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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Govt mulls 100 pc FDI in five more sectors
Kolkata, January 18
The Centre was likely to open up five more sectors for 100 per cent FDI through the automatic approval route within the next one month and was awaiting approval of the Cabinet, Industry Ministry sources said.

Malvinder Singh is Ranbaxy CEO
New Delhi, January 18
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd today announced a major rejig in the top management with Malvinder Mohan Singh taking charge as the CEO and Managing Director in place of Brian Tempest who has been promoted as the Chief Mentor and Executive Vice-Chairman.

Govt to promote hydrogen as
alternative fuel

New Delhi, January 18
Faced with growing oil import bill, the government is seriously considering pushing hydrogen as the future fuel, apart from promoting biodiesel and biomass as the alternative fuels for the economy.

Manmohan for wide-ranging economic reforms for 8 pc growth
New Delhi, January 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today emphasised the need for policy reforms on a wide range of fronts to move the economy from 6 per cent growth to 8 per cent.

Plea for limited service pact with USA on outsourcing
New Delhi, January 18
Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, University Professor of Economics and Law, Columbia University, USA, today advised India to go for a “limited services agreement” with the USA for liberalising outsourcing norms in exchange for opening up the financial sector in India.

Reliance revaluated after special trading
Mumbai, January 18
The investing community pegged the value of Reliance Industries Ltd far above expectations at a special trading session held this morning.

Reliance Info’s wireless service
earns TDSAT ire

New Delhi, January 18
Maintaining its earlier order on a similar case with Tatas, telecom tribunal TDSAT has passed a judgement stating fixed wireless phone services offered by Reliance Infocomm was equivalent to a limited mobile service and therefore liable to pay relevant charges like access deficit charge.





A model presents a creation by Hong Kong designer Cecilia Yau at the Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/Winter, 2006, on Wednesday.
A model presents a creation by Hong Kong designer Cecilia Yau at the Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/Winter, 2006, on Wednesday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 
A guitarist from Indian band Parikarma performs during the launch of Chevrolet Aveo in New Delhi on Wednesday.
A guitarist from Indian band Parikarma performs during the launch of Chevrolet Aveo in New Delhi on Wednesday. General Motors India launched three cars under its Chevrolet brand — premium hatchback Aveo U-VA, Sedan Aveo and sportsback Optra SRV — to be introduced in the market over the next five months. The prices, however, were not revealed.

A portrait featuring George Washington at Princeton during the Revolutionary War, 1779, is displayed at Christie’s auction house in New York City on Wednesday.
A portrait featuring George Washington at Princeton during the Revolutionary War, 1779, is displayed at Christie’s auction house in New York City on Wednesday. The painting, a part of the collection of Mrs J. Insley Blair, is scheduled to be auctioned on Saturday and has an estimated value of over $10 million. — AFP

Cut in customs duty to boost foreign tyres’ market share
New Delhi, January 18
With the proposed cut in customs duty in the coming Budget, the share of foreign brands in passenger car and commercial vehicle tyres is set to go up further from about 10 per cent.

Airtel connects Leh region
Srinagar, January 18
Airtel today announced the launch of its services in the high-altitude Leh region of Jammu and Kashmir, becoming the first private mobile services provider to install the highest GSM site in the country.

Jabil buys stake in Celetronix
New York, January 18
Jabil Circuit Inc, a global electronic solutions company, has purchased all outstanding stock of an India-based electronics manufacturer Celetronix International Ltd, the company has announced.

Servion acquires US firm
Chennai, January 18
Servion Global Solutions today announced the acquisition of US-based privately-held technology company 5by5 Networks for an undisclosed sum.


Corporate Results

Wipro net up 27 pc, registers Rs 543-cr profit
Bangalore, January 18
Wipro Limited today announced a 27 per cent rise year-on-year in profit after tax to Rs 543 crore for the third quarter ending December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 426.8 crore for the same quarter in 2004.

  • Biocon profit plummets

  • REL profit up

  • HCL Tech net jumps

Bank Account

SBI Cap ties up with CLSA
Mumbai, January 18
SBI Capital market, the investment banking subsidiary of State Bank of India, has entered into an alliance with CLSA, a leading international investment banking transactions in India.

  • ING Vysya-Euronet deal

  • Dena Bank net up

  • Federal Bank in profit

  • Kotak Mahindra gains

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Govt mulls 100 pc FDI in five more sectors

Kolkata, January 18
The Centre was likely to open up five more sectors for 100 per cent FDI through the automatic approval route within the next one month and was awaiting approval of the Cabinet, Industry Ministry sources said.

The five sectors, where FDI would be allowed were power trading, processing and warehousing of rubber and coffee, coal, greenfield airports and petroleum infrastructure, sources told reporters on the sidelines of a CII Partnership Summit, 2006, here.

They said that the Group of Ministers (GoM) on the subject had suggested opening up of the five sectors for 100 per cent FDI, adding that the Cabinet was expected to approve the same before the announcement of the Budget in February.

The idea of opening up more sectors to FDI was to attract more foreign capital, sources said, adding that the government was also keen to reduce the levels of control in most sectors of the economy.

As power trading was not recognised as an activity in the old Electricity Act, it was now been treated the same under the Electricity Act, 2003, sources said.

Once 100 per cent FDI was allowed in power trading, regional imbalances in power resources would be eliminated and tariff levels would also come down. However, he said more investments needed to be made in transmission so that foreign funds were attracted in this sector.

Regarding greenfield airports, he said that all new projects would be included. Sources said that marketing of petroleum infrastructure would also be opened up for 100 per cent FDI. — PTI

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Malvinder Singh is Ranbaxy CEO

New Delhi, January 18
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd today announced a major rejig in the top management with Malvinder Mohan Singh taking charge as the CEO and Managing Director in place of Brian Tempest who has been promoted as the Chief Mentor and Executive Vice-Chairman.

As part of effective succession planning at the top level, the Board of Directors today decided to promote, with immediate effect, Brian Tempest as the Chief Mentor and Executive Vice-Chairman of the Board.

Simultaneously Malvinder Mohan Singh, President Pharmaceuticals and Executive Director, succeeds Tempest as CEO and MD of the company, Ranbaxy said.

“With the changes now approved by the Board I see the company combining insightful mentoring of a high order with strong operational leadership. This will give Ranbaxy the extra edge to grow, innovate, consolidate and establish new benchmarks for performance at the global level,” Ranbaxy Chairman Tejendra Khanna said.

Meanwhile, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd today reported a 56.16 per cent decline in consolidated net profit at Rs 68.6 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 156.5 crore for the corresponding quarter last fiscal.

On individual basis, the company reported a net profit of Rs 97.99 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, as against Rs 72.26 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2004.

The total income, however, decreased to Rs 889.94 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, from Rs 972.36 crore for the fourth quarter in the previous fiscal. — PTI

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Govt to promote hydrogen as alternative fuel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
Faced with growing oil import bill, the government is seriously considering pushing hydrogen as the future fuel, apart from promoting biodiesel and biomass as the alternative fuels for the economy.

“The National Hydrogen Board, headed by Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group, has submitted its report on National Hydrogen Energy Road Map envisaging Rs 25,000 crore public-private investment in hydrogen sector to bring one million hydrogen-run vehicles on roads and 1,000 MW power capacity by 2020,” Mr Vilas Muttemwar, Minister of Non-Conventional Energy Sources, said here today.

While addressing the 6th Editors Conference on Social Issues, the minister said: “The ministry will soon submit the report to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has assured full support to the project, before bringing it before the Cabinet for final clearance.”

We are hopeful, he said, the Planning Commission and Finance Minister will make a provision of adequate funds in the coming Budget for implementing the hydrogen energy road map. The Ministry has indicated that it would require Rs 250 crore in the first phase to initiate the project.

In addition to the existing methods of hydrogen production based on steam methane reformation, Ratan Tata committee has recommended production of hydrogen from nuclear energy, coal gasification, biomass, biological and renewable energy methods.

“It will provide low-cost hydrogen and preferably free from any associated carbon dioxide production. In order to meet immediate requirements of hydrogen, the roadmap has proposed that by-product hydrogen available from industry, fertiliser plants and refineries,” said Dr.S. K.Chopra, Senior Advisor with the Ministry, heading the project.

He said the ministry has also decided to provide all out efforts to the auto manufacturers to produce hydrogen driven three-wheelers and four-wheelers in the next few years. 

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Manmohan for wide-ranging economic reforms for 8 pc growth
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today emphasised the need for policy reforms on a wide range of fronts to move the economy from 6 per cent growth to 8 per cent.

Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Delhi School of Economics here today, he emphasised the need to renew the commitment to excellence in education, even as the government focused its attention on questions of access.

“We are committed to investing in building capabilities in people that ensure that everyone of us can earn a decent living”, Dr Manmohan Singh said.

Referring to the present debate on what the country must do to facilitate the next quantum leap, the Prime Minister urged the Delhi School of Economics to participate actively in this debate.

“Educate our policymakers and parliamentarians. Illuminate public discourse. Remain committed to excellence, but also remain committed to the nation. Show the way forward so that we can walk that road,” he said.

“We need to increase productivity and output in agriculture and manufacturing. We need to promote a pattern of growth, which creates large job opportunities to absorb all new entrants to our labour force. We need more focused attention on social equity, on education, health, environmental and gender sensitive issues, and regional imbalances in level of development. In all these areas, we cannot be satisfied with the status quo or with the tenets of traditional wisdom,” the Prime Minister asserted.

Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University Deepak Nayar and Prof. Pulin Nayak, faculty members and students of the Delhi School of Economics were among those present on the occasion.

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Plea for limited service pact with USA on outsourcing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, University Professor of Economics and Law, Columbia University, USA, today advised India to go for a “limited services agreement” with the USA for liberalising outsourcing norms in exchange for opening up the financial sector in India.

“Limited partnership trade agreements on the basis of “quantitative swaps” could make the USA offer one lakh H1B visas to India. In return, India could open up five more banks to investment by the USA”, Prof Bhagwati said at a seminar on “In Defence of Globalisation: An India Perspective” organised jointly by FICCI and Shri Ram Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources (SRC).

Dwelling on the outsourcing concerns of the USA, France and Germany, Prof. Bhagwati said these countries faced high rates of unemployment and were worried that outsourcing jobs could turn the working class against their governments.

The session was chaired by Lord Meghnad Desai, Professor Emeritus, London School of Economics, and addressed by Mr. Saroj Kumar Poddar, FICCI President, among others.

Mr. Poddar emphasised the need for calibrated globalisation where import duties are reduced in tandem with major steps in internal reforms. He cautioned that if this was not done, Indian companies would be forced to relocate to other countries.

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Reliance revaluated after special trading
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 18
The investing community pegged the value of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) far above expectations at a special trading session held this morning.

The one-hour session saw the value of the demerged RIL rest at Rs 715.5 on the Bombay Stock Exchange and Rs 714.90 on the National Stock Exchange. The scrip saw high of Rs 724.90 and a low of Rs 686 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Internationally, RIL has been valued at $23 billion. The special one-hour session was to determine the value of Reliance Industries after it spun off its 45 per cent stake in Reliance Energy Ltd., 29 per cent in Reliance Capital Ltd and interests in telecom.

RIL, which has so far been the top-ranking company on the Sensex has now been pushed to second place after Infosys Technologies.

According to analysts the decision to have a special one-hour trading session on the RIL scrip was sound. The usual procedure of delisting the scrip followed by a relisting in the case of demergers would have caused the Sensex to go haywire, it is felt. RIL has about 11 per cent weight on the Sensex and Rs 1,396 crore worth of shares in the market.

The special trading session by BSE and the NSE is said to have determine RIL’s fair share price after the demerger of Reliance Energy, Reliance Capital, GFMS and Reliance Infocomm.

There were huge volumes through the hour-long trading that opened at 8 am with close to 40 million shares traded on the NSE and about 20 million on the BSE. Some 1,640 block deals were transacted.

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Reliance Info’s wireless service earns TDSAT ire

New Delhi, January 18
Maintaining its earlier order on a similar case with Tatas, telecom tribunal TDSAT has passed a judgement stating fixed wireless phone services offered by Reliance Infocomm was equivalent to a limited mobile service and therefore liable to pay relevant charges like access deficit charge (ADC).

“In our opinion, there is hardly any difference between the service provided by the Petitioner in Petition 45 © of 2005 (filed by Tata Teleservices Ltd and Maharashtra Teleservices Ltd against BSNL) and the present Petitioner (Reliance Infocomm).

The finding of the Tribunal recorded previously will also hold good regarding contentions raised in this petition and since the matter is already sub judice before the country’s apex court we do not think it necessary to enter into an investigation beyond what is stated herein,” Justice Santosh Hegde, Chairperson, TDSAT said in the order.

The tribunal on September last year had dismissed a petition filed by Tata Teleservices Ltd and Maharashtra Teleservices Ltd. against BSNL holding that the service offered by the Tatas under Walky brand name was actually WLL (M) service — a service with limited mobility and not a fixed telephone service contrary to the licence granted to them.

Tatas have challenged this order in the Supreme Court.

Reliance Infocomm had filed a petition with TDSAT challenging BSNL Chennai circle’s demand for ADC payments from it.

ADC is a levy collected by BSNL to fund its rural telephone projects and fixed line telephone operators are exempt from paying the charge.

Reliance Infocomm had argued that its FWP service uses a limited radio frequency sector of a base station, which restricts mobility of its services considerably. Hence, services provided by the petitioner is a WLL (F) service. — PTI

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Cut in customs duty to boost foreign tyres’ market share
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
With the proposed cut in customs duty in the coming Budget, the share of foreign brands in passenger car and commercial vehicle tyres is set to go up further from about 10 per cent.

Fearing this domestic tyre manufacturers are lobbying with the government for introducing anti-dumping duty on these brands, claiming that it would adversely affect the interest of domestic manufacturers and natural rubber producers.

However, opposing the move the All-India Tyre Dealers’ Federation has claimed that with the opening of import of tyres in 1997, the prices in the domestic market have come down by 25-30 per cent, thus benefiting the vehicle owners and transport industry.

“The dealers are paying 15 per cent customs duty and 16 per cent countervailing duty on imported tyres as against 16 per cent excise duty paid on domestic ones. Even then, they are able to get double the margin and pass on the benefit to customers,” said Mr S.P. Singh, Convener, All-India Tyre Dealers’ Association.

Over 4.5 lakh tyres were imported, he said, during January-December,2005, for the replacement market consuming about 45 lakh tyres annually. The imports are likely to pick up further as Finance Minister P.Chidambaram has assured to bring down import duties to the level of ASEAN at 5-10 per cent.

Under the Bangkok agreement, industry is already importing tyres from China and Korea at 10 per cent customs duty, apart from large imports from Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan and Italy at higher duty. The free trade agreement with ASEAN members will also force the domestic producers, he felt, to bring down the prices.

Tyre industry insiders said Maruti forced the domestic manufacturers to lower the radial tyre prices from Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,000-1,100 when it started importing at a price of Rs 1,200 per tyre. Tata, Mahindra, Honda and Hundai have also benefited by up to 30 per cent in tyre prices due to imports.

They said the share of domestic producers like Bridgestone ( 24 per cent), MRF ( 20 per cent), JK ( 19 per cent), Apollo ( 17.6 per cent), Ceat and Goodyear ( 10 per cent each ) and Birla tyres ( 2.4 per cent) was under pressure due to rising imports.

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Airtel connects Leh region

Srinagar, January 18
Airtel today announced the launch of its services in the high-altitude Leh region of Jammu and Kashmir, becoming the first private mobile services provider to install the highest GSM site in the country.

With this step, the telecom giant has increased its penetration into the region, Airtel officials said here.

“We are delighted to bring our services and connect Leh with the rest of the state,” Bharti Televentures CEO (mobility) J&K circle R.V.S. Bhullar said after the launch of services.

The installation of India’s highest GSM cell site at Leh is a testament of our commitment to bringing a world-class network to the people of the border state, he said.

The Airtel GSM site is installed at a height of 11,801 feet in the district. — PTI

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Jabil buys stake in Celetronix

New York, January 18
Jabil Circuit Inc, a global electronic solutions company, has purchased all outstanding stock of an India-based electronics manufacturer Celetronix International Ltd, the company has announced.

The incremental purchase price for the acquisition is expected to be approximately $155 million plus the assumption of approximately $30 million of net debt. — PTI

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Servion acquires US firm

Chennai, January 18
Servion Global Solutions today announced the acquisition of US-based privately-held technology company 5by5 Networks for an undisclosed sum.

From being a telecom service company, Servion was keen to build on its ability to reach customers in multiple ways, especially when technologies like MSN was expected to move into the business space, Servion Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer K Balakrishnan said at a press conference here. — UNI

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Corporate Results

Wipro net up 27 pc, registers Rs 543-cr profit
Tribune News Service & Agencies

Bangalore, January 18
Wipro Limited today announced a 27 per cent rise year-on-year in profit after tax to Rs 543 crore for the third quarter ending December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 426.8 crore for the same quarter in 2004.

The company has netted a total revenue of Rs 2,744 crore in the same quarter registering an increase in revenue by 30 per cent. Its global IT services and products revenue also recorded a 34 per cent growth and stood at Rs 21.22 crore in this quarter.

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji while discussing the results, said: “Apart from delivering solid revenue growth, we improved our operating margins and increased our share of wallet from key clients”. He said the company had registered revenue of $473 million in its global IT business and was looking forward to recording a global IT business of $510 million in the next quarter ending March 31, 2006.

Wipro’s Chief Financial Officer Suresh Senapathy said both the company’s technology infrastructure services and enterprise application services had delivered double digit revenue growth sequentially ahead of the overall growth rate. He said the impact of lower price realisation had been offset by strong volume growth, higher proportion of offshore projects and continued operational improvements.

The company bagged 61 new clients in this quarter which is the highest figure recorded by it yet.

Wipro also went in for two acquisitions in the quarter — that of NewLogic Technologies AG, a European chip design company, and mPower Software Service Incorporation, a company in the payments processing space. The staff strength of the company has gone up to 51,024 employees with an addition of 5,189 employees.

Biocon profit plummets

Biotech major Biocon Limited today reported a net profit of Rs 44 crore for the third quarter ended December 2005, down from Rs 50 crore posted in the corresponding period last year.

The nine months-ended (FY06) net profit was Rs 126 crore as against Rs 155 crore last year, a statement from the Bangalore-headquartered company said.

Biocon’s nine months performance (FY06) continued in line with expectations with revenues touching Rs 578 crore, it said.

Consolidated sales grew by seven per cent over the same period in the previous year. However, operating profits fell by 7 per cent. The profit after tax margins were at 22 per cent, it added.

REL profit up

Reliance Energy’s third quarter (Q3) profit went up by 22 per cent at Rs 165 crore, as against Rs 135 crore during the same period in 2004.

For the nine-month period ended on December 31, the company registered a net profit of Rs 481 crore, as against Rs 366 crore in the same period in 2004, an increase of 32 per cent.

Its total income went up by 13 per cent to Rs 3,383 crore, as against Rs 3,003 crore in the December quarter in 2004, while cash profit, too, shot up by 20 per cent to Rs 740 crore, as against Rs 614 crore in the same quarter in 2004.

HCL Tech net jumps

HCL Technologies today reported a 263 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 277.79 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 76.54 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2004.

Total income is Rs 1117.50 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 where the same was at Rs 362.40 crore in Q2-05.

The group has posted a net income of $40.23 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, as compared to $29.72 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2004.

The Board of Directors has declared an interim dividend of Rs 4 per share (200 per cent on a equity share of face value of Rs 2).

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Bank Account

SBI Cap ties up with CLSA

Mumbai, January 18
SBI Capital market, the investment banking subsidiary of State Bank of India, has entered into an alliance with CLSA, a leading international investment banking transactions in India.

As per the agreement SBI and CLSA will jointly work on large deals in equity capital markets, merger and acquisition and advisory stage.

ING Vysya-Euronet deal

ING Vysya Bank has tied-up with electronic payments provider Euronet Services India to open countrywide 200 “Self Bank” outlets that will offer clients personalised services round-the clock.

The “Self Bank” concept is unique to ING and is being adopted for the first time in India, Country Head, Retail Banking, Shantanu Ghosh said.

The outlets will offer clients seated kiosks located next to the bank’s ATMs, with a “secure and convenient” service area, bank officials said.

Dena Bank net up

Dena Bank has reported a four-fold rise in net profit at Rs 83.18 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 22.92 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2004.

Total income increased to Rs 602.27 crore for the third quarter this fiscal from Rs 477.78 crore in Q3 FY 04-05, up 26.05 per cent, the bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Federal Bank in profit

Federal Bank has posted a net profit of Rs 7.16 crore for the quarter ended on December 31, as against Rs 1.20 crore for the corresponding period in 2004.

Its total income has increased to Rs 41.08 crore from Rs 33.28 crore for the same period in 2004, the bank informed the BSE.

Kotak Mahindra gains

Kotak Mahindra Bank’s net profit for the quarter ended on December 31 shot up by 71 per cent to Rs 32.6 crore on a stand-alone basis, as against Rs 19.1 crore for the same period in 2004.

Net interest income of the bank in Q3 stood at Rs 91.3 crore, up by 59 per cent from Rs 57.5 crore in the same period in 2004.

Other income of the bank for Q3 also increased by 61 per cent to Rs 48.7 crore on a year-on-year basis. — Agencies

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