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Oil companies send SOS
Demand hike in petrol, diesel, LPG prices 
New Delhi, April 19
With the global prices increasing to over $70 a barrel, the oil marketing companies have sent an SOS to the government, demanding an immediate hike in the petrol and diesel prices. The government is unlikely to take a decision on their demand before the assembly elections in five states by May-end.

Wipro joins $2 b club, to log in Romania by May
Azim Premji Bangalore, April 19
Looking ahead to an aggressive growth in continental Europe, Indian software major Wipro will open its offshore development centre in Bucharest in Romania by May-end.

No room for job quota, asserts Premji
Bangalore, April 19
A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked industries to broad base employment by making it more representative, software giant Wipro Limited said there was no room for reservations in the company.



 

Model Ujjwala Raut unveils Vertu’s Silverstone mobile phone in New Delhi late on Tuesday. Retailing at Rs 3,07,000, Vertu is a leading manufacturer of handcrafted mobile phones for the luxury market
Model Ujjwala Raut unveils Vertu’s Silverstone mobile phone in New Delhi late on Tuesday. Retailing at Rs 3,07,000, Vertu is a leading manufacturer of handcrafted mobile phones for the luxury market.
— Tribune photo by Rajeev Tyagi

Mr P.S.Jayakumar, Country Business Manager, Global Consumer Group, Citigroup; Mr Jagdish Khattar, MD, Maruti Udyog; and Mr Sarthak Behuria, Chairman, IOC, join hands at the launch of AutoCard, a Maruti Loyalty-cum-Rewards programme, in New Delhi on Wednesday
Left to right: Mr P.S.Jayakumar, Country Business Manager, Global Consumer Group, Citigroup; Mr Jagdish Khattar, MD, Maruti Udyog; and Mr Sarthak Behuria, Chairman, IOC, join hands at the launch of AutoCard, a Maruti Loyalty-cum-Rewards programme, in New Delhi on Wednesday. The AutoCard rewards Maruti Suzuki car owners for all expenditure, incurred at Maruti outlets and IndianOil outlets. Maruti car owners can earn a total of 20,000 autopoints in four years with each point valued at Re 1. This accumulated Rs 20,000 can be used as an additional discount by the customer while buying his next Maruti Suzuki car. The points can also be redeemed by customers when they get their car serviced at authorised workshops or while purchasing an accessory. The customer can also redeem the points while exchanging his existing Maruti Suzuki car for a new one from the same stable.
— A Tribune photograph

Reliance Energy to set up captive power plants,
net up 15 pc

Mumbai, April 19
Reliance Energy Ltd has signed a preliminary agreement with the Maharashtra Government to set up two captive power plants with a combined capacity of 295 MW, according to a statement today.

DoT to invest Rs 1,000 cr for defence spectrum
New Delhi, April 19
In a major relief to mobile telecom operators, the government announced today a Rs 1000- crore project to convert wireless operations of defence services on Optical Fibre Cable, a move that is estimated to release 45 MHz of spectrum.

CM wants Himachal to be knowledge hub
Shimla, April 19
Mr Virbhadra Singh, the Chief Minister, today said the government would consider providing land on lease for setting up industries to ensure that the benefit of industrialisation reaches the interior areas of the state.

PSB NRE rates
Kirloskar Oil dividend

Ranbaxy net ends flat
Mumbai, April 19
India’s second-most valuable drug maker, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, reported on Wednesday a slight rise in quarterly earnings as competitive pricing in the United States remained and said it would
push for growth in Europe.

FDI set to cross $10 b, says Kamal Nath
New Delhi, April 19
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath said today that foreign direct investment to the country was likely to cross the $10 billion mark as against
$7.5 billion in the year ended March, 2006.

Mittal to launch bid for Arcelor soon
Brussels, April 19
Mittal Steel will launch its Euro 20.5 billion ($25.1 billion) offer for rival Arcelor in two weeks’ time, Mittal Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal said today. He added that the offer period would last 35 working days.

HCL net up 23 pc
New Delhi, April 19
Fifth largest software exporter HCL Technologies has achieved a major milestone on its way to become $1 billion revenue company by posting earnings of $251.51 million (Rs 1,122 crore) in the third quarter ending March.

Samsonite to venture into footwear
Chandigarh, April 19
Samsonite South Asia, a premium luggage company, will now venture into providing hi-fashion Italian shoes. Mr E.P. Suresh Menon, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Samsonite South Asia, said the shoes were being designed and manufactured in Italy, and would hit the Indian market by the end of this year.
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Oil companies send SOS 
Demand hike in petrol, diesel, LPG prices 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
With the global prices increasing to over $70 a barrel, the oil marketing companies have sent an SOS to the government, demanding an immediate hike in the petrol and diesel prices. The government is unlikely to take a decision on their demand before the assembly elections in five states by May-end.

Mr S. Behuria, CMD of the IOC, said today: “We are hopeful of government intervention by May-end or June considering the present increase in the global oil price and our under-recoveries.”

“On the basis of the recommendations of the Rangarajan Committee report, we expect some price increase and sharing of subsidy by exploration companies,” he said.

The government decision to freeze the retail prices has hurt leading refiners such as the IOC, Hindustan Petrolelum Corp Ltd. and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd.

These firms have reported a combined net loss of Rs 9,700 crore in the first three quarters of the year even after ONGC was directed to sell crude at a discount of $17 a barrel.

Mr Behuria said he expected the government to continue its policy of directing the ONGC to share the burden but the ONGC has strongly opposed it, saying the government should instead levy higher taxes on crude to finance the refiners.

Meanwhile, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora is expected to meet Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to discuss measures to help oil firms.

Despite the IndianOil refinery margins having improved at $4.5-5 per barrel, Behuria said the company was still losing Rs80 crore a day as the retail price of petrol was Rs 4-5 per litre below the desired level.

In the case of diesel, the difference in the retail price was Rs 7-8. For kerosene, this was Rs 13 per litre and for cooking gas Rs 190.Put together, this would result in the company facing an under-recovery of Rs 2,300- Rs 2,400 crore this month, he said. 

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ONGC ties up with Gulf Oil

Dubai, April 19
The ONGC has tied up with the Gulf Oil Corporation, a Hinduja company, to set up a joint venture for oil and gas exploration, development and production in the Gulf region, media reports said here.

The alliance, which is yet to be formally announced, would identify, develop and implement project and business opportunities in Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. It is also eyeing Brunei, Libya, Russia, Ukraine, the UK and Saudi Arabia, according to a Khaleej Times report.

The equity interest in the joint venture would be in the ratio of 51 per cent for the ONGC and 49 per cent for Gulf Oil and financial institutions.

Meanwhile, the ONGC has approved a parallel banking arrangement with ICICI Bank Ltd. Till now, SBI had been the sole banker of the ONGC. The ONGC Board on April 12, cleared this proposal. — UNI

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Wipro joins $2 b club, to log in Romania by May
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, April 19
Looking ahead to an aggressive growth in continental Europe, Indian software major Wipro will open its offshore development centre in Bucharest in Romania by May-end.

Announcing this at a press conference here, Wipro Chairman Azim Premji said Bucharest would be the third overseas development centre of the company, with two functioning in China-Beijing and Shanghai.

Wipro Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer Suresh Senapathy said the centre would initially have 100 to 250 seating capacity. “The investment will grow steadily as the centre attracts more clients,” he added.

Wipro today equalled the feat of Infosys Limited by announcing it too had recorded revenue of more than $2 billion for the financial year ending March 31, 2006. Infosys had made a similar claim a few days back while announcing results of its fourth quarter.

Wipro Limited while announcing its results for the fourth quarter disclosed that its profit after tax for this period had gone up 27 per cent at Rs 2,067 crore while revenues shot up 30 per cent at Rs 10,627 crore. The Board of Directors of the company have recommended a cash dividend of Rs 5 per share pending approval of shareholders at its annual general meeting in July.The total workforce also shot up to a whopping 53,000.

Disclosing the results, company Chairman Azim Premji said the results had been extremely satisfying and that the company had benefited through strategic acquisitions and streamlining of operations According to Mr Premji, the results for the year were extremely satisfying due to strategic acquisitions, streamlining of operations and organization restructuring.

Mr Premji said proactive investment had paid good dividends to the company especially in India, West Asia and Asia-Pacific. He said this region alone had accounted for a 22 per cent growth in revenues. He said the company also won five total outsourcing contracts during the year with the most recent one relating to the Rs 360 crore bagged from HDFC Bank.

He said last year the company crossed several landmarks including the Rs 100 billion mark in total revenues, $2 billion in IT business revenues, Rs 5 billion of quarterly profits, 5 per cent revenue contribution from innovation initiatives.

The IT service industry, he added, was evolving from an era of routine service provisioning to one of innovative knowledge creation. He said in such a situation Wipro expected to realize revenues worth $ 533 million in the quarter ending June this year. Mr Premji said the company will continue to invest heavily this year in view of the growing opportunities particularly in Europe and Japan where more and more countries and businesses are looking at outsourcing seriously.

Referring to the results for the last quarter ended March 31, the company saw its profit after tax grow by 43 per cent year-on-year at Rs 618 crores. Revenues also increased by 35 per cent at Rs 3,113 crore. Wipro Limited also added 42 new clients including two BPOs.

Likewise, it had 221 customers with revenue run rate of $1 million in Q4. Customers with $3 million or more revenue run rate went up from115 to 127. Further, it had four customers with a revenue rate of $50 million. 

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No room for job quota, asserts Premji
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, April 19
A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked industries to broad base employment by making it more representative, software giant Wipro Limited said there was no room for reservations in the company.

Talking to newspersons after disclosing the results of the fourth quarter ending March 31, 2006, company Chairman Azim Premji said his firm was committed to recruit manpower only on the basis of merit. Explaining further, he said, more than 80 per cent of the company’s revenue was earned from abroad and that it had to compete with global companies for its market share spread over the United States, Europe, Japan and West Asia.

He said in such a situation it was imperative to hire the best talent available in the country as well as the best outside to man company offices abroad. He said the company was mainly in the service business in terms of its consolidated revenues.

“Service business is very people dependent. People make the company successful or the other way round”, he added.

When queried about his view on HRD Minister Arjun Singh’s announcement that 27 per cent of seats in higher educational institutions would be earmarked for Other Backward Classes, Mr Premji said he understood the compulsions “the country is going through in terms of reservation.” However, “We (Wipro) are an organisation which requires selection on merit.” 

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Reliance Energy to set up captive power plants,
net up 15 pc

Tribune News Service & PTI

Mumbai, April 19
Reliance Energy Ltd has signed a preliminary agreement with the Maharashtra Government to set up two captive power plants with a combined capacity of 295 MW, according to a statement today.

While a 165-MW gas-based plant would be built in the Thane-Belapur industrial area adjoining Mumbai, a coal-based 130 MW plant would be built at Butibori in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha district.

Sources said the proposed projects were the first of the power projects under the group captive scheme of the Electricity Act, 2003. Power from the projects would be used by industries coming up in estates of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). Excess power would be sold through the power grid.

Meanwhile, REL announced a 15 per cent increase in its net profit for the fourth quarter at Rs 169 crore while its earning per share increased to 32.7 per cent recording growth of 17 per cent.

REL also posted an increase of 25 per cent in its net profits at Rs 650 crore for the fiscal against Rs 520 crore for 2004-05.

In addition to a quarterly interim dividend of Rs 1.20 per equity share, the REL Board has also recommended a final dividend of Rs 3.80 per equity share, taking the total payout to Rs 5 per equity share for the year ended March 31, 2006. The total income for the year was up to Rs 4,608 crore as compared to Rs 4,593 crore for 2004-05.

The cash profit of the company stood at Rs 999 crore, a jump of 15 per cent over that in 2004-05.

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DoT to invest Rs 1,000 cr for defence spectrum

New Delhi, April 19
In a major relief to mobile telecom operators, the government announced today a Rs 1000- crore project to convert wireless operations of defence services on Optical Fibre Cable, a move that is estimated to release 45 MHz of spectrum.

“We have already begun the project involving officials from both Ministries of Telecom and Defence. The Department of Telecom (DoT) would be spending Rs 1,000 crore,” Mr J. S. Sarma, Chairman, Telecom Commission and Secretary, DoT, told reporters at a conference organised by Assocham.

Mr Sarma said BSNL would be the executing agency and the spectrum released would be allocated to operators for offering both 2G (existing mobile services) as well as 3G (next- generation mobile services) services.

The project was likely to be completed in next two-three months, he added.

Asked whether this was part of the DoT’s long- term plan to get spectrum vacated from the defence services for which a high-powered Group of Ministers under Defence Minister Pranab Mukharjee has been formed, Mr Sarma said this was just an alternative strategy to meet immediate demand. The GoM is, however, yet to conduct its first meeting on this issue. — PTI

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CM wants Himachal to be knowledge hub
Tribune News Service

Shimla, April 19
Mr Virbhadra Singh, the Chief Minister, today said the government would consider providing land on lease for setting up industries to ensure that the benefit of industrialisation reaches the interior areas of the state.

Talking to mediapersons after inaugurating the first branch of the Bank of Rajasthan here, he said the state had attracted unprecedented investment over the past three years but the new industry was coming only in and around the border belt of Baddi, Barotiwala and Parwanoo areas. He said the incentives under the industrial package given by the Centre were also available in the other areas of the state but the entrepreneurs preferred the border areas to take advantage of the social infrastructure of Chandigarh and Panchkula.

He said to disperse the industries to interior areas the government planned to provide land on lease, which would be an incentive as prices of land were high in the Baddi- Barotiwala area. The government had purposely decided to set up special economic zones in Una and Kangra.

Global tenders had been floated to award the contract for setting up SEZ and the process would be finalised soon.

He expressed the confidence that the industrial package would be extended up to 2013. “Such packages had been given for a 10-year period to all other special category states and there was no reason to deny this benefit in case of two states,” he said.

Besides industrialisation, the government wanted to develop the state as a knowledge hub. It had already enacted the state private universities (establishment and regulation) act to facilitate setting up of private universities. The government would not allow teaching shops to come up in the name of private universities and only institutions, which had experience and requisite financial resources, would be permitted to set up universities. About half-a-dozen proposals had been received.

Kumarhatti: Industry Minister Kuldeep Kumar, while talking to The Tribune, said a false propaganda had been launched against Himachal that units were shifting from Punjab and Haryana to the state. Not a single unit has shifted to Himachal from neighbouring states, he maintained.

“However, some units having business in Punjab and Haryana have set up their units in HP under their expansion plan,” he remarked. Most of the new units were from Maharashtra and Gujarat, he said. — OC

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PSB NRE rates

New Delhi, April 19
Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB) has hiked the interest rate on non- resident ( external) rupee deposits with effect from today. The interest rates on one year to three years deposits have been hiked from 6 per cent to 6.30 per cent, stated a bank press statement. — TNS

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Kirloskar Oil dividend

Mumbai, April 19
Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd has declared a final dividend of 100 per cent for 2005-06.

The Board of Directors has recommended the final dividend of 100 per cent that is Rs 2 per share in addition to the interim dividend of 100 per cent declared in January this year, Kirloskar said.

Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd is a part of the Kirloskar Group and manufactures a wide range of diesel engines. —PTI

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Ranbaxy net ends flat

Mumbai, April 19
India’s second-most valuable drug maker, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, reported on Wednesday a slight rise in quarterly earnings as competitive pricing in the United States remained and said it would push for growth in Europe.

It said net profit rose to Rs 714 million ($15.8 million) in the fiscal first-quarter ended March from Rs 708 million a year ago — beating a median forecast for Rs 697.5 million in a Reuters poll of analysts. Quarterly sales rose 12 per cent to Rs 12.75 billion.
— Reuters

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FDI set to cross $10 b, says Kamal Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath said today that foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country was likely to cross the $10 billion mark as against $7.5 billion in the year ended March, 2006.

Addressing the National Conference and annual general meeting of the CII here today, Mr Nath said growth in India’s trade was the fastest with China and ASEAN as compared to any other region.

“India’s bilateral trade with ASEAN grew from $4 billion a decade ago to $20 billion last year, and with China from $1 billion to $15 billion during the same period,” he said. The minister said since 1991, India’s trade with the 10 largest Asian trade partners had grown from four-fold to sixteen-fold. Already, the Asian region accounted for 45 per cent of India’s external trade.

He urged the industry to develop closer linkages with Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, China, Singapore and Korea, as India sought a second coming for its manufacturing sector.

Mooting the idea of an Asian economic community, Mr Nath said: “Such a community would be roughly the size of the European Union in terms of income and bigger than NAFTA in terms of trade. It would account for half the world’s population, and hold foreign exchange reserves exceeding those of the EU and NAFTA put together.

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Mittal to launch bid for Arcelor soon

Brussels, April 19
Mittal Steel will launch its Euro 20.5 billion ($25.1 billion) offer for rival Arcelor in two weeks’ time, Mittal Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal said today. He added that the offer period would last 35 working days.

Speaking after a meeting with the Belgian Prime Minister and the Presidents of Belgium’s two main regions, he told reporters he had offered assurances on jobs and investment above those provided by Arcelor.

“We have given additional commitments,” he said. “We have reassured the Prime Minister.”

Mittal said, for example, the world’s largest steelmaker would not sell Arcelor’s stainless steel division for 18 months.

Arcelor Chief Executive Guy Dolle is in the process of reviewing whether its stainless steel business should remain within the Luxembourg-based group.

Arcelor, the world’s second-largest steelmaker, has made no secret of its wish to remain independent and has set up defences against Mittal’s advances, notably its ring-fencing of recently acquired Canadian steel firm Dofasco within a Dutch foundation. — AP

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HCL net up 23 pc  

New Delhi, April 19
Fifth largest software exporter HCL Technologies has achieved a major milestone on its way to become $1 billion revenue company by posting earnings of $251.51 million (Rs 1,122 crore) in the third quarter ending March.

The company today reported 22.7 per cent year-on-year increase in net profit to Rs 192.9 crore during January-March this year while its revenues were up 30.7 per cent as compared to the same quarter last fiscal. The company also announced an interim dividend of 200 per cent on a share of face value Rs 2. — PTI

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Samsonite to venture into footwear  
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 19
Samsonite South Asia, a premium luggage company, will now venture into providing hi-fashion Italian shoes.

Mr E.P. Suresh Menon, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Samsonite South Asia, said the shoes were being designed and manufactured in Italy, and would hit the Indian market by the end of this year.

Priced between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000, these shoes would be sold only through the exclusive Samsonite Black Label showrooms, he said.

Mr Menon was in the city to inaugurate the country’s first Samsonite Black Label store in Sector 17.

He said the shoe market in the country was worth Rs 3,000 crore, of which 80 per cent was the casual show market, the rest being taken care of by formal segment.

“With the casual shoe segment, including sports shoes, having a high growth rate, our range of shoes would be primarily in this segment,” he added.

The Vice-President said the shoes would be sold through the company’s premium chain of Black Label stores, which had been opened for exclusive retail of the Black Label range of travel accessories.

“After the store inauguration in Chandigarh, we would now open two of these stores in Mumbai, and one each in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore,” he said.

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BRIEFLY

VSNL plans
New Delhi, April 19
Tata-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) today said it would launch fixed line telecom services in South Africa by June-July this year. “We got the licence in December last year. Project work is on and we hope to start service in June-July, 2006,” Mr N. Srinath, Executive Director, VSNL told reporters here. VSNL owns 26 per cent stake in South African telecom operator SNO, he said. — PTI

Nerolac Paints
Mumbai, April 19
The Board of Directors of Goodlass Nerolac Paints today approved the merger of the company with Polycoat Powerds (PPL) subject to statutory approvals. The merger envisages issue of 461 shares of Nerolac Paints for every 1,000 shares of PPL of the common face value of Rs 10, the company informed the BSE. The Board has gave its nod for changing of name of the company to Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd. — UNI

CII chief
New Delhi, April 19
Managing Director of Ashok Leyland, R. Seshasayee was today elected President of CII while Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Telecom became the Vice-President. Mr Seshasayee, who has been a member of the CII national council for 20 years, succeeds Mr Y.C. Deveshawar of ITC. Mr Seshasayee and Mr Mittal were declared elected at the annual session of the industry chamber 
today. — PTI

RPL IPO
Mumbai, April 19
SEBI has extended the market timing for Reliance Petroleum Ltd’s IPO by eight hours owing to huge investor interest. Applications for RPL shares can be made till 9 p.m. today and tomorrow. Besides, extra counters have been put up and additional applications forms made available to accommodate the huge turnout of applicants. — PTI

HPMC invites EoIs for grading units
Shimla, April 19
The HPMC has invited expressions of interest for eight of its packaging and grading and cold storages at Gummah, Rohru, Tutupani, Jarol Tikker, Chail Chowk, Chindi, Bhuntar and Rekong Peo. Initially, these will be leased out for three years. However, the interested parties, which include Reliance India Limited, ITC, Container Corporation of India and the Adani Group, suggested after visiting the units that the minimum lease period should be 15 years. — TNS

Asian Paints HP plant operational
Mumbai, April 19
Asian Paints Ltd said today its new manufacturing plant in Himachal Pradesh had started production on April 18. The plant, owned by Asian Paints Industrial Coating Ltd. (APICL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Asian Paints, is situated at Baddi, and would manufacture powder coating, the company said. — PTI

Panacea Biotec in Baddi
Mumbai, April 19
Panacea Biotec Ltd today said it has commenced production at its new formulation plant in Himachal Pradesh set up with an investment of around Rs 45 crore. The 70,000 square metre Baddi plant would manufacture oral and topical pharmaceutical finished dosage forms and various formulations like tablets, capsules, ointments and liquids, the company said. — PTI

Spice launches voice SMS
Chandigarh, April 19
Spice Telecom today launched its voice SMS service, which can work on any type of handset. To send a Voice SMS, a subscriber needs to dial 666 to records the SMS and 6666 to retrieve it. Subscribers can save, forward, reply and send messages to multiple recipients. At a nominal monthly rental of Rs 25, subscribers can record and send 100 voice SMS, each of 30 seconds duration. These SMS can be exchanged only amongst Spice subscribers. — TNS


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