Companies & Sectors
Reliance Jio to start 4G expanded field trials in August, launch next year

Reliance Jio, in which RIL had invested over Rs70,000 crore, would start expanded field trials of its 4G services in August 2014 and will launch it in a phased manner next year, Mukesh Ambani said

Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), said the company would commence expanded field trials of its fourth generation (4G) broadband initiative, Reliance Jio, across multiple cities in India in August this year. He also said, the company, India's largest private sector entity, would invest Rs1.8 lakh crore over the next three years across business segments, including oil & gas, telecom and retail.


He was speaking at the company's 40th annual general meeting (AGM) in Mumbai. He said, limited field trials of its unit Reliance Jio's 4G services are already underway and commercial services will be launched in a phased manner in 2015 after completing expanded field trials. RIL had invested Rs70,000 crore in this venture and would see the 'fruits of the tremendous value created', he added.


“Over the past 37 years, we invested Rs2.40 lakh crore and over the next three years' investment cycle, we will be investing over Rs1.80 lakh crore. We are now making a very deep commitment to India's growth by investing in our integrated energy chain and India-centric consumer businesses,” Ambani said.


He also announced his wife Nita Ambani's induction into the company's Board.


Reliance Retail, the company's retail unit, is India's largest retailer in terms of revenue and added 367 new stores in FY14, Ambani said. He said that RIL's focus in FY15 and FY16 will be on retail, petrochemical and telecom investments.


Talking about oil and gas, RIL's bread and butter, the company chief said, along with its partners BP and NIKO they have initiated arbitration process seeking implementation of the domestic natural gas pricing guidelines 2014. "We have an ongoing arbitration with (Indian) government on the issue of disallowance of cost recovery. We will endeavour to work with the Government for both the arbitrations to achieve prompt and efficient resolution on the matter," Ambani said.


RIL is developing two coal bed methane (CBM) blocks in Sohagpur in Madhya Pradesh and hopes to start production in 2015-16. The company also received authorisation for building a natural gas pipeline from Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh to Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh, to transport gas from its CBM blocks. This would connect it with a major pipeline grid in the country for immediate utilisation of this gas by various consumers, the RIL chairman said.


According to Ambani, Reliance Retail grew 34% to garner revenues of Rs14,496 crore and is the country's largest retailer by revenues. During FY14, the company added 367 new stores in its retail chain. He said, the company would also expand to over 900 cities its new format Digital Express Mini, the easy-to-access technology store for mobility and communication products, in coming years.


Reliance Industries closed Wednesday 2.4% down at Rs1,064 on the BSE, while the 30-share Sensex ended the day 1.2% down at 25,207.


Aranmula, the first private airport in India, is in trouble!

Will the Civil Aviation Ministry help by clarifying the issues on two and three tier towns, and where they would like to open the door for building private airports?

KGS Aranmula International Airport, the first privately built airport, is estimated to cost Rs2,000 crore. It will be the first private international airport in Kerala, after Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Kannur, if it is permitted to proceed with the project. This proposed airport lies within 100kms of both Kochi and Thirvananthapuram International Airports. It may be remembered that the statutory regulation demands such airports must be separated by at least 150 air kilometers!


It may be recalled that it was the Left Democratic Front (LDF)-led government that gave the project the initial go ahead, and the state government extended its full support even buying a 10% equity. Now due to various troubles, that are detailed below, the Government of Kerala has withdrawn its support and the construction of the airport has been stooped temporarily.


When the project was started, it received a lot of opposition from the local public led by the Aranmula Heritage Village Action Council. This council had taken a stand that the ecology, culture and tradition of this temple town would be at risk. UNESCO had declared Aranmula as a Global Heritage Village.


The proposed Aranmula International Airport is close to the sacred Parthasarathy temple and the Council had stated that the alignment of the runway might necessitate altering the height of the flagpole of the temple. In addition to this, the distance between two international airports should have been at least 150 air kilometers so that operational safety is maintained.


In addition to this, there have been public discussions and debates, that such proximity to other two international airports like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram would affect their revenues. Some others felt that this new airport could act as a feeder airport to permit low cost carriers flying to and from Gulf airports. Besides, domestic travellers could use Aranmula as a hub because of the tourist attractions nearby.


Despite all this opposition, Giji George, MD of Chennai based KGS AIA feels confident that the first flight would be able to land by December 2015. As against this optimism, the State Secretary of BJP, Radhakrishnan, said that he would raise the issue with the Prime Minister and have the project scrapped. Apart from hurting the religious sentiments of people, as the airport structures will rise above the temples, there have been additional charges of illegal conversion of paddy fields and inappropriate allocation of land.


All said and done, the environmental clearance was received in November and, as stated above, the management had set a December 2015 target for its inaugural landings. Sadly, due to the petitions made by the Aranmula Heritage Protection Council and others, the National Green Tribunal cancelled the environmental clearance, the Tribunal found that the agency, Environcare, who carried out the impact study was not an accredited agency and the public hearing by the Appraisal Committee had not strictly followed the norms set for the purpose. When this happened, the Kerala Government also withdrew its support for the project.


KGS AIA plans to go ahead with the project after getting the Supreme Court's clearance, in the meantime they are also carrying out a fresh environmental impact study by a reputed agency. All these would mean a delay and now the project may be able to get off the ground and have inaugural landings only by December 2016!


The most important issue is now for the Civil Aviation Ministry to clarify the issues on two and three tier towns where they would like to open the door for building private airports; perhaps, they could also mandate that for the time being, private airports can only be used for domestic travel and clearly stipulate that proximity to existing airports should be more than 150 air kms, which is the present norm. Also, they should consider setting up a technical study group which should be able to assess the minimum and maximum land area that can be allocated for such airports, bearing in mind the passenger and freight traffic that the new airport will have to cater at least 10-15 years ahead, as also the type of aircrafts that may utilise these airports.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)




3 years ago

Heat in Kerala assembly as opposition names Vadra for influence peddling

J Thomas

3 years ago

Kochi, Hyderabad and Bangalore are private greenfield airports. How does Aranmula become the first ?


3 years ago

Ex-landlord of the proposed airport and Kerla's Opposition politicians alleged that Mr. Vadra is behind the airport. But they could not substantiate the allegations.

Robert vadra funds for Aranmula airport alleges Ex-landlord

‘Vadra’s involvement forced Antony to back Aranmula airport project’

SEBI issues new norms for issuance of debt securities

If the issuer does not receive minimum subscription of its base issue size of 75%, then the entire application money would be refunded within 12 days from the date of the closure of the issue, SEBI says

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has issued new norms for public issuance of debt securities under which such offers have to be of minimum Rs100 crore, while issuers would need to make additional disclosures and attain at least 75% subscription.


SEBI said entities coming out with public issue of non-convertible debentures (NCDs) would have to provide granular disclosures in their offer document, with regards to the 'object of the issue'.


Also, an entity has to make additional disclosures in the offer document about details of money utilised from the previous issues of the issuer as well as the group companies.


The new norms would be applicable for the draft offer document for issuance of debt securities filed with the stock exchanges on or after 16th July, SEBI said.


Market watchdog said that the minimum subscription for public issue of debt securities has to be 75% of the base issue size for both non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and non-NBFC issuers.


Further, if the issuer does not receive minimum subscription of its base issue size (75%), then the entire application money would be refunded within 12 days from the date of the closure of the issue.


In the event, there is a delay, by the issuer in making the refund, then the issuer would have to refund the subscription amount along with annual interest of 15% for the delayed period.


However, the issuers issuing tax-free bonds would be exempted from the proposed minimum subscription limit.


SEBI has fixed a base issue size of at least Rs100 crore.


Besides, SEBI said issuers would be allowed to retain the over-subscription money up to the maximum of 100%of the base issue size or any lower limit as specified in the offer document. However, for the issuers filing a shelf prospectus, they can retain over subscription up to the rated size, as specified in their shelf prospectus.


"The issuers of tax free bonds, who have not filed shelf prospectus, the limit for retaining the over subscription shall be the amount, which they are authorised by CBDT to raise in a year or any lower limit, subject to the same being specified in the offer document," SEBI said in a circular.


SEBI said, "entities coming out with public issue of NCDs shall provide granular disclosures in their offer document, with regards to the 'object of the issue' including the percentage of the issue proceeds earmarked for each of the 'object of the issue'.”


Further, the regulator said that amount earmarked for 'general corporate purposes' would not exceed 25% of the amount raised by the issuer in the proposed issue.


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