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BW Businessworld

A Factory Of Unrest

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Yet again, the country's largest automaker has been rocked by labour strife. But unlike in the past, the unrest this time at Maruti Suzuki's plant at Manesar in Haryana has been accompanied by heavy violence.  On 18 July, general manager Awanish Kumar Dev was burned to death by rampaging workers, who also attacked a Japanese manager. The police have arrested about 90 people so far. The workers allege that a ‘casteist' remark from an official had triggered the clashes. Maruti has shut the plant. The events inflicted the biggest loss on the firm's share price in two years. On 19 July, Maruti shares fell 8.9 per cent — their biggest daily drop since 26 July 2010. Partner Suzuki's scrip closed down 3.8 per cent in Tokyo to its lowest since February 2009. Maruti's sales have shrunk 11 per cent during 2011-12, partly due to recurring worker strikes. In 2011-12, labour unrests cost Maruti more than $500 million (about Rs 2,500 crore) in lost production. 

A Matter Of Discredit

UNDER WATCH: HSBC faces money laundering charges


After a US probe found that HSBC Holdings had become a conduit for money launderers and potential terrorist financiers, India also might keep a watch on the London-headquartered bank's operations here. The US Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that HSBC's anti-money laundering compliance department, which included staff in India, was inadequately staffed. Financial services secretary D.K. Mittal hinted that the RBI was looking into the issue.

Mixed Fortunes
Bajaj Auto, India's second largest motorcycle maker, posted muted earnings for the quarter ended 30 June. Its net profit rose to Rs 718 crore from Rs 711 crore a year ago. Sales grew to Rs 4,714 crore from Rs 4,535 crore. Overall sales volume fell nearly 1 per cent to 1.08 million units. Meanwhile, Hero MotoCorp, the largest two-wheeler maker in India, saw its net profit rise 10 per cent over a year ago to Rs 615 crore. Hero MotoCorp sold 1.64 million two-wheelers, showing a growth of 7.4 per cent. 

Tata's Power
The 800-MW second unit of Tata Power's 4,000-MW Mundra project is up and running now. It has been synchronised with the grid. Tata Power's total generation now stands at 6,099 MW. The company had commissioned the first unit in March. Now the company has a total thermal power generation capacity of 5,247 MW. 

Strategic Exit
US oil major Chevron has bought Reliance Industries's 80 per cent stake in two oil blocks in Kurdistan region of Iraq for an undisclosed amount. RIL's exit from Rovi and Sarta blocks in northern Iraq is part of the company's overseas asset restructuring. In 2007, RIL had paid a signing amount of $15.5-17.5 million to the Kurdish Regional Government for the blocks that reportedly hold one billion barrels of oil reserves.

Hardly A Respite
Indian consumer price inflation eased a bit in June, but continued to be above 10 per cent thanks to spiralling food prices. The consumer-price index fell to 10.02 per cent from a year earlier, compared to 10.36 per cent in May, according to government data.

MOM-TO-BE: Yahoo's Mayer


The pace of price increases exceeds acceptable levels, said D. Subbarao, governor of the RBI.

Her Yahoo Moment
Yahoo's new 37-year-old CEO Marissa Mayer has triggered a debate on motherhood and career in a male-dominated industry. Mayer said she was six months pregnant and would work throughout maternity leave. While many termed her decision a watershed moment signalling a shift in the way women executives handled career and life, some criticised Mayer for taking a great event lightly.

Ringing In Trouble
Ailing Finnish phone maker Nokia reported a $1-billion operating loss on $9.23 billion in net sales in the second quarter. That said, Nokia said it had net cash reserves of $5.2 billion.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 30-07-2012)