|Wednesday, May 3, 2000,
Business confidence index improves
Indian in Canada rides
the Net wave
Maruti, Santro, Matiz sales fall
Hit by defaults and embezzlements
royalty for Gurcharan Das
Microsoft shares rise on break-up
Wheat prices decline
McDowell to merge group companies
Hero Honda defers stock
Jagatjit posts four-fold rise in
Business confidence index improves
NEW DELHI, May 2 (PTI) The business confidence index has improved by 14.6 per cent showing positive indicator of higher level of business activity in the short-term future. The business confidence index (BCI), based on the survey of over 621 respondents has increased for the third consecutive quarter, National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) said in the review of economy.
Improvement in the Eastern, Southern and Western region was largely due to improvement in capacity utilisation, while the perception of subdued improvement in economic activity in the short-term was the main reason for decline in confidence index in the North.
The confidence index has particularly improved for services and consumer non-durables, NCAER said and indicated this could be a beginning of slow down in the demand for consumer durables, due to lower agricultural growth.
All through the survey consumer non-durables sector seems to be experiencing strong demand conditions, the review said.
Improved business confidence index was based on the actual prevailing reality unlike the previous rounds where the strength of higher confidence was based on expectations of better overall economic conditions, NCAER said.
The Indian economy is likely to register a higher growth rate between 6.4 to 7.2 per cent in the current financial year as against 6 per cent achieved last year, NCAER said.
The growth is contingent on a good performance of agriculture which again is conditional on the monsoon for the year, it said.
The review has also forecast the overall inflation to hover between 4.5 to 5 per cent during 2000-01.
Assuming a 5 per cent depreciation in the exchange rate, NCAER has pegged the trade and current account deficits at 2.5 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.
The fiscal deficit of
the Centre would be in line with the estimates of the
2000-01 Budget projections of 5.1 per cent, provided
there are no expenditure over-runs or serious short falls
in the disinvestment of public sector undertakings.
Canada rides the Net wave
TORONTO, May 2 Behind the smile and the never-ending jokes hides the Indo-Canadian CEO of one of the largest privately-owned Internet service providers (ISPs) here.
Mumbai-born Ashok Kalle is president and founder of Pathway Communications (www.pathcom. com), which was also the first Internet company in the world to receive an ISO 9002 certification.
Pathways roster of corporate clients ranges from Fortune 500 corporations to educational institutions, government and non-profit agencies.
The Pathway Group that Kalle, (46) established as a virtual one-man operation in 1994, today serves close to 35,000 customers, including businesses in the Greater Toronto area. The company claims to differentiate itself by offering a single source for full-spectrum, integrated connectivity and Internet working solutions with a focus on quality.
When asked why he a personnel management specialist and a graduate of Mumbais Tata Institute of Social Sciences switched careers to start a company of his own, Kalle says, I saw 23-year-olds with purple hair, red hair and rings in their noses doing it! If they could do it so could I and I just decided to take the plunge. And a plunge it was, one where he sunk all his savings and loans.
Kalle has the skills to find and retain highly qualified, if quirky, employees, a majority of them between 25 and 35 years old. For instance, when he employed his first two professionals, he paid them more than what he paid himself.
Today, he has 120 employees, each of whom is listed in his Book of Responsibility, that he started initially with just the names of his wife Aruna, his two sons and his parents.
There was also a time when he went asking area banks for a mere Canadian $ 70,000 and was refused by all but one. Now those same banks are begging for his investments while he remains loyal to the one that trusted him.
When Kalle sold Pathway to Optel Communications Corp last July, it fetched him somewhere between $13 million and $19 million. Optel provides local and long distance telephone services across Ontario and Quebec.
Last year, Pathway had revenues of $4.4 million. This year, Kalle expects to earn three times as much.
Some might call him the
ideal employer Kalle distributed 10 per cent of
his earnings from the Pathway sale to his employees. He
has no rules for when an employee comes and goes or if a
new employee suddenly taking sick leave loses does not
lose pay. Kalle says it is hard to determine how to
create a sustainable and happy work culture. IANS
NEW DELHI, May 2 (UNI) Passenger car sales across the industry lost steam in the traditionally dull month of April, with Maruti despatches dropping a 31.2 per cent drop, Daewoo recording an 18.4 per cent decline and Hyundai sales sliding by 11.4 per cent as compared to March, 2000.
Maruti sold a total of 30,377 passenger car units during April, 2000, down from 44,167 units in March this year, company officials said today.
Hyundai sold 7,305 passenger cars in April, down from 8,245 units in March, 2000. Daewoo followed with total sales of 5,067 units in April this year as against 6,215 units in the previous month.
Maruti Udyog sold 8,699 units in the B-segment, which includes Zen and Wagon-R. This represents a 29.5 per cent decline from 12,348 units in March. Its Zen sales dropped by 15.6 per cent from 7,510 units in March to 6,335 units a year ago while Wagon-R sales dropped 51 per cent from 4,838 units to 2,364 units.
Its C-segment (Esteem, Maruti 1000 and Baleno) sales also witnessed a 12.5 per cent decline from 2,095 units in March, 2000, to 1,832 units in April. Sales of Baleno, however, managed to look up marginally, closing the month at 667 units from 623 units a month ago. Esteem sales, however, dropped from 1.398 units in March to 1,165 units in April.
Hyundai sold 5,603 units of Santro and 1,702 units of Accent in April, down 10 per cent and 15 per cent from 6,238 units and 2,007 units, respectively, in March.
Daewoo sold 4,902 units of Matiz in April, registering a 19 per cent decline from the sales figure of 6,064 in March.
Between January and April this year, Daewoo Motor India Limited (DMIL) sold 19,587 cars as against 3,803 units in the same period last year.
The popularity of its small car Matiz is rising steadily and went up to 24 per cent in January-February this year and further to 38 per cent in March, a statement issued here today said.
defaults and embezzlements
CHANDIGARH, May 2 Punjab has 22,000 cooperatives with an approximate membership of 43 lakh and a paid-up share capital of Rs 676.66 crore.
These cooperatives play an important role in the states socio-economic development, aided by a chain of cooperative and primary agricultural development banks and their societies providing short, medium and long-term loans to farmers.
Attempts to revamp and revitalise the cooperative administrative structure, including downsizing and dispersal of bureaucracy, have not succeeded so far.
A proposal for amending the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, has been pending with the Legal Remembrancer. It aims at structural reforms in the cooperative sector. The amendments are an outcome of the Rajan Kashyap report submitted to the government in 1998.
Despite rudimentary facilities at the grassroots level and conventional modes, these cooperatives have played a key role in providing economic succour to the people.
Yet the cooperative system continues to be beset with three problems, namely (1) continued default (over five years) in repayment of loans by farmers; (2) embezzlements and misappropriation of bank funds; and (3) inability of the banks to dispose of land and other assets decreed by the courts and arbitrators in their favour.
To tackle these problems and make the system transparent and people-oriented, both Mr K.S. Janjua, Financial Commissioner (Cooperatives), and Mr Suresh Kumar, Registrar, Cooperative Societies, have in their own way circumvented the political and legal hurdles. In the interest of the cooperatives, the two invariably use executive powers to introduce new schemes and systems, the twin objectives being to enable banks effect recoveries and free cooperatives of the bureaucratic stranglehold.
Besides the proposed amendments to the Act, a special one-time settlement scheme has been framed to recover the amount due from farmers. This is expected to provide relief to unwilling chronic defaulters of the cooperative banks. The scheme is effective from February 1. It is valid till January 31, 2001. It will settle old outstanding loans of the farmers at mutually agreed terms. It is envisaged that the scheme would provide relief of Rs 30-35 crore approximately to over 50,000 farmers, said Mr Suresh Kumar.
The scheme covers members of the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) and Primary Agricultural Development Banks (PADBS), who have borrowed short, medium and long-term loans but have not been repaying these for over five years (six years in the case of PADBs) owing to reasons beyond their control.
Though there is a regular cooperative audit system, there is no effective follow-up. Thus compliance with audit objections and reports is not only irregular but is almost negligible. Therefore, a notification has now been issued regarding the setting up of accountability committees for the cooperative institutions concerned. Consequently, accountability rules, 2000 have also been drafted.
One of the salient features is that delinquent officials, who are prima-facie guilty of embezzlement and misappropriation in the audit reports, shall be dealt with effectively. A provision has also been made for fixing responsibility on officials for willful non-compliance with cooperative audit.
Another decision is that the department will provide just need-based assistance to those cooperatives which execute government policies and programmes. It will disinvest in other cooperatives.
To liberalise cooperative credit a cash credit scheme has been introduced for farmers to ensure timely availability of adequate cash to them.
It has reduced the rate of interest from 17 per cent to 16 per cent and the penal interest rate from 3 per cent to 1.5 per cent. Even a Sehkari Beema Yojna is now operative under which every depositor opening a savings bank account of Rs 1,100 or more is provided personal accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh. More than 66,000 depositors stand benefited.
NEW DELHI, May 2 (UNI) India Unbound, the riveting story of a nations rise from poverty to prosperity and the clash of ideas that occurred along the way, has fetched the highest ever royalty for an Indian work of non-fiction for its author, Gurcharan Das.
Random House has purchased the North American rights for the book for a hardback edition by KNOPF and paperback by Anchor Books.
They have paid to
record dollar advance in six figures, the highest ever
for an Indian work of non-fiction, promoters of the
book in India said in a release. However, Mr Das, when
approached chose not to disclose the amount.
NEW YORK, May 2 (AP) Shares of Microsoft rose yesterday as Wall Street painted the US Governments bid to split the software maker into two companies as both unrealistic and maybe even beneficial for investors in the stock. In the Nasdaq trading at 4 pm, Microsoft rose to $ 73.43 3/4 per share, a gain of $ 3.68 3/4 from where the stock closed Friday afternoon, before the Justice Department asked a Federal Judge to break up the company as punishment for monopolistic practices.
Under the plan, also recommended by 17 states that filed anti-trust complaints against Microsoft, one of the companies created by the break-up would produce Windows, the computer operating system whose dominance was used to smother competition.
The other new company would make popular software applications such as Microsoft Office and run Microsofts Internet operations including the MSN online service and network of Web sites.
Many legal and industry experts criticised the plan as to severe, unworkable, and unlikely to pass muster when challenged by Microsoft in appeals court.
Either way, the appeals
process and final resolution of the case is expected to
take at least two years and Microsoft may represent an
attractive investment as one or two companies, Wall
Street analysts said.
NEW DELHI, May 2 (PTI) While the wheat dara prices declined further on increased arrivals, the prices of selective pulses strengthened in the grains and pulses market today on restricted arrivals from producing regions.
Traders said persistent arrivals of fresh crops in the markets mainly caused the fall in the wheat prices.
The volume of business was good.
The wheat dara prices quoted Rs 2 down at Rs 638-643 per quintal on increased arrivals amid reduced demand from flour mills in view of load-shedding in industrial areas.
Among pulses, urad, dal urad and urad dhoya quoted higher at Rs 1925-2300, Rs 2300-2250 and Rs 2450-2700 per quintal against yesterdays closing of Rs 1875-2175, Rs 2175-2275 and Rs 2300-2600 per quintal, respectively.
Moong and its dal quoted Rs 30 each higher at Rs 2100-2150 and Rs 2250-2550 per quintal, respectively, on restricted arrivals from producing regions. The following were todays quotations per quintal:
Grains: wheat desi 650-700, wheat 920-1070, wheat dara 638-643, chakki atta (90 kg) 650, roller mill atta (90 kg) 595-605, maida 680-690, sooji 730-735, rice basmati (Lal Mahal) 5400, rice basmati (Lal Quila) 4850, rice basmati common 2350-2900, rice IR-8 850-875, Permal raw 950-1100, kabli gram 2100-2700, peas white 1000-1150, peas green 1010-1060, bajra 590-630, jowar yellow 530-585, jowar white 940-1000, maize 600-650, barley 550-650 and gowar white 1100-1200.
Pulses: urad 1925-2300,
dal 2300-2350, urad dhoya 2450-2700, moong 2070-2120, dal
2220-2520, moong dhoya 2250-2550, masoor 1330-1500, dal
1850-1950, malka masoor 2000-2300, moth 1800-1900, dal
moth 2220-2420, dal 2525-2925, arhar 1675-1900, dal
2100-2400, rajma (chitra) 1750-2200, rajma (lal)
1575-1875, gram kabli 1800-2200, gram 1325-1400, gram dal
1475-1675, besan (70 kg) 1410.
MUMBAI, May 2 (UNI) Liquor king Vijay Mallya today said that the United Beverage group will undertake major consolidation measures during the current fiscal year in order to focus mainly on core area of beer and liquor activities. After chairing the board meeting of McDowell and Company Limited Mallya told newspersons that all the UB holdings companies involved in spirits businesses would be amalgamated into one branded company. Similarly all the companies related to beer business would be merged into one beer company, reflecting the real worth of business volume. The focussed beer company is likely to be renamed as Kingfisher.
The company would
approach the respective state high courts in the first
week of June for the amalgamation of McDowell Company
Limited, Serampur Distillery and Chemicals, Vitari
Distilleries, Udaipur Distillery, Mysore Wine Products,
McDowell Properties and McDowell Spirits Limited and
after getting the formal approval, the merged entity
would be renamed as McDowell Limited with registered
office in Bangalore and would seek listing on all stock
exchanges where McDowell Company Limited is presently
NEW DELHI, May 2 (UNI) The Board of Directors of Hero Honda Motors Limited (HHML) has deferred a decision on stock split even as the company closed the 1999-2000 fiscal with a 58.26 per cent growth in net profit.
Net profit for the fiscal stood at Rs 192.08 crore as against Rs 121.37 crore a year ago. Its turnover for the year stood at Rs 2,270 crore, up 51 per cent from Rs 1,505 crore in 1998-99, a statement issued here today said.
Profit before tax increased to Rs 284.62 crore from Rs 172.73 crore, up 65 per cent. The company has already announced 100 per cent dividend amounting to Rs 44.33 crore.
Hero Honda closed the year with a 42 per cent market share of the motorcycle industry as against 37 per cent in 1998-99. The company achieved total sales of 761,623 motorcycles, representing a growth of 44 per cent over the previous year.
Spare parts sales too registered a milestone of over Rs 100 crore, a growth of 43 per cent over the previous year.
HHML Director Pawan Kant
Munjal said the demand for motorcycles will continue to
grow. Motorcycles today account for 48 per cent of
total two-wheeler segment and the share is increasing.
Our target for 2000-01 fiscal is to produce and sell over
a million motorcycles and maintain our clear
Jagatjit Industries has reported almost four-fold increase in net profit during the financial year 1999-2000 at Rs 78.10 crore against Rs 19.44 crore in the previous fiscal.
Much of the higher net profit was on account of other income of Rs 98.55 crore (Rs 17.90 crore) that included Rs 96.25 crore from sale of its brands namely Malotova and Viva to Smithkline Beecham Consumer Healthcare Limited.
During the last quarter of the year net profit stood at Rs 73.15 crore (Rs 8.91 crore) on a turnover of Rs 101.11 crore (Rs 101.69 crore).
Indian Shaving: Gillettes stake will increase to 72 per cent after the restructuring of the subsidiary Indian Shaving Products Limited (ISPL) was completed by September this year, a senior ISPL official said here today.
ISPL has already obtained shareholder approval for merging two other Gillette group companies Duracell India and Wilkinson Swords with itself and the proposal is pending courts approval.
Duracell India: Battery maker Duracell India will see at least $ 10 million investment by US parent Gillette over the next one year to upgrade manufacturing and is targeting maiden profits in the year 2000.
The company, which posted Rs 85 crore turnover on 16 million unit alkaline battery sales in 1999, was at a break-even stage and was targeting maiden profits in its four-year Indian operations this year.
Tata Cummins: Tata Cummins India Ltd will invest up to Rs 100 crore during the current fiscal to increase its total production capacity by about 50 per cent to 90.000 units annually.
Tata Cummins, an equal joint venture between Telco and US-based Cummins Engine Company Inc., will make the investment in view of the companys supply commitments to Telco to provide advanced six-litre B-series diesel engines.
Ind-Swift Ltd: Ind-Swift Limited has reported a turnover of Rs 19.38 crore for the last quarter ended March 2000 as compared to Rs 13.76 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year, showing an increase of 41 per cent. Net profit during this period increased to Rs 1.71 crore as compared to Rs 80.77 lakh in the corresponding period.
For the year ended March 2000, the company has reported a turnover of Rs 76.16 crore as against Rs 62.06 crore in the last year. Net profit during the year increased to Rs 5.77 crore as compared to Rs 3.25 crore in the previous year.
Sun Pharma: Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd has announced a 53 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 90.43 crore for the year ended March 31, 2000.
The company reported a total net profit of Rs 100.59 crore after considering profit of Rs 10.16 crore of the export subsidiary. The compares with a net profit of Rs 65.83 crore for the previous year.
Venus Remedies: Venus Remedies, a Chandigarh-based company, has achieved a turnover of Rs 378.81 lakh for the last quarter ended March 2000, Rs 258.23 lakh a jump of 47 per cent. Profit after tax for the quarter has risen to Rs 19.24 lakh (Rs 2.19 lakh), a gain of about 778.54 per cent. The annual turnover has increased from Rs 1206.30 lakh in 1998-99 to Rs 1482.37 lakh a hike of 23 per cent. similarly, the annual PAT has shown an increase of 273.14 per cent, from Rs 13.44 lakh in 1998-99 to Rs 50.15 lakh in 1999-2000.
RPG Cables: RPG Cables has posted a 48 per cent jump in its net profit at Rs 10.43 crore on a 25 per cent increase in turnover at Rs 427.15 crore in the year ending March 31, 2000 as compared to last year.
RPGs Board of Directors have confirmed the interim dividend of 17 per cent, which was declared on April 29, 2000.
Ceat Financial Services Limited has reported a net loss of Rs 46.73 crore during the six months ended March 31, 2000 against a net profit of Rs 5.32 crore in the corresponding period last year.
CESC Limited, the RPG group flagship, has managed to reduce its net loss to Rs 71 crore during the financial year 1999-2000 from Rs 128 crore in the previous fiscal.
In the last quarter of the year net loss of the company stood at Rs 17 crore against the net profit of Rs 2 crore in the corresponding quarter of 1998-99.
Crompton Greaves Crompton Greaves has commenced implementation of its restructuring programme announced last year.
Mr K.K. Nohria, Chairman and Managing Director of the company, who put the implementation plan in motion, has relinquished the post of Managing Director. He will, however, continue as the Chairman of the Board.
Three Presidents of the company Mr R. Dasgupta (Power Systems), Mr T.K. Mukherjee (Consumer Products) and Mr C.P. Dusad (Industrial Systems) who were all members of the Board, have also relinquished their directorships on having reached the age of superannuation. Mr Gautam Thapar has also joined the Board in place of Mr Shekhar Datta.
Dotcoms: India among top 10
India and China are among the top 10 countries registering maximum number of dotcom companies this year with Network Solutions, the global leader in domain registrations.According to Network Solutions latest dotcom index for the year up to February end released on Tuesday, India is in the 10th place, while China is placed at seventh.India was at the 11th place in 1998 and fell to the 12th position in 1999, but is back among the top 10 nations registering maximum dotcoms, according to the statistics.
Meanwhile China, which was at the 8th position 1998, but fell to the 14th position, bounced back to the 7th position this year. PTI
Tax holiday: Nasscom on Thursday urged Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha to continue benefits under Section 10A/10B in the Income Tax Act and provide tax holiday to software exporters till 2009-10.
Nasscom President Dewang Mehta said: We are not against taxation, but the timing is wrong. The Finance Bill seeks to deprive tax holiday benefits for EOU/EPZ/STP units registered after April 1, 2000. This provision is very discriminatory against new units and has become as a major entry barrier for new units.
Nasscom suggested a creative formula for gradual phase out of Section 10A/10B of the Income Tax for tax holiday for STP/EOU/EPZ units, so that the industry was not divided into two classes of those who have tax holiday and those who do not. UNI
Education portal: Infotech Global (India) (IGI) a subsidiary of its USA principal, in association with the University of New Jersey-Rutgers have launched its portal-centric education +www.igiindia.com+ in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference, IGI Chairman Ashish Kapoor said that IGI and Rutgers were working closely for some time and have now developed a unique mode of evaluation process, which was far from the conventional examination mode.
Mr Kulmohan S. Mehta, President and CEO of the company, said that IGI has a long standing experience in training large number of major corporate sector entities through its 20 centres in the country. This will be increased to 50 by the end of this year. UNI
MTNL cellular: MTNL will launch its proposed cellular services in June, a top company official said in Delhi on Tuesday.
MTNL would like to assure that the project for the implementation of providing cellular mobile service by using GSM technology is proceeding as per the pre-determined schedule and the project is being reviewed every week, MTNL Chairman and Managing Director S. Rajagopalan told reporters. PTI
Voice mail services: Internet company Net Media India Ltd, the promoter of broadcastindia.com, is planning to set up a new company-zinging.com-which would be focused on offering voice and mail services to customers in India and abroad.
The new company which is expected to be operational by June would offer audio mailing services to customers, Sukaran Singh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Net Media said in Delhi.
product Zing mail will enable a caller to send a
voice mail through a telephone line to any e-mail
address, he said. The company is yet to decide on the
pricing of the new service. PTI
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