Diversified group ITC plans to set up multi-specialty hospitals and leverage its experience in hospitality for tapping into the expanding medical tourism segment in India.
The Kolkata-based firm, better known for FMCG products and cigarettes, is seeking approval from shareholders through a special resolution to alter its Memorandum of Association in order to be able to foray into the healthcare sector. The board of directors of the company has "recommended exploring and entering the area of health in India by way of setting up state of the art world class multi-specialty hospitals", ITC said in a notice to the shareholders.
The move is in the context of the company's vision to "sub-serve national priorities which has driven the company's operations, diversification initiatives and CSR policies and practices", it added. Such initiative would leverage the company's repertoire of knowledge and experience in the hospitality and tourism sector and can be used for medical tourism for the country using the multi-specialty world class facilities," it said.
"Your Board believes that world class medical facilities providing patient-centric best practices that would be valued and trusted by the society will drive reform in healthcare in India," ITC said in its notice to shareholders, asking them to approve the proposal through postal ballot and e-voting.
ITC will compete with the likes of Chennai-based Apollo Hospitals, Fortis and Max Healthcare which are among the major private players in the sector. The company is looking at the whole gamut of healthcare to be included in its amended Memorandum of Association. These include business of multi speciality hospitals, medical and health care centres, mobile health centres, nursing homes, diagnostic centres, dispensaries, pharmacies, clinics, laboratories, polyclinics, drug and medical accessories stores. It also includes nutrition and dietetic counselling centres, medical colleges, nursing colleges, medical research centres, facilities for training, development and skilling of related manpower, and to engage in and support medical tourism and all other related medical, surgical, curative and health services and allied activities.
Last month, the board of directors of the company at its meeting recommended seeking approval from its shareholders for an alteration of the objects of the clause of its Memorandum of Association to include 'Healthcare'.
ITC is striving to position itself as one of India's most valuable corporations "through world class performance, creating growing value for the Indian economy and the company's stakeholders". For its FMCG business, the company has set an ambitious target of Rs 1 lakh crore revenue from this segment by 2030 and it is looking to create "world-class Indian brands" by leveraging on its enterprise strengths.
In 2015-16, ITC's total FMCG business had a consolidated revenue of Rs 28,409.83 crore in which cigarettes contributed Rs 18,685.98 crore and non-cigarettes at Rs 9,723.85 crore.
Seeking investments from India in areas like automation, smart electronics and biotech, Thailand Board of Investment has said that the country provides tax holidays and an investor-friendly environment.
"Indian businesses can contribute to our growth further in various ways. No matter big or small, even startups can be our partners. There is a wide range from trading, manufacturing and other high value-added services. However, they have to come with technology and be environment friendly," the board's Director and Consul (Investment) Kanokporn Chotipal told PTI.
She said Indian business can also participate in sectors like aerospace, automation and medical devices.
"Apart from that, India can also be our partner in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and IT/ITeS," she said, adding Indian companies can explore business opportunities in several sectors in Thailand.
With an aim to attract investments from India and other countries, Thailand is organising a mega event - 'Opportunity Thailand Seminar 2017' in Bangkok on February 15.
Over 2,500 investors from across the globe would participate in the seminar.
Chotipal said that several Indian companies have presence in the South East Asian nation and "more will go to Thailand according to Act East policy of the Indian government because Thailand is a strategic location, situated in the centre of ASEAN".
She also expressed hope that negotiations for the Thailand-India free trade agreement will be concluded soon to boost economic relations between both the countries.
Enhancing its capability to dealing with a nuclear attack threat, India on Saturday successfully test fired a Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) interceptor missile designed to intercept and destroy hostile ballistic missiles in space even before they re-enter the Earth`s atmosphere.
The test took place at 7.45 a.m., and an incoming missile was successfully intercepted at a height of 100 km with a direct hit by an interceptor missile, said a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official. The PDV can reach even higher altitudes.
"India successfully conducted a test wherein an incoming ballistic missile target was intercepted by an exo-atmospheric interceptor missile off the Bay of Bengal," an official statement said.
"With this commendable scientific achievement, India has crossed an important milestone in building its overall capability towards enhanced security against incoming ballistic missile threats. It has entered an exclusive club of four nations with developing capabilities to secure its skies and cities against hostile threats," it said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar lauded the efforts of the DRDO and all the scientists involved for their dedicated efforts in this significant achievement.
"Today (Saturday) our scientists have made a missile that could attack an incoming missile in the sky. Only four-five countries in the world have done this," Modi said at a poll rally in Uttarakhand.
The two stage PDV missile is part of the two layered Ballistic Missile Defence system developed by the DRDO, the research and development wing of the Defence Ministry, with the Hyderabad based Research Centre Imaarat (RCI) as the nodal laboratory.
Its interception window spans from 80-120 km.
The fully automated system consists of a network of sensors, computers and launchers, designed to intercept hostile ballistic missiles, possibly carrying nuclear weapons and destroy them before they can cause any damage.
This was the second test of the PDV.
Source: Z Business
The Union Budget 2017-18 paved a foundation stone for a long-term boost to the Indian economy. The Budget appears to aim at providing more structural support to accelerate growth momentum over the long run. Instead of offering short-term incentives, it promotes long-term benefits of going digital, investing in infrastructure, increasing agricultural output and farmers' incomes, and creating employment opportunities in rural areas.
The biggest miss in the Budget speech, however, was lack of mention of corporate tax for large companies.
Focus on digital economy
Promoting digital economy is an integral part of the government's strategy to clean the system, weed out corruption and curtail parallel economy. The government, through various initiatives such as BHIM application, Aadhaar pay etc., has been incentivizing digitization of financial system. Also, to encourage innovation and support thriving start-up sector, the government continued to offer income tax exemptions to start-ups with certain conditions in this year's Budget as well.
Going digital and increasing emphasis on digital payments from consumers as well as suppliers/vendors would help retailers and consumer product companies increase financial transparency, improve efficiency and reduce transaction time and cost. This will be particularly beneficial to ecommerce players who currently have a majority share of transactions coming from cash on delivery which puts tremendous pressure on their profitability. Also, leveraging online platforms and integrating them with the business model would offer consumer products companies opportunities to reach larger audience to drive growth and become more agile to address fast changing market dynamics.
Thrust on infrastructure investments
This was the first Budget that combined the Railway Budget and General Budget. The objective is to drive greater synergises with focused investments across various modes of transportation - railways, roads, water ways and civil aviation. The emphasis is on increasing throughput for railways, building more highways, improving coastal connectivity and providing better transportation facilities.
Improved transportation facilities would lower time and cost of transporting goods, reduce wastage, improve inventory planning and enhance ability to respond to demand on a more real time basis.
Continued focus on supporting agriculture, income for farmers, rural population
The Budget continued from its last year's focus to support agriculture and farmers' incomes by announcing higher credit, increased crop insurance, greater investments in irrigation facilities etc. Additionally, the Budget also increased allocation to MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) to a record high of Rs. 48,000 crore. Although, this would not have a short term impact on rural spending, this will help uplift rural consumption over the longer run.
Close to 45 per cent of demand for consumer product companies comes from rural areas and is highly dependent on agriculture and monsoon. Rural consumption over the last two years has been subdued due to below average monsoon in 2014 and 2015. The recovery in consumption was expected in the second half of 2016 on the back of average monsoon during the year. However, the unanticipated announcement of demonetization derailed the recovery. Some of the long-term measures announced in the Budget would help in lowering the dependence of agricultural income on monsoon and give greater income assurance to farmers. This in turn, will help increase discretionary spend in rural areas over the long run.
Encouraging food processing in India
The Budget proposed to integrate farmers who grow fruits and vegetables with agro-processing units for better price realisation and reduction of post-harvest losses. Also, it was announced that a law on contract farming would be prepared.
This will benefit farmers and give impetus to food processing industry. The food processing units will have greater access to consistent supply of raw materials. It will help them manage supply-chain more efficiently, reduce wastage and improve productivity. It will also create vast employment opportunities in the sector.
Making dairy more remunerative
Additionally, for the dairy sector, the Budget allocated close to Rs. 8,000 crore to be spent over the next three years as a part of various projects, to make the dairy sector more remunerative to farmers. Also, the investments will help modernize operations and improve productivity.
Making India a global electronic hub
The Budget also proposed to make India a global hub for electronics manufacturing, and allocated an all-time high of Rs. 745 crore under various incentive schemes. This will continue to attract investments from global electronics and mobile manufacturers in India over the long run.
Relief to taxpayers with annual income less than Rs. 5 lakh
The Budget halved income tax rate to 5 per cent for individuals having annual income of less than Rs. 5 lakh. This will lead to higher disposable income for taxpayers in that bracket and incentivize consumption.
For a century, toiling wool growers epitomised Australia’s rise as an export superpower until the development of synthetic fibres unravelled the global wool industry in the 1960s. But strong demand in China, changing consumer tastes and tight supply mean the world’s biggest wool exporter is once again “riding on the sheep’s back” — a reference to a time when the industry gave Australians one of the highest standards of living in the world.
“I remember the last wool boom in 1951 and this one is probably better because wool prices are up at the same time as prices for lamb and mutton are high,” says Peter Small, a 76-year-old farmer who runs 6,000 merino ewes on a farm in Victoria.
Australian wool prices hit a record of A$14.39 per kilogramme last month and analysts expect the good times to continue thanks to strong demand for higher-quality wool and tightening supply.
“Wool is a luxury product and as people get richer they want higher quality,” says Mr Small, who toured Chinese wool manufacturers last month.
Australia accounts for about 70 per cent of the world’s supply of merino wool, one of the softest and finest varieties. A quarter of a century ago Australian wool exports were worth A$3.5bn — considerably more than iron ore, which is now the country’s biggest export. But times have been tough for wool producers since the collapse of a government-run reserve price scheme in 1991, which ushered in almost two decades of weak prices and decline in a once-dominant industry.
A rise in wool prices in 2010-11 was not sustained, partly because farmers had more profitable options because of rising returns on beef, dairy, lamb and mutton.
Since then the Australian sheep flock has more than halved to 70m animals, while wool produced has fallen by a similar margin to 325,000 tonnes.
It is a similar story of decline on a global level, with clean wool production falling 42 per cent over the past quarter-century to 1.16m tonnes last year, while synthetic fibre output has more than quadrupled to 68.9m tonnes, according to International Wool Textile Organisation data.
“We have now reached a stage where supply and demand look to be in balance,” says Peter Morgan, director of the Australian Council of Wool Exporters. “China is an enormous factor as it takes about three-quarters of our wool and consumers there are moving to high-quality grades.”Australian Wool Innovation, a non-profit owned by 24,000 wool producers, is stepping up marketing in North America, Europe and China.
AWI works with fashion labels and sportswear companies such as Adidas to develop new products including waterproof woollen jackets and moisture-wicking sportswear. Last month Victoria Beckham, the fashion designer and former pop star, judged its annual Woolmark prize, and wool featured prominently at Europe’s annual fashion shows.
“We pitch our wool at the pinnacle of the fashion triangle and then you can also see a ripple effect through the industry,” says Stuart McCullough, AWI chief executive, who started his career as a sheep farm “jackaroo” before moving into management. “Wool is incredibly comfortable to wear, it doesn’t smell when it gets wet or make you sweat like synthetics and it is attractive to young people, who like the fact it is a natural fibre.”
However, analysts are cautious, pointing out that the price increases so far are concentrated on superfine wool varieties, and a strong US dollar means the international trading price has not reached the record levels wool hit in 2011.“The price of suits shouldn’t jump due to the rise in Australian wool prices,” says Chris Wilcox, chairman of the IWTO.
Whether the recent rise in prices is enough to tempt more back into the industry is unclear. Meat prices remain near record highs, which may persuade some farmers to continue favouring crossbreeds rather than merino ewes. Cross-breeds produce lower-quality wool, which tends to be used in carpets and furnishings.
“There are good margins at these prices but I don’t think it will attract a lot of supply initially,” says Jock Whittle, chief executive of Paraway, a livestock company that owns about 230,000 ewes.
“But if the price stays high to the end of 2017 we might see an uptick in the national sheep flock. Wool hasn’t been a sexy story for a quarter of a century but the true believers are at last about to see some benefits.”