Sunday, May 2, 2010

Current Events: Business & Economy

World's 100 most accountable firms: No Indian company makes the cut

Two companies lead by persons of Indian origin are in the Fortune magazine list

Indian billionaires may be standing head and shoulders with those in global rich lists, but

when it comes to the world's 100 most accountable firms in terms of their commitment to the

society and environment, not a single entity from the country has managed to make the cut.

However, there are two companies led by persons of Indian origin — steel tycoon Lakshmi

Mittal-run ArcelorMittal and Vikram Pandit led Citigroup — that have been included in the

annual global list published by US business magazine Fortune.

The list has been topped by British telecom major Vodafone, which is present in India

through a joint venture with Ruias-led Essar group.

Vodafone, which has moved to the top from its fifth position last year, is followed by

American diversified conglomerate General Electric, British financial services giant HSBC

Holdings (3rd), French telecom firm France Telecom (4th) and UK banking major HBOS in

the top five.

British Petroleum, which topped the list in 2007, has slipped to the ninth position in this

year's list. Others in the top 10 include Finnish phone maker Nokia (6th), Electricite de

France (7th), Suez (8th) and Royal Dutch Shell (10th).

Fortune partnered with AccountAbility, Csrnetwork and Asset4 to rank the companies in the

list 'by the quality of their commitment to social and environmental goals'.

Pandit-led Citi has jumped 15 places to the 17th rank in the accountability ranking, while

ArcelorMittal is now placed at the 73rd position, making significant improvement from last

year's 96th rank.

The 100 most accountable companies are selected from among those included in the Fortune

Global 500 list, which ranks the companies on the basis of annual turnover. The

accountability rating is mainly based on four parameters — strategic intent, governance and

management systems, engagement and operational performance.

Strategic intent focusses on whether the business strategy is designed with a consideration of

relevant social and environmental trends and impacts.



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Governance and management systems examines whether senior executives and the advisory

board consider stakeholders' issues when making strategy and formulating corporate policy.

Engagement analyses whether the company engaged in dialogue with people who have an

interest, on account of being affected by, or can affect its business.

Operational performance is based on whether the company is managing its most important

social and environmental impacts.

On Vodafone, the report said that it "reclaimed the top spot in 2008 (it ranked No 5 last year

and No 1 in 2006) by upping its green game. Vodafone in April said it would chop half of its

carbon dioxide emissions by 2020..."

Noting that the company also gets good grades for reporting the details of the campaign —

and whether or not it's going well — on a continuous basis, the magazine said such

transparency apparently is part of the Vodafone culture.

First pan-Indian luxury train

Other luxury trains operating currently are region specific

The first Indian luxury train to have a pan-country presence will commence operations from

third quarter of 2009. The train is part of a joint venture agreement between Indian Railways

Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Cox and Kings India (CKIL). The cost of

the project will be around Rs 45-50 crore with both parties sharing the amount equally. The

joint venture will operate on profit sharing basis.

The train will be managed and operated under a joint venture company called Royale Indian

Rail Tours Ltd, for which the agreement was signed by IRCTC and CKIL Managing

Directors, Nalin Singhal and Peter Kerkar, respectively.

There will be two specially designed itineraries for the train. The first is the Princely India

Tour, which is a seven-night itinerary that follows the Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Udaipur-

Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Jaipur-Delhi route. The second is the Classical India tour, which is also a

seven-night itinerary through Delhi-Agra-Gwalior-Khajuraho-Varanasi and Patna.

India currently has three luxury trains: Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan, Deccan Queen in

Maharashtra and Golden Chariot in Karnataka. However, all are region-specific and operated

by the State governments.

The fares for this train journey are not yet finalised. It costs about Rs 14,700 ($300) per night

for travel on existing Indian luxury trains.



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The new train could cost excess of Rs 24,500 ($500) per night.

IRCTC will operate the train, while CKIL will be responsible for marketing and all off-board


Maruti reveals fuel efficiency of all its brands

All automakers will make such disclosures by March 31

India's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki has revealed the fuel efficiency of all its 12 brands of

cars, multi-utility vehicles (MUV) and sports utility vehicles (SUV) sold in the country as

part of the voluntary labelling programme for vehicle mileage spearheaded by the Society of

Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). While the popular selling Maruti 800 delivers

16.1 km to a litre, its 5th world strategic model A Star notches 19 km/ litre. While the Swift

diesel achieves an impressive 21 km, the petrol variant runs for 16 kms.

Similar mileage efficiency has been informally disclosed by Hyundai for its bestselling "i10"

models that sport the new-age Kappa engine.

These mileage disclosures for the Maruti vehicles have been tested and certified by

accredited automobile testing bodies in the country such as Automotive Research Association

of India at Pune, Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (VRDE) at Ahmednagar

and International Centre of Automotive Technology (ICAT) located at Manesar.

From January 1, automobile majors in the country will voluntarily disclose mileage obtained

from each of the new passenger vehicles they sell. This is part of a broader initiative by

SIAM to educate customers on fuel conservation and its implications on the environment.

The mileage disclosures will have to be completed by March 31.

The fuel efficiency disclosures will first be limited to two-wheeler and passenger vehicle

manufacturers. The aim of the labelling programme is to ensure that the customer does not

have to rely on word-of-mouth testimonials on the mileage of a particular brand of car or

motorcycle he buys.

Estee restraints Gufic from using 'Cliniq' trademark

Estee Lauder prepared to let Gufic use Clinic

The $8-billion American cosmetics company Estee Lauder has won an interim injunction

from Delhi High Court (HC), preventing Mumbai-based Gufic Biosciences from selling skin

care consumer products under the latter's 'Cliniq' brands. The HC said that Gufic should not

use the word 'Cliniq' or any other mark deceptively similar to 'Clinique'.



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