IndUS Business Journal

Wipro buys US-based Viteos Group for $130 Million

Dec 23, 2015 0

BENGALURU–Global software major Wipro Ltd. on Wednesday announced the acquisition of US-based back-office firm Viteos Group for alternative investment management industry for $130 million (Rs.861 crore).

Shaji Farooq

Shaji Farooq

“Our strategy is to invest in industry vertical platforms which will provide platform-based services to our clients in transaction or outcome-based pricing models. Viteos will further our strategy in the capital markets domain,” Wipro chief executive for finance solutions Shaji Farooq said in a statement here.

Headquartered at Somerset in New Jersey, Viteos provides customised straight-through-processing and integrates post-trade operations across asset class, currency, border or structure for the alternative investment management sector in the US, Europe and Asia.

As a leader in shadow-accounting services, Viteos offers a range of middle and back-office outsourcing through its 400 employees.

“We will expand our capital markets portfolio in fund accounting services and enhance our business process service (BPS) capabilities with Viteos, which brings leadership, domain expertise and business process as a service (BPaaS) capability, Wipro BPS head Nagendra Bandaru said.

Viteos licenses its proprietary platform to offer transformation and integration of post-trade operations.

The platform can be leveraged to provide solutions across other segments of capital markets. The solutions will bring in non-linear and higher revenue realisation.

As a leading BPS provider to some global investment banks, Wipro specialises in platform-led transformation and utility-based offerings in reconciliation, KYC (know-your-customer) settlements, middle office, asset servicing and syndicated loans.

“Viteos will retain its identity to leverage its brand in the buy-side and expand its offerings into the larger asset management industry with the backing of Wipro’s size and presence,” the statement added.

Viteos’ founder chief executive Shankar Iyer said its search for a global partner to expand market presence had culminated in acquisition by Wipro.

The deal is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this fiscal (2015-16), ending March 31, next year.

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Insurers should be Indian-owned, controlled by January 18

Dec 23, 2015 0

CHENNAI–The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) on Wednesday said all insurance companies have to report compliance on Indian ownership and control criteria by January 18, next year.

In a letter to chief executive officers of all insurance companies in the country on Wednesday, V.R. Iyer, member (finance and investment) IRDAI, said insurers have to report compliance to Indian ownership and control criteria by that date.

Insurers who are not able to conform to the Indian-owned and controlled criteria should submit an assurance from their board of directors on compliance within six months from date of issuance of guideline on the subject by IRDAI.

The IRDAI had issued the guidelines on Indian Owned and Controlled insurance company on October 19, 2015.

As the amended insurance law, an Indian insurance company should be owned and controlled by Indians.

According to the IRDAI, majority of insurers have not approached it and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) seeking a change in their shareholding pattern.

The insurance law was amended allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 49 percent from the earlier limit of 26 percent.

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Rajya Sabha passes arbitration bill

Dec 23, 2015 0

NEW DELHI–The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed without discussion the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill to replace an ordinance on arbitration for speedy settlement of high value business disputes.

The Lok Sabha had last week passed the bill by a voice vote.

Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha

While under the existing Act, a principal civil court or a high court with original jurisdiction is the relevant court for handling arbitration matters, the bill makes the high court the relevant court for international arbitration.

As per the Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996, interim orders of a court, order of an arbitral tribunal and appealable orders only applied to matters where the place of arbitration was India.

Under the new bill, these provisions will also apply to international commercial arbitrations even if the place of arbitration is outside India. This will apply unless the parties agreed otherwise.

Under the existing act, if any matter brought before a court is a subject of an arbitration agreement, parties will be referred to arbitration.

The bill says this power of referral is to be exercised by a court even if there is a previous court judgment to the contrary. The court must refer the parties to arbitration unless it thinks that a valid arbitration agreement does not exist.

At an interaction with industry chambers here last week Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the government would bring seek the paasage of the bill for creating fast-track arbitration in the country, including single-member tribunals.

“India has almost ceased to be the centre of arbitration and adjudication and we need to bring it back because the arbitration costs abroad are enormous for our companies,” he said.

Highlights of the Bill:

– Modifies original act to say that in the case of international arbitration, the relevant court would only be the relevant high court.

– Provisions would also apply to international commercial arbitrations even if the place of arbitration is outside India. This would apply unless the parties agreed otherwise.

– Power of referral is to be exercised by a court even if there is a previous court judgment to the contrary.

– Introduces provision requiring an arbitral tribunal to make its award within 12 months that may be extended by a six-month period.

– Any challenge to an arbitral award that is made before a Court, must be disposed of within a year.

– Fast track procedure for arbitration – permits parties to choose to conduct arbitration proceedings in a fast track manner.

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Lingerie brand Hunkemoller opens flagship store in India

Dec 23, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– European luxury lingerie brand Hunkemoller has opened its flagship store in the capital.

The 790 sq. ft. Hunkemoller store, that opened its doors for customers on Wednesday, is located in the DLF Promenade mall.

Photo courtesy: Hunkemoller

Photo courtesy: Hunkemoller

“The brand has a strong market base in Europe and we are sure our customers will be charmed by their exciting merchandise. Further DLF Promenade always ensures that patrons get the next best moment in fashion…Adding Hunkemoller to our already exciting brand portfolio is a step in this direction,” Dinaz Madhukar, senior vice president and mall head, DLF Promenade and Emporio, told IANS.

The lingerie store provides a mix of cotton, satin and lace lingerie; nightwear, hosiery, garters, swimwear and accessories like eye masks, make-up pouches, night time fluffy socks and bedroom slippers.

The collection, planned by its in-house team offers a wide array of playful feminine designs, cuts and colours such as red, neon pink, black and navy blue.

Originally founded in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1886, the luxury lingerie brand has its existence in as many as 18 countries and islands including Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Aruba, Curacao, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and France.

The store in New Delhi has five girls, trained to help potential customers with perfect-fit inner wears.

Their fittings are based on three features such as fullness, spacing and measurements. Then the staff matches the details with one of the four main bra shapes that are balcony for lift and comfort; demi, which subtly enhances the cleavage, full cup gives full coverage and maximum support; and plunge, which gives cleavage with a lift.

“A professional from the brand, who has seven years of rich experience flew down from Amsterdam, so that she could give first hand training to help the clients to find their correct bra fittings,” the store manager said.

“I was also sent to Amsterdam to get trained for the same. We, at Hunkemoller, are serious about our job and we want to provide international standards to our customers here,” the store manager added.

Hunkemoller has entered the Indian market through a franchise agreement with Reliance Brand Limited.

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Chicago University gets $1 mn to collaborate with Lucknow NGOs

Dec 23, 2015 0

LUCKNOW–The Center for Inter-disciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) at the University of Chicago will get a $1 million grant for the next two years from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an official said on Wednesday.

University of Chcago

University of Chcago

Ci3’s newly launched Transmedia Story Lab (TSL) will collaborate with leading non-governmental organisations in Lucknow to train them in novel, youth-friendly data collection techniques.

Together with their community partners, Ci3 will conduct workshops with Lucknow youth aged 15-24 using games, storytelling and art to learn more about the daily lives of young people to better understand the social determinants of adolescent reproductive health and well being.

Digital storytelling will anchor the project.

Digital stories are short, first person documentaries produced with music, images and narratives of young people communicating their daily lives, hopes and dreams.

The storytelling methodology helps to paint a rich portrait of the lives of young people living in urban slums, enhance the field’s understanding of gender and social norms and create new insights for improving adolescent sexual and reproductive health and reducing the unmet need for family planning.

Workshops will be accompanied by interviews with policy makers, non-governmental organisations, parents and healthcare providers.

In the second year, Ci3 will create a small grants programme to invest in young people’s ideas on how best to advance the lives of girls in India.

This project also reflects Ci3’s commitment to developing novel partnerships. Ci3 will work with the University of Chicago alumnus Sandeep Ahuja MPP ’06, director of Operation ASHA, an international leader in tuberculosis (TB) eradication.

Operation ASHA is known for its innovative approaches and outcome-oriented research.

Ci3 recently launched Transmedia Story Lab which builds upon South Side Stories, a two-year project funded by the Ford Foundation.

Culminating in the summer of 2014, South Side Stories chronicled and digitally archived stories that countered dominant narratives about African- American adolescent’s sexuality.

Founded in 2012, Ci3 is a University-wide centre established to empower young people and remove policy and systemic barriers to sexual and reproductive health and well being.

Ci3 develops novel interventions using technology, games and narrative in collaboration with youth, partner organisations and University faculty.

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Hefty $4,000 US visa fee hike discriminatory for Indian IT firms

Dec 22, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– The steep hike in H-1B and L-1 visa fee by the US government on the software engineers Indian IT firms fly out for onshore projects was discriminatory and would hamper US economic growth, a leading Indian industry trade body said on Tuesday.

US President Barack Obama on Dec 19 signed into law a $1.8-trillion spending package, which includes a hefty $4,000 fee for certain categories of H-1B visa and $4,500 for L-1 visa.

US President Barack Obama on Dec 19 signed into law a $1.8-trillion spending package, which includes a hefty $4,000 fee for certain categories of H-1B visa and $4,500 for L-1 visa.

“Such legislation, amending the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, will hamper growth of the US economy and will be discriminatory to Indian IT firms,” the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) said in a statement here.

US President Barack Obama on Dec 19 signed into law a $1.8-trillion spending package, which includes a hefty $4,000 fee for certain categories of H-1B visa and $4,500 for L-1 visa.

Companies having over 50 employees and more than 50 per cent of their US employees on H-1B and L1 visas will have to pay the new fee when the next visa application session kicks off on April 1, 2016.

“Indian IT industry is of the view that the additional fee is unjustified, similar to the earlier border security and the Health and Compensation Act, which have nothing to do with the technology industry,” the statement asserted.

Noting that such protectionist laws not only impacted the business of the Indian IT sector but also limited access to skilled IT personnel for US firms, Ficci said adding that the increasing costs of hiring skilled personnel and services would influence US technology firms to consider moving IT operations overseas, thereby reducing US jobs and tax revenues.

This year’s Congressional approved quota of 65,000 H-1B visas was filled up in the first few days of the start of the application process on April 1.

“In our view, linking unemployment and H1-B visa issue with 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is unfair and should be dealt independently with a broader outlook considering the overall impact on both economies,” the statement reiterated.

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Herbal sweetener launched for diabetics

Dec 21, 2015 0

MUMBAI– In a bid to provide a healthy life to diabetic patients, a new sweetener made of herbs was launched here on Monday.

Zero Sugar — made out of natural sweetener Stevia — enables the patient to tackle obesity and satiate his sugar cravings also.

Stevia rebaudiana

Stevia rebaudiana

Stevia is extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana.

“There is no nutritive value in sugar and when consumed in excess, one is likely to be prone to life threatening ailments. After lots of research Zero Sugar has been formed with herbal base,” said Kanchan Patwardhan, Mumbai-based clinical nutritionist and dietician, at the launch.

India is home to nearly 62 million diabetics – second only to China which has over 92 million diabetics. A majority of diabetics are unable to keep their sugar level under control despite adequate medication and follow ups.

Patwardhan said Zero Sugar is a better solution because, being 200 times sweeter than sugar, it is the best sugar replacement.

According to medical science, eating sugar in excess sets up a relentless biochemical drive in the brain that in turn makes the person crave for more sugar, resulting in weight gain and diabetes.

“Being free from carbohydrates, it neither affects blood sugar nor insulin levels. It can be a good alternative for our regular sugar as well as for those who love to eat sweets but still want to be in shape. A gram of sugar contains about 4 calories. In contrast to this, Stevia has no calories,” said Patwardhan.

“There are a few natural sweeteners which can regain that lost taste to your sweet foods. One of these is Stevia, a sweetener that is 100 percent natural and zero calories with a number of health benefits that have been confirmed by scientific studies,” said Dilip Joshi, managing director and chief executive officer of GreenRev, the makers of Zero Sugar.

By 2030, India’s diabetes numbers are expected to cross the 100 million mark according to a 2012 report by International Diabetes Federation. The economic burden due to diabetes in India is among the highest in the world.

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90 percent of England hospitals hit by nurse shortage

Dec 21, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– Nine in 10 hospitals in England fail to provide enough nurses for patients, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) said in a new report on Monday.

According to a monthly report, 207 of 225 hospitals in England were found unable to meet their targets for safe levels of nurses on wards. Among those, 81 percent of hospitals could not meet targets for night cover, while 79 percent missed both day and night, Xinhua reported.

It said that in some hospitals, one nurse needs to take care of 22 patients.

A survey, which consulted about 1,000 nurses, also showed that they were under great pressure because they were unable to provide safe levels of care, and half of them said there were rarely or never enough nurses available.

Three-quarters of respondents said they were forced to leave patients with not enough of the required care.

Media reports said it was not a secret that hospitals in England were facing nurse shortage, and a considerable number of hospitals have had to rely heavily on overseas recruitment.

“Staffing is a priority. We have put more than 7,600 additional nurses on our wards since May 2010 and there are 50,000 nurses currently in training,” said a spokesman of Britain’s department of health.

“We know that there are big challenges for hospitals, so we are helping the NHS to employ the staff it needs at a fair price by clamping down on rip-off staffing agencies and identifying billions of pounds of back-office savings so that as much money as possible goes to the front line,” he added.

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India Tables Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill

Dec 21, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– Here are the ighlights of the bill for an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code that was introduced in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday:

– Consolidates into a single law a host of legislations that deal with the subject;

– Aims to speedily adjudicate such cases for higher recovery of debt and money;

– Allows operational creditors like employees to also call for insolvency resolution;

– Proposes Insolvency Regulator to exercise regulatory oversight over insolvency professionals, insolvency professional agencies and informational utilities;

– Moots two separate Insolvency Adjudicators — one with jurisdiction over companies and the other over insolvency and bankruptcy resolution of individuals;

– Proposes to regulate insolvency professionals and insolvency professional agencies, under regulator’s oversight;

– Proposes fast-tracking resolution of insolvency cases and improve recoveries of amount lent to companies within a timeline of 180 days, extendable by another 90 days;

– Proposes insolvency resolution process for individuals where the creditors and the debtor will engage in negotiations to arrive at an agreeable repayment plan of debts;

– Moots “Fresh Start” process for indigent individuals with income and assets lesser than specified thresholds; and

– Proposes insolvency information utilities which would collate, authenticate and disseminate financial information from listed companies and creditors of companies.

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PepperTap raises $40 million in Series B funding

Dec 21, 2015 0

NEW DELHI–Online grocery portal PepperTap said on Monday it has closed its Series B round of funding, with an additional $4 millon from Innoven Capital, in addition to the $36 million raised recently from SnapDeal, Sequoia India, SAIF Partners, Ru-Net, Beenext & JAFCO Asia.

The total fund raised in PepperTap now stands at around $51.2 million, a company statement said.

The company has taken over Bengaluru-based hyperlocal grocery delivery startup, Jiffstore for an undisclosed amount. Jiffstore’s team will join PepperTap’s Gurgaon and Bengaluru offices.

PepperTap has also entered into marketing tie-ups with other start-ups who will collaborate with them in a cross-marketing activity to bring attractive gifts for the users.

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