Mumbai: Online auction site eBay Inc. has spun off its online classifieds business Kijiji India, a part of Kijiji International Ltd, as a separate venture in partnership with Mumbai-based venture capitalist (VC) Matrix Partners India.
This is the first VC-backed spin-off for the San Jose, California-headquartered company in any of its markets. Kijiji will now be jointly owned by eBay and Matrix, which has invested an undisclosed amount in the company.
New venture: Matrix Partners managing director Avnish Bajaj. (Photo: Ashesh Shah/ Mint )
Kijiji, launched by eBay in India in late 2005, allows users to put up advertisements for local services in 12 cities. “eBay wants to grow its local businesses in the Asia Pacific region either through direct presence, acquisitions or partnerships,” a spokesperson for eBay India said. “With Kijiji, we have chosen the partnership strategy.”
In May, the company entered into a partnership with portal Sanook.com to form a jointly owned e-commerce site in Thailand. However, India is the first market in which it has chosen to partner with a venture firm.
Matrix Partners’ managing director Avnish Bajaj, who has invested in the deal, has long standing ties with eBay and Kijiji. Bajaj, along with co-founder Suvir Sujan, sold online auction site Baazee.com to eBay in 2004 for $50 million (Rs197 crore)—an acquisition the latter used to enter the Indian market. He was country manager for eBay until the end of 2005, and Kijiji was launched in this period.
“The online classifieds space has worked well in other markets, and I have been following Kijiji closely for sometime,” said Bajaj. He did not reveal the amount invested, but said it was an early-stage investment.
Currently, Kijiji India has a two-member team. It was offered as a speciality service on the eBay site and was headed by Rajan Mehra, country manager, eBay India, who also heads the firm’s other businesses.
Greenfield Investment fined Rs10 lakh by Sebi
Mumbai: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Tuesday imposed a fine of Rs10 lakh on Mauritius-based Greenfield Investments Ltdfor not complying with the summons issued by it seeking information on the company’s dealings in DSQ Biotech Ltd shares.
The adjudicating officer, appointed to inquire into the case, noted in his ruling that the company had committed several lapses in 2000, such as obtaining large number of shares through preferential allotment and transferring them to DSQ Holding, an associate company of DSQ Biotech, through off-market deals.
The Sebi officer also observed that the company “failed to furnish information regarding its source of funds, details of bank accounts, which raised doubts about the involvement of the company in the manipulation of DSQ Biotech shares.”
Maruti not to sell car smaller than its 800
New Delhi: Maker of half the cars in the country, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd , said on Tuesday it had no plans to sell a car smaller than the Maruti 800. “The company has no plans whatsoever of developing or offering a car in the segment below the Maruti 800,” it said in an emailed statement. ‘The Times of India’ reported on Monday that Maruti was planning to challenge Nano from rival Tata Motors Ltd.
ASCI rules on dangerous driving ads likely by May
New Delhi: The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) is likely to come up with self-regulatory rules for the automotive industry to curb advertisements showing negligent driving.
The final guidelines are expected to be framed by May-June this year, ASCI secretary general Alan Collaco said.
Crisil, Tata, US co in credit information JV
Mumbai: India’s leading rating agency, Crisil Ltd, on Tuesday said it had reached an understanding with US-based Equifax Inc. and Tata Capital Ltd to set up a credit information company (CIC) in India. Crisil has applied to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for permission to start and operate a CIC, a statement said.
Equifax is a leader in global credit information solutions, while Tata Capital is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Ltd, the holding company of the Tata group.
“In serving the growing demands of credit information in India, the proposed initiative will capitalize on Crisil’s understanding of the Indian markets, Equifax’s sophisticated tools and analytics, and the Tata group’s credibility and capability,” the statement said. “The positioning of the CIC in the Indian market will be unique”, said Crisil’s MD and CEO, Roopa Kudva.
Canara, Allahabad Bank cut home loan rates
Mumbai: Canara Bank and Allahabad Bank on Tuesday cut the interest rates for their home loans.
Canara Bank reduced the rate of interest on existing as well as new housing loans by 0.25% with effect from 7 February. The cut in interest rate is irrespective of the loan amount and for all tenures up to 25 years, a Canara Bank release said. The revised rates for loans up to Rs20 lakh will be 10% for five-year tenure; 10.25% for 10 years; and 10.5% for tenures above 10 and up to 25 years. For loans above Rs20 lakh, the rate will be 10.25% for five years, 10.5% for 10 years, and 10.75% for 10-25 years.
Allahabad Bank reduced its home loan rates by a wider margin—0.5% to 0.75% across all maturities. The bank has also cut interest rates on lending and some term deposits with effect from 10 February. Interest rates on deposits of two years and above have been reduced by 0.25%.
India launch of Israeli spy satellite upsets Iran
New Delhi: Iran said on Tuesday it had lodged an official complaint with New Delhi over India’s commercial launch of an Israeli spy satellite last month.
The satellite, blasted into orbit from southern India on 21 January, was reported by the Israeli press to have the ability to see through clouds, carry out day and night all-weather imaging and will be used to spy on Iran’s suspect nuclear programme.
“The Indian government says the issue is a technical and commercial one, but we hope that the matter can be considered from the point of view of protocol,” Iran’s ambassador in New Delhi Sayed Mahdi Nabizadeh said.
The launch was carried out under a commercial contract between Israel Aerospace Industries and Antrix, the marketing arm of Indain Space Research Agency, and is seen as another boost for India’s bid to win more international satellite launch business.
Bharat Oman to file IPO draft prospectus soon
Mumbai: India’s Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd, an equal joint venture between state-run Bharat Petroleum Corp and Oman Oil Co, will soon file for an initial public offer to raise up to Rs2,500 crore ($635 million), three banking sources involved in the deal said.
The company plans to sell 48% through the public offer and a pre-IPO placement, the sources said on Tuesday.
“We hope to file the draft prospectus by the end of this week or early next week,” one said. SBI Capital Markets, Citibank and ICICI Securities are among the arrangers of the issue, sources said. Bharat Petroleum declined to comment on the deal.
Bharat Oman Refineries is building a 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery at Bina in Madhya Pradesh at a cost of about Rs10,400 crore and has tied up a debt portion of Rs6,400 crore.
Idea moves TDSAT on spectrum allocation
New Delhi: Global system for mobile communications (GSM) service provider Idea Cellular Ltd on Tuesday approached the telecom tribunal Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) seeking stay on the allocation of spectrum.
In its petition, the Aditya Birla controlled firm has requested TDSAT to immediately stay the processing of Letters of Intent (LoIs) and spectrum allocation. The department of telecom (DoT) had issued 121 LoIs on 10 January.
In the petition, Idea alleged that DoT alloted 121 LoIs on the same day without even maintaining seniority of applications, as per the date of filing. It contended that DoT’s action was “arbitrary and without any reason.”
Another GSM operator Spice Communications Ltd had also challenged before TDSAT the issuance of LoIs and allocation of spectrum.
Qualcomm hires Meijers for MediaFLO Tech
Bangalore: Leading developer and innovator of advanced wireless technologies and data solutions Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday appointed international broadcast media veteran Neville Meijers as the new senior vice-president and general manager for MediaFLO Technologies.
Meijers will oversee the global organization and report directly to Andrew Gilbert, executive vice-president of Qualcomm and president of MediaFLO Technologies and Qualcomm Internet Services. “Neville’s deep expertise in delivering worldwide broadcasting solutions and developing cross-cultural platform partnerships aligns with Qualcomm’s needs as we continue to expand MediaFLO’s presence in international markets, ” said Andrew Gilbert. Meijers joins Qualcomm from Discovery Communications.
Banks asked to speed up financial inclusion plans
New Delhi: The committee on financial inclusion chaired by C. Rangarajan, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, has asked banks to design innovative savings and credit products linked with insurance to speed up financial inclusion in the country.
Benign reach: The panel headed by C.Rangarajan has told banks to design products to ensure credit reaches vulnerable sections. (Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint)
It has also sought to redefine financial inclusion more specifically as “ensuring access to financial services and credit to vulnerable groups and weaker sections at an affordable cost”, rather than just “having access to bank accounts”, the way it is currently defined.
The committee’s report which was released by the Union finance ministry here, also asked the government to take up a National Rural Financial Inclusion Plan (NRFIP) in mission mode, to provide access to comprehensive financial services to at least 50% or 55.77 million of the excluded rural cultivator and non-cultivator households by 2012.
According to National Sample Survey data, some 45.9 million or 51.4% of farmer households, out of a total of 89.3 million households do not access credit, either from institutional or non-institutional sources. The level of inclusion was especially low in north-eastern, eastern and central regions, having 95.9%, 81.3% and 77.6% of total farm households not accessing credit.
Banks should be free to develop medium and long term savings instruments by issue of pre-printed deposit receipts to self-help groups. A savings-linked financing model can be adopted for those seeking credit, and this can be made available with conditions to keep vulnerable groups from getting into a debt trap.
IBM opens outsourcing facility in Noida
Bangalore: World’s largest computer services company, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), on Tuesday launched a new centre in India to provide application services to its global clients, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
The facility is in Noida, an information technology hub on the outskirts of New Delhi, and the company said it will open another centre in the vicinity that will be fully operational by mid-year. The two centres will house about 3,000 employees.
In June 2006, IBM had said it would invest $6 billion (Rs23,640 crore) in India over three years, underscoring Asia’s third largest economy’s growing importance as a hub for information technology outsourcing and research services.
ICICI Bank still awaiting nod on holding company
Mumbai: India’s biggest bank by market value, ICICI Bank Ltd, is awaiting the opinion of regulator Reserve Bank of India on a proposal to sell shares in a planned holding company.
Waiting: ICICI Bank managing director and CEO K.V.Kamath. (Photo: Hemant Mishra/ Mint)
ICICI said last March it planned to transfer holdings in two insurance ventures and 51% each in Prudential ICICI Asset Management Co. and Prudential ICICI Trust Ltd to a holding company. The plan by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other stakeholders to buy shares has lapsed, K.V. Kamath, chief executive officer of the bank, told reporters in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Goldman Sachs Group, the world’s most profitable securities firm, had said it wanted to buy a stake in the holding company, whose book value was then estimated at Rs 1,950 crore ($494 million).
Rio Tinto says ore mine may produce 170mt
Johannesburg: The Rio Tinto group, fending off an unsolicited takeover attempt by BHP Billiton Ltd., said its Simandou iron-ore project in Guinea may eventually produce 170 million tonnes (mt) of the steel-making ingredient a year.
Studies to expand the project from about 70mt a year initially will be completed in 2010, Preston Chiaro, the head of Rio Tinto’s energy unit, said in a speech in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Rio Tinto is investigating opportunities to mine iron ore, bauxite, diamonds and other metals and minerals in Africa to meet rising demand in China and India. Rio has operations in 12 African nations and is “looking at opportunities” in further 11 countries, Chiaro said.
TCS names Mukherjee as HR global head
Mumbai: Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, a leading information technology services, business solutions and outsourcing organization, has named Ajoyendra Mukherjee, as the company’s global head of human resources, following S. Padmanabhan’s move to Tata Power Co. Ltd as an executive director, operations. Ritu Anand has been appointed as the deputy global head of human resources and will report to Mukherjee in her new role.
A key member of the corporate leadership team, Mukherjee, was the vice-president and head of operations, eastern region. He handled various managerial roles in the company.
Meanwhile, downsizing continues at TCS. “Around 500 people have been asked to voluntarily resign since the beginning of this financial year,” said a TCS spokesperson, who did not wish to be identified. “A similar number of people were asked to voluntarily resign in the last financial year.”
Flag Telecom says cable repair work on
New Delhi: Internet users in New Delhi and Mumbai reported slower access speed on Tuesday even as network operators such as Flag Telecom Ltd said the repair work for restoring undersea cables off West Asia coast was under way. As many as three cable connections including FALCON were disrupted off the coast last week, forcing service providers in India and other Asian countries to reroute traffic.
Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of India, said the slowdown in Internet access and difficulty in even connecting to some websites was a result of cable managers giving preference to their business customers over Internet service providers on the unaffected bandwidth. An executive at Reliance Communications Ltd, which owns Flag Telecom, denied this, insisting that preference was given to customers who had first asked for a restoration of service. ‘Mint’ could not independently verify the claims.
IIFT biz school places 80% batch on Day 2
New Delhi: The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) School of International Business, one of the lesser known business schools in the country, placed some 80% of its batch of 2008 in jobs on the second day of on-campus recruitment.
Average annual domestic salary offers hovered between Rs10 lakh and Rs11 lakh, up from Rs9.45 lakh last year, an 11% rise, the school claimed. The highest domestic salary offered to the batch of 2008 was Rs 25 lakh per annum, compared with Rs19.2 lakh last year, a rise of 30%.
These numbers are so-called cost to company, and include performance linked incentives. Mint couldn’t ascertain the actual salary component of these offers.
With these figures, IIFT, appears to be closing in on average salary offers given to graduates of the top-rung Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).
Banks and finance companies, have drawn most of the talent from business schools in India, and continue to be the biggest recruiters in 2008 at IIFT.
Of the total batch of 151 students, which include students from IIFT’s first batch at its new Kolkata campus, 52 students were recruited in the banking and finance sector. Another 32 students joined the information technology sector.
Direct tax collection up 40% in 10 months
New Delhi: The net direct tax collections of the Union government in the last 10 months (April-January) touched Rs2.18 trillion, higher by 40% in relation to the corresponding period of the previous year. Among the constituents of direct tax, corporate tax during the period grew on-year by 38% to register Rs1.33 trillion, while personal income tax (including residual direct taxes such as fringe benefit tax) grew 45% on-year to reach Rs84,349 crore.
Tata Power venture raises $789 mn debt
Mumbai: Indian utility Tata Power Co. Ltd said on Tuesday its joint venture raised Rs3,115 crore ($789 million) in debt to finance a power project in eastern India. Tata Power, part of India’s salt-to-software Tata group, owns 74% in the joint venture Maithon Power Ltd, with state-run Damodar Valley Corp .holding the remainder.
A consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India participated in the syndicated loan, the company said in a statement. It did not give details of the coupon or maturity, but managing director Prasad Menon said the terms offered flexibility.