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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Govt may probe IPOs since 1999
New Delhi, November 29
The government has been asked to investigate all public offers made since 1999 to ascertain which ones have seen irregularities in allotment of shares.

Volkswagen to roll out Passat next year
To invest Rs 2,400 cr for plant in Pune
New Delhi, November 29
After many hiccups, German auto major Volkswagen finally announced its entry into the Indian market as it signed an agreement to invest more than Rs 2,400 crore in Maharashtra for manufacturing cars, including the popular premium hatchback 'Polo'.
Volkswagen Passat, which is slated to hit the Indian roads in 2007.
Volkswagen Passat, which is slated to hit the Indian roads in 2007.

FDI proposals worth Rs 3,536 cr cleared
New Delhi, November 29
The government has cleared 17 FDI proposals worth Rs 3,536.40 crore, including one from Italian automaker Fiat to invest an additional Rs 2,000 crore to revive its beleagured Indian subsidiary.



EARLIER STORIES

 

Hike foreign equity limit: USA to India
Mumbai, November 29
US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Franklin L Lavin is in favour of raising foreign equity caps in the financial services, banking and insurance sector in India.

Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar (left) with Under Secretary, International Trade, US Department of Commerce Franklin L. Lavin at the opening session of the US-India Business Summit in Mumbai on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar with Under Secretary, International Trade, US Department of Commerce Franklin L. Lavin at the opening session of the US-India Business Summit in Mumbai on Wednesday.

ONGC wins oil block in Brazil 
New Delhi, November 29
ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of the ONGC, has won an oil exploration block in Brazil. OVL won the offshore S-M-1103 block in the Santos basin paying 1.5 million reais ($0.68 million), a company official said.

Japanese pianist Maiko Ichiyanagi displays the world's smallest "Grand Pianist"
Japanese pianist Maiko Ichiyanagi displays the world's smallest "Grand Pianist", produced by Japan's toymaker Sega Toys, which has 88 working keys and can automatically play 100 pre-installed music songs at a press preview in Tokyo on Wednesday. The piano will go on sale from April 1, 2007, at 47,000 yen ($400). — AFP

Silver crosses Rs 20,000-mark
Mumbai, November 29
Silver today crossed the Rs 20,000-mark and closed at Rs 20,075 per kg with a massive gain of Rs 235, even as gold rose marginally by Rs 5 on fresh demand and bullish global advices on the Bombay bullion exchange.

Corus awaits final CSN offer
Q3 profit nearly triples, net debt down

London, November 29
Corus said it was awaiting a final offer from Brazil's CSN. The company, which was first approached by India's Tata Steel with a takeover bid, has given CSN time until December 20 to make a formal bid.

Replicating Shanghai Hooda’s objective
Chandigarh, November 29
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has said both Haryana and China could cooperate in a number of areas like education, industry and agriculture.

Form 2F is not ‘saral’
MPs scoff at cash-flow statement
New Delhi, November 29
The Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, headed by BJP MP B.C. Khanduri, has disfavoured the introduction of new income tax return Form 2F, with the provision of a cash flow statement.

Unitech plans London listing; may raise £360 m
New Delhi, November 29
India's largest publicly traded real estate firm Unitech today announced its plans to raise over Rs 3,100 crore (£360 million) through the listing of a newly floated company on the London Stock Exchange.

Govt to plug tax evasion
New Delhi, November 29
The Finance Ministry has decided to review the removal of double service tax imposition on industry and service providers, particularly in telecom sector, apart from plugging the loopholes in tax evasion, said Mr P.C. Jha, Member (Excise), Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), here today.

BRPL to merge with IOC 
Mumbai, November 29
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will merge its subsidiary Bongaigaon Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (BRPL) with a swap ratio of 4:37.

Hyundai moves MRTPC
New Delhi, November 29
After forcing carmaker Maruti to stop using contents of a survey that showed it in poor light for print advertisements, Hyundai Motors India Ltd has moved MRTPC seeking to stop its rival from using the same study in posters and pamphlets.

 

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Govt may probe IPOs since 1999

New Delhi, November 29
The government has been asked to investigate all public offers made since 1999 to ascertain which ones have seen irregularities in allotment of shares.

It has also been ticked off for not giving "due seriousness" to the recommendations made by the joint parliamentary committees on scams. The drastic recommendation has been made by the Standing Committee on Finance, in its report on the recent IPO scam.

It has also said the outcome of such investigations and action should be intimated to it. This could open a proverbial hornet's nest for the government as that would mean opening up 894 public issues to decide if there has been any mischief in allotment to the eventual shareholders.

"The government should spare no effort to investigate and unearth any kind of manipulations in the IPOs since 1999, without further delay," the committee has said in its report tabled in Parliament.

According to the committee, SEBI had not acted in time to take action against the damage in the IPO process. It, therefore, said that committee is "perturbed over the fact that the irregularities in the IPO process are believed to have been going on since 1999 and the authorities have not made any effort, so far, to detect the irregularities."

SEBI, on its part, has informed the committee it had examined 21 IPOs stretching back since 2003. The list includes Jet Airways, Shoppers' Stop, IL&FS Investmart, Amar Remedies, NTPC and TCS, besides IDFC and Yes Bank.

The 43rd report of the committee also said action for implementing a comprehensive integrated market surveillance system should be speeded up. To eliminate benami transactions in securities, it has suggested the Finance Ministry and SEBI should develop a comprehensive central database of MAPIN fast.— PTI

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Volkswagen to roll out Passat next year
To invest Rs 2,400 cr for plant in Pune

New Delhi, November 29
After many hiccups, German auto major Volkswagen finally announced its entry into the Indian market as it signed an agreement to invest more than Rs 2,400 crore in Maharashtra for manufacturing cars, including the popular premium hatchback 'Polo' that will be pitted against Maruti's Swift and Hyundai's Getz.

Volkswagen, which has been negotiating for years to set up a manufacturing unit in India, will roll out cars from its proposed Chakan plant in Maharashtra by 2009. In the interim period, it will use the Aurangabad facility of group company Skoda for assembling its luxury sedan 'Passat' by mid-2007.

"India is an interesting market and Volkswagen wants to participate in the growth that is forecast for this market," Mr Hans Dieter Potsch, a member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen, said here.

Outlining the company's strategy for India, Mr Potsch said the 'Polo' model, to be rolled out from Chakan, would be specifically designed for India and compete with segment leader Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Getz.

The company planned to have a manufacturing capacity of 1,10,000 vehicles at its new plant which would employ 2,500 persons. The unit would have a full production line with a press shop, paint shop and assembly lines built on the 230-hectare site.

Volkswagen planned to achieve a localisation content of over 50 per cent initially which could be scaled up to 70-80 per cent as it bought more parts from local vendors. — PTI

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FDI proposals worth Rs 3,536 cr cleared

New Delhi, November 29
The government has cleared 17 FDI proposals worth Rs 3,536.40 crore, including one from Italian automaker Fiat to invest an additional Rs 2,000 crore to revive its beleagured Indian subsidiary.

Another big proposal, cleared by Finance Minsiter P Chidambaram on recommendations of Foreign Investment Promotion Board, entails an investment of Rs 1,090 crore from NRIs, PIOs and other overseas parties in ICICI Venture Funds Management Company Ltd.

Mauritius-based Essar Communications Ltd has been allowed to invest Rs 230 crore for acquiring additional stake of 5.85 per cent in Hutchison Essar Ltd.

Korea-based Mando Corporation would bring in Rs 103.40 crore to set up a new wholly-owned subsidiary in Chennai for manufacturing, marketing and distributing power steering system for Hyundai Motor India Ltd and other auto companies.

Fiat Auto Spa of Italy would bring Rs 2,000 crore of FDI to invest in Fiat India. The company's proposal was earlier cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to increase its FDI from Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 4,000 crore at its Pune-based plant.

The proposal cleared for ICICI Venture Funds is for launching India Advantage Fund, which will pump in money in private sector investment opportunities. — PTI

No NSC warning received: Nath

The government today denied that the National Security Council (NSC) had advised it to exercise care in granting approvals to foreign capital investment in certain areas of the economy.

The denial came from Union Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. — UNI

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Hike foreign equity limit: USA to India

Mumbai, November 29
US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Franklin L Lavin is in favour of raising foreign equity caps in the financial services, banking and insurance sector in India.

Inaugurating a two-day US-India Business Summit, jointly organised by FICCI, CII, US Department of Commerce as well as Government of India here today, he said raising foreign equity caps in the financial services, banking and insurance sectors and allowing the US companies to compete in the pensions sector will let investment flow where it is needed most.

More open markets will lower borrowing and premium costs, increase the volume and effectiveness of capital allocation and increase the product offerings Indian consumers deserve, he added.

Mr Lavin also urged for lifting ownership caps in and opening the Indian economy to international participation in the retail sector to bring greater efficiencies and help Indian consumers. He said opening India’s retail sector to foreign multi-brand retailers will allow Indian consumers access to the best products at the lowest prices and improve the supply chain efficiencies.

The Under Secretary pointed out some areas where both countries can work together to improve the economic relationship which included allowing more US investment in broadcasting and telecoms; ensuring common sense postal reform to allow continued competition from express delivery companies; creating and enforcing clear, consistent and transparent laws and regulations and eliminating non-tariff barriers to trade in areas such as medical devices.

Mr Saroj K Poddar, President, FICCI, outlined internal challenges that Indian businesses face today. These are scaling up our production levels with simultaneous quality enhancement; technology upgradation from SMEs right up to the conglomerates; productivity increases and further enrichment of our vast human capital.

Mr David C Mulfold, US Ambassador to India, said American sectoral expertise from clean coal technology to power transmission to dynamic and responsive capital markets can also play a role in developing the 21st century infrastructure. India, he said, needs to sustain its growth momentum and bring growth to all corners of India.

Mr R Seshasayee, President, CII, highlighted the need to strengthen the bilateral trade between the two countries and called upon the business communities of both countries to exploit the complementarities that exist between them. He welcomed the formation of the Trade Policy Forum and its private sector adjunct and stated that the Forum’s focus on innovation and creativity is the need of the future. — UNI

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ONGC wins oil block in Brazil 

New Delhi, November 29
ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of the ONGC, has won an oil exploration block in Brazil. OVL won the offshore S-M-1103 block in the Santos basin paying 1.5 million reais ($0.68 million), a company official said.

"(S-M-1103) has potential for natural gas and light oil," he said.

Italy's ENI paid nearly $140 million to outbid Brazil's state oil company Petrobras, a consortium comprising Norway's Norsk Hydro and Sapin's Repsol YPF, and a separate bid by Shell to win the S-M-857 deep-water block.

The minimum bid for the block was 2 million reais while ENI agreed to pay 307.4 million reais ($140 million).

Petrobras won block S-M-982 on its own and three in consortia with Hydro and Repsol. — PTI

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Silver crosses Rs 20,000-mark

Mumbai, November 29
Silver today crossed the Rs 20,000-mark and closed at Rs 20,075 per kg with a massive gain of Rs 235, even as gold rose marginally by Rs 5 on fresh demand and bullish global advices on the Bombay bullion exchange.

Silver fineness opened high at Rs 19,970 per kg on good demand.

Later, it shot up to a six-and-a-half month high to the Rs 20,000-mark and closed at Rs 20,075 per kg with a massive gain of Rs 235 from yesterday's close.

In London, the white metal was also quoted six-month high at $13.60/13.66 per troy ounce against $13.40/13.46 per troy ounce in New York.

Similarly, standard Gold (99.5) and pure Gold (99.9) also opened high at Rs 9,270 and Rs 9,315 per 10 gm, respectively. —UNI

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Corus awaits final CSN offer
Q3 profit nearly triples, net debt down

London, November 29
Corus said it was awaiting a final offer from Brazil's CSN. The company, which was first approached by India's Tata Steel with a takeover bid, has given CSN time until December 20 to make a formal bid.

Corus CEO Philippe Varin said the company has put off next Monday's EGM to discuss the bid situation to December 20 so that CSN could complete its pre-conditions related to due diligence and financing issues.

"Unfortunately we are unable to comment further in this regard," as the due diligence process is on and "we are yet to receive a formal bid from Brazilian firm," Mr Varin said.

"We have decided to give some more time to CSN to give a formal offer," he added.

Meanwhile, equity research firm Exane BNP Paribas said that a fair bid from either Tata Steel or CSN should not be less than 500 pence per share in cash. Beyond 500 pence it would be up to CSN to evaluate its risk appetite, the analyst said, while adding that CSN would extract more immediate synergies than Tata Steel could due to its excess iron ore capacity.

Meanwhile, Corus has reported a nearly three-fold rise in net profit in the third quarter on the back of higher steel prices, while net debt declined by 37 per cent

Profit after tax rose by 184 per cent in the quarter ended September 30 this year to £142 million from £50 million in the year-ago period. Net debt dropped to£ 881 million as against last quarter's £1,399 million.

This indicates that the acquisition cost for the final successful bidder between India's Tata Steel and Brazil's CSN would be lower by about £500 million, bankers said.

The current net debt is also lower than what it was in the same quarter in 2005 at £961 million.

The fall in debt is primarily due to net cash proceeds of $478 million received from the sale of the Corus downstream aluminium rolled products and extrusions businesses during the quarter, Corus Group Chief Executive Philippe Varin was quoted as saying. — PTI

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Replicating Shanghai Hooda’s objective
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has said both Haryana and China could cooperate in a number of areas like education, industry and agriculture.

Mr Hooda, who is leading an official delegation to China, was speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by the Secretary of the Changzhou Municipal Party Committee of the Communist Party of China, Mr Fan Yangqing, at Changzhou.

Mr Fan Yangqing discussed the issue of mutual cooperation between the two sides. He briefed the delegation about the Principality of Changzhou, which is a part of the Jiangsu province. Mr Hooda appreciated the progress made by the Principality and agreed that the two sides could cooperate in a number of areas so as to accelerate the pace of development and improve the quality of life.

A member of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, Mr Shen Hongguang, said the visit of Mr Hooda would further consolidate the results of the visit by Chinese President to India.

Mr Hooda was all praise for the remarkable progress made by Shanghai during a short period of 15 years. He said Haryana was now focusing on upgradation of the infrastructure in the state in a big way and hoped to create another Shanghai in the state. He explained that a number of infrastructure projects, including the special economic zones, highways, technology parks, education city, were being set up in Haryana under the public-private partnership.

Earlier, the delegation visited Wuyi village where its members were impressed to see village enterprises. Mr Hooda was impressed with the kind of infrastructure created in the village and said it could be a good model for rural development in Haryana. 

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Form 2F is not ‘saral’
MPs scoff at cash-flow statement
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29
The Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, headed by BJP MP B.C. Khanduri, has disfavoured the introduction of new income tax return Form 2F, with the provision of a cash flow statement.

“The new Form 2F seems to be quite cumbersome and lengthy, fit enough to be called ‘kathin’ instead of an improved version of the erstwhile ‘Naya Saral’ form,” the committee has recommended in its 41st report tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The committee, with a particular reference to the new Form 2F, has observed that all taxpayers in the country are not yet suitably equipped to file their returns online.

“Overall the committee remains unconvinced about the reason and justification for introducing the new Form 2F, particularly the need for a cash flow statement.”

“Therefore, in the light of the apprehensions expressed, the ministry should make efforts to update the earlier Form 2E by providing more columns/space in it, instead of introducing another form, as well as do away with the provision of a cash flow statement in the Forms 2, 2F and 3 in order to serve the taxpayers in a befitting manner,” it said.

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Unitech plans London listing; may raise £360 m

New Delhi, November 29
India's largest publicly traded real estate firm Unitech today announced its plans to raise over Rs 3,100 crore (£360 million) through the listing of a newly floated company on the London Stock Exchange.

The realty major has incorporated a new real estate investment company, Unitech Corporate Parks, in the Isle of Man and plans to list it on the London Stock Exchange's alternative investment market (AIM) with an institutional placement of its shares.

Unitech Corporate Parks Plc, which intends to invest in the Indian commercial real estate sector, said in a regulatory filing that the offer size was expected to be about £360 million ($700 million).

The company plans to use the offer proceeds for the acquisition of majority stakes in six commercial real estate development projects -- including four IT SEZs and an IT Park in the NCR region and an IT SEZ in Kolkata. — PTI

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Govt to plug tax evasion
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29
The Finance Ministry has decided to review the removal of double service tax imposition on industry and service providers, particularly in telecom sector, apart from plugging the loopholes in tax evasion, said Mr P.C. Jha, Member (Excise), Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), here today.

Addressing Assocham conference on ‘Run up to Budget 2007-08 — customs & excise issues’, Mr Jha said, “I have issued instructions to the intelligence units of the department to look into the specific industries. For instance, the telecom sector has registered growth rate of 30 per cent while service tax collection have grown at a meagre 9 per cent rate.”

Although, he said, industry has also raised concerns regarding double taxation of services in inter-connection charges, which needed to be looked into. The officials concerned would study these matters and corrective steps would be taken later, he said.

The Finance Ministry would shortly come out with an announcement to this effect by amending any circular that is capable of double interpretation to ensure that services are taxed only once and not twice, he said.

He said in the fiscal 2006-07, the Finance Ministry has already earned service tax collections, which are higher by 65 per cent in comparison with last year’s service tax collection by September-end. “The ministry intents to collect a total revenue of Rs 4,50,000 crore through both direct and indirect taxation, in which the share of indirect taxes, including excise, customs and service tax would be around Rs 2,40,000 crore.

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BRPL to merge with IOC 

Mumbai, November 29
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will merge its subsidiary Bongaigaon Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (BRPL) with a swap ratio of 4:37.

In a filing on the BSE, IOC said the Board of Directors at its meeting today approved the scheme of amalgamation for merger of BRPL with the company by recommending a swap of four equity shares of Rs 10 each of IOC for every 37 equity shares of the same value of BRPL. — PTI

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Hyundai moves MRTPC

New Delhi, November 29
After forcing carmaker Maruti to stop using contents of a survey that showed it in poor light for print advertisements, Hyundai Motors India Ltd has moved MRTPC seeking to stop its rival from using the same study in posters and pamphlets.

Hyundai Motors India Ltd (HMIL) has sought to amend its original petition filed before the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission to include posters and pamphlets in the purview of its prayer.

The Commission had in August directed Maurti Udyog Ltd (MUL) from using the findings of a disputed TNS/TSC study in newspaper advertisements.

During the proceedings last week, HMIL alleged that Maruti was still using the contents of the TNS/TSC study, but through publicity bills to woo potential Hyundai customers and argued that this practice was unfair.

MUL is distributing pamphlets and posters to its dealers and distributors for circulation among our potential customers, HMIL alleged.

The MRTPC directed HMIL to file the amendment petition within two weeks. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

No decision on FDI in education
New Delhi, November 29
The government said in the Lok Sabha today that it had taken no decision with regard to allowing FDI in education and training. "No decision has been taken regarding FDI in education and training," Minister of State for Planning M V Rajasekharan said. The services sector had grown from 5.6 per cent in 2000-01 to 10 per cent in 2005-06. The share of services sector in GDP had also increased from 49.2 per cent in 1999-2000 to 54 per cent in 2005-06. — PTI

DRL-Torrent pact
Mumbai, November 29
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd (DRL) and Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd today concluded an agreement for exclusive commercialisation of two of Torrent's cardiovascular drugs -- listril (lisinopril) and listril plus (lisinopril HCTZ), used in the treatment of high blood pressure in Russia, DRL said. These two brands would add to the stable of cardiovascular drugs that Dr Reddy's is currently offering in Russia. — PTI

BSNL schemes
Chandigarh, November 29
BSNL, Haryana circle, has announced two schemes for pre-paid customers. Customers availing the Excel pre-paid scheme can now call any other mobile network within Haryana circle for 49 paise per minute instead of Rs 1.20 per minute. Another scheme of revision of recharge coupon has been launched in which one will get full talk value of Rs 500 with a validity of six months. — TNS

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