World
Nestlé found guilty of spying on anti-globalisation group

The Swiss-based multinational company, along with the security agency Securitas AG, which it hired to infiltrate the international organisation ATTAC, has been ordered to pay compensation to the NGO

Nestlé was, along with the security agency it hired for the job,  found guilty by a Swiss court of illegally infiltrating an activist organisation called ATTAC last week, and has been ordered it to pay 3,000 francs as compensation to each of the nine plaintiffs (aside from court cost of 14,000 francs), reports Swiss newspaper Le Courrier. The verdict was delivered exactly a year after it was admitted in court. ATTAC has, however, been in court before. The non-government organisation (NGO) was unsuccessful in criminal court in 2009.
 

The case, now well known as Nestlégate, begins much earlier, in September 2003, when the multinational company, which is not at all new to controversy, hired a person to join the group drafting the book ‘Attac Against the Nestlé Empire’.
 

Under the fictitious name of Sara Meylan, the spy helped draft the book and even wrote a chapter herself. As spies usually do, “Sara Meylan” then supplied information to Nestlé regarding the contents of the discussions and the physical profiles of each member of the group. This mission lasted until June 2004.
 

The company, throughout the case, maintained that it had stopped conducting such ‘missions’ in 2005. Yet, ATTAC discovered another employee of Securitas, this time going by her real name, at meetings of one of its working groups. Yet Nestlé and Securitas had claimed that they had stopped the infiltration in 2005.
 

The Tribunal of the Lausanne district last week, while delivering its judgement, said that the two companies were gathering information “by infiltration of the private sphere” of the activists and held them guilty of “unlawful violation of the rights of the person”.

In a written statement, ATTAC declared, “We wish to stress that we remain very critical of certain behaviour on the part of the multinational Nestlé throughout the world, in particular regarding its hostile policies toward trade unions and its excessive pumping of water.”
 

Nestlé has yet to delivery a response to its loss in court, but a spokesperson of the company told Le Courrier, “If it should turn out that a Nestlé employee had acted negligently, we shall take appropriate measures.”

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Thomas Cook to buy 74% stake in IKYA Human Capital

The acquisition will help the travel services provider to expand its portfolio of service related businesses by making a foray into “one of the world’s largest human resource markets”

 

Thomas Cook India (TCIL), one of country’s largest integrated travel services company has signed an agreement to acquire 74% stake in IKYA Human Capital Solutions Pvt Ltd, a human relations (HR) staffing solutions company, for Rs256 crore (approximately $47 million).

 

“IKYA offers specialised HR services including search, recruitment, project-based hiring and skill development to more than 500 corporate clients in India,” TCIL said in a statement to the exchanges. The acquisition will help the travel services major to expand its portfolio of service related businesses by making a foray into “one of the world’s largest human resource markets”.

 

Post-acquisition IKYA would remain a standalone independently run entity supervised by TCIL, which would remain focused on the growth of the travel related businesses.

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Hudco’s success and IRFC’s failure with tax free bonds: What are retail investors signalling?

Hudco and IRFC tax-free bond offerings have diagonally opposite responses from retail investors. A 0.15% higher coupon (8.01% p.a.) in case of Hudco has drawn retail customers even though it is an ‘AA+’ rated bond while IRFC attracted low retail response even though it is ‘AAA’ rated

Housing and Urban Development Corporation’s (Hudco) tax-free bonds have got much better retail investor response than Indian Railway Finance Corporation’s (IRFC) tax-free bonds. Over 43% of subscription is from retail investors in case of Hudco, while less than 13% of the subscription is from retail investors in case of IRFC. The difference in the coupon rate is only 0.15%. Hudco’s 15-year bond fetches 8.01% p.a. while IRFC for same term will give 7.84% p.a. The message from retail investor is clear; a 0.15% p.a. higher coupon is more attractive even if the bond rating is one notch less. Hudco is ‘AA+’ while IRFC is an ‘AAA’ rated bond.

 

Hudco’s public issue of secured, redeemable non-convertible 15-year tax-free bond is the only one offered this year that has broken the psychological barrier of 8% tax free. HNI (high net worth individuals) will get 0.50% pa less than retail investors. Surprisingly, even HNI subscription is almost 22% for Hudco as against less than 7% for IRFC. What it points to is that there could be better liquidity for Hudco bonds than IRFC in the secondary market.

 

Raj Pradhan had earlier written on whether or not to go in for Tax Free Bonds.

To access the story, please click here.

 

With interest rates expected to fall this year, tax-free bonds in coming months may offer lower rates. Hudco and IRFC tax-free bonds opportunity is certainly present for those in the highest tax bracket. For those in the 20% tax bracket, it may not work as well and certainly not for those in 10% or no-tax bracket. Senior citizens get a higher rate for bank FDs (0.5% to 1% depending on bank) and have lower tax slabs for their income levels; tax-free bonds may not benefit them.
 

 

10 year bond

15 year bond

Hudco’s coupon for retail investor

7.84%

8.01%

Hudco’s coupon for others

7.34%

7.51%

Hudco’s credit rating

AA+

AA+

IRFC’s coupon for retail investor

7.68%

7.84%

IRFC’s coupon for others

7.18%

7.34%

IRFC’s credit rating

AAA

AAA

 

Hudco proposes to raise Rs750 crore through the issue with an option to retain oversubscription up to the shelf limit of Rs5,000 crore. As of 4 February 2013, it has received Rs1713 crore. It has extended its closing date twice and is now scheduled to close on 7 February 2013.

 

IRFC proposes to raise Rs1,000 crore through the issue with an option to retain oversubscription up to the shelf limit of Rs8,886 crore. As of 4 February 2013, it has received Rs2621 crore. It has extended its closing date once and is now scheduled to close on 8 February 2013. IRFC may not extend the closing date.

 

Read: IIFCL, Hudco and IRFC tax-free bonds: Know what’s coming by Raj Pradhan

 

Hudco is charged with building affordable housing and carrying out urban development. It provides long-term finance for construction of houses for residential purposes or finance or undertakes housing and urban development programmes in the country.

 

IRFC is a dedicated financing arm of the ministry of railways. Its sole objective is to raise money from the market to part-finance the plan outlay of the Indian Railways. The money so made available is used for acquisition of rolling stock assets and for meeting other developmental needs of the Indian Railways.

 

Other stories by Raj Pradhan.

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