MUMBAI: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has agreed to acquire the 50% it does not own in its Asian sports TV joint venture, ESPN STAR Sports (ESS), bringing to an end a 16-year-old relationship which, among other things, dominates cricket broadcast in the sub-continent.
A unit of News Corporation will buy ESPN’s 50% equity interest, a statement from the two partners said. ET was the first to report this development in its edition dated May 4.
The transaction, which is subject to customary regulatory approvals, will allow News Corporation unit to own and operate all ESS businesses, including STAR Sports, ESPN and STAR Cricket.
ESPN STAR Sports, which generates about 2,500 crore in revenues, also owns television broadcast rights for the ICC World Cup Cricket and T20 Champions League.
No financial terms were disclosed but people close to the transaction said that it could have cash and non-cash components.
While the cash component would not be very substantial, the non-cash portion could involve handing over the non-India distribution rights of possibly the T20 Championship League rights to ESPN.
“News Corporation’s acquisition of the interest of ESS that we did not already own continues the programme of simplifying our operating model, consolidating our affiliate ownership structures, and furthers our commitment to delivering incredible sports programming to consumers across the globe, and particularly enhancing our position in sports programming in emerging markets,” said James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer and chairman & CEO International, News Corporation.
Wednesday’s announcement comes just weeks after STAR broke up with long-time Indian partner, the Kolkata-based ABP Group and sold its stake in Hindi news and regional language channels.
“After 16 years jointly managing ESS, we have decided to independently pursue future opportunities in Asia,” said John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman, Disney Media Networks.
The partners also announced that Manu Sawhney, managing director of ESS, who has led ESS in the past 16 years, will hand over charge to Peter Hutton, SVP of sports for Fox International Channels (FIC).
Hutton will report to the ESS Board. Sawhney will be staying with the company until August 31 to work with Hutton on a smooth transition.
STAR’s ambitions in the sports broadcasting space were evident when it acquired the rights to Indian cricket from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, beating rival Sony and paying 4,000 crore.
Speaking to ET from the US, STAR India CEO Uday Shankar said: “Till the regulatory framework is done, it will be business as usual.
As for the money we spent on acquiring the Indian cricket rights, it is money which will be paid over several years, (six) and I am confident of a broadcast transformation and a bigger market. A lot of distortion in this space will also have sorted out.”
Shankar also clarified that all the ESPN employees would continue not only as of now, but post the regulatory framework.
“It’s not as if STAR has a ready-made sports setup all ready,” he added. As for competition and raising prices for acquisitions, he said, there are four active players and all will compete very vigorously.
APOLLO HOSPITALS TO BUY OUT PARTNER’S STAKE IN BANGALORE PROJECT
CHENNAI: Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd will buy out partner ImperialHospital’s stake in a Bangalorehospital-cum-research facility for around Rs 100 crore. “We have entered into an agreement to buy 100 per cent (stake) of the Bangalorefacility, in which we earlier had 51 per cent,” said Suneeta Reddy, joint managing director of Apollo. According to a company official aware of the development, Apollo has already increased its stake to 90 per cent in the ImperialHospitaland Research Centre, and the acquisition will be completed in three years. In total, Apollo would invest Rs 90-100 crore to complete the deal, said the official, who did not want to be identified. It may be noted that Apollo had invested around Rs 30 crore five years ago to acquire its 51 per cent stake in the Bangaloreproject from a group of doctors. At present, the hospital-cum-research centre has 250 beds, which can be expanded to 500 beds. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/apollo-hospitals-to-buy-out-partners-stake-in-bangalore-project/476586/)
HOLIDAYWALLAH GETS ACQUIRED, LOOKS TO CHART NEW COURSE
NEW DELHI: It isn’t often that the precarious financial position of a parent can boost the fortunes of its offspring. Yet, in the case of Thomas Cook India—a company that is in the travel services business (holiday packages, visa services) and is also a wholesaler and retailer of foreign exchange—this may very well turn out to be true. UK-based based Thomas Cook Plc, a 77 per cent owner of its Indian subsidiary, was in deep trouble last year. Laden with £890 million worth of debt, the company was desperate to generate cash. It decided to hawk its chain of hotels in Spainto raise £57.3 million, completed a sale and leaseback deal for 17 aircraft that generated £182.9 million and even decided to sell its office property in the Netherlands. In January 2012, Thomas Cook UKhad pledged its entire shareholding in the Indian leisure travel and foreign-exchange company to the Royal Bank of Scotlandto secure a £200-million loan. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/%3Ci%3Eholidaywallah%3Ci%3E-gets-acquired-looks-to-chart-new-course/476570/)
AMP CAPITAL ACQUIRES 34% STAKE IN SHALIVAHANA GREEN
HYDERABAD: AMP Capital Asian Fund has acquired 34 per cent stake in Shalivahana Green Energy for $29 million (about Rs 160 crore). The Hyderabad-based Shalivahana Green Energy owns and operates a portfolio of power generation assets across agri-waste, hydro and wind sectors. The AMP Capital Head of Infrastructure Asia, Mr Anoop Seth, in a statement said Shalivahana Green Energy has a unique portfolio with geographical and fuel diversification. It has an operating capacity of 80 mega watt (MW), with another 45 MW to be commissioned in the next six months. “We have a healthy pipeline of projects of about 300 MW, which includes 60 MW of small hydro projects,” Mr M. Komaraiah, Managing Director of Shalivahana Energy, told Business Line. He said these investments would enable the company complete expansion projects and take up new projects. While AMP Capital is a new investor, existing investors include International Finance Corporation and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Group. AMP has picked up some stake from Axis Bank (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-corporate/article3498511.ece)
UK’S COFFEE REPUBLIC SCOUTS FOR PARTNER TO ENTER INDIA MARKET
BANGALORE: London-based international cafechain CoffeeRepublicis in talks with potential local partners to enter India. The company will sign up a local master franchisee within six months and plans to open 50-80 stores in five years, Coffee Republic Chief Executive Tariq Affara says. “Indiais our big project. It should be big, if not bigger than the UK,” Affara said on a call from London. The privately held company, which began operations in Londonin 1995, has around 100 outlets across countries such as South Africa, Cyprus, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bulgariaand Romania. CoffeeRepublichas begun discussions with companies that operate food concepts and those who have expertise in the real estate market, Affara said. The firm plans to anchor its presence in metro cities before expanding to tier-II markets. CoffeeRepublicis also in talks to enter markets such as China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatarand Malaysia. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/cons-products/food/uks-coffee-republic-scouts-for-partner-to-enter-india-market/articleshow/13881529.cms)
DRL INKS DEAL WITH MERCK ARM
HYDERABAD/NEW DELHI: The largest Indian drugmaker by revenue, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has inked a deal with Merck Serono, a division of German drugmaker Merck, to co-develop, manufacture and market biosimilar drugs in the cancer segment. The deal structure entails Dr Reddy’s leading the early product development and complete phase-I trials. After the phase-I trials are completed, Merck Serono would take over manufacturing of the compounds and would lead phase-III development. The cost of the R&D would be shared by the two firms. A Dr Reddy’s executive told FE that the deal would also consider and select oncology drugs from the existing portfolio and the pipeline of the Indian company. This would translate into Merck marketing Dr Reddy’s biosimilar drugs globally. In the USmarket, both the companies would co-commercialise products on a profit-sharing basis. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/drl-inks-deal-with-merck-arm/958691/)
RIL SCOUTS FOR MORE SHALE GAS ASSETS
MUMBAI: Reliance Industries (RIL), India’s second largest company by market value, is scouting for more shale gas assets in the US, Canadaand Poland, investment bankers working on the potential assets said. “RIL is looking for large shale gas assets, which will need investments of anywhere between $500 million and $2 billion,” one of the bankers looking for assets said. The company has chosen not to appoint a specific investment bank, but has given indications to bankers to scout for such assets. “They have hinted at looking at assets brought to the table.” “We will not comment on market speculation,” RIL spokesperson said in a email response. Shale gas will strengthen energy security for the USto a net exporter in several years. RIL, which has more cash of R70,252 crore than its debt, has raised $1.5 billion as long-term loans through its USsubsidiary Reliance Holdings USA. RIL had invested in excess of $3.5 billion for three shale gas assets in the USin the past few years. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/ril-scouts-for-more-shale-gas-assets/958680/)
GE ENERGY TO LOCALISE PRODUCTS FOR INDIA’S WIND ENERGY SECTOR
BANGALORE: The US-based GE Energy is focusing on localising products for the Indian wind energy sector. The company will be launching products of larger capacities to capture low wind speeds as prevalent in India, Mr Banmali Agrawala, President & CEO, GE Energy, told Business Line. “The products will be coming out in a year’s time and have been developed here,” he said. Also, the company is seeing interest in these localised products from other emerging markets as well, Mr Agrawala added. GE at present makes wind turbines of 1.5 MW and 1.6 MW capacities. Going forward, apart from manufacturing products, GE Energy would be open to providing support to customers in the development phase of the project. “ o take our products to customers if it needed to extend and provide additional services, we will do so,” Mr Agrawala said. Support would be in things like financial structuring or helping with development model and also installation, transportation or commissioning of projects. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-corporate/article3498506.ece)
MRPL GETS SPECIAL INCENTIVE FOR PHASE-3 EXPANSION
CHENNAI/BANGALORE: The Karnataka government has sanctioned a special incentive package to Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL), an ONGC company, for the Phase-3 expansion and upgrade. The package includes exemption from payment of entry tax on plant and machinery and capital goods during the initial period of four years from the date of commencement of project implementation. MRPL recently completed its third phase expansion at its refinery in Surathkal near Mangalore, involving an investment of Rs 15,000 crore and commissioned the operations. With this expansion, the combined refining capacity of MRPL has touched 15 million tonnes per annum. In the third phase, the company has increased its capacity by 3 MMTPA. The company has inve-sted close to Rs 10,000 crore for the first two phases of expansion. In the first phase, the company installed 3 MTPA capacity and increa-sed it to 12 MTPA in the second phase. (For details log on to: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/mrpl-gets-special-incentive-for-phase-3-expansion/476509/)
AXIATA GROUP WANTS IDEA CELLULAR’S 8,000 TOWERS TO BUILD SOUTHEAST ASIAN INFRASTRUCTURE COMPANY
MUMBAI: Malaysian telecom giant Axiata Group has approached Aditya Birla group-owned Idea Cellular to build a transnational tower company, with operations across southeast Asian markets. Axiata wants to acquire or merge more than 8,000 towers of the Indian mobile operator as it looks to create a unified tower entity with a presence in seven nations, said banking sources directly familiar with the matter. Axiata, formerly Telekom Malaysia, holds a stake of just under 20% in Idea Cellular. Diversified Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla, which controls majority interests in the third largest domestic mobile phone firm, has studied the Axiata plan even though no decision has been taken yet. Birla’s response will be critical to Axiata’s attempts to carve out a tower company in countries where it owns or has joint ventures in the telecom business. Axiata is present in Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladeshand Cambodiathrough controlling interests in mobile operations, while it is has significant strategic stakes in India, Singaporeand Iran. Indiahas been one of the fastest growing among Axiata’s markets. Axiata and Birla have a strategic relationship forged five years ago, after a merger between Idea Cellular and Spice Telecom. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/telecom/axiata-group-wants-idea-cellulars-8000-towers-to-build-southeast-asian-infrastructure-company/articleshow/13889730.cms)
INTER-MINISTERIAL PANEL TO FINALISE NORMS FOR MNC BUYS IN DRUG COMPANIES
NEW DELHI: The government has formed an inter-ministerial panel for finalising guidelines for allowing MNCs to buy equity stakes in Indian drug companies, as it seeks to end the regulatory uncertainty that is holding up clearances of such proposals. An eight-member ‘Special Group’, headed by an additional secretary in the finance ministry, will lay down the guidelines by the month-end that will deal with the basic concerns expressed by various stakeholders. FIPB, the body that clears foreign investment proposals in the country, will clear brownfield FDI applications in the pharma sector on the basis of these parameters. Stake acquisition proposals of foreign drug companies have not been approved for the past few months because of the confusion that has been caused by the government deciding to approve these applications on a case-by-case basis without framing appropriate guidelines. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/healthcare/biotech/pharmaceuticals/inter-ministerial-panel-to-finalise-norms-for-mnc-buys-in-drug-companies/articleshow/13878611.cms)
FIPB TO CONTINUE AS GATE-KEEPER ON PHARMA MERGERS FOR NOW
MUMBAI: Who will be gate-keeper for the pharmaceutical industry, watching over local companies being acquired by foreign owners? The Foreign Investment Promotion board (FIPB), the Competition Commission of India (CCI) or both? Until a final call is taken by the ministries involved, the FIPB is set to continue as gate-keeper, said a source, after a meeting on the issue convened by the Finance Ministry, on Wednesday. Addressing public health concerns raised by the Health Ministry, and to streamline investment in local drug companies, guidelines will be outlined on the FIPB Web site, the source said. For instance, companies looking for local acquisitions will have to ensure they continue to manufacture essential medicines (if the acquired entity was making them); and not discontinue ongoing research in critical areas. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-corporate/article3498492.ece)
DISCOMS SKIPPING OPEN MARKET SPELLS DARK DAYS
NEW DELHI: New Delhi: Cash-strapped power distribution companies (discoms) have steeply cut purchase of costly power from the open market, in what could lead to a higher incidence of load shedding across the country and crimp industrial units at a time the economic growth has slowed to a nine-year low. With the slump in demand from discoms and industrial units that purchase power in the open market, merchant power units and traders could realise up to 11% less for each unit of energy sold in April-May this year, compared with the year-ago period. As most discoms have chosen not to purchase from the open market even as they face shortfalls, the volume of power produced by merchant plants too has declined, industry sources say. The two largest traders — PTC India and NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) — have both reported a drop in the volume of trade as also realisations during April-May. The two account for over 50% of the total merchant power sale. PTC India sold 1,668 and 1,748 million units of electricity in April and May 2011. In comparison, it traded 1,658 and 1,583 million units in the same months this year. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/discoms-skipping-open-market-spells-dark-days/958951/)
POWER MINISTRY LOOKS AT HIGHER FUEL COST PASS THROUGH TO CUSTOMER
NEW DELHI: New bids for power projects are likely to allow pass through of fuel costs, but with a caveat. The Power Ministry is planning to further increase the cap on the upward variation of fuel costs. In other words, the bid document will prescribe a percentage beyond which a developer cannot pass through the fuel cost to the consumer. Any pass through will result in higher electricity tariff for the consumer. Currently, the cap varies from project to project and goes as high as 30 per cent. The new cap will be introduced in the bidding norms to be implemented for projects under the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. The move is aimed at preventing financial uncertainty that several units in the country are facing. (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-economy/article3498521.ece)
COAL INDIA CAN ASSURE ONLY 60 PER CENT COAL SUPPLY TO POWER PLANTS: POWERMIN
NEW DELHI: In a setback to thermal plants facing fuel shortage, Coal Indiahas informed power producers that it can assure only 60 per cent of supply and would “gradually” reach the 80 per cent mark in the coming years. “Coal Indiais saying 80 per cent coal supply to power plants is not possible, they can only supply up to 60 per cent and would increase it to 80 per cent in the next four years,” a Power Ministry official said. This proposed arrangement would be applicable for thermal power plants commissioned after March, 2009. Meanwhile, the Power Ministry is insisting on a minimum supply level of 65 per cent, if Coal Indiafinds its difficult to meet the mandated commitment of 80 per cent. (For details log on to: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/energy/power/coal-india-can-assure-only-60-per-cent-coal-supply-to-power-plants/articleshow/13863494.cms)
PM SETS INFRASTRUCTURE TARGETS TO REVIVE SENTIMENT
NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday sought to revive investor sentiment by announcing ambitious targets for the infrastructure sector in the current financial year in a bid to lift flagging growth, amid a lack of success in pushing through key economic reforms. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed and approved targets for various infrastructure sectors such as roads, power, railways and aviation at a meeting convened by him. Singh said the government will take all possible steps to revive business and investor sentiment. “We must work to create an atmosphere which is conducive to investment and to removing any bottlenecks to growth. We as a government are committed to taking the necessary measures to reverse the present situation and revive India’s growth story. We are aware that we have to act on multiple fronts to achieve this and we will indeed do all that is required of us,” he was cited as saying in a release. (For details log on to : http://www.livemint.com/2012/06/06231300/PM-sets-infrastructure-targets.html)
PM GIVES INFRASTRUCTURE BOOST TO SAGGING ECONOMY
NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today said that work will be awarded for three new greenfieldairports — at Navi Mumbai, Goaand Kannur (Kerala). “Also, two new hubs will be developed in the country making us a destination as well as a transit point,” he said in his closing remarks at the meeting to finalise the targets for infrastructure — fiscal 2012-13. The Prime Minister said that works will also be awarded for new international airports at Lucknow, Varanasi, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and Gaya. Acknowledging that the targets were certainly ambitious and impressive, he said, “The challenge now is to work together to achieve these targets. I would urge all the Ministries to go the extra mile in implementing what we have planned. I would expect them to very expeditiously resolve any inter-ministerial differences that might arise as we move forward.” (For details log on to : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/article3498536.ece)
BSEB PURCHASES POWER AT HIGH RATE
Patna: To minimize the gap between demand and supply, Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) is purchasing 400MW electricity from the open market at the rate of more than Rs 4.30 per unit to supply the same to its consumers at the rate of Rs 2.80 per unit. According to official sources, BSEB got 200MW power from Ahmedabad-based Adani Powers Limited, one of the largest private sector thermal power producers in the country, through a midterm agreement at the rate of Rs 4.41 per unit. The agreement is valid till December 31, 2015. The BSEB has got the remaining 200MW of electricity from NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited at the rate of Rs 4.31 per unit. BSEB spokesman H R Pandey said the power board was not charging any extra amount from its consumers for paying higher price to the private firms. “We are still facing acute power crisis in the state, including in the capital. We are getting only 1,500MW of power, including from the open market, against the state’s overall demand of around 3,000MW during peak hours,” Pandey told TOI. (For details log on to : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/BSEB-purchases-power-at-high-rate/articleshow/13883914.cms)
POWER: BRPL GOT UNDUE LOAN, DID NOT PAY PENALTY ON DEFAULT
NEW DELHI: The CAG report has also dug up dirt in the power sector. It alleges that the government favoured Reliance-backed BSES Rajdhani (BRPL) not only while granting it a loan under the power stabilization fund (PSF) but also by not charging penal interest of Rs 3.67 crore when BRPL failed to repay the loan on time. The report takes Delhi Transco Ltd to task for not imposing a penalty of Rs 80.91 lakh on a contractor for delay in completion of work, and states that Indraprastha Power Generation Company Ltd ( IPGCL) suffered a loss of Rs 22.64 lakh due to delay in awarding a contract for sale and lifting of fly-ash. The report states that deficiencies were noted in the use of PSF by the holding company Delhi Power Company Ltd (DPCL). Under the rules, PSF funds could be loaned to distribution companies Tata Delhi Power, BRPL and BYPL in the ratio of 29.18%, 43.58% and 27.24%. “It was, however, observed that DPCL…gave the entire short term loan of Rs 400 crore to only BSES Rajdhani,” says the report. While the loan tenure was capped at one year, BRPL was given an extension after it defaulted. Also, it was not charged penal interest at the rate of 2.75% for eight months. As a result, “DPCL faced a financial crunch,” the report says. The interest lost amounted to Rs 3.67 crore. “The government stated that they cannot charge interest as it would affect consumers (sic).” (For details log on to : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Power-BRPL-got-undue-loan-did-not-pay-penalty-on-default/articleshow/13878835.cms)
FE-EVI GREEN AWARDS DOFF HAT TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
NEW DELHI: Emphasising the need for a new corporate culture to make businesses more sustainable, Union minister for corporate affairs Veerappa Moily has urged India Inc to balance equity and growth. “Sustainability is a major concern for the corporate sector and business community, especially in developing countries like ours. We have to look at our present without compromising the future. Global warming is the true challenge when it comes to environmental damage,” the minister said while presenting the FE-EVI Green Business Leadership Awards 2011-12 at a glittering ceremony in the capital on Tuesday. The event was organised jointly by The Financial Express and Emergent Ventures India. The award ceremony was accompanied by the launch of the FE-EVI Green Business Survey 2011-12. MK Venu, managing editor, The Financial Express, said: “The core elements of sustainable development are gradually becoming part of the consciousness of corporate entities. FE-EVI Survey has strived to play a catalysing role in this regard.” The FE-EVI Green Business Survey helps businesses that are fighting climate change and undertaking sustainability initiatives by benchmarking, measuring progress and tracking the industry outlook. It details the sector-wise outlook of firms on climate change and sustainability issues. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/feevi-green-awards-doff-hat-to-sustainable-development/958957/)
GOVERNMENT HAS NO BUSINESS TO BE IN BUSINESS, PM MUST ACCEPT REALITY: NARENDRA MODI
NEW DELHI: The chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to accept the fact that the economy was in the throes of a major crisis while lashing out at the Congress-led UPA government for sending “enforcement agencies” after business houses with investments in Gujarat. “Firstly, the government should stop painting a rosy picture. If the prime minister accepts the reality, he can find an answer. But the problem is that he does not believe in what he is doing. He is not able to take even those decisions made by him to their logical end,” Modi told The Economic Times in a rare interview to a national publication, during the course of which he repeatedly refused to be drawn into discussing widespread speculation on his alleged ambition of leading the Bharatiya Janata Party’s efforts to oust the UPA government in the 2014 general elections. “I am busy with making things better in Gujarat… I am not here on a career agenda,” he said. Modi, 61, who first became chief minister in October 2001, mocked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the top UPA leadership for feeble governance, claiming that foreign governments now preferred to deal directly with state governments such as his. “They (the Centre) don’t want the state government to perform and they place hurdles. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/government-has-no-business-to-be-in-business-pm-must-accept-reality-narendra-modi/articleshow/13878275.cms)
2G SPECTRUM AUCTION MAY BE DELAYED
NEW DELHI: The auction of 2G spectrum might be delayed, as the government may file a petition in the Supreme Court for an extension of the timeline. According to current SC directive, the auction has to be conducted by August 31 this year. However, due to procedural delays, the department of telecommunications is looking at extending the timeline. Though a final decision will be taken only after the next meeting of empowered group of ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. IThe meeting might happen towards the end of this month, where a final decision on reserve price of spectrum auction will also taken besides spectrum refarming and others. The process of auction of spectrum is expected to start from August 6 with the issuance of Information Memorandum. The EGoM had on Tuesday cleared a proposal to auction a minimum of 10 MHz of 2G spectrum but put off a decision on the contentious issue of determining the reserve price for spectrum auction. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/2gspectrum-auction-may-be-delayed/476593/)
BIG AIRPORT PROJECTS TO GET A BOOST
MUMBAI: The cabinet committee on infrastructure’s clearance to big-ticket aviation projects, including the New Navi Mumbai airport, and plans to develop India as a civil aviation hub will help expedite the implementation of such projects, which are now caught up in challenges such as local opposition and land acquisition problems, say officials and experts. On Wednesday Prime Minister Mamohan Singh announced new airport projects would be awarded at Navi Mumbai, Goaand Kannur. An airline hub policy would be finalised and hubs would be operationalised at Delhiand Chennai in 2012-13. The Navi Mumbai and Goaairports are stuck due to opposition from local villagers and problems in acquisition of land. The Navi Mumbai airport, estimated to be developed at Rs 10,000 crore, will be able to handle 40 million passengers on completion of all three phases by 2030. The airport will also ease congestion at the Mumbai airport. But City and Industrial Development Corp of Maharashtra Ltd (Cidco), the project-planning authority, has not been able to begin the spade work due to opposition from several quarters. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/big-airport-projects-to-getboost/476599/)
OPERATIONAL ISSUES CONTINUE TO DOG GOVT’S TWO-DECADE SANITATION PROJECT
NEW DELHI: What works far better appears to be using social pressure instead of govt subsidies. The catch is that those doing so would lose the central money meant for the programme. How do you get communities to become enthusiastic about converting to flush toilets? A relevant query, given the operational, funding and maintenance issues dogging the two-decade project, with half the population still having none. The trigger was supposed to free toilets built by the government; it remains the basis for giving funds to states under the Total Sanitation Campaign, which has often also brought central and state governments sparring with each other on the issues. (For details log on to: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/operational-issues-continue-to-dog-govts-two-decade-sanitation-project/476592/)
TATA STEEL EUROPE TO GET CHEAP COAL FROM MOZAMBIQUE
MUMBAI: Tata Steel Europe will get coal at less than market prices from the Benga coal project in Mozambique, which, part-owned by the company’s Indian parent Tata Steel Ltd, will start production soon, a company official said. “It’s not very much, but yes, the rates will be slightly lower (than market prices). At this point, we can’t say by how much,” said the official, who did not want to be identified. Tata Steel owns a 35 per cent stake in the Benga project, with the rest being held by Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. According to an offtake agreement Tata Steel has signed with its partner, the Indian steel maker can use 40 per cent of the total coal production in Benga. The coal from Benga will feed Tata Steel Europe’s operations. Tata Steel Group Chief Financial Officer Koushik Chatterjee declined to comment on coal prices, but said supply would commence soon. He, however, did not rule out a bit of cost saving in terms of “trade discounts”. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/tata-steel-europe-to-get-cheap-coalmozambique/476587/)
ADVANTAGE INDIA AS COMMODITY PRICES TAKE A HIT ACROSS GLOBE
NEW DELHI: Global energy product prices shed 7.6% in May, leading the fall across key commodities, as a macro-economic slowdown cut demand and bumper harvests prevented a flare-up in food prices. Food price index declined 2.1%, while metals were down 4.7% last month, according to the data compiled by the World Bank, offering some respite to countries such as Indiaand Chinathat are heavily dependent on commodity imports to sustain the growth engine ticking. Commodity prices started falling after peaking in early 2011, with the index of the metal segment sliding by 25%, farm items by 19% and energy products by 10% by the end of the year, according to the World Bank Index. Brent crude prices fell 8.2% to $110.52 per barrel in May and Australian coal shed 6.84% to $94.66 per tonne, showed the data. Sugar lost 8.53% to 45.88 cents per kg and arabica coffee beans lost 3.55% to $4.07 per kilogram. Thai rice (5% broken), however, bucked the trend and gained 8.82% in May, thanks to high support prices paid to farmers there. Copper prices declined by 4% to $7,956 per tonne and aluminum prices by 2%$2,008 per tonne. Gold shed 3.6% to $1,591 per troy ounce, while silver lost 8.43% to $28.89 per troy ounce. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/advantage-india-as-commodity-prices-take-a-hit-across-globe/958925/)
RIL SHAREHOLDERS WAIT FOR AMBANI TO CHEER THEM
MUMBAI: After disappointing the Street last year, Reliance Industries (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani needs to cheer up 25 million shareholders on Thursday when he once again speaks to them at the company’s annual general meeting. Analysts, looking for some clue on how the company will use its huge cash reserves and how soon production of gas at the trophy KG-D6 basin can be upped, are hoping the RIL chief will have some news for them. Should Ambani say something definitive on either issue, it would lift the company’s sagging share price. Since its last AGM on June 3, 2011, the stock has given up R72,891 crore in market value as also its numero uno status to Tata Consultancy Services. RIL’s market capitalisation on Wednesday was R2,33,586 crore with the stock closing at R714.10 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The 30 share BSE benchmark index fell 10.5% between June 3, 2011 and June 6, 2012 RIL has bought back 26,124,974 shares till June 5 in a bid to boost earning per share. Analysts say the diversification into hospitality, broadcasting, retail and broadband has been discounted and they now expect RIL to earn more from exploration and production of gas. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/ril-shareholders-wait-for-ambani-to-cheer-them/958677/)
TELENOR FOR OUT-OF-COURT DEAL WITH UNITECH
NEW DELHI: With no legal resolution in sight, telecom major Telenor is exploring an out-of-court settlement with its estranged partner Unitech before the much-awaited 2G auctions begin. Telenor, which holds a majority 67.25% stake in the joint venture, has been eagerly looking to rid itself of its minority JV partner Unitech, as it intends to find a new joint venture partner before the upcoming 2G spectrum auctions. But its plans have been delayed by Unitech’s opposition to the move. “Each of the two sides is anxiously awaiting the decision of the empowered group of ministers over what the reserve price of the auctions will be. The legal tussle between the two is going on, but both are readying themselves for an out of court settlement,” a source close to the development told FE. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/telenor-for-outofcourt-deal-with-unitech/958672/)
SUSTAINABILITY REPORT MAY BECOME A MUST FOR COMPANIES
NEW DELHI: The government plans to make it mandatory for corporates to report their efforts for sustainable development under the Companies Act. Corporate affairs minister Veerappa Moily said a committee headed by CII president and Godrej group chairman Adi Godrej has been asked to look at the viability of compulsory sustainability reporting within the formal framework of corporate governance. The concept of sustainable development in this context include environmental, social and economic performance of the firms. The Godrej panel is formulating the draft national corporate governance policy, the objective of which will be to encourage companies to adopt economically sustainable measures. The committee is expected to make it essential for the corporates to include environmental performance, social performance, economic performance and CSR activities as part of corporate governance, Moily told FE, speaking on the sidelines of the FE-EVI green leadership awards. The idea is to include these norms in the new Companies Bill which is slated to be considered by parliament for passage in the monsoon session. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/sustainability-report-may-become-a-must-for-cos/958666/)
DIESEL VEHICLE TAX TO HIT INVESTMENT: MAHINDRA & MAHINDRA
NEW DELHI: Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), the country’s biggest utility vehicle maker, on Wednesday said it will have to put off investment decisions worth Rs 4,000 crore for a new plant if the government slaps a hefty special additional tax on diesel vehicles, a demand made by the petroleum ministry and currently being considered by the finance ministry. The “policy uncertainty” on diesel is affecting new investment plans and making Indiaan unattractive destination for fresh investment by auto companies, Pawan Goenka, president of M&M’s automotive division, said. Goenka, who was here to meet finance ministry officials as part of a delegation of industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers ( Siam), said any additional duty on diesel vehicles has the potential to slow down demand and distort growth projections. Companies in the automobile sector decide on investment plans based on certain growth assumptions, he said. “If the government comes up with a sudden additional duty on diesel vehicles – even when this was not done in the Budget in March – we have to downwardly revise our growth forecast… If this happens , then investments will certainly come down.” (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/auto/automobiles/diesel-vehicle-tax-to-hit-investment-mahindra-mahindra/articleshow/13889488.cms)
RETAILERS TO INVEST RS 13,668 CRORE BY 2017 ON IT SOLUTIONS: STUDY
NEW DELHI: Modern retailers in Indiaare estimated to invest Rs 13,668 crore by 2017 to deploy technology solutions at stores for cost control, opportunity assessment and risk minimisation, according to a survey. According to a survey by Retailers Association of India (RAI) and market insight firm Nielsen, while a cumulative number is not available for the sector at present, on an average a retailer spends around Rs 1.55 crore on IT solutions annually. “The retail sector is primed for growth and is looking at actively investing in information technology to support this growth,” Nielsen IndiaDirector Subhash Chandra said. At this juncture, it is extremely important to efficiently deploy technology across the retail industry whether it is cloud computing, virtualisation, social networking or mobile shopping, he added. (For details log on to: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/services/retailing/retailers-to-invest-rs-13668-crore-by-2017-on-it-solutions-study/articleshow/13866167.cms)
NOW, I-T DEPT, ICAI START PROBE INTO REEBOK CASE
NEW DELHI: Accounting regulator Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has asked Reebok India’s auditor N Narasimhan & Co, and its former chief operating officer Vishnu Bhagat, one of the accused in the alleged Rs 870-crore fraud case, for various details such as whether the company has an internal auditor or a statutory one by June 13. ICAI wrote a letter to the two on May 29, and asked them to reply within 14 days, failing which, it may take action against them. “We have sought various details and clarifications from N Narasimhan & Co and Vishnu Bhagat. For instance, we have asked both of them to present their version or views on the allegations made in the Reebok fraud case. We have also sought clarification from the auditor as to whether it is an internal or a statutory auditor of the company,” ICAI President Jaydeep N Shah told Business Standard. According to Shah, Bhagat is a chartered accountant and is registered with ICAI. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/now-i-t-dept-icai-start-probe-into-reebok-case/476589/)