Iceland’s WOW air to commence India operations

May 15, 2018 0

New Delhi– Iceland’s low fare transatlantic airline — WOW air — on Tuesday said that it will commence operations between New Delhi and Keflavik airport to multiple destinations in North America at fares starting from Rs 13,499 including taxes.

According to the low fare transatlantic airline, its India operations will commence from December 7, 2018 with five direct flights a week between New Delhi and Keflavik airport “subject to final completion of regulatory formalities”.

The airline’s Chief Executive and Founder Skúli Mogensen disclosed to IANS that the airline expects to have around 90 per cent load factor or capacity utilisation for its transatlantic flights from New Delhi via Keflavik airport.

Mogensen said that the airline has studied potential new destinations in India and will reveal its future plans to connect them to Iceland and North America within the next 12 months.

Besides, the airline said that it will offer 4 fare options — WOW basic, WOW plus, WOW comfy and WOW premium.

A one-way ticket to Iceland, US, Canada and London in the economy category –WOW basic — will start from Rs 13,499, including taxes, while the business class fares on — WOW premium — will be priced from Rs 46,599 onwards including taxes. (IANS)

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Bank unions announce 48-hour strike from May 30

May 11, 2018 0

Chennai– Over 10 lakh bankers in government and private banks will go on a 48-hour strike starting on May 30, said an All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) leader.

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) proposed the strike beginning 6 a.m. on May 30, till 6 a.m. on June 1, demanding early revision of wages. The wage revision has been due since November 1, 2017.

“The strike notice has been served to Indian Banks Association (IBA) representing the bank management and the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central), New Delhi,” C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA, told IANS.

The UFBU is an umbrella body of nine unions in the banking sector representing staff and officers. Wage revision talks between UFBU and IBA held in Mumbai on May 5 had ended in a failure.

Venkatachalam said the IBA offered an increase of 2 per cent over the total wage bill of the banks as on March 31, 2017.

In the last 10th Bipartite Wage Settlement that was made effective from November 1, 2012, the IBA had agreed to a hike of 15 per cent over the total wage bill.

The unions had rejected the IBA offer, Venkatachalam said.

While the government had asked the IBA to conclude the wage revision settlement before November 1, 2017, the latter has been delaying, he said. (IANS)

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Manufacturing sector decelerates India’s March industrial output

May 11, 2018 0

New Delhi– Lower manufacturing production decelerated India’s industrial output in March to 4.4 per cent from a rise of 7 per cent in February 2018, official data showed on Friday.

As per the data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), on a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the index value remained unchanged. IIP had edged higher by 4.4 per cent in May 2017.

Besides, the data showed that the sequential slowdown in factory output was mainly on account of lower production in the manufacturing sector. (IANS)

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Fortis ‘chose Munjal-Burman for funds certainty’, Manipal feels let down

May 11, 2018 0

New Delhi/Gurugram– The decision by the Fortis Healthcare board to recommend the offer of the Hero and Burman family consortium for sale of its business to the shareholders for approval later this month was primarily guided by the certainty of liquidity flowing in to enable greater efficiency, a top Fortis official said on Friday.

However, other contenders expressed their disappointment over the same.

Following a board meeting here that lasted till late on Thursday, Fortis said its board had decided to recommend the offer of Hero Enterprise Investment Office-Burman Family Office to its shareholders.

“The Board, by a majority, decided to recommend the Hero-Burman family offer to shareholders looking at the binding bids for the point of certainty of liquidity flowing into the company,” Fortis Director Brian Tempest told reporters.

“After many months of engagement with Fortis, including due diligence, we are disappointed that the board has come to this conclusion. Manipal remains of the view that our offer proposed the most appropriate short and long-term plan for Fortis and was in the interests of all stakeholders, including shareholders,” Manipal Group CEO Ranjan Pai said in a statement on Friday.

“Our offer comprised a significant and necessary immediate investment, a clear strategic plan to fundamentally transform Fortis, as well as synergies from a combination with Manipal. It is now for shareholders to decide whether they will accept the board’s recommendation,” he added.

Fortis’ board had received offers from suitors such as Hero Enterprise Investment Office, Burman Family Office, Fosun Health Holdings, Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare Berhad, Manipal Hospital Enterprises and Radiant Life Care for infusion of funds. The bid winners’ offer was not the highest.

“Hero-Dabur have 30-40 investments in healthcare, have one hospital, which has a nurses’ training college and another training hospital. To run this business efficiently, we’ll need a regular supply of nurses and doctors,” Tempest said.

According to Fortis, the entire exercise for selecting the Hero and Burman consortium involved a process that witnessed “deliberation and recommendation” by an independent Expert Advisory Committee (EAC).

The EAC comprised Deepak Kapoor, former Chairman of PWC (India), and Lalit Bhasin, Chairman of the Indian Society of Law Firms, along with two financial advisors — Standard Chartered Bank and Arpwood Capital — while Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas were the legal advisors.

The deal envisages an upfront equity infusion of Rs 800 crore at a price of Rs 167 per share through preferential allotment. The Munjal-Burman consortium has also offered a further amount of Rs 1,000 crore through preferential issue of warrants.

Tempest said five members of the eight-member board had voted in favour of the winners, while three members voted for “another party”, without revealing details.

“There will be a shareholders’ EGM on this on May 22 and I am positive that there will be support from the shareholders for the decision,” he said.

Queried on the issue of the previous promoters Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh continuing on the board of Fortis’ diagnostics arm SRL, Tempest said the brothers should step down.

IHH Healthcare also expressed disappointment over losing the bid for Fortis Healthcare.

“We believe we submitted the most compelling bid for the benefit of all Fortis stakeholders. Our bid, which offers the highest price and most comprehensive solution, addresses the short-term liquidity requirements and long-term strategic objectives of the company,” IHH Chief Executive Tan See Leng said in a statement. (IANS)

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NTPC auction yields solar tariff of Rs 2.73/unit, good response

May 10, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Auctions conducted here for solar power projects of 750 MW at Ananthapuram Solar Park in Andhra Pradesh have resulted in tariffs as low as Rs 2.72-73 per unit, state run generator NTPC said on Thursday.

Auctions in May last year yielded a record low solar tariff of Rs 2.44 per unit.

NTPC sources said the auctions were not for the company but had been conducted by it as part of the Solar Mission programme being implemented by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The three winners, who won 250 MW each, are UK-based Actis’ renewable energy arm Sprng Energy, which quoted a tariff of Rs 2.72 per unit, the British government supported Ayana Renewable Power and SB Energy Solar, a joint venture of Japan’s SoftBank, Taiwan’s Foxconn and Bharti Airtel. Both Ayana and SB Energy quoted Rs 2.73 per unit.

A total of 11 bidders put up bids cumulatively worth 4,000 MW in the NTPC auction, the official said.

According to the Ministry, “the objective of the Solar Mission is to create conditions, through rapid scale-up of capacity and technological innovation, to drive down costs towards grid parity”.

The government has targeted the deployment of 100 gigawatt (GW) of solar power by 2022 out of a total renewable energy target of 175 GW. (IANS)

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India fastest growing economy at 7.4% in 2018: IMF

May 9, 2018 0

By Arul Louis 

United Nations– The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reaffirmed on Wednesday that India will be the fastest growing major economy in 2018, with a growth rate of 7.4 per cent that rises to 7.8 per cent in 2019 with medium-term prospects remaining positive.

The IMF’s Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook report said that India was recovering from the effects of demonetisation and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax and “the recovery is expected to be underpinned by a rebound from transitory shocks as well as robust private consumption.”

Medium-term consumer price index inflation “is forecast to remain within but closer to the upper bound of the Reserve Bank of India’s inflation-targeting banda of four per cent with a plus or minus two per cent change, the report said.

However, it added a note of caution: “In India, given increased inflation pressure, monetary policy should maintain a tightening bias.”

It said the consumer price increase in 2017 was 3.6 per cent and projected it to be five per cent in 2018 and 2019.

“The current account deficit in fiscal year 2017-18 is expected to widen somewhat but should remain modest, financed by robust foreign direct investment inflows,” the report said.

After India, Bangladesh is projected to be the fastest-growing economy in South Asia with growth rates of seven per cent for 2018 and 2019; Sri Lanka is projected to grow at four per cent in 2018 and 4.5 in 2019, and Nepal five per cent in 2018 and four per cent in next. (Pakistan, which is grouped with the Middle East, is not covered in the Asia report.)

Overall, the report said that Asia continues to be both the fastest-growing region in the world and the main engine of the world’s economy.

The region contributes more than 60 per cent of global growth and three-quarters of this comes from India and China, which is expected to grow 6.6 per cent in 2018 and 6.4 per cent in 2019, it said.

The report said that US President Donald Trump’s fiscal stimulus is expected to support Asia’s exports and investment.

The Asian region’s growth rate was expected to be 5.6 per cent for 2018 and 2019.

However, in the medium term the report said that “downside risks dominate” for the region and these include a tightening of global financial conditions, a shift toward protectionist policies, and an increase in geopolitical tensions.

Because of these uncertainties the IMF urged the countries in the region to follow conservative policies “aimed at building buffers and increasing resilience” and push ahead with structural reforms.

“While mobile payments are expanding sharply in such economies as Bangladesh, India, and the Philippines, on average Asia is lagging sub-Saharan Africa,” the IMF said, adding that the region should take steps to ensure it is able to reap the full benefits of increasing digitalisation in the global economy. (IANS)

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India data centre infrastructure spending to grow in 2018

May 8, 2018 0

New Delhi– While data centre infrastructure hardware spending by enterprises in India will reach $2.7 billion in 2018, a 2.6 per cent increase from 2017, the software investment will register 10 per cent increase to touch $3.6 billion mark, a new report from market research firm Gartner said on Tuesday.

“Digital business initiatives are forcing infrastructure and operations leaders in India to adopt a hybrid IT infrastructure model that can deliver reliable, innovative and cost-effective solutions to the business in a timely manner,” Santhosh Rao, Research Director at Gartner, said in a statement.

As organisations modernise their Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) infrastructure to support digital business needs, end-user spending on networking equipment is expected to grow in 2018.

In contrast, on-premises server and storage spending would decline marginally as a result of Public Cloud migration.

“Technologies such as Software-Defined Data Centres (SDDC) are helping businesses optimise their existing resources and as a result reducing overall spend on compute and storage resources,” added Rao.

Gartner also said that with most organisations having a Cloud-first strategy — and new business applications are most likely to be developed and hosted using Public Cloud services — the spending on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) in India is set to reach $1 billion in 2018 — up 45.5 per cent year-over-year.

In addition, the availability of hyperscale data centres such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure in India as well as local providers ramping up to provide public cloud services have become compelling reasons for Indian organisations to move toward IaaS.

According to Gartner, an increase in the number of migrations of on-premises office suites to software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based offerings like Google G suite and Microsoft Office 365 is another notable trend.

Indian businesses are expected to spend close to $275 million on Cloud office suites in 2018 – a 37 per cent increase year-over-year, the firm noted. (IANS)

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India launches biggest city gas distribution auction

May 8, 2018 0

New Delhi– In a major step towards ushering in a clean gas-based economy, India on Tuesday launched its biggest auction of city gas distribution (CGD) networks, offering permits for selling compressed and piped natural gas (CNG and PNG) in 86 geographical areas.

Awards from the 9th CGD licensing round would help bring gas coverage to 174 districts in 22 states and Union Territories, covering 29 per cent of the country’s area and 24 per cent of the population, said Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launching the bidding round here.

According to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), which organised a roadshow here to promote the auction, the ninth bid round is expected to attract investment of Rs 70,000 crore.

“This is the biggest step so far in CGD expansion, towards raising the gas share in the country’s energy mix from 6.2 per cent to 15 per cent in a few years,” Pradhan said.

So far, existing 91 geographical areas have been awarded to companies like Indraprastha Gas, GAIL Gas and Gujarat Gas, which cover 11 per cent of area and 19 per cent of the population.

The existing CGD networks are concentrated in the northern and western regions of the country.

“With this, the regulator is also acting as a facilitator for the CGD network,” Pradhan said referring to the role of the PNGRB.

Changes have been made to the bidding conditions to facilitate greater return from the exercise. For instance, CGD networks have been granted status of utilities by the Union Labour Ministry.

Under the changed parameters, maximum weightage of 50 per cent has been given to the number of piped gas connections proposed in eight years from the date of authorisation, as against 30 per cent earlier.

The number of CNG dispensing stations proposed to be set up has been given 20 per cent weightage. Length of the pipeline to be laid in a geographical area, and the tariffs proposed for city gas and CNG have been granted 10 per cent weightage each.

Besides, there is a floor tariff of Rs 30 for city gas and Rs 2 per kg for CNG to prevent bidders from quoting unviably low tariffs.

Companies with net worth of not less than Rs 150 crore can bid for cities with a population of 50 lakh and more, while it is Rs 100 crore for cities with 20 lakh to 50 lakh population. Firms with Rs 5 crore net worth are eligible to bid for cities that have less than 10 lakh population.

The authorised entity has to achieve financial closure within 270 days from the date of grant of licence.

The winning company would have 8 years of marketing exclusivity in the city, as against the current 5-year licence.

The last day for bidding is July 10.

Cities for which CGD licences are on offer include Bhopal, Ahmednagar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Barmer, Alwar, Coimbatore, Salem, Allahabad, Amethi, Rai Bareli, Burdwan and Dehradun. (IANS)

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Gradual economic recovery seen in India: UN ESCAP

May 8, 2018 0

New Delhi– A gradual economic recovery is seen in India, as the corporate sector adjusts to GST and infrastructure spending improves, said a UN report — Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific — on Tuesday.

“A gradual recovery is foreseen in India, according to the report; with private investment being expected to revive as the corporate sector adjusts to GST, infrastructure spending and corporate and bank balance sheets improving with government support,” the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) said in a statement here.

As per the report, the 2018 growth rate is expected to moderate in South and South-West Asia, before picking up again in 2019.

“The annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific forecasts economic growth to moderate to 6 per cent in 2018 in South and South-West Asia (from 6.4 per cent in 2017), before picking up to 6.2 per cent in 2019,” the statement said.

“South and South-West Asia remains the fastest growing sub-region in Asia-Pacific, according to the survey.”

In addition, the report pointed out that due to robust domestic demand and improved global economic prospects, developing economies in the Asia-Pacific region are projected to grow by 5.5 per cent in both 2018 and 2019, with a slight moderation in China offset by a recovery in India and steady performance in the rest of the region. (IANS)

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India only major economy with talent surplus by 2030: Study

May 7, 2018 0

Mumbai– As increasing global talent crisis is likely to cost different countries $8.5 trillion by 2030. India is the only major world economy with a potential for talent surplus, as per a study by a global executive search firm.

India may even challenge America’s position in technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector, said the ‘Global Talent Crunch’ study by Korn Ferry International Inc.

“Left unchecked, the financial impact of this talent shortage amounts to $8.5 trillion in unrealised annual revenue globally over the next 12 years,” it pointed out.

“Interestingly, the country that’s at the other end of the spectrum is India. The world’s sixth largest economy is the only one in the study which will have a talent surplus by 2030, with 245 million more workers in the next 12 years,” it said.

The study covered 20 major developed and developing economies in three regions — the Americas (Brazil, Mexico, the US), EMEA (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the UAE, the UK) and Asia Pacific (Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand).

The model focuses on three knowledge-intensive sectors within each market that act as critical drivers of global economic growth: financial and business services; TMT; and manufacturing. It also examines the remainder of each economy, said Korn Ferry.

The imminent skilled labour shortage could ultimately shift the global balance of economic power by 2030, if left unaddressed, the study said, and added that technological advancement could be hindered by an acute global labour shortage of 4.3 million TMT workers by 2030.

“India will see a Level A (highly skilled) TMT surplus of 1.3 million workers by 2030, offering yet more opportunities for the nation. India could challenge America’s position well before 2030 in the TMT sector,” said the firm.

The study forecasts a talent deficit of 85 million workers by 2030 across the economies analysed and the largest threat in the near term is faced by the US, Japan, France, Germany and Australia with a combined opportunity cost of $1.87 trillion by 2020.

However, the 245 million talent surplus in India poses twin challenge of employability and job creation, the study noted. “If let unchecked, the talent surplus will add to our woes of jobless growth and unemployment,” said Bhavna Sud, Client Partner, Korn Ferry India.

Sud said the companies across the world need to re-think their hiring and talent management processes.

“Hire for fit and culture rather than skills because skills come with a shelf life now. Hire people high on agility and make continuous learning a part of your life. Retain your best and show them a growth path,” she said, sharing some of the study’s suggestions. (IANS)

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