Pune: A group of strawberry farmers from Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani has filed for Geographical Indication, or GI, status for their produce, which they claim is unique because of the climate and soil in this hilly region.
Pune-based intellectual property rights consultant Ganesh Hingmire has filed the application with the GI Registry in Chennai on behalf of about 1,300 farmers from the twin hill towns which account for almost 80% of the fruit grown in the country; India produced 17,500 tonnes of strawberry last year. The region has also been classified as an eco-sensitive zone by the government of Maharashtra.
Volkswagen finance arm sets up India unit
Mumbai: A financial services arm of German auto maker Volkswagen AG has set up a unit in India to cater to dealers and customers selling or buying its group brands, the firm said in a statement on Thursday.
Volkswagen Finance Pvt. Ltd will offer financial products for Volkswagen, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Audi and Skoda and also tie up with local financial institutions and insurance companies to increase market penetration.
Tata Motors wins DTC contract for buses
Mumbai: Tata Motors Ltd, the country’s largest maker of trucks and buses, has won a Rs2,200 crore contract from the Delhi Transport Corp. (DTC) to supply 1,625 low-floor buses, inclusive of a Rs1,300 crore 12-year maintenance deal.
The company had won a similar order from DTC in 2007 for 650 such buses.
Last week, DTC awarded a Rs480 crore contract for 875 low-floor buses to Ashok Leyland Ltd, in addition to a Rs710 crore 12-year maintenance deal.
A DTC spokesperson said the orders were part of the corporation’s plans to modernize and augment its fleet size to more than 6,000 buses before the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
DTC currently has 3,850 buses, of which 650 are of the low-floor kind. It had floated tenders for low-floor buses in the beginning of 2007.
IRFC seeks to borrow $400 mn from banks
Hong Kong: Indian Railway Finance Corp. Ltd (IRFC), the funding arm of the country’s state-run rail monopoly, is in talks with banks to raise as much as $400 million (Rs1,956 crore) from a five-year loan, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Banks approached by the New Delhi-based company have asked it to pay interest of at least 200 basis points above the London interbank offered rate for the loan, said the people, who declined to be identified because the information is private.
IRFC director S.K. Kaushik couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
NCAER cuts growth forecast to 6.7%
New Delhi:The Indian economy is likely to expand by less than 7% this fiscal and remain subdued next year due to sluggish growth in factory output, The National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) said on Thursday.
NCAER cut the country’s growth estimate for the third time in FY09 to 6.7%, lower than the 7.6% it predicted in October. On Tuesday, the central bank lowered its growth forecast to 7% from an earlier 7.5-8%.
Centre allows states to raise extra Rs30,000 cr
New Delhi: The Union government has allowed states to raise an extra Rs30,000 crore in the fiscal year ending 31 March, Umakant Mishra, government spokesman, said at a briefing in New Delhi on Thursday. The money will go toward meeting extra capital expenditure in the current year, the government said.
AllGreen to launch 10 biomass-based projects
Bangalore: AllGreen Energy India Pvt. Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of AllGreen Energy Pte. Ltd, Singapore, has tied up with GE Energy and ITC Ltd to launch 10 biomass-based renewable energy projects in the country starting with Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh. Each plant will produce 6.5MW and will be located close to the biomass resource as well as the state electricity grid.
HCL opens Finland centre to assist Nokia
Bangalore: Information technology services firm HCL Techologies Ltd said it opened a 100 people centre in Finland to provide technology support to customers of Nokia Oyj. in the Nordic and Baltic region, as part of a five-year deal to provide helpdesk and desktop management support to the phone firm.
The scope of the engagement encompasses multilingual helpdesk services in 13 languages, global account management, workstation packaging, creation and maintenance, workstation security management and onsite support services strengthened by a robust partner eco-system, HCL said in a statement.
RIL-RNRL case hearing likely to end today
Mumbai: Arguments in the three-year-old court battle between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) will finally wind down on Friday, 30 January.
A two-judge bench in the Bombay high court that has been hearing the competing claims over the sale of natural gas from RIL’s Krishna-Godavari basin might also pass an interim order the same day. Currently, Mukesh Ambani-led RIL faces a stay on sale of natural gas from the KG-basin, and has asked for it to be vacated. RNRL is led by Mukesh Ambani’s estranged brother Anil Ambani.
Protesting lifting of the stay, RNRL counsel Mukul Rohatgi on Thursday said RIL couldn’t ask the court to intervene since it had voluntarily agreed to give gas at $2.34 per million British thermal unit (mBtu) as part of a family agreement in 2005, when the Reliance group was divided between the two brothers.
“If you (RIL) make a bad bargain, you stick to it. You can’t go to court to remedy losses from a bargain that was settled five years ago but has now turned unremunerative,” he argued.
RNRL is claiming its right over 28 million metric standard cubic metres of gas a day at a discounted price of $2.34 per mBtu, which is 45% less than the $4.20 per mBtu that NTPC Ltd agreed to pay RIL. The price was not yet decided as the matter is subjudice.
An interim order, irrespective of which way it goes, will be significant for both firms. RIL is expected to start pumping gas from 15 February, according to an affidavit it filed earlier this month with the court, and needs the time to finalize deals with buyers.
Gas prices in the international spot market have risen fourfold since the lawsuit began and are at $6-7 mBtu now.
Vanguard files petition against GHCL
Mumbai: London-based textiles supplier Vanguard Textiles Ltd has filed a petition in the Gujarat high court against GHCL, seeking dues of Rs1.12 crore that it claims is owed to it by a subsidiary of the Indian company.
In the 20 January petition seen by ‘Mint’, Vanguard claimed that GHCL—a soda ash and textiles business formerly known as Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd—had agreed to stand guarantee for Roseby’s Operations Ltd beginning 14 July and had agreed to pay within 90 days of the invoice date.
Vanugard is now seeking dues up to 20 January, and claims that Roseby’s owes it money against at least three of eight invoices. Vanguard has also asked the court to stop GHCLfrom conducting any business because doing so would enable it to “fritter away its assets and incur further losses to the detriment of the creditors including Roseby’s”.
The petition is yet to come up for hearing. GHCL director (finance), Raman Chopra, dismissed the claim, saying Vanguard “does not have any case here”. The petition has no legal grounds, he cited lawyers as saying.
Roseby’s went under ‘administration’ on 20 September, a process under UK law where a firm facing liquidation is overseen by an outside firm.
GHCL had appointed global auditing firm KPMG International to handle the process.
Asian Paints’ founders pledge 15% stake
Mumbai: India’s largest paint maker Asian Paints (India) Ltd dropped to the lowest in almost two years after saying that its founders had pledged a 15% stake and Citigroup Inc. cut the stock-price target.
The stock closed at Rs749.65 in Mumbai, after declining as much as 10.3% to Rs700, the lowest since 21 March 2007, according to data compiled by ‘Bloomberg’.
Citigroup cut the share-price target by 27% to Rs801 from Rs1,098 as third-quarter group profit halved.
Vice-chairman and managing director Ashwin Dani pledged 13 million shares, or a 13.5% stake, according to disclosures made on 23 January, the Mumbai-based firm said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Chairman Ashwin Choksi pledged 1.4 million shares, or 1.46%.
HSBC India fund unit head of equities quits
Mumbai: Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd’s (HSBC) Indian mutual fund unit head of equities, Mihir Vora, has resigned, a top official said on Thursday.
“He has put in his papers but he is still with us for some time to ensure that there is a smooth transition,” Vikramaaditya, chief executive of HSBC Asset Management (India) Pvt. Ltd, said. The firm was yet to decide on a replacement, he added. Vora could not be reached immediately for his comments.
Tata Capital to enter into private equity biz
Mumbai: Tata group’s financial services venture, Tata Capital Ltd, said on Thursday it will enter into the private equity arena with the launch of $350 million (Rs1,711 crore) fund in the next three-four months.
“We are looking at launching our first private equity fund in the first quarter of the next fiscal. It will be an $350 million kind of fund,” Tata Capital’s managing director and chief executive officer Pravin Kadle told reporters here on Thursday. The fund would invest mainly in India and not target any specific sector, he said, adding that it would have a diversified investors’ base.
Sun Pharmaceutical extends Taro tender
Mumbai:Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, which is locked in a takeover tussle with Israeli drug firm Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, has extended to 6 March its tender offer for outstanding ordinary shares of Taro. The offer will expire at 5pm New York (Eastern) time, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
Sun Pharma is seeking to buy public Taro shares through its subsidiary Alkaloida Chemical Company Exclusive Group Ltd.
The tender has been extended to comply with an order by the Supreme Court of Israel prohibiting the closing of the offer until it decides a case brought by Taro and some of its directors against Alkaloida and its subsidiaries regarding the applicability of the tender offer rules under the Israeli Companies Law. The Tel-Aviv district court had previously ruled in favour of Sun Pharma that a special tender offer was not required.
On 26 January, at the recommendation of the Supreme Court, the parties to the litigation, as well as the Levitt and Moros families which are major shareholders in Taro, agreed to a mediation process to attempt to resolve the dispute. If no agreement is reached, any party can request the court to issue its judgement. If the temporary order remains in effect on 6 March, Sun Pharma expects to extend the offer while the temporary order remains outstanding, the company said in a statement.
Unitech to sign pact with TTSL’s tower arm
New Delhi:Moving closer to its deal with its Norway partner Telenor ASA, Unitech Wireless Ltd is all set to sign the infrastructure sharing agreement with Tata Teleservices Ltd’s tower arm WTTIL. An announcement to this effect would be made shortly, sources said.
Once Unitech Wireless signs the agreement, it will meet one of the most key requirement in the goalpost of its $1.07 billion (%,232 crore) deal with Telenor. Officials of both the companies said the finer details of the agreement is being worked out.