Upfront

News that you may have missed last fortnight
     Print Edition: Nov 10, 2013

Winning Moment: Eleanor Catton (right), 28-year old author from New Zealand, won the Man Booker prize 2013 for her novel, The Luminaries. She is the youngest to win the coveted literary prize. The sole Indian-origin author competing, Jhumpa Lahiri, lost out. From next year, the prize, confined so far to writers from the nations of the Commonwealth and Ireland, will be open to writers from all countries.
 
CORPORATE

Reliance Industries became the first private sector company in the country to achieve quarterly turnover or sales of more than Rs 1 lakh crore in a quarter. Its turnover during the July-September quarter stood at Rs 106,523 crore, against Rs 93,266 crore in the previous quarter. The Mukesh Ambani-led company posted net profit of Rs 5,490 crore, 1.5 per cent higher than in the second quarter of 2012/13. This was despite a 19 per cent drop in its gross refining margins.

Corporate India was stunned when the Central Bureau of Investigation named Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla in a first information report related to alleged irregularities in coal block allocations. The business community is worried that putting top industrialists under the scanner will dent India's image.

Fortis Healthcare, promoted by Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, has announced sale of its stake in Hong Kongbased Quality Healthcare to Bupa for $355 million to cut its debt. After this divestment, its India revenue will account for nearly 95 per cent of Fortis Healthcare's total revenue.

Drug maker Wockhardt is facing more regulatory headwinds. Wockhardt informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UKMHRA) had withdrawn its certificate of good manufacturing practices issued to Wockhardt's Chikalthana plant, near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The watchdog has thus banned the import of drugs from the facility into the UK. The agency will, however, issued a restricted certificate to the factory, which means it will be able to supply products that are "critical" to public health.

The telecom mergers and acquisitions guidelines will be released by November 1, said Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal. The government wants consolidation in India's 12-player telecom market.

The US Congress has approved a lastminute deal to end a partial government shutdown and pull the world's biggest economy back from the brink of a historic debt default that could have threatened financial calamity. The deal will ensure the government is funded until January 15 and raises the debt ceiling until February 7, so Americans face the possibility of another bitter budget fight and another government shutdown early next year.

The initial public offer by Twitter is likely to hit the US stock market on November 15. Twitter has disclosed plans to raise up to $1 billion from its proposed IPO in its initial registration form with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

ECONOMY
The current downturn provides an opportunity to push ahead with reforms to accelerate growth, says the latest India Development Update report released by the World Bank. The report says that the adverse effects of rupee depreciation are likely to be offset by the gains in the exports performance due to improved external competitiveness. Since May this year, the local currency has depreciated substantially and fell to a record low level of Rs 68.85 to a dollar on August 28.

A stagflation-like situation appears to have arisen as inflation jumped to an eight month high of 6.46 per cent for the month of September. It is up from 6.10 per cent in August. Growth continues to be muted with factory output plunging to 0.6 per cent in August. The primary articles index, with a 20.12 per cent weightage in the WPI index, rose 1.5 per cent. Food articles rose by 0.8 per cent. Onion prices have risen nearly 300 per cent from last September. Vegetables cost nearly 90 per cent more than they did last year.

Wake up to the economic contribution of slum dwellers. They contribute more than 7.5 per cent to the country's gross domestic product, according to a recent study conducted in 50 top cities. The urban poor workforce consists of domestic help, vendors and hawkers, construction workers, among others - all valuable hands in the urban setting.

136,000 Estimated number of jobs created during the second quarter of the current financial year. This is a growth of 9 per cent over the previous quarter with 61 per cent of new jobs created in the top five metros, according to an Assocham survey. The first quarter of this financial year saw over 125,000 new jobs.

50,000 Estimated number of additional jobs in the the field of corporate social responsibility in the coming years, according to experts. The rise in demand for professionals will be as much as 50 per cent with around 8,000 companies falling under the Companies' Act ambit.

MARKETS

The International Finance Corporation expects to come out with its rupee linked bonds issue before the end of 2013 as a part of its plan to raise $1 billion.

The Reserve Bank of India is set to review monetary policy on October 29. Rising inflation increases the chances of another central bank interest rate hike, even as the economy stumbles through the current crisis.

The Apple iPhone 5c (Rs 41,900 for 16GB variant) and 5s (Rs 53,500 for 16GB variant) will be available in India from November 1. Reliance Communication and Airtel have announced plans to sell the new iPhones in the country.
 
COMING UP
The Land Acquisition Act to provide just and fair compensation to farmers will come into force from January 1 next year, said Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh. The Act replaces a 119-year-old legislation. The new law received the assent of the President on September 27.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India has approved the trading of currency futures on the BSE. The exchange plans to launch the currency futures platform with advanced trading technology by the end of November.


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