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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 1711 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders valued at Rs 1711 crore across  various business segments in March 2015.
 
A press release from the company said that its Buildings & Factories Business had secured orders worth Rs 880 crore, including add-ons.
 
A major order has been received from a reputed private developer for the construction of a residential building in Mumbai. The scope involves civil, structural, architectural finishes and mechanical, electrical and plumbing works, it said.
 
Another engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) order was received from a private cement producer for their greenfield cement grinding unit in Madhya Pradesh. The scope involves civil, structural, fabrication and erection.
 
According to the release, the company's Power Transmission & Distribution Business had secured orders worth Rs 676 crore, including an EPC contract from the Bihar State Power Transmission Company Limited for the supply, installation, testing and commissioning of 220 kV double circuit transmission line works associated with optical ground wire and communication system in the state.
 
Orders were also received from Power Grid Corporation of India Limited for turnkey construction of 220kV multi-circuit and double-circuit transmission lines in Jammu and Kashmir and 765 kV double-circuit transmission line associated with inter regional system strengthening scheme in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Additional order worth Rs 155 crores has been won by L&T Construction’s Water & Renewable Energy Business, the release added.
 
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Reliance Jio announces acquisition of spectrum in 13 circles

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Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL), a subsidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited, today announced that it had successfully acquired the right to use spectrum in 13 key circles across India in the recently concluded spectrum auction conducted by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
 
The company said it had acquired a total spectrum of 48.75 MHz in the 800 MHz band and 28 MHz in the 1800 MHz band in the auction, which ended yesterday.
 
The circles where it has acquired spectrum in the 800 MHz band are Assam (5.0), Bihar (5.0), Haryana (5.0) Himachal Pradesh (5.0), Jammu & Kashmir (5.0), Madhya Pradesh (5.0), Mumbai (5.0), North East (5.0), Odisha (5.0) and Uttar Pradesh (East) (3.75).
 
The circles where it has acquired spectrum in the 1800 MHz band are Haryana (4.0), Himachal Pradesh (5.4), Kolkata (5.00), Rajasthan (10.0), Tamil Nadu (0.6) and Uttar Pradesh (East) (3.0).
 
A press release from RJIL said the company planned to provide seamless 4G services using LTE in 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2300MHz bands through an integrated ecosystem.
 
With this investment, in addition to the pan-India 2300MHz spectrum, RJIL has spectrum in either 800MHz or 1800MHz or both in 20 out of the total 22 circles in the country. 
 
"This combined spectrum footprint across frequency bands provides significant network capacity and deep coverage," the release said.
 
According to it, 800MHz is a popular choice for sub-GHz LTE implementation globally by leading operators across North America, South Korea, Australia and other markets to enhance coverage and service experience. In addition, in the Indian context, LTE implementation in this band has greater potential given spectrum availability in the future, it said.
 
Through this acquisition, RJIL’s total equivalent spectrum footprint has increased from 597.6MHz to 751.1MHz (including uplink and downlink), strengthening its position as the largest holder of liberalized spectrum.
 
“Jio’s seamless 4G services using proven multi-band LTE technology and supported by our large spectrum footprint will provide superior user experience for voice, video and data services in line with the best service providers in the world," Mr Ambani said.
 
The payment to be made for the right to use this technology- agnostic spectrum for a period of 20 years is Rs. 10,077.53 crore. 
 
The release said RJIL is deploying an enhanced packet core network to create a futuristic high capacity infrastructure to handle huge demand for data, video and voice services.
 
There are several devices in the value segment that support high-end data rich services. Many of these devices are already available in India, with the capability to operate on both TD-LTE and FD-LTE technologies in the RJIL spectrum bands as well as on conventional 2G / 3G networks. The global handset ecosystem is rapidly evolving, and multiband, multimode handsets shall soon become the default offering, it added.
 
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India’s forex reserves fall by $ 2.063 billion to $ 335.73 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 2.063 billion to $ 335.73 billion in the week ended March 13, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had declined by $ 286.3 million to $ 337.793 billion in the previous week, making this the second consecutive week of fall.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, fell by $ 1.975 billion to $ 310.347 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 $ 19.837 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDR) went down by $ 60.8 million to $ 3.96 billion. 
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 27.1 million to $ 1.595 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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India’s forex reserves decline by $ 286.3 million to $ 337.793 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves declined by $ 286.3 million to $ 337.793 billion in the week ended March 6, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had soared by $ 3.886 billion to touch a new all-time high of $ 338.079 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central banksaid that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, went up by $ 122.4 million to $ 312.322 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 $ 346.2 million to $ 19.837 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights went down by $ 44.6 millin to $ 4.021 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 17.9 million to $ 1.612 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank acquires 2.77% strategic stake in Reliance Capital

Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Limited (SMTB) of Japan has completed acquisition of 2.77 per cent strategic stake in Reliance Capital, a part of the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group.
 
The entire proceeds of Rs 371 crore ($ 58.4 million) for the 2.77 per cent stake has been duly received from SMTB, a press release from Reliance Capital said here today.
 
SMTB had agreed to acquire strategic stake in Reliance Capital, subject to regulatory and shareholders approvals, which have since been received.
 
The bank has acquired an initial 2.77 percent strategic stake in Reliance Capital amounting to Rs 371 crore ($ 58.4 million) through preferential allotment, with a lock-in period of one year. The investment has been made at Rs 530 per share representing a premium of over 11 percent to the stock price of relevant date of Reliance Capital.
 
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Group is the fourth largest bank in Japan (in terms of market capitalization and corporate loans) and Japan’s largest financial institution, managing assets of $ 682 billion with assets under custody of $ 1.8 trillion as of September 30, 2014.
 
“We welcome Sumitomo Mitsui Trust as our strategic partner in Reliance Capital. We are confident of accelerating our growth and tap new opportunities with the help of SMTB’s long standing experience and support” said Mr. Sam Ghosh, CEO, Reliance Capital.
 
As part of the agreement, Reliance Capital intends to establish a new bank in India, with support of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank as strategic partner, as and when RBI’s policies permit formation of the same.  
 
Both companies will also collaborate in providing solutions for their clients, including in the area of M&A opportunities in India and Japan, and will assist each other in distribution of their respective financial products through their networks. 
 
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Reliance Capital will also support clients of SMTB in their supply chain financing and advisory needs in India.
 
SMTB will support Reliance Group across its various group companies by providing wide range of financial and other services in Japan and Asia Pacific region.
 
Reliance Group is amongst India’s leading business houses with over 200 million customers. The group has a strong presence across a wide array of high growth consumer-facing businesses of financial services, telecom, energy, power, infrastructure and media and entertainment.
 
Reliance Capital is one of India’s leading private sector financial services companies. It ranks amongst the top private sector financial services and banking groups, in terms of net worth. The company is a constituent of CNX Nifty Junior and MSCI Global Small Cap Index.
 
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Star India acquires film weekly Screen from Indian Express, to phase out print edition

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Star India, a fully owned subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, a part of Rupert Murdoch's media and entertainment empire, has acquired film weekly Screen from the Indian Express group and decided to phase out its print edition and make it a digital entity.
 
"Under Star India, Screen will be available in its digital avatar, with audio and video content adding to the textual content. The next issue of the weekly magazine, started in 1951, will be the last print edition," Star India said.
 
It said the acquisition would integrate the Screen Awards property with Star, besides adding a consumer brand to the network’s digital business.  
 
"As part of the transaction, Star will get exclusive ownership of the ‘Screen’ brand franchise, including all archival material and transfer of key employees.
 
“The Screen acquisition will yield huge benefits for Star India and for Hotstar — our digital platform,” said Uday Shankar, chief executive officer (CEO), Star India. “We could not be more excited.”  
 
Star India's media and entertainment organisations reach 700 million viewers in India and across the globe every week through 40 channels, broadcast in seven languages. Star has scaled its multi-screen presence with Hotstar, a destination for sports and entertainment online.
 
“Screen is a strong and reputable franchise and gives us access to the entertainment editorial suite and the tinsel world, where news that shapes trends is made by film stars, directors and producers,” said Shankar.
 
"The acquisition of Screen will allow us to strengthen and expand the content brand online, while taking the awards platform to the next level. There are strong synergies and the combination of the quality content and awards franchise with Star's presence across television and digital platforms is strategic and scalable," he added.
 
Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer, Star India, said: “The Hotstar app has been well received at its launch. Having Bollywood and film-related content will give it an acceleration to reach the next level. Also, while Screen as a brand commands credibility, print is grappling with the problem of reach. Under Star, the content from Screen will get a wider reach.”
 
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According to Gupta, research by the team at Star had shown that Bollywood content is the most consumed content online, which exceeds sports, news and general entertainment content.
 
“We are delighted to enter into a transaction with Star India. Screen is one of the most reputed film and entertainment properties in the country. We have built this business with a lot of passion and are confident that STAR will nurture it and take it to greater heights,” said Viveck Goenka, chairman and managing director, Indian Express Group.
 
Mr George Varghese, CEO, Indian Express, said: “Screen is one of our leading properties on the entertainment side of the business. Our decision was driven by our belief in Star’s focus to grow this business, which we believe would translate into adding value for all stakeholders, including employees.”
 
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Bollywood actor Aditya Pancholi arrested after scuffle at pub

 
Actor Aditya Pancholi arrested after scuffle in pub
Bollywood actor Aditya Pancholi was arrested in the early hours of today after he allegedly assaulted a bouncer at a pub in a five-star hotel in Juhu here during a scuffle over the selection of songs being played there by the disc jockey (DJ).
 
Police said Pancholi, 50, arrived at the pub at about 0030 hours, along with a few of his friends. 
 
According to the police, the group wanted the DJ to switch from the English tracks he was playing and play some Hindi music, which was not done.
 
An argument followed, and the bouncer intervened and tried to escort the actor and his friends out. During the scuffle, the actor allegedly hit him with the butt of his mobile telephone, they said.
 
The bouncer got himself treated at a nearby hospital and then turned up at the police station. Police personnel, meanwhile, rushed to the pub and arrested Pancholi and got him medically examined at a hospital to find out if he was under the influence of alcohol.
 
Police said a case had been registered under sections 323, 324 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the actor for voluntarily causing hurt, breach of peace and criminal intimidation.
 
Pancholi was due to be produced in a holiday court during the day today, police sources added.
 
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AAP's Mayank Gandhi says efforts being made to dub him as anti-Kejriwal

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Two days after slamming the party's leadership for removing two of its founders, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, from its Political Affairs Committee (PAC), senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Mayank Gandhi has hit out again, saying a concerted attempt was being made in social media to call him anti-party and anti-Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi.
 
"After the 4th March meeting, it was my well thought out and conscious decision to write the blogs to uphold the higher principle of transparency," he said on his blog today, referring to his previous post about the removal of Mr Yadav and Mr Bhushan.
 
"A price may have to be paid. A small group of party decision makers in Delhi have already removed me from the informal BBM group. Attacks have begun against me from Ashish Khetan and others. 
 
"Some dissatisfied members from Maharashtra have started giving interviews against me, some old cases are being re-opened. A concerted attempt is being made in social media to call me anti-party and anti-AK," he wrote.
 
"The party may decide not to fight BMC elections or delay the decision for the same, leadership of Maharashtra will be challenged and discredited by some individuals, media leaks will be made. More will come and I will be finally humiliated so much that I will quit.  That was what was planned for YY and PB, but they overturned that plan by staying inside the party. Let me see if I can withstand the muck that will be thrown. But, my being in the party or not is immaterial, if by then, I am able to bring in some changes in the functioning of the party and empowered the volunteers," he said.
 
Mr Gandhi said that since the May 4 meeting of the party's national executive (NE), at which the decision to remove Mr Yadav and Mr Bhushan was taken, thousands of its volunteers had been asking about the difference between AAP and other parties.
 
"I want to tell the country that there is a huge difference and in the next few weeks, we volunteers shall demonstrate the same. As a disciplined worker, I am generally non-confrontational and have never spoken a word against the movement nor party since the past four years outside the appropriate forum. But now is the time to take a stand. This is not to weaken the party nor our leadership, but to strengthen AAP and the principles that we have espoused.
 
"It always has to be nation first, party next and individuals last. Party is only a vehicle to serve the nation and individuals, merely tools. The blogs are an exhortation to our volunteers, supporters and donors, not to disengage nor become negative, but to engage more with the party and force the leaders to truly build AAP into a party of our dreams. A model party based on principles of participation, accountability, transparency, decentralization and integrity. A party that will force other political parties to follow our example and improve governance and political activity in the nation. AAP volunteers need to demonstrate how we are the real owners of the party and bring back the founding principles in the party.
 
"If you had read my earlier blog carefully, it was my personal challenge to the gag order on informing the volunteers about this most important NE meeting. Thousands from all over the world were waiting – some crying, some sleepless and most worried. A gag order was completely wrong. And hence I challenged the same. Having heard AK speak hundreds of times on transparency, participation, accountability and the need to stay away from arrogance, it has built a strong conscience in me. We must follow this higher consciousness, as a party. My blogs are not against any individual nor a challenge to the leadership. That is not how I function.
 
"A volunteer identifies and considers AAP as part of their existence, but the walls built between them, the Committees and their non-transparent decisions have alienated them. Volunteers must propose that all NE meetings be video recorded and volunteers allowed to view the same. All committee members are finally just representatives of volunteers, nothing more. Remember, video recording was one of our demands during the joint draft committee meetings on Janlokpal in 2011. All minutes of the meeting signed by all members in all committees in the country should be released on the next day of the meeting to volunteers and supporters," he said.
 
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Mr Gandhi hoped the minutes of the national executive meeting would be published soon, saying he had given only some glimpses of the happenings and the complete minutes should be in the public domain.
 
"My description could have some shortcomings and may contain some probable bias, but the minutes will be authentic records. The volunteers should request for the same. This will strengthen the party and volunteers will become privy to the decisions taken," he said.
 
He said volunteers need to propose to the national executive about processes and systems on subjects of inner party democracy, volunteer management and communication, reconstitution of PAC and NE, code of conduct for volunteers and leaders, gender justice, conflict resolution mechanisms, policy stands on various subjects, and so on.
 
"In my next blog, I shall propose some concrete ideas on the principle of participation of volunteers in the working of the party and seek your ideas and suggestions.
 
"Friends, it is time to participate in the party functioning in the best tradition of Swaraj. It should be non-confrontational, graceful, respectful to the leadership and constructive. We are all learning. 
 
"Let me reiterate, this is not any rebellion, nor against our leadership, nor to seek personal attention. I truly believe that AK is the hope for the country and I have learnt almost everything from him.  I will continue to avoid going to the press," he added.
 
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India’s forex reserves soar by $ 3.886 billion to $ 338.079 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 3.886 billion to touch a new all-time high of $ 338.079 billion in the week ended February 27, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 1.023 billion to the previous high of $ 334.193 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 gone up by $ 3.902 billion to $ 312.2 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 $ 20.183 billion during the week while its special drawing rights fell by $ 11.4 million to $ 4.065 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 4.6 million to $ 1.630 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Perth incident: BCCI asks Kohli to avoid such behaviour in future

Virat Kohli
File photo of Virat Kohli.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today sought to lay to rest the controversy arising out of cricketer Virat Kohli's alleged abusive outburst against a journalist of the Hindustan Times in Perth, Australia earlier this week and said it had told the player to maintain the dignity of the Indian team and avoid any such behaviour in the future.
 
The journalist, Jasvinder Sidhu, said in a compaint to the International Cricket Council (ICC) that Kohli had abused him without provocation when the team was training at Murdoch Universty in Perth on Tuesday.
 
Later, according to him, Kohli came out of the dressing room and waved and smilled at him. He also conveyed an apology through another journalist, who told him that Kohli had told him that it was a case of mistaken identity.
 
"The BCCI has taken note of the incident that occurred at Perth a couple of days ago," Board Secretary Anurag Thakur said in a statement today.
 
"The BCCI has been in touch with the Indian team management on this issue, and has advised that this kind of incident should not be repeated.
 
"The BCCI respects the role played by the media in covering and popularizing the game of cricket, and acknowledges the support of the media, in its mission to administer and promote the game of cricket in India. 
 
"The player in question has been told to maintain the dignity of the Indian team at all times, and avoid any such behaviour in the future. 
 
"The BCCI would like to request the concerned parties to move on, and focus on the Indian cricket team’s campaign in the ongoing ICC CWC 2015," Thakur added.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders worth Rs 2215 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its Construction Division had won orders valued at Rs 2215 crore, including international contracts worth $ 143 million.
 
A press release from the company said the new orders included contracts valued at Rs 1137 crore secured by its Power Transmission & Distribution Business from both the domestic and international markets.
 
Major turnkey orders were received from Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited and Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited to improve the power distribution systems at Ghaziabad and Varanasi, respectively, in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Developed under the R-APDRP schemes, L&T’s scope of work involves system improvements, strengthening and augmentation of power distribution system to reduce ATC losses and improve consumer supply with SCADA compatibility.
 
Larsen & Toubro Oman LLC (LTO), a subsidiary of L&T, has bagged an order from Oman Electricity Transmission Company S.A.O.C for the turnkey construction of a 132/33 kV substation at Izki Phase III. The 400 kV phase is being executed by the subsidiary.
 
Additional orders have also been received from various ongoing jobs of the business. 
 
The company said its Buildings & Factories Business had secured a new international order including add-ons in the domestic market worth Rs 962 crores.
 
LTO has won a repeat order worth Rs 732 crores ($ 119 million) from a client for the construction of a commercial project and its site-wide infrastructure in Oman. The scope involves civil, structural, architectural, electro-mechanical, finishes, specialty lighting, lifts, ICT systems, landscaping, water features, swimming pools and car parking. The project is scheduled to be completed in 25 months.
 
Additional orders worth Rs 116 crores have also been received from other businesses of L&T Construction, the release added.
 
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Three coaches of Mangala Express derail at Pen in Maharashtra

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Three coaches of the 12617 Ernakulam-Hazrat Nizamuddin Mangala Express derailed at Pen railway station, about 130 km from Mumbai, this evening, official sources said.
 
A press release from the Central Railway said no one was injured in the mishap, which occurred at about 1810 hours.
 
The three derailed coaches were S-9, S-10 and the pantry car, it said.
 
A breakdown train, which was at Pen station, was rushed to the spot along with railway officials and efforts have begun to restore operations on the line, it said.
 
Rail traffic will be diverted via loop line at Pen railway station, the release added.
 
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India’s forex reserves rise by $ 1.023 billion to all-time high of $ 334.193 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 1.023 billion to touch a new all-time high of $ 334.193 billion in the week ended February 20, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had soared by $ 2.956 billion to a record of $ 333.169  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 gone up by $ 1.040 billion to $ 308.298 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 $ 20.183 billion during the week while its special drawing rights fell by $ 12 million to $ 4.077 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 4.8 million to $ 1.635 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Bharat Puri appointed as MD of Pidilite

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The Board of Directors of Pidilite Industries Limited, manufacturer of industrial & specialty chemicals, today approved the appointment of Mr Bharat Puri as Managing Director of the company, effective April 10.
 
A press release from the company said this was part of the efforts made by the company over the last seven years to induct senior professionals to strengthen its management structure and reduce the operational responsibilities of promoter family members.
 
Mr. M B Parekh, Chairman and Managing Director, will step down from position of Managing Director on April 10 and will become Executive Chairman, while Mr N K Parekh, Joint Managing Director, will step down from the position on April 1 and become Non-Executive Vice Chairman.
 
Mr. Ajay Parekh, Executive Director, and Mr. Apurva Parekh, Executive Director, will continue to play a significant role in the company and will work with Mr Puri on key strategic matters and also help oversee and strengthen various business divisions and functions.
 
Mr. Puri has been closely associated with the company since his appointment as an Independent Director in 2008.
 
In his previous assignment, Mr Puri was President - Global Chocolate, Gum and Candy Categories at Mondel?z International, based in Zurich and with worldwide responsibilities for these categories
 
He started his career with Asian Paints in 1982 and rose to the position of General Manager - Sales & Marketing. He then moved to Cadbury in 1998 as Director of Sales and Marketing for Cadbury India. In 2002, he was appointed as Managing Director South Asia for Cadbury. Later, he moved to Singapore in 2006 where he was responsible for Strategy, Marketing and Sales for the Asia Pacific region. 
 
Mr Puri has a post-graduate diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad.
 
“It is indeed an honour to lead Pidilite, an iconic home grown Indian multinational in its next phase of growth. I look forward to working with and learning from the talented and committed team at Pidilite, Mr M B Parekh and the Board," Mr Puri said.
 
Mr. M B Parekh said, “I am delighted with appointment of Mr. Bharat Puri as Managing Director. There is a strong familiarity between Bharat and the company as he has been an Independent Director of the company since 2008. Bharat has outstanding local and global experience and a great track record. His vision and value system closely matches that of the company. We are confident that Bharat will build on Pidilite’s strong foundations and steer it to its next phase of growth and development."
 
A Rs 4500 crore company, Pidilite has leading brands like Fevicol, Fevikwik, Dr. Fixit and M-Seal.
 
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SBI launches State Bank Mumbai Metro Combo Card

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State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, in association with Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd. (MMOPL), has launched the State Bank Mumbai Metro Combo Card, which offers a host of benefits to Mumbai metro riders. 
 
The card acts as a payment-cum-access card at Mumbai Metro stations and also as a standard shopping-cum-ATM debit card,  a press release from the bank said.
 
Customers can get immediate access to the entry gate for travel on Mumbai Metro by just tapping the combo card at the AFC gates, it said.
 
Mr. Neeraj Vyas Chief General Manager (Corporate Strategy and New Business) State Bank of India said, “State Bank is constantly in the endeavor of enhancing the customer experience, providing them added benefits and facilitating cash-less payments. State Bank Mumbai Metro Card is a combo card which offers the convenience of travelling on Mumbai Metro, shopping at merchant locations across India and making bill payments all bundled into a single card.” 
 
The card has an issuance charge of Rs 100, of which Rs 50 will be given back pre-loaded in it for travel on the Mumbai Metro. It will have an in-built functionality of auto reload, wherein as soon as the AFC system reads that the balance in the card is equal to or less than Rs 50, it will reload the card automatically with Rs. 200. The amount reloaded will be deducted from the bank account linked with the debit card at the back end, the release added.
 
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Nippon acquires additional 9% in Reliance Capital Asset Management for Rs 657 crore

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Nippon Life Insurance (NLI) of Japan, a Fortune 100 company and the seventh largest life insurer in the world, has completed acquisition of 9 per cent additional stake in Reliance Capital Asset Management (RCAM), a part of Reliance Capital.
 
The entire transaction proceeds of Rs 657 crore ($ 108 million) for this additional 9 per cent stake has been duly received from NLI, RCAM said in a press release here today.
 
The transaction pegs the valuation of Reliance Capital Asset Management at approximately Rs 7300 crore ($ 1.2 billion), it said.
 
With this transaction NLI has increased its stake in RCAM from the existing 26 per cent to 35 per cent. NLI had agreed to increase its stake in the company from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in two or more tranches, eliance Capital Asset Management from the existing 26 per cent to 49 per cent in two or more tranches, subject the regulatory approvals, which have since been received.
 
“We are happy to strengthen our partnership with Nippon as they increase their stake in RCAM from existing 26 to 35 per cent in first tranche. We believe their expanded role in the company will accelerate our growth, reach and performance in India and also help us in our global presence”, said Mr. Sam Ghosh, CEO, Reliance Capital.
 
Nippon Life Insurance has an option to increase its stake further in Reliance Capital Asset Management by acquiring upto 14 per cent additional stake, to reach 49 per cent, in tranches.
 
According to the release, RCAM is the largest asset manager in India managing Rs. 2,29,060 crore  ($ 36.9 billion) as on December 31, 2014, across mutual funds, pension funds, managed accounts and 
offshore funds.
 
Nippon Life Insurance is already a strategic partner in Reliance Capital Asset Management. The company acquired 26 per cent stake in Reliance Capital Asset Management at an aggregate value of Rs 1,450 crore ($ 240 million) in 2012. That transaction had pegged the total valuation of Reliance Capital Asset Management at approximately Rs 5,600 crore ($ 920 million).
 
Nippon Life is a 125-year-old global Fortune 100 company and manages nearly $ 500 billion (Rs 30 lakh crore) in assets, amongst the largest total assets in the world for any life insurer. The company is the 7th largest life insurer in the world and the number 1 private life insurer in Asia and Japan.
 
RCAM managed Rs. 2,29,060 crore ($ 36.9 billion) as on December 31, 2014, across mutual funds, pension funds, managed accounts and offshore funds.
 
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Jet Airways announces special offer on its international network

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Private sector carrier Jet Airways today announced a seven-day special offer with discounts ranging from 5% to 35% on base fares for return journeys in Première and Economy class on its international flights.
 
This offer is also valid on Etihad Airways international flights from Abu Dhabi which are aligned with Jet Airways flights from India, a press release from the airline said.
 
The special fare offer will be available for sale from February 25 until March 3, 2015, with travel validity from February 25 to Dec 12, 2015, it said.
 
Passengers taking advantage of this promotion will enjoy substantial savings over lowest published fares on the combined network of the two airlines across 135 destinations worldwide, it added.
 
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Tata Power signs MoU with Siberian Coal Energy Company for cooperation in energy sector

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Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power company, today said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK) to develop opportunities in the energy sector.
 
As part of the agreement, the two companies will cooperate on identifying and targeting opportunities in the energy sector in Russia and other geographies of common interest in order to develop mutually beneficial transactions, a press release from Tata Power said.
 
"It gives us immense pride to announce our association with Siberian Coal Energy Company. SUEK is known to be reliable and world class player in the mining business and Tata Power looks forward to working with them on identifying opportunities across the energy chain. The signing of this MoU is a major milestone for Tata Power and we endeavour to be a significant player in the international energy market," a spokesperson for the company, a part of the Tata Group, added.
 
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Eros launches motion pictures production company Trinity Pictures

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Film entertainment major Eros International has announced the appointment of Ajit Thakur as CEO to spearhead the company’s motion pictures production division, Trinity Pictures.
 
Thakur has joined the leadership team at Eros and will lead Trinity Pictures’ endeavour to invest in developing intellectual property in-house, a press release from the company said.
 
“We are excited about taking a big creative initiative with Trinity and warmly welcome Ajit to join the Eros family to drive this initiative with his wealth of experience and successful track record," Jyoti Deshpande, Group CEO, Eros International said.
 
"While our acquisition and co-production model is all about scale, portfolio and market share, the Trinity label will be all about quality, success rate and building franchises with lasting value which perfectly complements our overall content strategy. We are fortunate to have David Maisel, the founder of Marvel Studios on the board of Eros International plc and are hopeful of recreating some of that franchise magic for Trinity," she said.
 
"It has been a dream to build a franchise based motion picture label and in Eros I have found a perfect home to my dreams. I am happy to be a part of the Eros family, India’s biggest film studio and hoping to create at Trinity something meaningful and of lasting value," Thakur said.
 
Before joining Eros, Thakur has held a number of key positions for companies such as Coca Cola and Unilever, UTV, Sony Television and most recently Star TV.
 
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CPI leader Govind Pansare dies, four days after being shot at in Kolhapur

 
CPI leader Govind Pansare succumbs to bullet injuries
Veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and anti-road toll activist Govind Pansare, who was shot at and injured by unidentified assailants in Kolhapur on February 16, succumbed to his injuries at the Breach Candy Hospital here late last night, sources said.
 
Pansare, 82, who had suffered serious injuries in the attack, was earlier in the day yesterday flown in an air ambulance from the Kolhapur hospital where he was being treated.
 
Sources said he breathed his last around 10 pm yesterday. Hospital sources said hehad suffered heavy bleeding in the lungs.
 
Pansare and his wife Uma were shot at by the assailants, who came on a motorcycle, near their house in Kolhapur when they were returning from their morning walk. Both were immediately rushed to a local hospital.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had arranged for an air ambulance to bring Pansare to Mumbai on a request from his relatives.
 
Mr Fadnavis, who visited the hospital late yesterday, said on microblogging site Twitter, "Maharashtra has lost a progressive leader. The state will always remember his contribution for giving justice to the poor and depressed classes."
 
Pansare's body was taken back to Kolhapur today for his funeral today after the autopsy.
 
The police are, meanwhile, preparing sketches of the suspects on the basis of information provided to them by Mrs Pansare, who is recovering from her injuries.
 
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Govt. refutes reports that INO Project will be used for storing nuclear waste

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The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) today strongly refuted recent media reports which suggsted that the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project's underground laboratory and tunnels would be used for storing nuclear waste.
 
"Such reports are not factual and are baseless. Department of Atomic Energy strongly refutes such erroneous and malicious reports. It categorically states that no nuclear waste will be stored there at any time and INO laboratory will be used only for the purpose of basic science research in the field of neutrino physics," a statement from DAE said here.
 
"The operation of INO will have no release of radioactive or toxic substances. It is not a weapons laboratory and will have no strategic or defence applications," it said.
 
According to the statement, the INO Project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approximately 1200 meter.
 
The underground laboratory, consisting of a large cavern of size 132m × 26m × 20m and several smaller caverns, will be accessed by a 1900 m long and 7.5 m wide tunnel. 
 
The project is jointly supported by the DAE and the Department of Science & Technology (DST), with DAE acting as the nodal agency.
 
The objective of INO is to conduct basic research on the elementary particle called neutrino.  Presently 21 research institutes, universities and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) from all over the country are involved in this project. 
 
"INO is expected to galvanise interest in basic science research in the whole country and particularly in and around Theni and Madurai districts of Tamil Nadu.  Science students across the country will have opportunity to pursue cutting edge research in the field of particle physics while being located in India.
 
"The observatory will be located underground so as to provide adequate shielding to the neutrino detector from cosmic background radiation. Tunnel construction is very common and will not have any impact on environment, water sources or dams in the region. The project has all the required clearances from various Central and State Government authorities. A detailed geotechnical studies was also carried out by the Geological Survey of India (GSI)," the statement added.
 
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India’s forex reserves soar by $ 2.956 billion to new high of $333.169 billion

India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 2.956 billion to a new all-time high of $ 333.169  billion in the week ended February 13, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had risen by $ 2.33 billion to a previous high of $ 330.213 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 gone up by $ 2.299 billion to $ 307.257 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 $ 20.183 billion during the week while its special drawing rights fell by $ 5.1 million to $ 4.089 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went up by $ 661.9 million to $ 1.64 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Anil Kumble to be inducted into ICC Cricket Hall of Fame

Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble
Former India captain Anil Kumble will be inducted into the International Cricket Council (ICC) Hall of Fame, along with the late Betty Wilson of Australia, one of the greatest women cricketers of all time, during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 match between India and South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 22.
 
Two more former legends of the game will be inducted during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, a press release from ICC said.
 
One of the most versatile wrist-spinners to ever play the game, Kumble, with 619 Test wickets, is the third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket after Muttiah Muralidaran (800) and Shane Warne (708).
 
His 337 wickets in one-day internationals (ODIs) ranks him in ninth position on the all-time list of most successful bowlers in that format. 
 
Kumble captained India in 14 Tests between 2007 and 2008, winning three and losing five.
 
In the 138-year history of Test cricket during which 2,156 Tests have been played to date, Kumble is one of only two bowlers after England’s Jim Laker to have taken all 10 wickets in an innings. He achieved this feat against traditional rival Pakistan in New Delhi in February 1999.
 
Kumble made his Test debut in 1990 in Manchester and his final appearance was in New Delhi in October-November 2008. During his career, Kumble played 132 Tests and 271 One-Day Internationals. Apart from his 619 Test and 337 ODI wickets, Kumble also scored 2,506 runs in Tests and 938 runs in ODIs.
 
Wilson, a former Australia batter, played 11 Tests between 1947 and 1958 in which she scored 862 runs at average of 57.4 and took 68 wickets at 11.8 per wicket.
 
On her debut against New Zealand at the age of 26 in 1948, she scored 90 and took four for 37 and six for 28. In her second Test, she scored 111 against England, becoming the first Australia woman to score a Test century against England, and took nine more wickets. Against England in 1957-58, she became the first cricketer, male or female, to score a century and take 10 wickets in a Test.
 
Wilson passed away on 22 January 2010, aged 88.
 
Kumble and Wilson will be formally inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame during the innings break in the India versus South Africa match at the MCG..
 
ICC Director and Chairman of Cricket Australia Wally Edwards will present Kumble with his commemorative cap, while Wilson’s commemorative cap will be received by her nephew, Ken Wilson, from ICC Chief Executive David Richardson.
 
“It’s an honour to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. Indeed, it will be a great moment of pride to receive it during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I deem it as a great privilege to join the list of great cricketing luminaries.”
 
“Anil was an outstanding international cricketer, a very well-respected opponent, a great statesman for his country and a role model for millions of aspiring cricketers. He played hard but within the spirit of the game. His performance and record speak volumes for his tenacity, commitment, endurance and service to the game," Richardson said.
 
Richardson said of Betty Wilson: “History shows that Betty was an inspiring cricketer, one of the pioneers of women’s cricket and immensely respected because she always put cricket first. Had her debut not been delayed by World War II, I am sure she would have scored lot more runs and taken many more wickets.”
 
Kumble, who is now the Chairman of the ICC Cricket Committee, is the fourth India cricketer to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame after fellow former captains Bishen Singh Bedi, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar were inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009.
 
Overall, Kumble and Wilson are the 77th and 78th inductees while two more former icons of the game will be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, details of which will be announced in due course, the release said.
 
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The process for the selection of players into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame started last year when the ICC Chairman invited all the living ICC Cricket Hall of Famers to send their nominations. The ICC Nominations Committee reduced the long-list to 10 men’s and three women’s cricketers. The short-list was then sent to the Voting Academy, which included representatives of all the 10 Full Members, media representatives from all the 10 Full Members, Associate & Affiliate Member, women’s cricket and FICA representatives as well as living ICC Hall of Famers. The ICC collated the nominations and forwarded the ballot papers to the auditors who provided the final results.
 
The following are the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame:
 
Initial Inductees (55):
Sydney Barnes, Bishan Bedi, Alec Bedser, Richie Benaud, Allan Border, Ian Botham, Geoffrey Boycott, Donald Bradman, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, Denis Compton, Colin Cowdrey, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Lance Gibbs, Graham Gooch, David Gower, WG Grace, Tom Graveney, Gordon Greenidge, Richard Hadlee, Walter Hammond, Neil Harvey, George Headley, Jack Hobbs, Michael Holding, Leonard Hutton, Rohan Kanhai, Imran Khan, Alan Knott, Jim Laker, Harold Larwood, Dennis Lillee, Ray Lindwall, Clive Lloyd, Hanif Mohammad, Rodney Marsh, Malcolm Marshall, Peter May, Javed Miandad, Keith Miller, Bill O’Reilly, Graeme Pollock, Wilfred Rhodes, Barry Richards, Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Garfield Sobers, Brian Statham, Fred Trueman, Derek Underwood, Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, Frank Woolley, Frank Worrell
 
2009-10 Inductees:
Herbert Sutcliffe, Steve Waugh, Wasim Akram, Victor Trumper and Clarrie Grimmett
 
2010-11 Inductees:
Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, Ken Barrington, Courtney Walsh and Joel Garner
 
2011-12 Inductees:
Belinda Clark, Frederick Spofforth, Curtly Ambrose and Alan Davidson
 
2012-13 Inductees:
Enid Bakewell, Brian Lara, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne
 
2013-14 Inductees:
Adam Gilchrist, Debbie Hockley, Bob Simpson and Waqar Younis
 
2014-15 Inductees:
Anil Kumble and Betty Wilson. Two more to be announced in due course
 
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NPCI initiates ecosystem for Unified Payments Interface

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National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organization for all retail payment systems in India, has taken up a new initiative of implementing a Unified Payment Interface (UPI) to simplify and provide a single interface across all systems. 
 
The new interface is designed to enable all account holders to send and receive money from their smartphones with a single identifier – Aadhaar number, mobile number, virtual payments address – without entering any bank account information.
 
A press release from NPCI said the UPI would make possible paying and receiving payments as easy as swiping a phone book entry and making a call on mobile phone.
 
"Everyone who has an account should be able to send and receive money from their mobile phone with just an identifier without having any other bank/account details," it said.
 
The unified layer should allow application providers to take advantage of enhancements in mobile devices, provide integrated payments on new consumer devices, provide innovative user interface features, take advantage of newer authentication services, and so on, the release said.
 
It would allow banks and other payment players to focus on their core business and allow half a billion phones to be the primary payment device in conjunction with other third party authentication.
 
“This unified layer, which offers next generation peer-to-peer immediate payment just by using personal phone, uses existing systems such as IMPS, AEPS, to ensure settlement across accounts. The usages of existing systems ensure reliability of payment transactions across various channels,” Mr A P Hota, MD & CEO, NPCI, aid.
 
NPCI presented a live demonstration of transactions involving a few select banks during the event yesterday, which was inaugurated by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram G. Rajan.
 
Others present included former Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Chairman Nandan Nilekani, Bank of India Chairman and Managing Director V R Iyer and NPCI Chairman Balachandran M.
 
The release said UPI is a standardized, innovative, adoptable, secure and cost-effective interface. Once formulated, the standardized API, designed for enabling different forms of payment beneficial for mobile application, and other channels, can be integrated into the NPCI infrastructure.
 
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UPI will make payments possible only by providing an address with others without having ever provided account details or credentials on third party applications or websites. It also has ability for sending collect requests to others (person to person or entity to person) with "pay by" date to allow payment requests to be “snoozed” and paid later before expiry date without having to block the money in the account until customer is ready to pay.
 
UPI has the ability to use personal mobile to "pay" someone (push) as well as "collect" from someone (pull). User can pre-authorize multiple recurring payments similar to ECS (utilities, school fees, subscriptions, etc.) with a one-time secure authentication and rule based access. 
 
All payment system players will use a standard set of APIs for any-to-any push and pull payments.
 
In addition, it has the ability to pay and collect using "virtual payment addresses" that are "aliases" to accounts that may be payee/amount/time limited, providing further security features. It has ability to have PSP provided mobile applications that allow paying from any account using any number of virtual addresses using credentials such as passwords, PINs, or biometrics (on phone), the release said.
 
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RBI issues clarifications on import of gold by nominated banks, agencies

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today clarified that the obligation to export under the 20:80 gold import scheme, which it had scrapped on November 28, 2014, would continue to apply in respect of unutilised gold imported before the date of abolition of the scheme.
 
In a circular to authorised dealer banks, the central bank said it had been receiving requests for clarification on some of the operational aspects of the guidelines on import of gold consequent upon the withdrawal of the 20:80 scheme.
 
The circular said nominated banks were now permitted to import gold on consignment basis. All sale of gold domestically will, however, be against upfront payments. Banks are free to grant gold metal loans.
 
Star and Premier Trading Houses (STH/PTH) can import gold on DP basis as per entitlement without any end use restrictions, it said.
 
"While the import of gold coins and medallions will no longer be prohibited, pending further review, the restrictions on banks in selling gold coins and medallions are not being removed," the circular said.
 
The RBI had on November 28 last year scrapped the 20:80 scheme which required traders to export 20 per cent of the gold imported by them.
 
The government had on July 22 last year imposed some restrictions on the import of various forms of gold by nominated banks and agencies, premier and star trading houses, special economic zone (SEZ) units and export-oriented units (EOUs) which are permitted to import gold for use in the domestic sector.
 
Through a circular of August 14, 2013, the government prohibited the import of gold in the form of coins and medallions.
 
Welcoming the clarifications, Mr Somasundaram PR, Managing Director, India, World Gold Council, said they were in the right direction following the removal of the 20:80 import restriction and definitely positive for the industry, restoring the previous position.
 
"It is the right time to look at all aspects of Gold Policy with a longer term perspective, going beyond just import policy and incremental changes. The focus of government must be on making gold a smoothly fungible asset in the hands of the millions of households," he added.
 
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