IndUS Business Journal

India focuses on Kazakhstan to boost fruit exports to Central Asia

Apr 19, 2018 0

By Saurabh Katkurwar

New Delhi– Scouting for untapped international markets in the face of dwindling fruit exports, the government has zeroed in on Kazakhstan, which is expected to open up local markets in the Central Asian region, where tropical fruits are in demand.

“The region remains covered under snow for almost six months of the year. They have (sub-tropical) pomegranate and grapes. Our embassy in Kazakhstan has informed us that tropical fruits are in much demand there. So we are going to promote Indian varieties of mango, pineapple and banana,” APEDA Chairman D.K. Singh told IANS.

“The move will open up the markets in the surrounding countries since Kazakhstan acts as distribution centre in the region,” he added.

Kazakhstan is a part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a regional grouping of former Soviet republics, including Russia. The other CIS countries are Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

While Mango varieties from across the country would would be chosen for the exports, pineapples would be preferred from Sikkim.

“We can easily air-transport banana to (Kazakhstan capital) Almaty in just three hours,” Singh said. (Last year, APEDA managed to send 250 tonnes of bananas from Kochi to Dubai through ships despite the low shelf-life of the fruit.)

According to APEDA data, global exports of fruits fell to 455,805 tonnes during April-January 2017-18 from 581,718 tonnes in the corresponding period in 2016-17.

Similarly, vegetable exports in the same period fell to 1,882,035 tonnes from 2,871,370 tonnes in 2016-17.

Currently, the export of agricultural commodities to Russia is at a “comfortable” scale but other CIS countries do not import “much” from India, Singh said.

India exported 28,755 tonnes of fruit to Russia in 2016-17 but the quantity has reduced this year as just 15,244 tonnes could be exported during April-January 2017-18. Ukraine and Belarus have also been importing Indian fruit, but the share has reduced this year.

While imports by Armenia and Azerbaijan have not been considerable this year, it has been nil for Georgia and Moldova. There has been no fruit trade with the remaining CIS countries.

This summer, APEDA will conduct market promotion activities for Indian varieties of mangoes in Kazakhstan, South Korea, China and Iran.

“Last year, we exported 60-70 tonnes of mangoes to South Korea. This year, we expect it to be 100 tonnes. We are going to take some exporters to these countries this year to promote our mangoes,” Singh said.

Iran had approved of the mango treatment facilities in India last year and subsequently imported 500 tonnes of mangoes.

Singh said the export body was facing difficulties in selling mangoes in the Chinese market due to tariff barriers and issues with translation.

“We have been trying hard to export mangoes to China. But issues like tariff barriers, and faults in translation have created obstructions. We are trying to create bonds with them. This year we have decided to enter the market with a token export of 10-25 tonnes,” he said. (IANS)

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Expectations of healthy Q4 results, global cues push equity indices higher

Apr 19, 2018 0

Mumbai– Expectations of healthy quarterly earning results coupled with a rebound in commodity prices and broadly positive global indices pushed the Indian equity market to close at its highest level in the last seven weeks on Thursday.

“Both the Nifty and the Sensex closed the day at seven week high levels. Positive global cues supported the markets,” Deepak Jasani, Head, Retail Research, HDFC securities told IANS.

Index-wise, the wider Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed higher by 39.10 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 10,565.30 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 34,403.67 points, closed at 34,427.29 points — up 95.61 points, or 0.28 per cent, from its previous session’s close.

The Sensex touched a high of 34,478.82 points and a low of 34,358.91 during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was bullish with 1,265 advances and 1,082 declines. The market breadth on the NSE was also bullish during the day.

In the broader markets, the S&P BSE mid-cap index closed higher by 0.63 per cent and the small-cap index by 0.60 per cent.

“Markets ended in green, despite volatility continuing in the last half of weekly expiry. Investors sentiment was optimistic ahead of quarterly earnings of some key companies, including TCS, which will release its results later in the day,” said Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls.

On the currency front, the Indian rupee weakened by 13 paise to 65.80 against the US dollar from its previous close at 65.67.

“Recent drop in rupee over the last one week… is on back of a combination of factors such as hardening of crude oil prices which is likely to put pressure on India’s deficit coupled with US action in Syria and increase in political activity ahead of upcoming Karnataka elections,” Salil Datar, CEO and Executive Director, Raha Advisors told IANS.

In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrip worth Rs 624.99 crore, while the domestic institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 448.61 crore.

Sector-wise, the S&P BSE metal index rose by 632.58 points, followed by capital goods which gained 203.34 points and IT stocks which edged up by 115.48 points.

On the other hand, the S&P BSE consumer durables index fell by 195.89 points, oil and gas index by 191.12 points and energy index by 24.05 points.

The major Sensex gainers on Thursday were Tata Steel, up 3.17 per cent at Rs 620.55; Yes Bank, up 2.83 per cent at Rs 318.00; Bharti Airtel, up 2.64 per cent at Rs 394.95; Larsen and Toubro, up 1.74 per cent at Rs 1,384.30; and Power Grid, up 1.61 per cent at Rs 208.20 per share.

The top losers on Sensex were Axis Bank, down 1 per cent at Rs 513.50; Coal India, down 0.77 per cent at Rs 282.85; HDFC, down 0.65 per cent at Rs 1,864.45; Sun Pharma, down 0.61 per cent at Rs 508.80; and IndusInd Bank, down 0.57 per cent at Rs 1,834.10 per share. (IANS)

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TCS net slips 1.8% in 2017-18

Apr 19, 2018 0

Mumbai–  Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Thursday reported Rs 25,826 crore consolidated net profit for fiscal 2017-18, registering 1.8 per cent yearly decline from Rs 26,289 crore posted in 2016-17.

In a regulatory filing on the BSE, the IT major said consolidated revenue for the fiscal under review (FY 2018), however, grew 4.4 per cent yearly to Rs 1,23,104 crore from Rs 117.966 crore in fiscal 2016-17 (FY 2017).

Under the International Financial Reporting Standards, net income grew 2.3 per cent yearly to $4,005 million in FY 2018 from $3,917 million in FY 2017.

Gross revenue grew 8.6 per cent yearly to $19.09 billion from $17.76 billion a year ago under IFRS. (IANS)

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At 190 mn, India has second largest unbanked population: World Bank

Apr 19, 2018 0

New Delhi– About 190 million Indian adults still don’t have a bank account, second only to China, despite the account ownership more than doubling from 35 per cent in 2011 to 80 per cent in 2017, a World Bank report said on Thursday.

The Global Findex Report released on Thursday said there has been a rapid increase in financial inclusion with the number of account holders in the country having risen from 35 per cent of the adults in 2011 and 53 per cent in 2014 to 80 per cent in 2017.

It said at 80 per cent coverage, it was comparable to the number of adults in China who have an account.

However, it added, despite having a relatively high account ownership, India — along with China — claims a large share of the global unbanked population because of its sheer size.

It said while China is home to 225 million adults without a bank account, India has 190 million. They are followed by Pakistan (100 million) and Indonesia (95 million).

“These four economies, together with three others – Nigeria, Mexico and Bangladesh – are home to nearly half the world’s unbanked population,” the report said.

However, it also noted the “dramatically increased account ownership” in India and attributed it to the Jan Dhan Yojana policy which has used biometric identification to expand access to financial services.

The report states that about 51.4 crore accounts have been opened globally from 2014 to 2017.

According to the government data, the total number of Jan Dhan account holders has risen from 28.17 crore in March 2017 to 31.44 crore in March 2018.

The total number of current and savings accounts have risen from 122.3 crore in March 2015 to 157.1 crore in March 2017.

The report also notes the reduced gender gap in ownership by 6 per cent compared to 2014, with 83 per cent men and 77 per cent women now having an account. (IANS)

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Facebook not yet ready with digital payments on Messenger in India

Apr 19, 2018 0

New Delhi– Facebook has no plans as of now to bring digital payment facility to its Messenger application in India, informed sources said on Thursday.

“There are currently no tests planned for recharges or peer-to-peer payments on Messenger in India,” the sources told IANS.

Mark Zuckerberg

Factor Daily had reported that Facebook has begun a beta version of recharge payments for mobile phone and other prepaid services on Messenger.

“Mobile recharge option is a Facebook ‘Marketplace’ offering — which is actually going on as a pilot test which is right now available to only Android users in some regions,” the sources added.

Launched in 2016, Marketplace is a user-to-user exchange platform for buying and selling goods with others within the community.

Currently, the peer-to-peer payment service on Messenger is available for its users in the US and the UK.

More than 1.3 billion people around the world are now using Facebook Messenger every month. The growth of Messenger now puts the app at par with Facebook-owned WhatsApp which also has over 1.3 billion monthly active users (MAUs).

WhatsApp, however, has rolled out the testing phase of its digital payment feature in India — a first such move globally — which will be officially rolled out to its over 200 million Indian users in the days to come.

When launched, the new payments feature is set to give a tough competition to Paytm and other digital payment services like Google Tez. The payments feature would take advantage of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and include support by a number of banks, including the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank. (IANS)

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Reliance Infra debuts in railway space, bags EPC contract

Apr 19, 2018 0

Mumbai– Reliance Infrastructure Limited EPC has received the Letter of Award (LOA) from Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) for its maiden railway project worth Rs 774 crore for the construction of third rail line between Jimidipeta and Gotlam on East Coast Railway on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) basis, the company said on Thursday.

The 105 km-long line will run in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The scope of work includes civil, track, electrification, signalling and telecom works of the rail line. The work also includes construction of 13 railway stations and staff quarters.

“RInfra has strong credential in successful execution of complex EPC projects in various sectors including railway and metro space. This order marks our foray into Railway EPC segment and further strengthens Reliance Infrastructure Limited’s bona fide to lead in construction of rail transportation systems. The company is well positioned in the emerging railway market and poised to capture a sizable share,” said Arun Gupta, CEO, Reliance Infrastructure EPC.

The railway line between Jimidipeta to Gotlam is part of Titlagarh-Vizianagaram section. At present, Titlagarh-Vizianagaram is a double line (electrified) track section of Jharsuguda- Visakhapatnam line.

It is an important rail link between Jharsuguda and Visakhapatnam, and serves as a bypass rail link to Howrah-Mumbai trunk route and Howrah-Chennai main line of East Coast region.

It also caters to the goods and passenger traffic from Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur and Raygada with Koraput on the Kottavalsa-Kirandaul line. The line traverses through western Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. This line will lead to development around the entire area, the statement said.

Indian Railways has a plan outlay of more than Rs 7 lakh crores in the coming five years towards decongestion of railway line (doubling), new railway line, high speed railway, station development and others.

Reliance Infrastructure Limited is keenly pursuing project opportunities worth around Rs 2 lakh crore to increase its EPC order book to Rs 50,000 crore by FY19. (IANS)

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Fortis Healthcare sets up advisory panel to evaluate proposals

Apr 19, 2018 0

Mumbai– Fortis Healthcare on Thursday decided to constitute an “expert advisory committee” to evaluate all binding proposals for fund infusion.

The company’s Board in a regulatory filing with the BSE said while evaluating all the offers from suitors such as Hero Enterprise-Burman Family, Fosun Health Holdings, IHH Healthcare Berhad and Manipal Hospital Enterprises approved the constitution of the panel to “oversee the evaluation process and function as an advisor”.

As per the filing, the committee has “been requested to provide a report of its recommendation to the Board, by April 26, 2018, and will be chaired by Deepak Kapoor, Former Chairman and CEO of Price Waterhouse Coopers, India”.

The panel is likley to meet by April 25 to decide on the merger or buy offers, Brian Tempest, Director of Board, Fortis Healthcare, said in a conference call following the Board meet.

“The Board is scheduled to meet on April 26, 2018 to decide the further course of action. Standard Chartered Bank, the company’s financial advisors has been directed to assist the expert advisory committee and the Board,” the BSE filing said.

Tempest also clarified that there was no proposal from KKR-backed hospital chain Radiant Lifecare as was widely speculated.

Earlier in the day, Fortis Healthcare informed the BSE in two separate filings, that its Board has received two improved binding offer to invest in the company from Hero Enterprise Investment Office and the Burman Family Office as well as IHH Healthcare Berhad.

The new binding offer from Hero Enterprise Investment Office and the Burman Family Office entails an investment of Rs 1,500 crore directly in the company and will replace the original offer made to the Board on April 12, 2018.

On April 12, 2018 Hero Enterprise promoted by Sunil Munjal and the Burman family offered to invest Rs 1,250 crore directly in Fortis Healthcare.

After the board meet Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Enterprise said: “We are pleased to note that the Board of Fortis Healthcare has found merit in our offer, which is simple, binding and is the quickest to implement. We believe that our offer is the most compelling, and is significantly better than any other options being explored by the company. We believe that this is the only offer which is in the best interest of all stakeholders of Fortis.”

In a separate stock exchange filing to the BSE, Fortis said that it has received a “supplemental proposal” from IHH.

On April 14, the company reported that it has received EoI from IHH Healthcare Berhad for possible due diligence and participation with the company.

The IHH in its letter to the company’s Board on April 11, 2018 made an offer of Rs 160 per Fortis share.

On Thursday, Fortis Healthcare’s shares closed trading at Rs 148.45 per share, up 2.66 per cent at the BSE.

Besides IHH, Fortis Healthcare has received “an unsolicited non-binding expression of interest (EoI)” from Fosun Health Holdings for a possible due diligence.

Fosun Health Holdings, in its letter to the company’s Board, made an offer of a “primary infusion at a price up to Rs 156 per share, subject to due diligence to be completed within three weeks, up to a total investment of $350 million” including a preliminary investment of up to Rs 100 crore.

However, Fortis Healthcare on March 27 had announced plans to demerge its hospitals business (Fortis Hospitals) into Manipal Hospital Enterprises Private Ltd (Manipal Hospitals).

The company at that time said the proposed transaction is subject to shareholders’ approval, creditors’ approval, applicable regulatory approvals (including Competition Commission of India, SEBI, stock exchanges and National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)) and other customary conditions precedent.

The company’s board has also approved the sale of its 20 per cent stake in SRL Ltd to Manipal Hospitals. (IANS)

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Merck to sell consumer health business to P&G for $4.2 bn

Apr 19, 2018 0

Mumba– German drug manufacturer Merck on Thursday said it will sell its global consumer health business to Procter and Gamble (P&G) for USD 4.2 billion.

The German company said the transaction — which is expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter of 2018 — “is subject to regulatory approvals and satisfaction of certain other customary closing conditions”.

“Merck, a leading science and technology company, announced that it has signed an agreement to sell its global consumer health business to P&G for approximately 3.4 billion pounds in cash, or approximately $4.2 billion at current exchange rates,” the drug-maker said in a regulatory filing to the BSE.

“For the Indian business, it has been agreed that P&G will acquire Merck’s majority shareholding in Merck Ltd (India), a publicly traded company, and subsequently make a mandatory tender offer to minority shareholders,” it said.

The regulatory filing added that as part of the transaction, Merck and P&G have agreed on a number of manufacturing, supply and service agreements.

Merck said it intends to use the net proceeds from the divestiture primarily to accelerate deleveraging.

“At the same time, it will allow Merck to increase flexibility to strengthen all three business sectors,” it said.

According to Merck, between 2015 and 2017, its consumer health’s net sales grew organically by 6 per cent, outpacing the consumer health market’s growth of approximately 4 per cent over the same period. For the full year 2017, net sales of the consumer health business amounted to 911 million pounds.

“The divestment of the consumer health business is an important step in Merck’s strategic focus on innovation-driven businesses within healthcare, life science and performance materials.

“It is a clear demonstration of our continued commitment to actively shape our portfolio as a leading science and technology company,” Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck, said in a statement.

“The attractive price reflects the high asset value and the performance consumer health has delivered,” he said.

The company said the transaction will be executed through the sale of its shares in a number of legal entities as well as various asset sales that comprises the consumer health business across 44 countries, including more than 900 products and two consumer health-managed production sites in Spittal (Austria) and Goa (India).

“As part of the transaction, it is contemplated that approximately 3,300 employees, mainly from consumer health, will transition to P&G upon completion of the transaction, subject to prior works council consultation where required,” the company said.

This includes Merck employees who, through their work, are fully dedicated to consumer health, and employees in share deal entities, it added.

“These leading brands and the great employees of Merck’s consumer health business will complement our personal health care business very well,” said Tom Finn, President, P&G Global Personal Health Care. (IANS)

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Defence Ministry website hacked, nine more sites affected

Apr 6, 2018 0

New Delhi– The Defence Ministry’s official website was hacked on Friday while nine other government sites, including that of the Home Ministry, also crashed in no time. But the government said it was all due to a “process of technical upgradation”.

The trouble began with the Defence Ministry website where a Chinese character appeared on top of its home page when www.mod.gov.in was opened. Later, the words “the site cannot be reached” and “please try again” appeared.

Minutes later, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took to Twitter to say: “Action is initiated after the hacking of MoD website.

“The website shall be restored shortly. Needless to say, every possible step required to prevent any such eventuality in the future will be taken,” she said.

The National Information Centre (NIC), however, refuted the Defence Ministry website had been hacked.

“https://mod.gov.in is not hacked. There is some technical issue since 2.30 p.m. today (Friday). Drupal theme https://www.drupal.org/project/zen framework. The site displayed the default logo,” NIC tweeted.

Soon after the Defence Ministry website episode, other government sites — including those of the Union Home Ministry, Water Resources Ministry, Labour Ministry and Law Ministry — crashed on Friday.

When opened, the home pages of all these sites displayed error messages “the requested service is temporarily unavailable. Sorry for Inconvenience. It would be available soon.”

A Home Ministry spokesperson said its departmental website was not hacked and that “it was a process of technical upgradation as security features were being upgraded”.

Gulshan Rai, head of the Computer Emergency Response Team or CERT, said there had been no cyber attack on any government website or any sabotage.

“It is a hardware failure, affecting around 10 government websites. Drupal is a content management software used by the affected websites. The websites will be restored soon,” Rai said.

CERT-In is the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents when they occur. (IANS)

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New Delhi is India’s most hospitable city: Airbnb Study

Apr 6, 2018 0

New Delhi– New Delhi has emerged as the most hospitable Indian city, followed closely by Jaipur, Kochi and Mumbai, according to an Airbnb study.

The annual Airbnb Hospitality Index revealed that the national capital saw the highest rate of success in terms of extending hospitality, with close to 80 per cent of reviewed trips in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) receiving a 5-star rating.

According to the index findings, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi, Karnataka and Kerala were the top five states in terms of hospitality.

“Maharashtra was the most hospitable state with the highest absolute number of 5-star rated trips of the top five states,” it said.

Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu closely followed behind the top five states in the hospitality index.

“The people to people connection enabled by technology is what makes these destinations a treasure trove for experience seeking travellers who return home with amazing stories and fulfilling experiences on Airbnb,” said Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Manager, Airbnb-India.

The study was based on the number of 5-star reviews in particular states around the country as a part of the global research at locations with over 500 trips in the last 12 months. (IANS)

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