RIL to acquire 5% stake in Eros international for Rs 10 bn to produce films

Both the companies have agreed to partner in India to jointly produce and consolidate content from across the country


RIL on Tuesday said it will acquire 5 per cent stake in NYSE listed Eros International for Rs 10 billion with a view to producing and acquiring Indian films and digital originals across all languages. | Reliance Industries Stock Price

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and Eros International Plc announced that RIL, through a subsidiary, “has agreed to subscribe to a 5 per cent equity stake” in Eros at a price of $15 per share, the company said in a statement.

Both the companies have agreed to partner in India to jointly produce and consolidate content from across the country.

“The parties will equally invest up to Rs 10 billion in aggregate (about $150 million) to produce and acquire Indian films and digital originals across all languages,” it said.
It further said that Jyoti Deshpande, Group CEO and MD of Eros International Plc, the parent company of Eros India, will be stepping down from her executive role and move on to head the media and entertainment business at RIL as President of the Chairmans Office.

Deshpande will start her new role at RIL from April 2018, but will continue to remain as a director on the board of Eros India as well as Eros Plc, it added.

Kishore Lulla will resume his position of Group Chairman and CEO of Eros Plc.
” The parties will equally invest up to Rs 10 billion in aggregate to produce and acquire Indian films and digital originals across all languages,” it said.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director, RIL said: “We are pleased to join hands with Eros, as it will bring further synergies into our plans, making for a win-win partnership”.

In her new role at RIL, Deshpande will lead the companys initiatives in media and entertainment to organically build and grow businesses around the content ecosystem such as broadcasting, films, sports and music.

Besides, she will help integrate RILs existing media investments such as Viacom and Balaji Telefilms with a view to build, scale and consolidate the fragmented USD 20 billion Indian M&E sector.

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Infosys didn’t make the cut: Only 2 Indian firms in most ethical list

US-based think tank Ethisphere Institute selected the 135 companies on the list from 23 countries across 57 industries


IT services and outsourcing provider Wipro Limited and Tata Steel Ltd are the two Indian firms that have been selected among 135 of the world’s most ethical companies for 2018 by the US-based think tank Ethisphere Institute. | Today’s Paper

The 135 companies dedicated to “defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices” were selected from 23 countries across 57 industries, Ethisphere said in a statement late on Monday.

Microsoft, Dell, Salesforce, and Adobe are some of the global tech giants who figured in the 2018 list.

“Over the last 12 years, we have repeatedly seen that those companies who focus on transparency and authenticity are rewarded with the trust of their employees, their customers, and their investors,” said Ethisphere CEO Timothy Erblich.

“While negative headlines might grab attention, the companies who support the rule of law and operate with decency and fair play around the globe will always succeed in the long term,” Erblich added.

The listed ethical companies outperformed the large-cap sector over five years by 10.72 per cent and over three years by 4.88 per cent.

“We are honoured to be listed among the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the fifth consecutive year,” said Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies.

“Ethics and integrity matter at Dell.

We work hard to earn our customers’ trust, improve our communities and inspire our team members through sound, ethical decision-making,” he added.

The institute will organise an event in New York on March 13 to felicitate the companies where PepsiCo Chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi is expected to deliver the keynote address.

“At Microsoft, trust and integrity are core to our values and critical to our success. We’re passionate about applying the power of technology to improve our world, and that starts with doing business in a way that builds and maintains trust with our customers,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith.


Budget 2018: Why India merged Railway, Union Budget in 2017

NITI Aayog report stated that as the size of the Railway Budget has shrunken when compared to the overall general budget, presenting the Railway Budget separately is not required

Railway Budget 2018

On 21 September 2016, Government of India approved the merger of the Railway Budget with the Union budget of India, and thus came to end — a 92-year-old practice of separate rail and general budgets. The decision of merger was taken along with advancing the date of the Union Budget in the Parliament under the process of budgetary reforms taken up by the government.

Earlier, NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), which constituted a committee headed by economist and NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, produced a whitepaper and recommended that the British-era practise should be phased out. The recommendations were forwarded to the Railway Ministry, after which former railway minister Suresh Prabhu, in a letter, urged Arun Jaitley to merge the Railway Budget with the general budget for the long-term interest of both the railways and the country’s economy. After raising the matter in the Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley constituted a committee to chart out the future course of action.

The practice of a separate Railway Budget was started by the British in 1924 under the recommendation of a 10-member Acworth Committee headed by British economist William Mitchell Acworth in 1920-21. Then the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) mostly depended on railway’s revenue, in fact, then the Railway Budget was 84 per cent of the general budget. But over the years, the size of the rail budget diminished in comparison with the general budget. In the past, every year the Railway Budget was presented in the Parliament by the Railway Minister few days prior to the general budget. On 25 February 2016, Suresh Prabhu became the last railway minister to present a separate Railway Budget in the parliament. Next year on 1 February 2017, Arun Jaitley became the first Finance Minister to present a combined railway and general budget.

Reasons for Merger of Railway Budget with Union Budget (Observations of NITI Aayog)

The NITI Aayog committee headed by Bibek Debroy noted that a separate Railway Budget was just an annual ritual that should be done away with. The report stated that as the size of the Railway Budget has shrunken when compared to the overall general budget, presenting the Railway Budget separately is not required. The report further stated that India is the only country in the world with a separate Railway Budget. In fact all the countries that Acworth Committee report mentioned had separate Railway Budget but have discontinued the practice.

The committee also noted that the Railway Budget is not a legal or constitutional requirement like the Union Budget. Also the committee observed that over the years the spending of other ministries such as defence, road transport, highways, petroleum and natural gas had overtaken the spending of Indian Railways, even though these ministries functioned without a separate budget.

Another observation of the committee was that the Railway Budget was used as a political tool with decisions on new trains, routes, fare hikes were getting influenced because of political considerations.

Expected benefits from merger of the Railway Budget with Union Budget

The biggest benefit for the Railways of no separate budget would be that now the Railways won’t have to pay an estimated Rs 97 billion (Rs 9,700 crore) to the government as an annual dividend for gross budgetary support. Also, capital charge of Rs 2.27 trillion will be wiped off. Thus the merger would help the Railways increase its capital expenditure. With the merger the size of the general budget will increase which will begood for the country’s economy. Also now the Parliament has to consider only a single Appropriation Bill instead of two Appropriation Billsthereby saving precious timeof the Parliament.

Due to the merger, the Railways Ministry, which requires huge investments and has a burden of about Rs 400 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) due to 7th Pay Commission recommendations and Rs 32,000 due to subsidies will no longer have to deal with these problematic issues. No separate Railway Budget will also mean that Railways can now concentrate better on revenue generation and other related tasks. Thing such as capital expenditure and revenue deficit will now be taken care by the Finance Ministry. While the government has assured that the functional autonomy of the Railways will be maintained, the annual speech of the Railway Minister will surely be missed.

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Union Budget 2018: What’s In Store For Education?

With the Union Budget 2018, the education sector is waiting eagerly to hear from Mr. Arun Jaitley if the education sector would be aligned to the latest education systems of twenty-first century.

education sector on budget 2018

With the Union Budget 2018 being presented in February, the education sector is waiting eagerly to hear from Mr. Arun Jaitley if the education sector would be aligned to the latest education systems of twenty-first century. In 2017 budget Mr. Jaitley made a statement that imparting the right educational skills and job creation will be one of the nine pillars of our nation. The Indian education system has not been upgraded technologically. There is a huge need for investment in the 21-century learning system and polishing the skills of the youth of our country to be market ready. The smart classroom concept is not yet in place and the teachers are still following the conventional methods of teaching. The focus this year should be on aligning our education system to the corporate world.

Spending on “Learning Outcomes”
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been our Indian government’s pet project last year and it has achieved 100% enrollments. The focus has to shift on learning outcomes. This year there is an expectation that the government would spend on “learning outcomes”. Learning Outcomes is a practice that aims at monitoring a student’s performance and development periodically. There is a need for a strong assessment model which has to be formalized by the government.
There has to be a focus on the improvement of primary education as this is the grass root level foundation for any student. The secondary education also has to be strengthened with the RMSA scheme (Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan) to minimize school dropouts at the secondary school level.

Public Private Partnership
The Government is also looking at Public-private partnership (PPP).This is an innovative method to tap the resources of private schools to help the government schools. Any private or public organization, whose earnings are more than 10 crores or revenue is more than 25 crores can fund the municipal schools or government-funded schools to introduce International curriculum in those schools. This would be a part of their CSR.

Higher Education Under GST
With the Union Budget to be presented very soon, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has recommended tax relief for higher education under Good and Services Tax (GST).The chamber has raised a concerned that many private schools, colleges and educational institutions have come up and they cannot take the higher taxes levied as they in turn cannot increase the fee for students. This would give rise to agitation in the campus. For the ed-tech startups ecosystems to get a boost, reduction in GST will be encouraging. The committee raises a concern that why there should be 18% GST levied when the restaurants are paying only 5% GST.

There are a lot of hopes and speculations regarding the upcoming 2018 Union budget. Hopefully, Mr. Modi will bring up some good points for the betterment of the education sector. His focus seems to be more on agriculture, health care basic facilities and primary education. Let’s wait for Mr. Jaitley to unveil the budget for the education sector in the coming few days.

Click here to read → Budget 2018

Mired by ownership battle, McDonald’s shuts 80% Delhi outlets as hygiene take toll

Ownership tussle between Vikram Bakshi & McD dented CPRL’s growth, hurt profitability since 2013

McDonald, soft drink, beverage, McD

Today’s Paper : Fast food major McDonald’s is shutting nearly 80 per cent of its stores across Delhi-NCR starting today. Connaught Plaza Restaurants Pvt Ltd (CPRL), which runs the McDonald’s franchise for North and East India, has been forced to close down 43 of its 55 outlets in the region as it failed to secure regulatory health clearances to keep the business rolling.
While the move could prove to be lethal for the firm, maintenance of quality and hygiene at the stores had been an ongoing issue since mid-2013.

The decision comes at a time when the long-drawn battle over the ownership of CPRL between its founder Vikram Bakshi and McDonald’s India has dislodged the company from the growth track. The conflict has also hampered its profitability, while most other quick service restaurant chains have managed to grow. CPRL is a 50:50 joint venture between the two and is currently operated by four board members — Vikram Baksi, his wife, and two representatives of McDonald’s.

According to data available at the Registrar of Companies, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, CPRL’s revenue growth fell to six per cent in 2014-15 compared 29 per cent in 2010-11 as investments came to a standstill. The slide being pronounced in 2014-15, when CPRL posted Rs 645 crore revenue compared to Rs 609 crore in the previous year.

In 2013-14, too, revenue growth halved to eight per cent from 16 per cent in 2012-13. In 2012-13, CPRL generated Rs 562 crore in revenues and in the previous year it stood at Rs 490 crore. Data has been sourced from the industry. | READMORE…


Infosys staffer found dead in firm’s Chennai premises, foulplay suspected

Body moved to Chengalpattu hospital, police registers case of suspicious death

A young software employee with Infosys was found dead in the company‘s office premises on the outskirts of Chennai.According to police officials, a 30-year old Ilayaraja, hailing from Tindivanam, in Villupuram district, was found dead in the office premises in Mahindra World City, close to Chennai.

The body has been moved to Chengalpattu hospital. The police has registered a case of suspicious death and the investigation is going on, said an official from the Chengalpattu Taluk Police Station. The police also confirmed that no suicide note had been found.

“We are saddened by the loss of our employee in Chennai. Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with the family of the deceased. Infosys will provide all the necessary support to the family in their hour of grief,” said a statement from Infosys. (READ MORE)


At least 9 months’ pay! Cognizant top execs get voluntary separation option

IT major expects process to be concluded by the end of the second quarter


Cognizant Technology Solutions has floated a voluntary separation option for its employees at the senior management level, at a time when the company is pushing for automation and digital technology and is in the process of trimming its workforce.

The Nasdaq-listed US-based company, which has most of its India operations in Tamil Nadu, confirmed the development. Other information technology majors did not respond to calls and emails from Business Standard on whether they were also considering similar schemes.

Cognizant said the option had been offered to senior executives — from director level to senior vice-president. Sources in the company said that those who had annual salaries in excess of Rs 40 lakh might also be eligible for the option. A minimum of nine-month salary will be paid as compensation under the initiative, depending on the executive’s post.

The IT firm said the move was related to its overall strategy to accelerate shift to digital and deliver high-quality, sustainable growth. The company will, however, continue to hire across all of its practices and is expanding facilities globally, ensuring that it has the “right expertise to help its clients”.

“As part of these initiatives, we are offering a voluntary separation incentive to some eligible leaders, representing a very small percentage of our total workforce,” said a company spokesperson.

Asked about the compensation, the spokesperson said, “We believe it provides a fair and positive experience for those choosing to leave.” He didn’t disclose any details. (READMORE…)