MUMBAI: Piramal Imaging, a 100% subsidiary of Mumbai-based Piramal Healthcare, has acquired the research and development portfolio of molecular imaging from Germany’s Bayer Pharma, asserting its seriousness in intellectual property side of pharma. Piramal did not reveal the size of the deal, but said market potential for such services is close to $1.5 billion.
“We had said earlier we will change the idea of our pharma business. We will be moving away from branded generics to intellectual property,” said Ajay Piramal, chairman, Piramal Enterprises. The deal will enable the company to acquire florbetaben, one of the molecules used to detect Alzheimer’s disease. Piramal will now have patent, marketing and distribution rights for the florbetaben, which is in the last phase of clinical trial.
The company is likely to file for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration by October-December to sell the molecule in the US market. Core members of Bayer’s research and development team working on the portfolio will be joining Piramal Imaging, which will carry forward the development of florbetaben and take it through regulatory approval processes worldwide.
Commenting on Piramal Imaging SA, Piramal said that as per the agreement, the company will have the intellectual property (including patents, trademarks and know-how), worldwide development, marketing and distribution rights of the lead compound florbetaben as well as other clinical and pre-clinical assets of Bayer’s molecular imaging business.
In 2010, when Piramal Healthcare had sold its branded generics business to Abbott for 17,000 crore, the market was taken aback. Analysts questioned the future of the company and its commitment in pharma business.
But with this investment and European approval of its knee pain drug Cargel last week, Piramal seems to be sending the message across to the market that they have not exited pharma business and it has reiterated the future lies in intellectual property.
“Globally new products approvals are coming down, big pharma are focusing on personalised products,” said Ajay Piramal.
The concept of molecular imaging comes under the personalised medicine segment, which is a method that targets specific disease among patients. According to the company, this acquired business has a strong pipeline, which are in early stage of development in areas of cardiovascular and oncology.
However, the company did not disclose how it plans to commercialise the molecule. Apart from US, it will apply for marketing approvals in Japan and Europe.
On Monday, Piramal Healthcare shares closed at 443 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, down 1% from previous close.
ANIL AGARWAL’S SON BUYS 60% STAKE IN PRIMEX HEALTHCARE
CHENNAI: Agnivesh Agarwal, son of the Vedanta Group’s founder-chairman, Anil Agarwal, has taken a controlling stake in Chennai-based Primex Healthcare. Primex operates healthcare centres across this city. This will be the first investment by Agarwal Jr in his personal capacity. While declining to comment on the value of the deal, Anand Mahadevan, founder & CEO, Primex Group, said “he (Agnivesh) will come as a strategic investor and join the company as executive director”. Agarwal said Indiahad a fragmented diagnostics services market, with many local players and a few regional/national ones. “We were impressed with Primex Healthcare’s vision of providing low-cost healthcare services, which we wish to promote. We believe we will be jointly able to establish a strong presence in the healthcare sector with steadfast commitment to quality and cost efficiency, delivering value to the society,” he added. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/anil-agarwals-son-buys-60-stake-in-primex-healthcare/471605/)
HINDUSTAN ZINC, BALCO RESIDUAL STAKE SALE MAY NOT HAPPEN SOON
NEW DELHI: The residual stake sale in Hindustan Zinc Ltd and Bharat Aluminium Co Ltd (Balco) is unlikely to happen soon, with the government deciding to tread cautiously keeping in mind the high stakes and the litigation process involved. While the government is in the process of formalising a response to metals and mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources’ offer to buy the residual stakes in the two group firms for about Rs 17,000 crore, officials involved in the process indicated that a final decision could take time. A senior official in the disinvestment department said a committee of secretaries (CoS) had discussed the offer and the mining ministry, the nodal ministry in this case, was taking legal opinion for drafting the response to be approved by the CoS. The draft response will then be placed before an empowered group of ministers for the final approval. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/hindustan-zinc-balco-residual-stake-sale-may-not-happen-soon/471604/)
BHARAT HOTEL BUYS PROPERTY IN LONDON
JAIPUR: In line with the latest trend of home-grown hospitality companies acquiring hotels abroad, Delhi-based Bharat Hotels, which operates the Lalit brand of hotels, has acquired a 70-room heritage property in the heart of London. “We have recently acquired a heritage college, LambethCollegebuilding, in Londonthat will be turned into a hotel. It will be operational within the next three years,” said Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director, Bharat Hotels. However, Suri did not disclose the price at which the property was acquired. “We made a bid for this property that was being eyed by other international players too. There were no Indian contenders,” she said. The Londonproperty will be a luxury boutique hotel and will be called the Lalit Hotel. This will be the group’s second property abroad, with a project already under development in Koh Samui Thailand. The group had a project in Dubai, too, where its JV partner was Nakheel. “The project is defunct now since Nakheel is bankrupt,” she said. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/bharat-hotel-buys-property-in-london/937727/)
APTECH, HUNGAMA JOIN HANDS FOR MEDUCATION
MUMBAI: Aptech and Hungama Digital Media Entertainment have formed a joint venture (JV) to offer mobile education (mEducation) in India. The new entity, a 50:50 JV, under a limited liability partnership between the two firms, will be called Aptech Hungama Digital Education. Aptech will create specialised courses across faculties and distribute over various digital channels and connected devices. Hungama will develop this content onto 90 devices and distribute it via mobile, internet and DTH platforms. “About 18 months ago, a team of four people (two each from Aptech and Hungama Digital Media Entertainment) was formed to explore the possibilities of mEducation. Several pilot products were developed thereafter. Four verticals, namely English and personality development, entrance examinations, K-12 segment and vocational education were identified by the team, as potential fields,” said Ninad Karpe, CEO and MD, Aptech. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/aptech-hungama-join-hands-for-meducation/471623/)
AGSRI FORMS JV WITH DRIPTECH FOR LOW-COST DRIP IRRIGATION SYSTEMS
HYDERABAD: Hyderabad-based AgSri Agricultural Services has signed an agreement with US-based Driptech to design and manufacture low-cost drip irrigation systems for small plot farmers in Andhra Pradesh. Through this agreement, Driptech would offer viable solutions to small farmers where the exorbitant cost of conventional drip deprives farmers from accessing assured sources of irrigation. Driptech is funded by investors such as Vinod Khosla, a noted entrepreneur, and Westlake Chemical, which is claimed as the largest manufacturer of polyethylene in North America. AgSri is a newly-found company by social entrepreneurs including Biksham Gujja and Vikram Akula, founder of SKS Microfinance. Andhra Pradesh is heading towards an acute water crisis owing to ground water depletion. In fact, the state government has recently declared 876 out of 1,128 districts as drought-hit. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/agsri-forms-jv-with-driptech-for-lowcost-drip-irrigation-systems/937729/)
ADITYA BIRLA`S THE COLLECTIVE TO EXPAND PRESENCE IN INDIA
MUMBAI/PUNE: The multi-brand luxury lifestyle retail outlet The Collective, a wholly-owned subsidiary of listed Aditya Birla Nuvo is planning to expand its footprint across Indiaby opening 8-10 stores in eight cities in the next three years. The company is investing around Rs 90 crore for this expansion. It has recently opened its fourth store in Pune and will later in Chandigarh, Hyderabadand Chennai by end of this year. Talking to Business Standard, Shitalkumar Mehta, COO – international brands and retail at Madura Fashion and Lifestyle said, “The Collective began in Bangaloreover three years ago and since then it has captivated consumers with its exclusivity, plush retail experience and unmatchable selection in fashion. All our new stores will be in the 6,000-12,000 sq ft range depending on the city and location. Having captured Mumbai and Delhias well, we now come to Pune with our fourth store. Our effort is to make luxury products affordable.” (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/aditya-birla`scollective-to-expand-presence-in-india/471523/)
TRAI WANTS UNIFIED LICENCE FOR ALL SERVICES TO BE PRICED AT 15 CRORE
NEW DELHI: The telecom regulator on Monday recommended that government allow all communication services under one licence with an entry fee of 15 crore compared to 1,658 crore at present. But these pan-India mobile permits will not come bundled with spectrum or airwaves, and companies that obtain them must buy radio frequencies by participating in auctions. Currently, a pan-India permit comes bundled with 4.4 MHz of start-up GSM spectrum or 2.5 MHz of CDMA airwaves in all the 22 regions. In January, Trai had proposed that the unified licence that is technology neutral and allows companies to provide any telecom-related facility – mobile, landline, long-distance services, internet and satellite, among others – have an entry fee of 20 crore. But, the regulator has slashed this to 15 crore in its final recommendations that were sent to the telecom department on Monday. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/telecom/trai-wants-unified-licence-for-all-services-to-be-priced-at-15-cr/articleshow/12697270.cms)
GOVT TO PERSIST WITH AUCTION ROUTE FOR DISINVESTMENT DESPITE ONGC SETBACK
NEW DELHI: Despite the poor response to last fiscal’s ONGC auction, the government is planning to use this route for divesting its stake in three other PSUs — Oil India, Nalco and SAIL. Speaking to FE, Mohd Haleem Khan, disinvestment secretary said, “the auction process saves time and cost since you don’t have to go for long drawn process and publicity. If a company is eligible for auction, then we would rather go for auction than prospectus based stake sale.” The government proposes to raise R30,000 crore in the current fiscal from disinvestment. During 2011-12, the government could raised only about R14,000 crore as against the target of R40,000 crore. The lukewarm response is also blamed at badly managed auction offer of ONGC. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/govt-to-persist-with-auction-route-for-disinvestment-despite-ongc-setback/937765/)
CIL BOARD OKAYS FUEL SUPPLY AGREEMENTS
KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Abiding by the Presidential directive, the board of directors of government-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) has decided to send draft fuel supply agreements (FSAs) to power companies before April 20, though with a negligible penalty clause if it is unable after three years to meet an 80 per cent supply commitment. The board has decided on a penalty of 0.01 per cent of the value of shortfall, if the firm fails to deliver 80 per cent of the committed coal. It will also go soft on the earlier decision on not to import or enter into the business of imports and may chart an import policy. “We will be signing the FSAs within the time limit before April 20 — that is by 15 days of the issue of the Presidential directive. Power companies with long-term power purchase agreements will have to come forward now,” said acting chairman and managing director Zohra Chatterji. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/cil-board-okays-fuel-supply-agreements/471615/)
UNDER STRESS, GOVT UNLIKELY TO GIVE EXPORTERS FRESH SOPS
NEW DELHI: The customary annual review of foreign trade policy (FTP), which is slated for next month, is expected to be a non-event this time around. The fiscally-stressed government is unlikely to unveil any fresh sops for exporters and would be content with certain easing of procedures, sources said. Last year, the government had announced a R1,700-crore relief package for the exporters to maintain a steady growth in the export numbers. However, the popular duty entitlement pass book (DEPB) scheme was scrapped. Sources said the government was not in a position to provide any additional fiscal succour to the exporters even though 2012-13 is expected to be tough for exporters, given the demand slump in key export markets. It is increasingly clear that reaching the export target of $500 billion for 2013-14 would be impossible, at a time the World Trade Organization has pegged the world trade to grow at around 6% a year. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/under-stress-govt-unlikely-to-give-exporters-fresh-sops/937755/)
BROADCASTERS QUESTION TRAI’S MANDATE TO REGULATE CONTENT AND ADVERTISING NORMS
NEW DELHI: After Multi Service Operators and the cable distribution industry, now the country’s leading broadcasters like Star, Zee, ESPN, Sony, Neo Sports, Discovery and others have taken on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) questioning its authority and mandate to regulate content and television advertising norms. Recently, Trai had proposed a 50% reduction in the duration of television advertising for pay channels and other measures for TV genres like movies, news and free-to-air channels so as to give consumers a better viewing experience. Last month, Trai floated a consultation paper proposing that no free-to-air channel should carry ads exceeding 12 minutes in an hour. For pay channels, Trai proposed a six minute cap, 50% of what is currently being prescribed under the cable laws. Trai also suggested that the 12 minutes of ads should not be in more than four sessions in one hour. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/broadcasters-question-trais-mandate-to-regulate-content-and-advertising-norms/937752/)
MURDOCH’S STAR BRAND EXITS INDIAN NEWS TV
MUMBAI: The Rupert Murdoch-controlled STAR Group has decided to part ways and end its brand association with the Ananda Bazaar Patrika (ABP) Group in their joint venture (JV), after months of discontent over editorial and strategic issues. However, STAR Indiawill continue to hold its stake in the JV. The two have been operating news television venture, Media Content & Communications Services India Pvt Ltd (MCCS), over the past eight years. “MCCS has sustained its affiliation with STAR for eight years and both have benefited from the association. STAR and ABP have decided to discontinue the brand agreement, where STAR has lent the brand to MCCS. STAR continues to be a shareholder in MCCS,” said MCCS CEO Ashok Venkatramani. MCCS, formed in March 2003, is a 74:26 joint venture between ABP TV and STAR News Broadcasting. STAR News, owned by the JV, will now be called ABP News. The Bengali channel STAR Ananda will be called ABP Ananda and Marathi news channel STAR Majha will be ABP Majha. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/murdochs-star-brand-exits-indian-news-tv/471620/)
STILL IN CDR, BUT ESSAR OIL PLANS TO RAISE RS 6,300 CRORE MORE VIA DEBT
MUMBAI: Even as Essar Oil gets set to come out of its Rs 9,000-crore corporate debt restructuring (CDR) exercise at the end of this month, the company is planning to take another bold step — by taking on additional debt on its books. To pay off its Rs 6,300-crore sales tax burden to the Gujaratgovernment, Essar Oil is in advance negotiations with the State Bank of India (SBI) to arrange for a long-term loan of six years with an average interest rate of 12.5 per cent. If sanctioned, SBI’s exposure in Essar Oil alone will be close to Rs 9,500 crore. A company official confirmed the development, saying discussions with banks are on to keep a standby arrangement. “We have the option of going to one bank or a consortium of banks, depending on the kind of money we would need for the purpose of repayment schedule,” he added. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/still-in-cdressar-oil-plans-to-raise-rs-6300-cr-more-via-debt/471607/)
RETAIL SOURCING SPURS AN INDIA SUPPLY CLUB
MORADABAD/NEW DELHI: Designco’s sprint from brass mill to mass supplier in high-quality home decor to the likes of Walmart and IKEA showcases the transformational scale of a sourcing shift. Vipul Gupta, 25, leans back in his large, towel-covered chair, inside a predictable wood-panelled office, and begins a story. It’s about how his grandfather, Narayan Kumar Lohia, a purveyor of watches in Haridwar, established a brass rolling mill some time in the 1970s. And, subsequently, brought his four sons together to start a brass handicrafts company in 1982. It is a fascinating tale about Designco, a family-run start-up that has grown to become one of the largest handicraft exporters in the country, shipping out products worth some $30 million annually to multinational retailers and speciality stores, primarily in Europe and America. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/retail-sourcing-spurs-an-india-supply-club/471606/)
INFLATION FALLS IN MARCH RISE IN FOOD PRICES REMAINS A CONCERN
NEW DELHI: Inflation again presented a difficult situation for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), ahead of its annual policy for 2012-13, as the rate of price rise for food items approached double digits in March. However, falling manufacturing numbers pulled down overall inflation. The central bank is, however, widely expected to cut policy rates tomorrow. Overall inflation fell to 6.89 per cent in March, compared with 6.95 per cent in the previous month, owing to the easing inflationary pressure on manufactured products, official data released on Monday showed. Food inflation rose to a five-month high of 9.94 per cent in March, compared with 6.07 per cent in February, and deflation in January. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee termed the trend of rising food prices “disturbing”, saying the government would have been more comfortable had inflation been closer to 6.5 per cent. He added supply-side measures had to be addressed to bring food inflation down, something industry chambers have long been batting for. (For details log on to : http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/inflation-falls-in-march-rise-in-food-prices-remainsconcern/471609/)
CLAMPDOWN ON FOREIGN TRIPS BY GOVT OFFICIALS
NEW DELHI: Government officials eyeing foreign junkets to beat the summer heat in colder climes in Europe and North Americaare in for a shock. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee wants just one official to represent Indiain overseas engagements of a routine nature. The move is part of an austerity drive to check government expenditure. “I have noticed that delegations consisting of two or more officers are being deputed for attending meetings, international conferences and seminars. This practice should be discontinued and only one officer with suitable seniority should be deputed for participation in such events,” Mukherjee wrote to all departments in the ministry. On Wednesday, Mukherjee will lead a delegation including RBI governor D Subbarao and economic affairs secretary R Gopalan to the IMF spring meeting at Washington. Besides attending IMF and G20 meetings, the officers will also meet US treasury department officials and businessmen. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/clampdown-on-foreign-trips-by-govt-officials/937777/)
INCREDIBLE INDIA SET TO CASH IN ON TOURISM OF FAITH
JAIPUR: Befitting the land of religions, the Incredible India campaign is set to focus on tourism of faith. A recent Ficci-Yes Bank study on religious tourism underlines the potential that this segment has and the policy measures that the government needs to take. The report was unveiled at the fifth edition of the Great Indian Travel Bazaar held in Jaipur. “Religious tourism has great potential and the government is working proactively to tap this potential,” union tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahai said. He also added that the ministry is looking at doubling the number of inbound tourists in the current Five Year Plan. In 2011, the country witnessed around 5.7 million tourists. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/incredible-india-set-to-cash-in-on-tourism-of-faith/937758/)
NO PLAN TO BUY MORE SHARES OF IVRCL: ESSEL
HYDERABAD: Ending days of speculation, Subhash Chandra-promoted Essel Group has confirmed it does not have any intent to make an open offer to hike its stake in IVRCL. On April 3, Essel, through its entities, had acquired 12.27% of IVRCL. According to Essel Group, the price sought for promoters’ 11.2% stake was “manifold above the then prevailing market price”. “At present, there is no intent to increase its stake in the company by way of an open offer or through the open market,” Essel said in a statement. While IVRCL management were not available for comments, sources in the know clarified that they never approached Essel for stake sale or any kind of partnership. IVRCL stocks took a hit and closed at R70.80 on BSE after touching an intraday high of R73.40. The stock had gained considerably ever since Essel Group’s stake purchase became public on expectations of a possible takeover bid. (For details log on to : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/no-plan-to-buy-more-shares-of-ivrcl-essel/937734/)
RANDOM CHECKING OF TEA EXPORTS TO PAKISTAN SOON
Tea Board chairman Mr G.V. K. Bhanu has assured the representatives of Pakistan Tea Association (PTA) that the board will put in force a system of random checking of tea exports to Pakistanwith imemdiate effect. PTA representatives has made the Tae Board chairman recently where they expressed their concern on the quality of a few lots of teas imported to Pakistan. PTA, visiting Indiaon a mission to increase imports of Indian teas, was invited by the Tea Board chairman for an interactive session. PTA has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Indian Tea Association to import 50 million kg of tea by 2015. Pakistanhad imported about 24 million kg of tea from Indiaduring 2011, most of which is sourced from South India. Pakistanconsumes 220 million kg of tea annually. It mostly sources teas from Kenya, which is one of the leaders in CTC production. Pakistanimports 135 million kg of tea from Kenya. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/cons-products/food/random-checking-of-tea-exports-to-pakistan-soon/articleshow/12694366.cms)
PLAN UNDERWAY TO ALLOW PRIVATE COMPANIES TO MINE COAL
NEW DELHI: Under pressure from the PMO to increase coal production, Coal Secretary Alok Perti has convened a meeting between private coal mining companies and government-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) to identify projects that could be outsourced to private coal miners. Law ministry officials have also been invited to attend this meeting which will be held this week. The meeting will deliberate on the legal framework under which private mining companies can enter the sector though the competitive bidding route. Mining is limited to government owned companies under the Coal Nationalisation Act though end-users such as power, steel and cement companies can mine for their own use. A source in the PMO said that increasing coal production in the country has been identified as a top priority as the shortfall in the fuel has taken a toll on the growth story. “Possibilities of whether and how private mining companies could be roped in to help expand capacities and increase production had also been flagged at the inter-ministerial meetings held between January and March,” the source said. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/energy/power/plan-underway-to-allow-private-companies-to-mine-coal/articleshow/12697158.cms)
CIL AGREES TO FSAS BUT WILL PAY ONLY A MARGINAL PENALTY FOR DEFAULT
KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Coal India will sign fuel supply agreements (FSAs) with power companies in a few days but it will pay only a marginal penalty for default, its board decided on Monday, drawing sharp criticism from power producers and muted praise from TCI, the UK-based hedge fund that has opposed the pacts. In its first meeting after the presidential directive to sign FSAs, the board took eight hours to iron out differences with independent directors, who had opposed instructions from the prime minister’s office to sign supply agreements with power firms. The board finally agreed on a token penalty if supplies dip below 80% of the commitment. “The board has decided to bring down the penalty to 0.01% of the value of shortfall and the trigger point is at 80%. The penalty clause will be effective after three years from now. There will not be any reduction in the volume of e-auction for the time being,” Zohra Chatterji, acting chairman of the company told reporters after the meeting in Kolkata. Coal Indiawill also get an incentive of 0.01% of the value of supplies if they exceed 90% of the commitment. Penalty and incentive for existing FSAs are 10%. (For details log on to : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/energy/power/cil-agrees-to-fsas-but-will-pay-only-a-marginal-penalty-for-default/articleshow/12697115.cms)
ORGANIZED RETAILERS CHANGE TACK AS SECTOR EVOLVES
MUMBAI: On 1 April, Rakesh Biyani, cousin of Kishore Biyani, chairman and founder of the Future Group, took over as joint managing director of the retail conglomerate in the midst of a restructuring exercise that saw the departure of top executives, including Sanjeev Agarwal, joint chief executive officer of Big Bazaar, and Vibha Rishi, executive director (customer strategy), and the group reducing its workforce by one-tenth. Across the country, companies in the business of organized retail—the next big thing in India for the past decade— have tweaked strategies, some for the second or third time, and consolidated their operations even as a slowing economy cut consumer spends, and higher rentals, power bills and excise duties increased their operating costs. Some analysts explain the trend as just another stage in the evolution of modern retail in the country. Others point to more fundamental problems related to regulation and real estate. (For details log on to : http://www.livemint.com/2012/04/16230124/Organized-retailers-change-tac.html?atype=tp)