Companies & Sectors
Mechanism to deal with misleading ads soon: Thomas

Expressing concern over a large number of misleading advertisements especially on health oils and tonics coming in print and TV media, the minister said the union government is very serious about checking this menace

Kochi: Consumer Affairs Minister KV Thomas has said the union government will soon come out with a policy mechanism to curb the practice of misleading ads in print and TV media that distort competition and violate the basic rights of the consumers, reports PTI.


Expressing concern over a large number of misleading advertisements especially on health oils and tonics coming in print and TV media, he said the government is very serious about checking this menace.


"The influence of ads on consumer choice is undeniable. We have noticed that a lot of misleading ads especially on health tonics and oils are coming on print and TV media and this is a disturbing trend," Thomas said here.


He was speaking at a seminar on consumer awareness, organised by the Consumer Affairs Ministry and Grand Kerala Shopping Festival.


"Misleading ads distort competition and violate the basic rights of the consumers. We are in talks with stakeholders like corporate and media to come out with a policy mechanism to tackle this," he said.


Echoing similar concerns, Consumer Affairs Secretary Pankaj Agrawal said the ministry through its various awareness programmes is sensitising consumers and business executives regarding consumer grievances and services.


"We are looking at the issue of misleading ads and are in talks with several stakeholders. The ministry will soon come out with an institutional mechanism to deal with such ads," Agrawal added.


The government has drafted number of legislation that have provisions to deal with misleading claims and ads like the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1955, Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, he said.


According to government data, the Food Safety Standards and Authority of India (FSSAI) has so far identified 38 food items with misleading claims. Manufacturer of these items were served show-cause notices and their replies were examined by FSSAI.


As per recommendations given by the three-member committee at FSSAI on these 38 cases, prosecutions have been launched in 19 cases.


At present, the content of ads aired on television, radio and print media, is being regulated by private bodies like the Advertising Standards Council of India and News Broadcasting Association.


Currently, around 30-40 countries have self regulation on advertisement content. In some countries, there is an executive body or trade commission to monitor misleading advertisement.


Government invites proposals from mutual funds for PSU ETF

MFs which are registered with SEBI and have at least five years experience would be eligible for setting up PSU ETFs

New Delhi: Moving ahead with its proposal to set up an exchange traded fund for public sector undertakings (PSUs), the Indian government has invited proposals from mutual funds (MFs) having equity assets of over Rs2,500 crore, reports PTI.


The Department of Disinvestment (DoD) said the mutual funds meeting the prescribed eligibility criteria can submit by 24th January the proposals for setting up the exchange traded fund (ETF).


The MFs which are registered with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and have at least five years experience would be eligible for setting up ETFs, the department said, adding the fund houses would be responsible for conducting roadshows for the share sale through ETF.


The average equity/ETF assets under management of the MFs should not be less than Rs2,500 crore at the end of July-September quarter, the DoD said.


The proposed ETF, which would be based on a basket of shares of 20 profit-making CPSEs, is aimed at obtain better price for equity of state-owned companies during the disinvestment process.


The 20 companies would include blue chip PSUs like ONGC, Indian Oil, Power Finance Corporation, NTPC, NMDC and BHEL.


Last year, government had appointed ICICI Securities as the advisor to set up the ETF. It will select and appoint one asset management company (AMC) with experience and expertise in the launch and management of equity MFs/ETF schemes.


The proposed PSU ETF will serve as an additional mechanism for the government to monetise its shareholdings in those CPSEs that eventually form part of the ETF basket.


"The CPSE ETF could be launched as a new fund offer (NFO) followed by further tranches and the government may provide appropriate discount for different investors," the DoD said while inviting bids from MFs.


The PSU ETF, which is being planned on the lines of the Hong Kong Tracker Fund, would help government speed up its disinvestment plan.


The DoD is in the process of floating a Cabinet note seeking comments of Ministries on setting up of ETF.


An ETF tracks an index, a commodity or a basket of assets like an index fund, but trades like a stock on an exchange.


ETFs were introduced in India in 2001. Currently, there are 33 ETFs having AUM of close to Rs11,500 crore and held by 6.2 lakh investors. Gold ETFs dominate ETF market in India.


Globally, ETFs have been growing at a rapid pace with an annual growth rate of over 34% in the last decade, with Assets Under Management of $1.5 trillion at present.


LIC Housing plans to raise up to Rs1,000 crore through ECB route

LIC HF has formed a committee comprising senior officials which is in touch with the apex bank on the ECB issue

Hyderabad: LIC Housing Finance Ltd, promoted by state-run insurance giant Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC), is mulling raising Rs700-Rs1,000 crore through external commercial borrowings (ECB), reports PTI quoting its chief executive VK Sharma.


Last month, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed real estate developers and housing finance companies to raise up to $1 billion through external commercial borrowings (ECBs) in the current fiscal to promote low-cost housing projects.


Sharma said a committee comprising senior officials of the company has been formed which is in touch with the apex bank on the ECB issue.


"We expect that we will be in that segment which has been permitted by the RBI. We expect that we will be raising somewhere around Rs 700-Rs1,000 crore. We will apply for that," Sharma said on the sidelines of a two-day property exhibition.


ECBs are considered attractive as cost of raising the loan overseas is lower than that of domestic borrowings. Besides, they provide an additional avenue to access large amount of funds from global financial markets.


To a query on when the company would raise ECBs, Sharma said: "I cannot comment on that. Board resolution is there in place. We have created a committee at company level and they are in touch with RBI."


He said LIC Housing Finance (LICHFL) is expected to complete the institutional placement offer by fiscal end.


The qualified institutional placement (QIP) was delayed due to variety of reasons, including volatility in the markets, he added.


Though he did not mention the exact amount being raised through QIP, a senior official earlier told PTI it is hoping to raise up to Rs1,200 crore through the proposed issue of new shares.


LIC, which is promoter of LICHFL, currently holds 40.31% stake in the company. While institutional investors, both foreign and domestic together, are holding 41.47% shares, others hold 18.22% shares.


The merchant bankers appointed for the issue include Nomura, Kotak Securities, HSBC, Citigroup and Avendus Securities, according to the official said.


Parent LIC's stake in the company currently stands at 40.31%, which will come down to the 36.54% level after the issue.


LICHFL, which is now charging 10.25% interest on home loans, will wait for Reserve Bank of India's policy review slated for January 29 before taking a decision on revising interest rates, Sharma said.


Last year, the company disbursed Rs20,000 crore loans and is targeting Rs25,000 crore this year, he added.


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