IndUS Business Journal

Tech Mahindra re-appoints Gurnani as MD & CEO

Aug 1, 2017 0

Mumbai–C. P Gurnani was Tuesday re-appointed as the Managing Director & CEO of Tech Mahindra for a period of five years.

The company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange that the board meeting held on Tuesday approved re-appointment of Gurnani as Managing Director & CEO with effect from August 10, 2017.

C.P. Gurnani

Appointed as Managing Director of Tech Mahindra in 2012, Gurnani was in June 2009 appointed CEO of Mahindra Satyam, succeeding A.S. Murthy who was appointed by the government board after the multi-crore rupee scam broke out in the then Satyam Computer Services.

Popular as CP in his peer group, he played a key role in the transformation of Mahindra Satyam and its eventual merger with Tech Mahindra.

Previously, he headed Tech Mahindra’s global operations, sales and marketing functions, and led the development of the company’s competency and solution units.

An alumnus of National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela, he has held several leading positions with HCL Hewlett Packard Limited, Perot Systems (India) Limited and HCL Corporation Ltd in his career.

Gurnani served as Nasscom’s chairman for 2016-17. (IANS)

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India’s life insurance sector to grow 15-18 percent

Aug 1, 2017 0

Chennai–The Indian life insurance industry is expected to log a growth of 15 to 18 per cent this fiscal on an annual premium equivalent (APE), said a senior official at credit rating agency ICRA.

Presenting the performance of the life insurance sector at a webinar on Tuesday, Karthik Srinivasan, Senior Vice-President, ICRA, said that, on APE basis, the industry’s new business growth stood at 19 per cent last fiscal over the previous fiscal.

APE is the total premium after normalising the policy premiums into equivalent of regular annual premium. Life insurers also sell single premium policy and normally 10 per cent of that is taken to compute the APE.

Srinivasan said the industry is expected to log an APE growth of 15-18 per cent this fiscal.

Queried about the negative APE growth percentage, Srinivasan told IANS: “The 19 per cent APE growth last fiscal was sort of an aberration. In FY16, the APE growth was only 11 per cent. Hence on a conservative side, I have put the APE growth between 15-18 per cent.”

The paper analysed the performance of 11 life insurers (comprising LIC and ten companies from the private sector) collectively representing around 95 per cent of the industry-wide new business premium in FY2017.

He said despite the adoption of technology for various parts of policy issuance and servicing, the cost structure of life insurers has increased during the nine month period of last fiscal.

“This increase in expenses is partly on account of higher administration and employee related expenses, as the industry looks to build for a scale-up,” Srinivasan said.

He said the solvency levels for the life insurance companies look adequate with the median solvency levels for the ten private layers analysed at 2.3 times as on December 2016 as against a regulatory minimum of 1.5 times.

Srinivasan said the solvency levels would decline over a period of time as life insurers scale up the mix of traditional products.

He said the companies can grow their business without raising external equity capital over the near to medium term.

“They also have the flexibility to raise Tier II bonds to bolster the regulatory solvency levels. However, higher capital raise at the industry levels would help the industry raise more risk capital and aid in greater insurance penetration,” he said. (IANS)

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Price reduction, good monsoon drives auto sales up in July

Aug 1, 2017 0

New Delhi/Chennai–The price reduction in automobiles following the successful roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the good monsoon spurred vehicle sales last month, said industry officials on Tuesday.

“The benefit of a good monsoon, the successful rollout of GST and a good run up to the festive season, starting from August, give us confidence of continuing a robust growth in Q2,” said Rajan Wadhera, President, Automotive Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M).

Passenger car major Maruti Suzuki India reported a rise of 20.6 per cent in its monthly sales for July 2017, selling 165,346 units in July from 137,116 units sold during the corresponding month of 2016.

Maruti’s domestic sales edged higher by 22.4 per cent to 154,001 units from 125,778 units.

However, exports inched-up by 0.1 per cent with only 11,345 units shipped out during July 2017, down from 11,338 units sold abroad in the like period of 2016.

The second largest car maker in the country Hyundai Motor India said its domestic sales in the month increased to 43,007 units from 41,201 units in July 2016.

Further, the company reported a month-on-month sales growth of 14.5 per cent due to healthy demand for its automobile models like Grand i10, Elite i20 and Creta.

Rakesh Srivastava, Director – Sales and Marketing, Hyundai Motor India, said: “Hyundai with a growth of 14.5 per cent month on month and 4.4 per cent year on year continued its growth momentum…”

Similarly Tata Motors Ltd reported seven per cent rise in its total sales.

According to the company, the total sales of its passenger and commercial vehicle increased to 46,216 units from 43,160 vehicles sold in July 2016.

Tata Motors’ domestic sales of Tata commercial and passenger vehicles for July 2017 were higher by 13 per cent at 42,775 units from 37,789 units sold during the corresponding month of last year.

“The overall commercial vehicles sales in July 2017, in the domestic market were at 27,842 numbers, higher by 15 per cent over July 2016, due to ramp-up of BS4 production, across segments,” the company said in a statement.

“The company also passed on the benefits of GST to consumers by reducing the prices of its vehicles across all commercial vehicle segments.”

The company exported 3,441 units in July 2017, “a decline of 6 per cent, compared to 5,371 vehicles sold in July 2016, due to drop in volumes in Sri Lanka and Nepal,” the statement added.

The other commercial vehicles major Ashok Leyland Ltd sold 11,981 units last month — up from 10,492 units sold in July 2016.

On its part, SUV major M&M logged six per cent sales growth last month at 41,747 units up from 39,458 units sold during July 2016.

The company’s domestic sales were higher by 13 per cent to 39,762 vehicles during last month from 35,305 units sold during July 2016.

“We have registered a growth of 21 per cent in the passenger vehicle segment and a growth of 13 per cent in overall domestic vehicle sales,” Wadhera said.

Similarly Ford India sold 26,075 vehicles up from 17,742 units sold in the corresponding month last year.

“Despite the administrative challenges associated with the introduction of GST, Ford has continued to grow faster than the industry,” Anurag Mehrotra, President and Managing Director, Ford India, was quoted as saying in a statement.

Two and three wheeler makers too logged good growth last month with Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India growing its sales by 20 per cent to 544,508 units.

On its part, Hero MotoCorp reported a sales of 623,269 units last month up from 532,113 units sold in July 2016.

Two- and three-wheeler maker TVS Motor Company said it sold 271,171 units (two-wheelers 263,336 units, three-wheelers 7,835 units) last month — up from 248,002 units (two-wheelers 240,042, three-wheelers 7,960 units) sold in July 2016. (IANS)

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International Chef Devanand Chinta Joins Dharani Group of Restaurants as a Partner and as Chief Executive Chef

Aug 1, 2017 0

WESTBROUGH, MA– International chef Devanand Chinta has joined the fast-growing Dharani group of restaurants as a partner and as its Chief Executive Chef.

“We are very excited to have Deva join our management team and lead the growth of Dharani restaurants in targeted markets across the country,” said Bhaskar Rednam, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Altamount Restaurant Group, the parent company of Dharani. “We are looking forward to working him and taking our restaurants to the next level of service and authentic Indian cuisine.”

Devanand Chinta

The group already has been operating several Dharani restaurants in Massachusetts:  Westborough, Woburn and Franklin. By end of this year, Altamount is opening Dharani Galaxy, an Indian food court in Westborough that will have four Indian restaurants with different flavors and a gathering place with a podium and stage. In addition, Altamount has Dharani restaurants in North and South Carolina, Connecticut, New York and Texas.

“It is one of the best decisions I have made to join the Altamount Restaurant Group.  It balanced my work and family life,” Chinta told INDIA New England News. “Professionally, it has helped me get involved in the community and embrace the cuisine with pride. My career in hotels and large organizations taught me discipline and love for the job, which I have received from this company. There is a great leadership from Mr. Bhakar Rednam as our mentor.”

A native of Hyderabad, India, Chinta is no stranger on the international cuisine scene, especially in New England. He started his culinary career more than 18 years ago and has worked in Oberoi Hotel in Hyderabad,  Les Quatre Saisons Hôtel in Paris, Waterside Inn in London, Carnival Cruise Line in Miami, InterContinental Boston. Most recent ly, Chinta served  as executive chef for  Marriott Hotels  and worked at Harvard Business School as one of their chefs.

What is his role and responsibilities are going to be at Dharani?

“I am responsible for day-to-day operation of restaurants and product development with procurement of right product,” Chinta said. “I overlook sanitation procedures and well-being of all the staff by doing trainings across the restaurant group.”

He said that Indian restaurant market in New England and across the country has changed dramatically in recent years.

“Indian market has grown and changed exceptionally. I have been in this career for 18 years and I have seen great changes in the marketplace,” said Chinta, adding that despite changes when it comes to food customers still look back to their culture.

“Their expectations have changed and global trends are entering Indian market scene. Indian weddings are doing a more corporate look and feel and are moving slightly from traditional point,” Chinta said. “There is now a high degree of personalization. People are spending more per guest. They are adding more interesting decor, food and themes. Even destination of weddings and social events are changing in a very exotic way, choosing various locations and venues.”

As with everything else, menus have changed as well.

“There are a lot of traditional and modern aspects playing a role in the Indian wedding market.  We as Dharani Restaurant group and with so much experience are ready to capture this market and deliver the promise with exceptional cuisine in a traditional way and service through modern way.”

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Academia-industry interface body needed

Jul 31, 2017 0

By Sahana Ghosh

Kolkata–With Indian scientific institutions facing flak for failing to translate and commercialise technology from labs to the market, the government has been urged to set up a separate organisation at the academia-industry interface to enable this, says Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Sekhar Basu.

“We have recommended there should be a separate organisation at the interface of academia and industry where we (scientific organisations) can go and offer them (the industry) the technology.

“This organisation can work at the interface between the industries who do the production and the scientists who have the technology. There is a commercial aspect to it and some technology aspect as well. That is what we exactly miss,” Basu told IANS in an interview here on the sidelines of an event.

Sekhar Basu

In his address at the event organised by the Indian Institute of Metals, the head of the country’s atomic energy regulator had noted that Indian science was a “big failure” in this regard.

“Currently scientific institutions are under a lot of criticism because of the fact that our things are not going from lab to land. We are a big failure in this.”

Asked to elaborate, Basu, who is also Secretary, Atomic Energy, told IANS that scientific institutions had come together recently at a meeting to float the idea to the Central government.

“We need to do this in a commercial way. The government is doing something about it; so we will probably know and be able to take it forward,” he said.

On the nuclear technology front, Basu said India is looking forward to the operationalisation of the landmark India-Japan civil nuclear deal, which was signed in November 2016 but only came into force earlier this month.

India is the first non-member of the non-proliferation treaty to have signed such a deal with Japan. The deal clears the way for the US and French nuclear firms, which have alliances with Japanese companies, to engage in nuclear commerce with India. The Japanese technology is needed for the US and French firms to start the construction of nuclear reactors for India.

Basu says there are twin benefits of the deal: Good credit terms as well as nuclear technology.

“Japan may not be supplying reactors straight away, but we expect they may supply components to the reactor suppliers. We can get good credit terms… like the very good credit terms that are coming in for the bullet train… not only technology but also credit terms, so both together. In this (deal) we are looking for equipment and credit,” he said.

Japanese firms have major stakes in companies like America’s Westinghouse and French multinational group Areva which plan to build reactors in India. Japan’s Toshiba is a major owner of Westinghouse.

“Areva is going through financial trouble and they are going through restructuring… similarly Westinghouse is in financial trouble. Once they are ready, we will take it and we have some conditions like it should be cheap (commercially viable) and they should have a reference reactor. These two conditions have to be met,” said Basu.

Asked about the controversy over India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Basu said the resistance (from countries like China which argue India is not an NPT signatory) is “not making much of a difference now” due to the waiver granted to it in 2008 by the premier group to access civil nuclear technology.

However, he said, the membership is crucial for India in the long term.

“The reactors that we are buying… only because we had got the waiver. The waiver was required because we do not have uranium, we have not started mining this uranium. Now we have established that we have a lot of uranium but we have to open up those mines and mine opening takes time and there is public resistance, etc.

“All taken together it is taking time, but once we are able to do a good amount of mining… other things are not so complicated.

“If we become part of the NSG, it will help us gain better recognition and open up to the world,” he said.

“That (resistance to enter NSG) will be there. As of now it is not making much of a difference because we have got the waiver, but long term it should be there. Why should we be isolated? We are a responsible country… we have our own pride,” he added. (IANS)

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India negotiating 21 trade agreements with different countries: Minister

Jul 31, 2017 0

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the government was in the process of negotiating 21 trade agreements with different countries, including Israel and Mauritius.

“The Department of Commerce is negotiating 21 trade agreements including with Israel and Mauritius. The Free Trade Agreements (FTA) negotiations are a continuous process and it is difficult to predict a time-line for conclusion,” Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

As regards an FTA with Eurasian Economic Union, a joint statement to launch negotiations for FTA between India and the Union has been signed on June 3.

“Assessment evaluation of FTAs is a continuous process including on sectors such as steel and agriculture. Before entering into negotiations with its trading partners, studies are undertaken internally, as well as through the Joint Study Group (JSG) to study the feasibility of the proposed FTAs, including their impact on the domestic stakeholders including the apex chambers of commerce and industry, industry associations as well as the administrative ministries and departments,” she said.

In order to protect the interest of the domestic industry and agriculture sector, these agreements provide for maintaining sensitive/negative lists of items on which limited or no tariff concessions are granted under the FTA.

The government has largely adopted a conservative policy on agricultural products by maintaining a large number of them in the negative list of FTAs.

In addition, in case of a surge in imports and injury to the domestic industry, a country is allowed to take recourse to the measures such as anti-dumping and safeguards.

India has not entered into any new FTA or Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) during the last three years. However, India expanded the scope of the India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade in Goods (TIG) agreement in November, 2014 to cover both services and investment with its date of implementation being July 1, 2015.

As of now, 11 FTAs are in force with countries, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia.

Six PTAs are in force with countries including, Afghanistan and Chile. (IANS)

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Artha Tatwa Group chief, two others get jail in Odisha scam

Jul 31, 2017 0

Bhubaneswar–A court here on Monday sentenced Artha Tatwa Group chief Pradip Sethy and two company directors to seven-year imprisonment for their involvement in the chit fund scam in Odisha.

The Bhubaneswar Chief Judicial Magistrate convicted Sethy, Srikrushna Padhee, and Manoj Patanik in a case registered at the Kharvel Nagar police station here.

Informed sources said the company had duped thousands of depositors of over Rs 500 crore.

Earlier, a Special CBI court had sentenced Sethy to seven years of imprisonment.

The group, registered under the Companies Act and Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, collected money from small investors in Odisha with a promise of high returns ranging from 15 to 20 per cent.

Along with Sethy, 20 company employees were also arrested for their involvement in the chit fund scam.

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Snapdeal terminates discussions to sell out to Flipkart

Jul 31, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Leading e-tailer Snapdeal on Monday said it was terminating strategic discussions to sell its stake, ostensibly to rival Flipkart, as it had decided to pursue an independent path.

“As we have been exploring strategic options over the months, we have decided to pursue an independent path and terminate all strategic discussions, said a Snapdeal spokesperson in a statement, without referring to Flipkart.

A company official, who did not want to be identified, however told IANS that the formal negotiations scheduled here between the two e-tailers on Monday here were called off at a short notice.

Though Flipkart declined to confirm that its meeting with Snapdeal was cancelled, the latter’s official admitted that their representatives could not meet to take the abandoned ‘deal’ forward.

“We have a compelling direction (Snapdeal 2.0) to create life-changing experiences for millions of buyers and sellers across the country,” said the statement.

After Flipkart offered to buy out the Gurgaon-based Snapdeal at its revised $900-950 million price, the latter’s board decided to seek the consent of its investors, including Ratan Tata and Premjiinvst of Wipro czar Azim Premji for exiting the e-tail business.

Other strategic and institutional investors in Snapdeal are Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Foxconn, Temasek and BlackRock.

“With the sale of certain non-core assets, we expect to be financially self-sustainable. We look forward to the support of our community, including employees, sellers, buyers and other stakeholders in helping us create a designed-for-India commerce platform,” added the spokesperson.

Snapdeal has seen its fortunes dwindling in the face of stiff competition from Amazon and Flipkart.

Later, in an e-mail to his 1,200 odd employees, Snapdeal co-founder and Chief Executive Kunal Bahl said a lot of time and effort went into the process, leading to speculation and uncertainty for the team, partners and investors.

“We will continue the journey as an independent company. The opportunity of e-commerce in India is immense and the surface of the $200-billion market has barely been scratched yet,” he said.

Affirming that the company had all the ingredients of success, the CEO said it was time for all to focus on the business and leverage its strength to build the best marketplace to connect buyers to sellers across the country.

On calling off talks with Flipkart, Bahl said the deal was complex to execute as reported by the media.

“First of all, there isn’t going to be one successful model for e-commerce in India. In every market, there are multiple successful e-commerce businesses, and as long as one’s strategy is differentia ted and has a clear path to success, there is a great company that can be built,” he noted.

Elaborating on Snapdeal 2.0 (version), he said the new direction would enable anyone to setup a store online and focus on providing a wide range of products at great prices to consumers.

“We made progress on this new path over the months and are profitab le to make upwards of Rs 150 crore in gross profit in the next 12 months,” he claimed.

Following streamlining of costs and sale of some assets like FreeCharge, Bahl said the company was financially self-sufficient and did not need to raise additional capital to reach profitability.

“Needless to say, we need to keep a tight control on our costs and work towards becoming an efficient culture, delivering profitable growth, month on month,” averred Bahl.

Snapdeal on July 27 sold its mobile wallet FreeCharge subsidiary to the Mumbai-based Axis Bank for Rs 385 crore.

With many team members reiterating that the company should continue in its independent capacity, Bahl said the decision was made and there was no ambiguity about it. (IANS)

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India’s industrial output slows down in June

Jul 31, 2017 0

New Delhi– Production in India’s eight major industries slowed down during June, as the total output rose only by 0.4 per cent as against an increase of 4.1 per cent in May 2017, official data showed on Monday.

The Eight Core Industries (ECI) data, which represents the output of major industrial sectors like coal, steel, cement and electricity, grew by seven per cent in the corresponding month of 2016.

“The combined index of ECI stands at 121 in June 2017, which was 0.4 per cent higher compared to the index of June 2016,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in the summary report for the index of ECI.

“Its cumulative growth during April to June, 2017-18, was 2.4 per cent.”

The ECI index comprises 40.27 per cent weightage of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

On a sector-specific basis, refinery production, which has the highest weightage of 28.03 per cent, slipped by 0.2 per cent in June 2017 as compared with the corresponding month of last year.

However, electricity generation, which has the second highest weightage of 19.85 per, rose by 0.7 per cent last month.

Steel production, the third most important component with weightage of 17.92 per cent, increased by 5.8 per cent during the month under review. Conversely, coal mining, with a 10.33 per cent weightage, decreased by 6.7 per cent in June 2017.

Extraction of crude oil, which has an 8.98 per cent weightage, inched up by 0.6 per cent during the month under consideration.

On the other hand, the sub-index for natural gas output, with a weightage of 6.88 per cent stood higher by 6.4 per cent.

Besides, cement production, which has the weightage of 5.37 per cent, decreased by 5.8 per cent in June 2017.

In contrast, fertiliser manufacturing, which has the least weightage of only 2.63 per cent, decreased by 3.6 per cent. (IANS)

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SBI cuts savings deposit rate by 50 basis points to 3.5 percent

Jul 31, 2017 0

Mumbai– The State Bank of India (SBI) on Monday announced a 50 basis points (bps) cut in the interest rates for savings accounts having deposits below Rs 1 crore, effective immediately.

The revised interest rate for savings accounts having up to Rs 1 crore deposit now stands at 3.5 per cent while those having above Rs 1 crore balance in their savings accounts will continue to enjoy the 4 per cent interest rate.

“The bank is introducing a two-tier saving bank interest rate with effect from July 31, 2017. While balance above Rs 1 crore will continue to earn interest at 4 per cent per annum, interest at 3.5 per cent per annum shall be offered on balances of Rs 1 crore and below,” the largest public lender said in a BSE filing.

“The decline in the rate of inflation and high real interest rates are the primary considerations warranting a revision in the rate of interest on savings bank deposits,” SBI said.

SBI Managing Director Rajnish Kumar said that 90 per cent of the total savings accounts held by the bank have balance below Rs 1 crore.

He said the cut in interest rates was not likely to affect the number of savings accounts with the bank or its current and savings account (CASA) ratio.

“It is the convenience, safety, trust which is still in the bank’s favour. We are not anticipating any major impact on the CASA ratio or saving accounts,” he said.

SBI had maintained the 3.5 per cent interest rates for its savings accounts from 2003-11. In 2011, it was increased to 4 per cent for all saving deposit accounts.

Kumar said the rate cut had nothing to do with the impending Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary policy on August 2.

Further, the bank had cut the marginal cost based lending rates (MCLR) by 90 bps effective from January 1, on the strength of large inflows in savings and current accounts during the demonetisation period in the month of November and December 2016.

“There has been a significant outflow of CASA deposits since then. The revision in saving bank rate would enable the bank to maintain the MCLR at the existing rates, benefiting a large segment of retail borrowers in Small and Medium enterprise (SME), agriculture and affordable housing segments,” it said. (IANS)

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