Companies & Sectors
Mahindra to acquire 33 percent stake in Mitsubishi Agricultural Machinery
India-based conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) on Thursday said it will acquire 33 percent voting stake in Mitsubishi Heavy Industries's subsidiary -- Mitsubishi Agricultural Machinery (MAM).
 
Under an agreement, Mahindra will invest three billion yen or $25 million for the acquisition.
 
According to the company, the transaction will come through fresh issuance of common shares and class A (non-voting) shares of MAM. 
 
The deal is expected to close by October 1, 2015, with the new funding to be used to increase MAM's capital base.
 
The company said this alliance will help it become a significant player in the global agriculture machinery industry.
 
"We have had a decade-long association with Mitsubishi in the US where their products have played a significant role in Mahindra USA's success," Pawan Goenka, executive director with Mahindra was quoted in a statement.
 
MAM has been supplying OEM (orginal equipment manufacturer) tractors to Mahindra USA, as well as providing technical licence to Mahindra for walk-behind rice planters and new tractor in India.
 
The company added that the new partnership will allow both sides to jointly develop products to address global opportunities in the tractor and agri-machinery space. 
 
"In addition, the partnership will enable MAM and Mahindra to improve cost competitiveness though joint procurement and optimize the supply chain," the statement said.
 
Currently, Mahindra is the world's largest tractor manufacturer by volume with a very strong leadership presence in India. 
 
MAM, on the other hand, provides a full range of agri-machinery, including tractors, combine harvesters and rice transplanters, among others.
 

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Reliance-BP give up two more KG Basin blocks
Operators of KG-D6 oil and gas blocks in the Bay of Bengal, Reliance Industries (RIL) and its British partner BP have surrendered two more blocks, reducing their specific assets to four exploration acreages from the original 21.
 
"During the year, RIL opted to relinquish two blocks KG-DWN-2003/1 and CY-PR-DWN-2001/3 as part of the ongoing effort to high grade its upstream asset portfolio," RIL said in its annual report for 2014-15.
 
The Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate said block KG-DWN-2003/1 has been surrendered because of operational restrictions imposed by the defence ministry, while CY-PR-DWN-2001/3 was relinquished "as prospectivity was not commensurate with the high geological risk involved".
 
"In KG-DWN-2003/1, further progress in petroleum operations was impeded by defence restrictions imposed in October 2012. Since then the JV had continued to seek unrestricted access to the block without success. RIL and its JV partners finally decided to relinquish the block in line with the government's policy," the company reported.
 
RIL held 60 percent stake in KG-DWN-2003/1 while BP had 30 percent and Hardy Oil, 10 percent. In CY-PR-DWN-2001/3, RIL held 70 percent interest and BP 30 percent.
 
RIL said its current portfolio includes the producing KG-DWN-98/3, or KG-D6, block in the Bay of Bengal, and the Panna/Mukta and Tapti oil and gasfields in the western offshore.
 
It also has the western offshore block GS-OSN-2000/1 in partnership with Hardy Oil.

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Batch of Maggi ordered off-shelf, Nestle says safety norms strict
Amid concerns over "dangerous levels" of some substances in the popular snack Maggi noodles, the Uttar Pradesh food safety body on Thursday said its manufacturer Nestle was asked to recall the said batch, while the company assured it followed strict norms.
 
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Food Safety Commissioner Vijay Bahadur said orders had been issued to Nestle to also "look into the quality" of other Maggi batches, following some samples reportedly testing positive for possessing higher-than-permissible levels of lead and monosodium glutamate.
 
Nestle sought to dispel roumours that orders had been issued to reacall all batches of Maggi. In an e-mail statement to IANS, the companty said the batch in question had already passed the "best before" date in November last year, and was sure that it had automatically been recalled.
 
As regards the batch in question, the Nestle statement said: "Quality and safety of our products are the top priorities for our company," and added: "We have submitted the product samples to an independent accredited laboratory and will share the results with the authorities."
 
The company also said: "People can be confident that Maggi noodle products are safe to eat." 
 
The samples, authorities in Lucknow said, were taken from a lot in Easy Day departmental store at Barabanki, a district on the outskirts of the state capital, last week. But Nestle maintained it was confident over these packs being no longer in citculation in the market.
 
"The company does not agree with the order and is filing the requisite representations with the authorities."
 
The state's Chief Food Safety Officer Sanjay Pratap Singh added that more samples had been taken for testing and the teams from the department were asked to track if any Maggi packets from that batch were still in circulation in the market.
 
The central food safety authority also told IANS it has initiated precautionary steps.
 
"We have asked the UP government for reports regarding the tests (on Maggi noodles). Action will be taken according to what comes out," said Food Safety Authority of India Director Bimal Kumar Dubey. He, however, said no orders to the company had yet been issued from the authority.
 
On the issue of MSG, Nestle said while it does not add it to Maggi noodles sold in India, and stated that as much on the packaging, the use of hydolysed groundnut protein, onion powder and wheat flour to make the noodles all contain glutamate. 
 
"We believe the authorities’ tests may have detected glutamate, which occurs naturally in many foods," Nestle said, alluding that it may have been confused with MSG. On lead, it said, regular monitoring that was a part of stringent quality control consistently indicated adherence to permissible limits.
 
Reacting to the developments, the programme manager for food safety with the Centre for Science and Environment, Amit Khurana, said such tests should be a matter of routine for food safefy authorities. "We congratulate the Uttar Pradesh team for that."
 
Similarly, Consumer Unity and Trusts Society, a non-government organisation, said products like Maggi are consumed by a large number of people and any doubt over safety must be taken seriously. "The food regulatory authorities must be strengthened for this," spokesperson Udai Mehta told IANS.
 
The social media had its own set of remarks, some in a lighter vein, and some more serious since the noodle in question is a popular brand that completed its silver jubilee a few years ago.
 
"A group of Indian hostelers have threatened to leave India if Maggi is banned," Tweeted Zaid Hamid, speaking for students like him living in campuses, with whom Maggi has been a hit due to its availability, easy cooking-ways and pocket-friendliness.
 
"The truth is MSG (monosodium glutamate) is widely used in Asian cooking and is present in all processed food like pizza, pasta, etc," posted Somya Gupta, on a handle that's been created for this, #maggiban, and has been trending well.
 
"Maggi, the tempting two-minute quick fix and instant pleasure for all hunger pangs, is now in hot water," said another tweet by Chandana Roy.

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