Reliance Industries to invest $25 million in innovation incubator in Israel

Jul 20, 2017 0

Mumbai–Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL) on Thursday announced it will invest $25 million in a technology incubator — the Jerusalem Innovation Incubator (JII) — which will reinvest in early stage start-ups working in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), financial technology and Internet of Things (IoT).

“The Board of Directors has approved to set up and invest in a technology incubator by the name of JII, licensed by Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), Ministry of Economy, Israel, under competitive bidding process,” RIL said in a statement here.

JII, to be incorporated as a Limited Liability Partnership, will have RIL holding 20 per cent interest.

Mukesh Ambani

“The investment in JII shall be done in partnership with OurCrowd (Israel-based leading start-up crowd funding platform), Motorola Solutions (global provider of mission- critical communications and services) and Yissum (technology transfer company of Hebrew University of Jerusalem),” the statement said.

OurCrowd will hold 60 per cent stake, while Motorola will have 20 per cent interest. Yissum, a non-investing partner, will collaborate with JII to provide R&D and other support, it added.

“The company proposes to invest $25 million in JII and in frontier technology startups in tranches over a period of about eight years, subject to necessary regulatory approvals,” the statement said.

JII’s primary focus areas will include big data, analytics, AI, fintech, storage, IoT and computer vision.

“The proposed investment in JII would help pool significant amount of capital, which is essential and foundational to fund the cutting-edge innovation required by early-stage start-ups in partnership with IIA,” it added.

It will also allow early access to innovation, technologies and products from Israel “from one of the world’s largest start-up and technology innovation ecosystems.” (IANS)

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GST will benefit small traders more: Modi

Jul 20, 2017 0

New Delhi– Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will benefit small traders more and asked the party MPs to give pace to their activities in specific parliamentary constituencies.

The Prime Minister’s remarks came during his meeting here with a group of Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) MPs from eastern Uttar Pradesh, which was also attended by party president Amit Shah.

“Prime Minister asked the MPs to give pace to their activities in their constituencies and states,” a BJP statement said.

The Prime Minister briefed MPs about the benefits of GST and said: “The GST will benefit the small traders and will accelerate the goods transportation.”

During the interaction the MPs briefed Modi about status of several state and central government schemes in their areas, especially the GST.

The BJP MPs told the Prime Minister that schemes like Ujjwala, Khelo India, Fasal Beema, Mudra and Skill India had been beneficial in the rural areas and had transformed the their lives areas, especially of the women.

Modi also asked the MPs to fully cooperate with the Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh.

Shah and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also spoke to MPs.

The meeting was part of Modi’s beginning of a new tradition where he holds meetings at his official residence with party MPs in groups during Parliament session and discusses issues related to development in their constituencies and states.

During the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament, which is scheduled to end on August 11, Modi will meet nine other groups of MPs. (IANS)

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Fugitive diamond merchant Jatin Mehta, who owes banks Rs 7,000 crore, isn’t bankrupt: Report

Jul 19, 2017 0

New Delhi–Fugitive diamond merchant Jatin Mehta, who allegedly owes Indian banks Rs 7,000 crore, is not bankrupt as his wife recently transferred Rs 1.86 crore to a Swiss account in Zurich, and the Mehtas own a jewellery company in Britain, according to a report.

India Legal, a politico-legal weekly, claimed in its latest edition that it has obtained “proof” that the Swiss account of Mehta’s wife, Sonia, is “very much active”.

“On June 28, Sonia Jatin Mehta applied for a bank to telegraphically transfer 3,98,603.85 Singapore dollars, worth approximately Rs 1.86 crore, from her Far Eastern Bank Account No: 4333 666 7444 in Singapore to an account in Bank Vontobel AG, Gotthardstrasse 43, Zurich, Switzerland,” the weekly claimed.

Jatin Mehta

Mehta, the magazine said, also owns a company in the United Kingdom called the Diamond Distribution Company that was incorporated on August 1, 2016.

Mehta, the promoter of Winsome Diamonds, which owes Indian banks a whopping Rs 7,000 crore, has listed his address with the Registrar of Companies in the UK as 1 Bell Street, 2nd Floor, London, England, it said.

In list of those declared wilful defaulters by banks, Winsome Diamonds is ranked No.2. — just a rung below liquor baron Vijay Mallya who has a cumulative outstanding of Rs 9,000 crore.

Mehta and wife have also fled the country and taken citizenship in St Kitts and Nevis, with which India has no extradition treaty. They gave up their Indian citizenship in 2013-2014. The government of the dual-island nation in the Caribbean has a “citizenship by investment” programme which has attracted several foreign nationals from across the world to the tax haven.

The magazine said the couple is currently based in Dubai and London but travel widely between Singapore, London, Europe and the US and maintain Swiss bank accounts.

Mehta’s Winsome Group attracted trouble with repayment of bank loans in March 2013. In October that year, the company and its promoter were declared wilful defaulters and the loans declared as non-performing assets.

The CBI took up the case in 2014.

Mehta also has political connections. His son, Suraj, is married to Krupa, the daughter of the brother of Gautam Adani, known to be close to senior BJP leaders. (IANS)

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Clients to spend more on technology this year: Premji

Jul 19, 2017 0

Bengaluru–Global clients of software major Wipro Ltd were looking to spend more on technology this year despite volatile economic environment, said Chairman Azim Premji on Wednesday.

“Our clients are looking to spend more on technology this year as technology is becoming a major differentiator,” Premji told the shareholders at the company’s 71st Annual General Meeting (AGM) for fiscal 2016-17 here.

Asserting that the economic prospects of the countries where the IT major exported its software services and product were better, he said global political uncertainties weighed heavy on business sentiment over the last two years, impacting the IT industry.

“Though we continue to see a volatile economic environment, the economic prospects of the main countries we export to are better,” he said at the AGM, held in the company’s sprawling campus here.

The pervasive change of IT business has become more evident over the year in line with the drastic change in the expectations and experiences of consumers and business models.

“And digital is the central element driving this change. We believe that IT services companies are key to deliver digital to enterprises,” said Premji.

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji

Though optimistic about the business outlook in fiscal 2017-18, he, however, admitted that the company’s success would depend on its ability to redefine and align itself with the new global paradigm and the disruptive developments in the industry.

He also said that in “the light of new initiatives and the prospects of end-to-end transformation, we felt that this journey calls for a new brand identity”.

The company introduced a new brand identity with a new logo in May to win over more clients.

“Our brand identity is a visual expression of what we do and mean f or our clients. It is energised by our values, which are our core and beacon, the bedrock of our culture. Our values connect and resonate with the new identity,” he had said while unveiling the new logo.

The new logo, having dots in four circles, represents the way company connects with its clients in terms of technology and domain expertise, applying insights across industries and delivering end-to-end services.

“We have also invested significantly in our organic and inorganic business to transform our offerings to service the new requirements of customers,” added Premji.

The company also created social, environmental, intellectual and human value by investing in employee skilling, products and services. (IANS)

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Ramdev’s Patanjali ventures into private security business

Jul 14, 2017 0

Haridwar–Yoga guru Baba Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Group, which has gained a major foothold in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market and Ayurvedic products business, is all set to enter the private security business, Patanjali officials said on Friday.

With the punch line “Parakram Suraksha, Aapki Raksha”, the security wing of the fledgling Patanjali would be known as Ramdev’s Parakram Suraksha Private Limited.

It would rope in retired army personnel, para-military troopers and police personnel to “differently and professionally train” recruits as private security guards.

Baba Ramdev

According to a statement released by the yoga guru, the company was going ahead with this expansion with the aim of instilling “patriotic fervour among youngsters” and “to create an ambience conducive for physical and mental development of the trainees”.

“Our aim is to now inspire a sense of security among individuals and resolve to work towards the protection of our country,” the statement from the yoga guru said. Officials said the company would have a pan-Indian presence.

Baba Ramdev, along with his associate Acharya Balkrishna, had set up Patanjali Ayurveda in 2006. It now has a considerable share in the FMCG market and has logged a phenomenal revue generation of Rs 10,561 crore revenue in the last financial year.

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Ajit Jain, a potential successor to Warren Buffett, donates his company’s stocks to IIT Kharagpur Foundation

Jul 13, 2017 0

Kolkata–Ajit Jain, a Kharagpur Indian Institute of Technology alumnus and President of Berkshire Hathaway Insurance group and one of the two potential successors to legendry investor Warren Buffett has donated stocks of the company to IITKGP USA Foundation for his alma mater.

Ajit Jain (left) with Warren Buffett (Photo courtesy: Wall Street Journal)

Jain graduated with B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from the IIT in 1972, and moved to the United State six years later and earned an MBA from the Harvard University.

He then held various positions at top management consultancy McKinsey & Co., before joining Berkshire Hathaway in 1986.

Jain is rumored to be one of two favored candidates as eventual successor of Berkshire Hathaway founder and CEO Buffett.

“Buffett has described Jain as having the intelligence to rate most risks properly, the realism to forget about those that can’t be evaluated, the courage to write huge policies and the discipline to reject risk when the premium is not appropriate,” James Skinner wrote in an article in The Street earlier this year.

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14 Indian-Americans Recognized as Emerging Leaders in Mergers & Acquisitions Industry

Jul 13, 2017 0

NEW YORK – The M&A Advisor announced the winners of the 8th Annual Emerging Leaders Awards, and 14 of them are Indian-American professionals.  The 2017 Award Winners were chosen from a pool of prominent nominees for their notable accomplishments in business and in service to the community.

The M&A Advisor, renowned globally for its recognition and presentation of leading M&A, financing and turnaround professionals, created this recognition awards program to promote mentorship and professional development amongst the emerging leaders the M&A  industry.

“The Annual M&A Advisor Emerging Leaders Awards was born as the 40 Under 40 Awards in the United States in 2010 to recognize and celebrate the achievements of young M&A, Financing and Turnaround professionals who had reached a significant level of success and made a notable contribution to their industry and community. With the expansion of the Emerging Leaders program to the United Kingdom, and Europe in 2016, the 2017 US award winners join a truly global network of outstanding young professionals,” said David Fergusson, President and Co-CEO of The M&A Advisor.

Sid Khosla (Photo: Linkedin)

The Indian-American award recipients include:

Vineet Asthana, Managing Director, Berkery Noyes

Sri Geedipali, Senior Director, Simanor, LLC

Neil Gupta, Director, SSG Capital Advisors

Amit Kakkar, Senior Associate, Ballard Spahr

Sid Khosla, Partner, Ernst & Young, LLP

Sachin Kohli, Partner, Merger and Acquisitions, Weil Goshal & Manager, LLP

Karthik Krishnamurthy, Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

Anshu Pasricha, Shareholder, Kaley Jessen PC, LLD

Sanjay Patel, Managing Director, Raymond James

Bhavin Patel, Co-Founder and Director, Clearsight Advisors

Raghav Rao, Partner, Ernst & Young, LLP

Ketan Shah, Managing Director, PJT Partners

Simon Singh, Senior Manager, Deliotte Consulting

Anupama Yerramali, Special Counsel, Kramer, Levin Naftalis & Frankel.

“It is our belief that the Emerging Leader Award winners will continue to have a significant effect on the advancement of our industry. Through the support of business, philanthropic, academic and personal development experts, we are establishing a connected “leadership community” with the mandate to empower these successful young professionals to improve the life experiences of others through their career,” said Fergusson.

On Tuesday, September 19th, The M&A Advisor will host a black tie Awards Gala at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan to introduce the Emerging Leaders Award Winners to the business community and celebrate their achievements.

THE M&A ADVISOR Founded in 1998, The M&A Advisor was the first dedicated media company to offer insights and intelligence on mergers and acquisitions. As the world’s premier think tank and leadership organization for M&A, restructuring and corporate finance professionals, the firm provides a range of integrated services including: The M&A Advisor Forums and Summits; The M&A Advisor Market Intelligence; M&A.TV.; The M&A Advisor Live; The M&A Advisor Awards; and The M&A Advisor Connects.

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No GST on ‘prasadam’ but inputs will be taxed: Government

Jul 11, 2017 0

New Delhi–The free food supplied by religious institutions does not attract any Goods and Services Tax but the inputs required to make it, including sugar, vegetable oil and ghee are subject to GST, the government said on Tuesday.

“There are media reports suggesting that GST applies on free food supplied in ‘anna kshetras’ run by religious institutions. This is completely untrue. No GST is applicable on such food supplied free,” the Finance Ministry said here in a statement.

“Further, prasadam supplied by religious places like temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras and dargahs attracts nil Central GST and State GST or Integrated GST, as the case may be,” it said.

However, some of the inputs and input services required for making ‘prasadam’ would be subject to GST, it noted, saying these include sugar, vegetable edible oils, ghee, butter and service for transportation of these goods.

“Most of these inputs or input services have multiple uses. Under GST regime, it is difficult to prescribe a separate rate of tax for sugar when supplied for a particular purpose,” it said.

“Further, GST being a multi-stage tax, end use based exemptions or concessions are difficult to administer. Therefore, GST does not envisage end use based exemptions. It would, therefore, not be desirable to provide end use based exemption for inputs or input services for making prasadam or food for free distribution by religious institutions,” it added.

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Chief Justice of India backs entry of foreign lawyers into India

Jul 8, 2017 0

New Delhi–Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar on Saturday supported entry of foreign lawyers into Indian legal sector but said there should be “reciprocity” between two countries.

Justice Khehar said that opening up India’s legal sector to foreign players would improve the system and Indian lawyers should have no apprehensions that they would take away their business.

“I feel international exchange of lawyers will improve the system. If anybody thinks foreign lawyers will come to India and snatch our professional positions and substitute us, it’s not correct. Indian lawyers are no less than those across the world,” said the Chief Justice.

J.S. Khehar

“But reciprocity has to be insisted upon,” added Justice Khehar while inaugurating an “All India Seminar of the International Law Association”.

He said the Indian legal profession had grown over a short period of less than 70 years “to possibly become the world’s largest and most influential in the matter of governance”.

“With the advent of globalisation, the legal profession in India has undergone a major shift during the last two decades. Economic liberalisation has given an opportunity of constant interaction with foreign law firms and an international clientele. As a result, there has been a transfer of knowledge, systems and practices to Indian law firms, such that they are able to undertake a much larger role in cross-border transactions,” he said.

Justice Khehar said that while the Bar Council of India had been opposing the entry of foreign lawyers into Indian legal system, but now the body acknowledges that if some country permits Indian lawyers to practise in its jurisdiction, then lawyers from that country could be granted reciprocal privileges in India.

India has close to 1.2 million lawyers, whose professional conduct is regulated by the Bar Council of India and the state Bar Councils.

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Growth after demonetisation has fallen to 5 percent: Yashwant Sinha

Jul 7, 2017 0

By Meghna Mittal and V.S. Chandrasekar

New Delhi–Former Finance Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha says the Indian economy is actually growing at five per cent as against the over 7 per cent recorded by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The government has said the economy is growing at over 7 per cent but that is according to the new formula “and if the growth is calculated according to the old formula, then the growth is at 5 per cent”, Sinha told IANS in an interview.

“Clearly 250 bps difference in growth is there between the old and the new formula. We are at around 7 per cent according to the new formula. My take is that according to the old formula, we are at around 5 per cent,” he said.

The government in 2015 had changed the GDP calculation method, which apart from changing the base year to 2011-12, started measuring growth using gross value added (GVA) at market price and not factor cost. GDP thus now takes into account the market prices paid by consumers and not factor cost of products which the producers received.

Yashwant Sinha

Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan had earlier raised concerns about the change in computation methodology of GDP.

The former Finance Minister said that the government seems to have disturbed the sequence of investment and consumption, which is affecting growth.

“In this government, we have finished three years. Government is spending money from its Budget, but private investment is not taking place because of bank non-performing assets (NPAs). It appears to me that again the sequence between investment and consumption has got disturbed somewhere. So we may have some consumer demand, but hardly any investment demand because investment is not taking place,” he said.

Talking about demonetisation, Sinha said he would not acknowledge it as an economic reform and questioned the delay in disclosing the total deposits received during the period.

“Demonetisation was an administrative step. I would not regard it as an economic reform. The purpose was to capture black money, but since even after eight months we don’t have the basic figure of how many notes in circulation came back, you are not in a position to pass any judgement,” he said.

“We can’t pronounce judgement on the effect of demonetisation in any holistic manner unless the basic figure is revealed. How were the RBI giving the figures earlier? Every week they were declaring that so much currency has come back. It’s only when they started reaching that level that was in circulation, that they stopped talking. So they (government) might have said, find some reason for not giving the final figure,” he added.

RBI Governor Urjit Patel had earlier appeared before the standing committee of Parliament and disclosed that demonetisation was done because the government wanted it done.

Sinha said that if the entire Rs 15.44 lakh crore worth of high denomination currency that was in circulation prior to demonetisation has come back as deposits, the government will have some explaining to do.

“Suppose Rs 11 lakh crore came back and Rs 4 lakh crore has not come back, we would have easily concluded that Rs 4 lakh crore was black money which did not come back to the system. But if Rs 15-16 lakh crore has come back, then we need to explain,” he said.

“You are watching the scene as much as I am, and nobody can say that we have achieved the objectives — that counterfeit currency is not back… as corruption continues,” he added.

Sinha asserted that the state of the economy has remained unchanged in the last three years.

“There is a question of employment generation. Is the economy generating enough employment? The answer from government statistics is no. Is private sector investment taking place? The answer is no. If you ask me about reform measures and state of economy, I say not much change has taken place in the last three years,” Sinha told IANS.

“We should clearly know what we mean by economic reforms. It’s been 26 years since reforms started and everything is touted as economic reforms. I define economic reforms as those steps or measures which will fuel the engine of economic growth,” he said.

Sinha said the festering problem of non-performing assets (NPAs) that was inherited by the Modi government in 2014 despite various reform measures has worsened in the last three years.

“The most important issue that the economy was faced with when this government came into power in 2014, was the twin problem of stalled projects and bank NPAs. Bank NPAs happened because projects were stalled and some other factors combined to slow down the economy,” Sinha said.

“That problem has stayed, and in fact worsened in the last three years. Despite all steps initiated by the government, we don’t see the impact on reduction in NPAs and banks’ lending to private sector,” he said.

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