Ericsson objects to draft security norms for telecom equipment

New Delhi: European telecom vendor Ericsson has raised concerns over the proposals like sharing of source code and unlimited liability among others, as part of security clearance of telecom network equipment in India, reports PTI.

"We are specifically concerned to see obligations such as escrowing of source code (which is proprietary information), unlimited liability, no right to decline should the regulation change and lack of right of the vendor to mutually agree on the process suggested," Ericsson said in a letter to India's telecom secretary PJ Thomas.

Amid debate over security concerns relating to telecom equipment by Chinese vendors, the Indian government is proposing to amend licence of telecom service providers as part of security clearance by incorporating these clauses.

As per the proposed amendment, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has said for an Escrow deposit arrangement between the equipment suppliers and the telecom service providers will be formed wherein the suppliers shall keep all the information and documentation in relation to the supplies.

The information would include "without limitations, in respect to hardware, software, all source code, high level designs, detail design documents, listings and programmers note," it added.

The service providers shall have the right to use the escrow information, after its release, in order to use and maintain (including to upgrade) the software, to modify or have modified the software and to licence such modified software to or have it maintained by third parties.

Terming the draft agreement, currently under discussion with telecom operators, as "unjustly onerous", the Swedish equipment maker said that in its current form it would hurt the growth of the telecom industry.

Many clauses have cost implications directly and solely referable to the vendors, which "in our view should be shared by the telecom service providers and work out ways on minimising such costs for the benefit of the industry and consumers."
Ericsson has also requested DoT to hold discussions with the firm to resolve the issue.

The government had earlier asked operators to take security clearance before buying any key telecom gear. Telecom operators had been complaining about the strict rule, which forced the DoT to be very selective in giving approvals for equipment purchase.

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M&S Reliance India to open 15-stores in 2 years

Mumbai: Marks and Spencer Reliance India (M&SRIL), a joint venture between Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries Ltd and UK-retailer Marks and Spencer Plc intends to open 15 new stores, mainly in metros, in two years time, a top company official has said on Thursday.

"We are looking to open 10-15 stores in the next two years mainly in the metros. We're aiming to open larger stores which will showcase a fuller range of our product catalogue," M&SRIL's head of marketing, Nandini Sethuraman told PTI.

"Though there are opportunities in smaller towns and cities, we want to make deeper inroads in metros and strengthen our base there as there is a lot more potential to grow in these places," she said.

Marks and Spencer at the time of forming joint venture with Reliance Retail in 2008, had announced plans to open 50 stores in India in next five years. The retailer said the target remained intact.

"By 2014, our aim is to have 50 stores. It all depends on momentum and right locations," Ms Sethuraman said.

Presently, the company has 18 stores across the country including Delhi, Amritsar, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai with an average size of about 5,000 sq ft to over 22,000 sq ft.

"We have six stores in Delhi and we plan to open a couple of more stores here - one will be opened near the new international airport in Delhi," Ms Sethuraman said.

Besides, the company has three stores in Mumbai, two stores each in Bangalore and Chennai and one each in Pune, Kolkata and Amritsar, she said.

"We will continue to open stores in the existing markets. The stores that are to come up will be in both malls and in the stand-alone formats," Ms Sethuraman added.

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Fortis drags Khazanah to Singapore regulator

Singapore: India's Fortis Healthcare Ltd on Thursday approached the market watchdog Securities Industry Council (SIC) here alleging misleading of Parkway shareholders by Khazanah by claiming that majority of them have voted in favour of the Malaysian fund's partial offer, reports PTI.

A letter to the SIC by Fortis' legal representatives said the press release issued yesterday by Integrated Healthcare Holdings (IHHL), the arm of Khazanah, calls into question the purpose and intention behind it.

IHHL had said it has received the approval of the majority of eligible shareholders of Singapore-based hospital chain Parkway who have so far voted on its partial offer.

"This calls into question the purpose and intention behind the IHHL announcement ... Whether the intention is to put a positive spin and mislead shareholders into thinking that shareholders support the partial offer," the joint letter by Stamford Law Corp and Rajah & Tann LLP on behalf of Fortis said.

The letter further said IHHL's statement gave an impression that the "latest development is a positive development for IHHL, when in reality both conditions to the partial offer remain unsatisfied".

"The majority obtained at that point in time only was a slim 0.5%, with significant portion (30%) eligible shareholders yet to vote," it said.

Moreover, IHHL did not also indicate how many shareholders voted for the partial offer before Fortis' open offer on 1st July, it said, adding "a significant portion of the votes might have been cast before" the open offer.

"This could mislead the market into thinking that the majority of the Parkaway shareholders had cast their votes in favour of the partial offer even when there was a competing (Fortis) offer," the letter said.

It also pointed out that after the press release by IHHL yesterday were "voluntarily made - there is no requirement under the Singapore code of takeovers and mergers for IHHL" to make the announcement.

Claiming that the announcement by IHHL affected trading of Parkway shares, the letter said "the volume of trading Parkway shares increased considerably" closing at 1.823 million shares traded for the day.

Fortis asked the SIC to ask IHHL to clarify and issue a public statement.
Khazanah and Fortis had been locked in a tussle to take control of Parkway.

While the Malaysian fund launched a $835-million partial offer for a 51.5% Parkway stake at 3.78 Singapore dollar (S$) per share, Fortis countered it with a $2.3-billion at S$3.8 per share to fully acquire Parkway.

Khazanah's partial offer is to close on 26th July, while Fortis' will close on 12th August. Fortis owns 25.37% of Parkway, while Khazanah has a 23.32% stake.

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