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Retail investors panic over 
market crash
New Delhi, May 18
As the BSE Sensex plunged by 826 points today, panic gripped the retail investors who are apprehensive whether the market would once again touch the lowest level. But, Finance Minister seemed totally unruffled over the ‘correction’ in the market.

Rupee plunges by 26 paise
Gold, silver tumble

ONGC Board clears Rs 950-cr investment
New Delhi, May 18
The Board of Directors of ONGC has approved the investment proposal of Rs 950 crore for exploration and development of coal bed methane (CBM) in six blocks in Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Lakshmi Mittal formally launches Arcelor bid
London, May 18
Unfazed by the stiff opposition to his takeover bid, NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal today made his formal offer for acquiring the rival steel company Arcelor, which provides a chance for shareholders to determine the Luxembourg-based company’s future.

WB finally gets Tatas’ small car project
Kolkata, May 18 }
The Rs 1,000-crore Tata Motors' small car project, which Capt Amarinder Singh had been dreaming for Punjab, finally went to West Bengal today.

Videocon to set up IT unit in Bengal
Kolkata, May 18
Television major Videocon Industry has decided to diversify into the IT sector and plans to set up a BPO unit at the Salt Lake industrial zone here offering 25,000 jobs, Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot said here today.

Iffco Plans 1,000-MW unit in Chhattisgarh
New Delhi, May 18
Fertiliser cooperative major Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (Iffco) is diversifying into power generation and infrastructure sectors by roping in domestic and foreign partners.


Toshiba Corp's new 15.4 inch laptop computer "Dynabook 2006 FIFA World Cup edition" is displayed in Tokyo
Toshiba Corp's new 15.4 inch laptop computer "Dynabook 2006 FIFA World Cup edition" is displayed in Tokyo on Thursday. The computer, imprinted with the FIFA World Cup trophy design and the country names of past champions, will go on sale in Japan for around 200,000 yen ($1,800) from Friday with a limited number of 600, the company said.— Reuters

 

This combination photograph shows models wearing creations by final-year students of the Indian National Institute of Fashion Technology
This combination photograph shows models wearing creations by final-year students of the Indian National Institute of Fashion Technology at their graduation show in Hyderabad late on Wednesday. Some 22 students showed creations as part of their degree after completing a four-year course at the institute. — AFP 

PNB posts profit of Rs 1,439 cr
New Delhi, May 18
Punjab National Bank today reported a marginal increase of 2.1 per cent in net profit at Rs 1,439 crore during the year ending March 2006, as against Rs 1,410 crore in the previous year.

Reliance consortium bags Mumbai Metro phase-I
Mumbai, May 18
A consortium led by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company Reliance Energy Ltd and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority today bagged the contract for the Rs 2,356- crore Phase-I of the ambitious Mumbai Metro Rail project.

Dena Bank CMD
Chandigarh, May 18
Mr P.L. Gairola, a career banker, has taken over as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Dena Bank. He will have a tenure of over two and-a-half years till December, 2008.

CORPORATE RESULTS
Tata Steel payout 130 pc

New Delhi, May 18
Tata Steel has posted a net profit of Rs 783.11 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 908.58 crore for the corresponding quarter in the previous year, a decline of 13.80 per cent.


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Retail investors panic over market crash
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
As the BSE Sensex plunged by 826 points today, panic gripped the retail investors who are apprehensive whether the market would once again touch the lowest level. But, Finance Minister seemed totally unruffled over the ‘correction’ in the market.

Despite assurances by the Finance Ministry, a section of investors is worried over the recent investigations ordered against over 25 leading brokers.

“Although I am still holding my shares worth over Rs 2 lakh, but I am not sure how long the market would continue to grow, “said Mr Amrish Dutt, a retail investor.

Reacting on the market crash, Mr Anil K. Agarwal, Assocham President, said it has mainly happened due to increase in consumer price index in the US which might result in slowing in their imports which are significantly from emerging markets from Asia.

He added that the decreasing imports of the US would result in a negative impact on the Indian stock markets as most of the US demands are meted out from developing economies.

The Assocham chief, however, hoped that since the economic fundamentals are strong, the stock market would regain its past momentum and therefore the investors should not panic.

A senior official with a public sector oil company said, “The markets across the world are crashing as the FIIs are shifting their money from developing markets to the developed world. And the volatile situation in Iran, and spurt in crude prices coupled with the rise in interest rates are likely to impact the market sooner or later,” he said.

Shveta Pathak adds from Ludhiana: Steep fall in the BSE Sensex came as a nightmarish experience for investors in the region. While experts had been pointing to a likely correction ever since the Sensex crossed the 10,000 mark, today's fall was largely unexpected and left investors disheartened.

Today's decline has eroded my investment by almost 15 per cent. Though I had moved some of my investment from metal scrips, I hold Hindalco, which showed a significant decline. It has been unprecedented," said Mr Ashwani Kumar, an investor.

The scenario at the Ludhiana Stock Exchange ( LSE) and various brokers here had apprehensive investors. A downfall by almost 500 points, the moment trading began this morning, created panic among the trading community. Even as the market continued to crash, investors had begun expecting a rise before it closed. But closing witnessed an even steeper decline, quite unexpected, leaving investors a worried lot.

It was a bad day for investors today. Many people lost heavily and are hoping that the situation improves tomorrow, said Mr Vishal Jain, a broker with the LSE.

The day was particularly disappointing for the cautious investor who had been quite confused due to warnings from financial experts and a contrary behaviour of the market. The last four months were quite good as the market rose from 7,000 points to more than 12,500 points.

Even though financial advisers kept saying that a correction was likely, market kept rising. While I restrained myself initially, but when it crossed the 10,000 mark, I bought heavily when there were no signals of a decline. Of late, the wait and watch policy that experts had been asking people to adopt, did not help much as I would not have lost this kind of money if I had sold a couple of days earlier, said Mr Manish Puri, another investor.

Another trader, Mr Mahesh Kumar, said the decline was quite upsetting. "We are expecting and at the same time praying that the market improves tomorrow, else we would have to suffer huge losses".

The Financial experts, on the other hand, said correction could continue and advised people not to indulge in heavy buying or selling. "This is not the right time to venture in the market. A correction was expected quite some time ago and this could go further. People should not panic and just hold their stocks and resist any buying",advised Mr H.S. Sidhu, Executive Director, LSE. 

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Rupee plunges by 26 paise

Mumbai, May 18
The rupee fell sharply by 26 paise closing at 45.45/47 per US dollar as compared to the last close of 45.19/20, said a dealer in the forex market.

Earlier, the rupee opened weaker by 19 paise at 45.38/40 per US dollar as compared to the last close of 45.19/20 on global cues.

The Indian currency then fell sharply to 45.50/52 per US dollar in the mid-morning session on the back of a nearly 600-point fall on the BSE Sensex.

In the afternoon, stock market’s benchmark index BSE Sensex fell further to a low of 11,330 points, dipping by 888 points around 3 pm, which didn’t allow the rupee to regain losses. The RBI fixed the reference rate at 45.48 per US dollar which was 14 paise down as compared to Wednesday’s level. — UNI 

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Gold, silver tumble

New Delhi, May 18
Both gold and silver tumbled on the bullion market today on fresh selling by stockists and a weak global trend.

Gold lost Rs 300 at Rs 10,300 per 10 gm while silver nosedived by Rs 1,300 at Rs 20,000 per kilo.

Silver ready dropped by Rs 1,200 at Rs 20,000 per kilo. Silver coins also lost support and fell sharply by Rs 300 each at Rs 23,200 for buying and Rs 23,400 for selling of 100 pieces. — PTI 

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ONGC Board clears Rs 950-cr investment  
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
The Board of Directors of ONGC has approved the investment proposal of Rs 950 crore for exploration and development of coal bed methane (CBM) in six blocks in Jharkhand and West Bengal.

With the formal Board approval, ONGC has started the countdown for the first commercial production of CBM gas in India.

The projected schedule for production is June 2007. An estimated peak production of 7.84 lakh cubic metres of gas per day is being targeted from the proposed development wells, the company said.

Out of the projected expenditure, Rs 557 crore has been earmarked for the development of early CBM production in central Parbatpur area of Jharia block.

The Jharia block is jointly held by ONGC and Coal India Ltd with a stake of 74 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively.

The other blocks included in the exploration and development plan are nomination block Raniganj (ONGC 90 per cent, CIL 10 per cent) in West Bengal ; CBM Policy-I blocks: Bokaro (ONGC 80 per cent, IOC 20 per cent) and North Karanpura (ONGC 80 per cent, IOC 20 per cent); and CBM Policy-II blocks: South Karanpura (ONGC 100 per cent) and North Karanpura-West (ONGC 100 per cent) in Jharkhand.

So far, ONGC has secured 9 out of the 16 blocks awarded by the government.

An expenditure of Rs 392 crore has been approved for drilling, completion and testing of 22 pilot wells in Jharia, Bokaro and North Karanpura CBM blocks, with completion schedule of 31 months, from the date of placement of letter of intent, it said.

ONGC would deploy advanced drilling technology, viz. horizontal-inseam-multilateral drilling technique for the first time in India, after its proven success by CBM operators in Australia and the USA. 

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Lakshmi Mittal formally launches Arcelor bid  

London, May 18
Unfazed by the stiff opposition to his takeover bid, NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal today made his formal offer for acquiring the rival steel company Arcelor, which provides a chance for shareholders to determine the Luxembourg-based company’s future.

Mittal Steel is offering about $23.2 billion cash and its own shares for Arcelor, having received regulatory clearance for the bid from watchdogs in Belgium, France and Luxembourg earlier this week.

The offer is open until June 29. Regulators have said that the result will be announced on July 13.

The offer for Arcelor opened in Luxembourg, France and Belgium. It is expected to open in Spain and the USA shortly, a Mittal Steel press statement said.

If successful, Lakshmi Mittal will create a global giant worth about $40 billion, employing 320,000 persons and producing around 10 per cent of the world’s steel.

The Arcelor Board has rejected the offer and has urged shareholders to preserve the company’s independence. It has promised to increase the 2005 dividend and a 5 billion euro share buyback at a price above the market level in a bid to convince them to reject the bid.

Commenting on the offer Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO of the company, said: “Since our offer was first announced the market has demonstrated that it likes the strategy of the deal through the considerable value created.

“We have always said that it is the shareholders who should decide on this transaction and we are pleased that now that the offer is open they will have ability to do so.” — PTI

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WB finally gets Tatas’ small car project
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 18}
The Rs 1,000-crore Tata Motors' small car project, which Capt Amarinder Singh had been dreaming for Punjab, finally went to West Bengal today.

On the first day in office, soon after taking oath at Raj Bhavan, the state Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, got Mr Ratan Tata by his side who announced the decision of setting up the proposed Rs 1,000-crore plant in the state.

Mr Tata flew down to the city from his business meeting in South Africa in the afternoon today to personally convey to him his decision.

After meeting the Chief Minister, Mr Tata announced this decision along with Mr Bhattacharjee at a crowded press conference in the evening.

Mr Bhattacherjee expressed his gratitude to Mr Tata for selecting West Bengal for setting up such A magnificent project. He said initially about Rs 1,000 crore would be spent on the project, which would be built on 1,000 acres of land at Singur (Hooghly district), about 100 km from Kolkata. Nearly 1,000 persons will get direct employment from the plant.

Mr Tata said the company also planned to invest another Rs 250 crore for the expansion and modernisation of Tata Motor’s subsidiary Telcon at Kharagpur, about 100 km from here.

Incidentally, Telcon produces heavy earth-moving equipment and machineries for the engineering sector.

Elaborating on the small car plant, Mr Tata said the prototype of the 4-door rear engine Rs 1 lakh car had been frozen and the first car was expected to roll out by 2008.

Tata Industries sources said the Punjab Government and the Chief Ministers of Haryana and Uttaranchal were among others, who had approached the company for the project. The offer, which the Punjab Chief Minister made to the Tatas was most attractive, but still they had selected Bengal because of several strategic advantages. 

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Videocon to set up IT unit in Bengal

Kolkata, May 18
Television major Videocon Industry has decided to diversify into the IT sector and plans to set up a BPO unit at the Salt Lake industrial zone here offering 25,000 jobs, Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot said here today.

Speaking on the sidelines of the swearing-in ceremony of the 7th Left Front Ministry under the leadership of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee, Mr Dhoot said he had already held detailed talks on the issue with the Chief Minister and decided to go ahead with the project in a time- bound manner.

“During my meeting with the Chief Minister this evening I will take up this project with him again as I propose to complete it within the next two years. I will also seek some more land for setting up a manufacturing unit in the Rajarhat area,” Mr Dhoot informed.

The Chairman of the Rs 1500-crore Videocon Industry said the IT unit alone would employ about 25,000 people, mostly IT experts, within the next two years in order to make a major contribution to the fast- emerging IT industry in the state.

Regarding his plan for establishing a separate colour television component manufacturing unit in the new industrial hub at Rajarhat, he said he had already applied to the state government for 100 acres of land for this project.

“I will take up the issue and reiterate my demand for land during my meeting with Mr Bhattacherjee and hope to strike a final deal soon,” he said. — UNI

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Iffco Plans 1,000-MW unit in Chhattisgarh

New Delhi, May 18
Fertiliser cooperative major Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (Iffco) is diversifying into power generation and infrastructure sectors by roping in domestic and foreign partners.

In its diversification spree, Iffco will set up a 1,000 MW power generation plant in Chhattisgarh as a joint venture with the Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB) with equity holding of 74:26.

In the joint venture, christened as Iffco Chhattisgarh Power Ltd (ICPL), Iffco and its associates will put in Rs 1,155 crore while the CSEB will pitch in Rs 405 crore, said Iffco Chairman S.K. Jakhar here today.

The debt-equity ratio for the Rs 5,200 crore venture has been set at 70:30.

With stabilised tariff of Rs 2.16 per unit, CSEB will buy 90 per cent of the power generated, rest of the generation will go to Iffco which would trade off the surplus after meeting its requirement of 45 MW.

Iffco is also foraying into infrastructure sector by leading a trans-national consortium to develop Rs 2,600-crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Project (MTHL).

A 22-km-long bridge across the deep sea connecting Sewri in Mumbai and Nhava in Navi Mumbai will be constructed under the project.

In its efforts to achieve backward and forward linkages in fertiliser sector, Iffco has floated a Indo-Egyptian Fertiliser Co, a joint venture with Egyptian Government's El Nasr Mining Co.

The 76:24 joint venture will set up a plant to produce 4.50 lakh tonnes of phosphoric acid annually. And Iffco will buyback the entire production, Iffco Managing Director U. S. Awasthi said.

Meanwhile, the cooperative said it would invest Rs 400 crore to increase its urea production capacity by 5.42 lakh tonnes, besides planning to raise about Rs 1,200 crore through external commercial borrowings (ECBs). — Agencies

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PNB posts profit of Rs 1,439 cr
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
Punjab National Bank today reported a marginal increase of 2.1 per cent in net profit at Rs 1,439 crore during the year ending March 2006, as against Rs 1,410 crore in the previous year.

The total income of the bank stood at Rs 10,815 crore, over Rs 10,136 crore posted during the last fiscal, registering a growth of 6.7 per cent.

The total business of the bank stood at Rs 1,94,312 crore at the end of March 2006, as compared to Rs 1,63,580 crore at the end of March 2005. Meanwhile, the bank said it would increase interest rates between 25 to 50 basis points after July.

"We will not remain soft. Twenty five to fifty basis point increase in interest rates should not cause anxiety in the market. However, interest rates would remain stable at current level up to June-July," PNB CMD, Mr S.C. Gupta told reporters.

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Reliance consortium bags Mumbai Metro phase-I

Mumbai, May 18
A consortium led by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company Reliance Energy Ltd and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority today bagged the contract for the Rs 2,356- crore Phase-I of the ambitious Mumbai Metro Rail project.

The work on the 11- km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor, which comes under phase-I, will start by June and the foundation stone will be laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said here.

The first corridor will be completed within three years by a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by the Mumbai Metro-I consortium. — PTI

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Dena Bank CMD

Chandigarh, May 18
Mr P.L. Gairola, a career banker, has taken over as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Dena Bank. He will have a tenure of over two and-a-half years till December, 2008.

Mr Gairola was an Executive Director in the Bank of India before taking up the new assignment. — TNS

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CORPORATE RESULTS
Tata Steel payout 130 pc

New Delhi, May 18
Tata Steel has posted a net profit of Rs 783.11 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 908.58 crore for the corresponding quarter in the previous year, a decline of 13.80 per cent.

Announcing the results, the company's Managing Director B Muthuraman said its total income has increased from Rs 3,894.39 crore in Q4 FY 04-05 to Rs 4,193.33 crore for Q4 FY 05-06.

It has posted a net profit of Rs 3,506.38 crore for the year ended March 31 (FY 05-06) as compared to Rs 3,474.16 crore for the corresponding period previous year (FY 04-05).

Total income has increased from Rs 14,646.98 crore in FY 04-05 to Rs 15,394.15 crore for FY 05-06.

The Board of Directors has recommended a dividend of 130 per cent for the financial year 2005-06.

Meanwhile, Tata Steel said it plans to raise up $1 billion from overseas markets to fund its growth plans.

Havell’s India

Electrical equipment maker Havell’s India has reported a 107 per cent rise in net profit for fiscal 2005-06 and a 1:1 bonus issue, adding that it will issue FCCBs to fund acquisitions and expansion.

The company, which also declared a dividend of 50 per cent or Rs 2.50 per share of Rs 5 each, said net profit in 2005-06 stood at Rs 63.2 crore on a turnover of Rs 1,115 crore, which was up by 67 per cent.

Havell’s Board approved the issue of FCCBs of up to $60 million. The turnover for the fiscal stood at Rs 1,115 crore, up by 67 per cent.

Nahar Industries

Nahar Industrial Enterprises Ltd (NIEL) said today it had reported an increase of 102.2 per cent in its profit before tax (PBT) for the financial year ending March 31, 2006.

The Board of Directors of the company recommended a 10 per cent dividend for the year 2005-06.

Declaring the annual results of the company, Mr Kamal Oswal, Vice- Chairman and Managing Director, NIEL, said: "The growth in PBT is mainly because of better planning, forward and backward integration of textile units, better realisation of value addition and working capital management."

Net sales during the fiscal 2005-06 went up from Rs 607.03 crore in the previous year to Rs 694.14 crore, showing an increase of 14.35 per cent. Profit before tax increased to Rs 76.72 crore, which is 102.22 per cent higher than the PBT of Rs 37.94 crore registered in the fiscal 2004-05.

HDFC Standard Life

HDFC Standard Life has recorded a growth of 112 per cent for the period April-March 2005-06, in comparison with the same period last fiscal, with new business first year premium of Rs 1,029 crore. The growth achieved by the company was considerably higher than the private sector industry average of 84 per cent for 2006-06. EPI grew by 103 per cent from Rs 436 crore to Rs 887 crore. HDFC Standard Life's business witnessed 32 per cent growth. The average premium increased b y 62 per cent from Rs 17,000 in 2004-05 to Rs 27,500 in 2005-06.
— Agencies, TNS

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