don't just crack CLAT, come hack CLAT with us.
(updated upto January, 2012 - Ramanuj on 1 Feb 2012)
There are two reasons you should be in touch with current affairs.
Reason 1: law entrances - current affairs will be tested - and you have about a hundred blogs keeping you updated on that - not to forget the quizes on CLAThacker.
Reason 2: you real goal is to be a lawyer, and a good one - not just getting through a law school somehow. So I thought, I am going to keep you updated over here about things that matter to lawyers.
Feel free to add things that you consider important for lawyers down there in the comment. Also let me know if you guys like these updates and want me to continue.
I keep adding to this post once in a while - so it gets loner and longer. Do bookmark this page or save the link so that you can come back once a week and see what new stuff I have posted.
Current Affairs that matters - 1
CCI to undertake suo moto probes into anti-trust practices
Under fire for not proactively taking up cases, competition watchdog CCI has now decided to undertake suo moto investigations into anti-trust practices, beginning with key sectors like construction, highways, education and health. The Competition Commission of India (CCI), which became fully functional in May, 2009, has so far taken up only five suo moto cases, including price rise in onions, air tickets and cartelisation of sugar rates.
Epic corporate battle awaits BG stake sale
The race to acquire BG India's 65% stake in the Gujarat Gas Company Ltd (GGCL) has all the makings of an epic corporate battle as foreign energy firms and international private equity players have thrown their hat in the ring to compete with state firms - Adani group and Torrent. French and German energy majors Electricite de France and E.ON and two US- and UK-based PE firms have submitted non-binding bids.
Government to consider proposal for buyback of PSU shares
The government is likely to consider a modified proposal to raise funds through buyback of its equity by state-owned companies to meet the ambitious disinvestment target of Rs 40,000 crore for the current fiscal.
Air asia pulls out of India
Malaysian long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X announced plans to scrap unprofitable routes to Europe and India as it prepares for a planned flotation, citing weak demand and a row over European Union emissions charges.
The decision to scale back will affect flights to Mumbai from January, while services to New Delhi, London and Paris will cease in March.
PE investment at $47 billion in 2011
Private equity firms made investments worth $10.11 billion in India during 2011, taking their total investment over the past five years to about $47 billion, a report by research firm Venture Intelligence says. In 2011, investments worth $10.1 billion were announced by way of 441 deals, compared to $8.1 billion through 362 deals in the previous year. Year-on-year deal activity has witnessed an upsurge despite PE investments witnessing a decline in the October-December period on a quarter-on-quarter basis. PE investment in October-December, 2011, declined to about $1.4 billion across 105 deals from $1.8 billion across 88 transactions in the same period of 2010, largely due to economic uncertainty and the decline in public markets, the report said.
Indian bureaucracy worst in Asia
Indian bureaucracy is the worst in Asia with a 9.21 rating out of 10, according to a report by a prestigious consulting firm based in Singapore. India fared worst than Vietnam (rated at 8.54), Indonesia (8.37), Philippines (7.57) and China (7.11), said the report released today by Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. The report also highlighted onerous and fickle tax, environmental and other regulations that could make business in India "so frustrating and expensive". It said dealing with court system in India was an unattractive option for companies, and would be best to avoid it.
Banks could recast power sector loans
A number of state electricity boards (SEBs) or distribution companies (discoms) which had taken short-term loans from banks for liquidity support have found themselves in no shape to repay as committed. Some requested a loan recast; others are going to be joining the queue. At present, talks are on between the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitaran Nigam and its lenders, and between its counterpart in Tamil Nadu and the latter’s banks. The issue is extension of interest payment schedules, beside increasing the repayment period for the principal sum borrowed.
Government to put a cap on energy usage by companies
Big corporations in India, including Tata Steel, Jindal Power and NTPC, will have to keep a tab on power usage at their plants as the government is setting a cap on the energy consumption of large corporations. According to officials, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has drawn a list of about 477 plants belonging to different corporations and has set targets on their energy consumption. The move is aimed at improving the energy efficiency of the Indian industry. Companies overshooting their cap will be penalised while those achieving the target will be rewarded with tradable permits. The programme is expected to create the world’s largest energy saving certificate-trading platform. Once implemented, companies that achieve their target would be given permits. Corporations that fail to achieve their target have to compensate for their failure by buying permits. If they fail to do either of this, they may have to pay penalties.
Subhiksha file Rs 500 crore defamation claim against Wipro
Subhiksha, the Chennai-based retail chain that suspended operations in 2008 after running out of cash, has filed a Rs 500-crore defamation claim against Wipro chairman Azim Premji. In September 2010, the chain’s promoter, R Subramanian, had sent a legal notice to Premji for his comment in an interview that “investing in Subhiksha was a mistake and a lot of money has been siphoned off”.
Domestic retail players for one single back- end operations
Shrugging off the stonewalled foreign direct investment (FDI) proposal, several domestic retailers are in talks to collaborate for a consolidated back-end, which, when established, will help them reduce costs and improve margins. Three retailers — Spencer’s, Next Retail and Future Group — said they were in talks with various players for a merger of back-end operations.
Government notifies FDI in retail
Notwithstanding its inability to open multi-brand retail for foreign investment, government on Tuesday notified 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail, paving way for global chains like Adidas, Louis Vuitton and Gucci to have full ownership of their India operations. "Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), up to 100 per cent , under the government approval route, would be permitted in single brand product retail trading," a press note by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) said.
Satyam prepares for merger with Tech Mahindra
The civil suit filed by Satyam against its former board of directors, employees and auditors is seen as key to keeping the liability on the alleged wrong-doers alive as the company prepares for merger with Tech Mahindra. Satyam is said to be at an advanced stage of pursuing the merger and an application in the court would always give the combined entity legal authority to pursue the case against the former management.
Telecom regulator guidelines to protect consumers
In an effort to protect the interests of pre-paid mobile services users, telecom regulator Trai Monday said they can now get an itemised bill from service providers on request and at a price not exceeding Rs 50. "To ensure that pre-paid consumers get their itemised usage of their account, the service providers have been mandated to provide the same within 30 days to the consumer on request and at a reasonable cost not exceeding Rs 50," Trai said in its 'Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2012'. According to the regulations, it will be mandatory to provide a start-up kit (SUK) to each subscriber at the time of enrollment to the telecom service provided by an operator, which will include the SIM card and mobile number, besides an abridged version of the citizen's charter provided under the Telecom Consumers Complaint Redressal Regulations, 2012.
India raises Rs 140 billion via bond sale
India on Friday raised Rs 140 billion ($2.66 billion) through sale of bonds, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement. The bank set a cut-off price of 97.53 rupees at the auction of the 7.83 percent 2018 bonds, yielding 8.3406 percent.
Kingfisher is a non performing asset, SBI
State Bank of India, cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines' largest creditor, Thursday called the Vijay Mallya-led air-carrier a non-performing asset (NPA). "Kingfisher is an NPA for us. They are in default," SBI Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri said. . SBI, the leader of the consortium of banks that have lent funds to Kingfisher Airlines, has an exposure of Rs 1,457.78 crore to the struggling firm. SBI's exposure is the highest among any of the lenders to the airline, followed by IDBI Bank (Rs 727.63 crore), Punjab National Bank (Rs 710.33 crore), Bank of India (Rs 575.27 crore) and Bank of Baroda (Rs 537.51 crore).
Current Affairs that matters - 2
RBI norms on salaries to private, foreign bankers
In an attempt to prevent banks from offering bloated compensation packages that may tempt senior executives to take short-term risks and lead to a Lehman-like financial crisis, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday forbade domestic private sector and foreign banks from paying guaranteed bonuses to whole-time directors and chief executive officers (CEOs), besides seeking to restrict variable pay to 70% of fixed pay in a year, even as it stopped short of recommending a cap on annual salary increases.In a late Friday notification, RBI said banks must put in place a compensation policy for all employees through a remuneration committee to oversee the framing, review and implementation of the policy.
The banks have to frame the policy by March; it will be implemented in fiscal 2013.
India attractive for PE investments, General Atlantic
U.S. private equity firm General Atlantic LLC (GA) said on Friday the sharp depreciation of India's currency and a stock market decline have created a good entry point for private equity investments in the South Asian nation. GA, which manages $17 billion in capital and owns a stake in Facebook, has invested $1 billion in companies in India over the past nine years, including stakes in IndusInd Bank and Infotech Enterprises Ltd, according to its website (www.generalatlantic.com).Ford said the firm has made 2.5 times on its capital in Indian investments with an average holding period of four years. Abhay Havaldar, who set up GA's India office in 2002 and has moved to Singapore, recently, said the firm has 12 investments in India. The firm has also exited from four companies.
Economic Survey to have chapters on climate change issues
The Finance Ministry will expand the size and scope of the annual Economic Survey, to be released sometime in March, by incorporating chapters on global imbalances, human development and climate change issues.
China and Saudi Energy Deal: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/chi...
China signed energy deals with its top oil provider Saudi Arabia today as its Premier Wen Jiabao visited the kingdom with tension over Iran's nuclear programme sparking fears of major oil supply disruptions.
The Chinese leader met King Abdullah today, Saudi state news agency SPA said, adding that the two leaders "discussed regional and international developments, as well as cooperation between the two countries."
Saudi Arabia is the largest supplier of oil to energy-hungry China and bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to USD 58.5 billion in the first 11 months of 2011, according to Xinhua Chinese news agency.
The two countries inked several economic and cultural agreements on Sunday including a Memorandum of Understanding between Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC and China's Sinopec to build a petrochemical plant in Tianjin, SPA said.
They also signed a cooperation agreement for the "peaceful use of nuclear energy," it added without elaborating.
Current Affairs that matters - 3
Supreme Court upholds right to prosecute public servant for corruption
In a landmark verdict, Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the right of a private citizen to seek sanction for prosecution of a public servant for corruption, while setting a deadline of four months for the government to decide the issue of giving sanction for prosecution of public servants facing corruption charges.
Broader norms for environment clearances of power projects
Government plans to frame broader guidelines and prescribe timelines for issuing environment clearances to power sector projects, the union environment minister said on Wednesday. India holds about 10% of the world’s coal reserves, but has struggled to provide enough fuel to its under-performing power sector, because of policy challenges.
Rs 1067 –crore tax-notice on Bharti Airtel
The income-tax department has slapped a Rs 1067-crore demand notice on Bharti Airtel, the country's largest telco by revenues and customers, for its alleged non-payment of Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) dues in the last four financial years.
Vodafone spared from capital gains tax by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India today has ruled in favour of Vodafone in the much awaited Vodafone tax case. The case involved an indirect transfer of an Indian company to Vodafone from Hutchison in a deal structured and concluded outside India.
The judgement states that the Indian tax department has no jurisdiction to impose tax on a transaction involving an indirect sale of shares of an Indian company between two non-residents in an offshore transaction. The Supreme Court has ordered the Indian tax authorities to refund to Vodafone INR 2,500 crores (approx. US$ 500 million) which was the amount deposited by Vodafone with the Indian tax authorities.
The Bombay High Court had earlier ruled that the case involved an indirect sale of a "capital asset" situated in India and therefore the Indian tax authorities had the jurisdiction to demand taxes from Vodafone. The Supreme Court order is of particular significance in connection with cross border mergers and acquisitions effected outside India and involving an indirect sale of shares/assets of an Indian company.
Economy grows 8.4 %
The Indian economy grew 8.4% in 2010-11, marginally lower than the previous estimate of 8.5%, on the back of strong farm sector and services sector growth, data showed on Tuesday. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) released the quick estimates of national income, which showed that the farm sector grew 7% in 2010-11, while the services sector, which accounts for more than 52% of the economy, rose 9.3%.
Government to focus on fiscal consolidation in Budget
Finance ministry is likely to focus on fiscal consolidation in the coming annual budget, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning. The government is expected to present a budget in mid-March for the fiscal year that begins on 1 April, amid slowing economic growth and mounting concerns about public finances.
Starbucks to invest Rs 400 crore in retail JV with Tatas
The world's largest coffee retailer is finally entering the country with a 50-50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages. The two companies will initially invest Rs 200 crore each in the JV to be called Tata Starbucks Ltd. The company will have three directors from each side and while the CFO has been identified, the search for CEO continues, said RK Krishnakumar Vice Chairman, Tata Global Beverages.
Mobile phone companies can share spectrum
The Telecom Commission, the apex decision-making body of the communications ministry, has decided to allow mobile phone companies to share spectrum, but has limited this facility to 2G airwaves alone. Second generation (2G) spectrum is largely used for offering vanilla voice services. his means, telcos cannot share 3G spectrums. Incumbents such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel and Idea Cellular, who have taken the government to court, after the telecom department asked these companies to terminate their 3G roaming deals, had hoped that policy changes permitting the sharing of airwaves would put an end to this controversy.
India to exclude clause on lawsuits
India is likely to exclude in bilateral trade pacts a clause that permits a foreign investor to sue the host country at an international dispute settlement agency. The department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) has in principle decided not to include such a condition, an official said on condition of anonymity, which allows firms of the partner country investing in India to take legal action against the government at a global forum in case of any dispute. India has comprehensive economic partnership agreements (CEPAs) with Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia. Besides the European Union, it is negotiating similar pacts with Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Indonesia. Customary international law requires foreign investors to sue governments in domestic courts for any claims, or at the World Trade Organization dispute panel.
Tax authorities to seek SC help on foreign accounts
Tax authorities and the finance ministry are contemplating moving the Supreme Court to figure out how they should go about handling information on undisclosed offshore bank accounts of Indians. With the tax office receiving information on thousands of such accounts, the government is in favour of approaching the apex court for a direction on the future course of action in this matter. The government, which has been receiving information on unreported offshore accounts since last two years, expects to access more information with India having entered into tax information exchange with authorities of more than 70 jurisdictions.
Environment ministry rejects NMDC Bailadila mine clearance
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has rejected clearance to one of the iron-ore mines of state-owned NMDC in Bailadila district, Chhattisgarh said."The file (for forest clearance of the mine) has been returned, may be due to misrepresentation or something like that," NMDC Director (Finance) S Thiagarajan said.
India-Pakistan agree on uniform transit fee for TAPI pipeline
India and Pakistan Wednesday agreed in-principle to have a uniform transit fee for ferrying natural gas through the proposed USD 7.6 billion pipeline from Turkmenistan. India will pay a transit fee to Pakistan and Afghanistan for getting its share of 38 million standard cubic metres per day of gas through the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, while Islamabad has to pay ferrying charges only to Afghanistan for allowing passage of the fuel.
Bangladesh sign $1.5 billion power project deal with NTPC
Bangladesh has signed a $1.5 billion deal with India's NTPC to build a 1320 MW coal-fired power plant, the country's biggest, to help ease acute power shortages.
Government preparing land sale policy
The government, the largest owner of landed property in the country, is preparing a comprehensive land sale policy to raise revenues and check corruption in government-owned property deals. The finance ministry will shortly move a cabinet note for bringing in a new uniform policy on 'land alienation' by government agencies, with an eye on removing discretionary powers of individual ministers and bureaucrats. In big cities, large tracts of land valued at thousands of crores are owned by ministries of civil aviation, railways, defence and port trusts, along with other government agencies and public sector firms. For instance, the Ports trust of India owns 6,300 hectares, the Airports Authority Airports Authority of India owns 20,400 hectares, the Railways owns 43,000 hectares of non-track land and the defence forces own 17.3 lakh acres.
Government to nudge entrepreneurs to invest more
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will attempt to nudge entrepreneurs to invest more by unveiling a raft of investor-friendly policies in the budget to be presented in March, as the government looks to revive the economy without raising fiscal deficit. These policies include sops for infrastructure and labour-intensive industries and incentives to attract investment in sectors such as urea, a commonly-used fertiliser, and cold chains and supply chains that help maintain the quality of food produce.
Blocking websites not an option, Google India
Google India, which along with 20 websites is facing criminal case for allegedly hosting objectionable materials, on Monday told the Delhi High Court that blocking them was not an option as democratic India does not have a "totalitarian" regime like China. India’s Information Technology Act of 2008 gives Communications and Information Technology minister Kapil Sibal the authority to order portals to block sites and requires companies to designate a point of contact for receiving those government requests. Sibal told reporters on December 6, waving examples of content that he said was unacceptable, that the government will come up with stricter rules. He denied any intention to censor free speech.
Liberalization of the FDI policy on single-brand retail trading
The government has liberalized the policy on single brand retail trading and permitted 100% FDI under the "approval route" in single brand retail trading pursuant to press note dated 10 January, 2012, issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. Until now, FDI only to the extent of 51% was permitted under the approval route subject to conditions specified under 'Circular 2 of 2011 – Consolidated FDI Policy' dated 30 September, 2011 (Consolidated FDI Policy).
Further, the above press note provides for an additional condition, applicable to investments involving FDI beyond 51%, apart from the existing conditions as specified under the Consolidated FDI Policy. This additional condition prescribes that mandatory sourcing of at least 30% of the value of products sold would have to be done from Indian 'small industries/village and cottage industries, artisans and craftsmen'. The term 'small industries' is defined as industries which have a total investment in plant and machinery not exceeding US $ 1 million. However, the term 'village and cottage Industries' has not been defined under the press note. It may be noted that application procedure required to be followed for the approval of the government for FDI in the single brand retail trading sector remains unchanged.
Company Bill to be cleared in Budget Session
Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily Tuesday said the Companies Bill is expected to be cleared in the forthcoming Budget Session despite its withdrawal after being tabled in the winter session. The Companies Bill was presented in the Lok Sabha in the Winter Session to replace the existing Companies Act of 1956. It was immediately withdrawn following differences between the Congress and the opposition BJP. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance is likely to meet this month to sort out the differences on the Bill.
DOT plans to impose Rs 1594 crore penalty on telecom companies
The telecoms department plans to impose penalties totaling Rs 1594 crore on five mobile phone companies for allegedly understating revenues and hence paying lower revenue share during 2006-07 and 2007-08.
British firm’s bid to patent ginger foiled
While Indians have been gulping down 'adrak chai' for generations as a home remedy, Nicholas John Larkins, London, filed a patent application (GB2436063) titled "Pharmaceutical composition for the treatment of excess mucous production" on March 16, 2006 at the British patent office. The firm claimed a "unique finding" in the use of ginger (Zingiber officinale) and kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa) for the treatment of cough and lung diseases.
Reliance to invest Rs 1500 crore in TV18 Group
Reliance industries is embarking on a major diversification into the media and entertainment sector with the Mukesh Ambani firm agreeing to fund a transaction that will result in a sizeable stake for itself in a company controlling two of the industry's largest businesses, the Network 18 Group and the Eenadu Group of channels run by the Hyderabad-based Ramoji Rao. an RIL subsidiary will help the promoter group of Network18 fund the rights issues of its two listed entities, Network18 Media and Investments, which runs the portal moneycontrol.com, and TV18 Broadcast Ltd, which operates a number of business and general news channels, notably CNBC TV18 and CNN-IBN. the transaction estimated it to be more than Rs 1,500 crore. The money from RIL will help Raghav Bahl, the promoter of the TV18 Group, subscribe to the rights issues of both the listed companies, Network18 and TV18. The full amount expected to be raised through the rights issues is estimated at over Rs 3,500 crore.
Law Commission asked to circumscribe key personnel
The Law Commission has been asked to circumscribe “key managerial personnel” on the boards of corporate entities directly in charge of day-to-day activities who can be legally hauled up for wrongdoings. Disclosing this here on Tuesday, Union Minister for Corporate Affairs M Veerappa Moily said he had entrusted the commission with this task to clearly define “who should be pinned with responsibility” for acts of corporate malfeasance and negligence, a grey area of concern.
India’s new entrepreneurs prefer VCs for PEs
Venture capital bested private equity quite handily last year, a strong vote of confidence in the new breed of India's entrepreneurs. Across the risk capital market, there is growing chatter that venture market is the place to be. Indian entrepreneurs are churning out winning ideas, which are in turn attracting millions of dollars in funding.
Current Affairs that matters - 4
Government to provide major thrust to disinvestment
The government is set to provide a major thrust to disinvestment in the coming months to bolster its financial position and generate resources to fund its social sector programme. The Union Cabinet, which will meet on Thursday, will discuss a proposal to look at options other than initial and follow-on issues to sell stake in government owned companies, with buyback being on top of the agenda. The thinking in the government is that buyback will help public sector companies not just use free cash lying with them but also enable them to maintain their market capitalization. In addition, the move is seen to be helpful to the government to raise funds even during sluggish market conditions.
Government not to challenge SC decision on 2G
The government will not challenge the Supreme Court decision to cancel 122 telecom licences, Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar Wednesday said. "We are not looking at challenging the cancellation of the licences per se," By the end of this week, we expect to be able to take the key decisions... All the legal options that are on the table at this point." The government is said to be toying with the idea of making a Presidential Reference on the issue if it decides not to file a review petition.
4G spectrum auctions this year, Telecom minister
India is looking at holding spectrum auctions for the fourth generation (4G) mobile services by the end of this year, besides finalising plans to sell off radio waves for the 2G services, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has said.
Tata moves SC on 2G verdict, Videocon to file review petition
On Wednesday, when Tata Teleservices became the first company to file a review petition in the Supreme Court challenging cancellation of its 2G licences, Videocon chairman VN Dhoot said his group would also file a review petition. "By tomorrow (Thursday) we will file a review petition," Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd, which operates services under Uninor brand, have already said that they would file a review petition.
Delisting to haunt MNCs
Delisting shares from Indian bourses could cost multinational companies, or MNCs, dear, as some of them may have to shell out more than 10 years of their accumulated net profits to delist their Indian entities. The global parents of some of the Indian entities may find the fund set aside for delisting inadequate as their share prices soar on hopes of delisting, making it unviable for some firms to delist, said industry experts. As per regulations, the global parents will have to reduce promoter stake to below 75% if they fail to delist their Indian units before June 3, 2013.
Finmeccanica denies wrongdoing in chopper deal
Finmeccanica denied any wrongdoing over a €560 million ($754 million) helicopter deal after Indian authorities launched a corruption probe into the contract which sent shares in the Italian defence and aerospace group reeling. Defence minister A. K. Antony has ordered a probe into the purchase of 12 helicopters from Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland because of alleged irregularities.
Vijaya Mallya to sell stake in Whyte & Mackay
Vijay Mallya-promoted United Spirits Ltd is considering to sell 49 per cent stake in its Glasgow based subsidiary Whyte & Mackay to pay off debt.
Trade unions strike may cripple India
After rejecting the Centre's belated bid to persuade them to drop their plan for the 24-hour general strike on Tuesday, central trade unions commanding the allegiance of lakh of workers stepped up their efforts to turn the protest into a crippling nationwide shutdown. Life will be severely impacted for 24 hours if the general strike called by trade unions cutting across party lines and ideologies succeed in pulling off the show of strength and solidarity in support of their demands: an end to contract labour, amendment to Minimum Wages Act, increase the gratuity payout and compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days.
CCI penalises regional film bodies for ant-competitive decisions
India's trade practices regulator has penalised 12 state film associations across the country for taking anti-competitive decisions, including discrimination against Hindi films and forcing producers to become their members. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has asked film associations of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Orissa, among others, to pay 10% of their annual income to the different petitioners, after clubbing all similar cases filed by different producers against different associations.
Government to use 25 % of stake sale proceeds to revive public sector firms
The government is likely to revert to the policy of using 25% of the disinvestment proceeds for reviving sick public sector units (PSUs) and recapitalising the profitable ones from the next fiscal year.
SEBI to educate investors
Capital market regulator Sebi will launch a big investor education programme through short films, TV and radio commercials in English and regional languages. To spread the awareness drive, it plans to hire a creative agency having an annual revenue of at least Rs 100 crore in the past three fiscal years. The objective is "to create general awareness on securities market, various products available in securities market and facilitate the participation of the retail investors in the securities market to invest with knowledge," Sebi said.
Independent regulator for oil and gas fields
A panel of ministers on corruption has asked the government to create an independent regulator for oil and gas fields, brushing aside strong objections from the petroleum ministry, which currently enjoys regulatory powers. A Group of Ministers (GoM) has proposed that the new regulator should take over critical functions of the Directorate General of hydrocarbons (DGH), which reports to the oil ministry and is its technical arm for issues involving oil and gas exploration and production contracts.
National Competition Policy by March 31
A National Competition Policy will be ready by March 31 with several positive benefits for the country's economy, including lowering of food prices, says Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily. "It has lots of benefits, because all the monopolies and anti-competitive forces will have to be dismantled," Moily said. The policy alone would not be able to rein in inflation. The National Competition Policy, by targeting cartelization, will go a long way in moderating prices, especially the food prices," Moily said, referring to the US, where such a policy had resulted a cut of petroleum products prices.
SEBI forms cell to detect corporate frauds
India's capital market regulator Sebi has formed a separate team to detect financial or corporate frauds in a bid to beef up its investigation process. The new unit, called Forensic Accounting Cell, will be part of the Securities and Exchange Board of India's corporate finance department that will aim at creating a mechanism to warn against corporate scandals.
FDI in aviation to take off after Budget
Cabinet nod to allow foreign airlines to buy up to 49 per cent stake in Indian carriers is likely to become a reality only after the Budget. Reason: The government does not want to be seen as favouring any one company. Foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 49 per cent is permitted in domestic airlines, but foreign airlines are not allowed to pick up stakes in domestic carriers. The government’s move to allow the FDI in domestic airlines is expected to benefit cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines. It could also provide a reprieve for the many airlines that are also under financial strain and have been looking at raising funds.
Econet seeks $3.1 billion in damages
Econet Wireless is seeking at least $3.1 billion in damages from Bharti Airtel Ltd in a dispute over ownership of its subsidiary Airtel Nigeria, according to a suit filed on Wednesday. The move follows a Nigerian court ruling on 30 January that Bharti Airtel’s ownership of its subsidiary Airtel Nigeria is “null and void” because co-founder and 5% shareholder Econet was not consulted on the transfer.
Conflict of interest in Vodafone tax saga
A public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court, alleging that the sitting Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.H. Kapadia had a conflict of interest in the Vodafone tax case, created a stir on Wednesday, with the petitioner claiming he was not an agent of the government and several others terming the petition frivolous. The Chief Justice’s bench had ruled against the income-tax (I-T) department in a landmark verdict on 20 January. On Wednesday, The Times of India reported that the petitioner, advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, had alleged through a PIL that CJI Kapadia had not disclosed that his son Hoshnar Kapadia worked at consultancy firm Ernst and Young (E&Y), which had advised Vodafone Group Plc on the 2007 Hutchison Whampoa Ltd deal.
Red tape biggest hurdle in business, survey
Excessive bureaucratic hurdles, inflation and political instability have emerged as the top concerns for the Indian businesses, while larger companies are more worried than their smaller peers about global issues, a survey has found. According to the survey conducted by workplace solutions provider Regus, almost half of the decisions makers at Indian businesses (47 per cent) fear that the red tape is a serious threat to growth in the country.
Sun Pharma may go for out-of-court settlement
The recent patent litigation suit, with the highest ever damage claim against an Indian pharmaceutical company, is likely to end in a whimper. Sun Pharma, which was slapped with a $960-million damage notice by US-based Wyeth over the launch of the generic Protonix, may settle for an out-of-court settlement.
Kingfisher converts debentures into equity
Debt-crippled Kingfisher Airlines said on Tuesday it had allotted equity shares against optionally convertible debentures (OCDs), a development that would help the country’s third-biggest carrier by market share save interest outflow on such instruments.
M & A s in pharma and healthcare to dominate in 2012
India will see the largest number of merger and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector this year despite stricter regulations, according to consulting firm Grant Thornton. A survey conducted across 100 companies has revealed that a fourth of the respondents were bullish on acquisitions in the pharma sector.
Foreign companies can bid without Indian partners
The government plans to allow foreign companies to bid without an Indian partner, or as 100% foreign entities, in the upcoming sale of second generation (2G) airwaves, following the cancellation of 122 mobile phone permits by the Supreme Court. This will allow the likes of Norway's Telenor to bid for 2G bandwidth and induct a local partner later on if they are successful in the auctions. But both the telecom department and sector regulator Trai are unlikely to agree to the demands of Telenor, Videocon, S Tel amongst others that the upcoming auctions be restricted to those players whose licences were quashed by the apex court.
MCX hopes for amendments to FCRA will be passed soon in parliament
Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) on Friday said it hopes that the proposed amendments in Forward Contract Regulation Act (FCRA) for allowing trading of options and indices in commodities will be soon passed by Parliament,
Government to issue notice to Reliance Industries on fall in gas output
Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy Sunday said the government will issue notice to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on the fall in gas output from its D-6 fields in KG-Basin. "From KG D-6, 70 mmcmd (of gas) should come. In this year it fell to 37 mmcmd. In this regard, we are going to issue notice (to Reliance)," Reddy said during his maiden visit to KG-Basin.
Government should have transparent gas pricing mechanism
The government should frame a transparent mechanism for pricing of natural gas that rewards producers for undertaking risky upstream business, Ernst & Young has said. "Framing of transparent pricing mechanism for natural gas is critical as it needs to reward gas producers for undertaking risky upstream operations," E&Y said in its report 'Synergy for Energy' released here.
Government to allow investments from Pakistan
In a major step forward towards normalising business ties, the government plans to bring changes in the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to allow investments from Pakistan, a senior government official said on Thursday.
MCX to become first bourse to get listed
India’s largest commodity bourse, Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (MCX), is set to become the first exchange to get listed in the country, and one of the most expensive exchanges across the world. MCX will sell 6.4 million shares, or 12.6% of its stake, through an initial public offering (IPO) that starts on 22 February and ends two days later. The MCX IPO is the first public share sale of the year and could signal the fate of primary markets in 2012. The total amount raised through IPOs in India fell 85% to Rs. 6,129 crore in 2011.
Unified licence regime to be unveiled by TRAI, mergers gets easier
Communications minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday announced key policy measures, largely aimed at reassuring incumbent operators who had been seeking clarity in rules, as the government attempts to put the scam-tainted telecom sector back on track. The minister said telcos operating in the same region will be allowed to share 2G spectrum, and all future allocation of airwaves will only be through auctions. He reiterated that future licences will be delinked from spectrum and companies must buy bandwidth at market rates. "All companies must migrate to the unified licence, whose details will be unveiled by Trai soon," Sibal said while adding that the migration fee would work out to about 20 crore for a pan-India player. "We recognise that M&A must be allowed beyond this (35%) limit too. We have taken note that Trai has recommended that telecom companies could merge their operations if the combined market share of the new entity is less than 60%. We will finalise this after further consultations with the regulator and the Competition Commission of India," he added.
New Telecom Policy in April, favourable for telecom operators
The new Telecom Policy, which will replace the last one formulated in 1999, is expected to be announced in April. Communications & IT minister Kapil Sibal said the new norms would help subscribers get better services and at affordable rates due to more efficient usage of spectrum. The overall package, however, seemed to be favourable for telecom operators. To begin with, the new norms on "simple, quick" consolidation permit the combined entity formed through merger to have a market share of up to 35%. In fact, this may be relaxed further to 60% after consulting Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)) that had recommended this. There will be an additional cap, stipulating that the merged entity cannot hold over 25% of the available spectrum in a circle.
Leela Hotels part ways with Kempinski
After being together for nearly 25 years, Leela Hotels, one of India’s luxury chains, and the Geneva-based Kempinski Hotels, a luxury hotel and marketing group, have parted ways. The Mumbai-based Leela has dropped the Kempinski brand name from all its properties, except for the 322-room Gurgaon hotel, a managed property, and the Leela Residences Gurgaon, of mall-cum-residences.
PMO asks Coal India to sign fuel supply pact
The Prime Minister's Office has asked state-run Coal India to sign fuel supply agreements with power projects that were either ready by December or are expected to be commissioned by March 2015 and have long-term power purchase agreements in place.
India to raise $8.16 billion via stake sale in PSUs
India will aim to raise at least Rs 400 billion ($8.16 billion) by selling stakes in state-run companies in the fiscal year starting April 1, a senior finance ministry official said Tuesday, reflecting an ambitious resolve to boost government revenue needed to cut a yawning fiscal deficit. The government had hoped to raise a similar amount this fiscal year through March but has so far managed to raise a mere 11.45 billion rupees due to weak stock markets. The Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark 30-share Sensex has fallen 8.6% so far this fiscal year.
Delhi Metro debt at Rs 1500 crore
Delhi Metro has a debt of Rs 15000 crore owing to the development of the two phases of the modern transport system and they would be settled in the next 20 years,
Cartelisation by firms will be a criminal liability, CCI
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said unfair trade practices like cartelisation by firms will be made a criminal liability. "Cartelisation will become a criminal offence in future," CCI Member Ratneshwar Prasad said, adding that competition is a question of ethics and morality. Section 3 of the Competition Act empowers CCI to deal with anti-competitive agreements and cartelisation by companies. He also said state governments should set up competition authorities, since the Centre was not in a position to address the local issues.
Government to consider changes in law to separate NREGA wages
Worried at the prospect of having to match the arbitrary minimum wage rate fixed by the states, the central government is considering changes in the law to specify a separate wage norms for its flagship rural employment guarantee scheme that is undergoing a complete makeover under minister Jairam Ramesh. The centre has already contested in the Supreme Court a Karnataka High Court interim order directing it to align wage rates under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) with the minimum wages in the state. It now wants to legislate a standalone wage regime for the scheme under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, worried that states may otherwise arbitrarily increase minimum wages, leaving the centre to foot the bill.
Government can have access to corporate emails
In a move that may raise serious questions regarding the privacy of corporate emails exchanged between individuals and employees, the Indian government is all set to gain “back-door” access to emails sent and received over Research In Motion Ltd’s (RIM) BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) within the next two-three months. The number of such firms is contained in an internal DoT note that was reviewed by Mint.“There are about 5,000 enterprises using BES in India,” the note said. “These are communications between the employees of the enterprise only and therefore are not of high concern for security or intelligence agencies.”However, the capability of using the key to access the communications when needed is still being developed. Meanwhile, the government is just a step away from gaining access to RIM’s widely used BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.
Reliance inks defence pact with Dassault
Reliance Industries and France's Dassault Aviation have signed a pact for partnering in the defence and homeland security sector in Asia's third-largest economy, The accord comes less than two weeks after Dassault's Rafale warplanes emerged as the preferred bidder in a $15 billion contest to supply India with 126 fighter jets. India is the world's largest arms importer with plans to spend $100 billion on weapons over the next decade.
Amway India to invest Rs 400 crore in India
Amway India, the Indian arm of Amway Corporation, will invest Rs 400 crore in India in the next two years on a manufacturing facility and for its headquarters in Delhi. “We are planning to come up with a greenfield manufacturing facility in the country at an estimated investment of about Rs 300 crore. Another Rs 100 crore would be invested for our upcoming headquarters in Delhi. The new unit will be commissioned by 2014. However, we have not zeroed in on the location,” said William S Pinckney, managing director and chief executive officer of Amway India.
Big ticket changes in taxation for international transactions in budget
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to announce big-ticket changes in taxation provisions for international transactions in the Budget. These may include the introduction of advance pricing agreements (APAs) to handle transfer pricing effectively and transparently. A senior finance ministry official said the government was under pressure to bring new provisions to tackle new modes of transaction in a globalised environment, especially in areas of transfer pricing, transactions by Indians in other countries and international transactions associated with Indian assets, as in the case of Vodafone. The introduction of advance pricing agreements for international transactions will bring certainty to transfer pricing issues. Taxpayers (companies) would be able to enter into an agreement valid for five years with the tax administration on the method to compute an arm’s-length price for their international transactions. The official said the income tax department had initiated the process for the creation of an administrative set-up to handle APA issues. “The measure had to come with the Direct Taxes Code (DTC). But, as DTC is unlikely to come in 2012-13, the minister is likely to announce either the implementation of APAs in the next financial year or a road map to bring it,” he added.
Amazon gets FIPB nod to set up logistics unit
Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, has won government permission to set up a logistics unit in India, an important step as it systematically prepares for entry into one of the world's most lucrative markets. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has allowed Amazon Asia-Pacific Resources to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary that will provide courier services, a key component of the backend for any online retail operation. Amazon will invest Rs 15 crore in the subsidiary, a government release said on Friday. The approval came on January 20. Across the Indian e-commerce industry, estimated to be worth $10 billion (Rs 49,000 crore), every move by Amazon is being closely watched for signs of imminent entry into India, which still does not allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail. Just last week, it announced the launch of a comparison shopping site Junglee.com featuring products from some of India's top online retailers but excluding Flipkart. Junglee was acquired by Amazon more than a decade ago.
India retains most optimistic market tag globally
India has once again emerged as the most optimistic market, driven by its buoyant domestic consumption levels, but slowing growth and inflationary concerns could put pressure on consumer confidence for the year ahead, a survey said. According to the latest global consumer confidence findings from Nielsen, a provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, India remained the world's most optimistic market for the eighth consecutive quarter with a one point consumer confidence index increase to 122. India was followed by Indonesia and the Philippines at 117 in the list..