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ASCI upholds 31 complaints against misleading ads in Dec

Advertising sector watchdog ASCI upheld complaints against 31 misleading advertisements in December 2017, including those of Blue Star, Huggies, Magicbricks, Aava Mineral Water, Apollo Paints among others.

The Customer Complaints Council (CCC) of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) received 81 complaints in the month.

Amongst the 31 advertisements which it held misleading, 13 belonged to the healthcare category, seven to the education category, three to the food and beverages category and eight were from other categories, it said in a statement.

From the total of 20 advertisements picked by ASCI’s suo moto surveillance, complaints against 18 advertisements were upheld. Of the 61 advertisements complained against by the general public or by industry members, 13 advertisements were upheld by the CCC.

It pulled up realty portal Magicbricks ad claiming it was “misleading by gross exaggeration”.

“The advertisement’s claims,’Get a Mercedes on every booking, ‘Get flat Rs 35 lakh discount and many more such deals’ and ‘500+ exclusive deals’, were not substantiated with evidence of the offer being officially offered and / or details regarding genuine customers who have availed of this offer. These claims are misleading by gross exaggeration,” it said.

It found the advertisement of Blue Star’s air purifier misleading by ambiguity and implication.

“The advertisement’s claim, ‘Air in your house is 10 times more polluted than air outside’ did not provide any technical report in support of its quantitative claim of indoor air being 10x polluted. This claim was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration,” it said.

It found Huggies advertisement claim, ‘Rated India’s No.1 Soft pants…’ with the visual showing full range of Huggies diapers, with a disclaimer in small font referring to Huggies Ultra Soft pants, misleading by ambiguity and implication.

ASCI also upheld claims against Apollo Paint’s two ads stating that their claim, ‘No more asthma, no allergies’, was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration.

It also found Aava Mineral Water’s advertisement claim, ‘India’s highest selling natural mineral water’ was inadequately substantiated and misleading by exaggeration.

WDM witnesses trade worth Rs 882.40 cr on NSE

Wholesale debt market segment of the National Stock Exchange witnessed a total turnover of Rs 882.40 crore in 28 trades.Top securities (nn-repo) traded at the WDM were:The 6.68 per cent Government security maturing in CG2031 traded value of Rs 135.00 crore at weighted yield of 7.96 per cent, the 6.05 per cent Government security maturing in CG2019A traded value of Rs 100.00 crore at weighted yield of 6.71 per cent and the 7.17 per cent Government security maturing in CG2028 traded value of Rs 100.00 crore at weighted yield of 7.74 per cent.During the trading week ended, total turnover was Rs 4,377.35 crore and the total number of trades was 151.The highest trade volume during the week was at Rs 1,724.70 crore as on Feb 27, while the lowest was Rs 750.00 crore as on Feb 26.This week, the weighted yield on government securities with a maturity period of 0-3 years, 3-7 years, 7-10 years and more than 10 years quoted at 6.83 per cent, 7.63 per cent, 7.86 per cent and 7.98 respectively.The weighted yields on treasury bills maturing for 0-90 days days quoted at 6.00 per cent.During the week, the cumulative value of government securities, treasury bills and state government securities trading on WDM was Rs.2,653.20 crore, representing 60.61 per cent of the total traded value.Trading in non-government securities was at Rs.1,724.15 crore,representing 39.39 per cent, an NSE release said.

Wipro to acquire minority stake in Denim Group

India’s third largest IT company Wipro Ltd said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire minority stake in US-based Denim Group for USD 8.83 million (approx Rs 59 crore).

Wipro will acquire 33.33 per cent stake in Denim Group consequent to “issuance of 510 Series A preferred units of Denim Group and 500 Membership Units of Denim Group Management”, the company said in a filing.

The investment is expected to be completed during the quarter ended March 2018, subject to stipulated closing conditions, Wipro said.

Denim Group, an independent application security firm, was established in 2001 and has offices in San Antonio and Austin and has a workforce of around 60 employees. Its revenue stood at USD 11.3 million in 2017.

“This partnership will bring together Wipro’s strong digital transformation and cybersecurity capabilities with Denim Group s application security consulting, assessments and implementation services…,” Wipro said.

This, along with Denim Group s flagship product ‘ThreadFix’, the application vulnerability correlation and resolution platform, would offer customers value in minimising cybersecurity risks, it added.

“Wipro s investment in Denim Group reflects our continued commitment to assist our customers in simplifying digital risk management by enabling them to roll out secure software faster,” Sheetal Mehta, Vice President and Global Head, Cybersecurity and Risk Services, Wipro Ltd said.

It also bolsters Wipro s portfolio of digital transformation services and taps into services for embedding security in software development methodologies, Mehta added.

‘Pricing headwinds to linger on, to mute Pharma topline inFY19’

Domestic pharmaceutical industry, the largest producer of generics drugs in the world, is expected to continue to face the pricing headwinds that they had faced in FY18 mainly in the US, muting its revenue growth, says a report.

“We expect generic drug pricing headwinds, witnessed in FY18 mainly in the US, to continue over FY19 and keep the sectoral revenue flat and operating margins subdued.

“But, the current level of competition in the US generic market is not sustainable as several small players, who lack scale and efficiency will eventually exit, thereby easing competition,” India Ratings said in a report.

The agency, however, maintained the stable outlook for the sector in FY19 on expectation of stable growth in domestic market and a likely improvement in volume growth of generic drugs in the key export markets such as the US and Europe.

Low leverage and strong operating cash flow generation capability are likely to enable most of the large pharma issuers to maintain comfortable rating headroom in FY19.

A more robust solution to overcome competitive pressure in the regulated market will be to move up the value chain into complex difficult-to-manufacture chemical drugs, which command relatively high defensible prices and margins than commoditised solid oral drugs.

Research and development expenditure, which is a lead indicator of shifting product development focus, increased considerably over FY17 particularly for regulated market focused players.

The agency expects R&D spends to increase further owing to shifting product development focus towards complex generics. While this can shrink profitability in the near- term, it augurs well for medium-term prospects.

Growth through M&As is a constant theme in the sector, and many companies are likely to consider inorganic growth routes to overcome the current headwinds.

Substantially, large inorganic growth initiatives can alter the leverage trajectory as deleveraging can be protracted, given the current weak pricing scenario. While many large companies have stepped up regulatory compliance, it still continues to be an event risk, the report said.

SBI hikes lending rates by up to 20 bps to 8.15%

The largest lender State Bank of India on Thursday raised its lending rates by 0.20 percentage point (20 basis points) to 8.15 per cent, with immediate effect, setting the tone for the industry to follow suit.

This is the first lending revision by the bank since April 2016 and comes a day after it massively raised the retail and bulk deposit rates.

Prior to this, the one year-MCLR (marginal cost of funds based lending rate, on which most of the lending is based now, was at 7.95 per cent.

The six-month MCLR has been raised by 10 basis points to 8 per cent, while the three-year loan pricing goes up by 25 basis points to 8.35 per cent.

For the third consecutive time since November, the bank yesterday raised its retail and bulk term deposit rates for various maturities by up to 75 basis points.

For retail deposits, below Rs 1 crore, the rate was increased by up to 0.50 per cent, while for deposits maturing in one year to less than two years, it was hiked by 0.15 per cent to 6.40 per cent.

L&T to sell up to 2% stake in L&T technology services

L&T Technology Services (LTTS) said its promoter Larsen & Toubro will sell up to 20.49 lakh shares in the company in order to comply with the minimum public shareholding norms.

Under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) norms, every listed firm needs to maintain a public shareholding of at least 25 per cent. LTTS, which got listed on the bourses in September 2016, has a time of three years from the date of listing to ensure compliance with this requirement.

“Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Ltd, our promoter has conveyed to us their intention to sell the equity shares of the face value of Rs 2 each of the company to enable us to comply with the requirements of minimum public shareholding,” LTTS said in a BSE filing.

It added that L&T proposes to divest part of its shareholding in the company.

“Up to 2 per cent of the total paid up equity share capital of the company aggregating to 20,49,120 shares,” it said.

As of December 2017 quarter, promoter and promoter group held 89.28 per cent stake in LTTS.

Government cracks down on financial fraud, approves fugitive economic offenders bill

The Union Cabinet approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill to deal with those who escape overseas after committing financial malpractices.

The bill seeks to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by giving powers to the government to confiscate property of absconding corporate defaulters.

“Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 has been brought to confiscation of assets of a fugitive, including Benami assets. There will also be a provision to confiscate those assets outside India but co-operation of that country will be needed,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said.

The Union Law ministry had approved the bill in September last year and it was tabled in the winter session of Parliament. The bill flows from finance minister Arun Jaitley’s 2017-18 Budget speech promising legislative changes or even a new law to seize the assets of fugitives.

The bill defines a fugitive economic offender as a person who has an arrest warrant issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.

The bill covers a wide range of offences, including wilful loan defaults, cheating and forgery and non-repayment of deposits. New and old cases of persons who have fled the country to avoid prosecution will come under its ambit.

Cabinet has also approved establishment of National Financial Reporting Authority (NAFRA), Jaitley added.

“NAFRA will act as an independent regulator for the the auditing profession which was one of the key changes brought in by the Companies Act, 2013. Jurisdiction of NAFRA for investigation of chartered accountants and their firms under Section 132 of the Act would extend to listed companies and large unlisted public companies, the thresholds for which shall be provided in the Rules,” he elaborated.

In the wake of economic offenders like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya fleeing the country, the Cabinet was discussing the contours of a new law to confiscate assets of those who get away with unpaid liabilities of over Rs 100 crore, along with a revamp of the regulatory regime for chartered accountants.

The expeditious passage of the proposed bill into law may be seen as the Modi government’s promise to crack down on financial frauds, like the Punjab National Bank scam. The prime accused in the PNB case, diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, escaped the country last month after fraudulently obtaining loans amounting to Rs 12,622 crore.

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