Chennai: US-based car maker Ford Motor Co.’s wholly owned subsidiary Ford India Pvt. Ltd will move to the US and hand over charge of the Indian operations to Michael Boneham, said Arvind Mathew, the current managing director and president. The changeover will take place on June 1.
Boneham is currently serving as vice-president of operations in India. He comes at a time when Ford said it will spend $500 million (Rs2,025 crore) over the next two years to expand its engine and car making capacities at its plant near Chennai. The firm expects to produce around 250,000 units of engine and make around 200,000 cars by 2010.
Moving out: Arvind Mathew, MD and president of Ford India.
“I have got some big shoes to step into,” said Boneham as he readies himself to succeed Mathew. “Arvind has left a great legacy behind.” Boneham has more than 20 years of experience in the auto industry and before coming to Ford India, he held the position of manufacturing director, Asia-Pacific and Africa at the firm.
Mathew will now be part of Ford’s global planning and strategy team and will be based in the US.
Under Mathew’s leadership, Ford India launched the Ford Fiesta sedan in 2005, to shore up market share in a market in which Ford was making little headway. The firm sold 33,880 units in fiscal 2008, compared with 27,259 units in the year ended March 2005. FY07 was better when sales peaked, but a slow economic growth put the brakes on sales of many vehicle makers in the last fiscal year.
During Mathew’s tenure as the head of the Indian operations, the firm announced the rolling out of a new, small car by 2010.
FM asks banks to review derivatives portfolio
New Delhi: Finance minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday said banks must help customers understand derivative contracts better.
Derivatives are financial instruments used for speculation and as insurance against fluctuations in the markets. Their value is based on prices for currencies, stocks, bonds, loans and commodities, or linked to events such as changes in foreign exchange rates.
“I have asked banks to review derivatives portfolio and make sure that customers understand it (derivative product),” Chidambaram said after meeting the chiefs of public sector banks here.
The minister said he doesn’t expect interest rates to rise after the central bank asked lenders to set aside more money as part of efforts to curb inflation. Banks are “quite happy that only CRR has been hiked and policy rates have been untouched,” he said.
Canara Bank chairman and managing director M.B. N. Rao said the finance minister asked the banks to make proper disclosures on derivative portfolio and deal with it in a transparent manner.
Some of the banks have reported losses owning to exposure to forex derivatives and structured products in the wake of a subprime crisis in the US.
Bank of India had said its corporate clients would suffer mark-to-market losses of about Rs125 crore while State Bank of India projected the losses to the tune of Rs700 crore at the end of March 2008.
Indian companies may lose $4 billion on derivatives, according to Hong Kong-based brokerage CLSA Ltd.
Meanwhile, accounting standard regulators Indian Chartered Accountants of India has asked companies to report losses in forex derivatives for the current fiscal.
Initially, the norms to disclose losses in derivatives would be recommendatory from 1 April 2009 and would become mandatory from 1 April 2011.
(Bloomberg contributed to this story.)
Ram Sethu: SC begins hearing arguments
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing arguments over a bunch of petitions challenging the controversial Sethusamudram project, which envisages dredging a channel through a walkway between India and Sri Lanka to reduce shipping times.
The apex court, through an interim order last year, had allowed the dredging activity to continue except at the site of Adam’s Bridge, also known as Ram Sethu.
Many Hindu groups believe Ram Sethu was built by Hindu god Ram and that the Sethusamudram canal project would destroy it.
Senior counsel Sri Ram Panshu appearing for petitioner O. Fernandes said a comprehensive environment impact assessment should be carried out before the project is fully implemented.
K.K. Venugopal appearing for All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader J.Jayalalithaa and Dandi Swamy expressed concern over the lack of a report from the Archaeological Survey of India clarifying the nature of the bridge.
No arguments were made on lifting the stay on dredging at the site of Ram Sethu.
The hearing will resume on 6 May.
L N Mittal likely to start oil and gas firm
New Delhi: Steel tycoon Lakshmi N. Mittal is planning to float an oil and gas company and is likely to transfer the oil and gas assets he has acquired over the past two years to the new firm, people familiar with the development said.
Currently, Mittal family’s holding company, Mittal Investment Sarl holds 50% stake in Kazakhstan oil firm Caspian Investment Resources and 3% stake in Chevron Corp.-operated Olokola LNG (OK-LNG) project in Nigeria.
The stakes in these companies, as also Mittal’s 49% stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd’s Bhatinda refinery, are likely to be transferred to the new firm.
New coal projects not to be put on fast track
New Delhi: The coal ministry has ruled out the possibility of setting up a single window clearance system for sanctioning coal projects as it would require various statutory and regulatory approvals.
“The creation of such an authority for approval of coal sector projects require many statutory and regulatory approvals without amending the relevant acts,” a senior coal ministry official said.
India among worst hit by terrorism: US
Washington: India was among the countries worst hit by terrorism in 2007 with over 2,300 deaths, and the government’s counter-terrorism efforts remained hampered by “ill-equipped’ law enforcement machinery and “slow and laborious” legal systems, the US state department has said.
In its annual report on terrorism, the state department said terrorist activities along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir are on the decline but Pakistan-based militant outfits such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and other terrorist groups continue to plan attacks in the valley.
Cabinet nod for limited liability partnership bill
New Delhi: The Union cabinet on Thursday gave its approval for introduction of a Limited Liability Partnership Bill, 2008.
A limited liability partnership (LLP) is an alternative business structure falling between a partnership firm and a corporate body, combining the limited-liability benefits of a company with the flexibility of a partnership.
The Cabinet on Thursday also approved setting up of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs under the ministry of corporate affairs with an outlay of Rs211 crore.
The institute is expected to build capacity and act as a think tank in the areas of company law.
Wheat procurement close to target
New Delhi: In a major relief to the government that is facing high inflation, wheat procurement has reached 14.85 million tonnes (mt)—only 150,000 tonnes short of year’s target.
Food Corporation of India and other agencies have procured over 14.8mt of wheat until Wednesday and are likely to exceed the year’s procurement target of 15mt on Thursday, an official said.
Nepal bans rice and wheat export
Kathmandu: Nepal has banned the export of foodstuffs, including rice, to prevent shortages, officials said on Thursday, joining other South Asian countries scrambling to tackle rising prices and food insecurity.
Nepal’s ministry of supplies said the decision to ban exports of rice, paddy and wheat was taken to maintain stocks after India, the main supplier of rice to the Himalayan country, banned export of the non-basmati variety.
“The ban is to rein in price hikes and avoid any food crisis,” Gyan Darshan Udhas, an official, said.
MMTC seeks agency to monitor pulses’ quality
New Delhi: State-owned trading company MMTC Ltd on Thursday floated bids for appointment of inspection agency to check the quality of imported pulses.
The pre-shipment inspection (PSI) agency will be responsible for inspection of pulses cargo for quantity and quality at the load ports of exporting countries as well as discharge ports in India as per the contract signed between a foreign supplier and MMTC, the company said on its website.
Govt assurance to Canada on BlackBerry
New Delhi: Amid security concerns raised by law enforcement agencies on the use of BlackBerry services, India has assured Canada that the commercial interest of technology licensor Research In Motion Ltd (RIM, would be kept in mind while taking any final decision.
“We are fully aware of the sensitivity and confidentiality of our conversation with RIM and would like to assure them that we respect their commercial interest and would do nothing to jeopardise the same,” telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura said in a letter to foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon for communication to Canada.
India imports Rs264 cr worth of Scotch
London: Growing demand from Scotch whisky lovers in India has driven global exports to a record high, according to the latest industry figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association. The spurt in Scotch exports to India was recorded after government abolished additional import duty on imported spirits last year. Exports to India rose by 36% worth £33 million (Rs264 crore).
SHCIL profit after tax up 54% at Rs69 crore
Mumbai: Stock Holding Corp. of India Ltd (SHCIL) posted profit after tax (PAT) at Rs69 crore in fiscal year 2008 against Rs45 crore in the year-ago period, a jump of 54%.
SHCIL is the country’s largest custodian and depository participant. The corporation’s profit before tax (PBT) stood at Rs101 crore in FY08 against Rs60 crore in the year-ago period, showing a 68% increase. SHCIL’s net worth has increased from Rs240 crore in FY07 to Rs298 crore in FY08.
R S Mathoda is new CBDT chairman
New Delhi: Rabender Singh Mathoda has taken over as chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) with effect from 1 May 2008.
An officer of the 1971 batch of the Indian Revenue Service, Mathoda was earlier member (IT) and member (A&J) in CBDT.
R S Sharma appointed new NTPC chief
New Delhi: The country’s largest power producer, NTPC Ltd, on Thursday appointed R.S. Sharma as the new chairman and managing director of the company.
Sharma, who was director (commercial) since October 2004, had played an important role in preparing the guidelines for setting up a power exchange in India.
Sonia Gandhi, Tata in Time list of influentials
New York: Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the Congress Party, and Ratan Tata, who heads the Tata group, have been named in a list of 100 most influential in the world by ‘Time’ magazine.
The list also includes international figures like Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, US President George W. Bush as well as three presidential aspirants Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain, former British prime minister Tony Blair and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Nirmala Deshpande passes away
New Delhi: Prominent Gandhian and Rajya Sabha member Nirmala Deshpande, who espoused the cause of peace and communal harmony for six decades, died here on Thursday morning. The 79-year-old Padma Vibhushan awardee was not keeping well for the last three days.
Speaker refers cases of 32 MPs to peer panel
New Delhi: Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee has referred to the privileges committee cases of as many as 32 members of the Lok Sabha, mainly belonging to the Opposition for “disorderly conduct” in the House.
The rare action was taken on Wednesday by Chatterjee, who was anguished over repeated disruptions in the House, but the immediate provocation was the incidents of 24 April which saw Opposition members storming the well of the house and shouting slogans without paying heed to the Chair.
Bisleri, Coke fight on Maaza IPR intensifies
New Delhi: A court battle between Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd and Coca Cola Co. over the intellectual property rights (IPR) of soft drink brand Maaza seems likely, with promoter Ramesh Chauhan threatening to initiate legal action against the soft drinks major.
“I have already written a letter to Coca Cola seeking compensation of Rs20 crore for the infringement of IPR. If I do not hear from them, I am going to take legal action,” Bisleri chairman Chauhan said.