Sun Pharma announces US FDA approval for generic Crestor

Pharmaceuticals major Sun Pharma today said that one of its subsidiaries has received final approval from the United States Food & Drug Administration (US FDA) for its Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for generic version of Crestor, Rosuvastatin Calcium tablets 5 mg (base), 10 mg (base), 20 mg (base) and 40 mg (base). 
These Rosuvastatin Calcium tablets are therapeutic equivalents of IPR Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Crestor tablets, a press release from the company said.
As per IMS MAT May 2016, these tablets have annual sales of approximately $ 6.8 billion in the US. These tablets are indicated for the treatment of adult patients with Hypertriglyceridemia, Primary Dysbetalipoproteinemia (Type III Hyperlipoproteinemia) and adult patients with Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia, the release added.

SPARC licenses Elepsia XR (Levetiracetam ER tablets) to Sun Pharma

Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company Ltd. (SPARC) has signed an agreement to license Elepsia XR (Levetiracetam Extended Release tablets) to a wholly-owned subsidiay of pharmaceuticals major Sun Pharma for the United States market.
SPARC will receive an up-front payment of $10 million from Sun Pharma, a press release from the company said.
It is also eligible for certain additional milestone payments and defined royalties linked to any future sales of Elepsia XR, it said.
According to the release, Elepsia XR was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March 2015. However, in September 2015, SPARC received a complete response letter (CRL) from the USFDA rescinding its earlier approval, citing that the compliance status of the manufacturing facility, the Halol site of Sun Pharma, was not acceptable on the date of approval. 
"Sun Pharma has undertaken a detailed remediation at Halol for restoring cGMP compliance status for the site," it said.
Anil Raghavan, CEO, SPARC said, “The licensing of Elepsia XR is a step ahead in our desire to make it available for thousands of epilepsy patients taking multiple pills of Levetiracetam every day. Elepsia XR is designed as a novel once-a-day formulation of Levetiracetam using SPARC’s proprietary Wrap Matrix technology. It is designed to reduce pill burden and help improve convenience and compliance in these patients. If and when the USFDA reapproves the Elepsia XR  application, Sun Pharma’s significant US presence will help SPARC in commercializing this important product for patients in the US market.”
Commenting on the in-licensing, Kirti Ganorkar, Senior Vice President, Business Development, Sun Pharma said, “The in-licensing of Elepsia XR will facilitate Sun Pharma’s anticipated entry into the proprietary CNS segment in the US. This is a part of Sun Pharma’s strategy, to strengthen its presence in the US specialty segment through its newly created Sun Neurosciences business unit. We believe that SPARC’s Wrap Matrix technology will help in differentiating Elepsia XR amongst other competing products.”
The release said Elepsia XR is a novel investigational product designed as an extended release formulation of Levetiracetam 1000mg and 1500mg. Levetiracetam products currently approved by FDA and available on the US market are generally indicated for adjunctive therapy in the treatment of partial onset seizures in patients 12 years of age and older with epilepsy. 
As per IMS MAT December 2015, about 9 million prescriptions were dispensed for Levetiracetam making it one of the most widely prescribed treatments for epilepsy in the US.

FIIs, RFPIs can now invest up to 74% under PIS in Axis Bank

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has notified that Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) and Registered Foreign Portfolios Investors (RFPIs) can now invest up to 74 percent of the paid-up capital of Axis Bank Ltd. under the Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS), up from the existing limit of 62 percent.
The central bank further notified that the total foreign investment from all sources -- FIIs, RFPIs, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Non-Resident Indians (NRI), Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), American Depository Receipts (ADR) and Global Depository Receipts (GDR) in the bank shall not exceed 74 per cent of paid- up capital.
The RBI noted Axis Bank had passed resolutions at its Board of Directors’ level and a special resolution by the shareholders, agreeing for enhancing the limit for the purchase of its equity shares and convertible debentures by FIIs and RFPIs. The purchases could be made through primary market and stock exchanges, a press release from RBI added.

India's forex reserves dip by $1.228 billion to $ 361.943 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 1.228 billion to $ 361.943 billion in the week ended July 8, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had risen by $ 2.374 billion to $ 363.171 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone down by $ 1.219 billion to $ 337.494 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $20.576 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) went down by $ 3.6 million to $ 1.484 billion.
India's India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 5.9 million to $ 2.389 billion, the bulletin added.

Lenders approve restructuring of HCC debt under RBI's S4A route

The Joint Lender’s Forum of infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company Limited (HCC), which met here yesterday, has approved the restructuring of the company's debt under the recent Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A).
The recommendation by leading consulting firm, EY, appointed by lenders, to opt for the RBI’s new tool was adopted at the Joint Lender’s Forum meeting, a press release from the company said.
This will help the company bridge the gap of “Cashflow Timing Mismatch” between claims realization (including its interest) and debt servicing, it said.
Under the S4A, the debt of the company will be bifurcated into two parts. The first part will be sustainable debt, which cannot be less than 50% of existing debt and will have to be serviced over the same terms as that of existing facilities. The other unsustainable part of the loan can either be converted into equity, redeemable optionally convertible preference shares or optionally convertible debentures, with clearly spelt out terms.
Lenders get 90 days from ‘Reference Date’ to formulate the resolution plan and implement the same, along with necessary internal approvals, it said.
"HCC feels that it’s a positive move from the lenders and resolution will surely support towards sustained long term solution for the company. The move comes at an opportune time as HCC is on recovery path with order book growth of 35% in last 15 months with the government’s focus on infrastructure," it said.
According to the release, HCC faced a challenging period due to slowdown of the sector in the past and delay in payment of its legitimate dues by the government agencies of arbitration awards over Rs. 3000 crore.
"However, in the last 10 quarters, HCC has emerged as one of the best performing companies in infrastructure sector with EBITDA margins of 16-18% through a series of initiatives aimed at improving operational efficiencies, cost rationalization, strict adherence of Dispute Resolution process and monetization of certain assets at fair value.
"HCC, which approached CDR in January 2012, has made all efforts to remain standard with the banks, while many other companies from the sector who got referred to CDR failed to take off and had to exit CDR for default. In last couple of years, HCC took up recovery of its dues amounting to Rs. 11,000 crore from the government agencies through arbitration proceedings or contractual procedure. HCC already got arbitration awards in its favor worth Rs. 3041 crore upto March 31, 2016. However payment of these awards remain a challenge and only Rs. 373 crore could be collected as the clients keep on appealing up to Supreme Court without paying the dues," it said.
The release said the “Cashflow Timing Mismatch” during the last couple of years between claims realization (including its interest) and debt servicing was the main issue faced by the 90-year-old HCC. 
"The payment of its legitimate arbitration awarded claims of over Rs. 3000 crore by the government agencies can dramatically alter the scenario with outstanding funded debt of Rs. 5000 crore reducing to less than 50 per cent and yearly payout would stand reduced to company’s current paying capacity," it added.

Go Air doubles A320neo order to 144 as part of expansion plans

Low-cost carrier Go Air today confirmed that it had signed a memorandum of understandng for 72 Airbus A320neo aircraft at the Farnborough International Air Show as part of its expansion plans.
The airline, a Wadia Group company, announced its latest order following a similar agreement for 72 A320neo placed in 2011, bringing the total order book to 144 aircraft. 
The first two aircraft from this order were delivered in June. With the neo induction, Go Air will expand its network and offer fliers better connectivity and continue its growth, a press release from the company said.
“The new A320neos provide us the competitive edge to achieve our growth targets and help us strengthening our presence in the wider region. It also reaffirms Go Air’s commitment to deliver the most modern, comfortable and excellent air travel experience to all customers as well as to strengthen the sustained positive growth and business expansion of the company. The new aircraft will help us in unlocking new domestic routes while providing a springboard for continued international network expansion in the years to come,” said Go Air CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer.
“This further commitment by Go Air is a testament to the reliability, passenger popularity and unbeatable operating economics of the A320 Family,” said Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers, John Leahy.” Go Air is among the three first A320neo operators, and with an order for 144 is one of the leading operators of the type.”
The release said Go Air is the first airline to use A320neo in Spaceflex configuration with 186 seats without compromising on the passenger leg room and comfort. This configuration will also enable better service and availability during peak season for the travelers.
The A320neo Family incorporates latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklet wing tip devices, which together deliver more than 15 percent in fuel savings from day one and 20 percent by 2020 with further cabin innovations.
The release said the A320neo Family is the world’s best-selling single aisle product line with over 4,500 orders from 83 customers since its launch in 2010, capturing almost 60 percent share of the market. 
"Thanks to their widest cabin, all members of the A320neo Family offer unmatched comfort in all classes and Airbus’ 18” wide seats in economy as standard. To date, nine A320neo aircraft have been delivered to three customers," the release added.

HDFC Ltd to be first Indian issuer of Synthetic INR Notes

Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) today said it had appointed Axis Bank, Credit Suisse and Nomura as Joint Bookrunners  and  Lead  Managers  for its first unrated Synthetic INR Notes issuance of Rs. 20 billion with an option to retain oversubscription of upto Rs. 10 billion.  
The corporation is the first Indian public issuer of Synthetic INR Notes, which are in the nature of “Rupee Denominated Bonds” as per applicable Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines.
A press release from HDFC said the bonds would bear a fixed coupon and have a tenor of 3 years and 1 month.
HDFC proposes  to list the Notes on the London Stock Exchange. Pricing  will  take  place  on  or before Friday, July 15, 2016, subject to market conditions. Settlement shall be in the following week.
“HDFC is  keen to diversify its borrowing profile by tapping global investors through this  issue  of Rupee Denominated Bonds. This milestone issuance, the first of its kind should validate the attractiveness of the instrument and set a good benchmark,” said HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh.
The release said the bonds would not be registered under the US Securities Act and not be offered or sold within the United States, except in accordance with Regulation S or pursuant to any other exemption from the registration requirements of the US Securities Act.

Sun Pharma launches ready-to-administer bag for oncology treatment

Pharmaceuticals major Sun Pharma today announced the roll-out in Europe of Gemcitabine InfuSmart, a technology in which oncology products are developed in a ready-to-administer (RTA) bag.
A press release from the company said this was part of its business strategy to build a meaningful and  differentiating presence in the global oncology therapy market.
The release said that, until now, compounding of oncology products was done at compounding centres or compounded in hospital pharmacies, an extra step before the medicine can be administered to patients. 
"With the roll-out of Gemcitabine InfuSmart, Sun Pharma becomes world’s first pharmaceutical company to manufacture and launch a licensed RTA oncology product. This innovatively differentiated product will have a shelf life of two years. Over the next few months, Sun Pharma will launch Gemcitabine InfuSmart across Netherlands, UK, Spain, Germany, Italy and France," it said.
The release said Sun Pharma received regulatory approval to produce Gemcitabine InfuSmart in  eight key SKUs. The InfuSmart concept involves dose banding practice whereby, through agreement between prescribers and pharmacists, standardized doses of intravenous cytotoxic drugs are used for ranges (or “bands”) of doses calculated for individual patients.  More InfuSmart oncology products are currently in Sun Pharma’s pipeline to be rolled out in the future, it said.
Ms Hellen de Kloet, Business Head - Western Europe & ANZ, Sun Pharma said, “Sun Pharma’s Gemcitabine InfuSmart ready-to-administer infusion products provide the combined advantage of long stable compounded medicine along with safety. Its ready availability for treatment can make a difference to the healthcare worker and patients."
"Launch of InfuSmart will help us remain a meaningful player in the global oncology therapy market by offering differentiating cancer treatment solutions. We believe there are opportunities for us to expand our portfolio of ready-to-administer products across multiple therapies where time and safety are an important element of treatment.”
The NHS (UK) has been encouraging development of licensed RTA products. It has issued guidelines for hospitals  for procuring such medicines. The launch of Gemcitabine InfuSmart offers Sun Pharma a definite first-mover advantage in Europe for cancer treatment, the release said.
The Gemcitabine InfuSmart RTA infusion bag is developed at Sun Pharma’s R&D centre in India, it said.
According to WHO, cancer figures amongst the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012. The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next two decades. Among men, the five most common cancers diagnosed in 2012 were lung, prostate, colorectum, stomach, and liver cancer. Among women the five most common cancers diagnosed were breast, colorectum, lung, cervix and stomach, the release added.

India's forex reserves rise by $ 2.374 billion to $ 363.171 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 2.374 billion to $ 363.171 billion in the week ended July 1, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had dipped by $ 3.028 billion to $360.797 bilion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 2.132 billion to $ 338.712 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 increased by $ 247.5 million to $ 20.576 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) went down by $ 2.3 million to $ 1.487 billion.
India's India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 3.6 million to $ 2.395 billion, the bulletin added.

RJIL issues Rs. 2,000 crore 5-year NCDs

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL), a subsidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited, today issued Rs. 2000 crore of 5-year non-convertible debentures (NCDs), bearing a coupon of 8.32% per annum, payable annually. 
The issue has been assigned a rating of AAA by CRISIL and ICRA, a press release from the company said.
The proceeds of the issuance shall be utilized by RJIL for rolling out a state-of-the-art digital services business in India, it said.
The release said RJIL is the first issuer outside the financial services industry in India to raise funds digitally through the electronic bidding platform (EBP) route. This is also the largest debt issuance in the Indian market by any issuer since the EBP was been mandated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for private placement of debt, effective 1st July this year.
The transaction was fully subscribed within minutes of opening and was eventually over-subscribed with a total book size in excess of Rs. 3500 crores, Reliance Jio said. Key investors include the prominent asset management companies and banks.
“We are overwhelmed by the response that we have received for our maiden issuance on the BSE-BOND platform. It reinforces the faith investors have in our next generation digital services business. The launch of the EBP platform is a significant step towards the development of market infrastructure for Indian Corporate Bond market. It will make the debt issuance process significantly more smooth and transparent for issuers as well as investors,” said Soumyo Dutta, Treasurer, Reliance Industries Limited.
RJIL is the first telecom operator to hold pan-India Unified License.
"RJIL is setting up an entire digital ecosystem with stated goal to break the digital divide between ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ and propel India into global leadership in digital economy. The ecosystem consists of pan-India high speed data network, specially designed devices to run on this network, a wide variety of applications and services -- from news, entertainment, payment, business, healthcare and education – and rich content.
"RJIL has created a legacy free, next-generation voice and broadband network which can be seamlessly upgraded even to 5G and beyond. It will be the only company in the world providing next generation digital services over an end-to-end all-IP network at this scale," the release added.

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 3598 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 3598 crore across various business segments.
These include an order valued at Rs. 1849 crore bagged by its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business, along with its partner, PES Engineers Private Limited, from the Irrigation and Command Area Development Department (I&CAD), Government of Telangana.
The project is for the construction of a barrage with radial gates, hoisting arrangements including formation of guide bunds on either side of the barrage across river Godavari at Medigadda, Mahadevapur in the district of Karimnagar, Telangana, a press release from the company said.
Named after the historic Sri Kaleshwaram Muktheshwara Swamy Devasthanam in Kaleshwaram, this is a part of the prestigious Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project. The project involves construction of a 1632 m long concrete barrage with 85 vents including all mechanical works related to the barrage radial gates with rope drum hoist arrangements and construction of 2592m guide bunds on either side of the barrage. The project is scheduled to be completed in 24 months, it said.
“It is noteworthy that the Government of Telangana has initiated work on the Medigadda Barrage Project in a very systematic and remarkable manner. Christened a 'Dream Project' of Telangana state, L&T is indeed proud to be part of this improvement plan to create irrigated agricultural production systems which are vital for our country’s development,” said Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, Deputy Managing Director and President, L&T.
“This order reaffirms our expertise in building complex irrigation systems to empower the agrarian belts of the country,” he added.
The release said the company's Water & Effluent Treatment Business had bagged engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) orders worth Rs. 1043 crore from various customers.
It said an order had been secured from the Water Resources Department of Madhya Pradesh for the construction of a balancing reservoir, distribution chamber and pumping station at Bansujara left bank’s main canal in the Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh.
The scope involves design, procurement, construction and installation of pumping systems, rising and gravity main lines, branch lines, distribution network including control and regulation system which will bring 75,000 hectares of area under irrigation.
Another order has been won from Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), Gujarat for the construction of a 30 MLD Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) using Sequential Batch Reactor (SBR) technology along with associated pumping station at Danilimda in Ahmedabad.
The company's Building & Factories Business has secured an order worth Rs. 394 crore from a reputed IT major for the construction of software development blocks. The project includes civil, structural, MEP and finishes works.
The release said the company's Power Transmission & Distribution Business had won EPC orders worth Rs. 312 crore in the international market.
An order has been secured from a customer in the Middle East. The scope involves the construction of two high voltage sub-stations that will contribute towards the infrastructure development of the region.
Another order has been bagged for the construction of a medium voltage distribution substations and underground cabling works from Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) in Malawi, Africa, the release added.

India's forex reserves dip by$ 3.028 billion to $ 360.797 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by a whopping $ 3.028 billion to $ 360.797 billion in the week ended June 24, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had risen by $ 592.1 million to $ 363.826 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 $ 2.993 billion to $ 336.580 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.329 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) went down by $ 13.4 million to $ 1.49 billion.
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 21.6 million to $ 2.398 billion, the bulletin added.

Nine persons, including five children, killed in Mumbai fire

Nine people, including five children, die in Mumbai fire
As many as nine members of a family, including five children, died when a fire broke out in a chemist's shop on the ground floor of a three-storeyed structure in Andheri here in which they lived in the early hours of today.
Mumbai Fire Service sources said the fire broke out in the shop, Wafa Medical Store located at Juhu Galli on Wireless Road in Andheri West, around 6.15 am and quickly spread to the upper floors. 
While the family living on the first floor managed to escape to safety, but the family on the second floor could not save themselves.
The victims included five children -- three girls and two boys -- aged between 10 years and three months, and three women, one of whom was seven months pregnant.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, but sources indicated it could have been sparked off by an electrical short-circuit.
Fire Brigade officials said they received a call around 6.15 am and rushed three fire tenders, a water tanker and two ambulances to the spot. The victims were rushed to the nearby Cooper Hospital, where nine of them were pronounced dead.

IndiaFirst Life Insurance, Star Health Insurance join hands to offer combi plans

IndiaFirst Life Insurance, a joint venture between Bank of Baroda, Andhra Bank and Legal & General (UK) have announced their collaboration with Star Health Insurance Ltd to introduceStar First Combi Plans – combination of health and life insurance plans.
The Star First Combi Plans are a suite of five plans that provide unique combined benefits of health and life cover under a single offering, a press release from the company said.
R M Vishakha, MD & CEO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance said, “We are pleased to partner with Star Health Insurance, to offer integrated health and life insurance solutions.Together, we intend creating value for the customer – for a lifetime and beyond - through a single offering.”
“We are happy to have launched this unique combi plan that, in simple words ensures a happy tomorrow. If somebody falls sick, health takes care and if somebody goes to the hospital and something goes wrong, life cover takes care,” said V Jagannathan, Chairman and Managing Director of Star Health Insurance.
Rushabh Gandhi, Director, Sales & Marketing said, “The launch of Star First marks a milestone in the Indian insurance industry. Protecting your family from any uncertainties of life has seen a shift from being an option to a basic need. Star First Combi Plan offers a combination of Life and Health cover under a single roof. Now, one can ensure that no untoward event upsets the well- being of their loved ones, not only in their absence but also in their presence.”
Anand Roy, Joint Executive Director, Star Health Insurance said, “We are pleased to launch Star First product and join hands with IndiaFirst Life Insurance. Both these entities will leverage their respective distribution strengths to ensure full protection to the insured.”
StarFirst Combi Plans will be available in five variants – Star First Comprehensive, Star First Classic, Star First Care, Star First Delite and Star First Optima.
The product offers life cover for the policyholder along with a health cover (for self as well as family). The sum assured ranges from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 15 lakhs for health cover and from Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 9 lakh for life cover.

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 2416 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders valued at Rs. 2416 crore across various business segments in June.
A press release from the company said that orders worth Rs. 1165 crore had been bagged by its Building & Factories Business, which included a contract for a prestigious high-rise residential project secured from a leading developer in Mumbai. 
The scope of work work involves civil and structural works for the construction of two residential towers, each having three basements, seven podiums, 66 floors and other ancillary buildings.
Another order has been bagged for the construction of a mixed use development (MUD) from a renowned customer in Kolkata. The scope involves civil and structural works for the construction of two towers of G+15 and G+7 floors respectively with two levels of common basement, it said.
The business also secured add-on orders from various ongoing jobs.
In the Power Transmission & Distribution Business, the company bagged orders worth Rs. 1120 crore in the domestic and international markets.
In the international market, a major engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) order has been bagged from a reputed customer in the Middle East. The scope includes construction of a medium voltage overhead line which will enhance the reliability of the existing network.
On the domestic front, orders have been received from Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Limited (PVVNL) in Uttar Pradesh.
The first order involves the construction of 33kV substations and associated lines in Ghaziabad, which falls under the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) while the second order involves rural electrification including feeder separation works in Meerut under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana scheme (DDUGJY). Additional orders have been also received as part of the contract variances, it said.
The release said the company's Smart World & Communication Business had won orders worth Rs. 131 crore, which includes a new order from RajCOMP Info Services Limited, a government of Rajasthan undertaking, for establishing and commissioning command & control centres at Bikaner, Bharatpur and Jodhpur cities under the Surveillance and Incident Response Project.

India's forex reserves rise by $ 592.1 million to $ 363.826 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 592.1 million to $ 363.826 billion in the week ended June 17, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had dipped by $231 million to $ 3,63,234 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 $ 594.3 million to $ 339.574 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.329 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) went down by $ 1 million to $ 1.503 billion.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 1.2 million to $ 2.420 billion, the bulletin added.

Sun Pharma announces buyback of equity shares at Rs. 900 each

Pharmaceuticals major Sun Pharma today said that its Board of Directors had, at its meeting earlier in the day, approved the buyback of a maximum of 7.5 million of its fully paid up equity shares at a price of Rs. 900 for each, payable in cash.
"The buyback is being undertaken by the company to return surplus funds to the equity shareholders and thereby, enhancing the overall returns to shareholders," a press release from the company said.
The buyback mechanism would be on a proportionate basis through a tender offer. As per SEBI guidelines, 15% of the buyback offer is reserved for shareholders holding equity shares having market value of not more than Rs. 2,00,000 as on the record date. 
Shareholders who hold equity shares as on the record date of July 15, 2016 will be eligible for the buyback, it said.
Promoters of the company have indicated their intention to participate in the proposed buyback in such a manner that their aggregate shareholding percentage in the company will not fall below their current aggregate percentage shareholding, the release said.
"The public announcement setting out the process, timelines and other requisite details will be released in due course in accordance with the Buyback Regulations," the release added.
Sun Pharma is the world's fifth largest specialty generic pharmaceutical company and India's top pharmaceutical company. 
It has 47 manufacturing facilities spread across six continents, R&D centres across the globe and a multi-cultural workforce comprising over 50 nationalities.
The consolidated revenues for the year ended March 2016 are approximately $ 4.3 billion, of which the United States contributes $ 2.1 billion. 

NHAI to spend Rs. 58 crore to mitigate impact on wildlife in Karnala Bird Sanctuary

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has approved an estimated Rs. 58.16 crore to mitigate impacts on wildlife in the Karnala Bird Sanctuary (KBS) because of the widening of a part of the Panvel – Indapur section of national highway (NH)-17.
This stretch, which provides direct connectivity from Mumbai to Goa, passes for about 1.5 km length within the Karnala Bird Sanctuary under Thane wildlife division of West Mumbai Wildlife Circle. 
NHAI applied for wildlife clearance for the project which was granted in the 34th meeting of the standing committee of National Board of Wildlife. While recommending the NHAI proposal, the State Government also agreed that the stretch of 3.5 km within and outside sanctuary area (1.5 km within the sanctuary, and 1 km on either side) would be a permanent bottleneck and will hinder the traffic speed on the highway, if it is not widened.
The total length of the project is 84 km, and the total project cost is Rs 943 crore. The State Government endorsed the proposal of widening the highway within the sanctuary, saying that this may also smoothen the traffic and reduce the fuel emissions from recurring traffic jams that may be harmful to the birds and other wildlife.
The KBS is covered with moist mixed deciduous forest and falls in the Western Ghat bio-geographic zone. The sanctuary is particularly rich in climbers and as many as 11 species are recorded.
Among mammals, three species of primates (Common Langur, Bonnet Macaque and Rhesus macaque) are occurring in the sanctuary. Barking Deer, Wild Pig, Jackals, Hyaena, Jungle Cat, Squirrel, Porcupine and Indian Hare are also found.
The sanctuary is particularly known for its rich avifauna and is home to over 146 species of resident and 37 species of migratory birds that visit during winter.
Rare endemic birds of Western Ghats such as Malabar grey Hornbill, Ashy Minivet, three-toed Kingfisher and Malabar Trogon are reported from the sanctuary.
Among other significant bird species, the records of Malabar Whistling Thrush, long-billed Vulture, Indian Scimitar Babbler and Shaheen Falcon are significant.
The major mitigation measures being adopted by NHAI, as per the recommendations of the Wildlife Institute of India, include four wildlife passages (each 30 m wide and 3.5 m high) in the 1.5 km sanctuary stretch. Besides, seven box culverts (3m wide and 3m high) are also being provided. As there are no large animals in the KBS, box culverts may also create permeability for wildlife across habitat patches. In all, 27 structures shall be provided for total length of 3.5 km stretch -- 12 falling within 1.5 km length in protected area, and remaining 15 on the 1 km stretch on each side.
NHAI approval also includes other wildlife management measures like retaining wall, fencing, signages, watch towers, provision of water for wildlife. An additional amount of Rs 15 lakh will also be deposited in the fund of KBS for awareness raising among people through developing the nature interpretation centre.

Essar's Raniganj (East) CBM block crosses 1 million scmd production milestone

Business conglomerate Essar today said that its Raniganj (East) block in West Bengal had become India’s first coal bed methane (CBM) asset to cross the 1 million standard cubic metres per day (scmd) production milestone. 
This makes Essar the country’s largest unconventional gas player, a press release from the company said. The targeted plateau production from the block is 3 million scmd, it said.
As per  2016 NSAI (Netherland Sewell & Associates, Inc.) report, the proven, probable and possible gross CBM reserves in the Raniganj (East) block is estimated at 1.09 tcf (trillion cubic feet). The block is assessed to have additional resources in the ‘contingent’ category of around 270 bcf (billion cubic feet).
“We married talent with technology to transform reserves to production. In the last 12 months, the average well productivity has more than doubled, the gas break-out time in new wells has reduced to days instead of months, and the work-over cycle has reduced to a fifth. Our collaborative relationship with international service providers has resulted in win-win solutions,” said Mr Manish Maheshwari, CEO-E&P, Essar.
Essar has commenced supply to Matix Fertilisers for its pre-commissioning activities at the rate of 150,000 scmd. Besides Matix, the CBM gas is being supplied to industrial consumers in the catchment area of Durgapur. The gas pricing is in compliance with the government notified formula of October 2014, the release said.
“There are tremendous opportunities in the domestic unconventional hydrocarbon sector. The Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP), which was announced by the Government in March 2016, recognises this potential in contributing towards national energy security,” 
Mr. Maheshwari added. 
A study, which was undertaken with the support of USTDA (US Trade & Development Agency), by an independent US firm that has expertise in shale has made a preliminary assessment of original in-place shale gas resources of around 8 tcf underneath the CBM play in the Raniganj (East) block.
Besides Raniganj (East), Essar’s CBM portfolio includes more than 2,700 sq. km of high quality acreage, the release added.

Mumbai suburban train services disrupted due to waterlogging

The Central Railway's suburban train services in Mumbai were disrupted today following waterlogging at several places due to heavy rains which lashed the city this morning.
A press release from Central Railway said waterlogging was reported at Mazgaon, Vidyavihar, Vikhroli, Bhandup and Thane on the main line.
As a consequence, all Up and Down fast line services on the main line were suspended from 05.53 hrs to 07.03 hrs, it said.
The fast line services were diverted to the slow line between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Mulund stations in both diretctions.
Trains on the Harbour and Transharbour line trains were running late by 10-15 minutes while trains were running 30-40 minutes behind schedule on the main line, the release said.
"Continuous announcements were made about the delay in running of suburban services for the benefit of passengers," it added.

Mumbai Port reduces charges for coastal Ro-Ro services

The Mumbai Port Trust has reduced vessel related charges by about 10 percent on the applicable scale of rates for coastal vessels as well as wharfage charges on vehicles as part of efforts to encourage the coastal movement of cargo, specially automobiles by Ro-Ro ships and to meet the demand of auto original equipment manufacturers and roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) vessel operators.
An official press release said the wharfage rate per unit would be Rs. 500 for passenger cars upto 4000 mm length; Rs. 1000 for passenger cars from 4001 mm to 4700 mm length; Rs. 1500 for passenger cars above 4700 mm length & SUVs, MUVs; Rs. 2000 for heavy vehicles tare weight weighing upto 5 tonnes; and Rs. 450 per tonne or part thereof for heavy vehicles tare weight weighing above 5 tonnes.
The release said the reduction in wharfage and vessel related charges, which is to the tune of about 50% to 65%, will be applicable for one year from June 1 this year.
The decision is expected to encourage movement of domestic cars and trucks from manufacturing places such as Chennai and so on to Mumbai, and similarly from Pune and Nashik to southern and eastern parts of India. Presently these movements take place by road.
The move is also expected to reduce congestion on roads and would be not only a cheaper option but also environmentally preferred option as it would reduce the carbon footprint. This would also facilitate faster movement of vehicles meant for distribution and export, the release added.

Eros International signs television license deal with Zee Network

Film entertainment major Eros International Media Ltd has announced that it has signed a television syndication deal for its new and catalogue films with Zee Network, one of India's leading television media and entertainment companies. 
The films comprise a number of catalogue films from Eros’ vast library and also pre-sales for a few coming films, a press release from the company said.
Movies that will be showcased exclusively on Zee Network include Riteish Deshmukh and Nargis Fakhri starrer Banjo, slated for a theatrical release on September 23, the much acclaimed family drama Nil Battey Sannata, and the widely appreciated Aligarh starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao.
Apart from the recent releases, the license deal will give the channel access to Eros’ blockbuster catalogue films like Housefull, Heyy Babyy, Cocktail, Vicky Donor and Omkara, among others.
Sunil Lulla, Managing Director, Eros International Media Ltd. said, “This deal signifies yet another step towards cementing our long association with Zee Network. We continue to exploit our significant library and the content licensing deal with Zee is consistent with our pre-sales strategy.  These tailor made packages from our broad film repertoire will suit audiences across networks and maximize the potential from the television broadcast."

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan bids adieu, rules out second term

Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram G. Rajan said on Saturday that he would be returning to academia when his three-year term ends on September 4, setting at rest speculation about whether the Government would give him a second term or if he would accept it.

Raghuram G. Rajan
Raghuram G. Rajan
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram G. Rajan today said that he would be returning to academia when his three-year term ends on September 4, setting at rest speculation about whether the Government would give him a second term and whether he would accept it.
In a message to RBI staff, which was shared with the media by the RBI, he said that he had taken the decision after due reflection and after consultation with the Government.
"I will, of course, always be available to serve my country when needed," he said.
Dr. Rajan's announcement has come at a time when senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and nominated Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy has been writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his immediate removal as Governor of RBI for various reasons, including that he was "mentally not fully Indian".
In his message to the staff of RBI, Dr. Rajan, 53, a widely respected economist, recalled that he had taken office in September 2013 as the 23rd Governor of the RBi at a time when the currency was plunging daily, inflation was high, and growth was weak.
"India was then deemed one of the 'Fragile Five'. In my opening statement as Governor, I laid out an agenda for action that I had discussed with you, including a new monetary framework that focused on bringing inflation down, raising of Foreign Currency Non-Resident (B) deposits to bolster our foreign exchange reserves, transparent licensing of new universal and niche banks by committees of unimpeachable integrity, creating new institutions such as the Bharat Bill Payment System and the Trade Receivables Exchange, expanding payments to all via mobile phones, and developing a large loan data base to better map and resolve the extent of system-wide distress. By implementing these measures, I said we would 'build a bridge to the future, over the stormy waves produced by global financial markets'," he said.
"Today, I feel proud that we at the Reserve Bank have delivered on all these proposals. A new inflation-focused framework is in place that has helped halve inflation and allowed savers to earn positive real interest rates on deposits after a long time. We have also been able to cut interest rates by 150 basis points after raising them initially. This has reduced the nominal interest rate the government has to pay even while lengthening maturities it can issue – the government has been able to issue a 40 year bond for the first time. Finally, the currency stabilized after our actions, and our foreign exchange reserves are at a record high, even after we have fully provided for the outflow of foreign currency deposits we secured in 2013. Today, we are the fastest growing large economy in the world, having long exited the ranks of the Fragile Five," he said.
Dr. Rajan said the RBI had done far more than was laid out in that initial statement, including helping the government reform the process of appointing Public Sector Bank management through the creation of the Bank Board Bureau (based on the recommendation of the RBI-appointed Nayak Committee), creating a whole set of new structures to allow banks to recover payments from failing projects, and forcing timely bank recognition of their unacknowledged bad debts and provisioning under the Asset Quality Review (AQR). 
"We have worked on an enabling framework for National Payments Corporation of India to roll out the Universal Payment Interface, which will soon revolutionize mobile to mobile payments in the country. Internally, the RBI has gone through a restructuring and streamlining, designed and driven by our own senior staff. We are strengthening the specialization and skills of our employees so that they are second to none in the world. In everything we have done, we have been guided by the eminent public citizens on our Board such as Padma Vibhushan Dr. Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Padma Bhushan and Magsaysay award winner Ela Bhatt of the Self Employed Women’s Association. The integrity and capability of our people, and the transparency of our actions, is unparalleled, and I am proud to be a part of such a fine organization," he said.
"I am an academic and I have always made it clear that my ultimate home is in the realm of ideas. The approaching end of my three-year term, and of my leave at the University of Chicago, was therefore a good time to reflect on how much we had accomplished. 
"While all of what we laid out on that first day is done, two subsequent developments are yet to be completed. Inflation is in the target zone, but the monetary policy committee that will set policy has yet to be formed. Moreover, the bank clean up initiated under the Asset Quality Review, having already brought more credibility to bank balance sheets, is still ongoing. International developments also pose some risks in the short term.
"While I was open to seeing these developments through, on due reflection, and after consultation with the government, I want to share with you that I will be returning to academia when my term as Governor ends on September 4, 2016.  I will, of course, always be available to serve my country when needed.
"Colleagues, we have worked with the government over the last three years to create a platform of macroeconomic and institutional stability. I am sure the work we have done will enable us to ride out imminent sources of market volatility like the threat of Brexit. We have made adequate preparations for the repayment of Foreign Currency Non-Resident (B) deposits and their outflow, managed properly, should largely be a non-event. Morale at the Bank is high because of your accomplishments.  I am sure the reforms the government is undertaking, together with what will be done by you and other regulators, will build on this platform and reflect in greater job growth and prosperity for our people in the years to come. 
"I am confident my successor will take us to new heights with your help. I will still be working with you for the next couple of months, but let me thank all of you in the RBI family in advance for your dedicated work and unflinching support. It has been a fantastic journey together!" he added.
Dr. Rajan,  was appointed on August 22, 2013 as the Governor of RBI for a three-year term. He assumed office on September 4, 2013, succeeding Dr. D. Subbarao on his retirement.
Before that, he had served as Chief Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance and as Honorary Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister with the rank and status of Secretary to the Government of India.
Dr Rajan had earlier served as the Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Before that, between 2003 and 2007, Dr. Rajan was the Economic Counselor and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 
Later, he chaired the Indian government’s Committee on Financial Sector Reforms, which submitted its report in September 2008.
His papers have been published in all the top economics and finance journals, and he has served on the editorial boards of the American Economic Review and the Journal of Finance. 
Dr Rajan had earlier served as a senior advisor to BDT Capital, Booz and Co, and on the international advisory board of Bank Itau-Unibanco. 
In January 2003, the American Finance Association awarded Dr. Rajan the inaugural Fischer Black Prize, given every two years to the financial economist under age 40 who has made the most significant contribution to the theory and practice of finance.

MEP IDL declared successful bidder for NHAI highway project in Gujarat

MEP Infrastructure Developers Ltd today said its joint venture with its Spanish partner had been declared as the successful bidder for yet another project of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) under the hybrid annuity mode (HAM) in Gujarat.
A press release from the company said the scope of the project involves four-laning of the Mahuva-Kagavadar section of national highway (NH)-8E under the National Highway Development Programme Phase IV.
The release said the bid project cost is Rs. 604.68 crore and the first year O&M bid is for Rs. 8.46 crore. The construction period is of 2 years and 6 months from the appointed date and the concession period is 15 years, excluding the construction period.
Mr. Jayant D Mhaiskar, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, MEP Infrastructure Developers Ltd. said, “The company continues its winning run as it now has a basket of 6 HAM projects in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat totaling to Rs. 3836.99 crore.  This project is a continuation of the Talaja – Mahuva stretch awarded to us last month, thus enabling us to optimize our resources and complete these projects in a stipulated time frame.”
This project is under the new HAM, which is a mix of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and build operate transfer (BOT) systems. NHAI and the private companies share the total project cost in the ratio of 40: 60 respectively. 
MEP Infrastructure Developers Ltd has formed a joint venture with Sanjose India Infrastructure & Construction Pvt. Ltd with each holding 60% and 40%, respectively. 

HDFC Life, Max Life, Max Financial Services say evaluating merger

HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Limited, Max Life Insurance Company Limited and Max Financial Services today said they were in talks to evaluate a strategic combination of the three companies.
A press release from the three companies said their Boards of Directors, at their respective meetings held today, approved entering into a confidentiality, exclusivity and standstill agreement to evaluate a potential combination through a merger of Max Life
and Max Financial Services into HDFC Life by way of a scheme of arrangement. 
The agreement provides for a mutually agreed exclusivity period for due diligence and discussions between the parties in relation to a proposed transaction, it said.
The proposed arrangements would be subject to due diligence, definitive documentation and applicable board, shareholder, regulatory, respective High Courts/NCLT, and other third party 
approvals, as may be applicable, it said.
"Follow up announcements shall be made as necessary," the release added.
The merger, if it goes through, will create the largest life insurance player in the private sector in India.
HDFC Life is one of the leading life insurance companies in India offering a range of individual and group insurance solutions that meet various customer needs such as protection, pension, savings and investment, and health. The total premia for the year ending March 31, 2016 were Rs. 16,313 crore and total assets under management (AUM) as of that date were Rs. 74,247 crore.
Max Life, the leading non-bank promoted private life insurer, is a joint venture between Max Financial Services and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. Ltd. It offers long term savings, protection and retirement solutions through its agency distribution and multi-channel distribution partners. The total premia for the year ending March 31, 2016 were Rs. 9,216 crore and total AUM as of that date was Rs. 35,824 crore.
Max Financial Services, a part of the $ 2 billion Max Group, is the parent company of Max Life. It actively manages a 68% stake in Max Life, making it India’s first listed company focused exclusively on life insurance.
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