PM invites Swiss business leaders to invest in India


Modi in Switzerland

Seeking to create two or three Switzerlands within India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi courted Swiss business leaders to boost domestic manufacturing and skill development.


Prime Minister Modi held wide-ranging talks with prominent business leaders from Switzerland including officials of ABB, Lafarge, Novartis, Nestle, Rieter and Roche. Addressing a business-roundtable, he told the Swiss watch industry that the diamonds on their watches come from Gujarat and “so I am fully sensitive to your concerns.

“Within my country I need to create 2 or 3 Switzerlands.So scope for partnership is immense,” he told the business leaders. “We want to have manufacturing of global standards.Hence Swiss model of skill development very relevant for us.

India, he said, is not just a market of 1.25 billion. “We have skills and a government open to business.

Their discussion focused on ways to enhance trade cooperation between the two countries.

He also talked about government’s commitment towards easing business environment in the country.

The Prime Minister urged the Swiss business leaders to explore the Investment opportunities in India.


Coal scam: CBI completes probe in Hindalco case

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday filed its final probe report in a coal block allocation case allegedly involving former Coal Secretary P C Parakh, Hindalco and others before the special court which will consider it on March 11.

Senior public prosecutor V K Sharma told the court that the agency has completed the investigation and one more witness has been examined during the course of probe and they are filing his statement in a sealed cover.

“Further investigation is complete. We have further examined one more witness. We are filing his statement in a sealed cover. Our final investigation is over now,” Mr. Sharma told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.

The court said that it would now consider the CBI’s final report in the case on March 11 and if required it will seek clarifications from the agency.

“Final compliance report has been filed by Investigating Officer along with statement of one more witness in a sealed cover…. The matter be now put up for consideration on March 11,” the judge said.

During the hearing, the prosecutor told the court that they are also filing all the materials and documents related to the case in the court.

The case pertains to allocation of Talabira II coal block in Orissa to M/s Hindalco in 2005.

The CBI, in its FIR, had named Parakh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, M/s Hindalco Industries Ltd and other unknown persons for the offences under section 120—B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

However, later, the agency had filed a closure report in the court which had refused to accept it.

The court, in its December 16 order, had directed the agency to examine Manmohan Singh and some top PMO officials, including Singh’s then Principal Secretary T K A Nair and then private secretary B V R Subramanyam.

Mr. Parakh and Hindalco have denied any wrongdoing.

Job creation big challenge, say India Inc

Job Creation

The biggest challenge for the country is to help talented young people fulfil their aspirations, State Bank of India Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said today, while terming demographic dividend as an opportunity for growth.

“If you look at India, the biggest challenge and opportunity today is demography. You have this young country, and you have one million people who are joining job market every month. How do you look at the aspiration of these people and how do you fulfil them ?” she said during a panel discussion on ‘India 2025- Challenges and Opportunities’, organised by Bombay Management Association (BMA).

ITC Chairman Y C Deveshwar said creating employment is a very big challenge. “If you look at 2025, this (job creation) problem is going to grow larger. Creating sustainable employment which is environment friendly are the two big challenges that our country has to address, right now, and at an accelerated pace tomorrow,” he said.

The biggest potential for growth in jobs will come from manufacturing sector, he said.

Tata Group’s chairman emeritus Ratan Tata said India’s demographic pattern not only presents strong workforce but an intellectual cadre of people who can prove themselves and stand up to foreign competition.

“In the years that I have been in industry, I have watched India transform itself from a protected country and becoming an open economy in early 90s, and then seeing its complete change of political leadership, in the last year, to an India which is now poised with a great deal of aspiration and expectations, but poised with a new government and a new leadership and I think great desire to be a country that will stand up and be counted in the economic scene,” he said.

India today has young people who are listened to because they are successful, but more importantly because the environment is willing to listen to them, he said.

Tata was conferred with BMA Diamond Jubilee Lifetime Achievement Award 2013-14 during the event.

Standard Chartered Bank’s India CEO Sunil Kaushal said the strong demographic dividend of the country can become demographic disaster if it is not managed properly by creating job opportunities and skilling the population.

Snapdeal founder and chief executive officer Kunal Bahl said the county needs more entrepreneurs who can help in solving real world problems.

Kotak Mahindra Bank executive vice-chairman and MD Uday Kotak said if India has to progress and education has to be the key, then there is need for more and more people to join teaching profession.

Talking about infrastructure which requires a lot of funding, Bhattacharya said, infrastructure cannot be created unless there is is long term capital.

“There is no dearth of capital in the world, and the reason why it does not find home in India is because India is not able to provide the clarity and consistency that this capital needs in order to find a home,” she said.

She said investors do not always look for returns but they need clarity and consistency.

“Its about not changing the rules of the game while the game is on. It is about ensuring there is no sovereign risk. In that, if the sovereign says something then it is the sovereign that is saying something and therefore it is something that will get honoured,” said Bhattacharya, who was given BMA Management Woman Achiever of the Year Award 2013-14.

Back to square one: The Subrata ‘Sahara’ Roy timeline so far

Subrata Roy and his Sahara Group has been embroiled in logjams with regulatory body Sebi since 2009. Ultimately this led to his arrest in 2014 where he still languishes.

The Supreme Court set a mammoth bail bond of $1.6 billion if he wants a release. The Court allowed him to use jail premises to negotiate deals to sell his hotel properties and raise the bail money.

However, with Bank of America saying it has nothing to do with Sahara’s deal with Mirach Capital, Sahara accused Mirach of forgery. Mirach has hit back denying the accusation and still ready to buy Sahara’s overseas hotels and give him the money needed to secure his exit from the jail for the time being. Sahara, however, has initiated legal action and is back in the market for a fresh deal for its hotels. The bail money remains elusive and Roy remains in jail.

The Sahara story since its beginning in 2009. 

September 2009: Sahara Prime City decided to raise money from public. Files draft prospectus with SEBI.

October 2009: Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation submit their draft prospectuses with Registrar of Companies.

December 2009: An investor awareness group files complaint against the above two companies for illegally raising money using Optionally Fully Convertible Debentures (OFCD).

November 2010: SEBI asks Sahara to return over Rs 25,000 crore collected from crores of investors.

December 2010: Sahara Group moves Allahabad High Court seeking stay on SEBI order.

January 2011: SEBI moves to Supreme Court asking details of investors in the two Group companies that raised money via OFCDs.

April 2011: Sahara moves SC as Allahabad High Court vacates stay order.

June 2011: SEBI passes a final order to bring in effect the refund.

June 2011: Sahara approaches Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT).

October 2011: SAT takes SEBI’s side and asks Sahara to refund the money to its investors.

November 2011: Sahara knocks on the doors of the Supreme Court of India.

August 2012: SC asks Sahara to refund money to nearly 3 crore investors.

December 2012: The Court asks Sahara to deposit over Rs 24,000 crore, in installments, with SEBI to initiate refunds.

February 2013: Sahara fails to comply with the SC order; SEBI freezes bank accounts and properties of the companies.

March 2013: SEBI files case in the SC asking for detention of Subrata Roy and two others.

April 2013: Subrata Roy appears before SEBI.

November 2013: The Supreme Court bars Subrata Roy from leaving the country.

January 2014: SC agrees to hear Sahara’s plea to travel abroad.

January 2014: SC asks Sahara to discloses identities of its 3 crore investors in the OFCDs.

February 2014: The Supreme Court asks Subrata Roy to appear before the court.

February 2014: Non-bailable warrant issued against Subrata Roy as he fails to follow SC’s ask.

February 2014: Subrata Roy is arrested in Lucknow.

March 2014: Sahara makes a new offer to SEBI over Rs 37,000 crore repayments.

March 2014: Subrata Roy turns to his employees and well-wishers to raise the bail money.

April 2014: Sahara offers to pay Rs 3000 crore in four days of Roy’s release.

July 2014: SC rejects Sahara’s offer.

July 2014: Roy seeks permission to move to Tihar Jail’s guest house to hold negotiations regarding selling Sahara’s overseas hotels to raise bail money.

November 2014: Income Tax department raids Sahara offices, says recovered Rs 135 crore in unaccounted money.

December 2014: SC allows Sahara Group to sell properties worth Rs 2700 crore in various cities in India.

January 2015: SC allows Sahara to seek loan from abroad to pay Roy’s bail money.

January 2015: Sahara says it is close to a deal with Mirach Capital for raising $2 billion. The parties say bank of America is involved in the deal.

February 2015: Bank of America says it has nothing to do with the deal between Sahara and Mirach Capital.

February 2015: Sahara accuses Mirach Capital of forgery, threatens legal action.

February 2015: Mirach Capital denies any wrongdoing, accuses Sahara of walking out on the $2 billion deal.

February 2015: Sahara initiates legal action against Mirach Capital.

Meanwhile, Subrata Roy still cools his heels in Tihar Jail.

Shoppers Stop, Walmart to expand stores and online sale structure



Organised retailers like Shoppers Stop and Walmart have drawn up huge investment plans to expand their physical and online presence as the industry faces dwindling sales and profits.
While Shoppers Stop is planning to invest Rs 140 crore for expansion of its stores and online sale infrastructure within next one year, Walmart is seriously looking at opening 50 stores over next five years.
“We have chalked out Rs 140 crore capex plan over next 12-15 months, which include investment of Rs 35 crore on development of technology and infrastructure for the omni channel, which is a combination of physical store and online site,” Shoppers Stop customer care associate and managing director Govind Shrikhande.
“We have 73 stores now. We will be opening six Shoppers Stop stores, three HyperCity stores and five speciality stores during the next 12 months,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the annual retail summit here today.
This capex of Rs 140 crore by Shoppers Stop will happen from its internal accruals, he added.
Elaborating on the plans, Shrikhande said, “We have already generated Rs 150 crore of cash through sales last year and we do hope to generate around Rs 190 crore of cash through same mode over next year. Thus, we have money for the capex from our internal accruals.”
Coming to his company’s debt-equity ratio, he said, “Our debt-equity ratio currently stands at 0.6 per cent and we will manage it to be a little lower next year.”
Walmart India, which became a 100 per cent subsidiary of Walmart Inc last year following the break-up of its JV with Bharti group, has plans to open 50 stores across over the next five years.
“We are focused on cash-and-carry business. We have plans to open 50 stores in the next five years. We already have 20 stores and the 21st store will be opened in Agra in September,” Walmart India president and chief executive Krish Iyer said.
“We want to grow in the B-to-B cash-and-carry and online businesses as well,” he added.
Walmart is betting big on e-Commerce space as part of its business expansion plan in the country.
“We have received good response so far for our online business at five places. Even though we plan to bring our 15 more stores onto the e-commerce space during next five years, going forward for every new store, we will have B-to-B commerce too,” he said.
Even though Walmart is currently focused on Andhra and Telangana to fuel its expansion, it is also eyeing the Northern states.
“In Andhra and Telangana, which are some of our focused geographies, we plan to open cash-n-carry stores. We are also looking at expanding our business in Delhi, UP, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan,” Iyer said.

Niti Aayog: PM Narendra Modi urged states to ‘bury differences’, focus on job creation

Describing “poverty alleviation” as the biggest challenge before the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked chief ministers of various states to “bury differences” and focus on investment cycle, job creation, growth and prosperity.
Chairing the first meeting of the Governing Council of the newly-created NITI Aayog, Modi said, “The Aayog would forge a model of cooperative and competitive federalism in eradication of poverty.”

He also asked the Aayog to ascertain how many of the 66 centrally sponsored schemes (CSSs) should be shelved or transferred to states. While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee skipped the meeting, Bihar CM Jitan Ram Majhi, who may be on his way out, was among those present.
Emphasising that it was imperative to have greater financial devolution and allow flexibility to states to decide their welfare schemes, the PM asked the Aayog to constitute a sub-group of CMs to decide on continuation of the 66 CSSs. Two other such sub-groups will look at skill development and ways to make Swachh Bharat Abhiyan a continuous programme.

“We will move away from one-size-fits-all schemes and forge a better match between schemes and the needs of states,” Modi said.

According to a note circulated for the meeting, given that the next two years would be a period of transition towards “fast-tracking growth and faster development”, the state governments may have to continue with annual plans, but the focus would be on more intensive outcomes.
Noting that projects were often held up for want of timely decisions, Modi sought “personal attention” of CMs to eliminate hurdles.

NITI Aayog Replaces Planning Commission, Prime Minister Modi Bids Farewell To ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach
Emerging from the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the states had also been asked to form two task forces on development of the farm sector and poverty alleviation.
“It was an extremely useful meeting, where there was a large consensus on the need to empower states,” he said, adding that the PM had pointed out that the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana had been successful because of everyone’s cooperation.

The PM acknowledged that the CMs had given valuable inputs on area specific development, and tweeted that “the spirit of cooperative federalism will enhance India’s progress and prosperity”.
Chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Padesh are learnt to have pressed for more financial autonomy in deciding welfare schemes.

Arguing that India would not progress without all its states advancing in tandem, Modi stressed the spirit of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ . Growth was needed to create jobs as well as alleviate poverty, he said.

Xiaomi smartphones to be manufactured in Chennai

Inventec, the Taiwanese ODM which makes notebooks, shopper electronics, cell phones and server merchandise, is wanting to arrange a manufacturing facility in Chennai, in accordance to Digitimes. The manufacturing is predicted to start by the third quarter of 2015 stated the corporate.
According to business-watchers, the primary units that may be rolled out of the Chennai manufacturing unit would be smartphones and different units for Chinese telephone maker Xiaomi. Inventec hasn’t spoken concerning the sorts of merchandise it goals to manufacture in India.
Speaking to tech2, Manu Jain, Xiaomi’s India head stated that the corporate doesn’t touch upon speculations. “We are speaking to a number of companions for exploring manufacturing in India, and it’ll be unfair to remark until we’ve finalized something,” he stated.
Company Chairman Richard Lee has stated that he expects the shipments of ODM/OEM units to attain one hundred million models by 2015, which is an virtually 33% bounce from seventy five million models in 2014. Inventec hopes the power in India will assist it meet the calls for in the subsequent couple of years.
Among all of the units made by Inventec, the smartphone shipments are anticipated to go up to 60 million models as towards fifty five million models final yr. PC merchandise together with notebooks are anticipated to attain 24-25 million models this year.