Companies & Sectors
Italian CRIF buys majority stake in High Mark credit bureau

Following RBI directive last year, Italian CRIF has taken over cash-strapped High Mark Credit Information Services for an undisclosed sum

As pointed out by Moneylife in November 2013,  Italy-based CRIF SpA has acquired majority stake in cash-strapped High Mark Credit Information Services Pvt Ltd (High Mark). No financial details were provided. However, as reported by Moneylife, in December 2012 High Mark was offered Rs30 per share by CRIF.

"Larry Howell is the chairman of the newly constituted board and Kalpana Pandey continues to be the chief executive (CEO) and managing director. High Mark's current management and staff will be retained to carry on its current business operations," the Indian credit bureau said in a release.

In his previous innings, Howell successfully brought together TransUnion, which he was heading at that time, and CIBIL, India's first credit bureau.

Last year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) increased foreign direct investment (FDI)  limit to 74% in credit information bureaus in the country. Moneylife had pointed out that this move would prove to be beneficial to Italian CRIF SpA to enter Indian market and also take over cash-strapped High Mark.

As reported by Moneylife earlier, High Mark was negotiating with CRIF credit bureau for a bailout. High Mark was offered Rs30 per share by CRIF, which is also an existing shareholder in the credit bureau. CRIF SpA owns 9.09% stake in High Mark. We learned that CRIF executives had already met senior executives of RBI to assure them of support and continuity after takeover. However, the banking regulator, because of its reservations about CRIF’s ownership pattern, rejected the proposal.

Experian India, one of the four credit information companies (CICs) in India, was in talks with High Mark and reportedly had also completed the due diligence process. According to the sources, Experian had increased its bid to Rs27 from Rs25 to buy minimum 26% stake in troubled and cash-strapped High Mark. Reportedly, there is not much progress on this front as well.

High Mark was negotiating with other credit bureaus to do an asset sale, including 250 million records collected from member institutions, says a complaint filed by a former employee of the credit bureau to the finance minister, the then RBI governor D Subbarao, secretaries from the finance ministry and financial services.

High Mark, the only bureau started by individuals, has been under severe financial stress following the exit of several of its top managers and the failure of its rights issue.


Shekhar Gupta quits Indian Express

Indian Express' editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta has resigned from the newspaper

Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of the India Express, on Monday resigned from his post after spending almost 25 years with the newspaper.


In a letter to his colleagues, Gupta said, "It is time for me to say goodbyes at the Express -- for the second time. The first was exactly at the same time of the year in 1983 when most of you were not born yet. In any case, I am an incorrigible reporter and thereby a terminal adventure junkie. By the way, even at the risk of being charged with crass tribalism, I shall write something more specifically for my fellow reporters at the Express. But a bit later."


Gupta said he would be there in the office till 15th June.


Indian govt cuts import tariff value on gold, silver

Following petroleum, gold is the second most imported item into India. Last year, the country’s total gold and silver imports dropped 40% to $33.46 billion, due to curbs imposed by the Indian government.

The Indian government, on Monday reduced the import tariff value on gold and silver to $408 per 10 grams and $617 per kg respectively, in view of weakness in bullion prices globally.


In the second fortnight of May, the tariff value on imported gold stood at $424 per 10 grams and silver at $650 per kg.


The import tariff value — the base price at which Customs duty is determined to prevent under-invoicing — is revised on a fortnightly basis taking into account the volatility in global prices.


The reduction in tariff value on imported gold and silver has been notified by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBDT), an official statement said.


In the last few sessions, global gold prices have been ruling on a lower side as positive US economic data backed the case for the Federal Reserve to continue reducing the monetary stimulus, which has dimmed the metal’s appeal.


In Singapore, both gold and silver were trading down at $1,246.9 per ounce and $18.70 per ounce respectively, today. Taking global cues, domestic gold rates in the national capital touched an 11-month low of Rs27,400 per 10 grams.


Due to curbs imposed by the Indian government, the country’s total gold and silver imports dropped 40% to $33.46 billion in 2013-14 against $55.79 billion in the previous year.


Gold is the second most imported item into India after petroleum. The government had taken several measures to curb gold shipments to address the high current account deficit.


These measures included raising the import duty to 10% on the yellow metal and also made it mandatory for traders to export 20% of the imported gold.


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