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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Power to shift PSU Directors taken away from ministries
New Delhi, June 7
In a move aimed at giving greater functional autonomy to public sector enterprises, the administrative ministries have been divested of the powers to transfer any Director within the PSEs or its subsidiaries. Any such transfer would now need the approval of the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister, government sources said.

Court rebukes Citibank for fake credit card bills 
New Delhi, June 7
A city consumer court has fined Citibank Rs 10,000 for harassing a person by sending him an unsolicited credit card and later sending him fake bills.

India 4th most preferred investment destination 
New Delhi, June 7
India has been ranked fourth most attractive investment country in the world as well as the most preferred location for call centres and back office functions, according to the Ernst & Young European Attractiveness Survey, 2006, released today.

REL plans Rs 60,000-cr investment
Posts net profit of Rs 650 crore
Mumbai, June 7
Reliance Energy, the flagship company of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, said today it was pursuing generation projects aggregating to a total capacity of 16,000 MW with a projected investment of Rs 60,000 crore.

Stone laid for first Fab City in Hyderabad
Hyderabad, June 7
The Centre will soon announce a policy for the promotion of semiconductor industry which is expected to witness a major boom with the country’s first silicon chip- manufacturing facility being set up near Hyderabad.
Mr Sanjiv Lamba , MD South and South-East Asia BOC, exchanges MoU files with Dr Vinod Agarwal, CEO, SemIndia Mr Sanjiv Lamba (extreme left), MD South and South-East Asia BOC, exchanges MoU files with Dr Vinod Agarwal (right), CEO, SemIndia, in the presence of Union Minister for Communication and IT, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, and the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Dr Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy, in Hyderabad on Wednesday. — PTI photo 


Japanese watchmaker Seiko Watch Corp. President Shinji Hattori displays 15 million yen ($132,743) watch "Sonnerie"
Japanese watchmaker Seiko Watch Corp. President Shinji Hattori displays 15 million yen ($132,743) watch "Sonnerie" at a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. Seiko plans to put on sale in August the high-end wrist watch which works with the precision instrument manufacturer's original "Spring Drive," a hybrid of the conventional spring and quartz watches. — AP/PTI




 

‘Bull market over, bear hug to stay’
New Delhi, June 7
The three-year bull run across global markets might be over, giving way to a full-fledged bear market, leading equity research firm Morgan Stanley has warned in its latest report.

Mr Nick Reilly , GM Daewoo's President and Chief Executive Officer, poses at the unveiling of the automaker's first sports utility vehicle
Mr Nick Reilly (centre), GM Daewoo's President and Chief Executive Officer, poses at the unveiling of the automaker's first sports utility vehicle, Winstorm, in Taejon, 160 km south of Seoul, on Wednesday. — Reuters

Norms for biotech SEZs cleared
Bangalore, June 7
The Union Science and Technology Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, said today that the Centre had cleared norms for the establishment of SEZs for the bio-technology (BT) sector.

Post-paid customers to get credit limit in monthly bills
New Delhi, June 7
In a move aimed at making the system more consumer-friendly, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today directed all telecom access providers to include the credit limit set for post-paid customers in their monthly statement/bill on a regular basis.

Google.com blocked in China
Beijing, June 7
The Google.com search engine has been blocked in most parts of China, as Beijing steps up its efforts to restrict the public's access to information, a Paris-based media watchdog said.

Award for Orient Paper
New Delhi, June 7
The World Environment Foundation will honour Orient Paper Mills with the ‘Golden Peacock Environment Management Award’ for using environment- friendly techniques in carrying out industrial activities.

CORPORATE RESULTS
Tata Tea Q4 net at Rs 19.32 cr

Mumbai, June 7
Tata Tea Ltd has posted a decline in net profit at Rs 19.32 crore for the January-March quarter, compared to Rs 25.83 crore for the corresponding quarter in  2004-05.

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Power to shift PSU Directors taken away from ministries

New Delhi, June 7
In a move aimed at giving greater functional autonomy to public sector enterprises, the administrative ministries have been divested of the powers to transfer any Director within the PSEs or its subsidiaries.

Any such transfer would now need the approval of the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister, government sources said.

In 1994, the government had issued orders allowing the transfer of functional Directors within a PSE without reference to the ACC, provided their initial appointments were made by the committee.

Since then many instances have come to light of the arbitrary transfer of Directors within an organisation or its subsidiaries, the sources added. This was more pronounced in companies that had many subsidiaries.

Following an order by the ACC, the Department of Public Enterprises has issued guidelines that all transfers of Chairmen and Managing Directors within a company or between its subsidiaries or to another company would require approval of the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet even though they were initially appointed by the committee.

The order would be applicable to all PSUs that sign the memorandums of understanding with the government. — PTI 

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Court rebukes Citibank for fake credit card bills 

New Delhi, June 7
A city consumer court has fined Citibank Rs 10,000 for harassing a person by sending him an unsolicited credit card and later sending him fake bills.

“Citibank is not following the RBI’s rules and regulations and the matter needs a probe,” said the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, allowing the petition.

Mr Charanjit Singh, a resident of Tagore Garden, received a letter from Citibank on February 24, 2003, containing a free credit card. Later Mr Charanjit Singh contacted the bank through its helpline number and refused to accept the card as he was not aware of the terms and conditions of the card.

Citi Bank officials tried to convince him about the various advantages of it.

However, he did not accept the card and did not sign any documents. The bank on November 11, 2003, again sent him a free credit card without Mr Singh’s request and his knowledge. He again refused to accept the credit card and requested the bank to cancel it and made it clear that he was not interested in such free gifts. Despite his request to cancel the cards, the bank started sending him card bills showing first year fee, service charges, service tax etc.

He contacted the bank officials again and was told that the card was not activated and the bills sent to him were the minimum compulsory charges.

An aggrieved Singh then approached the forum and sought compensation worth Rs 4.9 lakh. He produced the last bill dated April 18, 2005, for Rs 2,996 to the court.

The court questioned Citibank as to why Mr Singh should pay for a card which he had neither demanded nor signed any documents related to it.

The bank said that the card was re-issued only after Mr Singh’s consent. “However no documentary proof in this regard is available,” the forum observed, rejecting Citibank’s contention and held it liable for harassing Mr Singh. — PTI

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India 4th most preferred investment destination 

New Delhi, June 7
India has been ranked fourth most attractive investment country in the world as well as the most preferred location for call centres and back office functions, according to the Ernst & Young European Attractiveness Survey, 2006, released today.

India's rating in 2006 is at par with the previous year, with 18 per cent of investors citing it as a key choice. However, the survey —'Globalisation Act II: team Europe defends its goals' — says the country shows few signs of being able to compete with China as an FDI destination.

India also figured at number five among the top 10 countries for research and development (R&D) centres. It was placed after the US/Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and France. China and US remain the top two preferred countries for international decision-makers with 41 per cent votes.

Whilst remaining attractive, China's pull has considerably reduced since the European Attractiveness Survey 2005 (52 per cent).

While SMEs are most attracted by China (46 per cent), there has been a decline in the level of interest expressed by multinational corporations — 38 per cent, compared with 58 per cent a year earlier.

While China achieves the lead position for manufacturing operations with 18 per cent votes, India has emerged the top country for call centres with 14 per cent. However, the survey findings indicate a 8 per cent fall in India's attractiveness for call centre functions. Germany, US/Canada follow India with an 11 per cent share.

The results of Ernst & Young's 2006 Attractiveness Survey reflects the maturing of the location decision-making process, and analysis of the criteria used by senior executives in selecting locations for investment projects reveals that their decisions can be divided into three categories — operations, finance and business environment.

The survey indicated that ranking of location criteria by multinationals and SMEs not only reflects the complexity in making these decisions, but also the leading role of ''quality'' or ''soft'' factors over direct ''bottom line" factors. This somewhat contradicts the conventional perception that all location or relocation issues are based solely on cost and tax factors.

The quality of the infrastructure, proximity to markets and the quality of the workforce were rated by corporate executives as ''very important'' in assessing a potential location. — UNI

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REL plans Rs 60,000-cr investment
Posts net profit of Rs 650 crore

Tribune News Service & PTI

Mumbai, June 7
Reliance Energy, the flagship company of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, said today it was pursuing generation projects aggregating to a total capacity of 16,000 MW with a projected investment of Rs 60,000 crore.

Addressing the annual general meeting of REL, Mr Anil Ambani said the company had initiated the process of awarding contract for Phase-I of the 5,600- MW project at Dadri in UP. The total project capacity was 7,480 MW.

For the proposed 4,000- MW power plant in Maharashtra, Mr Ambani said: “We are in the process of acquiring land. We expect to receive all required clearances for the project shortly.”

The net profit of the over Rs 4,600 crore REL stood at Rs 650 crore during 2005-06, he said, adding that “the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADG) now had the unique distinction of having over eight million shareholders, the largest for any group anywhere in the world”.

REL is also pursuing the EPC contract aggressively and the segment accounted for nearly 18 per cent of the company’s total turnover.

Mr Ambani also informed about its foray into hydel power generation, besides entry into power transmission and rural electrification. Elaborating on REL’s foray into hydel power generation, he said the company commenced the preparatory work for the three hydel projects, won on competitive bidding last year.

These projects are the 280- MW Urthing Sobla in Uttaranchal and two projects totalling 1,700 MW in Arunachal Pradesh.

Reliance Energy had also bid for the government’s ultra mega power projects in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

REL was expected to sign project agreements to form a joint venture company with the Power Grid Corporation (PGCIL) to set up transmission lines for the Parbati and Kol Dam hydroelectric projects in Himachal Pradesh. 

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Stone laid for first Fab City in Hyderabad
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 7
The Centre will soon announce a policy for the promotion of semiconductor industry which is expected to witness a major boom with the country’s first silicon chip- manufacturing facility being set up near Hyderabad.

“We will announce the policy with special package of incentives to boost the semiconductor sector,” Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran said here today.

He was speaking at a function organised to unveil the foundation stone for the $3 billion Fab City, billed as India’s first wafer fabrication hub. The project is coming up on a 1,200-acre site at Tukkuguda near the proposed international airport on the city outskirts.

Expressing the government’s resolve to put the country on the global semiconductor map, Mr Maran said Indian domestic electronics market was expected to consume about $40 billion worth of semiconductor components by 2015 while the global consumption would touch $350 billion.

The minister also disclosed that the Centre was also in the process of working out a policy for the electronics and IT hardware manufacturing industry. The Prime Minister’s Office had set up a task force to make suitable recommendations.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, who formally unveiled the foundation stone, said the first phase of the Fab City would become operational within 18 months. The facility is expected to provide employment to over 10,000 persons, besides promoting ancillary units.

The Fab City, to be implemented in three phases, would have a capacity to produce about 25 million chips per year. The MoU for setting up the facility was signed in February this year between the Andhra Pradesh Government and Sem India, a consortium of overseas Indians. 

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‘Bull market over, bear hug to stay’

New Delhi, June 7
The three-year bull run across global markets might be over, giving way to a full-fledged bear market, leading equity research firm Morgan Stanley has warned in its latest report.

Sensex dropped more than 250 points today to close below the key 10,000 point mark for the first time since February 17.

Sensex plunged more than 13 per cent last month, tracking sluggish trends across the global markets and on concerns that FIIs have started offloading their position from the country on look out for better returns from other markets

Morgan Stanley’s Hong-Kong based economist Andy Xie said in a report published today that the four-year global growth boom might be over, as the liquidity boom and asset inflation were nearing an end.

The liquidity boom had been manufacturing strong growth through asset inflation — including property, credit spreads, commodities, and emerging market stocks.

However, as inflation picks up, the liquidity boom and asset inflation would draw to a close, Xie said.

Morgan Stanley said that massive fund flows from the “less experienced retail investors into hot-concept funds like BRIC, commodity, India, China” had led to a global financial mania in the past five quarters.

When markets are hot, fund managers tend to market their funds aggressively, especially those ones with hot concepts, Xie said. Tens of billions of dollars have been raised by such funds from less experienced retail investors over the past three quarters in markets like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, while fuelling rapid price appreciation in the recipient markets.

However, inflationary pressure in the US and other OECD economies makes a cyclical bear market likely beyond the ongoing unwinding, the report said.

Morgan Stanley said that the central banks in the US and other OECD countries were likely to further hike the interest rates and keep them higher for longer than expected.

A Morgan Stanley economist said that a financial hard landing was the most likely conclusion of the current bull market, while an economic soft landing was also possible.

The emerging equity markets and commodity markets have been among the major recipients of funds from long-term investors who had failed to generate big returns in the US. However, such funds had flowed disproportionately into small and illiquid stocks, causing them to rise multiple times, Xie said.

Xie said that the cyclical bear market in 2001-02 cleaned the excess capacity in the IT sector while the excess liquidity flowed into emerging markets and commodities. 
— PTI 

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Norms for biotech SEZs cleared
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, June 7
The Union Science and Technology Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, said today that the Centre had cleared norms for the establishment of SEZs for the bio-technology (BT) sector.

Disclosing this here while inaugurating sixth edition of "Bangalore -Bio", the minister said companies having 10 hectares of land and a built-up area of 4 lakh sq ft could be part of a SEZ. He said this decision had been taken by an Empowered Committee and all companies setting up shop under the laid down specifications would be eligible for the relevant excise and weighted tax options.

Stressing on the need to spend more on research and development (R&D) in the biotechnology sector, he said at present BT companies in India were spending only 1 per cent of their revenue on R and D whereas multinationals were spending upward of 7 to 8 per cent on R and D.

Mr Sibal said India was destined to become a BT hub due to combination of low-cost economics and high-value human resource and added India could easily beat China on this count

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Post-paid customers to get credit limit in monthly bills
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
In a move aimed at making the system more consumer-friendly, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today directed all telecom access providers to include the credit limit set for post-paid customers in their monthly statement/bill on a regular basis.

The authority took the step after it received numerous complaints of the hardships and inconvenience caused to the subscribers on account of disconnection of service or barring of calls when the usage exceeded the credit limit decided by the operators, a release said.

TRAI had issued a direction on June 27, 2005, to all access providers laying down certain system and procedure in respect of credit limit for post-paid subscribers.

One of the conditions mandated in the direction was that the credit limit set for the post-paid subscribers should be intimated to the customers in advance.

Meanwhile, it has released the proposed amendments in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the existing Telecom Licenses for facilitation of growth of IPTV services in the country.

The amendment aims to allow viewers see television programmes in their computers using Internet connection.

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  Google.com blocked in China

Beijing, June 7
The Google.com search engine has been blocked in most parts of China, as Beijing steps up its efforts to restrict the public's access to information, a Paris-based media watchdog said.

Internet users in major Chinese cities have had difficulty connecting to the uncensored international version of Google for the past week, Reporters Without Borders said.

Aside from the Google.com search engine, it said the blocking was being gradually extended to the Google news and Google mail services.

"Google has just definitively joined the club of western companies that comply with online censorship in China," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is deplorable that Chinese Internet users are forced to wage a technological war against censorship in order to access banned content." — AFP

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Award for Orient Paper

New Delhi, June 7
The World Environment Foundation will honour Orient Paper Mills with the ‘Golden Peacock Environment Management Award’ for using environment- friendly techniques in carrying out industrial activities.

A 10-member jury headed by former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bhagwati adjudged Orient Paper as the recipient of this year’s award.

The award lays emphasis on maintaining ecological balance by minimising adverse environmental impact while carrying out industrial and business activities. — PTI

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CORPORATE RESULTS
Tata Tea Q4 net at Rs 19.32 cr

Mumbai, June 7
Tata Tea Ltd has posted a decline in net profit at Rs 19.32 crore for the January-March quarter, compared to Rs 25.83 crore for the corresponding quarter in 
2004-05.

Total income stood at Rs 243.53 crore for the fourth quarter in 2005-06 whereas the same was Rs 249.36 crore in the year-ago period, the company said.

The Board has recommended a dividend of Rs 12 on shares of Rs 10 each (120 per cent).

For the year ended March 31, the company registered a net profit of Rs 186.93 crore where as the same was Rs 128.92 crore for 2004-05. The total income was Rs 1040.01 crore for FY’06 where as the same was Rs 950.05 crore in FY’05.

JSPL net up 2.69 pc

Leading sponge iron manufacturer Jindal Steel and Power Ltd has posted a 2.69 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 150.66 crore for the quarter ended March 31, as compared to Rs 146.7 crore a year ago.

The total income (net of excise) grew by 7.55 per cent to Rs 680.48 crore for the fourth quarter 2005-06 as against Rs 632.67 crore for the same period in previous fiscal, the company said.

The Board of Directors has recommended a final dividend of Rs 10 per equity share on shares of Rs 5 each (200 per cent). It had also announced an interim dividend of Rs 5 per share on shares of Rs 5 each.

For the year 2005-06, the company posted a net profit of Rs 572.94 crore as compared to Rs 515.7 crore a year ago.

LIC Housing Fin net up

LIC Housing Finance Ltd has recorded an almost a three-fold increase in net profit after tax at Rs 41.38 crore for the quarter ended March 31 as compared to Rs 14.17 crore for the corresponding quarter in 2004-05.

Total income rose to Rs 354.40 crore for the fourth quarter in 2005-06 from Rs 275.91 crore in the year-ago period, up 28.44 per cent, the company said. The Board has recommended a dividend of Rs 6 per share of Rs 10 each. For the year ended March 31, the company registered a net profit of Rs 208.57 crore as against Rs 143.72 crore for 2004-05.

Berger net rises

Berger Paints India Ltd has reported a net profit of Rs 74.38 crore for 2005-06, registering a growth of 34.5 per cent over last yea rand announced bonus shares in the ratio of 3:5.

Berger Paints Managing Director Subir Bose said that for the first time its turnover crossed the Rs 1,000 crore mark during the year to Rs 1,030.50 crore 
recording 19.4 per cent growth over 2004-05.

The company during the last quarter ending March, 2005, had recorded a net profit of Rs 13.71 crore against 13.63 crore for the same period last year.

The company also recommended a final dividend of Re 1 per share of Rs 2 each (50 per cent) for the year ended March 31. An interim dividend of 50 per cent has already been paid, thereby taking the total dividend to 100 per cent.

The Board also approved increasing the company’s authorised capital to Rs 65 crore from Rs 40 crore. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

J K Cement to invest Rs 1,200 cr
New Delhi, June 7
Kanpur-based J K Cement Ltd is planning to invest about Rs 1,200 crore in the next 3-5 years for doubling its manufacturing capacity of grey cement which will include setting up of greenfield units in Karnataka and north India. "We have plans to double our grey cement capacity to eight million tonnes in next 3-5 years and are exploring possibilities for putting up a greenfield plants in Karnataka and near Delhi," the company's Chief Financial Officer A.K. Saraogi said. "We are looking for a site near Delhi to install a fly ash cement unit with an investment of about Rs 50 crore," he added. The company's net profit for the last fiscal stood at Rs 32.6 crore over the turnover of Rs 1,108 crore. — PTI

Merger plan
Mumbai, June 7
Construction service provider Jaiprakash Associates Ltd said today it would merge Jaypee Greens Ltd with itself. The shareholders and creditors of the company have approved the proposed scheme of amalgamation, Jaiprakash Associates said. — PTI

BAG Films in jv
New Delhi, June 7
BAG Films Ltd has entered into a joint venture with SIEUNDESIGN Co Ltd., a leading Korean firm with a presence in the production, distribution and licensing of animation movies and TV series. The company has a strong presence in the programming, films and new media business segments, besides promoting a media school, iSomes. The new entity will enhance the company presence in the animation and new media business. The jv is proposed to be named “SIEUN & B.A.G. Animation Pvt Ltd”, with both companies holding an equal stake. —TNS

L&T bonus
Mumbai, June 7
Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro Ltd said today it would issue bonus shares in the ratio of 1:1. At a meeting held today, the Board of Directors recommended a 1:1 bonus issue wherein one share would be issued for every 
share held, the company said. — PTI

V.K. Sharma
Chandigarh, June 7
Mr V.K. Sharma has taken over as Director (Technical), NFL. He was the Chief General Manager of the Bathinda unit of NFL before taking up this assignment. Mr Sharma also headed Corporate HR before taking over as head of the Bathinda unit in 2004. — TNS
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