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Tata Tele sells 9.9 pc equity to Temasek
Mumbai, March 8
In a major telecom deal, Tata Group sold 9.9 per cent equity in its privately-held company Tata Teleservices to Singapore telecom giant Temasek Holding, presumably for about Rs 1,500 crore.

TRAI recommends mobile number portability
New Delhi, March 8
Just days prior to his term coming to an end, TRAI Chairman Pradip Baijal today recommended on one of the most crucial issues of number portability on mobile phones saying the facility can be made available for a one-time payment of Rs 200.

ONGC, Shipping Corp ink deal for offshore logistics
New Delhi, March 8
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. and Shipping Corporation of Indian have entered into a MoU for setting up a joint venture company — Offshore Marine Services Ltd.

Jet-Sahara deal under scanner
New Delhi, March 8
India’s biggest ever aviation deal — the takeover of Air Sahara by Jet Airways for Rs 2,300 crore early this year — has come under the scrutiny of Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission, which is likely to issue a notice to the buyer.

India, Gulf countries may finalise FTA
New Delhi, March 8
India and the Gulf Cooperation Council are likely to finalise a free trade agreement in goods by year-end, a senior official said here today.

Vanaspati industry against hike in palm oil duty
New Delhi, March 8
Domestic vanaspati industry lamented that it has not got justice from the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram and raising of customs duty from 30 per cent to 80 per cent for imports from Malaysia and Indonesia was not a remedy.


A model displays a creation by Lebanese designer Basil Soda for his Lines of Fashion collection in Beirut
A model displays a creation by Lebanese designer Basil Soda for his Lines of Fashion collection in Beirut on Wednesday. — AFP


EARLIER STORIES

 
An Iraqi works on a mud cooking stove in Baghdad
An Iraqi works on a mud cooking stove in Baghdad on Wednesday. Iraq has lost more than $6 billion last year from its key economic lifeline of oil revenue due to sustained rebel attacks, despite the world witnessing a surge in crude prices. OPEC all but abandoned the idea of cutting production to ease stubbornly high oil prices at a meeting on Wednesday, and Kuwait’s oil minister predicted prices would fall below the $60 per barrel threshold in second quarter. — AFP

Bank Account
IDBI signs pact with Dutch firm
Mumbai, March 8
The IDBI Bank today said it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Netherlands-based financial services provider, Fortis Insurance International NV (Fortis) for setting up a joint venture company. The venture would be engaged in life insurance business in India, it added.

  • IndusInd pact
  • SBI women account
  • HDFC Bank 

Corporate News
Credit Suisse takes 3.99 pc stake in LML
Mumbai, March 8
Two-wheeler maker LML Ltd today said Foreign Institutional Investor, Credit Suisse (Singapore) Ltd has acquired 3.99 per cent stake in the company. The company informed the National Stock Exchange that Credit Sussie has acquired 21.75 lakh shares aggregating to 3.99 per cent of the total paid up capital of LML on March 6.

  • Buyout by Macmillan
  • Colgate payout
  • MoneyGram in India
  • DCM Shriram dividend

Arcelor bags 98.5 pc stake in Dofasco
Paris, March 8
European steel giant Arcelor said today it has acquired 98.5 per cent of Canadian rival Dofasco and will force the remaining owners to sell their shares. "Arcelor intends, as soon as permitted, to acquire the remaining Dofasco common shares by means of (Canada's) statutory compulsory acquisition procedure," the company said in a statement.


From left to right: M Hamane, Managing Director, Honda R&D, Japan, Y Mizutani, Director Sales & Marketing, HMSI, M Sudo, Executive Vice-President, Asian Honda Motors Company and Y. Aoshima, CEO & President Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, launch Honda motor cycle Shine 125 cc at a press conference in New Delhi From left to right: M Hamane, Managing Director, Honda R&D, Japan, Y Mizutani, Director Sales & Marketing, HMSI, M Sudo, Executive Vice-President, Asian Honda Motors Company and Y. Aoshima, CEO & President Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, launch Honda motor cycle Shine 125 cc at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. The company has priced the motor cycle at Rs 45,120. The disk brakes version will cost Rs 47,065. Shine would be launched in phases, beginning with north and central India from April 17 followed by the south, west and east zones. — Tribune photo by Rajeev Tyagi

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Tata Tele sells 9.9 pc equity to Temasek

Mumbai, March 8
In a major telecom deal, Tata Group sold 9.9 per cent equity in its privately-held company Tata Teleservices to Singapore telecom giant Temasek Holding, presumably for about Rs 1,500 crore.

When contacted, a Tata spokesperson confirmed the deal, but declined to give the financial details.

The deal is part of Tatas’ efforts to offload up to 20 per cent stake in the telecom company, one of the private entities that have pan-India presence, and more such deals are likely to be announced soon.

The company said the funds raised from the stake sale would be utilised for the expansion of network. The company offers mobile and fixed services in 20 telecom circles.

Commenting on the deal, Mr Manish Kejriwal, MD of Temasek Holdings Advisors India, said: “As a shareholder of TTSL, we are privileged to have the opportunity to invest in a company that is poised to become a significant national player.

“This investment also marks our second significant investment after TCS in the Tata Group, one of India’s most respected business group.”

Tata Teleservices is also understood to be at advance stage of negotiations with other domestic and overseas investors, including C. Sivasankaran of Sterling Group.

Temasek Holdings Pte. Limited has acquired the stake through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Aranda Investments (Mauritius) Pte. Limited.

Asked whether part sale of equity through private placement route was a precursor to company’s public offering, sources said there was absolutely no relation between the two.

Earlier, the company also held discussion with the Korea Telecom for placement of about 26 per cent of equity but the deal could not materialise due to differences in the valuation on the company. — PTI

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TRAI recommends mobile number portability

New Delhi, March 8
Just days prior to his term coming to an end, TRAI Chairman Pradip Baijal today recommended on one of the most crucial issues of number portability on mobile phones saying the facility can be made available for a one-time payment of Rs 200.

Number portability will allow customers to switch operator while retaining the old number.

According to TRAI, the number portability should be implemented from April 1, 2007, and asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to make suitable changes in the licence enabling TRAI to issue guidelines in this regard.

The regulator says the cost of Rs 200 payable by the customers will enable the operator to recover his investment cost in 3-5 years. Further, it has also recommended that initially mobile number portability (MNP) be introduced within the service area only.

The regulator has come to the conclusion that this is not the appropriate time for introducing Fixed Number Portability.

Releasing the recommendations on mobile number portability, it said MNP benefits subscribers, encourages improvement in quality of service through increased level of competition between service providers, rewarding those operators having better customer service, network coverage, and service quality.

A time frame of 12 months between the acceptance of recommendation by the government and launch of this facility is recommended.

The government may mandate all UASLs/CMSPs to implement MNP. It is appropriate to implement MNP in phased manner starting from metros and A category service areas followed by B and C category service areas within the interval of six months.

TRAI has suggested that All Call Query Method be implemented for mobile number portability in India. Mobile operators through neutral third party will establish logically centralised database with not more than five regionally located databases. Cost of this database will be borne proportionately based on subscriber base by each operator. This database will be the depository for the ported numbers.

Any other issues relating to creation of database, interfaces, performance parameters, service levels will be resolved by discussion and coordination among all the stakeholders. A steering committee consisting of operators, industry association and TEC under the aegis of TRAI will be constituted to workout the details of the implementation issues. — PTI

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ONGC, Shipping Corp ink deal for offshore logistics
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, March 8
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC) and Shipping Corporation of Indian (SCI) have entered into a MoU for setting up a joint venture company — Offshore Marine Services Ltd. (OMSL).

This joint venture company (JVC) will provide end-to-end solutions for vessel operations for ONGC and other oil and gas companies. It will also develop capabilities for acquisition, repair and maintenance of offshore floating units and undertake repair and construction on long term arrangement with shipyard facilities on preferential terms and competitive basis, a company press statement said.

As per the MoU, ONGC will give its vessels on bare boat charter agreement to the joint venture company and will retain right of first refusal on deployment of these vessels as per requirement. The JVC will acquire, own, maintain, operate and charter wide range of offshore vessels and it will also be free to secure non-ONGC business including acquiring vessels and other assets.

ONGC will also have the option to acquire new vessels and put them in the JVC on similar agreement.

In this venture another partner M/s. PSA Marine, Singapore, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PSA International, a Singapore government company, will provide services and repair to the vessels under the joint venture. It is also proposed that financial institutions shall have 30 per cent stake in this non-PSU joint venture.

No move to hive off OVL

The government today denied any move to hive off ONGC Videsh Ltd from its parent ONGC, saying the present arrangement of letting the subsidiary company scout for overseas oil and gas assets was working well.

“No, I don’t think so,” said Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora when quizzed about a reported move to separate OVL from ONGC.

Petroleum Secretary M.S. Srinivasan said: “Nothing (to this effect) is under consideration. Existing arrangement is working very well and we have no division of opinion on this.”

Finance Minister P Chidambaram is reported to have suggested OVL raising its own resources for acquisition of oil and gas assets abroad, instead of the present practice of borrowing money from its parent ONGC.

To this, the Petroleum Ministry has stated that OVL derives a lot of strength from being part of

India’s most valuable firm and the country’s second highest profit making entity.

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Jet-Sahara deal under scanner

New Delhi, March 8
India’s biggest ever aviation deal — the takeover of Air Sahara by Jet Airways for Rs 2,300 crore early this year — has come under the scrutiny of Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC), which is likely to issue a notice to the buyer.

Since the deal helped Naresh Goyal’s Jet increase its share in the domestic market to over 50 per cent, the Commission is looking into the monopoly aspect following a complaint by BJP MP Uday Singh last month.

When contacted, sources in the Commission said that a notice could be issued to Jet within a day or two.

Jet officials, however, were not aware of the development saying that they had not heard anything from the Commission.

Jet Executive Director Saroj Datta said: “We have not got any communication from the MRTPC. Anyway, where is the question of monopoly when already five other airlines are operating in the country.”

Meanwhile, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission also asked the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) to reply within four weeks on allegations that it was restricting its members from participating in non-FDCI fashion shows.

The Commission granted four weeks time to FDCI, with leading designers J J Valaya, Rohit Bal, Krishna Mehta, Tarun Tahiliani working under the banner, to file the reply before it.

“We have seen the report submitted by the Director-General (Investigation and registration) and have also pursued the documents and heard....issue notice of enquiry to the respondent directing it to file reply to the notice of enquiry within 4 weeks of the date of service of the notice,” said MRTPC Bench comprising Chairman Justice B K Rathi. — PTI

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India, Gulf countries may finalise FTA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 8
India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are likely to finalise a free trade agreement (FTA) in goods by year-end, a senior official said here today.

‘We hope to finalise the GCC-India FTA in goods by year-end though similar agreements in investment and services will take time as the GCC member countries are still to harmonise their rules in these two areas,” said M.V.P.C. Sastry, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry at a briefing ahead of the second GCC-India Industrial Conference at Muscat on March 25 and 26.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath would lead a high-powered Indian government and business delegation to the second Gulf Cooperation Council —India Industrial Conference being organised in Muscat from March 25 to 26, 2006.

This was announced by Mr. Hilal Bin Hammed Al Hasani, Director General of Industries, Ministry of Commerce, Sultanate of Oman at a press conference jointly organised by CII and the Ministry of Commerce & Industry of the Sultanate of Oman here today.

“It is a landmark in the relations between the six countries comprising the GCC —Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Mr Hasani said. “This two day conference was meant to increase trade and commerce cooperation between the GCC countries and India,” he added.

Tourism, industry and commerce would be the special focus areas of this meeting. The two sides would also exchange ideas and information on energy and possibility of encouraging joint ventures between the two partners.

“The GCC countries”, he declared,” has had a trade of $19 billion with India in 2005. There are already many Indian companies that are having joint ventures with us. Once the FTA comes through between the two sides, it would be a big step in promoting trade between the two partners.”

He said that new areas of cooperation between the two sides in this era of globalisation could be R&D and biotechnology where the two sides could benefit from mutual partnership.

Meanwhile, India today signed a Preferential Trade Agreement with Chile with which bilateral trade is pegged at $447.54 million.

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Vanaspati industry against hike in palm oil duty
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 8
Domestic vanaspati industry lamented that it has not got justice from the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram and raising of customs duty from 30 per cent to 80 per cent for imports from Malaysia and Indonesia was not a remedy.

Indian Vanaspati Association said the imports from Malaysia and Indonesia are not much and the real problem is with the duty-free imports under FTA with Sri Lanka.

“The Budget has shattered whatever little hopes the industry had of a fresh lease of life. The industry has been suffering since the duty-free imports started under the FTA first from Nepal and thereafter from Sri Lanka,” the industry in a statement said.

It said the industry has been unable to compete due to the huge cost advantage of over Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 per tonne to a factory located in Nepal and Sri Lanka, respectively, as they import the same raw material (viz. crude palm oil) at zero per cent duty whereas the domestic industry was paying 81.6 per cent duty, which will now become 88.8 per cent after imposition of the new CVD levy.

The industry urged the government to put vanaspati in the negative list in the existing FTAs with Sri Lanka and other SAARC countries and demanded that if the above was not possible at this stage, reduce the duty on imported crude palm oil for the vanaspati industry to 20 per cent on actual user basis. And, as in the case of Nepal, the imports from Sri Lanka should be canalised through a government nominated agency and a tariff related quota (TRQ) of 50,000 tonnes or maximum 1,00,000 tonnes per annum be laid down.

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Bank Account
IDBI signs pact with Dutch firm

Mumbai, March 8
The IDBI Bank today said it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Netherlands-based financial services provider, Fortis Insurance International NV (Fortis) for setting up a joint venture company. The bank informed the BSE that it had signed the MoU with Fortis Insurance.

The venture would be engaged in life insurance business in India, it added.

IndusInd pact

New generation IndusInd Bank today said it has partnered with Sharekhan to offer on-line transfer of funds facility for investors.

Apart from providing facilities for swift movement of funds, the partnership was also aimed at offering investors a platform for online trading in shares not only in Tier-I cities but also in other towns as well, IndusInd bank said in a release here.

SBI women account

The State Bank of India has launched a special account — SBI Tiny — for women living in the rural areas to provide financial assistance to them for setting up small ventures.

"Women who found it difficult to come out of their villages to utilise banking services, now can reap itsbenefits," SBI Chief General Manager A Ramesh Kumar said today on the ocassion of International Women's Day.

Through this, women in villages can open an account through facilitators trusted and recognised by them.

HDFC Bank

Meanwhile, HDFC Bank today commemorated the International Women's Day by launching a credit as well as a debit card specifically targeted at the 'rapidly-growing' women's segment.

Available for just a fee of Rs 150, the ATM limit and the point of sales limit are prescribed at Rs 15,000 per day and Rs 25,000 per day, respectively. — Agencies

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Corporate News
Credit Suisse takes 3.99 pc stake in LML

Mumbai, March 8
Two-wheeler maker LML Ltd today said Foreign Institutional Investor, Credit Suisse (Singapore) Ltd has acquired 3.99 per cent stake in the company.

The company informed the National Stock Exchange that Credit Sussie has acquired 21.75 lakh shares aggregating to 3.99 per cent of the total paid up capital of LML on March 6.

The mode of acquisition is through indirect acquisition by conversion of bonds into shares.

The shareholding of Credit Sussie after the acquisition is 12.25 per cent of the total paid up capital of LML, it added.

Buyout by Macmillan

Macmillan India announced today acqusition of 100 per cent shares of Interactive Composition Corp (ICC), a company based in the United States.

Macmillan will be signing definitive agreements for purchase of the company at a consideration of around Rs 15 crore, a press note from Macmillan said.

Mr Rajiv Beri, MD, Macmillan India, said: “This is a strategic acquisition as it enables us to achieve two major objectives of having a significant presence in the US, and acquiring premier US book publishing customers. It also places us in the big league of full service providers in the book publishing market.”

Macmillan India is a leading provider of typesetting, copyediting, project management, digitising, graphics, software and technology services to major publishers in the UK, Europe and the US.

Colgate payout

The Board of Directors of Colgate, at a meeting, today announced a third interim dividend of 17.5 per cent (Rs 1.75 per share) for 2005-06.

The dividend payout to the shareholders will be Rs 24 crore (Rs 27 crore inclusive of the dividend distribution tax) and will be paid on or before April four to the shareholders whose names are on the Register of Members of the company as on March 17 this year, the release said.

With today’s declaration of dividend, the company has effected an aggregate interim payout to shareholders during the financial year 2005-06 of 75.0 per cent (Rs 7.50 per share).

MoneyGram in India

MoneyGram, a $970 million global money transfer company, today announced plans to expand its network in the Indian corridor to tap the huge business potential.

“We are now scouting for more partners in India to widen our network, besides increasing our brand visibility through roadshows and channel merchandising,” said MoneyGram International Limited’s Regional Director (in-charge of Asia-Pacific and Indian subcontinent) Nick Cunnew, and Marketing and New Products director Jonathan Lavercombe here today.

DCM Shriram dividend

DCM Shriram Industries Ltd today declared an interim dividend of 10 per cent for 2005-06.

The Board of Directors have recommended an interim dividend of 10 per cent on the equity shares of Rs 10 each, the company informed Bombay Stock Exchange. — Agencies

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Arcelor bags 98.5 pc stake in Dofasco

Paris, March 8
European steel giant Arcelor said today it has acquired 98.5 per cent of Canadian rival Dofasco and will force the remaining owners to sell their shares.

"Arcelor intends, as soon as permitted, to acquire the remaining Dofasco common shares by means of (Canada's) statutory compulsory acquisition procedure," the company said in a statement.

It said it would acquire the remaining shares at the same price — it had paid for its 98.5 per cent stake — $71(Canadian) per share.

Arcelor had extended its offer to Dofasco shareholders until March 7 to surpass the 90-per cent ownership level, above which it can, under Canadian law, force remaining shareholders to sell.

Arcelor took over Dofasco after a two-month bidding battle with ThyssenKrupp of Germany, acquiring the company for 3.95 billion euros.

Meanwhile, Indian-born steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal said he might give up special voting rights in family-controlled Mittal Steel in a bid to disarm opposition to his hostile takeover of European steel giant Arcelor, according to a news report today.

“After this transaction is done, the family will have to look at going to one to one,” Mr Mittal told the International Herald Tribune, referring to a ratio of one share to one vote, the norm in publicly-held companies. — AFP

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