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Orascom buys 19 pc stake in Hutchison
Cairo, January 16
Orascom Telecom Holding, the West Asia’s largest mobile-phone operator, said it bought a 19.3 per cent stake in Hutchison Telecommunications International for $1.3 billion to expand in Asia.

GoM positive on 100 pc FDI in mining
Kolkata, January 16
The Group of Ministers (GoM) set up by the UPA Government has taken a positive view on allowing 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route in both coal and non-coal mining sectors removing some restrictions.

Crosslink to set up unit at Baddi
New Delhi, January 16

Crosslink International Wheels Pvt Ltd, the Indian arm of Malaysia’s leading automobile security provider Wheels Electronic SDN, today said it would be setting up a manufacturing unit at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh and make the Indian unit a hub for exports to the Saarc region.

An attendant walks past a vintage car on display at the Auto Expo, 2006, in New Delhi on Monday.
An attendant walks past a vintage car on display at the Auto Expo, 2006, in New Delhi on Monday. — AFP photo



EARLIER STORIES

 
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath shakes hands with Quebec Premier Jean Charest in New Delhi on Monday.
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath shakes hands with Quebec Premier Jean Charest in New Delhi on Monday. Hinting at securing FDI from Canada in construction and modernisation of airports, the minister invited Quebec companies to invest in India to reap the benefits of highly skilled and cheaper manpower. “We invite Quebec companies to enter into partnerships with Indian companies not only for projects in India but also for projects in third countries,” Mr Nath told Mr Charest, who is leading a business delegation from Quebec (Canada). — Tribune Photo by Rajeev Tyagi
Toyota Motor Corp President Katsuaki Watanabe poses next to the company’s completely redesigned mini-van, Estima, at its unveiling in Tokyo on Monday.
Toyota Motor Corp President Katsuaki Watanabe poses next to the company’s completely redesigned mini-van, Estima, at its unveiling in Tokyo on Monday. The new Estima, launched in Japan on Monday, is priced between 2,667,000 yen ($23,316) and 3,550,000 yen ($31,033). — Reuters

UTI bullish on Indian stock market
New Delhi, January 16
Encouraged by the bullish trend in the stock market, the UTI Mutual Fund today announced aggressive plans to raise funds from the market, while deciding to offer trading in mutual funds and other schemes at its 340 district offices, along with 67 regional offices and UTI ATMs.

Use STD booths for banking,
says Pitroda

Mumbai, January 16
Suggesting a revolutionary measure that could change the face of banking, Mr Sam Pitroda, a pioneer of IT in India and founder-CEO of C-Sam Inc, today called for transforming thousands of STD/PCO booths into bank branches, thereby increasing the scope of banking and adding to the number of bank customers in the country.

Garment exporter inks private equity deal
Mumbai, January 16
The Bangalore-based Gokaldas Images Private Ltd, a garment exporter, today announced that it had concluded a private equity deal of Rs 45 crore with Leverage India Fund, which is managed by IL&FS Investment Managers Ltd.

MUL stake sale proceeds
not for NIF

New Delhi, January 16
Over Rs 1,500 crore that the government will get from offloading its residual stake in Maruti Udyog Ltd will not go to the National Investment Fund, which was set up for parking proceeds from disinvestment of public sector units.

Intel plans Rs 10,000 PC
Chandigarh, January 16
Low-cost PCs are likely to hit the market by the middle of this year that will cost less than Rs 10,000. Semi-conductor major Intel recently announced its plan for introducing a low-priced computer for the Indian market.

India not day-dreaming on growth potential: FM
Manila, January 16
India, whose economy is tipped to grow by 7 to 7.5 per cent in 2005-06, said today the projection was not an outcome of mere wishful thinking, but based on aggressive agenda for economic reforms.

Corporate Results
IndusInd Bank’s profit declines

Mumbai, January 16
IndusInd Bank Ltd today posted a 36 per cent decline in net profit at Rs 27.37 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 42.85 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2004.

Corporate News
Infosys to expand in Kerala

Mumbai, January 16
Infosys Technologies Ltd. said today that it would invest Rs 150 crore in Kerala to expand its facility in that state. The investment in three phases would raise the company’s headcount by 3,750 persons.

MUL stake sale proceeds not for NIF
New Delhi, January 16
Over Rs 1,500 crore that the government will get from offloading its residual stake in Maruti Udyog Ltd will not go to the National Investment Fund, which was set up for parking proceeds from disinvestment of public sector units.

Nahar posts profit
New Delhi, January 16
Nahar Industrial Enterprises Ltd today reported a net profit of Rs 18.25 crore for the third quarter as against a loss of Rs 72.45 lakh for the same period last year.
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Orascom buys 19 pc stake in Hutchison

Cairo, January 16
Orascom Telecom Holding, the West Asia’s largest mobile-phone operator, said it bought a 19.3 per cent stake in Hutchison Telecommunications International for $1.3 billion to expand in Asia.

“The tie up with Hutchison Telecom presents Orascom Telecom with exposure to markets” like India, Indonesia and Vietnam, Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Cairo-based Orascom, said in an e-mailed statement.

Orascom and Hutchison together operate in 15 countries and have a subscriber base of 40 million, as on September 30, 2005, the statement said. Hutchison is a unit of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing.

Orascom, which bought Wind Telecomunicazioni in August in a bid valuing the company at Euro 12.2 billion ($14.4 billion), is seeking to expand in Asia, Europe and Africa to become one of the top 10 telecommunications companies in the world.

Meanwhile, a report from Mumbai said that Hutchison Essar Ltd said it has completed the acquisition of BPL Mobile Cellular Ltd, the holder of cellular mobile telephone licences for Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

“We have completed the acquisition of the three BPL circles and look forward to driving significant growth in these circles,” Hutchison Essar Managing Director Asim Ghosh said in a press note here.

Hutchison had acquired BPL Mobile in July in a deal with an enterprise valuation of over Rs 4,400 crore. — Agencies

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GoM positive on 100 pc FDI in mining

Kolkata, January 16
The Group of Ministers (GoM) set up by the UPA Government has taken a positive view on allowing 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route in both coal and non-coal mining sectors removing some restrictions.

“The recommendations by the GoM will be sent to the Union Cabinet Committee for approval. Presently, 74 per cent of the FDI is allowed for captive mining in the power sector,” Union Minister of State for Coal and Mines Dasari Narayana Rao said here today on the sidelines of the first Asian Mining Congress and International Mining exhibition.

The government’s expert committee on the road-map for coal sector reforms has sent an interim report and called for encouraging captive coal production.

The government has allocated 35 coal blocks to about 60 private sector companies for captive consumption and another 12 blocks for 10 government companies, he said. — UNI 

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Crosslink to set up unit at Baddi

New Delhi, January 16
Crosslink International Wheels Pvt Ltd (CIWPL), the Indian arm of Malaysia’s leading automobile security provider Wheels Electronic SDN, today said it would be setting up a manufacturing unit at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh and make the Indian unit a hub for exports to the Saarc region.

“Construction work of the plant in underway and it would be operational by April this year,” Managing Director CIWPL K S Juneja told mediapersons at the Auto Expo here today.

The unit, besides manufacturing other security products (four wheelers), would also produce print and smart card immobilisers for four wheelers.

“We plan to export our products to India’s neighbouring countries, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan,” Director Wheels Electronic SDN BHD Tan Kit Seng said.

Asked about the investments made towards the unit, Mr Juneja said: “We have made an initial investment of Rs 2 crore and would pump in more money as and when required.”

NTF to make car-styling kits

Gurgaon-based NTF (India) Pvt Ltd has said it would invest up to Rs 10 crore to set up a manufacturing division for its foray into car-styling kits.

“The plan is to start manufacturing these styling kits by June this year. Our aim is to go for mass manufacturing and we will be investing Rs 5-10 crore for this,” NTF Director Naveen Jain said on the sidelines of Auto Expo here.

He said the company would initially appoint distributors in all metros to supply these kits.

He said NFT, which is an original equipment supplier to Maruti, is looking to utilise Maruti’s network to supply car styling kits.

XDS mulls unit in India

US-based Xtreme Defense Security, providers of auto glass security systems, has said it was looking at setting up a manufacturing unit in India.

“We are planning to set up a manufacturing unit here but have not finalised anything as yet,” XDS Secuirty Protekt India Private Ltd director Ranjan Majumdar said here today.

He said the company had not taken any decision as yet on where the plant would come up in India.

XDS displayed its new safety products that keep glass intact even after accidents, natural disasters, explosions or vandalism, besides heat and ultra-violet radiations.

Wrench eyes Malaysia

Bangalore-based Wrench Solutions Private Ltd would foray into the Malaysian market to sell its automotive component software product.

“We have tied up with a Malaysian company to sell our product to auto component manufacturers as we see great demand and less competition there,” Wrench Solutions Director K. Varghese Daniel told reporters here at the AutoExpo.

The company launched its software product ‘Wrench NPD’, which offers seamless automation and management of all documents, tasks, processes and activities- right across the enterprise.

“So far we have sold the product to three customers,” he said. — PTI

Cummins to export engines

To drive home the benefits of lower manufacturing costs in India, Cummins India Ltd (CIL) and Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI) will be exporting B Gas International (BGI) natural gas engines to locations such as South America, Eastern Europe and South-East Asian nations, a company official said today.

“We will look at Cummins India as a potential supplier to take the product and sell to other parts of the world,” Cummins Westport Inc General Manager (Europe, West Asia and Africa) Greg Young said here.

The company unveiled its BGI natural gas engines, technology for which is provided by CWI. It is manufacturing these at CIL’s facility at Daman where it has a production capacity of 2,000 engines per annum.

Young said India not only provided cost benefits but also high-quality manufacturing and relatively cheaper components.

The company is also supplying these new engines to Tata Motors, which has used them on the Starbus, currently running on Delhi roads.

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UTI bullish on Indian stock market
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
Encouraged by the bullish trend in the stock market, the UTI Mutual Fund today announced aggressive plans to raise funds from the market, while deciding to offer trading in mutual funds and other schemes at its 340 district offices, along with 67 regional offices and UTI ATMs.

“The World Bank, financial institutions and credit-rating agencies have indicated that the Indian economy is going to do well in the coming years. And our research shows that whenever economy does well, the equity market also goes well. So, we will be quite aggressive to raise funds in the coming months,” said Mr U.K. Sinha, Managing Director and CEO, UTI AMC, while launching the UTI Leadership Equity Fund.

After the restructuring of the company, said Mr Sinha, “the new management is set to play a leadership role in the mutual fund market. As against Rs 1800 crore net funds raised during last fiscal, the company has so far raised Rs 2,000 crore funds from the market.”

“Customers will soon be able to get the daily NAV value at our 340 district offices, along with 67 branch offices and UTI ATMs across the country,” he said.

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Use STD booths for banking, says Pitroda

Mumbai, January 16
Suggesting a revolutionary measure that could change the face of banking, Mr Sam Pitroda, a pioneer of IT in India and founder-CEO of C-Sam Inc (USA), today called for transforming thousands of STD/PCO booths into bank branches, thereby increasing the scope of banking and adding to the number of bank customers in the country.

Addressing the participants of the Banking Tech Summit, 2006, from the USA through the video-conference route, Mr Pitroda pointed out that “mobile technology offers an unique opportunity to leap-frog into rural banking.”

Drawing attention to a scenario where there would be more phones than bank accounts in India, Mr Pitroda said that STD/PCO booths could be used to pay bills and conduct some transactions.

“What is needed is to build trust and security. If STD/PCO booths can be put to use for banking purposes, there will be no need for loose cash and printing money. Tremendous savings can be effected on the money-printing front,” he said.

While the world cell-phone user-base already stands at two billion and is expected to catapult to three billion in the next five years, the cell-user base presently stands at 70 million in India with another 200 million are expected to be added in another four years.

For emerging markets like India, mobile banking made more sense than brick and mortar establishments. Besides, present-day cell-phones possess more computing power than the lap-tops five years ago, he said.

Pointing out that experiments are already being conducted on mobile banking in the USA and Japan, Mr Pitroda said that “in another five years, mobile banking will become a household phenomenon globally.”

However, there were a number of aspects that needed to be looked into such as security features.

Describing the security issue as a challenge, Mr Pitroda said that this aspect needed to be tackled at multiple levels. “No system is leak-proof, but we must ensure that risks are reduced to the minimum.”

“As technology advances, the risks will get minimised,” he pointed out.

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Garment exporter inks private equity deal

Mumbai, January 16
The Bangalore-based Gokaldas Images Private Ltd, a garment exporter, today announced that it had concluded a private equity deal of Rs 45 crore with Leverage India Fund, which is managed by IL&FS Investment Managers Ltd (IIML).

“The support we have received from IIML will help us significantly increase capacities and broaden infrastructure. This will help us contribute to the post-quota opportunity available to India — to leap frog over several countries and become the developing world’s second largest participant in the global trade in textile and apparel,” according to Jagadish Hinduja, Chairman, Gokaldas Images.

“Gokaldas Images will build on its leadership position within the Indian garment industry. Working with investors who understand our business and are committed to India’s long term economic potential are the reasons for our association with IIML.”

Gokaldas Images is expanding its manufacturing capacity in the denim and tailored clothing business. The expansion will be completed during FY 2006. With the ongoing expansion, Gokaldas Images will be the largest tailored apparel export business in the country. — UNI

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MUL stake sale proceeds not for NIF

New Delhi, January 16
Over Rs 1,500 crore that the government will get from offloading its residual stake in Maruti Udyog Ltd will not go to the National Investment Fund, which was set up for parking proceeds from disinvestment of public sector units.

The government thinking is that since Maruti was no longer a public sector entity, the disinvestment proceeds of its minority stake will not be parked in the NIF, official sources said.

It implies that the NIF will get money only if the government goes ahead with disinvetment in other PSUs. The money in the fund will be invested in the market, whose earnings will then be used for social sector projects and revival of public sector units. The government sold 8 per cent residual shares it holds in Maruti for Rs 1,567.60 crore to eight financial institutions. — PTI

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Intel plans Rs 10,000 PC
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Low-cost PCs are likely to hit the market by the middle of this year that will cost less than Rs 10,000. Semi-conductor major Intel recently announced its plan for introducing a low-priced computer for the Indian market. This announcement comes after Intel’s rival company AMD had launched a low-cost computer Personal Internet Communicator last year.

Mr Anand Chandrasekhar, Senior Vice-President (Global Sales and Marketing), Intel, informed TNS that they were working on setting up the low-cost PC in collaboration with the Government of India.

“It will be a basic computer but will require a fairly strong system that can withstand the heat, moisture, dust and frequent power breakdowns,” he said.

Though Intel officials are unwilling to disclose anything further on the low-cost PC, they claim that this will completely change the way of life in ordinary homes. 

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India not day-dreaming on growth potential: FM

Manila, January 16
India, whose economy is tipped to grow by 7 to 7.5 per cent in 2005-06, said today the projection was not an outcome of mere wishful thinking, but based on aggressive agenda for economic reforms.

“In the first half of the current year, growth was 8.1 per cent, and all available projections for the current fiscal... point to... eventual growth rate of between 7-7.5 per cent,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said, addressing the annual Asian Development Bank Board meeting here.

“While some sceptics might be inclined to dismiss these projections as far-fetched, the growing potential of the Indian economy has received recognition from practically all quarters,” he said.

The minister quoted the BRICS (Brazl, Russia, India and China) report as identifying India as the only economy that would be capable of maintaining growth rates above 3 per cent till 2050.

“In order to maintain the overall growth rate... at its current levels... we have to remain committed to an aggressive agenda for economic reforms. The main objective of the current phase of reforms in to secure high growth,” he said.

“The Indian economy has the potential to reach much higher levels. Let me assure you that my expectations are not outcomes of wishful thinking,” Mr Chidambaram said. Such a growth was possible through achieving robust performance levels across sectors, including industry and farm sectors, besides collaboration among countries for “producing welfare-enhancing syenrgies.”

“The challenge before the countries of Asia today is to create and maintain a regional and international environment that is conducive to high economic growth,” he said.

“India is fully seized of the need for building partnerships and collaborating with our friends for moving towards individual as well as collective gains,” Mr Chidambaram said.

“We have always been engaged with Asia, and with the introduction of the “Look East” policy, this engagement has been enlarged with the objective of reaching out to India’s neighbours in the East and South Asia,” he said. — PTI

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Corporate Results
IndusInd Bank’s profit declines

Mumbai, January 16
IndusInd Bank Ltd today posted a 36 per cent decline in net profit at Rs 27.37 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 42.85 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2004.

However, total income increased 10.88 per cent to Rs 352.18 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, from Rs 317.60 crore in the year-ago period, the bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Bajaj Auto profit up

Bajaj Auto has posted a profit of 53 per cent to Rs 278.99 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, as compared to Rs 182.01 crore for the same quarter in 2004.

The total income increased from Rs 1,692.55 crore in the December quarter of 2004 to Rs 2,107.32 crore for the same quarter in 2005.

UTI Bank net grows

UTI Bank has posted a net profit of 30 per cent at Rs 131.71 crore for the third quarter ended on December 31 as compared to Rs 101.15 crore during the last Q3 in 2004.

The total income increased to Rs 920.12 crore for the quarter ended December 31 as compared to Rs 634.21 crore in the third quarter of the last financial year (2004-05).

Yes Bank in black

Yes Bank today reported a net profit of Rs 14.5 crore for the third quarter ended December, 2005, as compared to a loss of Rs 32 lakh in the same quarter last fiscal. The total income of the Mumbai-based bank grew by over five-fold to Rs 81.74 crore in the September-December period of 2005-06 as against Rs 15.24 crore in the corresponding period in 2004-05, Yes Bank said.

The bank’s total business grew by over four-fold to Rs 3,689 crore till December, 2005, from Rs 865 crore in the year-ago period. — Agencies

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Corporate News
Infosys to expand in Kerala

Mumbai, January 16
Infosys Technologies Ltd. said today that it would invest Rs 150 crore in Kerala to expand its facility in that state. The investment in three phases would raise the company’s headcount by 3,750 persons.

The company, which began operations in Kerala in 2004, has 550 employees there.

In the first phase Rs 50 crore would be invested to set up a campus in Thiruvananthapuram with a capacity for 1,250 persons. Another 2,500 seats would be set up in the next two phases, a press note said.

BEML eyes contract mining

Leading mining equipment manufacturer Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) has entered into a three-way joint venture for diversifying into the area of contract mining, its Chairman and Managing Director VRS Natarajan said.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the International Mining Exhibition here today, Mr Natarajan said that BEML would hold 45 per cent in the venture, while the two partners, one Indian and the other Indonesian, would control the remaining 55 per cent among themselves.

Mr Natarajan said that the joint venture company was in the process of being formed and was awaiting approval of the government.

Currently, the government holds 61 per cent in BEML.

OpenTV software for Essel

OpenTV Corp, whose software runs in 61 million television set-top boxes, agreed to provide its product to Essel Group’s one million satellite TV customers in India.

Essel’s Dish TV satellite service will convert to OpenTV’s software over six months, OpenTV Chief Executive Officer James Chiddix said. OpenTV’s software runs electronic program guides, video-on-demand and digital video recorders, or DVRs.

The deal marks OpenTV’s entry into India. San Francisco OpenTV sells its software to cable and satellite operators including Charter Communications, EchoStar Communications Corp., BSkyB and UnitedGlobalCom. — TNS, Agencies

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MUL stake sale proceeds not for NIF

New Delhi, January 16
Over Rs 1,500 crore that the government will get from offloading its residual stake in Maruti Udyog Ltd will not go to the National Investment Fund, which was set up for parking proceeds from disinvestment of public sector units.

The government thinking is that since Maruti was no longer a public sector entity, the disinvestment proceeds of its minority stake will not be parked in the NIF, official sources said.

It implies that the NIF will get money only if the government goes ahead with disinvetment in other PSUs. The money in the fund will be invested in the market, whose earnings will then be used for social sector projects and revival of public sector units. The government sold 8 per cent residual shares it holds in Maruti for Rs 1,567.60 crore to eight financial institutions. — PTI

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Nahar posts profit

New Delhi, January 16
Nahar Industrial Enterprises Ltd (NIEL) today reported a net profit of Rs 18.25 crore for the third quarter as against a loss of Rs 72.45 lakh for the same period last year.

The net sales for the quarter ending December 31, 2005, increased by 9.2 per cent at Rs 168.08 crore as against Rs 153.84 crore for the corresponding period last year.

While the earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter ended December 31 is Rs 5.97, the company has also reported a four fold increase in its profit after tax (PAT) at Rs 47.58 crore from Rs 12.88 crore for the nine-month period ended December 31. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Godrej & Boyce to market HMT watches
Bangalore, January 16
HMT today divested the marketing of its watches to Godrej & Boyce, a leading consumer durable company, after churning out more than 100 million watches. In a major initiative to keep alive its watch unit, HMT divested the marketing initiative of the watches as part of the comprehensive process of transformation. Godrej & Boyce would be the national distributor for HMT watches. — UNI

ING Groep
Manila, January 16
ING Groep, the largest Dutch financial-services company, may move some jobs to India to cut costs, Executive Board Member Eric Boyer de la Giroday said. ING and its Bangalore-based ING Vysya Bank unit may together hire a company to provide back-office services, Boyer de la Giroday said during a visit to Manila. — Bloomberg

Dodsal contract
Dubai, January 16
Dodsal Group, a closely held Indian engineering and trading company, won a $ 280 million contract to build facilities for a 7.8 million-ton liquefied natural gas plant being built in Qatar, holder of the world’s third largest gas reserves. The Indian company’s Dubai-based oil and gas engineering unit will build the gas plant’s utility infrastructure. — Bloomberg

Chevrolet Tavera
New Delhi, January 16
General Motors India today launched a new variant of Chevrolet Tavera priced at Rs 5.99 lakh. The 2006 NY edition comes with additional third row space and other luxury features. — PTI

Order for BHEL
New Delhi, January 16
BHEL today said it has won the order to supply equipment for 192 MW Allain Duhangan HEP near Manali in Himachal Pradesh and would take 30 months time to commission the project. The company outbid major European multinational corporations. — PTI

Everest Kanto
Mumbai, January 16
Everest Kanto Cylinder Ltd said it has decided to set up a wholly owned subsidiary company in Dubai for manufacturing high pressure gas cylinders and other products as well. The board, at its recently held meeting, took a decision to this effect. — PTI

Kingfisher service 
New Delhi, January 16
Kingfisher Airlines today announced the launch of its new service between Mumbai and Mangalore. The new route will provide convenient service for business and leisure travellers alike at inaugural True Value fare of Rs 1,999 onwards for travel between Mumbai and Mangalore. — TNS

Interim dividend
Mumbai, January 16
Mazda Ltd has declared a 10 per cent interim dividend for 2005-06. The Board declared the interim dividend at its meeting held today, the company said.— PTI

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