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BEML To Sue Ex-Army Chief For Defamation

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             BEML To Sue Ex-Army Chief For Defamation       Bangalore: Defence behemoth BEML Friday said it will file a defamatory suit against former chief of army staff Gen. V.K. Singh for making false and motivated charges against the state-run company in the controversial Tatra trucks deal.

“It is unfortunate that the great V.K. Singh, holding the position of the chief of army staff of this great country, made a shocking and false statement on the price and quality of Tatra trucks we have been supplying to the army since the 90s,” a miffed BEML chairman V.R.S. Natarajan said.
Gen. Singh had claimed that the Tatra trucks sold to the army were not only grossly overpriced but also sub-standard in terms of quality and operation.
In a startling revelation, the general had also alleged that a former army officer offered him a Rs.14 crore bribe for clearing the order to supply an additional 600 Tatra trucks to the army.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing the charge. “We are sending a legal notice to him (Singh) first, seeking an apology for making false, motivated and damaging statements against the company. If he fails to respond, we will file a defamatory suit for claiming damages. We did not expect a man of that stature dubbing our truck as the most useless vehicle given to the army,” Natarajan said.
Singh retired from service Thursday.
Referring to the graft charge, Natarajan said BEML had nothing to do with “somebody” offering bribe to clear the order and reports in a section of the media dragging the company’s fair name were without basis and irresponsible.
Reacting to Natarajan’s statement, Gen. Singh said: “Apology for what? I have not made any allegations but have only stated some facts.”
Natarajan, however, said: “In the communications between Gen. Singh and the ministry of defence, the company’s name (BEML) does not figure anywhere. We are going to act decisively on this issue.”
Asked why he did not say this when Gen. Singh was in service, Natarajan said the company had to seek legal advice and get the board’s approval for initiating the defamation process.
Wondering from where Gen. Singh got the information that the Tatra truck was priced at Rs.28 lakh (Rs.2.8 million) in Czech Republic but when brought and sold in India its price trebled to Rs.73 lakh (Rs.7.3 million) to Rs.1 crore (Rs.10 million), Natarajan said the entire deal through the ministry of defence was executed with due diligence by the ministry. “When the ministry floated the global tender in 1999 for purchasing 88 trucks, two global firms (Ukraine and Bumar) responded. We tied up with Bumar while BHEL did with the Ukranian firm. As both the firms qualified for the bid, the quantum of order was divided to 44 each. When the army found the armoured recovery vehicle (ARV) we supplied much superior to the other, we were nominated to supply the order,” Natarajan said, adding, “Subsequently, the army floated a tender in 2003-04 for purchase of an additional 140 trucks. As Bumar agreed to indiginise up to 40 percent for the order, the army and the ministry agreed with us to indiginise up to 23 percent. But the great army chief says we imported them and put our label to supply it.”

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COVID-19: Canadian Entrepreneurs less pessimistic in April

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BC entrepreneurs less pessimistic in April

THE monthly Business Barometer index for British Columbia rose 8.2 points reaching an index of 46, according to the latest survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The low index continues to reflect the significant stress and challenges entrepreneurs face as the navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. As British ColumbIa looks ahead in developing an economic relaunch strategy, a small business lens is necessary to streamline the transition.

“The month’s barometer results indicate small business owners are feeling less pessimistic than they did in March,” said Muriel Protzer, Senior Policy Analyst, BC and the North, on Wednesday. “While ongoing financial support from government is helping keep many businesses afloat, those receiving the benefits cannot rely on them indefinitely and some continue to fall through the cracks.”

Additional survey data from CFIB finds that 83 per cent of businesses believe it is critical they make more sales soon to survive and become less reliant on government subsides (13 per cent disagree, 4 per cent unsure).

“The province of BC will play an integral part in transitioning businesses and workers off of government support programs as we look to reopen parts of the economy,” added Protzer. “Early preparation for a recovery phase is important to ensure businesses and residents are provided clear messaging on guidelines.”

Furthermore, 75 per cent of BC businesses are confident they could reopen quickly if current restrictions were lifted (19 per cent disagree, 6 per cent unsure). As the province looks to develop its economic recovery strategy, small business owners see the following initiatives to take priority:

  • Keeping taxes on small businesses at an acceptable level (88 per cent agree);
  • Reduce red tape affecting businesses (65 per cent agree);
  • Introducing campaigns encouraging consumers to shop at local businesses (62 per cent agree);
  • Continued financial help (57 per cent agree); and
  • Ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment and mass testing to help people feel safe (54 per cent agree).

Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. An index level of between 65 and 75 means that the economy is growing at its potential. This month, it is notable to see no provincial index above 50 points.

To view the full report, visit http://www.cfib.ca/barometer  

The provincial numbers for April were: Quebec (32.1), Newfoundland (32.1), New Brunswick (39.2), PEI (43.1), Manitoba (45.0), Nova Scotia (45.3), BC (46.0), Alberta (46.7), Saskatchewan (50.8), Ontario (52.6).

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BC Hits Back At Alberta Over Wine Ban Saying It’s Unconstitutional Under Trade Rules

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VICTORIA – The B.C. government is challenging Alberta’s ban on B.C. wines through the Canadian Free Trade Agreement’s (CFTA) dispute settlement process.

According to a release, the province has notified the Alberta government that it is formally requesting consultations under the CFTA regarding Alberta’s embargo on the sale of B.C. wine, reported CBC News.

“Alberta’s actions threaten the livelihood of the families that have worked so hard to build B.C.’s world-class wine industry,” Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston said in the release.

“These actions are inconsistent with Alberta’s obligations under the CFTA, and we will protect our reputation and the interests of British Columbians.”

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Ralston said that Alberta’s ban is a “clear violation” of the CFTA.

“It’s our view that this dispute engages questions that should be considered by every jurisdiction in the federation,” he said. “We’re standing up for the B.C. wine business, B.C. industry, B.C. businesses and B.C. jobs.”

Ralston said the process allows for 120 days of consultation. If no decision is made, the matter then goes to a tribunal.

“I think that what’s good about this process is it’s a process of dialogue, it’s a process of engagement in discussion and consultation. So I’m optimistic that there will be fruitful discussion and there may be a resolution,” he said.

 

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Walmart In Talks To Buy Large Stake In Flipkart At $20-23 Billion Valuation

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NEW DELHI – American retailer Walmart Inc may end up taking a large stake in Flipkart Ltd at a price that could value India’s largest e-commerce firm between $20 billion and $23 billion, three people close to the development said. If it goes through the deal will pit Walmart against Amazon in India, mirroring the fight between the two companies in the US.

Walmart has expressed an interest in buying Flipkart Ltd but a buyout is unlikely to go through as a key Flipkart investor SoftBank Group is opposed to a sale, the three people added on condition of anonymity. “Softbank is not willing to cash out this early as they see themselves as a long term investor in Flipkart,” one of the three people mentioned above said.

The talks are in the early stages and the companies haven’t finalized the final details, the people said. Walmart is expected to invest fresh capital in Flipkart as well as buy shares from existing investors including Accel Partners and Naspers, they added.

Any deal is likely to make Walmart the largest shareholder in Flipkart, they said.

Walmart is not the only suitor pursuing Flipkart. Search giant Google has also offered to invest in the e-retailer at a valuation of $15-$16 billion, said a fourth person close to the development. Flipkart is also talking to other investors, this person said, without naming the investors.

Flipkart’s biggest backer and key board member Lee Fixel of Tiger Global was in Walmart’s headquarters last week helping put together the deal, this person said.

Flipkart and Walmart declined to comment. Google and Softbank did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The Economic Times newspaper reported on 31 January that Walmart is in talks to buy 15-20% of Flipkart.

In August 2017, Flipkart received a commitment of $1.4 billion in fresh capital from Japan’s Softbank Group valuing the company at about $14 billion.

Launched in 2007, Flipkart has thus far raised more than $6 billion.

The current valuation offered by Walmart includes Flipkart’s fashion businesses Myntra and Jabong, ebay India, as well as mobile payments firm PhonePe.

Walmart has eyed India’s retail sector for years but the existing foreign direct investment (FDI) policy does not allow the retailer to serve have a meaningful presence in the country.

It does operate in India’s B2B (business to business) retail and e-retail segment but has stayed away from direct retail. Walmart has stayed away from joining hands with any other Indian retailer since it’s partnership with Bharti Enterprises ended in 2013.

New potential investors are willing to value the company at a much higher price partly because Flipkart has shown that it is holding its own against Amazon, which has been unable to unseat its local rival as the country’s largest online retailer despite outspending Flipkart, say analysts. Additionally, Flipkart is seen as the one of the most attractive assets in the global Internet economy, benefitting from the long-term potential ascribed to India’s internet market by investors.

Walmart and Google held funding talks with Flipkart in late 2016 but those discussions didn’t lead to deals.

 

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