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Upfront

News that you may have missed last fortnight
Print Edition: Aug 18, 2013

Wipro's CEO T.K. Kurien
Wipro's CEO T.K. Kurien
Indian IT companies, some of whom have reported betterthan-expected first quarter results, are foreseeing better times ahead. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) CEO and MD N. Chandrasekaran (left) and Wipro's CEO T.K. Kurien (right) agree that the deal momentum from the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom will continue beyond the first quarter.

CORPORATE

Holcim, the world's fourth-largest cement maker, has revamped its operations in India with a complex Rs 14,500 crore restructuring deal, involving Holcim India, Ambuja Cements and ACC. Ambuja will acquire a 24 per cent stake in Holcim India, and a 50 per cent stake in ACC, while Holcim  too will increase its stake in Ambuja from 50 to 61.39 per cent.

The Supreme Court has issued notices to two Sahara firms-Sahara India Real Estate Corp and Sahara Housing Investment Corp - for not complying with its order of refunding around Rs 19,000 crore to investors. It has said that Sahara chief Subrata Roy will have to appear before it if its order is not  complied with.

  • In a relief to automakers, the Central Board of Excise and Customs clarified that sedans, including the Maruti SX4, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis, will not attract excise duty at the higher rate of 30 per cent levied on SUVs. These sedans met all three criteria - engine capacity, length of the car and ground clearance - announced in the Budget, but they were not SUVs.
Reliance ADA Group chairman Anil Ambani  is seeking exemption from personally appearing as a prosecution witness in the 2G spectrum allocation case. The trial court had given him a temporary reprieve. CBI has alleged Reliance Telecom used Swan Telecom, an ineligible company, as a front to get 2G licences and radio waves. The testimony of Anil and Tina Ambani may throw light on the alleged investment of over Rs 990 crore by his group companies in Swan Telecom.

  • The legendary motor city, Detroit has filed for protection from its creditors - it owes them an estimated $18 billion dollars. It is the largest American city ever to go bankrupt.
  • Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook, which boasts 1.16 billion global users, posted a jump in second-quarter revenue, with mobile ad revenues making up 41 per cent of total ad revenue.
ECONOMY
Consumer confidence in India dipped during the second quarter of this year. This puts the country in third position globally after Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the global consumer confidence index study by Nielsen. Among the main concerns in India are the devaluation of the rupee and continuing inflation for urban Indians.

Jammu & Kashmir finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather is the new chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers on GST. However, the chances of GST rolling out before the next government  takes charge in 2014 are remote.

Mumbai is the most expensive city in India for expatriates. It ranks 118 among 214 cities across five continents in the Cost of Living survey by consulting firm Mercer. Luanda, Angola, holds the number one position. New York is the most expensive city in the US. The survey will help MNCs and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.
US Vice-President Joe Biden highlighted concerns of American companies - local content conditions, barriers to market access and an inconsistent tax system - during his recent India visit. Biden said opening of the Indian economy could lead to a five-fold rise in trade with the US. Bilateral trade is worth $100 billion a year at present.

4.7% Growth of indirect tax collection in the April-June quarter of the current financial year, much lower than the 19 per cent increase envisaged in the Budget for the full 2013/14 financial year. Indirect tax - excise, customs and service tax - collection in the first quarter stood at about Rs 1.11 trillion, as against Rs 1.05 trillion in the corresponding period a year ago.

$500 bn Estimated annual loss to the global economy on account of cyber crime. The research, by the security firm McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also posits a $100 billion annual loss to the US economy.

MARKETS
The government has upgraded the powers of market regulator SEBI, allowing it to pass orders such as search and seizure, attachment of property, arrest and detention of defaulters, and passing directions to recover wrongful gains. SEBI has also been given the power to crack down on illegal investment schemes floated by individuals. At present it can act only against companies. The aim is to curb Ponzi schemes.

The Reserve Bank of India has tightened its gold import policy in a bid to ensure that at least 20 per cent of the yellow metal sourced from overseas is made available to gems and jewellery exporters.

COMING UP

  • The Securities Appellate Tribunal has adjourned the hearing of Reliance Industries' appeal against the Securities and Exchange Board of India in relation to an insider trading charge. This follows a joint request for adjournment made by lawyers for both parties. The matter will be heard on August 30.
  • The Public Enterprise Selection Board will hold interviews on August 30 for selecting the next ONGC Chairman and Managing Director.  GAIL India head B.C. Tripathi and ONGC Videsh MD D.K. Sarraf are among the contenders.

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