Life Insurance in India

The life insurance sector in India has gone through a major uplift in the recent years. The biggest boost in this area came during the year 2000, when the government allowed 26% to Private Companies and Foreign Direct Investment. The Life Insurance Corporation, which took over all the private life insurance companies at that time, was adopted in the year 1956 which led to a sudden upsurge in the life insurance sector naturally. The Government appointed RN Malhotra Committee to chalk out a plan for the privatization of the Life Insurance industry. After a number of discussions and formalities the IRDA was formed. The IRDA, or The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, was responsible for issuing licenses to private life insurance companies.

Without a doubt, the LIC is the insurance giant in the country. But apart from the Life Insurance Corporation, there are 22 other private insurance providers in the company which include purely Indian firms and firms with global tie-ups. Some of them are as follows:

  • Kotak Life Insurance
  • ICICI Prudential Life Insurance
  • Aviva Life Insurance
  • ING Vysya Life Insurance
  • Birla Sunlife
  • Max New York Life Insurance
  • SBI Life Insurance

Foreign companies have been allowed to enter into the Indian life insurance sector, although with a set of regulations. The FDIs, or the Foreign Direct Investment firms, are allowed to hold a total of 26% share in the firm with the balance being filled by single/multiple Indian companies. This has been done keeping in minfd the benefit of the Indian companies and is aimed to help them sustain their business and profits successfully. Although, the foreign investment firms have requested to pass an amendment to the law and allow them to hold a 49% share in the equity. A bill regarding the same is under supervision.

The Indian life insurance companies have to strictly abide by the rules of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. Unit Linked Investment Plans are an outcome of the endeavors of the private firms which offer investment options in the firm as well as provide insurance cover to its buyers. These plans are naturally subject to strict terms.


Life Insurance of India

Life Insurance is now one of the fastest growing sectors in India. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) is the regulator of life insurance in India. Thanks to the strict regulations set by the Authority, opting for insurance policies from private insurers is now safe. The collaboration of Indian finance companies with overseas insurance companies has now led to the Insurance sector to become more comprehensive with life protection norms extending to those followed overseas. Some examples of such Insurance companies are:

  • Bajaj Allianz Life
  • Tata AIG life
  • Birla Sunlife etc.

With changing times come changing financial and economic conditions. The cost of medical treatment has been on a continuous rise over the past few years. Keeping these factors in mind, insurance companies have come up with life insurance plans that are extremely competitive in their rates. Some financial institutions also allow existing clients to personalize their life insurance schemes after a certain period of time lapses.

Life insurance being provided only by life insurance agents is now a thing of the past. The Life insurance sector has evolved by allowing the field to expand into the internet and also allowing banks to deal with life insurance schemes. Thanks to the growing scope of the internet, a maximum number of insurance companies have gone online. Policies are now being sold to customers directly on the internet. This allows you to gain access to the different kinds of life insurance policies and allows you to choose a policy that best suits your requirements.

Insurance agents have always and will always be a constant source of knowledge and advice pertaining to life insurance. Even so, the sale of insurance policies by banks is a trend that also has picked up drastically over the last few years. The concept of ‘bancassurance’ – that is, the sale of insurance policies managed by banks has become a common feature. The advantage of receiving insurance AND financial advice all under one roof is now an offer to hard to refuse. So, before you narrow down on an insurance dealer, it’d be a good idea to check with your own bank to see if they provide any kind of life insurance coverage for existing customers. Being an existing customer, you could possibly be eligible for certain kinds of benefits like reduced premium or interest rates.

It is always advisable to be completely truthful while applying for a life insurance policy. Such polices are designed to help the insured in times of need. Lying on an insurance application could jeopardize the chances of receiving full claim. Therefore to avoid any kind of mistakes, it is advisable that the applicant fills out his form personally and provides the insurance company complete details of his or her medical history.

Some of the largest companies in the Life insurance sector in India are:

  1. Life Insurance Corporation of India
  2. Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance
  3. Tata AIG Life
  4. Birla Sun Life Insurance etc.

Panasonic enters water-purifier business

Panasonic, the Japanese electronics and consumer durables major, is entering the purifier business in India, joining a
host of companies including Hindustan Unilever and Tata Chemicals which have forayed into the largely untapped segment.
By the end of June, Panasonic India will start selling its water purifiers in top cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Manish Sharma, director, (sales marketing), Panasonic India, said the strategy is to grow horizontally by entering different sectors and the water purifier market is apt considering the low penetration levels at present coupled with rising awareness about health.

“The product will be customised for India, taking into consideration the level of hardness and impurities that need to be corrected,” said Sharma.

The company, which is aiming at closing financial year 2011-12 with a turnover of Rs5,500 crore in India, has a presence in multiple categories like healthcare, personal and beauty care, air conditioners, DVDs, audio systems, cameras, kitchen appliances, LEDs, plasma TVs.

Priced between Rs15,900 and Rs30,000, the purifiers would be in the medium to premium range in the over Rs1,600 crore water purifier market.

At the lower end would be the basic purifiers, while the higher-end range would come with RO and UV technologies. RO, or reverse osmosis, and UV, or ultra-violet, are features that play a crucial role in disinfecting water.

Firms like Eureka Forbes, Hindustan Unilever, Tata Chemicals and Kent are key players in this segment, alongside new entrants like LG Electronics.

Water purifiers currently sell at Rs1,200 onwards, with some of the cheapest being sold for as low as Rs749. While at the higher-end, those in the super-premium range cost upwards of Rs40,000 and can even reach Rs47,000.

Industry experts say given the number of firms there will be intense competition in this category and aspects such as installation and servicing will play a major role in determining market shares.

“How quick and effective servicing for any problems which arise after the product is installed will be a criterion that will decide sales. This is a category where word-of-mouth plays a role in purchase decisions,” said an expert from a consulting firm.
Sharma conceded there will be competition, but said the penetration is small as currently households in non-metros generally use water-filters.

Industry estimates state that annually about 2 million water purifiers are sold across India.

“This is very small considering the scale of the country. Low penetration would lead to rapid growth.”

After consolidating its presence in the metros, the company would gradually look at launching the purifier in Tier II cities like Jaipur, Chandigarh and Indore. On the distribution side, the purifiers would be available in different retail formats like hypermarkets, malls, stores, as well as the 127 Panasonic brand shops.

Tata Chemicals sees non-subsidised sales doubling

Tata Chemicals, the fertilisers and chemicals flagship of Tata Group, sees revenues from the non-bulk product segment doubling in the current fiscal.

Bulk segment is the business that does not get any subsidy from the government.

The company, which announced third-quarter performance on Friday, saw a major growth in the non-subsidised segment such as customised fertiliser, specialty fertiliser, seeds, pesticides and services business portfolios.

“Our specialty product segment grew 40% and as a result the total non-bulk segment will see the revenues shoot up to Rs600 crore by this fiscal-end,” said R Mukundan, managing director, said.
He said the next fiscal, however, will not see a repeat of the performance owing to a higher base.

“Next year would still be moderate-to-good and we expect the segment to grow at over 30%,” he said.

Tata Chemicals posted an 15% rise in net profit for the third quarter ended December at Rs153.04 crore as against Rs132.71 crore posted in the same period of the previous fiscal. Net sales rose 33% to Rs2,331.89 crore.

On soda ash, which contributes about 45% to revenues, Mukundan said the US and European markets are still stable and the company has been able to tie up almost all its capacity on a long-term basis.

“We have been successful in contracting with customers at an average higher cost of $15 per tonne, but our concern in the Chinese market which has started showing sign of a slowdown,” he said.

I-T carries out search ops on Bodal Chemicals

The income tax (I-T) department on Thursday carried out search operations at 18 premises of Bodal Chemicals Ltd. The BSE listed company is involved in manufacture of dye intermediates, dye stuff and other chemicals.

Sources in the department said of the 18 premises that were searched, five to six were factories situated in phase-I of Vatva GIDC. Four factories in Vadodara, a bungalow in Bopal and offices in Prahladnagar were also searched. An office of the company in Kolkata was also searched. Sources said some of the chemical traders dealing with the company were also under scanner of the department.

The company, which has an annual turnover of Rs400 crore, gets 70% of its business from exports. The chemicals it manufactures are used in textile, plastic, leather and paper manufacturing industry.

It exports its products to the US, Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, the UK and Italy among others. The company also has offices in some of these countries. It had also entered into eight MoUs worth Rs700 crore with Gujarat government during the last VGGIS.

Tata Global Beverages, Pepsi serve ‘nutrient water’

Prefer water charged with nutrients?

NourishCo, an equal-stake joint venture between Tata Global Beverages (formerly Tata Tea) and the Indian arm of PepsiCo, on Thursday launched Tata Water Plus, India’s first nutrient water.

“There is a growing trend towards health and wellness in the beverages category,” said Ashok Namboodiri, chief of sales and marketing at NourishCo Beverages Ltd. “We believe there is immense potential, which will evolve over a period of time.”

‘Nutrient water’ generally contain externally added vitamins and minerals and also sugar for taste.

Priced at a premium of Rs16 for a 750 ml PET bottle (a litre of normal water costs Rs12-15), Tata Water Plus has been launched in Tamil Nadu with ‘Zinc’ and ‘Chromium’ variants, and will be rolled out across the country over the next few months.

PepsiCo said NourishCo will continue to focus on non-carbonated, ready-to-drink products in the hydration category that will be sold in India and could be taken to other parts of the world.

By 2016, the venture is likely to generate revenues of Rs700 crore, R K Krishna Kumar, vice chairman, Tata Global Beverages, said. “But the company won’t see real impact from the joint venture until 2014,” said Mehul Desai, a Mumbai-based analyst at K R Choksey Shares and Securities.

“Even in the urban markets, health products haven’t penetrated because the knowledge of the product is not there,” he said. “NourishCo would take time to gain penetration.”

India’s soft-drink market is expected to double to 12.9 billion litres in 2015 from 6.2 billion litres in 2010, Euromonitor International predicts.

Meantime, in another development, PepsiCo which had launched a Rs5 glucose-based drink — Gloco+ — under the Leher brand in May last, mainly to cater to the bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers who couldn’t afford some of its higher-priced colas and juices, has been renamed Tata Gluco Plus — though the launch was part of the NourishCo agreement.

The manufacturing and licensing of Himalayan, Tata’s mineral water brand, too, is a part of NourishCo. The venture now has three wellness products in its portfolio that serve the top and bottom ends of the pyramid.

Meanwhile, Krishna Kumar said Tata Global’s sales may grow 7-8% in the year ending March 31, 2012. This compares with a 3.5% increase to Rs5,980 crore a year earlier.

Sensex snaps two-day rally, down 82 points on poor IIP nos

Snapping a two-session rally, the BSE benchmark index Sensex today fell by 82 points to close at 17,748.69, on disappointing industrial output growth.

The Sensex, which had gained over 208 points in the last two trading sessions, fell by 82.06 points, or 0.46%, to 17,748.69, after dismal industrial production hit the investor sentiment.

Factory output as measured by the Index of Industrial production grew by a mere 1.8% in December, 2011, due to contraction in mining and capital goods sectors and a lower manufacturing sector growth.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee described the industrial output growth as disappointing and expressed hopes that the figures would show some improvement in the coming months.

Global markets also exhibited weak trends after European leaders held back a debt bailout for Greece pending a parliamentary vote on an austerity plan. Traders said companies cutting their earnings forecasts also weighed down on the sentiment.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty also fell by 30.75 points, or 0.57, to 5,381.60 as investors booked profits from recent gains.

The two heaviest stock on the benchmark with a combined weightage of 20% — Reliance Industries and Infosys –dropped by 1.23% to Rs 842.15 and by 0.87% to Rs 2,782.70, respectively.

However, Tata Steel gaining the most in more than a week surging 5.30% to Rs 475 and Bajaj Auto by 2.10% to Rs 1,736.55, saved the makret from any major fall.

Prominent losers in the index kitty sector were Hero MotoCorp, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra and Mahindra, Gail India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, State Bank of India, Larsen and Toubro, BHEL, Cipla and Hindalco Industries.

The realty sector index suffered the most by losing 0.93 % to 1,887.49, followed by oil and gas index by 0.80 to 8,770.65. Healthcare index lost 0.71% to 6,347.10 and Banking index by 0.68% to 11,986.92.

Deutsche Bank exits Lodha with 55% returns

Deutsche Bank has got a 55% return on its Rs1,640 crore placement in Lodha Developers, despite having invested at the peak of 2007-08. The lender got back Rs2,542 crore — including fresh debt of Rs825 crore and Rs1,720 crore from internal accruals — from Cowtown Land Development Ltd, a Lodha subsidiary.

Lodha, which has earlier provided exits to JP Morgan and HDFC Venture Fund from its other projects, currently has investments from the likes of ICICI Ventures and Old Lane, besides HDFC Venture Fund.

Earlier this year, private equity firm Kotak Realty Fund took the promoter buyback route to exit its stake in 3C Company’s information technology park project in Noida. The investment firm said it earned a return of less than 30% from this exit.

With most funds nearing expiry of their term and investments getting matured over the years, industry experts feel 2012 and 2013 will see a good number of transactions in the real estate space.

“When the fund expires, private equity (PE) firms have to return a significant amount of money to investors. Besides, demonstrating returns is very crucial if one is raising a new fund. Given the current market situation, deliberated and negotiated exits will be more in number as compared to natural exits, wherein the latter (natural exits) would see superior returns,” said Amit Bhagat, chief executive officer and managing director, ASK Property Investment Advisors.

Jones Lang LaSalle said in a report recently that 2012 will be a big year for real estate exits by private equity players. It sees PE exits worth $2.5-3 billion (around Rs15,840 crore) this year — that’s equivalent to the total quantum of PE exits in the last four years.

According to Shobhit Agarwal, joint managing director – capital markets, Jones Lang LaSalle India, multiple investments took place in the 2005-2008 period involving both domestic and foreign funds.

Car queries answered!

I want to buy a diesel SUV with a budget of Rs22-30 lakh. Should I opt for BMW X1? Or, do you have any other suggestion?—Saurabh Chordiya
In a couple of months, the Audi Q3 will be launched. If nothing else, that will give you more choice in the premium entry-level segment. If you can go beyond the badge, the Renault Koleos is a fantastic option; it looks good, drives like a car and has good mileage. It costs around Rs26 lakh. You can also look at the Hyundai Santa Fe, which is also good.

I am planning to buy a car. My budget is up to Rs12 lakh. I am opting for a petrol variant since my usage is very less with an occasional long drive. I am looking for a spacious car that’s reliable, is comfortable in city traffic with good mileage, resale value and good looks. I read about new cars in the DNA Drive which were unveiled at the Auto Expo 2012. Kindly advise.
Vijay Kumar Mannava

Since you are looking at only petrol models, at the top of our list is the Honda City. It fits all your criteria very well. If you want to wait, however, there will be a couple of launches over the next few months like the Hyundai Elantra.

I want to buy a 150cc engine bike with good fuel efficiency, low maintenance and very good looks. My budget is Rs70,000-75,000. Please help me as I don’t know much about bikes.
Rahul Gede, Mumbai.

The bike that satisfies all your parameters is the Honda Unicorn. It’s got a very refined engine, great mileage and Honda reliability. If you find the waiting period a bit long, then the Hero Hunk and the CBZ Xtreme should fit the bill too.

In my cars, I see that even when the accelerator is not pressed and the vehicle is going on a downward gradient, the engine still shows a minimum 1,000 rpm which means fuel is still being fed into the engine. Why aren’t the engines designed to cut off fuel 100% when the accelerator is not pressed?
Well, if 100% fuel were cut off, the engine would stall in the middle of the road. In some cars, there is cylinder deactivation but even that doesn’t cut off all the fuel. Rather than stressing the internals with erratic fueling, they keep the fuel flow at a minimum level when coasting.

I have difficulty in choosing one among the Bajaj Discover 135, Discover 100 and the new TVS Sport. My budget is between Rs60,000 and Rs75,000. I am looking for good mileage in city and low maintenance. Kindly advise.
Rohit Supekar

Our suggestion is to wait a little. Bajaj is making huge changes to its line-up and it makes sense to wait for the latest model rather than be stuck with an older one. Honda, too, is going to come out with the 100cc Dream Yuga soon, which will do everything you want.

I am a college student and I wish to buy a bike for around Rs75,000. The bike should have good looks, power and a decent mileage. Please suggest some bikes other than the Impulse.
Ashwin Bhide

If you want something other than the Impulse, then there are the Hero Hunk and CBZ from the Hero stable, which are both quite reliable and frugal. From Bajaj, there’s the Pulsar 135LS, which is also great on mileage and low on maintenance.

Among the Honda Stunner, Bajaj Pulsar 135, Suzuki Sling Shot, Honda Shine and the Hero Honda Passion Pro, which bike is the best, in terms of looks and mileage?
Shravan Thorat

Our order of preference: first, the two Hondas; then, Bajaj, followed by Hero and Suzuki. That’s taking into account looks, reliability, frugality and ownership experience. The Honda bikes look good and come with brilliant engines and gearboxes. The Pulsar looks great but the engine loses out a little in terms of refinement. The Hero looks a little dated now, but comes with a buttery smooth engine-gearbox combo. As for the Suzuki, there isn’t a major fault, per se, but the others are just as good if not better.

DNA Drive: Stunning 1 crore Mercedes

 How much fun can you have in a drop-top Merc? DNA Drive finds out…

A roadster is defined as a small, two-door, two-seater car with an open top and manual transmission. So going by the traditional definition, the Mercedes SL 350 misses just a little. Nevertheless, it does fulfil three of the four criteria, so we’re willing to go with the flow and just call it a roadster.

The SL-class, which stands for Sport Leicht – German for light weight and sporty — has been around for a long time now.
Traditionally based on a slightly heavy platform, the roadster doesn’t have the sportiest of bases to start from, but then again, it’s meant to cross continents, not set lap records.

Moving right on to the looks of the beast, the SL doesn’t have any in-your-face styling elements, rather it’s a more subdued car. It lets the clean lines and good proportions speak for themselves. Our test model was a brilliant black one, which turned heads everywhere it went. We tried hard to look like owners, keeping a poker-yet-casual visage throughout, looking through agape people.

The growl of the V6 only added to the awe.

There’s one thing about the SL that will absolutely floor the observer and that is the folding hardtop. You don’t even need to be in the car to operate it either. Just pull up close and using the key-fob, press and hold the unlock button and presto-foldo!


Delhi HC refuses to stay criminal proceedings against Yahoo India

Criminal proceedings will continue against Yahoo India which had moved the Delhi High Court against a lower court order summoning it for allegedly hosting objectionable content.

Refusing to stay the criminal proceedings against the website, Justice Suresh Kait today declined to pass any order at this stage and fixed the matter for March 1, saying he will hear the case before the trial court hears it on March 13.

Appearing for Yahoo India Pvt Ltd, senior advocate Arvind Nigam claimed that the company’s name did not figure in the complaint and submitted that the high court should stay the proceedings.

The court deferred the matter after Vinay Rai, the complainant before the lower court, submitted that he has not received a copy of the petition as yet and it would be difficult for him to file the reply.

Earlier on January 20, the high court had issued notice to the Delhi Police on a plea by Yahoo India Pvt Ltd challenging the summons issued to it by the magisterial court for allegedly hosting objectionable content.

The court had then allowed Yahoo India’s plea that its case be heard separately.

Yahoo India had said the the complaint and the order of the magistrate dealt with alleged objectionable material retrieved from various websites including Zombie, Orkut, Youtube, Facebook, Blogspot and none of them pertained to Yahoo.

Referring to Rai’s complaint, it had said no material in the complaint was downloaded from Yahoo India which forms part of the case in which 20 other websites have also been summoned.

“I am not a social networking site like other accused in the case. I only provide email and chat services. Moreover, no objectionable material has been attributed to me and hence my case is different from others,” Nigam had said during the last hearing.

The magisterial court had on December 23 issued summons to 21 websites for allegedly committing offences of criminal conspiracy, sale of obscene books and obscene objects to young persons.

The Centre had earlier filed a report before the lower court saying, there was sufficient material to proceed against the 21 websites for alleged offences of promoting enmity between classes and causing prejudice to national integration.

Out of the 21 websites, Google India and Facebook India had also moved the high court against the magistrate’s order, saying the summons be quashed as they did not commit any offence.

After Telenor, Etisalat writes off $820 mn against Indian operations

After Telenor, UAE-based Etisalat, a shareholder in new telecom operator Etisalat DB, on Thursday said that it has has written off USD 827 million worth value of its Indian operations by way of an impairment charge as an after effect of Supreme Court order cancelling 122 2G licences.

Etisalat’s management has decided to recognize an impairment charge in its 2011 consolidated financial statements amounting to an aggregate of AED 3,044 million (about $820 million)…,” the company said in a statement.

Etisalat owns about 45 per cent stake in Etisalat DB, a joint venture between Indian player DB Realty and Etisalat of UAE.

The net impact of this charge on “our consolidated net profit after Federal Royalty amounts to AED 1,020 million (about USD 280 million),” it said.

Last week Norway-based Telenor, a majority shareholder in Uninor, had written off about USD 721 million worth value from its Indian operations.

The Supreme Court had revoked 122 UAS licenses that were issued by the Government of India in January 2008, Etisalat said, adding the ruling was against the process the Indian government adopted to issue licences and the pricing method adopted for awarding the spectrum.

The Supreme Court’s decision took the entire industry by surprise and significantly alters the competitive landscape in India’s telecommunications market, it said.

Etisalat further said that it expects the Government of India to bring about a rapid and just solution and to fairly compensate investors and Etisalat’s senior management is fully engaged to safeguard its investment.

Etisalat is also continuing to assess the legal consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision and company’s strategic options in India.

The move comes a day after Bahrain Telecom (Batelco) decided to exit from Indian operations by selling its entire stake in new operator STel in the aftermath of the Supreme Court order.

Etisalat reiterated that its investment in Swan took place long after the 2G licenses were awarded and that Etisalat has always conducted itself according to the highest standards and according to the law.

Etisalat is a prudent and mature investor that respects its shareholders and follows strategies in full compliance to local and international laws and best practice,” the company statement said.

This is the strategy that was followed in India throughout the legal process and because of this the Etisalat Group remains in a strong position to continue its global expansion strategy whenever and wherever opportunities arise with due regards to risk and international best practice.

Greek political leaders agree on bailout reforms: Sources

Greek political leaders have clinched a deal on austerity measures needed to secure a bailout to keep the country afloat, two government sources said on Thursday.

“Yes, there is a deal,” one government official said.

Chinese espionage cases touch DuPont, Motorola

US prosecutors expanded a criminal case over the alleged theft of industrial secrets from chemical giant DuPont, securing an indictment against a Chinese company on economic espionage-related charges.

A Northern California grand jury indicted Pangang Group for conspiracy to commit economic espionage and other charges including conspiracy to steal trade secrets, according to court documents unsealed on Wednesday.

Pangang, a state-owned steel manufacturer in Sichuan province, allegedly worked with a California businessman and others to obtain several valuable trade secrets from DuPont, the indictment says.

Separately, a former engineer for Motorola Inc was found guilty on Wednesday of stealing trade secrets from the company but cleared of economic espionage for China.

The latest developments in the two cases come as Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit the United States next week on a range of economic, trade, regional and global issues.

Xi, considered China’s president-in-waiting, will meet President Barack Obama at the White House next Tuesday.

The US visit will be a major step in signalling Xi’s readiness to take over as China’s next top leader and run Beijing’s complex and sometimes vexed relationship with Washington. The United States has identified industrial spying as a significant and growing threat to the nation’s prosperity.

In a government report released last November, authorities cited China as “the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage.”

California businessman Walter Liew has already been in custody for several months on witness tampering charges related to the DuPont allegations. Liew and his wife, Christina, also face charges of conspiracy to commit economic espionage and other counts in the latest indictment.

Lawyers for Walter and Christina Liew could not be reached for comment.

Tom Nolan, a lawyer for Walter Liew, has previously maintained that his client only possessed publicly available information, not trade secrets from DuPont. The Pangang Group, named in the Dupont case, is based in Panzhihua city in the far south of China’s Sichuan province and is western China’s largest steelmaker. It was formally known as Panzhihua Iron and Steel (Group) Co Ltd.

Three of Pangang’s subsidiaries are also named in the indictment, along with a Chinese citizen who worked for that company.

In 2010 authorities Pangang’s merger with Angang Steel Co Ltd, which would make Angang the country’s largest steel mill. Phone calls to Pangang’s headquarters on Thursday went unanswered, and company officials did not respond to faxed queries.

Liew, a US citizen, allegedly paid former DuPont engineers for assistance in designing chloride-route titanium dioxide, also known as TiO2, according to the indictment.

DuPont is the world’s largest producer of the white pigment used to make a range of white-tinted products, including paper, paint and plastics. Two former DuPont engineers were also indicted on Wednesday.

DuPont general counsel Thomas Sager said the company is disappointed that former DuPont employees allegedly stole technology. The company filed a civil suit against Liew and referred the theft to law enforcement, Sager said.

Separately, former Motorola employee Hanjuan Jin has been charged with illegally possessing thousands of the firm’s trade secrets on her computer and in other forms of digital storage, and prosecutors said she intended to pass the information to the Chinese military. Jin was found guilty by a Chicago federal judge on three counts of theft of trade secrets after a bench trial, and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count.


However, California businessman Liew’s continued detention has angered one Chinese-American advocate.

Ling-Chi Wang, a professor at the University of California, said spying between countries and companies is a regular occurrence, and law enforcement should have allowed DuPont’s civil suit to develop before arresting Liew.

Chinese targets might be more attractive in an election year, Wang said, due to concerns about being called soft on China.

“I just find that to be very, very troublesome,” said Wang, who has previously spoken out against espionage-related prosecutions of ethnic Chinese scientists.

In a statement on Wednesday, San Francisco US Attorney Melinda Haag said authorities will “aggressively pursue anyone, anywhere” who tries to steal from the United States.

Prosecutors detailed Liew’s alleged links with the Chinese government in a court filing last week. They named, as one of the Chinese representatives who once met with him, a high-ranking Communist Party official who later became a member of the Politburo.

In another development, Timothy Spitler, a former DuPont employee who consulted for Liew, took his own life last week, say multiple people familiar with the situation.

Spitler supplied material information to prosecutors in the investigation, these people say. A lawyer for Spitler did not respond to inquiries on Wednesday.

The case is United States of America vs. Walter Liew, Christina Liew et al., US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 11-cr-573.

Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington and Terril Yue Jones and David Stanway in Beijing; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sanjeev Miglani

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