L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 2871 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 2871 crore across various businesses.
A press release from the company said its Buildings & Factories Business had secured international and domestic orders worth Rs. 1276 crore.
These include an order valued at $ 93.1 million bagged by Larsen & Toubro (Oman) LLC, a subsidiary of L&T, for the construction of a regional airport in Oman. The scope of works includes construction of passenger terminal building, ATC complex, cargo and other service buildings including mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) works, special systems and external works. 
The project is scheduled to be completed in 24 months, the release said. It will be the third airport project to be executed by L&T in the Gulf state.
Another order was received from a client for the engineering, procurement and construction of a multi-storied residential building involving 16 towers in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The scope of work includes civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, finishes and other external works.
An add-on order was also secured from a real estate major in India. Works include MEP and other allied works for an ongoing residential project in Mumbai, it said.
The release said the company's Water & Effluent Treatment Business had bagged a water supply order worth Rs. 539 crore from the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board. 
The project will provide water supply distribution network to peripheral circles of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. The project includes construction of approximately 650 km of pipeline network, 20 water storage reservoirs and other associated works.
The Transportation Infrastructure Business has received an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) order worth Rs. 385 crore from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the construction of Simga Saragaon Road Project (PKG-II) section of NH-200 Raipur to Bilaspur in the state of Chhattisgarh.
The project involves construction of 42.45 km of four-lane dual carriage way. It also includes a 7.32 km bypass and realignment, 16.22 km of service/slip road, one major bridge, seven minor bridges and 10 vehicular and cattle underpasses.
According to the release, the company's Metallurgical & Material Handling Business has won an EPC order worth Rs. 312 crore from NTPC Limited for a coal handling plant of 2 X 660 MW power plant at Tanda.
Other businesses of L&T Construction have won orders worth Rs. 359 crore. These include an order won by L&T Geostructure from Indian Oil Corporation Limited for the engineering, procurement and construction of marine facilities at Ennore Port, Tamil Nadu. The major scope includes construction of a berth structure supported on steel piles, approach trestle and other associated structures.
The Smart World & Communication Business has bagged an order from the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation Limited for the design, procurement, installation and commissioning of telecommunication systems at various stations under Phase-1A of the Lucknow Metro Rail Project. The scope of work includes design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of fiber optic transmission systems, telephone systems, train radio TETRA systems, public address systems, passenger information display systems, master clock systems and CCTV systems.

Mumbai schoolboy Pranav Dhanawade becomes first cricketer to score 1000 runs in single innings

Mumbai teen scores record unbeaten 1009, breaks 117-year record
Pranav Dhanawade, a 15-year-old schoolboy from Mumbai, slammed an unbeaten 1009 to post the highest individual score in minor cricket, breaking, in the process, a 117-year-old record.
His landmark innings was compiled off 327 balls and included as many as 59 sixes and 129 fours.
For the record, his team, Smt. K C Gandhi School, Kalyan, won the match by an innings and 1362 runs in the HT Bhandari Cup inter-school tournament organised by the Mumbai Cricket Association.
The team declared soon after Dhanawade crossed the four-figure mark and then bowled out their rivals, Arya Gurukul, for 31 and 72 in a lop-sided encounter.
Dhanawade was unbeaten on 652 on the first day of the two-day match yesterday after crossing the previous high of 628 not out made by Arthur Collins i 1899.
He had also gone past the 546 by Prithvi Shaw in the Harris Shield in 2013-14, the previous highest individual score by an Indian cricketer in minor cricket.
Dhanawade said he had begun the day today with the clear aim of crossing the 1000-mark once the fact that he had already set a new record with 652 had sunk in yesterday. He reached 921 by lunch and reached the four-figure mark after the break, having been at the crease for nearly seven hours. His previous best in recognised cricket was in the 80s.
The teenager's record-breaking innings was partly helped by the size of the ground, which has short square boundaries. He took advantage of this fact, getting a lot of his runs with shots to the square leg fence.
Dhanawade's feat won praise from his idol Sachin Tendulkar, India limited overs cricket skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and batsman Ajinkya Rahane, among others.
"Congrats #PranavDhanawade on being the first ever to score 1000 runs in an innings. Well done and work hard. You need to scale new peaks!" Tendulkar said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
The Maharashtra Government announced that it would bear the coaching and education expenses of Dhanawade, the son of an autorickshaw driver.

Bajirao Mastani records worldwide gross of Rs. 301 crore upto its third weekend

Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in a still from Bajirao Mastani
Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in a still from Bajirao Mastani
Film entertainment major Eros International Media Ltd has said that its latest release, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani, has got an outstanding response, closing its third weekend with a total gross of Rs. 301 crore worldwide.
This includes Rs. 211 crore gross (Rs. 162.35 crore net box office collection) in India and Rs. 90 crore ($ 13.5 million) overseas.
"The historical epic continues to enamour audiences globally," a press release from the company said.
The release said Bajirao Mastani, starring Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, recorded a third weekend gross total of Rs. 26.65 crore in India (Rs. 20.50 crore net  - Friday Rs. 7.50 crore, Saturday Rs 6.00 crore and Sunday Rs. 7.00 crore). 
"While the film is still running strong in cinemas, it is now the third highest grosser of 2015," it said.
"The much acclaimed film that has caught the fancy of audiences worldwide has remained rock steady at theatres pan India, endearing itself to cine goers across all segments with fans coming back for repeat viewings. In the overseas markets too, Bajirao Mastani was in the top 20 in the US box office charts, featuring at number 15 during the peak Christmas weekend," the release said.
Eros released Bajirao Mastani across 3750 screens worldwide on 18th December 2015 and went on to increase showcasing to meet demand in the subsequent weeks after its release.
Nandu Ahuja, Sr. VP, India Theatrical, Eros International Media Limited, said, “Mr. Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani is truly a celebration of Indian cinema and while it’s no surprise to see the film being so universally accepted, the euphoria surrounding it and its steady performance all through since its release has been remarkable. The critical acclaim and the incredible response has been extremely encouraging and humbling. The Christmas and New Year holiday weekends have shown tremendous footfalls and with no new release for another week, we expect this phenomenon to continue."
Pranab Kapadia, President, Marketing & Distribution, Eros International plc added, “Bajirao Mastani continues to perform equally well in the overseas markets too with it crossing the coveted million mark across key territories including the US, UK and Australia. Overall, the third weekend collections have dropped by only 20% approximately over the second weekend."
The film won nine awards at the recently held Sony Guild Awards  - Sanjay Leela Bhansali won Best Director and Ranveer Singh took home the Best Actor Award. The film also won Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Design, Best Costume Design, Best Dialogue, Best Choreography and Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Eros' other big hits during 2015 have been Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Badlapur and NH10. It has also successfully released a host of regional hits like Srimanthudu, Belaseshe, and Mumbai Pune Mumbai 2 last year.

IDBI Bank mobilises Rs.1900 crore through two bond issues

The public sector IDBI Bank today said it had mobilised Rs. 1900 crore through issue of Basel III compliant Tier 2 bonds in two separate issues on private placement basis to strengthen its capital adequacy. 
The first issue of Rs. 1000 crore, concluded on December 31, 2015, was for a tenor of 15 years with call option at the end of 10 years while the second issue of Rs. 900 crore was concluded on January 2, 2016 with a tenor of 10 years. 
Both the issues carry a coupon of 8.62% p.a. payable annually. These issuances aggregating Rs.1900 crore would augment capital adequacy ratio of the bank by about 55 basis points, a press release from the bank said.
The bank also said that it had received Rs. 2229 crore from the Government of India towards preferential allotment of equity shares of Rs.10 to it at a price of Rs.75.28 per share.
This was in terms of the approval accorded by the bank's hareholders at an extraordinary general meeting held on November 4, 2015, the release added.

India's forex reserves rise by $ 943.4 million to $ 352.050 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 943.4 million to $ 352.050 billion during the week ended December 25, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had gone down by $ 1.4 billion to $ 351.106 billion in the previous week after rising for two consecutive weeks before that.
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 $ 922 million to $ 329.191 billion in 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 thereserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 17.544 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) went up by $ 16.2 million to $ 4.013 billion.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 5.2 million to $ 1.301 billion, the bulletin added.

Essar Oil delisted at a market valuation of Rs 38,000 crore

Oil Bidco (Mauritius) Limited, promoter of Essar Oil Ltd (EOL), today said it had successfully completed EOL's delisting offer process, which has emerged as the largest privatisation bid in the history of corporate India, valuing the company at Rs. 38,000 crore ($ 5.75 bn) of market capitalisation.
Of the 14.25 crore shares held by public shareholders, the promoters have acquired 10.1 crore shares through an offer made to shareholders, as against the requirement of 9.26 crore shares for delisting, a press release from the company said.
The shareholders tendered their shares between 15th December 2015 and 21st December 2015, through the reverse book building window made available to them under the delisting regulations. 
While the floor price for the delisting was set at Rs. 146.05 per share, Oil Bidco (Mauritius) Limited has agreed to pay Rs. 262.80 per share—which is a premium of 80%, it said.
The Rs. 3,745 crore that will be paid to shareholders makes this the largest payout to privatise a publicly listed company in India, the release said.
Further, the shareholders who have not tendered their shares in the delisting offer can offer their shares to the promoters at the delisting price for a period of one year from the date of delisting, it said.
Mr Shashi Ruia, founder Chairman, Essar said, “We are happy that we have been able to reward our public and institutional shareholders for the faith they reposed in us over the years. I want to take this opportunity to thank investors, stock exchanges and regulators for their support in this journey.’’
The release said the Essar Oil Limited stock had seen sustained and significant growth since its IPO in 1995.  
"While the company’s market capitalisation stood at just Rs. 2,000 crore in 1995, it is today over Rs. 38,000 crore at the delisting price. This has been made possible through strategic investments in the business since commencement of commercial operations at the Vadinar refinery in May 2008, especially in expanding and upgrading refining capacity—from 9 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes, and complexity—from 6.1 to 11.8.
"Over the years, Essar Group, through privatisation of its corporate entities Essar Oil Ltd, Essar Ports Ltd, Essar Steel Ltd and India Securities Ltd, has made a payout of over Rs. 7,200 crore to investors, thus providing substantial returns.
"With this transaction, Essar ranks among one of the world’s largest privately-held conglomerates with large-scale, world-class operations acroreoss the globe, spanning Oil Refining and Marketing, Power, Steel, Ports, Shipping, EPC and BPO. Essar businesses have revenues of over $ 35 billion and employ more than 60,000 people," the release sad.
The group’s flagship Essar Oil Ltd operates the 20 million tonne Vadinar refinery. Essar Power Ltd has a generation capacity of 6,700MW. Essar Steel Ltd has current capacity of 14 million tonnes. Essar Ports operates terminal services with aggregate capacity of 120 million tonnes. Essar Projects is a leading EPC contractor.

BPCL's new Crude Distillation Unit in Mumbai dedicated to nation

The new state-of-the-art Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) of the public sector Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited's (BPCL) Mumbai Refinery was dedicated to the nation yesteday by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan here yesterday.
Built at a cost of Rs. 1419 crore, the 6 million tonnes per annum unit is a replacement for the old crude and vacuum units of the refinery, an official press release said.
The refinery was commissioned in 1955 by Burmah Shell with a capacity of 2.2 MMTPA. Post-nationalization in 1976, the refinery has been progressively expanded through low-cost revamps and adoption of new technologies. Currently, it has an installed capacity of 12.0 MMTPA with three crude & vacuum Distillation units with matching secondary processing and treatment facilities. 
The release said the commissioning of the new CDU would ensure cleaner environment and efficient use of energy with lower emissions and reduction in energy consumption. The sulphur dioxide emission from the new unit would be less than 10.5 mt/d – the lowest in the country amongst all the refineries. 
Tightly heat integrated with furnaces of higher efficiency, the reduction in energy consumption in terms of Liquid Fuel Equivalent (LFE) is expected to be about 30 % which results in estimated savings of Rs. 128 crore per annum on fuel consumption. 
The unit is designed with the latest safety features like blast-proof control room and closed drainage system, thus making it an efficient, intrinsically safe and sustainable unit, with higher distillate yield of 3% and thus contributing to higher Refining margins. 
The stabilization of the unit would help in dismantling the old 1955 CDU units, thereby creating space for refinery modernization to meet future auto fuel norms and other profitability enhancing projects. 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Pradhan announced plans for a new refinery in Maharashtra. Mr. Fadnavis assured him that the state government would provide land and other facilities for the project.

Anoop Sharma appointed Managing Director of Essar Shipping

The Board of Directors of Essar Shipping Ltd. has appointed Capt. Anoop Sharma as the Managing Director of the company, effective November 1, 2015.
Capt. Sharma joined Essar in 2008 and until recently served as CEO & Wholetime Director of Essar Shipping Limited. He is a Master (FG) with a Diploma in Marketing Management from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. 
Capt Sharma will be responsible for managing and growing  the shipping business, a press release from the company said.
Capt. Sharma said, “I would like to thank the Board for reposing their confidence and entrusting me the responsibility to further spearhead the shipping  business of the company. I look forward to working with a holistic approach for the business to sail through these challenging times in the maritime industry.”
As Managing Director, Capt. Sharma will report to the Board of Essar Shipping Ltd., the release added.

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 1178 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1178 crore across various businesses in December 2015.
A press release from the company said these included orders worth Rs. 663 crore won by its Metallurgical & Material Handling Business.
Among these is an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) order valued at $ 63.58 million secured by Larsen & Toubro (Oman) LLC, a subsidiary of L&T, from Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industrial Company (ORPIC) for a Pet Coke Handling and Storage project. The scope covers design, engineering, procurement, supply, construction, erection, installation and commissioning of the Pet Coke Handling and Storage facility at Sohar, Oman.
The business has also secured an EPC order from the world's largest integrated producer of zinc for the construction of a 1.5 MTPA Lead - Zinc Ore Beneficiation Plant at the Sindesar Khurd mines in Rajasthan. The scope includes design, engineering, procurement, construction, erection, installation and commissioning of the beneficiation plant.
The company said its Power Transmission & Distribution Business had won orders worth Rs. 515 crore in both the international and domestic markets.
In the international market, Larsen & Toubro Saudi Arabia LLC, a fully owned subsidiary of L&T, has bagged an order valued at SAR 212.26 million ($ 56.6 million) for the construction of two 115 kV sub-stations at the Dammam area from National Grid, Saudi Arabia - a subsidiary of Saudi Electricity Company.
The scope involves detailed design, engineering, installation, testing and commissioning of 115 kV gas insulated switchgear, 115/13.8 kV, 50/67 MVA power transformers, 13.8 kV switchgear, control and protection systems, substation automation systems, HVAC, Novec firefighting systems with associated auxiliary systems and other civil works.
These projects are in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia and are scheduled to be completed in 22 months. 
In the domestic market, the Solar Business has bagged 25 MWp of solar capacity on EPC basis from a reputed solar developer. This capacity addition shall be developed in the southern part of India where the solar industry is an area of focus, the release added.

RCom sells 150 flats in Navi Mumbai for Rs 330 crore

Telecom services major Reliance Communications Limited (RCom) today said it had sold nearly 150 residential flats in Navi Mumbai for over Rs. 330 crore, marking the commencement of its monetisation programme for surplus real estate owned by it.
The company said in a press release that it had already received more than 50 percent of the sale proceeds for the flats, located in the Sea Woods complex in Navi Mumbai.
It said the balance amount would be reaised during the current financial year upon completion of documentation and so on, presently underway.
"RCom also expects to finalise and announce plans very shortly for monetisation of its valuable real estate measuring nearly 4 acres, situated at a prime location in New Delhi (being the erstwhile Ranjit Hotel property, just off Connaught Place, New Delhi)," the release said.
"The entire proceeds from the monetisation of real estate will be utilised by RCom for repayment of debt, as part of its overall deleveraging plans," the release added.

Parthasarathi Mukherjee appointed MD & CEO of Lakshmi Vilas Bank

Private sector Lakshmi Vilas Bank today said it had received Reserve Bank of India approval for  the appointment of Mr. Parthasarathi Mukherjee as its new Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer.
He succeeds Mr. Rakesh Sharma, who has joined as MD & CEO of Canara Bank. 
In its history of more than 85 years, Lakshmi Vilas Bank has continuously delivered profits and dividend without a gap for its investors.  
Mr. Mukherjee has more than 33 years of experience in the banking industry. He was previously Group Executive (Corporate Relationships and International Business) in Axis Bank. He had earlier head Axis Bank Treasury.
Prior to joining Axis Bank, Mr. Mukherjee worked with State Bank of India for 12 years, where he started his career as a probationary officer in 1982.
Mr. Mukherjee is alumnus of Presidency College, Kolkata.  
Mr. Prakash Mallaya, Director, Lakshmi Vilas Bank said, “We are very happy to have Mr. Parthasarathi on board and are confident that he will play a key role in the continued growth at Lakshmi Vilas Bank. He brings with him a rich experience in corporate banking and treasury. 
"Banking industry is going through a sea change and Mr. Parthasarathi’s leadership will immensely benefit the institution," he added.

Sun Pharma receives warning letter from USFDA for Halol facility

Top Indian drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. today said that it had received a warning letter from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), as a result of the September 2014 inspection, for its facility located at Halol in Gujarat.
The company said in a press release that it had responded to the US FDA inspection observations with a robust remediation process that is still on-going, with significant investments in automation and training to enhance its Quality Systems.
"Sun Pharma has been working with external consultants to ensure its remediation activities have been completed in an appropriate manner," it said.
“While our team is working hard to ensure that the commitments made to the US FDA in September 2014 are fully completed, we will continue to cooperate with the US FDA and undertake any additional steps necessary to ensure that the US Agency is completely satisfied with our remediation of the Halol facility," Mr. Dilip Shanghvi, Managing Director, Sun Pharma said.
"Sun Pharma has always ensured that its products are safe and effective and there is no doubt on the safety of our products in the market. We are pledged to being cGMP compliant and are committed to continuing to supply our customers and patients across the world with quality products that meet all specifications," he added.
The release said that, since the inspection in September 2014, Sun Pharma had communicated regularly with the US FDA on the progress of its remediation and on issues of product supply.
"It has provided periodic updates to the US FDA on its commitments. Post the September 2014 inspection, the US FDA has withheld future product approvals from the Halol facility. This situation may continue until all issues are resolved. Sun Pharma expects to request a re-inspection by US FDA upon completion of its remediation commitments. 
"Sun Pharma and the Halol facility will continue to supply important drug products to meet its obligations to its customers and the patients who use its drugs in the United States and around the world. 
"Sun Pharma will respond to this warning letter with a detailed plan within the stipulated time frame," the release added.

India's forex reserves go up by $ 407.9 million to $ 352.506 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves rose for the second consecutive week, going up by $ 407.9 million to $ 352.506 billion during the week ended December 11, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had risen by $ 483.2 million to $ 352.098 billion during 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 $ 387.7 millionto $ 329.637 billion in 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 thereserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 17.544 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) went up by $ 15.3 million to $ 4.021 billion.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 4.9 million to $ 1.304 billion, the bulletin added.


RBI announces Marginal Cost of Funds Methodology for interest rate on advances

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) yesterday released its final guidelines on computing interest rates on advances based on the marginal cost of funds. 
The guidelines will come into effect from April 1, 2016, a press release from the central bank said.
Apart from helping improve the transmission of policy rates into the lending rates of banks, these measures are expected to improve transparency in the methodology followed by banks for determining interest rates on advances, it said.
"The guidelines are also expected to ensure availability of bank credit at interest rates which are fair to the borrowers as well as the banks. Further, marginal cost pricing of loans will help the banks become more competitive and enhance their long run value and contribution to economic growth," the release said.
According to the release, the highlights of the guidelines are:
  • All rupee loans sanctioned and credit limits renewed w.e.f. April 1, 2016 will be priced with reference to the Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) which will be the internal benchmark for such purposes.
  • The MCLR will be a tenor linked internal benchmark.
  • Actual lending rates will be determined by adding the components of spread to the MCLR.
  • Banks will review and publish their MCLR of different maturities every month on a pre-announced date.
  • Banks may specify interest reset dates on their floating rate loans. They will have the option to offer loans with reset dates linked either to the date of sanction of the loan/credit limits or to the date of review of MCLR.
  • The periodicity of reset shall be one year or lower.
  • The MCLR prevailing on the day the loan is sanctioned will be applicable till the next reset date, irrespective of the changes in the benchmark during the interim period.
  • Existing loans and credit limits linked to the Base Rate may continue till repayment or renewal, as the case may be. Existing borrowers will also have the option to move to the Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) linked loan at mutually acceptable terms.
  • Banks will continue to review and publish Base Rate as hitherto.
The RBI had stated in its First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2015-16 announced on April 7, 2015 that "for monetary transmission to occur, lending rates have to be sensitive to the policy rate. With the introduction of the Base Rate on July 1, 2010 banks could set their actual lending rates on loans and advances with reference to the Base Rate. At present, banks are following different methodologies in computing their Base Rate – on the basis of average cost of funds, marginal cost of funds or blended cost of funds (liabilities). Base Rates based on marginal cost of funds should be more sensitive to changes in the policy rates. In order to improve the efficiency of monetary policy transmission, the Reserve Bank will encourage banks to move in a time-bound manner to marginal-cost-of-funds-based determination of their Base Rate."
Accordingly, the RBI had brought out the draft guidelines on banks adopting marginal cost of funds methodology for calculating Base Rates on September 1, 2015. Based on the feedback received from all stakeholders, as well as extensive discussions held with banks, the final guidelines have now been released, the release added.
State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya welcomed the guidelines, saying that, while it would benefit new customers, existing customers would also have an option to shift to the new regime with some conditions.
"Sufficient time has been given to banks to switch over to the new regime of marginal cost of funds based lending rate as the same has been made effective from 1st April 2016. With marginal cost of funds including tenor premium we have moved closer to international manner of benchmark rates," she added.

Ergo to increase stake in HDFC Ergo General Insurance to 48.742%

Germany's Ergo Insurance Group will increase its stake in its Indian joint venture HDFC Ergo General Insurance Company Limited from the existing 25.84 percent to 48.742 percent with an investment of Rs. 1,122 crore.
A press release from India's Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited  (HDFC) said the two companies had agreed the terms under which Ergo would increase its stake in HDFC Ergo.
Under the shareholders’ agreement  between HDFC and Ergo, the German company had the right to increase its shareholding from 26 percent in HDFC Ergo as and when the laws permitted such an increase.
Under  the agreement, Ergo will acquire 123,357,262 shares of HDFC Ergo at a price  of  Rs. 90.973 per share, aggregating to Rs. 1,122 crore. 
As a result, Ergo's shareholding in HDGC Ergo will increase from 25.84% to 48.742%,  while  that of HDFC will come down from 73.634% to  50.732%. This values  HDFC Ergo at Rs. 4,900 crore. 
HDFC Ergo will remain a subsidiary of HDFC, India's leading housing finance company, the release said.
The transaction is subject to receipt of all necessary approvals, including but not  limited to approvals from the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority of India, the Competition Commission of India and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.
Ergo is one of the major insurance groups in Germany and Europe. Worldwide, the group has a presence in more than 30 countries and concentrates on Europe and  Asia. 
HDFC Ergo offers the complete range of general insurance products, including Motor,  Health, Travel, Home and Personal Accident in the retail space and customized  products like  Property, Marine and Liability Insurance in the corporate  space. 

IPL Draft: Dhoni, Ashwin picked by Pune, Raina, Jadeja go to Rajkot

IPL draft: Dhoni goes to Pune, Raina to Rajkot
India's limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the top draft in the Indian Premier League (IPL) draft as the Sanjeev Goenka-owned new Pune franchise picked him up ahead of others at the stipulated price of Rs 12.50 crore here today.
The other new team in the popular T20 cricket tournament, Rajkot, owned by Intex, picked up Dhoni's teammate in Chennai Super Kings (CSK), also for Rs. 12.5 crore, being the first player chosen by the franchise.
CSK and Rajasthan Royals have been banned from the IPL for two yars by the Justice R. M. Lodha panel, which probed the betting and spot-fixing allegations in the 2013 edition of the tournament.
The New Rising group owned by Goenka and mobile phone manufacturer Intex won the ownership rights for the new vivo Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
New Rising has chosen Pune as its base, while Rajkot will be the home ground for the Intex-owned franchise. The two teams will replace CSK and Rajasthan Royals in the tournment.
Seven players of CSK and three from Rajasthan Royals were picked up by the two teams today.
Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja were the second choices for Pune and Rajkot, respectively. They will be entitled to a purse of Rs 9.5 crore per year.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was chosen by Pune as their third choice for a purse of Rs 7.5 crore, while New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was picked up by Rajkot.
Australians Steve Smith and James Faulkner were the fourth choices for Pune and Rajkot, respectively, at Rs 5.5 crore.
South African batsman Faf du Plessis was the fifth and final player chosen by Pune, while Dwayne Bravo of the West Indies was selected by Rajkot for Rs 4 crore each.
The pool of players in the draft included only the 50 players from the two suspended teams. The remaining players from the two teams will now form part of the general IPL auction scheduled for February.
Rahane, Faulkner and Smith had played for the Rajasthan Royals last year, while the remaining players picked up today had turned out for Chennai Super Kings.
Both teams spent Rs 39 crore each from their purse today and are now left with Rs 27 crore for the rest of their squads.
The 2016 season of vivo IPL will be played between April 9 and May 29. The franchise workshop will be conducted in Srinagar on January 13 and 14, 2016.

Sun Pharmaceuticals divests US-based manufacturing unit to Nostrum Laboratories

Pharma major Sun Pharmaceuticals today said that, as a part of its manufacturing consolidation in the United States, one of its wholly owned subsidiaries has entered into an agreement with Nostrum Laboratories Inc. (Nostrum) for the divestment of the Bryan (Ohio) unit in the US. 
"As a part of the agreement, the Sun Pharma subsidiary has divested this unit as a going concern along with the employees and related products to Nostrum," a press release from the company said.
"During the divestment process, Sun Pharma was cognizant that the interests of its employees working in the unit were not compromised. 
"While other details of the transaction are confidential, the financial impact of this development on Sun Pharma is negligible," the release added.

Ahmad Javed appointed as next Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Ahmad Javed
Ahmad Javed
Mumbai Police Commissioner Ahmad Javed has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has announced.
A press release from MEA said Mr Javed, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1980 batch, was expected to take up his new assignment shortly.
He will succeed Mr. Hamid Ali Rao, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, who ha retired more than six months ago.
Mr. Javed had been appointed as the Commissioner of Police of Mumbai on September 8, replacing Mr. Rakesh Maria, who took his place as Director General, Home Guards in Maharashtra after being promoted to the director general rank.
Born on January 2, 1956, Mr. Javed is an alumnus of St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi.
He has served as Superintendent of Police in Buldhana and Nanded in Maharashtra, before being posted as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Intelligence, in Mumbai. He then served in various postings, including a stint with the Delhi Police between 1983 and 1985. He returned to Mumbai in the early 2000s, serving as Additional Commissioner of Police of the Central Region and then the South Region, before being promoted as Joint Commissioner of Police, Law and Order. 
After being promoted as Additional Director General (ADG) of Police, Mr. Javed was posted with the state reserve police force and with the Maharashtra Police Headquarters as ADG Establishment, before taking over as Commissioner of Police, Navi Mumbai in 2010.

India's forex reserves rise by $483.2 million to $ 352.098 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 483.2 million to $ 352.098 billion during the week ended December 4, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had fallen by $ 750.2 million to $ 351.615 billion during the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex  reserves, had gone up by $ 1.581 billion to $ 329.25 billion in 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 decreased by $ 1.148 billion to $ 17.544 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) went up by $ 38.1 million to $ 4.006 billion.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 12.3 million to $ 1.299 billion, the bulletin added.

TCS, Vanderbilt University Medical Center partner to advance healthcare, life sciences research

IT services major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has announced a new partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) to drive innovation in the healthcare and life sciences fields.
A press release from TCS said they would drive specific research in areas including genomics, metagenomics, systems biology, bio-informatics, improved care management, and advanced healthcare analytics. 
"This important collaboration will also lay the foundation for TCS’ COIN emerging technology network to connect with Vanderbilt University’s Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC) start-up community," the release said.
“At TCS, we’re investing in new and emerging digital technologies to develop innovative solutions that our clients need to re-imagine their businesses,” said Suresh Muthuswami, president, head, Insurance and Healthcare, TCS. “TCS and VUMC share a passion and curiosity that will enable us to collectively solve complex healthcare challenges and problems. The unique combination of TCS expertise and solutions, coupled with VUMC academia and private research, will create an environment that accelerates innovation in a critical industry like healthcare.”
“Research is one of VUMC’s core missions,” said Dr Kevin Johnson, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and Chair of Biomedical Informatics, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief Informatics Officer, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “We are thrilled about this new partnership with TCS, as it allows us to enrich our initiatives to create the largest impact on the lives of people globally and provide the highest quality of research possible.”  
As a partner in TCS’ Co-Innovation Network (COIN), the two organizations will combine forces surrounding product development, enhancement capabilities and go-to-market strategies in healthcare IT.
“Being part of TCS COIN will help to accelerate the time-to-market for Vanderbilt’s start-up community and bring a global perspective to the innovation agenda,” said Ananth Krishnan, chief technology officer, TCS.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is a collection of several hospitals and clinics, as well as the schools of medicine and nursing associated with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, United States, dedicated to patient care, research, and biomedical education.

Actor Salman Khan acquitted by Bombay HC in 2002 hit-and-run case

The Bombay High Court on Thursday acquitted popular Bollywood actor Salman Khan of all criminal charges in a 13-year-old hit-and-run case in which a pavement dweller died after being hit by his car outside a bakery in the Bandra area of the city.

Salman Khan acquitted, HC overturns trial court's verdict
The Bombay High Court today acquitted popular Bollywood actor Salman Khan of all criminal charges in a 13-year-old hit-and-run case in which a pavement dweller died after being hit by his car outside a bakery in the Bandra area of the city.
The verdict came on an appeal filed by the actor after a sessions court had, on May 6 this year, convicted him and sentenced him to five years in prison under sections 304 (ii) and 338 of the Indian Penal Code on charges relating to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and causing grievous hurt.
"The appeal is allowed and the decision of the trial court is quashed and set aside. Salman Khan is acquitted of all charges," Justice A R Joshi said.
Justice Joshi said the prosecution had not established its case beyond reasonable doubt, as was required under criminal law, and pointed to several "anomalies" in the evidence produced by it.
Khan, 49, who was present in court when the operative part of the judgement was read out, broke down after hearing the verdict. His sister Alvira was also present in court.
Justice Joshi said the prosecution had not been able to bring material on record to establish beyond reasonable doubt that it was the actor who was driving the car and that he was under the infleunce of alcohol. It had also not been able to show whether the accident occurred bcause of a tyre burst or whether the tyre had burst during the incident, he said.
The judge also observed that the actor's police bodyguard, since deceased, who had given testimony about the actor's speeding and on which the prosecution had relied for its case, was not a "wholly reliable witness".
In his order, dictated in open court, the judge analysed in detail the evidence produced by the prosecution.
The incident occurred late in the night of September 28, 2002 when the actor's Land Cruiser went out of control and ran over five persons sleeping on the pavement outside the bakery. One person died and four others suffered injuries in the incident.
Sessions judge D W Deshpande held that all the charges against the actor, including culpable homicide not amounting to murder, had been proven.
Two days later, on May 8, the Bombay High Court suspended the sentence given by the sessions court and allowed him to apply for bail pending the disposal of his appeal. Khan had been on bail for the past 12 years.
While granting him bail, the High Court said Khan's passport would  continue to be with the police, but he had the right to seek the High Court's permission to travel abroad.
The prosecution's case was that Khan was at the wheel at the time of the accident, while the defence had said that it was the actor's drivr Ashok Singh who was actually driving the vehicle then.
The prosecution also said Khan was driving without a licence and that he was drunk at that time. They also accused him of fleeing from the scene. The actor, on the other hand, said he was not driving the car, that he was not drunk and that he had not run away from the spot.
In his appeal before the High Court against his conviction, Khan had said that the verdict of the trial court must be overturned and questioned its findings. He had also pleaded against his conviction for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He also applied for bail and stressed that he had never violated any of the bail conditions imposed on him earlier.
In the sessions court, the prosecution had produced eyewitnesses, those who were injured in the accident, employees of the bar where the actor had consumed drinks, doctors who examined his blood samples and forensic experts, among others, as witnesses.
In a surprising development, Khan's driver Ashok Singh had turned up in court, after more than 12 years, and deposed that it was he who was driving the car on that day. He said the front left tyre of the car had burst, leading to the mishap.
Khan was charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, rash and negligent driving, causing hurt by act endangering life,  causing grievous hurt, causing damage to property, driving vehicle in contravention of rules and driving at great speed after consuming alcohol.

Sun Pharma to collaborate with Weizmann Institute, Israel and Health Research Institute, Spain

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd today said it had entered into a tripartite research and option agreement with Israel-based Weizmann Institute of Science and Spain’s Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela (IDIS) to develop breakthrough products for the treatment of  neurological diseases like brain stroke; as well as glioblastoma, a lethal brain cancer. 
A press release said scientists at Weizmann Institute have developed a recombinant enzyme currently undergoing animal studies for indications of brain stroke and glioblastoma. 
"Further studies of this enzyme will be conducted at the Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Moreover, this enzyme may potentially be indicated for uses beyond these two brain diseases. As per the signed triparty agreement, Sun Pharma will have the first right to develop these additional indications," it said.
The release said Sun Pharma would have the exclusive option to conduct further development of the enzyme after completion of the preclinical studies. The company will have commercial rights to this product globally. It will also fund all future studies to be conducted on the enzyme. 
The tripartite research collaboration agreement has been signed between Sun Pharma, Yeda Research & Development Company, Ltd. (the commercial arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science), and Fundacion Ramón Domínguez (on behalf of IDIS).
Based on outcome of animal studies, Sun Pharma will have an option to exercise rights for further development and commercialization of the enzyme. 
Mr. Kirti Ganorkar, Senior Vice President, Sun Pharma said, “This collaboration is in line with our philosophy of putting patients first. We see our collaboration with world-renowned academic institutions like the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela enabling new projects on breakthrough products to address current unmet medical needs. Such products will bring about a better quality of life for the patient by enabling doctors to make crucial decisions and offer immediate treatment in high risk medical emergencies. We are excited about this collaboration and envision that this will enrich our novel and highly specialized product portfolio.”
According to Prof. David Mirelman, The Weizmann Institute of Science “We are pleased to be a part of the tripartite research and development agreement with Sun Pharma.  Our work is based on the original discoveries in the Weizmann Institute of the late Prof. Vivian Teichberg . Together with the researchers at the Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela, working  under the direction of Prof. Jose Castillo, we hope to bring this work to maturation.”
IDIS believes this collaboration will contribute to developing strong bonds for delivering important benefit in biomedical research and patients. Prof. José Castillo, director of Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela said, “IDIS supports translational research so that new findings can be used in clinical practice. The agreement with Sun Pharma and Weizmann Institute represents an important milestone for our Institution, since the studies carried out by the researchers of the Clinical Neuroscience Research Laboratory and Stroke Unit of the Neurology Department of our University Hospital are now closer to patients. The collaboration initiated with Prof. Vivian Teichberg and later continued with Prof. David Mirelman of the Weizmann Institute culminates through this new agreement. The development work collaborated through this agreement for treatment of neurological diseases like stroke, a leading cause of death and disability including loss of quality of life, can alleviate this epidemic in the 21st century. We also hope that this agreement contributes to bring new perspectives for the treatment of brain glioblastoma.”
According to the release, one of the biggest benefits of this enzyme will be in the treatment of brain stroke. Currently the major challenge in treating neurological diseases like stroke is the need for a definitive diagnosis of the type of stroke: Until physicians have verified whether the stroke is ischemic or hemorrhagic, specific treatment cannot be started. However, the initial few hours are critical, from the prognostic point of view. The delay between the occurrence of the stroke and the diagnosis could mean a life and death scenario, or lifelong disability for the patient.  If successful, this enzyme will enable the immediate administration of the treatment by a paramedic while a patient is in transit to the hospital. 
The enzyme can make a significant difference to the patient, as it can prevent the significant loss of brain function and avoid the debilitating consequences of stroke, while promising an improved quality of life for the patient. Thus the enzyme is expected to overcome this unmet gap in current medical treatments.
The release said the enzyme is also expected to have benefits in the treatment of glioblastoma is a lethal form of brain cancer. Despite currently available treatments, mortality rates are very high. 
"Based on preclinical data, the enzyme could prove beneficial in this disease, and it may be able to fulfil a significant, unmet medical need by increasing longevity and quality of life for glioblastoma patients," it added.

Essel Infraprojects raises Rs.600 crore through NCDs

Essel Infraprojects Limited (EIL), part of the Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group, today said it had raised Rs. 600 crore through non-convertible debentures (NCDs) at the semi-annual coupon rate of 9.05% per annum for the Lucknow-Rae Bareli highway four-laning project.
The project, awarded by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), was recently successfully completed by the Essel Lucknow Raebareli Toll Roads Ltd. (ELRTRL), a fully owned subsidiary of EIL.
It is an annuity-based project with fixed income of Rs. 100.40 crore p.a. from NHAI. The concession period for the project is 17 years. India Ratings and CARE Ratings have awarded a credit rating of AAA (SO) to ELRTRL.
EIL’s CEO Ashok Agarwal said, “We are one of the fastest growing infrastructure companies having major surface transport  road projects and are aspiring towards making significant contribution in developing core infrastructure projects across the country. We are participating in the growth story of our nation by upgrading the infrastructure and utilities  across the country."
EIL has completed around 2100 kms of roads and are currently constructing another 2500 kms of roads, adding up to a  total 4600 kms of roads in various states of India such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Empty local train dashes into buffer at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai

An empty local train dashed into the buffer of platform number 5 at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in Mumbai in the early hours of today, briefly causing delays in suburban train services.
A Central Railway press release said the mishap occurred at 0225 hours when the electric multiple unit (EMU) train was being placed at the platform after the mandatory checking.
Railway officials and staff rushed to the scene to attend to the problem and made the platform ready  for traffic from 0655 hours.
No one was injured in the incident, the release said.
Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu has ordered an inquiry into the incident, it added.

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 1960 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1960 crore across its various businesses.
These included orders worth Rs. 1053 crore secured by its Water & Effluent Treatment Business from the Water Resource Department of the Government of Odisha for the engineering, procurement and construction of 34 lift irrigation schemes in various districts of the state, irrigating 48600 hectares of cultivable lands.
The major scope of the work involves construction of 34 intake wells and delivery chambers, supply and laying of 400 km of ductile iron pipelines with diameters ranging from 300 mm to 1200 mm, 400 km of HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) pipelines with diameters ranging from 200 to 280 mm and 34 km of mild steel pipelines with diameters ranging from 700 to 1200 mm.
The scope also involves supply and installation of 96 vertical turbine pumps of capacities ranging from 80 to 470 kW and other associated works. The project is scheduled to be completed in 30 months.
The company said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business had secured orders worth Rs. 889 crore.
An order has been received from Chennai Metro Rail Corporation Limited for the construction of Chennai Metro line Package 03 Underground – Balance works. The scope involves engineering, procurement and construction of 4 stations at AG-DMS, Teynampet, Nandanam, Saidapet and Saidapet ramp portion with associated tunnel works. Other works include mechanical, electrical, plumbing and architectural works at these stations. The project is scheduled to be completed in 20 months.
L&T Geostructure-Bauer Joint Venture has secured an order worth Rs. 422 crore for the construction of a cut-off wall in the Indira Sagar dam project at Polavaram, Andhra Pradesh, a first-of-its-kind project in India. L&T Geostructure’s share in the JV is 50%.
The scope includes the construction of a 1500 metre long and 1.5 metre wide plastic concrete diaphragm cut-off wall, with depths varying from 40 to 120 metres.
The business also secured orders in Tuticorin and Chennai for piling and diaphragm wall works.
Additional orders have also been received from other businesses, the release added.
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