News in Brief: Business & Economy
Italian carmaker Fiat and US based Chrysler have agreed to create a global strategic
alliance under which Fiat will get a 35% stake in Chrysler. In return, the US firm will get
access to Fiat's fuel-efficient vehicle technologies.
Amitabh Bachchan has endorsed Dabur Honey for 5 years, exhorting consumers to
'Drop Sugar, Switch To Dabur Honey'. He has company — India's cricket captain,
Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The two will now together endorse the brand with a brand new
campaign, 'Kaun banayega India ko healthy' (who will make India healthy?). The
brand message is— 'Cheeni ko dhakka maaro, instead have Dabur Honey'.
Bangalore-headquartered microfinance organisation Ujjivan, a pioneer in the field in
urban India has won a process excellence award from the Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS) for successfully combining the best of Grameen Bank's self-help group model
with the efficiencies of modern retail banking.
Samit Ghosh founded Ujjivan has also started an NGO, Parinaam Foundation, to bring
a holistic approach to fighting poverty. It will offer healthcare, education, vocational and
entrepreneurial guidance and support community development initiatives.
Vedanta-controlled Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO) has won two
international awards for the innovative fuse technology that helped eliminate frequent
disturbances to the power plant operations. It won a special prize for Product Technique
in the mechanical engineering and electronics category of the European Aluminium
Award 2008, held in Germany. The technology also won the Ideas UK 2008 award in
the technology category.
Tata Chemicals will set up a fertiliser plant at Babrala in Uttar Pradesh for
manufacturing customised farm nutrient, keeping in mind the soil fertility of the local
area. The company will launch IT related services under 'Smart Krishi' for farmers
enabling them to assess the crop nutrients and soil fertility of their area.
Ford Motor Co said it may sell its Volvo unit, the company's sole remaining European
brand, a day before the automaker is scheduled to present a survival plan to US
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Ford began buying European automakers in 1987, when it purchased a controlling
interest in UK-based Aston Martin. Ford acquired Jaguar in 1989 and Land Rover in
Ford sold off sold Aston Martin for $931 million in May 2007, and Jaguar and Land
Rover in June 2008 for $2.4 billion.
Ford has been shedding its European brands under CEO Alan Mulally, recruited from
Boeing Co in 2006. Mulally is integrating regional units and focusing on marketing the
company's namesake brand, under a plan called One Ford.
The Global Green Company, part of the Avantha Group promoted by the Thapar
family, has decided to foray into the agriculture fields in Punjab to source back-end
likages for its food processing business.
Hindustan Motors (HM) of the CK Birla group has launched the first Chinese
commercial vehicle in India. The 1-tonne-capacity mini-truck, priced below Rs 4 lakh,
produced under licence from Shandong Shifeng of China is named the HM-Shifeng
In a ruling that may result in $2 billion (Rs 10,000 crore) flowing into government
coffers, the Bombay High Court dismissed a writ petition filed by telecom major
Vodafone International Holdings BV challenging the Income Tax (I-T) Department's
jurisdiction to assess whether the over $11 billion Hutchison-Vodafone transaction was
liable for capital gains tax.
Thorium Power, a US-based nuclear energy company, has signed an agreement with
Punj Lloyd to form a joint venture (JV) that will provide thorium fuel technology for
light water reactors (LWR) to come up in India.
Japanese giant Mitsui has decided to join hands with Haryana State Industrial &
Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) and IL&FS to set up an Integrated
Japanese Industrial, Transportation & Logistic Park in Haryana.
'Buyology: How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy Is Wrong', a book
authored by Marketing guru Martin Lindstrom was released recently.
The Union government has issued special bonds for Rs 10,000 crore at the coupon rate of
7 per cent to 23 fertiliser companies as compensation for subsidising prices in the
current financial year.
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Fertiliser companies sell their products at a discount to farmers and the government
reimburses the subsidy component by way of cash transfer and fertiliser bonds. The
calculation for subsidy is based on cost-plus basis. When crude oil prices go up, the cost
of feedstock for fertiliser units also spiral upwards.
The government, in Budget 2008-09, had sought approval for Rs 38,863 crore for
fertiliser subsidy by way of cash outgo and Rs 14,000 crore through fertiliser subsidy
bond. The fertiliser subsidy bill in 2007-08 was estimated at around Rs 40,300 crore.
'The New Paradigm For Financial Markets', a book authored by billionaire financer
and investor George Soros, was released recently.
Central Arecanut & Cocoa Marketing & Processing Cooperative Limited (Campco), the
Mangalore-based multi-state cooperative of Karnataka and Kerala, known for its
chocolate brand Campco, is diversifying into rubber trade.
Leading toy manufacturer, Mattel India has launched the Disney Pixar Cars range that
features models based on the characters from movies. The Pixar Car range is the second
largest brand after Hot Wheels in the boys' toy category for Mattel.
Dutch consumer electronics company Philips will roll out its specialised mother and
baby-care products under the brand Avent brand later this year.
China lost its first major trade dispute at the World Trade Organization's highest
appeals court, the Appellate Body (AB), over its additional duty of 25 per cent on
imported auto parts. In a comprehensive ruling, the AB dismissed China's challenge on
several counts, pronouncing that Beijing's measures violated global trade rules.
State Bank of India (SBI) has merged its Mauritius-based subsidiary, Indian Ocean
International Bank (IOIB), with SBI International (Mauritius) to consolidate its
operations in the African island nation. The new entity has begun operations as SBI
Parthi Bhatol has been elected as the chairman of Banskantha District Cooperative
Milk Producers' Union which manages Banas dairy. Bhatol was also elected as the
chairman of Rs. 5,200 crore apex milk marketing body-Gujarat Cooperative Milk
Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that owns the Amul brand in April 2006.
Japanese bike maker Yamaha has launched its fifth 'Lifestyle' company owned
showroom in the country in Kolkata recently.
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Yamaha has launched its in-house finance company called Bussan Auto Finance (BAF)
in India. BAF, a joint venture company between Yamaha, Mitsui and Axis Bank, was
formed to finance Yamaha purchases.
Yamaha India is conducting 'Ridetech' events promoting racing culture in the country,
which would also help it promote the brand image of the company.
The Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) at the International Crops Research Institute for the
Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has won the Asian Association of Business Incubation
(AABI) Award for the year 2008.
ABI-ICRISAT was established with support from the National Science and Technology
Entrepreneurship Development Board, Department of Science and Technology and
Government of India, in 2003.
Cisco, the global leader in networking, has announced the roll out of its 'Network On
Wheels' (NOW) Van program across the country to address the information technology
(IT) needs of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region.
PartyGaming Plc's founder and former director, Anurag Dikshit, pleaded guilty to
illegal Internet gambling and agreed to cooperate with the US Justice Department in an
investigation of the Web-based gaming company. Internet gambling is illegal in the US.
Global Hyatt Corporation, which currently operates five hotels in India under the Hyatt
Regency, Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt brands will introduce its global brands such as
Hyatt Place, Hyatt Summerfield Suites and Andaz to Tier-I and -II cities in India.
K S Raju, Chairman of the Rs 12,500-crore Nagarjuna Group, was sent to jail on
judicial remand for a fortnight for defaulting on repayment of deposits collected from the
public by his Nagarjuna Finance (NFL).
K S Raju is the only son of K V K Raju, a first generation industrialist who founded the
Nagarjuna Group by establishing Nagarjuna Steel and Nagarjuna Fertilizer and
Edurite Technologies, the Indian arm of TutorVista, providing technology-enabled
education, is looking at taking its software DigitALLy to schools across the country and
has partnered publishing firm Macmillan Publishers India to offer it to students of Class
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HDFC Bank Managing Director Aditya Puri is the Business Standard Banker of the
Year. Puri has won the award for transforming the 14-year old institution into a financial
HDFC Bank today has the largest branch network (1,400) among all private sector
banks in the country, courtesy the acquisition of Centurion Bank of Punjab.
Croma — the consumer electronics retail chain of the Tata group — has launched its
private label 'Croma' for appliances such as air-conditioners, irons and vacuum cleaners.
The Tata group already has a small presence in the durables sector since it manufactures
air-conditioners under the Voltas brand.
Internet search firm Yahoo! has acquired 30% stake in Chennai-based tele-information
service provider Info Network Management Company (INMAC) known for its
consumer brand, Call Ezee, a telephone directory search service available across 14 cites
The Airports Authority of India (AAI), the country's largest airport operator, has been
granted the mini-ratna status under category-I.
A category-I mini-ratna company is allowed to incur capital expenditure on new
projects, modernisation, purchase of equipment without government approval up to Rs
300 crore, or equal to its net worth, whichever is lower. This apart, the company will be
allowed to establish joint ventures (JVs) and subsidiaries in the country.
Regional Food Research & Analysis Centre (RFRAC), Lucknow has been appointed as
the authority to certify dussehri mango exporters in Malihabad region of Uttar Pradesh.
National Horticulture Board has registered the dussehri mango under the Geographic
Indication (GI) Act for better marketing and visibility in international market recently.
Dussehri is primarily grown in Malihabad area of Lucknow district and is famous for
its flavour and sweetness and is exported mainly to the Gulf, Thailand, Malaysia and
Singapore, besides the domestic market in the country.
Reliance Communications (RCom) has launched 'Samachar', a service that provides
text news in Hindi and vernacular languages. The service is supported by mobile and
web applications provider Webdunia.com.
National Aluminium Company (NALCO), India's public sector aluminium company,
has inked an agreement with Rak Minerals and Metals Investments (RMMI) for its Rs
14,000-crore Indonesian project.
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Reliance Money and National Multi-Commodity Exchange (NMCE) have announced
the setting up of National Agriculture Produce Marketing Company of India (National
APMC) that aims to provide the required infrastructure for electronic trading in
W2M, a geosynchronous orbit communication satellite built by the Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO) in partnership with EADS-Astrium of Europe, was
successfully launched by the European Ariane-5 launch vehicle from the European Space
Centre at Kourou in French Guyana recently.
ISRO is making another satellite called HYLAS, also in association with EADSAstrium,
for UK's Avanti Screen Media, and will be launched later this year.
The W2M project was undertaken under an accord signed during the 2006 visit of the
French president to New Delhi between Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of
ISRO, and EADS Astrium.
Tata Motors' plans to roll out the first of its Rs 1 lakh small car, the Nano, from
Uttarakhand, got a boost after a state government committee under Chief Minister B C
Khanduri allotted it nearly 45 acres of land to expand the Pantnagar unit.
The National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore, has entered into the first
public-private JV in the aircraft design in the country with Mahindra and Mahindra
(M&M) to produce General Aviation Aircraft.
Britain has drawn up a guide titled 'Caring for Hindu Patients' to help health
professionals provide care to Hindu patients according to their values and practices. The
guide seeks to provide insight into how services may be provided sensitively, with respect
for Hindu values, practices and worldviews.
Wipro Technologies will acquire Citi Technology Services–the captive delivery centre
of IT services and solutions centre of Citigroup in India–for $127 million (around Rs 609
crore). Citigroup had recently sold its captive BPO arm, Citigroup Global Services, to
TCS for about $505 million.
Tulsi Tanti promoted Suzlon Energy, the world's fifth largest wind turbine maker, will
sell 10% of its stake in Belgium-based subsidiary Hansen Transmission to fund its
acquisition of stake in another Suzlon subsidiary, Germany based REpower Systems
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Consultancy firm KPMG will prepare the 2009 report on the media and entertainment
sector for industry chamber FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and
Industry) after the industry association terminated its relations with
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the wake of Satyam Computers' accounting fraud
after PwC's audit arm came under fire.
The government has said that as the owner of gas from the KG basin it has every right to
direct RIL whom to supply. The assertion was made before the Bombay High Court
which is hearing the gas supply dispute between the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance
Industries (RIL) and Anil Ambani's Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL).
Larsen & Toubro has signed a MOU with the Toshiba Corporation owned US based
Westinghouse Electric Company, the largest nuclear power equipment maker, to build
1,000 megawatt pressurised nuclear power plants in India.
Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit has agreed to cede control of
Smith Barney brokerage to Morgan Stanley. Citigroup's announcement came as Bank
of America, the biggest US bank by assets, received emergency funds from the
government to support its acquisition of Merrill Lynch.
Shah Rukh Khan promoted Red Chillies Entertainment has floated a TV production
division—Idiot Box—to produce shows for general entertainment channels. The first
show to go on air is "The First Ladies with Abu Sandeep" on NDTV Good Times.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has acquired all shares of ECS Ltd., providers of HR
consulting services, from the erstwhile owners Eicher Goodearth.
As many as seven Indian MFIs have been ranked among the world's top 50 in an annual
Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) ranking of MFIs across the world in 2008.
Vikram Akula founded SKS Microfinance is ranked #2.
Zimbabwe has introduced a 100 trillion dollar note, in its latest attempt to keep pace
with hyperinflation that has left the economy in tatters
The Supreme Court has set aside the judgment of the Delhi High Court in the tripartite
dispute over the trade mark 'Field Marshal' and asked the Intellectual Property
Appellate Board to examine the issues once again. The disputed trade mark was claimed
by Thukral Mechanical Works, which makes centrifugal pumps and other products,
Jain Industries which manufactures flour mills and pumps and PM Diesels, which
produces diesel engines.
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The country's second largest private sector lender, HDFC Bank, which added 658
branches last year, has the largest branch network among private sector banks. HDFC
Bank has a nationwide network of 1,412 branches spread across 528 towns and cities
while ICICI Bank has a network of 1,400 branches.
Telecom service provider Tata Teleservices (TTSL) merged its infrastructure business
with independent infrastructure equipment rental company Quippo Telecom
Infrastructure (promoted by the Kanorias of Srei Infrastructure Finance) to form the
country's largest independently managed tower company.
India's largest telecom tower company Indus, a combined venture between rival telecom
operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular, owns about 80,000 towers.
Reliance Communications has also hived off its infrastructure arm, Reliance Infratel,
which has around 40,000 towers.
The Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), the Tata Group firm which runs the Taj Group of
Hotels, will be consolidating its spas into one brand called 'Jiva'.
IBM's India Research Laboratory has completed its pilot project on 'Spoken Web'
concept. The spoken web is a network of voicesites or interconnected voice applications.
Callers can create their own voicesites or access those of others. The calls are routed
through a telecom operator.
IBM has developed a new protocol, Hyperspeech Transfer Protocol (HSTP) for its
'Spoken Web' pilot project. HSTP is similar to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
that the web uses to help people move from one website to another.
India is ranked 41st on in the latest Global Innovation Index for 2008-09 prepared by
Instead, a France-based business school, in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian
Industry (CII). The US continues to remain on top.
Israeli drug major Taro Pharmaceutical, which is battling a hostile takeover bid, has
demanded a 58% premium to effect a merger with India's Sun Pharmaceutical
Industries. Sun Pharma rejected the offer citing it was beyond the worth of Taro. The
Israeli Supreme Court is likely to decide the fate of Sun Pharma's attempts to acquire
the remaining 64% stake of promoters and other shareholders in Taro.
New York-based IBM T J Watson Research Centre has initiated Project Checkmate
to undertake research on avian influenza (bird flu) and to predict stable and mutant
varieties of the H5N1 strain of virus causing the disease.
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A joint venture (JV) between BAE Systems and Mahindra & Mahindra to produce
land systems, including an anti-landmine vehicle, has been cleared by the government.
Initial work is likely to include the up-armouring of Rakshak vehicles and the Axe
Reliance Petroleum, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, has commissioned its second
refinery in a special economic zone (SEZ) at Jamnagar, adjacent to its existing facility.
The Rs 25,000-crore refinery, with processing capacity of 580,000 barrels a day, is the
sixth largest refinery in the world. Together with the existing refinery, the total capacity
of the complex will go up to 1.24 million barrels a day, making it the largest at a single
P J Nayak will step down as Axis Bank's chairman & CEO from August after a nineand-
a-half years stint with the bank after his term ends in July 2009. The bank was earlier
called UTI Bank.
The first airport city project (aerotropolis) in the country will come up near Durgapur in
West Bengal by 2011. The aerotropolis would be constructed by Bengal Aerotropolis
Projects Ltd (BAPL), which has entered into a technical services agreement with
Singapore's Changi Airports International.
Healthcare company Zydus Cadilla has acquired Italy-based Etna Biotech, the whollyowned
subsidiary of Dutch biopharma company Crucell.
ITC won the top UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) award
at the International Conference on Sharing Innovative Agribusiness Solutions 2008 at
Cairo in recognition for its exemplary initiatives in agri business. ITC's e-Choupal, the
largest rural digital infrastructure in the world, today covers over 40,000 villages and
benefits over 4 million farmers.
Hazira Port Private Ltd (HPPL), a joint venture between Shell Gas B.V. and Total Gaz
Electricite Holdings France, is looking for developers to build a $500-million multicargo
terminal at Hazira.
Telecom solutions vendor Tech Mahindra has set up a new division christened Tech
Talenta that will address the contract recruitment needs of clients across Europe.
MedPlus, a pharmacy chain with 600 outlets across the country, has tied up with
Wockhardt Hospitals to offer cardiac care and education to communities at 'Cardiac
Zones', at the former's clinics.