Nashik traders’ strike could pressurise onion price

New Delhi: In a move that could further push up onion prices, traders in Nashik and adjoining areas today went on two-day strike against income tax raids and disrupted supply to contracting traders from other states who are being forced to sell the vegetable at "below the cost price", reports PTI.

"The contracting traders have said that it would be unviable to sell below Rs30 a kg as the buying cost of onion is higher than that," Nashik-based district deputy registrar cooperative societies Bajirao Shinde told PTI.

This has virtually halted the supply of the bulb from Nashik and Lasalgaon, Asia's biggest onion market.

The retail price of onion, which is ruling at Rs55-Rs60/kg in metros, is expected to shoot up further in next few days in the wake of a short supply due to the strike.

"Onion traders in Nashik, Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon are on strike for two days because the contracting traders from states like Delhi and Kolkata have asked them not to supply," Mr Shinde said.

Traders are protesting on fears of losses as onion, being a perishable commodity, cannot be stored if traders from neighbouring states continue to stop buying, he said.

Mr Shinde, who oversees the functioning of onion markets, said the contracting traders from Delhi, Orissa, Kolkata, Assam, and Bihar are not buying because their state governments have asked them not to sell onion more than Rs30/kg in the wholesale markets.

Currently, the wholesale price of onion in Nashik is ruling at Rs37/kg. At Lasalgaon, Asia's biggest onion market, prices were ruling over Rs43/kg.

Besides, traders are also miffed with the income tax raids conducted in some parts of the state, the official said.

Nashik and Lasalgaon regions in Maharashtra supply large quantity of onions to Delhi, Kolkata, Bihar and the north-eastern states.

Maharashtra is one of the largest producers of onion in the country with an average output of over 30 lakh tonnes.


iGate buys about 63% stake in Patni Computer for $921 million

Bangalore: US-based iGate-led consortium today clinched a deal to buy nearly 63% stake in India's sixth largest IT firm Patni Computer for about $921 million (Rs4,188 crore) after several rounds of negotiations, reports PTI.

"iGate subsidiaries will pay Rs503.50 per share for buying 63% stake in Patni, pegging the deal at $921 million," iGate CEO Phaneesh Murthy told reporters here.

The deal size, however, will go up to about $1.22 billion (more than Rs5,400 crore), after acquisition of 20% from public shareholders at the same price of Rs503.50 a share through the mandatory open offer.

The aggregate price for the shares to be purchased in the open offer assuming full tender is estimated at $301 million.

Shares of Patni closed at Rs463.85 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, up 0.82% from its previous close.

Gartner senior research analyst Arup Roy said, "The combined Patni-iGate entity will be almost a billion dollar entity which is certainly a good size to have. In the IT service industry size and scale matters a lot to win large deals."

The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2011, after obtaining all the regulatory approvals.

"The deal gives us a much larger platform to play on, to bid for much larger deals in the market and gives the combined company many more verticals to play on.

The objective is to synergise the leadership team of both iGate and Patni to create, over time, an integrated leadership team which will drive the combined company to newer horizons," Mr Murthy said.

Founded in 1978, Patni, a mid-sized IT services firm, provides solutions to verticals like insurance, telecom, utilities and retail. It has 16,556 employees, 282 customers and reported revenues of $689 million for the 12 months ended 30 September 2010.

On the other hand, iGate has 8,278 employees, 82 customers with revenues of $252 million for the 12 months ended 30 September 2010.

With the completion of the deal, the combined headcount of both the entities will stand at 24,834 globally as on 30 September 2010.


SC issues notice to govt on cancellation of 2G spectrum

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on the plea seeking cancellation of second generation (2G) spectrum licenses allocated during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja, reports PTI.

The apex court also issued notices to 11 companies which allegedly did not fulfil their roll-out obligations as per the terms and conditions of allocation of the spectrum.

In 2008, 2G spectrum scam allegedly involving government officials illegally undercharging mobile telephony companies for frequency allocation licenses came to light, which has cost $38.27 billion to the Indian exchequer.

The apex court also impleaded the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as a respondent in the petition.

A bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly sought a response from the Department of Telecom (DoT) and the companies within three weeks and posted the matter for hearing on 1st February.

"After considering submission of the petitioner's counsel that since TRAI has sent a letter dated 15 November 2010 to secretary, DoT, which indicated that many companies have not complied with the roll-out obligation and have not started the services, we deem it fit to entertain the petition," the bench said.

"Accordingly, TRAI, through its secretary, is impleaded as a party," it said.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking cancellation of the licenses alleging that all norms were violated.

The companies which were issued notices were Etisalat, Uninor, Loop Telecom, Videocon, S-Tel, Allianz Infra, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Dishnet wireless and Vodafone-Essar.

The bench was also hearing the petition filed by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy who has also sought identical directions.

However, the bench asked Mr Swamy to make the companies, who have not fulfilled the roll-out obligations, as parties, and then it will hear the matter along with the CPIL petition.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the CPIL, elaborated the grounds for the cancellation of the 2G licenses.


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