* Business

Within the Tata group, the company is now second largest in market capitalisation, at ₹95,000 crore

Sands of time: Watches are coming back to millennials as a fashion statement, says Bhaskar Bhat. Ashoke Chakrabarty

There’s something that makes Tata Group’s Titan tick!

Titan was born when HMT (Hindustan Machine Tools) used to be the time keeper of the nation. Set up in 1986, the firm, so far, has seen only two CEOs — Xerxes Desai, the founding MD who served until 2002 and Bhaskar Bhat who took over the reigns of the company in that year.

Mr. Desai was at the helmfor 16 years and Mr. Bhat would have put in more than 17 years with the company and 34 years with the Tata Group, when he retires on September 30.

Tata Group already has a succession plan in place. C.K. Venkataraman, earlier CEO of Titan’s jewellery business, will take over as the third MD of Titan Company in October this year.

The MD-designate comes with 14.5 years of experience in watches and a similar period of exposure to jewellery business within Titan. Mr. Venkataraman has six years left to retire. So, the longevity records set by his predecessors will possibly remain untouched for the foreseeable future.

Titan has been a great value creator. Since Mr. Bhat took charge as MD in 2002, the company’s shares have grown by some 400 times.

Its current market capitalisation is more than the combined worth of Tata Steel and Tata Motors, at about ₹95,000 crore.

Interestingly, when he took over the reins of watch business, Titan’s market capitalisation was about ₹220 crore and today, it is the second-largest listed entity in the Tata stable after TCS in market capitalisation.

When Mr. Bhat took over, Titan’s annual production was six million watches, having now grown to over 18 million. Under his management, the company has also diversified into jewellery, eyewear, accessories, perfumes and sarees, converting Titan into a complete lifestyle accessories brand.

‘Titans’ set to retire

Ravi Kant, CEO, watches and accessories at Titan is retiring and Suparna Mitra, chief sales and marketing officer, will take over as the new CEO from April, 2020.

Ajoy Chawla, senior VP - strategy and business incubation, will take over as CEO- jewellery from October.

Saumen Bhaumik, chief sales and marketing officer, eyewear will take over as CEO of the division from January 2020 as incumbent Ronnie Talati, is retiring.

“Five out of eight top leaders who have been serving the company right from its inception are retiring. We have enough people internally to fill in these positions.

“Also, we have built a leadership [pipeline] to ready the next generation of leaders,’’ said Mr. Bhat.

He said he was leaving his company at a time when smart watches were increasingly becoming popular.

“I am so happy to see watches are coming back to the wrists of millennials as style statements, fashion accessories and smart bands. We should have entered the smart watch segment a few years ago; we were late by two years, and that’s the only regret I carry,” he said.

Largest-ever auction to see 5G debut, sale of 4G spectrum

Ravi Shankar Prasad

India will launch its much-awaited spectrum auction later this year or early next year, a move that could see government mopping up ₹5.86 lakh crore at base price.

“By the year end or the beginning of next year, we propose to go for auction of spectrum. We have ensured that India’s auction of spectrum will be done in a fair and transparent manner,” Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said here on Friday.

This would be the government’s largest spectrum auction, where over 8,200 MHz of airwaves will be up for grabs and the auction will see the debut of fifth generation (5G) spectrum, which is expected to propel the telecom industry towards the next phase of growth, besides the sale of 4G spectrum.

However, the telecom industry is reeling under debt of almost ₹8 lakh crore, with leading operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea having debts of ₹1.16 lakh crore and ₹1 lakh crore, respectively.

Talking about the concerns of the sector, Mr. Prasad said, “My government, my department is looking into the problems of the telecom sector. Many of them... we have already taken up with the government. All policy initiatives have been done, starting from spectrum trading to spectrum sharing. A communications policy is already in place.” Mr. Prasad has already sought emergency relief from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the stressed sector, seeking a cut in levies such as licence fees and the goods and services tax (GST).

Imports also witness contraction; iron ore exports grow by a whopping 357%

India’s exports contracted 6.05% in August to $26.13 billion, official data released on Friday showed. The trade deficit widened marginally to $13.45 billion.

“Exports in August 2019 were $26.13 billion, as compared to $27.81 billion in August 2018, exhibiting a negative growth of 6.05%,” the government said in a release. “In rupee terms, exports were ₹1,85,881.11 crore in August 2019, as compared to ₹1,93,397.12 crore in August 2018, registering a negative growth of 3.89%.” The sectors that saw notable contraction in their exports include rice (-23.95%), other cereals (-41.8%), oil meals (-44.4%), and oil seeds (-31.8%). Iron ore exports, notably, grew by a whopping 356.7%. “Imports in August 2019 were $39.58 billion (₹2,81,606.41 crore), which was 13.45% lower in dollar terms and 11.46% lower in rupee terms over imports of $45.73 billion (₹3,18,043.86 crore) in August 2018.”

The major commodity groups that saw a contraction in imports in August include coal, coke and briquettes (-23.75%), organic and inorganic chemicals (-14.95%), petroleum, crude and products (-8.9%), electrical and non-electrical machinery (-8.8%), and electronic goods (-4.12%). The contraction in both exports and imports has meant that the trade deficit has widened only marginally in August from the $13.43 billion in the previous month.

Public sector lender may offer the facility by June 2020

Public sector lender Indian Bank will start working on system under which customers can withdraw cash without using a debit card, according to a top official.

Indian Bank would start working on the system, with interoperability facility, soon after the National Payments Corporation of India comes out with a specifications.

“In all probability, it would happen by June 2020,” said S. Rengarajan, general manager (digital banking) Indian Bank. “When we offer this service, it should be interoperable. Customers of any bank can use our system for cash withdrawal and vice versa. Currently, the system is limited only to cash deposits.”

“Right now, two banks are offering this facility,” said M.K. Bhattacharya, executive director, Indian Bank. “State Bank is offering this facility through its Yono website and Bank of India, via QR code for their own ATMs, in a limited manner,” he said.

On Friday, the bank in association with Loylty Rewardz Mngt Pvt. Ltd., launched a loyalty programme called ‘Ind Advantage,’ wherein Indian Bank customers would earn rewards for using debit card, internet and mobile banking facilities. The rewards can be redeemed for merchandise tickets, recharge coupons etc. on the programme’s website www.inadvantage.com or at stores.

To a question, Mr. Bhattacharya said the new programme, which carried multiple benefits, would be extended to credit card customers too. He also said that the bank was adding one lakh customers to its debit card portfolio every month and it was set to rise by 10% due to the new initiative.

Service for vessels in Indian waters

VSAT solutions provider Nelco, a Tata enterprise, on Friday announced the launch of maritime communication services, becoming India’s first company to provide broadband services to the maritime sector.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, and Anshu Prakash, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications, inaugurated the services here on Friday.

Nelco, through global partnerships and infrastructure, including transponder capacity on the satellite of ISRO and service portfolio, will help energy, cargo and cruise vessels by enhancing operational efficiency.

The in-flight and maritime communications (IFMC) licence has not only enabled connectivity for on-board users on ships but also brings operational efficiencies for shipping companies which were less evolved until now.

P.J. Nath, MD & CEO of NELCO, said, “Nelco is proud to announce the launch of its maritime communication services, enabling any maritime vessel sailing in Indian waters to have high quality, uninterrupted access to broadband Internet. We will also be offering a bouquet of digital services to cater to the needs of various maritime vessels. Going forward, we believe that we will be able to fully meet the communication needs of the maritime industry.”

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