Stanchart bid to get rid of 1,000 staff
Forex reserves near $ 43 bn-mark
Indian Airlines shortlists four for ad campaigns
DCM Shriram mulls tieups with food processing firms
The Big Snoop is right here
Brand tags for ethnic wear

Mumbai, May 26: 
In a major reorganisation consequent to the merger with Grindlays Bank, the Standard Chartered group today announced a voluntary retirement scheme for its non-management employees.

Out of a total strength of 4,350 employees, about 1,450 would be eligible for the scheme and the group expects 1,000 employees to opt for the same. The average payout will be Rs 19 lakh per employee and the total consideration could thus come to around Rs 27.50 crore.

According to bankers, this is one of the highest exit packages offered in the industry.

All employees who will attain the age of 40 years or complete 10 years of service in the banks as on July 1 this year will be eligible to opt for the early retirement scheme.

The scheme which opened today will close on June 25.

Under the scheme, eligible employees will be entitled to get either three months salary (basic salary plus dearness allowance on the date of early retirement) for every completed year of service or one month�s salary for every month of service left till normal retirement age of 60 years, whichever is higher.

This apart, employees who opt for the scheme before June 6 will receive an �early bird� incentive of up to 8 months� salary.

Other terminal benefits will include payment of pension, encashment of unutilised privilege leave and all dues from their provident fund.

While the move was long expected, sources said the scheme will cover all its branches and back-office service delivery personnel. Mumbai followed by Calcutta, Delhi and Chennai are likely to see the maximum number of applications.

The scheme will cover both Standard Chartered Bank and Standard Chartered Grindlays Bank (formerly called ANZ Grindlays Bank).

Though both these entities are yet to legally merge, the amalgamation is expected by the end of next year.

In a press statement issued today, the group said with the growing competition in the banking industry, the scheme will enable the banks to get more efficient in terms of customer service and product delivery.

Explaining the rationale for the scheme, a senior official told the The Telegraph that while the bank was involved in technology upgradation and centralisation process, efforts in this direction would have created surplus staff apart from skewing the ratio of front-office and back-office personnel.


Mumbai, May 26: 
The country�s foreign exchange reserves touched a new high and moved closer to the $ 43 billion-mark, when it rose to $ 42.829 billion for the week ended May 18, up $ 91 million from $ 42.738 billion in the previous week.

According to market sources, the spurt in forex reserves is mainly because of the rise in foreign portfolio investments coupled with the fact that domestic companies have started bringing in the funds raised in the overseas markets.

Last week the buzz in the forex market was that both Dr Reddy�s Laboratories and Satyam Computers Ltd, the two companies which recently raised $ 115 million and $ 162 million through American Depositary Shares (ADS) respectively, have brought home their overseas proceeds.

A section of the analysts also believe that the Reserve Bank of India has been mopping up dollars from the markets during the past few days to shore up the supply of greenback. Forex reserves have been on the rise since the end of last year, particularly after State Bank of India mopped up $ 5.5 billion through its India Millennium Deposits (IMD).

Forex market observers believe that the rupee should hold steady or stage an appreciation in the event of a large scale infusion of dollars through this route.

As regards portfolio investment, sources say it has not shown signs of dipping despite Morgan Stanley recently lowering India�s weightage in its emerging markets index. Last Saturday, Morgan Stanley unveiled a provisional series of indices where India�s weightage fell to 4.49 per cent from over 7 per cent.

According to Reserve Bank of India�s weekly statistical supplement, the foreign currency assets (FCA) increased to $ 40,130 million, a rise of $ 97 million in the reporting week. Special drawing rights, however, declined by $ 6 million while gold reserves remained static at $ 2,695 million, the same as in previous week ended May 11.

The foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation/depreciation of non-US currencies such as euro, sterling and yen.

Loans and advances by RBI to the central government rose by Rs 413 crore in the week ended May 18 to Rs 8,525 crore while that to the state governments increased by Rs 76 crore to Rs 3,224 crore, the apex bank said.


New Delhi, May 26: 
Four advertising agencies have been shortlisted by Indian Airlines for its multi-crore campaigns for the next two years. The agencies that have been empanelled are Bates, Akshara, Adfactors and Grey Worldwide.

Of the four, Bates and Akshara are already on the panel of Indian Airlines. The two new agencies, Adfactors and Grey, are replacing HTA and Enterprise Nexus.

This time the shortlisting had been done after four years, though generally the empanelment is for a period of two years.

According to a spokesperson of Indian Airlines, 27 advertising agencies originally submitted concept papers which were sent to an external panel. Three evaluators shortlisted 10 agencies, on a coded system, to make thematic presentation. Based on that the final four were picked.

The spokesperson said that the advertising budget for this year has not been decided so far. Last year the advertising budget was Rs 9 crore, he said.

For the presentation, the agencies were asked to project the airline not just as a product but as a strong brand which is a sound investment proposition. This was done keeping in mind the impending disinvestment process in the domestic carrier, the spokesperson said.

For its campaigns for the next two years, the four chosen agencies will be allocated work on the basis of a particular campaign or job.

Shovon Chowdhury, executive vice president and general manager of Bates India said, last year Indian Airlines contributed about Rs 2 to 3 crore to its annual capitalised billing.

It would be an interesting task to unlock the full potential of the brand, some of which easily gets ignored, he added.

�We would like to bring out both the tangible and intangible strengths of this brand,� Chowdhury said.

According to him, getting re-empanelled means starting work on the brand all over again, from the scratch.


New Delhi, May 26: 
DCM Shriram Consolidated Ltd, a company with business interests ranging from cement, textiles and fertilisers, is planning to expand its sugar business this year. As part of this plan, DSCL would add land area for sugar cultivation, as well as, tie up with several food processing companies that use sugar as the main ingredient.

�We have 60,000 hectares of reserved land under agriculture. Out of this only 30-35 per cent is devoted to sugarcane. We would like to increase this share of cane production,� said Ajay S Shriram, vice chairman and managing director of DSCL.

Regarding the company�s plan for new alliances, Shriram said: �We are talking to some chocolate makers, a soft drink giant and biscuit companies. Although nothing has been finalised yet.�

The deals with food processing companies would require DSCL to manufacture special grade sugar with no sulphur and of a finer and whiter quality. For this the company would have to install new machinery worth Rs 5-7 crore.

DSCL, which is into its third year of operations in sugar, registered a maiden net profit of Rs 10 lakh in the last financial year.

�We cannot make any predictions about this year�s profit target because it depends on the policies of the government. Apart from the levy amount of 15 per cent of the production that we have to give for public distribution schemes, the release in the free sugar market is also determined by the government. The availability, in turn, determines the market price,� he said.

The volume of any agricultural crop is also dependent on the weather which makes volumes or the profit margin unpredictable, he added.

DSCL is also planning programmes to educate farmers about the profitability of cane. �Funds are no constraint if their is a good acquisition proposition or a profitable deal,� said the vice chairman.

The company is aiming to maintain costs constant. �We want to cap costs at last year�s level of Rs 14 crore while expanding the gross volume of cane crushed from 75 lakh quintal to 100 lakh quintal,� he said.


New Delhi, May 26: 
Beware Big Brother is watching � as an employer you can monitor what your employees (read slackers) have been up to even if you are enjoying a holiday in Hawaii, attending a business conference in London or a trade exhibition in Europe.

As the head of an educational institute, you can monitor internet activities to prevent young students and teenagers from indulging in illegal activities that could land them and you in legal trouble.

Mice no longer can play when the cat is away: Softtalk Technologies has launched a PC surveillance software called e-blaster that will monitor and record all PC and internet activities from a remote location.

E-blaster is a real snoop: it can record everything anyone does on their PCs and have a detailed report delivered to a specified e-mail address anywhere in the world. The software records websites visited, chat conversations held, applications launched, keystrokes typed and optionally takes screen snapshot and sends a comprehensive and organised reports to the given email address. It runs on super stealth mode to ensure that it is completely hidden from anyone except the user. The e-blaster recordings are protected by chosen hotkeys and advanced password protection. It can also send reports once very 30 minutes or once everyday or may be a week. The software works on all kinds of internet connections, modems, cables modems and local area network.


New Delhi, May 26: 
Following the footsteps of the Western apparel market, the Indian ethnic wear might soon be conquered by big brands with flashy tags.

According to a study conducted by the Images KSA Technopack on the domestic Indian apparel market, branding is almost negligible in women�s wear like saris, salwar kameez and lingerie.

However, there is a bigger potential for branding in women�s ethnic wear than men�s wear, reveals the study. It estimates the total domestic apparel market at Rs 43,100 crore with the share of men, women and kids pegged at 46, 37 and 17 per cent respectively.

The study says that women�s wear market is growing at a much higher pace than the men�s or kids� apparel. This year, women would buy about 1.25 billion of clothes valued at about Rs 16,100 crore. Out of this, two-third would be ready-made garment. However, in terms of value, more than 78 per cent would come from ready-mades. In the ready-made category, one-fourth would come from the branded segment.

Women�s wear contribute a little over 37 per cent to the total sales in terms of value and 33 per cent in terms of quantity. �The branding potential in saris, salwar kameezes and women�s lingerie, including petticoats, is huge,� said Harminder P Sahni of KSA Technopack, who worked on the study. He added that in these categories branding drive is already on the rise which would lead to more contribution from women�s wear.

Ethnic wears like, churidar sets, salwar kameez and lehengas have been growing the fastest among all women�s wear. Against a market size of Rs 2,500 crore in 1997-98, it is projected to be Rs 3,500 billion in the current fiscal.

In terms of quantity, 145 million sets of ethnic wear is estimated to be bought in India.

Saris would witness more branding, says the study. It points out that despite developing a likeness for contemporary apparel, the Indian woman is unlikely to reduce her budget for saris.

The research states that saris would account for about 44 per cent of the total spending in women�s wear this year in terms of value.

Though there are some national brands like Kunwar Ajay, Roop Milan, Garden, Parag, but most of the branding is done by large sari chains like Nalli in south India, Ram Chandra Krishna Chandra in the north or even single stores like La Affair, said the study.

The total consumption of saris has been estimated to be 315 million pieces, fetching about Rs 7,100 crore in the current fiscal.


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