L&T signs contract to build stadium in Qatar for 2022 FIFA World Cup

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said that its construction arm, along with its joint venture partner in Qatar, Al Balagh Trading & Contracting, has signed a contract to build a 40,000-seat stadium, as part of the sports infrastructure being readied by the Emirate in preparation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 
The contract was announced by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy at a well-attended signing ceremony, a press release from the company said here today.
The contract for the project is for a combined value of $ 360 million for both JV partners and is slated to be completed by 2019. 
The scope for the stadium includes main works and construction of the site, following completion of the enabling works.
Dr. Jens Huckfeldt, Chief Executive, L&T Qatar, said, “It is a matter of immense pride for Larsen & Toubro along with its joint venture partner Al Balagh, to have been given the responsibility to design and build the Al Rayyan Stadium and Precinct in preparation of the historic first Middle Eastern FIFA World Cup in 2022. We are extremely mindful of the trust and confidence given by the Supreme Committee for constructing the stadium and we are committed to deliver a masterpiece.”
He added that executing a project of this importance and magnitude would reinforce the relationship between all stakeholders and pave the way for a long and mutually beneficial association.
Inspired by the local patterns and dune-like structures, the Al Rayyan stadium and its precinct design will resemble the sand dunes that surround the traditional desert tents.
"A landmark in the making, the Al Rayyan stadium will be one of the most significant stadiums slated to host games up to the quarter-finals in the muchawaited 2022 FIFA World Cup," the release added.

Nita Ambani becomes first Indian woman to be nominated to IOC

Nita Ambani becomes the first Indian woman to be nominated into the International Olympics Committee (IOC). Her roles as Reliance Foundation founder, FSDC founder, Mumbai Indians IPL team owner backs up her nod.

Nita Ambani
Nita Ambani
Nita Ambani, the Founder and Chairperson of Reliance Foundation, was on Friday nominated as a candidate to be a member of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), the supreme authority of the Olympic Games, by its Members Election Commission.
Part of a list of eight members who were selected by the Commission, she is the first Indian woman to be nominated to the IOC, and will go on to create history if she gets elected in August 2016 at the 129th IOC Session.
Reliance Foundation is the philanthropic arm of energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).
Ms. Ambani, the wife of RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, has been involved in promoting different sports in India with focus on young talent through her grassroots programs, which has reached over 3 million children around the country. 
This proved to be a defining point for the Commission to enlist Mrs. Ambani as an appropriate candidate and as India’s representative.
Her nomination comes at a time when a new procedure was followed to select the candidates. 
“It is recognition of India’s growing importance on world stage. I believe in the power of sports to shape the future of our youth. Sports bring communities and links cultures and generations together, so I’m really excited about this honour,” Ms. Ambani told a News18 correspondent.
The new approach also involved integrity checks by the IOC Ethics Commission which further strengthens the appeal of Ms. Ambani’s nomination. She was selected based on her illustrious career. 
Nita Ambani is also the Founder and Chairperson of India’s Football Sports Development Limited, through which she has shown extraordinary commitment to developing sports talent in India.
Led by Ms. Ambani, the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Programme has reached out to nearly 2 million children across 2,200 schools in India. She is also the owner of Mumbai Indians cricket team.
As a member of IOC, Ms. Ambani will participate in various sessions where the core elements of the Games will be discussed. Selecting the host city and discussing issues will be some of the responsibilities that Ms. Ambani will assist in as a member.
The IOC’s role is to supervise, support, and monitor the organization of the Games; ensure that they run smoothly; and make sure that the rules of the Olympic Charter are respected. 
As a member, Ms. Ambani will be at the forefront of this supervision for Indian players who will participate in the Games.
The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will propose in all eight new members, including Ms. Ambani of India, for election at the 129th IOC Session ahead of the Olympic Games 2016 this summer.
The addition of eight new members would bring the total number of Members to 99. The 129th IOC Session is scheduled to take place from 2 to 4 and on 21 August 2016.
Once elected, Ms. Ambani and the other new members will continue to be members until the age of 70.
"The list is the result of the first targeted recruitment process for IOC Membership as outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement," a press release from IOC said after a meeting of its EB at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland on Friday.
It said a new set of criteria was applied by the IOC Members Election Commission, which proposed the list of candidates to the EB. The Commission devised a procedure aimed at targeting new members with skills and experience needed by the IOC. The new approach includes integrity checks by the IOC Ethics Commission.
"The proposed candidatures represent a cross-section of expertise from the worlds of sport, culture, medicine, sociology, business, law and management. Gender equality is guaranteed with four women and four men on the list," the release said.
Apart from Ms. Ambani, the other candidates are athlete Sari Essayah of Finland, who is chairperson of the Finnish Christian Democratic Party; Italian bobsleigher Ivo Ferriani, president of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation; Luis Moreno of Colombia, President of the Inter-American Development Bank; Auvita Rapilla of Papua New Guinea, Secretary General of the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee, ANOC and ONOC Executive Committee Member; film producer Anant Singh of South Africa; Tricia Smith of Canada, Olympian, rower, President of the Canadian Olympic Committee; and Karl Stoss of Austria, Chairman of the Managing Board of Casinos Austria AG, President of the Austrian Olympic Committee.
“These eight candidates that we are proposing to the next IOC Session are a strong and varied group of individuals that are experts in their respective fields and will make great contributions,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “They have been vetted by new criteria in keeping with the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020. These candidates will add extra strength and diversity to our already universal orchestra of IOC Members.”
The International Olympic Committee is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement. It acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family, from the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the International Sports Federations (IFs), the athletes, the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs), to partners and United Nations agencies. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) shepherds success through a wide range of programmes and projects. It ensures the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, supports all affiliated member organisations of the Olympic Movement and strongly encourages, by appropriate means, the promotion of the Olympic values.

RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.5%, CRR at 4%

Citing uncertainties in the economy, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.5 percent and retained the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks at 4.0 percent of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL).
In his Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17, RBI Governor Raghuram G. Rajan said this had been decided on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation.
He said the RBI would continue to provide liquidity as required but progressively lower the average ex ante liquidity deficit in the system from one per cent of NDTL to a position closer to neutrality.
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 6.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 7.0 per cent.
Dr. Rajan recalled that in its bi-monthly monetary policy statement of April 2016, the Reserve Bank had stated that it would watch macroeconomic and financial developments in the months ahead with a view to responding as space opened up. 
"Incoming data since then show a sharper-than-anticipated upsurge in inflationary pressures emanating from a number of food items (beyond seasonal effects), as well as a reversal in commodity prices. A strong monsoon, continued astute food management, as well as steady expansion in supply capacity, especially in services, could help offset these upward pressures. 
"Given the uncertainties, the Reserve Bank will stay on hold, but the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative. The Reserve Bank will monitor macroeconomic and financial developments for any further scope for policy action," he said.
Dr. Rajan said more monetary transmission to support the revival of growth continued to be critical. 
"The government’s reform measures on small savings rates combined with the Reserve Bank’s refinements in the liquidity management framework should help the transmission of past policy rate reductions into lending rates of banks. The Reserve Bank will shortly review the implementation of the Marginal Cost Lending Rate framework by banks. Timely capital infusions into constrained public sector banks will also aid credit flow," he said.
Dr. Rajan said the inflation surprise in the April reading made the future trajectory of inflation somewhat more uncertain. 
"The expectations of a normal monsoon and a reasonable spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall, along with various supply management measures and the introduction of the electronic national agriculture market (e-NAM) trading portal, should moderate unanticipated flares of food inflation. In addition, capacity utilisation indicators suggest that the available headroom in industry could keep output prices subdued even as demand picks up. Nonetheless, there are upside risks – firming international commodity prices, particularly of crude oil; the implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission awards which will have to be factored into projections as soon as clarity on implementation emerges; the upturn in inflation expectations of households and of corporates; and the stickiness in inflation excluding food and fuel. Taking these factors into account, the inflation projections given in the April policy statement are retained, though with an upside bias. Considerable uncertainty surrounds these projections, which should be clarified by incoming data in the next few months," he said.
"Domestic conditions for growth are improving gradually, mainly driven by consumption demand, which is expected to strengthen with a normal monsoon and the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission award. Higher public sector capital expenditure, led by roads and railways, should crowd in private investment, offsetting somewhat the subdued appetite for fresh private investment due to financial stress. Yet, business confidence will be restrained to an extent on account of unrelenting global factors. On a reassessment of balance of risks, therefore, the GVA growth projection for 2016-17 has been retained at 7.6 per cent with risks evenly balanced," he said.
In its assessment of the economic situation, the RBI said that, since the first bi-monthly statement of April 2016, global growth was uneven and struggling to gain traction. World trade remains muted in an environment of weak demand, it said.
The statement said global financial markets had recorded gains through Q2 of 2016, spurred by risk-on investor sentiment. 
"Portfolio flows are returning, albeit hesitantly, to EME debt and equity markets. The firmness in crude prices that set in around mid-March has been supported in subsequent weeks by some temporary reductions in global supply. Gold prices remain elevated on safe haven demand. Other non-energy commodity prices remain stable with a hint of upside, while steel prices have firmed appreciably. Bond market yields across AEs have eased steadily, reflecting strong appetite in primary auctions in the face of the growing universe of negative yielding bonds. 
"The US dollar continues to mirror changes in expectations of monetary policy action by the Fed. The yen and the euro have remained strong despite ultra-accommodative monetary policies. Among EMEs, some currencies are trading with an appreciating bias, with the biggest gains recorded by the currencies that had depreciated the most earlier," it said.
Dr. Rajan said that, on the domestic front, the recently released provisional estimate of gross value added (GVA) for 2015-16 marginally scaled down the annual growth rate to 7.2 per cent, on a deceleration of services sector activity in relation to the advance estimates. 
"There was, however, a sequential pickup in activity in Q4 in line with expectations. As regards the current financial year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast an above-normal and well-distributed south west monsoon as El Nino wanes – albeit with a slightly delayed onset. Realisation of this prediction is critical for the outlook for agriculture since reservoir levels have been depleted to 17 per cent of capacity – 40 per cent lower than the level a year ago. Even though rabi procurement was lower in April-May 2016 than a year ago, mid-May food stocks at 58 million tonnes were almost three times the norm for Q1.
"The index of industrial production decelerated in 2015-16, mainly pulled down by weak manufacturing in an environment of subdued investment demand and weak rural consumption. In May 2016, the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) remained subdued on account of slowing output and export orders. However, except for natural gas and crude oil, the core sector registered strong growth in April 2016 on account of a seasonal pick-up in industries like electricity, also supported by a low base. 
"There are signs that corporate performance is improving. Available information on Q4 earnings suggests double digit growth in EBITDA levels for non-financial corporates. The Reserve Bank’s latest rounds of forward looking surveys indicate an improvement in the overall business situation, driven by a pick-up in capacity utilisation and in order books – both domestic and external. These developments have improved the expectation of business conditions in the first half of 2016-17. Public investment, especially in roads and railways, is gaining strength, though the continuing weakness in private investment is of concern. Demand conditions are likely to improve going forward; consumer confidence is seen as rising on improving expectations of employment and spending, with rural demand aided by a stronger monsoon. Rising capacity utilisation should prompt private investment," he said.
The statement said some high frequency indicators for April pointed to a firming recovery, although it was still uneven.
"Leading the upturn are cargo traffic at major ports, automobile sales (especially two-wheelers and three-wheelers), commercial vehicle sales, passenger air and freight traffic, cement production and steel consumption. Abstracting from seasonal effects, this suggests that the expansion, especially in the service sector, is getting broad-based. On the other hand, railway freight traffic and passenger car sales have decelerated on sector-specific constraints. Purchasing managers in the services sector indicated slowing new business in May and subdued expectations of future activity.
"The ebbing of inflation pressures for two consecutive months to March, after a period of steady rise, was interrupted once again in April. Retail inflation measured by the consumer price index (CPI) rose more sharply than expected due to a more-than-seasonal jump in food prices. Within the food group, inflation in respect of vegetables, fruits, sugar, meat and fish rose sizably from their prints in the previous month. Inflation in respect of pulses remained elevated; the recent decline in prices of pulses reversed, yielding a sharp increase in April. Production of pulses has fallen for the second consecutive year, according to the third advance estimates for 2015-16. There was also a firming of inflation relating to edible oils, spices and non-alcoholic beverages. Cereal inflation, however, remained subdued, reflecting supply management efforts that expanded offtake from food stocks. Inflation in respect of the fuel group eased mainly due to firewood and stronger deflation in respect of LPG prices. Reflecting these recent inflation dynamics, three-months-ahead inflation expectations of households moved up marginally in May," he said.
The statement said CPI inflation, excluding food and fuel, edged up in April, driven by prices of petrol and diesel embedded in transport and communication.
"Clothing and footwear also registered moderate increases in inflation. Services inflation remained elevated on account of house rents, water charges, tuition fees and taxi/auto fares. Excluding petrol and diesel from this category, inflation was sticky and above 5 per cent. However, since growth in rural wages and corporate staff costs have been modest, cost-push factors may be subdued for the time being.
"Despite the waning of liquidity pressures in early April, stronger-than-usual currency demand during the first two months of the financial year and build-up of cash balances by the Government from the second week of May tightened liquidity conditions from mid-May. In order to mitigate these pressures, the Reserve Bank injected liquidity through purchases under open market operations (OMOs) of Rs. 700 billion during April-May in pursuance of the revised liquidity management framework outlined in the April bi-monthly policy statement. Additionally, liquidity was injected through variable rate repos of various tenors, in addition to the regular 14-day term repos and overnight fixed rate repo and MSF. The average daily net liquidity injection through the liquidity adjustment facility (including MSF) declined from Rs. 1935 billion in March 2016 to Rs. 1030 billion during April-May and further to Rs. 120 billion in June (up to June 5, 2016). The weighted average call money rate (WACR) remained closely anchored to the policy rate within a narrower corridor of +/- 50 basis points around the policy repo rate. Volatility also declined significantly. Interest rates on money market instruments such as certificates of deposit (CDs) and commercial paper (CPs) also eased through the quarter so far," it said.
The statement noted that exports had declined for the 17th consecutive month in April in US dollar terms in spite of a modest increase in volume. 
"The fall in crude oil prices led to lower export realisations from petroleum products (POL), although the volume of shipments of petroleum products is estimated to have picked up modestly. Among non-oil items, exports of gems and jewellery, drugs and pharmaceuticals, chemicals and electronic goods improved over their levels a year ago. By contrast, exports of engineering goods declined for the ninth straight month while readymade garments recorded a fall for the fourth successive month. Imports fell sharply and across constituents – 25 items accounting for a share of 87 per cent in total imports recorded a decline; POL imports also declined, essentially reflecting lower prices. Accordingly, the trade deficit narrowed sequentially and was less than half its level a year ago. Portfolio flows resumed in April and May. The level of foreign exchange reserves rose to US $ 360 billion by May 27, 2016," it said.

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 2161 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders valued at Rs. 2161 crore across various segments.
A press release from the company said these included a major design and build order worth Rs. 847 crore from the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) bagged by its Transportation Infrastructure Business.
The prestigious order has been secured by the consortium of L&T and Instalaciones Inabensa, S.A., Spain, it said. It involves electrification works for 417 km section of the Eastern DFC (Dedicated Freight Corridor) from Mughalsarai to New Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh.
The scope of works includes construction of seven Traction Sub- Stations (TSS), 18 Switching Stations (SWS), 881 track km of Overhead Equipment (OHE), SCADA and electrical and mechanical works along with supply of all associated equipment. This section will be designed for 2x25 kV traction power system with OHE suitable for dedicated freight transport.
L&T Construction is already executing the electrification works for two similar packages of the Western DFC covering 1337 route km with over 3000 track km.
The project is planned to be executed using mechanized means of overhead equipment installation using the latest technology in railway construction. This would be a one-of-its-kind energy efficient system to be implemented in India’s rail sector, the release said.
This project is funded by World Bank and is part of the 1856 km Eastern DFC proposed between Sahnewal (Ludhiana) and Dankuni (Near Kolkata) via Mughalsarai.
The company said its Water & Effluent Treatment Business had won EPC orders worth Rs. 709 crore, including a contract from Gujarat Water Infrastructure Limited, the scope of which involves design and construction of approximately 146 km of mild steel pipelines and 26 km of ductile iron pipelines.
Further, the business has also secured an order from Rajasthan Urban Drinking Water Sewerage & Infrastructure Corporation Limited (RUDSICO) for the design, construction and commissioning of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and Sewage Pumping Stations (SPS) along with sewer networks in Alwar, Sikar and Bhiwadi towns of Rajasthan. This project is funded under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Scheme.
The release said the company's Power Transmission & Distribution Business had won EPC orders worth Rs. 403 crore, incuding a contract from Power Grid Corporation of India Limited for the construction of a 400 kV double circuit transmission line package from Tumkur to Hiryur in Karnataka.
Another order has been bagged from Karnataka Solar Power Development Corporation Limited for the construction of 220/66 kV substations along with associated transmission line network. This project will be instrumental in power evacuation from the proposed 2000 MW Pavagada Solar Park in Tumkur district.
The company said its Metallurgical and Material Handling Business had won additional orders worth Rs. 202 crore from various ongoing jobs.

17 dead, 33 injured as bus falls into ditch on Mumbai-Pune Expressway

17 dead in bus mishap on Mumbai-Pune Expressway
At least 17 people died and 33 others suffered injuries when a luxury bus carrying them veered off the road and crashed into a 20-feet ditch near Panvel on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway early this morning.
Police sources told NetIndian that the mishap occurred at around 5.30 am as the bus was on its way from Satara to Mumbai.
According to them, the bus rammed into two cars that had stopped on the road and then fell into the ditch.
One of the cars, a Maruti Swift, had stopped on the side of the expressway to change a tyre that had burst and the other car, a Toyota Innova, had stopped by its side to try and help when the bus, coming from behind, rammed into the two vehicles, they said.
Police and other emergency personnel reached the the scene and rushed the injured to different hospitals nearby.
According to various sources, the deceased included four women.

Maharashtra Minister Eknath Khadse quits over corruption allegations

Maharashtra Minister Eknath Khadse resigns
Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse resigned from the State Cabinet today following allegations of impropriety in the acquisition of a plot of land near Pune at a very low price.
Mr. Khadse, who was the number two in the Cabinet, drove to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' residence here this morning and handed in his papers.
Mr. Fadnavis said later on micro-blogging site Twitter that he had received Mr. Khadse's resignation and had forwarded it to the Governor for acceptance.
Mr. Fadnavis also said Mr. Khadse had demanded an inquiry into the allegations against him. "A retired High Court judge will be appointed to conduct inquiry," he said.
The Chief Minister had earlier submitted a report in the matter to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah.
There were also allegations that calls were made to Mr. Khadse's mobile telephone from a number in Pakistan said to belong to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
The resignation, which came after the issue hogged the headlines in the media for several days, is seen as a major embarassment or the Fadnavis government, which had promised clean governance.
It has also dented the image of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power both at the Centre and in Maharashtra and had promised there would be zero tolerance towards corruption.
Announcing his resignation at a press conference, Mr. Khadse said the charges against him were baseless and part of a campaign to undermine the BJP and tarnish his image. Demanding an inquiry into the allegations, he asserted he had done no wrong and would come back.

Sun Pharma divests two US manufacturing units to Frontida BioPharm

Pharmaceuticals major Sun Pharma today announced that, as a part of its manufacturing consolidation in the United States, one of its wholly owned subsidiaries has entered into an agreement with Frontida BioPharm, Inc. for divestment of its two oral solid dosage manufacturing facilities located at Philadelphia, PA, and Aurora, IL both in the US, along with 15 related pharmaceutical products.
In connection with the transaction, Frontida has agreed to continue manufacturing certain products for Sun Pharma at these facilities on a contract basis for a predetermined period, a press release from the company said.
It has also agreed to offer employment to all production, quality and administrative personnel at the sites. During the divestment process, Sun Pharma was cognizant about ensuring the continued supply of quality products to patients and protecting the interests of its employees working in these units, it said.
"The impact of this development on Sun Pharma’s consolidated financials and operations is not material. Other details of the transaction are confidential," the release added.

HDFC to acquire L&T General Insurance

The Board of Directors of HDFC Ergo General Insurance Company Limited has approved the purchase of 100 percent stake in L&T General Insurance Company Limited, subject to IRDAI and other regulatory approvals.
A press release from the company said the Board, at its meeting held here yesterday, also approved the plan to merge the two companies, subject to all regulatory approvals.
Mr. Deepak Parekh, Chairman of HDFC Ltd and HDFC Ergo General Insurance said, "Considering the importance of scale in the insurance business, consolidation within the insurance  industry is inevitable. This transaction marks the beginning of this consolidation phase. The acquisition will help HDFC ERGO to further strengthen its presence in the market. The combined size and expertise will result in improved  cost efficiencies in the merged entity and benefit policy holders and other stakeholders."
For the all-cash deal structured by Arpwood Capital Pvt Ltd., exclusive financial advisers to HDFC Ergo, the transaction has been valued at Rs. 551 crore.
"The acquisition would help HDFC Ergo improve its market position. HDFC Ergo expects  significant  cost  synergies  arising out of business, technology optimization and rationalization of offices," the release said.
HDFC Ergo, a 51:49  joint venture between housing finance major HDFC Limited and Ergo International, Germany (part of Munich Re Group), is the fourth largest private  sector general insurer in India and offers all lines of general insurance  products including motor, health, personal accident, home, fire, marine, aviation, liability and crop insurance. During the financial year ended March  31,  2016, the company wrote gross premiums of Rs. 3467 crore and made a profit after tax of Rs. 151 crore. The company operates through 108 offices and employee strength of 2007.
L&T General Insurance is a wholly owned subsidiary of engineering conglomerate,  Larsen and Toubro Ltd. The six-year-old insurer is a relatively new entrant in the insurance industry. During the financial year ended March 31, 2016, L&T General Insurance wrote gross premium of Rs. 483 crore registering a growth of 40% over previous financial year. The company operates through 28 offices and employee strength over 800 employees.

India's forex reserves dip by $ 711.6 million to $ 360.194 billion

Falling for the fourth consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 711.6 million to $ 360.194 billion in the week ended May 27, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had decreased by $ 121.3 million to $ 360.905 billionin the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had  declined by $  711.9 million to $ 336.227 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.043 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) were also unchanged at $ 1.498 billion.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 0.3 million to $ 2.425 billion, the bulletin added.

Reliance temporarily shuts down PTA, PET plants at Dahej due to water shortage

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said that it had decided to temporarily shut down its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) units at Dahej in Bharuch district of Gujarat because of shortage of the right quality of industrial water at the complex.
In a filing to the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange, the company said the problem had arisen due to lower release of dam water and the significant increased salinity of water supply to its Dahej manufacturing complex.
"As a response, RIL is running on reduced capacity in some of the plants and has temporarily shut down its PTA and PET plants," the company said. RIL has 2.3 MMTPA of PTA capacity and 60 KTPA of PET capacity at Dahej.
"RIL has initiated alternative arrangements for water and is closely monitoring the situation. It has also used the current situation to carry out planned maintenance and reliability activities. It is in a state of readiness to resume full supplies as soon as the water availability and water quality issues are resolved.
"RIL is ensuring a continued supply of PTA to the domestic market from its Hazira and Patalganga manufacturing complexes," the company added.

Reliance to sell interest in Gulf Africa Petroleum to Total

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said its indirect wholly owned subsidiary Reliance Exploration & Production DMCC (REPDMCC) has agreed to sell its entire 78 percent interest in the Mauritius-incorporated Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation (GAPCO).
The two companies executed ageements in this regard on May 30, a press release from Reliance said here.
The proposed transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions that are customary for similar transactions, it said.
GAPCO is a holding company with operating subsidiaries in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda which are primarily engaged in petroleum product import, and trading, storage, distribution, marketing, supply and transportation of oil products in East Africa. 
Since the acquisition of 76% equity interest in GAPCO by REPDMCC in 2007, GAPCO has significantly grown and is one of leading petroleum marketing companies in East Africa, which now operates 108 retail outlets and owns 260 TKL of storage capacity.
REPDMCC’s agreement to sell its interest in GAPCO is part of a joint transaction, wherein both REPDMCC and the Minority Shareholder have agreed to sell their entire respective holdings in GAPCO for cash.
The net proceeds for the sale will be finalized on completion of the transaction which is expected to be within the coming months,the release added.

Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra takes over as FOC-in-C, Western Naval Command

Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra
Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra
Vice Admiral Girish Luthra took over the reins of Western Naval Command (WNC) as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) from Vice-Admiral Sunil Lanba at a ceremonial parade held at INS Shikra here today.
Later in the day, officers of the Western Naval Command (WNC) accorded Vice-Admiral Lanba a warm send off, with the traditional ‘Pulling Out’ ceremony. Vice-Admiral Lanba will take over as the Chief of Naval Staff tomorrow.
Addressing the personnel on parade, Vice Admiral Lanba complimented the personnel of the command who, not withstanding the constraints of the service, have worked with synergy and teamwork in ensuring that ships, submarines and aricrafts are maintained in a high state of combat readiness at all times. In keeping with the fragile maritime environment of the region, he said that there is a need to be ever vigilant in all quarters and all fronts.
He said that he had no doubt that fire power from units of fleet, flotillas and squadrons can be delivered appropriately should the need arise. 
Pointing towards the International Fleet Review held recently at Visakhapatnam, Vice-Admiral Lanba said that presence of 50 countries in the review clearly indicated the growing stature of the country in the region. He added that many countries had expressed the desire to cooperate and exercise with Indian Navy which is indicative of professionalism, training and sound culture displayed by the service. He also stressed the need to continue working together to bring change and work smartly. 
He also apprised the personnel on the steps taken by WNC in addressing the long standing issue of shortage of married accommodation. 

India's forex reserves fall by $ 121.3 million to $ 360.905 bilion

Falling for the third consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves decreased by $ 121.3 million to $ 360.905 billion in the week ended May 20 the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had fallen by $ 968 million to $ 361.027 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had  decreased by $ 107.1 million to $ 336.939 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.043 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) fell by $ 5.4 million to $ 1.498 billion.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 8.8 million to $ 2.425 billion, the bulletin added.

Five dead, 85 injured in boiler blast at chemical factory in Dombivali near Mumbai

5 dead, 85 injured after blast in chemical factory near Mumbai
At least five workers died and more than 85 others suffered injuries in a powerful blast in a boiler at a private chemical factory in the MIDC industrial complex on the outskirts of Dombivali near here today.
The explosion, which occurred around 11.30 am, led to a major fire in the premises of the factory, located in Phase II of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) industrial estate, official sources said.
Fire brigade and other emergency services personnel rushed to the scene and removed the injured to nearby hospitals.
The massive blast severely damaged two other adjacent factories as well as in several buildings nearby, including residential blocks. Window panes of many offices, commercial establishments and apartment were shattered and many fixtures damaged.
Residents of the area said that, for several minutes, they had no information about what had happened as people started running out of buildings in panic. Many people thought the area had been struck by an earthquake.
Fire brigade personnel brought the flames under control even as personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) reached the scene to join the rescue operations.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the scene of the blast as well as the victims in hospitals. He said the state government would ensure proper medical treatment for those who had suffered injuries.
Mr. Fadnavis said an inquiry would be conducted to establish the cause of the mishap and fix responsibility.

Euronet Worldwide bags license from RBI to operate under Bharat Bill Payment System

Value-added and payment services provider Euronet today said it had received in-principle approval from the Reserve Bank of India to operate as an operating unit under Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).
BBPS is an integrated bill payment system which offers interoperable bill payment services to customers, both online as well as through a network of physical agents. The system provides multiple payment modes and instant confirmation of payment.
All existing and proposed entities (both bank and non-bank entities) falling within the scope of BBPS, which include all bill aggregation and/or bill payment services, will have to participate in the system either as a Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit (BBPOU) or as an entity connected through a BBPOU.
‘In-principle’ approvals to operate as BBPOU are conveyed to the applicants that meet all the eligibility requirements, including existing net worth and requisite billing experience as covered under the present scope of BBPS.
A press release from Euronet said bill payments was a growing business category in India and BBPS is a key step towards the goal of achieving Digital India, an important campaign launched by the Government of India to ensure the country is more digitally empowered.
Mr. Himanshu Pujara, Regional Managing Director, Euronet, India and South Asia said, “The Reserve Bank of India received 62 applications for authorisation from non-bank entities and 80 requests for approval from banks to operate as a BBPOU. Under the in-principle approval from RBI, Euronet is named a BBPOU.” 
“Bill payments across categories is a big business for Euronet both in India and globally. We are excited to be part of this unique eco-system, being created by NPCI and leverage our global payments processing and operations experience primarily around reconciliation and customer dispute management and work with billers across categories and contribute meaningfully to this program," he added.
According to the release, Euronet has the largest mobile pre-payment network in the world and works closely with over 200 mobile operators. Euronet has been providing digital bill payment services in India for more than a decade and is integrated with all mobile and DTH operators. Additionally, Euronet India has expanded its products and services portfolio from mobile and DTH to facilitation of digital gift vouchers and other differentiated content of key online domestic and overseas merchants.
"Being part of Bharat Bill Payment System eco-system, Euronet will have the best advantage of channel and services augmentation in order to emerge as leading contributor to Reserve Bank of India’s vision of having a national bill payment system which will offer bill payment services for recurring payments including utilities (electricity, water, gas), telephone and mobile (pre-paid and post-paid bill payments), DTH, insurance, education fee payment as well as many other payments," the release added.

Dhoni to lead India on Zimbabwe tour, Kohli in West Indies Test series

Mahendra Singh Dhoni will lead a young 16-member team for the one-day international (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Zimbabe while Virat Kohli will lead the Indian team on the four-match Test tour of the West Indies.
The teams for the two tours were chosen by the All India Senior Selection Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), headed by Sandeep Patil, which met today at the Cricket Centre here.
The Indian team will play three ODIs and three T20Is on the tour of Zimbabwe.
Team for ODI & T20I Series to Zimbabwe:
MS Dhoni (Captain), KL Rahul, Faiz Fazal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Ambati Rayudu, Rishi Dhawan, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Barinder Sran, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Jaydev Unadkat, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Team for the Test tour to West Indies: 
Virat Kohli (Captain), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhwan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Stuart Binny.

Anurag Thakur elected as BCCI President, Ajay Shirke is new Secretary

Anurag Thakur
Anurag Thakur
Mr. Anurag Thakur was unanimously elected as the new President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at its special general meeting held here today.
Mr. Thakur’s tenure as BCCI President will extend till 2017, a press release from the Board said.
Mr. Thakur, 41, was endorsed by all the six units of East zone - Cricket Association of Bengal, National Cricket Club, Odisha Cricket Association, Tripura Cricket Association, Assam Cricket Association and Jharkhand Cricket Association.
Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) President Ajay Shirke has replaced Mr. Thakur as the next Honyorary Secretary of BCCI, the release added.
Mr. Thakur is the second youngest person to be elected BCCI President, after the late Fatehsinhrao Gaekwad, who was elected to the position in 1963 at the age of 33.
He has succeeded Mr. Shashank Manohar, who had resigned from his position earlier this month to contest elections for the post of Chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Mr. Manohar has since been elected unopposed to that position.
Born on October 24, 1974, Mr. Thakur, a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is the son of former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and represents Hamirpur constituency in the Lok Sabha.
He was elected to the Lok Sabha in May 2008 in a bye-election and re-elected in 2009 and 2015. 
He was elected as the youngest president of the Himachal Pradesh State Cricket Association at the age of 25. While serving as president of the association, he represented Himachal Pradesh in one first class match in the 2000-01 season, leading the team against Jammu & Kashmir. This helped his induction as a member of the BCCI national junior selection committee, in which only first class players can be members.
He was elected as Honorary Secretary of the BCCI in January 2015.

PowerGrid to replace BHEL in S&P BSE Sensex from June 20

State-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) will be replaced by another public sector company, Power Grid Corporation of India, in the S&P BSE Sensex with effect from June 20.
Announcing its semi-annual reconstitution results for the S&P BSE indices, Asia Index Private Limited said that Cairn India Limited would be replaced by Bajaj Finance Limited in the S&P BSE 100.
Cairn India will also be out of S&P BSE Carbonex, which will have three new companies -- Bajaj Finance, Cadila Healthcare and Marico.
Four banks -- Syndicate Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, UCO Bank and Allahabad Bank -- as well as Cairn India, Indiabulls Real Estate and Jaiprakash Associates are out of the S&P BSE 200. Their places will be taken by IDFC Bank, Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd, Jet Airways, Welspun India Ltd and Sanofi India Ltd, a press release from Asia Index said.
Cairn India, Bhushan Steel, United Bank of India, D B Realty Ltd, Ashiana Housing, IFB Industries, Aarti Drugs, Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra), Puravankara Projects, Claris Lifesciences and Tree House Education & Accessories Ltd are among the companies which have been dropped from S&P BSE 500.
Companies added to S&P BSE 500 include Adiya Birla Fashion and Retail, Crompton Greaves, Dr Lal Pathlabs Ltd, Alkem Laboratories, Narayana Hrudayalaya, Coffee Day Enterprises, NIIT, Navin Fluorent, ITD Cementation, Navkar Corporation, Kesoram Industries, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals, Majesco Ltd and Hindustan Media Ventures.
Hexaware Technologies, Eros International Media and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra have been dropped from S&P BSE Teck and their places taken by Persistent Systems Limited, TV Today Network and OnMobile Global.
In S&P BSE Oil & Gas, Cairn India has been dropped and Indraprastha Gas Ltd has been added.
All the changes wil be effective at the open of Monday, June 20, 2016. There are no changes in the S&P BSE Bankex Index, the release said.
Asia Index Private Ltd is a partnership between S&P Dow Jones Indics LLC and BSE Ltd.

BSE nominates Sumit Bose, Vikramjit Sen as public interest directors on its Governing Board

BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) has nominated former Finance  Secretary Sumit Bose and former Supreme Court judge Vikramjit Sen as Public Interest Directors on its Governing Board.
A press release from BSE said the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had approved the appointments with effect from May 19.
Mr. Bose is a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1976 batch (Madhya Pradesh cadre). He had served as Secretary (Expenditure), Secretary (Revenue) and Secretary (Disinvestment) in the Ministry of Finance. He is currently a member of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Committee appointed by the government recently.
Mr. Justice (Retd.) Sen is a former judge of the Delhi High Court and former Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court. He served as a judge in the Supreme Court from December 24, 2012 to December 30, 2015.
He is associated with several Christian institutions and is on the Board of Governors of St. Stephen's College, Delhi, St. Stephen's Hospital, Delhi and Bishop Cotton School, Simla.

Dilip Shanghvi withdraws plans to form payments bank with IDFC, Telenor

Businessman Dilip Shanghvi, IDFC Bank and Telenor Financial Services have announced that they have jointly agreed to withdraw their plans to establish a payments bank venture in India.
"This decision, collectively made by the three partners, will be communicated to Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Consequently, the payment bank license will not be pursued," a press release issued by them here yesterday said.
Mr. Shanghvi, Managing Director of Sun Pharmaceuticals, in September 2015, as lead applicant along with Telenor Financial Services and IDFC Bank, was granted in-principle licence by RBI to form a payments bank in India. 
During the past eight months, representatives of the three partners worked together to establish relevant frameworks and a governance structure for the proposed joint venture (JV), the release said.
 “Telenor Financial Services and IDFC Bank have rich experience from offering financial services and the intention of the JV was to combine our expertise to launch a robust payment bank service in India. Following the mutual decision to withdraw these plans, the payment bank license will not be pursued,” Mr. Shanghvi said on behalf of Dilip Shanghvi Family & Associates (DSA).
“From the day we signed the Letter of Intent, we have worked hard together with our partners to form a company which can meet the demand for basic banking services across India. We are thankful to both IDFC Bank and Dilip Shanghvi for their efforts throughout this process," said Mrs. Tine Wollebekk, SVP and Head of Telenor Financial Services.  
“It was a good experience working with Telenor Financial Services and Dilip Shanghvi over the last year. We thank them for their support and look forward to future associations,” said Dr. Rajiv Lall, founder MD & CEO IDFC Bank.

India's forex reserves dip by $ 968 million to $ 361.027 billion

Falling for the second consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 968 million to $ 361.027 billion in the week ended May 13, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had fallen by $ 1.126 billion to $ 361.995 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had  decreased by $ 950 million to $ 337.046 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.043 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) fell by $ 6.9 million to $ 1.504 billion.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 11.1 million to $ 2.434 billion, the bulletin added.

SBI Board discusses possibility of acquiring associate banks, Bhartiya Mahila Bank

State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, said that  a meeting of its board of directors here today had discussed the possibility of acquiring its associate banks, including assets and liabilities, as well as the Bhartiya Mahila Bank (BMB).
As far as the associate banks are concerned, the discussion was "purely exploratory at this stage and not certain", a press release from the bank said.
"A proposal seeking an in-principle approval to start negotiations with associate banks will be submitted to the central government," it said.
SBI’s associate banks include State Bank Of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank Of Hyderabad, State Bank Of Mysore, State Bank Of Patiala and State Bank Of Travancore.
In addition to these five banks, the SBI board members also discussed the possibility of acquiring India’s first bank targeted to women – Bhartiya Mahila Bank (BMB). 
"SBI would explore this acquisition once the central government gives an in-principle approval to start negotiations with BMB," the release added.

Mukesh Ambani awarded Othmer Gold Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership

Reliance Industries Limited Chairman and Managng Director Mukesh Ambani receiving the Othmer Gold Medal for his entrepreneurial leadership, from Mr. Carsten Reinhardt, President & CEO, Chemical Heritage Foundation, in Philadelphia, United States, on May 16, 2016.
Reliance Industries Limited Chairman and Managng Director Mukesh Ambani receiving the Othmer Gold Medal for his entrepreneurial leadership, from Mr. Carsten Reinhardt, President & CEO, Chemical Heritage Foundation, in Philadelphia, United States, on May 16, 2016.
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani has been conferred the prestigious Othmer Gold Medal for his entrepreneurial leadership that has resulted in the expansion of India’s petroleum refining industry, creation of the Jamnagar Refinery in Gujarat – the largest grassroots petroleum refinery in the world, and path-breaking initiatives in oil and gas exploration.
The award was presented to Mr. Ambani on Monday, the Heritage Day of The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF), by Mr. Carsten Reinhardt, President & CEO of CHF, and Mr. Raj Gupta, Chairman of Delphi Automotive (formerly Chairman, President & CEO of Rohm and Hass), in Philadelphia, United States of America.
Following the award ceremony, Mr. Ambani was feted at a glittering dinner by Mr. Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania Governor and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ambani dedicated the award to the indomitable spirit of his father, Dhirubhai Ambani, who went on to become a legend in his lifetime, and to each and every member of the great Reliance Family. It was Dhirubhai who encouraged Mr. Ambani to pursue chemical engineering at a time when Reliance only dealt in textiles.
Talking about the interests of the people of India and the US, Mr. Ambani said he was confident that the two pluralist societies would be at the heart of a new world of shared prosperity and peace.
“As I see the world in the 21st century, there will be two very fiercely fought wars – one is a war for prosperity and a better life, and the other is a war for talent and security. We can win both these wars with a comprehensive India-US partnership," he added.
The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) established the Othmer Gold Medal in 1997 to honour outstanding individuals who have made multifaceted contributions to the world's chemical and scientific heritage through outstanding activity in such areas as innovation, entrepreneurship, research, education, public understanding, legislation, or philanthropy.
The medal commemorates Donald Othmer (1904–1995), noted researcher, consultant, editor, engineer, inventor, philanthropist, professor, and co-editor of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology.
The medal is presented annually and co-sponsored by the CHF and its four affiliated organisations: the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), The Chemists’ Club, and the Société de Chimie Industrielle (American Section).

Committee on Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project to meet in Tokyo on Monday

The second meeting of the high level Joint Committee on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project will be held tomorrow in Tokyo.
The Indian delegation which is visiting Japan for the meeting, is led by Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog. 
Other members include Mr. A.K. Mital, Chairman, Railway Board; Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs; Dr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary and Mr. Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industry Policy and Promotion. 
The Japanese side will be led by Mr. Hiroto Izumi, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Japan. 
Other members from the Japanese side will include senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism (MLIT) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). 
An official press release said the committee would finalize the schedule of the project, terms related to the appointment of General Consultant and procurement conditions. 
Since the loan negotiation and finalization of loan agreement will take some time, Government of India, to achieve timely implementation of project, has requested for a proper schedule of project implementation and had also requested for appointment of General Consultant before the finalization of the loan agreement. 
The appointment of General Consultant will enable start of preparatory activities like designing and preparation of tender documents, it said.
Since Make in India and Transfer of Technology are key components of the project implementation, an industry interaction between Indian and Japanese companies will be held on May 17.
The event will be see participation by almost 100 Japanese companies and 21 Indian companies. The industry interaction will enable Indian companies to explore business opportunities in participation with Japanese companies. The Indian companies include: BHEL, BEML, IRCON, Reliance Metro, Tata Infrastructure, JBM, Patil Infrastructure, IL&FS, Hindustan Construction Company and Texmaco Rail.

India's forex reserves dip by $ 1.126 billion to $ 361.995 billion

Reversing the uptrend of the past several weeks, India's foreign exchange reserves dippped by $ 1.126 billion to $ 361.995 billion in the week ended May 6, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 1.52 billion to an all-time high of $ 363.121 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had increased by $ 1.028 billion to $ 337.996 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves fell by $ 72 million to $ 20.043 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) went up by $ 0.1 million to $ 1.5107 billion.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 26 million to $ 2.445 billion, the bulletin added.
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