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SBI raises record $ 1.25 billion through overseas bond sale

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State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, today said it had raised a record $ 1.25 billion in overseas debt sale through a dual tranche bond issue, the largest such offering by a public sector bank from India.
 
"On 10 April 2014, State Bank of India acting through its London Branch, successfully priced a US$1.25 billion Rule144A/Regulations dual tranche senior unsecured bond offering comprising of US$750 million 5-year bonds and US$500 million 10-year bonds," a press release from the bank said.
 
The bonds are rated Baa3/Stable by Moody's and BBB-/Negative by S&P.
 
"This offering marks the largest investment grade US dollar bond transaction out of India since August 2012 and the largest dual-tranche offering by a public sector bank from India," it said.
 
State Bank of India is India’s largest bank, with a total asset size of $ 281 billion, with 15,297 branches in India, 191 international offices in 36 countries and more than 261 million customer accounts as of 31 December 2013.
 
The 5-year bond was priced at a spread of 205 bps over the 5-year US Treasury, equivalent to a price of 100.000% and yield of 3.622% per annum while the 10-year bond was priced at a spread of 225 bps over the 10-year US Treasury, equivalent to a price of 99.945% and yield of 4.882% per annum. 
 
The offering will be denominated in US dollars, and will bear fixed interest of 3.622% per annum for the 5-year and 4.875% per annum for the 10-year, with interest payable semi-annually in arrears. The bonds will mature on 17 April 2019 and 17 April 2024, respectively.
 
"The total order book of the offering was in excess of US$5.9 billion and was oversubscribed 4.72 times with demand from 520 investors, underscoring SBI's strong credit profile and its position as India's largest bank," the release said.
 
For the 5-year bond, the final order book was over US$ 3 billion from 230 investors. In terms of allocation, Asia based investors received 24% of the new notes, Europe received 23% and the remaining 53% to the US. In terms of breakdown by investor type, fund managers took the majority at 70%, followed by banks at 15%, insurance and central banks taking 6%, and the remaining 9% going to private banks.
 
For the 10-year bond, the final order book was over US$ 2.9 billion from 290 investors. In terms of allocation, Asia based investors received 27% of the new notes, Europe received 33% and the remaining 40% to the US. In terms of breakdown by investor type, fund managers took the majority at 50%, followed by banks at 30%, and the remaining 20% going to insurance, corporates and other investors.
 
SBI's Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said, "We are pleased to see the robust demand for our transaction and the strong perception of our credit by the international investor community. The execution process was swift and ensured a strong momentum to our transaction. The lead managers have provided us with the right pricing strategy to help us achieve our targets for this fund raising exercise."
 
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, BNP Paribas, J.P. Morgan, SBI Capital Markets, Standard Chartered Bank and UBS AG acted as Joint Lead Managers for the offering.
 
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Sachin Tendulkar to be Mumbai Indians Icon

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Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar with Mumbai Indians owner Nita Ambani
Defending Indian Premier League (IPL) champions today announced former Indian star batsman Sachin Tendulkar will be the team's "icon".
 
“Sachin has been an integral part of Mumbai Indians and a source of inspiration for the team ever since the inception. It was a fitting finale to Sachin last season, when we dedicated the IPL as well as CLT20 trophies as tribute to the legend,” team owner Nita M Ambani said.
 
"We are very happy to recognize him as the Mumbai Indians Icon. I am sure the youngsters in the team will be delighted to have him around for guidance, and so would be the Mumbai Indians fans.”
 
Tendulkar retired from the game on November 16 last year at the end of his 200th Test - a record - in front of his home crowd in Mumbai. Earlier, on December 23, 2012, he had announced his retirement from one-day internationals (ODIs).
 
He has been honoured by the Government with the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian honour, and he is also a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament, since June 2012.
 
On May 26, 2013, Tendulkar had announced that the sixth edition of the IPL would be his last appearance in the T20 cricket tournament after his team, Mumbai Indians, won the title for the first time that night.
 
"I have been a part of the Mumbai Indians team since its inception and am delighted to continue my association. This season with Mumbai Indians will be a different experience for me and I look forward to closely interacting with the experienced support staff and sharing my learnings with the exciting youngsters in the team," Tendulkar said.
 
A press release from the team said Tendulkar had also expressed a desire to be a part of the Mumbai Indians’ ‘Education For All’ initiative. Led by Ms Ambani, it  stands for equal and rightful education opportunities for underprivileged children and has been able to meaningfully impact over 30,000 children through various NGOs. 
 
"Mumbai Indians was one of the first teams to recognize the potential of using its worldwide fan base to enhance awareness about a compelling social issue. 'Education for All' is an initiative which has been personally nurtured by Mrs. Nita Ambani and each one of us at Mumbai Indians is a passionate believer in this initiative. I am committed to working with the team at Mumbai Indians in spreading the message of ‘Education for All’ across the country and beyond," Tendulkar added.
 
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IIFL Wealth Management Ltd. acquires majority stake in India Alternatives

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IIFL Wealth Management Ltd, the private wealth management arm of the IIFL Group, has announced the acquisition of a majority stake in India Alternatives Investment Advisors Private Limited (India Alt), the investment manager to India Alternatives Private Equity Fund.
 
A press release from the IIFL Group said it had also committed a significant contribution to the India Alt Fund.
 
India Alt Fund, a private equity fund registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has an initial commitment of Rs. 230 crore that invests primarily in mid-growth stage companies. 
 
Shivani Bhasin Sachdeva, founder, MD & CEO of India Alt fund, is an alumnus of the Wharton School and is a reputed PE manager with over 15 years of fund management experience in both the US and India and will continue managing the India Alt Fund, under IIFL Wealth.
 
Advisors of the India Alt Fund consist of eminent professionals such as: Ms. Ranjana Kumar (ex CMD Indian Bank, NABARD, ex Vigilance Commissioner, CVC), Mr. Kiran Nadkarni (managed four funds, started ICICI Ventures in India), Dr. Anjani Jain (Senior Associate Dean,Yale School of Management; former Vice Dean, Wharton); and Ms. Veronica John (Senior Advisor at Diamond Dragon Advisors, ex IDFC, CDC, ADB).
 
IIFL Wealth Management Ltd was incorporated in early 2008. It advises HNI/UHNI clients on assets over Rs 55,000 crore, making it one of the leading private wealth management companies in India.
 
“This acquisition will enable IIFL Group to widen its presence in the PE industry and provide an added offering under the asset management platform," Mr. Nirmal Jain, Chairman of IIFL Group, said.
 
Mr. Karan Bhagat, MD & CEO of IIFL Wealth, said, “IIFL’s fund raising capabilities and relationships with marquee families will help India Alt accelerate its growth path.”
 
Ms. Sachdeva said, “Association with IIFL Group is synergistic and will strengthen the India Alt platform; especially in fund raising, deal sourcing and exit management capabilities. The fund is a 100% institutional fund which provides a robust platform for further growth”. The fund plans to accelerate its pace of investment in mid-growth stage companies across sectors particularly in consumer & consumables, healthcare and pharmaceuticals."
 
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Reliance Jio signs pact with RCom to share its intra-city optic fiber infrastructure

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Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL), a part of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL),and Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom), headed by his estranged younger brother Anil Ambani, today announced the signing of a Master Services Agreement for sharing of RCom's extensive intra-city optic fiber infrastructure.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, RJIL will utilize RCom's nationwide optic fiber network for accelerated roll-out of its state-of-the-art 4G services across the country.
 
The agreement is based on arm’s length pricing at prevailing market prices, a press release from RJIL said..
 
RCom’s intra-city optic fiber network extends to nearly 500,000 fiber pair kilometres, across more than 300 cities and towns in India. 
 
The release said that this was the third agreement between the two companies and further strengthens the comprehensive framework of business co-operation between them.
 
Earlier, the two companies had signed an inter-city optic fiber sharing agreement in April 2013, and a nationwide telecom towers infrastructure sharing agreement in August 2013. 
 
RJIL is the first telecom operator to hold pan India Unified License. RJIL holds spectrum in1800 MHz (across 14 circles) and 2300 MHz (across 22 circles) capable of offering fourth generation (4G) wireless services.
 
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Singapore Airlines to deploy A380 on flights to Mumbai, Delhi

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Singapore Airlines today said it would deploy its Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft on select flights from Singapore to Mumbai and Delhi with effect from May 30.
 
A press release from the airline said the A380 would operate daily to both Mumbai and Delhi, taking over fom two daily flights that currently serve each city using the smaller Boeing 777s.
 
Another daily flight will continue to be operated with B777s. In total, 14 flights will serve each city per week, it said.
 
“We have been keen to operate the Airbus A380 to India and are glad that the Air Services Agreement between Singapore and India now allows us to do so,” said Singapore Airlines Senior Vice President Marketing Planning Lee Wen Fen.
 
“India is a particularly important market for Singapore Airlines and we are very pleased that more of our customers will soon be able to experience the spaciousness and comfort of the world’s largest aircraft," she said.
 
Mr. David Lau, General Manager – India, said, “Singapore Airlines was the first airline in the world to operate the A380. The Singapore Airlines A380 not only has immense public appeal but also showcases our commitment to offer the best in-flight experience to our Indian travellers. Customers from India will now be able to enjoy the complete A380 experience from Delhi and Mumbai to our onward A380 destinations including Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo Narita and Zurich.”
 
Mr. I P Rao, Chief Executive Officer, Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd, said, “We enjoy a close relationship with Singapore Airlines and the carrier remains a valued customer of our airport.  A scheduled A380 service connecting Delhi to Singapore daily demonstrates Delhi’s emergence as a true world-class airport, supporting the world’s largest passenger commercial aircraft.  Delhi was the first major airport in India to be A380 ready and today, I am glad to welcome Singapore Airlines A380 on its historic inaugural flight.”
 
Mr Rajeev Jain, CEO, Mumbai International Arport Limited (MIAL) said, “It’s an honour and a privilege to host the arrival of Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), Mumbai. Scheduling of A380 services further demonstrates Mumbai’s emergence as a world-class airport, which now supports routes to established and emerging markets across the globe."
 
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India’s forex reserves jump by $ 5.038 billion to $ 303.673 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves jumped by $ 5.038 billion to $ 303.673 billion in the week ended March 28, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
This is the fifth consecutive week of rise in forex reserves. They had gone up by $ 1.348 billion in the week ended March 21.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement issued here today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, increased by $5.012 billion to $ 276.406 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 the previous week's level of $ 20.978 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) decreased by $ 3.6 million to $ 4.458 billion during the period.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went up by $ 30 million to $ 1.831 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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R. Gandhi appointed RBI Deputy Governor

R Gandhi
R Gandhi
Mr R. Gandhi, an Executive Director of the Reserve Bank of India, was today  appointed as its Deputy Governor for a period of three years.
 
Mr Gandhi will look after the Department of Banking Operations and Development, Department of Non-Banking Supervision, Urban Banks Department, Department of Expenditure and Budgetary Control, Department of Information Technology, Legal Department, Premises Department and Risk Monitoring Department, a press release from the central bank said.
 
The release said Mr Gandhi, who joined the RBI in 1980, has expertise and experience in varied fields which include payment systems and information technology, financial markets (money, securities, forex and capital market) operations and regulation, currency operations and management, personnel and human resources management, industrial credit and international banking.
 
He had a three-year secondment to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). He has also been the head of two regional offices of the Reserve Bank and held charge as the Director of the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), Hyderabad. He was the Executive Assistant to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India for three years. He was also a Reserve Bank nominee on the Board of Directors of four public sector banks (at different points in time) for five years. He has been associated with various committees, working groups and task forces.
 
Born in 1956, Mr Gandhi has a Master’s degree in Economics from the Annamalai University, in Tamil Nadu, India. He also has post graduate level certificates in Management Information System from The American University, Washington DC, and in Capital Market from the City University of New York, New York. 
 
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Canada's EDC provides $ 500m financing to Reliance

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Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s leading financier and insurer of Canadian exporting companies, yesterday announced US $ 500 million in financing for energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). 
 
The transaction is among the largest financing packages that EDC has ever extended in Asia, a press release from RIL said here.
 
“We have been partnering with a wide section of Canadian suppliers for materials, equipment and services across our hydrocarbon businesses over the last 4-5 years and we are also engaging with them for our telecom business rollout,” said Mr Srikanth Venkatachari, Reliance’s Joint Chief Financial Officer. 
 
“We have more than a decade-long relationship with EDC, and this landmark deal will provide further impetus to foster trade between RIL and Canadian companies over the coming years," he said.
 
The release said the EDC provided the financing in response to the increasing business that RIL has been undertaking with Canadian companies since 2004, when EDC first became one of their financiers. The new financing package helps diversify RIL's funding sources and extends the maturity profile of its long- term debt in a cost effective manner, it said.
 
“RIL is a global leader in many sectors that match up well with Canadian industrial expertise, creating a natural partnership that benefits both of our priority interests,” said Mr Rajesh Sharma, EDC’s Senior Vice-President and Global Group Head, Business Development.
 
“A strong relationship with EDC helps the RIL Group benefit from a global source of mature and dependable financing in a capital-constrained global economy,” added Mr. Sharma. “In turn, EDC introduces Canadian companies to RIL that not only meet their specific supply chain needs, but that can help them grow their global business. Everybody wins in this deal.”
 
According to the release, since 2010, RIL has been regularly doing business with approximately 50 Canadian companies. Of these companies, 33% are small- to medium-sized companies. EDC has been actively engaged with RIL for making introductions to Canadian capabilities.
 
India is a strategic market for Canada, as outlined in the Government’s Global Market Action Plan, and is also a market of corporate priority for EDC.  EDC is looking to grow the amount of financing that it offers to Indian companies for their capital expenditures, whether the financing be for general corporate purposes or project finance purposes.
 
Canadian and Indian companies used EDC’s financial services to undertake CAD 1.8 billion of business in 2013 alone.
 
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RBI grants “in-principle” approval for banking licences to two applicants

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided today to grant “in-principle” approval to two applicants -- IDFC Limited and Bandhan Financial Services Private Limited -- to set up new banks in the country.
 
The approvals were given under the Guidelines on Licensing of New Banks in the Private Sector issued on February 22, 2013, a press release from the central bank said.
 
These two applicants were also recommended as suitable for grant of “in-principle” approval by the High Level Advisory Committee (HLAC) set up by the RBI, it said.
 
The HLAC had also recommended that in the case of Department of Posts which has applied for licence, it would be desirable for the RBI to consider the application separately in consultation with the Government of India. The RBI has accepted the recommendation of the HLAC, it said.
 
The “in-principle” approval granted will be valid for a period of 18 months during which the applicants have to comply with the requirements under the guidelines and fulfil the other conditions as may be stipulated by the RBI. 
 
On being satisfied that the applicants have complied with the requisite conditions laid down by the RBI as part of “in-principle” approval, they would be considered for grant of 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 would be barred from doing banking business, the release said.
 
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The Union Finance Minister had, in his budget speech for 2010-11, said that there was a need to extend the geographic coverage of banks and improve access to banking services and that RBI was considering giving some additional banking licences to private sector players. Subsequently, RBI issued guidelines for licensing of new banks on February 22, 2013.
 
After withdrawal by two applicants, 25 applications have been considered. Following the guidelines, a HLAC was set up on October 30, 2013 chaired by former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan and comprising three members (Mr C.B. Bhave, former Chairman, SEBI; Ms Usha Thorat, former Deputy Governor, RBI; and MrNachiket Mor, Director, RBI Central Board) to screen the applications, and to recommend licences only to those applicants who comply with the guidelines.
 
In the first stage, the applications were scrutinised by RBI to ensure eligibility of the applicants under the Guidelines. Thereafter, the applications were referred to the HLAC. The HLAC submitted its recommendations to RBI on February 25, 2014 for its consideration.
 
The RBI assessed the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the applicants as per the criteria laid down in the guidelines. This included analysis of the financial statements of the key entities in the group, 10- year track record of running their businesses, proposed business model for the bank as well as the applicants’ demonstrated capabilities for running a bank, plan for expanding inclusion, and culture of compliance and integrity demonstrated by the applicant in its past activities. Based on all this, the RBI took a view of the “fit and proper” status of the applicant.
 
The decision to grant “in-principle” approval has been taken after consulting the Election Commission, given that the Code of Conduct for the coming elections is in force.
 
"RBI’s approach in this round of bank licences could well be categorised as conservative. At a time when there is public concern about governance, and when it comes to licences for entities that are intimately trusted by the Indian public, this may well be the most appropriate stance. Going forward, RBI intends to use the learning from this licensing exercise to revise the guidelines appropriately and move to give licences more regularly, that is, virtually 'on tap'. It will also frame categories of differentiated bank licences, building on its prior discussion paper, and this will allow a wider pool of entrants into banking. RBI believes that some of those entities who did not qualify in this round for a full-fledged banking licence could well apply in future rounds or could apply for differentiated licences under the proposed framework," the release added.
 
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RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 8%, CRR at 4%

The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday decided to keep its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility unchanged at 8 per cent and the cash reserve ratio of scheduled banks at 4 per cent of net demand and time liability.

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today, on the basis of its assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, decided to keep its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 8 per cent and the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks at 4 per cent of net demand and time liability (NDTL).
 
In its first bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2014-15 here, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said the central bank had also decided to increase the liquidity provided under 7-day and 14-day term repos from 0.5 per cent of NDTL of the banking system to 0.75 per cent, and decrease the liquidity provided under overnight repos under the LAF from 0.5 per cent of bank-wise NDTL to 0.25 per cent with immediate effect. 
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 7 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 9 per cent. 
 
The statement said that, since the Third Quarter Review of January 2014, global activity appears to have moderated on slower growth in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, continuing sluggishness in the Euro area and a subdued pick-up in emerging and developing economies, restrained by the uncertain external demand environment as well as by localised cyclical and structural constraints. 
 
For a number of emerging markets, further tightening of external financing conditions and renewed volatility of capital flows are the biggest risks to their outlook, it said.
 
"Going forward, global growth is likely to strengthen in the rest of the year, with risks tilted to the downside," it said.
 
According to it, domestically, real GDP growth continued to be modest in Q3 of 2013-14, with some strengthening of activity in services such as trade, hotels, transport and communication, and financing, real estate and business services. Despite some positive movement in more recent data, industrial activity continues to be a drag on the economy, with retrenchment in both consumption and investment demand reflected in the contraction of output of consumer durables as well as capital goods. 
 
"In the quarters ahead, the boost provided by robust agricultural production in 2013 may wane. Moreover, the outlook for the 2014 south-west monsoon appears uncertain. Sluggishness in industrial activity, exports and several categories of services underlines the need to revitalise productivity and competitiveness," it said.
 
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Dr Rajan said retail inflation measured by the consumer price index (CPI) moderated for the third month in succession in February 2014, driven lower by the sharp disinflation in food prices, although prices of fruits, milk and products have started to firm up.
 
Excluding food and fuel, however, retail inflation remained sticky at around 8 per cent. This suggests that some demand pressures are still at play, he said.
 
The statement said the merchandise trade deficit was 22 per cent lower in April-February 2013-14 than its level a year ago, due to the large decline in non-oil imports. The steady narrowing of the trade deficit over the year has shrunk the current account deficit (CAD) to 0.9 per cent of GDP in Q3 of 2013-14. 
 
It said that, for the year as a whole, the CAD is expected to be about 2.0 per cent of GDP. Most recently, however, export growth has slowed, partly because of slowdown in demand in partner countries as well as a softening of prices of exports of petroleum products and gems and jewellery (offset by a reduction in the prices of oil and gold imports). 
 
Whether the export slowdown persists as global growth picks up once again remains to be seen, it said.
 
"In February, there was a turnaround in portfolio flows as investors largely priced in the effects of taper by the US Fed and responded to economic and geo-political developments in emerging markets with re-allocations. With sustained inflows in the form of portfolio flows, foreign direct investment (FDI) and external commercial borrowings, external financing conditions turned comfortable. Inflows, augmented by repayments by public sector oil marketing companies of their foreign currency obligations to the Reserve Bank during March, have led to an increase in reserves," it said.
 
Turning to liquidity, envisaging pressures from large currency demand and tax
outflows from mid-March, a 21-day term repo of Rs 500 billion was conducted on March 14 and 7-day term repo auctions of Rs 100 billion on March 19 and 26, in addition to the regular 14-day term repo of `400 billion on March 21. A 5-day term repo for a notified amount of Rs 200 billion was conducted on March 28 to facilitate non-disruptive banking operations during the annual closing of accounts. Access to the MSF on March 29 and 31 (holidays) was also allowed for this purpose. The Reserve Bank will continue to monitor the liquidity conditions and actively manage liquidity to ensure adequate flow of credit to the productive sectors, it said.
 
The statement said that, since December 2013, the sharper than expected disinflation in vegetable prices has enabled a sizable fall in headline inflation. 
 
"Looking ahead, vegetable prices have entered their seasonal trough and further softening is unlikely. Meanwhile, CPI inflation excluding food and fuel has remained flat. There are risks to the central forecast of 8 per cent CPI inflation by January 2015 stemming from a less-than-normal monsoon due to possible el nino effects; uncertainty on the setting of minimum support prices for agricultural commodities and the setting of other administered prices, especially of fuel, fertiliser and electricity; the outlook for fiscal policy; geo-political developments and their impact on international commodity prices," it said.
 
"There will also be a downward statistical pull on CPI inflation exerted by base effects of high inflation during June-November 2013. It is critical to look through any transient effects, including these base effects, which could temporarily soften headline inflation during 2014," it said.
 
The statement said that the RBI's policy stance would be firmly focussed on keeping the economy on a disinflationary glide path that is intended to hit 8 per cent CPI inflation by January 2015 and 6 per cent by January 2016. 
 
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"At the current juncture, it is appropriate to hold the policy rate, while allowing the rate increases undertaken during September 2013-January 2014 to work their way through the economy. Furthermore, if inflation continues along the intended glide path, further policy tightening in the near term is not anticipated at this juncture," it said.
 
"Contingent upon the desired inflation outcome, real GDP growth is projected to pick up from a little below 5 per cent in 2013-14 to a range of 5 to 6 per cent in 2014-15 albeit with downside risks to the central estimate of 5.5 per cent," it said.
 
Lead indicators do not point to any sustained revival in industry and services as yet, and the outlook for the agricultural sector is contingent upon the timely arrival and spread of the monsoon. Easing of domestic supply bottlenecks and progress on the implementation of stalled projects already cleared should brighten up the growth outlook, as would stronger anticipated export growth as the world economy picks up.
 
In pursuance of the Dr. Urjit R. Patel Committee's recommendation to de-emphasise overnight "guaranteed-access" windows for liquidity management and progressively conduct liquidity management through term repos, the Reserve Bank has decided to further reduce access to overnight repos under the LAF while compensating fully with a commensurate expansion of the market’s access to term repos from the Reserve Bank. 
 
"The primary objective is to improve the transmission of policy impulses across the interest rate spectrum. The term repo has evolved as a useful indicator of underlying liquidity conditions. It also allows market participants to hold liquidity for a longer period, thereby providing the impetus for engaging in term transactions in the market, evolving market-based benchmarks for pricing various financial products and also improving efficiency in cash/ treasury management," it said.
 
The statmement said liquidity conditions have tightened in March, partly on account of year-end ‘window dressing’ by banks, though an extraordinary infusion of liquidity by the Reserve Bank has mitigated the tightness. The Reserve Bank will propose measures to reduce such practices, it added.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 1009 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction division had won new orders worth Rs 1009 crores across various business segments in March this year.
 
A press release from the company said these orders included design and build contracts worth Rs 573 crore in the Buildings & Factories Business.
 
The orders are from a leading real estate company for the construction of mixed use development in Lucknow and the construction of a community centre in Bangalore. The scope involves civil, finishes, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, finishes and other associated works, it said.
 
Additional orders have also been received from an ongoing job in Hyderabad for the work of transit oriented development.
 
In the Transportation Infrastructure Business, the company has won a new order worth Rs 316 crore from a road developer for design, engineering and construction of an elevated road between Jinzira Bazaar and Batanagar on the Budge Budge trunk road in Kolkata.
 
The flyover will start at Jinzira Bazaar, about 3km west of the Taratala crossing, and terminate at Batanagar. The two-lane flyover will run above the Budge Budge Trunk Road.
 
The company's Power Transmission & Distribution Business has bagged an order worth Rs 120 crore from Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited for engineering, supply, erection and commissioning of 33/11 kV Sub-Stations and associated lines for the Odisha Distribution System Strengthening Project, the release added.
 
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Gavaskar takes over as BCCI-IPL Interim President

Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar today took over as the Interim President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India for the Indian Premier League and reviewed the preparations for the seventh edition of the Twenty20 tournament beginning on April 16.

Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar
Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar today took over as the Interim President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the Indian Premier League (IPL) and reviewed the preparations for the seventh edition of the Twenty20 tournament beginning on April 16.
 
Mr Gavaskar was asked yesterday by the Supreme Court to oversee IPL 7 while other functions of the BCCI President will be handled by its seniormost Vice-President Shivlal Yadav after incument N Srinvasan was told to step aside pending completion of investigations into the allegations of betting and spot-fixing in the tournament.
 
"I had a meeting with Mr. Ranjib Biswal – Chairman, IPL, and the Management Staff, in Dubai, earlier today. They briefed me on the various aspects related to the Pepsi IPL 2014, and updated me on the current status of this year's season, which will commence on 16 April 2014 in the UAE," Mr Gavaskar said.
 
"I am confident that the upcoming season of the Pepsi IPL 2014 will be a successful one," he added.
 
The first stage of the tournament, which will feature eight teams, will be held from April 16-30 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because of the Lok Sabha elections in India. The second stage, including the play-offs, will be held in India.
 
In its interim order yesterday, the apex court had also allowed two teams against whom there were allegations of spot-fixing and betting -- Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) -- to participate in the tournament.
 
Mr Srinivasan is the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of India Cements, which owns CSK. His son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was a member of the CSK team management, was arrested by the Mumbai Police in May 2013 as part of their probe into alleged spot-fixing and betting in the sixth season of IPL.
 
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is also the captain of CSK, is a senior employee of India Cements, as are some others associated with IPL and BCCI.
 
The court said yesterday that no employee of India Cement, except players and commentators, could be associated with BCCI.
 
Mr Srinivasan had last year stepped aside as the BCCI chief to facilitate the investigations into the allegations, but was, on September 29, 2013 re-elected to the position.
 
The Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee's report, which was handed over to the Supreme Court on February 10 this year, is understood to have said that the allegations against Mr Meiyappan needed to be probed further.
 
The court had appointed the committee on October 8 last year to investigate the alleged scam.
 
Some players of Rajasthan Royals, including Indian bowler S Sreesanth, had been arrested for their alleged role in the spot-fixing scam.
 
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India's net international investment position deteriorates in Q3

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India's net International Investment Position (IIP) -- the difference between its external financial asssets and liabilities -- deteriorated in the quarter ended December 2013 due to the rise in the value of foreign-owned assets in the country, data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) here yesterday said.
 
International Investment Position (IIP) is a statistical statement that shows, at a point in time, the value and the composition of (i) financial assets of residents of an economy that are claims on non-residents and gold bullion held as reserve assets; and (ii) liabilities of residents of an economy to non-residents. 
 
The difference between an economy's external financial assets and liabilities is its net IIP. Such balance sheet analysis of international accounts helps in understanding sustainability and vulnerability of the economy’s external sector.
 
According to a statement from the RBI, the net claims of non-residents on India (as reflected by the net IIP) increased by $ 17.7 billion over the previous quarter to $ 317.2 billion as at end-December 2013. This change in the net position reflected an increase of $ 39.9 billion in the value of foreign-owned assets in India vis-à-vis an increase of US$ 22.2 billion in the value of Indian Residents’ financial assets abroad.
 
Indian residents’ financial assets abroad stood at $ 458.9 billion as at end-December 2013 recording an increase of $ 22.2 billion over previous quarter mainly due to increase of $ 16.7 billion in reserve assets and increase of $ 5.8 billion in other investment abroad, mainly trade credit and currency and deposits. Direct investment abroad showed marginal decline of $ 0.3 billion.
 
According to the statement, the foreign-owned assets in India increased by $ 39.9 billion over the previous quarter to $ 776.1 billion mainly due to increase of $ 23.6 billion in currency and deposits component of ‘other investment’. 
 
Direct investment in India and portfolio investment in India also increased by $ 8.6 billion and $ 5.6 billion, respectively. In portfolio investment, while equity investment increased by $ 8.0 billion, debt investment decreased by $ 2.4 billion. Among other investment liabilities, trade credits declined by $ 1.2 billion and loans increased by $ 3.2 billion.
 
On the effects of rupee appreciation,  the statement said the variation in exchange rate of rupee vis-à-vis other currencies affected change in liabilities, when valued in $ terms. Equity liabilities in $ terms increased by $ 16.3 billion, due to the  stock valuation effect resulting from rupee appreciation, while net inflow was $ 11.5 billion during the period.
 
On the composition of exernal financial assets and liabilities, it said reserve assets continued to have the dominant share (64.0 per cent) in India’s international financial assets in December 2013, followed by direct investment abroad (26.1 per cent). 
 
Direct Investment (29.2 per cent), portfolio investment (22.8 per cent), loans (mainly ECBs) (22.1 per cent), trade credit (11.4 per cent) and currency and deposits (12.7 per cent) were the major constituents of the country’s financial liabilities.
 
The share of non-debt liabilities decreased marginally to 44.8 per cent as at end- December 2013 from 45.1 percent at end- September 2013, the statement added.
 
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India's forex reserves rise by $ 1.348 billion to $ 298.635 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 1.348 billion to $ 298.635 billion in the week ended March 21, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here yesterday.
 
The reserves had risen by $ 1.838 billion in the week ended March 14, by $ 1.088 billion in the week ended March 7 and by $ 954.6 million in the week before that, making this the fourth consecutive week of increase.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement issued here yesterday , the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, increased by $ 1.58 billion to $ 271.394 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 the previous week's level of $ 20.978 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) decreased by $ 16.9 million to $ 4.462 billion during the period.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 241.7 million to $ 1.801 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra to perform in Mumbai on April 5-6

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The National Centre for the Performing Arts, one of India's premier arts institutions, will present the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra  (SSO) here on April 5 and 6 at its Jamshed Bhabha Theatre here on April 5 and 6.
 
The programme is part of an ambitious effort of cultural exchange to promote and educate children about Western classical music in the country.
 
Mr. Khushroo N. Suntook, NCPA Chairman and Founder of SOI, said, "We are pleased to be presenting the BBC SSO in Mumbai as part of their tour leading up to the Commonwealth Games. We share the BBC SSO's ambition of promoting and educating children about Western classical music. With this joint venture we are sure to get a few steps closer to achieving our plan to promote this genre in India and bring India on the international map for western music."
 
The BBC SSO will be on a tour of India as part of which it will hold concerts, workshops and exchange between students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the K M Music Conservatory of Bollywood composer A R Rahman.
 
Composer James MacMillan will lead the BBC SSO, accompanied by violinist Nicola Benedetti and students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. 
 
On April 5, animateur and music education expert Paul Rissmann will join the orchestra, Benedetti and MacMillan to present a special programme for young audiences and families - 'An Introduction tothe Symphony Orchestra for the Entire Family.', presenting the genre in the form of animation and projections. 
 
On April 6, the orchestra will present Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.
 
Benedetti said: "This will be my very first trip to India and I am so excited. It's a highlight of my coming year because as well as playing some wonderful concerts, the orchestra and I will be staying in eachof the cities for a few days, giving workshops and getting involved with the local communities. This is an element of music making I have dedicated so much time to and I'm thrilled to be joining another organization equally serious about sharing this music with all members of the community, not just to the folk who can afford to attend the concerts."
 
Lloyd Anderson, Director of the British Council Scotland, said, "The Scottish Symphony Orchestra's tour  of India, accompanied by students from the Royal Conservatoire, will create a programme of ground breaking musical collaborations in order to build stronger links between India and Scotland. While our historical ties are strong, this tour, through engaging with young people at every stage, will make those relationships relevant to a new generation. The British Council is delighted to have helped to bring this tour about - renewing friendships and bringing musicians and music-lovers together from different parts of the world."
 
MacMillan is the pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation. He attracted attention with the acclaimed BBC Proms premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (1990). His music combines rhythmic excitement, raw emotional power and spiritual meditation and his percussion concerto Veni,Veni, Emmanuel (1992) has received over 400 performances. He is also active internationally as a conductor and is Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie.
 
He has conducted numerous orchestras around the globe, including the Baltimore Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the NHK Symphony Tokyo, amongst others.
 
Benedetti is one of the most sought-after violinists of her generation. Winner of Best Female Artiste at the 2012 Classical BRIT Awards, Benedetti records exclusively for Decca (Universal Music). Her most recent recording, The Silver Violin, reached No.30 in the UK pop charts simultaneously topping the classical charts.
 
Through her work with such organizations as Sistema Scotland, she has helped to demonstrate the power that music can have in transforming the lives of young people.
 
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RIL carries out maintenance shutdown of paraxylene unit at Jamnagar

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has taken a planned maintenance shutdown of one of its three paraxylene units at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
 
The scheduled shutdown period is approximately for a period of six weeks, a press release from the company said.
 
"This shut down will also be utilized to improve reliability and performance of the unit. The other two paraxylene units will continue to operate normally," it said.
 
RIL has a total capacity of 1.8 million tonnes per annum of paraxylene at 
Jamnagar, the release added.
 
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Reliance selected for exploration of two offshore blocks in Myanmar

Reliance logo
Reliance logo
The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said it had been selected by the Ministry of Energy (MOE) of  Myanmar  for exploration of two offshore blocks (M17 and M18) in Myanmar Offshore Block Bidding Round – 2013.
 
Both the blocks are located offshore in the Moattama basin of Myanmar in water depths upto 3000 ft and together encompass an area of 27,600 sq. kms, a press release from RIL said.
 
The 2013 Offshore Blocks Bidding Round saw participation from global exploration and production (E&P) players. In all, 36 companies submitted 64 proposals for the 30 offshore blocks on offer. RIL had submitted proposals for three offshore blocks.
 
As per the process, RIL or its affiliates will enter into Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) for the two blocks. The PSC allows for initial preparation and study periods before committing into Phase 1 of exploration period.
 
"RIL’s participation is in line with its strategy of portfolio rationalization by expanding its international asset base by investing in regimes having attractive internationally competitive terms on offer. The company thus hopes to leverage its organizational capabilities and expertise to create value for the E&P segment," the release added.
 
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Hindi film actress Nanda passes away at 75

Legendary actress Nanda passes away at 75
Well-known Hindi film actress of yesteryears Nanda passed away at her residence in Versova after suffering a heart attack, sources said.
 
She was 75. Her funeral will be held here later today, the sources said.
 
She was engaged to film producer Manmohan Desai in 1992, who died in a fall from his apartment in 1994. She remained unmarried after that.
 
Some of her notable films during a fairly successful career included Hum Dono, Dhool Ka Phool, Dulhan, Bhabhi, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Prem Rog, Gumnaam and Ittefaq.
 
She was born on January 8, 1939 to Vinayak Damodar Karnataki (Master Vinayak), a well-known Marathi actor and filmmaker, who passed away when she was a child.
 
Nanda began her film career as a child artiste. She got her big break when renowned filmmaker V Shantaram, her paternal uncle, cast her in Toofan Aur Diya, a successful brother-sister saga.
 
She went on to play the title role in Chhoti Bahen and acted in other movies such as Teen Deviyan, Kanoon and Anchal, for which she won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award in 1960.
 
She signed as many as eight films with the then relatively unknown Shashi Kapoor, including Char Diwari, and the two became a successful screen pair.
 
One of these films, Jab Jab Phool Khile, featured the song "Yeh Samaa" that was picturised on her and remained one of her all-time favourites.
 
With Rajesh Khanna, she did films such as The Train, Ittefaq and Joroo Ka Ghulam. She appeared opposite Jeetendra in Parivar and Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke.
 
After staying away from films for some time, she returned in the early 1980s with films such as Ahista Ahista, Mazdoor and Prem Rog, before taking her final bow.
 
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Eros comes on board NH 10 with Phantom Films, Anushka Sharma

Anushka Sharma
Anushka Sharma
Film entertainment major Eros International Media Limited today said it would join hands with Phantom Films and actor Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Production to co-produce director Navdeep Singh’s NH 10.
 
An action thriller about a road trip that goes wrong, NH 10 is Navdeep Singh’s second film after the critically acclaimed Manorama 6 Feet Under and stars Anushka Sharma who also debuts as producer with the venture.
 
“The film is an exciting collaboration with Anushka and Phantom and we are happy to associate with this talented team. NH 10 promises to be an interesting journey and we are looking forward to supporting and nurturing such strong content driven films," Sunil Lulla, Managing Director, Eros International Media Ltd, said.
 
Vikramaditya Motwane of Phantom Films said: "NH10 is a superb script, and we have a tremendous director in Navdeep Singh. We are excited about our partners on the film and look forward to making a kick-ass film."
 
Anushka Sharma said, “I’m doubly thrilled about NH-10, as it’s a superb role and it also kick-starts this new phase in my film journey. This is my second film after Bombay Velvet with Phantom, and it’s a blast working with them. It’s going to be super-exciting working together again on what promises to be an explosive film.”
 
Others involved in the making of the film include international action directors headed by Armin Sauer, who has done stunt work in The Bourne Supremacy, V for Vendetta and The Constant Gardner among other films. 
 
Being shot this winter across the northern plains around Delhi, NH 10 will release on September 12.
 
Formed in 2012, Phantom Films was floated by the directors’ league of Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena. 
 
Clean Slate is a film production helmed by Anushka Sharma and Karnesh Sharma.
 
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Woman vegetable vendor stabbed to death on Mumbai train

Woman vegetable vendor killed on Mumbai train
A woman vegetable vendor was stabbed to death by an unidentified man on a suburban train while she was on her way to Borivali from Virar in the early hours of this morning, police said.
 
The victim, identified as Panga Andher, 55, had boarded the luggage compartment of the Virar-Churchgate train at Virar at 0355 hours as per her daily routine.
 
According to Mr Deepak Devraj, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Government Railway Police, Western Railway, the woman used to by vegetables from Virar and sell them in the wholesale market at Borivali every day.
 
He said the woman, who was alone in the compartment, was attacked by someone with a sharp weapon while the train was between Nalasopara and Vasai stations. The police are not sure if there was more than person involved in the attack.
 
Hearing the woman's screams, women in the adjacent ladies' coach pulled the emergency chain and the train was stopped. When the motorman and a home guard went to the luggage compartment, they found the woman bleeding from injuries in her abdomen. By then, the assailant had jumped off the train from the other side and escaped.
 
The train was stopped at Vasai, where she was rushed the nearby Ravi Hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.
 
Police are investigating the incident. 
 
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7 burnt alive as petrol tanker overturns near Thane on Surat-Mumbai highway

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As many as seven persons were burnt alive when a petrol tanker on its way from Surat to Mumbai exploded in flames after oveturning at Charoti near Thane in Maharashtra today.
 
Police sources aid the mishap occurred at around 2.30 pm at a spot about 110 km from Thane.
 
Those killed three persons in the tanker and four passers-by, the sources said, adding that the bodies of the victims had been charred beyond recognition.
 
About seven others suffered injuries and have been admitted to the Civil Hospital in Thane for treatment. Apart from the tanker, some vehicles near it on the road were also affected by the flames, they said.
 
Fire tenders and ambulances were rushed to the spot from Thane and other nearby towns, the sources added.
 
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RBI Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty seeks slightly earlier departure

Dr. Kamlesh Chandra Chakrabarty

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty has sought  a slightly earlier departure, on April 25, than the scheduled end of his term on June 30 for personal reasons.
 
"The Reserve Bank is very grateful for his many years of excellent work in very difficult times. Dr. Chakrabarty always speaks his mind, and has been a very valuable guide for successive governors," a statement from the central bank said.
 
"In recent years, Dr. Chakrabarty has spearheaded the Reserve Bank’s move towards risk-based supervision. His experience as a banker has given him the ability to diagnose weaknesses in the system, and made him a forceful advocate for change," it said.
 
"I personally have benefited enormously from his advice," RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said.
 
A search is on for his successor, the statement added.
 
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Four convicts in first Shakti Mills compound gang-rape case given life

Four get life sentence in Shakti Mills gangrape
A sessions court here today sentenced four convicts in the gang-rape of a call centre employee on July 31 last year in the Shakti Mills compound in Lower Parel in central Mumbai to imprisonment for life.
 
In a second case, involving the gang-rape of a photo-journalist in the same desolate area on August 22, in which four men - including three involved in the first case - were convicted, the court deferred the pronouncement of sentence to March 24.
 
Pronouncing the sentence, Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi described rape as a serious and brutal crime.
 
"The offence violates the victim and the society at large. It is also aiolation of the fundamental right of Right to Life and it should be kept in mind coupled with the fact that the offence of rape has caused agony on her mind," she said.
 
The court said the crime committed by the four convicts - Vijay Jadhav (19), Mohammad Qasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali (21), Mohammad Ansari (28) and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh - was not done on the spur of the moment but was a pre-meditated conspiracy.
 
After the judge pronounced the sentence, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam sought framing of additional charges on the three men -- Jadhav, Qasim Shaikh and Salim Ansari -- involved in the second case for repeated offence under section 376 (e) of the Indian Penal Code.
 
He pointed out that the maximum penalty for such a repeat offence was capital punishment.
 
The court then deferred the pronouncement of sentence in the second case to March 24.
 
The judge had yesterday convicted five men guilty in the two cases of gang-rape, including Siraj Khan, the fourth convict in the photo-journalist case.
 
Two minors, one in each case, will be dealt with separately by the Juvenile Justice Board.
 
The trial in both cases, which had led to a huge public outcry coming as they did just months after the horrific December 16 gang-rape case in Delhi, was put on a fast-track and they were heard on a day-to-day basis. Both cases were tried simultaneously.
 
The 23-year-old photo-journalist, who was working as a trainee with an English magazine, was gang-raped while she was on an assignment in the compound last August along with a male colleague. 
 
Three weeks earlier, the 19-year-old call centre employee was gang-raped in the same area when she was walking through the compound of the defunct mill as "short-cut" to the railway station with a male friend.
 
The photo-journalist had identified the accused in the incident. The call centre employee recognized the men who had assaulted her from the pictures released by the police in the photo-journalist's case.
 
After the two incidents came to light, the local authorities have cleared the desolate mill complex of the dense undergrowth and strengthened security in the area.
 
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Four injured as Mumbai local train derails near Titwala

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At least four persons suffered injuries when four coaches of a suburban train, bound for Kasara from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), derailed today.
 
Central Railway officials said the mishap occurred between Titwala and Ambivli stations.
 
One of the four passengers had suffered grievous injuries, they said.
 
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Mumbai Indians to meet KKR in IPL 2014 opener on Apr 16 at Abu Dhabi

 
Defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the opening match of the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on April 16 at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 
KKR had won the tournament in 2012.
 
At its meeting in Chennai earlier today, the IPL Governing Council confirmed that the first phase of the Pepsi IPL 2014 season matches will be played in the UAE from April 16-30.
 
A total of 20 matches will be played in three stadiums: the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi; the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, Sharjah; and the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai. 
 
The match-schedule for the UAE leg can be seen here.
 
Pursuant to the initiative taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, many State Governments have indicated that IPL matches can be conducted in their respective states. 
 
"Based on the responses received so far, the BCCI believes that the Pepsi IPL 2014 can be conducted in India from the first week of May," a press release from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said, adding that the schedule for the remaining 40 matches would be announced in due course.
 
The BCCI had, on March 12, announced that the 2014 season of IPL would be played from April 16 to June 1, with the first leg to be staged in the UAE due to the Lok Sabha elections being held in India at the same time.
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According to the schedule announced by the Election Commission, polling in the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha will be held on nine days between April 7 and May 12.
 
The Government had conveyed to BCCI that it would be difficult for it to ensure security for the IPL matches given the huge requirements of security forces for the peaceful conduct of the elections.
 
The 2009 edition of the IPL had been staged in South Africa because it coincided with the last Lok Sabha elections. This year, too, there was talk that the tournament would be held in South Africa, but the UAE finally got the nod.
 
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