Biocon ranks among the world’s top 10 biotech employers

Oct 29, 2016 0

Bengaluru– India’s bio-pharma major Biocon Ltd has been ranked among the world’s top 10 employers in the biotechnology industry by an international science magazine on Friday.

According to a web-based annual survey by the magazine, the city-based company moved to ninth this year from 13 last year in the ‘Science 2016 Top Employer’ ranking, which is based on firms that are innovative leaders in the industry, are socially responsible and have a clear vision.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

“The ranking is recognition of our high quality talent aligned with the vision of innovation-led enterprise that is socially responsible,” said Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in a statement here.

When the magazine asked what makes companies best, their employees asserted that top firms operate as meritocracies, have adequate resources, trusted brands and are responsive to their stakeholders.

“We believe that our employees are our great strength. Our work culture of unconventional thinking, focus on excellence, freedom of speech and empowerment instills confidence and ownership in our people,” added Shaw.

Of the top 10 employers, six are based in the US, two (Novo Nordisk and Novozymes) in Denmark and one (Roche) in Switzerland.

The US-based ranked biotech firms are Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Moderna Therapeutics, Eli Lily, Vertex, Genetech and Alexion. (IANS)

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79 Percent Indian-Americans to Vote for Clinton, 15 Percent for Trump

Oct 28, 2016 0

BOSTON—A national online survey of Indian-Americans reveals that a whopping 79.43 percent of them would vote for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton if elections were held today while 14.89 percent would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson received 1.42 percent support from Indian-Americans. The survey was conducted during Oct. 21-26 after the third and final presidential debate.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The opinion poll, which was piloted by IndUS Business Journal and its sister publication INDIA New England News, also revealed that 46.43 percent Indian-Americans are registered as an Independent while 38.57 percent as a Democrat and only five percent as a Republican.

“The biggest surprise was that nearly half of the Indian-Americans are registered as Independents,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of IndUS Business Journal and INDIA New England News. “The general assumption among Non-Resident Indians is that a vast majority of Indian-Americans are registered as Democrats.”

Mishra said that despite an intense campaign by a small Hindu minority to support Trump, the campaign by Republican Hindu Coalition has fallen on deaf ears. In fact, Republican Hindu Coalition has energized open-minded Indian-Americans to rally against Trump.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

“A vast majority of NRI community in the United States is open-minded and beyond pettiness of caste and religion,” Mishra said. “The strength in diversity and openness is one of the greatest strengths of NRIs in the United States and worldwide.”

Mishra said that despite the insertion of Republican Hindu Coalition in the presidential elections, Trump is doing poorer than Republican Mitt Romney did four years ago.

“Trump is getting only 14.89 percent of Indian-American votes today,” Mishra said. “Four years ago, in a similar poll we conducted, Romney received 17.50 percent. That is almost three percentage points less than Romney.”

When asked who would be good for India, 72.46 percent said Clinton while 18.12 percent went for Trump and 1.45 percent said Johnson.

“Hillary and Donald both would be good (for India),” said one of the survey participants. “Trump understands threats posed by Pakistan and Islamic terrorism.”

When asked what did the Indian-American view as the most important campaign issue of the 2016 Presidential election, they listed hundreds of issues but overwhelmingly they voted for economy, job creation, healthcare, immigration, integrity, credibility, ethics and yes: sanity.

Upendra Mishra

Upendra Mishra

“Ms. Hillary’s steadiness helps US in maintaining dignity in world stage,” said one participant.  “Mr. Trump is a loose cannon ball. He will make US look like a Joker and Puppet nation. He does not have any respect to anybody. He is a bully. He should be classified as a ‘SEXUAL OFFENDER’ even though these both are not so honest.”

Many of the participants who supported Trump cited his understanding of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. Some were frustrated with the mudslinging in the current election.

“Insanity and craziness. It does not feel like we are participating in elections in a developed country–not to mention a Super Power,” said one participant.  “The electoral climate has deteriorated and everyone is responsible–right from Republican to Democrats to the media and social media.”

Trump has declared himself as a “true friend of the Indian and Hindu community” and recently launched a video campaign in which he says “Ab ki baar, Trump Sarkar.” The phase is borrowed from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan of “Ab ki baar Modi Sarkar.”

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IBM to acquire Bengaluru-based Sanovi Technologies

Oct 27, 2016 0

Martin Jetter (Photo: LinkedIn

Bengaluru– In a bid to expand “Disaster Recovery” services for Hybrid Cloud, software giant IBM on Thursday signed a definitive agreement to acquire Bengaluru-based Sanovi Technologies.

Sanovi Technologies provides Hybrid Cloud recovery, Cloud migration and business continuity software for enterprise data centres and Cloud infrastructure.

Adding these capabilities along with advanced analytics will better enable IBM to bolster its Software Defined Resiliency strategy and delivery of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services for clients undergoing digital and hybrid Cloud transformation, the company said in a statment.

IBM plans to integrate the Sanovi capabilities into the IBM Global Technology Services unit by the end of 2016.

“As a Cloud-native company, Sanovi will strengthen our resiliency portfolio to manage the broad range of applications, data, and IT systems of our clients balancing digital and hybrid Cloud transformation with increased regulatory compliance,” said Martin Jetter, Senior Vice President, Global Technology Services, IBM.

Hybrid Cloud solutions are turning out to be the preferred choice for enterprises in India for an enhanced efficiency, productivity and cyber security.

A Hybrid Cloud is an integrated Cloud service utilising both private and public Clouds to perform distinct functions within the same organisation.

With Sanovi’s software, IBM will further empower clients to redefine their disaster recovery strategy in the face of unprecedented industry change.

“Together, we will provide next-generation resiliency solutions for robust hybrid Cloud deployments across the globe,” added Chandra Sekhar Pulamarasetti, Co-Founder and CEO, Sanovi.

The financial details of the deal are yet to be disclosed.

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Sun Pharma to acquire US-based Ocular Technologies

Oct 27, 2016 0

Chennai– Indian drug major Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd has entered into definitive agreements by its wholly owned subsidiary to acquire Ocular Technologies, Sarl (OTS), the company said.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Sun Pharma said OTS was a portfolio company of Auven Therapeutics (Auven), an international private equity firm focused on accelerated development of breakthrough therapeutic drugs.

Sun Pharma will pay Auven $40 million upfront, plus contingent development milestones and sales milestones as well as tiered royalty on sales of Seciera as consideration for this acquisition.

Dilip Shanghvi

Dilip Shanghvi

OTS owns exclusive, worldwide rights to Seciera (cyclosporine A, 0.09 per cent ophthalmic solution).

Seciera is currently in a Phase-3 confirmatory clinical trial for the treatment of Dry Eye Disease, an inflammatory ocular disease affecting approximately 16 million people in the US alone.

Seciera is a patented, novel, proprietary formulation of cyclosporine A 0.09 per cent.

“This potential acquisition signifies continued momentum in enhancing our global branded specialty portfolio,” Dilip Shanghvi, Managing Director, Sun Pharma, was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Coupled with our existing pipeline consisting of BromSite, DexaSite and Xelpros, this initiative will enable Sun Pharma to significantly expand its ophthalmic presence and reach millions of patients globally,” he said.

The transaction is subject to approval of the US Federal Trade Commission as required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and other closing conditions and is expected to be completed by end of 2016. (IANS)

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Tata Group may have to take write-down of $18 billion, says Cyrus Mistry

Oct 26, 2016 0

New Delhi– The sacked chairman of Tata Sons, Cyrus P. Mistry, has indicated that the Tata group was in a bad financial shape, painting a picture of several trouble spots in the group companies.

In his five-page angry letter to the board members of Tata Sons and the trustees of the group, Mistry said that a realistic assessment of the fair value of the “legacy hotspots” like IHCL, Tata Motors PV, Tata Steel Europe, Tata Power Mundra and Teleservices could “potentially result in a write down over time of about Rs 118,000 crore ($18 billion).”

Cyrus P. Mistry

Cyrus P. Mistry

He said the capital employed in these companies had risen from Rs 132,000 crore to Rs 196,000 crore, due to operational losses, interest and capex. “This figure is close to the networth of the group which is at Rs 174,000 crore,” thus painting a picture which shows up these companies in a precarious situation.

Mistry was removed from the position of chairman by the Tata Sons board on Monday, reinstating Ratan Tata to the post after four years, in an interim capacity.

A Tata group spokesperson said they had nothing to comment on Mistry’s letter. The action by the Tata Sons board has shaken up the market capitalisation of many group companies, with some of them showing sharp declines.

Mistry said in the letter that the company’s action to suddenly remove him without enough explanation not only damaged his reputation, but also caused “immeasureable harm” to the group’s goodwill.

Mistry also said that he was pushed to a position of a “lame duck” chairman.

“The sadness of the action, and the lack of explanation has led to all manner of speculation and has done my reputation and the reputation of the Tata Group immeasureable harm,” Mistry wrote in the letter, a copy of which is available with IANS.

The letter was sent to the directors and trustees from Mistry’s Tata mail id a day after he was removed from the post.

Mistry said he was “shocked” by the “invalidity and illegality of the business that was conducted” by the board in its meeting on October 24.

“I cannot believe that I was removed on grounds of non-performance,” he said.

“I hope you do realize the predicament that I found myself in. Being pushed into the position of a ‘lame duck’ Chairman, my desire was to create an institutional framework for effective future governance of the group,” he added.

The Tata Group has already moved caveats in the Supreme Court, the Bombay High Court and the National Company Law Tribunal on October 25, in a bid to pre-empt any ex-parte order in case Mistry takes recourse to legal action.

The Tata Sons board had also constituted a Selection Committee to choose a new Chairman. The committee comprises Ratan Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.

Mistry in his letter said: “Prior to my appointment, I was assured that I would be given a free hand. The previous chairman (Ratan Tata) was to step back and be available for advice and guidance as and when needed.”

He said that after his appointment, the Articles of Association were modified, “changing the rules of engagement between the Trusts, the Board of Tata Sons, the Chairman, and the operating companies. Inappropriate interpretation indeed followed.”

He stated that the foreign acquisition strategy, with the exceptions of Jaguar Land Rover and Tetley, “had left a large debt overhang”.

“The European steel business faced potential impairments in excess of $10 billion, only some of which has been taken as of date. Tata Chemicals still needs tough decisions about its UK and Kenya operations,” Mistry added.

Touching upon almost all sectors of Tata’s business, he said Tata Capital had a book that required significant clean up on account of bad loans to the infrastructure sector.

“Of all the companies in the portfolio, the telecom business has been continuously haemorrhaging. If we were to exit this business via fire sale or shut down, the cost would be $4-5 billion. This is in addition to any payout to DoCoMo of at least a billion plus dollars.”

He talked about “fraudulent transactions” of Rs 22 crore in the case of Air Asia involving non-existent parties in India and Singapore. He also railed against Ratan Tata’s pet Nano project, saying it had entailed a loss of Rs 1,000 crore and should be “shut down”.

Mistry said all these challenges have made him take many tough decision with “sensitive care to the group’s reputation”.

The $100 billion group employs some 700,000 persons.

Regarding the Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines venture that gave birth to Vistara, Mistry said: “Without the benefit of time and experience to fully evaluate the proposal, I had to accept that Tata Sons would take a 51 per cent stake in a $100 million joint venture.”

Taking a dig on Ratan Tata, he said: “The passion for the airlines sector has led Mr Tata to continue his involvement with the strategy of the two airlines.”

Mistry claimed that despite all challenges, the operating cash flows of the group have grown at 31 per cent compounded per annum. The Tata Group’s valuation from 2013 to 2016 increased by 14.9 per cent per annum in rupee terms.

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Modi asks top bureaucrats to act for better ease of doing business rank

Oct 26, 2016 0

New Delhi– Apparently disappointed at India’s persistent low ranking in the World Bank’s ‘ease of doing business’ index, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked top bureaucrats to study the report and give their feedback within a month.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Chairing the 16th PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation) meet, he asked the Chief Secretaries of the states and Secretaries of the Central government ministries and departments to study the report, and analyse the potential areas where there is scope for improvement in their respective departments and states.

The World Bank’s latest ‘Doing Business’ report puts India at the 130th pedestal among the 190 economies that were assessed on various parameters. India has failed to improve its rankings as this is just one notch above last year.

The Prime Minister also asked the Cabinet Secretary to oversee the feedback and review it.

The Modi government has been trying its best to woo foreign investors, while initiating a slew of measures in this regard, and globally brandishing India as the fastest growing economy.

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Supreme Court asks Mallya to fully disclose assets abroad

Oct 25, 2016 0

New Delhi–Expressing its unhappiness, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya to disclose in full and within four weeks all his overseas assets, including details of the $40 million he got in February from British liquor major Diageo.

The British company made the payment against acquisition of controlling stakes in Mallya’s United Spirits Ltd.

“We are not happy the way disclosure was made,” Justice Kurian Joseph observed.

Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

The bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Nariman said Mallya will furnish the particulars of his foreign assets in a way he did regarding his assets in India.

“We are prima facie of the view that Vijay Mallya has not made proper disclosure in terms of the order of April 7, 2016.

“Vijay Mallya is directed to make a complete disclosure of all his properties … in particular, in respect of $40 million which Diageo paid in February,” the apex court bench directed

The court’s direction came as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the liquor baron did not furnish the details of his bank accounts, their nature, or particulars of his immovable properties, including cars.

The court fixed November 24 for further hearing.

“We expected you to tell us in detail what happened to $40 million. If you want to come clean, you should tell us what you have done (with $40 million),” the bench told senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan who appeared for Mallya.

“Why don’t you tell us what happened with $40 million,” the court asked.

Addressing the bench’s queries on why Mallya did not make disclosure about $40 million, Vaidyanathan said the April 7 order only sought details of movable and immovable assets, tangible and intangible, shares and other benefits and not the “receipt and expenditure” statements.

On April 7, the court had directed Mallya to “disclose the details of all his properties — movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, share holdings and any right, title or interest including beneficial interest and those held in fiduciary capacity, in private trusts, public trusts, companies, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and/or any other entity/ies both in India and abroad etc. in any form whatsoever as on March 31, 2016”.

At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that Mallya has taken all the creditors (banks) and the court for a ride since he did not disclose receiving $40 million from Diageo.

Arguing that this $40 million belonged to the consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India, Rohatgi said that had Mallya disclosed the receipt of this money, “we would have taken steps for its attachment”.

Urging the bench to direct Mallya to bring $40 million back to India, Rohatgi said that not only did the industrialist not make a full disclosure but also did not appear before the court in a contempt plea, as required under the Supreme Court Rules.

Vaidyanathan dubbed as “incorrect” the Attorney General’s submission that they were not in the know of Mallya receiving $40 million and said the assets disclosure was compliant of the April 7 order.

“We understand your first argument (government knew about Mallya receiving $40 million) but not your second argument (on not disclosing $40 million),” the court observed.

The court is hearing a plea by a consortium of 13 banks, led by SBI, seeking the settlement of the Rs 9,000-crore loan advanced to Mallya’s now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines.

Banks on the consortium, besides SBI, are the State Bank of Baroda, State Bank of Mysore, Axis Bank, Corporation Bank, Federal Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, IDBI Bank, Punjab National Bank, Punjab and Sind Bank, UCO Bank and United Bank of India.

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Mistry denies filing any caveat on removal from Tata Sons

Oct 25, 2016 0

Mumbai– Industrialist Cyrus P. Mistry on Tuesday denied that he has filed any caveat pertaining to his removal as Chairman of Tata Sons.

“Cyrus (Mistry) has not filed any caveats. He has already made a statement that such concerns are misplaced at this stage,” his office said here.

Cyrus P. Mistry

Cyrus P. Mistry

A caveat is a notice filed by a party fearing legal action and seeking to be notified before action is taken.

The Tatas have filed caveats seeking notice from Cyrus Mistry fearing legal action, his office said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Shapoorji Pallonji Group said it was “studying the circumstance” of the unexpected corporate coup.

“Neither the SP Group nor Cyrus Mistry has made any statement yet. While the circumstances are being studied, there is no basis to media speculation about litigation at this stage,” an official spokesperson for Shapoorji Pallonji Group said.

The company added that a public statement would be made as and when it would be necessary.

In a bolt from the blue, the conglomerate Tata Sons on Monday announced its board had replaced Mistry as the company Chairman, and named Ratan N. Tata as Interim Chairman of the company. Ratan Tata is Chairman Emeritus of the group.

The Board also constituted a Selection Committee to choose a new Chairman for Tata Sons comprising Ratan N. Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.

The committee, set up as per the criteria in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons, has been mandated to complete the selection process in four months.

Mistry, 48, born in Ireland, had taken over as Chairman of Tata Sons barely four years ago, in December 2012. (IANS)

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In a surprise move, Tata Sons replaces Cyrus Mistry, Ratan Tata to be interim chairman

Oct 24, 2016 0

Mumbai–In a surprise move, industrial conglomerate Tata Sons on Monday replaced Cyrus P. Mistry as its Chairman and named Ratan Tata as the interim chairman of the company.

The decision was taken at the company’s board meeting, a statement said here. A committee has been formed to select the next chairman within four months.

“The committee comprises Ratan N. Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, as per the criteria in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons. The committee has been mandated to complete the selection process in four months,” the company statement said.

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata

Corporate India reacted with amazement at the announcement. Harsh Goenka, Chairman of RPG Enterprises, described the move as a corporate coup. “Historical corporate letter. Biggest corporate coup executed with utmost precision,” he said in a tweet.

Mistry, 48, an Irish-Indian citizen, had taken over as Chairman of Tata Sons four years ago in December 2012. Ratan Tata, who led the group for 21 long years, is the Chairman Emeritus of the conglomerate.

He is the younger son of Pallonji Mistry, whose construction company Shapoorji Pallonji & Co is the largest shareholder of Tata Sons, with a stake of around 18 per cent.

Mistry was replaced keeping in mind the “long-term interest” of the company, according to a Tata Sons spokesperson.

“The company’s board and the principal shareholders in their collective wisdom took this decision, which they thought may be appropriate in the long term interest of Tata Sons and the Tata Group,” the company spokesperson told IANS.

“There is no change in the CEOs at the operating level,” the spokesperson added.

Mistry, on his appointment in Tata Sons in 2012, had relinquished his position as managing director of Shapoorji Pallonji, to avoid any conflict of interest.

His father Pallonji had been a passive investor in Tata Sons, although he sat on its board till 2006, when he retired and ceded the position to Cyrus.

Mistry became the sixth chairman of the group and the second who did not have the name of Tata, after Nowroji Saklatwala. The Economist once described him as “the most important industrialist” in both India and Britain. But it also described him as being “dangerously content just to sit atop what has grown into an impressive but lumbering pachyderm.”

Mistry took over from Ratan Tata at a time when some of the group’s main companies were facing tough operating environments, and his major challenge was to turn around the group’s international steel business and to consolidate the other businesses. The $100 billion group employs some 700,000 persons.

In an interview to the Tata Group’s online platform last month, Mistry said that the high debt levels of some group companies should be seen in the context of business growth, increasing cash from operations, and capital projects underway which will lead to future growth.

“As the group has been growing significantly in the past, the total capital employed has also grown. Proportionately, there has been increase in debt.”

In September this year, Tata Steel reported a 10-fold jump in its net loss to Rs 3,183 crore in the quarter ended June 30, as compared to a net loss of Rs 317 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

Reacting to the knee-jerk move, Goenka said it was a “strange” news. “Ta-ta to Cyrus Mistry. Uncertainty in India’s most respected group not good for the nation. What’s happened to Cyrus is a ‘Mistry’!” Goenka tweeted. (IANS)

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Kumar Mangalam Birla new IIM-Ahmedabad Chairman

Oct 22, 2016 0

Ahmedabad– Kumar Mangalam Birla, the 49-year-old Chairman of the $41 billion industrial conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, has been named the new Chairman of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), according to a Human Resource Development Ministry statement.

The premier B-school has been without a regular Chairman since January when A.M. Naik, the CMD of Larsen & Toubro, quit citing “paucity of time”.

Kumar Mangalam Birla

Kumar Mangalam Birla

The IIM chairmanship is normally a non-executive position and the role primarily involves presiding over Board of Governors meetings and acting as IIM spokesperson. The Chairperson also takes up the issues of the institute with the Union government.

Though he has no formal authority, the Chairperson can set the agenda by guiding discussions and influencing the direction of the institute.

A search committee to select the IIM-A Chairman was formed soon after Naik’s resignation. the panel included Naik as its head, with Sanjay Lalbhai of the Arvind Group, Pankaj Patel of Zydus Cadila and D. Shivakumar of Pepsico India as members.

The committee shortlisted the names of Deepak Parekh, Chairman of Housing Development Finance Corporation; R. Seshasayee of Infosys and Pawan Munjal, the CMD of Hero Motocorp. However, the HRD Ministry, then headed by Smriti Irani, had rejected the list.

Later, a new three-member panel headed by Pankaj Patel was constituted. The panel dropped the name of Munjal and included that of Kumar Mangalam Birla instead.

The names were discussed and approved by the institute’s Board of Governors in late September and sent to the HRD Ministry for approval, as stipulated by the Memorandum of Association (MOA) between the IIM-A and the Ministry.

A discussion on the matter is believed to have taken place with incumbent HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on his recent visit to the IIM-A. (IANS)

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