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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

RBI warns of Ďvery limitedí room to ease monetary policy
Mumbai, May 2
The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday warned of "very limited" space for further easing of monetary policy, striking a hawkish tone a day before it is widely expected to cut interest rates by 25 basis points for the third time this year.

SC stays proceedings on Sahara groupís petition, next hearing on May 8
New Delhi, May 2
In a setback to the Sahara group, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the proceedings in the Allahabad High Court and the Securities Appellate Tribunal over the documents relating to the Rs 24,029 crore it had collected from small investors in 2008-09 and SEBIís move to attach the properties of Sahara promoter Subrata Roy and some of the directors.

ECB cuts rates for first time in 10 months
Bratislava, Slovakia, May 2
The European Central Bank cut interest rates for the first time in 10 months on Thursday, promising to provide as much liquidity as euro zone banks need well into next year and to help smaller companies get access to credit.

Bharti Airtel Q4 net plunges 49.4%, misses estimates
New Delhi, May 2
Top Indian mobile carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd's subscriber growth and usage trends along with easing competition suggest the worst may be over for the industry, even as the firm recorded its thirteenth consecutive quarter of falling profits.



EARLIER STORIES


Unclaimed dividends of Rs 1,101 cr lying with companies; Reliance Ind tops list
New Delhi, May 2
With Rs 113 crore, Reliance Industries Ltd tops the list of companies that have unpaid and/or unclaimed dividends lying with them, Parliament was informed on Thursday.

BlackBerry elevates Sunil Lalvani as head of India ops
Mumbai, May 2
Canadian handset maker BlackBerry said Thursday it has elevated Sunil Lalvani as the managing director of its India operations. He replaces Sunil Dutt, who quit the company in March this year.

India mulls emergency tariffs on some steel products at WTO
GenevaNew Delhi, May 2
India is considering emergency tariffs on some iron and steel pipes, tubes and profiles to protect its domestic industry from imports, primarily from China and Italy, New Delhi said in a World Trade Organization filing seen by Reuters.

 





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RBI warns of Ďvery limitedí room to ease monetary policy
TNS & Agencies

Mumbai, May 2
The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday warned of "very limited" space for further easing of monetary policy, striking a hawkish tone a day before it is widely expected to cut interest rates by 25 basis points for the third time this year.

The cautious language in its report on macroeconomic and monetary developments could dent rising market hopes for a dovish stance from RBI governor Duvvuri Subbarao on Friday and further easing this year.

The RBI's warning comes amidst hope by banks and industry that interest rates would be reduced by at least 25 basis points in addition to a reduction in CRR. "In view of macro-financial risks that stay significant, headline inflation remaining above the threshold and consumer price inflation remaining high, the space for action for 2013-14 remains very limited," the RBI said.

The RBI is expected to cut the policy repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.25% on Friday amid easing headline inflation and an economy growing at its slowest in a decade. However, the outlook for further cuts is tempered by a high current account deficit and still-high inflation.

The RBI's survey of professional forecasters lowered its growth forecast for FY2013-14 to 6% from 6.5% in its previous survey. Asia's third-largest economy is expected to have grown at about 5% in the fiscal year that ended in March. The survey projects wholesale price index inflation at 6.5% during the current fiscal year, lower than the 7% forecast in its last survey. 

Rate cut hopes boost Stocks to 3-mth high

The BSE Sensex rose on Thursday to mark its highest close since early February, as interest rate-sensitive stocks such as HDFC gained on hopes that the RBI will cut interest rates on Friday while TCS rose on value buying. The 30-scrip index rose 1.19%, or 231.59 points, to end at 19,735.77, marking its highest close since Feb 4. The NSE Nifty rose 1.17%, or 69.15 points, to end at 5,999.35, marking its third session of gains, after touching the psychologically important 6,000 level earlier in the day. The Sensex continues to build on gains of 3.6% in April, buoyed by strong foreign investor inflows, as the recent slump in commodity prices is seen helping bridge India's current account deficit. India's factories lost momentum in April as output grew at its weakest pace in over four years, but a jump in export orders augured well for the coming months, a survey showed on Thursday. The RBI may sweeten its expected 25 basis point interest rate cut with a similar reduction in CRR to ease tight market liquidity conditions as increasingly benign inflation gives it room to manoeuvre.

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SC stays proceedings on Sahara groupís petition, next hearing on May 8
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 2
In a setback to the Sahara group, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the proceedings in the Allahabad High Court and the Securities Appellate Tribunal over the documents relating to the Rs 24,029 crore it had collected from small investors in 2008-09 and SEBIís move to attach the properties of Sahara promoter Subrata Roy and some of the directors.

A Supreme Court bench stayed the proceedings on SEBIís plea for transferring these cases to the court to avoid multiplicity of cases at various fora and avoid delays in implementation of the latterís Aug 31, 2012 order directing the market regulator to ensure refund of the money to investors with 15% interest by taking all necessary steps.

The bench asked the Sahara group and its executives to file their response to the SEBI plea by May 8, the next date of hearing.

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ECB cuts rates for first time in 10 months

Bratislava, Slovakia, May 2
The European Central Bank cut interest rates for the first time in 10 months on Thursday, promising to provide as much liquidity as euro zone banks need well into next year and to help smaller companies get access to credit.

The ECB lowered its main interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a record low 0.50% in response to a drop in eurozone inflation well below its target level, and rising unemployment. The cut was widely expected after President Mario Draghi said last month that the ECB stood ready to act ó a phrase he repeated on Thursday ó but few economists expect it to make a decisive difference.

Acknowledging that, the ECB said it would prime banks with as much liquidity as they need until at least July 2014 and look at ways to boost lending to smaller companies, which are the lifeblood of Europe's economies but which in many countries have been starved of credit.

"Weak economic sentiment has extended into the spring of this year," Draghi told a news conference. "Our monetary policy stance will remain accommodative for as long as needed." He stuck with the ECB's forecast that economic recovery will take hold later in the year but highlighted "downside risks" to that position.

The ECB would "monitor very closely" all incoming evidence, Draghi said, a phrase which in the past has suggested further policy action to come. He added that there was a strong consensus to cut rates, indicating one or more policymakers did not agree.

Unemployment hit a record high in March and annual inflation plunged to 1.2% in April, pressuring the ECB to cut rates to honour its mandate to deliver price stability, which it defines as inflation close to, but below 2%. ó Reuters

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Bharti Airtel Q4 net plunges 49.4%, misses estimates
TNS & Agencies

New Delhi, May 2
Top Indian mobile carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd's subscriber growth and usage trends along with easing competition suggest the worst may be over for the industry, even as the firm recorded its thirteenth consecutive quarter of falling profits.

Bharti Airtelís zonal office in Chandigarh. The operatorís subscriber growth and usage trends along with easing competition suggest the worst may be over for the industry, even as the firm recorded its 13th consecutive quarter of falling profits
Bharti Airtelís zonal office in Chandigarh. The operatorís subscriber growth and usage trends along with easing competition suggest the worst may be over for the industry, even as the firm recorded its 13th consecutive quarter of falling profits. ó Reuters

Bharti Airtel, the world's fourth-biggest cellular carrier by customers, posted a worse-than-expected 49.4% slump in net profit at Rs 509 crore in the January-March quarter although its revenue rose 9.2% to Rs 20,448 crore in the same period. Net profit in Q4 of the previous fiscal was Rs 1,006 crore.

Net profit for FY2012-13 dropped 46.6% to Rs 2,276 crore, as against Rs 4,259 crore in the previous fiscal. However, Bharti had to pay one-time tax of Rs 133 crore during the year. Consolidated average revenue per user (ARPU) in India rose to Rs 193 during January-March against Rs 185 in October-December.

Bharti, Vodafone Group Plc and Idea Cellular Ltd have gained market share in recent months as smaller rivals either shut or scaled back operations after a court order revoking permits, giving the big carriers greater pricing power in a country with some of the world's cheapest call rates.

Still, regulatory uncertainty clouds the outlook for the industry, as does the expected launch later this year of 4G services by conglomerate Reliance Industries, which would mean a new rival with serious financial clout.

Bharti shares fell about 5 percent soon after the results were released, before recovering into positive territory.

"The fact is that pricing is becoming more stable, that's a positive going forward," Gopal Vittal, Bharti's India chief executive, told reporters on Thursday.

While earnings were hit by higher interest costs and a tax charge as well as continued losses in its Africa operations, several operating indicators showed improvement.

Market share gains along with the cull of competitors may embolden the big operators to cut discounts further and even raise voice call prices in a market that has not seen any meaningful price increases since a bruising price war in 2009.

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Unclaimed dividends of Rs 1,101 cr lying with companies; Reliance Ind tops list

New Delhi, May 2
With Rs 113 crore, Reliance Industries Ltd tops the list of companies that have unpaid and/or unclaimed dividends lying with them, Parliament was informed on Thursday.

Dividend payments of a little over Rs 1,101 crore are lying unclaimed with 1,406 companies, Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

Payments are required to be made to investors within 30 days of the dividend being declared. Any unpaid or unclaimed amount needs to be transferred to an 'unclaimed dividend account' within the next seven days.

Money lying unclaimed in this account for seven years gets transferred to the Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF).

Subsequently, no such claims are entertained against the company or the IEPF for any money transferred to the fund in accordance with the relevant provisions.

"An amount of Rs 1,101.35 crore is presently available with 1,406 companies on account of unpaid and unclaimed dividends," Pilot said citing data available with 'MCA 21' portal.

Individually, energy giant Reliance Industries has total unclaimed/unpaid dividends worth Rs 113 crore, followed by FMCG major ITC (Rs 74.34) crore, Hindustan Unilever (Rs 49.05 crore), Hero MotoCorp (Rs 40.22 cr) and Tata Steel (Rs 38.53 cr).

Besides, other companies having sizable money lying with them in form unclaimed dividends include Lakshmi Vilas Bank (Rs 34.14 crore), ICICI Bank (Rs 19.17 crore), Larsen & Toubro (Rs 18.69 crore), MRPL (Rs 14.23 crore) and IDBI Bank (Rs 13.59 cr).

The companies declare annual dividends at their annual general meetings and are required to pay the same to the investors within 30 days thereafter. ó PTI

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BlackBerry elevates Sunil Lalvani as head of India ops

Mumbai, May 2
Canadian handset maker BlackBerry said Thursday it has elevated Sunil Lalvani as the managing director of its India operations. He replaces Sunil Dutt, who quit the company in March this year.

Lalvani will be responsible for overseeing and driving the overall business strategy and growth for BlackBerry in India, the company said. An industry veteran with over 20 years of experience, he has been with BlackBerry since 2009, spearheading enterprise sales in India, it added. Before joining BlackBerry, he held various senior level positions with IT firms. ó PTI

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India mulls emergency tariffs on some steel products at WTO

GenevaNew Delhi, May 2
India is considering emergency tariffs on some iron and steel pipes, tubes and profiles to protect its domestic industry from imports, primarily from China and Italy, New Delhi said in a World Trade Organization filing seen by Reuters.

Jindal Saw Ltd and Indian Seamless Metal Tubes Ltd, which account for more than half of India's production of seamless pipes and tubes, asked the government to impose tariffs after their profits fell by more than three-quarters from 2011-2012, according to details of the case published by India's Customs & Central Excise office.

WTO member countries are allowed to use temporary tariffs if they can show there is a real threat of damage to the domestic industry from a surge of imports, although such claims can be challenged by other countries.

Imports of the products have arrived in India at an annualized rate of 373,777 tonnes in 2012-2013, the filing said. Although that was 12.1% less than in 2011-2012, domestic production has still suffered a decline of 18.2% to an annnualized rate of 261,003 tonnes in 2012-2013.

India currently uses little more than a third of its annual production capacity of 685,000 tonnes. ó Reuters

WTO members are obliged to tell the WTO if they are investigating the possibility of tariffs to safeguard an industry, which does not necessarily mean they will go ahead. India invited interested parties to respond within 30 days. 

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