L&T acquires 26% equity in Feedback Ventures

L&T acquires 26% equity in Feedback Ventures

New Delhi: Infrastructure company Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) has acquired 26% equity in consulting and engineering firm Feedback Ventures Pvt. Ltd for Rs40 crore. L&T was one of Feedback’s largest clients in 2006-07, the company said in a press statement.

Promoters of Feedback Ventures also increased their holding to 46%, buying out investors such as real estate company DLF Ltd, while infrastructure finance company Infrastructure Development Finance Corp. Ltd reduced its equity stake to 16%.

With this new status the Feedback Ventures management hopes to significantly enhance its presence in most infrastructure sectors by working alongside L&T, both domestically and internationally.

The company, which employs 800 professionals, provides engineering and project management advisory services.Rahul Chandran

TV18 to buy majority stake in Infomedia India

Mumbai: News broadcaster Television Eighteen India Ltd (TV18), agreed to buy a majority stake in Infomedia India Ltd, a publisher of business and telephone directories.

TV18 bought a 40% stake from ICICI Venture Funds Management Co. for Rs178 crore, and will offer to buy 20% more from other shareholders, the company said in an emailed statement.

TV18 will have the right to purchase an additional 13% from ICICI Venture if the company’s open-offer to purchase more shares doesn’t succeed, it said.

YES Bank Ltd advised ICICI Venture on the transaction. Bloomberg

Jet Airways to buy five more Airbus planes

Mumbai: Mumbai-based premium carrier Jet Airways will buy five more wide body aircraft from Toulouse-based Airbus SAS for international operations. These A330-200 type planes will be delivered to Jet between October 2009 and first quarter of 2011. This will help the airline strengthen link long haul overseas routes, such as Singapore, London, Malaysia etc. P.R. Sanjai

AI to join Star Alliance within a week

Mumbai: National carrier Air India (AI) is likely to join global airline grouping Star Alliance within a week, a move that will increase its reach.

When contacted an Air India spokesperson said, AI is most likely to join Star Alliance and the formal agreement would be signed soon.

“The alliance will also increase Air India’s reach," the spokesperson added.

An announcement is expected after AI and Star Alliance officials meet on Thursday, possibly in China, a person familiar with the development said. “It will be a win-win situation for both Air India and Star Alliance," the spokesperson said. PTI

Cairn India to join NSE’s Nifty from today

Mumbai: Oil exploration firm Cairn India is set to join the National Stock Exchange’s (NSE) benchmark index Nifty from Wednesday.

The company, which got listed on the bourses early this year, has witnessed about 35% rise in its share price in the past 11 months, while its market capitalization has surged to Rs37,542.02 crore. PTI

Ansal shares jump 17% on Dadri project reports

Mumbai: Shares of real estate firm Ansal Properties and Infrastructure Ltd on Tuesday jumped 17.51% on the Bombay Stock Exchange to close at Rs341.85, on reports that it has got the Uttar Pradesh government’s approval to double the size of its private township project in Dadri.

The stock hit a high of Rs348 and a low of 292.60 during the day. PTI

Singapore biotech drive loses Dolly creator

Singapore: British scientist Alan Colman, who helped clone Dolly the sheep, is leaving Singapore, dealing another blow to the city-state’s biotech ambitions.

Stem cell scientist Colman, who had been drawn to the city-state with grants and research facilities, now heads a Singapore consortium in stem cell research. He will leave in May for the Stem Cell Centre at King’s College London, the city-state’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research said in a statement.

The latest move follows news in September that two other top British scientists, David and Birgitte Lane, will also leave next year, giving weight to the World Bank’s criticism that Singapore’s biotech drive was overly reliant on “footloose" scientists who could leave at short notice.

Over the last five years, Singapore has ploughed more than S$3 billion (Rs8,208 crore) into its biomedical sector, spending generously on start-ups, new labs and on attracting top scientists such as Colman and the Lanes from the US and Europe. Reuters

RTI exclusion: defence ministry plea rejected

New Delhi: The defence ministry’s request for exemption from the Right to Information (RTI) Act has been turned down by the committee of secretaries (CoS) which has asked it to come up with a fresh proposal if it wants the benefit for its intelligence wing.

The CoS was asked to review the cases of nine organizations for exclusion from the RTI Act. The meeting, also rejected a similar request from the CBI for exemption and inclusion in the second schedule of the RTI, under which 22 organizations have been included for whom the Act was not applicable, people familiar with the development said. PTI

Gurgaon schoolboy shot dead by classmates

Gurgaon: A boy studying in class VIII was on Tuesday shot dead allegedly by two of his classmates at Euro International School here shortly after attending classes.

Abhishek Tyagi, who was 14, was walking in the corridor soon after school closed for the day, when he was confronted by Akash Yadav and Vikas Yadav over an old grudge.

Akash pulled out his father’s revolver and fired four shots at Abhishek, handed the gun to Vikas who fired another bullet, Gurgaon police commissioner Mohinder Lal said.

One bullet hit Abhishek in the temple and two in the chest, killing him instantly, he said.

Lal said the two boys have been detained.

School chairman Satbir Singh said the school conducts periodic checks but it was not possible to frisk every student or to anticipate such an incident. PTI

Standard Chartered completes UTI Sec

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India has given a nod to Standard Chartered Bank Mauritius to acquire 49% stake in UTI Securities Ltd. In August this year, the foreign bank had bought the stake of Securities Trading Corp. of India Ltd (STCI) in UTI Securities for an all-cash deal of Rs147 crore.

Standard Chartered has the option to acquire another 25% in 2008 and the final 26% in 2010, subject to regulatory approvals.

The bank may look at making significant investments of up to $50 million (Rs197 crore) over the next few years to upgrade technology, implement top-in-class risk management systems, develop talent, strengthen the distribution network, in addition to enhancing the capital base. Rachna Monga

Low priced overseas IPO gets Mercator Rs561 cr

Hong Kong: A unit of Indian shipping company, Mercator Lines Ltd, raised about $142.5 million (Rs561 crore) after pricing its Singapore initial public offering (IPO) at the bottom of its indicated range, according to a Bombay Stock Exchange announcement on Tuesday.

Mercator Lines (Singapore) Ltd sold 270.19 million shares at S$0.76 (Rs20.79) each, compared with a range of S$0.76 to S$0.94 a share, ahead of a trading debut set for Friday.

Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are underwriting the IPO. The firm also allocated $39 million worth of shares to holders of convertible bonds. Reuters

Nalco to invest Rs30,000 cr in power

New Delhi: State-run National Aluminium Co. (Nalco) plans to invest Rs30,000 crore over the next five years to set up a smelter and a power plant in Indonesia.

“Nalco will invest about Rs30,000 crore to build a 500,000-tonne smelter and a 1,500MW captive coal-fired power plant in Indonesia. We hope to sign a memorandum of understanding with that country’s government early next year in this connection," a Nalco spokesman said.

He said Nalco would initially invest Rs15,000 crore for a 250,000-tonne smelter and a 750MW power plant, the work for which would begin by the middle of 2009. “Thereafter, we will double the capacity of the smelter and that of the captive power plant by 2011-12," he added. PTI

‘Sustainable fuel retail pricing policy required’

New Delhi: The country needs a sustainable fuel retail pricing policy that ensures that energy is available at affordable prices for a nation of 1.1 billion people, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

India needs to generate more power from non-conventional sources led by solar and wind energy, Mukherjee said on Tuesday. The nation depends on imported crude oil for 70% of its energy needs, making the economy vulnerable to record oil prices that hovered close to $100 (Rs3,940) a barrel last month. The government’s effort to increase nuclear power generation with technology from the US has been blocked by the ruling federal coalition’s Communist allies, who oppose the plan.

Nuclear power now comprises 3% of India’s total generation capacity, according to the power ministry’s website. Bloomberg

Orient-Express rebuffs Tatas’ proposal again

New York: US-based Orient-Express Hotels has turned down a proposal from Indian Hotels Co. Ltd for a strategic tie-up. Indian Hotels, a Tata group company, had earlier acquired 11.5% stake in Orient-Express for about $247 million (Rs973 crore).

In a reply to Tatas, Orient-Express, which owns New York’s prestigious Club 9 Restaurants and a number of luxury hotel brands in the US and other countries, said that aligning with Tatas’ “predominantly domestic Indian hotel chain" would adversely impact the brand value of its premium properties.

Indian Hotels had first disclosed on 14 September a 10% stake acquisition in Orient through open market purchases and had later on sought a possible alliance between the two companies. PTI

Reliance to explore gas prospects in Columbia

Mumbai: The country’s largest company by market value, Reliance Industries Ltd, has agreed to invest $50 million (Rs197 crore) to explore in two oil and gas areas in Colombia.

The two areas, Borojo North and South are located in the Pacific Ocean, off Colombia’s western coast, in 1,500m water depth, the Mumbai-based company said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

Reliance is expected to drill up to two wells in both areas over six years and will explore in four phases spread over 18 months each, the statement said. Bloomberg

‘Global jobs outlook healthy even as US dips’

New York: The global hiring outlook for the first quarter of 2008 remains healthy despite a slightly softer jobs forecast for the US, a quarterly survey by Manpower Inc., one of the world’s largest employment services companies, showed on Tuesday.

The rise of China, India and eastern Europe as economic powers means that any US slowdown may have a more muted impact on the global jobs picture, said Manpower chief executive Jeff Joerres. “When you average it all in, it’s a pretty healthy outlook," he said.

Of the 27 countries and territories surveyed by Manpower, 12 reported hiring prospects up from the fourth quarter, while 14 indicated weaker hiring plans and one—South Africa—showed no change. Reuters

Jindal Drilling to divest 10% stake, MD says

New Delhi: A part of DP Jindal group, Jindal Drilling and Industries Ltd, plans to divest 10% stake in the firm within a month to dilute the founders’ stake to 75%, managing director Naresh Kumar said on Tuesday. “We have decided to divest 10% stake and discussions are going on with a number of investors, both Indian and foreign," he said.

Kumar added that the dilution of stake is needed to bring down founders’ holding to 75%, as required by the Securities and Exchange Board of India norms. The founders’ stake was 83.5% at the end-September, according to the Bombay Stock Exchange data. Reuters

Law on cards to increase technology innovation

Bangalore: The department of science and technology has asked Ficci to work out a draft legislation to bring out a law to increase “technology innovations", adviser, department of information technology, A.K. Chakravarti, said.

“One is hoping that in the next three months, some kind of draft will be in place," he said at an international conference on e-science and grid computing. “It could accelerate (technology) innovation," he said.

Ficci has been asked to prepare the draft after collecting inputs from various stakeholders, both government and private. The department of IT, Government of India, is working on a set of proposals under technology innovation promotion programme, he said. Noting that SMEs need “lot of money" to file international patents, he said the government is mulling to provide “some kind of part support" to them to file such patents. PTI