New Delhi: Airport operations across the country are likely to be disrupted from 12 March, with employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) threatening to go on an indefinite ‘non-cooperation movement’ after the government on Monday rejected their demand to continue with the operations of the existing Bangalore and Hyderabad airports. These airports in both the metros are to be closed down after the inauguration of the new greenfield airports there.
“We have decided to resume our agitation as the ministry is bent on closing down the airports at Hyderabad and Bangalore. As part of this, we will go on a non-cooperation movement at all airports across the country from the midnight of 11-12 March,” Airport Authority Employees’ Joint Forum convenor M. K. Ghoshal said after the forum held talks with civil aviation ministry officials.
Meanwhile, the opening of the new international airport in Bangalore, originally slated for March end, may be delayed by two to four weeks, a senior civil aviation ministry official, who did not wish to be quoted, said.
A senior civil aviation ministry delegation had visited the airport last week to decide whether the airport could be made operational by the month-end.
Officials from the Karnataka government are likely to meet the civil aviation ministry on Wednesday to arrive at a conclusion.
In a related development, the Karnataka high court has posted for 25 March the hearing on the public interest litigations seeking a stay on the closure of the Bangalore airport.
On Monday, the court admitted four petitions, filed separately by an NGO and three city residents last month. The petitioners want the existing airport, owned by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, to be continued on grounds that roads connecting the new airport to the city are not yet ready and that people would be put to inconvenience.
‘Staff writers contributed to this story.’
French auto component firm to launch India ops
Pune: French auto component manufacturer A Raymond, with annual revenues of more than €500 million (Rs3,100 crore) is starting operations in India this month with plans for an engineering design centre in Pune to drive innovation in its product line.
The company designs and manufactures a range of complex engineered fasteners and clip fasteners in plastic and metal. Fasteners are highly engineered components used to hold together various parts of a vehicle–car door panels, small engine parts, or airbag housings. Sudha Menon
Bengal culls poultry to contain bird flu outbreak
New Delhi: Veterinary workers began culling thousands of chickens on Monday to contain a fresh outbreak of bird flu. The outbreak was reported from West Bengal’s Murshidabad district where 900 chickens and ducks died over the last two weeks, officials said.
In January, the H5N1 virus had hit 13 of the state’s 19 districts, including Murshidabad, bringing down poultry sales by more than 70% in the state, but it had a limited impact in the rest of the country. Reuters
Mastek acquires US company for $29 million
Bangalore: Mastek Ltd has acquired the New York-based Systems Task Group (STG) International Ltd, an IT solutions provider to the North American property and casualty insurance industry for Rs116 crore ($29 million) in a cash deal that will enhance the company’s intellectual property-led IT solutions portfolio. STG is the second such buyout for Mastek after Vector Insurance Services was acquired in July.
Mastek will be presently paying 85% of consideration, while the rest will be linked to ongoing performance and paid by way of earn-outs, the company said in a statement. Staff Writer
India asks drug makers to lower prices
New Delhi: Pharmaceutical companies will have to lower prices on most of the non-scheduled drugs by 4.58% following duty cuts in the Union Budget, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) said on Monday.
The NPPA said price cut should take effect from 1 March.
India halved excise duties on drugs to 8% in the Budget for 2008-09, and the authorities now want firms to pass on the benefit to consumers. Reuters
Tata Group denies interest in Ferrari stake
Mumbai: The Tata group, which is in final talks to buy Ford Motor Co.’s Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands, denied on Monday a magazine report that it was interested in a stake in Ferrari.
Italy’s ‘L’Espresso’ weekly news magazine on Friday had quoted chairman Ratan Tata as saying that he would like to buy a stake in Fiat Automobiles SpA ’ s luxury sports car unit Ferrari. “Tata group wishes to clarify that the statement has been misquoted and taken out of context,” a spokesman for Tata group said on Monday. “The report is completely untrue,” he said in a statement. Reuters
Hockey: India fails to qualify for Olympics
New Delhi: Eight-time Olympics field hockey champion India plunged to a new low by failing to qualify for this year’s Beijing games, snapping an 80-year history that featured six successive gold medals since a startling debut at Amsterdam in 1928.
India’s hopes of figuring in the Beijing Olympic lineup were dashed on Sunday when it lost 2-0 to Britain in the final of a qualifying competition at Chile. AP
India fund assets to reach $440 bn by 2012
Mumbai: The total assets under management in India would grow by 33% every year to reach as much as $440 billion by 2012 with mutual funds and portfolio management services as key drivers, a survey showed.
Besides, the overall economic growth will attract participation from the international investment community across retail and institutional segments, consultancy firm McKinsey and Co., which conducted the survey, said in a report on Monday.
The retail segment would grow between 36% and 42% annually to about $200 billion by 2012, while institutional investments would grow by 25% to 33% annually to $160 billion, it said. Reuters
Bharti EasyDay plans April launch
New Delhi:Bharti Enterprises Ltd will launch its much-touted retail operations with five convenience stores early April and will name it Bharti EasyDay, according to ‘The Financial Express’ newspaper citing unnamed sources.
A Bharti spokesperson told ‘Mint’ on Monday that the firm “will be announcing the brand name closer to the time of the launch”. Rasul Bailay
BEML, German firm in rail coach venture
New Delhi: State-run construction equipment maker BEML Ltd will start a venture with a German company this month to build rail coaches and equipment.
“We are in the final stages of discussion and we hope to conclude it by 31 March,” chairman and managing director V. R.S. Natarajan said on Monday. “We have investment targets and we will disclose it later.”
BEML, which makes earthmoving equipment such as bulldozers and hydraulic excavators, has benefited from India’s increased expenditure on construction. The Bangalore-based company also plans to build an assembly plant for earthmoving equipment in Brazil, Natarajan said.
Shares of BEML fell Rs15.05, or 1.33%, to Rs1,119.45 on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday. Bloomberg
Thomas Cook offer for 20% stake in Indian arm
Mumbai: UK-based Thomas Cook Group Plc. has made an open offer to the shareholders of Thomas Cook India Ltd (TCIL) for acquiring a 20% stake in the domestic travel firm for about Rs351 crore.
Thomas Cook UK has made an offer to acquire 32.79 million equity shares representing around 20.4% of the current voting capital of TCIL for Rs107 per share, TCIL said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The offer would open on 22 April and would close on 12 May, it added.
Shares of the company rose Rs4.40, or 4.97%, to close at Rs92.90 on BSE. PTI
Gitanjali Gems buys two cos, to spend Rs45 crore
Mumbai: Gem and jewellery firm Gitanjali Gems Ltd said on Monday it has acquired two companies— Renaissance Retail Venture Pvt. Ltd and Trinity Watch Co. Pvt. Ltd—through its subsidiary, Gitanjali Lifestyle Ltd.
Gitanjali will spend Rs45 crore for the acquisitions and on further investments, chairman Mehul Choksi said. Renaissance Retail sells silver, gold, platinum and diamond studded jewellery through its retail stores, Gitanjali said in a statement. Trinity sells watches under its premium brand ‘Iris’ and also distributes several international watch brands under licence.
Gitanjali Gems shares fell Rs12.20, or 4.37%, to Rs266.85. Reuters
Persistent Systems defers its public offer
Mumbai: Software products development firm Persistent Systems Ltd said on Monday it has deferred its initial public offering of shares due to adverse market conditions in India and overseas.
The company had earlier filed its draft offer document with the stock markets regulator. Reuters
Maruti, Shriram tie up for rural car finance
New Delhi: Stepping up efforts to penetrate deeper into the semi urban and rural India, the country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) on Monday inked a pact with Shriram City Union Finance Ltd with an initial allocation of Rs1,000 crore.
The tie-up would focus on financing of entry level cars from Maruti portfolio, which include the M800, Omni and Alto models, the company said.
MSIL chief general manager (sales) R. S. Kalsi said the tie-up with Shriram Group was a step towards providing transparent, hassle-free finance options to the company’s countryside customers.
“At the onset of this association, we have allocated Rs1,000 crore for four-wheeler financing,” Shriram City executive director Subhasri Sriram said.
Initially, this arrangement would be available in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and subsequently extended countrywide, the statement added. PTI
M&A deal volumes touch $2.9 bn in Feb
New Delhi: Private sector lender HDFC Bank Ltd’s merger with Centurion Bank of Punjab Ltd (CBoP) has driven merger and acquisition (M&A) deal volumes in the country to $2.9 billion (Rs11,803 crore) in February this year.
The number of M&A deals announced in the month stood at 36. The most significant deal was the merger of HDFC Bank and CBoP, global consultancy firm Grant Thornton International Ltd said.
The other significant deal was the acquisition of 17.2% stake by Walt Disney Co. in UTV Software Communications Ltd for consolidating its stake to 32.10% in the domestic media company.
In January this year, the total number of M&A deals announced stood at 56, with a total announced value of $3.01 billion. PTI