Wednesday, December 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

China enters WTO with high hopes 
Beijing, December 11
China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) today, ending a 15-year quest and ushering in a new era of reform for the world’s most populous nation.

Cadbury’s buyback offer at Rs 500
Mumbai, December 11
Cadbury Schweppes Plc along with Cadbury Schweppes Overseas Ltd and Cadbury Schweppes Mauritius Ltd have made an open offer to acquire the balance 49 per cent in its Indian subsidiary Cadbury India at Rs 500 per share.

Chamber for one tax under VAT
Chandigarh, December 11
Multiple tax system should be done away with and under the Value Added Tax (VAT) regime, there should be only one tax.

India 27th costliest nation for business
Hong Kong, December 11
India ranks 27th in the list of the most expensive countries for business with arch-rival China placed one rung below.


CORPORATE NEWS

Zee Tele to consider pact with Turner
Mumbai, December 11
The Board of Zee Telefilms (ZTL) is to consider a proposal on December 13 to form a joint venture with Turner International India Ltd (TIIL) for marketing and distribution of ZTL and TIIL’s channels.



EARLIER STORIES
 
  • IDBI plans to cut costs

  • Polaris no for ADR/GDR

  • Nicholas Piramal

ROUND-UP

Fiat announces closures, MD quits
Turin(Italy)
The Italian group Fiat SpA yesterday announced that it would close down 18 of its facilities worldwide between 2002 and 2004 and reduce its overseas workforce by 6,000.

  • Marks & Spencer opens outlets

  • Fake H-P products seized

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China enters WTO with high hopes 

Beijing, December 11
China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) today, ending a 15-year quest and ushering in a new era of reform for the world’s most populous nation.

But optimism was tempered by concern, as trading partners question China’s ability to meet its WTO pledges and officials fear painful reforms could threaten social unrest.

Foreign investors have waited expectantly for the opening of the world’s largest potential market of 1.3 billion people, while China hopes greater integration with the globe will complete its transition to a market economy.

Chinese officials pledged to abide by the country’s WTO commitments and would send a delegation and ambassador to the trade body’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“China will enjoy all rights the WTO gives to other members and observe the WTO regulations and its obligations to the organisation,” it said, quoting a trade ministry official.

Entry to the WTO marks a major victory for China in a trophy year capped by Beijing winning the 2008 Olympics and Shanghai hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit for the first time.

China opened its hermit economy to the world in 1978 and in fits and starts has lurched to embrace the market by loosening the state’s grip over economic matters. It has already become the world’s seventh largest trading power.

“The importance of the WTO is that it brings into play a more powerful market-based dynamic behind restructuring,” said Michael Spencer, chief Asia economist for Deutsche Bank.

“Essentially what we have had for the last 15 or 20 years is restructuring by fiat. It’s difficult to continue along that road and make any progress on other forms of deregulation in society and political freedoms, which are a pressing need in China.”

Some argue the change spurred by the WTO will extend beyond the economic arena to bring political pluralism.

The challenge for China in managing the change is enormous.

Beijing must convince protected state firms, conservative local officials and workers fearful for their jobs that entry to the WTO will bring benefits. Premier Zhu Rongji made a personal effort to sell the deal to the Chinese people on the eve of entry.

“This is an important symbol of entering a new stage of China’s opening to the outside world. It meets the fundamental, long-term interests of China,” Zhu said. Reuters

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Website crashes

Beijing
China threw open its doors to the outside world with its entry into the WTO today, but those seeking details from the trade ministry’s website found their way still barred.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, which spearheaded the talks that ended a 15-year quest to join the trade body, said its site, www.Moftec.Gov.Cn, was overwhelmed by a deluge of visitors. “There are too many people visiting our website today and it caused a crash. We have taken emergency technical measures,’’ the spokesman said. Reuters

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Cadbury’s buyback offer at Rs 500

Mumbai, December 11
Cadbury Schweppes Plc along with Cadbury Schweppes Overseas Ltd and Cadbury Schweppes Mauritius Ltd have made an open offer to acquire the balance 49 per cent in its Indian subsidiary Cadbury India at Rs 500 per share.

The offer price to acquire 1,74,98,880 fully paid-up shares (Rs 10 each) of Cadbury India Ltd from public was 24 per cent higher compared to 26-week average of closing high-low price on the National Stock Exchange, the company said in a statement here today.

The scrip was yesterday quoted lower at the NSE at Rs 471.10, much below the offer price.

Cadbury Schweppes Overseas Ltd holds 18,213,120 equity shares representing 51 per cent paid up equity share capital of Indian subsidiary, the company informed the bourse.

The offer is scheduled to open on January 24, 2002 and close on February 22. The entire transaction is expected to be completed by March, the statement said.

“The offer provides an opportunity to shareholders to make an appropriate choice under the prevailing circumstances to exit at good premium”, Cadburry Schweppes’ Chief Executive, John Sunderland said.

The shares of Indian subsidiary were not actively traded demonstrating limited liquidity, he said.

On November 7, the British group had informed the BSE that it was investigating the possibility of increasing its shareholding offer at a price not more than Rs 500 per share.

The Indian subsidiary was set up in 1948 and has a 70 per share in the chocolate confectionery market. PTI, UNI

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Chamber for one tax under VAT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Multiple tax system should be done away with and under the Value Added Tax (VAT) regime, there should be only one tax. This has been suggested by the PHD CCI that has come out with recommendations on VAT for states in the region. The chamber will shortly be forward these recommendations to the state governments .

“The recommendations have been prepared after a thorough study of the implications. We have also discussed it with people at different levels, including officials and traders”, said Mr Ashok Khanna, ex-President , PHDCCI and Chairman, the Northern Region Development Council.

After studying the drafts prepared by Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, suggestions relating to the rate structure, classification of commodities, status of Central Sales Tax and other taxes after the introduction of VAT and statutory forms, status of state tax deferment schemes, treatment of services under VAT, etc have been given.

The chamber has recommended two main rates of taxes and two special rates. twenty per cent for items like liquor, molasses, narcotics, etc., 4 per cent on declared goods and goods of common use, 1 per cent on bullion, gold and silver ornaments and 10 per cent (a revenue neutral rate) has been suggested for remaining goods.

There should be no Special Additional Tax and the entry tax should be done away with.

Regarding the CST, the chamber said it would create artificial tax barriers. So a road map for gradual phasing out of CST should be strictly adhered to. “This is essential because the reduction in CST is important for introduction of VAT”, the chamber suggested.

Pointing out that most states are not merging other taxes and the local levies with VAT, the chamber said there should be no other taxes under the VAT regime.

It has also been suggested that the tax liability should not exceed the maximum slab rate in any particular slab and no slab should be higher than 20 per cent.

On the statutory forms, it has recommended that only necessary forms under CST and for exports should continue and all other forms should be abolished.

Provision of refunds in case of exports should be simplified and some mechanism on exemption on purchases by exporters should also be worked out, the chamber suggested.

The chambers also made several recommendations relating to registration of transporters, treatment of entry tax, penalties, checkposts and barriers, invoices, delayed refunds and power to amendment of schedules.

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India 27th costliest nation for business

Hong Kong, December 11
India ranks 27th in the list of the most expensive countries for business with arch-rival China placed one rung below.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong ranks 14 whereas Russia comes 19 in the list. Recession-hit Japan is the most expensive country in the world to do business in because of high labour, rent and expatriate costs, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said on Tuesday.

The USA came in a distant second, ahead of Germany, both of which have high labour costs, the EIU said in a statement.

Indonesia and Hungary were by far the cheapest places to do business among the countries in the survey, with low labour and expatriate costs, it said.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia ranked 12th followed by Hong Kong in 14th spot, South Korea in 15th, Taiwan in 16th and Singapore in 17th. India was just ahead of China and Thailand in the 27th spot.

The report analysed the costs of doing business around the world and focused on 31 key countries which attract the most investment or have the potential to do so in the future, it said.

Following Germany were five other European Union countries, all of which have high labour costs. The UK was ranked the fourth most expensive country in the survey, followed by Belgium, Sweden, France, and the Netherlands.

Canada ranked ninth and Italy 10th. Both have high corporate taxes, the EIU said.

Spain, in 11th place, had the lowest costs in western Europe.

The EIU had released a similar report in November 1997. Germany was ranked then as the most expensive country with the US. In second, but Japan was not included in the report, a spokeswoman for the EIU in Hong Kong said.

The followings are the rankings of the 31 countries: 1. Japan 2. United States 3. Germany 4. Britain 5. Belgium 6. Sweden 7. France 8. Netherlands 9. Canada 10. Italy 11. Spain 12. Australia 13. Argentina 14. Hong Kong 15. South Korea 16. Taiwan 17. Singapore 18. Venezuela 19. Russia 20. Mexico 21. Brazil 22. South Africa 23. Czech Rep 24. Poland 25. Malaysia 26. Chile 27. India 28. China 29. Thailand 30. Indonesia 31. Hungary. Reuters

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CORPORATE NEWS

Zee Tele to consider pact with Turner

Mumbai, December 11
The Board of Zee Telefilms (ZTL) is to consider a proposal on December 13 to form a joint venture with Turner International India Ltd (TIIL) for marketing and distribution of ZTL and TIIL’s channels.

The Board will consider a proposal to distribute and market third party channels under the proposed joint venture arrangement, ZTL said today.

In May last, ZTL Chairman Subhash Chandra had announced plans to invite an international strategic partner to bring about synergies with itself and provide better opportunities to distribute Zee’s products globally.

IDBI plans to cut costs

The IDBI is exploring possibilities of introducing VRS shortly as part of efforts to cut costs by 30 per cent to improve its strained financial position.

The cost-cutting exercise comes in the wake of financial strain that the FI is undergoing due to the ongoing recession resulting in the reduction of the net profit by 47 per cent to Rs 207 crore last half, official sources said today.

The IDBI’s total expenses increased by about 4 per cent to Rs 7,100 crore last fiscal from Rs 6,833 crore in 1999-2000, while total income dipped to Rs 7,835 crore from Rs 7,860 crore resulting in reduction in its profitability.

Sources said the FI now plans to bring down its total expenses to about Rs 5,000 crore while striving to increase its income to post a net profit this fiscal.

IDBI Chairman P P Vora will focus on four things — restructuring of steel and power sector, NPA reduction and converting the FI into universal bank — during his two year tenure, while matters pertaining to HRD is likely to be handled by the Deputy Managing Director.

Polaris no for ADR/GDR

Polaris Software is not likely to go for an overseas listing over the next 12 months due to unfavourable market conditions and its current focus is on streamlining processes, a senior company official said today.

Shareholders of Polaris Software had earlier approved the company’s plans to raise funds from overseas market.

“We are not planning to go for a listing in the next 12 months. We have put engineering process in sales, marketing and software development and I would like to focus that these get stronger,” Arun Jain, Chairman and CEO of Polaris Software, told PTI.

Asked if the current unfavourable market conditions had also influenced the company’s views of not going for an issue within a year, he said “Yes, obviously.”

Nicholas Piramal

Nicholas Piramal India (NPIL) is in talks with Geneva-based Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) for globally launching its anti-malarial drug “Ablaquin”.

“We are talking to MMV for launching the drug globally,” Dr Swati Piramal, Chief Scientific Officer, NPIL told PTI here.

Piramal said in line with the company’s plans to launch the drug globally company had already initiated clinical trials again.

While the company had launched the drug in the country last year, it has again secured the Drug Controller General of India’s approval for this round of clinical trials. PTI

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ROUND-UP

Fiat announces closures, MD quits

Turin(Italy)
The Italian group Fiat SpA yesterday announced that it would close down 18 of its facilities worldwide between 2002 and 2004 and reduce its overseas workforce by 6,000.

It said in a statement after a meeting of its board of Directors the closures were part of a restructuring plan, adding that the group intended to boost its capital by $ 888 million.

In another move, the group announced that Mr Roberto Testore, Managing Director of Fiat Auto, had resigned and would be replaced at the end of the year by Mr Giancarlo Boschetti, currently the Managing Director of Iveco, Fiat’s heavy duty truck division. AFP

Marks & Spencer opens outlets

NEW DELHI: UK’s clothing retailer, Marks & Spencer, has tied up with Planet Sports India to make a foray into the Indian retail markets.

The company has spent about $ 2 million to appoint Planet Sports as its exclusive franchisee and has opened two stores in the country at Delhi and Mumbai. The stores will sell a select range of womenswear, menswear, lingerie and toiletries. UNI

Fake H-P products seized

MUMBAI: The police has confiscated counterfeit products of the Hewlett Packard (HP) in raids conducted at various locations in Delhi and Mumbai.

Acting on complaints lodged by the company, the police conducted the raids last week to clamp down on the sale of counterfeit laserjet and inkjet cartridges.

This was a part of HP’s efforts to stop the sale of counterfeit products in major cities like Mumbai and Delhi, an HP official said here. UNI

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BIZ BRIEFS

Kribhco awarded
New Delhi, December 11
Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited (Kribhco) has won the FAI award for high quality producer, promotion and marketing of bio-fertilisers” for this year. The award, which carries Rs 10,000, a plaque and a certificate of appreciation, was received by Kribhco MD V.N. Rai. UNI

Canbank dividend
Chandigarh, December 11
Canbank Mutual Fund (CMF) has declared the eighth income distribution at the rate of 4 per cent on the face value of Rs 10 in Cangilt PGS scheme under its income plan. This is the third consecutive dividend of 4 per cent during the current financial year. December 19 has been fixed as the record date for the said income distribution. TNS

NIIT bags award
New Delhi December 11
NIIT has bagged “outsourcing contract of the year” award by a Financial Times business publication, The Banker. The award was given to NIIT for its partnership with Financial service organisation. — ING group, a company press note said. PTI

New PSB ED
New Delhi December 11
Mr Prakash Singh has taken over as the Executive Director of Punjab and Sind Bank. Mr Prakash Singh has been appointed for a period of over four years till February, 2006, a bank statement said. He has also served as the Chief Executive of UAE and Oman operations of the Bank of Baroda for three years. PTI

IBM in pact
Bangalore, December 11
Bangalore Labs, an IT infrastructure management company, has announced a strategic alliance with IBM India Limited. With this alliance, Bangalore Labs would ‘gain competency in implementing and maintaining IBM’s Tivoli suite of products, which offers enterprises with cross-platform management solutions, spanning networks systems and applications, a company press note said. PTI

INFRANET
Chandigarh, December 11
The Union Minister for Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Ananth Kumar will inaugurate INFRANET 2001 to be organised by the CII in association with the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation on December 12 in New Delhi. The three day conference will be focussed on urban infrastructure. TNS

FDI proposals
New Delhi December 11
The government today cleared 15 FDI proposals worth Rs 113 crore, including a Rs 111.65 crore proposal of Deutsche International. The proposals were cleared by Murasoli Maran on the basis of recommendations made by the foreign investment promotion board. PTI

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