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BW Businessworld

No Relief From Top Court On Spectrum

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It seems to be the end of the road for companies stripped of 2G spectrum. On 4 April, the Supreme Court rejected requests from seven telcos to reconsider its 2 February ruling cancelling 122 licences in 22 telecom circles. Dismissing the companies' plea, the court said it had "carefully perused the record of the case" and was satisfied that the judgment was error-free. There was a glimmer of hope for the government, though. On its plea to review the directive to auction the cancelled licences, the court said it would hear it in an open court on 13 April. That said, the court has dismissed the government's plea for a review of its observations against PMO officials. The ruling, however, elicited a mixed response. While global telecom operators Sistema and Uninor said they were disappointed at the court's rejection, some analysts felt the incumbent telecom operators would gain considerably.











GOING PLACES: Vijay Mallya's United Spirits enters the US (Bloomberg)

Still In High Spirits
Knowing Vijay Mallya, this is no surprise. Even as a financial crisis engulfs his group companies, Mallya-led UB Group's flagship firm United Spirits has debuted a popular whisky brand, Royal Challenge, in the US, which is one of the toughest consumer markets in the world.

The Order Stands
The Supreme Court has dismissed energy major Essar Oil's plea for a review of the court's 17 January order asking it to shell out Rs 6,300 crore in sales tax to the Gujarat government.

Core Philosophy
The finance ministry has barred state-run banks from investing in joint ventures and non-core activities. It says capital should only be deployed in core activities. It has asked banks to take its prior approval before taking such non-core investment decisions and also asked government nominees on bank boards not to pass resolutions to that effect.

Beauty Business
Reliance Industries and consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever are joining hands to set up a chain of beauty and wellness outlets across the country. The outlets will be debuted in Reliance Hypermarkets in Mumbai this May and will cover 40 stores in three months.

Enter With Caution
Market watchdog Sebi has allowed the listing of shares of stock exchanges on other exchanges. But there are riders. For one, an independent governance committee will have a say in the regulatory functions of the exchange such as listing, trading and surveillance.

Haven No More
There will be no rollback of the proposed anti-tax avoidance framework. The candid assertion came from the finance ministry to representatives of top foreign institutional investors. The ministry also clarified that investors who do not have "substantial commercial presence" in Mauritius could be taxed under the new provisions.

A Friend In Need
Call it the counter-strategy. The government says it will offer tax incentives to exporters for sales in rupees to Iran. It feels the effort will help exports in return for oil from Iran, which is reeling under Western sanctions. Hope the US does not mind.











TIME OUT: Jewellers suspend agitation till 10 May (Bloomberg)

Calling Off Strike
Jewellery traders have called off their 21-day strike after a meeting with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Friday. Bullion traders and jewellers have been protesting tax announcements in the budget, which had imposed excise duty on non-branded jewellery, raised customs duty on gold and proposed TDS (tax deducted at source) on sale of jewellery. "We have decided to suspend the strike till 10 May," said Surendra Jain, general secretary, All India Sarafa Association.

Scoring To Survive
A dramatic end. And a fast one at that. To get out of the year-long financial crisis faced by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team's owner, Frank McCourt, agreed to sell the team for $2.15 billion to a group headed by Magic Johnson, the Lakers' Hall of Famer.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 16-04-2012)