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Shipping cos plan to phase out single-hull vessels

GE Shipping says it is considering a fleet-age limit of 25 years to phase out its single-hull vessels while SCI says it may convert some of its vessels. While the global deadline for the phase-out is 2010, India is among the many countries which have accepted a deadline of 2015. The phase-out was proposed to curb oil spills

The clock might be ticking for phasing out single-hull vessels by 2010 the world over, but Indian shipping companies will exercise the transition in their own timeframe and with their own strategies.
On being asked whether GE Shipping would phase out all of the five single-hull vessels in its present fleet by 2010, Anjali Kumar, head of corporate communications, said, “We may not necessarily phase out all the vessels by 2010. We will plan the phase-out as per the opportunities available and will consider fixing a fleet-age limit of 25 years.”

Officials from Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), which has around 10 single-hull vessels, said the state-run firm might consider converting some of those vessels. “We will be phasing them out by 2010, unless we change our mind and convert some of them,” Captain KS Nair, director, bulk and tanker division, said. SCI has already sold five of its single-hull vessels. All of the 10 remaining single-hull vessels have completed 25 years.

As per International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations, single-hull vessels have to be phased out by 2010. However, considering the economic constraints that developing countries could face in this exercise, countries were allowed to extend the phase-out up to 2015. “In 2003 it was envisaged that many countries, specifically the developing countries, would not have the money to replace all single-hull tankers with double-hull tankers. So, it was decided to insert a clause that allows operation of single-hull tankers up to 2015 or 25 years of the age of the vessel, whichever is earlier,” said IN Bose, who has been representing India at the IMO. India is one of the many countries that chose to extend the deadline.

The clause also allows certain countries to deny entry to single-hull vessels post the 2010 deadline. The countries which will be exercising these restrictions are South Korea, the European Union and the United States. However, many countries—like those from the Middle East, Singapore, Japan and China—will not be imposing these restrictions.

Speaking about how shipping companies are looking at these restrictions, SS Kulkarni, secretary, Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA), said, “If you are not able to trade in a particular zone, you will trade in another zone. People will stick to the IMO regulations. Depending upon wherever single-hull vessels will be allowed, the operators will run the service. Shipping companies are anyway gearing up for the phase-out.”

However, the phase-out is not likely to decrease the supply pressure on the tanker segment. “There are a number of new deliveries in the pipeline. So, the constraint on the tanker segment in terms of low demand will continue,” added Captain Nair.

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    The war of the bourses

    With the BSE indicating that it can pose a serious threat and the MCX group waiting to enter the equity space, the NSE now has to gear up for some tough competition

    To those who only watch television, it may seem as if the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) took a lot of flak for triggering a controversy with its decision to extend trading time by a token 10 minutes. But appearances can be deceptive. In fact, the broking community is delighted at the BSE's new aggression; although the National Stock Exchange’s (NSE) near monopoly ensures that nobody wants to go public with their view yet. While the support will count only when it translates into increased volumes, the BSE already has a lot going for it because almost all the brokers that matter now hold shares in the bourse. As the head of one major brokerage firm said, "We want the BSE on top again; after all, we hold shares in the BSE, not the NSE.” Another leading brokerage firm with a long history with the BSE is also advising team-Kannan on how to take on the competition and prepare for its listing.

    Hindi Chini bhai-bhai
    We learn that the BSE extended trading time by 10 minutes only after consulting its members and explaining to them the strategy of creating a little buzz for its new derivatives trading by this gesture. This apparently included a rousing little speech and a lot of cheering by the members and references to how the days of "Hindi-Chini bhai bhai" (alluding to the infamous slogan of the Nehru era that lulled India into believing that China was a close friend and ally until it declared war on an unprepared nation). Of course, all this was forgotten under the onslaught of the vicious media attack, when NSE decided to extend trading by an hour and forced the BSE to revise its plan.

    The new team at the BSE, led by Madhu Kannan, is also doing things differently. While the top four have come with formidable global or technical experience, they have quickly given up their rarefied offices with spectacular views on the 25th floor of the Jeejeebhoy Towers. Instead, they have opted for smaller office spaces on the 13th floor, in order to be in the middle of all the action. They also work long hours, often coming into office before 8.30am.

     Direct Action
    Another major plus for the BSE is the new profile it presents to the regulator as well as the public. In SEBI meetings, the entire BSE team is knowledgeable and articulate and the NSE (National Stock Exchange) is no longer able to dominate discussions or be the only one able to provide background and inputs. Their willingness to take on the NSE, directly and publicly, is like a breath of fresh air.

    James Shapiro, a key member of Madhu Kannan's team and his former boss at the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) set the cat among the pigeons by openly discussing NSE's little trick of rejecting applications for algorithm trading. The NSE is clearly caught by surprise. It has always operated through quiet, informal and off-the-record interactions and in its recent, 'master of the universe' phase, even refused to respond to queries on its anti-competition strategies, especially with regard to MCX. But all of a sudden, NSE's managing director Ravi Narain is more accessible, at least to what is perceived as friendly media. The bourse itself is seen struggling to change its DNA and be more friendly with brokers and other intermediaries. 

    James Shapiro is a veteran of such battles. He is calm, extremely articulate and fluent in Japanese and Chinese. We can surely expect a lot more frank-speaking from him in the coming days.

    For those of us who have covered the media for decades, the capital market space had turned extremely dull with NSE's near monopoly. With BSE indicating that it can pose a serious threat and the MCX group waiting to enter the equity space, the war of the bourses is promising to provide plenty of media fodder. Things will intensify when BSE and MCX get listed, because the analyst community will start tracking the exchange space. Although the NSE has no plans for listing just yet, it is bound to face pressure from its shareholders. One thing seems certain, it can no longer operate with the same secrecy that it did for the first 15 years of its existence.

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    Satwinder saggu

    1 decade ago


    Microsoft fined for using its “money power”

    The Delhi High Court was hearing Microsoft Corporation's plea against four different defendants, alleging violation of copyright. The court ruled that Microsoft had selected a court which was so far away from each of the defendants that it was a “harassment for the defendant(s)” to contest the suit itself

    The Delhi High Court has asked Microsoft Corporation to cough up Rs800,000 ($16,000) for opting to fight four copyright violation cases in the Indian capital, even though these cases had originated in other cities.

    The order came after the court found that the alleged violations occurred in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Mumbai.

    Not only did the court note that Microsoft had offices in these cities, but it also said that the company was using "money power" to "harass" the defendants, who would have to travel to Delhi to fight the cases. Another reason why Microsoft was found to have chosen the Capital to fight the cases was that the Delhi High Court has the jurisdiction to order compensation of up to Rs20 lakh.

    "When the Constitution of India provides equality before law, this equality has to be all-pervasive and cannot be allowed to be diluted because of money power or lobbying power," said Justice SN Dhingra in his order. "One cannot be given liberty to choose a court of his liking because of his money power. There should be one definite court where the suit can be filed by everybody and one cannot hire the services of the court of his choice," the Judge said.

    The court was hearing Microsoft Corporation's plea against four different defendants, alleging violation of copyright on grounds of suspicion that they were using pirated software.

    Microsoft said that it was fighting the cases in New Delhi as it has its office in based in New Delhi. However, the court told Microsoft if it wanted the cases to be heard here, it would have to deposit a sum of Rs2,00,000 per case as a security cost. The amount will be kept with the registrar general of the Delhi High Court till the final disposal of the four cases. It will be given to the defendants if the cases are found to be false.

    The court also appointed a local commissioner to probe the allegations. All the expenses of the local commissioner, including his fees, which is Rs25,000 per day, will have to be incurred by the multinational company.

    Terming Microsoft's act as “harassment for the opposite party”, the court said, "Given the present interpretation of a section of the Copyright Act, a multinational company having its office within the same district where the case of action arose, defendant resided and where witnesses would be there and (where) it is convenient for the court as well as for the parties to contest the suit, may refuse to file the suit in that State court and choose a distant court faraway from the office of the defendant.

    "But on the strength of its money power it has the added advantage of choosing a court of its own liking which is so far away from the defendant that it becomes problematic and a harassment for the defendant to contest the suit itself."

    The next hearing is scheduled on 18 January 2010.

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