IndUS Business Journal

B.V. Rama Gopal appointed IndianOil’s Director, Refineries

Feb 13, 2018 0

New Delhi– Energy major Indian Oil Corp. On Tuesday said that B.V. Rama Gopal has taken over as Director (Refineries) on its Board with effect from February 12, 2018.

“Earlier, he was Executive Director (in-charge) of the company’s Panipat Refinery and Petrochemicals Complex,” the company said in a statement.

The IndianOil Group owns and operates 11 of India’s 23 refineries, with a combined refining capacity of 80.7 MMTPA. (IANS)


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PFRDA crosses 2 cr subscribers, expects them to grow 28% next year

Feb 13, 2018 0

Kolkata– The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), which achieved a two crore subscribers’ base on Monday, is looking at a 28 per cent growth in subscriber base in the next year, an official said here on Tuesday.

The PFRDA also expects that its asset under management (AUM) would grow by 45-47 per cent in the next year.

“Our subscriber base is growing by 27-28 per cent a year. Yesterday (Monday), we have touched two crore subscribers’ mark. In the last March, there were about 1.54 crore subscribers. Going forward, we expect same pace of growth to continue in the next year,” PFRDA’s Chairman Hemant G. Contractor told reporters here.

He said: “The corpus is currently at Rs 2.25 lakh crore. The asset under management has been growing by about 45 per cent annually in the last three years and in the last year, the growth was 47 per cent. Next year, we expect similar trend to continue i.e. 45-47 per cent growth.”

He, however, said the proposal of long term capital gains tax will not have much impact on it.

“It does not have much impact on us. The investments in National Pension System are made by our trust (NPS Trust) which is a tax exempted body. As far as pension investments are concerned, LTCG will not have impact,” he said.

However, Contractor said it has two types of accounts — tier I and tier II.

“Tier II has no tax benefits. Tier II account would be impacted but investments in tier II are much smaller,” he said.

Tier-I account is “the non-withdrawable” permanent retirement account into which the accumulations are deposited and invested as per the option of the subscriber.

Tier-II account is a “voluntary withdrawable” account which is allowed only when there is an active tier I account in the name of the subscriber. The withdrawals are permitted from this account as per the needs of the subscriber as and when claimed.

Responding to a query on how volatility in the equity market impacts it, he said that volatility was higher in the equity markets and its portfolio in equity was only about 15 per cent.

The PFRDA would be “less impacted with volatility in equity markets”, he said.

Speaking on the Atal Pension Yojana, he said the pension fund body has the target of reaching one crore subscribers under the Yojana by March 31.

“We are currently at about 88 lakh subscribers and we are trying hard in the remaining days of the year to touch the target. Next year, we will try for another 50 lakhs,” he said, adding that the corpus for the Atal Pension Yojana was around Rs 4,000 crore.

He also said the PFRDA brought changes in terms of partial withdrawal.

“Earlier, there was a restriction that a person had to be in the system for 10 years before he or she could avail this facility of partial withdrawal. Now, we have reduced it from 10 years to three years. After three years, subscribers can avail partial withdrawal. Up to 25 per cent of a subscriber’s own outstanding contribution will be allowed to be partially withdrawn after three years,” he added. (IANS)


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Abu Dhabi oil lease price to emerge after all bids come: Pradhan

Feb 13, 2018 0

New Delhi– The price that India will pay for the 10 per cent concession in Abu Dhabi’s Lower Zakum oilfields will emerge after the bids are in for the remaining 30 per cent that the Emirate intends to lease out, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said on Tuesday.

He also said the first oil from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) for India’s strategic petroleum reserves at Mangalore – under an agreement signed with the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE last week – would be arriving in May this year.

Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

Modi’s second visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) resulted in an Indian consortium gaining stake for the first time in Abu Dhabi’s massive oil resources.

An MoU was signed on Saturday in Abu Dhabi between an Indian consortium comprising of state-run explorer ONGC Videsh, Bharat PetroResources, Indian Oil and Adnoc for the acquisition of 10 per cent participating interest in its offshore Lower Zakum Concession.

The UAE is one of the largest suppliers of crude oil to India and is also the 10th largest investor.

The consortium, led by India’s ONGC Videsh, contributed a participation fee of Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) 2.2 billion ($600 million) to enter the concession. The concession will be operated by ADNOC Offshore, a subsidiary of ADNOC, on behalf of all concession partners.

The agreement, which has a term of 40 years and an effective date of March 9, 2018, was signed by ONGC Chairman Shashi Shanker and ADNOC Group Chief Executive Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.

Abu Dhabi, which is a constituent of the UAE and holds most of latter’s oil reserves, is looking for new partners at its offshore fields in the Persian Gulf as the current production concession for some deposits expires next month.

According to a statement from ONGC’s overseas arm, the current production at the Lower Zakum field is about 4,00,000 barrels a day, while the plan is to increase the target to 4,50,000 barrels a day by 2025.

Adnoc’s offshore fields currently produce about 1.4 million barrels a day, an Adnoc statement said.

Increased production from its offshore reservoirs is part of the state-run company’s plans to raise its onshore and offshore output capacity to 3.5 million barrels a day by the end of 2018, it added.

The company also said it had received more than 10 bids from firms seeking to operate these offshore fields. This agreement will enable Adnoc to cater to a part of India’s massive oil demand, over 80 per cent of which is met by imports.

The MoU is an important milestone in India’s search for energy security, at a time when oil prices have started hardening again mainly due to output cuts put in place by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers deal with a supply glut that was pushing down prices till last year.

During Modi’s visit, Adnoc also signed an agreement with the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. to implement the strategic crude oil storage facility on India’s western coast in Mangalore (Karnataka) for the storage of 5.86 million barrels of Adnoc crude in underground facilities.

Pradhan also told reporters here that the situation had changed from the time that India would be sending emissaries to oil-producing capitals in search of crude supplies. In order to tap the massive Indian market, countries were now sending their energy ministers here, he said, pointing to the upcoming visit of ministers from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the US.

“We have to have good relations with all, in line with our traditional philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family),” he said.

Pradhan also mentioned the hosting of an LPG ‘Panchayat’ on Tuesday by President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Organised by the Petroleum Ministry, the ‘Panchayat’ aims to provide a platform for LPG consumers to interact with each other, promote mutual learning and share experiences.

Each such Panchayat has about 100 consumers coming together to discuss safe and sustainable usage of LPG, its benefits and the link between clean cooking fuel and women empowerment.

The Ministry intends to conduct 1 lakh such ‘Panchayats’ across India by March next year, Pradhan said. (IANS)

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Godfrey Phillips India net profit up over 61% in Q3

Feb 13, 2018 0

New Delhi– Cigarette maker Godfrey Phillips India on Tuesday reported a 61.26 per cent rise in its standalone net profit to Rs 61.99 crore in the quarter ended December 31, 2017 as compared to Rs 38.44 crore in the year-ago period.

On a comparable basis, gross sales during the quarter under review were at Rs 1,528.48 crore as against Rs 1,352.05 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.

The company also reported its total expenses in the third quarter of 2017-18 were Rs 545.59 crore as compared to Rs 1047.56 crore in the year-ago period. (IANS)

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TCS ranked among top three employers in US

Feb 12, 2018 0

Mumbai– Global software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Monday said it has been ranked among the top three employers in the US by the Netherlands-based Top Employers Institute.

“The Institute has also recognised TCS as one of the world’s best places to work for the fourth consecutive year,” said the city-based tech firm in a statement here.

The Amsterdam-headquartered independent organisation certifies employers the world over for excellence in creating a total work environment for their employees.

The criteria in assessing TCS employee offerings included talent strategy, workforce planning, on-boarding, learning and development, performance management, leadership development, career and succession management, compensation and benefits and company culture.

“As employees are our strong asset, we are committed to enabling their growth and development through programmes to build digital skills, enable career advancement and retain the best talent,” said TCS President, North America and Europe, Surya Kant in the statement.

TCS has also been among the top two recruiters of the US and Canadian IT services talent over the past five years.

“Optimal employee conditions ensure that people can develop personally and professionally on their own. Our research concluded thata-TCS provides an outstanding employment environment and offers creative initiatives, from secondary benefits and working conditions, to performance-management programmes,” said the Institute Global Business Director Dennis Utter.

As a flagship company of India’s Tata group, the $17.6 billion TCS has 390,000 techies across 36 countries worldwide. (IANS)

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Foodpanda India to invest Rs 400 cr to boost delivery network

Feb 12, 2018 0

New Delhi– Food ordering and delivery chain Foodpanda India on Monday said it would invest Rs 400 crore to strengthen its network and hire 25,000 delivery riders in the next 12 to 15 months.

According to a company statement here, the investment would focus on scaling up technology and a dense logistics network which would ensure better services for customers.

“Creating a strong delivery ecosystem backed by technology is one of the most fundamental needs of the Indian food tech industry. We at Foodpanda recognise this and are investing Rs 400 crore to further strengthen our delivery network across all the metros and other key cities,” said Pranay Jivrajka, CEO, Foodpanda India.

“We are also ramping up our last mile connect by hiring 25,000 delivery riders. This is in line with our go to market strategy to make a difference in the food ordering experience of our restaurant partners, customers and riders,” he added.

In December 2017, Ola acquired Foodpanda with a commitment to infuse Rs 1,300 crore ($200 million) from parent company ANI Technologies. (IANS)

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New system allows drones to fly through forests, cities

Feb 12, 2018 0

New York– Companies like Amazon have big ideas for drones that can deliver packages right to your door and a new mapping system developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) can help achieve that.

The new system, called NanoMap, allows drones to consistently fly 32 km per hour through dense environments like forests, the researchers said.

Being able to avoid obstacles while travelling at high speeds is computationally complex, especially for small drones that are limited in how much they can carry on-board for real-time processing.

The new system considers the drone’s position in the world over time to be uncertain and actually models and accounts for that uncertainty.

“Overly confident maps won’t help you if you want drones that can operate at higher speeds in human environments,” said Pete Florence, lead author on a new related paper.

“An approach that is better aware of uncertainty gets us a much higher level of reliability in terms of being able to fly in close quarters and avoid obstacles,” Florence added.

Specifically, NanoMap uses a depth-sensing system to stitch together a series of measurements about the drone’s immediate surroundings, according to the study to be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), scheduled in May in Brisbane.

This allows it to not only make motion plans for its current field of view but also anticipate how it should move around in the hidden fields of view that it has already seen.

“It’s kind of like saving all of the images you’ve seen of the world as a big tape in your head,” Florence said.

“For the drone to plan motions, it essentially goes back into time to think individually of all the different places that it was in,” he added.

The team’s tests demonstrated the impact of uncertainty.

For example, if NanoMap was not modelling uncertainty and the drone drifted just five per cent away from where it was expected to be, the drone would crash more than once every four flights.

Meanwhile, when it accounted for uncertainty, the crash rate reduced to two per cent.

The team believes that the system could be used in fields ranging from search-and-rescue and defence to package delivery and entertainment and can also be applied to self-driving cars and other forms of autonomous navigation. (IANS)

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Global indices, stock-specific buying lift Indian equities

Feb 12, 2018 0

Mumbai– Positive global indices, coupled with healthy buying in capital goods, auto, banking, healthcare and metal stocks, lifted the key Indian equity indices on Monday.

Market observers said investors awaited the retail and industrial inflation data due to be announced in the evening which is expected to give direction to the central bank’s next course of action on raising interest rates.

The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange held the 10,500-mark and closed higher by 84.80 points or 0.81 per cent at 10,539.75 points.

On the BSE, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) closed at 34,300.47 points — up 294.71 points or 0.87 per cent from its previous close.

The Sensex touched a high of 34,351.34 points and a low of 34,115.12 points during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was bullish as 2,050 stocks advanced as against 764 declines.

In terms of the broader markets, the S&P BSE mid-cap index edged higher by 1.31 per cent and the small-cap index by 1.60 per cent.

“Markets bounced back on Monday after the correction seen on last Friday. The gains came on the back of strong global cues,” Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, told IANS.

“Major Asian markets closed on a positive note, barring the Hang Seng index. European indices like FTSE 100, DAX and CAC 40 traded in the green,” he added.

Last week on Friday, the key equities had plunged into the negative territory amid a global sell-off, with the Sensex shedding 407.40 points or 1.18 per cent and the Nifty50 was down 121.90 points.

Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services, said: “On Monday, market reversed from previous day’s losses owing to positive global cues and expectation of marginal decline in January CPI (Consumer Price inflation) inflation today.”

“Mid and small-caps outperformed the benchmark indices as investors start accumulating the over sold stocks. The economy is forecast to improve in the long-term with strong earnings growth which is likely to provide a safety to the ongoing consolidation,” he added.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is slated to release the macro-economic data points of the CPI and IIP (Index of Industrial Production) on Monday evening.

On the currency front, the Indian rupee strengthened by nine paise to close at 64.31 against the US dollar from its previous close at 64.40.

In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 814.11 crore while domestic institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 1,342.70 crore.

Sectorwise, the S&P BSE capital goods index surged by 317.88 points, followed by auto index by 266.55 points and banking index by 197.62 points.

On the other hand, the S&P BSE IT index edged lower by 52.47 points and the Teck (technology, media and entertainment) index by 22.59 points.

Major Sensex gainers on Monday were: Tata Steel, up 4.22 per cent at Rs 712.50; Yes Bank, up 2.89 per cent at Rs 334.95; Power Grid, up 2.51 per cent at Rs 198.05; IndusInd Bank, up 2.12 per cent at Rs 1,686.45; and Hero MotoCorp, up 1.94 per cent at Rs 3,615.

Major Sensex losers were: State Bank of India, down 2.67 per cent at Rs 288.50; Infosys, down 0.72 per cent at Rs 1,103.80; ITC, down 0.53 per cent at Rs 269.85; Mahindra and Mahindra, down 0.43 per cent at Rs 746.70; and ICICI Bank, down 0.23 per cent at Rs 326.

The Indian equity markets will remain closed on Tuesday (February 13) for Mahashivratri. (IANS)

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Britannia net up 20% in Q3

Feb 12, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Food major Britannia Industries Ltd on Monday reported consolidated net profit of Rs 264 crore for the third quarter of 2017-18, registering 20 per cent annual growth from Rs 220 crore in the same period year ago.

In a regulatory filing on the BSE, the city-based company said consolidated total income for the quarter under review grew annually 9 per cent to Rs 2,603 crore from Rs 2.393 crore in the like period year ago.

Sequentially, however, net profit and revenue growth were flat (1.2 per cent and 0.3 per cent) from Rs 261 crore and Rs 2,596 crore last quarter.

“We had 15 per cent growth in the domestic market for the quarter owing to double-digit volume growth on the back of investment in brands and widening distribution network,” said Britannia Managing Director Varun Berry in a statement.

The company’s international business, however, continued to grow slower due to deteriorating geo-political situation and volatile currency in Africa and the Gulf region.

“Though dairy business growth was subdued, profitability improved on driving products with high margin and reducing our play in the less profitable commoditised categories,” admitted Berry.

On the commodity front, prices of key raw material were stable during the quarter.

“We have progressed well in building superior factories. Our greenfield factories at Guwahati and a dedicated facility for servicing export markets at Mundra (Gujarat) are nearing completion for operating them soon,” added Berry.

The company’s blue-chip scrip of Rs 2 face value gained Rs 131.70 when trading ended on the BSE to close at Rs 4,766.55 per share as against Friday’s price of Rs 4,634.85 and opening price of Rs 4,697 and a high of Rs 4,789.95 crore and low of Rs 4,697 during the intra-day session. (IANS)

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Kids shun Facebook, more grandparents join the platform

Feb 12, 2018 0

San Francisco– Facebook is fast losing young users and two million people under the age of 25 in the US will stop using the social networking platform this year, global research firm eMarketer said on Monday.

Facebook is still adding monthly users but older age groups are mainly responsible for this.

The number of total Facebook users in the US will reach 169.5 million this year, up just under 1 per cent from 2017.

“For the first time, less than half of the US Internet users ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook via any device at least once per month,” the eMarketer report added.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s proportion of social network users accessing the platform will continue to decline over the forecast period.

Snapchat is set to gain from Facebook’s loss.

“Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups, since it’s redesigning its platform to be easier to use,” Debra Aho Williamson, Principal Analyst at eMarketer said in a statement.

“The question will be whether younger users will still find Snapchat cool if more of their parents and grandparents are on it. That’s the predicament Facebook is in,” he added.

In 2018, the number of US Facebook users ages 11 and younger will decline by 9.3 per cent.

Additionally, the number of users ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24 will decrease by 5.6 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respectively.

This is also the first time eMarketer predicted a decline in the number of US Facebook users in those age groups.

“Facebook will lose two million users ages 24 and younger this year”, it said.

But not all of those users are migrating to Instagram.

Instagram will add 1.6 million users ages 24 and younger.

“Snapchat, meanwhile, will add 1.9 million users in that age group. Snapchat will continue to have more users ages 12 to 24 compared with that of Instagram,” the report added.

However, Instagram overall is still bigger in the US than Snapchat.

The number of Instagram users will total 104.7 million in 2018, up 13.1 per cent year over year. Snapchat, meanwhile, will see its user base increase by 9.3 per cent to 86.5 million, eMarketer said. (IANS)

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