Moneylife Events
Moneylife Foundation launches new initiative, widens reach and activities

The Foundation held its first meet to form a Voluntary Experts Group to address specific issues like insurance, banking, capital markets, the Right to Information Act, financial literacy, senior citizens’ issues and property matters on Saturday, 11th June. This is part of Moneylife Foundation’s ongoing effort to empower citizens and spread financial literacy

A damp monsoon-hit Saturday seemed like the wrong day to start a new initiative for Moneylife Foundation—but happily, our voluntary experts began to come in almost 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

So over some sweet & piping hot tea and biscuits, the Voluntary Experts Group (VEG) got off to a bright and successful start. The age spectrum extended from the young and eager who came here to help, and to the wise and experienced who arrived to offer their guidance. In other words, people who attended were from the 20s to their 80s.

We had 21 voluntary experts from Mumbai along with all of Team Moneylife attending the weekend meet! After a round of introductions and views on issues to be discussed, the Group identified a few core areas that would be taken up on a priority basis this year. These were:  insurance, banking, capital markets, the Right to Information Act, financial literacy, senior citizens’ issues and property matters.

Based on the feedback from the meeting, Moneylife Foundation will work on a code of ethics which will be circulated to all, to ensure Chinese Walls between the Foundation’s activities and the personal professional work of each member of the VEG.

After discussions, it was agreed that all VEG members would meet on the second Saturday of every month at 11am at the Moneylife Knowledge Centre at Shivaji Park, Mumbai, on specific subjects while core groups and sub-committees (which are in the process of being formed) can meet as per their convenience.

Detailed minutes of the meeting will be circulated to all the members and also posted on Moneylife Foundation's website at www.mlfoundation.in
 
We have received 60 odd offers to volunteer from around the country. We are very grateful for your support and will write to each one of you as soon as we figure out how to make best use of your offer to help investors.

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Citigroup reduces stake in HDFC by 1.5%

The reduction is part of Citi's mitigation efforts ahead of the adoption of Basel III capital rules. The transaction resulted in a pre-tax profit of approximately $160-million, as per a Citigroup press release

Mumbai: Citigroup today said that it has reduced its 11.4% stake in mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) by 1.5% to 9.9%, reports PTI.

Reducing its holdings in HDFC to below 10% is a part of Citi's mitigation efforts ahead of the adoption of Basel III capital rules.

The transaction resulted in a pre-tax profit of approximately $160-million, a press release issued here stated.

Citigroup has no plans to sell any additional shares of HDFC, it added.

"We have been an investor in HDFC since 2005 and continue to have a very strong and productive relationship with its senior management team. This transaction was motivated by our capital planning, as we prepare for the implementation of Basel III, rather than strategic considerations," Citigroup's chief financial officer, John Gerspach, said.

"Citi remains deeply committed to India and we continue to invest in our franchise in this very important market. We have unique experience, deep relationships and local insights, all of which are strong competitive advantages," Citigroup India's CEO, Pramit Jhaveri, said.

Over the past three years, Citigroup raised around $60-billion from capital markets for its clients in India and advised on nearly $25-billion of India-related mergers and acquisitions.

In the consumer business, Citigroup has 42 full-service Citibank branches in 30 cities and a market share of over 20% in credit card spends.

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Inflation crosses 9%; RBI could hike interest rates further

Even as the increasing prices of essential items pushed up the inflation rate during the reporting month from 8.66% in April, a concerned government said that more steps could be taken in the coming months to tame price rise

New Delhi: Resuming its upward climb, headline inflation in May rose to 9.06% on costlier fruits, petrol and manufactured goods and heightened fears of another hike in interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday, reports PTI.

Even as the increasing prices of essential items pushed up the inflation rate during the reporting month from 8.66% in April, a concerned government said that more steps could be taken in the coming months to tame price rise.

"We would keep a close watch on developments, both domestic as well as international, in the coming months and make appropriate adjustments as we go along," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said after the announcement of the May inflation numbers.

Experts, however, feel that the RBI, which has raised key policy rates nine times since March 2010, will go in for another round of monetary tightening at its mid-quarterly review slated for Thursday.

The RBI would try to balance the need to tame inflation and promote industrial growth, which has slipped to 6.3% in April from 13.1% a year ago.

"I think the RBI will probably look at the inflation issue more seriously and will take some action... (It) will probably decide to do in the context of the high level of inflation," Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) chairman C Rangarajan said.

The inflation numbers for May also capture the increase in petrol prices by over Rs5 litre last month. Besides other items like cotton textiles in manufactured segments and some food articles like fruits, milk and egg, meat and fish also became expensive in May.

Inflation has been above 8% since January 2010. It has stayed above 9% since December last year and moderated to 8.66% in April this year, before the latest rise.

Mr Mukherjee, however, said the latest numbers are below the 10.48% recorded in May 2010 and said: "... the picture for the latest month is however mixed."

While food and primary inflation has declined, "core inflation (that is other than food, fuel and power inflation) continues to harden...this poses some concerns which will have to be addressed," he said.

Meanwhile the inflation for March has been revised upward to 9.68% from the provisional 9.04%.

"While the consistent rate hikes have affected investments and led to fall in growth numbers, inflation still remains RBI's major focus. So we think the central bank will raise rates by 25 basis points on 16th June," Deloitte, Haskins & Sells director Anis Chakravarty said.

In May, prices of manufactured products, which have a weight of around 65% in the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) basket, went up by 7.27% year-on-year.

Fuel and power segment, with a weight of almost 15% in the basket, stood at 12.32% year-on-year during the period.

However, the rate hike of over Rs5 a litre in petrol prices by state-owned oil marketing companies in mid-May had a visible impact, with prices of the item going up by 27.31% on an annual basis.

Commenting on the latest numbers, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that inflation "is a problem (but) we still remain hopeful... It has gone up, which is not unexpected, because the preliminary indications said it would go up."

"We are concerned about the situation... This level of inflation is causing a lot of problems," Department of Economic Affairs secretary R Gopalan said.

Manufacturing inflation has been steadily rising since February this year, when it crossed the 6% mark. It stood at 6.18% in April.

Cotton textiles were up 28.99% and iron by 14.54%. Man-made textiles also became costlier by almost 11%.

Inflation in the fuel and power segment, which has a weight of almost 15% in the WPI basket, stood at 12.32% year-on-year.

During the month under review, primary articles, which have a share of around 20% in the overall WPI basket, went up by 11.30% on an annual basis.

Within the primary articles segment, food articles became 8.37% more expensive, while prices of non-food primary articles went up by 22.35%.

Fruits were up by almost 32%, while milk and eggs, meat and fish became over 6% more expensive.

Experts believe the 16th June RBI mid-quarterly review will see key policy rates going up by 25 basis points.

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