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Indian ‘Wal-Mart’ launches itself
Reliance opens 11 stores in Hyderabad
Hyderabad, November 3
Reliance Industries today forayed into retail with the launch of 11 stores here, seeking to win and secure prime sites before global giants like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco Plc are allowed to open stores.

  • No land purchased in Punjab
    In video (56k)

FinMin opposes curbs on FDI from specific countries
New Delhi, November 3
In the midst of the debate on foreign direct investment versus national security, the Finance Ministry has opposed any restriction on flow of investment from any specific country and said a case-by-case scrutiny should address such concerns.

Economy can withstand shocks: RBI Governor
New Delhi, November 3
Indian economy has enough resilience to absorb the external shocks that might arise on account of emerging market economies (EMEs) in an era of global integration, said RBI Governor Dr Y.V. Reddy here today.

Reining in inflation priority: FM
Hyderabad, November 3
Finance Minister P.Chidambaram said today the government's immediate goal was to control inflationary expectations and that it would take all fiscal and monetary measures to moderate inflation towards 4 per cent.

After Mittals, ONGC ropes in Hindujas
New Delhi, November 3
After tying up with steel czar Lakshmi N. Mittal, the ONGC is roping in diversified, multi-billion dollar Hinduja Group for acquiring oilfields abroad and sourcing LNG.

Craig Barrett Intel may set up unit in India
New Delhi, November 3
Global microprocessor giant Intel said today it was still open to the idea of setting up an advanced testing and manufacturing unit (ATM) in India and was awaiting the government's proposed semiconductor policy, which was expected to offer a host of incentives to the players interested in this sector.


Bollywood actress Malaika Arora Khan displays an outfit by Seema Khan at a show in the fashion week in Mumbai on Friday.
Bollywood actress Malaika Arora Khan displays an outfit by Seema Khan at a show in the fashion week in Mumbai on Friday. — Reuters

 
Kate Moss is seen in this September 17, 2006, file photo.  Moss won the prestigious Model of the Year prize at the British Fashion Awards on Thursday, just over a year after a cocaine scandal threatened to derail her lucrative career.
Kate Moss is seen in this September 17, 2006, file photo. Moss won the prestigious Model of the Year prize at the British Fashion Awards on Thursday, just over a year after a cocaine scandal threatened to derail her lucrative career. — Reuters

This handout picture released on Friday shows Samsung Electronics' new mini mobile phone "SGH-X830", which doubles as an MP3 player. It can store 250 songs and allows users to download audio files from CNN or BBC websites.
This handout picture released on Friday shows Samsung Electronics' new mini mobile phone "SGH-X830", which doubles as an MP3 player. It can store 250 songs and allows users to download audio files from CNN or BBC websites. — AFP 

SBI hikes charges for ATM usage, levies service tax
Chandigarh, November 3
The SBI and its seven associate banks have increased the charges for use of its ATM-cum-debit cards for cash withdrawal and balance enquiry at other banks' ATMs.

India to have more billionaires than China in 2006
Beijing, November 3
India, whose high economic growth is driven mostly by the private sector, will witness a rise in the number of billionaires as compared to China in 2006, an official with the Forbes Asian Rich List said here.

Chinese Co in talks with Arcelor Mittal for 49 pc stake sale
Beijing, November 3
Baotou Iron & Steel, one of China's largest steel mills, is in talks with the world's top steelmaker, Arcelor Mitta , over the possible sale of a 49 per cent stake, the official media reported today.

IT refund scam unearthed
New Delhi, November 3
The Income Tax Department has unearthed a major scam relating to IT refunds in Delhi.

BSNL broadband users to touch 10m by 2010
New Delhi, November 3

BSNL said today it would increase its broadband subscribers to 10 million in the next couple of years besides making inroads into the rural areas.

Caparo project stone laid
Chennai, November 3
The foundation stone for the Caparo group's largest industrial complex anywhere in the world to come up in suburban Sriperumbudur was laid here today.

Inflation at 5.41 pc
New Delhi, November 3
Inflation rose to 5.41 per cent for the week ended October 21 from 5.26 per cent in the previous week.


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Indian ‘Wal-Mart’ launches itself
Reliance opens 11 stores in Hyderabad
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

No land purchased in Punjab

Asked about the 5,000 acres of land the company has got in Punjab, Mr Raghu Pillai said “no land has been purchased in the state.”

Hyderabad, November 3
Reliance Industries today forayed into retail with the launch of 11 stores here, seeking to win and secure prime sites before global giants like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco Plc are allowed to open stores. The company plans to invest Rs 25,000 crore in the next four years and capture 10 per cent of the organised retail market share by 2015. “We expect the sales to be about Rs 100,000 crore by 2011,” said Mr Sanjeev Asthana, President and CEO of Reliance Retail.

According to Morgan Stanley, the retail market in the country is estimated to surge 15-fold to more than $60 billion by 2015.

Reliance retail is planning to open 1,500 outlets serving a third of the towns and cities across the country. Projecting a win-win situation for farmers and consumers, Mr Raghu Pillai, RIL President and CEO, said the consumers would get the best value for their money and fresh-from-the-farm supplies.

The farmers, he said, would get the right price, may be higher as the company would procure directly from the field. Asked whether the company would enter into a contract, he said “different models would be worked out. Contract farming, cooperative farming and other models would be tried out. But emphasis would be on quality produce for procurement.” Asked specifically about the 5,000 acres of land the company has got in Punjab, he said “no land has been purchased in the state.”

Mr Asthana tried to dispel the impression that the entry of Reliance in retail would pose a threat to kirana or neighbourhood shops. “The retail market size in the country is about $300 million and we hope to capture only a small insignificant portion by 2015,” he said.

It would set up cold chains across the country as more than 50 per cent of the farm produce got wasted due to lack of storage.

Reliance aims to have 4,000 stores by 2010. Reliance Fresh already stocks its own private label of “Reliance Select” in staples and food label. Eventually the label will include other food categories such as dairy products, jams and even colas.

After ITC’s Choupal Fresh and Landmark’s Max Retail stores, Reliance joins the list of retailers who have chosen Hyderabad to test the waters since Hyderabad offers low real estate prices and a population that’s happy shopping in supermarkets.

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FinMin opposes curbs on FDI from specific countries

New Delhi, November 3
In the midst of the debate on foreign direct investment versus national security, the Finance Ministry has opposed any restriction on flow of investment from any specific country and said a case-by-case scrutiny should address such concerns.

Responding to a note by the National Security Adviser, circulated by the Prime Minister's Office, the Finance Ministry wrote back recently advocating full scrutiny of all FDI proposals but only on a case-to-case basis and not on the basis of origin of investment, ministry sources said.

Opposing any kind of discrimination against FDI cases vis-a-vis domestic investment, the ministry has proposed that no country should be singled out on security grounds.

Security laws should be same for FDI and domestic investment, the ministry said, adding that if these cannot check domestic investment, they would not scrutinise FDI as well.

The issue of security concerns relating to FDI arose after the presence of Egypt's Orascom Telecom in Hutchison-Essar came under severe criticism from the PMO in its review of potential threats to national security from FDI.

The Department of Telecom had also said that FDI and security should be dealt with separately, but the PMO has put the case of Orascom Telecom in its section on recent examples of sectoral threats.

The DoT had also said that in the telecom sector, boundaries are demolished and cited the example of France Telecom, which is managed from India.

According to the PMO, the concern over Orascom's entry into India stems from the fact that the company has received investments from late Palestinian leader Yaseer Arafat's organisation. Moreover, the company is the biggest telecom player in Pakistan and has a large market share in Bangladesh.

The issue assumed importance when Hutchison sold about a 19 per cent stake to Orascom, resulting in protests from its Indian partner, Essar, which said that they should have been consulted before any such decision.

The National Security Council (NSC) had earlier warned that FDI in certain industrial and service sectors can be a security threat.

The Cabinet has set December 31 as the deadline for resolution of inter-ministerial differences and addressing concerns, particularly security aspect. — PTI

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Economy can withstand shocks: RBI Governor
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 3
Indian economy has enough resilience to absorb the external shocks that might arise on account of emerging market economies (EMEs) in an era of global integration, said RBI Governor Dr Y.V. Reddy here today.

Inaugurating a conference on global risks organised by Assocham, Dr Reddy said strong global demand for their exports, favourable terms of trade and easy access to external financing were boosting the Indian economy.

Second large foreign currency reserves along with reduced external debt as percentage of GDP, he said, were cushion factors against any sudden withdrawal by investors in the financial markets.

He added “ though public debt in several EMEs still remains at elevated levels, many of them are of longer maturity and considerably higher proportions are in local currency demonstration. The resilience to eternal shocks is reinforced by combination of less balance sheet exposure to exchange rate changes, less refinancing risks in debt structures and strong fiscal and financial cushions and above all an observed tendency for more flexibility in policies”.

However, the Governor warned that those who would have risk factors like weak public sector balance sheets, large current account deficits and less well-anchored inflation expectations might be vulnerable to global changes.

Referring to RBI’s stance on inflation rising to 5.41 per cent today, he said “the stance of the RBI has not changed.”

Dr Reddy said “in the overall assessment, while global growth has been strong and broadbase, there seems to be some indications of moderation in recent one. There are also perceptions of risks to growth and from the cooling of the housing market in the US and the potential drainage of liquidity from financial markets.

While global inflation condition has not worsened, concern relating to potential price pressures persist, particularly in the context of firming up of food and metal prices.

While geopolitical risks continue to caste a shadow, it was necessary to recognise that global risk had not changed significantly in the last few months, he said.

Global financial markets had revised expectations in response to the changes in the magnitude and pace of monetary tightening between June and September 2006. 

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Reining in inflation priority: FM
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, November 3
Finance Minister P.Chidambaram said today the government's immediate goal was to control inflationary expectations and that it would take all fiscal and monetary measures to moderate inflation towards 4 per cent.

"The most important and immediate goal of the government is to control inflationary expectations," Mr Chidambaram told a banking seminar here. Stating that inflation was largely on account of a rise in the prices of primary articles, the minister, however, said he expected the economy to grow at 8 per cent for the fourth year in a row.

"The RBI Governor has through a modest increase in the repo rate signalled that he would be ready and willing to take monetary steps. So is the government ready to take fiscal steps," he said. 

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After Mittals, ONGC ropes in Hindujas

New Delhi, November 3
After tying up with steel czar Lakshmi N. Mittal, the ONGC is roping in diversified, multi-billion dollar Hinduja Group for acquiring oilfields abroad and sourcing LNG.

While the ONGC roped in Mittal Group to use its 'influence' in African and Central Asian countries to acquire oil and gas fields, the state-run firm is tapping Hindujas to leverage their business relations in the oil and gas rich West Asian region, industry sources said.

A formal agreement to float a 51:49 joint venture, similar to the ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd (OMEL) formed last year, is likely to be signed this month.

The ONGC-Hinduja venture has initially identified seven countries - Iran, Qatar, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - for acquiring a stake in oil and gas fields and firming up LNG supplies.

Though OMEL had identified Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Congo, Angola, Trinidad and Tobago, Romania and Indonesia as priority areas for doing business, the joint venture has landed with two blocks in Nigeria.

Sources said the ONGC had last year signed an MoU with Ashok Leyland Project Services, a Hinduja Group company, to float a 50:50 joint venture to invest in LNG terminals with associated power, petrochemicals, gas pipeline grid projects and related opportunities in southern India.

The MoU called for the Hindujas to play a lead role in importing up to 10 million tonnes of LNG per annum and jointly set up power plants with a capacity of between 1,000 MW-1,800 MW.

However, the MoU could not be implemented due to objections from government Directors on the ONGC Board. After much debate and consideration, a fresh MoU has been approved, which would be signed later this month, sources said. — PTI 

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Intel may set up unit in India

New Delhi, November 3
Global microprocessor giant Intel said today it was still open to the idea of setting up an advanced testing and manufacturing unit (ATM) in India and was awaiting the government's proposed semiconductor policy, which was expected to offer a host of incentives to the players interested in this sector.

"For the past 10 years, we have been asked this question on our India plans.. It is still an open issue. We are eagerly waiting on the government's incentive package and we had extensive discussion with the government on this. We are awaiting the final set of rules and regulations and will respond quickly once we get the policy," Mr Craig Barrett, Chairman, Intel said here today.

Mr Barrett's remarks come close on the heels of IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran's recent announcement that the IT Department would soon seek the Cabinet's approval for a comprehensive policy for encouraging semiconductor industry, including provision of incentives and special packages.

Mr Barrett is on his eighth visit to India. Although, he did not commit on the ATM unit which falls well short of a full-fledged chip manufacturing plant as Intel has in many other countries, Barrett's statement could scotch rumours that Intel has lost interest in the project. — PTI

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SBI hikes charges for ATM usage, levies service tax
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The SBI and its seven associate banks have increased the charges for use of its ATM-cum-debit cards for cash withdrawal and balance enquiry at other banks' ATMs.

Though the use of State Bank ATMs for the State Bank debit card holders will be free of charge, the usage of these cards on ATMs of other banks will now cost more. The rates per transaction at ATMs of other banks under the Master Card network, within India and abroad, have been increased.

Officials in the bank informed TNS that the new rates have come into effect from this month. Not only have the rates been revised, but a 12.24 per cent service tax has also been levied on each transaction. Earlier, service tax was not charged on the transactions through the ATM-cum-debit cards.

The ATM-cum-debit cards issued by the SBI and its associate banks can be used on 12,500 ATMs of Andhra Bank, Bank of India, Corporation Bank, Dena Bank, HDFC Bank, Indian Bank, IndusInd Bank, Punjab National Bank, UCO Bank, Union Bank of India and UTI Bank. The cash withdrawal charges through the ATMs of these banks has been increased by Rs 5 (from existing Rs 20) per transaction in addition to the 12.24 per cent service tax. Now, each balance enquiry through ATMs of these banks would cost Rs 13.46. 

The ATM-cum-debit card issued by the bank can also be used in India on the ATMs of banks other than those under bilateral sharing agreement under Master Card network. The bank's international debit card can be used on more than 10,00,000 ATMs across the world. For transactions through these ATMs within the country, the rates for balance enquiry have been revised from Rs 8 per transaction to Rs 10 (plus service tax).

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India to have more billionaires than China in 2006

Beijing, November 3
India, whose high economic growth is driven mostly by the private sector, will witness a rise in the number of billionaires as compared to China in 2006, an official with the Forbes Asian Rich List said here.

"This year there were 15 billionaires in China but last year in India, we had 20 billionaires," Contributing Editor of Forbes Justin Doebele said here on the sidelines of the release of the Forbes' 2006 China Rich List.

"So, there are more billionaires in India than in China," he said without divulging the details of the India Rich List, to be published later this month.

"We expect the numbers to go up as the markets in India have done pretty well this year," Mr Doebele said, noting that the Forbes Rich List in India would be mostly based on public listing.

Mr Tine Wee, Executive Director of Forbes Asia, said that Forbes would release the India Rich List, the third annual list, on November 27. — PTI 

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Chinese Co in talks with
Arcelor Mittal for 49 pc stake sale

Beijing, November 3
Baotou Iron & Steel, one of China's largest steel mills, is in talks with the world's top steelmaker, Arcelor Mitta , over the possible sale of a 49 per cent stake, the official media reported today.

No other details were provided by the 'China Daily' report. In December last year, Mittal Steel had confirmed that it was involved in talks with Baotou Iron & Steel Group Co Ltd.

Prior to Mittal Steel's acquisition of Arcelor, the latter had signed an agreement with Chinese producer Laiwu Steel Group that would allow the European company to hold a 38.41 per cent stake in Laiwu Steel Corporation.

Mittal last year acquired a 36.67 per cent share in Valin Steel Tube & Wire Co Ltd in central China's Hunan Province.

Meanwhile, Baotou Steel Union Co in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous region, a subsidiary of Baotou Iron & Steel Group, plans to pay about 6.97 billion yuan ($882 million) to buy assets from its controlling shareholder to expand, the report said.

The listed steelmaker will offer 3.03 billion new yuan-denominated shares to Baotou Iron & Steel Group at 2.3 yuan (29 US cents) each, the company said yesterday in a statement.

The acquisition will mean that almost the entire group is publicly traded, making it easier for Baotou Steel Union to take over or merge with rivals. China, the world's biggest steelmaker, is encouraging consolidation in the industry to curb overcapacity and boost competitiveness as its economy expands. — PTI

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IT refund scam unearthed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 3
The Income Tax Department has unearthed a major scam relating to IT refunds in Delhi.

According to an official statement, the scam was detected by an officer of the department, who alerted the bank, leading finally to the arrest of the accused persons.

The accused have been remanded in judicial custody.

According to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) spokesperson A.K. Sinha, the board has taken several steps to prevent fraudulent encashment of refunds. The possibility of issue of refunds through a refund banker is also being worked out. A pilot project in this regard is being launched to test its viability.

Finance Ministry officials said the government had also introduced the issue of refunds directly to the bank account of the taxpayer through the electronic clearance scheme (ECS). This scheme is being implemented in 25 major cities. Further, it has been made mandatory to quote bank account details on the refund vouchers with effect from January 1, 2006.

Although every effort is being made to prevent frauds relating to refunds, the official said the taxpaying public should also cooperate with the department. Many returns were still received without bank account details or with incomplete details. Taxpayers must quote their bank account details.

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BSNL broadband users to touch 10m by 2010
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 3
BSNL said today it would increase its broadband subscribers to 10 million in the next couple of years besides making inroads into the rural areas.

“We have placed orders for this year and our rollout process is also going robust. We also plan to reach about 20,000 villages and many smaller cities to expand our broadband connectivity base,” said BSNL CMD Anil Kumar Sinha.

BSNL has invested Rs 1,500 crore to expand its broadband service in 1,000 more cities in two years.

The broadband service has already been launched in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Soon, it would be extended to more than 200 cities, Mr Sinha said.

BSNL is in the process of commissioning of a world-class, multi-gigabit, multi-protocol, convergent IP infrastructure through National Internet Backbone II (NIB-II), which will provide convergent services through the same backbone and broadband access network. 

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Caparo project stone laid

Chennai, November 3
The foundation stone for the Caparo group's largest industrial complex anywhere in the world to come up in suburban Sriperumbudur was laid here today.

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, laid the foundation stone for the Rs 400 crore project, which would include a research and development centre, tool room, aluminium foundry and forgings to cater to the needs of the automotive industry.

The complex will be the company's largest in the world, Mr Angad Paul, CEO of the group and son of Lord Swraj Paul, said here today.

The Caparo group also planned to set up a centre of excellence in technology near Chennai soon. — PTI 

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Inflation at 5.41 pc

New Delhi, November 3
Inflation rose to 5.41 per cent for the week ended October 21 from 5.26 per cent in the previous week. The wholesale-price-based annual inflation stood at 4.49 per cent during the corresponding week last year. The government revised the final inflation figure to 5.27 per cent for the week ended August 26 from the provisional 5.01 per cent. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

SBI not to hike lending rate
New Delhi, November 3
The SBI does not see its interest rates on loans rising for the next six months irrespective of the RBI raising the repo rate to 7.25 per cent. 'Increase in the repo rate by the RBI may affect those banks which raise money from it. It won't affect us as we can raise money from the market which is filled with liquidity,'' SBI Managing Director T.S. Bhattacharya said here today. ''We don't expect the interest rates on credit to rise for at least next six months,'' he added. — UNI

Paramount fleet
Chennai, November 3
Paramount Airways plans to expand its fleet from the five to 20 by 2009-end, its Managing Director M Thiagarajan said today. Putting the fifth Embraer aircraft on air from today, Mr Thiagarajan said with the arrival of the new aircraft, the airways would operate 48 flights per day. — PTI

Satyam centre
Chennai, November 3
Satyam Computer today launched a global development centre here for Japanese automobile giant Nissan's North American operations. The facility would house more than 400 employees, which could go up to 750 within three years, Mr Subu Subramanian, Vice-President of Satyam Automotive and manufacturing business, said here. — PTI 

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