The Week in review for 20 Nov 2009

The Week in review for 20 Nov 2009

New Delhi: The founder of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, may have to reduce his stake in the struggling airline so it can raise more money. Goyal currently owns 80% of Jet Airways, but could cut that figure down to 65%. Jet plans to raise $400 million through a qualified institutional placement and use the money to renegotiate contracts and buy crucial equipment.

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Operators of the airports at Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad are proposing an increase in their airport charges. While the Delhi and Mumbai airports want to increase aeronautical charges like passenger services by 10%, Hyderabad airport wants to hike its user development fee. Airport operators say they are trying to cope with lower-than-expected revenues ever since the economic slowdown.

Also in aviation news, troubled airline Air India now has a cost-saving plan for the future. Nacil, which runs Air India, has joined hands with Booz Allen Hamilton and prepared at least 70 cost-cutting schemes that could save Air India Rs5,000 crore. Mint has learnt that the measures include eliminating non-core activities, phasing out foreign pilots, reducing the fleet network and rationalizing routes.

And while Air India struggles to implement its cost-cutting measures, at least 140 people have applied to become the airline’s chief operating officer. Mint has learned that the applicants include several non-resident Indians as well as senior managers from airlines around the world.

Mukesh Ambani laid out his plans for the future of RIL on Tuesday. Talking to shareholders at the company’s annual meeting, Ambani said RIL would return to its project of setting up a new refinery in Jamnagar that will produce 580,000 barrels a day. He added that RIL would also increase its gas exploration programme in the KG D6 block and elsewhere. Ambani also announced a new initiative into renewable energy with research into biofuels, solar energy and fuel cells.

RIL also got a boost in its gas supply dispute with RNRL this week. On Thursday the Supreme Court allowed the petroleum ministry to become a party to the dispute between the two companies. RNRL has opposed the inclusion of the petroleum ministry after it filed a special leave petition against a Bombay High Court judgment favourable to RNRL.

Mukesh Ambani has another reason to celebrate. According to Forbes magazine, he remains India’s richest man, with a net worth of $32 billion. Lakshmi Mittal come second with $30 billion and Anil Ambani is at third place with $17.5 billion. Even more significantly, India has 52 billionaires in 2009 compared to just 27 in 2008.

The government’s new pricing policy for sugarcane has left many feeling bitter. Thousands of farmers from UP thronged the streets of Delhi on Thursday demanding better prices for their sugarcane. Several senior politicians also joined them, criticizing the new ordinance that puts the burden for increased sugarcane prices on state governments.

On Friday, the government announced it would modify its ordinance by once again allowing state governments to declare their own state advised price or SAP. The modified ordinance also restores the burden for increased prices to sugarcane mills rather than state governments.

The UPA has decided not to introduce its food security bill in the winter session of Parliament, which began on Thursday. The UPA is concerned about the size of the commitment and lack of consensus on defining below poverty line families.

India still scores a low 3.4 out of 10 in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perception Index. But India’s ranking has gone up to 84 out of 180 countries. Last year India’s rank was 85.

Ratan Tata, the chairman of the Tata group, has indicated that he’slooking for a successor all over the world and not just in India. Ratan Tata’s tenure as chairman will end in 2012.

JSW Steel of India announced an alliance with Japanese steel maker JFE Holdings on Thursday. The two companies will collaborate to make automotive steel in India.

The new video game titled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is attracting controversy. Some gamers are claiming one of its levels bears striking resemblance to images from last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The controversial level in the videogame involves a shoot out in Moscow’s airport in which gunmen kill several travelers… The game’s publisher Activision has defended the level, saying it motivates players to stop the terrorists.