Concerns grow over rising rupee against US dollar

Apr 11, 2017 0

Kolkata– The Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) of India on Tuesday said the debilitating impact of sharp rise in rupee against dollar in the last three months might derail the exports recovery.

“While rupee seems to losing marginal value in the last few days… the RBI should ensure that the liquidity coming in droves in the Indian equity and debt market must not harm our fundamental strength in exports,” said EEPC Chairman T. S. Bhasin.

Rupee has gained by close to six per cent since the first week of January, eating into the exporters’ margins and eroding the competitive edge against India’s trade rivals in the foreign markets.

“While India should always be a preferred destination for the foreign investment, the latest flood of inflows is coming in the equity and stock markets in the backdrop of the Emerging Markets again finding favour with the global fund managers and some corrections in the US markets which had seen a huge run up after Donald Trump assumed office,” he said.

In fact, engineering exports managed to grow by 47 per cent in February despite rupee strength; but going forward, with this kind of strength of the domestic currency, it would be tough, Bhasin said.

According to him, the rupee is certainly over-valued since the rally in the stock market at present is liquidity driven and not backed by domestic corporate earnings, even though about seven per cent GDP growth holds good promise.

Bhasin said RBI and the government were requested to keep a close watch since exporters cannot afford such volatility with pressure of value erosion. (IANS)

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SpiceJet’s Chairman settles case with SEBI

Apr 10, 2017 0

Mumbai–Securities market regulator SEBI on Monday said it has settled an alleged case of takeover code violation with the budget passenger carrier SpiceJets Chairman Ajay Singh.

SEBI had earlier proposed to carry out adjudication proceedings against Singh for his failure to make disclosure under SEBI’s substantial acquisition of shares and takeovers regulations, when he took control of the budget passenger carrier in 2015.

Ajay Singh (Photo courtesy: PTI)

The securities market regulator’s order issued on Monday disclosed that Singh paid Rs 2.02 lakh towards the settlement charges.

Accordingly, SEBI said that it will not conduct any adjudication proceedings against Singh for the alleged violation.

In certain cases, the regulations permit settlement prior to proceedings without admission or denial of any wrongdoing.

In early 2015, Singh had taken control of the airline that he had co-founded by acquiring Kalanithi Maran’s controlling stake in SpiceJet.

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Australia to export uranium to India soon, says Turnbull as he meets Modi

Apr 10, 2017 0

New Delhi–Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday said his country would begin exporting uranium to India “as soon as possible” as he held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here during which both sides also agreed to deepen cooperation in defence and security as well as in education.

“We’ve worked closely with India to meet our respective requirements for the provision of fuel for India’s civil nuclear programme, and we look forward to the first export of Australian uranium to India as soon as possible,” Turnbull said in his media statement after holding bilateral talks with Modi.

Modi, in his statement, said with the passing of legislation in the Australian Parliament with bipartisan support, Australia is “now ready to export uranium to India”.

The joint statement said India welcomed the passage of the Civil Nuclear Transfers to India Act by the Australian Parliament, which could ensure commercial exports of Australian uranium begins soon.

In September 2014, India and Australia signed a Civil Nuclear Agreement for Australian supply of uranium to India.

In December last year, Australian Parliament passed a law to allow the supply of uranium to India. The commercial deals for the supply of uranium are being further negotiated.

Turnbull also said his country was “pleased to be providing increasing quantities of high quality coal for steel making and increasingly for power generation with advanced super critical technology”.

The two sides signed six MoUs, including on cooperation in fighting international terrorism and on civil aviation security.

Addressing the media jointly with Turnbull after the talks, Modi said that cooperation in the fields of education and research was “one of the most important aspects” of India-Australia ties.

“Both India and Australia recognise the central value of education and innovation in the prosperity of our societies,” he said.

“It is no surprise, therefore, that cooperation in the field of education and research is one of the most important aspects of our engagement.”

Laying stress on students exchanges between the two countries, Modi said that while Australia was home to over 60,000 Indian students, an increasing number of Australian students was coming to study in India.

He also called for working closely with members of the East Asia Summit and the Indian Ocean rim countries to pursue common interests.

On his part, Turnbull said Australia was helping India in its water management policy while sharing expertise in the area of renewable energy.

Stating that trade in goods and services between the two sides stood at $20 billion, he said there was scope for increasing this.

“We are working with India for a quality RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership),” he said.

RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian nations (Asean) and the six countries with which Asean has free trade agreements — Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

On the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and Australia, Turnbull said they had “very good discussions”, and that both felt that “progress has not been as fast as either of us would like it to be”.

Both sides have asked their chief negotiators to schedule an early meeting to get the process moving.

“We will ask them to tabulate the areas of ambition where each side is seeking access so that we can see where and to what extent the parties, the negotiators are apart and they will report back to us as soon as possible so that we can keep the focus on delivering the CECA and identifying the areas where more work needs to be done,” Turnbull said.

In the meantime, both sides are working to identify tangible, commercial opportunities to strengthen two-way trade and investment and this would be a particular focus of his visit to Mumbai this week, he added.

The joint statement issued said the two were committed to deepening the bilateral defence and security partnership.

According to the statement, the two Prime Ministers also underscored the joint commitment of Australia and India, as fellow Indian Ocean nations, to enhance regional cooperation in promoting maritime safety and security and welcomed the important role of the bilateral White Shipping Agreement.

“Both countries remain strongly committed to the breadth of their defence ties, including through ongoing annual staff talks for army, navy and air forces,” it stated.

It also said that “the two Prime Ministers reiterated their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever”.

“They asserted that the fight against terrorists, terror organisations and networks should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues,” the statement said.

In this regard, the two Prime Ministers also welcomed the signing of an MoU on fighting international terrorism and transnational organised crime.

Modi and Turbull also jointly inaugurated through video-conferencing the TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre in Gurugram, set up by India’s TERI and Australia’s Deakin University.

Earlier on Monday, Turnbull was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Thereafter, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him.

In the afternoon, Modi and Turnbull travelled by a Delhi Metro train to visit the Akshardham temple in east Delhi.

The Australian Prime Minister arrived here on Sunday on a four-day state visit to India – his first to India since he assumed office in September 2015.

His predecessor Tony Abbott had visited India in September 2014 and this was followed by Modi’s visit to Australia in November that year.

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Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart raises $1.4 billion from Tencent, eBay, Microsoft

Apr 10, 2017 0

Bangalore–E-commerce major Flipkart on Monday said it has raised a total of $1.4 billion from Tencent, eBay and Microsoft.

The latest funding round, at a post-transaction valuation of $11.6 billion, is the largest in Flipkart’s 10-year history as well as in the Indian internet sector and comes as Flipkart gears up to drive the next phase of e-commerce growth in India, a company statement said.

This investment adds to an existing group of investors that include Tiger Global Management, Naspers Group, Accel Partners and DST Global.

“This is a landmark deal for Flipkart and for India as it endorses our tech prowess, our innovative mindset and the potential we have to disrupt traditional markets. It is a resounding acknowledgement that the homegrown tech ecosystem is indeed thriving and succeeding in solving genuine problems in people’s daily lives across all of India,” said Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, founders of Flipkart, in a statement.

Sachin Bansal

“This deal reaffirms our resolve to hasten the transformation of commerce in India through technology,” they added.

The investment by eBay is accompanied by a strategic commercial agreement with Flipkart. In exchange for an equity stake in Flipkart, eBay is making a cash investment in and selling its eBay.in business to Flipkart. eBay.in will continue to operate as an independent entity as a part of Flipkart, the statement said.

Flipkart and eBay have also signed an exclusive cross-border trade agreement. As a result of the partnership between Flipkart and eBay, customers of Flipkart will gain access to the wide array of global inventory on eBay, while eBay’s customers will have access to more unique Indian inventory provided by Flipkart sellers.

“The combination of eBay’s position as a leading global e-commerce company and Flipkart’s market stature will allow us to accelerate and maximize the opportunity for both companies in India,” said Devin Wenig, President and CEO of eBay Inc.

“eBay is committed to winning in India in partnership with Flipkart. Our exclusive global trade partnership will allow eBay and Flipkart to reach even more consumers around the world,” he added.

Tencent has joined the investment deal as a strategic investor, bringing experience in linking social networking and e-commerce. As a leading provider of internet value-added services in China, it has been at the centre of innovation in social, payments and other areas.

“Flipkart is a leader in e-commerce in India, with strong operational expertise and a deep understanding of user behaviour. This strategic partnership enables Tencent to participate in the exciting opportunities in e-commerce and payments in India.

“We look forward to helping Flipkart to deliver compelling experiences to users throughout India, and to contribute to the development of the internet ecosystem there,” said Tencent President Martin Lau.

Launched in 2007, the Flipkart Group includes well-known Indian brands such as Myntra, Jabong, PhonePe and Ekart, besides the parent company. The company offers over 80 million products across 80 plus categories.

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Punjab Chief Minister heads to Mumbai for investments

Apr 9, 2017 0

By Jaideep Sarin

Chandigarh– With a “bone to pick with Ratan Tata”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is headed to Mumbai to seek investments from industry and corporates for his state.

Having taken over the reins on March 16, following the Congress’s resounding victory in the assembly elections, Amarinder is faced with the daunting task of rescuing Punjab from a severe debt situation, flight of industry, utter lack of jobs and low enthusiasm for industrial investment.

“Even before we won the elections, some industrialists had told me that they would be ready to invest (in Punjab) if we (Congress) come to power,” Amarinder had said last month after taking over.

Amarinder Singh

Sources in the Punjab government told IANS that Amarinder and his team would try to woo big corporate houses like Reliance and others to announce investments in Punjab.

The Chief Minister will begin his three-day Mumbai trip on Monday. Accompanied by some of his ministers and top bureaucrats, Amarinder will have “one-on-one” interactions with nearly a dozen industry and corporate leaders, official sources said here.

The focus areas would be sectors like manufacturing, food processing, pharmaceuticals, engineering and information technology.

Within days of coming to power, Amarinder Singh has already met Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu and Mitsubishi Corporation Managing Director Kazunori Konishi.

Adani Group President and Chairman of several key companies of the Gujarat-based group, Pranav Adani, met Amarinder here last week to discuss possible areas of investment in Punjab.

“Investment is important for Punjab as the Congress manifesto has promised hundreds of thousands of jobs, smartphones and other things to the people,” a ruling party legislator told IANS here.

But things are not going to be easy for the Chief Minister and his government in terms of immediate returns.

Amarinder’s past experience with industry has not been good, and his recently-released authorised biography, “The People’s Maharaja” by Khushwant Singh (not to be confused with the literary icon), throws light on this — in his own words.

“Amarinder Singh did not mince his words: I have a bone to pick with Ratan Tata. He gave me a commitment to invest and then backed out of it. I didn’t expect this from Ratan Tata, especially after he had shaken hands at the Taj Hotel, Chandigarh, where we met for lunch,” the author has written.

“Tata was expecting too much, which the state could ill afford,” close aide Suresh Kumar, who is the most powerful bureaucrat in Amarinder’s present government, was quoted as saying in the book on the March 2006 meeting.

In his previous tenure (2002-07), the Amarinder Singh government had rolled out some big-ticket projects, like the Farm-to-Fork project with Reliance, to show industrial investment in Punjab. After the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance government took over in the state in 2007, the project fizzled out.

Amarinder had then accused the Akali Dal government of deliberately scuttling the project. (IANS)

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Mallya’s famed ‘Kingfisher Villa’ sold for Rs 73 crore

Apr 8, 2017 0

Mumbai– A luxurious beach front villa in Goa owned by absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya has been sold to Bollywood and South Indian film actor Sachiin Joshi, by a group of banks led by State Bank Of India, official sources said here on Saturday.

The property, known as the ‘Kingfisher Villa’, is situated on the picturesque Candolim Beach, a tourist hotspot.

It had earlier failed to attract buyers on three auction attempts by SBI Caps – which had taken over the possession of the villa – ostensibly since the reserve price wa between Rs 81-85 crore.

For the current sale, the reserve price was fixed at Rs 73 crore and the villa found a buyer in actor-cum-business baron, 33-year old Joshi, of the Mumbai-based Viiking Ventures Pvt. Ltd, said an SBI official who requested anonymity.

The property sale comprises a part of the recoveries due of the Rs 9,000-crore plus amounts including loan and interest outstanding from Mallya who is currently living in the UK since over a year.

Kingfisher Villa

The Pune-based JMJ Group of Industries belongs to Jagdish Mohanlal Joshi while his son Sachiin owns the Viiking Ventures Pvt Ltd., headquartered in Andheri.

It is a media & entertainment conglomerate which has varied business interests in beverages including mineral waters and Goa strong beer, media, spas, hospitality and healthcare.

The Kingfisher Villa, reportedly worth around Rs 100 crore, is built on a three acre plot and comprises magnificent bedrooms, artificial ponds and private swimming pools, open air dance floors, lush green gardens with over a score of expensive cars dotting the landscape. (IANS)

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India boosts defense links with Bangladesh, extends $5 billion credit lines

Apr 8, 2017 0

New Delhi–In a significant boost to strategic cooperation, India and Bangladesh on Saturday signed 22 agreements, including as many as five on defence cooperation, while New Delhi extended to Dhaka lines of credit worth $5 billion following bilateral talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart.

The two countries also signed a historic civil nuclear cooperation agreement while Modi assured Sheikh Hasina of an “early solution” to the Teesta waters sharing issue.

“Today, we have also taken a long overdue step by signing an agreement on close cooperation between our armed forces,” Modi said while jointly addressing the media with Sheikh Hasina following the talks.

“I am also happy to announce a line of credit of $500 million to support Bangladesh’s defence-related procurement. In implementing this line of credit, we will be guided by Bangladesh’s needs and priorities,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina

He also announced a separate line of credit of $4.5 billion for the implementation of projects in priority sectors for Bangladesh.

Modi assured the people of Bangladesh of India’s “commitment and continuing efforts” to solve the vexed issue of sharing the waters of river Teesta, which has been opposed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“I firmly believe that it is only my government and Excellency Sheikh Hasina, your government, that can and will find an early solution to Teesta water sharing,” he said.

He appreciated Bangladesh’s efforts to contain radicalism and religious extremism and said: “We have the greatest admiration for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s firm resolve in dealing with terrorism. Her government’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards terrorism is an inspiration for all of us.”

At a separate event to honour Indian martyrs in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, without naming Pakistan, Modi said that “there is an ideology in South Asia which promotes terrorism, and thus obstructs growth in the whole region”.

In his statement to the media, he said that energy security was an important dimension of the two countries’ development partnership.

A joint statement issued later said: “The two Prime Ministers also expressed their appreciation for the growing bilateral cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy, especially in training and capacity building. In this regard, the leaders welcomed the signing of the inter-governmental agreement for cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy and other agreements related to nuclear cooperation.”

On her part, Sheikh Hasina appreciated Modi “for his dynamism and innovative ideas that are not only taking India forward but adding value to our our bilateral relationship”.

She also reiterated her commitment for a peaceful border with India free of crime.

At the event to honour the Indian martyrs, she said: “I am grateful to the government and people of India for their contribution to Bangladesh’s War of Independence. Many Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives… We will always remember them with gratitude.”

Modi and Sheikh Hasina jointly launched train and bus services between Kolkata and Khulna in Bangladesh and restored the once defunct Radhikapur-Biral rail link between the two countries.

Both of them also released a Hindi translation of “Unfinished Memoirs”, the autobiography of Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was Sheikh Hasina’s father.

Later, briefing the media, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said that the $4.5 billion credit line is one of the biggest credit lines ever offered by India to any country.

He said that 17 projects have been identified for utilisation of the new line of credit. India had earlier extended two lines of credit of $862 million and $2 billion to Bangladesh.

He said that 12 more agreements are expected to be signed at a business forum to be held on Monday.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister arrived here on Friday on a four-day visit to India. This is her first bilateral visit to India in seven years after her visit in 2010.

Earlier on Saturday, she was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan. In the evening, she called on Vice President Hamid Ansari. (IANS)

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PMO discusses ways to involve private players in government housing schemes

Apr 8, 2017 0

New Delhi–Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra on Saturday chaired a meet to discuss ways to involve private real estate developers in the government’s ambitious ‘Housing-for-all by 2022’ scheme.

The meeting also discussed how the benefits of the interest subsidy on affordable housing could reach the prospective home buyers at the earliest, informed sources said.

Nripendra Misra (Photo courtesy: India Today)

The real estate developers were represented by two apex bodies, CREDAI and NAREDCO. Tata Housing officials also attended the meeting.

The real estate sector representatives flagged difficulties they face in launching projects in smaller cities because of the specifications under Prime Minister Awas Yojana scheme and wanted some relaxation on that front.

Union Minister M.Venkaiah Naidu had urged real estate developers last months to take up affordable housing projects in a big way while stressing that therein lies the future of the real estate sector.

Naidu had said that his ministry would soon convene a Round Table with real estate bodies and representatives of banks, housing financing companies and others concerned to deliberate on the road ahead for promoting affordable housing so that the target of ensuring Housing for All by 2022 would be met.

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U.S.-India Business Council Partners with the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology

Apr 7, 2017 0

Washington D.C.– The U.S.-India Business Council announced a partnership with the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCreate), an entrepreneur incubation center of that has been set up in Ahmedabad, India.

An initiative of then Chief Minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi, iCreate aims to identify, nurture, mentor and grow the spirit of Innovation and the Next Generation Entrepreneurship, so innovative start-ups can become a leading job creating engine for India.

iCreate is guided by an eminent advisory board with Mr. Dilip Shanghvi of Sun Pharmaceuticals as the Chairman and Mr. Narayana Murthy of Infosys as its Chairman Emeritus. Located on its own 43-acre campus with excellent facilities, iCreate provides the complete ecosystem for innovation based start-ups. From seed capital and formal mentorship to working space, hostel facilities, and labs, the initiative covers the complete life cycle of start-ups.

The U.S.-India Business Council will actively support the iCreate’s work by working with USIBC members in areas of cooperation such as sharing of mentorship program, research and startup collaboration, establishing centers of excellence and innovation, labs for pilot programs, exploring funding opportunities for entrepreneurs and other allied activities.

Commenting on the announcement, USIBC Chairman and Cisco Executive Chairman, John Chambers said, “Following Cisco’s partnership with iCreate, I am pleased to be part of the innovation and entrepreneurship dialogue between USIBC and iCreate. An institution like iCreate taps in to the entrepreneurial spirit of Gujarat, providing the younger generation with opportunities for employment and financial prosperity. The opportunity for collaboration between U.S. companies and Indian start-ups has never been better, led in large part by India’s booming innovation ecosystem where an estimated three to four new startups emerge each day. These partnerships are vital to fulfill Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Digital India and Start Up India.”

USIBC President, Dr. Mukesh Aghi said, “The partnership with iCreate is a necessary and timely enterprise. The Council is well positioned to provide greater levels of support to start-ups and entrepreneurship with its membership base of 400 companies from diverse business areas. To that end, USIBC will launch a webinar series called the U.S.-India Start-Up Dialogue to reinforce the bilateral trade relations. The series will highlight startups from an exciting growth industry to a diverse audience of USIBC members, government stakeholders, and other partners.”

iCreate Chief Mentor, Mr. Parag Amin stated that, “This partnership brings together best of both the worlds. USIBC members offer access to cutting edge technology along with capital and iCreate brings the entrepreneurial spirit of the State of Gujarat. The goal is to succeed in Gujarat and then replicate the model to the rest of the country.
The announcement comes ahead of the Council’s annual west coast summit to be held in Menlo Park, California— an annual gathering of leaders from the private sector and the government focusing on critical issues in the U.S.-India Technology Partnership. As part of the partnership, iCreate is USIBC’s knowledge partner for the upcoming summit.

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India’s internet economy set to hit $250 billion by 2020

Apr 7, 2017 0

New Delhi–Driven by e-commerce and financial services, India’s internet economy is expected to double from $125 billion to $250 billion — growing from the current five per cent to 7.5 per cent of the country’s GDP, a joint report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) said on Friday.

With over 391 million users, India is already the second highest country in terms of mobile internet users.

According to the report titled ‘The $250 Billion Digital Volcano: Dormant No More’, the users are expected to grow rapidly to 650 million mobile internet users by 2020.

Nimisha Jain

At the same time, data consumption by 2020 could potentially increase 10 to 14 times.

“Firstly, by 2020, 4G enabled devices are expected to grow six times to 550 million devices, constituting 70 per cent devices in use. Secondly, reliable high speed data is becoming both ubiquitous as well as mass affordable,” said Nimisha Jain, a BCG partner and co-author of the report.

High-speed mobile internet adoption is set to reach 550 million users by 2020, almost 85 per cent of the total mobile internet users, the findings showed.

Average data consumption is projected to reach 7-10GB per user per month by 2020.

“Innovation is what leads to sustainability and sustainable growth in the current entrepreneurship ecosystem will enable India to chart its own success story,” added Geetika Dayal, Executive Director, TiE Delhi-NCR. (IANS)

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