L&T wins contracts worth Rs 1563 crore, including breakthrough order in Malaysia

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said the Power Transmission & Distribution Business of its Construction Division had won orders worth Rs 1563 crore in both the international and domestic markets in July and August 2015.
In a strategic breakthrough in the ASEAN market, a key order has been received from Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) for the design, manufacture, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of a 500 kV double circuit transmission line in Malaysia, a press release from the company said.
This is one of the three packages of the 500 kV overhead double circuit transmission line for TNB from Yong-Peng to Lenggeng in Peninsular Malaysia which will be critical for evacuating power from the power plants in the Johor state, it said.
L&T Oman LLC, a subsidiary of L&T in Oman, bagged two major orders from Oman Electricity Transmission Company SAOG (OETC) for engineering, procurement and construction of a 132kV Gird Station at Saada AADA and 220kV/132kV/33kV Grid Station at Madinat Sultan Qaboos (MSQ).
Another EPC order was received from Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) for the construction of a 132/11kV substation at Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the release said.
Yet another order has been bagged from a reputed customer in the Middle East for the supply of 33kV transmission towers, it said.
On the domestic front, an order has been received from Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation (TANTRANSCO) for the engineering, procurement and construction of a 400kV 
double circuit (Quad) transmission line linking Kamudhi and Karaikudi, the company said.
Power Grid Corporation of India Limited has awarded the company a mandate for the construction of a 765kV double circuit transmission line from Banaskantha to Chittorgarh, which is associated with the Green Energy corridor.
“This breakthrough that we have achieved in a developed and demanding market like Malaysia is an extremely significant development in our strategic thrust into new geographies,” said Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, Member of the Board and Senior EVP 
(Infrastructure & Construction), L&T.
“We foresee huge opportunities in the ASEAN region with their T&D network poised for rapid expansion and with this timely market entry, we are well-placed to take advantage of those opportunities. The other orders that we have bagged in the Middle East are helping us to further establish our credentials there,” he added. 

SpiceJet introduces direct flights from Varanasi to Mumbai, Hyderabad

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today anounced new flights in its schedule from October 15, including services on the Varanasi-Mumbai and Varanasi-Hyderabad-Bengaluru routes.
A press release from the airline said it had also introduced daily flights between Agartala and Chennai via Kolkata.
It has also increased frequencies on its daily flights between Hyderabad and Bengaluru, Delhi and Agartala (second flight added), Delhi and Kolkata (third flight added), Agartala and Kolkata (second flight added), Kolkata and Chennai (second flight added), Hyderabad and Mumbai (third flight added), and Hyderabad and Bengaluru (third flight added).  
SpiceJet will deploy two new aircraft to operate the new flights, the release said.
Shilpa Bhatia, Sr. VP and Head of Sales and Distribution, SpiceJet, said, “These new flights and frequencies signal the continuing rebound of SpiceJet. We offer the lowest fares and fly the fullest aircraft in India, connecting more cities and bringing air travel to more Indians than ever before.”

RIL, Airtel among 11 applicants given in-principle approval for Payments Banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today said it had granted “in-principle” approval to 11 applicants to set up payments banks, including Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Airtel M Commerce Services Limited and the Department of Posts.
The other applicants who got "in-principle" approval are: Aditya Birla Nuvo Limited, Cholamandalam Distribution Services Limited, Fino PayTech Limited, National Securities Depository Limited, Mr. Dilip Shantilal Shanghvi, Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Tech Mahindra Limited and Vodafone m-pesa Limited.
In all, the Reserve Bank had received 41 applications for payments banks.
A press release from the RBI said the “in-principle” approval granted would be valid for a period of 18 months, during which time the applicants have to comply with the requirements under the Guidelines for Licensing of Payments Banks issued on November 27, 2014 and fulfil the other conditions as may be stipulated by the central bank.
On being satisfied that the applicants have complied with the requisite conditions laid down by it as part of the “in-principle” approval, the Reserve Bank would consider granting to them a licence for commencement of banking business under Section 22(1) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. 
"Until a regular licence is issued, the applicants cannot undertake any banking business," the release said.
According to the release, under the selection process, a detailed scrutiny was first undertaken by an External Advisory Committee (EAC) under the Chairmanship of Dr. Nachiket Mor, Director, Central Board of RBI. The recommendations of the EAC were an input to an Internal Screening Committee (ISC), consisting of the RBI Governor and the four Deputy Governors. This Internal Screening Committee prepared a final list of recommendations for the Committee of the Central Board (CCB), after independently scrutinising all the applications. 
At its meeting here today, the CCB went through the applications, informed by the recommendations of the EAC and the ISC, and approved the announced list of applicants.
In arriving at the final list, the CCB noted that it would be difficult at this stage to forecast the most successful likely model in the emerging business of payments. The CCB further noted that payments banks cannot undertake lending, and therefore believed that the payments bank would not be subject to the same risks as a full service bank. Therefore, the CCB evaluated applicants to assess whether there would be unacceptable risk even to the narrower functions of a payments bank. 
"It has selected entities with experience in different sectors and with different capabilities so that different models could be tried. It did ensure that all the selected applicants have the reach and the technological and financial strength to service hitherto excluded customers across the country. Nevertheless, the in-principle approvals are subject to the condition {(15 (v)} in the guidelines, including any developments in on-going cases," the release said.
Going forward, the Reserve Bank intends to use the learning from this licensing round to appropriately revise the guidelines and move to giving licences more regularly, that is, virtually “on tap”. 
"The Reserve Bank believes that some of the entities who did not qualify in this round, could well be successful in future rounds," it said.
On August 27, 2013, the RBI had placed on its website a policy discussion paper on Banking Structure in India – The Way Forward. 
One of the observations in the discussion paper was that there is a need for niche banking in India, and differentiated licensing could be a desirable step in this direction, particularly for infrastructure financing, wholesale banking and retail banking.
Subsequently, the Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households (Chairman: Dr. Nachiket Mor) in its report released in January 2014 examined the issues relevant to an ubiquitous payment network and universal access to savings and recommended the licensing of payment banks to offer financial services to the hitherto excluded segments of the population.
In the Union Budget 2014-2015 presented on July 10, 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that: “After making suitable changes to current framework, a structure will be put in place for continuous authorization of universal banks in the private sector in the current financial year. RBI will create a framework for licensing small banks and other differentiated banks. Differentiated banks serving niche interests, local area banks, payment banks etc. are contemplated to meet credit and remittance needs of small businesses, unorganized sector, low income households, farmers and migrant work force”.
Draft guidelines for licensing of payments banks were released for public comments on July 17, 2014. Based on the comments and suggestions received on the draft guidelines, final guidelines for licensing of payments banks were issued on November 27, 2014. 
The Reserve Bank also issued clarifications to the queries (numbering 144) on the guidelines on January 1, 2015. 
According to the release, the EAC had set up its own procedures for screening the applications including calling for more information, wherever required. 
The applications were screened for financial soundness, i.e., five year track record of the promoter and the key entities of the promoter group. The assessment also included governance issues with a focus on ‘fit and proper’ criteria for promoters based on due diligence reports and/or any other information indicating deliberate and repeated violations of law/regulations; significant Incremental contribution in terms of existing and demonstrated physical rural reach, business model innovation, technological and operational capability indicating a model that can handle the required volumes of transactions and money with a high degree of demonstrated fidelity and safety; and proposed business plan in terms of product mix, innovative technological solutions, geographic access and viable financial plan. 
In order to facilitate assessment of outreach and capability for handling low value high volume transactions, additional data was called for from applicants and was considered by EAC for arriving at the decisions. The EAC submitted its report on July 6, 2015.

Standard Life to increase its stake in HDFC Life to 35%

Standard Life will acquire a further 9 percent of the shares of HDFC Life from HDFC Limited at a price of Rs 95 per share, subject to receiving all necessary regulatory approvals, HDFC announced this evening.
As a consequence, Standard Life will increase its shareholding in HDFC Life  to 35% from 26% at present, it said.
Accordingly, HDFC’s shareholding in HDFC Life would then stand at 61.65%, it said.
The two companies had launched HDFC Life as a joint venture in 2000 and it was the first private life insurance company to be granted a licence to operate in India.
In line with the laws governing foreign ownership in the insurance  sector, Standard Life’s ownership in HDFC Life has thus far been restricted to 26%.
"A long-held understanding between HDFC and Standard Life was that Standard Life would increase its shareholding to parity with HDFC at such time as legislation allowed. After the increase in the foreign ownership limits in the sector, Standard Life and HDFC have had discussions and  today’s  agreement will see Standard Life increase its stake in HDFC Life to only 35%, its preferred long-term shareholding, without parity.
Mr Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC Limited said, “I am delighted that Standard Life is increasing its stake in HDFC Life to 35 %. The founding shareholders are also committed to obtaining a listing for HDFC Life. This will allow investors to participate in the growing Indian insurance sector.”
Mr. Keith Skeoch, CEO of Standard Life plc said, “Today’s announcement marks a strengthening of our well-established relationship with HDFC. The proposed investment demonstrates our long-term commitment to India and the future success of HDFC Life."
Mr. Amitabh Chaudhry, MD & CEO, HDFC Life said, “The stake increase reiterates the trust and commitment of Standard Life towards the Indian life insurance sector and specifically for HDFC Life. Both promoter shareholders have been very supportive  of our strategy and growth over the last few years. This transaction is in line with the long-term vision of shareholders to jointly build  a world class life insurance company. We continue to focus on long-term  protection and saving needs of India and delivering sustainable performance.”

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Sanjay Jalona appointed as CEO & MD of L&T Infotech

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said it had appinted Sanjay Jalona as the Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of its wholly-owned subsidiary L&T Infotech, with a mandate to lead the company in its next phase of growth. 
He has also been inducted as a Director on the board of L&T Infotech, a press release from the company said.
Prior to joining L&T Infotech, Mr. Jalona was with Infosys as Executive Vice President and Global Head of High-Tech Manufacturing & Engineering Services.
“Sanjay brings vast experience and deep understanding of changes in the industry that are very valuable to L&T Infotech,” said Mr. A. M. Naik, Group Executive Chairman, L&T. “Our clients are seeking smarter and more intelligent solutions. We believe that Sanjay has the ability to solve these challenges and the experience to take L&T Infotech to the next level.”
During his 15 years at Infosys, Mr. Jalona had held senior leadership positions across USA, Europe and India. 
“L&T Infotech has built an enviable reputation for its unparalleled client focus and excellence in execution. I am honored to lead the company in the next phase of its growth,” said Jalona. “Our focus will be on preparing clients to face the challenges of tomorrow.”
Mr. Jalona will operate out of L&T Infotech’s office in Edison, New Jersey, USA. 
"His appointment adds thrust to L&T Infotech’s plans to boost profitable growth and strengthen its presence in the Americas, Europe, GCC countries and the Far East," the release added.

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Bollywood gets its own version of Rangabati!

The Hindi version of Odisha cult classic Rangabati from Nila Madhab Panda’s film Kaun Kitney Paani Mein launched yesterday on YouTube.
The song has been inspired by the Sambalpuri hit Rangabati and is Panda’s tribute to the composer and creators of the original song. 
“I am very proud to bring the song and the Sambalpuri flavour into Bollywood and Hindi cinema. The song is all the more important and of great significance, since my film is based in Odisha. And coming from the Oriya community myself, the song is a tribute to its original creators and composers at a national level," he said.
The number has actress Radhika Apte reveal her dancing avatar on the big screen for the first time as she dances to the tune of Rangabati. The track sung by Rekha Rao and Krishna Beura also features Odiya actress Prakriti Mishra and famous Odishi dancer Saswat Joshi. 
The music has been composed by KB tunes, while the lyrics are by Protiqe Mojoomdar.
The filmmaker said that it was matter of great pride and honour for him to be able to present the song to the Hindi audiences as well.
The Sambalpuri song, Rangabati is one of the most popular songs in Odisha, ever since it was first recorded in the mid-1970s. Written by Mitrabhanu Gauntia, composed by Prabhudatta Pradhan and sung by Jitendra Haripal and Krishna Patel, the song continues to be a hit in popular culture too. 
Talking about his version of the song, Panda said, “The Rangabati song in my film is in Hindi and has been inspired by the original cult classic. The idea is to share and showcase the rich culture on a wider scale and what better platform than to have it in a Bollywood film."
Kaun Kitney Paani Mein is Panda’s most ambitious film yet and deals with one of the most critical challenges facing the world -- water.
Starring Kunal Kapoor, Radhika Apte, Gulshan Grover and Saurabh Shukla, the film has been funded by One Drop Foundation, Montreal and produced by Eleeanora Images and One Drop Foundation and is slated to release on August 28.

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Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan crosses Rs 300 crore at Indian box office

Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan, directed by Kabir Khan, crossed the Rs 300 crore mark on Wednesday at the Indian box office, taking its worldwide gross to over Rs 500 crore and making it now the highest grosser of 2015.
A press release from film entertainment major Eros International Media Ltd and producers Salman Khan Films said the film, that release on July 17, had a thunderous start at the box office with the fastest Rs.100 crore in the opening weekend itself. 
The film also earned the highest single day collections for a film at Rs. 38.75 crore on Sunday in the opening weekend. The film then crossed the Rs. 150 crores milestone within five days of release in India and went on to collect the highest second weekend ever of Rs. 56.10 crore.
The release said Bajrangi Bhaijaan has been doing phenomenal business in the overseas markets too with the film garnering Rs. 155 crore ($ 24.3 million) till Wednesday. 
"The film has broken all previous overseas records of Salman Khan films and is in Top 10 in the UK. It crossed Rs. 50 crores (29 million Dirhams) in UAE and GCC regions to become the highest grosser for any Hindi film in the region," it said.
Amar Butala, COO, Salman Khan Films and co-producer of Bajrangi Bhaijaan said, “It's a matter of pride for Salman Khan Films that our first film as producers continues to set new box office benchmarks both in India and worldwide and has found both box office success and critical acclaim. We are overwhelmed with the love and appreciation the audience is showering on the film across the globe".
Nandu Ahuja, Senior Vice-President, India Theatrical, Eros International Media Ltd added, “We are so delighted that our first collaboration with SKF has garnered such an unprecedented response and we hope for many more to follow. Bajrangi Bhaijaan has created box office history; Salman mania persists amongst his fans and audiences and records continue to shatter as there is no stopping the film”.
Pranab Kapadia, President - Marketing and Distribution, Eros International Plc, said, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s performance in the overseas markets has amazed trade pundits with unheard of numbers. The movie has surpassed the overseas collections of Salman’s previous blockbusters and has gone on to become the highest grossing Salman Khan movie ever.”
Bajrangi Bhaijaan is produced by Salman Khan and Rockline Venkatesh and distributed worldwide by Eros International.

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RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 7.25%, CRR at 4%

RBI keeps policy repo rate unchanged at 7.25%
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 7.25 percent and retained the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks at 4.0 percent of net demand and time liability (NDTL).
In his Third Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2015-16, RBI Governor Raghuram G. Rajan said that the central bank 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 14-day term repos as well as longer term repos of up to 0.75 per cent of NDTL of the banking system through auctions.
He said it would continue with daily variable rate repos and reverse repos to smooth liquidity.
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 6.25 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 8.25 per cent, he said.
Dr Rajan recalled that the bi-monthly policy statements of April and June had indicated that the accommodative stance of monetary policy would be maintained going forward, but monetary policy actions would be conditioned by fuller transmission by banks of the Reserve Bank’s front-loaded rate reductions into their lending rates; developments in food prices and their management, especially the effects of the monsoon, while looking through both seasonal as well as base effects; a continuation and even acceleration of policy efforts to unclog the supply side so as to make available key inputs such as power and land, as also repurposing of public spending from poorly targeted subsidies towards public investment and reducing the pipeline of stalled investment; and signs of normalisation of the US monetary policy.
He said that, in the June statement, it was pointed out that a targeted infusion of bank capital was also warranted so that adequate credit flowed to the productive sectors as investment picked up.
"Since the first rate cut in January, the median base lending rates of banks has fallen by around 30 basis points, a fraction of the 75 basis points in rate cut so far. As loan demand picks up in Q3 of 2015-16, banks will see more gains from cutting rates to secure new lending, and more transmission will take place. The welcome announcement by Government of infusion of bank capital into public sector banks will help loan growth and hence transmission, as will currently easy liquidity conditions," he said.
The statement said that, during 2015-16 so far, inflation conditions had evolved around the path projected in April and June bi-monthly policy statements, though they surprised somewhat on the upside in June. 
"Large base effects, which the Reserve Bank will look through, are expected to pull down headline inflation in July and August. From September, favourable base effects wane," it said.
"Turning to the balance of inflation risks, most worrisome is the sustained hardening of inflation excluding food and fuel. Moreover, the full effects of the service tax increase, which took effect from June, will feed through over the rest of the year. Some food prices, particularly of protein-rich items, pulses and oilseeds have risen sharply in recent months. They will have to be carefully monitored as they tend to be sticky and impart an upward bias to inflation and inflation expectations. This assumes significance in view of households’ inflation expectations rising again. 
"Several factors, however, could have a significant mitigating influence. These include the sharp fall in crude prices since June and the likelihood of this softness persisting in view of the global supply glut and expanding production by Iran; the welcome increase in planting of pulses and oilseeds and prospects of rainfall in August and September according to some forecasters; the effects of the Government’s current pro-active supply management to contain shocks to food prices, especially of vegetables, alongside its decision to keep increases in minimum support prices moderate," it said.
The statement said that, relative to the projections of the second bi-monthly statement, inflation projections in today's bi-monthly statement were elevated by the higher than expected June observation but reduced by prospects of softer crude prices and a near-normal monsoon thus far. 
"This implies that inflation projections for January-March 2016 are lower by about 0.2 per cent, with risks broadly balanced around the target of 6.0 per cent for January 2016," it said.
"Taking into account all this, and given that policy action was front-loaded in June, it is prudent to keep the policy rate unchanged at the current juncture while maintaining the accommodative stance of monetary policy. Short term real risk free rates are nevertheless supportive of borrowing by interest rate sensitive consumer segments such as housing and automobiles. Significant uncertainty will be resolved in the coming months, including the likely persistence of recent inflationary pressures, the full monsoon outturn, as well as possible Federal Reserve actions. As the Reserve Bank awaits greater transmission of its front-loaded past actions, it will monitor developments for emerging room for more accommodation," it said.
The statement noted that the outlook for growth was improving gradually.
"Favourable real income effects could accrue from weaker commodity prices, in particular crude oil, and a possible step-up in agricultural activity if monsoon conditions continue to improve. On the other hand, global growth projections for 2015 have generally been revised downwards and, therefore, the export contraction could become a prolonged drag on growth going forward. Notwithstanding some improvement in the state of stalled projects, supply constraints continue to be binding and new investment demand emanating from the private sector and the central Government remains subdued. On an assessment of the evolving balance of risks, the projected output growth for 2015-16 has been retained at 7.6 per cent," it said.
The statement noted that, since the last statement, global economic activity had recovered modestly in Q2 of calendar 2015. 
"In India, the economic recovery is still work in progress. After strong rainfall in June, July has been below par, but on net, the monsoon is near normal. Higher reservoir levels also auger well for the prospects of kharif output, particularly for areas that are dependent on irrigation. Consequently, kharif sowing has expanded significantly relative to a year ago, especially in respect of oilseeds, pulses, rice and coarse cereals. These developments, supported by contingency plans for vulnerable districts, provide cushion against adverse weather shocks. If prospects of a good harvest strengthen, currently weak rural demand will improve to provide an important boost to activity," it said.
"Shrinking exports in some industries, in part a result of weak global demand and global overcapacity in those industries and in part a result of the significant depreciation of currencies of some major trading partners against the rupee, also contributed to weak aggregate demand. The Reserve Bank’s survey-based indicators point to flat capacity utilisation and new orders, with corporate sales growth declining – although lower inflation explains some of the compression in top lines. Although overall business confidence is positive, the level of optimism was a shade lower in April-June than in the preceding quarter," it said.
The RBI said that investment, as measured by new projects, was still weak, primarily because of still-low capacity utilization. In the critically important power sector, where final demand is strong, the recent step-up in generation in response to the commendable easing of bottlenecks in coal supply is being partly negated by structural problems relating to clogging of transmission grids and the dire financial state of electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs), it said.
"However, there are signs that consumption demand, especially in urban areas, is picking up. Car sales for July were strong. Nominal bank credit growth is lower than previous years, but adjusted for lower inflation as well as for lower borrowing by oil marketing companies and increased borrowing from commercial paper markets, credit availability seems to be adequate for most sectors.
"The services sector continues to emit mixed signals. The pick-up in heavy commercial vehicle sales and rising port and domestic air freight in Q1 suggest strengthening transportation activity (for Indian data, Q refers to fiscal year quarters). Purchasing managers’ indices were in contraction zone in June, mainly due to lower new and existing business conditions. Survey-based expectations of the outlook for the services sector point to positive sentiment in Q2 on the back of an expected increase in turnover and profit margin," it said.
The statement said headline consumer price index (CPI) inflation rose for the second successive month in June 2015 to a nine-month high on the back of a broad based increase in upside pressures, belying consensus expectations. 
"The sharp month-on-month increase in food and non-food items overwhelmed the sizable ‘base effect’ in that month. Food inflation rose 60 basis points over the preceding month, driven by a spike in prices of vegetables, protein items - especially pulses, meat and milk - and spices.
"Furthermore, excluding food and fuel, inflation rose in respect of all sub-groups other than housing. The momentum of price increases remained high for education. Inflation pressures increased for personal care and effects and household goods and services sub-groups. Inflation in CPI excluding food, fuel, petrol and diesel has been rising steadily since April and exceeded headline inflation through Q1. Near-term inflation expectations of households returned to double digits after two quarters, although those of professional forecasters remained anchored. Rural wage growth was moderate but there are indications of incipient pressures from corporate staff costs," it said.
"Liquidity conditions have been very easy in June and July. A seasonal reduction in demand for currency and increased spending by Government coupled with structural factors such as low credit deployment relative to the volume of deposit mobilisation contributed to surplus conditions in the money markets. This resulted in a significantly lower average daily net liquidity injection under the fixed rate repos under LAF, and variable rate term repo/reverse repo and MSF at Rs 477 billion in June, down from Rs 1031 billion in May. In July there was net absorption of Rs120 billion through these facilities. In response to the reduction in the policy repo rate in June the weighted average call rate eased from 7.47 per cent in May to 7.11 per cent in June. The Reserve Bank also conducted open market sales worth Rs 83 billion in the second week of July, essentially in response to lack of demand for longer duration reverse repos. The call money rate remained below the repo rate through July, reflecting comfortable liquidity conditions.
"Headwinds from weak global demand conditions restrained merchandise exports. The contraction in exports in Q1 of 2015-16, both volume and value, was the steepest since Q2 of 2009-10. The sharp fall in international commodity prices - especially crude oil - compressed import payments, helping to narrow the trade deficit. Domestic production shortages and lower international prices were, however, evident in higher imports of electronic goods, pulses, iron ore and fertilisers. Net surpluses on account of trade in services were sustained in Q1 and have, along with the lower trade deficit, helped reduce the current account deficit (CAD). Despite slowing portfolio flows, other forms of foreign capital flows such as foreign direct investment and non-resident deposits were sustained. With the shrinking external financing requirement, reserves were built up to an all-time high at the end of June, providing a buffer against adverse global shocks," the statement added.

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11 dead, 7 injured in building collapse in Thane

11 dead, 7 injured in building collapse in Thane
At least 11 people died and seven others suffered injuries when a three-storeyed residential building collapsed in Thane district of Maharashtra, near here, in the early hours of today.
Fire brigade officials told NetIndian from the scene of the tragedy that at least one more body appeared to be buried under the debris.
They said the injured had been rushed to nearby hospitals in the city.
The building collapsed around 2.30 am today and teams from the Thane Fire Brigade, Police and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rushed to the spot immediately, the sources said.
Sniffer dogs were pressed into service to locate possible survivors under the rubble and cranes were deployed to lift the tonnes of mangled steel and concrete.
The building, Krishna Nivas in the D-Cabin area of Thane, was more than 50 years old. According to media reports, the Thane Municipal Corporation had issued notices to the residents of the building to vacate it because of its dilapidated condition, but some families continued to stay there.
Last week, a three-storey residential building collapsed in Thakurli area of Thane, leaving nine dead.
Today's incident has come a week after nine people had died and ten others suffered injuries in another building collapse on July 28 in the Thakurli area of Thane district.

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Vistara and Mumbai airport launch mobile phone boarding pass facility

GVK MIAL (Mumbai International Airport) and Vistara, the joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, have launched a mobile phone boarding pass facility for the airline's customers travelling out of Mumbai’s T2 terminal to New Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Goa.
"The first-of- its kind initiative at Mumbai Airport helps provide Vistara’s customers a truly seamless travel experience," a press release from the airline said.
The mobile boarding pass facility is also a time-saver for passengers and results in reduction in usage of paper boarding passes, it said.
"This hassle-free facility adds to the smooth and enjoyable experience of travelling with Vistara from Mumbai Airport," it said.
Vistara’s customers making use of this facility for their travel from Mumbai T2 will only need to choose 'Get mobile boarding pass / collect by SMS' option when checking-in online or on the airline's mobile app. 
The SMS from Vistara will contain the booking details and the link to access the mobile boarding pass. Customers are encouraged to take a screenshot of the mobile boarding pass, which is readable by the technologically advanced machines installed in Mumbai T2’s domestic departure level. Paper boarding passes are not required but customers would need to carry authorised photo ID as proof of identity.
"Mobile devices assume centre stage of consumer convenience in the modern day ecosystem. Technology-enabled innovation has become the trigger for differentiation and MIAL has consistently pioneered to introduce passenger-focused innovations. With the launch of mobile phone boarding pass facility, we believe the passengers travelling with Vistara out of T2 terminal will experience another hassle-free feature and eventually the initiative will further enhance the overall airport travel experience in India," MIAL CEO Rajeev Jain said.
Phee Teik Yeoh, CEO, Vistara, said, “We continually look for ways to enhance our customers’ travel experience by harnessing the power of technology and offering operational and service excellence. I am proud to see our promise of seamless travel experience being reaffirmed with this initiative of providing our customers with the mobile boarding pass option. We are extremely pleased to partner with MIAL and we look forward to offering these capabilities across our existing and upcoming route network."

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India's forex reserves rise by $ 321.7 million to $ 353.648 billion

After falling for four consecutive weeks, India's foreign exchange resrves rose by $ 321.7 billion to $ 353.648 billion in the week ended July 24, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had fallen by $ 1.034 billion to $ 353.326 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 risen by $ 314.2 million to $ 329.245 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 $ 19.074 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) increased by $ 5.8 million to $ 4.024 billion in the week.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went up by $ 1.8 million to $ 1.304 billion during the week, the bulletin added.

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Minjar recognized as first audited AWS managed service partner from India

Minjar Cloud Solutions, one of the Top 27 premier consulting partners for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a fast growing cloud services company with over 100 customers across the globe, has become the first India-based AWS Managed Service Partner following a rigorous third-party audit certification.
The new Managed Service Partner Program was launched at AWS re:Invent 2014, with the goal of recognizing partners who can deliver high quality managed services to customers, a press release from the company said.
According to it, to secure the prestigious status of certified Managed Service Partner, Minjar has demonstrated how they deliver business value to customers by offering proactive 24x7 monitoring, DevOps automation, security and architecture and cost assurance solutions.
“AWS MSP audit has validated what Minjar customers always knew: that they are working with one of the best run cloud managed service operation globally. Minjar believes in deeply understanding customer problems, building out-of-box solutions and automating everything. Hence, its customers are able to focus on innovation, while they work with an expert partner and highly responsive team to get complete business assurance for their mission critical applications“ says Anand, co-founder and President at Minjar.
Boasting a number of high-profile satisfied customers - Commonfloor, Indix, Intuit (TextWeb), Singapore Post - partnership with AWS will give a major boost to the clientele of Minjar, the release said.
As the first certified and audited managed service partner of Amazon Web Services, the AWS users would be able to take Minjar’s help in setting up and managing their cloud infrastructure.  
 “We are very excited to be in the league of audited AWS MSP partners and bring the intelligent solutions to enterprise customers to simplify their cloud adoption” says Vijay Rayapati, CEO at Minjar. "This recognition along with AWS Premier Consulting Partner status validates Minjar as a leading consulting and managed services company in the AWS cloud services marketplace."

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9 dead, 10 injured after four-storeyed building collapses in Thane

9 dead, 10 injured in building collapse in Thane
At least nine persons died and ten others suffered injuries when a four-storyed building housing about 20 families collapsed in the Thakurli area of Thane district of Maharashtra last night.
Ms Kalyan Patil, mayor of Kalyan Dombivili Municipal Corporation (KDMC), said the building, which was built in 1972 and had been identified as a weak structure, had collapsed after heavy rains in the area yesterday.
She told journalists at the scene of the tragedy that the residents of the building had ignored repeated warnings from the authorities about the status of the building.
Even yesterday, when the structure showed signs of having weakened further, neighbours had warned the occupants but they had made light of the warnings, she said.
Ms Patil said there were more than 680 such buildings in the KDMC area and political leaders and officials had to work out a solution to the problem.
Teams from the local fire brigade, police, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and large numbers of volunteers worked round the clock to pull out the victims from the debris.
The injured were rushed to local municipal hospitals.

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Rajesh Exports acquires Valcambi, world’s largest gold refinery, for $ 400 million

Michael Mesaric, CEO, Valcambi and Rajesh Mehta, Chairman, Rajesh Exports Limited
Michael Mesaric, CEO, Valcambi and Rajesh Mehta, Chairman, Rajesh Exports Limited
Rajesh Exports Limited (REL) today said that it had, through its wholly owned subsidiary in Singapore, fully acquired European Gold Refineries, the 100 percent holding company of Valcambi, the world's largest gold refinery, in an all-cash deal with a total investment of $ 400 million.
Valcambi is the world’s largest precious metals refining company headquartered in Switzerland, a press release from the company said.
Valcambi has processed and sold 945 tons of gold and 325 tons of silver on an average per year during the last three financial years which is more than the annual consumption of gold in India, it said.
Valcambi refinery is London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) accredited and its gold bars are accepted as good delivery bars across all the official commodity exchanges in the world like COMEX (Chicago Commodities Exchange), NYMEX (New York Commodities Exchange), TOCOM (Tokyo Commodities Exchange), Shanghai Gold Commodities Exchange, DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Exchange), and MCX (Multi Commodities Exchange, India).
According to the release, Valcambi has been a consistently profit making and dividend paying company for the past 53 years.
For the last three years on an average per year Valcambi generated revenues in excess of $ 38 billion (Rs. 2,36,500 crore) and EBITDA of $ 33 million (Rs. 205 crore) by refining and selling 945 tons of gold and 325 tons of silver per year. Valcambi is a zero debt company with considerable cash surplus on its balance sheet. KPMG is Valcambi’s auditor and has been auditing the company for more than 40 years.
Valcambi was owned by Newmont Mining Corporation and a group of Swiss investors.
Newmont is one of the world’s biggest gold and copper mining companies and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1925 and is a part of S&P 500 Index. The owners of Valcambi conducted a global search for divesting Valcambi, and after an extensive search selected Rajesh Exports to acquire Valcambi, the release said.
Grant Thorton assisted Rajesh Exports in due diligence and Credit Suisse is part financing the acquisition through a long-term debt, it said.
Mr. Michael Mesaric a globally recognized authority in gold industry and the current CEO of Valcambi, along with his entire senior management has agreed to be a part of REL for smooth transition and future expansion. With the acquisition, REL will become an integrated player covering precious metal refining and gold jewellery making. The acquisition will be EPS accretive for REL, the release said.
Mr. Emilio Camponovo, the founder and current major shareholder of Valcambi said, “More than the price of sale, my aim was to deliver the company to a buyer who would maintain its world class standard and stature. I am confident that under the leadership of Rajesh Exports, Valcambi will keep up it’s excellence and would continue to grow and increase it’s share in the global gold business.”
Mr. David Faley, Vice President, Newmont Mining Corporation said, “We have long term contracts with Valcambi for refining the gold produced from a number of our mines primarily due to the trust, credibility and global standards of Valcambi. We are pleased that Valcambi is being acquired by Rajesh Exports with whom we are continuing our long term refining contracts and we are confident that Rajesh Exports will maintain the high standards of Valcambi.”
Mr. Mesaric said, "The coming together of REL and Valcambi would ensure that Valcambi improves on its global share of gold business, by opening up new markets in India, Middle East and China. Valcambi would also focus on forward integration and on innovative gold products in the European markets, by utilising the technical expertise of Rajesh Exports Limited. The team of Valcambi will continue to deliver quality performance in its products and numbers under the able and proven leadership of Rajesh Exports Limited.”
Mr. Rajesh Mehta, Chairman, Rajesh Exports Limited said “ This is a historic moment for REL and for the global gold business. The coming together of REL and Valcambi would expand the global gold business and would prove very productive for the future global plans of REL group. We will seamlessly integrate Valcambi into REL group and would continue with the professional and globally acclaimed management of Valcambi. The acquisition is also of national importance for India, as India is the largest consumer of gold in the world, it would be a step in the right direction by an Indian company to own a world class asset like Valcambi. On a theoretical basis Valcambi is capable of supplying the entire gold requirement of India. This acquisition will add significantly to the revenues and profitability of REL group during the coming years.”

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UK Minister Oliver Letwin to visit India from July 27-29

United Kingdom Minister in charge of the Cabinet Office Oliver Letwin will visit Mumbai and Delhi from July 27-29 for talks with top government officials and business leaders on ways of strengthening economic and financial collaboration between the two countries.
Mr Letwin is the first British Cabinet Minister to visit India after the British general elections held in May.
The visit will focus on deepening the warm relationship between the two countries ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visitt to the UK in November, a press release from the British High Commission here said.
Mr Letwin will also reiterate the UK Government’s offer of £1bn of export finance credit in support of infrastructure and other needs in India, it said.
"I would like to reiterate the British Government’s commitment to work towards ‘an enhanced partnership with India’. Our Government launched the GREAT Collaborations campaign to complement Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Make in India. We look forward to forging a stronger commercial and economic relationship with his Government and to welcoming him to the UK later this year," Mr Letwin said.
In Mumbai, Mr Letwin will meet Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss further strategic engagement between Maharashtra and the UK. They will discuss co-operation on the Maharashtra government’s ambitions around ease of doing business, smart cities, financial services, skills and education. Mr Fadnavis and Mr Letwin will attend a reception for leading business personalities hosted by the British Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai, Mr Kumar Iyer.
Mr Letwin will also undertake a series of high level calls including on Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan, State Bank of India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya and business leaders Anand Mahindra and Deepak Parekh.
The Minister will also participate in a round table with CEOs of leading Mumbai financial institutions.
"It is inspiring to see the broad range of engagement between the UK and Maharashtra stretching from business and infrastructure to arts and education. It is particularly good to see the clear focus in Maharashtra on improving the climate for business," Mr Letwin said.
"The UK is one of the biggest investors in Maharashtra. It is also a key strategic partner. With offers of funding support for infrastructure to the extensive support on the Ease of Doing Business, we greatly value our partnership with the UK," the release quoted Mr Fadnavis as saying.
In New Delhi, Mr Letwin will call on Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to discuss financial and economic cooperation between the UK and India. He is scheduled to discuss infrastructure and bilateral cooperation between the UK and India with Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, and clean energy financing with Power Minister Piyush Goyal. 
Mr Letwin will also launch a British Council report on Social Entrepreneurship. The report’s preliminary findings suggest how the UK and India can work together to develop social entrepreneurship, the release added.

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India's forex reserves fall by $ 1.034 billion to $ 353.326 billion

Falling for the fourth week running, India's foreign exchange reserves declined by $ 1.034 billion to $ 353.326 billion in the week ended July 17, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had gone down by $ 156.9 million to $ 354.361 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 fallen by $ 98.1 million to $ 328.931 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 $ 19.074 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) decreased by $ 39.6 million to $ 4.018 billion in the week.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) fell by $ 12.8 million to $ 1.302 billion during the week, the bulletin added.

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Reliance reports 4.4% rise in net profit to Rs 6,222 crore in Q1 of 2015-16

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today reported a 4.4 percent rise in its net profit to Rs 6,222 crore in the first quarter (Q1) of financial year 2015-16 during which it achieved its highest gross refining margin in six years.
The company said in a press release that its revenue, however, decreased by 23 percent to Rs 83,064 crore in the quarter, as compared to Rs. 107,905 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year. 
The decline in revenue was led by the 43.5% year-on-year (Y­o­Y)  decline in benchmark (Brent) oil price, it said.
The company recorded a Gross Refining Margin (GRM) of  $ 10.4/barrel for the quarter, it said.
During the quarter, RIL commissioned a 650 KTA PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Resin plant at Dahej in Gujarat, one of the largest bottle­grade PET resin capacity at a single location globally. This consolidates Reliance’s position as a leading PET resin producer with a global capacity of 1.15 MMTPA.
In April 2015, RIL commissioned 1,150 KTA PTA (Purified Terephthalic Acid) plant at Dahej, taking its total PTA capacity to 3.2 
MMTPA and global capacity share to 4%. Paraxylene, the key feedstock for the PTA plant is sourced from Reliance’s Jamnagar refinery. The PTA plant is also forward integrated with the 
650 KTA PET plant in the same complex. 
Mr. Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, RIL, said,  “Our financial performance reflects the benefits of integrated 
hydrocarbon chain activities in a benign oil price environment. The sharp increase in demand for transportation fuels helped us realize strong refining margins. Oil product demand globally is estimated to 
have grown at ~1.6 MMBPD YTD, resulting in high refinery runs across all regions. Our petrochemicals business recorded a strong quarterly performance supported by high operating rates and margin 
strength in the ethylene chain. In our retail business, we have reached significant milestones over the past couple of years and continue the high growth trajectory for this business."
"As we look forward, we are committed to accelerating the growth of operating EBITDA. We are leveraging the strength of our integrated value chains to deliver sustainable growth. Large investments in our petrochemicals and refining businesses are based on advantaged 
feedstocks to enable us to stay among low­cost, competitive producers in an evolving hydrocarbon chain environment. We maintained rapid progress in project construction activity at Jamnagar. The company’s world­scale petcoke gasification project and ethylene cracker are on track for planned start­up in 2016. We are also in the final lap of launch of our Jio services which will bring 
about a positive transformation in the lives of millions of Indians," he added.
The company said exports from its Indian operations were lower by 44.9% at Rs. 36,717 crore ($ 5.8 billion) as against Rs. 66,600 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year due to lower product prices in line with lower crude oil prices.
The cost of raw materials declined by 39.1% to Rs. 50,305 crore ($ 7.9 billion) from Rs. 82,631 crore on YoY basis, primarily on account of sharp decline in crude oil prices.
Other income was lower at Rs. 1,832 crore as against Rs. 1,974 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year, primarily on account of lower accruals on investments, it said.
The company said its outstanding debt as on 30th June 2015 was Rs. 170,814 crore as compared to Rs. 160,860 crore as on 31st March 2015. Cash and cash equivalents as on 30th June 2015 were at Rs.  87,391 crore. These were in bank deposits, mutual funds, CDs and Government Bonds and other marketable securities.

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Virat Kohli to lead 15-man Indian squad on Sri Lanka tour

BCCI names squad for Test series in Sri Lanka
Virat Kohli will lead the 15-man Indian squad on a tour of Sri Lanka during which it will play a three-match Test series.
The team was picked up by the All-India Senior Selection Committee, headed by Sandeep Patil, of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at its meeting here earlier today, a press release from BCCI said.
This will be the first full-fledged tour for Kohli as India's Test captain.
The team includes leg-spinner Amit Mishra, 32, who makes a return to the Test squad after a four-year gap. Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has also been retained in the side.
Another notable inclusion is Lokesh Rahul, who had missed the recent Bangladesh tour because he was suffering from dengue at the time.
The following is the team:
Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, K L Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Varun Aaron. 

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80% of companies increased revenue by investing in Internet of Things: TCS study

About 80 percent of companies surveyed in a global study by IT services major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said they had increased revenue by investing in the Internet of Things.
"Across the board, those companies investing in IoT are reporting significant revenue increases as a result of IoT initiatives with an average increase of 15.6 percent in 2014. Almost one in ten (9 percent) saw a rise of at least 30 percent in revenue," a press release from TCS on the results of the study said.
The release said company executives still see the IoT as a growing area for businesses, with 12 percent identifying a planned spend of $100 million in 2015 and 3 percent looking to invest a minimum of $1 billion among the 795 companies surveyed. 
The report also shows that companies predict their IoT budgets to continue increasing year-on-year, with spending expected to grow by 20 percent by 2018 to $103 million.
TCS launched the global study to look at the impact of IoT technologies across a wide range of industry sectors around the world.
The TCS Global Trend study on IoT, which surveyed 795 executives from large multinationals, identifies the huge potential for revenue increases from IoT, while also highlighting the significant challenges that lie ahead for businesses transitioning to the new model.
Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD of TCS, said: “The age of IoT is well underway. The question is whether businesses are ready to realise the full potential of this technology. Our latest global trend study found that leaders in using IoT technologies are using it to completely reimagine their businesses by changing every aspect of them from business models and products to business processes and workplaces.”
He added: “Now is the time for every leader in every industry to reimagine the possibilities for their businesses in a world of smart, connected ’things’.”
According to the release, companies at the very forefront of this drive for innovation through IoT have seen the biggest benefits from their investments. 
The top eight percent of respondents, based on ROI from IoT, report a staggering 64 percent average revenue gain in 2014 as a direct result of these investments. Currently the biggest business impact is that companies can offer their customers more bespoke products and services, yet by 2020 this will convert from marketing functions to increased sales, through adding considerable value to the customer.
"This is reflected in the finding that the most frequent use of IoT technologies by companies is tracking customers through mobile apps, used by almost half of all businesses (47 percent). More than half (50.8 percent) of IoT leaders admit to investing in IoT to track their products and how these were performing, whereas this is only the case with 16.1 percent of the respondents with the lowest ROI from IoT," it said.
Despite the encouraging data on IoT investment and its impact on revenue growth, the report also revealed that major challenges remain in realising the promise of IoT for businesses across all sectors. The report found that the three biggest factors holding companies back were:
Corporate culture: Respondents identified the ability to get employees to change the way they think about customers, products and processes was a major barrier;
Leadership: Having top executives who believe in IoT and are willing to invest time and resources is critical;
Technology: Questions around technology continue to loom large including handling Big Data; internal vs external development; integrating IoT data with enterprise systems; and ensuring security and reliability.
The release said the healthcare sector has been hailed as having the greatest potential to benefit from the IoT, but remains one of the most underdeveloped industries due to regulatory restrictions and data security concerns that currently hinder innovation. The sector plans to spend just 0.3 percent of revenue in 2015, but will be increasing this investment by at least 30 percent by 2018. The healthcare market driven by the IoT is predicted to be worth $117 billion by 2020.
In contrast, executives in the industrial manufacturing sector are reporting the largest increase in revenue from IoT, with an average 28.5 percent, followed by financial services (17.7 percent) and media and entertainment (17.4 percent). The automotive industry has the lowest revenue gain with just a 9.9 percent increase.
The report, which looks at trends across 13 key industries, found that large-scale investment in IoT infrastructure and monitoring is not confined to those in manufacturing, however, with the travel, transportation and hospitality sectors planning to spend 0.6 percent of revenue this year. Media and entertainment companies will spend 0.57 percent of their revenue on IoT in this year – significantly more than the 0.4 percent average and the 0.44 percent spend in banking and financial services.
The release said revenue increases are also being enjoyed globally with all regions reporting double-digit growth in 2014, but US firms are reporting the largest gains of 18.8 percent, up from the previous year.
In revenue terms, Europe as a whole is seeing a 12.9 percent increase, while Asia-Pacific reports a 14.1 percent increase and Latin America an impressive 18.3 percent growth. In 2015, European firms plan to spend $93.9 million on average, with French firms leading the charge ($138 million on average), ahead of Germany ($86.2 million) and the UK ($80.9 million).
North American companies will spend 0.45 percent of revenue this year on IoT initiatives, while European companies will spend 0.40 percent. Asia-Pacific companies will invest 0.34 percent of revenue in the IoT, and Latin American firms will spend 0.23 percent of revenue. This has led to North American and European companies more frequently selling smart, connected products than are Asia-Pacific and Latin American companies, the release added.

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HCC-Coastal joint venture awarded Rs 785 crore contract

Infrastructure major HCC Ltd today said that its joint venture (JV) with Coastal Projects Ltd has been awarded a Rs 785 crore contract by Northeast Frontier Railway.
The contract is for developing a 9.5 km tunnel between Tupul and Imphal for a new railway line from Jiribam to Tupul. The share of HCC in the JV is 60% which is Rs.471 crore. The project is to be completed in 40 months, a press release from the company said.
This is the fourth successive order received by HCC from Northeast Frontier Railway on the new railway line between Jiribam and Tupul. 
The first project was to construct a 3.25 km tunnel between Dholakal and Kaimai Road stations and second was construction of a 3.3 km tunnel between Kambiron Road and Thingou stations and the third order was to develop a 4.9 km long railway tunnel between Kaimai Road and Kambiron Road stations. 
HCC is also constructing the 4.315 km long Bogibeel Rail-cum-road Bridge over river Brahmaputra near Dibrugarh, Assam for Northeast Frontier Railway.
Mr. Arun Karambelkar, President & CEO- E&C, HCC Ltd. said, “HCC is proud to receive the fourth order from Northeast Frontier Railway. It is testament to the confidence enjoyed by the company in successfully executing complex tunneling work. HCC with its sound engineering expertise and committed team is all set to leverage the opportunities in the infrastructure space."

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Shukla, Thakur, Chaudhry, Ganguly in IPL working group on Lodha report

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today constituted a four-member working group which will prepare the roadmap for the coming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and related matters, a day after the IPL Governing Council (GC) decided to implement the Lodha Committee report.
The IPL GC had yesterday authorised its chairman Rajeev Shukla to constitute a working group to study the order of the panel of three judges appointed by the Supreme Court, headed by former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, in the spot-fixing case.
Apart from Mr Shukla, the other members of the working group are Mr. Anurag Thakur, Honorary Secretary of BCCI; Mr Anirudh Chaudhry, Treasurer of BCCI; and former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, member, IPL GC.
The committee will be assisted by the legal adviser of BCCI, Mr. U.N.Banerjee, a press release from the Board said here today.
"The committee will share their recommendations with the Governing Council within a time frame of six weeks after consulting all the key stakeholders," the release added.
The Lodha panel had, in its verdict on July 14, suspended two teams --  Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) -- for two years because their officials were involved in betting.
The panel also banned Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President N Srinivasan and one of the faces of CSK till 2013, and RR co-owner Raj Kundra, the husband of film star Shilpa Shetty, for life from any involvement with BCCI in any cricket matches for bringing the game into disrepute.

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One dead, three injured in landslide on Mumbai-Pune expressway

Landslide blocks traffic on Mumbai-Pune Expressway
One person died and three others suffered injuries when their car was caught in a landslide on the Mumbai-Pune expressway on Sunday afternoon, official sources said.
Police in Raigad district told NetIndian over the telephone that the injured -- two women and a man -- were admitted to the Lokmanya Tilak Hospital in Pune.
The landslide, which occurred around noon, blocked traffic on the busy expressway for some hours. However, by evening, traffic was partially restored on the affected section, they said.
The incident occurred near the Adhoshi tunnel on the expressway, the sources said.
The expressway has heavy traffic on the weekends as thousands of people make their way to the several popular tourist destinations in the area and back. Landslides occur due to heavy rains during the monsoon in the area.

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QuikWallet Raises $1.6 million, now caters to about 1000 offline locations

QuikWallet, the mobile payments firm for the F&B sector, promoted by Livquik Technology India Pvt. Ltd, has secured $ 1.6 million in follow-on  funding from its existing investor Snow Leopard Technology Ventures.
Including this round of funding, the venture has in all raised $ 2.1 million and is looking to raise $5 million in Series A financing, a press release from the company said.
The venture currently caters to about 1000 restaurants and small merchants with a Gross Transaction Value (GTV) of Rs. 50 Lakhs and growing rapidly on a monthly basis, it said.
QuikWallet started off as a payments and loyalty app for restaurants and has transformed itself into a platform that serves diverse merchant categories – from small neighborhood stores, florists, education institutions to car service centres.
The platform provides merchants with a plethora of options like SMS, NFC, QR codes, Web/Mobile Apps and a POS Software integrated approach to help collect payments both offline as well as online, it said.
Mohit Lalvani, co-founder & CEO, LivQuik Technology India Pvt. Ltd., said “The line between online and offline is blurring with offline merchants wanting to sell online and vice-versa. On the other hand, banks need to compete with mobile wallets and have to provide a similar solution for their customers. We have now expanded our offering to own the customer whether they transact online or offline, where we work with banks as issuers on our platform. With our open approach, we are trying to create a standard and our DNA of being customer and merchant driven, provides a distinct edge in doing so.”
“Payment options available today require a 16-digit card number and further authentication for online transactions. For offline they require the merchant to have a POS terminal. And for mobile, banks need to implement additional software and hardware to enable NFC payments which makes them expensive to implement and maintain.  Posing constraints in a cost-conscious market like India, our vision is to bring down the barrier for a merchant to accept payments using just an SMS & NFC tags with no data connectivity or hardware terminals required,” he further added.
According to Chris Kolenaty, CEO of Snow Leopard Ventures, “We are happy to lead this round for QuikWallet. The approach of their platform is radically different from that of peers and more sustainable and scalable in the long run. Their potent mix of technology (indigenously developed patent pending platform) and relentless consumer and merchant focus is what excites us.”
QuikWallet’s merchant connect platform interfaces with its consumer facing app, enabling businesses and consumers to transact fast and secure. The USP (unique selling proposition) of the platform is that merchants require no hardware whatsoever and sensitive payment information never enters the merchant environment. QuikWallet’s consumer app also features utility bill payments. QuikWallet has the necessary data security certifications in place and recently applied to the Reserve Bank for a semi-closed prepaid payments license, the release added.

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India's forex reserves fall by $ 156.9 million to $ 354.361 billion

Falling for the third week running, India's foreign exchange reserves went down by $ 156.9 million to $ 354.361 billion in the week ended July 10, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had dipped by $ 704 milion to $ 354.518 bllion 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 fallen by $ 177.4 million to $ 329.913 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 $ 19.074 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) increased by $ 15.5 million to $ 4.058 billion in the week.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 5 million to $ 1.315 bllion during the week, the bulletin added.

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Cricket: Champions League Twenty20 to be discontinued

Cricket: Champions League T20 scrapped
The Governing Council of the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) today confirmed that the CLT20 competition would be discontinued with immediate effect. 
The Governing Council of the CLT20, comprising representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket South Africa (CSA) and CricketAustralia (CA) made the decision unanimously, a press release from the BCCI said.
As such the 2015 CLT20 scheduled for September and October will not go ahead as planned, it said.
The competition was launched in 2009 by the BCCI with CA and CSA. The Governing Council determined that the discontinuation of the league was the most appropriate decision due to the tournament’s limited public following.
Mr. Anurag Thakur, Honorary Secretary of the BCCI said “This has been a difficult decision as the Champions League T20 provided added context to a number of domestic Twenty 20 competitions around the world such as the IPL in India, Big Bash League in Australia and South Africa’s Ram Slam T20. "
“It was a fantastic platform for players from around the world to showcase their talent and the participating teams thoroughly enjoyed the experience over the last six seasons. 
“Unfortunately, off the field, Champions League T20 wasn’t sustaining the interest of the fans as we had hoped.
”This decision was made, after consultation with all our commercial partners and meeting the contractual obligations of all parties involved. 
“The Governing Council would like to thank everyone involved with the CLT20 and all those who participated in the tournament.
“Further details associated with winding down the league including settling with the three nations that had invested time and effort in the competition, will be completed very soon," he added.

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