Companies & Sectors
SBI to dilute 23 percent stake in SBI General Insurance
India's largest mortgage lender State Bank of India (SBI) has decided to lower its stakes in its general insurance joint venture to 51 percent and has decided to begin the process, the bank said on Thursday.
 
In a regulatory filing in BSE the bank said its executive committee of the central board (ECCB) on March 25 decided to initiate the necessary action as per the joint venture agreement for dilution of its stake in SBI General Insurance from 74 percent to 51 percent.
 
SBI said the other partner, Insurance Australia Group (IAG) of Australia would increase its holding in the general insurance company from 26 percent to 49 percent.
 
According to SBI, the process for diluting its holding in favour of IAG would begin as per the joint venture agreement which includes the appointment of valuer to estimate the enterprise value and the price discovery.
 
The bank's decision comes in the wake of Indian parliament passing amending the insurance laws to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 49 percent subject to the condition that the management control remains with Indians.
 
Along with the stake change the insurer would most likely undergo a name change to signify the revised shareholding pattern.
 
SBI General is hoping to close this fiscal with a premium of Rs.1,600 crore and increase that by 50 percent next fiscal.
 
SBI also has a 74:26 life insurance joint venture with BNP Paribas Cardif called SBI Life Insurance Company Ltd.
 
However the bank has not said anything on possible changes in the shareholding pattern.

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Vindicated by CAG report, but continue to suffer: Khemka
Senior IAS officer of Haryana cadre Ashok Khemka on Thursday said his action of cancelling a multi-million-rupee land deal between Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, with realty giant DLF, has been "vindicated" by a CAG report.
 
Khemka tweeted: "My action in VADRA-DLF land-license deal vindicated in CAG report, but continue to suffer the stigma of chargesheet."
 
Khemka, however, questioned the CAG report and said: "Many issues untouched in the CAG report. Cycle of corruption involved the triad - business, politics and bureaucracy."
 
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, tabled in the Haryana assembly on the last day of the budget session which ended on Wednesday, blamed Haryana's previous Congress government led by then chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for showing undue favours to Vadra in his land deal with DLF.
 
Vadra's company, Skylight Hospitality, sold a prime 3.5 acre of land in Manesar, Gurgaon, to DLF in 2008 for Rs.58 crore. The land had, however, only cost his company around Rs.15 crore and was sold to DLF after obtaining change of land use (CLU) and other permissions from the Hooda government.
 
Vadra made a clear Rs.43 crore but did not share the profits with Haryana's town and country planning department.
 
The report said the "possibility of extending undue benefit to particular applicant (Vadra's company) cannot be ruled out." It has also questioned the "distinction" made by the Hooda government for Vadra's company in giving permissions.
 
Khemka, who had ordered the scrapping of the land deal saying, that it was illegal, was transferred and served a chargesheet for his actions by the Hooda government, which gave Vadra a clean chit.
 
"Real culprits sit in judgment over me. My pain and suffering may help to detox and cleanse the body politic," he tweeted, without naming anyone.
 
With reference to the new BJP government in Haryana, Khemka questioned whether those involved in wrongdoings in land deals and looting public money would face any action.
 
"Black-marketing of licenses and permits to cronies is loot of public wealth. Will action be taken against the black-marketers?" he asked.
 
Khemka is the secretary and commissioner of Haryana's transport department.
 
The CAG has indicated that the Hooda government had obliged Vadra with quick sanction of the permissions required. Some other companies being favoured also figured in the CAG report.
 
The controversy became a national issue with opposition parties alleging that the then Congress government was doing everything to help Vadra in his land deals in the National Capital Region and areas around Delhi.
 
Vadra had bought land in four districts of Gurgaon, Palwal, Faridabad and Mewat in Haryana adjoining Delhi.
 
Alleging that Vadra's land deals caused loss of crores of rupees to the state exchequer, Khemka marked a probe into all land deals of Vadra and his companies since 2005.

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COMMENTS

SuchindranathAiyerS

2 years ago

Ultimately, it must be understood, that there is NO law in India. I have personally seen High Court Judges uphold lawlessness and the Supreme Court confirm this. India is always about "who", never about "what". Khemka upheld the law. This make him a public enemy number one, not of Vadra, but of the Indian Neta-Babu-Cop-Milard-Crony Kleptocracy. As for Vadra. Right now he is in trouble because the BJP is in power. He will be out of trouble when his brother in law or sister in law or proxy in law, or he himself, is in power. Or, when the necessary tributes are paid to the Caesars involved.

LALIT SHAH

2 years ago

Dear khemka
Ab transperant government Aa gai hye fikker mat karo
10 lakh rupees suit ka donner vivad hone ke bad jugad ho gaya aur 4.31 crores me kharidne wala mil gaya

'Global experience has lessons on high spectrum cost'
India's latest auction of spectrum for telecom operators attracted among the highest bids by global standards at $18 billion. But for an industry in heavy debt and low in revenue per subscriber, the question: Are auctions in the interests of customers and industry?
 
The latest auction fetched the exchequer somewhat more than the previous amount of $17.7 billion raised in 2010 when e-auctions in the present form began in India. Even at that time, the bid price was high, maintain PricewatehouseCoopers and the Cellular Operators Association of India.
 
In the 2010 auction, Indian telecom operators were given a reserve price of $1.24 per MHz for the 2,100 MHz band, against the global average of $0.22, as adjusted to population, purchasing power parity and duration of licence.
 
In 2013, it went up further to $2.7 per MHz -- again the highest among the auctions during that time globally. 
 
Against this, the per MHz rate was $0.54 for Canada, $0.47 for Thailand, $0.19 for South Korea, $0.8 for Germany and $0.03 for Malaysia. Yet, in some countries like Germany, the spectrum costs were seen as unsustainable even at that price.
 
"In Europe, it was a multi-country spectrum auction that took place earlier. The telcos had bid aggressively. They thought 3G will be the next big thing -- a money spinner," Jaideep Ghosh, partner, KPMG Advisory Services, told IANS, adding it had a telling effect on financials.
 
Rajan Mathews, director general of COAI, a representative body for telecom services industry, offered a similar perspective. "As can be seen from the comparable cost of spectrum, operators in India pay nearly 70 times the cost of spectrum in other countries," Mathews told IANS.
 
"Yet, at the same time, the average revenue per user is significantly lower in India than those of other countries. This means, the pay-back takes longer. The return on investment is smaller -- compounded by high prices for network equipment as well in India."
 
The average revenue per user in some countries, as compiled by Merrill Lynch Global Research, is also worth looking at: $2.76 for India, $18.35 for Germany, $26.61 for the United Kingdom and as high as $33.81 for the Netherlands.
 
"Clearly, mobile operators in India have to pay far more for spectrum even though the average revenue per user is significantly lower relative to other countries, making the investments unattractive," said Sandeep Karanwal, India head for GSMA, a body for 800 operators globally.
 
"The Indian government should consider the impact that high spectrum reserve price will have on overall consumer value creation, private sector investment and job creation -- all of these will ultimately lead to economic growth and additional tax revenues," Karanwal told IANS.
 
For the record, India was among the first countries to hold auctions for awarding spectrum under the 1991 telecom policy. But till 2003, the auction of airwaves was bundled with the licence fee. Also, operators had to keep the businesses of offering basic and mobile telephony separate.
 
From 2003-2006, the licence was de-linked from spectrum and operators were allowed to offer both mobile and fixed-line services under unified access service. As more operators were added, they were given what was called start-up spectrum, indexed to the past charges for airwaves.
 
Since 2010, when the new round of auctions started and up to 2014, the government put-up spectrum in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz and 2,300 MHz bands for bidding. It managed to sell 1,635.47 MHz of spectrum across these bands and raise around $30 billion.
 
In the latest tranch of auction, that concluded Wednesday, it put up 103.75 MHz in 800 MHz band, 177.8 MHz in 900 MHz band, 99.2 MHz in 1,800 MHz band and 85 MHz in 2,100 MHz band. The highest bids for each block collectively amounted to around $18 billion.
 
Former telecom minister Kapil Sibal even gave IANS the reason why his government did not see auctions as a viable option. "Our telecom sector is hugely in debt to the extent of Rs.340,000 crore ($56 billion). Now, paying for high spectrum prices will leave no money for investment."
 
Looking forward, analysts see a consolidation with innovative ways to share spectrum.
 
Global consultancy Capgemini said in its latest report that the US was entering a consolidation phase, while Europe was engaged in a series of mergers. As many as 79 deals, worth some $230 billion, had already been announced till July last year, globally -- $100 billion in Europe.
 
"In developing markets, regulatory uncertainty and strong competition are driving average revenue per subscriber to unsustainably low levels and, thus, preventing large global telecom operators from entering such markets," said the consultancy.
 
"But in countries like India, revised merger and acquisition guidelines and spectrum policies is likely to spur consolidation in the telecom market that has more than 15 operators currently," the group, which is also a major player in technology and outsourcing space, added.
 
In Europe, in comparison, even though a service area has just around three-five operators, the industry there is still in a consolidation mode.
 
"Let the norms be set," said Arpita P. Agarwal, head for telecom with PricewaterhouseCoopers. "With this auction completion, the government should bring back focus to and provide a roadmap on pending issues of spectrum trading, sharing, guidelines on mergers and acquisitions."

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COMMENTS

K. M. Rao

2 years ago

"Are auctions in the interests of customers and industry?" It is blasphemous to raise this question at this stage even after establishing beyond any scope for doubt the huge loss suffered by the country by the benign UPA govt. Is not auction similar to bidding to bag a contract? It is clear in whose interest the consultants are working.

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