New Delhi: S.S.N. Moorthy was appointed chairman of the central board of direct taxes (CBDT) on 31 January, making him the first official to head the direct taxes arm of the Union government after service rules were amended in December to make sure a prospective chairman had at least one year of service left. Moorthy is due to retire in December 2010, giving him almost two years at the helm of CBDT.
In 2008, CBDT, had four chairmen, with one of them, P.K. Misra, heading the board for just one month.
Direct tax collections in 2007-08 grew by36% to reach Rs3.12 trillion. Currently, direct taxes are the single largest source of government revenue.
Shiv Gupta named RBS private clients biz head
Mumbai: Foreign lender Royal Bank of Scotland on Monday announced the appointment of Shiv Gupta as head of its private clients business in India, that was acquired by the bank at the time of the ABN Amro acquisition.
Previously, Gupta was responsible for RBS’ private banking business in Thailand and the non-resident South Asian business in South-East and the North Asia.
Dresdner drops plans to enter Indian market
Frankfurt: Dresdner Bank AG has abandoned plans to enter the Indian consumer market after being acquired by Commerzbank AG, in what may signal a retreat from overseas markets.
The Frankfurt-based bank has returned its Indian banking licence, Dresdner spokesman Martin Halusa said on Monday. A unit in India would not contribute to the new overall strategy of Dresdner Bank in the future, he added.
Commerzbank completed the €5.1 billion (Rs31,824 crore) purchase of Dresdner from insurer Allianz SE last month.
Maharashtra to shift Dow site after protests
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has ordered a Dow Chemical Co. research centre be built at a new location following protests over pollution concerns, ‘The Indian Express’ said on Monday. However, Dow said it had not received a directive from the state so far. Construction of the unit of Dow Chemical was suspended in September.
State-owned oil firms to spend more on CSR
New Delhi: State-owned oil companies on Monday agreed for a nearly threefold increase in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending to 2% of their profits. The resolve to have more focused approach on social responsibilities came at a meeting called by Union petroleum minister Murli Deora to review the contribution of oil Public Sector Units to CSR activities.
Slowdown hurting biz, says Aditya Birla Group
Mumbai: Diversified conglomerate Aditya Birla Group said on Monday its various businesses, including mutual fund, life insurance, garments and BPO operations, have been hit by the global slowdown in the third quarter of the current fiscal.
According to an investor presentation by the group on its third quarter performance, some of the group’s businesses have been impacted and it is taking various initiatives to face the challenges.
GAIL-IFFCL in pact to set up gas-based projects
New Delhi: GAIL (India) Ltd, the country’s monopoly natural gas distributor, signed an accord for gas-based projects with the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Ltd (IFFCL).
The New Delhi-based company and the farmers’ cooperative will evaluate jointly setting up projects, including chemicals, fertilizers and a natural gas-based power plant, GAIL said in an emailed statement.
India signs nuclear inspections deal
Vienna: India signed an inspections agreement with the UN atomic watchdog on Monday as part of a deal lifting a 34-year-old embargo on nuclear trade with New Delhi, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.
“An agreement between the government of India and the IAEA for the ‘Application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities´ was signed today...” the agency said in a statement.
GTL to spend $1.8 bn on capacity expansion
Mumbai:GTL Infra Ltd plans to spend $1.8 billion (Rs8,820 crore) on capacity expansion and triple its telecom towers to 25,000 by March 2012, chief operating officer Prakash Ranjalkar told reporters in New Delhi.
The company’s current capacity is 8,300 towers until December.
HC reserves order on NCDEX-FMC dispute
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Monday reserved its order on a dispute between the commodity market regulator Forward Markets Commission (FMC) and National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX) over slashing of transaction rates by the exchange.
Faced with a sharp drop in turnover since July, NCDEX last month created two slabs for exchange rates, before 5pm and after 5pm.
Tata Motors’ shares falls most in two months
Mumbai: Vehicle manufacturer Tata Motors Ltd, which owns Jaguar-Land Rover, dropped the most in at least two months on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday after reporting its first quarterly loss in seven years.
Tata Motors plunged as much as 16% to Rs126, closing at Rs142.65 on BSE. Shares have fallen 9.6% this year, extending last year’s 78% tumble.
Tata Motors unexpectedly posted a net loss of Rs263 crore in the quarter ended 31 December after sales plunged on India’s economic slowdown and the company had a foreign-exchange loss.
Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, India’s largest sport-utility vehicle maker also declined in Mumbai after reporting earnings that fell 99%. The stock declined 9.75% to closed at Rs290.85 on the Mumbai exchange.
Companies approach PE funds for bond buy-back
Mumbai: Companies seeking to take the buy-back route for foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) amid sharp fall in the bond prices are approaching private equity investors to fund buy, an investment banker said.
The Reserve Bank of India had recently relaxed norms for companies opting for buy-back of FCCBs. Over a dozen listed Indian entities have already approached RBI for approving the buy-back. After the recent meltdown, majority of the FCCBs have been trading at a discount of 30 to 70% to the issue price, he said. FCCBs, which generally have a five year tenure are typically structured as zero coupon bonds and have an option to convert into equity share of the company at any point in time before maturity at a conversion price decided at the time of issue.
Kamat Hotels to sell 60% stake in subsidiary
Mumbai: Hospitality firm Kamat Hotels (India) Ltd on Monday said it has decided to divest 60% stake in its subsidiary Concept Hospitality Ltd to other group of shareholders.
The company, in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange, said the board at its 1 February meeting decided to divest its stake in the subsidiary and that it had appointed Kurian Chandy as chief financial officer.
Reliance Infrastructure sells Rs850 cr of bonds
Mumbai: Reliance Infrastructure Ltd sold Rs850 crore of bonds on 27 January, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The 10-year bonds carry a coupon rate of 11.55%, payable monthly, and are rated ‘AA(ind)’ by Fitch. On 23 December, Fitch had cut the company’s long-term rating to ‘AA(ind)’ from ‘AA+(ind)’.
RMoney?launches online magazine
Mumbai: Reliance Money Ltd (RMoney) on Monday announced the launch of an online monthly magazine Money Advisor as part of its investor education drive. The magazine, which will focus on mutual funds, will provide a synopsis on the industry, latest trends in assets under management of various funds, overview and recommendations on equity and debt funds, performance snapshots, and interest rate scenario, the company said in a statement.
Reliance Money is part of Anil Ambani’s flagship financial services company Reliance Capital Ltd. It is the country’s largest brokerage, with over three million customers.
Plea against Roche patent dismissed
Mumbai: The Chennai patent office on Monday informed the Madras high court that it has dismissed a controversial pre-grant opposition filed by two patient groups against a patent granted to Swiss-drug maker F Hoffman La Roche Ltd for its anti-infection HIV-AIDS drug valganciclovir.
Valganciclovir is an anti-infection drug mainly prescribed for treating eye-infection in HIV-positive and AIDS patients—the drug is sold globally under the Valcyte brand.
The decision to dismiss the opposition effectively reinstates the patent in India. The opposition to the patent had been challenged by the Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS and Tamil Nadu Networking People with HIV/AIDS.
The Madras court had asked the patent office to hear the pre-grant opposition before 31 January. Roche had also secured an order from the Supreme Court asking for a decision before the same date. The patent grant to this drug in 2007 had invited criticism from patient groups as well as Indian drug makers on the grounds that the molecule was allegedly first patented before 1995 and therefore did not qualify for patent exclusivity in India. Cipla Ltd and Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, as well as a few other not-for-profit organizations have also filed post-grant opposition to this patent with the same patent office.
SP explores new tie-ups with Left parties
New Delhi: Even as Samajwadi Party’s (SP) seat-sharing talks with the Congress continues, the party is exploring “new political possibilities” by holding discussions with the Left Front.
SP general secretary Amar Singh is meeting senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) leaders to explore such possibilities.
“I have met CPM general secretary A.B. Bardhan. I have talked to Prakash Karat and will be meeting him on Wednesday,” Singh told reporters after meeting home minister P. Chidambaram and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee. He, however, refused to say about his meeting with the two Union ministers.
Firstsource net declines 44% on one-time costs
Mumbai: Business process outsourcing firm Firstsource Solutions Ltd reported a 44% drop in the December quarter consolidated profit, hurt mainly by one-time costs. The company reported a net profit of Rs11.56 crore compared with Rs20.63 crore, a year ago.
Revenues from operations grew to Rs440 crore from Rs373 crore.
Shares of Firstsource were 2.69% down at Rs11.20 at close of trading on the Mumbai stock exchange.
Essar Oil net loss widens to Rs1,230 crore in Q3
New Delhi: Essar Oil Ltd, the operator of India’s newest refinery, reported a wider loss in the third quarter.
The crude oil explorer and refiner said net loss in the three months to 31 December was Rs1,230 crore compared with a loss of Rs14 crore a year earlier. Revenue increased to Rs8,420 crore from Rs148 crore, Essar Oil said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday.
Meanwhile, Essar Oil has delayed the capacity expansion of its refinery to 680,000 bpd by a year, and hopes to have the work complete by December 2011, its director of finance P. Sampath said on Monday.
Uttam Galva sales up 89% in Dec quarter
Mumbai: Uttam Galva Steels Ltd said on Monday its net sales in the December quarter jumped 89% at Rs1.1 trillion against Rs582.69 crore in the year-ago period.
Sales volume was up 50% in the period compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal, a company filing said. Operating profit for the quarter rose to Rs76.99 crore compared with Rs71.75 crore. Production rose by 38% to 159,000 tonnes.
Director (commercial) Ankit Miglani said the steep downslide in global steel prices had resulted in losses due to high-priced inventories.
Koutons PAT rises 9%, net sales up 32% in Q3
New Delhi: Apparel and accessories retail player Koutons Retail India Ltd said on Monday its profit after tax rose by 9% to Rs13.32 crore in the third quarter of the current fiscal compared to the same period last year.
It had reported a PAT of Rs12.25 crore recorded during the third quarter of 2007-08, Koutons said in a statement. The company announced net sales of Rs228.95 crore during the third quarter of the current fiscal, a growth of 32% over net sales of Rs173.10 crore reported in the corresponding period last fiscal.
Koutons, which currently has more than 1,400 outlets across the country, admitted that the ongoing slowdown has made an impact on its performance.
Global?telcos?set up body to take up?India interest
New Delhi: Five global telecom service providers, including AT&T Inc., British Telecommunications Plc. (BT) and Verizon Communications Inc., on Monday are forming an association to espouse their interests in the Indian telecom industry, a statement said.
The body called—Association of Competitive Telecom Operators (Acto)—has Satya N. Gupta from BT Global Services as president.
Acto is a body representing non-integrated long-distance telecom carriers to represent and advocate before the government and regulatory bodies its case on issues related to market opening, emerging technologies and pro-competitive policies and reforms in enterprise market segment.
So far the industry was represented in the country by the Cellular Operators Association of India for GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) operators and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India for CDMA (Code division multiple access) players. The two members of Acto are Cable and Wireless Plc. and Orange Business Services .
Spice shares up 69% on mistaken identity
Mumbai: Mistaken identity has proved a boon for the shares of former BK Modi group firm Spice Communications, which gained nearly 70% on the bourses on Monday.
The shares closed at Rs80.65 on Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), a gain of Rs32.90 or 68.90% over the last close.
Earlier in the day trade, the scrip soared by a whopping 99% to Rs95. On the National Stock Exchange, the scrip touched an intra-day high of Rs91.80, a 100% from its previous closing price.
The shares of Spice Communications has jumped by as much as 260% since the diversified Spice Group offered to buy 51% stake in tainted IT firm Satyam Computer Services Ltd. The scrip of Spice Communications had closed at a modest Rs26.35 on January 29 on BSE.
Aditya Birla group firm Idea Cellular has issued a clarification to BSE saying, “Idea had acquired BK Modi Group’s stake in Spice Communications Ltd in July 2008. Hence, Spice Communications Ltd has no relation with B.K. Modi-led Spice group and is not in any way involved with any initiative relating to Satyam.”
Telecom panel okays ISD, STD calling cards
New Delhi: The Telecom Commission is understood to have approved the introduction of national and international calling cards that would bring down calling charges, but referred the issue of Internet telephony back to the sector regulator on Monday.
The commission sent back the proposal of unrestricted Internet telephony, seeking more clarity on how it would function, persons familiar with the matter said.
Pakistan seems serious on Mumbai probe: NSA
New Delhi: Pakistan seems serious about investigating the Mumbai attacks and has sought clarifications on a dossier of evidence from India, but still is not doing enough to tackle militancy, India’s national security adviser said. “What I am aware of is that after the receipt of the dossier by Pakistan, the Pakistan government have reverted to us and asked a number of questions to which answers have been provided,” M.K. Narayanan told CNN-IBN television in a weekend interview.
Narayanan’s comments were at odds with the steady rhetoric from foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee expressing frustration at what India sees as Pakistan’s slow progress in investigating and arresting the planners of the November attacks that killed 183.
Analysts said Narayanan’s statement only indicated a “state of confusion” in the government about how to react to Pakistan’s investigation.
Support to India after the attacks was diluted after Western allies such as the UK and US said New Delhi may not have enough evidence to blame Pakistan.
Mercator sees non-ship business revenue rising
Mumbai: Mercator Lines Ltd sees revenue contribution from non-shipping businesses between 25- 30% in FY10, senior officials said at an earnings conference call on Monday.
“In 2008-09, we’ll not find much difference in revenues from non-shipping business. But, it should grow to 25-30% in FY10,” Nitin Kolhatkar, vice-president of finance said.
The non-shipping business, which contributed about 10% to revenues in October-December, includes mining, dredging and offshore. Its new rig, due for delivery in March, has already been contracted with Great Eastern Shipping’s Singapore unit, marking Mercator’s entry into offshore.