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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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B U S I N E S S

Ambani squabble far from over
Anil questions airport clause, wants 40 per cent RIL’s gas 

Mumbai, February 9
Seeking amendments in agreements signed between RIL and the four new companies Anil Ambani has decided to stake claim on 40 per cent gas from future reserves of elder brother Mukesh’s flagship company and prevent its entry into airports and airport infrastructure.

No parleys ‘through media’
Kolkata: Virtually seeking to underplay the issues of “deviations” in agreement signed between Reliance Industries and four companies prior to their transfer to Anil Ambani, elder brother Mukesh’s group today said it would not want to negotiate agreements through media.

Punjab gets 2 SEZs, Chandigarh one
Act effective from today
New Delhi, February 9
The Centre today announced to implement Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act with effect from tomorrow, while sanctioning two SEZs for Punjab — Quark City and Ranbaxy pharmaceutical for Mohali and IT SEZ for Chandigarh in North among 117 projects cleared across the country.

Hyderabad wins race for Fab City
Bangalore, February 9
Hyderabad has won the race for the $2 billion Fab City beating Bangalore in a neck and neck fight, Union Minister for Communications Dayanidhi Maran said here today.

Auto Scene
GM on expansion overdrive

Panaji, February 9
General Motors India, leader in premier luxury car manufacturing, has embarked on a major expansion of its Halol plant in Gujarat with Rs 100 crore investment, raising its capacity to 85,000 units from the current 60,000.

BSNL OneIndia rolls out today
New Delhi, February 9
Long distance domestic calls will take a nosedive with state-owned telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) set to announce tomorrow a tariff of Re 1 for STD as well as for local calls but phone rentals are expected to go up.



National Association of Software and Services Companies  President Kiran Karnik gestures during a question-answer session at a press conference in Mumbai on Thursday
National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) President Kiran Karnik gestures during a question-answer session at a press conference in Mumbai on Thursday. Mr Karnik said the Indian software industry was on course to reach a target of $60 billion in sales by 2010. India’s software exports totalled $17.7 billion in the last fiscal year. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES
 

Land offered to automobile units near Nabha
Nabha, February 9
The Punjab Government has offered land at three places to three big automobile companies to set up their manufacturing units. Mr Randeep Singh, Congress MLA of Nabha, said Ashok Leyland, Volkswagen wanted to set up their manufacturing units in Punjab. The Tatas were also keen to set up an automobile unit in the state.

Tatas hit roadblock
Dhaka, February 9
Plans by the Tata Group to invest $ 2.5 billion in Bangladesh were stalled after negotiations with Dhaka over the price of natural gas faltered, the two sides said today.

NCAER pegs growth rate at 7.8 per cent
New Delhi, February 9
The Indian economy is set to register a growth rate of 7.8 per cent in 2005-06, according to the National Council of Applied Economic Research. The growth figure is marginally lower than the recent government projection of 8.1 per cent during this fiscal buoyed by robust performance from industry and services.

Shell arm partners with ONGC
New Delhi, February 9
Shell Bitumen India Private Limited (SBIPL), a company operating in India and belonging to the Shell Group of Companies, today joined hands with ONGC to formalise the broad terms of manufacturing bituminous products and marketing.

Video

Eco-friendly bikes introduced. 
(28k, 56k)

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Ambani squabble far from over
Anil questions airport clause, wants 40 per cent RIL’s gas 

Mumbai, February 9
Seeking amendments in agreements signed between RIL and the four new companies Anil Ambani has decided to stake claim on 40 per cent gas from future reserves of elder brother Mukesh’s flagship company and prevent its entry into airports and airport infrastructure.

Taking exception to “material deviations” in agreements signed by RIL with new companies, prior to transferring these to it, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group has decided to write to Mukesh’s Reliance Industries for changes in the agreement, an issue that may once again become a bone of contention between the two brothers.

“Reliance-ADAG (Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group) will write to RIL for amendments to the gas supply, non-compete and brand agreements. These agreements were signed when the new ADAG companies ere under RIL control,” ADAG sources said.

Elaborating, they said, Boards of the four companies —Reliance Energy Ventures, Reliance Communication Venture, Reliance Capital Ventures and Reliance Natural Resources — which met yesterday, “noted that these agreements contain material deviations from the earlier agreed position” from the overall settlement arrived at between Mukesh and Anil on June 18 last year.

In fact, the gas supply agreement is crucial to RNRL’s listing and reports of the agreements on Saturday last had triggered the latest bout of acrimonious fight between Ambani siblings that ended when the four companies were transferred to the younger brother on February 7.

Mukesh Ambani’s camp could not be contacted despite several attempts.

Stating that earlier agreed position was that Reliance ADAG would have the first option to get 40 per cent of the quantity of gas from the entire future reserves of RIL including new discoveries from gas from new exploration and/or bid submitted from time to time, RNRL Board questioned the agreement, which restricted the supply.

As per the agreement, signed between RNRL and RIL, the above option was “unilaterally restricted to RIL block acquired up to June 18, 2005, and all future acquisitions of block RIL have been excluded,” the RNRL Board noted.

According to sources, NRL Board felt “the exclusion is a clear deviation from the previously agreed position on June 18, 2005 and is only one of several such material deviation in the gas supply agreement.” Similarly with regard to the Non-Compete agreement, the Boards noted that the previously agreed position was that the business relating to airports and airports Infrastructure was exclusively reserved to Reliance-ADAG, without any exception.

“However, as per the agreement entered with RIL, which was signed while the companies were still under RIL’s control, RIL can enter the business of Airports and Airport Infrastructure — which is claimed to be incidental/integral or necessary for any of its businesses or where ADAG has not been successful in privatisation of Airports,” they added.

Reliance-led consortium had lost to GVK-ACS the contract for modernisation of the Mumbai airport. Reliance Airport Developers has challenged the government’s decision to award the contract to GMR-Fraport and GVK-ACS, despite it being the highest bidder for the New Delhi’s airport. The Delhi High Court is to hear the petition on February 13.

The Boards have decided to discuss and finalise appropriate amendments in all agreements with RIL, to bring the same in line with the previously agreed position on all issues, and to protect the interests of 22 lakh shareholders of the companies. — PTI

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No parleys ‘through media’

Kolkata: Virtually seeking to underplay the issues of “deviations” in agreement signed between Reliance Industries and four companies prior to their transfer to Anil Ambani, elder brother Mukesh’s group today said it would not want to negotiate agreements through media.

When contacted, Sandeep Tandon, who resigned as Chairman of the four companies and quit their Boards before passing them over to Anil D. Ambani Group (ADAG), told on phone: “We have not received any communication from ADAG till now on these points.”

Asked about deviations, Mr Tandon said: “We will respond only when we receive a direct communication from them from them. We do not want to negotiate or renegotiate our agreements through media”.

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Punjab gets 2 SEZs, Chandigarh one
Act effective from today
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
The Centre today announced to implement Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act with effect from tomorrow, while sanctioning two SEZs for Punjab — Quark City and Ranbaxy pharmaceutical for Mohali and IT SEZ for Chandigarh in North among 117 projects cleared across the country.

After the success of SEZs in China, the government is expecting manifolds boost in exports, besides creating employment opportunities for the labour force.

The Act, which was given Presidential consent on June 23 last year, has been delayed over controversy of labour laws implementation in these effective “foreign territories,” due to opposition from the Left.

“We are expecting an investment of up to Rs 1 lakh crore in the next three years in the SEZs, besides new employment opportunities for 5 lakh persons,” Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath said here today. Heavy investments are expected in sectors like IT, pharma, biotechnology, textiles, petrochemicals and auto-components.

To attract investments in the SEZs, said the minister, the government would offer 100 per cent tax exemption from income tax to the developers, investors besides providing import of goods and services at zero per cent duty for using in exports, besides waiving all other taxes.

Mr Rahul Khullar, Joint Secretary in the ministry told The Tribune: “Two special economic zones have been sanctioned for Mohali and IT zone for Chandigarh. The case of Amritsar SEZ is still waiting final sanction, while the proposal of Ludhiana Apparel SEZ has been rejected as the state and industry have failed to fulfil the necessary conditions including acquisition of required land.”

On asked, he ruled out the possibility of extending the tax exemptions for SEZ to the industrial clusters in the country and other unit engaged in export. “However, if the exporters decide to shift present units to new area earmarked as SEZ, they would be able to get all the tax exemptions including outsourcing of their services and manufacturing to outer units at zero per cent duty.”

So far, approvals have been granted for setting up 117 SEZs including three free trade warehousing zones, spread over 15 states and two UTs, besides approval “ in principle” for 66 other SEZs.

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Hyderabad wins race for Fab City
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 9
Hyderabad has won the race for the $2 billion Fab City beating Bangalore in a neck and neck fight, Union Minister for Communications Dayanidhi Maran said here today.
In December last year AMD agreed to transfer microprocessor technology to SemIndia. Following this the Communications Ministry had written to select Chief Ministers to provide a comprehensive package for the establishment of a semiconductor fabrication centre.

Talking to newsmen after addressing the valedictory function of the Indian Semiconductor Association (ISA) Vision Summit here, Mr Maran said Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai had also bid for the Fab City. “There was a neck and neck fight between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka”, he said, adding that Tamil Nadu, his home State, had lost out due to the “lukewarm” response of the State government.

Hyderabad had won the race as Andhra Pradesh had offered to provide, power, land and water at subsidised rates for the Fab City which will come up in 1,200 acres of land. The AP Government had also committed to providing accommodation for key officers in the posh Jubilee Hills residential area.

Mr Maran said the Fab City would provide employment to 15 lakh trained personnel once it was completed. He urged other states also to come up with such pro-active proposals to attract investment.

The Union Minister also disclosed that environment was now right to invest in other technological fields, besides IT and IT- enabled services. He said his ministry wanted to now encourage creation of manufacturing facilities for flat screen displays and DVD-roms, besides hard disks. It was very important for the economy of the country to set up a manufacturing base for high-end technology products, adding that the establishment of a plant by Nokia in Chennai was a step in this direction.

The minister said according to surveys the Indian semiconductor market was expected to grow to $36.3 billion by 2015 from the present level of around $2 billion. He said 36 lakh jobs would be created in this field by 2015. He said the country already had 120 to 130 top chip-designing firms working on a leading edge technology to support the industry and that a three-pronged strategy of developing design, software and manufacturing facilities would spur healthy growth. 

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Auto Scene
GM on expansion overdrive

An employee of Hyundai Motor India checks car tyres before driving them aboard a ship at Chennai for export
An employee of Hyundai Motor India checks car tyres before driving them aboard a ship at Chennai for export. South Korea’s biggest automaker said on Thursday it aimed to more than double the annual output in India by 2007 in an effort to meet explosive demand and expand overseas production. “We will expand output to six lakh vehicles a year in order to make more inroads into India’s domestic market as well as to raise exports to Europe, Latin America, and the West Asia,” Hyundai Chairman Chung Mong-koo said.— AFP

Panaji, February 9
General Motors India, leader in premier luxury car manufacturing, has embarked on a major expansion of its Halol plant in Gujarat with Rs 100 crore investment, raising its capacity to 85,000 units from the current 60,000.

Talking to reporters after a pre-view of three brand new Chevrolet models to be rolled out within 3 to 6 months, President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba said the company was thrusting for grabbing 10 per cent market share by the year 2010 as against 3 per cent now with about Rs 1,400 crore investment being pumped in since inception in 2003.

At present, it was manufacturing Chevrolet Tavera, Optra and Corsas at its facility at Halol near Vadodara city besides selling the imported brands of Opel Vectra and Chevrolet Forester. The plant, besides catering to the Indian market, caters to the needs of Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The three new passenger cars were named ‘Chevrolet Aveo U-VA, ‘Chevrolet Aveo’ and ‘Chavrolet Optra SRV’, the prices of which would be announced later.

The company is also setting up two additional spares distribution centres in Maharashtra and Delhi to ensure easy availability besides the existing centres in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

Tata Motors net up

Riding high on surging sales, softening steel prices and cost reduction measures, country’s largest auto maker Tata Motors today reported a 45.55 per cent jump in net profit at Rs 460.23 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, compared to Rs 316.21 crore in the corresponding period last year.

Revenue of the company also increased by 16.31 per cent to Rs 5,074.55 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 from Rs 4,362.82 crore in the same period last year.

Attributing the jump in net profit to higher sales, softening of steel prices and its cost reduction measures, company Executive Director (Finance and Corporate Affairs) Praveen P. Kadle said sales volume for the quarter went up by 12.74 per cent at 1,11,228 units over 98,662 units in the corresponding period last year.

“Our exports went up by 35.33 per cent in the third quarter of the current fiscal at 11,782 units over 8,706 units in the same period last year,” Mr Kadle said.

Passenger vehicle sales also grew by 10 per cent at 34,033 units during the period. Utility vehicles sales witnessed a 15 per cent increase at 9,336 units for the quarter. — Agencies

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BSNL OneIndia rolls out today

New Delhi, February 9
Long distance domestic calls will take a nosedive with state-owned telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) set to announce tomorrow a tariff of Re 1 for STD as well as for local calls but phone rentals are expected to go up.

BSNL sources said that the new pulse rates for local calls will be three minutes while that for STD will be one minute. The government had earlier said that the OneIndia Plan to be launched on January 1 will have a flat tariff of Re 1 for any call within the country. The launch of the scheme, which was announced by Communications and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran, had to be postponed twice as the Access Deficit Charge (ADC) Component had to be revised by TRAI as well as fixing rates for local calls.

The new access deficit charges (ADC) that is being worked out by the telecom regulator will be based on a revenue share basis.

TRAI sources said for STD calls the new ADC regime is likely to be the same 4 to 6 per cent. For incoming ISD calls, the ADC component may be reduced to Rs 1.25 a minute from Rs 2.5 a minute.

For incoming ISD calls, the fresh ADC rates could be reduced to Rs 2.5 a minute from Rs 3.25 a minute.— UNI 

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Land offered to automobile units near Nabha
Our Correspondent

Nabha, February 9
The Punjab Government has offered land at three places to three big automobile companies to set up their manufacturing units.
Mr Randeep Singh, Congress MLA of Nabha, said Ashok Leyland, Volkswagen wanted to set up their manufacturing units in Punjab. The Tatas were also keen to set up an automobile unit in the state.

The Punjab Government he said, had offered land near here to these companies. The government had offered land near Ropar and Kapurthala. While Ashok Leyland was keen to manufacture vehicles for defence, Volkswagen eyed manufacture of all sorts of vehicles. The Tatas wanted to expand their cars and other vehicles manufacturing unit by setting up a unit in Punjab.

Representatives of these companies had already visited the three sites.

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Tatas hit roadblock

Dhaka, February 9
Plans by the Tata Group to invest $ 2.5 billion in Bangladesh were stalled after negotiations with Dhaka over the price of natural gas faltered, the two sides said today.

“We could not reach agreement mainly on gas pricing and there will be no further negotiations on this (for now),” the government’s Energy Adviser Mahmudur Rahman said. But he added that Tata officials might return in two weeks with revised proposals.

The Tatas’ proposed projects in the power, steel and fertiliser sectors would be the biggest-single investment in Bangladesh.

When Tata Chairman Ratan N. Tata signed the deal in 2004 he said Bangladesh’s Energy Minister had assured a smooth flow of natural gas to run the plants for 20 to 25 years. Mr Tata projected that the ventures would start operations by end-2008.— Reuters

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NCAER pegs growth rate at 7.8 per cent
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
The Indian economy is set to register a growth rate of 7.8 per cent in 2005-06, according to the National Council of Applied Economic Research.
The growth figure is marginally lower than the recent government projection of 8.1 per cent during this fiscal buoyed by robust performance from industry and services.

“This is our final estimate after taking into account the latest domestic and global development,” the think-tank said in a statement.

Agriculture is slated to grow by 3.4 per cent while industry will log 8 per cent and services 9.3 per cent, it said.

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Shell arm partners with ONGC

New Delhi, February 9
Shell Bitumen India Private Limited (SBIPL), a company operating in India and belonging to the Shell Group of Companies, today joined hands with ONGC to formalise the broad terms of manufacturing bituminous products and marketing.

The MoU was signed by ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Subir Raha and Shell Group of Companies in India, Chairman, Mr Vikram Singh Mehta.

The MoU is primarily aimed at carrying out a joint market research to evaluate India’s bitumen and Value Added Bitumen (VAB) market potential over the next 10 years. — UNI

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BRIEFLY

Markets closed
Mumbai, February 9
Select markets such as the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the Foreign Exchange and the money market remained closed today for Moharrum. — PTI

Coal India IPO
Kolkata, February 9
Coal India plans to raise Rs 3,000 crore from the market by divesting a 5 per cent stake, its chairman Shashi Kumar said today. The company had written to the Union Government for approval recommending the 5 per cent stake dilution, Mr Shashi Kumar said. — UNI

Broadband pact
New Delhi, February 9
Connect Broadband service, a wholly-owned subsidiary of HFCL Infotel, today announced its strategic tie-up with Star India Private Limited to carry its content on former’s broadband services in Punjab. Connect Broadband Services Ltd is rolling out broadcast services in Punjab and Chandigarh currently and that would be extended to other states like Delhi, UP, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir over the next few months. — PTI

Oracle jobs
San Francisco, February 9
Business software maker Oracle Corporation will announce more than 1,000 job cuts today as it outlines a course for harvesting higher profits from its recent $5.85 billion takeover of rival Siebel Systems Inc, a person familiar with the plans said. — AP

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