Fortis Healthcare sets up advisory panel to evaluate proposals

Apr 19, 2018 0

Mumbai– Fortis Healthcare on Thursday decided to constitute an “expert advisory committee” to evaluate all binding proposals for fund infusion.

The company’s Board in a regulatory filing with the BSE said while evaluating all the offers from suitors such as Hero Enterprise-Burman Family, Fosun Health Holdings, IHH Healthcare Berhad and Manipal Hospital Enterprises approved the constitution of the panel to “oversee the evaluation process and function as an advisor”.

As per the filing, the committee has “been requested to provide a report of its recommendation to the Board, by April 26, 2018, and will be chaired by Deepak Kapoor, Former Chairman and CEO of Price Waterhouse Coopers, India”.

The panel is likley to meet by April 25 to decide on the merger or buy offers, Brian Tempest, Director of Board, Fortis Healthcare, said in a conference call following the Board meet.

“The Board is scheduled to meet on April 26, 2018 to decide the further course of action. Standard Chartered Bank, the company’s financial advisors has been directed to assist the expert advisory committee and the Board,” the BSE filing said.

Tempest also clarified that there was no proposal from KKR-backed hospital chain Radiant Lifecare as was widely speculated.

Earlier in the day, Fortis Healthcare informed the BSE in two separate filings, that its Board has received two improved binding offer to invest in the company from Hero Enterprise Investment Office and the Burman Family Office as well as IHH Healthcare Berhad.

The new binding offer from Hero Enterprise Investment Office and the Burman Family Office entails an investment of Rs 1,500 crore directly in the company and will replace the original offer made to the Board on April 12, 2018.

On April 12, 2018 Hero Enterprise promoted by Sunil Munjal and the Burman family offered to invest Rs 1,250 crore directly in Fortis Healthcare.

After the board meet Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Enterprise said: “We are pleased to note that the Board of Fortis Healthcare has found merit in our offer, which is simple, binding and is the quickest to implement. We believe that our offer is the most compelling, and is significantly better than any other options being explored by the company. We believe that this is the only offer which is in the best interest of all stakeholders of Fortis.”

In a separate stock exchange filing to the BSE, Fortis said that it has received a “supplemental proposal” from IHH.

On April 14, the company reported that it has received EoI from IHH Healthcare Berhad for possible due diligence and participation with the company.

The IHH in its letter to the company’s Board on April 11, 2018 made an offer of Rs 160 per Fortis share.

On Thursday, Fortis Healthcare’s shares closed trading at Rs 148.45 per share, up 2.66 per cent at the BSE.

Besides IHH, Fortis Healthcare has received “an unsolicited non-binding expression of interest (EoI)” from Fosun Health Holdings for a possible due diligence.

Fosun Health Holdings, in its letter to the company’s Board, made an offer of a “primary infusion at a price up to Rs 156 per share, subject to due diligence to be completed within three weeks, up to a total investment of $350 million” including a preliminary investment of up to Rs 100 crore.

However, Fortis Healthcare on March 27 had announced plans to demerge its hospitals business (Fortis Hospitals) into Manipal Hospital Enterprises Private Ltd (Manipal Hospitals).

The company at that time said the proposed transaction is subject to shareholders’ approval, creditors’ approval, applicable regulatory approvals (including Competition Commission of India, SEBI, stock exchanges and National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)) and other customary conditions precedent.

The company’s board has also approved the sale of its 20 per cent stake in SRL Ltd to Manipal Hospitals. (IANS)

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Defence Ministry website hacked, nine more sites affected

Apr 6, 2018 0

New Delhi– The Defence Ministry’s official website was hacked on Friday while nine other government sites, including that of the Home Ministry, also crashed in no time. But the government said it was all due to a “process of technical upgradation”.

The trouble began with the Defence Ministry website where a Chinese character appeared on top of its home page when www.mod.gov.in was opened. Later, the words “the site cannot be reached” and “please try again” appeared.

Minutes later, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took to Twitter to say: “Action is initiated after the hacking of MoD website.

“The website shall be restored shortly. Needless to say, every possible step required to prevent any such eventuality in the future will be taken,” she said.

The National Information Centre (NIC), however, refuted the Defence Ministry website had been hacked.

“https://mod.gov.in is not hacked. There is some technical issue since 2.30 p.m. today (Friday). Drupal theme https://www.drupal.org/project/zen framework. The site displayed the default logo,” NIC tweeted.

Soon after the Defence Ministry website episode, other government sites — including those of the Union Home Ministry, Water Resources Ministry, Labour Ministry and Law Ministry — crashed on Friday.

When opened, the home pages of all these sites displayed error messages “the requested service is temporarily unavailable. Sorry for Inconvenience. It would be available soon.”

A Home Ministry spokesperson said its departmental website was not hacked and that “it was a process of technical upgradation as security features were being upgraded”.

Gulshan Rai, head of the Computer Emergency Response Team or CERT, said there had been no cyber attack on any government website or any sabotage.

“It is a hardware failure, affecting around 10 government websites. Drupal is a content management software used by the affected websites. The websites will be restored soon,” Rai said.

CERT-In is the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents when they occur. (IANS)

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New Delhi is India’s most hospitable city: Airbnb Study

Apr 6, 2018 0

New Delhi– New Delhi has emerged as the most hospitable Indian city, followed closely by Jaipur, Kochi and Mumbai, according to an Airbnb study.

The annual Airbnb Hospitality Index revealed that the national capital saw the highest rate of success in terms of extending hospitality, with close to 80 per cent of reviewed trips in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) receiving a 5-star rating.

According to the index findings, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi, Karnataka and Kerala were the top five states in terms of hospitality.

“Maharashtra was the most hospitable state with the highest absolute number of 5-star rated trips of the top five states,” it said.

Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu closely followed behind the top five states in the hospitality index.

“The people to people connection enabled by technology is what makes these destinations a treasure trove for experience seeking travellers who return home with amazing stories and fulfilling experiences on Airbnb,” said Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Manager, Airbnb-India.

The study was based on the number of 5-star reviews in particular states around the country as a part of the global research at locations with over 500 trips in the last 12 months. (IANS)

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Mercedes-Benz India’s January to March sales up 24.8%

Apr 6, 2018 0

Mumbai– Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz India on Friday reported a rise of 24.8 per cent during the January to March 2018 period.

According to the company, its sales during the period under review increased to 4,556 units from 3,650 units sold in the corresponding period of 2017.

Besides, Mercedes-Benz India reported a growth of 22.5 per cent during the last fiscal which increased to 16,236 units from 13,259 units sold in the previous corresponding period. (IANS)

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Building a hotel in India harder than anywhere else: Marriott

Apr 6, 2018 0

By Bhavana Akella

Bengaluru– Scarce land availability and high cost of capital make India a harder country to build a hotel in than anywhere in the world, said a top executive of an international hotel chain.

“Sourcing land is extremely difficult in India and a bigger hurdle in building a hotel than anywhere in the world,” American hospitality major Marriott International’s President and Managing Director for Asia Pacific Craig S. Smith told IANS in an interview here.

Though Smith is optimistic about Marriott’s future in India, whose economy is growing faster than China’s, the high cost of capital and expensive loans with hefty interest rates also make India a difficult place to invest in the hospitality industry, he said.

“There are a plethora of licences to obtain and regulatory laws to comply with, which differ in each of the Indian states, which makes building hotels even harder in the Indian subcontinent,” red flagged the company’s South Asia Vice President Neeraj Govil in an interview on the margins of unveiling Marriott’s new hotel in this tech hub, its 100th in India.

In China, Marriott manages a total of 300 hotels, thanks to access to cheaper capital than in India.

The 91-year-old hotel chain, headquartered in Bethesda in Maryland on the US East Coast, operates about 6,500 hotels across 127 countries, including 4,500 across the US and around 100 each in Canada and Britain.

India stands among the top five countries for Marriott in terms of the number of hotels and rooms, along with the US, China, Canada and Britain. While a hotel in Japan with over 300 rooms can be built within six months to two years, this takes at least five to seven years in India, Smith stated.

“Slowing down of permits makes the process of building a hotel longer in India,” he noted.

Contrary to the assumption that hotel licensing is controlled by the central government, Marriott found the hard way that it is issued by the respective state governments across the country.

“We have seen some progress over the years on licensing issues after we represented to the government the need for streamlining its process for hotels,” Govil recalled.

Of the 100 hotels Marriott operates in India under 15 various brands like Aloft, Courtyard by Marriott, Westin, Le Meridien, Sheraton, St. Regis and Ritz Carlton, among others, 40 are business hotels while the other 60 are upscale and luxury ones.

Employing over 30,000 people in India across 34 cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Bhopal, among others, Marriott said it will hire another 3,000 people this year as it plans to widen its presence in Indian cities and towns.

With improved road and airport connectivity in India over the years, the hotel chain has observed travellers from world over wanting to explore India beyond its cities.

“We are looking at Tier-II and Tier-III cities and towns for expansion and will soon have new properties in Ahmedabad, Jaipur and in Kerala,” Govil said.

The hotel chain has 50 projects in the pipeline for India to be completed within the next three years. The company hopes to open its next 100 hotels in the country by 2023.

Marriott, which operates in India through an “asset-light” strategy, where the property and the hotel building are owned by a private individual or a group and is only managed by the hospitality group, however, did not disclose the financial details of its operations in India, such as investments made so far, revenue earned and if it achieved its break-even point.

Admitting that the country’s high-value currency note ban on November 8, 2016, hit their business along with the industry, Govil said the effect of demonetisation has started to wane.

“I think the cash is back in the system. But it certainly took the whole industry a while to get used to the Goods and Services Tax (GST),” Govil asserted.

The GST indirect tax regime was introduced across the country from July 1, 2017. (IANS)

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Nepal PM on 3-day visit seeks more Indian investment

Apr 6, 2018 0

New Delhi– Making his first foreign trip after returning to power in February, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Oli made a strong pitch for Indian businessmen to invest in his country by benefiting from its economic liberalisation and being a safe destination for foreign investment.

On their arrival on a three-day visit at the IGI Airport here, Oli and his wife Radika Shakya were received by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Viewed as an important visit amidst a strain in ties, Oli had an informal meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence. The two leaders were believed to have discussed bilateral and regional issues, especially ones that have bedevilled bilateral relations.

Oli’s first foreign visit to India after taking charge as Nepal Prime Minister for the second time keeps up with the tradition of India-Nepal ties under which the prime minister always makes the first visit to India.

Oli also met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discussed “various dimensions of Nepal-India relations”, according to the Nepalese Embassy here.

In his first official engagement in Delhi, Oli interacted with representatives of the Indian business community.

“Nepal will need massive investment, many of its sectors are virgin territory for investment. I invite Indian companies to come and invest in Nepal… (that) is now safe for foreign investment.”

He noted that his government enjoyed three-fourths majority in Nepal’s lower house of Parliament allowing for “stability and continuity in policy… towards a liberal economy and liberal economic policies.

“We want to work jointly with our Indian friends on our way to prosperity. We aspire to stand as a developing country. Our motto is Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali.”

“We are committed to a liberal economy. The government’s key partner is the private sector and we do not believe in nationalisation of private companies.”

Indian firms are the biggest investors in Nepal, accounting for about 40 per cent of total approved foreign direct investments (FDI) and are working in the manufacturing, services, power and tourism sectors. Some large Indian investors include ITC, Dabur, Hindustan Unilever, MTNL, State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Life Insurance Corp and Asian Paints.

In 2016-17, Nepal imported $6.1 billion worth of goods and services from India and exported only a little more than $400 million worth, making for a trade deficit of over $5.7 billion.

Nepal hopes to correct this trade imbalance by attracting more Indian FDI into the country.

Oli’s visit comes amid a hitch in bilateral ties.

He had to step down as Nepal Prime Minister in 2016 following a blockade on the India-Nepal border. Many in the Himalayan nation blame India for the blockade that crippled Nepal’s economy.

The ties were further strained after Nepal decided to join China’s One Belt One Road amid India’s concerns that the Chinese initiative would harm its strategic and economic interests.

Nepal has also signed a host of trade and transit pacts with China.

Prime Ministers Modi and Oli will hold delegation level talks on Saturday at Hyderabad House here.

The two sides are expected to sign pacts related to agriculture, research and development, education and training, exploring the possibility of inland water navigation upto Indian ports from Nepal, and expansion of Indian rail up to Kathmandu between the two countries.

According to Nepalese media, Oli will take up with Modi various issues including the early execution of India funded projects in Nepal, implementation of the Mahakali Treaty, which pertains to sharing water of a river by the same name, and construction of integrated check-posts.

Oli is also scheduled to visit the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology and the Breeder Seed Production Centre and an integrated farming project in Uttarakhand. (IANS)

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Microsoft ScaleUp announces 12th start-up cohort in India

Apr 5, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Microsoft “ScaleUp” on Thursday announced the 12th cohort consisting 12 start-ups for its programme to empower them with technology, go-to-market and community benefits.

ScaleUp (known previously as Microsoft Accelerator) focuses on late-stage B2B start-ups and helps them accelerate their business growth through mentorship, streamlined go-to-market (GTM) activities and access to world-class technology.

The 12 start-ups in the cohort are AppICE, Appiyo Technologies’ Twixor, Avanseus Technologies, eGovernments Foundation, Gaia Smart Cities Solution, GrowthEnabler, Karo Sambhav, Kogence, MachineSense, SmartVizX, Sprinkle Data and Xurmo Technologies.

The selected start-ups are focused on areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Big Data Analytics, among others, to build solutions for the market.

During the six-month programme, these start-ups would work closely with Microsoft leaders, industry experts and leverage the Microsoft Partner Network to scale their business models and serve enterprise clients.

The start-ups would get access to Microsoft’s expertise, infrastructure and Azure Cloud platform to build a strong technology backbone for their business.

Microsoft currently caters to over 5,000 tech start-ups and more than 200,000 large and small-and-medium businesses in India.(IANS)

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Duty on China imports, GST slow down India’s solar additions: UN report

Apr 5, 2018 0

By Vishal Gulati 

New Delhi– India’s imposition of duty on Chinese solar cells and modules shipped and levy of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on panels have significantly slowed down solar capacity additions last year, a UN report said on Thursday.

It says developing economies, comprising India, China and Brazil, committed $177 billion to renewables last year, up 20 per cent, compared to $103 billion for developed countries, down 19 per cent.

This was the largest tilt in favour of developing countries yet seen. It was only in 2015 that the developing world first invested more in green energy than developed economies.

A record 157 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power, excluding large hydro, were commissioned across the globe in 2017, up from 143GW in 2016 and far out-stripping the 70GW of net fossil fuel generating capacity added last year.

The 86-page report — Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 — released by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance blames Indian policies for slowing down the speed to tap solar power.

It says the solar activity was held back by an unexpected rise in PV module prices in local currency terms, due to a sudden reduction in the oversupply of imported Chinese units, exacerbated by the imposition of a 7.5 per cent import duty on modules and a local GST on panels.

There was also a slowing in the pace of solar auctions around India.

In the medium term, PV installations look set to increase sharply, as India seeks to hit its ambitious target of 100GW of solar by 2022.

However, that acceleration did not materialise in 2017.

The report says the ‘big three’ of China, India and Brazil accounted for just over half of global investment in renewables, excluding large hydro, last year, with China alone representing 45 per cent, up from 35 per cent a year earlier.

However, the report says India’s investment oscillating in the $6-14 billion range since 2010 but still not reaching the sort of levels that would be required for that country to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious goals for 2022.

India came fourth in the world rankings by country for renewable energy investment last year, at $10.9 billion, down 20 per cent.

Solar took the biggest share, at $6.7 billion, with wind at $4 billion. These lead sectors were up three per cent and down 41 per cent in dollar terms respectively.

Venture capital and private equity investment in renewable energy fell by exactly a third in the world in 2017 to $1.8 billion, just a sixth of its 2008 peak of more than $10 billion.

However, India beat Europe into second place for the second time in three years.

India’s venture capital and private equity investment rose 27 per cent to $457 million, or 26 per cent of the total, while Europe’s fell 26 per cent to $287 million, a 16 per cent share.

India’s investment grew strongly because it secured three of the five largest deals.

Two of those were wind companies raising funds to expand in India, a fiercely competitive market with huge growth potential that is attracting many foreign investors.

The largest deal was secured by Greenko Energy, an independent power producer based in Hyderabad, which raised $155 million in PE expansion capital from GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

The pair had already invested $230 million in the company in 2016.

Another Indian independent power producer, Hero Future Energies, raised $125 million in PE expansion capital from the International Finance Corporation and the IFC Global Infrastructure Fund.

The third large Indian deal was secured by Clean Max Enviro Energy Solutions, which claims to be India’s biggest rooftop solar developer, having installed 100MW since the company was founded in 2011.

“The extraordinary surge in solar investment, around the world, shows how much can be achieved when we commit to growth without harming the environment,” UN Environment head Erik Solheim said in a statement. (IANS)

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IndiGo not to bid for Air India under ‘current divestiture plans’

Apr 5, 2018 0

Mumbai– Budget passenger carrier IndiGo on Thursday said that it will not bid for the national passenger carrier Air India under the “current divestiture plans”.

The development assumes significance as IndiGo had earlier expressed its interest in the acquiring Air India’s international operations and Air India Express (AIXL). However, the central government has invited “Expression of Interest” to off-load 76 per cent stake and management control of the airline.

On March 28, the government issued the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) for the strategic divestment of AI, along with the airline’s shares in AIXL and AISATS (Air India SATS Airport Services).

“From day one, IndiGo has expressed its interest primarily in the acquisition of Air India’s international operations and Air India Express. However, that option is not available under the government’s current divestiture plans for Air India,” said IndiGo’s President and Whole Time Director Aditya Ghosh.

“Also, as we have communicated before, we do not believe that we have the capability to take on the task of acquiring and successfully turning around all of Air India’s airline operations,” Ghosh said in response to queries from investors regarding IndiGo’s involvement in the upcoming divestiture of Air India. (IANS)

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PNB fraud: CBI questions four RBI officials

Apr 5, 2018 0

New Delhi– The CBI on Thursday questioned four Reserve Bank of India (RBI) officials in connection with Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud involving diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, an official said.

Those questioned includes three Chief General Managers and one General Manager of the central bank.

Sources said the RBI officials were also questioned in connection with alleged benefits to diamond merchant Choksi’s group of companies following 80:20 gold import scheme brought by former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

Modi, a regular on the lists of rich and famous Indians since 2013, along with his group companies — Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports, uncle and business partner Choksi — the promoter of Gitanjali Group, and others have been named in the Rs 13,500 crore scam which was admitted by the PNB in February, leading to a massive upheaval in the country’s banking system.

Modi left the country along with his family in the first week of January this year, weeks before the scam was reported to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

His wife Ami, a US citizen, left on January 6 and uncle Choksi on January 4.

The CBI in February had approached the Interpol with a request for issuing a Diffusion Notice against Modi to locate him.

The PNB has claimed in different complaints to the CBI that several Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) were fraudulently issued by its officials in connivance with Modi and the other accused in the case causing huge losses to the banki.

A LoU is a letter of undertaking issued by one bank to other banks, based on which foreign branches offer credit to buyers. (IANS)

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