Need To Know | MRF locks out TN unit after worker’s suicide

Need To Know | MRF locks out TN unit after worker’s suicide

Mumbai: The country’s largest tyre maker by sales, MRF Ltd has informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that the management has declared a lock-out at the company’s manufacturing plant at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu between 17 and 19 December on account of labour unrest in the factory.

Speaking to Mint, Koshy K. Varghese, the company’s executive vice-president, marketing, said, “Yesterday there was a suicide in the factory by a contract worker, after which some elements came in and there was some vandalism in the factory. We had asked our insurance company to do an assessment of the damage. The assessment should be over between today and tomorrow and we should be able to resume production (the) day after."

He said he was unaware of the reasons behind the worker taking such an extreme step. A postmortem report is awaited.

— Shally Seth


German hotel firm in JV with Sahil Group

Mumbai: Germany’s RIMC International Hotel Resort Management and Consulting GmbH has entered into a joint venture (JV) with Pune-based real estate firm Sahil Group to handle businesses in India and islands such as Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles.

“This tie-up will help us in strengthening our position in hospitality as it will get us into the segment of hotel management in which we were not present before," Vinay Phadnis, chairman, Sahil Group, said in a statement.

The joint venture, RIMC Sahil Hospitality India Pvt. Ltd, would bring RIMC International’s expertise in takeovers as well as placement of hotel real estate, he added.

— Sudha Menon


World Bank’s additional lending to support

New Delhi: The World Bank has agreed to help India with a $3 billion (around Rs14,200 crore) of increased investment as the global financial crisis undermines private financing for the country’s infrastructure agenda.

This additional amount will be part of the total financing envelope of $14 billion proposed in the “India Country Strategy over FY 2009-2011".

Part of the additional financing can be put to work swiftly in some areas where the World Bank is already engaged, including a line of credit to the India Infrastructure Finance Co. Ltd to help finance private-public partnerships in infrastructure; funding for the Small Industries Development Bank of India to provide credit to small and medium enterprises; and assistance to the Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd to expand its transmission network.

— Staff Writer


Shell, Petronet expand LNG import capacity

Mumbai/Singapore: Petronet LNG Ltd and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are expanding liquefied natural gas (LNG) import capacity in India even as the global recession cuts demand and prices of the fuel decline.

Petronet will double capacity at its Dahej terminal to 10 million tonnes by January, investing Rs1,600 crore, said Amitava Sengupta, executive director of finance. Shell has spent $625 million (Rs2,956 crore) on the Hazira project, and is raising investments to increase the capacity by 46%, said Deepak Mukarji, spokesman at the company’s Indian unit.

The companies planned the expansions in 2007 when India’s $1.2 trillion economy was booming. Spot LNG prices have more than halved since September as the global recession curbs demand and as customers switch to cheaper naphtha. Petronet has yet to secure supplies for the expanded capacity, Sengupta said.

— Bloomberg


Roche’s patent to be decided by 31 January

Mumbai: The Supreme Court has asked the Chennai patent office to decide on Swiss drug maker F Hoffman La Roche Ltd’s patent for an anti-infection drug before 31 January.

Roche had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging a Madras high court order in November that set aside its patent for valganciclovir and asked the Chennai patent office to hear a pre-grant opposition filed by a patient group within January.

The patient group, Tamil Nadu Networking People with HIV/AIDS, had challenged the Chennai patent office’s decision to grant a patent to Roche for the anti-infection drug in 2007 without hearing the pre-grant opposition it had filed.

The Supreme Court also ruled that the Bombay high court, which is hearing a patent infringement suit filed by Roche against generic drug maker Cipla Ltd over the same anti-infection drug, should not suspend the case before the Chennai patent office makes its decision.

— C.H. Unnikrishnan


Tata arm launches electronic goods line

Mumbai: Tata group’s retail arm Infiniti Retail Ltd has launched a private label of electronic goods such as air-conditioners and vacuum cleaners under its Croma brand. “We are outsourcing the products from China and are evaluating the option of India as well," Infiniti Retail managing director and chief executive Ajit Joshi said.

The company has tied up with Australia’s Woolworths Ltd, which runs consumer electronics chains and supermarkets, for the label.

Infiniti Retail has launched wine coolers, air conditioners and vacuum cleaners at all its 24 stores in India.

The Croma branded products would be priced 20-30% less, Joshi said.

— Jharna Mazumdar


Fortis to acquire stake in Wokhardt Hospitals

Mumbai: Fortis Healthcare Ltd, India’s second largest hospital chain by network, may acquire a significant stake in the Habil Korakhiwala-promoted Wokhardt Hospitals Ltd, according to CNBC TV 18 business news channel. The channel reported on Thursday that the Delhi-based hospital group are in an advanced discussion with Wokhardt Hospitals’ promoters, and it could invest up to $100 million for a strategic stake in the Mumbai-based hsopital chain.

A Fortis spokesperson declined to comment on market speculation and said that his company has plans to expand to the western and southern regions by almost doubling the number of hospitals by next five years. Korakhiwala could not be reached for comments. The group’s spokesperson was also not available for comment.

After calling off its close to Rs700 crore initial public offer (IPO) early this year, Wockhardt Hospitals has been working on a new funding plan to complete the already initiated new hospital projects. It had planned the IPO to fund a pan-India expansion plan, involving a capital expenditure of Rs636.35 crore. Though the company had spent Rs66.88 crore on the expansion plan in 2007, it wanted to fund the balance requirement of Rs569.47 crore by tapping the capital markets. Wockhardt also had plans to use around Rs285 crore of the IPO proceeds to pre-pay its short-term loans.

— Staff Writer


DLF Brands plan 600 stores in five years

New Delhi: DLF Brands, the retail management subsidiary of real estate firm DLF Ltd aims to have 600 stores and bring at least 15 international labels in the country by 2012-13, which could entail an investment of Rs750 crore. “We have 11 stores of seven foreign brands in Delhi, of which four are JVs. We will be opening another 40-50 stores across the country by end of 2009 and plan to take the total number of stores to 600 by 2012-13," managing director Kelvin Coyle said.