Here’s a look at this week’s top 10 Indian business news.
Indian bank looking at opening 1,525 ultra small branches
"We will be opening 1,525 Ultra Small Branches comprising one clerk, one laptop and one Rural Development officer" said T M Bhasin, Chairman and MD, Indian Bank.
The move is a part of the state owned bank’s goal to tap into rural areas and villages across the country with populations between 2,000 and 5,000. Each ultra small branch will be staffed by a clerk and a Rural Development Officer (RDO). To fulfill staffing requirements the bank is looking to recruit 1,200 clerks, 500 probationary officers and 300 RDOs, reported TOI.
GAIL signs $1.5 billion deal with Gas Natural Fenosa
GAIL has signed a $1.5 billion deal with Gas Natural Fenosa. The agreement will see GAIL importing 3 billion cubic meters of liquid gas over the next three years by ship from the Spanish natural gas utilities company. B C Tripathi, Chairman, GAIL said that the deal addresses ‘long-term energy security of India’ and called it a ‘key milestone’ in Indo-Spanish energy cooperation.
SC asks Sahara Group to repay more than Rs. 24,000 crore to investors
Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd (SHICL) and the Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd (SIRECL) have been asked to refund more than Rs. 24,000 crore to investors.
The money was raised between 2008 and 2011 from over two crore small investors who had invested in the group’s optionally fully convertible debentures. Additionally the group was asked to repay the monies along with 15% interest to bank accounts within the next 3 months, reported The Hindu.
Krispy Kreme to open first Indian store in 2012
Krispy Kreme is planning to open its first store in India this year, reported TOI.
The international doughnut chain store’s CEO said that the decision was made as its doughnuts were popular among Indian expats in UK. Krispy Kreme is partnering with Citymax India to open 80 stores in western and southern India in the next 5 years.
GDP grows 5.5%: Stronger than expected but lower than Q2 2011
According to data released by the Central Statistics Office, the Indian economy grew marginally by 5.5% in Q2 2012. While this is lower than 8% achieved in Q2 2011, commentators attributed the marginal uptick, from 5.3% in Q1 2012 to 5.5%, to ‘robust farm sector growth’ and believed that ‘ the worst may be over’.
"We are certainly not happy with this growth rate but it is an improvement over the last quarter and we hope we will be able to build on this" said Arvind Mayaram, Economic Affairs Secretary.
Bharti Airtel partners with Microsoft to launch Office 365
Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest telecommunications company has joined hands with Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, to deliver Office 365 in India. Bharti Airtel will use its own cloud platform to offer Office 365 to SMBs including freelancers, home office owners, small and medium sized businesses in India.
The various basic services offered include cloud based email, hosted websites, anti-virus in addition to cloud based access to Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. Plans for bigger businesses have on offer high level flexible services including CEO and Sales Support productivity pack, enterprise content management and customized customer relationship management among others.
Lanco Infratech, Punj Lloyd and Adani Port barred from two port projects
ET reported that Lanco Infratech, Punj Lloyd and Adani Port had been barred by the home ministry to take part in two port projects. Lanco Infratech’s permission for a cargo berth at Tuticorin Port was declined while Punj Lloyd and Adani Ports & SEZ (APSEZ) were denied ‘security clearance for the coal import’ at Goa’s Mormugao Port.
Following ET’s report, shares of Punj Lloyd and Lanco Infratech traded 4% lower while APSEZ’s shares traded near its 52 week low.
Mercedes to assemble M-Class and GL-Class luxury SUV’s in India for the first time
"For the first time, Daimler will start the final assembly of the SUV model series for the new Mercedes-Benz M-and GL-Class outside the SUV parent plant in Tuscaloosa/ Alabama, USA" announced Daimler AG.
The German automobile manufacturer plans to roll out the cars from its assembly line as early as 2013. Along with India, the company will also assemble local versions of the SUV’s domestically in Thailand and Indonesia, reported Business Today.
BT sells 1.8 crore Tech Mahindra shares
Global telecommunications services company BT sold a 14.1% stake in Tech Mahindra worth about Rs. 1,395 crore. By doing so, the co-promoter has reduced its holding in the company from 23.16% to 9.1%.
JP Morgan and Credit Suisse managed the deals with various institutional investors for an average price of Rs. 778 per share. About 1.8 crore shares exchanged hands.
L&T sells L&T Plastics Machinery to Toshiba Machine
Larsen & Toubro announced that it will be selling L&T Plastics Machinery to Toshiba Machine as a part of the Indian conglomerate’s strategy to exit its non-core businesses.
"We don’t see the point in deploying resources and use senior management’s bandwidth on businesses which are not key to our core competency" said K Venkataramanan, CEO & MD, L&T. In FY 2011-12, the L&T Plastics Machinery had a net profit of Rs. 11 crore and revenues exceeding Rs. 200 crore, reported TOI. "We have identified some more businesses for divestment but it’s too early to reveal details" added Venkataramanan.