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Updated: 1 hour 48 min ago

Hyderabad has the 2nd most ‘vanishing’ firms in India

1 hour 48 min ago
Of 77 ‘vanishing companies’ yet to be traced by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), around 14 — the second highest number in the country after Ahmedabad — are from Hyderabad.Vanishing companies are those that have raised money through an IPO and have failed to comply with the listing requirement and are not traceable. MCA could trace only 161 companies of total 238. The 14 companies from Hyderabad collected between 1.5 crore to Rs5 crore each from public. 65408715 Joint Coordination and Monitoring Committee of MCA and Securities and Exchange Board of India have not identified new firms, as vanishing companies, in three years. The committee identified around 238 firms that disappeared after public issue between 1992-2005.Aditya Alkaloids Ltd (Rs3.5 crore), Canara Credit Ltd (Rs2.5 crore), Daisy Systems Limited (Rs1.3 crore), Deccan Petroleum Ltd (Rs4.57 crore), Imap Technologies (Rs1.8 crore), Kisha Impex (Formerly Kamakshi Housing Finance Ltd.)(Rs5.7 crore), Orpine Systems Limited (Rs2.7 crore) are in the list of vanishing companies from Hyderabad. The record further include Raam Tyres (formerly Chhakri Tyres & Tubes or Rhino Tyres) Rs9.6 crore, Sai Graha Finance and Engineering (Rs4 crore), Sequel Soft India (information not available), Sibar Media and Entertainment Limited (Rs3.5 crore) Sibar Software Services (Rs3.5 crore), Swal Computers Limited (Rs2.6 crore), Visie Cyber Tech (Rs 1.40 crore) are from Hyderabad. Hyderabad registrar of companies began prosecution under Companies Act and registered FIRs under cheating sections of IPC. Prosecution for non-filing of returns and non-maintenance of registered office address were initiated against companies.
Categories: Business News

Why a top Singapore executive fired himself

1 hour 48 min ago
By Livia YapKoh Boon Hwee overcame big crises during his four-decade career as a company executive. He led a national airline through the SARS epidemic in 2003, and steered Southeast Asia’s largest bank in the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapse.But what the veteran Singapore entrepreneur, businessman and technology investor found most difficult was telling staff their time was up.“People run out of steam or they allow themselves to be left behind,” Koh, who chaired the boards of some of Singapore’s most iconic firms before becoming a financier, said in an interview in the city-state. “I’ve got to talk to this person and essentially remove this person from that job. I always struggle with those.”However hard it may be to call time on others, it becomes doubly difficult when the person in question is yourself. That sentiment helps explain why business succession is such an issue in Singapore, where more than 60 percent of listed companies are family owned and transitions to new leadership are infrequent. It’s becoming especially pressing of late, as the baby boomer generation born in the years after World War II reach the age where they want to retire.So serious is the problem that succession planning has taken off as an industry in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia, with everyone from private equity funds to M&A consultants vying to help companies transition to the next generation.Stepping DownBut it was never such a concern for Koh, who practiced what he preached at one of the first companies he founded.At Sunningdale Tech Ltd., which manufactures and sells plastic components for medical, consumer and automotive products, Koh stepped down after four years in charge in 2008, at the age of 58. The transition has been smooth, if the company’s share price is any guide. It has surged more than fourfold since then, versus a 68 percent rise for the Straits Times Index.The stock has declined this year amid trade war concerns due to its large presence in China. It rose as much as 1.4 percent in Singapore Wednesday.“I am attached to the company but being attached to a company means you want it to be the best it possibly can,” said Koh, who now serves as non-executive chairman, removed from the day-to-day running of the firm. “And as time passes, you want younger people with more up-to-date ideas.”In fact, Koh talks about relinquishing power as if it were the most commonplace thing in the world.“Today, Sunningdale is completely professionally managed,” he said. “The management team is fully professional, fully competent.” 65410923 ‘Multiple Partners’If giving up control of Sunningdale was easy for Koh, that may be partly because it was never just his baby to begin with. The Harvard Business School graduate co-founded Tech Group Asia Ltd. in 2003, which was renamed Sunningdale Tech two years later after it acquired Sunningdale Precision Industries Ltd. Koh was the chief executive officer of the new entity from 2005 to the end of 2008.“I had multiple partners, so there wasn’t one person or one family that owned Sunningdale,” Koh said. “It was a collection of professionals who got together.”It’s also because Koh never fit the profile of a traditional company owner, destined to see out his career at one place. For much of his life, he shifted between chairman roles at corporate giants including Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., Singapore Airlines Ltd. and DBS Group Holdings Ltd.SARS, Financial CrisisIn 2003, Koh showed investors Singapore Airlines could weather the severe acute respiratory syndrome crisis by announcing plans to buy new planes not long after the company recorded its first ever quarterly loss. And in the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, he successfully raised capital at DBS, reassuring people that the lender had no problem staying afloat.Letting go was also easier for Koh because he has other ways to keep busy. He now spends most of his time at the private equity fund he co-founded, Credence Partners Pte., where he invests in companies in industries from biotechnology to gaming. Recently, he’s benefited from a stake in Razer Inc., the Singaporean PC game gear maker that listed in Hong Kong last year. Koh was also appointed as a director of Singapore’s state fund GIC Pte in August last year.Sunningdale, meanwhile, is now run by Khoo Boo Hor, a 53-year-old who was head of operations when Koh stepped down. Through a series of acquisitions since 2011, he’s built the company into one of the largest plastic precision-manufacturing firms in Singapore, which counts HP Inc. and Royal Philips NV among its biggest customers.M&A SpreeKhoo has no plans to stop the M&A spree. “We’ll continue to explore synergistic acquisitions in order to fuel further growth,” he said in an interview.As for Koh, though he made a break with Sunningdale, he hasn’t completely severed ties. He still chairs the board, where he says he often discusses ways to make sure the firm doesn’t get left behind.“I’ve always thought that the way you run an organization is to put the best people into the job,” he said of the leadership change. “I worked most of my career in professionally managed companies, so it was natural.” For me, “there’s always something else to do.”
Categories: Business News

The tale of INS Khukri and its brave captain

1 hour 48 min ago
BENGALURU: As India celebrates its 72nd Independence Day, here’s a tale of extraordinary courage and selflessness.It’s a tale that has been told before, but there is now more information about the INS Khukri and its Captain, Mahendra Nath Mulla, who died with the ship during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.Commodore (retd) SN Singh, one of the survivors of the tragedy, recalls it was 8.45pm on December 9, right after Akashvani broadcast that two torpedoes from PNS Hangor had hit the ship. Mulla realised the ship could not be saved and gave the command to abandon ship. Six officers and 61 men survived that fateful night. 18 officers and 178 men died. The most poignant moment for those who survived was the sight of the 45-year-old Capt Mulla on the bridge, puffing his cigarette as the ship went down. Embracing the best of naval traditions, Mulla chose not to save himself.A TOI report dated Dec 11, 1971, titled 'Captain goes down after saving shipmates' says, "Many of the younger, inexperienced sailors preferred the false security of the sturdy steel deck of the frigate below their feet to the unknown dangers lurking in the bosom of the sea. There was no confusion, no panic because the Captain's calm transmitted itself to the men." 65412740 The TOI report dated Dec 11, 1971Major General (retd) Ian Cardozo in his book, 'The Sinking of INS Khukri: Survivors’ Stories,' recounts how Mulla exhorted and ensured everyone left the ship. He gave away the last life jacket on board – his own – to a young sailor and said, "Go on, save yourselves, do not worry about me." Despite this, many drowned when they were caught in the whirlpool (suction) created by the sinking ship.Mulla’s act, however, had a worried Indian Navy send out an order to all its officers, "While the highest traditions of a Captain going down with his ship are fully appreciated, the Royal Navy cannot afford to lose experienced commanding officers. They are, therefore, to endeavour to save themselves so that they may live to fight another day." Was INS Khukri unprepared? Could Captain Mulla have done better?After INS Kukhri went down, many stories said that Capt Mulla did not make wise decisions; that his staff was not prepared.However, Commodore (retd) SN Singh, who was then a 20-year-old midshipman, dismisses these stories. "It is ridiculous to say we were not prepared or we were exhausted. We were on high alert and ready for combat. We had just left Bombay Harbour on December 7th evening after a couple of days of rest. We were on 'action stations relaxed,’ when the torpedo hit us," he says. Some naval experts, including Major Cardoza in his book, have wondered whether INS Khukri was hit because it was travelling at 12 knots an hour, while INS Kirpan travelling at 14 knots an hour and in a zigzag pattern was better able to evade torpedoes. Cardoza recounts, "Lieutenant VK Jain, a bright electrical officer, who had researched on an attachment to improve the sonar performance of the 170/174 set on board. It is known that Captain Mulla did not favour this slow speed, but had to give in to this young officer's request."But research now shows neither INS Khukri nor INS Kirpan stood a chance against Pakistan's French Daphne subs with a sonar detection range of 25,000 yards. “Jain was trying to improve the sonar detection capability of the vessel. There was no time for him to experiment at length. The vessel had a detection capability of only 1,500 yards; whereas the Pak submarine, because it’s silent under the ocean, would have been able to hear the approaching ship's engine from as far off as 30 nautical miles. So it was imperative for them to improve their sonar capability," says Cdr (retd) Allan Rodrigues, an anti-submarine warfare expert, who has commanded three warships, including INS Himgiri.And on the decision of Commander Rishi Raj Sood of INS Kirpan to leave and rescue survivors 14 hours later, Rodrigues says, "He would have been a sitting duck had he chosen to remain behind. He didn't have a fighting chance unless he was able to detect the sub. He'd have been fighting in the dark – the Pak sub would have noted the ship's arrival long before the ship was able to detect the sub. It was a prudent decision to go back and come with reinforcements for the search and rescue operations – or it would have been a horrendous loss of life for INS Kirpan too."Did INS Khukri get adequate support from the Western Naval Command (WNC)?Naval experts point to the fact that Pakistan was already well-versed in the art of submarine warfare, having bought its first subs in the early 1960s. India waited till 1968 before making its first purchase from the Soviet Union and started operating a sub fleet as late as 1970. Frigates like Khukri had little in the way of operational experience against the French subs, when they set out for battle in 1971. One of the ways to counter the ships' limited sonar range – between 1,500-2,500 yards (detection range is affected by temperature, pressure and salinity of the deep seas) – was to send out helicopters with dunking sonars ahead to ensure the safety of the ship that followed. "Khukri and Kirpan were not supported by available anti-sub aircraft assets at the time of attack. That evening, two Sea King helicopters with dunking sonars forced PNS Hangor to remain passive. They, however, departed at the end of their sortie, and returned to shore base. PNS Hangor, realising that the Sea Kings had departed, attacked," says Mumbai-based lawyer and military and naval historian, Rabindra Hazari.This gap in the Indian Navy has been noted. In 'Transition to Triumph,’ Vice Admiral (retd) GM Hiranandani quotes 'The Story of the Pakistan Navy,’ to describe the movements of the Pak sub: "At 1915 PNS Hangor went to action stations. Fifteen minutes later she came up to periscope depth but could see nothing in the dark night, as her periscope radar was only 9,800 metres. The ships were completely darkened. Commanding Officer Ahmed Tasnim decided to go down to 55 metres depth and make a sonar approach for the final phase of the attack. Unaware of the submarine’s presence the frigates continued on their track. PNS Hangor fired. The torpedo was tracked but no explosion was heard. A second torpedo was fired. After five tense minutes a tremendous explosion was heard. The torpedo had found its mark."What kind of man was Captain Mulla? Capt Mulla's daughter Ameeta Mulla Wattal also tries to deal with this question in her contribution to Cardozo's book: "I have often wondered what made my father decide to go down with his ship. Did he want his name to be enshrined in history books as a man of valour? Did he do it because it was part of an old archaic naval tradition or did he accompany his ship to the womb of the sea, because he felt it was the right thing to do?"Fellow officers tell us the tale of a man who was brave, inured to hardship, and with an iron will. Commodore Singh recounts his steely calm in the face of tragedy. "He was our infallible Captain, a man we were all proud of." 65412776 Captain Mulla and his wife, Sudha Late Surgeon Commander Dr EJ Job, Mulla’s neighbour in Navy Nagar, Colaba, and then serving on INS Vikrant, in his letters home recounts how he never used to take medication. One of his principles was that the body should get acclimatised to hardship. And Dr Job would joke, "You are going to drive us all out of business."Something that Mulla’s wife Sudha (80) also remembers. "He believed strongly in self-control and his attitude to pain was unbelievable. I once accompanied him to a dentist, when a troublesome tooth had to be removed. The dentist was a young and inexperienced naval dental officer. My husband refused the painkilling injection. The dental officer struggled a great deal to remove the tooth and discovered to his horror, after he had removed it, that he had removed the wrong tooth. I was furious, but Mahendra did not get angry and told the dentist to go ahead and get on with the job of removing the bad tooth, this too without a painkiller. So two teeth were removed without any painkillers and he bore the pain without flinching. The person most affected by this whole episode was the dentist. Mahendra calmly walked out and went to work as if nothing happened."Captain Mulla's legacyIn the last few minutes before he died, Capt Mulla would have known he wouldn’t be the only one among his men to meet that fate. He knew his men were trapped. Men like Commander and engineer MO Oomen, who was last seen rushing to take up his position at the engine room. Men like Lt VK Jain, who was last seen going down to get red and blue colour pencils to plot courses on a chart to illustrate the working range of his improved sonar. Men like Lt Commander and specialist communication officer JK Suri, who was last seen going below deck to fetch more life jackets for the crew."When you call out action station, the ship is in full readiness for combat. Every single man would be at his post. For the sailors and technical crew, this would have been the lower decks of the ship, below the waterline, where the engines and machinery are located. When the torpedo hits, it usually would hit just below the waterline, and the chances of survival for those in the lower decks would be much less than those above. No sailor would dare say this aloud but they would be thinking, "It's easy for you. You are on the bridge." But they never do, because they trust their captain. That is why captains choose to stay back with the ship. It’s on their conscience. He ordered those men to go below deck. Captains are trained never to forsake their men," says Rodrigues.Commodore Singh recalls that the last sight he remembers from that night was his Captain still on duty, still on the bridge."What Capt Mulla did that fateful day has had an enormous and positive impact on the service he loved and on the men who continue to serve it to this day,” says Rodrigues. “It reminds every one of us chosen to command of the qualities of leadership needed under duress, and of the ultimate responsibility we have to the families of the men we command. You never forsake your men, you never leave a man behind."In Mulla’s daughter Ameeta's words, "On December 9, 1971, when his ship was hit, he spared no effort in getting as many sailors and officers to the safety of the lifeboats and the sea. And when he had done his duty he took the decision to go down with his ship. I suppose he saw himself as the master of a ship hundreds of years ago, nurtured by the traditions of the sea that required him to stay with his vessel. Not because it was the right thing to do, nor because it was expected of him, but because knowing him as I did, it was the only thing to do."
Categories: Business News

ALTBalaji aims to break-even in the next 3 years

1 hour 48 min ago
Balaji Telefilms' video on demand platform ALTBalaji plans to invest up to Rs 150 crore a year for the next two-three years, while looking to achieve break- even in thenext three years.The digital platform was launched in April last year and ended the year with over 1.2 million paid subscriptions with 800 million minutes of content watched, with an average watch time of 120 minutes per user, it said.Besides India, the digital platform has acquired customers in over 90 countries and has over 13 million users."We expect to maintain our cash spends on ALTBalaji at Rs 100 crore to Rs 150 crore a year for the next two-three years while revenue scales up, expecting to break-even within the next three years," the company said in the 2017-18 annual report.It expects to be in an investment phase for the over the top (OTT) platform for the next two to three years."ALTBalaji will help position ourselves for further success in the coming years and ride on the growth of digital content consumption for individual audiences worldwide," it added.Reliance Industries had acquired 24.9 per cent stake in the company in July last year at an investment of Rs 413 crore and the content production company had then announced that theinvestment would be utilised to speed up content development initiatives, especially for ALTBalaji, to help it compete with other global and Indian OTTservice providers."We believe ALTBalaji is the future of the company and we will make sizable investments in this segment. We will make continuous but controlled investments in the digital platform and are well funded to make these investments," the company said in the report.The company is debt free and has over Rs 442 crore in mutual fund investments, which will allow it to pursue growth without raising fresh capital, according to the annual report.ALTBalaji has a distribution tie up with telecom and internet service providers and its content is available on Reliance Jio, Airtel TV and Vodafone Play platforms.According to industry estimates, the video viewing audience in India is expected to grow significantly in the near future at a CAGR of over 13 per cent. By 2020, India is expected to become thesecond largest video-audience globally.The online video audience in the country are expected to reach about 500 million by 2020 from 250 million in 2017, a two-fold growth driven by increasing mobile penetration, internet speeds, the advent of 4G and falling data charges, as per the industry estimates.
Categories: Business News

Government notifies incentives to oil PSUs in pre-NELP blocks

1 hour 48 min ago
The government has notified a new policy requiring state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) to pay royalty and cess tax only to the extent of their equity holding in certain pre-1999 oil and gas fields.The 'Policy Framework for Streamlining the Working of Production Sharing Contracts in respect of Pre-NELP and NELP Blocks' was notified in the Gazette of India yesterday, according to the Gazette notification.Till now ONGC and OIL had to pay 100 per cent royalty and cess tax on 11 pre-New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) fields that were given to private firms prior to 1999.The government had awarded some discovered oil and gas fields to private firms in the 1990s with a view to attracting investments in the country.To incentivise such investments, the liability of payment of statutory levies like royalty and cess was put on state-owned firms, who were made licensees of the blocks. ONGC and Oil India Ltd were allowed right to back in or take an interest of 30-40 per cent in the fields, but were liable to pay 100 per cent of the statutory levies.The new rule, which last month approved by the Cabinet, will apply to 11 fields like Dholka field in Gujarat that is operated by Joshi Oil and Gas. It will also apply to Hindustan Oil Exploration Company (HOEC)-operated PY-1 field in Cauvery basin."In pre-NELP exploration blocks, the National Oil Companies, as Licensee are liable for payment of royalty, cess and other statutory charges on entire production of oil and gas."To facilitate further investments, the Government has decided that the contractors in pre-NELP exploration blocks will be allowed to share the liability of the statutory levies including royalty, cess and any other charges in proportion to their respective participating interests (PIs) in the block," the notification said.All the constituents of the blocks would become licensees and payments made towards such statutory levies shall be eligible for cost recovery. It means that like capital and operating expense, the statutory levies can now be first recovered from the sale of hydrocarbons before sharing the profits with the government.These are the same conditions that ONGC had insisted upon in 2010 when Vedanta bought Cairn Energy plc's 70 per cent stake in the prolific Barmer basin oil block in Rajasthan. ONGC, which held 30 per cent stake in the block, gave approval to the deal only when Vedanta agreed to pay royalty and cess on its 70 per cent share.Royalty for onland block is presently 20 per cent. An equivalent amount of cess is also levied.Also, the notification extended the time period given to oil and gas companies to develop hydrocarbon blocks in the northeast. Production from these blocks will be linked to market prices of natural gas.It also extended tax benefits under Section 42 of Income Tax, 1961 prospectively to operational blocks under pre-NELP discovered fields for the extended period of the contract.Section 42 of Income Tax allows the companies to claim 100 per cent of expenditure incurred under a production sharing contract (PSC) as tax deductible for computing taxable income in the same year.While signing PSC of pre-NELP discovered fields, 13 contracts out of 28 contracts did not have provision for tax benefit under Section 42 of Income-tax Act. Now, this will bring uniformity and consistency in PSCs and provide an incentive to the contractor to make an additional investment during the extended period of PSC, it said.The approvals given are expected to help in ensuring the expeditious development of hydrocarbon resources.
Categories: Business News

From Ludhiana to UK: The incredible story of an IIT graduate

4 hours 50 min ago
How would you react when the rogue driver of a cab you hired dumps you midway? A young IIT grad used that experience to launch one of the world's biggest ride-hailing companies. Ola founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal once rented a car for a weekend trip with friends to Bandipur from Bengaluru. The driver stopped the car in Mysore and wanted to be paid more. Aggarwal and his friends had to cover the rest of the distance by bus.Founded in 2011 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, Ola is now headed to the UK after expanding to Australia a few months ago. According to market intelligence firm KalaGato, Ola increased its market share in India from 53% in July 2017 to 56.2% in December while its rival Uber’s share slipped from 42% to 39.6%. Ola saw its losses widening to Rs 4,897.8 crore during 2016-17 but its total income grew 70 per cent. In July this year, Ola crossed a major milestone by starting to make money on each cab ride. That's a significant achievement because at the peak of the ride-hailing battle in 2015 and 2016, the companies were losing Rs 100-200 per ride.Aggarwal, just 32 years old, was born in Ludhiana to doctor parents; grew up in Afghanistan and the UK; and reached IIT-Bombay to study computer science via Kota, India's coaching hub for admission to top tech courses. After a stint at Microsoft, Aggarwal and his friend from IIT Jodhpur-born Ankit Bhati started a tech platform Olatrips.com to book cabs for outstation trips. When Aggarwal explained his business model to his family, they asked if he was going to open a travel agency. They didn't understand why Aggarwal would leave his cushy job at Microsoft to become a travel agent. But they let him experiment.Aggarwal and Bhati started out in 2011 from a 1 BHK office in Powai, Mumbai. The office functioned as the work space for their drivers during the day and for them at night. Not many were buying their holiday trips. They were trying to do for cabs what Makemytrip was doing for air travel and Redbus for buses. But they had to shut that in four months. We realized the real pain point was city travel. The realisation deepened with Aggarwal's experience with the rogue taxi driver in Bengaluru. They shifted to car rentals and started operating from a 100-square-foot office in the basement of a half-empty shopping center called Dreamz Mall. "When asked where our office was, we’d say ‘Dreamz Mall’. People invariably asked, ‘Dream Small?”’ Bhati, now chief technology officer of Ola, had told Bloomberg. Indeed, it was a small dream that the duo turned into a mega reality. In 2012, Aggarwal and Bhati began offering rides on demand to customers who called them on phone. There were times when Aggarwal had to pitch in for drivers. he would borrow the car from his girlfriend, who is now his wife, to pick up a client. Soon they launched their smartphone app. When they received a $5 million investment from Tiger Global Management in the same year, they knew they had got it cracked. When Aggarwal started meeting investors, he was a total greenhorn in the world of business. Ola's first round of funding was an angel round and it was by far the toughest funding round they did. Rehan Yar Khar, Anupam Mittal, Snapdeal's Kunal Bahl, among others, were Ola's initial investors. "Back then taxis were not glamorous. We were doing just a few rides a day.I remember an angel investor asked me to send across our “org structure“ and I had no clue. I went back and Googled it; that's how naive I was. I had no clue what topline and bottomline were in the context of business. I was a techie and was into coding and the business side was completely alien to me," Aggarwal told TOI.But it wasn't easy for them to scale up Ola operations. Aggarwal has said it took him three years to convince even his wife to use Ola. She would tell him "nahi mein kaali peeli use karloongi,” referring to the typical black-and-yellow Mumbai taxis. When two years, Ola got funding from Silicon Valley’s Sequoia Capital and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., Ola had really arrived. Today, Ola has more than 6,000 employee and operates in 110 cities with a million drivers.When Ola reached Aggarwal's hometown Ludhiana, his parents got to know in quite a dramatic fashion. Their driver quit, bought his own car and registered with Ola. Aggarwal told Bloomberg that his mother was upset first. Then she downloaded her son’s app and learned to summon a car whenever she wanted one. “She feels liberated,” Aggarwal said.Sachin Bansal, the founder of Flipkart, who had a similar run to amazing success once wrote this on Aggarwal in Time magazine: “For those who meet Bhavish Aggarwal for the first time, his polite, soft-spoken demeanor is impossible to forget. Get to know him a little more and you will soon notice his vision, passion and determination to stand against all odds. After all, he co-founded Ola, one of the world’s largest ride-sharing companies, scaled it to more than 100 Indian cities, empowered millions of driver-partners and commuters, and is a flag bearer for India’s consumer-tech ecosystem all by the age of 32.”
Categories: Business News

NPCI blames Cosmos Bank for Malware attacks

4 hours 50 min ago
The National Payments Council of India (NPCI) on Wednesday blamed the Cosmos Bank's "own IT environment" for the unprecedented cyber loot 65411640 which left the Pune-based bank poorer by Rs 94.42 crore.In a statement, the NPCI's Head Risk Management, Bharat Panchal, said "the NPCI's systems are fully secure and this particular issue has occurred within the (Cosmos Bank's) own IT environment."This has happened due to malware-based attack on the bank's IT system which has caused a fraud. Under the attack, maximum transactions have been reported from outside India," Panchal pointed out.He reiterated that the systems of NCPI - the umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India - were absolutely secure and it was continuously monitoring the situation arising out of the Cosmos Bank episode.The Indian banking industry went in shudders on Tuesday after the Cosmos Bank admitted that it fell victim to an international group of hackers who siphoned off a total of Rs 94.24 crore in two cyber attacks on August 11 and August 13.In the first cyber hit, the bank lost Rs 80.50 crore through multiple ATM swipes in 28 countries. In the second malware assault, the hackers gobbled up Rs 13.92 crore by initiating SWIFT transfers.Kale said that after the malware attack on the critical communication system between various payment gateways was hacked, the hackers' gangs were informed simultaneously in 28 countries and they immediately started the withdrawals.Pending investigations, the country's second oldest and second largest cooperative bank (in terms of deposits and advances) has now shut all ATMs across the country for two days till Thursday to prevent any further incidents.Banking experts and industry players fear this could be a 'pilot run' unless the authorities take it seriously.The consolation was the Cosmos Bank Chairman Milind A. Kale's statement that none of the bank's 20 lakh customer accounts have been affected nor would they bear any loss.
Categories: Business News

Prateek raises Rs 275 cr from Piramal group firm for Ghaziabad housing project

4 hours 50 min ago
Realty firm Prateek Group has raised Rs 275 crore from Piramal Capital and Housing Finance for its ongoing 40-acre housing project at Ghaziabad. In August 2014, the Noida-based developer had launched 'Prateek Grand City' project at Siddharth Vihar in Ghaziabad with an estimated investment of Rs 5,000 crore. "We have raised Rs 275 crore from Piramal for our Grand City project," Prateek Group Chairman Prashant Tiwari told . The company would develop 7,000 units in this project in two phases. "We have launched the first phase of 4,500 units. About 3,000 units have already been sold despite demand slowdown," he said, adding that the company would deliver the first phase by 2019-end. In the first phase, the company launched units in the price range of Rs 28-63 lakh. Piramal Group had earlier invested Rs 200 crore in another residential project of Prateek Group 'Prateek Edifice' at Noida's sector 107. "This project is near completion. We will soon give exit to Piramal Group in this project by repaying their investments," he added. Prateek Group is developing various projects in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad. Piramal Capital and Housing Finance is funding in a big way to real estate developers, which are facing cash-crunch because of sluggish housing sales. The real estate market, especially residential segment, is facing a multi-year slowdown. Lakhs of buyers in Delhi-NCR region are stuck in projects of many developers including Jaypee group, Amrapali, Unitech and The 3C Company.
Categories: Business News

PVR aims Rs 500-cr revenue from SPI Cinemas by FY20

4 hours 50 min ago
Multiplex chain PVR Ltd is eyeing Rs 500 crore revenue from South India-based SPI Cinemas, which the former is in the process of acquiring, by financial year 2019-20. SPI Cinemas, which operates 76 screens across 17 properties in 10 cities under several brands Sathyam, Escape, Palazzo, The Cinema, S2 Cinema, has reported revenue of Rs 309.6 crore in 2017-18. "We expect SPI Cinema acquisition to contribute Rs 500 crore revenue by financial year 2020. We also expect this acquisition to help us diversify content risk further with good mix of regional, Bollywood and Hollywood films," Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures & Head of Strategy and Planning, told analysts in a conference call. Earlier this week, PVR announced it is acquiring 71.69 per cent stake in SPI Cinemas for about Rs 633 crore in an all cash deal. The company's board also approved the issuance of 1.6 million shares of PVR for the residual stake. The company said that acquisition is in line with the its continual growth and expansion strategy and will help it achieve its vision of having 1,000 screens by financial year 2020. Post the transaction, PVR will have 706 screens operational across the country and the company said this acquisition will make it number 1 operator in top 3 cities of South India -- Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. When asked if the company is looking at more acquisition opportunities, he said: "We are very conscious of (acquiring a player) that is a perfect fit in terms of quality and value proposition. There are not too many opportunities out there now...but if something comes our way we will look at it." In March this year, PVR has said it is evaluating acquisition opportunities of cinema exhibition chains and plans to raise up to Rs 1,000 crore, to carry out the transaction, through issuance of non convertible debentures (NCDs). In 2016, PVR had also acquired 32 screens of DT cinemas from realty major DLF for Rs 433 crore. PVR operates over 600 screens in 52 cities in India.
Categories: Business News

What you should know about the Rs 94 crore Pune bank hacking

7 hours 50 min ago
Hackers targeted an 112-year-old Pune bank, Cosmos, last week in a multi-pronged attack to transfer over Rs 94 crore over multiple days to foreign bank accounts. About Rs 78 crore was withdrawn in more than 12,000 ATM transactions in 28 countries between 3 pm and 10 pm, India time, on Saturday. Another 2,800 transactions were made in different places within India, amounting to about Rs 2.5 crore, during the same period. On Monday, Rs 13.5 crore was transferred to a Hong Kong-based entity using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunications (SWIFT) facility.The highly orchestrated event, according to some experts, could be the handiwork of Lazarus, North Korea's most prolific hacking group that has pulled off some audacious attacks around the globe -- from leaking and destroying Sony Pictures' data to siphoning of tens of millions of dollars from banks in Poland and Bangladesh. What did hackers do exactly?Payment experts said the fraud involved breaching the firewall in servers that authorize ATM transactions. After this, a proxy server was created and transactions authorized by the fake or proxy server. This meant that the ATMs were being directed to release money without checking whether the cards were genuine or whether there was a bank account.The FBI had warned global banks that cyber criminals are planning a choreographed, global fraud known as an "ATM cash-out". An ATM cash-out refers to a highly orchestrated event where a bank or a card payment processor is compromised and the unauthorized access is misused to withdraw cash within hours. International media had reported details of the FBI warning on Monday by which time Cosmos Bank had already been defrauded."The FBI has obtained unspecified reporting indicating cyber criminals are planning to conduct a global automated teller machine (ATM) cash-out scheme in the coming days, likely associated with an unknown card issuer breach and commonly referred to as an 'unlimited operation'," reads a confidential alert the FBI shared with banks reported first by KrebsonSecurity, a site which reports on cybercrime."The cyber criminals typically create fraudulent copies of legitimate cards by sending stolen card data to co-conspirators who imprint the data on reusable magnetic strip cards, such as gift cards purchased at retail stores," the FBI warned. "At a pre-determined time, the co-conspirators withdraw account funds from ATMs using these cards."According to the report, all cashout operations take place on weekends after banks close for business.Is depositor money safe?1) The account holders money is safe now and in the future, says the bank, as the proxy switch was operative on the payment gateway, not the core banking system. 2) The bank has appointed a professional forensic agency to investigate the attack3) The servers, internet, banking, mobile banking and ATMs have been suspended4) The bank said it will take 3-4 switch to become operationalCosmos chairman Milind Kale said that depositors would not be hit. “Our security systems have not been compromised. It was as late as in July 2018 when the RBI inspected the bank’s IT robustness and it has also sent about four officials who are examining the extent of damage.” he said. MD Suhas Gokhale sent out an SMS to customers saying the attack was “not at all” on the core banking system where accounts are maintained.Inspector Vaishali Galande told TOI: “We have registered a case under the IT Act and penal offences against unidentified persons.” The cyber crime cell is likely to take over the probe.Kale said, “The bank turned off its servers and all internet banking applications after noticing several erratic and abnormally high transactions. These transactions happened over two hours and 13 minutes and were spread across 28 countries where cloned cards were used to debit several amounts ranging from $100 (Rs 6,900) to $2,500 (Rs 1.7 lakh).” He said the bank turned off the system related to international switch transactions soon after. “In one of these transactions, the amount was as high as $11,000 (Rs 7.6 lakh).” The RBI alerted the bank about unusual transactions, it said. Kale said, “We will have to work with different countries. Withdrawals appear to have actually happened and getting back funds will depend on coordination with several agencies.”
Categories: Business News

The little known entity that's pulling Re down

7 hours 50 min ago
65407572 65405728 65404752 Mumbai: Why is the rupee cratering because global investors are taking a dim view of Turkey’s twin deficits — fiscal and current account — and hammering the lira down? Why did the rupee tank when the Indonesian rupiah, the Russian ruble, the South African rand and the Argentine peso took deep dives at various points of time over the last five years or so (see graphic)?Answer: A relatively little-talkedabout financial innovation that took off around a decade back in India magnifies the transmission effect of swings in even non-major currencies. That innovation is the overseas market for non-deliverable forwards (NDF). NDF is an over-the-counter market and it allows hedging options to overseas portfolio investors with one big advantage over domestic derivatives market – the foreign bank that you cut a derivative deal with won’t require the kind of documentation mandatory in India, provided the hedger is known to the bank. NDF works 24×7 across the world. It is most active in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, London, the US and parts of Europe. This is how it works: NDF market offers a platform for hedging and for speculative bets. So when, say, Turkey’s lira is plunging, those who want to hedge or speculate will bet on the rupee weakening, because the dollar is likely to strengthen, and they will sell dollars relatively expensive in NDF – the payoff will be buying dollars cheap in India’s domestic spot market. 65410397 NDF has Grown ConsistentlyThe return is in the spread or the differential.The more this happens, the more the incentive for hedgers and speculators to buy dollar in the local market, the greater the pressure on the rupee. Basically, NDF puts pressure on the rupee in the offshore market overnight, and that reflects back in the domestic spot pricing next day morning.Because NDF operates 24x7 in major financial markets around the world, it offers great operational ease for those taking these bets. And NDF has grown consistently. Data on size of NDF market is not readily available but foreign exchange traders say the growth has been brisk for Indian turnover.Research by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy show India’s turnover in the NDF market was at $16.5 billion in 2016, which was 16.7% higher than 2013 level. BRICS currencies formed around 35% of NDF in 2016.Those working at the sharp end of the foreign exchange market agree. “NDF market is the key interlinkage between offshore and onshore markets as its size has expanded in the past one decade,” said Anindya Banerjee, currency analyst at Kotak Securities. He explained that global investors first react through offshore selloff whenever sentiment turns against an emerging market currency. Hence, the rupee becomes vulnerable whenever any other emerging market currency slumps against the dollar, Banerjee said. Jayesh Mehta, head of treasury at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, says it doesn’t matter much whether a currency is convertible – the rupee isn’t – “NDF market for most currencies can be found in major global hubs”.Mehta says when there’s a major loss in an emerging market portfolio basket, like in the case of lira now, “investors realign and rebalance their investments”. The flight to safety strengthens dollar, and NDF allows super quick hedges or bets against other emerging market currencies.Or as B Prasanna, head of markets & proprietary trading at ICICI Bank, put it: “At times, short-term sentiment gets reflected through exaggerated moves in currency markets” and because regulatory and timing arbitrage exist in India, “offshore markets (NDF) play a pivotal role in price discovery in the short term”.India has decoupled itself from the Fragile Five category. But thanks to NDF, whenever there’s trouble in a middling economy and its currency takes a hit, the flight to dollar hits the rupee hard through offshore trades.
Categories: Business News

Can India really put a man in space by 2022?

7 hours 50 min ago
In his fifth and final Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined an ambitious plan for India in space technology. An Indian astronaut, be it a man or a woman, will go on a space odyssey by 2022 on board 'Gaganyaan', he told a packed audience. Till now, only Russia, US and China have been able to conduct independent human space missions. Modi's deadline may be tight, but scientists at ISRO believe it is possible. "A very, very tight schedule, but ISRO will do it by 2022," Dr K Sivan, Isro, was quoted as saying in an NDTV report.India's premier space agency has already carved out a niche in the commercial satellite space, its recent fame being the cheapest successful Mars mission. A human space mission is the next big step and it is already on the job.Isro has roped in Indian Air Force pilots to identify the first set of astronauts for a human space flight. IAF pilot Rakesh Sharma was the only Indian to have travelled in space. He flew aboard the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 in 1984. Kalpana Chawla, one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, was an American astronaut of Indian origin. 65409704 Isro recently tested a crew escape system (CES), which is a capsule that ejects from a rocket if it explodes on the launch pad.The CES is a series of technology building blocks that Isro is developing for an eventual mission to carry astronauts to space. It is a crucial emergency escape measure designed to quickly pull the spacecraft that houses the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a rocket explosion.Isro has so far built a capsule that can re-enter from space, space suits, food for astronauts in collaboration with Defence Research and Development Organisation, and is working on an astronaut-training facility on the outskirts of Bengaluru.However, the agency also needs to build the right environmental control facilities that can house three astronauts in the capsule.So far, the government has granted Rs 145 crore to do initial studies for a manned mission to space. According to reports, it is yet to approve the project that could potentially cost over $2 billion. “This is a developmental activity that eventually will be used for a human spaceflight,” AS Kiran Kumar, former chairman of Isro, said. He said a human space flight is an expensive proposition and lots of space faring activities could be done through robotic missions or unmanned flights.India has been working on human space flight for over a decade, but it still does not have a rocket powerful enough to carry astronauts into space.Isro is operationalising its geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle Mk-3 (GSLV-MK-3) later this year. This rocket could potentially carry around eight tonnes spacecraft to lower earth orbit. However, it has to be human rated or make it so safe that the possibility of error could be one in a million.
Categories: Business News

New enemy of outsourcing: DIY by banks

7 hours 50 min ago
BENGALURU: Here’s the big reason why most of the big IT services companies are still struggling to accelerate: Many large banks have got into a do-it-yourself mode for their IT. Where once they outsourced work, they are now choosing to do more of it in-house, mostly in their own global inhouse centres (GICs) in countries like India.The financial vertical has long been the bread & butter of the IT services business, but the sector’s contribution to overall revenue has fallen for most of the big vendors over the past few years.For TCS, financial services was 33.4% of overall revenue in 2016-17 — it was down to 31.1% in the last quarter. For Cognizant, it’s down 3 percentage points in the past two years, and for Infosys it’s down 1.4 percentage points. 65409509 There are also no signs of a reversal in this trend. In the last quarter, TCS’ financial services vertical grew at 4% year-on-year, when its overall revenue grew 10%. The corresponding figures for Cognizant were 4.5% and 9.2%, and for Infosys 2% and 6.8%. Compared to the preceding quarter too, growth was anaemic, far lower than the overall quarter-on-quarter growth, suggesting that the sector continues to weigh on the IT industry.At the last quarter earnings announcement, Infosys COO U B Pravin Rao admitted as much when he said the company had a negative impact in the quarter from two of its clients due to insourcing. The company’s revenue from financial services declined by 1.5% compared to the preceding quarter. HCL Technologies’ revenue from the financial vertical shrunk by 1.4% in the June quarter and the company said it was due to some of its clients insourcing work Neither Rao nor HCL named the clients that are insourcing, but it is possible to make some guesses based on who outsources to whom.‘Bank IT staff more efficient than outsourced employees’Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Citibank and UBS have been some of the biggest outsourcers of IT, according to IT advisory firms TOI spoke to. Deutsche Bank has an annual outsourcing spend of $6 billion and counts DXC, IBM, Atos, Wipro and Infosys as IT partners. Bank of America outsources $5 billion of IT annually and has contracts with IBM, Accenture, Infosys and TCS, among others. Citibank is estimated to outsource between $1.1 billion and $1.5 billion, to vendors including TCS, Wipro, HCL and NTT Data. UBS outsources about $1 billion and its vendors include Capgemini, Epam, Luxoft, HCL and Genpact.All of these financial institutions are now insourcing, as also those like RBS, Credit Suisse, ANZ. “Citi had sold their captive business to TCS and Wipro (in 2008) and now they again have a captive business with 4,500 people in Pune alone, and plan to be 8,000-strong there,” said an industry executive who did not want to be named. Citi has centres in Pune, Mumbai and Chennai, employing about 16,000 people, and is growing everywhere. Citi declined to provide a comment for the story.A UBS spokesperson disputed the outsourcing figure provided by third parties to TOI, but acknowledged that the bank had insourced around 2,000 jobs in the last six months, with the primary objective of improving effectiveness and efficiency. The spokesperson said, “UBS’ business solution centres abroad and in Switzerland have grown in recent years. We now have a global and consistent network that includes India, the US, Poland, and China, as well as the nearshore centres in Switzerland (Schaffhausen, Biel and Ticino). This has created the conditions for insourcing where it makes sense.”The bank told TOI that one of the main reasons for insourcing is that it wants to retain and strengthen strategic and market-differentiating expertise within the bank — activities that differentiate the bank as a financial services provider from its competitors. “In the technology area, there are topics such as blockchain, digitisation or artificial intelligence. Or operational activities that generate added value for our clients. Or also positions in research, analytics, finance and risk management,” the spokesperson said, with reference to strategic and market differentiating areas. 65409518 Deutsche Bank declined to provide a comment for this story. But former Deutsche Bank COO Kim Hammonds told TOI last year that when she came to the bank in 2013, about 80% of the tech was outsourced, and she had since brought it down to 50%. The bank had during that period hired some 4,500 engineers, many of them in its India technology centre. Hammonds, who left the bank in May, had told TOI that she intended to insource some more.Deval Shah, MD of Danske Bank’s IT and support services centre in India, said a lot of the banks have started realising that their productivity is much higher when they insource. “In this day of digitisation, the time to market is very important. So now when we are working in a very agile environment, with the business, with IT, the ability of your own IT staff to comprehend the business is 10 times more than the ability of a contractor to understand the business. I don’t see vendors building that kind of expertise to help any bank reduce their time to market,” he said.As for the traditional areas of IT, where vendors have expertise, much of it is getting automated. And even that work some banks are choosing to do in-house. “Service providers that do billing on FTE (hours worked by one employee on a full-time basis) have no motivation to do automation. We (Danske India) are not a revenue centre, but a value centre. From our perspective, we are always focused on automation,” said Shah. The Danish bank had in 2006 outsourced much of its IT to L&T Infotech, but took back the entire operation in 2014, and has since been building up its own centre in India.Phil Fersht, CEO of IT research firm HFS Research, said a study they had done with KPMG on the state of outsourcing found only 30% are seeking to renew similar contracts with their current providers, while a similar percentage will only stay with their current provider if they can shift to more outcome-based pricing and have more automation to reduce cost and headcount. Another 44% will either pull work back in-house or change provider.Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of IT research & consulting firm Everest Group, said the Indian players have been living in denial. “They have all been forecasting good years in banking and we have been telling them that for many reasons this was unlikely to happen. The banks’ GICs have matured and they are clearly growing them at the expense of third parties. For some functions, they are also bringing work back on-shore and this work they are keeping in-house. They have largely decided that they like the big Indian firms as their legacy (partners to maintain their traditional IT),” he said.Bendor-Samuel said that even when companies are seeing some growth in the financial services vertical, it’s coming from areas other than banking — for instance, TCS’ deals in insurance, including the $2-billion Transamerica deal.However, K Krithivasan, president of the banking and financial services business unit of TCS, said that things are changing even in banking, with players moving from a compliance mindset to a growth mindset. Banks, especially those in Europe, have been bogged down in dealing with compliance issues, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), forcing them to take their eye away from IT investments. “Banks that are focusing on leveraging technology for growth and transformation are engaging with us very strongly because of our investment in cloud, AI, automation and location-independent agile,” Krithivasan said.But as the European banks return to IT investments, the big question is, will they prefer to do more of it in-house? The message from Deutsche, Danske and UBS — as indeed the American banks — isn’t good for Indian IT.
Categories: Business News

High debt, cash burn could spur telcos to hike tariffs: HDFC Sec

7 hours 50 min ago
Mumbai: Reliance Industries’ telecom venture Jio’s performance has been praiseworthy in the financial year ended March 2018 and so is the cash burn, said HDFC Securities.The brokerage said that Jio, which has spent Rs 2.4 trillion cumulatively up to financial year 2017-18 in becoming a digital behemoth, is likely to spend an additional Rs 400 to Rs 500 billion in capital expenditure in the current financial year, and another Rs 150-200 billion to acquire the telecom assets of Reliance Communications.Investments may also be required on fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) subscriber’s acquisition, said HDFC Securities.With high debt and cash burn for all the telecom companies including Jio, HDFC Securities believes that the three players may raise tariffs which could be positive for the sector.“Jio may continue to fund the cash burn from its robust oil and gas cash flows and thereby corner the competition. With high stakes in the business by the trio (Jio, Bharti and Idea-Vodafone) and possibility of capital infusion, we have pinned our hope on improvement in industry dynamics,” said HDFC Securities.The Vodafone-Idea combination may pull up the competitive ante as the merger consummates to regain the lost momentum, said the brokerage.
Categories: Business News

Gaganyaan to take Indian astronaut to space by 2022

10 hours 50 min ago
An Indian astronaut, be it a man or a woman, will go on a space odyssey by 2022 on board 'Gaganyaan', Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day address here. He said when India celebrates 75th year of Independence in 2022, "and if possible even before, an Indian son or daughter" will undertake a manned space mission on board 'Gaganyaan' "carrying the national flag". Chandrayaan-1 was India's first lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008 and operated until August 2009. Mangalyaan is another Indian space project. The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, is a space probe orbiting Mars since September 24, 2014.
Categories: Business News

Facebook to stream La Liga Live in India this season

10 hours 50 min ago
In a move that should worry traditional sports broadcasters in the country, Facebook on Monday announced the acquisition of media rights for the Indian subcontinent of Spanish football league, La Liga — one of the most watched football leagues and home of popular clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The social networking site, which has 270 million subscribers in the country as per La Liga, plans to live stream all the 380 matches of the league kicking off the season this Friday. The matches will be streamed free of cost here.Peter Hutton, head of global live sports programming at Facebook, chose to downplay the development saying it was an experiment for Facebook and the company is not going aggressively after sports rights. However, Facebook’s failed attempt to grab the digital rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year for a whopping Rs 3,900 crore is considered a sure sign of the company’s intent.“That bid (IPL) was before my joining Facebook. It’s not about going and acquiring rights of everything. We are looking at a few opportunities in multiple markets,” said Hutton, who moved in May this year from Discovery Communications, where he was heading Eurosports as its CEO.He refused to share financial details of the three-year deal with La Liga, but said that with the pay TV market in India changing, football rights are not as costly as they were earlier.Previous rights holder Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), which had rights of La Liga for three seasons, had paid around $18 million (approximately Rs 120 crore) to broadcast the matches for three years. It is learned that Facebook has done the deal for $24 million.“This is an experiment and it will allow the company to study the market. It is important for us to find the way with changing times,” Hutton said.“India is a very important market and we are looking at different models here. The good news is that all matches are going to be free and that’s what appeals to me most as it will bring in a lot of new audience.”As the company has not launched its video service — Facebook Watch — in India, the matches and programming around it will be aired live on La Liga’s official page on the social networking site, as well as the respective club’s pages.
Categories: Business News

Has doing business in India really got easier? Find out

19 hours 55 min ago
Would it be easier to do business in India on August 15, 2018, than it was on August 15, 2017? The World Bank’s (WB) Ease of Doing Business rankings, to be released later this year, could well have the last word. Despite some nitpicking over its methodology, the political establishment takes it quite seriously. The rankings have a brand value, making policymakers a trifle nervous.In their informal interactions with the WB team, policymakers have underscored the need to close the gap between WB’s ‘perception’ and ‘reality’, especially in areas like trade facilitation, even as trade wars threaten supply disruptions. Rightly so, if backed by empirical evidence to show that port operations have, indeed, become more efficient, customs procedures are less time-consuming, and documentation requirements have been made simple.Last year, India jumped 30 places to be ranked 100 in the index that measures 10 parameters across 190 nations. The target is to come within the top 50. Hard reforms — rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to resolve corporate distress — will further improve our business friendliness quotient. Rankings have already moved up in ‘paying taxes’ and ‘resolving insolvency’.Trading across borders is the third area that India, which has adopted WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement on cross-border commerce in goods, is hoping to show significant improvements. The WB’s doing business team measures the time and cost — of documentary and border compliances, and domestic transport — for import or export of goods, based on a survey with ‘private contributors and experts’. Tariffs are kept out.Its findings showed that the total time for clearance of imported goods (shown by only auto components) was about 267 hours: 71hours for customs clearance and 196 hours for port handling. India claims that this is way off reality. Three recent studies showed that the ground reality was actually significantly better than the one depicted by the WB survey.Astudy by the Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals for the January-March 2018 period revealed an average time of only 40 hours for port and border handling. The findings — through an radio frequency identification (RFID)-based tracker installed in containers — by the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation showed that container clearances took about half the time the WB survey presented.Athird, Time Release 2018, study by the Jawaharlal Nehru Custom House showed that the average release time was less than half of WB’s assessment of release time for auto components imported from South Korea.IT systems enable digital footprints to be made available in the whole chain of import clearance. GoI’s rationale that it provides indisputable evidence on the time taken for clearances is sound. These studies also show areduction in the costs associated with clearances.Hopefully, WB will give due weightage to such evidence, wherever available in its rankings. More so where the perception is so widely divergent from reality. Countries like China, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam have also voiced similar concerns on WB’s perception on some other parameters.Of course, India still has a distance to go to meet the targets proposed for clearances in the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan. The Time Release Study showed the average time for clearing import consignments at around 144 hours, against the proposed target of 72 hours. Similarly, the average time taken to clear export consignment is about 84 hours, against the target of 48 hours.Agencies like the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, which give clearance to imported food items, should do away with cumbersome procedures and invest in riskbased analysis. Creating food-testing facilities close to the ports makes sense. Trade facilitation should also see physical inspection give way to electronic filings and risk-based physical checks.Robust infrastructure at seaports, airports, land customs, good roads and rail connectivity will help. So would timely filing by traders.Economies with efficient trading environments share common features. Traders are allowed to exchange information with customs electronically. And risk-based assessments are used to limit physical inspections to asmall slice of shipments, lowering customs clearance time and making exports competitive. India has the capacity to achieve this.Things must also be made better outside New Delhi and Mumbai, the only two cities that come under WB’s index radar. A weak point is enforcing contracts and fixing that requires judicial reforms across the board. Reforms, at the state level, to ensure faster regulatory clearances are necessary.As the stubbornly slow bureaucracy seems to be changing, is a change in perception lagging behind reality? Either way, India has its task cut out to bridge the gap between expectation, perception and reality.
Categories: Business News

Why Aero India took off from Bengaluru

19 hours 55 min ago
BENGALURU: The tech city that is also home to India’s aerospace industry should continue to host Aero India, say experts, even as the political slugfest continues over whether the country’s flagship air show will be shifted from Bengaluru to Lucknow. Union minister Ananth Kumar, who represents Bengaluru South in Parliament, dismissed talks about the venue shift as rumour, even as the Centre has not been explicit yet in communicating which of the two cities will hold the show.Bengaluru, for nearly two decades, has been home to the aero show where global aerospace and defence manufacturers display their latest wares such as fighter aircraft, cargo planes and defence equipment and look to sell to India’s defence and paramilitary forces.Aero India has also been a platform for India to showcase the locally developed Tejas light combat aircraft and the Advanced Light Helicopter to the world.“Aero India was started in Bengaluru because the city was a hub of the Indian aerospace industry,” said Air Marshal BK Pandey, who retired as the head of the IAF’s training command in Bengaluru. The show, which started as a privately organised event — Avia India in 1993, at the Yelahanka Airbase — was soon taken over by the Ministry of Defence, as it looked to make the event as popular as those in Dubai, Farnborough and Paris.Since 1996, it has been a biennial event, attracting global firms such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Rafale and Russia’s JSC Sukhoi to be regular participants. The defence ministry also looked at the evolving aerospace industry — the development of ALH by public sector Hindustan Aeronautics and Tejas by the Aeronautical Development Agency — in Bengaluru to base the event. The city is also home to the country’s space programme.At that time, Bengaluru had not seen the outsourcing boom that has led it to the metropolis of today. The air show has also had spinoff benefits. A majority of the global aerospace firms including aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus and engine manufacturers Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and General Electric have their research and development facilities in Bengaluru. The city has also seen several space startups emerge over the last few years.“The government may now have its own reason to consider a change: it takes long hours to move from the city to the Yelahanka air force station; and civilian air traffic is increasing year after year. The international airport operations are in conflict with the Yelahanaka air force station operations. And, a second runway is also coming up (at the civilian airport). Therefore, there may be a case to consider an alternative location,” said Pandey. “But, the alternative location must be suitable for holding an event of this scale. You cannot relocate to another place driven by political interest.”An executive of a global aerospace firm said companies plan at least a year in advance to participate in an air show in a city. “You can’t shift to a new city just six months before the show. The logistics involved is huge,” said the executive, who did not want to be named.Ajay A Prabhu, COO of Quest Global Engineering Services, which works with global engine makers, said Bengaluru is the aerospace hub and he bats for the city to continue hosting the event.
Categories: Business News

New norms notified for ATM cash loading

19 hours 55 min ago
NEW DELHI: The home ministry has notified rules relating to cash loading of ATMs and cash transportation, directing that no ATM should be replenished with cash after 9 pm in cities and no cash van should carry more than Rs 5 crore on a single trip.It also directed personnel deputed on these vans to undergo training in handling situations like an armed assault, tailing by vehicle-borne criminals and insider threat.All persons engaged for cash transportation activities will also have to undergo Aadhaar verification to determine their antecedents, the ministry has said in its order. No ATMs will be cash-loaded in rural areas post 6 pm and cash for loading into an ATM machine will be collected from the bank on the previous day or in the first half of the day, so that operations can be concluded before the stipulated time, it said. ATMs could hence be loaded with enough cash in the last filling of the day for them to last the night, sources said.Security alarms with GSM-based auto-dialer and motorised sirens will be fixed in all cash transportation vans. “This is clearly industry transforming and something we have worked on for and waited for five years,” Rituraj Sinha, managing director of Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) and chairman of FICCI committee on private security, told ET.
Categories: Business News

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