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IPCL board notes Anil’s resignation,
BSE plans action

Mumbai, April 22
The resignation of Anil Ambani from the board of IPCL has been ‘noted’ by the board, according to Reliance Industries Ltd statement. The company has not yet stated that his resignation has been accepted.

Haryana industrial policy by May 30
New Delhi, April 22
The revenue collections in Haryana have increased by 43 per cent from Rs 3346 crore in 2003-04 to Rs 4778 crore in 2004-05, partly due to the implementation of VAT.

Nod unlikely for foreign airlines on picking stake in domestic sector
New Delhi, April 22
In what can be seen as a major setback for the civil aviation sector, the new aviation policy, to be announced soon, is likely to continue with the existing practice of not allowing equity participation by foreign airlines in domestic operations.

Corporate results
Wipro announces 1:1 bonus issue, profit
up 35 per cent

Bangalore, April 22
Wipro Chairman Azim Premji speaks during a press conference to announce the quarterly and annual results of the company in Bangalore
IT major Wipro today reported below market expected fourth quarter net profit of Rs 433 crore but got a cheer with the announcement of a bonus share of one for each existing share.

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji speaks during a press conference to announce the quarterly and annual results of the company in Bangalore. — PTI photo

Bhupendra Kumar Modi Spice eyes 6 more circles, plans IPO
Chandigarh, April 22

Facing an onslaught in the regional market from other telecom service providers, Spice Telecom has aggressively redevised its strategy to wrest back the early bird advantage that it once had in the region.

Modi, the film producer
Disclosing that the word ‘ice’ in Spice stands for information, communication and entertainment, Dr Modi, a doctorate in business administration from California, gave a peep into another venture with which he is currently involved.



A model showcases designer Aparna Chandra’s creation at Lakme India Fashion Show, 2005, in New Delhi on Friday
A model showcases designer Aparna Chandra’s creation at Lakme India Fashion Show, 2005, in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES

 

Tatas, BSNL dispute over interconnection
New Delhi, April 22
Tata Teleservices today accused state-owned BSNL of not providing interconnection at various points, saying that this was delaying their plans to start services in more than 100 towns.

FICCI concern over FBT
New Delhi, April 22
FICCI today warned that the new taxes on the corporate sector like the fringe benefit tax would severely hit the tottering savings and investments.

Handicraft exports rise 29 per cent
New Delhi, April 22
With Indian handicraft exporters venturing into new markets, including Latin America, Central Asia, CIS and African nations, handicrafts exports have grown by 24.53 per cent during the past fiscal year.

The Gemmata delivers the first cargo of LNG to the Hazira Terminal GSPC to get Shell gas
New Delhi, April 22
Royal Dutch/Shell, Europe’s second largest oil firm, will sell 0.7 million standard cubic metres per day of gas from its newly-commissioned Hazira LNG terminal to Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation.
The Gemmata delivers the first cargo of LNG to the Hazira Terminal. Royal Dutch/Shell, Europe’s second largest oil firm, will sell 0.7 million standard cubic metres per day of gas from its newly commissioned Hazira LNG terminal to Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation. — PTI photo

Agro-processing sector hit by high tax
New Delhi, April 22
High taxation and duties are adversely affecting the food processing sector in the country, which has a huge potential, said a parliamentary committee report tabled this week.


Videos
Make-up and accessories hog the limelight on the second day of the Lakme India Fashion Week.
(28k, 56k)
Cricketers at the ongoing fashion extravaganza. 
(28k, 56k)

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IPCL board notes Anil’s resignation, BSE plans action
Tribune News Service and UNI

Mumbai, April 22
The resignation of Anil Ambani from the board of IPCL has been ‘noted’ by the board, according to Reliance Industries Ltd statement. The company has not yet stated that his resignation has been accepted.

The matter came to light with the company dropping Mr Ambani’s name from the list of the company’s Board of Directors. Though Ambani had resigned three months ago yet it was felt that the IPCL might go to him as a part of the division of the Reliance empire.

Anil Ambani had resigned in January last after levelling accusations at other directors who were close to his brother and Chairman Managing Director Mukesh Ambani.

The IPCL said the board had received Ambani’s letter of resignation as vice-chairman and director dated January 3. The statement said the resignation was noted by the board at its meeting on January 21 and a subsequent letter reiterating the resignation was also noted at the meeting on March 30.

The company has so far refrained from saying that Anil Ambani’s resignation has been accepted. The information will have to be first conveyed to the stock exchanges before being divulged to the media.

Bourses unaware

The Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange have begun confabulations with the market regulator, SEBI, for a possible action against a Reliance Group company IPCL amid reports that its Vice-Chairman and Director Anil Ambani has been removed from the company board without informing the two bourses.

Both the stock exchanges, in consultation with the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), have taken up the matter with the top management of Reliance Group over the reported removal of Anil Ambani’s name from the Board of Directors of the IPCL, the listed group company of Reliance Industries Limited. Market observers said removal of Anil from the Board of a listed company amounted to a violation of norms of corporate governance.

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Haryana industrial policy by May 30
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 22
The revenue collections in Haryana have increased by 43 per cent from Rs 3346 crore in 2003-04 to Rs 4778 crore in 2004-05, partly due to the implementation of VAT.

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced that the state government would announce its new industrial policy by May 30 so as to make Haryana an investment- friendly state. He said it here today after meeting Mr Karl K Hosokava, Managing Director, YKK India Pvt. Ltd, a Japanese company.

Mr Hosokava said the company would invest Rs 140 crore in the third phase of the project at Bawal in Rewari district. Earlier, speaking at a function organised by Assocham, Haryana Finance Minister Birender Singh said :“Tax collections in Haryana have gone up ever since the introduction of VAT. In addition, the retail prices of essential commodities like grains, pulses, fruit and vegetables, electrical appliances and consumer goods have remained stable compared to the prices prevailing in neighbouring states like Delhi and Punjab.”

Comparing the growth of the state economy with the national economy after the state adopted VAT, Mr Birender Singh said “ While the growth rate of the national economy in 2003-04 was 8.4 per cent, it is estimated at 6.9 per cent in 2004-05. In comparison, the gross state domestic product of Haryana recorded a growth of 8.6 per cent in 2003-04 which is almost the same as the national average.”

The experience of Haryana in the past two years also shows that VAT also spurs the growth of tax revenue. Haryana under the VAT system collected Rs.3843 crore in 2003-04,

Therefore, Assocham President Mahendra K. Sanghi appealed to the non-VAT implementing states to emulate Haryana experience.

The Finance Minister was of the view that since Haryana adopted four tax rate slabs of 0, 4, 10 and 12 per cent with the exception of 1 per cent on bullion and precious stones and 20 per cent on liquor consumed in bars and clubs and petrol, estimates were that by the end of the current fiscal, VAT- based taxation system would increase the revenue collection by roughly another Rs 500 crore.

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Nod unlikely for foreign airlines on picking stake in domestic sector

New Delhi, April 22
In what can be seen as a major setback for the civil aviation sector, the new aviation policy, to be announced soon, is likely to continue with the existing practice of not allowing equity participation by foreign airlines in domestic operations.

Such a move would act as a major deterrent to private sector participation, sources said adding it would hamper inflow of money as well as technical and operational expertise needed for any kind of investment in the civil aviation sector. “In case the new policy does not allow equity participation by foreign airlines, the sector will not be able to reap the maximum benefits arising from allowing 49 per cent FDI in the sector,” the sources said.

However, officials in the Civil Aviation ministry said the issue is not closed and would be taken up for consideration. The Planning Commission in its Mid-Term Appraisal and the Naresh Chandra Committee report had, however, favoured allowing equity participation by foreign airlines in domestic air transport operations.

The policy, which would go to Cabinet in a month’s time, would announce restructuring of the Airports Authority of India, including appointment of more professional and independent directors to give it a corporate face.

This would be in line with what the Prime Minister’s Infrastructure Committee had suggested last year.

The policy is also likely to talk about making bilaterals more liberal relaxing the norms regarding the number of flights and cities.

The draft policy, now in circulation, has also relaxed the entry norms for companies for scheduled airports regarding the minimum number of aircraft the entrant should own initially.

This is one of the provisions that the Naresh Chandra Committee suggested should be done away with.

The policy would also recommend setting up of regulators to monitor and review functioning of airports and stick to the FDI limit of 49 per cent. — PTI

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Corporate results
Wipro announces 1:1 bonus issue, profit up 35 per cent

Bangalore, April 22
IT major Wipro today reported below market expected fourth quarter net profit of Rs 433 crore but got a cheer with the announcement of a bonus share of one for each existing share. Wipro’s profit was up 35 per cent over Rs 320.8 crore in the fourth quarter last year, which fell below analysts’ expectations of Rs 455 crore. NYSE-listed Wipro’s revenues jumped 29 per cent to Rs 2,312.1 crore in Q4, as against Rs 1,254.9 crore in the same period last year.

The Bangalore-based Wipro, which earns nearly 80 per cent revenue in software exports to developed markets, gave a flat guidance of $ 395 million for the first quarter in 2005-06, from its global IT services.

“Our operational performance has improved due to better staff utilisation, moving more work offshore and having a better mix of employees, with more juniors to execute work, despite increase in staff salary,” Wipro Vice-chairman Vivek Paul told reporters here.

He said global IT revenues in Q4 stood at $ 375 million, ahead of its guidance of $ 370 million. Wipro’s board recommended one bonus share for each share held, while announcing a dividend of Rs 5 for each share. Wipro’s profits for 2004-05 were up by 58 per cent at Rs 1,628.5 crore while revenues jumped by 39 per cent at Rs 8,169.8 crore. Profits were at Rs 1,031.5 crore and revenues at Rs 5,881.2 crore in the previous fiscal.

BOBL net dips

The operating profit of Bharat Overseas Bank Ltd (BOBL) has come down to Rs 54.32 crore as against the earlier year figure of Rs 56.83 crore, reflecting the intense competition and strain and stress on banking management, which the banking sector had been witnessing. The net profit had come down to Rs 20.05 crore against last year figure of Rs 35.08 crore.

Announcing the annual results for 2004-05 at a press conference here today, BOBL Chairman and Chief Executive Officer G Krishna Murthy said provisions and contingencies had risen to Rs 34.27 crore during the year 2004-05 and the amortisation and depreciation of treasury portfolio had led to the dip in net profit. The bank would focus on the retail and small and medium enterprise segments for growth.

Mentioning some of the business goals for 2005-06, Mr Murthy said the bank was keen on achieving Rs 5,200 crore business, enhancing its brand building exercise and bringing the net Non-Performing Assets to below 1.5 per cent.

BOBL was also looking at horizontal expansion and hoped to add 20 more branches to bring it to 130 by the year-end. The bank was looking at Andhra Pradesh and Kerala for setting up branches, he said adding that five branches were to be opened this year in Punjab and Delhi.

Guj Gas profit grows

Gujarat Gas Company Ltd has posted 72.2 per cent growth in profit after tax to Rs 27.32 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 15.86 crore for the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Announcing the results to BSE, the company said its total income has increased to Rs 160.06 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 as against Rs 139.29 crore in the same period last year.

The group has posted 88.6 per cent increase in profit to Rs 33.45 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 17.73 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2004.

Total income has increased to Rs 194.64 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 as against Rs 171.28 crore in the last year. — Agencies

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Spice eyes 6 more circles, plans IPO
Peeyush Agnihotri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
Facing an onslaught in the regional market from other telecom service providers, Spice Telecom has aggressively redevised its strategy to wrest back the early bird advantage that it once had in the region.

This includes acquisition of full stake in the company, opting for licences in six more circles in North India and floating an IPO (initial public offer).

Close on the heels of pumping Rs 100 crore in Punjab, Dr Bhupendra Kumar Modi, Chairman, MCorp Global, stated here today that the company plans to quadruple its total investments within the next few months to project Spice as a brand company.

“We have agreed to buy the company from our other partners, of which Hong Kong-based Distacom (49 per cent) is a major one,” he said and added that they have entered into an agreement with Deutsche Bank for the same. Currently SpiceCorp holds 51 per cent share in the venture, of which 25 per cent is the effective share.

“The process of acquiring licences in east and west UP (including Uttaranchal), Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, J&K and Rajasthan telecom circles has also begun,” he disclosed.

“We plan to grow four times of what we are today. For this, 80 per cent of the necessary equipment has arrived and 20 per cent would come in by June-end. With this, we plan to enhance our customer base by over 15 times with quality products, which would include EDGE-enabled phones,” he said.

Spice customer base is 12 lakh for Punjab currently, which is 40 per cent of the total market size in the state. When asked about bidding for NCR (New Capital region) circle, he said that this would come after the company launches Spice phones in Delhi by May-end.

Spice is also one of the key players in Karnataka where it is a tad laggard vis-ŕ-vis Punjab as far as market share goes. “However, we have plans lined up for south India also and are eyeing licences in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Chennai circles by July,” he added.

Dr Modi said that the company plans to come out with a public issue by the end of this fiscal.

 

Modi, the film producer

Disclosing that the word ‘ice’ in Spice stands for information, communication and entertainment, Dr Modi, a doctorate in business administration from California, gave a peep into another venture with which he is currently involved.

“I am producing a movie on Lord Buddha with an investment of $ 100 million. It is slated for release on Budh Purnima next year. The writer is Deepak Chopra and Shekhar Kapur is the director of the film. The lead role would be played by a global actor while female lead role would go to an Indian,” he said and did not rule out either Aishwarya Rai or Priyanka Chopra (Spice brand ambassador) as one of the probables.

He said the movie would re-project India’s image as Lord Buddha’s country. The film is being shot in the US, India, Japan, Thailand and China. “The high point of the movie would be that it would be dubbed in the voices of the local actor and actresses of the country of release,” he said.

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Tatas, BSNL dispute over interconnection

New Delhi, April 22
Tata Teleservices today accused state-owned BSNL of not providing interconnection at various points, saying that this was delaying their plans to start services in more than 100 towns.

“We are ready to start services in various cities of northern India. We have invested over Rs 1,700 crore and are ready to pump in another Rs 1,500 crore. But there is no point in investing if we cannot start the services,” Mr Naresh Malhan, President, TTSL (North), told PTI.

Asked whether the company had taken up the issue with the authorities concerned, he said “the issue has been taken up both with TRAI and DoT.

The problem is acute in Rajasthan but overall in nearly 100 towns in the northern region, the company has been facing the problem for more than three months.

Asked whether they were planning to approach the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Mr Malhan said “that will be the last resort. We are making all efforts to resolve the issues among ourselves.” — PTI

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FICCI concern over FBT

New Delhi, April 22
FICCI today warned that the new taxes on the corporate sector like the fringe benefit tax would severely hit the tottering savings and investments.

In an appeal to the Finance Ministry, FICCI said budget proposals for consolidation of fiscal management through tax rationalisation and slowing down growth of big ticket spending were unlikely to boost revenue receipts.

FICCI cautioned that the proposals that inhibited growth of credit and investments in the private corporate sector needed to be addressed in the Finance Bill to ensure that the manufacturing sector was not starved of growth-inducing resources.

The net government borrowings night crowd out credit flow to the sector, it warned.

Citing double-digit tax revenue growth in the past three years and 20.9 per cent projected in 2005-06, FICCI said corporate taxes had been one of the most buoyant taxes with a growth rate of 26.1 per cent in 2002-03, 37.7 per cent in 2003-04 and 30.6 in 2004-05. — PTI

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Handicraft exports rise 29 per cent
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 22
With Indian handicraft exporters venturing into new markets, including Latin America, Central Asia, CIS and African nations, handicrafts exports have grown by 24.53 per cent during the past fiscal year.

As per the provisional exports figures, handicraft exports from the country have shown an increase of Rs 2568 crore, from Rs 10,465 crore in year 2003-2004 to Rs 13,033 crore during 2004-2005, thus registering an increase of 24.53 per cent in rupee terms.

According to Mr Navrattan Samdaria, Chairman, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), the exports of art metalware, woodware, handprinted textiles and scarves, embroidered and crocheted goods, shawls as artware, zari and zari goods, and imitation jewellery increased to Rs 4200 crore during 2004-05 from Rs 3286 crore during 2003-04, thus registering an increase of Rs 32.46 crore.

Similarly export of art metalware increased to Rs 3365 crore from Rs 2642 crore thus registering an increase of 32 per cent. Mr Rakesh Kumar, Executive Director, EPCH said that some of the reasons for accelerated growth of handicraft exports was entering new markets, changing the product line as per customer designs, improvement in quality and cutting down production costs.

The industry lobby was confident that the new expo centre coming up in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, adjoining Delhi, would further push exports as the “hightech facilities would help promote products in an international ambience.”

The Rs 700- crore India Expo Centre and Mart is being built in collaboration with the ministry of textiles and the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA).

The first phase of the expo centre, spread over 60 acres, would be inaugurated on April 26 by Mr Amar Singh, Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Development Council

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GSPC to get Shell gas

New Delhi, April 22
Royal Dutch/Shell, Europe’s second largest oil firm, will sell 0.7 million standard cubic metres per day of gas from its newly-commissioned Hazira LNG terminal to Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation. Shell, which announced operationalising the Rs 3,000 crore Hazira terminal yesterday, had contracted to sell 0.7 mmscmd for 210 days at a price of $3.70 per million British Thermal Unit (mbtu), industry sources said.

Shell’s price is slightly higher than Petronet LNG Ltd’s sale price of $3.66 per mbtu, the sources said.

This is the first cargo that Shell has sold from the terminal. The gas has been sourced from Australia’s North West Shelf project, in which Shell has a 22 per cent stake.

Hazira terminal is the first merchant terminal in Asia which does not follow the conventional model of sourcing LNG from a particular project on long-term and then tying up long term sales contract with customers in the importing countries.

In other words, Shell after assessing the needs of a customer and the price that it is willing to pay, will scout for LNG in global markets and if suppliers terms match with the customers requirement, ‘match-making’ will take place. A Shell-controlled tanker, the 136,000 cubic meters Gemmata, carried the first cargo. The shipping of LNG was in conformity with the new LNG shipping laws, Vikram Singh Mehta, chairman Shell Group of companies in India said yesterday. — PTI

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Agro-processing sector hit by high tax
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 22
High taxation and duties are adversely affecting the food processing sector in the country, which has a huge potential, said a parliamentary committee report tabled this week.

Stating that the “sun is yet to shine” on this sector, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture said one of the reasons for sluggish growth of food processing sector is the presence of host of levies.

“Various taxes, ranging between 20 to 40 per cent, are being levied on the food processing sector by the Central as well as the state governments, which make processed food items more costly,” it said.

The committee said the sector has a global trade of $ 460 billion and the country’s contribution is minuscule, which is one per cent of that.

The standing committee observed “the government ought to reconsider the tax structure on food processing sector so that the processed food items may become affordable.”

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BRIEFLY

NCDC reduces lending rate
New Delhi, April 22
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar expressed the confidence that the reduction in the lending rate of the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) would benefit the cooperative sector. The NCDC has reduced the interest rate to 8 per cent from 10.5 per cent. Lauding the NCDC role in strengthening the cooperative sector in the country, he said the corporation had achieved almost 70 per cent of its target in 2004-05. — TNS

Sun Pharma
New Delhi, April 22
Germany’s fifth largest drugmaker Altana and its marketing partner, Wyeth, have filed a lawsuit against Sun Pharmaceutical Industries to stop it from selling the generic version of anti-ulcer treatment pantoprazole in the USA. The lawsuit is in response to Sun’s application in the USA, seeking FDA approval for a generic low-cost version of Protonix, the brand name under which Wyeth sells pantoprazole in that country. Sun has filed a generic application with a paragraph IV certification in the USA, which is inserted only if the applicant is claiming that a patent is invalid or not challenged by its product. The drug has been patented by Altana. — UNI

Shangri-la Hotel
Chennai, April 22
The Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts commenced its new venture in India by unveiling its first Traders Hotel here today. Hotel’s Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Giovanni Anjelini said that they were planning to launch hotels in New Delhi this year and at Bangalore in 2008. Fortysix hotels having more than 21,000 rooms worldwide were managed by the group. — UNI

Google’s profit
San Francisco, April 22
Ever since its initial public offering of stock eight months ago, Google has been churning out profits that have astounded even the most bullish analysts and propelled its already high-flying stock to new heights. The Mountain View-based company provided yet another boost yesterday, announcing earnings of $ 369.2 million or $ 1.29 per share, for the three months ended in March. That compared well with net income of $ 64 million, or 24 cents per share, at the same time last year. Revenue totalled $1.26 billion, nearly doubling from $651.6 million at the same time last year. After subtracting commissions that Google paid to other Web sites in its advertising network, the company’s first-quarter revenue was $794.5 million. — AP

Ericsson’s net up
Stockholm, April 22
Ericsson, the world’s largest maker of mobile-phone networks, reported 73 per cent increase in the first-quarter profit, helped by cost cuts and higher sales. The sales gained 12 per cent against the market expectations. Ericsson has benefited from cost cuts and increased global demand for its base stations, switches and antennas. The gross margin rose to 48.5 per cent from 44.7 per cent a year earlier and increased from 45.6 per cent in the previous three months. — Bloomberg

Halt operations
Tokyo, April 22
Japan’s financial regulator today ordered Citigroup Inc.’s Japanese trust banking unit to halt all new operations from May 2, accusing the bank of illegal practices. The Financial Services Agency’s ruling against Cititrust and Banking Corp. was the latest reprimand for the largest US financial institution, following the agency’s decision in September to yank Citigroup’s private-banking licence and charge the company with legal violations. The FSA action only hastens Citigroup’s plans, announced last year, to close the trust bank by October. — AP
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