Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lalit Modi will head family business

Putting to rest persistent reports about strained — even estranged — relations between himself and his son Lalit Modi, industrialist K K Modi sprang to his son's defence on Monday and declared that the 46-year-old would succeed him as head of the Rs 3,500-crore group's flagship company, Godfrey Phillips India (GPI), the makers of Marlboro, Four Square and Red & White cigarettes.

"Lalit is the seniormost member of the K K Modi family, he is meant to take over the business," the 73-year patriarch told TOI. Lalit is, at present, an executive director in GPI. Modi senior, however, did not have a date in mind for the succession.It's clear that K K Modi is putting his weight behind his son, who has dominated headlines for the past few weeks, mostly for the wrong reasons.

"Lalit is the most brilliant and intelligent member of the family and has created something no one has been able to do so far," he said referring to the IPL. "I only wish he had done it for the K K Modi group."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

IPL:Billion-dollar deal papers go missing

This isn't just another missing document. Among the scores of papers that have allegedly gone missing from the BCCI headquarters here, are the papers relating to the highly controversial $1.64 billion TV rights contract between BCCI, Multi-Screen Media (MSM) and World Sports Group (WSG) involving a suspect "facilitation" fee of $80 million. They are not with BCCI, nor apparently with suspended IPL chief Lalit Modi.

The contract deals with IPL TV rights for nine years from 2009 onwards that were renegotiated after the original deal signed in 2008 for $1.02 billion was terminated. Papers of such a huge contract are normally kept with care for future reference so that it is observed by the parties concerned in letter and spirit.Income-tax authorities are looking for these papers, and the BCCI is flabbergasted by their absence. The suspended IPL chief is understood to have been the key person who negotiated this tripartite deal between BCCI and MSM — a Sony subsidy — and WSG (Mauritius).

BCCI sources said the papers were simply not there and admitted that the deal was very suspicious as after the 2008 contract was cancelled, the rights were parked with WSG (Mauritius) for a few days before being given back to MSM. In a recent interaction with BCCI, a senior Sony representative said MSM had been threatened with loss of telecast rights.
BCCI members said that along with the WSG-MSM contract, papers related to digital, image rights awarded to Global Cricket Ventures — a firm held by Elephant Capital where Modi's step son-in-law Gaurav Burman has a stake with his brother — are also untraceable.

As for the broadcast deal, the facilitation fee of $80 million which MSM had agreed to pay WSG translates into Rs 425 crore. Out of this, Rs 125 crore has been paid, and the remaining amount was to be paid over the next seven years. The decision to park rights with a company in a tax haven is seen as a bid to facilitate payments in a manner where tracing the end beneficiaries would be near impossible.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sania weds Shoaib

Tennis star Sania Mirza and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik tied the nuptial knot on Monday (April 12) as the two families advanced the high-profile marriage by three days after a tumultuous build up to the wedding.Originally, the marriage was to take place on April 15 although stories on the re-scheduling of the marriage kept coming in the media.

"The nikah has now completed. Please pray for the couple," Sania's spokesperson Rucha Nayak said.Clad in a red saree, which her mother Nasima wore in her nikah 25 years ago, Sania thus became the second wife of the Pakistani cricketer, who divorced his first wife Ayesha Siddiqui last week.Shoaib wore a black sherwani, designed by Shantanu and Nikhil, for the nikah ceremony held at hotel Taj Krishna.The two families surprised everyone this morning by announcing through the spokesperson that marriage has been preponed.The 'Mehendi' ceremony is scheduled for April 13, Sangeet on April 14 and reception will be held on April 15 as scheduled, the spokesperson said.

The build up to their marriage has been controversial due to Shoaib's first marriage with local girl Ayesha.Ayesha had alleged that Shoaib married her over phone before dumping her without a divorce due to her weight problems.Shoaib initially denied the allegations and claimed that Ayesha duped him into a phone marriage by sending photographs of a different woman. The all-rounder, however, finally agreed to divorce her after being pressurised by community leaders.

Courtsey: TOI
Image Courtsey:tv9

Monday, April 12, 2010

Will yuvraj exit Kings XI after IPL3???

Kings XI Punjab's 'icon' Yuvraj Singh could be up for grabs in this year's auction for IPL 4. IPL sources say one of the two new franchisees has already expressed interest in bidding for him if he becomes available. Several of the existing franchisees are also said to be interested in acquiring his services.On Sunday, Yuvraj himself didn't rule out the possibility of leaving Kings XI. He told Times Now he would take a final call after considering the new rules for IPL 4. This non-committal attitude is in sharp contrast to someone like Shane Warne, who has declared that he would love to stay on with Rajasthan Royals if he gets a hefty pay hike.

TOI had first reported on April 2 that Yuvraj was not keen to play for Kings XI even before IPL 3 began. But as an icon player, he had to complete his three-year contract.As of now, IPL rules state that a team can try to retain four Indians and three foreigners. They will be put up for auction only if they are not satisfied with the offer made by their existing employers. However, new teams are demanding a level playing field and asking for all players to be put up for auction again. The IPL governing council will take a decision on the issue after IPL 3 concludes.

Interestingly, Kings XI Punjab's co-owner Ness Wadia has gone on record as saying that the concept of icon player has not suited all teams - an obvious dig at Yuvraj, who has struggled in this year's edition of the tournament.Meanwhile, franchisees are undeterred by Yuvraj's poor form this year. "If a cricketer like Yuvraj is in the auction, every team will go for him. He has gone through a bad phase but that doesn't devalue his stature as a cricketer," an IPL team official told TOI.

Yuvraj himself has shown signs of getting back into his stride in recent matches. "I am well aware of my game and I know what I have to do to get back in the grove... I agree that my form has not been great, but it can get better. I am coming out of a very serious wrist injury. I had to go through a lot of training sessions.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gold rises for fifth straight day

Precious metal prices ended higher on Wednesday, 07 April 2010. Prices rose despite a strong dollar mainly on anticipation of higher demand in coming months. It was fifth straight rise for the yellow metal.Generally, a stronger dollar pressures demand for dollar-denominated commodities, such as crude oil and gold, which become more expensive for holders of other currencies and also vice versa.

On Wednesday, gold for June delivery ended at $1,153 an ounce, higher by $17 (1.5%) an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Last week, gold ended higher by 1.8%. In FY 2010, gold touched a high of $1,154 in January. For the month of March, gold slid 0.4%. For the first quarter of this year, gold rose by 1.7%, its sixth quarterly rise. On a year to date basis, gold is higher by 5.1%.

On Wednesday, May Comex silver futures ended higher by 27 cents (1.5%) at $18.2 an ounce. For the month of March, silver ended higher by 5%. For the first quarter of this year, silver rose by 3%. On a year to date basis, silver is higher by 6.9%.

In the currency market on Wednesday, the euro came under pressure following renewed concerns about Greece and its ability to manage its finances. The dollar hit an eleven-month high against the euro earlier Wednesday. Greek bonds were hit a day earlier as investors reacted to uncertainty about how the joint European-International Monetary Fund aid package agreed to last month would function. The dollar index, which measures the strength of the dollar against basket of six other currencies rose by almost 0.5%. The dollar index gained about 0.7% in March and rallied 4% during the first quarter. The dollar index has gained 5.3% this year till date.
Gold had ended FY 2009 higher by 24%. Silver futures had ended 2009 up 50%. The dollar index had lost 4.2% against its counterparts last year.

Last year, after hitting a low at $807.30 per ounce on 15 January 2009, gold futures rallied almost 51% to hit an all-time high at $1217.40 per ounce during early December of 2009 but fell from those levels at the end. Silver futures had hit a low at $10.42 on 15 January 2009 and hit a high at $19.30 per ounce on 2 December 2009. Like gold, silver also ended lower than its all time high level.At the MCX, gold prices for June delivery closed higher by Rs 232 (1.4%) at Rs 16,788 per ten grams. Prices rose to a high of Rs 16,798 per 10 grams and fell to a low of Rs 16,560 per 10 grams during the day's trading.

At the MCX, silver prices for May delivery closed Rs 351 (1.3%) higher at Rs 27,629/Kg. Prices opened at Rs 27,340/kg and rose to a high of Rs 27,668/Kg during the day's trading.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Indian American Yahoo co-founder joins Obama team

US President Barack Obama has appointed Chandigarh-born Srinija Srinivasan, 40, one of the three co-founders of Yahoo! as a member of the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.Srinivasan, currently vice-president and Editor-in-Chief at Yahoo! was herself a Presidential Scholar in 1989, a prestigious honour that is awarded to over a 100 high school students each year for outstanding achievements ranging from academia, arts and leadership.

In naming Srinivasan and 11 others to the Commission, Obama said: "The Commission on Presidential Scholars is charged with recognizing the future leaders of our country and honouring them for their outstanding achievements."I am grateful that these impressive men and women have agreed to serve on this commission and help a new generation realize their potential and pursue their dreams."

The eleven will join the National Teacher of the Year, Anthony Mullen, as members on the Commission, the White announcement said.Since joining the company as its fifth employee in 1995, Srinivasan has led a range of editorial and policy functions, beginning with the organization and evolution of the Yahoo! Directory, it noted.

She has overseen network editorial standards and original content development, guided the company's corporate responsibility arm, and directed policy issues including privacy and data use, advertising standards, youth safety, community guidelines, and accessibility.Prior to joining Yahoo!, Srinivasan was involved with the Cyc Project, a ten-year artificial intelligence effort to build an immense database of human commonsense knowledge.

She chairs the Board of Trustees for SFJAZZ, a non-profit organization dedicated to jazz creation, presentation, and education. She is also a member of the 2000 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.She holds a BS with distinction from Stanford University in Symbolic Systems, and was honoured as a Presidential Scholar in 1989.

Courtesy: Times of India

75 security personnel killed in Chhattisgarh Maoist ambush

In the bloodiest attack on security forces, Naxals trapped and gunned down 75 personnel during a joint "Operation Green Hunt" offensive against the ultras in the thick forests of Mukrana in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, one of the strongholds of the Maoists.The incident occurred between 6 am and 7 am when nearly 100 personnel comprising CRPF and state police were returning after opening a road for the troops to begin an operation against the Naxals.While 74 of those killed were CRPF personnel, including a deputy and an assistant commandant, one was a head constable of the district police.

Dantewada Superintendent of Police Amresh Mishra said the Naxals first blew up a vehicle carrying the CRPF personnel near Chintalnar-Tarmetla village in the district.
Immediately after the blast, the CRPF personnel and a few police personnel tried to take cover when they came under heavy fire from hundreds of Naxals, well entrenched on the adjacent hillock.The CRPF team had been camping in the interiors of Tarmetla jungles for the last three days as part of a combing operation and area domination exercise, Mishra said.

The attack shook the Centre and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Home Minister P Chidambaram over telephone to make an assessment of the situation. Both of them expressed shock over the attack and grief over the loss of lives.The National Security Council met under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister and is understood to have discussed the deadliest Maoist strike. Chidambaram, some of his cabinet colleagues and the three service chiefs attended the meeting.

While the Prime Minister called it a "horrific" incident, Chidambaram said it showed the brutality and savagery of the Maoists.Rattled by the "very high" casualty, Chidambaram said something must have gone "drastically wrong" in the joint operation as the personnel seemed to have walked into a trap.Bodies of the 75 personnel have been recovered from the site of the attack suspected to have been carried out by about 1000 Naxals, Inspector General R K Vij said.The Naxals had planted IEDs which blew up an anti-mine vehicle killing the lone occupant, the driver. This was followed by heavy exchange of fire between the remaining CRPF personnel and the Maoists.Seven of the injured CRPF men have been evacuated for treatment from the forest area, he said.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shoaib refuses to apologise

Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, whose passport was taken away by police, on Monday said he will not leave India till he clears his name and that he was being emotionally blackmailed by Ayesha who claims to have married him.Appearing before the media with Sania Mirza, who he is going to marry on April 15, by side, he said he has not done anything wrong and questioned why Ayesha was not appearing in public to make her allegations.

Both he and Sania said they were from respectable families with the tennis star adding that "to see my future husband like this (answering questions about marriage) is painful for both the families".Shoaib was questioned at Sania's house this morning by a team of police officials who took his passport and alerted immigration authorities after asking him not to leave India.

"I'm here for the marriage and to clear my name. I'm not leaving the country. Inshallah, I'll clear my name. I have no objections (to police taking the passport) and I'm cooperating with the police and Indian government. I have got respect for the authorities and I will do everything to clear my name. I'm ready to face any type of questions. I'll get my passport in the evening," Shoaib said.

Though police did not disclose much about their investigations in the case registered on the basis of the complaint filed by Ayesha's father MA Siddiqui, officials said Shoaib told them during questioning that he was tricked into the marriage.Asked about the allegations by Ayesha Siddiqui, who claims she was pregnant through Shoaib, he said, "I just want to ask something. I don't know her exactly why she is making these allegations behind the camera. Where is she. Ten years back I was 18-years-old. Find out her age."

He said first she has to prove (the marriage) in a court of law but maintained that the 'nikahnama' was invalid. Better leave the issue to courts, he said.Sania interjected to say that "we are all from very respectable families. These are questions people (don't) face before getting married. That is not what we want. We want to clear his name and as Indian, it's my responsibility and our responsibility to let police investigate."

She also questioned the 'nikahnama' saying "If there was no 'nikah', it cannot be proved. If the court proves, then he will do whatever is required. If it is not proved by them, then we know, our families know what to do."Sania also asked the media to leave the issue to the court, saying it's not right to discuss it in public.
"Of course I'm upset (to face questions) but we are happy that we are together and we are happy that we are getting married," she said.Shoaib ridiculed the Siddiqui family's demand for divorcing their daughter before the impending marriage saying, "I know only Maha apa (elder sister). Please for God's sake how can they ask me to divorce her."

To a question whether they have made an offer of money to sort out the issue, Shoaib shot back saying "Why one million, say one billion."Sania said they were not going for any out-of-court settlement. Maintaining that calling names was not good, she said the chief Qazi of Hyderabad has already held that there can be no telephone 'nikah'.

Again when asked whether he had stayed with Ayesha in hotels, Shoaib replied he was still in the dark about who was Ayesha. "I have met only 'apa' which means elder sister."e said his family would definitely be coming for the marriage.

"I want to respect all. I'm not like them. Till (the alleged marriage) is not proved I cannot be touched by anybody," he said.

Asked what were his plans, he said he was waiting for the report of investigations.
"They are investigating it and I'm sure they would not find anything because I did nothing. Once that news comes then I'll decide what to do," he said.He said he spoke to Pakistan High Commissioner who said he had the government's backing.Earlier in the day, Dr Shams Babar, the relative of the Siddiquis, addressed a press conference outside their residence in Banjara Hills, claiming that Ayesha had a miscarriage and that information on it was part of "several proofs" that were handed over to the police to "nail" Shoaib.

He said even now what they were demanding was only an apology and divorce from Shoaib and not any monetary compensation."He should acknowledge the marriage with Ayesha and now give her divorce. If he does so we are prepared to drop the charges against Shoaib," Babar said."We do not want any monetary damages or help from Shoaib. If the things are set right, we have no objection to the proposed marriage of Shoaib and Sania Mirza. It's (an issue) only between Siddiqui's and Shoaib Malik," he said.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sania will marry Shoab Malik...

She's India's tennis ace. He's a high-profile Pakistani cricketer. And they're all set to get married in Hyderabad early next month.Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik are planning a small, private ceremony in Hyderabad, but their match will inevitably generate huge interest in their respective countries.The couple will be based in Dubai, though Sania will continue to play tennis and represent India, while Shoaib will turn out for Pakistan. The alliance has been blessed by both families.
"This is the biggest day of my life. I have been in the media glare for too long, and would appreciate a little privacy at this very personal moment," Sania, 23, told TOI.

Shoaib, 28, has pledged Sania his support: "I fully understand what it takes to be an international sportsperson. I'll support Sania in her career as long as she wishes to play.""Representing India at the 2012 Olympics is very important for her, and I will be the proudest husband if she can win a medal for her country," he said.