The Week in Review for 30 September 2011

The Week in Review for 30 September 2011

Tata Motors has suffered a legal setback in Bengal. On Wednesday the Calcutta high court upheld a state government law that was being used to return land acquired for Tata Motors back to farmers. The land in question had been acquired for a proposed factory in Singur that would make Nano cars. In its judgment, the high court said the Singur Land Development and Rehabilitation Act was legally valid. But it added that the law didn’t set out the basis for compensating Tata Motors. The court has given the company two months to vacate the land and the West Bengal government six months to compensate Tata Motors.

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group held its annual general meeting on Tuesday. An event marked by a slew of announcements, most just serving to reassure investors. Ambani said Reliance Capital was in advanced talks with partner Nippon Life to sell equity stake in R-Cap’s asset management business. He also said R-Cap was looking to establish a Reliance Bank once it got RBI approval. He further added that Reliance Communications was likely to close a deal to sell its debt-ridden towers business soon.

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While Anil Ambani may have won over some of his investors, he returned to the spotlight for the wrong reasons two days later. On Thursday the CBI submitted documents to the Supreme Court that indicated it was still investigating Ambani and his group companies. The CBI’s submission said it was still looking for beneficiaries in the case. It added that the three Reliance officials behind bars had the option of becoming approvers. The CBI’s submissions came in response to petitions that accused it of not pursuing powerful forces alleged to be behind the 2G scandal.

TRAI’s new regulations have brought in some cheer for Indian mobile phone users. After years of getting unwanted calls and messages from telemarketers, they have finally got a breather. On Tuesday, stringent new rules came into effect that allow customers to block phone soliciting. Telemarketers will now face a maximum 2.5 lakh fine if they make unwanted communications five times. On the flipside, some operators expect the new rules will give telemarketing greater acceptance and more business in the future.

The Cairn-Vedanta deal has crossed a significant hurdle. On Tuesday the board of ONGC agreed to issue a no-objection certificate for the deal. ONGC had previously opposed the deal because it wanted royalty payments from a key oil block that it operates along with Cairn India. Cairn India had later agreed to pay royalties, though under protest.

Another state-run energy firm has acquired an overseas asset that could prove to be important strategically. GAIL has bought a 20% stake in the Eagle Ford shale acreage in the United States. The field is operated by Carrizo Oil and Gas. GAIL has made an initial payment of $ 63.7 million. The deal could prove significant because India also plans auction blocks for shale gas in the coming years.

The labour unrest at Maruti appears to have cost the company severely. On Thursday Maruti said the strikes and lockouts had resulted in a revenue loss of some 540 crores over the last two months. Between August and September, Maruti’s production has fallen behind by a total of around 18,500 vehicles. The fall in output is likely to cut into Maruti’s profits.

The government plans to borrow more money this fiscal than it previously planned. The new target for borrowing for the six months from the 1st of October will be 2.2 trillion. That’s an increase of 32%. The Indian government has already borrowed 2.5 trillion over the last six months. Its original borrowing target for the full fiscal year was 4.17 trillion.

The union cabinet has approved a new mining bill that seeks spread some of the benefits among locals. Its proposed legislation asks coal miners share up to 26% of their profits with local communities. Other miners will have to share an amount equivalent to the royalties.

RBI has given banks permission to issue savings accounts with no credit limits to customers who produce official letters with their Aadhaar numbers. Back in January it had asked banks to treat accounts open this way as no-frills savings accounts.

UB group chairman Vijay Mallya says the struggling Kingfisher Airlines is going to ground its no-frills service, Kingfisher Red. Mallya said margins were much better in the full service sector and that there was enough business to support it.