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Roundup: Events of the fornight

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was still awaiting a debt waiver package from the Centre, but the IPL win was enough to send her into a celebratory mood.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seen with the victorious Kolkata Knight Riders Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seen with the victorious Kolkata Knight Riders
Mamata's Day Out: Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (seen in the pic above with the victorious Kolkata Knight Riders) was still awaiting a debt waiver package from the Centre, but the IPL win was enough to send her into a celebratory mood. The previous edition of the tournament had raked in $3.67 billion for the brands, and the bean counters are still totting up the gains for this one. As for controversies, IPL 5 scored quite well.

CORPORATE
In this season of price hikes, Maruti, GM and Ford reported a dip in sales in May. Tata Motors, Hyundai and M&M have gained. Tata Motors has reported a 136 per cent surge in consolidated net profit to Rs  6,234 crore, thanks to Jaguar Land Rover, which contributed 95 per cent of the profits of its Indian parent. Capping the events, Cyrus Mistry, executive deputy chairman of Tata Sons, has been inducted as a director on the Board of Tata Motors.

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office will scrutinise Reebok India's accounts. Parent company Adidas, the world's second-largest sporting goods company, had earlier announced irregularities in Reebok's India business. The quantum of fraud is pegged at Rs 870 crore.

  • Rajan Nanda and his family consolidated their control over Escorts Ltd. The revamp involved the merger of a subsidiary and two affiliates with the tractor maker. By taking their stake from 12.43 per cent to more than 41 per cent, the Nandas can avert potential hostile takeover bids.
  • Fortis Healthcare, led by billionaire brothers Malvinder Mohan Singh and Shivinder Mohan Singh, has hived off non-core businesses such as out-patient departments and related assets into a separate company, Religare Health Trust. The trust will be listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) to raise around Rs 2,000 crore.
C. Rangarajan
C. Rangarajan
The Chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, C. Rangarajan, seems to be the man for all seasons. After the oil ministry-Reliance Industries spat over the output of KG-D6, Rangarajan has been roped in to head a committee to review government contracts with oil and gas companies. The Planning Commission also wants him to review the Tendulkar panel methodology for estimating poverty and come up with new numbers.

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the National Telecom Policy 2012. Mobile users will be able to enjoy free roaming. They will also be able to retain their phone numbers even if they change their service providers anywhere in the country.
  • Mobile payment volumes worldwide are likely to zoom 62 per cent to over $171.5 billion this year from $105.9 billion in 2011. The number of mobile payment users will go up from 160.5 million in 2011 to 212.2 million in 2012, according to Gartner.
  • As Spain joins Greece's corner in the crisis-hit Euro zone, Anshu Jain has taken over as the first India-born co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank. This marks a new era in the 142-year history of Germany's largest bank.
 
ECONOMY
Economic news continued to hog the headlines as India's GDP growth rate slowed to a nine-year low in the March quarter at 5.3 per cent. It is 6.5 per cent for the 2011/12 fiscal year. The HSBC India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index - a measure of factory production - slipped to 54.8 in May, from 54.9 in April. Exports grew by a meagre 3.2 per cent year-on-year to $24.4 billion in April. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said steps to address imbalances on the fiscal and current account fronts are due. For starters, the government has announced a 10 per cent cut in nonplan expenditure.

In a measure that is likely to cheer foreign investors, Pranab Mukherjee said the Income Tax department will not reopen cases in which assessment proceedings were finalised before April 1, 2012. The Budget proposed to amend the Income-Tax Act, 1961 with retrospective effect to tax Vodafone-type overseas deals that involve domestic assets.

In a breather for the $5-billon software industry, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the sale of locally made software will not be subject to taxation at multiple levels.

The Reserve Bank of India has granted a banking licence to Morgan Stanley. The financial services firm may not venture into corporate or retail loans, but the move could benefit its wealth management service.

Rs 4,700 cr Compensation sought by Loop Telecom from the government. The company's Mauritiusbased investors have invoked an India-Mauritius treaty to seek the refund of the entry fee paid for acquiring telecom licences, release of performance bank guarantees and damages for a tarnished reputation. Loop is the third company to threaten international arbitration after Norway's Telenor and Russia's Sistema.

12% The projected share of direct taxes in the country's gross domestic product, according to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The target for direct tax collection in 2012/13 has been set at Rs 5.7 trillion.

MARKETS
The Securities and Exchange Board of India has decided to close the consent order route for offences such as insider trading and other fraudulent and unfair trade practices. The consent order mechanism allows negotiation while settling civil or administrative matters. It can result in a monetary penalty or suspension or the cancellation of registration of the wrong doer. The new norms apply to all pending and future applications.

The government, in an effort to improve capital inflows, has set an investment limit of $1 billion for individual foreign investors in corporate bonds. It has also allowed foreign individuals to open rupee accounts, and has removed restrictions on uninvested funds.

COMING UP
The finance ministry has asked all staterun banks to ensure that every household has at least one savings bank account by the end of June. This will enable electronic transfers of benefits and better monitoring of government schemes.

The State Bank of India is planning to come out with a bond issue worth about $1 billion before August.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is seeking to win over the Indian defence establishment when he visits in early June. At the end of January, India picked French fighter aircraft over American competition.