SC seeks Mallya’s response on banks plea on transfer of $40 million to his children

Jan 11, 2017 0

New Delhi–The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya to respond to the allegation by a consortium of banks led by the SBI that he had transferred $40 million to his children in violation of the orders by the Debt Recovery Tribunal and the Karnataka High Court.

The bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.M.Khanwilkar sought response from Mallya after senior counsel Shyam Divan told the court of the development.

Vijay Mallya (Photo: Twitter)

Divan told the court that Mallya has to pay Rs 9,000 crore to the consortium of 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India, that were loaned to his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines and instead of repaying the money, Mallya transferred it to his children.

Mallya had received $40 million as part of a $75 million settlement with Diageo to step down as Chairman of the Diageo-controlled United Spirits.

Divan argued that $40 million should have come to banks.

Asking Mallya to file a response, the court fixed the next hearing on February 2.

In the course of the last hearings of the matter on October 25, the top court had lashed out on Mallya for failing to make full disclosure of his assets including the details of the $40 million he got in February 2016 from British liquor major Diageo.

Observing that “We are not happy the way disclosure was made,” the court had said it was “prima facie of the view that Vijay Mallya has not made proper disclosure in terms of the order of April 7, 2016”.

Besides SBI, other banks on the consortium are the State Bank of Baroda, State Bank of Mysore, Axis Bank, Corporation Bank, Federal Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, IDBI Bank, Punjab National Bank, Punjab and Sind Bank, UCO Bank and United Bank of India. (IANS)

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Air India seeks explanation from FlightStats

Jan 10, 2017 0

New Delhi– National passenger carrier Air India on Tuesday sought explanation from data services company FlightStats for its report that ranked Air India as the third worst global performer in terms of on-time operations in 2016.

In a letter to FlightStats, Air India contested the data, calling it “unconfirmed information” which was directed at misleading customers.

“The data published in your report is based on unconfirmed information and is directed at misleading the customers and audience at large,” the letter read.

“The report clearly targets Air India and its image. The report has been made public at a time when Air India has just announced major expansion plans by way of induction of fleet and commencement of new international and domestic stations.”

“And, this also leads one to speculate of the intentions behind the entire exercise. Air India will take very strong action and leave no stone unturned to ascertain and bring to light any biased or malicious intent to spoil Air India’s image.”

The development comes a day after an international media reported that Air India has been ranked the third worst airline in the world in terms of its on-time performance during 2016.

According to the letter, Air India ranks among the top 10 carriers in terms of on-time performance amongst the airlines in the prestigious Star Alliance consortium.

“Air India had a consistent good record for the last two years of having clocked an OTP (On Time Performance) of over 78 per cent on its domestic and international network,” the letter said.

“The OTP of Air India ranks at par with its competitors in the domestic sector taking into consideration the fact that Air India operates to every corner of India where there are several infrastructural constraints like sunset limitations and weather conditions affecting schedules.”

“On international sectors, too, Air India’s OTP can no way be termed poor going by the sheer volume of its operations to most international stations.”

In contrast, low-cost carrier IndiGo on Monday reported that it has been recognised as one of the leading “On-Time Performers” in the Asia-Pacific region by FlightStats in its 8th Annual Airline On-Time Performance Service Awards, January 2017.

IndiGo was recognised among major carriers including Japan Airlines, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Jetstar and Jet Airways (India).

The data services company’s website describe its role: “As a leader in flight data services FlightStats, part of FlightGlobal, is in a unique position to be able to provide an in-depth view into how airlines are performing globally.”

“For the past eight years we have been recognizing airlines with our On-time Performance Services (OPS) Awards acknowledging the ‘Best of the Best’.”

The website elaborated that FlightStats OPS Awards recognises airlines around the world that deliver the highest percentage of flights to their arrival gates within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.(IANS)

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S4 Inc. Captures Enterprise IT Management Contract, Ceiling Value of $99 Million

Jan 5, 2017 0

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – S4 Inc. has been awarded a prime contract to provide Information Technology Service Management to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command (NORAD and USNORTHCOM) at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, the company said in a statement.

“We are excited to continue our support to NORAD and USNORTHCOM,” said Chandu Shah, President and CEO of S4 Inc. “Our team understands the N&NC mission and is committed to ensuring that it is absolutely fulfilled.”

Chandu Shah

Bedford, MA-headquartered S4 is founded by Shah and co-founded by his wife, Eshani Shah.

“Many large Aerospace-Defense companies wanting to partner with S4 is the new beginning for our company,” said Eshani, who also serves as director of quality control at S4.

This five-year IDIQ contract is referred to as N2ITSM with places of performance including continental United State (CONUS) as well as Bahamas and Mexico (OCONUS). The ceiling value of the contract is $99 million.

The N2ITSM contract allows S4 Inc. and its team to provide information technology service management including classified and unclassified data, voice, and video networks.

S4 brings over fifteen years of experience providing innovative and responsive IT solutions to US Government and Department of Defense (DoD) customers to this effort.

“This is a great opportunity for S4 and compliments our already outstanding support to N&NC,” said Jay Davis, Vice President at S4 Inc.

Eshani Shah

S4 Inc. is a professional services firm specializing in Enterprise Information Technology (IT) Solutions; Advisory & Assistance Services (A&AS); and cyber security. S4 delivers mission critical support to such organizations as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the US Government, and subordinate agencies and commands.

Headquartered in Bedford, MA, S4 has offices in Colorado Springs, CO, Dayton, OH, Huntsville, AL, and Omaha, NE, as well as project sites across the United States. S4 Inc. is a Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) and holds an ISO 9001certification, as well as a CMMI-SVC Maturity Level 2 rating.

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Helping build brands in the digital space, the Google way

Dec 22, 2016 0

By Venkatachari Jagannathan

Chennai– As the threat looms of Gen Next terming existing brands as their “parents’ brand” and seeking newer alternatives, older brands are increasingly seeking to reinforce and reinvent themselves in the digital space to remain alive, a senior official of Google Inc said.

“With eight Google products having around one billion users per month, we help companies build their brands in the digital space,” Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist, Brand Marketing, told IANS here.

Kallayil said his job does not involve building/promoting Google or its other products, but helping other companies build their brands in the digital space using his company’s products.

The yoga guru at Google and the author of “The Internet to the Inner-neta”, Kallayil would easily pass as a movie industry personality with his jazzy shoes, designer socks, bright red pants, black shirt and black coat, and few would believe he is a corporate executive — and that too someone originally from Kerala.

“India is a land of colours. So I decided to wear clothes that are bright coloured. Also, working in Google one need not be very formally dressed,” said Kallayil, who was here to speak at a seminar on “Reaching Out to the Mobile Indian” organised by the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta Alumni Association, Chennai chapter.

Speaking on the trends in advertising on the internet, Kallayil said there will be more video advertisements in future, but said they would not be intrusive and cited You Tube spots that give the option to skip the ad in four seconds. It should also be noted that most TV commercials are for five seconds.

“The major trend is the increase in mobile phones, online videos and the use of artificial intelligence,” he said.

According to Kallayil, by studying what is being searched online and what is trending, one can provide corporates with data that would help them come out with appropriate products and citied how a cosmetics company came out with its product for ombre hair colouring.

Kallayil sees huge potential in India as the country’s internet population is soon expected to overtake that of the US.

He said the company is developing a product for the Indian market that is simple but declined to reveal details.

According to him, the digital space or the internet is a great leveller as it offers even a small company in an Indian village an opportunity to market its product globally.

“Small Indian companies can not only market their products to the Indian diaspora overseas but also to an entirely new market segment if targeted properly. That is where we come in,” Kallayil said.

“The cost could be even be as low as zero,” he added.

He said on digital space advertisements can not only be targeted but also appropriately timed whereas this is not the case for television or other media.

On what drives innovation at Google, he said nine core principles are distilled from the experiences gained over the last 18 years.

He said the first principle is that innovation comes from anywhere and Google does not have a Chief Innovation Officer like some companies.

The freedom given to employees does wonders. If an idea is backed up by convincing data then the green signal is given, he said. Focusing on the user is an obsession at Google, he added.

The other principles are Think 10X (making a product 10 times better); Radical solution bordering lunacy; Betting on technical insights; Launch and iterate; 20 per cent time (Employees are free to use 20 per cent of their working time to think about innovative ideas); Having a mission that matters; Fail well and Default to open (open to collaborate with others). (IANS)

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Ficci releases paper studying economics of soccer

Dec 7, 2016 0

New Delhi–Industry lobby Ficci on Wednesday released a knowledge paper titled “Economics of Football Around the World”, which explains the game’s economics and identifies the questions needed to be addressed to increase its profile and marketability.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) released the paper in collaboration with Market4Sports, a release said.

soccer-ballA panel discussion, titled “Mission 11 Million: Getting India to Play”, was also held following the launch of the study paper.

“Infrastructure is a factor when you go to high performance, not when you start playing,” U-17 football World Cup Tournament Director Javier Ceppi, to be hosted by India in 2017, said.

Doctor Heath Matthews said the scope of sports science is improving in India and the catch-up is “fantastic”, but the country still needs to conquer the barriers of society.

Ficci also organised India’s fourth International Convention on Football Business, named GOAL 2016, with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) support.

“The New Year will bring Indian football tailwinds that we may not have for a very long time,” U-17 World Cup Project Director Joy Bhattacharya said.

He said 2017 will be a pivotal year for Indian football, adding in order to take the sport forward, it is very important to identify the right ingredients of a favourable environment.

Ficci Sports Committee Chairman Nitin Kukreja said: “Football in India is at a crossroads today. The potential for growth is huge and always has been, and the time is right for football to become India’s number two if not the number one sport.”

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Artificial Intelligence a hot trend in 2017: Ericsson

Dec 6, 2016 0

New Delhi– Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an important development and consumers globally will see it playing a much more prominent role — both in society and at work — next year, a new report said on Tuesday.

Ericsson ConsumerLab, in its annual trend report titled “The 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017 and beyond”, said that 35 per cent of advanced internet users want an AI advisor at work and one in four would like AI as their manager.

At the same time, almost half of the respondents were concerned that AI robots will soon make a lot of people lose their jobs.

With an increase in IoT adoption, two in five believed smartphones will learn their habits and perform activities on their behalf automatically. Also, one in four pedestrians would feel safer crossing a street if all cars were autonomous and 65 per cent of them would prefer to have an autonomous car.

“As autonomous cars become reality, car sickness issues will increase. Three in ten foresee needing sickness pills. One in three also want motion sickness pills for use with virtual and augmented reality technology,” the report added.

While mentioning about the Virtual Reality (VR), the report pointed out that almost four out of five VR users believe it will be indistinguishable from reality in only three years.

“Beyond real time, I believe we should be talking about reality time. In fact, what we call reality becomes ever more personal and subjective,” said Michael Björn, Head of Research at Ericsson ConsumerLab.

“Consumers not only surround themselves with the like-minded on social networks but also are also starting to customise the way they experience the world with augmented and virtual reality technologies,” Björn added.

Over 50 per cent are already use emergency alarms, tracking or notifications on their smartphones. Of those who say their smartphone makes them feel safer, three in five say they take more risks because they rely on their phone.

One in three respondents said social networks are their main source of news and more than one in four value their contacts’ opinions more than politicians’ viewpoints.

“Over half of people would like to use augmented reality glasses to illuminate dark surroundings and highlight dangers. More than one in three would also like to edit out disturbing elements around them,” the report found.

When talking about security, two in five advanced internet users want to use only encrypted services. Almost half would like to have just reasonably good privacy across all services and more than one out of three believes privacy no longer exists.

“Consumers also want the future to remain fully mobile, implying that demand for battery-friendly, instant and fast connectivity is set to grow rapidly. In that sense, reality time means it is time for 5G networks,” Björn noted. (IANS)

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Third-party logistics firms ride on e-com boom in India

Nov 22, 2016 0

By Fakir Balaji

Bengaluru– With the tech-savvy Gen-Next and the upwardly mobile shopping online to buy even their daily needs in cities and towns across India, third-party logistics firms are riding high on the e-commerce boom.

Though leading e-tail behemoths like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have in-house logistics networks and warehouses for quick turn-around of merchandise and their speedy delivery, hundreds of buyers and sellers across verticals depend on third-party logistics companies like GoBolt, Rivigo, BlackBuck and TruckSuvidha for the supply chain in the B2B and B2C segments.

According to a recent study by the global consultancy services firm KPMG, the rapid growth of smartphones, internet penetration, increase in urban households, ease of payment, access and the variety that online shopping offers are fuelling the e-commerce sector across the country.

“The rapid e-commerce growth in retail and other segments has resulted in the emergence of third-party logistics operators, emphasis on service levels, increased penetration in Tier II and Tier III cities, surged cash-on-delivery services, geographic penetration and supply chain security requirements,” said the study.

At a cumulative average growth rate (CAGR) of 40 per cent, the overall e-commerce market in India is projected to touch $136 billion by 2020 from $18 billion in 2014, with online travel segment alone accounting for about 70 per cent followed by e-tailing, financial services, classified, job searches and matrimony.

As one of the fastest-growing markets, e-tailing is expected to grow at 52 per cent CAGR to reach $37 billion by 2020 from $3 billion in 2014.

Of all segments, e-tailing drives the investment and value of the logistics sector, which has spawned a new class of third-party operators. Logistic needs of the e-commerce players are evolving in line with the changing business requirements.

“As a key growth enabler of the e-tail segment, the operators are emerging as a differentiator in terms of customer service. E-commerce firms and logistics providers have to collaborate to drive the industry forward,” the study advocated.

Virtual access to goods and services from anywhere is making netizens and smartphone users even in Tier II and Tier III cities place orders for delivery by third-party logistics providers.

“The increasing numbers of cash-on-delivery orders make the operators devise different cash-handling methods. As more offline retailers move to online channels, the operators have to expand their capacity to handle the growing volumes,” an industry expert told IANS here.

Focus on surface movement will increase demand for a multi-mode mix and new categories will require accurate weight reconciliation systems, which also create new opportunities.

The US-based global information and data firm Nielson said the overall logistics sector in India would witness 48 per cent CAGR to reach $2.2 billion by 2020 from 0.2 billion in 2014

In the derivative sector, the third-party logistics provider and cold chain will be a party of the logistics and warehousing industry, with 10-12 per cent CAGR over the next four years.

“Popularity of cash-on-delivery has compelled the logistics industry to change from traditional mode to tech-based support for the e-commerce firms to ensure speedy delivery of goods, as evident from many of them diversifying their services to make space for e-commerce logistics,” Nielson said.

Although in-house logistics firms command 50 per cent of the e-commerce market, third-party logistics, including traditional providers, have partnered with e-tailers to meet their business requirements.

“With the focus shifting to specialised deliveries from standard, third-party logistics have to invest in capacity-building and related infrastructure,” Nielson pointed out.

Emerging opportunities in the tech-driven logistics industry inspired New Delhi-based Camions Logistics Solutions Ltd to incubate tech-logistics start-up GoBolt in 2015 to provide transport solutions in the B2B segment.

“With in-line haul and short-haul trucking, we provide express and non-express road transportation solutions, route/delivery planning, real-time tracking, reduced transit time and reliable documentation,” GoBolt co-founder Sumit Sharma told IANS.

Set up in September 2015, the year-old firm has recently raised an undisclosed amount of pre-series funding from start-up incubator MCube8 of the financial advisory firm MCube Captial.

“Using e-market place, big data, analytics, fleet management and multi-channel customer interaction systems, we optimise operations and route planning by adopting benchmark practices like double-driver model and hub-relay model,” said the other co-founder, Parag Aggarwal.

With a fleet of 600 trucks, the start-up caters to e-commerce, pharma, automobile, food processing firms and fast-moving consumer and white goods in 35 cities across the country.

Similarly, start-ups like Rivigo, BlackBuck and TruckSuvidha offer third-party, inter-city and inter-state surface transport logistics to retailers and e-tailers in diverse sectors across the country. (IANS)

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Only 15% of Indian family businesses have succession plan: Survey

Nov 21, 2016 0

New Delhi–While three-quarters of Indian family businesses have grown in the past one year, barely 15 per cent of them have a robust succession plan, according to a survey report released on Monday.

The study — 2016 India Family Business Survey Report — released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, showed that 84 per cent of Indian family businesses expect to grow either steadily or quickly and aggressively over the next five years.

“Of those looking at an annual growth of over 10 per cent over the next five years, about 96 per cent said that the growth of core business in existing markets would enable them to reach their targets,” the report said.

According to the survey, over half of the family businesses surveyed said they were looking to expand into new sectors or new countries and would consider inorganic growth.

“Indian family businesses are very optimistic about their future, which is clearly demonstrated by the heightened entrepreneurial activity being witnessed in the country.

“Strategic planning in both dimensions of a family business — the family and the business — will go a long way in enabling family business leaders to achieve their goals,” said Praveen Bhambani, Partner and Leader, Private and Entrepreneurial Business, PwC India.

The consulting firm spoke to 2,802 family business leaders across 50 countries and with 102 family business leaders in India.

The report said that the participants in the survey felt that the key challenges their business would face in the next five years were the need to innovate, keeping pace with the digital and technological development, attracting and retaining talent, competition, need to professionalise the business and regulatory compliances.

It pointed out that the priorities of family businesses for the next five years were “not quite in line” with the challenges anticipated.

Innovation, which is considered the biggest challenge, comes fourth in business priorities — maybe because the need to innovate is linked with revenue growth at the enterprise level.

Digital comes second, yet only 22 per cent of the family businesses feel their business is vulnerable to digitisation, the report added.

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How much should you spend on marketing: Your marketing guide for 2017

Nov 21, 2016 0

By Upendra Mishra

WALTHAM, MA—It is said that if you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same results. If you want to increase your revenue, customer outreach and position yourself as a leader in your marketplace in 2017, you should do things differently. Here is a quick guide and basic fundamentals to plan your 2017 marketing.

Upendra Mishra

Upendra Mishra

Bring Marketing to the Forefront

Your products and services are important. But so is marketing because it will educate your potential customers about the value you bring to the table. If you do it right, your products and services will sell by itself.  That is the goal of marketing.

If marketing has been on the back burner in your company, bring it to the forefront now. Spend time on thinking, planning and strategizing on consolidating exiting clients, bringing old ones back and seeking new customers. Marketing will play a big role in revenue generation.

How Much Should I Spend on Marketing?

The short answer is: spend as much as you afford, but do spend and never spend less than what you did the previous year. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of gross revenue if your revenue less than $5 million per year. Other sources suggest spending up to 13 percent.

Where Should I Start?

Well, a lot has changed in the marketing in recent years. It is no longer just doing PR, getting an article published in trade publications or direct marketing. Now there are so many marketing channels and you want to be everywhere, integrated with the same message. You need a 360-degree view of marketing, including digital, social media, PR, direct and content marketing, web analytics, print or online advertising. If you are unfamiliar with any of these areas, the best thing will be to bring an outside consultant who can audit everything you are doing and make some recommendations. Later, you can decide whether you have the required talent pool to execute those recommendations or if you will need to bring in an outside firm.

Here are some channels to think about

CONTENT MARKETING: Content marketing is the king of online marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 88 percent of Business-to-Business and 76 percent of Business-to-Consumer organizations are using content marketing. What is content marketing? “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,” says Content Marketing Institute. “Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.”

EMAIL MARKETING: Do not underestimate the power of email marketing. Despite powerful spam filters, unsubscribe options and people getting annoyed by too many emails, email marketing is effective. In fact, email marketing holds the second place after search marketing & SEO. According to an article in Forbes magazine, email marketing is responsible for 16 percent of customers acquired, compared with the less than 1 percent acquisition rate from Facebook.

SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING & SEO: Search engine optimization, popularly known as SEO, is one of the most effective marketing tools for increasing online visibility. Yet, 50 percent of businesses doing digital marketing had no form of digital marketing plan or strategy, according to a 2015 study by Smart Insights. In a recent survey by Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Interactive, 89 percent of consumers reported using search engines to inform their purchase decisions, according to Search Engine Land.

VIDEO MARKETING: As the watching habits of people (especially the younger generation) shift to computer screens and mobile devices from traditional television, you should not ignore video marketing. By video marketing, I mean both video advertisements and producing your own video content, which you can host on your website and social media channels, as well as email to your target audience.

Marketing pundits are predicting that video will account for 69 percent of consumer internet traffic soon; 7 in 10 people view brands more positively after watching their video content; and 64 percent of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies, according to Audience Bloom.

In conclusion, identify your marketing deficiencies and market your competitive advantage. “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” –David Packard

(Mr. Mishra is founder and president of the Waltham, MA-based The Mishra Group, an integrated full-service marketing and public relations firm. Since 1997, the Mishra Group has provided comprehensive, results-oriented solutions for the fast-paced new age of online and traditional marketing through the area’s best writers and editors and most talented graphic and Web designers and digital media strategists. For more information, visit: www.MishraGroup.com.)

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Automobile industry aims to create 6.5 crore jobs by 2026

Nov 16, 2016 0

New Delhi– The Indian automobile sector aims to contribute over 12 per cent to the gross domestic product of the country, and create nearly 6.5 crore additional jobs by 2026 over the next decade, said Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Maruti Suzuki India, on Wednesday.

“Our vision is that over the next decade, the Indian Automobile sector must contribute in excess of 12 per cent of the country’s GDP. We want to create nearly 65 million additional jobs by 2026,” Ayukawa said.

According to Ayukawa, at present the automobile industry contributes around 7.1 per cent to the GDP of India and employees nearly 32 million people directly or indirectly.

In the last ten years, the automobile industry has invested around $35 billion.

“Our responsibility towards the communities where we are operating also increases. It’s our duty to develop a sustainable, mutually beneficial and inclusive socio-economic ecosystem,” he said at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturer’s (SIAM) first ever CSR (corporate social responsibility) conclave.

“Over the past 10 years, the Indian automobile industry has made significant contribution to the socio-economic development of village communities. Fortunately, our efforts are well aligned with the Government’s flagship missions of Clean India and Skill India.”

Ayukawa said by 2026, the automobile industry not only seeks to increase mobility, but will also focus on promoting safe, comfortable and environment friendly mobility.

“Our responsibility also entails minimising the negative impacts of use automobiles. We have to address issues like congestion, air pollution, global warming and road accidents,” said Ayukawa.

“Our aim is to be among the top three global automobile markets. This will only happen if we create safe, efficient and environment friendly vehicles.” (IANS)

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