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Mahindra Two Wheelers acquires 51% stake in Peugeot Motocycles

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Mahindra Two Wheelers Ltd. (MTWL), part of the $ 16.5 billion Mahindra Group, and Peugeot Motocycles (PMTC), part of the Euro 54 billion PSA Group based in France announced today that they have completed the necessary formalities for MTWL’s 51% acquisition in PMTC.
 
PMTC, also known as  Peugeot Scooters, a key player in urban mobility in Europe for 116 years, is the oldest motorized two-wheeler manufacturer in the world. The company offers a range of scooters and mopeds, from 50cc to 400cc, including the successful three wheeled scooter – Metropolis - in the European market. 
 
This project was announced on October 7, 2014. The acquisition, which resulted in the satisfaction of all regulatory, legal and financial conditions of the agreement, was completed smoothly by both parties within a very short span of time, a press release from Mahindra said.
 
As part of the employee dialogue process and anti-trust law, the Works Council consultation process has also been successfully completed, it said.
 
Dr. Pawan Goenka, Executive Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. said, “At Mahindra, we are committed to the long term growth of Peugeot Motocycles and are confident that this relationship would be one of mutual respect, trust and learning. This partnership would enable both MTWL and PMTC to speed up their international expansion by driving synergies and leveraging respective strengths. It is our intention to work closely to enable a win-win for both partners". 
 
Under the terms of the agreement, MTWL has infused Euro 15 million into PMTC to finance projects implemented through the strategic partnership and has also bought shares held by PSA which would allow MTWL to take a 51% stake in PMTC.
 
The new board of PMTC has been constituted and would include: Dr. Pawan Goenka – Director MTWL & Executive Director, M&M Ltd.; Mr. V.S. Parthasarathy – Director MTWL, Chief Financial Officer, Group CIO, M&M Ltd.; Mr.Rajesh Jejurikar – Director MTWL, Chief Executive-Farm Equipment & Two Wheeler Division, M&M Ltd.; Mr. Maxime Picat - Chief Executive Officer, Peugeot Brand; and Mr. Emmanuel Delay – Executive Vice President, Operational Director, India-Pacific.
 
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Indiabulls Asset Management enters AIF space, real estate fund targets Rs 1000 crore

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Indiabulls Asset Management Company Limited (IBAMC) today said it planned to enter the alternative investment space through its maiden offering ‘Indiabulls Real Estate Fund’.
 
This fund has been rated ‘AAA (AIF)’ by Care Ratings and is targeting investments in residential projects in the top five cities, a press release from the company said.
 
"The fund intends to invest in geographies with proven market depth, high inherent demand, pricing stability and projects with low execution risk. The proposed target fund size is Rs 500 crore with an additional option of raising Rs 500 crore and focusing an average deal tenure of three years," it said.
 
The release said the investment focus would be to capture growth opportunities across lifecycle of investee companies through primary, secondary and co-investment opportunities. The investments shall be structured in the form of fully secured non-convertible debentures with a well-defined exit strategy and periodic returns on a quarterly basis along with a back-ended upside. 
 
The sponsor of the fund, Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd, an AAA-rated company, has expertise in mortgage financing business with strong lineage in managing developer project lifecycles.
 
Mr. Akshay Gupta, IBAMC Group Executive head and CEO, said, "Indiabulls AMC will emerge as one of the key players in the real estate fund space in the coming years. We plan to scale up our AIF / Co-investment presence and have plans to raise over Rs 10,000 crore under real-estate fund category in next five years from offshore and onshore markets.”  
IBAMC has recently appointed Mr. Ambar Maheshwari as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of its alternate investment funds business. Earlier, Mr. Maheshwari was Managing Director of Corporate Finance at realty consultant Jones Lang LaSalle.
 
 “The recent announcement of interest rate cut is expected to boost housing demand and will help in reviving the real estate market sentiments. The various initiatives taken by the government such as relaxation of Foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in the construction sector, Ordinance on the Land Acquisition Act and the legislation awaiting Parliamentary approval on the Real Estate (Development and Regulation), Bill has the potential to spur new project developments in the real estate space," Mr Maheshwari said.
 
AIFs are generally funds established or incorporated in India for pooling in capital from Indian and foreign investors for investing in accordance with a well-defined policy. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had notified the AIF regulations in May 2012, and since then had granted registrations to over 100 such funds. SEBI issued AIF Regulations to bring more transparency in private equity business and regulations cover Venture Funds, Private Equity and Hedge Funds under various categories.
 
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ICICI Bank launches banking services on Twitter

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ICICI Bank, India's largest private sector lender, today became the first bank in the country to allow customers to transfer money to anyone in the country through Twitter, provided both have accounts on the micro-bloggins site.
 
Customers can also check their account balance, view their last three transactions and recharge prepaid mobile telephones through the first-of-its-kind service in India, christened, ‘icicibankpay’, a press release from the bank said.
 
Mr. Rajiv Sabharwal, Executive Director, ICICI Bank said, "With the growing prominence of social media in every-day life, we believe our customers would be delighted to have yet another avenue which allows them to bank while they are on social media. In line with this, we introduced the world’s
most comprehensive banking facility on Facebook in 2013. Now, ‘icicibankpay’ will help our customers to execute banking transactions while they are socialising on Twitter."
 
"This innovation is in line with our philosophy of ‘khayaal aapka’ wherein we offer products and services which make banking easier and more convenient for our customers," he said.
 
Added Arvinder Gujral, Director, Business Development, Asia Pacific, Twitter,
“Twitter always has and will continue to encourage innovation on our platform and we congratulate ICICI Bank for their creative use of Twitter in their new banking service. As a company that is focused on consumers, ICICI Bank has made the banking experience more convenient and personal through social media. This initiative with ICICI Bank is testament to the growing importance of Twitter as the best way for Indians to stay connected to their world.”
 
Any ICICI Bank savings account customer, who has a mobile number registered with the bank and has a Twitter account, can access the facilities of ‘icicibankpay’. The customer can send money to anyone in India even if the recipient does not have an ICICI Bank savings account.
 
To register for the service, a customer needs to follow the Bank’s Twitter account, and follow the instructions in this regard.
 
More details about the new service are available here.
 
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SEBI cautions investors against investing in schemes offered by entities barred from raising money

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The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has cautioned investors against investing in schemes floated by certain entities which had been barred by it from collecting any further money or launch any new schemes and were promising unrealistic returns.
 
"These companies / entities without obtaining registration are illegally collecting / mobilising money, from investors by making false promises, assuring unrealistic return, etc.," a press release from SEBI said last Friday.
 
The release said that, wherever SEBI had found schemes offered by these entities to be in the nature of Collective Investment Schemes (CIS), appropriate actions had been taken against them and their directors.
 
The release pointed out that, since January 1, SEBI had passed orders against 63 entities and their directors for carrying on unregistered CIS. 
 
"As part of interim directions, SEBI directs the entities and (their) directors to stop collecting further money under existing / new schemes, not to launch any new scheme or float any new companies/firm to raise fresh money, not to divert or alienate any assets or money collected etc., and through final directions SEBI debars the company and (their) directors from accessing the capital markets, etc.," it said.
 
"Investors and general public are hereby cautioned that, other than GIFT Collective Investment Management Company Limited, no other entity is registered with SEBI under the CIS Regulations," it said.
 
The release said that, if any of the barred entities are found to be collecting / mobilising money, investors should not subscribe to such schemes and should report the same to SEBI, State authorities including Police authorities immediately, along with appropriate details / documents.
 
The list of such companies is given here.
 
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RIL reports 4.5% drop in net profit to Rs 5256 crore in Q3 of 2014-15

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today reported a 4.5 per cent decline in its net profit for the third quarter (Q3) of financial year 2014-15 to Rs 5,256 crore from Rs 5,502 crore in the same quarter of the previous financial year.
 
The net profit for the first nine months of the year grew by 3.4 per cent at Rs 17,185 crore, a press release from the company said.
 
RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D. Ambani said, "Our focus on operational efficiency and the superior configuration of assets helped us deliver an industry-leading performance in the refining and petrochemicals business despite sharp decline in crude and feedstock prices."
 
"The performance also highlights the robustness of our risk management and proficiency of people and processes across the integrated chain. We continued to advance our refining and petrochemicals business capital investments, which will come to fruition over the next 4-6 quarters. These investments demonstrate our commitment to creating value through the business cycle. 
 
"During the quarter, Reliance Retail registered Y-o-Y growth of 19% in turnover with improved margins and profitability," he added.
 
The company said its turnover in the third quarter decreased by 20.4% to Rs 96,330 crore from Rs 121,077 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year, due mainly to the sharp y-o-y fall in the benchmark oil price of 30 per cent.
 
It said exports from India were lower by 21.5% at Rs 58,507 crore as against Rs 74,495 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
The company said cash and cash equivalents as on 31st December 2014 were at Rs 78,691 crore in bank deposits, mutual funds, CDs and Government securities/bonds.
 
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India’s forex reserves rise by $ 236.4 million to $ 319.475 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves went up by $ 236.4 million to $ 319.475 billion in the week ended January 9, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The forex reserves had fallen by $ 471.4 million to $ 319.238 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 down by $ 308.5 million to $ 294.845 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 $ 19.378 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $ 56.7 million to $ 4.129 billion during the period.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 15.4 million to $ 1.123 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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RBI reduces repo rate by 25 bps to 7.75% as inflation slows down

Stating that the momentum of inflation had significantly reduced, the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday reduced the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 8.0 per cent to 7.75 per cent with immediate effect.

RBI logo
RBI logo
Stating that the momentum of inflation had significantly reduced, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today reduced the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 8.0 per cent to 7.75 per cent with immediate effect.
 
RBI Governor Raghuram G Rajan said in a statement that the central bank had also decided to keep the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks unchanged at 4.0 per cent of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL).
 
He said it would continue to provide liquidity under overnight repos at 0.25 per cent of bank-wise NDTL at the LAF repo rate and liquidity under 7-day and 14-day term repos of up to 0.75 per cent of NDTL of the banking system through auctions.
 
The RBI would also continue with daily variable rate repos and reverse repos to smooth liquidity, he said in a surprise early morning statement on monetary policy, outside the policy review cycle. It came less than three weeks ahead of the sixth bi-monthly monetary policy statement scheduled on February 3.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 6.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 8.75 per cent with immediate effect.
 
The announcement came a day after India's headline annual rate of inflation, based on the monthly wholesale price index (WPI), came in at 0.11 per cent for December 2014, only slightly higher than the flat 0 per cent recorded for the previous month.
 
The consumer price inflation rate also went up marginally during the month to 5% from an all-time low of 4.38% in November.
 
Dr Rajan said in his statement today that, since July 2014, inflationary pressures (measured by changes in the consumer price index) had been easing. 
 
"The path of inflation, while below the expected trajectory, has been consistent with the assessment of the balance of risks in the Reserve Bank’s bi-monthly monetary policy statements.  To some extent, lower than expected inflation has been enabled by the sharper than expected decline in prices of vegetables and fruits since September, ebbing price pressures in respect of cereals and the large fall in international commodity prices, particularly crude oil. Crude prices, barring geo-political shocks, are expected to remain low over the year. Weak demand conditions have also moderated inflation excluding food and fuel, especially in the reading for December. Finally, the government has reiterated its commitment to adhering to its fiscal deficit target," the statement said.
 
The RBI said these factors had significantly reduced the momentum of inflation, compensating for the widely anticipated ending of favourable base effects. 
 
"Households’ inflation expectations have adapted, and both near-term and longer-term inflation expectations have eased to single digits for the first time since September 2009. Inflation outcomes have fallen significantly below the 8 per cent targeted by January 2015. On current policy settings, inflation is likely to be below 6 per cent by January 2016," it said.
 
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Dr Rajan said these developments had provided headroom for a shift in the monetary policy stance.
 
"It may be recalled that the fifth bi-monthly monetary policy statement of December had stated that 'if the current inflation momentum and changes in inflation expectations continue, and fiscal developments are encouraging, a change in the monetary policy stance is likely early next year, including outside the policy review cycle'. In its public interactions, the RBI had committed to initiate the process of monetary easing as soon as data indicated that medium term inflationary targets would be met," he said.
 
Dr Rajan said the fifth bi-monthly monetary policy statement had also stated that once the monetary policy stance shifts, subsequent policy actions will be consistent with this stance. 
 
"Key to further easing are data that confirm continuing disinflationary pressures. Also critical would be sustained high quality fiscal consolidation as well as steps to overcome supply constraints and assure availability of key inputs such as power, land, minerals and infrastructure. The latter would be needed to ensure that potential output rises above the projected pick-up in growth in coming quarters so as to contain inflation," he added.
 
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BAE Systems names Deepak Parekh as its India Chairman

Deepak Parekh
Deepak Parekh
Defence, aerospace and security major BAE Systems today said it had appointed Mr Deepak Parekh, Chairman of HDFC Ltd, as a non-executive Director and Chairman of its Indian subsidiary, BAE Systems India (Services) Private Limited, with effect from January 1.
 
A press release from the company said Mr Parekh’s association with BAE Systems began in 2010 when he was appointed as a member of its Independent Advisory Board for India.
 
In his new, part-time role as chairman, Mr Parekh will provide leadership to the BAE Systems India Board and help the company realise its aspiration to develop capabilities and infrastructure in the country in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s "Make In India" initiative, it said.
 
"As a member of BAE Systems’ India Board, I look forward to working with the company and helping to contribute positively to the future development of world class defence and security capability in India. As India accelerates its pace towards the goal of self-reliance in aerospace and defence, it is an exciting time to help guide the Company in support of that objective," Mr Parekh said.
 
Mr Ian King, Chief Executive - BAE Systems Plc, said: “Deepak is one of India’s most respected business leaders. We are delighted to have the benefit of his experience and perspective as we continue to partner with India in order to Make in India.”
 
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India’s forex reserves decline by $ 471.4 million to $ 319.238 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $ 471.4 million to $ 319.238 billion in the week ended January 2, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The forex reserves had declined by $ 287.5 million to $ 319.71 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 down by $ 863.2 million to $ 294.537 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 went up by $ 392.7 million to $ 19.378 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) fell by $ 0.7 million to $ 4.185  billion during the period.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 0.2 million to $ 1.139 billion during the period, the bulletin added.
 
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India Inc’s revenue growth likely to slip to six-quarter low in Q3: Crisil

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Ratings and research firm Crisil has said that India Inc.'s revenue growth could slip to a six-quarter low of 7 per cent on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis in the December 2014 quarter due to slower growth in investment, export-oriented sectors and soft commodity prices.
 
"This tepid show will be due to weak performance of investment-linked sectors, stable currency exchange rates (y-o-y) impacting topline growth of export-oriented sectors, and weak global commodity prices," a press release from Crisil said here yesterday.
 
It said revenue growth was around 9 per cent in the preceding quarter and 13 per cent in the December 2013 quarter. On the profitability front though, it foresaw a marginal uptick in EBITDA margins.
 
“Investment driven sectors will drag down growth. For example, volume growth for top 15 cement companies, accounting for 55 per cent of industry volumes, will decelerate to 5 per cent in Q3 from 9 per cent in the first half of the year. Capital goods manufacturers, continuing to grapple with weak order inflows, are likely to report a 9 per cent yo-y decline in revenues. While construction companies will report a slight uptick in topline growth, growth will still lag aggregate corporate India revenue growth," Prasad Koparkar, Senior Director, Crisil Research, said.
 
According to the release, IT service providers are expected to report 10-11 per cent revenue growth y-o-y (in dollar terms) in Q3, similar to the growth recorded in each of the preceding six quarters. However, due to lack of currency tailwinds, rupee revenue growth will be far lower than in 2013-14, it said.
 
It said cotton yarn spinners would be hurt by weak export demand from China and lower yarn prices, but readymade garment exporters will continue to do well due to healthy growth in volumes.
 
The release said the rapid slide in global commodity prices would hurt topline growth of steel, petrochemical, manmade fibres, and chemical producers.  Aluminium, though, will buck the trend, reporting over 30 per cent topline growth led by better utilisation of new capacities and higher realisations. 
 
Among domestic consumption-oriented sectors, automobile revenues are forecast to grow at around 7 per cent (propelled by higher domestic sales of medium & heavy commercial vehicles). Others forecast to report above average topline growth include FMCG (realisation-led), telecom (spike in data usage), and pharmaceuticals.
 
Cril Research expects aggregate EBITDA margins to improve by 25-50 bps y-o-y in Q3FY15.
 
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Ajay Srinivasan, Director, Crisil Research, said, “We expect automobiles, cement, roads, and telecom to outperform. Margins may rise 70 bps in automobiles, propelled by commercial and passenger vehicle segments, while margins of component companies could expand by around 120 bps due to higher utiilisation levels and lower input costs. EBITDA margins of road developers are likely to jump 350-450 bps due to a rise in operational BOT (build operate transfer) projects, while surging data revenues and control over marketing costs will lift telecom operators’ margins by 140 bps."
 
"On the other hand, despite softer crude oil prices, profitability gains could be limited for companies with raw materials linked to the crude chain, due to losses booked on inventory previously procured. Central power utilities, coal, IT,
complex fertiliser and paper companies are expected to report lower margins," he added.
 
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IL&FS Infra gets commitment of Rs 5.5 billion for second set of IDF schemes

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IL&FS Infra Asset Management Limited (IIAML), promoted by IL&FS Financial Services Limited (IFIN) to manage the IL&FS Infrastructure Debt Fund (IL&FS IDF), has received commitment of Rs. 5.50 billion for the fund’s second set of close ended schemes, IL&FS IDF – Series 2-A, 2-B and 2-C having maturities of 5, 7 and 12 years, respectively. 
 
With this milestone, the fund has achieved total commitment of Rs.13.80 billion since its inception in 2013, including its current asset under management of Rs. 8.30 billion, a press release from the company said.
 
Mr. Ravi Parthasarathy, Chairman-IL&FS Group said, “Domestic infrastructure sector today urgently needs a new investor class to complement domestic banks in meeting the sector’s ever increasing funding requirement. Hence pooled investment vehicle like IDF managed by team of experts can play very important role of intermediating funds from insurance and pension fund investors into the infrastructure sector and diversify their holding beyond gilt edged securities for yield pick-up”.
 
Mr. Ramesh Bawa, Managing Director and CEO, IFIN and Chairman-IIAML said, “IL&FS IDF will keep on launching schemes in line with both investor appetite and opportunities available in the infrastructure sector and we propose to scale up the business significantly in coming years. This platform would provide wonderful opportunity for international investors who want to allocate funds into Indian Infrastructure.”
 
After the regulations for Infrastructure Debt Fund were announced by the Government in 2011, IFIN was amongst the first institutions to announce its intent to launch an Infrastructure Debt Fund under mutual fund structure, in partnership with Life Insurance Corporation of India. The fund, IL&FS IDF was launched in February 2013 and since then IIAML has completed two successful fund raising exercises and is the market leader in the evolving business of IDFs, the release said.
 
All schemes have been rated ‘AAA IDF – MF’ by India Ratings & Research, promoted by Fitch.
 
With successful fund raise in IL&FS IDF’s second set of schemes, IIAML has also launched the third set of schemes – 3-A, 3-B and 3-C of IL&FS IDF, which would primarily invest in higher rated infrastructure debt securities and is targeted to attract insurance and pension funds.
 
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ICICI Bank launches contactless credit, debit cards

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India's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank today said it had launched the country's first contactless debit and credit cards which enable its customers to make electronic payments by just waving the cards near the merchant terminal instead of dipping or swiping them. 
 
These cards are based on the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which provides customers the improved convenience of speed as these cards require significantly less time than traditional cards to complete a transaction alongwith enhanced security as they remain in control of the customer, a press release from the bank said.
 
The bank’s ‘Coral Contactless Credit Card’ and ‘Expressions Wave Debit Card’ are powered by ‘MasterCard contactless’ and ‘Visa payWave’ technologies, respectively, it said.
 
The release said the bank hadintroduced these cards in Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Mumbai to begin with. Over 1200 EDC machines capable of accepting contactless payments have been set up across merchants in these cities. The merchants include quick service restaurants, coffee shops, shopping marts and fuel stations where fast transactions are required. The bank plans to shortly extend this facility to other cities as well.
 
Mr. Rajiv Sabharwal, Executive Director, ICICI Bank said, “We have always leveraged technology to introduce digital innovations and bring forth world-class banking experience to our customers. Many of these were firsts in the industry like Internet, Mobile, Tab and Touch banking among others. We are delighted to partner with MasterCard and Visa to introduce the country’s first credit and debit card enabled with the contactless payment technology. We expect this to be a big game changer in the Indian payment industry. The key advantages of these cards are speed and security. The speed of transactions will add momentum to high value payments. At the same time, it will herald a shift from low value cash payments to cards thereby bringing payments in quick service restaurants and shopping marts too under the formal channel. Also, the level of security is higher since the card doesn’t leave the customer during the transaction process.”
 
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Mr. Ari Sarker, Country Corporate Officer and Division President, South Asia, MasterCard said, “The launch of contactless technology marks a milestone in the Indian payment industry as it joins a select group of markets which has access to this unique offering. Increasingly Indians have begun to embrace technology while making Banking transactions. We are confident of their positive response to this technology as we keep looking for innovative solutions to meet the progressively sophisticated and digital needs of consumers across the globe.”
 
According to Mr. Uttam Nayak, Group Country Manager India & South Asia and Global Head Emerging Markets Digital, Visa, “payWave provides a faster, more convenient and secure way for consumers to pay for their everyday purchases."
 
"Contactless payments are designed to replace the use of cash in busy retail environments where speed and convenience are important, such as supermarkets, convenience stores, and quick-service restaurants. With payWave you no longer need to fumble with change or worry if you have enough cash for your purchases, allowing you to spend less time at the register and more time doing the things that matter most to you.”
 
Both the contactless credit and debit cards can be used as regular cards at all MasterCard/ Visa enabled merchant terminals, even those which are not enabled for contactless transactions, the release added.
 
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Mahendra Singh Dhoni to lead India in World Cup 2015, tri-series

 
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who recently announced his retirement from Test cricket, will lead the 15-member Indian squad that will defend the ICC World Cup, that it won here four years ago, in the 2015 edition of the tournament to be held in Australia/New Zealand in February-March.
 
Dhoni will also lead the Indian team for the tri-series involving Australia and England from January 16 to February 1.
 
All-rounder Yuvraj Singh and Murali Vijay are among those who have failed to make to the World Cup squad.
 
The teams were picked by the All-India Senior Selection Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, headed by Sandip Patil, which met here today.
 
The following is the Indian squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: 
 
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Stuart Binny, Umesh Yadav. 
 
The following is the Indian squad for the Tri Series
 
MS Dhoni (Captain), Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Md. Shami, Stuart Binny, Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohit Sharma.
 
The ICC World Cup will be played frm February 14 to March 29. The two semi-finals will be played in Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia while the final will be held at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Australia.
 
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Eros forays into Malayalam market with Jeethu Joseph’s Life of Josootty

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Film entertainment major Eros International Media Limited today announced its foray into the Malayalam market with director Jeethu Joseph’s Life of Josootty. 
 
Produced by Jayalal Menon and Anil Biswas’ Backwater Studios and Eros, the comic drama stars popular Malayalam actor Dileep along with Rachana Narayanankutty, Jyothikrishna, Harish Peradi, Sunil Sugatha, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Kalabhavan Mani.
 
The film marks the coming together again of Joseph and Dileep after their hit pairing in the immensely popular My Boss.
 
Life of Josootty marks Joseph’s neew venture after his recent blockbuster Drishyam with Mohanlal. Anil Johnson of Memories, Drishyam and Three Dots fame has composed the music for the film.
 
Sunil Lulla, Managing Director, Eros International Media Ltd said, “Eros has been one of the biggest champions of regional cinema be it Tamil, Telugu, Marathi or Punjabi. We are very excited to enter the prolific Malayalam market by associating with prominent talent like Jeethu Joseph and Dileep”.
 
Soundarya A Rajnikanth, Director - Creative & Strategy for South India, Eros added, “We are looking forward to tapping the potential of Malayalam cinema and happy to align with the very best in talent there. Malayalam industry is filled with brilliant stories and content we want to produce and we are in talks with various producers, directors and actors currently. This industry is very important in our upcoming slate of productions and we couldn’t have had a better entry than with a Jeethu Joseph film”.  
 
Producer Menon added, “We are very pleased to associate with a leading global studio like Eros to co-produce Life of Josootty. With their undisputed leadership in global marketing and distribution, we are confident they will present Malayalam cinema on a worldwide platform with maximum reach”.
 
Life of Josootty is a comedy set against the backdrop of a family with a fantasy edge. The film went on floor on January 2 and will be shot across Idukki in Kerala and New Zealand. Eros International and Backwater Studios are looking at releasing the film worldwide in June 2015.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 4006 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its constructionarm had won orders worth Rs 4006 crore across varios business segments in December 2014, both in the domestic and international markets.
 
These include orders worth Rs 2053 crore bagged by its Transportation Infrastructure Business. Among them is a an order from a customer in Odisha for the construction of 48 m of railway lines for the transportation of coal from coal mines for their thermal power station. 
 
The scope of work also includes building a water pipeline along the railway line, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said the company had been awarded a road project in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the development and upgradation of the Bijapur-Gulbarga-Homnabad section of NH-218 in Karnataka.
 
Additional orders worth Rs 440 crore had been also received from ongoing domestic and international projects.
 
The company said its Water & Renewable Energy Businesses had secured new orders worth Rs 729 crore, including one received by its subsidiary, L&T Oman LLC, from Salalah Free Zone Company in Oman for the construction works of Adhan Phase 1A. The scope consists of building a potable water network, an irrigation water network, a storm water network, a sewer network, irrigation and firefighting reservoirs, pumping stations and control rooms.
 
Another order has been received from National Mineral Development Corporation Limited for the construction of an earthen reservoir, a raw water pump house, a water treatment plant and a distribution system for its integrated steel plant at Nagarnar, Chattisgarh.
 
The company's Renewable Energy Business has bagged a turnkey order from a power developer for the construction of Solar PV Plants in Punjab.
 
Its Power Transmission & Distribution Business has won new orders worth Rs 688 crore. These include a contract secured by its subsidiary, Larsen & Toubro Saudi Arabia LLC, from the National Grid, Saudi Arabia (a subsidiary of Saudi Electricity Company), for the construction of 132 kV cabling & 132 kV double-circuit transmission lines in Buraydah and Hail Areas of the kingdom.
 
On the domestic front, the business vertical bagged an order from Uttar Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Limited (UPPTCL) for the turnkey construction of 400 kV double circuit quad transmission lines between Banda-Orai and Banda-Allahabad regions of Uttar Pradesh.
 
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The business has also received an EPC order from Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) as a part of the northern regional strengthening scheme. The scope of work includes extension of 400/220 kV GIS Parbati pooling, 400/220 kV GIS Gurgaon substation and 400 kV GIS Kanpur substation.
 
The company said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Businesses had secured new orders worth Rs 228 crore, including a repeat EPC order from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) for the construction of viaduct and stations for YMCA – Ballabhgarh extension of the Delhi MRTS. Additional orders have been also received from various ongoing jobs.
 
L&T Geostructure LLP, a subsidiary of L&T, has won orders worth Rs 328 crore including a major one from a reputed customer for CW system and makeup water system civil works package in the eastern part of the country.
 
“These orders reveal the increased activity at ground level in the infrastructure space which augurs well for the economy and, more particularly, for EPC players like us,” said Mr. S N Subrahmanyan, Member of the Board and Senior Executive Vice President (Infrastructure & Construction). “While these orders will help us further establish our leadership on the domestic front, the orders that we are steadily getting from overseas is a reflection of our growing presence in these markets,” he added.
 
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Veteran Gujarati actor Upendra Trivedi passes away in Mumbai

Upendra Trivedi
Upendra Trivedi
Well-known Gujarat film and stage actor Upendra Trivedi passed away at his residence in Vile Parle here late last night.
 
He was 78. He is survived by his wife Shardaben and two sons Ashish Trivedi, a producer of plays under the abnner of Upendra Trivedi Productions, and Hemant Trivedi, a music composer.
 
His funeral was held this afternoon at Waghjibhai ni vadi at Vile Parle and was attended by a large number of his relatives, friends and admirers.
 
Family sources said Trivedi had been ailing for more than five months. He had been discharged on Thursday from a hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for respiratory problems, but had developed complications again last night and breathed his last a little past midnight.
 
Known as "Abhinay Samrat" for his acting prowess after he essayed seven roles in a play of the same name, Trivedi was the brother of Arvind Trivedi, who had played the role of Ravana in the television serial Ramayana.
 
Born in 1936, Trivedi had humble beginnings and began life as a labourer. After acting in plays during his college days. He played some bit roles in Gujarati movies, which helped him to pay his way through his college. He got his big break with Jesal Toral, which turned out to be a big hit, and went on to reign over Gujarati cinema for nearly four decades, acting in several successful movies, many of them with actress Snehlata, with whom he formed a popular screen pair.
 
He also directed Manvini Bhavai, one of the most memorable Gujarati films based on the novel of the same name by renowned writer Pannalal Patel. The film went on to win a national award.
 
Trivedi appeared in the popular Hindi movie "Jungle Mein Mangal", playing a negative role.
 
He joined politics and won the election to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly from Bhiloda. He served as Deputy Speaker of the Assembly from 2000-02.
 
During a distinguished career, he was honoured by the government with the Padma Shri and had also won the prestigious Pandit Omkarnath Thakur Award.
 
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Modi says science, technology must reach the poorest, most vulnerable

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday the arms of science, technology and innovation must reach the poorest, the remotest and the most vulnerable person and underlined that this was an enterprise of national importance in which the government, industry, national laboratories, universities and research institutions had to work together.

 
Nation's progress linked to science and technology: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the arms of science, technology and innovation must reach the poorest, the remotest and the most vulnerable person and underlined that this was an enterprise of national importance in which the government, industry, national laboratories, universities and research institutions had to work together.
 
"Too often, a discussion on science and technology is reduced to a question of budgets. It is important; and I am confident that it will continue to grow," he said in his inaugural address at the 102nd Indian Science Congress here.
 
"But, our own achievements have shown that very often a need and vision and passion are more important than resource for success. And, it is how we use resources that will determine how effective we are in making science and technology work for us," he said.
 
Mr Modi said India's achievements in science and technology gave its people pride, but they did not blind them to the enormous challenges that the country faced.
 
"We are at yet another moment of expectation and excitement, as we were at the birth of independent India. There is a mood of optimism for change in the country; the energy to pursue it; and, confidence to achieve it," he said.
 
"But, the dreams we all share for India will depend as much on science and technology as it will on policy and resources," he said.
 
He listed some of these dreams as:
 
--To make the country'sagriculture more resilient and yield more; to develop appropriate and affordable technologies for rural areas;
--To do more from every drop of water; and, explore the potential of marine resources 
--To preserve the country's biodiversity; and keep its environment clean 
--To improve healthcare and develop medicines and medical devices that is within the reach of poorest; 
--To make clean energy affordable and its use more efficient; 
--To use technology to realize our dream of housing and sanitation for all; 
--To find our indigenous solutions to make Indian cities cleaner and more habitable 
--To turn waste into wealth and resources for sustainable infrastructure of the future; 
--To use internet to improve human development 
--To make India a leading manufacturing nation; and a hub for knowledge and technology-intensive industries. 
 
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Mr Modi said he greatly admired the rich history of the hundred-year-old Indian Science Congress and felt humbled by the work that scientists do. He also said that he found science and technology an invaluable ally in governance and development. 
 
He said science and technolgy had helped reduce poverty and advance prosperity; fight hunger and improve nutrition; conquer diseases, improve health and give a child a better chance to survive; connect people to their loved ones and the world; spread education and awareness; and, given the country clean energy that could make its habitat more sustainable. 
 
"A nation's progress and its human development are linked to science and technology. In more recent times, China's emergence as the second biggest global economy is in parallel to its rise to the second place in science and technology activities," he said.
 
Mr Modi said science and technology could also remove national barriers, unify the world and advance peace. It can bring nations, rich and poor, in a shared effort to address global challenges, he said.
 
"But, we also know that it can increase inequality, make wars more lethal and damage our environment. Sometimes, we learn about their consequences later, as we did on climate change; sometimes, these are the result of our own choices," he said.
 
"For example, information technology was meant to increase efficiency and productivity; sometimes, however, its various distractions can easily overpower us! How often do we sit in meetings and cannot resist the temptation to catch up on our messages!" he said.
 
"So, when we speak of science and human development, we cannot divorce it from the questions of political decisions; social choices; and of equity, ethics and access. 
 
"Human development has been the larger purpose and the driving force of Indian scientific pursuits. And, science has helped shape modern India. At the dawn of freedom, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru placed science and technology at the heart of national development. Our scientists launched pioneering research and built outstanding institutions with modest resources that continue to serve us well," he said.
 
"Since then, our scientists have placed us at the forefront of the world in many areas. Whenever the world shut its door on us, our scientists responded with the zeal of a national mission. When the world sought our collaboration, they reached out with the openness that is inherent in our society. They have alleviated some of our most acute and pressing challenges of human development. They helped us overcome dependence on others for such basic needs as food. They have secured our borders; supported industrial progress; and, given our people a life of opportunities and dignity," he said.
 
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In this context, he congratulated Indian scientists who helped put Mangalyaan in the Mars orbit in the very first attempt and whose accurate prediction of cyclone Hudhud helped save thousands of lives. "Our nuclear scientists work for our energy security, and they have also placed India at the Asian forefront in cancer research and treatment," he said.
 
Mr Modi said India's development challenges would naturally shape its strategic priorities in science and technology. "Even as we focus on some key areas, we should not confine research and development to a few pre-determined paths. And, it is as important to focus on basic research as on research and development and innovation. We should also recognize that science is universal, but technology can be local," he said.
 
"If we incorporate traditional and local knowledge, systems and technologies, we may develop more appropriate, effective, affordable and sustainable solutions that contribute immensely to human development and progress," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that, as the major source of science and technology efforts in the country, the government must do its part. "When I speak of ease of doing business in India, I also want to pay equal attention to the ease of doing research and development in India," he said.
 
"Funding proposals must not take too long to clear; meeting application requirement should not become more complex than research; approval process should not become a deterrent for international conference; and, our scientific departments must have flexibility of funding decisions based on the uncertainties inherent in research activities. 
 
"We want our scientists and researchers to explore the mysteries of science, not of government procedures. We want them to consider publications, not government approvals, to be the epitome of their success. 
 
"We must also have clear regulatory policies for research and development in areas like biotechnology, nano-science, agriculture and clinical research. We should ensure that our strong intellectual property regime continues to work effectively and provides the right balance between private incentives and social good," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that, not just scientific departments, but every department in the government should see how to apply science and technology and promote research to improve their work. Each should have an officer focusing on science and technology relating to its area of work; and, allocate a percentage of its budget for such activities. "We have begun this experience with space technology," he said.
 
He said investments in science and technology activities should also become part of the expenditure on corporate social responsibility – to be funded directly or through an autonomous fund. 
 
He said the country also needed to foster a strong culture of collaboration between institutions and across disciplines to take advantage of developments, innovations and expertise in diverse areas.
 
"My impression is that this is far from the ideal in India. I will ask our ministries to make collaborations a critical requirement for their institutions and for supporting funding requests for research," he said.
 
Mr Modi said the university system had to be placed at the cutting edge of the research and development activities in the country. "Our investments in science and technology are far too concentrated in the agencies of the Central Government and must become more broad-based. Our universities must be freed from the clutches of excessive regulation and cumbersome procedures. They must have a higher degree of academic freedom and autonomy; and, there should be as much emphasis on research as on teaching," he said.
 
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He said that, in turn, the universities must also subscribe to the highest academic and research standards and accountability. This includes thorough peer review. 
 
"We have to rapidly expand our higher education sector; yet, our existing institutions face shortage of faculty. We have a large pool of outstanding scientists and engineers working in central institutions and agencies. I want them to spend some time each year, teaching and guiding Ph.D students at a university. Our industry must also step up investments in science and technology in its own interest," he said.
 
Mr Modi noted that India's pharmaceutical industry had carved out a place for itself in the world, because it invests significantly in research. "Indeed, our long term global competitiveness will depend not on replicating what others have done, but through a process of sustained development and innovation. There is a growing trend of international collaboration in research and development, not just among business enterprises, but equally among researchers and scholars at universities and laboratories. We should take full advantage of this," he said.
 
He said he had, for this reason, placed science and technology at the forefront of India's diplomatic engagement. "As I have travelled abroad, I have personally sought out scientists to explore collaborations in areas like clean energy, agriculture, biotechnology, medicine and healthcare," he said.
 
"We have built excellent partnerships with all leading nations to address the grand challenges of the world today. I have also offered our expertise to our neighbours and other developing countries. 
 
"I have often spoken of skill development for our youth. Our future will be secure and our global leadership possible, if we also prepare the next generation of world class scientists, technologists and innovators. School education in science and mathematics should become more creative and stimulating. 
 
"Let us also use Internet to bring the best of our scientists in direct contact with our children and our youth. Digital connectivity should become as much a basic right as access to school," he said.
 
Mr Modi welcomed the initiatives of Department of Science and Technology for involving thousands of children and youth in science and technology. 
 
"It is not surprising that our young minds are winning international competitions and 12 of them have minor comets named after them! Our children should seek role model in scientists as much as in sportsmen. Their parents should feel as much pride in their children seeking a future in science as in business or civil service. 
 
"For this, we need to communicate the power and possibilities of science better. Let us, for example, make science and technology the theme of Republic Day parade in the near future. We need to celebrate our scientific achievements as much as we rejoice in our success in other areas," he said.
 
"We should give young participants and winners in science fairs maximum public recognition and sustained support of the government. I would personally love to meet the best of our young scientists," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that, for a safe, sustainable, prosperous future for India; or global leadership in a knowledge and technology intensive world, the country needed to put science, technology and innovation at the top of national priorities. 
 
"I am confident that we can do it. We in India are the inheritors of a thriving tradition of Indian science and technology since ancient times. Mathematics and medicine; metallurgy and mining; calculus and textiles; architecture and astronomy - the contribution the Indian civilization to human knowledge and advancement has been rich and varied. 
 
"We can draw inspiration and confidence from our numerous successes over the past six decades in difficult circumstances; the strength of our many institutions; and, India's rich talent in science, reflected in the five distinguished Indian scientists, whom we have just honoured. 
 
"Above all, we must restore the pride and prestige of science and scientists in our nation; revive the romance for science in society; rekindle the love for it in our children; and, encourage our scientists - to dream, imagine and explore. 
 
"You will have no better supporter than me. In turn, I seek your help in transforming India," he added.
 
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Essel Propack sets up new cosmetic tube capabilits in Egypt, China

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Specialty packaging major Essel Propack Limited, part of the Essel Group, has set up new manufacturing capabilities in Egypt and China to cater to the need for laminated plastic tubes from FMCG and cosmetic brands in the Middle East, African and Chinese markets.
 
A press release from the company said it had inaugurated its fifth plant in China with the commissioning of Essel Propack Suzhou Ltd (EPSL) in Suzhou, East China for the non-oral care category.
 
The plant is strategically located in the hub of all multinational and domestic cosmetic brands.  The primary focus of the new plant would be beauty and cosmetic products like  facial cleanser, hand cream, BB cream, shampoo and hair conditioner, it said.
 
This is the first phase of investment in EPSL, which has an annual tube supply capacity of 160 million tubes, which will subsequently be more than doubled to reach 380 million annual tubes. EPSL eyes a market share of 5.1% in China’s non-oral care tube market in FY’15-16, from the current level of 3.2%.
 
Additionally, the company has installed a new machine in  Egypt with the capability  to produce laminated tubes for cosmetic brands, on witnessing a fast-emerging conversion from jars to tubes in personal care products like hair gels. The major customers are changing preferences from jars and  plastic tubes to laminated tubes .
 
The release said Essel saw huge growth potential in the hair care markets of Middle East and Africa. To cater to this demand, the company has introduced the latest plastic barrier laminate tube with inviseam technology, and high décor using its own Elite Printing platform.   
 
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Mr Ashok Goel, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Essel Propack Limited, said: “Cosmetic products have  much better revenues, asset turn and value addition compared to the other products in our portfolio. Oral care segment comprises 85% of Essel’s total revenue in China as per the last fiscal. The new plant which is our fifth site in China creates a new opportunity for Essel to mitigate any risk with current oral care customer group and could become a strong impetus for EP China’s top line growth in 2015 and beyond.”
 
"Also, in AMESA region, we are witnessing a very high consumption of skin care, hair care and male grooming products. With two decades of experience in Egypt, this new business is certainly set to complement our growth and help us achieve our target of  50% revenue share from non-oral care business," he added.
 
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Dawood Bohra community head Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin meets Modi in Mumbai

The religious head of the Dawoodi Bohra Community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Mumbai on January 2, 2015.
The religious head of the Dawoodi Bohra Community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Mumbai on January 2, 2015.
Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the religious head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today.
 
An official press release said Mr Modi recalled his long and warm association with Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the former religious head of the community, who had passed away last year. 
 
Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin appreciated Mr Modi`s efforts to take India forward, and pledged the community`s support to his initiatives, the release said.
 
Mr Modi suggested that the Dawoodi Bohra community, which is present in about 400 districts of the country, should initiate Swachhta Abhiyaan competitions among schools in these districts, and award the best performing schools through the creation of laboratories or computer resources. 
 
The Dawoodi Bohra community, which was traditionally a trading community, but has now made great progress in the manufacturing sector, also pledged its support to the `Make in India` initiative of the Prime Minister. 
 
The community has expressed keenness to establish a smart city in Mumbai. The Prime Minister offered all support in this initiative as did Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was present on the occasion.
 
Mr Modi also asked for suggestions from the community for the coming Union Budget, given its vast experience, particularly in bringing about positive results in the health and education sector. 
 
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Mumbai rail services hit as commuters go on rampage against delays

 
Mumbai Central Railway Services hit as commuters go on rampage
Suburban train services on the Central Railway in Mumbai were disrupted today after angry commuters held protests against the delays in train services.
 
At Diva station, commuters also resorted to violence, resulting in injuries to some motormen and damage to railway property. This, in turn, led to a strike by motormen, which aggravated the situation further. Police resorted to a mild cane charge to disperse the protesters.
 
The commuters were angered by the delay in the suburban services after a pantograph of a train was broken near Thakurli station this morning, leaving hundreds of them stranded at Diva and other stations.
 
Some people pelted stones at trains and damaged railway property, sources said. 
 
As the protests gathered steam, train services were delayed by several hours.
 
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who hails from Mumbai and happened to be in the city, held talks with the motormen's union to persuade them to return to work and also with the Railway officials and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other state government officials to find a permanent solution to such problems.
 
Centrail Railway officials said the pantograph of a local train had tilted and broke arund 0650 hours between Thakurli and Dombivali stations on the Up slow line. Due to this, the overhead power was switched off for about 36 minutes and trains were diverted to other lines, leading to a delay.
 
Passengers began protesting by squatting on the tracks at Diva station, causing cascading delays. 
 
The officials said as many as 134 train services were cancelled today as a result of the protests. They said 10 EMU rakes were damaged, which will affect suburban services during peak hours over the next two days.
 
Two motormen and five personel of the Railway Protection Force were injured in the stone pelting, they said.
 
Seven automated ticket vending machines (ATVMs) and three booking counters at Diva station, two booking counters and six ATVMs at Dombivali station and a level crossing gate boom at Diva level crossing were damaged in the incidents, they said.
 
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India’s forex reserves decline by $287.5 million to $ 319.71 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $ 287.5 million to $ 319.71 billion in the week ended December 26, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The forex reserves had soared by a whopping $ 3.164 billion to $ 319.997 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 down by $ 271 million to $ 295.4 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 $ 18.985 billion while its special drawing rights (SDRs) fell by $ 13 million to $ 4.186 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 3.5 million to $ 1.139 billion during the period, the bulletin added.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 2521 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said the Building & Factories business of its construction division had bagged orders worth Rs 2521 crore in December in the domestic and international markets.
 
A press release from the company said L&T Oman LLC, a subsidiary of L&T, had won a prestigious order from the Ministry of Transport & Communications in Oman for the construction of a new passenger terminal at Duqm Airport in the sultanate.
 
The scope of work includes constructing a modern passenger terminal building with a capacity to handle 500,000 passengers per annum,   a 37-metre high air traffic control tower, and an air cargo terminal equipped to handle 25,000 tonnes of cargo per annum.
 
The subsidiary also bagged an order from Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN); the Sultanate’s leading tourism and mega real-estate developer, for the turnkey construction of a 4-star hotel at Oman Exhibition and Convention Center.
 
In the domestic market, a major order has been secured from a developer for the design and construction of residential apartments at Bangalore, the company said. The scope of works includes civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and finishing works, it said.
 
Another order has been received from a client for the construction of 10 high end residential towers in Mumbai. The scope includes civil, structure and associated works, the release added.
 
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Dhoni retires from Test cricket, Kohli named captain for final Test against Australia

File photo of MS Dhoni.
File photo of MS Dhoni.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of India's greatest Test captains under whose leadership India became the number one team in the Test rankings, has decided to retire from Test Cricket citing the strain of playing all formats of cricket. 
 
"M S Dhoni has chosen to retire from Test cricket with immediate effect in order to concentrate on ODI and T20 formats," Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary Sanjay Patel said in a press release.
 
"BCCI, while respecting the decision of M S Dhoni to retire from Test cricket, wishes to thank him for his enormous contribution to Test cricket and the laurels that he has brought to India," the release said.
 
Virat Kohli will be the captain of the Indian team for the fourth and final Test against Australia to be played in Sydney from January 6, the release added.
 
The announcement came shortly after Dhoni had faced reporters at the end of the drawn third Test against Australia in Melbourne, which meant that the hosts won the series 2-0.
 
He did not mention his retirement plans during the post-match press conference and the announcement came through a press release from BCCI.
 
Kohli, who has been considered Dhoni's successor for a long time, had led the Indian team in the first Test against Australia. Dhoni had been rested for the match as a prophylactic measure to ensure optimum recovery from an injury.
 
India lost the match by 48 runs in a close contest, but Kohli won praise for his aggressive approach.
 
Dhoni, 33, a wicket-keeper batsman, has had a poor run as captain on overseas tours in recent years, having lost to England in 2011 and Australia in 2011-12. The team also lost to South Africa and New Zealand before going down to England again in summer this year.
 
He made his Test debut for India against Sri Lanka at Chennai on December 2-6, 2005 at Chennai. The Melbourne Test against Australia, played from December 26-30, was his last.
 
In all he appeared in 90 tests and played 144 innings, scoring 4876 rus in all at an average of 38.09. His highest score was 224. He hit six centuries and scored 33 halfcenturies during his Test career.
 
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RIL's Nagothane manufacturing site to shut down for four weeks in planned turnaround

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) today siad it had scheduled a planned turnaround at its Nagothane manufacturing site in Maharashtra for about four weeks beginning around mid-January 2015.
 
During this period, the cracker and some of the downstream units will be shut down, a press release from the company said.
 
"This opportunity will be used to carry out routine maintenance activities and for implementing other profit improvement and energy conservation measures. RIL’s crackers and other downstream units at other locations will continue at normal levels of operations," it said.
 
"With advance planning and inventory management, impact on external sales is likely to be minimal," the release added.
 
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India’s forex reserves soar by $ 3.164 billion to $319.997 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by a whopping $ 3.164 billion to $ 319.997 billion in the week ended December 19, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The forex reserves had jumped by $ 2.172 billion to $ 316.834 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 $ 3.31 billion to $ 295.671 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 $ 18.985 billion while its special drawing rights (SDRs) fell by $ 29.2  million to $ 4.199 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 117.6 million to $ 1.142billion during the period, the bulletin added.
 
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