SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Mittal Steel tries to weld deal with Arcelor
Makes $22.7 billion unsolicited bid for biggest-ever purchase
London, January 27
Mittal Steel, the world’s biggest steelmaker, made an unsolicited bid to buy Arcelor for Euro 18.6 billion ($22.7 billion) in a combination that would transform the industry. Rotterdam-based Mittal bid Euro 28.21 a share for Arcelor, Mittal said in a statement today.
Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal announces his unsolicited bid for steel producer Arcelor in London Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal announces his unsolicited bid for steel producer Arcelor in London on Friday.
— AFP photo

Airport revamp bids kept on hold
New Delhi, January 27
The financial bids of pre-qualified bidders for modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports are likely to be kept on hold for a few days in view of the agitation by the Airports Authority of India employees with whom the Civil Aviation Ministry would hold discussions regarding an ‘alternate plan’ for them before taking a final decision.

India proposes pan-Asian FTA
Davos, January 27
India today mooted a Free Trade Agreement between Asean and six countries including Japan, China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand aiming at a common economic community in East Asia. “We need a common economic community in East Asia.

Bill on Competition Commission on cards
New Delhi, January 27
The Ministry of Company Affairs will move an amended Bill in Parliament, which will set a tone to enable Competition Commission of India to come into effect with full swing in its forthcoming Budget session.

Dr Dinesh A. Keskar, Senior Vice-President, Boeing, poses at a press conference in New Delhi Dr Dinesh A. Keskar, Senior Vice-President, Boeing, poses at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. Boeing is looking for a site to set up a facility for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul in India and has already started negotiations with several new and upcoming airlines to hardsell its products.
— PTI photo



The giant statue of Lord Muruga stands next to Malaysia’s 272-step Batu Caves temple outside Kuala Lumpur
The giant statue of Lord Muruga stands next to Malaysia’s 272-step Batu Caves temple outside Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Fifteen sculptors from India took more than three years to build the 42.7 metre (140 ft) gold statue, with 1,550 cubic metres (54,738 cubic ft) of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of paint. The two million ringgit ($5,30,000) statue will be officially opened for public on Sunday. — Reuters


EARLIER STORIES

 

BPCL-KRL merger okayed
Kochi, January 27
The extraordinary general body meeting of the shareholders of Kochi Refineries Ltd has approved the amalgamation of KRL with the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. in the proposed swap ratio of 1:2.25.

Corporate Results
High input costs dent SAIL’s profit
New Delhi, January 27
Lower steel prices and rising input costs have dented the balance sheet of Steel Authority of India Ltd with its net profit declining by 54.7 per cent at Rs 684.59 crore in the third quarter of this fiscal compared to Rs 1,514.24 crore in the previous Q3.
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Mittal Steel tries to weld deal with Arcelor
Makes $22.7 billion unsolicited bid for biggest-ever purchase

London, January 27
Mittal Steel, the world’s biggest steelmaker, made an unsolicited bid to buy Arcelor for Euro 18.6 billion ($22.7 billion) in a combination that would transform the industry.

Rotterdam-based Mittal bid Euro 28.21 a share for Arcelor, Mittal said in a statement today.

Both companies’ shares were suspended today. Mittal also said it has agreed to sell Canada’s Dofasco Inc. to Germany’s ThyssenKrupp.

By buying Arcelor, billionaire owner Lakshmi Mittal would control about 10 per cent of the global steel industry, more than three times as much as his closest rival.

The purchase would be the biggest-ever in the industry, eclipsing Mittal’s own $15.8 billion purchase of LNM Holdings in 2004 and creating a company with 3,20,000 employees and annual sales of more than $69 billion.

Arcelor supplies steel to every second car in Europe and has mills across its home continent as well as Latin America. It was also poised to buy Hamilton, Ontario-based Dofasco after Dusseldorf-based ThyssenKrupp this week withdrew from a bidding contest.

Mittal became the world’s biggest steel producer in both North America and the world when it bought Richfield, Ohio-based International Steel Group for $4.5 billion from financier Wilbur Ross in April last year.

India-born Mittal, 55, has bought steel mills from Poland to South Africa since 2003, benefiting as soaring demand from shipyards and building sites in China boosted global prices.

Mittal, who was born into a steelmaking family in Rajasthan and now lives in London, started out with a steel mill in Indonesia in 1976.

In March, Mittal overtook Li Ka-shing as Asia’s richest person with an estimated $20 billion fortune, according to Forbes magazine. — Bloomberg

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Airport revamp bids kept on hold
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
The financial bids of pre-qualified bidders for modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports are likely to be kept on hold for a few days in view of the agitation by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) employees with whom the Civil Aviation Ministry would hold discussions regarding an ‘alternate plan’ for them before taking a final decision.

An assurance in this regard was given today to the agitating employees by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) management, following which the AAI Employees Joint Forum suspended their agitation to protest the proposed privatisation move.

The assurance was given by AAI Chairman K. Ramalingam and AAI Board Member VDV Prasad Rao who told the workers that the bids would not be opened before January 29 and they would be taken into confidence before that. The agitating employees had blocked the gates of the ministry headquarters for hours before they relented following the assurance.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has been maintaining that the private parties would be selected for the two airports by January 31.

The AAI Employees Joint Forum have threatened to go on a flash strike that could disrupt air services if the government decided to privatise the two profit-making airports.

The workers were led by CPI(M) MP Dipankar Mukherjee, CITU President MK Pandhe and AAI Employees Joint Forum Convenor MK Ghoshal, with the CITU leader saying “if the government goes back on its word and moves ahead with the privatisation process, the employees will again start a nationwide agitation.”

AAI employees today held protest demonstrations at different airports across the country.

Mr Ramalingam, who was in touch with the Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad also told the employees that the alternative plan submitted by them in regard to the modernisation of the two airports would be considered before any final decision is taken.

The AAI employees have been complaining of lack of tranparency in the enitre process and alleged that while the workers were fighting for AAI, the minister was keen on giving away the two airports to private players and the parent organisation had the capability to modernise the two airports.

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India proposes pan-Asian FTA

Davos, January 27
India today mooted a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Asean and six countries including Japan, China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand aiming at a common economic community in East Asia.

“We need a common economic community in East Asia. The core will be Asean. We are now proposing Asean + 3 plus India, Australia and New Zealand. A formal proposal has been put forward by our Prime Minister,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said at a meeting with Asian leaders and ADB president H. Kuroda here at the World Economic Forum.

India has already signed and ratified the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (Safta) and signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore, he said, adding “next we will sign a CECA with Asean soon.”

India has signed a framework agreement for free trade with Asean last year. But the minister outlined the need for a comprehensive economic treaty that takes care of investment and other financial matters.

To a query on whether India could sign a FTA with China, Mr Chidambaram said: “It is not inconcievable. Trade with China is growing very fast. Some time in future there could be a FTA with China,” he said. — PTI

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Bill on Competition Commission on cards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
The Ministry of Company Affairs (MCA) will move an amended Bill in Parliament, which will set a tone to enable Competition Commission of India (CCI) to come into effect with full swing in its forthcoming Budget session.

Inaugurating a seminar on “Fair value accounting — new paradigms in corporate disclosure norms” organised by the Assocham here today, Mr P.C. Gupta, Minister for Company Affairs, announced that the CCI would be empowered to prescribe norms and guidelines for the appointment of senior executives in the corporate world as also to have re-look on the old appointments.

He, however, admitted that delay had taken for the CCI to get established because of various reasons and hoped that with new amendments in the Bill, it would have a smooth sailing in both Houses of Parliament in the Budget session.

On the issue of appointment of independent Directors, Mr Gupta clarified that while the new Companies Bill would be introduced in Parliament very shortly, the Ministry would recommend to the authorities concerned 33 per cent of the independent Directors in the Board of the corporates of the listed companies as the number is sufficient to take care of the larger interests of all stakeholders, said Mr Gupta.

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BPCL-KRL merger okayed

Kochi, January 27
The extraordinary general body meeting of the shareholders of Kochi Refineries Ltd (KRL) has approved the amalgamation of KRL with the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL) in the proposed swap ratio of 1:2.25.

An overwhelming 99 per cent of the shareholders approved the merger proposal, KRL officials said here today.

The matter has been informed to the Department of Company Affairs and the entire merger process will take about two to three months, they added. — UNI

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Corporate Results
High input costs dent SAIL’s profit

New Delhi, January 27
Lower steel prices and rising input costs have dented the balance sheet of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) with its net profit declining by 54.7 per cent at Rs 684.59 crore in the third quarter of this fiscal compared to Rs 1,514.24 crore in the previous Q3.

Total income of the state-run steel giant also decreased 18.3 per cent to Rs 6443.39 crore during the quarter ended December 31, 2005 as against Rs 7,889.2 crore in the same period last fiscal.

The Board of Directors approved an interim dividend of 12.5 per cent for 2005-06 which would make the company shell out Rs 516 crore.

"The lower profitability was essentially due to lower level of prices which had spiralled down by nearly 30 per cent implying an outright burden of Rs 800 crore. This was correspondingly followed by rise in input costs, especially of coking coal, which alone put an additional burden of Rs 1,000 crore during April to December 2005 on the domestic steel major," CMD SAIL V S Jain said.

SAIL's profit after tax (PAT) for the first nine months of 2005-06 was Rs 2,935 crore as against Rs 4,139 crore in the corresponding period last year.

Nalco net up 28 pc

National Aluminium Company Ltd (Nalco) today reported a 28.41 per cent rise in net profit after tax of Rs 393.03 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 306.07 crore for the same quarter in 2004-05.

Total income (net of excise) has increased 21.97 per cent to Rs 1379.36 crore for the third quarter in current fiscal from Rs 1130.83 crore in the year-ago period, the company informed the BSE.

Ajanta Pharma net up

Ajanta Pharma Ltd has posted a 56 per cent increase in its net profit for the third quarter ended December 31, 2005 at Rs 2.40 crore as compared to Rs 1.54 crore in the corresponding quarter previous fiscal.

Sales for the company during the reporting quarter increased 27 per cent to Rs 52.16 crore as against Rs 40.97 crore in Q3 of FY-05, the company said in a press note today.

Dabur India profit up

FMCG major Dabur India Ltd today posted a 34.40 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 57.97 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 43.13 crore for the corresponding period last fiscal.

Total income has increased 9.89 per cent to Rs 405.85 crore for the third quarter of current fiscal from Rs 369.30 crore in the year-ago period, the company informed the BSE.

Merck dividend

Pharmaceutical company Merck Ltd posted a 24.13 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 22.65 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 18.25 crore for the same quarter in previous fiscal.

The total income (net of excise) has increased 13.36 per cent at Rs 112.54 crore for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2005 from Rs 99.27 crore in the year-ago period, the company informed the BSE.The Board of Directors have recommended a dividend of Rs 15 per share.

Siemens posts profit

Siemens Ltd today posted a net profit of Rs 49.01 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 where the same was at Rs 31.37 crore for the same quarter in previous fiscal.

Total income was Rs 861 crore for the first quarter this fiscal where as the same was at Rs 513.19 crore in the year-ago period, the company informed the BSE.

The company's Board at its meeting held today approved the acquisition of 50 per cent stake in Flender Ltd, a joint venture between Flender AG and Babcock Borsig India Ltd.

MBT net up

Mahindra British Telecom (MBT) has posted a quantum leap in its net profit for the third quarter ended December 31, 2005 at Rs 75.25 crore as compared to Rs 14.85 crore in the third quarter of the previous year.

Total income for the company during the reporting quarter increased to Rs 339.75 crore as against Rs 233.53 crore in Q3 of FY-05, the company said in a press note issued here today. — Agencies

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BRIEFLY


A family stands underneath an electronic display of the market index at the entrance of a brokerage firm in Mumbai
A family stands underneath an electronic display of the market index at the entrance of a brokerage firm in Mumbai on Friday. The Sensex touched an all-time high of 9,883.95 points during the intra-day trading before ending at 9,870.79 points. — AFP photo

Inflation up
New Delhi, January 27
Wholesale prices-based inflation went up by 0.16 per cent to 4.4 per cent for the week ended January 14 against 4.24 per cent during the first week of this calendar year as many manufactured products became costlier. — PTI

Nihar for Marico
Mumbai, January 27
Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) major Hindustan Lever Ltd today said it will transfer its brand, Nihar, to Marico Ltd. The company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that it has reached an agreement to transfer its coconut oil and perfumed hair oil brand Nihar to Marico. — PTI

IOC calls bids
New Delhi, January 27
State refiner IndianOil Corp (IOC) has called price bids from institutional investors for sale of its shareholding in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and GAIL (India) Ltd. IOC has asked Kotak Mahindra, Citi Financials and JM Morgan to submit price bids for sale of upto 20 per cent of its equity holding in India’s highest profit making firm, ONGC, company sources said. — PTI

No VAT on relief material
Chandigarh, January 27
The Haryana Government today exempted levy of value-added tax (VAT) on items purchased by the CII for the help of victims of last year's earthquake in Jammu and Kashmir. The exemption will be in force till October 8, 2006. This was decided in a meeting of the Council of Ministers held here under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The items include tents, blankets, bandages, plasters, cotton, antiseptics and medicines, non perishable food items, woollen cloths, sanitary napkins, etc. — TNS

Canara Bank loan mela begins
Chandigarh, January 27
Canara Bank plans to disburse over 1,000 housing loans worth Rs 100 crore in the Chandigarh circle, during the three-day home loan mela, being organised by the bank from today onwards. This was stated by Mr Y.L. Madan, General Manager of the bank, while talking to mediapersons here today. He said as on December 31, 2005, in the Chandigarh circle (comprising Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh) the bank had disbursed housing loans worth Rs 45 crore “A loan of up to five years will be advanced at the interest rate of 7. 25 per cent and a loan for a period of five to 10 years will be disbursed at the floating interest rate of 7. 5 per cent. For a loan period of over 10 years, an interest of 7. 5 per cent will be charged,”he said. — TNS

Recharge coupons at doorstep
Chandigarh, January 27
Tata Indicom today launched an exclusive home delivery service, for providing recharge vouchers to pre-paid customers. Mr Sunil Batra, COO, North Hub, informed that initially this service would be launched in select cities like Chandigarh, Panchkula, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Mohali. — TNS
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