Hiring activity improves across sectors in January

The Monster Employment Index climbed to 113 in January this year, a growth of 27% as compared to the year-ago period, while Naukri.Com's Job Speak index went up 969 in January from 808 in the same period a year ago

New Delhi: Starting off 2011 on a positive note, job opportunities in the country improved across most sectors in January and hiring activities are expected to gain momentum in the coming months, reports PTI.

Leading job portals Monster.Com and Naukri.Com in separate reports released today said that hiring activities picked up in January.

The Monster Employment Index, a monthly gauge of Indian online job demand, climbed to 113 in January this year, a growth of 27% as compared to the year-ago period.

Reflecting the buoyancy in the labour market, Naukri.Com's Job Speak index went up 969 in January from 808 in the same period a year ago.

Monster.Com's managing director (India/ Middle East/South East Asia) Sanjay Modi said in a statement that its index indicates a strong recruitment start in 2011, as online demand hit a new high in January.

"With the beginning of the new year, the employment marketplace seems to be moving in a positive direction. The hiring momentum is expected to move at a faster pace in most of the key industry sectors...," Info Edge India's CEO and MD Hitesh Oberoi said in a separate statement.

Naukri.Com is part of Info Edge.

According to Monster.Com, travel and tourism industry saw 56% growth from January 2010 to January 2011.

"Retail sector with 55% yearly growth was second in the list. Education led all industry sectors in month-on-month growth (7%). The government/PSU/ defence sector followed closely with a 6% monthly growth," the job portal noted.

Meanwhile, Naukri.Com said that all top industry sectors registered positive monthly growth in January as compared to December.

Both, IT and ITeS sector witnessed strong hiring trends this month with the index moving up by 11% and 6% last month as compared to December, it added.

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Over 17 lakh users opt for MNP: TRAI

Telcos including Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have been aggressively marketing their services to woo subscribers from other networks, who were looking for switching operators

Telcos including Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have been aggressively marketing their services to woo subscribers from other networks, who were looking for switching operators

New Delhi: About a fortnight after the national roll-out of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service, more than 17 lakh mobile subscribers have opted for the facility, that allows users to change their service provider while retaining the number, reports PTI quoting the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The MNP service was introduced on a pilot basis in Haryana on 25 November 2010 and later rolled out pan-India from 20th January this year.

Of the total 17.11 lakh requests received, about 2.29 lakh were from Haryana circle where MNP was first implemented, TRAI said in a statement.

In other circles, Gujarat saw the highest number of switching requests at 1.67 lakh, followed by Rajasthan (1.44 lakh) in Zone-I (Northern and Western India).

In MNP Zone-II (Southern and Eastern region), maximum number of requests were received in Karnataka (1.16 lakh) and Tamil Nadu (1.14 lakh) circles

TRAI said it is constantly monitoring the implementation of the service. It noted that certain requests were rejected by telecom operators because subscribers had quoted incorrect Unique Porting Code (a unique number given to a subscriber who wants to change his operator) in the porting form.

The rejection was also on account of non-payment of outstanding bill and non-completion of 90 days from the date of activation of mobile number.

Telcos including Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have been aggressively marketing their services to woo subscribers from other networks, who were looking for switching operators.

With the roll-out of MNP, subscribers will look at changing operators if they are not satisfied with the network coverage or customer care services, say operators.

Customers have to pay a maximum of Rs19 to an operator to change their network and the new operator has the option to either waive the fee or reduce it. However, a consumer would be required to continue with an operator for a minimum period of three months in order to avail the MNP service.

The authority has also instructed telecom operators to strictly comply with the provisions of MNP regulations based on complaints received from subscribers saying they were unable to get the process started.

India is the fastest growing telecom market in the world with a monthly addition of about 15 million subscribers.
 

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Govt for resolving ONGC issue before nod to Cairn-Vedanta deal

ONGC, by virtue of its stake in eight out of the 10 oil and gas properties held by Cairn India, claims that it has pre-emption rights over the deal. It wants the issue of excess royalty it has to pay on Cairn India's Rajasthan block to be addressed

New Delhi: Amidst a scramble to meet deadlines, the government today said legitimate concerns of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will need to be addressed before it can approve Vedanta Resources' $9.6 billion acquisition of Cairn India, reports PTI.  
 
With time running out, Bill Gammell, the chief executive officer of Cairn Energy, which is selling up to 51% stake in its Indian unit to Vedanta, met oil minister S Jaipal Reddy to press for an early decision.

"I told him (Mr Gammell) that the government would support the deal in-principle, but some of the concerns of ONGC need to be addressed before clearing the deal," ME Reddy told reporters here. "He (Mr Gammell) seemed satisfied."

ONGC, by virtue of its stake in eight out of the 10 oil and gas properties held by Cairn India, claims that it has pre-emption rights over the deal. It wants the issue of excess royalty it has to pay on Cairn India's mainstay Rajasthan block to be addressed before giving its no-objection.

"We cannot be opposed to (Cairn Energy) selling (its) shares (in Cairn India)... ONGC is not prepared to buy (Cairn Energy stake) at the price (Vedanta is paying)," Mr Reddy said. "Given these conditions, we need to see that concerns of ONGC are substantially and legitimately addressed."

The deal, involving Vedanta acquiring a 40% to 51% stake from UK's Cairn Energy Plc and thereafter making an open offer to buy an additional 20% from minority shareholders of Cairn India, is to be completed by 15th April.

To meet the deadline, government approval for the deal needs to come within this month so that Vedanta can meet the 55-60 days' timeframe mandated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for completion of the open offer.

Mr Gammell described the talks with Mr Reddy as "positive and constructive", but said Cairn will not go to its shareholders for extending the 15th April deadline to close the Vedanta deal.

"We would not go back to our shareholders," he said.

The Rajasthan block, which gives Cairn India 90% of its valuation, is a losing proposition for ONGC, as it has to pay 20% royalty to the state government on the entire output from the field, even though its share of production is only 30%.

The oil ministry has made resolution of the royalty issue one of the 11 preconditions for giving its nod. Cairn-Vedanta are opposed to ONGC's demand for recovering the royalty before profits from the sale of Rajasthan oil are split, as it will lower Cairn India's profitability and valuation.

"We are determined that concerns of ONGC are legitimately addressed," Mr Reddy said.

Asked about the February deadline that Cairn-Vedanta are looking at for getting government approval, he said: "We respect time pressure, but our concerns have to be addressed."

Cairn India does not pay any royalty on the crude oil and gas produced from the Rajasthan block and has even contested the payment of a Rs2,500 per tonne cess on its 70% share.

Oil secretary S Sundareshan had on Sunday met Mr Gammell, Cairn India CEO Rahul Dhir and Vedanta officials M S Mehta (Group CEO) and Tarun Jain (CFO) to hammer out differences on the preconditions, but there was no meeting ground.

Mr Reddy said the official will hold more discussions shortly on the issue.

Mr Sundareshan has already cancelled his 9-11 February trip to Calgary (Canada) for promoting oil blocks offered for bidding in the ninth round of NELP in order to meet the chief executive of Vedanta Resources and Cairn Energy again.

Joint secretary (exploration) DN Narasimha Raju, who was to accompany Sundareshan for the roadshow in Calgary and then proceed to Houston for another promotional show, will also stay back to discuss the finer points of the deal.

Market regulator SEBI has not permitted Vedanta to make the open offer to Cairn India shareholders in the absence of government approval for its deal with Cairn Energy.

Besides royalty, Cairn-Vedanta are also not agreeable to the ministry's demand that they will abide by its orders with regard to past and future operational disputes.

Vedanta, which has no prior experience in oil and gas sector, was agreeable to other conditions like giving financial and performance guarantees and maintaining technical capability of Cairn India.

ONGC says it would be paying Rs14,000 crore royalty on behalf of Cairn India over the life of Rajasthan fields and wants to recover it from the sale of oil.

Acceptance of the demand would impact Cairn India's valuation as its future profits will go down and the company saying its minority shareholder interest will be compromised.

While Cairn had reluctantly agreed to the need for government approval on the deal, it has so far not accepted ONGC's pre-emption or the right of first refusal (ROFR), as has been held by Solicitor General of India (SGI).

ONGC, which was kept out of yesterday's meeting, says Vedanta's acquisition of an up to 51% stake in Cairn India triggers its pre-emption rights.

Its board had, at its meeting on 29th January, passed a resolution asking the government not to approve the Cairn-Vedanta deal until the issue of excess royalty it pays on Rajasthan crude oil, is sorted out.

The Rajasthan block currently produces 1,25,000 barrels of oil per day and has potential to produce up to 240,000 bpd.  

Cairn India acquired a stake in Rajasthan block RJ-ON-90/1 from Royal Dutch Shell Plc in 2002 and discovered oil in January 2004.

In case of areas awarded under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP)-like the gigantic KG-D6 gas fields of Reliance Industries- royalty can be added to the capital and operating cost of the block, which as per law are deductible from revenues earned on the sale of oil or gas before calculating profits for all stakeholders.

The Rajasthan block is a pre-NELP acreage.

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