BoR board likely to meet on Thursday to discuss voting validity

The meeting was called after a majority of the directors on the bank's 15-member board sought to clear the uncertainties pertaining to the EGM held on Monday, which witnessed dramatic events following court interventions

Amid the continuing uncertainty on the validity of the poll conducted by Bank of Rajasthan (BoR) shareholders on Monday, the bank's Board is likely to meet on Thursday (24th June) to discuss the legal opinion it has obtained on the matter, reports PTI.

According to a source close to the development, the meeting was called after majority of the directors on the bank's 15-member board demanded it to clear the uncertainties pertaining to the Extra-ordinary General Meeting (EGM), which witnessed dramatic events following court interventions.

"The board of BoR will meet tomorrow to discuss the legal opinion it received on the validity of the voting process conducted at the EGM. The meeting has been called for after a majority of the independent directors of the bank demanded it," the source told PTI.

On Monday, high drama marked the shareholders' vote on Bank of Rajasthan's merger with country's largest private sector bank, ICICI Bank, with a local court in Kolkata staying the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) only for it to be vacated by the high court.

The meeting to approve the merger of Udaipur-based BoR with the country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank got off to a chaotic start, when the BoR management said it was cancelling the meet following a stay obtained by an investor from a civil court. Following this, the shareholders elected a chairman from among them and went ahead with the voting.

On Tuesday, BoR's RBI-appointed managing director and CEO, G Padmanabhan had said that the bank has sought legal opinion to examine whether the votes cast by the shareholders were legally binding.

BoR is understood to have received the version from legal experts on the validity of shareholders' poll but the details are not yet known.

Both BoR and ICICI Bank shareholders had voted in favour of the merger of the two entities at a swap ratio of 1:4.72.

BoR has nine independent directors on its Board-P N Bhandari, K N Bhandari, M R Calla, Pran Agarwal, K G Kurian, Vipul Mehta, Dharinder Tayal, Salil Kapoor, Nitin Goel. It has five RBI nominees also on the board including Padmanabhan.

ICICI Bank last month agreed to take over Bank of Rajasthan in a share-swap deal that valued the Udaipur-based bank at over Rs3,000 crore. The share swap ratio was fixed at one ICICI Bank share for every 4.72 shares of BoR. Both banks can proceed with the merger only if the shareholders approve the swap ratio.

Once the shareholders approve the merger, both banks will then approach the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

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India, EU working to sign labour mobility pact

The pact provides for cooperation in areas of labour market expansion, employment facilitation, orderly migration, exchange of information and cooperation in introducing best practices

In an effort to ensure orderly migration to and fro, India and European Union are working on signing a labour mobility pact, which envisages exchange of information relating diverse fields of employment, reports PTI.

The decision to go for such a pact was taken at a meeting between European Union foreign affairs minister Baroness Catherine Asthon and overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi in New Delhi today.

Officials present at the meeting said both the sides basically discussed about signing a 'Labour Mobility Partnership Agreement (LMPA)' to facilitate "legal" and "orderly migration" of the workforce from India to European Countries and vice versa.

The LMPA provides for cooperation in areas of labour market expansion, employment facilitation, orderly migration, exchange of information and cooperation in introducing best practices.

"We discussed issues of mutual interests. The focus was mainly on migration and movement of people. The dialogue went off very well," Mr Ravi said after the meeting.

Seeking greater two-way engagement, Ms Asthon, on her part, said both the sides discussed ways and means to improve opportunities for migrant workers in India as well as Europe.

European Union is India's major partner in the area of trade and investment. Both the sides are now negotiating a free trade agreement.

Ms Asthon said the 27-nation economic bloc was interested in enhancing ties with India in new technology sector.

"We are particularly focusing on what's happening in places like Bangalore and the opportunities in new technology industry and opportunities for Indians in Europe," she said.

India has already signed LMPAs with several Gulf countries.

Officials of the ministry of overseas Indian affairs said one of the priorities of the government is to diversify the overseas destination base for Indian workers and secure labour markets for them in the emerging job opportunities across the globe.

India has signed LMPAs last year with Malaysia and Bahrain to improve recruitment, employment conditions of workers and promote legal migration.
 

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Govt to set up panel for US investments in infrastructure

The committee, to be set up under Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, would coordinate with various ministries and prepare a roadmap before US president Barack Obama's India visit in November, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Washington

India will set up a high-level committee to identify areas for expanding economic ties with the US, from where it expects an estimated investment of $250-$300 billion in infrastructure space, reports PTI.

The committee, to be set up under Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, would coordinate with various ministries and prepare a roadmap before US president Barack Obama's India visit in November, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told PTI in an interview in Washington.

India needs $1 trillion of infrastructure investment, where there is still a gap of 25%-30% and can be filled in by the US companies, Mr Mukherjee said.

Speaking after attending a meeting of Indo-US CEOs Forum in Washington, Mr Mukherjee said the US wants India to expedite relevant legislative actions for economic reforms like opening up of insurance, other sectors.

Terming his meetings here as very successful, Mr Mukherjee said: "My bilateral discussions with secretary of state (Hillary Clinton) and the secretary of treasury (Timothy Geithner) clearly indicated that they are interested in widening and deepening the relationship between India and the US.

"On the whole I say, this was a good visit and all the meetings were successful."

"We have identified certain issues on which we should work together. And this was the recommendations made jointly by both Indian CEOs and the US counterparts-education, infrastructure, clean energy, bio tech and health," Mr Mukherjee said.

"They also suggested what are the impediments in fully exploiting the relationship between our two countries and a breakthrough of the long term ideas," he noted.

Mr Mukherjee said that after returning to India he would "set up a committee, a small group, under deputy chairman Planning Commission, who will co-ordinate with all the concerned ministries on the issues which have been identified..."

The committee would then "prepare a road map on what could be done and what are doable, so that before (the US) president's visit to India in November, both the leaders (Obama and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh) are in a position that these are the areas in which progress has been made and what further progress could be made, that could be known."

Mr Mukherjee said that Indo-US relations were "moving in the right direction" and the two countries would surely make breakthrough in major areas.

"I am quite confident that in major areas we will be able to make real breakthrough. Our relationship is expanding very fast. Despite the slowdown, I think, both way international trade is $37 billion."

Asked why India was not getting much US investment into the infrastructure sector, despite it being a focus area, Mr Mukherjee said: "We require more. It is incorrect to say that we are not getting. But we require more.

"Nearly $1 trillion is the level of investment which would be required. 25% to 30% of which ... still there is a gap. So this can be filled in by US companies, particularly in the long term infrastructure, for long term investment in road, shipping, communication, transport," he added.

Asked whether the US counterparts in his meetings sought more opening up on issues like taxation and liberalisation, he said, "Certain issues that are pending, naturally they emphasized on it. For instance the opening up of the insurance sector, 26% to 49%, where the pending legislation is there.

"Similarly to have the replicable model in respect of what we have done in the mega power project to replicate it in the sectors of road and others. There is also the land acquisition act, which is pending and rehabilitation of the displaced persons, these legislations are pending. So they expect that we shall have to expedite these legislative actions," Mr Mukherjee said.

"I am happy that the way things are moving and the chief executive officers representing important corporate sector, they also expressed their happiness that they are having exchange of views with the Indian government," he added.

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