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DoT questions TDSAT jurisdiction to hear telcos’ plea on 3G

Terming the inter-circle roaming pacts among telecom service providers for 3G services in areas where they do not have the designated spectrum as ‘illegal’, the government had issued notices to five players to stop such services immediately

New Delhi: The telecom ministry today questioned the jurisdiction of the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on entertaining the petitions of five telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, challenging the government's directive to stop third generation (3G) roaming agreements, reports PTI.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) AS Chandiok appearing for the Department of Telecom (DoT) told the tribunal that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the petitions which are altering the terms of telecom licence.

Terming the inter-circle roaming pacts among telecom service providers for 3G services in areas where they do not have the designated spectrum as ‘illegal’, the government had issued notices to five players to stop such services immediately.

The operators—Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Tatas and Aircel—had challenged the government’s decision in the TDSAT.

The ASG said that in its recent judgement the Supreme Court has said that the tribunal cannot entertain the petition which is altering the licence conditions.

On this the tribunal asked the government to file a separate application in this regard. The ASG said, “It would be filed today only.”

Further, the tribunal asked the operators to file replies of the new coming application questioning its jurisdiction by Friday this week and directed to list the matter on Monday (9th January) for the next hearing.

Meanwhile, state-owned BSNL today requested to implead into this ongoing dispute and make it a party in the suit.

Additional Solicitor General AS Tankha appearing for BSNL submitted that that PSU is going to be affected very largely by the outcome of its hearing and it should be heard. He also submitted that an application in this regard would be filed today only.

On this, the TDSAT chairman justice SB Sinha said it should be decided only after deciding on the preliminary objections raised by the DoT.

During the proceedings Mr Chandiok submitted that operators have still not complied with the interim order of TDSAT dated 24th December directing them to handover the copies of their 3G roaming agreements.

The operators said that they were asked to hand over their agreements only to the tribunal and not to the DoT.

The operators said that they have already submitted their agreements in a seal cover before the tribunal.

However, the tribunal said that such agreements submitted by the operators can be inspected by DoT through its counsel.

Yesterday, in a strong rebuttal to telecom operators on the issue of 3G roaming, the government had alleged that service providers have not come with clean hands and that they have suppressed material documents before telecom tribunal TDSAT.

Filing an affidavit before the TDSAT, the DoT had requested the tribunal to dismiss the petition of telecom operators challenging the government directive to stop 3G roaming immediately.

DoT had on 23 December 2011 issued notices to telecom companies saying their 3G roaming pacts were illegal and should be stopped immediately within 24 hours.

Operators—Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tatas—challenged DoT’s decision before the TDSAT on the same day.

User

What is the value of a ‘brand’, lately, anyway?

The ‘market’ has a way of factoring in the brand value, so to include an add-on component in the books is in effect taking a charge on the same asset twice, and that is dishonesty in any language

If the accounting firms of the world are to be believed, then the value of a ‘brand’ cannot only be estimated in terms of cash values, but can also be entered on bottomlines and in balance sheets. Taking this one logical step forward, this bit of magic can then be sold as close to the hard fact to otherwise sceptical bankers, That these are more or less, with some changes in their own brand names, the same accounting firms responsible for wonderful valuations like the ones on Enron or closer home Satyam, is not missed out by most.
 
But regardless, the juggernaut of “brand value” rolls on, regardless.
 
For example, the “brand value” of Coca-Cola used to top the charts till 3-4 years ago, but has recently seen the rankings notch down to the higher teens, while the ‘value’ itself appears to have lost about 20% of its bubble in that time period. These are in scores of billions of dollars, by the way, and separate from valuations on ‘goodwill’, and both of these find their way on to balance sheets of listed companies, Seldom, however, will you see them discussed by analysts or at the meetings which make or break markets.
 
Here in India, Kingfisher’s brand value was estimated to be at around Rs4,000 crore, as estimated by Grant Thornton—which value was acceptable to banks in India led by State Bank of India (SBI)—and that was then used as collateral for, you guessed it right, a loan of a higher amount. The same valuation is, however, not applied when a successful public sector undertaking is hived off in the name of liberalisation or privatisation. How much, for example, would the brand value of Maruti have been, and why was it not applied over and above the numbers then achieved?
 
The ‘market’ has a way of factoring in the brand value, so to include an add-on component in the books is in effect taking a charge on the same asset twice, and that is dishonesty in any language. Investors are advised to look at balance sheets carefully for tell-tale signs like this on the asset side.

(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves. Mr Malik had a career in the Merchant Navy which he left in 1983, has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, a love for travel, and an active participation in print and electronic media as an alternate core competency, all these and more.)

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