Need to Know | PM appoints apex group to interact with industry

Need to Know | PM appoints apex group to interact with industry

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has constituted an apex group under his chairmanship to coordinate the government’s response to points raised by industry from time to time.

The members of the apex group include finance minister P. Chidambaram, industry and commerce minister Kamal Nath, deputy chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Reserve Bank of India governor D. Subbarao. The group will meet industry representatives with regard to the current global financial crisis and its impact on India.

The Prime Minister has also approved a committee of officers chaired by the finance secretary that will meet on a daily basis, or as often as required, to consider issues raised by Industry. The members of the committee of officers are commerce secretary, secretary (DIPP) and secretary (Planning Commission). The joint secretary (banking) finance ministry will be the government contact person to receive suggestions from the industry.

—Staff Writer


IIT Delhi?told to?reinstate suspended registrar

New Delhi: More than a year after the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi suspended its registrar for “disciplinary action", the ministry of human resource development has asked the institute to reinstate him.

IIT-D had suspended Col Rajendra Singh in July last year on the ground that he had not paid Rs25,000 fine as ordered by the chief information commissioner. Singh’s suspension came a day after he approached the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) seeking an investigation into “misappropriation of funds at IIT Delhi". In his complaint filed before the commission on 25 July last year, Singh had sought investigations into an order issued to him by the IIT Delhi administration seeking the release of endowment funds towards foreign junkets of faculty members. Singh had also sought protection under the Whistleblowers Protection Act.

The ministry in its directive issued on 16 October has asked the institute to reinstate Singh, allowing the institute to continue its probe against him.

While Singh refused to comment, a senior IIT-D official pointed out that at the time of suspension, the only charge against him was non-payment of the fine as ordered by CIC, though more charges were added against him by the institute subsequently.

—Pallavi Singh


India Infoline gets nod to start mutual fund co

Mumbai: India Infoline Ltd, which has interests in equity, commodity broking and third-party distribution of financial services products, has received an in-principle approval from markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India to set up an asset management company (AMC).

This will maintain the total number of asset management companies in India at 37, now that Lotus India Asset Management Co. Pvt. Ltd has been acquired by Religare Aegon Asset Management Co. Pvt. Ltd.

The 35 AMCs that currently have schemes manage a total of Rs4.31 trillion. The asset management company promoted by Goldman Sachs is yet to launch a scheme.

—Sanat Vallikappen


Share sale to help with credit rating: Telenor

Helsinki: Telenor ASA, the largest Nordic phone company, chose to finance expansion in India through a share sale in a bid to keep its credit rating, chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas said.

“We are dependent on the bond markets and we didn’t want to risk any doubt on the rating quality of Telenor," Baksaas said in London on Tuesday.

On 29 October, Telenor dropped 26% in Oslo trading, the biggest decline since 2000, after it agreed to buy 60% of India’s Unitech Wireless for $1.07 billion (Rs5,200 crore) and planned a share sale to pay for the purchase. Baksaas said the share price reaction was more negative than he had anticipated.

On Tuesday, Baksaas said it takes at least five years to build a mobile operation and have positive cash flow, based on the company’s experiences in Ukraine, Russia and Malaysia. Telenor, based in Fornebu, Norway, said the entry into India will require about $2 billion of investment in the next three years.

Moody’s Investors Service placed the company’s credit rating under review for a possible downgrade after the 29 October announcement. Telenor is rated A2, the sixth highest investment-grade rating in a 10-step scale.



Rupee advances most in a decade, rises 1.9%

Mumbai: Rupee rose the most in a decade as gains in the nation’s benchmark stock index eased concern that overseas investors will cut holdings of local shares.

The currency advanced to a one-month high after data showed global funds bought the most Indian stocks in two months on 31 October, stoking optimism investors are returning to the nation’s equity markets. The rupee was the biggest gainer among Asian currencies on Tuesday, according to data compiled by ‘Bloomberg’.

The rupee gained 1.9% to 47.725 per dollar in Mumbai, ‘Bloomberg’ data show. That is the biggest gain since 19 January 1998, and the strongest since 3 October. The currency has rebounded 4.5% from a record closing low of 49.96 reached on 24 October.



India to emerge faster from downturn: CLSA

New Delhi: India may be the first in Asia to emerge from a downturn, helped by local consumption and a drop in commodity prices as financial turmoil sweeps the world, a senior economist at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said.

“We do expect the Indian business cycle to be the first to bottom in Asia. And, it should, in theory, be first to emerge," Sharmila Whelan, senior economist at CLSA, said in a telephone interview from Gurgaon on Tuesday. “The worst will be over by mid-2009 and by 2010 you should be able to see the next investment-led business cycle taking root."

The nation will benefit from the fact that its trade as a percentage of gross domestic product is 32.5%, about half that of China and the European Union, according to the Asian Development Bank. India will also benefit from falling commodity prices, Whelan said.

“India stands to benefit significantly from falling commodity prices and therefore corporate profit margins should improve ahead of its peers" in the region, Whelan said. “While we are bearish on the short-term outlook, over the medium term we expect infrastructure spending to pick up and reinforce the investment cycle."

India’s economy may slow to a pace of 7.3% this financial year ending March 31 and further to 6.5% in the next year, she said. GDP grew at 9% in the year ended 31 March 2008.



Italian company to buy Pune-based V3 Controls

Milan: Gefran SpA, an Italian maker of industrial automation equipment, agreed to buy closely held V3 Controls Pvt. Ltd for €162,000 (Rs99.31 lakh).

Pune, India-based V3 is Gefran’s former distributor in the country and will be renamed Gefran India, Provaglio D’Iseo, Italy-based Gefran said in a stock exchange statement on Tuesday.

The purchase will be made in two instalments by 31 December next year, Gefran said.