SCI set to buy three container ships for $225 million

SCI plans to purchase three new container vessels along with its existing joint venture partner Mediterranean Shipping Company

State-run Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) plans to acquire three new container ships in the New Year, and has set aside $200 million-$225 million to fund these purchases, a top company official said.

"SCI plans to purchase three new container vessels, along with its existing joint venture partner Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). These (orders) will be executed after securing the necessary Board approval," a senior SCI official told PTI.

Presently, SCI has a total fleet strength of 76, which includes five container vessels.

The shipping major decided to strengthen its fleet strength taking into account a visible pick-up in trade volumes in the recent past, the official said.

"We have seen a significant pick-up in volumes in the recent past, on account of the recovery in the domestic and global markets. Volumes are expected to pick up further in the months ahead," the official said.

Reflecting the recovery and the corresponding revival in the export trade from Europe to Asia, shipments in the Europe-Asia trade route increased by 12.6% in October to 4,64,689 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), from 4,13,249 TEUs a year ago.

“In the long term, there is a huge potential in this business. The recovery in freight rates is most notable on the Asia-Europe routes, with all container routes showing signs of improvement," the official said.

A decline in vessel prices in the past few months could also facilitate the corporation to acquire more vessels in the near future, the official said, without giving further details.

However, SCI and its Geneva-based JV partner, MSC, have not decided on whether the latter will co-fund the proposed acquisitions of three container vessels, the official said.

In May, SCI had entered into an agreement with MSC to run its European service. "The discussions with our JV partner are on and it is too early to comment on the matter," the official said.

Presently, the five container vessels of the corporation cover the Far-east, China, UK and the Middle-east. The Middle-east covers Jebel Ali and operations in all the upper Gulf regions.

SCI also operates its feeder cargo vessels on the west coast of the country, besides operating Indian coastal cargo vessels in the coastal regions, pan-India.

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    Indian firms are using health cover for hiring, retaining employees

    Almost 41% of the companies use healthcare cover as a talent attraction and retention tool, while 11% use it to minimise losses arising out of employee health issues

    Despite a hike in health premium costs, over 40% of Indian companies consider healthcare cover as a value differentiator for employees and use it in their hiring and retention strategy, a survey has said.

    "Rising premium costs have not reduced the importance of healthcare cover as an employment value differentiator. Indian companies continue to use it as a part of their hiring and retention strategy," Watson Wyatt, a global consultancy firm, said in its Health Care Benefits survey.

    "Almost 41% of the companies use healthcare cover as a talent attraction and retention tool, while 11% use it to minimise losses arising out of employee health issues," the survey said.

    The survey covered 125 of India's largest employers and from across industries, mainly from the private sector, reporting an average revenue of more than Rs400 crore.

    According to the survey, most Indian companies providing healthcare cover to their employees are grappling with an average 10% rise in premiums over the last three years.

    "Rising healthcare costs are making corporates strive to strike the balance between increasing premium costs and their talent management strategies," Watson Wyatt India head of benefits practice, Kulin Patel, said.

    To achieve this objective, it is crucial that companies constantly review and customise healthcare plans, Mr Patel said.

    "It is vital that employers design appropriate healthcare plans, employ efficient ways to manage them and ensure that employees understand their value," he said.

    Corporates are constantly devising different strategies to control healthcare costs, the survey said. The survey found that 74% of the companies are stressing on employee education around healthcare.

    Despite rising premium costs, economic turbulence and the difficulty in maintaining an affordable healthcare cover, 58% of the companies surveyed did not deduct any premium costs out of employee salaries, it said.

    "Importantly, over 46% of those surveyed did not plan to share the costs with the employees even in the coming year," the survey said.

    The survey revealed that only 17% of the companies cover post-retirement medical expenditure. Post-retirement medical benefit is mainly provided by companies in the public sector, while a very small proportion of private sector companies provide such long-term benefits.

    Commenting on the rise in premiums, the survey said that one of the main reasons for the rise was the advent of sophisticated medical technologies. However, employees seeking excessive care and malpractices like over-recommendation of services are also contributors to this hike in premiums, the survey said.

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    Indian kids will now get mechanical toys

    The legendary toy brand Meccano has entered into an agreement with My Baby Excels to market its product in India

    Aspiring engineering kids can now take a few lessons at home soon.
    My Baby Excels has entered into an agreement with Nut and Bolts to sell its iconic brand Meccano in India.

    Meccano, established in 1901 by Frank Hornby, is a model construction system comprising re-usable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles and gears, with nuts and bolts to connect the pieces which enable the building of working models and mechanical devices.

    My Baby Excels is a premium toy label, representing international bestsellers like Leap Frog, Disney Plush and WowWee in India. Meccano will also launch its extensive product line including the construction range, tuning range and multi-model range, among others.

    "We are pleased to partner with Meccano and forward their cause in India. India is a hotbed of engineering talent and we look forward to leverage the demand here. Moreover, the brand enjoys a cult status among enthusiasts in India. We will be focusing on widening the reach and base of the product line,” said MN Kapasi, managing director, My Baby Excels, in a release.

    Excel Productions Audio Visuals owns Excel Interactive (a leading gaming company and India licensee for Electronic Arts and Disney Interactive Studios).

    The toy, earlier known as "Mechanics Made Easy" is based on the principles of mechanical engineering. The construction kits gained immense popularity, which later became known as Meccano.

    In September 1907, Mr Hornby registered the Meccano trade mark, and in May 1908, he formed Meccano Ltd.

    Meccano caters to children above 5 years and young adults.

    The products are priced from Rs599 onwards and will be available at all leading stores across the country.

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    K S Peiris

    9 years ago

    how can i order direct from india to colombo sri lanka. need to find out srilanka dealer at colombo


    10 years ago

    I am an enthusiasist in Meccano sets. I am glad to know that it will be available in Idia thro My Baby Excels.I wish to have the catalogue with pricings of the sets so that I wish to gift a set to my Grandchilren.
    Truly yours,

    Udit C

    1 decade ago

    Why this title... Meccano comes to india!" is great news in itself.

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