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GAIL to lay 5,000 km of gas pipeline
New Delhi, March 30
GAIL (India) Ltd, the country’s largest natural gas distributor, plans to invest Rs 18,000 crore over the next few years in five new pipeline projects, including two passing through Punjab and Haryana, and upgradation of the existing trunk lines to take the fuel from gas fields and import locations to consumers.

Preys on Dabhol LNG terminal

34 Indian firms on Forbes list
New York, March 30
The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) leads the pack of 34 Indian companies, a chunk of them from the banking sector, which have found place on the elite Forbes’ list of 2,000 corporate giants across the world.

CSN strikes it rich in lost Corus battle
New Delhi, March 30
Brazilian steel maker CSN, which had rivalled Indian giant Tata Steel’s takeover bid for Corus, will record a net gain of about $100 million from the sale of shares it had accumulated in the Anglo-Dutch firm.

Retail loans set to cost more
New Delhi/Mumbai, March 30
The annual rate of inflation for the week ended March 17 remained unchanged at the past two weeks’ level of 6.46 per cent while the wholesale price index (WPI) for all commodities for the week ended March 10, rose by 0.05 per cent to 209.4 from 209.3 the previous week. Meanwhile, interest rate on housing, vehicle and other consumer loans is likely to shoot up further, with RBI today raising key short-term lending rate (repo) by a quarter per cent as also increasing mandatory deposits by banks by 0.5 per cent to contain inflation.

 

A model displays a creation by Sanchita Ajjampur at the fourth day of the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai on Friday.
A model displays a creation by Sanchita Ajjampur at the fourth day of the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai on Friday. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES

 
A model poses next to Japanese motorcycle giant Suzuki Motor’s sporty motorcycle ‘Bandit 1250’, equipped with 1250 cc inline-four engine, at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show on Friday
A model poses next to Japanese motorcycle giant Suzuki Motor’s sporty motorcycle ‘Bandit 1250’, equipped with 1250 cc inline-four engine, at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show on Friday. — AFP photo

Haryana cuts CST on Maruti vehicles
Chandigarh, March 30
The Haryana Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda here today, decided to reduce central sales tax (CST) on Maruti cars and its other vehicles from 3 per cent to 2 per cent with effect from April 1, 2007, following representations made by the company.

IPO rush: Mumbai varsity may join the bandwagon
Mumbai, March 30
The 150-year-old University of Mumbai, one of India’s first educational institutions, is likely to become the first of its kind in the country to tap the capital market to the much-needed resources for upgrading its quality education and expansion plan. A proposal to this effect was mooted by Vice-chancellor Vijay Khole at a meeting of the university senate yesterday.

Hutch deal
FIPB to probe funding

New Delhi, March 30
The government approval for Vodafone's takeover of Hutch-Essar now depends on whether the two minority stakeholders in the company can prove through documents that they are not acting as benami shareholders for HTIL.

Indian owns 14 pc in Spanish bank
New Delhi, March 30
What began as small investments in stocks about 10 years ago, has pushed once smalltime investor Ramchand Bhavnani to an enviable position today where he can decide fate of Spain's fifth largest bank Bankinter.

MoneyGram plans pan-India presence
Chandigarh, March 30
MoneyGram, the second largest money transfer agent in the world, is now all set to expand its base in the traditional remittance markets of Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Air Deccan withdraws levy
Bangalore, March 30
Low-cost carrier Air Deccan has withdrawn the congestion surcharge, which was being levied from passengers to offset fuel costs incurred due to hovering over key airports that were choked by air traffic.

Nissan to recall 1.02 m cars
Tokyo, March 30
Nissan Motor Co has said it will recall 1.02 million vehicles in Japan in its second-biggest single domestic recall.The carmaker will recall Cube and March models, according to a statement from the transport ministry. Automakers are sharing more parts among models globally which lead to a big number of recalls. — Bloomberg

India’s external debt rises to $142.7 b
New Delhi, March 30
India’s external debt has risen by $6.2 billion to $142.7 billion at the end of December 2006 on account of the surge in corporate borrowings in foreign countries and deposits by NRIs.

 

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GAIL to lay 5,000 km of gas pipeline
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
GAIL (India) Ltd, the country’s largest natural gas distributor, plans to invest Rs 18,000 crore over the next few years in five new pipeline projects, including two passing through Punjab and Haryana, and upgradation of the existing trunk lines to take the fuel from gas fields and import locations to consumers.
Chairman U.D. Choubey said the investment would boost company’s revenues from pipeline transportation to Rs 5,800 crore by 2011-12 from Rs 2,000 crore currently.

These pipelines expected to be completed in two phases in the next 3-4 years is expected to increase the company’s gas transportation capacity from 140 MMSCMD at present to around 280 MMSCMD.

The new pipelines include Rs 2,500-crore Dadri-Bawana-Nangal line, Rs 1,000-crore Chainsa-Gurgaon-Jhajjhar-Hissar pipeline, Rs 2,000-crore Jagdishpur-Haldia pipeline, Rs 2,500-crore Dabhol-Bangalore line and Rs 2,500-crore Kochi-Kanjirkkod-Bangalore pipeline.

The 610-km Dadri-Bawana-Nangal pipeline will pass through UP, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab and the estimated investment for pipeline is Rs 2500 crore.

The 310-km Chainsa-Gurgaon-Jhajjhar-Hissar pipeline will pass through Haryana and Rajasthan and shall be laid at an estimated investment of Rs 1,000 crore.

The Jagdishpur-Haldia pipeline will be 876 km long and shall have facilities for bi-directional flow. The pipeline will pass through West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and UP. The estimated investment for the pipeline will be Rs 2,000 crore.

Choubey said GAIL had signed separate agreements with Reliance and ONGC for cooperation in the gas sector, including transportation of natural gas from Krishna Godavari and Mahanadi basin through an integrated pipeline network.

The natural gas availability in the country is set for a major change in the coming years with a substantial increase in the availability of natural gas following the recent discoveries in the country, specially on the east coast, namely, the KG and the Mahanadi basins. 

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Preys on Dabhol LNG terminal

GAIL will infuse Rs 500 crore in the cash-starved Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd, the owner of the Dabhol project, provided the state-run gas utility is given the adjacent LNG terminal.

“We are ready to infuse Rs 500 crore into RGPPL, provided we are given the LNG terminal,” Choubey said.

He said the GAIL’s board of directors would consider the proposal of infusing the additional amount into RGPPL, but only with the condition that the LNG terminal was hived off and the company was given the right to buy the facility. — PTI

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34 Indian firms on Forbes list

New York, March 30
The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) leads the pack of 34 Indian companies, a chunk of them from the banking sector, which have found place on the elite Forbes’ list of 2,000 corporate giants across the world.

In the ranking based on sales, profits, assets and stock market value, there are five oil and gas companies, four software giants, three each dealing in materials and capital goods, two utilities, and one each food, consumer durable, and telecommunications majors.

At the top of the Indian list is ONGC, which finds 239 spot in the overall rankings and is followed by Reliance Industries (258), State Bank of India (326) and Indian Oil (399).

Tata Consultancy Services finds 1047 spot in the overall list but tops Indian companies ranking of software and service outfits. Following it in the category are Infosys Technologies (1130), Wipro (1233) and Satyam Computer Services (1874).

Bharti Airtel is the only Indian telecommunications company to find spot among 2000 giants with a rank of 1149.

State Bank of India Group finds top spot among the Indian banks and is ranked at 326 in the overall list. It is followed by ICICI bank (536), HDFC (1197), PNB (1308), Canara Bank (1360), HDFC bank (1376), Bank of Baroda (1585), Bank of India (1691), IDBI (1767), Union Bank of India (1772), UCO Bank (1931), Syndicate Bank (1943), Indian Overseas Bank (1946) and Oriental Bank of Commerce (1974).

In the materials category, SAIL, Tata Steel and Hindustan Zinc find slots in the coveted list.

ITC is the only Indian company to make the list in food, drink and tobacco category.

NPTC, TATA Motors, Gail India, Bharat Heavy Electricals, Bharat Petroleum, Larsen and Toubro, Hindustan Petroleum and Bajaj Auto are among other Indian companies that find spot among 2000 top companies.

The top spot goes to Citigroup and following it are Bank of America, HSBC Holdings, General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, American Intl Group, ExxonMobil (all American), Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands), UBS (Switzerland) and ING Group (Netherlands). — PTI 

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CSN strikes it rich in lost Corus battle

New Delhi, March 30
Brazilian steel maker CSN, which had rivalled Indian giant Tata Steel’s takeover bid for Corus, will record a net gain of about $100 million from the sale of shares it had accumulated in the Anglo-Dutch firm.

The Sao Paulo-based firm said it would sell its 3.8 per cent stake in Corus, which it had bought for about $345 million, later this year. The company was outbid by Tata Steel with a winning bid of 608 pence a share in a nine-round auction for Corus held on January 31.

It anticipates total proceeds of about $445 million from sale of these shares at 608 pence a share.

The Brazilian firm would also receive a disengagement fee of about $120 million from Corus, as its offer had been approved by the board of the UK-listed firm.

CSN reported 12 per cent jump in its fourth-quarter revenue to $1.26 billion, taking the annual net revenue for 2006 to over $4.40 billion.

The company said it aimed to become the world’s fourth largest iron ore exporter this year, after kick-starting its global market foray with first shipment to Bahrain last month.

Talking about India, CSN said economic growth in China and India, which continued to record significant jump in output, have a significant impact on global steel market. — PTI 

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Retail loans set to cost more
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi/Mumbai, March 30
The annual rate of inflation for the week ended March 17 remained unchanged at the past two weeks’ level of 6.46 per cent while the wholesale price index (WPI) for all commodities for the week ended March 10, rose by 0.05 per cent to 209.4 from 209.3 the previous week.

Meanwhile, interest rate on housing, vehicle and other consumer loans is likely to shoot up further, with RBI today raising key short-term lending rate (repo) by a quarter per cent as also increasing mandatory deposits by banks by 0.5 per cent to contain inflation.

Ahead of its annual monetary policy scheduled next month, the RBI in a sudden move hiked the repo rate and cash reserve ratio (CRR) to 7.75 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively, to suck out about Rs 19,500 crore from the system.

The RBI move is a part of the stated policy by Finance Minister P Chidambaram that the government and apex bank would continue to take appropriate fiscal and monetary measures to control inflation.

The hike in repo rate means that commercial banks would have to pay more to borrow from the central bank and the move is aimed at tempering the high demand for retail loans, particularly in the housing sector.

Also, the 0.5 per cent hike in CRR, the amount of depositors money that banks have to park with RBI, would leave banks with little for lending activities.

The decisions would also lead to hike in interest rates on deposits, which is a cheap source for banks to mobilise funds.

SBI deputy managing director Arun Sandilya said the decision would hit profitability of banks and would force it to review rates.

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Haryana cuts CST on Maruti vehicles
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Haryana Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda here today, decided to reduce central sales tax (CST) on Maruti cars and its other vehicles from 3 per cent to 2 per cent with effect from April 1, 2007, following representations made by the company.

The decision was prompted by MUL’s contribution in putting Haryana on the global map of the automobile manufacturing industry.

The Cabinet also approved the proposal of setting up of a new cooperative sugar mill at Assandh in Karnal district by HAFED.

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IPO rush: Mumbai varsity may join the bandwagon
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 30
The 150-year-old University of Mumbai, one of India’s first educational institutions, is likely to become the first of its kind in the country to tap the capital market to the much-needed resources for upgrading its quality education and expansion plan.

A proposal to this effect was mooted by Vice-chancellor Vijay Khole at a meeting of the university senate yesterday.

With the expanding student population and inability to provide required facilities, the university has mooted the idea of getting itself listed in the Bombay Stock Exchange and will conduct a feasibility study for the purpose, vice-chancellor Vijay Khole said. “In this regard, we have made a proposal at the senate meeting held yesterday to conduct a feasibility study by our academics and asked for an allotment of Rs 2 lakh for the same,” Khole said.

This is a proactive step taken by the university to improve the funding of the university and also to go global in the near future, he said.

Asked whether the university will be appointing any global professionals for the feasibility study, Khole said, “We will be appointing our own academics as the fund for the study is only Rs 2 lakh”. “The concept of universities trading in stock market is not new in Asia and the practice was in vogue in Republic of Korea and China,” he said, adding that such practices are seen in the western countries too.

Currently, over Rs 250 crore has been attracted from state and central funding and this may not be sufficient for long-term maintenance of the new infrastructure and centres that are coming up in the university, the finance managers of the university said.

The university will also be introducing introductory certificate courses on investments, functions and all SEBI related subjects, Sawant said.

However, the Bombay University and College Teachers Union (BUCTU) objected to the proposal at the senate and said the university could not take any such decision without having a democratic discussion with over 5,000 teachers and others.

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Hutch deal
FIPB to probe funding

New Delhi, March 30
The government approval for Vodafone's takeover of Hutch-Essar now depends on whether the two minority stakeholders in the company can prove through documents that they are not acting as benami shareholders for HTIL.

"We have asked for the copy of the original agreement on stake sale to two minority shareholders in Hutch-Essar from Kotak last year and financing of these purchases to decide on the Vodafone's deal," an official source said.

In the absence of these documents, essential to establish these minority shareholders are not fronting for HTIL, the FIPB had yesterday deferred a decision on whether Vodafone's acquisition of Hutch-Essar hit the 74 per cent FDI cap. — PTI

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Indian owns 14 pc in Spanish bank

New Delhi, March 30
What began as small investments in stocks about 10 years ago, has pushed once smalltime investor Ramchand Bhavnani to an enviable position today where he can decide fate of Spain's fifth largest bank Bankinter.

Continuing with purchase of shares in Bankinter over the years, India-born Bhavnani, an unknown name till a few years ago, has raised his holding to over 14 per cent.

His rise, which also earned him a director seat on Bankinter board in 2005, holds even more significance as Spain is a country where large businesses are mostly owned by powerful families and an intricate network of cross-holdings.

The Spanish lending giant said in a regulatory filing that Bhavnani, the second-largest shareholder, now owns 14.08 per cent stake, worth about $900 million.

The 63-year old Sindhi businessman, who had moved to Hong Kong from Mumbai long back before moving to Spanish territory of Canary Islands, has been consistently raising his stake in Bankinter, from about 6 per cent in 2003 to 12 per cent in October 2006 and to 13.6 per cent till last week.

His growing stake has stirred speculations that Spanish bank could soon become an acquisition target and Bhavnani could reap huge gains from sale of his stake in Bankinter, currently controlled by the Boltin banking dynasty.

However, Bhavnani is unlikely to favour a potential sale to some Indian entity. The India born investor had said in an interview last month that he would prefer a possible sale to a Spanish firm and not a foreign bank.

Bhavnani's growth to the driving seat at Bankinter bears resemblance to many super hit film plots and has been even featured by publications like Wall Street Journal. After graduating from Mumbai, he worked for a Sindhi expatriate in Hong Kong and later married his daughter. Later, he was sent by his father-in-law to rescue a faltering business, Casa Kishoo, in Canary Islands at the age of just 21, an assignment he completed successfully.

Subsequently, he started building good relations with local banks in Canary Islands and took out loans to import goods and also started investing in the Spanish stock market in 1986.

He was an active buyer during the 1987 stock market crash and is believed to have started reaping huge gains by 2003 after sustaining huge losses during the market crash of 2000-2001.

His windfalls include acquisition of a 10 per cent stake in Banco Zaragozano SA, which he later sold for $137 million with a net profit of $65 million.

Bhavnani's family owns a chain of hotels in Canary Islands and his total wealth is estimated to be in double-digit billion dollars. — IANS

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MoneyGram plans pan-India presence
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
MoneyGram, the second largest money transfer agent in the world, is now all set to expand its base in the traditional remittance markets of Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

This was stated by Harsh Lambah, country manager, MoneyGram India, here today. He said since these were the biggest markets for the remittance business in India, with a majority of the migrants to various foreign countries coming from these states, they were looking at expanding their presence in these states.

MoneyGram International has tied up with Blazeflash Courier to offer services across all its locations. Blazeflash has signed up with Trade Wings, a principal agent of Money Gram India, to offer the money transfer services across its 290 odd locations across the country.

Lambah said MoneyGram had recently invested more resources in the Indian market and introduced special pricing on transactions received into the country. “India is the largest remittance market in the world with $24 billion worth of legal remittances coming to the country as compared to the global remittance market is worth $240- 260 billion. The legal remittances in India account for 3 per cent of the country’s GDP and are much more than the FDI in India (of about $8 billion). With year-on-year growth of 10-15 per cent in India, it is the most important market,” he said.

He said though over 70 per cent of legal remittances in the country were still being made through banks, money transfer agents were benefiting from the shift in remittances from unofficial channels to official channels. 

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Air Deccan withdraws levy

Bangalore, March 30
Low-cost carrier Air Deccan has withdrawn the congestion surcharge, which was being levied from passengers to offset fuel costs incurred due to hovering over key airports that were choked by air traffic.

The Rs 150 surcharge which had come into effect on December 8, 2006 will no longer be applicable on fresh tickets booked on and after that time, Air Deccan said in a statement, adding that the withdrawal came into effect at 1435 hrs yesterday.

Air Deccan managing director G.R. Gopinath said: “The rationale behind implementing the congestion fee was to make the government aware of the problems being faced by airlines due to congestion at airports”.

“We are withdrawing the same since the government is now taking firm steps to tackle the problem and we are glad our issues are being addressed positively.” Airlines operating services to key airports spend anywhere up to 30 minutes before getting clearance for landing due to a rush of traffic. — PTI

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Nissan to recall 1.02 m cars

Tokyo, March 30
Nissan Motor Co has said it will recall 1.02 million vehicles in Japan in its second-biggest single domestic recall.

The carmaker will recall Cube and March models, according to a statement from the transport ministry. Automakers are sharing more parts among models globally which lead to a big number of recalls. — Bloomberg

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India’s external debt rises to $142.7 b
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
India’s external debt has risen by $6.2 billion to $142.7 billion at the end of December 2006 on account of the surge in corporate borrowings in foreign countries and deposits by NRIs.

The country’s debt increased from $136.5 billion (Rs 6,17,112 crore) at the end of September 2006 to $142.7 billion (Rs 6,32,051 crore) as on December 31, 2006.

Despite appreciation of Rupee, commercial borrowings by India Inc have gone up to Rs 35,980 crore by December-end 2006.

During the current financial year, the government has put a ceiling of $22 billion on external commercial borrowings (ECBs), while for cap on an individual company is $500 million.

Long-term debt outstanding increased over the quarter by $6.798 billion to $132.641 billion, while short-term debt declined by $610 million (5.7 per cent) to $10.015 billion.

 

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BRIEFLY

Consumer Price Index
Shimla, March 30
The all-India Consumer Price Index number for industrial workers (CPI-IW) increased by a point to 128 points in February on account of rise in prices of essentials in various centres. The index increased by up to four points in 32 centres and decreased by up to two points in 11 centres. In respect of 35 centres, the CPI-IW number that is used for computing DA of government employees was unchanged. The indices in respect of the six main centres are: Ahmedabad 126, Bangalore 134, Chennai 122, Delhi 125, Kolkata 126 and Mumbai 131. — PTI
Anil Dua, vice-president (marketing & sales), Hero Honda Motors Ltd, at the launch of 150 cc motorcycle ‘Achiever’ in New Delhi on Friday. The bike is priced between Rs 52,650 and Rs 54,950(ex-showroom Delhi).
Anil Dua, vice-president (marketing & sales), Hero Honda Motors Ltd, at the launch of 150 cc motorcycle ‘Achiever’ in New Delhi on Friday. The bike is priced between Rs 52,650 and Rs 54,950(ex-showroom Delhi). A Tribune photograph

Tata Metaliks
Kolkata, March 30
Tata Metaliks Ltd has announced joint venture with Kubota Corporation of Japan and Metal One Corporation to manufacture pipes used in transporting water. “The project cost will be Rs 150 crore which would be funded in a 1:1 debt equity ratio. We will hold majority stake of 51 per cent, Kubota will hold 44 per cent and Metal One Corporation 5 per cent,” Tata Metaliks chairman T Mukherjee said. — PTI

NFL target
New Delhi, March 30
National Fertilizers Ltd (NFL) has planned to increase its production to over 33 lakh tonnes of urea in the fiscal 2007-08. Signing an MoU with the department of fertilizer, CMD G.S. Mangat said next fiscal the company had targeted production of 33.31 lakh tonnes of urea against the installed capacity of 32.31 lakh tonnes. — TNS

SiS to make chipsets for Intel
Bangalore, March 30
Chipset maker Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) has said it will manufacture chipsets for Intel.The company has signed a long-term licensing contract with Intel for manufacturing and sale of chipsets for Intel Core 2 Quad processor, CEO Daniel Chen said.He said SiS would offer next generation products to support high-speed FSB 1,333Mhz for the Intel Core 2 Quad processors. These new chipsets will strengthen SiS product portfolio with another high-end option for consumers seeking extreme performance and innovative design, he added. — PTI

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