Diageo Faces Top Level Exits As India MD Quits Along with Two Others - Diageo India managing director Asif Adil made a sudden exit on Thursday morning even as two more top company officials tendered their resignations with serious differences cropping up between key local executives and the company over business conduct. Mr Adil, who was Diageo's face in India for nearly three years, quit the company with immediate effect after Diageo Asia-Pacific head John Pollaers flew down to Mumbai on Wednesday. Diageo issued a statement on Mr Adil leaving the company to pursue new horizons. Diageo is likely to make public the exit of at least two more executives in the coming days. According to sources, the top-level rejig is linked to a certain breach in internal code of conduct by a few officials. (The Economic Times)

Pfizer, Sanofi Eye Significant Stakes in Wockhardt - World’s largest drug company Pfizer and French drug company, Sanofi Aventis are in the race to pick up a significant stake in Wockhardt’s biotechnology business. According to analysts if there is a complete buyout, the deal could be in the region of Rs 250 crore. Wockhardt, India’s sixth largest drugmaker with a market cap of Rs 780 crore, may have to hive off its biotech business into a separate company to clear the way for another company to pick up stake. Cash from the sale would also allow Wockhardt to pay off its loans. Both, Pfizer and Sanofi are doing due diligence on the company. Wockhardt’s promoters, who hold a 74% share in the company (as of 2008-end), are not planning to sell their stake in the parent company. (The Economic Times)

Pfizer and Nissan Also Consider Exiting Out of Satyam - Japanese auto maker Nissan and US-based pharma giant Pfizer are believed to be the most recent clients considering exiting out of Satyam. Seven clients have moved parts or all of their business away from Satyam since the company’s disgraced promoter and former chairman Ramalinga Raju admitted committing a Rs 7,000-crore fraud on January 7. The list includes State Farm Insurance, Cigna, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Coca-Cola. Also, another client SanDisk has mentioned in its annual report, which was out on February 25, that it might move away from the Indian firm (The Economic Times)

IIM-A Graduates’ Average Salaries Drop By 30% - The global slowdown scarred final placements at the country’s top-ranking B-school, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A). The placement process, extended from a week to nine days, making it one of the longest in the last five years, saw average domestic and international salaries restricted to Rs 12.17 lakh and Rs 41.5 lakh, respectively, a sharp decline from last year’s average salaries of Rs 17.85 lakh and Rs 60 lakh, respectively. As an indication of the financial downturn’s impact, the celebrated Slot Zero of placement saw a sharp decline in offers, with just 34% students placed as against 65% students last year. (The Economic Times)

Sony International Buys Bengali Film Channel, Channel 8 - Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI), which operates a TV network in India under Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, has acquired Channel 8, a Bengali language film channel based in Kolkata, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition marks the entry of Multi Screen Media (owner of TV channels such as Sony, Set MAX, ANIMAX, AXN and PIX) in West Bengal. Channel 8 boasts of an extensive library of Bengali films and telefilms and is available in West Bengal, Tripura and some parts of Assam and Orissa. The channel will be managed by SPTI. (Business Standard)

Multi Screen Media Business Head Resigns - Albert Almeida, the business head of Multi Screen Media - the company that operates television channels like Sony TV, Set MAX and Sony Pics, resigned on Thursday. On February 18, CEO Kunal Das Gupta had put in his papers. Company sources say around a dozen senior executives also resigned with Almeida on Thursday. Based on viewership ratings, Sony TV is currently a distant fourth in the rankings of entertainment channels, behind Star Plus, Colors, and Zee TV. Almeida is taking up another offer which he hasn’t yet disclosed. Almeida has been the business head of MSM since 2005. Of late, he has been under considerable pressure as the channel, once among the top two, has been on a downward curve. (Business Standard)

HDIL Rolls Over Rs 2,500 Crore Debt with Commercial Banks - Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), a Mumbai-based property developer, has rolled over Rs 2,500 crore debt it has taken from commercial banks for the next 15-18 months. The company has rolled over the debt taken from public sector banks such as Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, UCO Bank, among others. The restructured debt was due in the next couple of months. HDIL has around Rs 4,000 crore debt on its books. It borrowed Rs 3,000 crore in the first half of this year, mainly for its airport rehabilitation project in Mumbai. The rate of interest had remained the same even after the restructuring. (Business Standard) 

Tamil Nadu Micro Finance Co. to Raise Rs. 50 Crore - Grama Vidiyal Micro Finance (P) Ltd, (GVMF) is looking to raise next round of equity funds for Rs. 50 crore as it expands further. The company earlier in 2008 had raised Rs. 14.30 crore from two investors — Unitus Equity Funds and Vinod Khosla, a leading venture capitalist and founder of Sun Microsystems. The company that currently operates only in Tamil Nadu, plans to expend its operations to Karnataka and Kerala. The company is also forming self-help groups and financing them up to Rs. 7,000 for their initial start-up or expansion. The lending is accessed on the basis of the ability and willingness to repay and also on the basis of security. At present, it lends at the rate of 12%. (Business Line)

Subhiksha to Vacate Half of Its Stores - Financially strapped Subhiksha Trading Services today said it would give up half its properties. The retail chain has around 1,600 shops across the country and is paying around Rs 7 crore every month as rent. The company is also planning to appoint seven independent directors after corporate debt restructuring (CDR). Since the company is unable to pay the lease rents, it is negotiating with property owners. The company hopes to save Rs 3 crore monthly by vacating half the places. It is also seeking the cooperation of the property owners for rent waivers and/or extension of time to pay rents. However, the retail chain will retain its core properties. It also plans to rehire two thirds of the properties proposed to be vacated after the CDR so that about 80% stores can be reopened. (Business Standard)

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