News in Brief-Business & Economy
The Union government has cut the prices of petrol by Rs 5 a litre and diesel by Rs 2 per
litre, while the domestic LPG rate was also slashed by as much as Rs 25 per cylinder
recently. The reduction comes on the back of the Rs 5 a litre cut in petrol price and Rs 2
per litre cut in diesel price on December 6 last year.
The State Bank of India (SBI) has frozen interest rates on its car and agricultural
loans. The bank will freeze interest rates on new car loans at 10% for a period of one year
to give a big boost for the struggling automobile sector.
The State Bank of India (SBI) has slashed lending rate on credit to farmers against cold
storage and warehouse receipts to 8%. The new rates will be applicable to all customers
availing loans between 23 February and 31 May 2009.
Public-sector engineering company Bharat Heavy Electricals has signed an agreement
for a joint venture with US-based General Electric (GE) to manufacture diesel
locomotives for Indian Railways, with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore.
The government has abolished the customs duty on import of newsprint as well as
glazed newsprint. The customs duty on lightweight coated paper has also been abolished.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), the body that regulates the
profession of chartered accountancy (CAs) in the country, and CPA Australia have inked
a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) that would recognise the qualification and give
memberships to the eligible CAs through a bridging mechanism (by appearing for one or
Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur (IIT-KGP), in association with Microsoft
India, has set up Microsoft centre of excellence in intellectual property research and
technology policy (MSCIP).
Tata Capital has become the first to offer loan against non-convertible debentures
Public sector oil companies have agreed to spend at least 2 per cent of profits on
corporate social responsibilities (CSR). A resolution to this effect was passed at a
meeting of oil PSU chiefs called by the Petroleum Minister, Murli Deora.
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S.S. Khurana has taken over as the new Chairman, Railway Board and ex-officio
Principal Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Railways.
S.S.N. Moorthy has taken over as the new Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes
(CBDT) for a term of two years.
The Yash Birla group has acquired a majority stake in ayurvedic therapy centre chain
Kerala Vaidyashala through a joint venture called Birla Kerala Vaidyashala.
Ajit Gulabchand promoted Lavasa Corporation, a HCC Group Company, has entered
into an agreement with Space Investment Co to build and manage SpaceWorld, a hi-tech
centre for space 'edutainment' at Lavasa, a hill town near Pune.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India and French nuclear power company Areva signed
a MoU that facilitates import of European Pressurised Reactors to India.
Titan Industries has entered the multi-brand watch market with the launch of Helios, a
multi-brand watch store in Bangalore.
In Greek mythology, Helios is the sun god. He is the son of the Titans, Hyperion and
Theia. And the sun in ancient times was used as a measure of time, the sun dial for
MTV, in association with Archies has launched a new line of merchandise from Roadies
(a popular reality show on MTV).
Aditya Birla Retail has launched a number of personal care products under its brand
'Enriche', food products under the brand 'Feasters' and detergents under the brand
Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has made a foray into the retail sector with the launch
of its specialty format Mom & Me to sell infantcare and maternity products. The only
other major player in this segment is British brand Mothercare, which entered India in
partnership with Shoppers Stop three years ago.
Bharti Wal-Mart's cash-and-carry and back-end supply chain management operations in
India will be named 'BestPrice Modern Wholesale'.
Jet Airways and ICICI Lombard have launched a unique overseas and domestic travel
insurance product 'JetProtect' which offers security against possible risks during travel.
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'BestPrice Modern Wholesale' will cater to the purchasing needs of traders, restaurant
owners, hoteliers, caterers, fruit and vegetable resellers, kiranas, other retail store owners,
offices and institutions.
Chennai-based media technology company Sanraa Media has signed a co- production
deal with UK-based Endemol for the production of animated series – The 99 which is
based on the illustrated comics 'The 99', owned and published by Kuwait-based
Teshkeel Media Group.
Info Edge (India), promoter of leading job portal naukri.com, is launching
'firstnaukri.com' for entry-level hiring.
Four former Indian CEOs have come together to start an angel partner firm, the Phi
Group. Pramod Saxena (former CEO of Motorola and Essar Telecom), Ravi Sharma
(ex-CEO of Alcatel-Lucent South Asia and Datacom Solutions), B D Khurana (former
CEO of Reliance Infocomm) and Sanjiv Gupta (ex-CEO, Coca-Cola India) are the ones
setting up the firm.
The Phi Group will have two subsidiaries — Phi Televentures for ICE sector and Phi
Enterprises for non-telecom businesses (alternate power, defence electronics, hospitality
The Union government has asked the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and its
director, Ajay Nath to crack the Rs 7,000-crore Satyam Computer Services fraud.
Raymond Ltd has bagged a bale of 1PP/ASFS1 type wool 'Hillcreston Pinehill' for Rs
1.42 lakh in a global auction conducted by the Australia-based Hillcreston.
Cable & Wireless has become the first international telecom provider to announce the
launch of its Next Generation Network known as the Multi-Service Platform (MSP) in
Havells India has introduced a new range of green CFL called Lilliput that complies
with RoHS (RoHS is European norms on Restriction of Hazardous Substances), CE
(Certified European Approval).
Titan Eye +, the optical retail business from Titan Industries, recently launched the
'Vybes' collection, targeted at the youth.
C.K. Ranganathan promoted CavinKare has entered into a strategic alliance with Coty
Inc to market the Adidas range of personal care products (deo–spray, body spray, shower
gel, aftershave and eau de toilette) in the Indian market.
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The manufacturing facility of Tata Marcopolo Motors Ltd at Dharwad in Karnataka has
begun commercial production. The 51:49 joint venture of Tata Motors and Marcopolo of
Brazil will market buses under the 'Starbus' and 'Globus' brands.
The Income Tax Department has launched a new website–incometaxindiapr.gov.in
and a book by the title 'Let us Share' as part of its efforts to be more transparent and
accountable to the public. The existing Web site —incometaxindia.gov.in — will
Shoppers Stop has decided to stop investments in its catalogue retailing venture,
Hypercity Argos. The brand was being run by a joint venture between Hypercity Retail
(India) and Shoppers Stop.
Zydus Cadila Healthcare is going to set up Ramanbhai College of Life Sciences in
Ahmedabad for under graduate, post graduate and doctoral courses in basic and applied
NCR Corporation jointly with Financial Information Network and Operations
(FINO) will launch the EasyPoint 70 Tijori, a micro deposit solution, with smartcard
and biometrics technology in India.
The EasyPoint 70 Tijori machine can then be used to provide other financial and
information services including bill payment, insurance, remittance, and eGov services at
convenient locations such as retail outlets.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has set up a task force on corporate
governance to be headed by former Cabinet Secretary and India's Ambassador to the US,
Naresh Chandra. The task force would look at issues emerging out of the Satyam
episode and make its recommendations.
Tourist arrivals in India in 2008 surged to 5.37 million, around 5.7 per cent higher when
compared to 5.08 million in 2007.
The seventh Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm was flagged off in New Delhi in the second
week of February from Delhi. The six-day rally will traverse approximately 2,600km
through the interiors of Rajasthan and along the Gujarat coastline before touching the
finishing line at Udaipur.
The Mahindra Group has unveiled its fibre glass power boats under the brand Mahindra
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Vodafone-Essar has announced the retirement of its Managing Director Asim Ghosh,
who will be replaced by Marten Pieters, former CEO of Celtel International.
L&T knowledge city, an exclusive 122-acre facility at Vadodara to meet high-end
design and engineering needs of the hydrocarbon and power sectors, was inaugurated by
Chairman and Managing Director A. M. Naik recently.
Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has announced re-branding of two of its hotels to the
newly launched brand – The Gateway Hotel. Taj Residency, Ernakulam, has been rebranded
to the Gateway Hotel, Marine Drive, Ernakulam and Taj Garden Retreat has
been re-branded to The Gateway Hotel, Janardhanapuram, Varkala.
Launched in September 2008, The Gateway Hotel is a pan-India network of upscale
hotels and resorts targeted at the modern travel nomad. With 29 Gateway hotels (1 8
operating and 11 under development) already under its fold, the management is targeting
50 operating and signed hotels in the near future.
Nokia has launched its first touchscreen phone — XpressMusic 5800 — in India. Priced
at Rs 22,000, the handset model comes preloaded with A.R. Rahman's exclusive ninetrack
album – Connections.
Duncans Tea, part of the Rs 2,000-crore Duncan-Goenka Group, has entered into the
super premium tea category with the launch of two Darjeeling tea variants – Duncans
Darjeeling Tea and Indian Treasure. Duncans Tea has other brands such as Runglee
Rungliot, Sargam and Shakti.
Direct-selling company Mary Kay Cosmetics India has launched a new online tool —
Mary Kay Virtual Makeover — offers women to experiment with colour and looks.
Multi Commodity Exchange has launched futures trading in electricity for the first
time in India.
Nissan Motor India said its plan to launch a small car for India by 2010 was on track
despite market conditions. In the current year, Nissan would launch variants of its sports
utility vehicle X-Trail and luxury sedan Teana for the domestic market.
Hindustan Latex Ltd, a central PSU engaged in the manufacture of contraceptives, has
entered the herbal healthcare products field in partnership with Kottakkal Arya Vaidya
Sala (AVS), a renowned Ayurvedic institution in Kerala.
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Real Global Broadcasting, the joint venture between the Turner International and the
Alva Brothers Entertainment, will launch its Hindi general entertainment channel,
Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, Multi Screen Media, which operates the Hindi general
entertainment channel Sony, has resigned from the company. Chairman of the Multi
Screen Media board, Man Jit Singh, has been appointed the interim CEO.
Aditya Birla Group announced its entry into the private equity business with a $ 100
million 'Aditya Birla Private Equity Fund'.
Kids Media India (KMI), a subsidiary of Dubai-based Spacetoon Media Group has
announced the launch of its first free-to-air kids edutainment channel — 'Spacetoon Kids
A Kochi-based real estate firm–Molecule 7 Hospitals and Medical Institutions is
introducing a new concept in the healthcare sector with the offer of "own a hospital
suite" in its super speciality hospital complex to be put up at Kochi.
Utility vehicle major Mahindra & Mahindra launched its multi-purpose vehicle Xylo.
The vehicle is coming out of an all-new platform called Ingenio.
Fiat India Automobiles (FIAL), the 50:50 joint venture between Fiat Auto and Tata
Motors, launched the Linea mid-size sedan.
The US-based Sherwin-Williams Paints, which had acquired Indian company Nitco
Paints in 2007, has opened its first company-owned stores in India.
Narayana Hrudayalaya, the hospitals conglomerate promoted by Dr Devi Shetty, has
signed an MoU with the Gujarat Government to set up a 5,000-bed Health City in
Rasna has launched its Devil's Workshop retail outlets in Delhi and Mumbai, marking
its foray into fast food and bakery business. Brands marketed include Bollywood Bites
and Bollywood Chai.
The upcoming Duke Aviation's aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facility
at the Nagpur Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will be India's first such facility. A Rs 750
crore project spread over an area of 36.5 acres, the MRO is expected to start functioning
within two years.
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Titan has launched a new brand of watch 'Zoop' designed for kids. Other Titan brands in
the market include Sonata, Fasttrack, Xylys and Orion.
Tata Motors is planning to come out with vestibule buses from its joint venture with
Marcopolo of Brazil. The company is in talks with Hubner, the German supplier for
articulated systems, critical for the manufacture of vestibule buses.
Google India has launched a new mobile campaign in Tamil Nadu called "Internet
Bus" to create awareness among the rural people on the Internet.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has exported seven Dhruvs, its Advanced Light
Helicopters (ALH), to the Ecuadorian Air Force.
Shyam Telelink Ltd has announced the change of name to Sistema Shyam TeleServices
SSTS is a joint venture between Sistema of Russia and Shyam Group of India.
Universal Music India will set up a 50:50 joint venture company with Eros Multimedia,
the distributors and producers of Bollywood films.
Citigroup has revamped its corporate structure as it reported a net loss for the fourth
quarter of $8.3 billion. As part of its shake-up Citi named Richard Parsons, Time
Warner's former boss, as its new chairman, replacing Sir Win Bischoff.
American government provided Bank of America with an extra $20 billion in funding to
help smooth its acquisition of Merrill Lynch. BOA also recorded a $1.8 billion quarterly
loss, its first in 17 years. In a show of confidence Kenneth Lewis, the bank's chief
executive, and five directors bought more than 513,000 shares in the company.
China's GDP growth fell to 6.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008, the slowest pace for
seven years. China's economy grew by 9% for the whole year, a sharp fall from a 13%
growth rate in 2007, when China pushed past Germany to become the world's thirdlargest
The European Union's competition commissioner has launched a complaint against
Microsoft accusing the software giant of "tying" Internet Explorer, its web browser, to
Windows and so hampering its rivals.
European Union's competition commissioner's objection comes despite Internet
Explorer's rapid loss of a sizeable portion of the web-browser market to Mozilla's
Firefox and Apple's Safari.
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In 2007, Microsoft was levied huge fines by the EU for "bundling" its Windows Media
Player with Windows OS and for withholding information from rivals that allows their
software to "interoperate" with Windows over a network.
The New York Times Company tapped Carlos Slim, a Mexican telecoms mogul and
one of the world's richest men, for a $250 million loan, on which it will pay 14%
interest. Slim has recently accumulated a stake of almost 7% in the Gray Lady's
London's leading daily newspaper, the Evening Standard, was sold for a "nominal sum"
(thought to be £1) to Alexander Lebedev, a Russian oligarch and former KGB agent who
was based once in the city.
General Motors has announced a phase out of its Hummer and Saturn brands if it
cannot find a buyer and reduce production of its Pontiac range. It is also trying to sell
Saab, its Swedish unit.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Sir Allen Stanford, a Texan
billionaire, with an $8 billion fraud. The allegations centre on Stanford International
Bank, which operates from Antigua. Last year, Sir Allen put up $20m for a controversial
tournament in which England played Sir Allen's team of Caribbean all-stars.
Swiss bank UBS has agreed to provide American authorities with the names of some 250
clients who used the Swiss bank to shield their money from America's tax regime. This is
the first time that Swiss regulators have allowed a bank to disclose the identity of
China and Russia signed a big energy deal. China agreed to lend $25 billion to Rosneft,
Russia's state-owned oil company, and Transneft, its pipeline monopoly, in return for
the supply of 300,000 barrels of oil a day (or about 10% of China's current oil imports)
over the next 20 years.
Treasury secretary Tim Geithner unveiled a $2.5 trillion rescue plan for America's
financial system under which banks would get more government cash if they need it.
Federal Reserve would expand its lending programme and private investors would be
given incentives to buy toxic assets, among other ideas.
UBS posted an annual net loss of SFr19.7 billion ($18.2 billion), the biggest-ever in
Swiss corporate history.
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Intel unveiled plans to invest $7 billion in factories in America that will make new, 32-
nanometre chips and support 7,000 high-tech jobs.
The French government has agreed to provide separate €3 billion ($3.9 billion) five-year
loans to both Renault and PSA Peugeot-Citroën in return for the companies agreeing to
keep factories open in France.
Nissan forecast a big annual loss, its first since Carlos Ghosn was appointed to head the
Japanese carmaker when it struck an alliance with Renault, which holds a 44% stake.
Chinalco, the state-owned Chinese aluminium producer, will provide a $19.5 billion
injection to the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto in return for stakes in some of
Rio's mining assets.
Exxon Mobil turned an annual profit of $45.2 billion in 2008, the biggest-ever for an
Warren Buffett bought half of a $600m debt offering from Harley-Davidson. The
motorcycle-maker is using the funds to shore up its loss making financing arm.
Pfizer agreed to pay $68 billion for Wyeth. The acquisition, one of the biggest ever in the
drugs industry, raised expectations of more consolidation.
Wrigley, the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum, has launched
Boomer Gumlairs a new category within bubblegums that has the taste of a chocolate
Eclair with the chewing quality of a bubblegum.
The Telstra NextG network has been declared the world's fastest mobile broadband
network by the Guinness World Records after turning up the peak network speeds to 21
The Bank of England cut the benchmark interest rate to the lowest since the bank was
founded in 1694 to help drag the British economy out of the deepening recession. The
nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mervyn King, reduced the
bank rate to 1% from 1.5%.
Lenovo Group Ltd, the world's fourth- largest personal-computer maker, posted its first
quarterly loss in almost three years. Chief Executive Officer William Amelio resigned as
sales in the US and China plunged. Amelio, 51, will be replaced by Chairman Yang
Yuanqing, while founder Liu Chuanzhi returns as chairman.
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IBM has emerged as the leader in the global patents' race, with 4,186 patents in 2008 in
the US. It is followed by Samsung with 3,515 and Canon with 2,114 patents.
Coca-Cola Co said it will remove the "classic" name from its flagship brand. The word
"classic" only appears on Coca-Cola bottles and cans in the US.
The flavour, packaging, and design of Voltage, the recently introduced version of
PepsiCo's Mountain Dew is the online collaboration of Mountain Dew fans.
Japan's second-largest brewery, Kirin Holdings Co, plans to buy a 44% stake in the beer
unit of Fillipino food and beverage giant San Miguel Corp for $1.26 billion.
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, 52, who is the grandson of founder Kiichiro Toyoda, will
take over from Katsuaki Watanabe, 66 as president of the Japanese automobile
company in June.