy. The biggest impetus to the Indian economy seems to come from unexpected quarters—parliamentary elections! An estimated Rs 10-15,000 crores is likely to be spent before 31 May. One shudders to think what kind of a fractured coalition of parties will come to govern us soon. We should all pray for a stable and progressive government at the centre.

As regards interest rates, since the inflation has been brought to under 1%, there seems to be tremendous scope and opportunity to bring it down further—at least by 2%. Interest rates should always be a function of inflation rate and GDP growth rate.

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The welcome news is that Swiss banks and banks in other tax havens are willing to announce the names of the account holders. If the billions of dollars stashed away by corrupt businessmen, officials and politicians comes back to our country, it will be the biggest stimulus package we would receive to revive the economy.

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Negative sentiments are on the downward mode, as can be gauged by the 50% jump in stock sensex in the last 2 months. But one can never be sure whether it is due to technical reasons and manipulations by the operators, or due to improved fundamentals of the companies. Even the real estate business has shown good signs of recovery from March onwards, though it is one of the last sectors to recover since the decision to acquire a property can always be postponed. But, a smart investor will treat the current situation as an opportunity to pickup good properties at reasonable rates. For those who missed the bus in 2002-04, this is the right time to buy.

As for NRIs, they cannot ask for more. It is a golden opportunity, what with the rupee depreciating by 25% in value against dollar (compared to January ‘08) and property prices having come down between 15-25%, depending on projects. Fence sitters are bound to regret it, if they don’t act now.

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Brigade Group achieved a major milestone on 4 April ’09, with the opening of its 4-star serviced residences, with the internationally reputed Accor Group managing the co-branded property: Mercure Homestead. The positive feedback on the quality of rooms, F & B, and facilities like gym, spa and swimming pool is heartwarming.

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June ‘09 will also see the opening of a second school—The Brigade International School—by Brigade Group’s not-for-profit trust, the Brigade Foundation. It is a boon for the residents of Whitefield and surrounding areas to get quality education with great infrastructure and convenience at a reasonable fee structure.

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Team Brigade is making all efforts to quickly complete our flagship projects—Brigade Metropolis, Whitefield Road and Brigade Gateway, Malleswaram-Rajajinagar—which are in an advanced stage of execution. So also Brigade Courtyard in HMT Township, Brigade Palmsprings in J.P. Nagar, and Brigade Solitaire and Brigade Citadel in Mysore. I thank all our customers for showing their confidence, patience and support. 



April 2008

Though the year 2008 started off well for the economy, the 'subprime' crisis in the United States and the short-term liquidity crisis (due to the Reliance Power stock issue) knocked the bottom out of the Indian Stock Market. This resulted in the sudden drop of Sensex by 30 per cent, as if to confirm the reality of globalisation and inter-dependence of the economies. The old adage—'If America catches cold, the whole world sneezes'—appears to still be true.

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Unfortunately, realty stocks were one of the worst hit and Brigade Enterprises' stocks were no exception. Only sustained, good performance can change the perception of the industry.

Although the Indian economy is doing well by and large, and a growth rate of 7+ per cent may still be possible during 2008, its inherent strength is under question. 

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High economic growth results in higher inflation. Although some amount of inflation is acceptable, there is no consensus among economists on the acceptable percentage. In an election year, inflation is a touchy subject. Isn't moderate inflation better than stagflation?

In the law of averages, details get hidden. While the general inflation may be 7 per cent, in certain sectors like construction industry, it is much more. The recent unprecedented 50-60 per cent jump in steel prices was a shocker. So also the salary jumps in the sector, which has overtaken the rates of software industry (this might make more students opt for civil engineering field, instead of the fancied computer science). All this is making the developer community think of introducing an escalation clause in the agreements, with a formula linked to the wholesale price index of the RBI. Otherwise, it will be impossible to absorb the cost increases during a typical 18-36 months' project period, that too after giving hefty discounts for pre-launch and introductory bookings. 

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Election fever in Karnataka is on a high! Kannadigas certainly deserve a single-party government and a better deal. The negative effect of the coalition government is there for all to see. Bangalore is losing its pre-eminent status as the best city in the country. One should pray that a single party will come to power in assembly elections in May. (But God helps those who help themselves). It is important that citizens should exercise their franchise by voting for the right party/candidate.

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Brigade has posted fairly good results for the year ended 31 March 2008. We will be launching a few medium-sized projects in the months ahead, and are gearing up to launch a few large projects in Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore. It is high time the master plan for the Inter-national Airport Planning Area is released by the government. Otherwise, it will lead to unplanned growth and unauthorised structures. No point in 'locking the stables after the horses have bolted'.



May 2015

The first 4 months of the new year witnessed Awards galore to Brigade Group's projects & its people: Brigade Meadows was awarded the Best apartment project in its category by NDTV; Orion Mall was considered the Best Shopping Mall in South India; Nothing gives more satisfaction than being recognized by ones own fraternity - CARE Awards instituted by Credai Karnataka considered, in their categories, Brigade Rubix as the Best Commercial building; Brigade Sparkle as the Best dwelling; more importantly recognized Brigade Group's CSR efforts as the Best by a Developer. At a personal level I was recognized for my Outstanding Contribution to the Real Estate Sector in Karnataka. Our CFO Suresh & COO Manjunath Prasad also got recognized by different organisations. Certainly satisfying. This should motivate all in Brigade to continue to perform well & exceed expectations.

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Post Central Budget, there is a sense of disappointment by the business & industry. Much was expected but the budget pronouncements fell woefully short. While the new government proclaimed 'Housing for All' by 2022, the budget contained zero incentives or policies to encourage housing. Affordable Housing for the Middle Class & EWS Housing for the poor certainly deserves tax incentives apart from favourable regulations.

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With inflation under check, by & large, lower interest rate regime was expected, but that has not happened. While RBI knows best what it is doing, lower rates have the capability to give the push the Indian economy deserves. Increased activity in infrastructure & real estate has tremendous positive impact on the core sectors of industry and will help improve our GDP growth. Our neighbour China is the best example of what improved infrastructure can do to the economy.

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Number of our projects have reached the critical stage of completion. It is a challenge our team is ready to face & working hard to achieve before Diwali.

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IPL cricket is growing from strength to strength. It has helped spot talent and has given opportunity to many cricketers to show their mettle. I wish similar efforts in other sports also taste success. A nation of billion plus people is bound to have the talent. Right environment & encouragement will help deserving sports people blossom.

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Unseasonal rains have created havoc to agricultural sector in many states. We should hope & pray that the country receives good monsoons in the next few months, which should in turn have a favourable impact on the economy.



May 2012

APRIL 21, 2012 was a red letter day for Brigade Group—the day that Orion Mall was completed. What sets this day apart as an especially significant milestone in our history is that it marks not just the completion of the mall, but, more importantly, the completion of an iconic project: Brigade Gateway. Both the enclave as a whole, and the individual components within it—Orion Mall, World Trade Center, Sheraton Hotel, Galaxy Club, The Brigade School, Columbia Asia Hospital—have set new standards in development. Brigade Gateway has set benchmarks for others to follow. The Orion Mall launch event itself was considered by many to be the best product launch ever in Bangalore. This milestone, coupled with shifting of our Corporate Office to WTC @ Brigade Gateway, should be considered a new chapter in the life of the organisation..

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Sheraton Bangalore Hotel @ Brigade Gateway received a coveted recognition at the annual HICSA Conference of HVS: as Best New 5 Star Upscale Hotel in South Asia in 2011. What is significant and very satisfying is that our Mercure Homestead Serviced Residences (now Grand Mercure) won a similar award in the Apartment Hotel category in 2009, making both of our hotel properties the 'best in class'.

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As they do every year, the Central and State budgets, in the first quarter, bring new taxes and reliefs. While the Karnataka budget was thankfully mild, giving relief by way of reduced Stamp Duties, the same cannot be said about the Central budget. Excise Duties and Service Tax was increased substantially, adding to inflation when the government is talking of reducing it! While 50 basis points interest reduction by RBI is a positive step, it is insufficient to boost the industry and trade sentiment. It is to be hoped that a further reduction in interest rates will be announced soon.

Finance ministry’s flip-flop policies in taxation, particularly with retrospective effect, has sent a scare to foreign investors affecting fresh FDI into the country. Retrograde legislations like GAAR will only make matters worse. The country has to stop the 1-step-forward-and-2-steps-backward approach to development issues.

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The mood among industrialists and businessmen continues to be subdued, with not many positive signals or developments seen in the national and international scene. With all the efforts being made by the European leaders, one is not sure whether the debt crisis bothering Europe (and, in turn, the world) is over.

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The power crises in the mid-90s prompted both central and state governments to launch many power sector projects, which helped improve the situation over the past ten years. Then complacency set in and most states are back to a power-starved situation. Power sector policy paralysis has only worsened the outlook for relief in the near term, which is bound to have an adverse effect on GDP growth. The not-so-encouraging monsoon prediction will be a matter of concern to all.

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A study by the National Housing Bank, published in Times of India on 21 April, says that real estate prices in Namma Bengaluru have been one of the slowest to rise during the last five years, in comparison to other cities. For the most part, Bangalore rates have remained at what they were in 2007. This should make buyers act fast in making their investment decisions, which, in turn, will bring some cheer to the developers.



May 2010

The Completion of Brigade Gateway Residential Block is a major milestone achieved. While significant completion has happened, the snag rectification of individual apartments and overall fine tuning is a challenging process, requiring great care and patience. The Brigade Gateway campus is looking better and better as it moves towards total completion. The Brigade School will open in June 2010. The Galaxy Club should open in a couple of months. WTC Bangalore, Orion Mall and Sheraton Bangalore Hotel are also getting ready. As far as I know, Brigade Gateway is the most integrated enclave in an urban centre anywhere in the world! The total integration of residential with offices, retail, hotel, medical, educational and recreational facilities within the city, is unprecedented. The convenience of living in such an environment will truly be a great experience.

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While the Indian economy has shown stability, it is getting affected by the shaky European economy. Mounting debt in Greece, Portugal, Spain and even Italy has started creating a ripple effect. I hope the governments in EU countries won’t let another 2008 kind of situation happen.

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Central and State Budgets of 2010 have come and gone without giving any relief on applicability of multiple taxes to the same real estate transaction. India could be the only country with the dubious distinction of treating purchase of a property under construction from a developer as: firstly, ‘transfer of property’ attracting stamp duty; secondly, as Sale of Goods under VAT rules; and, to make matters worse, as a Service under the Central Government Service Tax Rules. The desire to get revenue has made the authorities/law makers blind, with the result, citizens have to live with this unfair tax treatment.

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Brigade Group is trying to launch a number of new projects in all segments and categories—residential, office, retail and hospitality. But the procedures and the need to meet more and more rules and get permissions is making the process very cumbersome and time consuming…resulting in an increase in overhead costs, which negatively impacts on the product price.

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Our Mercure Homestead Residences will soon be rebranded as ‘Grand Mercure’ (a higher rated brand of Accor Hotels worldwide). Our Mercure property recently received an award—from the globally recognised Hospitality Consultants, HVS—for Best New Hotel in South Asia in the Serviced Apartment category! To cap this, the Ministry of Tourism has also given a 5-star rating for Mercure Homestead Residences.

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It is heartening to get recognized again by the well-known Realty Plus magazine as the Best Regional Developer (Residential) in 2010 for the Southern Region. So also by Construction Source India as the Best Developer in Residential Infrastructure.

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In the next few months, Brigade will concentrate on total completion of its many projects which are in final stages and sale/lease of balance stock of residential, office and retail units—apart from making persistent efforts to create new stock quickly. I look forward to continued support and patronage from our clients for our new launches.



August 2015

It is a fantastic feeling to be adjudged as ‘The Best Place to Work’ among all the Real Estate Companies in the country. We sincerely thank the Economic Times & the internationally acclaimed The Great Place to Work Institute for this recognition. It will certainly motivate us to continue to adopt & innovate, when it comes to people friendly HR policies. It is heartening to note our Group received a number of Awards during the last few months; be it ‘Hotel Owner of the Year’ at the Hospitality Leaders Industry Choice Awards, or the Best Luxury Residential project for Brigade Caladium and even those awarded to individual Brigadiers.

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The Indian economy is just chugging along. Unfortunately, the new Government has not been able to meet the high expectations of the people & the industry. Probably they promised too much in a short span of time. All said & done, ours is a complicated economy with too many pulls & pressures from all directions, apart from multiple vested interests. One can only wish & pray that our dynamic Prime Minister will ultimately succeed in his efforts to improve the growth rate and put the Indian economy on the right track. For too long we have been a third world country.

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While the government understands the importance of Tourism, too little is done to improve the inflow of foreign tourists with high spending power. With a population in excess of 1200 million, we have tourist inflows of only 6 million. That hardly works out to 0.5% of the population. A not so prominent country like Croatia, has a tourist inflow of 12 million with a population of just 4 million. The impact of tourism on Croatia’s economy & job creation for ordinary citizens is huge.

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Bangalore Citizens will elect new representatives (Corporators) to the City Council in BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike). Hopefully, the representatives who get elected will actively work towards improved Urban Infrastructure like better quality roads, traffic management, waste management & related issues.

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Recently, Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway was rebranded as Sheraton Grand at Brigade Gateway. It is one of the only 10 hotels in the world to be rebranded amongst all Sheraton Hotels, based on parameters such as superior product, service & customer satisfaction.

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We recently concluded Brigade Showcase, our annual property exhibition. The event witnessed robust support in an otherwise subdued market environment, thanks to a good choice of product offerings in different locations, apart from the Group’s brand strength.

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The Festival season is around the corner - Onam, Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid Ul-Adha, Dussehra, Diwali & Christmas - Seasons Greetings and best wishes to each and everyone.



August 2013

OUR country is experiencing a crisis of confidence. The sudden and sharp depreciation in the value of the rupee has caught the political establishment and the corporate world off guard. Why has this happened? To put it simply, it is because of complacency, deficiency in governance and a series of scams of very high proportion. When India was Shining with 9% GDP growth, the governing fraternity thought India was moving towards super power status and took the liberty of making a series of bad decisions and introducing socialistic schemes, which India could ill afford. With BRIC countries’ steady growth in the past few years, it was felt that the United States’ influence over the world had reduced. But the USA has once again proved that ‘if it sneezes, the world still catches a cold’ (this time by way of 'Quantitative Easing’). For India to get out of this mess, it is essential to focus on strengthening its economic fundamentals rather than trying to depend on FII hot money.

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However sound the intentions behind socialistic schemes like NREGA, RTE and the Food Security Bill may be, they are bound to adversely impact our country’s current account deficit—primarily because of our record of very poor delivery and execution, resulting in huge leakages. As a developing country, we are not in a position to fritter away lakhs of crores of rupees. If the same amount is spent, year after year, on employment generation projects rather than doles, it would help in self-sustenance of the poor. The old proverb of 'teaching a man to fish, rather than feeding him fish' is what needs to be done. The deadly combination of socialistic schemes of the central and state governments will have a huge negative effect on the availability and productivity of labour willing to work, in spite of our having a population of 1.23 billion.

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If the government continues to act on the basis of political expediency and the 2014 parliamentary elections, the only thing left for citizens is to pray for the economy to stabilise on its own and to also pray for a stable central government to be elected in 2014. Luckily, the people of Karnataka have got a stable government after many years of instability.

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In an otherwise precarious situation, a silver lining may be that Indian exports will become substantially more competitive and may result in exports exceeding imports, leading to current account surplus.

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Even at this stage, it is heartening to know that international investors still think the long term India story is good, due to its population and resultant demand, and the possibility of graduating from a developing country to a developed country.

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One needs to have hope. To quote Barack Obama, “Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty …. A belief that there are better days ahead.” Based on this hope, we in Brigade Group will continue to plan to start more projects in the cities in which we operate. The two recent launches—Brigade Golden Triangle on Old Madras Road and Brigade LakeFront in Whitefield—were well received. More launches are planned in Bangalore and Mysore in the next few weeks, and in Chennai in the new year.

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It is a nice feeling to find ourselves, for the third year in a row, to be amongst the Best Employers in the country. Economic Times and Great Place to Work Institute has rated Brigade Group as number 2 in the real estate sector and number 52 amongst all industries surveyed. Our ranking has consistently improved year after year. I sincerely thank the entire staff of Brigade Group for this coveted honour.

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After redeveloping the 3-acre Sangolli Rayanna Park in Malleswaram, another of our major CSR initiatives was completed recently. This was the development of the city authority's 5-acre land in Malleswaram West into a well-planned playground for track & field and other sports. The playground is aptly named after the founder of Bangalore, Kempegowda.

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The year 2013 marks the 150th birth anniversary of the noble soul Swami Vivekananda. It is important to recollect his words of wisdom in this strife torn world. In my opinion, only good economic development can steer us away from political unrest of the kind Egypt, Pakistan and Syria are experiencing. This issue of Brigade Insight is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda.

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Lastly, as major festivals—Ganesh Chaturti, Dussera and Diwali—approach, it is time to celebrate and pray for a happier tomorrow.



August 2011

How things dramatically change in a very short time! The three very significant developments in the last few weeks are:

S&P downgrading Credit Rating of United States from AAA to AA+ and the resultant turmoil in world financial markets;

Central Government’s clueless and immature response to Anna Hazare's movement against corruption;

Dramatic collapse of performance of Indian Cricket Team—from World Champion status to school boys team level.

All were avoidable and self-inflicted; due to complacency, arrogance and politics. But all the developments have shaken the world / country / establishment. It would take quite a while for normalcy to set in.

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India was on the path of recovery from the recessionary conditions of 2008-2010, till inflation within the country and multiple scams involving thousands of crores were unearthed. Naturally, an anti-corruption movement is required to cleanse the system, at least to some extent. While corruption is a worldwide problem and existing probably from the time civilization started, it has reached mind boggling and dangerous proportions in our country, which is bound to destroy us if not tackled now. I hope and pray a positive outcome will emerge from the spontaneous, tremendous and voluntary support the Anna Hazare movement has received.

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From the beginning of 2011, the mood in the real estate sector was one of optimism, which was expected to turn to bullishness. Unfortunately, due to the macro economic factors plaguing the world, cautiousness has set in. High interest rates have not helped the mood at all. I hope and wish there will not be any worsening of global factors and ratings. Due to the inherent strength of the Indian economy and latent unsatisfied demand of the past 3-4 years, pessimism is unlikely to set in.

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Tourism is one industry which can have a far reaching positive impact on any economy and will help in generating employment in the unorganised sector for the uneducated class. Statistics of just Singapore and Hong Kong make startling revelations. Singapore, with its 5 million population (size less than Bangalore), attracts 12.5 million tourists (2.5 times its population). Hong Kong, with its 7 million population, attracts 36 million tourists (5 times its population). Whereas, India, with 1.2 billion population, gets only 5 million tourists, i.e., a dismal 0.05%. China gets 56 million tourists and earns USD 185 billion a year (about the same as the entire annual export earnings of India). India has the potential to earn at least USD 100 billion (if not more) in a year, provided proper strategic actions are taken by the Central and State Governments to improve infrastructure and tourist friendliness. India has many, many more tourist sites than China.

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I am delighted to mention that Brigade has received 3 important awards in the last 4 months:

‘Economic Times’, in association with ‘Great Places to Work Institute’, rated Brigade Group as the 2nd best company to work for in the Real Estate Sector, and also as 88 among all companies in the country.

‘CNBCAwaaz–CRISIL–CREDAI’ selected our Integrated Township Project, Brigade Metropolis on Whitefield Road, as the Best Residential Project 2010 in South India.

‘Construction World’ rated us amongst the Top 10 Builders in the country for the 5th consecutive time, in a perception survey in which developers, financial institutions, architects and vendors, across the country participated.

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The festival season has started. I hope it brings cheer to the Indian economy and joy to its citizens.



August 2010

The most significant development of the last quarter is securing the license/franchise to rebrand our office building in Brigade Gateway as World Trade Center! With this, we join the elite group of 29 to own WTC buildings worldwide. WTC is the most recognised and sought-after business address anywhere in the world. WTC Bangalore is the tallest building in Bangalore (435 feet) with many unique features, including—for the first time in Bangalore—an observation deck. It should be operational in a few months. It is a proud and positive development for Brigade Group, the city of Bangalore and the State of Karnataka..

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It feels good to find a place among the Top Ten Builders in the country, in the perception survey conducted by Construction World, the most circulated construction industry magazine in the country. What is particularly nice is that we may be the only developer in the country to be nominated for the award for four consecutive years (2007-2010), from the time the awards were instituted five years ago.

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India’s GDP growth is right on track by achieving 8.8% growth, against the estimated 8.5%, in Q1 of 2010-11. While we have become a trillion dollar economy after 63 years of independence, due to our billion+ population, our per capita income is just over a thousand dollars—way behind the populous Indonesia and even our small neighbour, Sri Lanka, till recently a strife ridden country. While considerable progress is happening in the development of infrastructure in the country, it is always short of what is needed for the long-suffering population and India’s fast growing economy. The country has too many major problems to tackle—be it high corruption, whose tentacles are far reaching and growing by the day; terrorism in Kashmir; Maoist/Naxalite insurgency in Eastern India; increasing religious radicals even in Southern India; and, most importantly, the growing influence of China in Pak-occupied Kashmir and Sri Lanka. The answer lies in bringing prosperity to the population, thereby reducing the influence of extremist elements. From this angle, the motto of the WTCA (World Trade Centers Association, New York) is quite apt: to bring prosperity through trade; and peace through prosperity.

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The much-awaited direct taxes Code Bill, which promised to bring far reaching reforms in tax administration, turned out to be a damp squib. A mountain was promised; but a mole is given. The so-called simplified version is 405 pages long! Tax consultants and advocates will have a feast, for the next few years, from the confusion it creates and the clarifications to be given by the Tribunals and Courts. Businessmen and industrialists will end up spending even more time in non-productive work.

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KPL-2 (Karnataka Premier League) Cricket season will be held from September 16th to 30th. While the KSCA (Karnataka State Cricket Association) did well in pioneering the State Premier League concept in the country, it has fallen short in publicising, popularising and managing the event well. Their present efforts are not adding value to the franchisees. I hope the young bunch of Bangalore Brigadiers will better last year’s performance of reaching the semi-finals.

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The Galaxy Club at Brigade Gateway is ready and looking beautiful. It is a boon to the campus occupants and its members. The same goes for The Brigade School @ Malleswaram, in the Brigade Gateway enclave, started by our Not-for-Profit Brigade Foundation. The school has received a very enthusiastic response from the neighbourhood in its very first year.

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At last, our efforts to start projects in Hyderabad are on track. Our maiden project, Brigade Zenith, will soon be launched in the up-market Banjara Hills.

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I am happy and thankful to the Board of Directors for instituting a ‘Chair’ at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras to do research in the field of Construction Technology and Project Management. It will be in memory of our late Independent Director, Dr T. N. Subba Rao, who was always forthcoming with ideas and advice in the interest of Brigade Group.

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The festival season is on with Ramzan, Ganesha Chaturthi, Dasara and Deepavali—all in the next ten weeks. I wish our readers happy celebration and a wonderful festival season ahead.



September 2014

SINCE our previous issue, much has changed in India’s political scenario. Thankfully, a single political party, for the first time in 30 years, has secured majority in the world's largest parliamentary election. Sri Narendra Modi's win has surpassed the BJP's own expectations. The positive sentiment it has created can be judged by the way the stock market has reacted and from the poll results to Team Modi's 100 days in government. Our elected representatives have a long way to go in enabling the Indian economy to reach its potential and in converting expectations into reality. The challenge of making the 'elephant in slumber' run is huge; but it is possible, judging by Deng Xio Ping achievements in China in the 1980s. The Indian economy needs to be unshackled from bureaucratic controls and inconsistent policies. By implementing forward looking policies, the government should assume the role of a good facilitator, encouraging business and industry to flourish. One hopes the lack of a good monsoon will not adversely affect progress, given the historical fact that the share of the services sector in the Indian economy has been more than that of the agriculture sector.

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With a few exceptions, the effect of improved sentiment in the economy has not yet had a positive effect on the Indian real estate sector. In any case, due to its very nature, the real estate business is slow to react—unlike the stock market or gold, which are always regarded as alternative investments to real estate. But considering our Prime Minister's desire to provide 'housing for all' by 2022 (the 75th year of Indian independence), the potential seems to be immense. The task, however, is daunting. The government should also aim to provide clean air, clean water, good sanitation and electricity to the entire population. Why should Indians be deprived of the same quality of life that we see people enjoying on our travels to the Far East, Europe and America? Indian citizens certainly deserve better facilities.

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A significant development at Brigade Group is, of course, the understanding with GIC of Singapore to jointly invest up to INR 1500 crores in real estate projects. It is a show of confidence in a relationship that began with our joint acquisition and development of the Brigade Cosmopolis property. I hope and wish the association becomes stronger in the years ahead.

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The internationally recognised Great Place to Work Institute and Economic Times have, for the fourth consecutive year, rated Brigade Group as one of the best places to work. We have been ranked second amongst real estate companies and 87th amongst all companies rated in the country. It is a satisfying recognition of our efforts to create a good working atmosphere for our people.

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As part of our CSR, we have installed—for the first time in Bangalore—a pedestrian skywalk with escalators on Dr Rajkumar Road, in front of Orion Mall, for the convenience and safety of the general public. If we are to tackle the problem of indiscriminate pedestrian movement across our roads, the city should have more skywalks and subways, preferably with escalators.

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Responses to pre-launch bookings for Brigade Panorama, Mysore Road and Brigade Northridge, near Yelahanka, have been good. The same is the case at Brigade Mountain View, Mysore. We are happy to note that handing over of the first set of apartments to clients has started at Brigade Meadows, our large integrated project on Kanakapura Road.



September 2012

THE last few months have been event-filled and eventful at Brigade Group. In June, we successfully bid for a prime property of Hindustan Unilever and have taken private equity, for the first time, from the very reputed and huge sovereign fund of Government of Singapore (GIC). July saw the successful launch of Value+ Homes at Brigade Orchards, Devanahalli. To name a few more of the many significant events that took place in this period: we opened a representative office in Silicon Valley, through a tie up with Legion Real Estate; Orion Mall went into top gear with events; and another round of successful property exhibitions—Brigade Showcases—were held across India and abroad.

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CREDAI, the industry body, recognising Brigade Gateway as the Best Integrated Township and WTC as The Best Commercial Office Space in the country is the icing on the cake. I thank the leading industry magazine,Construction World, for their editorial decision to bring out a special supplement on Brigade Gateway. When the editors visited Brigade Gateway, they were so impressed with the project that they took an instantaneous decision to feature it in a supplement!

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IT feels good to get the recognition of Great Place to Work Institute for the second year in a row. Our standing has improved. On the subject of Brigadiers, I am amazed at the wealth of cultural talent in Brigade Group, which was wonderfully evidenced in the Annual Culture Fest.

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PEOPLE in the know say that most western economies—the USA and Europe—are recovering. The gloom and doom of last couple of years should soon be over. But unfortunately, our country and state are continuing to witness political chaos and rudderless governance. With a billion-plus population and huge internal market, there was no need for India to be in this position after many years of 8%+ growth. It is a self-inflicted injury; the result of carelessness, complacency and lack of vision and thought for the future. I heard in a talk given by Singapore's Urban Development Minister last year at the CREDAI Annual Convention that after their Independence in 1965, the vision of the Singapore government was to make Singapore like our Calcutta! (Yes, one may feel it difficult to believe this!) Singapore’s current situation shows what one can achieve with proper vision and a desire to do good for the country.


As if adding insult to injury, many parts of Karnataka are facing drought. The weather pattern across the globe seems to have drastically changed, making meteorological predictions that much more difficult. Care for the environment should be the top agenda for any city, state or country.

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THE demand for housing continues to be healthy, but is becoming more segmented. Still, there is a crisis of confidence in the way the economy will shape up in the months ahead. Top level changes in the finance ministry at the centre are expected to bring some cheer, after all the policy damage created in the last one year.

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THE festival season has begun. It gives reason for people to forget the tough realities of life and celebrate with their near and dear ones. We wish you the very best for the festival season.



September 2008

There is no dearth of headline making news in the last few months—worsening US financial crisis; Nuclear agreement; Terrorist attacks; New BJP Govt. in Karnataka; High inflation; Volatility in crude price; natural calamities & impending Presidential Election in the United States.

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It is amazing & unbelievable to see century old institutions which are revered in the financial circles—Bears Sterns; Lehman Brothers; AIG; Merrill Lynch; Washington Mutual, Wachovia—drop like 9 pins. Who knows whether the worst is over or yet to come? Greed to make more and more money with casino like operations & throwing caution to the wind has resulted in this financial catastrophe of humungous proportions, affecting each of us in some degree or the other. The magnitude of the problem is difficult to comprehend.

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The uncertainty of life has increase with increased terrorist activities. This is extremely sad. Before it is too late, it is time for us as a nation, as corporates & as responsible family members to take all required security measures to avoid being victims of terrorist attacks. The whole meaning of safe neighbourhoods and safe cities has changed with the ease at which fundamentalists are able to operate. If the government desires to ensure the safety of its citizens and desires to maintain the secular nature of the country, then it needs to take tough measures without bothering about the political consequences of such decisions.

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Full kudos to our 'Sing is king' Prime Minister for finally taking bold steps to conclude the much delayed Nuclear deal to enable us to produce Nuclear Power to meet our energy needs, without which our industrialization & economic growth will be severely affected.

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High lending rates by financial institutions have curtailed the demand for residential units and other luxury items. This can lead to a negative chain reaction by reduced demand for services and core sector products like steel, cement etc. This is also likely to bring down the country's GDP growth from a very healthy 8%+ to a modest 5-6% growth. For the economy to bounce back, it will take quite sometime. Even then, it would be wise for genuine buyers to take their decision to buy properties (but on floating interest rates, if one desires to borrow). Otherwise, year on year inflation of 8-12% p.a. will only jack up the prices of real estate in the medium to long term.

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A silver lining for non-residential buyers, in an otherwise gloomy scenario is that the rupee has depreciated by 20%+ making it attractive to buy properties and to make investments in India. Better to strike gold when the opportunity exists.

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With single party rule (BJP) in Karnataka, expectations for improved infrastructures & governance were running high. But ground realities seem to be different. Action on many long pending people is yet to be taken. Citizens are still hopeful of positive steps by the government.

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Impending Presidential election in the United States in November '08, and parliamentary elections in India (March '09), will be interesting to discuss and watch. They will certainly keep the media busy.

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Let me hope the festival season of Dussera & Diwali will bring some sparkle to our lives.



December 2014

I must say, our Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi has managed to put India in the centre stage of global politics. Through his deft handling and statesmanship, he has enhanced both his own image and that of the country. His address to the NRI community at Madison Square Gardens in New York, and also in Australia, is nothing short of a rock star performance. The BJP’s performance in the Maharashtra assembly elections is another remarkable feat. It is no wonder that Time magazine has rated him amongst the world’s top personalities in 2014. We all need to wish him well. The hopes of a billion plus people for a better life and better country rests on Narendra Modi and his team..

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ON the economic front, while the mood of business and industry is positive, this positive effect is unfortunately not felt at the ground level. Our GDP growth rate, for instance, is yet to improve. It is believed that the many structural changes that are being effected will, in time, give results. Since it is only seven months since the new government took over, one should give the situation the benefit of doubt. But if the economy does not start showing signs of growth by the time the central budget is presented in February 2015, citizens are bound to express disappointment. The BJP government is lucky that our country is the beneficiary of a 40% drop in the international price of oil. It remains to be seen how the huge savings in our import bill will be utilised for the development of the country. It is to be hoped that it will not go towards importing unproductive gold!

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EVEN when the economic activity in a huge country like India is not strong, cement manufacturers have managed to cartelise and increase the price of cement by over 50% during the last few months. This is bound to adversely affect construction cost and will lead to increased real estate prices over a period of time. They will make hay while the sun shines (in other words, before the government's Competition Commission can act or react).

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THE timely completion of the 256-apartment Aspen block, in the Brigade Orchards integrated smart township in Devanahalli, by our in-house precast construction team, is a creditable achievement. Brigade Group may be the only developer in the country, so far, to have an in-house precast plant. We are pleased to say that construction work at various Brigade Group projects is progressing well (though there have been a few hiccups in some cases). The coming year should see the completion of quite a few of our residential, office, retail and hotel projects.

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SOME more breaking news from Brigade Group: We will be making our maiden entry into Gujarat State with residential and commercial projects in the well-conceived and planned GIFT City—probably the first Smart City to come up in the country, as per the vision of our Prime Minister. As part of our customer-friendly initiatives, we have launched a customer portal and an online booking Platform, complete with payment gateway.

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IT is highly creditable that Brigade Hospitality's HIGH Ultra Lounge, on the rooftop of WTC Bangalore, has won the Times Food Award as the Best Lounge Bar in Bangalore in its very first year of operations.

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IN a moving ceremony, family members of the legendary musician, Bharat Ratna Pandit Bismillah Khan, donated his priceless shehnai to the Centre for Indian Music Experience, which is supported by Brigade Group, among others.

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OUR CSR activity to rejuvenate Sitarampalya Lake in Whitefield is showing excellent results. But it is a major challenge to stop the inflow of sewage. Cooperation from the civic authorities and neighbourhood buildings is sadly lacking.

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THE time to exchange greetings, enjoy holidays and celebrate family togetherness is just around the corner. I end with warm wishes for a joyous Christmas and New Year to all; may 2015 bring cheer and peace to our lives.



December 2013

THE hot news, transformational in nature, which is on everyone’s mind, is the kind of electorate support the Aam Aadmi Party received in the Delhi Assembly elections. One could see the freshness of their approach, genuineness in their statements and a desire for change by the citizens of Delhi. I only hope and wish AAP succeeds in administration, if they agree to form the government.

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Very unfortunately, in the last few years, the Indian economy has lost direction and has slid in importance and stature in the world economy. The only possibility of regaining the lost credibility would be to have a strong leadership and a stable government which cares for the nation and its people. I hope the April-May 2014 elections will bring such a government in to the Parliament.

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In the last two to three months, the Central Government has taken some positive policy steps, though only after getting pushed against the wall. Investors, always eager for positive news, have lapped it up. The silver lining, of course, is the appointment of a very forward looking and intelligent RBI Governor—Mr Raghuram Rajan.

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Brigade Cosmopolis on Whitefield Main Road, our joint venture residential apartment project with GIC (Govt of Singapore Investment Corporation), was launched in October. It has been very well received by customers. Brigade Symphony on KRS Road in Mysore, a well planned residential project with plentiful amenities and large open spaces, has received a similarly satisfying response.

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The first phase of our large Affordable Value Homes project—Brigade Meadows, next to Art of Living in South Bangalore—is nearing completion. It is good to know that CNBC Awaaz has recognised the project as the 'Best' in its category. This should auger well for the launch of the second phase, to begin shortly.

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Brigade Group has recently introduced ESOPs (Employee Stock Options), to begin with, to its middle- and senior-level managers. It is probably the first initiative of its kind among Real Estate Developers in the country and one hopes it helps in motivating the staff to perform better.

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I am glad Mr Aroon Raman, Wharton educated industrialist and fiction writer, has joined the Board of Brigade Enterprises Ltd as an Independent Director, in place of the late Dr A. Ramakrishna. The Group will surely benefit from his guidance and support.

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Our corporate philanthropic support to the Centre for Indian Music Experience or IME (an interactive museum of music coming up in South Bangalore) is certainly helping to speed up project completion. The base building was unveiled by the Chief Minister Sri Siddaramaiah, in the presence of Sri S. M. Krishna, MP, and Sri Ananthkumar, MP.

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As 2014 approaches, I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



December 2012

IT'S a great feeling to know that our flagship project, Brigade Gateway, continues to be recognised with awards. The most recent one is from CNBC AWAAZ: for Orion Mall, the WTC office building and the residential buildings—allconsidered the Best in Class.

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With the launch of our much awaited Brigade Pinnacle luxury apartments, we have made our maiden entry to the city of Mangalore. Similarly, with the launch of Brigade Serenity, we have taken the Brigade presence to Chikmagalur, which happens to be the home town of Brigade Group’s promoters. In Bangalore, we recently launched Brigade Omega, on Kanakapura Road. Bangalore will witness a number of new launches from Brigade Group in the coming months.

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Our association with Sporting Edge—an initiative of the legendary Australian cricketer, Steve Waugh—should be a great boon to the residents of Brigade Orchards and those living in its neighbourhood. Apart from cricket, Sporting Edge will set up Academies for swimming, athletics, football and basketball.

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Brigade’s 'Experience Centre', set up on the ground floor of our headquarters at World Trade Center Bangalore, in the Brigade Gateway enclave, is a one-stop-shop for marketing properties promoted by Brigade Group, across cities. I hope this initiative will be appreciated by prospective customers.

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Barack Obama continuing as the President of the USA for a second term is expected to bring stability to their economy. This should help Indian software companies, who have become the prime employment generators for the Indian educated middle class. This should also auger well for the property scene across the country.

Unfortunately, the political scene in our country continues to be unstable. It is extremely sad that an economy which was zipping ahead a few years back, is now limping along slowly due to complacency, lack of good governance and political fights. This ‘one step forward; two steps back’ approach by our government has hurt our growth badly, resulting in a widening gap between China and India. We, as Indians, are rich in potential, but poor in the ability to deliver.

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While allowing FDI in retail is a step in the right direction, the number of onerous conditions imposed is unlikely to bring the desired results.

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Narendra Modi's re-election in Gujarat for the third time has shown real development and good governance will be appreciated by all classes, castes and religions. This should be a great lesson for other states to follow; particularly Karnataka, which is continuing to suffer due to the political chaos in the state during the last few years. The saving grace is the availability of educated manpower, the good nature of people and salubrious climate in many parts of the state, particularly in Bangalore. This draws investment, in spite of the poor macro-environment.

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The Reserve Bank of India, in its wisdom, is continuing to keep the interest rates high. This, of course, may be helping in containing inflation, but it is affecting GDP growth. Experts feel the high interest rate regime is likely to continue for the next few years. We should be grateful for the spirit of Indian entrepreneurs, who continue to remain positive and eager to perform, despite a plethora of not-so-friendly policies and an uncertain political climate.

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Continuing atrocities against women in our country, particularly in the nation’s capital, are a matter of great concern. Only severe punishment and quick delivery of justice can help overcome the shameful problem.

Continents away, a culture of wild lawlessness seems to be making an entry into the USA. Their love for guns has created enough and more problems by way of inhuman killings. Despite this, no lessons seem to have been learnt, with the majority seemingly disinclined to bring about a change in gun control policies.

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The expected 'End of the World' as per the Mayan calendar hasn’t happened … thankfully! Mankind has survived. We can relax and celebrate—and welcome the New Year. So here’s wishing all of you season’s greetings and a great 2013.



December 2011

Reflections on Brigade Group completing 25 years.

 

ON 10th October 1986, the foundation stone for Brigade Group's maiden project—Brigade Towers on Brigade Road, Bangalore—was laid in a simple Ground Breaking ceremony. I started the partnership firm Brigade Investments, which created Brigade Towers, with the support of my family and two family friends. The firm was a single-project venture and the result of an earlier missed opportunity by the family to invest in a prime real estate project in Bangalore. It was formed with no clear plan or vision for the business, at a time when I was planning to diversify from the chicory processing business I had started in 1980, because of a serious industrial relations problem in 1984. (In retrospect, I should warmly thank the labour leader who created the problem!)

Brigade Towers, the first 14-storied building in Bangalore (and, at that point of time, one of the very few projects to market ownership offices) was an instant success. This was one of the few real estate projects to be marketed in a planned manner; ours was the very first real estate advertisement released in India Today! What was a one-project venture became two projects, then four, then eight … growth continued slowly but steadily. Then a lack of consensus on growth strategy with a partner led to the partnership firm Brigade Investments being dissolved in 1997, to be restructured as Brigade Enterprises Pvt Ltd in 1998, at the height of the real estate recession.

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The new millennium brought cheer to the real estate sector and Brigade Millennium—Bangalore's first integrated enclave project, launched in 2002—brought cheer to Brigade Group. We have not looked back since then. Of the 20 million square feet promoted by the Group since inception, 90% (comprising a wide range of projects) was completed in the last ten years. We are proud of every project we have executed, confident we have given our best each time. Many of our projects belong to the ‘first-of-its-kind’ category in Bangalore and Mysore. Our best project yet is probably Brigade Gateway, undoubtedly the most integrated city-centric mixed-use project. Nowhere in the world does one come across residential apartments, club, offices, school, mall, hotel and hospital, all within one campus close to the centre of the city. A fine example of the concept of 'Live-Work-Play', it is the perfect answer to many traffic-related problems in urban centres.

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The real estate sector is full of challenges, the primary one being dealing with multiple civic authorities. If one were to have projects across Bangalore, we would have to deal with at least eight planning authorities (before 2007 it was 13!), each with a different set of building bye-laws—not to mention another nine authorities for NoCs and utilities. Also, the business is bombarded with multiple taxes and duties. Ours may be the only industry where the transaction of marketing a house / apartment by a developer is considered a 'sale' by the state revenue department; a 'works contract' by the state commercial tax department and a 'service' by the central service tax authorities—attracting stamp duty, vat and service tax along the way. This is doubly strange when you think this is a sector catering to one of the basic needs of mankind: shelter. It is shocking to know that 40% of the cost of an apartment goes towards direct and indirect taxes. If this be the case, how will the government policy of 'housing for all' succeed?

After the 2008-10 recession in the sector, the second major one in 15 years, the developer community was expecting a boom in 2011. But the financial turmoil in the western economies and rudderless governance in our own country (leading to inefficiency and very high interest rates) has subdued business prospects. One can only hope that quick corrective steps will be taken by the government to avoid further slippage. A silver lining for the real estate sector may come in the form of higher NRI investments and improved earnings for the software sector due to a weaker rupee.

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THE nice part of the real estate business is the tremendous satisfaction one derives from creating a long-lasting edifice and in the contribution one can make to satisfying the home-owning aspiration of so many people. While developers should act as 'trustees' of the life savings of clients, in many a case it has become a huge challenge to meet the ever-increasing expectation of today's informed customer. Increased construction activity during the last decade coupled with overall improvement in the economy has led to a tremendous shortage of manpower and managerial talent in the sector—for which there doesn’t seem to be a solution. Substantial mechanisation is yet to happen; when it does it will also lead to increased costs. With India's trillion dollar GDP expected to more than double in the next ten years, I shudder to think how solutions to the complex problems facing the sector would be resolved.

The governments at the centre and various states should invest time, money and effort to upgrade the quality of town planning for hundreds of towns and cities in the country, which will help improve the quality of living. Chandigarh and New Delhi—and Brigade Gateway at the project level—have shown what good planning is all about. Improved quality of life and opportunities in smaller towns will reduce urbanisation and the pressure on utilities. But this may end up remaining a pipe dream with the lack of attention shown by authorities to urban planning and the redevelopment of old congested areas in the cities.

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The immediate internal challenge for Brigade Group is to launch and complete 30 million sft of new projects across seven South Indian cities. The Group will continue to focus on real estate and hospitality in the immediate future. We intend taking the concept of integrated townships to the next higher level in our Brigade Orchards project, near the Bangalore International Airport.

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I am very glad our Not-for-Profit initiative in education—Brigade Foundation— has made a mark in imparting quality education through its three schools in J. P. Nagar, Malleswaram and Mahadevapura, all in Bangalore.

As part of Brigade Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility, we will be supporting a Museum of Music (a first of its kind in the country), promoted by the Indian Music Experience Trust. To give back to society in our own field, we will also soon be setting up a Not-for-Profit company to take Social Housing projects to the urban poor. At an appropriate time, the company will also initiate vocational training and management development programmes in the construction field. I hope these initiatives will receive the generosity of the general public and will also help motivate others to take up similar initiatives.

I would like to record my sincere thanks to team Brigade, directors, shareholders, to our family of associates (architects, consultants, contractors, bankers, suppliers, officials in the civic authorities and government), friends, well-wishers and, of course, all our customers, who have shown their confidence and support in me and the organisation during the last 25 years and helped in shaping Brigade Group.

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With 31st December 2011 fast approaching, many will be happy that a most forgettable year is coming to an end. As usual, one hopes the New Year will bring good cheer and happiness to our lives.

I wish all readers a great 2012.



December 2010

In the last few months, the country has been riddled with scams which have shaken the confidence of people. Whatever little hope we may have had of an improvement in the moral fabric of our society has gone with the wind. Cynics have won over optimists. We have also been bombarded with WikiLeaks and the Radia tapes expose—which has not helped in improving the mood of the public.

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The saving grace in an otherwise bleak scenario is Sachin Tendulkar's 50th test century in cricket. The master blaster has brought tremendous joy to millions of people, making him worthy of consideration for the Bharat Ratna—our nation's highest civilian honour. It is ridiculous to go on debating whether Sachin is better than Don Bradman. In my opinion, both are 'greats' in their era. We should leave it at that. We should now look forward to Sachin completing 100 centuries in International Cricket. Just four more to go and he should surely do it.

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It feels wonderful to know that our WTC building is the 'Best Commercial Project of the Year 2010' in the entire country. The vision of—and meticulous planning by—the entire team has contributed to making Brigade Gateway (of which WTC Bangalore is a part) a unique and one-of-its-kind project…not just in Bangalore, but in the country and most probably in the entire world. To the best of my knowledge, there is no project in an urban centre anywhere in the world with all the components of Brigade Gateway: club, hotel, hospital, mall, offices, residences and a school.

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In September, I was part of the State delegation, led by the Chief Minister, to the World Economic Forum (referred to as the Summer Davos) at Tianjin, China. It is mind boggling to see the fast pace of infrastructure development that China is going through. Their future plans are beyond the imagination of most countries and their determination to excel in anything they put their mind to, has to be seen to be believed. Apart from true appreciation, one can get jealous of their development; get depressed with the lack of similar progress in our country, though we have the opportunity and potential; and also get scared at the might of our big brother neighbour who is breathing down our neck.

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Brigade Group completed 24 years of existence on 10 October 2010! As we enter our 25th year, we are gearing up to launch 25 new projects-big, medium and a few small ones-apart from completing some of the ongoing projects in early 2011.

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As we look back, there is a certain amount of satisfaction … which gives us the determination to work hard for a brighter future and to create a 'better quality of life' for our customers, who are the bread and butter of our business..

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Wishing you Seasons Greetings and a very happy, peaceful and prosperous 2011.



December 2008

The most significant happening in the last quarter is the manner in which Barack Obama was elected as the President of the world's biggest economy, on the plank of promise of CHANGE. For me it was a moving experience to watch the final stages of the US election process and to listen to the high quality speeches. If one reads Obama's Audacity of Hope, one can realise what a clear thinking person he is. It certainly brings hope of a better tomorrow for the world as his views are full of sense.

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By and large, the last quarter has seen the stock markets world over getting battered, India not being an exception. Once the December quarter results start pouring in, the mood is unlikely to become better. The spectre of falling rates, increasing unemployment and tougher visa conditions in the western economies is not the fodder stock markets like.

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Unlike the bold 'bail out' packages of the US and European economies, the stimulus package/s announced by the Indian Government are at best knee-jerk reactions which are unlikely to have a significant positive impact. What is required is an extraordinary response to an extraordinary situation. Also required is a major initiative to spend US $50 to $100 billion on infrastructural projects like building highways—completing the golden quadrilateral and networking other roads that will generate large employment and improve the core sectors. Why not a 'Great Wall of India' bordering our problematic neighbours, which will also help in reducing infiltration? The three most important sectors of the old economy are agriculture, automobiles and construction. In the new economy unquestionably it is the IT sector. All these sectors require great support if the government is even half serious about improving the state of the economy.

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The November terrorist attack in Mumbai is the most heinous and boldest ever, exposing all the chinks in our armour. It has made the citizens angry, dumbfounded and helpless. Many political leaders were behaving like Nero when Mumbai was under attack.

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If the government does not ACT now by taking measures similar to what United States took post 9/11, I do not know what will make them move. The time has come to stop barking and start biting when driven to do so.

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In an otherwise gloomy quarter, the highlight event for Brigade Group is the recognition from Forbes Asia as one of the 200 Best Under a Billioncompanies in the Asia Pacific region. It is a recognition of the hard and result-oriented work of the entire Brigade team for the past two decades. My sincere thanks to the valuable contribution by our Board Members, the entire staff of Brigade Group and our associates.

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As the curtain comes down on what can be called as the most forgettable year in the recent times (from the economic stand-point), let me sincerely wish all the readers a brighter, happier and peaceful 2009.



December 2007

They say the number 13 is lucky for some. It was for Brigade Group! Our maiden public issue of equity shares was over subscribed 13 times on 13 December, the closing date of our IPO. It's a satisfying oversubscription, especially since the final clearances and permissions were received only on 30 November. In just 13 days (!), the IPO was marketed, issue opened and closed.

It was an interesting, challenging and taxing process—involving interactions with the media, stock brokers and research analysts; road shows at Singapore, Hong Kong, London, New York, Boston, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Bangalore, Chennai, Chikmagalur, Mysore and Shimoga; and numerous one-to-one meetings with major national and international institutional investors and HNIs.

Overall, it was a great team effort involving investment bankers, legal counsels (national and international), registrars to the issue, bankers, ad agencies, friends, well-wishers and our Independent Directors, who helped in tough situations; and of course, the dedicated IPO core team at Brigade, supported by all Brigadiers. It was especially gratifying that the Staff Reservation Quota was oversubscribed, which is unusual. Three cheers to everyone!!!

Being a listed company will increase our responsibilities multifold. What we say and do is under public gaze and open to question. It will be a great challenge to achieve quarter on quarter growth, due to the very nature of the property development industry. It will be my personal endeavour—and that of all Brigadiers—to work diligently to meet the expectations of investors who have reposed confidence in us, and other stakeholders like customers, associates and staff.

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Have real estate prices peaked? While one cannot expect the 40%-50% jumps seen during 2005-06, an average appreciation of around 15% per annum appears quite feasible. The real estate market in the country in general, and Bangalore in particular, is overall healthy, with the forces of demand and supply finding a good equilibrium. As long as the Indian economy continues to maintain the current GDP growth rate of 8+%, the real estate sector will continue to grow. Just look towards China to know what effect sustained double digit growth rates over a 25-year period will have on the economy of a country and the prosperity of its citizens.

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Infrastructural deficiencies and bottlenecks are the biggest concern of international and national investors and corporates. This will impede our country's ability to sustain growth, and good growth rates, year on year. While Indian entrepreneurs are capable of dreaming big and realising their dreams, they face bureaucratic hurdles, lack of vision and more particularly, insufficient planning and co-ordinated efforts by different governmental agencies. But for the quid-pro-conditionalities for the release for JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) funds, many civic authorities would not have been able to make the few improvements currently seen in urban infrastructure.

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The coming year will be very important, nationally and internationally, as major political changes are expected in India and USA. One hopes 2008 will usher in good cheer for one and all. Here's wishing all readers Season's Greetings and the very best in the New Year!



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