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ISA WINWire November 25 – December 2 2011


Singh opens economy to bolster rupee as HSBC sees 10% slide: India credit

Source: Jeanette Rodrigues, Bloomberg, November 27 2011

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is taking further steps to open up India’s economy to support the rupee as HSBC Holdings Plc and CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets predict the currency may slide another 10 percent. Global funds may be allowed to buy company bonds without restrictions and foreign individual investors could purchase local shares, said Mumbai-based IndusInd Bank Ltd. (IIB) Regulators raised deposit rates for Indians abroad last week and allowed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Tesco Plc to take majority stakes in retailers. The rupee will drop to 58 per dollar from a record- low 52.73 on Nov. 22 on concern India’s current-account deficit will widen, according to HSBC. The 14.2 percent decline in the rupee, this year’s worst- performing Asian currency, is stoking price pressures by raising import costs and worsening a slump in sovereign bonds. Yields on the nation’s benchmark 10-year notes have risen 90 basis points in 2011 to 8.82 percent, compared with a drop of 22 basis points in China and 73 in South Korea. “Anything that opens up the economy is positive for growth and risk assets like the rupee,” Tim Condon, the Singapore- based head of Asian research at ING Groep NV, said in an interview on Nov. 25. “But the origin of the problem is not India, so the rupee and any measures that India takes are hostage to the wider world.”


India continues to be attractive for foreign investors: E&Y report

Source: The Hindu Business Line, November 28 2011

Indian economy has successfully weathered the global financial crisis, thereby proving its resilience and depth, suggests an Ernst & Young report titled, ‘Doing business in India’. The report explores India’s key sectors, investment climate, funding scenario, laws and regulations, to aid companies that are doing, or plan to do business in India. The study highlights that India is the second most preferred destination for foreign investors, next only to China which leads the chart. FDI inflows in India from FY’05 to FY’11 has risen 31.5 percent reaching a figure of Rs 88,500 crore. Mauritius continues to be the largest source of FDI inflows into India, with the leading contribution of 36%. Services sector is attracting the maximum FDI with a figure of 18 percent, followed by telecommunications (8%) and automobiles (7%). The report highlights that the aerospace and defence industry is an emerging market in India, with the Indian military expected to spend roughly US$ 80billion, over the next four-to-five years. About 65–70% of India's defence requirement is imported from global aerospace and defence companies.


India-born lead in fields of science and engineering in the US

Source: IBEF, November 28 2011

India-born in the US (25 years of age or older) were ahead of all foreign-born groups as science and engineering degrees holders in 2010, according to a brief released by the US Census Bureau. There were 747,000 non-resident Indians (NRIs) holding degrees in the fields of science and engineering. The number accounts for 18 per cent of the foreign-born population of about 4,160,000 with degrees in these fields. According to the survey released, among the foreign-born population, 24 per cent of those born in India held degrees in the fields of computers, mathematics and statistics while 22 per cent of them were engineering degree holders. India-born held 19.9 per cent of the degrees in the field of physical and related sciences and 14.6 per cent of the degrees in biological, agricultural and environmental sciences. In the fields of social sciences, psychology and multi-disciplinary sciences, India-born held 8.7 per cent, 8.1 per cent and 8.6 per cent of the degrees respectively. India, being honoured as the country-of-birth of science and engineering degree holders for 2010, was followed by China with 516,000 degree holders forming 12 per cent of the foreign-born group.

Semi industry vet Jim Fiebiger dies

Source: EETimes, November 28 2011

James R. Fiebiger, a semiconductor industry veteran for more than four decades, died Saturday (Nov. 26) in Los Angeles, according to a statement issued Monday by high-voltage IC vendor Power Integrations Inc. The cause of Fiebiger's death was not immediately known. Fiebiger was involved in the semiconductor industry for more than 40 years, holding executive posts at firms including a long stint at Motorola's semiconductor group and serving as president and chief operating officer at VLSI Technology Inc. According to Power Integrations, Fiebiger held other executive positions at Texas Instruments Inc., Gatefield Corp. and Thunderbird Technologies. More recently, Fiebiger founded privately held power semiconductor supplier Lovoltech Inc. and served as its chairman and CEO from 1999 to 2004.

Datawind to collaborate with students for software applications

Source: Business Standard, November 29 2011

Datawind, which developed 'Aakash', the world's cheapest web access device, has said it would collaborate with students to develop software applications for its tablets. The Canada-based company has invited innovative software applications from students for incorporation in its devices. “The selected applications would be pre-burnt in our UbiSlate tablets, which would be launched in the open market in January,” said chief executive officer, Suneet Singh Tuli, who was in town to address a three-day annual entrepreneurial summit of the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. Datawind would also award Rs 1 lakh to the five best entries, besides advertising-based revenue sharing contracts with the company. The company plans to ship five million tablets next year. While Datawind has committed to the central government it would supply 100,000 units of Aakash, at around Rs 1,500/unit, the UbiSlate tablet would carry a price tag of Rs 3,000 in its commercial launch. The subsidised Aakash is meant to aid learning among college and university students.

Manufacturing industry needs 'supply chain house' in order

Source: evertiq, November 29 2011

Still recovering from the impact of Japan’s Tsunami disaster earlier this year, the manufacturing industry has been dealt another blow as Thailand recently suffered its worst floods for more than 50 years. Driven by government incentives, and opportunities to lower costs, and reap tax rewards, manufacturing companies were lured to Thailand and the provinces bordering Bangkok. The result of which is the area has become the Silicon Valley of the Far East with automotive and high-tech companies now conducting most of their manufacturing processes there. Sadly, seven of the industrial estates bordering Bangkok are now under water, thousands of people are out of work and global supply chains for some of the world’s biggest manufacturers are under threat yet again. Whether we like it or not, disruption to the supply chain is becoming a common occurrence, and with the changing climate and natural disasters affecting the globe more regularly, businesses need to review their supply chains and risk management approach.

Chipmakers lose billions as IPad challenges computers: Tech

Source: Tim Culpan, Jun Yang, Bloomberg, November 29 2011

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad is the bane of computer-memory makers, worsening the industry’s losses as consumers choose the hand-held device that uses about 75 percent fewer of the chips than a typical laptop. Elpida Memory Inc. (6665), Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and other makers of dynamic random-access memory, the most common chip in computers, lost a combined $14 billion in the past three years, according to Bloomberg calculations. That comes after the $37 billion that researcher DRAMeXchange estimates they spent building factories in a bet on continued growth in the industry. DRAM prices plunged to a record low this month after PC shipments missed analyst forecasts and iPad sales reached a record 11.1 million. As the faltering global economy and Thailand floods curb PC production, some DRAM manufacturers may not have enough money to mimicSamsung Electronics Co. (005930)’s profitable diversification into specialty chips for smartphones, tablet devices and servers.

WSTS drops 2012 chip market growth to 2.6%

Source: Peter Clarke, EETimes, November 29 2011

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organization has lowered its prediction for the 2012 global chip market to 2.6 percent annual growth but raised its view of 2013 to 5.8 percent annual growth. The previous 2012 forecast from WSTS was for 7.6 percent growth. WSTS now expects the worldwide semiconductor market to grow by just 1.3 percent in 2011 to $302 billion – in line with other forecasters – followed by 2.6 percent growth to $310 billion in 2012 and 5.8 percent growth in 2013 to take the chip market to $328 billion. EE Times analysis puts the likely outcome for chip market growth in 2011 at between 0 and 2 percent. The autumn 2011 WSTS forecast figures contrast with the more bullish forecast of 5.4 percent for 2011, 7.6 percent for 2012 and 5.4 percent for 2013 that WSTS made in its spring forecast published in June 2011.

Europe proposes new conditions on research and development

Source: James Kanter, The New York Times, November 30 2011

The European Commission proposed new rules Wednesday that could make billions of euros of research and development financing conditional on any resulting inventions being marketed in Europe first. The proposal is part of a broad package of measures aimed at generating jobs and stimulating growth in Europe, and would need to be approved by all 27 E.U. member states and the European Parliament. The conditions could apply to parts of that package of proposed research expenditures, called Horizon 2020, worth €80 billion, or $108 billion, from 2014 to the end of the decade. The commission, the European Union’s executive branch, could “set additional exploitation conditions in the work program or the grant agreement” in specific cases where there was “very high investment” or where a “strategic interest” of the bloc was involved, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European commissioner for research, said Wednesday. “This should not be taken as the European Union or the commission putting forward a protectionist policy,” Ms. Geoghegan-Quinn said.

Govt to set up Rs 740 cr electric vehicle R&D fund in 12th Plan

Source: Roudra Bhattacharya, The Hindu Business Line, November 30 2011

With rising petrol and diesel prices making it tough to tame inflation, the Government is now planning a serious policy push towards developing alternate automotive technologies. A fund of about Rs 740 crore for research and development in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids is likely to find its way in to the 12th Five-Year Plan, officials connected with the development told Business Line. “This fund will be used in projects for developing new technology in EVs and hybrids along with the industry, foreign technical collaborators and other domestic institutions, such as the IITs. The industry is also expected to contribute, as the Government will only fund research and not manufacturing,” the official said. To be formally announced next month, this allocation is part of a Rs 2,541 crore budgetary spend on the auto sector across the Plan period. It also follows the Government's Budget 2010-11 announcement of forming a ‘National Mission for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles' with the industry and academia.

ST-Ericsson hires new CEO

Source: EETimes, November 30 2011

ST-Ericsson, a mobile chip joint-venture of STMicroelectronics and Ericsson, has appointed Didier Lamouche as its new president and chief executive officer, effective December 1, 2011. In his role, Lamouche will help the company gain its share in the growing market for smartphone chips. Lamouche, the company's third CEO in three years, replaces Gilles Delfassy after the transformation of the company's portfolio roadmap from feature phone products to leading smartphone and tablet platforms, ST-Ericsson said in a statement. The 50:50 venture of Ericsson and STMicro has been struggling hard since its formation in 2009. A key supplier to Nokia's Symbian platform, ST-Ericsson has suffered due to business turmoil at Nokia. Earlier this year, Nokia decided to turn to Windows platform for its future smartphones. "The company now enters a phase with prime focus on proliferating design-wins and scaling up and delivering volume, with the objective of translating its new portfolio into sustainable profitability and growth."

Akaash tablets fuels global interests

Source: The Times of India, November 30 2011

With the government all set to initiate the process for acquiring 10 lakh more Akaash tablets priced at Rs 2,276 each, there has been an international interest in the low-cost machine. Panama has approached the Indian Embassy there to buy one lakh units of Akaash. Even Philadelphia - the sixth largest US state in terms of Gross Domestic Product - has shown interest in the product. "We are waiting for a formal request from Philadelphia. Panama's demand has reached us. One more Latin American country has also approached us," a source said. Malaysia had approached the HRD ministry even before Akaash was formally unveiled, but it wanted to produce tablets locally. "We had to decline the request," source said. Thailand has directly approached Datawind, the company that is manufacturing the first one lakh tablets. Ministry sources do not rule out helping countries, but made it clear that domestic needs are paramount. Sources said production of one lakh tablets is going on as per schedule, but after receiving the initial feedback the manufacturer has been asked to make minor changes like improve the processor. "Many users said the tablet is slow when it is started," a source said, adding that the next lot might have better features like improved screen.

Azim Premji among top 100 global thinkers

Source: CIOL, November 30 2011

Social activist Anna Hazare, software czar Azim Premji and four other Indians have been named in the US-based Foreign Policy magazine's list of the top 100 global thinkers for 2011. conomist Abhijit Banerjee, writer-activist Arundhati Roy, researcher Deepa Narayan and scholar Arvind Subramanian are the other Indians in the list topped by Arab activists who helped bring democracy to the Middle East. US President Barack Obama is ranked 11th on the list. Nine Indians figured in the 2010 list. The highest spot to an Indian this year went to Premji, ranked at 14, who the magazine called the "Bill Gates of India". "It's not just because of Azim Premji's enormous wealth that he is compared to the American technologist turned philanthropist," the magazine said about India's third richest citizen with a net worth of $13 billion, according to Forbes magazine. "It is Premji's unprecedented philanthropy, that recently has borne out the Gates comparison," it said noting the chairman of the IT firm Wipro, recently contributed nearly $2 billion to a rural education project.

Obama appoints IIT Bombay grad for top US job

Source: CIOL, November 30 2011

Naming yet another Indian American to a key administration post, President Barack Obama has appointed Arun Majumdar, an Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, alumnus as the top bureaucrat in the Department of Energy. Announcing the appointment of Majumdar as Under Secretary of Energy along with four other key administration posts, Obama said: "These men and women have demonstrated knowledge and dedication throughout their careers. "I am grateful they have chosen to take on these important roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come." At over two dozen, Obama administration has more Indian-Americans in high places than ever before with their numbers rising through Clinton and Bush presidencies. By far the highest ranking Indian-American in any presidential administration is USAID administrator Rajiv Shah.

Synopsys to acquire Magma Design Automation

Source: EDA Café.com, November 30 2011

Synopsys, Inc. (Nasdaq: SNPS - News), a world leader in software and IP used in the design, verification and manufacture of electronic components and systems, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Magma® Design Automation Inc. (Nasdaq:LAVA - News), a provider of chip design software headquartered in San Jose, California . Bringing together complementary technology, development and support capabilities will enable the combined company to more rapidly meet customer requirements linked to chip designs at both leading-edge and mature process nodes. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Synopsys will acquire Magma for $7.35 per Magma share in cash, resulting in a transaction value of approximately $507 million net of cash and debt acquired. The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction.

NXP India gets new chief- Neeraj Paliwal heads out to NXP Germany

Source: K.C. Krishnadas, TechOnline, November 30 2011

NXP India is to have Sankara Narayan as its vice president and country manager, replacing Neeraj Paliwal. The new chief will be responsible for managing and growing NXP’s India operations focus on engaging with local industry and academia to develop customized applications to cater to the Indian market. Narayan started his career with Philips Research in The Netherlands and has 26 years of rich industry experience. He joined Philips Semiconductors (which became NXP Semiconductors in 2006) in 1993 to handle global technology development and coordination. In this role, he was also responsible for establishing European governmental and university relations for joint technology development of CMOS/BiCMOS processes. In the last ten years, he has been in charge for global quality and sustainability management for NXP. "India as a market presents tremendous opportunities for us across sectors...We envision our R & D centre to take over complete ownership of end-to-end product development,” Sankara Narayan said.

Brazil starts a chip industry

Source: Vinod Sreeharsha, IEEE Spectrum, December 2011

Brazilian-built RFID chips were tested for tracking cows at a ranch in southern Brazil. In the coming decade, Brazil wants to be known for integrated circuits, not just Ipanema. The country hopes to produce silicon chips alongside soybeans. Its attempt to do so will begin in January, when production is completed on the first batch of locally designed and produced RFID chips at the government-run National Centre for Advanced Electronic Technology, known by its Portuguese acronym, Ceitec. Working with X-Fab Semiconductor Foundries, based in Erfurt, Germany, Ceitec expects to have approximately one million chips ready for market next month. Dubbed the Chip do Boi ("bull chip"), the low-frequency (134.2-kilohertz) RFID series will be used in Brazil's cattle industry to track roaming livestock and gather data on the deforestation they cause in the country's vast Amazon region.

The Smart Player in semiconductor industry

Source: SiliconIndia, December 1 2011

Growing from 60 to 600 plus people in a short span of three years in an extremely mature and competitive industry sounds like a dream. Well, it all happened at SmartPlay, a technology services provider based out of U.S. and India. By mid 2008, global economic crisis had started affecting every industry in general and the semiconductor industry in particular. With low profit margins and high cost of operations, even the industry giants were not spared the impact of recession. While most companies struggled to keep themselves afloat, Pradeep Vajram took a bold step by setting up SmartPlay, an End-to-End design services company. The decision indeed was bold for this was a space with several already well established players. So what prompted him? Lack of depth in value addition provided by existing service players to their customers, he says.

Taiwan government unveils stimulus plan to bolster economy amid global uncertainty

Source: The Washington Post, December 1 2011

Taiwan’s government unveiled the first stage of a new stimulus effort Thursday to help the island’s export-driven economy grow up to 4 percent next year amid global uncertainty. Vice Premier Sean Chen said the government will expand investment in public projects and help industries create new jobs. He said the announcements Thursday are the first part of a comprehensive plan to keep growth on track. Weak demand from Europe and the U.S. is casting a shadow over Taiwan’s export-driven economy. The government recently forecast growth in exports to fall to 5.3 percent next year from 13 percent this year. Among Taiwan’s mainstay industries, computer and semiconductor makers are holding up as a slowdown in PC sales has been partially offset by rising sales of tablet computers and smartphones. Leading makers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, are expanding or building new factories. But several other industries are being hit by oversupply and sharply falling prices.

SmartPlay sets up design centre in Hyderabad

Source: The Hindu Business Line, December 1 2011

SmartPlay Technologies has set up a design centre in Hyderabad. It will focus on services in the VLSI and mobile software. The company already has design centres in Bangalore and greater Noida. Founded in 2008, SmartPlay has presence in San Jose, San Diego and Austin in the US with an employee strength of over 650, said Mr Pradeep Vajram, CEO. SmartPlay has expertise in digital, analog, wireless software and system design services. The reason for setting up the Hyderabad centre was the access to right talent and proximity to key customers, including semiconductor companies and global OEMs, he said. In the area of wireless devices, the company offers design capabilities includes hardware, software and proven Android capabilities. It has executed projects in the US, the UK, Sweden, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, China and Taiwan.

Compiled by ISA Research

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