2G scam: Dayanidhi Maran comes under SC scanner

The CBI said that Malaysian firm Maxis was favoured by former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and was granted licence within six months after taking over the Aircel in December 2006. Mr Maran was the telecom minister between February 2004 and May 2007

New Delhi: Union textile minister Dayanidhi Maran has come under the Supreme Court's scanner in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation scam with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raking up his role in 'forcing' a Chennai-based telecom promoter to sell his stakes in Aircel to a Malaysian firm in 2006, reports PTI.

The agency, which placed its 71-page fresh status report about the 2G scam, said that during 2004-07 when Mr Maran was telecom Minister, the promoter C Sivasankaran, was forced to sell the stake in Aircel to a Malaysian firm Maxis Group.

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, who read the status report before a bench of justice GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly, did not take Mr Maran's name but stated that the Chennai businessman was not granted UAS licence for two years.

It said that the Malaysian firm was favoured by Mr Maran and was granted licence within six months after taking over the Aircel in December 2006. Mr Maran was the telecom minister between February 2004 and May 2007.

"The gentleman (promoter of Aircel) had been knocking at various doors but was left with no choice but to sell his shares to a Malaysian form," said Mr Venugopal, representing the CBI, while reading out from the status report that was filed in a sealed cover.

Earlier, an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had placed documents before the apex court showing the alleged role of Mr Maran in favouring Maxis group of Malaysia which had bought Chennai-based telecom company, Aircel, owned by Siva Group, when he was telecom minister from 2004 to 2007.

CPIL had alleged that Mr Maran, who is now Union textile minister, had during his tenure as telecom minister granted 14 licences to Aircel which invested Rs599.01 crore in his family-owned business.

Later, he allegedly delayed the award of UAS licenses to Aircel which had been applying with the Department of Communications (DoT) since 2004 by raising irrelevant issues from time to time ignoring the request of its owner C Sivasankaran to resolve them, following which he sold the company to Maxis group owned by Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan.

Mr Sivasankaran had appeared before the CBI last month and had recorded his statement.

The NGO claimed that after Aircel was taken over by the Maxis, Mr Maran's family-owned business, Sun TV, received substantial investment from Maxis Group (Aircel) by taking 20% equity in Sun Direct.

"Feeling harassed, Mr Sivasankaran was forced into selling Aircel. In March 2006, Maxis bought 74% stake in Aircel. The company got the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in May 2006. As on 3 March 2006, a total of 14 applications from Aircel were pending in the DoT for award of licenses," the NGO had said.

During the hearing, Mr Venugopal told the court that the CBI is to complete its probe into the money trail, involving the 2G spectrum allocation scam, by 31st August.

He also added that the probe into all the irregularities in the spectrum allocation during 2001-08 will be completed within 3 months by 30th September.

The bench slated 11th July as the next date of hearing.


Timbre Media-Saregama India to bring back WorldSpace legacy

Here is good news for WorldSpace radio fans. Erstwhile employees of WorldSpace along with Saregama India, plan to provide much-loved music through mobile, Internet and DTH

Saregama India Ltd, which owns the largest music archives in the country, has bought a 10% stake in Timbre Media Pvt Ltd for an undisclosed sum. Both Saregama and Timbre Media will provide a variety of high-quality, genre-based radio channels, similar to WorldSpace, in the Indian market. Timber Media is a venture set up by erstwhile employees of WorldSpace Satellite Radio that was forced to exit from the business.

Seetal Iyer, co-founder and head of content, Timbre Media, said, "Timbre Media was formed in 2010 and has drawn experience from professionals involved with WorldSpace. We focused on returning those lost stations of WorldSpace to the people. For our listeners, this means that their favourite WorldSpace stations like Farishta, Jhankaar, Gandharv, and Shruti, to name a few, will be back again soon on various platforms."

On 31 December 2009, WorldSpace stopped broadcasting its radio signals, leaving thousands of loyal listeners in shock. It was amazing to know and witness the kind of goodwill and customer base WorldSpace enjoyed among its Indian customer base. About 95% of the total WorldSpace subscribers were from India. The goodwill and customer base that WorldSpace India, a prodigy of a US-based company enjoyed across various parts of India, was the envy of Indian FM channels.

Saregama India and Timbre Media plan to leverage the distribution network of Saregama and Timbre Media-developed channels to target the digital domain of mobile, Internet and direct-to-home (DTH) television services.

"We believe that there is still a very loyal customer base that appreciates the quality that the Timbre team provided previously on WorldSpace. Through this alliance we will endeavour to bring the same quality and serve this product in all possible digital formats including mobile, DTH and the Internet," said Adarsh Gupta, business head for music at Saregama India.

The two companies plan to use content from Saregama's industry-leading and extensive library as well as from other popular labels, to provide unparalleled 24-hour stations, broadcasting Indian music ranging from old Hindi films, Hindustani classical, Carnatic classical, new Hindi music, ghazals, and also stations in major Indian languages.

Following the exit of WorldSpace from India, Airtel DTH that used to broadcast the radio channels on its platform, resorted to 10 radio channels of All India Radio (AIR). In 2009, out of about 4.5 lakh WorldSpace subscribers more than 50% used the Airtel DTH pay-TV package. However, WorldSpace India did not earn enough cash from its deal with Airtel DTH.

The DTH services provider offered 10 channels of WorldSpace at Rs10 a month, or Rs120 a year, with subscribers to its Rs200 package and above getting the radio channels absolutely free of cost. At the same time, WorldSpace was charged Rs2,000 per annum for 40 channels. Therefore, in a way, the deal was not profitable for WorldSpace, but helped it to increase its subscriber base in the country.

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Shibaji Dash

6 years ago

everything you have written about World Space India- that was-is true in every respect. Like many I was desperately waiting for such a news. Frankly, World Space India, to my mind, was charging a pittance considering the super quality of streaming music and excellent informative interviews they were dishing out. Moneylife indeed has a keen eye on everything that's wholesome for life- from creating wealth in bonafide way to health care that ofcourse includes value music. Many thanx.

Share prices trying to keep themselves afloat: Wednesday Closing Report

Below 5,600, the Nifty may fall to 5,500

Worries of a slowdown in global economic growth and fresh developments in Portugal led the market lower today. The banking, PSU and healthcare sectors were the worst-performing sectors today.

Reflecting the mixed trend in the Asian markets, the domestic market also opened lower this morning. The Nifty opened nine points lower at 5,623 and the Sensex resumed trade at 18,730, down 15 points from its previous close. PSU oil companies, banking, power and healthcare stocks were under pressure in early trade. However, investors soon resorted to bargain hunting, taking the indices to their intra-day highs in the first half hour. At the day's high the Nifty rose to 5,655 and the Sensex touched 18,823.

However, sharp volatility saw the indices bobbing in and out of the red on quite a few occasions. Rudderless trade led the market to the day's low in the post-noon session, when the Nifty lost 21 points to touch 5,611 and the Sensex fell to 18,683, down 62 points. A sharp recovery followed, lifting the market into the positive. However, the lower opening on key European markets made investors jittery in late trade and the market closed flat with a negative bias for the second day. The Nifty closed down seven points at 5,625 and the Sensex finished at 18,727, down 18 points.

The Nifty trailed close to its first support of 5,600 in trade today. The market is trying hard to restrain itself from falling. If the Nifty closes below 5,600, its next support lies at 5,500.

The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was 965:979.

Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index added 0.04% and the BSE Small-cap index rose 0.23%.

BSE Consumer Durables (up 1.39%), BSE Capital Goods (up 0.51%) and BSE Auto (up 0.37%) were the top sectoral gainers. BSE Bankex (down 0.93%), BSE PSU and BSE Healthcare (down 0.44% each) were the losers.

Tata Motors (up 1.54%), HDFC (up 1.23%), Hindalco Industries (up 1.07%), Larsen & Toubro (up 0.85%) and Reliance Industries (up 0.77%) were the top Sensex gainers. Reliance Communications (down 2.46%), Tata Power (down 2.02%), ICICI Bank (down 1.98%), Hero Honda (down 1.63%) and Jaiprakash Associates (down 1.52%) were the major losers on the index.

The top gainers on the Nifty were Tata Motors (up 2.07%), HDFC (up 1.69%), Hindalco (up 1.50%), Sesa Goa (up 1.24%) and Bajaj Auto (up 0.93%). RCom (down 2.81%), Reliance Capital (down 2.63%), Tata Power (down 2.28%), Dr Reddy's (down 2.18%) and ICICI Bank (down 2.17%) were the main losers.

Markets in Asia settled mixed on Wednesday with the Nikkei 225 gaining for the seventh day in a row, the longest winning streak in two years. On the other hand, Chinese banks were down, as Singapore-based Temasek sold $3.6 billion worth stake in two Chinese banks. Lingering debt concerns in Eurozone nations also weighed on investors.

The Shanghai Composite fell 0.21%, the Hang Seng tumbled 1.01%, the Jakarta Composite declined 0.39% and the Straits Times slipped 0.48%. On the other hand, the KLSE Composite rose 0.60%, the Nikkei 225 surged 1.10%, the Seoul Composite gained 0.44% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.46% higher in trade.

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks worth Rs825.52 crore on Tuesday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net sellers of shares worth Rs898.49 crore.

Textile major Raymond plans to open 400 new stores in smaller towns as part of the next phase of expansion. This is to be undertaken mainly through the franchise route into tier 3, 4 and 5 towns, some of which have a population of only 15,000-20,000. The company currently has 740 stores, 600 of which are under the 'The Raymond Shop' brand name. The stock gained 1.54% to Rs381.90 on the NSE today.

The US health regulator has issued a warning to Cadila Healthcare for violation of current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) regulations for finished pharmaceuticals at its facility in Gujarat. The American health regulator said it identified significant violations during its inspection of the plant at Sanand. Cadila Healthcare fell 1.46% to Rs935.10 per share on the NSE.

More than four months after UK's BP Plc agreed to buy a 30% stake in Reliance Industries' (RIL) oil and gas blocks, the oil ministry has referred the $7.2 billion deal to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval. The deal is the single largest foreign direct investment in the country and RIL had on 25th February made a formal application to the oil ministry for approval of the transfer of stake to Europe's second biggest oil company. The RIL stock gained 0.78% to Rs852.55 on the NSE.

JSW Steel today reported a 14% year-on-year increase in crude steel production to 5.73 lakh tonne in June compared to 5.03 lakh tonne in the month a year ago. The company said crude steel production rose by 8.64% in the first three months of the current fiscal to 17.1 lakh tonnes from 15.74 lakh tonnes in the corresponding previous quarter. The stock rose 1.66% to close at Rs890 on the NSE.


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