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Friday, July 28, 2017

Wipro Ventures invests in venture capital fund Work-Bench


Bengaluru: Wipro Ventures, the $100 million corporate venture arm of India’s third largest software services firm, has invested an undisclosed sum in a New York-based venture capital fund, Work-Bench as it continues its strategy of investing in start-ups and funds that can help its parent.

This is the second investment by Wipro Ventures in a venture capital fund, after it invested in Israel-based TLV Partners last year.

A spokesperson for Wipro confirmed the investment in Work-Bench, which is focused on the area of enterprise technology.

Wipro Ventures, which is overseen by Rishad Premji, Wipro’s chief strategy officer and director, started operations in 2015 and has invested $32million in 10 start-ups and two venture capital firms. Rival Infosys Ltd has invested in nine start-ups and two venture capital firms.

Wipro Ventures’ investment in Work-Bench will allow parent Wipro Ltd to access newer technologies from more start-ups and help it offer these solutions to clients ranging from Citigroup Inc. to Exxon Mobil Corp., especially in the areas of enterprise software and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

Work-Bench VC was founded by former Morgan Stanley executive, Jonathan Lehr and former Cisco executive Jessica Lin in 2012 and has invested in 18 companies.

Wipro Ventures’ investments have allowed parent Wipro to offer new-age technology solutions in engagements with some of the firm’s 1,244 customers, highlighting one way in which large IT companies are keeping pace with new technologies.

“The total capital deployed till date (by Wipro Ventures) is about $32 million. We have worked with our investee companies in over 80 client engagements and won seven deals together in the first quarter of this financial (year),” said a Wipro spokesman.

Nine of Wipro Ventures’ 12 investments are in the US, two in Israel and one in India, a Pune-based big data start-up Altizon Systems Pvt. Ltd.

In addition to allowing Wipro to tap into the start-up ecosystem, Premji also oversees mergers and acquisitions, and over the last two years, the firm has been the most aggressive among Indian IT services firms on this front, having spent $1.14 billion in buying five firms, such as Denmark-based design firm Designit and US-based cloud computing firm Appirio Inc.

Both Wipro and Infosys are looking to hedge their bets by investing in venture capital firms, in addition to taking direct stakes, as this helps them gain access to technologies of a host of start-ups.

“Having your own ventures team is important, but adding a mix gives you the opportunity to try different approaches and a broader exposure to a new investment hypothesis,” said Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm.

Wipro Ventures is jointly managed by Venu Pemmaraju, formerly a senior investment manager at Intel Capital, and Wipro executive Biplab Adhya.

Both Pemmaraju and Adhya are based out of California and report to Rishad Premji.

Bets made by Wipro Ventures include those in cyber security-focused start-up Vectra Networks and Arizona-based fraud prevention solutions start-up Emailage Corp

Coal India invites power producers for linkage auction


KOLKATA: State-run Coal IndiaBSE -0.34 % Ltd (CIL) has invited applications from independent power producers to take part in the auction of coal linkages under the Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala Transparently in India (Shakti), a notice said on Monday.

The miner asked “interested entities” to register on the website of auction firm MSTC Ltd “on or before August 7, 2017”.

In May, the Ministry of Coal had directed the coal producer that the miner may grant coal linkages to the power producers or independent power producers (IPPs) having long term power purchase agreements.

Citing the ministry’s letter, the notice said, “CIL/SCCL (Singareni Collieries Company Limited) may grant coal linkages on notified price on auction basis for power producers/IPPs having already concluded long term PPAs based on domestic coal.”

The ministry also said the coal linkage auction would be based on discounts on the power tariff.

“Power producers/IPPs, participating in auction will bid for discount on the tariff (in paise/unit),” the ministry’s letter said.

The discount by generating companies would be adjusted from the gross amount of bill at the time of billing, i.e., the original bill shall be raised as per the terms and conditions of the PPA and the discount would be reduced from the gross amount of the bill.

“Accordingly, PPA may be amended or supplemented mutually between the developer and the procurer to pass on the discount to the procurer,” the letter said.

The ministry had also said CIL/SCCL may grant future coal linkages on auction basis for power producers/IPPs without PPAs that are either commissioned or to be commissioned.

“All such power producers/IPPs may participate in this auction and bid for premium above the notified price of the coal company,” it added.

Jet Airways asks junior pilots to furnish Rs 1 crore bonds


MUMBAI: Jet Airways has asked junior pilots to furnish surety bonds worth up to Rs 1 crore and serve the airline for at least five to seven years, union sources said.

The development comes at a time when many of its junior pilots have been asked to take 10 days off every month, a move that would result in up to 30 per cent pay cut, as part of cost saving measures.

Sources at the National Aviators Guild (NAG), the pilots’ union of Jet Airways, said the bond requirement has been communicated to the junior pilots.

These pilots have been asked to furnish surety bonds worth Rs 1 crore and the development also comes as the airline has “unilaterally” decided on salary cuts for them, sources told PTI.

“No new bonds (have been) asked for. It is just a pattern that has been introduced,” a Jet Airways spokesperson said.

He was responding to a query whether the airline has asked its trainee pilots to sign a bond amount of up to Rs 1 crore.
The spokesperson was also asked the junior pilots have to serve the airline for 5-7 years and face encashment of the bond in case of failure to serve that tenure.

Sources at the NAG said plans to meet the airline management this week to discuss the pay cut proposal as it has been done in a unilateral manner.

Jet Airways has more than 200 junior pilots, including those undergoing training.

“As an interim measure, we shall be offering you a Lifestyle Work Pattern which entails 10 days block off per month with the appropriate remuneration… This will be effective from August 1, 2017,” the carrier said in a letter to many junior pilots last week.

The NAG would be taking up the matter with the management soon, sources added.

On July 20, Jet Airways said that certain developments in the market, including that in the Gulf region, as well as its continued efforts to enhance internal efficiencies, have resulted in the review of network, fleet and crew utilisation.

Consequently, as a proactive measure, the company has made interim alignments to its crew work patterns, which will be reviewed in future, in line with network growth, the spokesperson had said.

IndiGo, Jet introduce additional flights to Doha, Mumbai from Kozhikode


KOZHIKODE: IndiGo and Jet Airways have introduced additional flights to Doha and Mumbai on a daily basis from Calicut International airport.

According to a release from the Director of Calicut Airport today, IndiGo Airlines’ flight would leave Calicut at 12.10 hrs to Doha while it would arrive at Calicut 10.35 hrs in the return direction each day. The new services were introduced from July 20.

Similarly, Jet Airways has introduced additional domestic flights to Mumbai with effect from July 15. It would arrive in Calicut from Mumbai at 12.10 hrs daily and in the return direction, leave Calicut at 13.50 hrs on all days, except Tuesday.

On Tuesdays, the service would be operated at 14.30 hrs, it said.

Presently, Calicut is connected with destinations including Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram and Delhi via Mumbai in the country.

The international destinations it connects include Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat, Sharjah, Salalah, Al Ain and Riyadh, the release added.

Flying Abroad? No Departure Cards Required From July 1


New Delhi: Indians flying abroad will not be required to fill departure cards from next month. However, those going out of the country via rail, seaport and land immigration checkposts will have to fill the embarkation card. “It has been decided to discontinue the practice of filling up of the departure card by Indians at all international airports with effect from July 1, 2017,” an order issued by the Union home ministry said. The move is aimed at ensuring hassle-free movement of Indians going abroad.

At present, those going abroad need to fill in details such as name, date of birth, passport number, address in India, flight number and date of boarding in the departure card.

“The same information (about the passengers) is available in the system from other sources,” the home ministry order said, citing reasons behind its move.

The decision will help reducing the time required to complete immigration related formalities by passengers and also enable airports and authorities concerned to cater to a larger number of people.

The need for Indians to fill such cards on their arrival in India has already been done away with.

Authorities here have been taking a number of steps to help both international and domestic passengers.

The customs department had last year done away with the need for Indian passengers to fill up a declaration form while coming to India if they were not carrying dutiable goods.

Those carrying prohibited and dutiable goods are required to fill up an ‘Indian Customs Declaration Form’, earlier mandatory for all passengers entering the country.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), mandated to secure civil airports in the country, has also started doing away with the practice of tagging and stamping domestic passengers’ hand baggage.

It has ended at Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, some of the country’s busiest airports.

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