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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Centre fails to use Rs 55,000-cr oil cess for price stability
New Delhi, May 15
A parliamentary panel has rapped the government for not spending about Rs 55,000 crore oil cess for price stabilisation in the oil sector and to enhance domestic oil production.

Govt sets cut-off date for power
purchase pact

New Delhi, May 15
In what could give some relief to private power firms such as Essar and Torrent, the government has exempted developers from going through the tariff-based competitive bidding route if they meet a certain criteria.

BSNL ready to negotiate
Carriage charge for MTNL STD traffic
New Delhi, May 15
Under pressure to reduce the carriage charge from the current 65 paise to retain MTNL’s STD traffic, BSNL today expressed its willingness to lower the charge, a move which will lead to lower STD call rates between Delhi and Mumbai to start with.

Shyam Telecom gets GSM licence in UK
New Delhi, May 15
Rajasthan-based telecom company Shyam Telecom is expanding its footprint in Britain after having bagged a licence to offer GSM mobile services there. The UK-based subsidiary Shyam Telecom UK Ltd has been awarded the licence and the company would be providing GSM networks in office buildings or campuses to offer seamless coverage, company officials said.

Suzlon to raiseRs 5,000 crore
FY’06 net up 108 pc at Rs 760 cr
New Delhi, May 15
India’s largest wind energy firm Suzlon said today it would raise Rs 5,000 crore to repay debt incurred for the takeover of Belgium-based Hansen Transmission and capacity expansion of domestic manufacturing facilities.

Punj Lloyd forms jv in Saudi Arabia
Mumbai, May 15
Punj Lloyd Ltd said today it had entered into a joint venture with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to form a joint venture company with a share capital of two million Saudi Riyals.



Miss India Earth, 2006, Amruta Patki poses for photographers
Miss India Earth, 2006, Amruta Patki poses for photographers at the inauguration of a showroom in Lucknow on Monday.
— PTI

EARLIER STORIES
 

A Chinese bank teller handles stacks of 100 yuan notes at a local bank in Beijing on Monday.
A Chinese bank teller handles stacks of 100 yuan notes at a local bank in Beijing on Monday. China set its currency, the yuan, at 7.9982 to the US dollar early on Monday, the first time since its revaluation last year that it broke below the psychologically important 8.000 mark. — AFP

PTC launches automotive software in
North India

Chandigarh, May 15
Upbeat after having acquired engineering automation software firm Mathsoft for $63.25 million last week, PTC, a $720 million Boston-based company, is looking to expand its base and products in India, where it already claims to command a market share of 45 per cent.

HTTL eyes Uttaranchal
New Delhi, May 15
Hanung Toys & Textiles Ltd (HTTL), believed to be the first Indian soft toys’ manufacturer to give competition to Chinese companies in domestic and international markets, today announced to set up a weaving plant in Uttaranchal with Rs 160-crore investment.

Pak to import 100 more items
from India 

Islamabad, May 15
Ahead of the approaching deadline for implementation of the South Asian Free Trade agreement, Pakistan is planning to import 100 more items from India from the next fiscal.

Allahabad Bank profit up
Kolkata, May 15
Allahabad Bank, which has targeted to increase its overall business to Rs 100,000 crore by March next, has recorded a 30.33 per cent growth in net profit margin to Rs 706.13 crore during the last fiscal, up from Rs 541.80 crore in 2004-05.

Wipro bags Quantech for $10m
Bangalore, May 15
Wipro Ltd. on Monday announced acquisition of the mechanical design and analysis services division of US-based Quantech Global Services LLC for $10.2 million in an all-cash deal.

RBI relief to poultry farmers
Chandigarh, May 15
Finally, there is relief for the poultry industry, staggering under the after effects of bird flu. The Reserve Bank of India has announced a series of relief measures for poultry units financed by various banks, while proposing to slash down the interest rates by almost 50 per cent (from 8.5 per cent to 4 per cent).

Gold plunges by Rs 220
New Delhi, May 15
The gold prices plunged on the bullion market today on selling by stockists triggered by a falling overseas trend and end of the marriage season and closed with a hefty loss of Rs 220 at Rs 10,430 per 10 gm.

Executive Vice-President of Institute of Information & Industry G.J. Huang and Mr Yen-shiang Shih of the Taiwan Investment and Trade Mission are greeted by Nasscom chief Kiran Karnik at a function in Chennai on Monday Executive Vice-President of Institute of Information & Industry G.J. Huang (left) and Mr Yen-shiang Shih of the Taiwan Investment and Trade Mission are greeted by Nasscom chief Kiran Karnik (right) at a function in Chennai on Monday. — PTI

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Centre fails to use Rs 55,000-cr oil cess for price stability
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
A parliamentary panel has rapped the government for not spending about Rs 55,000 crore oil cess for price stabilisation in the oil sector and to enhance domestic oil production.

Meanwhile, oil companies and the government are preparing the ground for another hike in the oil prices to set off the hike in global prices, claiming that oil marketing companies are likely to incur a revenue loss of Rs 75,000 crore this fiscal.

After failing to convince Left Parties and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today but the utilisation of the cess does not seem to be on the government’s agenda.

“Up to March 31, 2005, the Central government has collected a sum of about Rs 55,900 crore as a cess out of which the Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB), set up in 1975 to provide financial assistance for the development of the oil industry, has received a paltry sum of Rs 902 crore only,” stated the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas submitted to the Lok Sabha today. Raising a question on the utilisation of these funds, the committee noted that the cess on crude per metric tonne had been rather enhanced to Rs 2,500 from Rs 1,800 through the Budget, 2006-07.

According to the Petroleum Ministry, the ONGC will have to pay an additional cess of Rs 1,914 crore in 2006-07, and OIl Rs 245 crore on the crude production target of 3.5 MT in 2006-07.

It has admitted that the cess proceeds are credited to the Consolidated Fund of India. The Petroleum Ministry and the Finance Ministry are not in agreement on this issue though the government is likely to get Rs 2,200 crore more from the cess. “But nothing has been indicated as to how much of this extra amount is going to be made available to the OIDB,” it said.

With the international oil prices continuing to soar and a majority of the domestic oil companies suffering cash losses, the Petroleum Ministry has been pressing the Finance Ministry to release ‘at least’ a part of the approximately Rs 55,000 crore raised from the cess levied on crude oil since 1989.

The Oil Industry (Development) Act provides for the collection of a cess as a duty of excise on indigenous crude and natural gas. The Board renders assistance to the oil industry by way of payment of loans for projects and disbursement of grants for research and development, besides other development activities.

In their meeting with Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, Left party leaders last week had demanded to first utilise this cess instead of demanding a hike in the diesel and petrol prices.

Agreeing with the Left parties, it seems, the committee has recommended the setting up of a price stabilisation fund, using the money collected from cess on indigenous crude at the rate of Rs 2,500 per tonne under the Oil Industry Development Act, to bring in stability in the prices of petroleum products. 

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Govt sets cut-off date for power purchase pact

New Delhi, May 15
In what could give some relief to private power firms such as Essar and Torrent, the government has exempted developers from going through the tariff-based competitive bidding route if they meet a certain criteria.

The Power Ministry has clarified that those developers who have approached the regulatory commission concerned for approval of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of their projects or the developers whose PPA has been cleared by the regulator before January 6, 2006, would not have to go through competitive bidding process, official sources said.

Moreover, any project, which has gone to financial institutions for appraisal before January 6 and if the developer is able to achieve financial closure and approach the regulator concerned for PPA approval before September 30, 2006, would also be exempted, they said.

When contacted Power Secretary R.V. Shahi confirmed that the ministry has made the clarification on the policy but did not say how many projects could benefit.

The Ministry had notified the National Tariff Policy on January 6 this year, according to which all distribution companies and state electricity boards would have to buy power for future requirements through tariff-based bidding.

However, this condition had put about 10 to 12 projects that were being set up on MoU basis, in jeopardy as these were in various stages of development but were yet to start generation.

Some of these projects, including the 1500-MW Hazira plant of Essar Power and the 1100-MW project of Torrent, had approached Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) for in-principle approval of cost estimates.

The CERC had on February 17, 2006, sought clarification from the Power Ministry, regarding the applicability of the term “future procurement” on private projects that have made substantial progress in signing PPAs and financial closure but were yet to start generating electricity.

According to the Tariff Policy, notified on January 6, 2006, “all future requirement of power should be procured competitively by distribution licensees”

If the policy were applied to companies, which had made substantial progress, the developers would have to start all over again. Moreover, this would have also affected the generation capacity addition in the country, when power shortages are mounting. — PTI 

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BSNL ready to negotiate
Carriage charge for MTNL STD traffic

New Delhi, May 15
Under pressure to reduce the carriage charge from the current 65 paise to retain MTNL’s STD traffic, BSNL today expressed its willingness to lower the charge, a move which will lead to lower STD call rates between Delhi and Mumbai to start with.

“Price points can always be negotiated . There is always a possibility of negotiating outside with MTNL.

Talks are going on in this regard,” Mr A.K. Sinha, CMD, BSNL, said on the sidelines of a WiMax seminar.

Mr Sinha said TRAI had removed the floor rate for carriage charges (Rs 19 paise-Rs 1.10) and now there was only a ceiling rate of 65 paise above which the carriage charge could not be applied.

Mr Sinha indicated towards a variable carriage cost, saying that “traffic in Delhi and Mumbai is different (lucrative). Carriage charges can be variable. We can’t only be carrying losing (unremunerative traffic covering nooks and corners of the country) traffic”.

The PSU claimed there was “no dispute” with MTNL but said both PSUs had formed a committee to look into their mutual areas of concern, mainly relating to the carriage of STD traffic.

“There is no dispute between us (BSNL and MTNL)...discussions have been going on and the issue will be resolved soon,” Mr Sinha said

BSNL has asked MTNL to pay about Rs 1,062 crore for 2005-06. However, MTNL has disputed this amount, saying that only a certain part of this is undisputable. In fact, BSNL officials say MTNL had not paid anything over the past five years. — PTI

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Shyam Telecom gets GSM licence in UK

New Delhi, May 15
Rajasthan-based telecom company Shyam Telecom is expanding its footprint in Britain after having bagged a licence to offer GSM mobile services there. The UK-based subsidiary Shyam Telecom UK Ltd has been awarded the licence and the company would be providing GSM networks in office buildings or campuses to offer seamless coverage, company officials said.

The licence is initially for 10 yeas , extendable at the discretion of OFCOM (the equivalent of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India).

The other leading companies, which have won the licence are British Telecom, Cable & Wireless UK, O2 Ltd, PLDT Ltd, Opal Telecom, Colt Mobile Telecommunications and Spring Mobil AB, among others. — PTI

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Suzlon to raiseRs 5,000 crore
FY’06 net up 108 pc at Rs 760 cr

New Delhi, May 15
India’s largest wind energy firm Suzlon said today it would raise Rs 5,000 crore to repay debt incurred for the takeover of Belgium-based Hansen Transmission and capacity expansion of domestic manufacturing facilities.

The Pune-based manufacturer of wind turbine generators, which today reported a 108 per cent jump in net profit to Rs 760.52 crore during 2005-06, also expects a 20-25 per cent growth in revenues this fiscal.

“We will raise Rs 5,000 crore from domestic and global markets. Of this, $500 million (Rs 2,250 crore) would be through foreign currency convertible bonds,” Suzlon Energy Chairman and Managing Director Tulsi R. Tanti said.

Suzlon today posted a 41.94 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 360.16 crore for the fourth quarter of 2005-06, compared to Rs 253.74 crore in the year-ago period. Mr Tanti said the company was expecting to maintain margins in 2006-07 with 19 per cent growth in profit after tax.

The Board of Directors has recommended a final dividend of Rs 2.50 per share of Rs 10 each (25 per cent) and a preference dividend of Rs 10 per share of Rs 100 each (10 per cent) on redeemable cumulative preference shares for 2005-06. — PTI

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Punj Lloyd forms jv in Saudi Arabia

Mumbai, May 15
Punj Lloyd Ltd said today it had entered into a joint venture with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to form a joint venture company with a share capital of two million Saudi Riyals.

Punj Lloyd would hold 49 per cent in the company while 51 per cent would be held by Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Sultan (KBS) of Saudi Arabia, Punj Lloyd said.

The company, to be named ‘Dayim Punj Lloyd Engineering Ltd’, would operate in engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of onshore and offshore projects for the hydrocarbon sector, power chemical, water and sewage sector, civil infrastructure and industrial projects in Saudi Arabia, it said.

KBS would be the Chairman of Dayim-Punj Lloyd and his role would be to identify commercial opportunities for the company in Saudi Arabia. — PTI

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PTC launches automotive software in North India
Peeyush Agnihotri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Upbeat after having acquired engineering automation software firm Mathsoft for $63.25 million last week, PTC, a $720 million Boston-based company, is looking to expand its base and products in India, where it already claims to command a market share of 45 per cent.

PTC, a Nasdaq-listed company that is into designing CAD/CAM/CAE desktop solution, today launched its latest software Pro/Engineer Wildfire for automotive manufacturing sector in North India. Priced between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 7 lakh, the product is specifically targeted at automotive SMEs and ancillaries in North India.

“We are not looking at one mega deal but a large number of small deals in North to enhance our revenues,” said Mr Rohit Bidappa, Head, Marketing, India, who was in Chandigarh to launch the product. He said North (including NCR) was a close second to the West as far as their market presence went. “Our presence in east India is minimal,” he said while asserting that they were soon going to open a representative office in east India.

The company, which boasts of Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, TVS, Hero Group and L&T as clients, said the manufacturing automation sector in India ranged between $50 and $70 million. “India, China and East Europe were the most growing markets in this order. North India, specifically, has a lot of unexplored potential. It is here from where we look forward to scout for revenues,” he says.

While skirting the issue of total revenue from India, all he disclosed was that the company has shown a 20 per cent growth on YoY basis. 

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HTTL eyes Uttaranchal 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
Hanung Toys & Textiles Ltd (HTTL), believed to be the first Indian soft toys’ manufacturer to give competition to Chinese companies in domestic and international markets, today announced to set up a weaving plant in Uttaranchal with Rs 160-crore investment.

“HTTL’s new unit near Roorkee, expected to be functional by the end of 2006, will have a weaving capacity of 21,000 metres per day, while processing capacity will be Rs 1 lakh metres per day. We are looking at around 16,000 finished sets per day,” HTTL CMD Ashok Kumar Bansal said here. He said the company was also expected to come up with an IPO by June to finance its expansion plans. 

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Pak to import 100 more items from India 

Islamabad, May 15
Ahead of the approaching deadline for implementation of the South Asian Free Trade agreement (SAFTA), Pakistan is planning to import 100 more items from India from the next fiscal.

Islamabad had received a list of 286 items from India during the third round of the Joint Study Group held here out of which the Commerce Ministry identified 100 items, which would be included in the positive list, for the time being, Pakistan daily Business Recorder quoted officials as saying.

Preference would be given to those items on which duty is about 5 per cent and are not locally manufactured, the officials said, adding that the list would be finalised at an inter-ministerial meeting to be held after the budget, after seeking approval from the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

If the 100 items are included, the positive list would comprise 882 items as the decision to import cement from India could be withdrawn as the prices of the locally manufactured cement may come down, Economic Advisor to the Finance Ministry Ashfaque Hasan Khan said.

Presently, the trade volume between the two countries stands over $800 million and India is keenly awaiting to see whether Pakistan would implement the SAFTA roadmap which would come into effect from July 1.

SAFTA is fully implementable by 2015. Under the agreement for which Pakistan is a signatory, the SAARC countries have to trade each other with a short list of negative items and open the rest for direct trade. — PTI

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Allahabad Bank profit up  

Kolkata, May 15
Allahabad Bank, which has targeted to increase its overall business to Rs 100,000 crore by March next, has recorded a 30.33 per cent growth in net profit margin to Rs 706.13 crore during the last fiscal, up from Rs 541.80 crore in 2004-05.

Briefing mediapersons about the financial performance of the bank after an extended Board of Directors meeting here today, Allahabad Bank Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Onkar Nath Singh, said the total business of the bank had reached Rs 78,561 crore from Rs 62,914 crore in the previous year.

The operating profit of the bank during the last fiscal also recorded a robust growth of around 10 per cent to Rs 1,024.15 crore from Rs 933.79 crore.

Regarding dividend, Mr Singh indicated that in the wake of the healthy performance it could be more than 30 per cent, as announced last year. — UNI

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Wipro bags Quantech for $10m

Bangalore, May 15
Wipro Ltd. on Monday announced acquisition of the mechanical design and analysis services division of US-based Quantech Global Services LLC for $10.2 million in an all-cash deal.

A Wipro official, however, said the value of the acquisition includes the division’s anticipated revenues over the next three years.

“About 500 domain specialists of the Quantech services division, which has operations in Bangalore and Hyderabad, besides Michigan in the US, will join our global IT services division to strengthen our offerings in the aerospace and automotive engineering outsourcing business,” Wipro Technologies chief operating officer A.L. Rao told reporters here.

The 16-year-old $13-million Quantech has about 20 customers, including General Motors, Delphi, Mazda and Toyota.

The acquisition process will be completed in a month, including cash payment. — IANS

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RBI relief to poultry farmers
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Finally, there is relief for the poultry industry, staggering under the after effects of bird flu. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced a series of relief measures for poultry units financed by various banks, while proposing to slash down the interest rates by almost 50 per cent (from 8.5 per cent to 4 per cent).

Ever since bird flu cases were reported in Maharashtra in February this year, poultry farmers all over the country have suffered huge losses as the demand for eggs and other poultry products fell down to almost minimal.

Three months after the bird flu was reported, 3,000 poultry farms in Punjab and Haryana, are facing tough times with the decline in demand. Many poultry farms are on the brink of closure, as they collectively suffer an estimated daily loss of Rs 4 crore.

It has been decided that the principle and interest due on working capital loans, as also instalments and interest on term loans , which have fallen due for payment after the onset of bird flu, may be converted into term loans.

These converted loans will be recovered in instalments based on projected future inflows, over a period of up to three years with an initial moratorium of up to one year.

The remaining portion of the term loan may be rescheduled with a moratorium period of up to one year, depending upon the cash flow generating capacity of the unit.

Banks have been asked to complete the rescheduling /conversion before June 30, and these rescheduled/ converted loans may be treated as current dues.

Mr Mohinder Arora, Convenor of North India Poultry Farmers Welfare Federation and President of Punjab Poultry Farmers Association, said the poultry farms in Punjab and Haryana are collectively suffering a loss of Rs 4 crore daily, and many poultry farms have closed down.

Mr Darshan Kumar Singla, President of Haryana Poultry Farmers Association, said that in Barwala Poultry belt about five farms had already shut down. 

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Gold plunges by Rs 220

New Delhi, May 15
The gold prices plunged on the bullion market today on selling by stockists triggered by a falling overseas trend and end of the marriage season and closed with a hefty loss of Rs 220 at Rs 10,430 per 10 gm.

The market sentiment turned bearish after reports of a major fall in the gold prices at the opening session in London dipping below $700, on speculation that a rally that took the metal to the highest in 26 years was exaggerated, losing $19.05 to $695.75 an ounce.

At home, standard gold and ornaments dropped by Rs 220 each at Rs 10,430 and Rs 10,280 per 10 gm, respectively.

Sovereign fell by Rs 50 at Rs 8,100 per piece of 8 gm.

Silver ready spurted here on restricted arrivals and gained Rs 300 at Rs 21,300 per kilo while weekly-based delivery held unchanged at Rs 21,950 per kilo. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

Rupee sheds 14 paise
Mumbai, May 15
The rupee opened weaker by four paise at 45.08/10 against dollar as compared to the last close of 45.04/05, said a forex dealer here. The rupee then dipped sharply to by 14 paise to 45.1850/1950 in the mid-morning session, the dealer added. The crude prices quoted in the range of $71-72, quite a high price for Indian importers, were putting pressure on the rupee. Even the plunge in the stock markets today was also a factor working against the rupee. — UNI

Sanwaria Agro
Mumbai, May 15
In a bid to restructure its business, Sanwaria Agro Oils Ltd said today it would diversify into real estate, warehousing and logistics and foray into the energy sector.The Board approved the proposal for diversifying into real estate by developing land already acquired by the group at different places through a separate division and the newly incorporated subsidiary, Sanwaria Infrastructure Ltd. Sanwaria Agro would diversify into warehousing and logistics by creating another division within the company and through Sanwaria Infrastructure. — PTI

Lupin pact
Mumbai, May 15
Drugmaker Lupin Ltd said today it had signed a licensing agreement with leading Italian pharmaceutical company ItalFarmaco for marketing its cardiovascular critical care product in the Indian market. Under the agreement, Lupin would exclusively market enoxaparin sodium Injection in pre-filled syringes under the brand name ‘Lupenox’. — PTI

Praj Industries
Mumbai, May 15
Praj Industries Ltd has received Rs 75 crore worth of orders from sugar mills and distilleries in north and western India for the installation of distillery plants. The company has received orders from Upper Ganges Sugar Mills and Mankapur Chini Mills (Balrampur Group) for a 100 kl per day distillery each, amongst others. Praj Industries has also received an order from Triveni Engineering for its proposed 160 kl per day distillery to be set up in UP. — UNI

Tata MF launch
Mumbai, May 15
The Tata Mutual Fund today launched a close-ended equity management fund, which invests in equities combined with a derivative option with the investment being converted into an open- ended fund after 18 months. Tata Assest Managing Director Ved Prakash Chaturvedi said the fund aimed at moderating downside risk to the portfolio through hedging the portfolio by using stock or index derivatives .The offer would close on June 9. — PTI

Emami payout
Kolkata, May 15
The Board of Directors of Emami, India’s personal and healthcare major has approved merger of the company’s marketing and selling network. Pending the approval of shareholders, the Board cleared the proposal for brining JS Marketing and Finance Limited and Emami Limited within one fold, company sources today said. The Board also declared 100 per cent dividend for the shareholders as the company reported a 68 per cent jump in net profit and 37 per cent increase in turnover for the year ended March 31. — UNI
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