Need to Know | As ATF cools, Kingfisher cuts fares across board

Need to Know | As ATF cools, Kingfisher cuts fares across board

Mumbai: Late on Monday evening, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd said it will cut fares immediately across the board and will also ensure there are no job losses.

Earlier in the day, state-run Air India said it would consider reducing its fuel surcharge to pass on the benefits of a recent decline in jet fuel prices, a senior official said. “We will take a call as to what kind of relief or reduction in fuel surcharge we can give, keeping in mind the recent decline in ATF (aviation turbine fuel) prices," Jitender Bhargava, executive director, said.

The development follows Union aviation minister Praful Patel’s comments that India’s airlines should cut fares on easing jet fuel prices. Air India said a balance would have to be struck between the gradual drop in ATF prices and its mounting losses suffered so far this fiscal before taking a call.

SpiceJet Ltd will “stimulate" the local market with lower fares in the coming months, director Ajay Singh said.

—Reuters, Bloomberg & PTI


RBS plans right-sizing exercise from 1 Dec

Mumbai: The Royal Bank of Scotland, or RBS, top brass in a conference call with its global banking and markets (GBM) heads including Madan Menon, managing director and country executive India, on Monday decided to start the GBM right-sizing exercise from 1 December.

“Menon has said the right-sizing exercise will start from 1 December and assured employees that they would be fair and compensate people appropriately,’’ said a senior ABN Amro Bank employee who did not want to be identified. Mint called Menon late evening on Monday but he could not respond to the paper’s query as he was in a meeting. In October 2007, RBS led a consortium of Fortis Group of the UK and Banco Santander SA of Spain to acquire ABN Amro Bank NV’s banking business globally, including in India. In India since 1920, ABN Amro has around 9,000 employees spread over 28 branches.

—Anita Bhoir


Jindal Steel expects metal demand to pick up

Mumbai: Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, making the largest investment in Bolivia, expects metal demand in India to revive in the next few months as the government increases spending on roads, bridges and ports.

The company plans to maintain steel production and will use its own cash to fund projects, managing director Naveen Jindal said in a television interview in New Delhi on Monday. The company has no plans to sell shares and may seek to raise some funds through debt, he added.



GI status proposed for Kerala coffee, pepper

Kochi: The government will consider a move to seek geographical indication, or GI, status for black pepper and the robusta variety of coffee grown in Wayanad district in the southern Indian state of Kerala, said Jairam Ramesh, union minister of state for commerce and power, during a meeting with farmers in the district Friday last week.

GI status is used for goods that have a specific place of origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that origin, such as champagne. A GI status will ensure global recognition which will translate into a better price for farmers, said M.P. Veerendrakumar, member of Parliament for Calicut.

Ramesh has asked the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation’s Community Agrobiodiverstiy Centre in Kalpetta to submit a research proposal that will detail the attributes of the coffee and pepper grown in the area. He said it could take up to end of 2009 for approval for GI status.

—Ajay Menon


Axon investors approve HCL’s takeover offer

Paris: The target of India’s first bidding war for overseas assets Axon Group Plc., said shareholders approved a £441 million ($662.2 million) takeover offer from HCL Technologies Ltd that trumped a bid by Infosys Technologies Ltd.

Shareholders of Axon, a business adviser for companies that run SAP AG software, approved the 650-pence-a- share offer by a show of hands, the Egham, England-based company said in a statement on Monday.

HCL, controlled by billionaire Shiv Nadar, took on Bangalore-based Infosys, India’s second-largest software exporter, to gain Axon’s expertise in products developed by SAP AG, the world’s biggest maker of business-management software.



More European firms will enter India: Zinnov

Bangalore: Bangalore outsourcing advisory firm Zinnov Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd said more European software product firms would set up captive centres in India to cut costs and help access local market, where software product sales are increasing by nearly 24% a year.

Currently, 18 of the top 100 European firms own captive centres in India, outsourcing software worth €700 million (Rs 4,438 crore) a year and is expected to grow 30% annually to reach € 4.2 billion by 2015, the firm said in a report on Monday.

“The first (reason) of course is the cost arbitrage, but India is also a market. It is in their interest for their R&D to have proximity to customers," said Chandramouli C. S., director at Zinnov.

—K. Raghu


Record numbers of ships head for demolition

London: Record numbers of obsolete merchant ships are being sold for scrap after the biggest decline in rents on record, a cash buyer of such vessels said.

At least 23 merchant ships, including commodity carriers, container ships, car transporters and oil tankers, are either waiting off the coast of India or Bangladesh or were driven onto their beaches to be demolished, Cumberland, Maryland-based Global Marketing Systems Inc. (GMS) said in an emailed report on Sunday. It didn’t say what the previous record was.

Bangladeshi companies that demolish ships are becoming “nervous" that an “abundance" in supply will mean lower scrap prices, prompting them to pay less, GMS said.

Among vessels being scrapped is a “plethora" of ships designed to haul coal, ore and grains, according to GMS, which negotiates the purchase of about 100 ships a year for demolition.



DoT to allot spectrum in Rajasthan in 10 days

New Delhi: The department of telecom, or DoT, will allot spectrum to Datacom Solutions Pvt. Ltd, Unitech Wireless Ltd, Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd, Loop Telecom Ltd, Tata Communications Ltd, and Bharti Airtel Ltd in Rajasthan within the next 10 days.

The five new players Videocon-promoted Datacom, Idea Cellular Ltd, Unitech Ltd-promoted Unitech Wireless, Swan Telecom and Ruias-owned Loop Telecom already have 4.4 MHz GSM spectrum in around 13 circles in the country.

Of the new players, Swan also has spectrum in the Delhi, which had space for only one more player.

“The DoT is allocating spectrum as and when it is available or is vacated by the defence forces, as is the case with Rajasthan," an official who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media said.

Unitech, Shyam Telelink, Datacom and Loop telecom have been given letters of intent (LoIs) for pan-India operations but have so far been given spectrum in the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Others such as Spice Telecom, Idea Cellular, Swan and Tata Teleservices Ltd have received LoIs for only a few circles.

According to sources, Datacom may get 3.2 MHz pair in Delhi as it stands first in the queue after Swan was allocated in the Delhi circle.

—Shauvik Ghosh