3,725 grape containers stopped at European ports: Anand Sharma

New Delhi: As many as 3,725 containers of Indian grapes exported to European countries were stopped at various ports after authorities there found the fruit to have higher than prescribed limit of pesticide, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday, reports PTI.

However, following an intervention by Indian officials England and Ireland agreed to accept the consignment of grapes but Germany and Holland stood their ground, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told the Lok Sabha while replying to supplementaries during Question Hour.

Mr Sharma said Indian grapes, shipped between January and April this year, were found to have more than the prescribed 0.05 mg/kg limit of chlormequat, a chemical residue. Chlormequat chloride is commonly called lihocin.

The Indian envoy to the European Commission headquarters in Belgium took up the matter with authorities there arguing that the European Food Safety Authority accepted products having higher than 0.05 mg/kg of chlormequat, he said.

Following the intervention by officials, England and Ireland decided to accept consignments ordered by their importers, he said adding that Germany and Holland stood their ground.

Pratap Sonawane, a BJP member from Dhule, claimed that Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) had failed to inform grape farmers about the change in European norms for export of the fruit.

Mr Sonawane also sought to know whether government would pay compensation to the affected farmers.

States like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are the major exporters of grapes and in order to keep the fruit fresh, chlormequat is used as a preservative.

Lihocin is recommended for grapes in India as it helps protect fruit buds. Though it is meant to be sprayed 45 days after pruning in October, some farmers use it excessively and much later than October leaving high level of residues.

Indian grapes are exported mainly to the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates. In 2008-09, India exported grapes worth Rs408.6 crore, out of which those to the Netherlands amounted to Rs134.4 crore.


Bilcare to acquire INEOS Grp's global films business for Rs607 crore

Mumbai : Pharma solutions provider Bilcare AG on Monday said that it has entered into a binding agreement with INEOS Group to acquire its Global Films business for Rs607-crore, reports PTI.

INEOS, a leading pharma and specialty films business with annual sales of Rs1,458-crore, has entered into the agreement to bring together complimentary capabilities and synergies of two leading global businesses, a press release issued here stated.

"This acquisition is a paradigm shift in the pharma packaging space and a significant step towards creating a customer-centric company to deliver path-breaking innovations and establish global leadership," Bilcare's chairman, Mohan Bhandari, said.

The deal comprises the business, assets and personnel related to INEOS' Films operations located in North America, Europe and Asia.

"Bringing together Bilcare's research and development focus with our own broad production and application knowledge provides a very strong strategic fit. This agreement will put INEOS Films assets and people at the centre of a new business with the innovation and drive necessary for it to grow and further develop, which is good for the business and its customers globally," INEOS Films CEO, Iain Hogan, said.

The transaction is proposed to be effected through a merger process in Germany, in relation to the German company and its subsidiaries. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of August.


Base rate regime to propel commercial paper issuances: CRISIL

Ratings agency CRISIL said The base rate mechanism, which now replaces the benchmark prime-lending rate (BPLR) mechanism, is likely to make working capital borrowing from banks more expensive for corporates than accessing funds from the capital markets.

According to a CRISIL study of the working capital requirements of India's corporates, switching to commercial papers (CP) will assist corporates save interest costs, thereby resulting in a one percentage point increase in their profits, it said in a release.

Corporates are likely to switch to CPs to fund short-term working capital requirements under the base-rate mechanism. Somasekhar Vemuri, head, CRISIL Ratings, said, "By making this switch, CRISIL estimates that corporates can save as much as Rs11.7 billion in interest expenses - equivalent to around 1% of their net profits. These savings may be higher during periods of abundant liquidity".
The supply of CPs from corporates was low in the past; corporates had the flexibility to avail of funds from banks at rates that were on par with CP rates under the erstwhile BPLR regime. Now, with that flexibility no longer available under the base-rate mechanism, corporates are likely to issue a larger quantum of CPs, the ratings agency said.

CRISIL said its analysis reveals that corporates with ratings of 'P1' or higher, have rupee-denominated working capital bank borrowings of around Rs1,800 billion as on 31 March 2010, all of which potentially can be replaced by CPs. 

"CRISIL believes that the additional comfort of liquidity backup, combined with historically  robust credit quality, makes CPs rated 'P1+' and  'P1' by CRISIL attractive investment options for Mutual funds (MFs), even on a risk-adjusted basis. Under the base-rate regime, MFs can consider lending to corporates directly by subscribing to CPs. Banks, too, are likely to invest aggressively in CPs, to retain corporate customers, thereby adding to the overall demand for CPs," said Raman Uberoi, Senior Director, CRISIL Ratings.  

Short-term instruments rated 'P1+' and 'P1' by CRISIL, have displayed robust credit quality over the past decade; the one-year default rate for such ratings during the period 2000-2009 has been zero, the ratings agency said.


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