New Google book settlement still raises antitrust concerns: US

The US Justice department has opposed a revised legal settlement reached between Google and American authors and publishers that would allow it to scan and sell millions of books online

The bid by the world's largest search engine Google to get digital rights to millions of hard-to-find books has run into legal hurdles with the US Justice department saying that it threatens to undermine copyright laws, reports PTI.

The Department has opposed a revised legal settlement reached between Google and American authors and publishers that would allow it to scan and sell millions of books online.

In an opinion filed in a New York Federal Court on Thursday, the Justice department said that the amended settlement raises anti-trust concerns.

"The amended settlement agreement suffers from the same core problem as the original agreement, it is an attempt to use the class action mechanism to implement forward-looking business arrangements that go far beyond the dispute before the court in this litigation," the Department of Justice said in its statement in the court.

The government action is a major setback to Google's efforts to win approval for a 15-month old legal settlement that would make it a storehouse for millions of books.

The Justice Department's advise to the court comes even as consumer watchdogs, literary agents, foreign governments and state governments in the US have already filed objections before a US district judge to reject the agreement.

Judge Denny Chin is to hold a hearing on 18th February to consider approving the class action settlement.


Bankers paid out of their pocket for NTPC issue

Apart from managing the issue at zero fees, lead managers are even paying all other expenses such as legal and listing fees

The Indian government is planning to raise as much as Rs30,000 crore through disinvestment of state-run units, but it has refused to pay any fees and even expenses to the merchant bankers involved in running the public offers or follow-on public offers (FPOs). The cost of the NTPC issue runs into crore of rupees but the government thinks it is doing a favour to the lead managers.

According to an investment banker whose company declined to be part of the NTPC issue, the government has even asked the lead managers to bear the costs involved in the FPO themselves, saying that a mega-FPO like NTPC will add value to their track record.

A public issue involves a number of expenses like printing, listing fees, legal expenses and stamp duty, among others. The cost of the public issue is normally 8% to 12% of the issue size.

Several bankers thought that while it is still okay to manage an issue for zero fees, they would not pay out of their pocket for the privilege.

The current lead managers for the NTPC issue are ICICI Securities Ltd, JP Morgan India and Kotak Mahindra Capital Ltd. They have not been paid any underwriting, brokerage or management fees. On top of that, the four lead managers would have to pay out expenses of around Rs4 crore each from their own pockets.

According to sources close to the issue, Bank of America, DSP Merrill Lynch Ltd and Kotak Mahindra Capital Co Ltd, the lead managers running the Rural Electrification Corp Ltd (REC) FPO, which opens on 18th February, will only be reimbursed their expenses and the government would not pay any management fees to them.

The NTPC issue opened on 3rd February and according to data from the NSE and BSE websites, as of 4th February it had received combined retail investor subscription from 1,42,800 investors. The issue closes on 5 February 2010.



Shibaji Dash

7 years ago

Somebody asked this question :' Any difference between the political masters and the merchant bankers?'Not waiting for a response there followed this reply: 'None. They all are like lottery companies.The mandarins of North Block are like the merchants of John & Company or the East India Company and, the bankers - merchant or otherwise- are pretty strong tails wagging the dog that barks at and bites the retailer/common man. Then the friends-listeners who were asked to identify the dog said : ' sala, bahut knowledgeable hai '.


7 years ago

Plain humbug that the investment bankers happily absorb the costs and work for no fee to gain prestige, and the Govt is doing a big favour to the investment bankers.What they dont get by way of fees &costs,they earn even more by 'underpricing ' the issue price. Connected entities with deep pockets buy/invest in the 'underpriced' issue and unload for a profit later. The Govt negotiatiors congratulate themselves on how they squeezed the investment banks while being apparently unaware of how the issuer gets sqeezed smoothly on pricing. The moral: pay for the services and be hard on pricing.

R Balakrishnan

7 years ago

The retail response is virtually absent at this stage. Wonder who the smart institutional investors are who have put in other people's money in to this offering at this juncture in the market.

Newsviewer Exclusive
ARSS Infra’s promoter accused in murder case

ARSS Infrastructure plans to raise Rs103 crore with its upcoming IPO, while its main promoter is an accused in a murder case

Orissa-based ARSS Infrastructure Ltd is planning to enter capital markets to raise Rs103 crore with an initial public offering (IPO) that would open on 8th February and would be listed on both Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE). However, there may be a problem. One of its promoters, Subash Agarwal, has a case pending in a Bhubaneswar court in relation with the murder of Rubu alias Subash Chandra Das, that took place in April 2005.

According to the draft red herring prospectus file by ARSS Infra, the company is also involved in a number of legal proceedings with 17 cases filed against it in various categories including civil cases and sales-tax & income-tax violations.

“On the basis of a statement given by three witnesses, to the effect that they had overheard a conversation by the deceased about there being a threat to his life from several contactors including Subash Agarwal, our promoter and director, a second charge-sheet dated 11 January 2006 was filed by the Crime Branch wherein Subash Agarwal has been accused of the crime under Sections 34, 109, 120-B and 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act 1959,” ARSS said in the filing. The case is still pending at the Bhubaneswar court.

There are two civil cases pending against the company as on 31 December 2009. In 2006, income-tax officials found that the company’s books of accounts were not maintained properly and prepared in a fraudulent manner. The company has also been charged with suppression of facts, unaccounted cash sales, suppression of net profits and inflation of expenses. 

ARSS Infra claims that its clients are mainly governments and government companies (and a few private firms) like the ministry of railways, state government of Orissa, Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, RITES Ltd, IRCON international Ltd, National Thermal Power Corp, Hindustan Steel, National Highway Authority, Vedanta, NALCO and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. ARSS claims to have completed around 200km of rail lines and about 300km of roads and highways.

However, the company’s fund requirements and the deployment are based on management estimates and have not been appraised by any bank or financial institution. Credit rating agency Credit Analysis and Research Ltd (CARE) has assigned ‘IPO Grade 2’ for ARSS Infra’s IPO indicating ‘below average’ fundamentals. The book-running managers for the issue are IDBI and SBI. The issue size is of Rs103 crore of Rs10 per equity share at an issue price of Rs410-Rs450 per share.

During FY07 to FY09, ARSS Infra said its total revenues have grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 116.7% while net profit increased at a CAGR of 120.2% over the same period. For the nine-month period ending 31 December 2009, the company reported total revenues of Rs610 crore and a net profit of Rs50 crore. ARSS Infra claims to have an order book of Rs2,877 crore as on 10 January 2010.


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