Photograph by AFP

Photograph by AFP

LIVE updates | India wants G-20 nations to share past banking,tax information

LIVE updates | India wants G-20 nations to share past banking,tax information

India wants G-20 nations to share past banking,tax information

Cannes: India is pitching for a consensus among G-20 nations on sharing of tax and banking information with retrospective effect, arguing that it was essential to deal with past cases of tax evasion.

Photograph by AFP

“This is essential, if the spirit of the G-20 London Summit that ‘the era of bank secrecy is over´ is to be respected," he said on the occasion of the signature ceremony of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters on Thursday night.

Gopalan, who is here as part of the official delegation to the G-20 Summit, also said that India would be signing the convention, along with with China and Saudi Arabia.



US welcomes Pak decision to grant MFN status to India

Washington: The US on Friday applauded Pakistan’s decision to grant the Most Favoured Nation status to India, saying it was the “most tangible" thing to have happened in Indo-Pak relations that could lead to full normalisation of their trade ties.

“This is a very, very big deal, very important; could lead to really great economic opportunities for both India and Pakistan; sets the kind of example within the Silk Road family that we would like to see throughout that region," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.

In response to a question on the issue, she said “We’d like to see the opening of trade relations because this will bring prosperity to everybody, break down old barriers, really lift all boats in the region and make the region even more vital as a centre of global commerce."



Hazare to campaign against Cong if Jan Lokpal Bill not passed

New Delhi: Changing his stand, Anna Hazare on Friday said he will campaign against Congress in the five poll-bound states if the UPA government fails to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed in the Winter Session of Parliament.

“Let anybody say anything. I will campaign against those who did not bring the bill. I will go and campaign and say do not give vote to Congress if the Bill is not passed in the Winter Session of Parliament," he said addressing a press conference shortly after breaking his 19-day ‘vow of silence´ at Rajghat.

Hazare said if the Bill is not passed, he will fast for three days and then will go for a nation-wide tour.

He also said he will not campaign for the BJP. “There is no difference between Congress and BJP," he said.



Food Min may send Food Bill to Law Min for vetting next week

New Delhi: The Food Ministry is likely to send the draft National Food Security Bill to the Law Ministry next week for vetting after incorporating some changes suggested by the state governments and other stakeholders.

“We have received the comments from the state governments on the draft Food Bill circulated by our ministry. We are making certain changes in the draft Bill, after which it will be sent to the Law Ministry for vetting," Food secretary B C Gupta told PTI.

Food minister K V Thomas had recently announced that his ministry was targeting Cabinet clearance for the Bill by 20 November , following which it would be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament, which starts on 22 November .

The draft Bill seeks to provide a legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains to 75 % of the country’s rural population and 50% of urban India. The beneficiaries are divided into ‘priority´ (below poverty line) and ‘general´ (above poverty line) households.



iGate posts Q3 net profit of $14.3 mn

New Delhi: Nasdaq-listed iGate on Friday said its net profit stood at $14.3 million for the quarter ended September 2011, a flat performance year-on-year on account of high interest costs.

The company’s net profit stood at $14.3 million in the third quarter of 2010, though sequentially, it has more than trebled from $4 million. Interest expenses impacted the software firm’s net income by $19.5 million.

iGate’s revenues jumped more than three-fold to $265.7 million in Q3, 2011, compared to $74.8 million in the quarter ended 30 September, 2010.

Sequentially, revenues for the third quarter of 2011 were up 56% in comparison to $170.4 million in the quarter ended 30 June, 2011.

The numbers include the financials of Indian IT firm Patni Computer Systems, in which the US-based firm acquired a majority stake in January 2011 for $ 1.2 billion in one of the largest deals in the Indian IT sector.

“With Phases 1 and 2 of integration (of iGate and Patni) largely done, I’m pleased with the positive results in the combined company. We still have a ways to go to fix our new sales engine, but overall, we are making good progress," iGate Patni chief executive officer Phaneesh Murthy told reporters in a conference call.

On clients’ IT budgets for 2012, Murthy said while it could decline for some verticals, it would also go up for certain businesses.

“We sense that the IT budgets may be marginally up for some verticals like media and entertainment, healthcare and flat to marginally down for others like banking and financial services," he said.

The company expects to hire 4,000-5,000 people in 2012.

“The attrition level was about 20%. Now that the consolidation has been completed and there is stability, the attrition rate has come down and we expect it to go down further to about 15%in the next few quarters," Murthy said.

Asked about delisting of Patni from the Indian bourses, Murthy said no decision has yet been taken.



Sony shares plunge as investors question TV revival

Tokyo: Shares in Sony Corp fell nearly 10% on Friday as investors questioned whether the Japanese firm can successfully turn around its loss-making TV business after it warned the unit is set to lose $2.2 billion.

Sony shocked investors on Wednesday by warning of a fourth consecutive year of losses, further denting confidence in a firm that was once a symbol of Japan’s high-tech might.

The company offered few details of its plan to halve losses from its TV division, which itself is headed for its eighth consecutive annual loss. Sony hopes to trim the loss next year and drag the division into the black by March 2014.



Euro hits stiff resistance as Greece anxiety persists

Tokyo: The euro has run into stiff resistance after a rebound sparked when Greece effectively abandoned plans for a referendum on its bailout package, as market players worry that protracted political instability could bring further flare-ups in the euro zone’s debt crisis.

Few market players see an end any time soon to the euro zone’s debt and financial crisis, with Italian, Spanish and even French government bonds trading at hefty spreads over their German counterparts.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, facing a revolt from his own party over the plan to call a referendum, is bracing for a knife-edge confidence vote on Friday.

The euro traded at $1.3810, down 0.1% from late US levels, after having topped out at $1.3855 on Thursday, near its 55-day moving average and a 38.2% retracement of its steep fall from its 27 October peak of $1.4248.

“The worst fears about Greece have subsided for now so we are seeing a bit of a rebound but it is hard to expect the euro will rise above $1.40," said Koji Fukaya, chief currency strategist at Credit Suisse.



China shares up 2% for the week on policy optimism

Shanghai: China stocks ended up 0.8% on Friday and 2.2% for the week, supported by expectations the government was prepared to fine-tune macroeconomic policies as economic growth slows and by ample liquidity in the financial system.

The Shanghai Composite Index ended at 2,528.3 points, the highest level since early September. The index rose 0.2% on Thursday.



Italy agrees to IMF/EU monitoring reform progress

Cannes: Italy has agreed to have the IMF and the EU monitor its progress in meeting targets on pension, labour and structural reforms that were agreed with EU leaders last week, a senior EU source said on Friday.

“We need to make sure there is credibility with Italy’s targets -- that it is going to meet them. We decided to have the IMF involved on the monitoring, using their own methodology, and the Italians say they can live with that," he said.

“Italy has no problem with surveillance at all, even with the IMF being involved," he said, adding the EU Commission and IMF would each report on how Italy was meeting its targets.

He said a precautionary credit line was not seen to be a credible option for Italy, where one of the main problems has been market confidence in its plans.

“With the general climate and Italy’s lack of credibility, every small setback or problem is compounded and makes things worse, so the markets cannot have confidence," he said.



RBS expects tough Q4 as debt gains boost Q3

London: Royal Bank of Scotland expects difficult market conditions in the fourth-quarter, with banks around the world hit by Europe’s debt crisis, and the part-nationalised lender added it had taken more writedowns on its Greek exposure.

RBS, which is 83% owned by the British government following a state bailout during the 2008 credit crisis, said on Friday that it had made a third-quarter net profit of around £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion).

RBS followed the likes of Barclays and Morgan Stanley in benefiting from a debt accounting gain, which boosted its earnings by £2.36 billion and helped offset lower profits at its GBM investment banking division.

RBS added, however, that it had taken a further impairment loss of £142 million on its exposure to Greece during the third quarter.

“RBS’s third quarter results show the improved strength and resilience we have built up since 2008," chief executive Stephen Hester said in a statement.

“They also highlight the external pressures facing banks, and economies more broadly, which are making the road to recovery longer and bumpier than hoped for," he added.


Anglo American to buy Oppenheimer interest in De Beers

London: Global miner Anglo American has agreed to buy the Oppenheimer family’s stake in diamond miner De Beers for $5.1 billion in cash, taking its ownership of the diamond miner to up to 85%, it said on Friday.

Anglo has long been speculated to be considering a deal to increase its stake in unlisted De Beers, which vies with Russia’s Alrosa for the title of the world’s largest diamond producer, from the current 45%, but Friday’s announcement was unexpected.

“Today’s announcement marks our commitment to an industry with highly attractive long term supply and demand fundamentals," Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll said.