Pepsi awaiting government nod to use stevia as sweetener

PepsiCo is seeking government permission to use alternative sweeteners following the steep rise in sugar prices due to scarcity of sugarcane

Soft drinks and snacks producer PepsiCo India on Wednesday said that it may use stevia as an alternative sweetener if the government permits it to do so.

"If the government gives an approval and allows us (PepsiCo India) to use an alternative sweetener, then we might use stevia as an alternative for sugar in soft drinks," PepsiCo India executive director Geetu Verma told PTI.

The company has recently sought governmental permission to use alternative sweeteners following the steep rise in sugar prices due to scarcity of sugarcane. However, Ms Verma said that getting the approval may take anywhere between six months to two years.

Asked whether the company would be increasing the prices of its sugar-based products, Ms Verma said that though there is a pressure on the company due to high input costs such as rising sugar prices, there are no such rate-hike plans as of now.

Stevia is a South American native sweetener plant of the sunflower family. It has been used for sweetening for centuries in Paraguay and has been in use since the past 400 years across the world.


Sensex gains 36 points, ends at 16,913

Indian markets witnessed massive volatility due to concerns over possible tightening of monetary policy by the RBI

The Sensex gained 36 points from the previous day’s high, ending the day at 16,913, while the Nifty closed at 5,042, up 9 points.

During the day, the prime minister’s economic adviser C Rangarajan said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may tighten monetary policy in this month as inflation could reach 7% by March 2010. He also said that there usually is a seasonal decline, but it certainly appears that inflation by end of March will be higher than what has been projected earlier by the RBI.

Trade minister Anand Sharma said export growth is sustainable in the coming months. Exports broke their fall in November 2009 after 13 months of decline, adding to the flurry of positive economic data, but the news was greeted with caution by policymakers and exporters. Exports grew 18.3% to $13.20 billion in November from a small base last year, thanks to the Christmas shopping season.

The initial public offer (IPO) of DB Corp was subscribed a massive 39.54 times. The institutional investors’ category was bid 68.5 times. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) bid for 30.67 crore shares, as compared to 76.33 lakh shares reserved for the institutional investors’ category as a whole.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the government will take steps to tame rising prices and enable the economy to recover faster. Mr Mukherjee said that the government intends to push tax reforms and cut its already-bloated fiscal deficit to 3% of gross domestic product after 2001-12 fiscal year from 6.8% estimated for the current financial year ending March 2010. The government offered fiscal stimulus in the form of tax-cuts and higher spending, which widened the fiscal deficit that has to be funded by a record borrowing of Rs4.51 trillion ($96.6 billion) in 2009-10. He said the deficit was “unsustainable”, and the government would reduce it to 5.5% in fiscal year 2010-11 and to 4% in 2011-12 and thereafter, will try to claw it back to 3%.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has announced that it will advance trading hours by 10 minutes from 18 December 2009. Trading in the equity and equity derivatives segment will commence from 9:45 IST onwards, instead of the present timing of 9:55 IST, the BSE said.

During the day, GHCL shot up 10% on reports that Techno Electric may make an open offer for GHCL. Techno Electric was behind the funding for Pramod Jain's GTC open offer.

Bharti Airtel was the major gainer among the 30 Sensex stocks as it gained 3% on reports that the company was set to buy a 70% stake for $900 million in Bangladesh’s fourth-biggest telecom company Warid Telecom.

Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL) efforts to buy a controlling stake in bankrupt petrochemical maker LyondellBasell has reportedly become a bit complicated, as the Netherlands-based company submitted a new reorganisation plan to a court in the US, even as the Indian company evaluates a binding bid. The new plan of Lyondell to emerge from bankruptcy through a rights issue and payment of its huge debt does not preclude RIL from proceeding with its plans. The stock remained flat.

Zensar Technologies gained 1%, after one of the promoter group companies revoked a portion of shares it had pledged earlier.

Gitanjali Gems rose 2%, after the company said its unit Gitanjali Lifestyle had acquired had 76% in Salasar Retail.

The DLF board approved the integration of DLF Cyber City, DLF’s subsidiary engaged in rental businesses, with Caraf Builders & Constructions. DLF will own 60% of the integrated entity while promoters will hold the remaining 40%. Caraf is the holding company of DLF Assets (DAL) and has 96% economic interest in the company. DLF Assets owns four SEZ properties with total leased area of 6.4 million square feet. The stock remained flat.

Bharat Heavy Electricals declined 1%. The company has signed an MoU with the Nigerian government for three 500MW projects.

Apollo Hospitals gained 1% on reports that it might hive off its Apollo Reach hospital chain over three years.

Bhushan Steel announced that it had inked a production & sales pact with Sumitomo Metals. However, Sumitomo Metals said that it has no plans to buy stake in Bhushan Steel. The stock was up 1%.

During the day, Asia’s key benchmark indices in China, Hong Kong Singapore and South Korea were down between 0.1%-0.93% on concerns ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s meeting. However, indices in Indonesia and Japan were up between 0.2%-0.93%.

As per Japanese media reports, new global capital-adequacy rules for large banks may be delayed by at least a decade during a transition period. According to the Nikkei business daily, an unconfirmed report showed that the Swiss-based Basel Committee on Banking Supervision will stick to its plan to gradually introduce the new, stricter capital standards starting in 2012, but will establish a transition period of 10-20 years. The report also said that the proposed changes include raising the current 8% minimum capital ratio and focusing on a narrower definition of core capital.

On Tuesday, 15 December 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 49 points as an inflation report strengthened interest rate fears while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite declined 6 points and 11 points respectively.

Important US macro data showed that inflation at the wholesale level surged 1.8% in November 2009, reflecting price jumps in energy and other products. The Fed said that production climbed 0.8% in November 2009 in the US, the fourth gain in the past five months.

In response to a lawmaker’s question, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that the US economy currently has a high degree of slack, which should help contain inflation. He also said that he continues to expect slack resources, together with the stability of inflation expectations, to contribute to the maintenance of low inflation in the period ahead. 

In premarket trading, the Dow was trading 52 points higher.


Bajaj hurt by son's decision to exit scooter segment

Bajaj Auto’s group chairman Rahul Bajaj says that he is “hurt" and “not convinced” over his son’s decision to exit the scooter segment

Exposing the rift in two-wheeler giant Bajaj Auto Ltd, group chairman Rahul Bajaj on Wednesday differed with his son and managing director Rajiv Bajaj\\\\\\\'s decision to cease production of the company’s famed scooters, saying that he was not only not convinced but was “hurt” by the move, reports PTI.

"I feel bad, I feel hurt," Mr Bajaj said, but son Rajiv said that solutions should come more from logic than emotions.

Rajiv Bajaj, who took over the reigns of the Rs8,500-crore group as managing director a few years back, had said last week that scooter production would be stopped by the current fiscal to pave way for augmenting growth in the motorcycle segment.

"I can\\\\\\\'t say harm the company and its shareholders by doing something you should not do. But I am still not convinced. He (Rajiv) has tried to explain it (the move) to me," Rahul Bajaj said in an interview to NDTV.

Reacting to his father\\\\\\\'s remark, Rajiv Bajaj said during the show, "I care less for a solution from emotions, I believe more in the magic of logic."

Rajiv Bajaj had last week announced his company’s plans to exit the scooter segment by end of this fiscal and focus exclusively on motorcycles in the two-wheeler category as part of Bajaj Auto’s goal to become the world\\\\\\\'s biggest motorcycle maker in the future.


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