BGR Energy Systems bags orders worth Rs 300 crore

bgr electricEPC major BGR Energy has bagged new orders worth Rs 300 crore in the electricals sub-stations segment following its recent focus on power generation projects.

“BGR Energy Systems Ltd through its electrical projects division has received new orders worth Rs 300 crore in the electrical sub-stations segment,” the Chennai-based company said in a BSE filing.

BGR Energy focused on generation projects and recently focused on transmission and distribution segment in the power sector, the company said.

The orders secured from Transmission Corporation of Telangana Ltd include construction of 400/220 kV substation at Julurupadu in Khammam district and construction of 400/220 kV AIS Substation at Nirmal in Telangana.

The company also bagged project for electrical equipment supply and erection package for TANDA Thermal Power Project Stage-II of National Thermal Power Corporation at Vidyut Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh.

“Given the thrust in substantial scaling up of investments in Transmission and sub-transmission segment, there is a need for significant addition of new capacities across States”, BGR Energy Systems, President-Electrical Projects, V Balakrishnan said.

“With our domain expertise, we are geared to utilise these emerging opportunities,” he said.

BGR Energy System carries an order book of Rs 8,373.60 crore including the new orders, it said.

Received notice from FSSAI over instant noodles

ramdev noodlesPatanjali Ayurved, the FMCG venture promoted by yoga guru Ramdev today said it has received notice from food safety regulator FSSAI, which had accused it of launching instant noodles without approval.

“We have received notice from FSSAI today and we will give reply to it,” a company spokesperson told PTI here without elaborating details.

Last week Central Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had said Patanjali did not have approval for its newly-launched instant noodles, but the company had strongly denied it.

FSSAI Chairperson Ashish Bahuguna had stated that no approval or licence was granted to Patanjali for its instant noodles, and for instant noodles companies needed to take prior approval.

He had said Patanjali Ayurved have not taken approval for it.

Patanjali, however, strongly denied FSSAI’s claims and insisted that it has licence for Pasta, under which noodles fall, as per the regulator’s classification.

The company further said FSSAI has already admitted that it was no longer possible for the regulator to continue with process of product approvals, which was facilitated through an advisory in May 2013, following a Supreme Court order in August this year that upheld an order of Bombay High Court on the issue.

According to FSSAI’s May 2013 advisory, food products covering a broad spectrum including “novel foods, functional foods, food supplements, irradiated foods, genetically modified foods, foods for special dietary uses or extracts or concentrates of botanicals, herbs or of animal sources” should apply for product approval.

The High Court had ruled that the advisory does not have any statutory backing, but the FSSAI had approached the apex court against the verdict.

Patanjali had launched ‘Atta Noodles’ earlier this month in 70 gram packs priced at Rs 15, claiming to be cheaper than competitors, with an eye to take on market leader Nestle’s Maggi, which returned to the shelves five months after FSSAI had banned it.

Nippon Life increases stake in Reliance Life to 49% at Rs 2,265 cr

reliance life anil ambaniJapan’s Nippon Life on Tuesday said that it has signed definitive agreements to increase its stake in India’s Reliance Life to 49 per cent from 26 per cent earlier for Rs 2,265 crore.

Reliance Life gets the enterprise value multiple of over 3, highest in the industry till date.

Despite the overall slowdown in the insurance sector, Reliance Life manages a strong valuation of approximately Rs 10,000 crore and highest EV multiple across Life insurance companies.

The Boards of Directors of both the companies – Nippon Life Insurance(NLI) and Reliance Capital – have approved the increase in stake by the Japanese partner, subject to regulatory approvals.

The Japanese company will be investing an aggregate value of Rs 2,265 crore to acquire an additional 23 per cent stake in Reliance Life Insurance to reach a 49 per cent stake.

“We are delighted that the outstanding relationship between our two companies has now grown into an equal partnership, with NLI increasing their stake – first, in our asset management business, and now, in our Life Insurance business – to 49 per cent. Life Insurance is one of Reliance Capital’s major businesses, and we believe Nippon Life’s experience of over 125 years will accelerate our growth in this space,” said Anil Ambani, chairman, Reliance Group.

“Ever since our initial investment in 2011, we have developed a mutual understanding and built more than just a financial partnership but an interactive relationship based on solid trust. This additional investment represents not only the past efforts and initiatives, but also the good relationship between both companies going forward,” said Yoshinobu Tsutsui, President, Nippon Life Insurance.

This transaction is expected to be completed within the current financial year, subject to receipt of regulatory approvals.

Mall stores must open on Thanksgiving but expect to be busy

Some big retailers face scrutiny for opening on Thanksgiving, but many small stores have no choice. Take jeweler Jerry Amerosi, who has three stores in New York’s Staten Island Mall. Amerosi says he’d rather not work on the holiday, and if his stores were on a downtown or neighborhood street, he wouldn’t.

But his lease at the mall requires him to open. That’s the norm for most malls, whose landlords fine retailers up to $1,000 or more if they don’t open.

So, Amerosi’s stores will be open 6 p.m. to midnight. Eight employees will be working, and if this Thanksgiving is like last year’s holiday, they’ll have their hands full.

”It was crazy busy,” says Amerosi, who declined to give sales figures for his stores, which include Gerald Peters and Gerald Peters Gold Mine.

Big national retailers and malls began opening on Thanksgiving several years ago. The idea was to cater to people who can’t wait until the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday, to start their holiday shopping.

But that has led to criticism of retailers by some labor groups and shoppers for requiring workers to give up time with their families. As a result, some stores have come out publicly to proclaim that they’ll remain closed on Thanksgiving. TJX, which owns TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods, even rolled out ads this year that tout its decision to stay closed during the holidays, with a narrator saying ”family time comes first.”

Still, there’s been an expanding list in recent years of big chains and shopping centers that open at least part of the day. It can pay off: Shoppers spent an estimated $3.3 billion on Thanksgiving last year, according to ShopperTrak, a company that compiles retail industry statistics.

The economics of opening on Thanksgiving can be a little different for the smaller guys. Flower and candy shops in some areas may decide to stay open for customers who need something at the last minute to take to Thanksgiving dinner. But experts say stores that sell gift items for the December holidays are likely to have few takers unless they’re in a mall.

Most independent retailers are likely to close to spend time with their families, but also because shoppers won’t be prowling downtown areas and neighborhoods to see who might be open, says Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor, a consulting company based in Coxsackie, New York. Unless a retailer is a coffee house or food store, he says they’ll probably waste time and money by being open.

”They’re not going to get much sympathy,” Phibbs says. ”People are going to ask, `Are you nuts? Why didn’t you close?”’

But some small stores in malls don’t have a choice.

Refinery, a men’s leather goods and accessory store, will be open along at 10 a.m. with the other stores in the Coconut Point mall in Estero, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. Owner Andrew Kryliouk says he’d rather not work on Thanksgiving, but like other retailers in the mall, he’s required to open his store.

Many of Kryliouk’s customers are people known as snowbirds, who spend the cold weather months in Florida and head back north in the spring. Many shop on Thanksgiving because they don’t have family nearby and so aren’t having big holiday dinners.

”They might go to a restaurant, and then go to the mall to hang out,” says Kryliouk, who had $1,000 in sales last year, compared with $4,000 for a typical November day.

At the Great Mall in Milpitas, California, Alder Riley expects to be busy on the holiday helping customers who need replacement parts for espresso makers, TV remotes and other household items – something always seems to break on Thanksgiving. Last year, when Riley’s business was located in Vermont, his main store in Burlington had $1,200 in revenue, four times the take on a typical day.

Riley’s kiosk, Blu-Bin, uses machines known as 3-D printers to quickly make the parts out of plastic. He’ll have three people working from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day, earning twice their usual pay as they run eight printers.

”We’re anticipating quite a crunch,” Riley says.

Foodpanda, IRCTC partner to offer meals during Indian Railways train journey

foodpanda indiain railwaysOnline food ordering platform Foodpanda today said it has partnered with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to allow passengers order food from restaurants during their train journeys.

IRCTC is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles catering, tourism and online ticketing operations.

A pilot of the proposed association will be launched at the New Delhi Railway station, Foodpanda said in a statement, without disclosing the timeline.

After Delhi, the service will be extended to more cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Chennai in due course of time, it added.

Foodpanda offers menus from over 12,000 restaurants across more than 200 cities.

Passengers can pre-order their meals from the options available for delivery at the opted station. However, they will have to order meals at least 2 hours in advance of the train arrival at the selected station.

Foodpanda will align the delivery of food with the train arrival time at the selected station, fulfilling the transaction through its own delivery arm.

Consumers will have the option of prepaid or cash on delivery.

“Our association with IRCTC will be an offering which addresses a huge consumer need prevailing for years. For long, consumers had limited food options to choose from while travelling with Indian railways but the newly launched e-catering service by IRCTC (approved by Ministry of Railways) is set to change the way Indians eat while travelling,” Foodpanda CEO Saurabh Kochhar said.

Robin Kalita, Director (Catering Services) at IRCTC said the aim is to offer wider choices to consumers.

“We are happy that we will be able to offer wider food choices to our consumers with this association, and once our pilot project is successful, we will extend the service to more locations,” he added.

Idea Cellular to buy Videocon spectrum in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh for Rs 3,310 cr

idea cellularIn a first spectrum trading deal of the country, Idea Cellular today signed a pact with Videocon Telecommunications to buy its airwaves in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh West for Rs 3,310 crore.

Idea said it intends to use this spectrum for the launch of 4G services in these areas next year.

Along with the right to use spectrum, Idea will also be taking over the outstanding liability of Videocon, which it has to pay to government for these set of airwaves.

Idea Cellular in a statement said it has entered “into an agreement with Videocon Telecommunications Limited (Seller) for acquiring right to use spectrum, pursuant to the DoT ‘Guidelines for Trading of Access Spectrum by Access Service Providers’ (Guidelines) dated October 12, 2015, for the telecom service areas of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh (West).”

Videocon had acquired spectrum in 1800 Mhz band, known as 2G spectrum, in these two service areas for a total of Rs 1,329 crore in November 2012 and made upfront payment of Rs 438.57 crore to the government.

Videocon Telecom said it also plans to sell spectrum in low-scale operation circles of UP East and Bihar and is seeking a value of Rs 3,500 crore. The company had won spectrum in six circles – UP East, UP West, Bihar, Gujarat, MP and Haryana in the 2012 auctions for Rs 2,221.44 crore.

“The amount of outstanding on the Deferred Payment Liability after repayment of first installment on December 1, 2015 by Seller (Videocon) will be Rs 482.26 crore and this amount plus interest accrued thereon till the date of closing of transaction will be reduced from the payment of the aggregate consideration of Rs 3,310 crores,” Idea said.

“With this spectrum trading arrangement, Idea’s 4G (LTE) spectrum footprint will expand to 12 service areas covering over 75 per cent of Idea’s current revenue and over 72 per cent of existing 170 million quality subscribers,” the statement said.

Idea plans to launch 4G services in 750 towns across existing 10 circles by the first half of calendar year 2016.

“UP East, UP West and Bihar are our low operation circles, and we were looking at exercising Spectrum Trading options. These 3 circles account for approximately 30 per cent of the country’s population and have a low teledensity , hence very high potential,” Videocon Telecom Director and CEO Arvind Bali said.

He said the value of 1800 Mhz spectrum is pegged at around 65 to 70 per cent of the 900 Mhz spectrum, which makes the total value of the spectrum for these circles to be about Rs 10,050 crores.

Of the six circles where Videocon acquired spectrum, it has full-fledged business operations in three circles, which are Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.

Amazon ads for Nazi-themed TV show spark controversy

amazon advertisingAn Amazon.com Inc representative said late on Tuesday it had not asked for advertisements for a new television show featuring Nazi-inspired imagery to be pulled from New York City’s subway system, despite earlier reports that it had.

The representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter, said a transit official who claimed Amazon had requested the removal following criticism was incorrect.

It was not clear whether the advertisements would be pulled or not. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority did not respond to a request for comment on Amazon’s assertion after business hours.

The advertisements for “The Man in the High Castle” completely wrap the seats, walls and ceilings of one train on the heavily utilized shuttle line that connects Times Square and Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan.

The show, based on a Philip K. Dick novel, depicts an alternate reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan have divided control over the United States after winning World War Two.

The advertisements include a version of the American flag with a German eagle and iron cross in place of the stars, as well as a stylized imperial Japanese flag.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday called on Amazon to remove the ads, calling them “irresponsible and offensive to World War Two and Holocaust survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers.”

In a statement, Amazon did not directly address the controversy, saying the show is part of its lineup of “high-quality, provocative programming that spurs conversation.”

The shuttle train ads were scheduled to run until Dec. 6, according to the MTA. In addition, Amazon also has 260 subway station posters.

An MTA official said earlier on Tuesday that Amazon had asked for the shuttle train ads, but not the posters, to be removed.

The MTA said the advertisements do not violate the agency’s content-neutral guidelines, which ban political ads.

All 10 episodes of the show became available on the Amazon Prime streaming service on Nov. 20.

Frank Spotnitz, the show’s creator, told Entertainment Weekly he agreed the advertisements could be seen as offensive.

“It’s very difficult with a show with subject matter like this to market it tastefully, so I understand they’re walking a very difficult line,” the magazine quoted him as saying on its website. “If they had asked me, I would have strongly advised them not to do it.”

Will start thinking retirement after hitting 60, says Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

USL Chairman Vijay Mallya today said he will not retire from the company’s board anytime soon, but would start thinking about it when he turns 60.

“I am not retiring quite yet, but as I said once, sixty years old, you must start thinking, you know of enjoying life … so what is wrong in me thinking (about it),” he told reporters, responding to a query on when he is going to retire from the USL Board after the much-hyped USL annual general meeting.

“As I said, people are reminding me that I am turning 60. Normally, when you turn 60 you think of retirement,” he added. The liquor baron was born on December 18, 1955.

Mallya is in the news after the media was agog with reports that Diageo, the United Spirits’ new owner, had asked him to step down as Chairman and Director of the Indian liquor firm for alleged fund diversion to Kingfisher and other UB Group entities.

To a question, Mallya said: “See, you try to interpret everything, twist and turn it… I will think when I hit 60. I will start thinking how to enjoy my life, what is wrong with that?”

Asked whether he was in process of reducing stake in United Spirits Limited (USL), Mallya said he was focussing on settling the affairs relating to Kingfisher.

“I am focussing on settling Kingfisher affairs with banks. That’s what my current focus is on,” he said.

On what means he would adopt to reduce the stake, a relatively annoyed Mallya castigated the media for “twisting” and giving a turn to statements.

“This is like saying I am going to buy new suit and your very next question will be where you are going to get, (and) which tailor? What is this ya? You guys have gone nuts,” he said.

He continued, “Please I made a statement, that’s it. You want to twist and turn from every angle. This is not right. This is why I don’t talk to media. One statement cannot be opened to 10 different interpretations. I said what I said.”

Asked about media reports suggesting that a resolution might be moved in the meeting to oust him as USL chairman, Mallya said, “Why should I respond to any stories printed in the media? This whole media game has now become – somebody triggers off some figment of imagination, then the whole media piles on to it and ask multiple questions, from multiple angles. Is this right? Correct reporting?”

K R Manjunath, a shareholder, raised the issue of non-declaration of the dividends due to them for the past three years and the delay in holding the AGM.

“I raised these two issues but I wasn’t satisfied with answers,” he said.

Another shareholder, Dr Ashok, wanted to know if the money received from United Breweries for stake sale to Heineken was utilised.

“I did not get a convincing reply. There is ambiguity in financial matters of the company, and the central government should intervene to protect the interests of minority stakeholders, given the ‘ill’ intentions of the big foreign companies,” he said.

Replying to a question on non-payment of dividend for the last three years, Mallya said provisions and write-offs of Rs 7,200 crore made over last two years put the company into a loss and hence non-payment of dividend.

“The sole reason for it is the provisions and write-offs of Rs 7,200 crore made over last two years. That write-off put the company into a loss and as a result (of loss) dividend could not be paid,” he said.

Nevertheless, the company remains a profitable firm and there isn’t operational loss because it has great brands, Mallya said.

“Or else, I can say that this remains a profitable company. There is no operational loss. We have great brands and we are a strong company,” he said.

Lanco inks MoU with Chhattisgarh for solar cell plant

solar powerLanco Solar Pvt Ltd, arm of Lanco Infratech, today inked a pact with Chhattisgarh to set up 100 MW solar cell manufacturing plant (Reuters)

Lanco Solar Pvt Ltd, arm of Lanco Infratech, today inked a pact with Chhattisgarh to set up 100 MW solar cell manufacturing plant.

“Lanco Infratech Ltd (LITL) today announced its subsidiary Lanco Solar signed an agreement with Chhattisgarh. As per the MOU inked today with Chhattisgarh, Lanco Solar will set up 100 MW solar cell manufacturing plant,” the company said in a statement.

For the integrated solar PV manufacturing project, which restarted in July, LITL has already invested Rs 1,200 crore to manufacture Poly-Silicon Refining and Wafer Plant and 150 MW module plant.

The project is being set up at a 250 acre SEZ location in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh under the National Solar Mission objective of achieving domestic PV cell production of 2,200 MW/year and the Make in India initiative.

The project has already approved and committed water and power availability and all clearances for land and its usage, the company said.

The MoU was signed today in the presence of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, state’s Industry Secretary Subodh Singh, Lanco Solar President Raj Kumar Roy, Executive Chairman of Lanco L Madhusudhan Rao and Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary Vivek Dhand, the company said.

Lanco Infratech Executive Chairman L Madhusudhan Rao said: “We are elated to be part of the MOU as this will be a showcase project being the first poly silicon and Ingots & Wafers manufacturing facility coming up in India. At the same time it plays anchor Industry role to attract investments in other solar PV manufacturing units within this plug & play SEZ zone.”

“Other salient features of the project that will attract investments are Manufacturing units within SEZ located in State of Chhattisgarh would also have logistic advantage for marketing being centrally located for entire Indian market. The existing industrial zone within 40 – 80 km periphery of this SEZ would provide adequate manpower and sub-vendor base support to manufacturing units in this SEZ,” Rao added.

Lanco has decided to earmark around 150 acres within its Solar SEZ for domestic and foreign companies interested in setting up Solar manufacturing facilities in India unique advantage for interested solar projects in India, the statement said.

Lanco is on course to commission it is under construction integrated Solar PV manufacturing project located in this SEZ by September 2016, it added. “The state is committed to make National Solar Mission a great success and contribute to achieve 100 GW of Solar power target in the country by 2022,” Singh said.

The MoU worth Rs 290 crore is expected to be functional by January 2017 and will be set up within 250 acre Solar Special Economic Zone (SEZ) located in Rajnandgaon district, the official said adding that it will create a direct employment opportunities for over 150 people.

The solar SEZ in Rajnandgaon having plug-and-play facilities for solar component manufacturers is being developed under National Solar Mission with objective of achieving domestic solar PV cell production of 2,200 MW/year and boost ambitious Make in India programme of the Centre, the official said.

Lanco Infra back in black; posts Rs 99-cr profit in Q2

lanco infraThe firm posted a loss of Rs 527.48 crore in the same period last year, Lanco Infratech Ltd (LITL) said in BSE filing. (PTI)

Swinging back to black Lanco Infratech Ltd today posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 98.98 crore in the second quarter of the current fiscal after three years, due to tax reimbursements and favourable power tariff order.

The firm posted a loss of Rs 527.48 crore in the same period last year, Lanco Infratech Ltd (LITL) said in BSE filing.
According to the statement, the company earned profits on the consolidated basis after a gap of three years.

Elaborating further, the company said that Lanco Kondapalli Power a step down subsidiary of the company received a favourable order from Supreme Court directing Andhra Pradesh utilities for MAT reimbursement of about Rs 175 crore plus interest towards tax component forming part of the tariff for the period FY 2001 to FY 2012.

After the apex court order, the company has recognised the said amount as income during the second quarter.

The company further said that Lanco Anpara Power, a step down subsidiary of Lanco Infratech, received UPERC Tariff order to compensate for the changes in RFP/PPA conditions in respect of coal supply and power purchase payments.

Consequent to the UPERC order, the company recognised Rs 499.58 crore as one time tariff income for the quarter ended September 30, 2015.

The company’s consolidated net loss during the first half of this fiscal narrowed to Rs 201.38 crore compared to Rs 833.83 crore in April-September period last year. It had recorded a consolidated net loss of Rs 2,036.74 crore in 2014-15.

Its consolidated income from operations increased to Rs 3,418.60 crore in the second quarter as against Rs 2,287.25 crore in the same period, a year ago.

It said that the second quarter has seen significant jump of 366 per cent (QoQ) in EPC Revenues of LITL on account of restart of work in the Group’s under construction stalled power projects (Amarkantak 3&4, Babandh, Vidarbha and Mandakini – totalling 4036 MW with an investment of about Rs 33,000 crore)

Its Kondapalli Phase II & III (1108 MW) have won bids under gas pooling mechanism for operating at 50 per cent PLF from October 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

The company said that the Supreme Court has directed South Eastern Coalfields to supply coal and PGCIL to provide transmission corridor to Amarkantak 300 MW Unit II, and accordingly SECL has started supplying coal from November 7, 2015 after a gap of 30 months.

The EPC order book of Lanco (including power and solar projects) stands at Rs 27,722 crore. The financial closure of the cost overrun proposals of the above projects will enable the execution of majority of this order book within the next three years, the company said.