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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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B U S I N E S S

Buoyant rupee takes big toll
Exports fall by $1.98 billion in April

New Delhi, June 1
There has been a $1.98-billion fall in the Indian exports during April 2007 as compared to the previous month due to unceasing appreciation of the rupee against dollar.

Inflation dips to 5.06 per cent
New Delhi, June 1
Maintaining the sliding trend, inflation declined to 5.06 per cent for the week ended May 19 as against 5.27 per cent in the previous week.

India invites Russia in oil and gas sector
New Delhi, June 1
While India has invited Russia to invest in the country’s oil and gas sector, Sudan has invited Indian oil and gas companies to aggressively participate in the coming round of bidding for exploration blocks in the African nation.

Four players shortlisted to manage pension funds
New Delhi, June 1
Interim pension regulator, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), has shortlisted four players - LIC, SBI, UTI AMC and IDBI Capital - to manage funds for central and state government employees under the new system where staff and employer has to contribute matching contribution to the fund.

Sintex to buy 81 pc stake in US firm
Mumbai, June 1
Leading plastic products maker Sintex Industries will acquire 81 per cent stake in US-based engineered composite components manufacturer Wausaukee Composites Inc (WCI) for $20.5 million in cash.

DLF-Fortis JV to invest Rs 6,200 cr
New Delhi, June 1
Ahead of its initial public offer, real estate giant DLF has entered into an agreement for floating a joint venture with Ranbaxy group company Fortis Healthcare to set up hospitals across the country with about Rs 6,200 crore of investments.

Finnish co takes over TVS unit
Chennai, June 1
Incap Contract Manufacturing Services Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Incap Corporation, Finland, and TVS Electronics Limited, (TVS-E) India, has signed an agreement regarding acquisition of TVS-E’s contract manufacturing unit in line with the letter-of-intent the companies signed in February 2007.


US toy giant Mattel and Japan's Sanrio unveil a Barbie doll "Hello Kitty Barbie", wearing Hello Kitty character jacket, cap, bag and accesories in Tokyo on Friday. Mattel and Sanrio will put the collector's item in the world market on September 1 with a price of $42.
US toy giant Mattel and Japan's Sanrio unveil a Barbie doll "Hello Kitty Barbie", wearing Hello Kitty character jacket, cap, bag and accesories in Tokyo on Friday. Mattel and Sanrio will put the collector's item in the world market on September 1 with a price of $42.— AFP

EARLIER STORIES

 
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe drives one of Toyota Motor Corporation's hybrid cars, the Lexus LS600hL, at the Prime Minister's official residence, in Tokyo on Friday. The demonstration of the next generation of vehicles and fuel took place in order to make an appeal to the population to use environment-friendly cars, prior to the upcoming G8 summit in Germany.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe drives one of Toyota Motor Corporation's hybrid cars, the Lexus LS600hL, at the Prime Minister's official residence, in Tokyo on Friday. The demonstration of the next generation of vehicles and fuel took place in order to make an appeal to the population to use environment-friendly cars, prior to the upcoming G8 summit in Germany. — AFP

Higher VAT on imported vanaspati sought
Chandigarh, June 1
Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh has urged the Chief Minister to impose higher VAT on imported vanaspati, a spokesperson said today. The minister pointed out that imported oil and vanaspati was cheaper hence it was harming the cooperative sector as well as persons involved in the business.

Indian biz honchos most stressed globally
New Delhi, June 1
Indian business leaders are among the world's most stressed employees as they put in more working hours (around 57 hours per week), in a bid to remain competitive in a globalised and technologically advanced world, a new survey says.

Bharti to foray into insurance biz
Ludhiana, June 1
Bharti Enterprises today announced its foray into general insurance business in a joint venture with AXA group, with which it already has a life insurance venture, in the second half of this year.

Silver, gold firm up on global demand
Mumbai, June 1
Both precious metals firmed up today with silver rising by a whopping Rs 220 per kg and gold by Rs 50 per 10 gm on bullish global advices on the Bombay Bullion Association.

SBI hikes interest rates on NRE deposits
Mumbai, June 1
State Bank of India (SBI) has hiked interest rates offered on NRI deposits with effect from today.

BWI plans 100 hotels in India
Bangalore, June 1
The world’s largest chain of hotels, Best Western International (BWI) today announced its expansion plans in India by starting 100 hotels in the next 10 years.

 

 

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Buoyant rupee takes big toll
Exports fall by $1.98 billion in April

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
There has been a $1.98-billion fall in the Indian exports during April 2007 as compared to the previous month due to unceasing appreciation of the rupee against dollar.

Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath told newspersons on the sidelines of a function here today that exports for the month of April 2007 were just $10.6 billion as compared to $12.58 billion in March this year.

He, however, evaded the question on whether the RBI should intervene to check rupee hardening.

Nath said the appreciating rupee was a consequence of the high rate of growth of the economy. “The economy would learn to adjust to a changing exchange rate,” he added.

The minister also pointed out that the Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme (DEPB) has been extended till March 2008 and the government was evolving an alternative duty neutralisation scheme to replace the DEPB scheme when it lapses next year.

Meanwhile, according to the export data released by the government, India’s merchandise exports during April 2007 are valued at $10.57 billion, which is 23.06 per cent higher than the level of $ 8.59 billion during April 2006.

India’s merchandise imports during April 2007 are valued at $17,635.33 million, representing an increase of 40.69 per cent over the level of imports valued at $12,534.53 million in April, 2006.

Oil imports during April, 2007 are valued at $4,424.91 million, which is 11.4 per cent higher than oil imports valued at $3,972.19 million in the corresponding period last year. Non-oil imports during April 2007 are estimated at $13,210.42 million, which is 54.29 per cent higher than the level of such imports valued at $8,562.34 million in April, 2006.

The trade deficit for April 2007 is estimated at $7,060.22 million, which is higher than the deficit at $3,941.02 million during April 2006.

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Inflation dips to 5.06 per cent
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
Maintaining the sliding trend, inflation declined to 5.06 per cent for the week ended May 19 as against 5.27 per cent in the previous week.

The inflation rate was 5.05 per cent during the corresponding week of the previous year, according to the data released by the government here today.

The drop in inflation is mainly due to fall in prices of some of the food articles, including moong and wheat, and some manufactured goods.

Although inflation graph is sliding down for the past five week, there is scepticism that it could once again show upward trend over the possibility of enhanced demand and resultant supply gap.

Even finance minister P Chidambaram had yesterday hinted at the possibility of inflation going up with a record 9.4 per cent GDP, putting pressure on prices if there is supply-demand mismatch.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for all commodities for the week ended May 19 rose by 0.1 per cent to 211.9 and index for primary articles group rose by 0.2 per cent.

The index for food articles group rose by 0.1 per cent due to higher prices of arhar (2 per cent) and maize, fruits and vegetable and barley (1 per cent each).

The index for manufactured products rose by 0.1 per cent to 184.1 from 184 for the previous week.

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India invites Russia in oil and gas sector
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
While India has invited Russia to invest in the country’s oil and gas sector, Sudan has invited Indian oil and gas companies to aggressively participate in the coming round of bidding for exploration blocks in the African nation.

Visiting union minister of petroleum and natural gas, Murli Deora, held bilateral talks with his Russian and Sudanese counterparts on the sidelines of the Unesco’s ministerial conference at Paris last evening.

An official release issued here today said during his discussions with Victor Khristenko, minister of industry and energy, Russia, Deora invited Russian oil and gas sector to invest in India. He said Indian oil PSUs are keen to invest in Russia, particularly in the exploration and production activities.

Khristenko pointed out that the Russian companies could utilise investment opportunities in India in the oil and gas sector in general and downstream activities in particular.

During the talks, Sudanese minister invited Indian oil and gas companies to aggressively participate in the coming round of bidding for exploration blocks in Sudan.

The two ministers reviewed the existing cooperation and projects in oil and gas sector.

The Sudanese minister also expressed his great appreciation of the role played by the ONGC Videsh Ltd in development of Sudanese upstream sector (exploration and production) and the community welfare projects implemented in Sudan.

Meanwhile, public sector oil firms today cut jet fuel (Aviation Turbine Fuel) prices by 1.9 per cent. ATF prices in Delhi were cut to Rs 36,746.53 per kl from Rs 37,421.94 per kl, an Indian Oil Corp official said. Oil firms had raised jet fuel prices for three consecutive months since February.

ATF price for foreign airlines, which do not pay local sales tax, was cut to $697.89 per kl from $707.12 per kl in Delhi

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Four players shortlisted to manage pension funds

New Delhi, June 1
Interim pension regulator, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), has shortlisted four players - LIC, SBI, UTI AMC and IDBI Capital - to manage funds for central and state government employees under the new system where staff and employer has to contribute matching contribution to the fund.

Seven players had submitted Expressions of Interest (EoI), which means offers of Canara Bank, PNB and Securities Trading Corporation of India have been turned down.

The PFRDA will now issue request for proposal to the four players and ask them to submit technical and financial bids within 2 to 3 weeks, PFRDA executive director Meena Chaturvedi said today.

“Based on the evaluation, we would identify 2 to 3 pension fund managers by July 20,” she said. Only financial service providers, in which the government has at least 51 per cent stake and manage assets worth Rs 10,000 crore, were eligible to submit EoIs.

This is an interim mechanism till the Pension Reforms Bill, strongly opposed by UPA’s Left allies, is passed by the Parliament. Once pension fund managers are appointed, PFRDA will allow them access to pension funds of employees of the central government and most state governments.

The fund manager will offer alternative products to employees including risk-free options under which all funds would be invested in government securities and share-market linked products with variable returns as well. All states, except three left-ruled states of West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala and some north-eastern states have switched over to the new pension system. North-eastern states are willing to shift to the new system once the framework of fund managers are ready. — PTI

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Sintex to buy 81 pc stake in US firm

Mumbai, June 1
Leading plastic products maker Sintex Industries will acquire 81 per cent stake in US-based engineered composite components manufacturer Wausaukee Composites Inc (WCI) for $20.5 million in cash.

"This acquisition represents the commencement of our building a global presence in the international auto and electrical plastic accessories market and will add strongly to the company's consolidated topline as well as bottomline," Sintex Industries managing director Amit Patel said.

The buyout was made through the company's US-based down- stream subsidiary Sintex Holding US Inc, Sintex Industries said in a communique to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

The company would acquire 81 per cent shareholding of Wausaukee in first tranche and balance would be acquired subsequently based on an earn-out approach.

"Acquisitions, both in India and overseas, of profitable businesses and strong brands that have a synergy with our core competencies will continue to be one of our key strategies in strengthening our competitive position, driving profitability and enhancing stakeholder value," Patel added. — PTI

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DLF-Fortis JV to invest Rs 6,200 cr

New Delhi, June 1
Ahead of its initial public offer, real estate giant DLF has entered into an agreement for floating a joint venture with Ranbaxy group company Fortis Healthcare to set up hospitals across the country with about Rs 6,200 crore of investments.

Fortis Healthcare managing director Shivinder Singh said Fortis would have a majority holding with 74 per cent stake and the rest will be with DLF in the proposed joint venture.

Industry sources said an agreement for the proposed JV has already been signed.

The JV plans to set up a chain of 200-450 bed hospitals in 31 cities in India within three to five years, the sources added.

While the joint venture will mark DLF's foray into the healthcare segment, for Fortis the move is a part of its strategy to become a pan-India player in the healthcare segment and resolve real estate problems for setting up new hospitals.

The planned investment of Rs 6,200 crore would go toward meeting cost of land, construction and medical equipments, the sources said.

The JV plans to build hospitals in cities where DLF has a presence. Already DLF has a land reserve of 10,255 acres in 31 cities. — PTI

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Finnish co takes over TVS unit
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 1
Incap Contract Manufacturing Services Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Incap Corporation, Finland, and TVS Electronics Limited, (TVS-E) India, has signed an agreement regarding acquisition of TVS-E’s contract manufacturing unit in line with the letter-of-intent the companies signed in February 2007.

The unit of TVS-E in Tumkur and the related design services in Bangalore will be transfered over to Incap Contract Manufacturing Services Pvt Ltd with effect from today. In addition to TVS Electronics’ CMS business, the contract also covers estate and factory building in Tumkur along with all equipment and inventories.

The unit’s manufacturing focus is in product entities, and among others, power supplies and medical electronics are manufactured there.

Juhani Hanninen, president and CEO of Incap Corporation said: “Expanding operations to Asia is an essential part of our company’s growth strategy. We trust that TVS Group is the right partner for us in India with their long experience and good contacts.”

V.A. Raghu, director, TVS Electronics Ltd says: “We believe that this move will continue to provide outstanding services to our valuable customers in India and Europe who will additionally benefit from Incap’s global contract manufacturing delivery platform.”

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Higher VAT on imported vanaspati sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh has urged the Chief Minister to impose higher VAT on imported vanaspati, a spokesperson said today. The minister pointed out that imported oil and vanaspati was cheaper hence it was harming the cooperative sector as well as persons involved in the business.

The minister said unhealthy competition had arisen on account of duty-free import of vanaspati from neighbouring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka through bi-lateral trade agreements with India. The increase in CST and imposition of VAT on de-oiled cakes on local vanaspati and edible oil industry was passing through a crisis and this includes the premier cooperative agency Markfed.

Due to free trade agreements, the vanaspati, when imported from Sri Lanka and Nepal, attracts no duty. Crude palm oil carries a custom duty and cess of 53 per cent in India, but is available in Nepal duty free and in Sri Lanka at $25 per metric tonne. As a result, the cost of vanaspati produced in India was higher by Rs 10,000 per metric tonnes. The end price for consumers continues to be the same while the middlemen were reaping huge profits from imported oil and damaging local producers.

He informed that on the basis of current market rates, enhancement of VAT from 4 to 12.5 per cent on the imported vanaspati could generate additional revenue of about Rs 30 crore per year for Punjab besides supporting the local industry and without increasing consumer prices.

He suggested the reduction of CST on vegetable oil and vanaspati to 1 per cent to promote usage of local oils like cottonseed, mustard, sunflower and rice bran. Haryana has exempted de-oiled rice bran and de-oiled cakes, major raw material for cattle feed, from VAT.

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Indian biz honchos most stressed globally

New Delhi, June 1
Indian business leaders are among the world's most stressed employees as they put in more working hours (around 57 hours per week), in a bid to remain competitive in a globalised and technologically advanced world, a new survey says.

Business leaders in emerging economies tend to work the longest hours with India and Argentina at the top of the league, both at 57 hours a week, followed by Armenia, Australia and Botswana (56 hours), as per global accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR).

"Stress levels are continuing to rise around the world, with particular concern for business leaders in the emerging economies of mainland China, India and Russia," leading global accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton India National Managing Partner Vishesh Chandiok said.

The survey "International Business Report (IBR)" tracks the attitudes and expectations of small and medium-sized businesses.

In India, 79 per cent respondents said their stress levels have increased and in Russia 76 per cent feel the same.

"Globalisation and increasing technological advances have increased the pressure on business leaders to 'always be contactable' and this appears to be having an increasing strain on their lives," Chandiok said.

Mainland China tops the chart as its business leaders, working 54 hours a week, are the most stressed in the world, with 84 per cent reporting an increase in stress levels compared to last year followed by Taiwan with 82 per cent, as per the IBR report. — PTI

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Bharti to foray into insurance biz

Ludhiana, June 1
Bharti Enterprises today announced its foray into general insurance business in a joint venture with AXA group, with which it already has a life insurance venture, in the second half of this year.

"We, along with AXA group, will commence general insurance business in the second half of this year while leveraging upon the existing strength of AXA group," Bharti Enterprises vice-chairman Rakesh Bharti Mittal told reporters here today.

Under the name of Bharti AXA General Insurance Company, the joint venture will offer a wide range of products, including health, medical, mutual fund etc, said Mittal after announcing the opening of first branch of Bharti AXA Life Insurance here.

Bharti AXA Life Insurance Company Limited is looking at forging alliance with banks for entering into bancassurance.

"We are in talks with 4-5 parties for bancassurance which will be finalized soon," said Bharti AXA Life Insurance Company Limited CEO Nitin Chopra.

To capitalise on the low penetration of insurance segment in the country, the company has initiated plans to consolidate its position by opening 75 branches in 65 cities (including 20 branches in north) by the end of this fiscal. — PTI

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Silver, gold firm up on global demand

Mumbai, June 1
Both precious metals firmed up today with silver rising by a whopping Rs 220 per kg and gold by Rs 50 per 10 gm on bullish global advices on the Bombay Bullion Association.

Silver fineness .999 opened at two-week high at Rs 18,550 on good demand. Later, it increased on better buying support and closed at Rs 18,595 with a huge gain of Rs 220 from yesterday's close of Rs 18,375.

Similarly, standard gold (99.5) and pure gold (99.9) also opened at two-week high at Rs 8,740 and Rs 8,785 per 10 gm, respectively on reduced stock supply.

Later, the yellow metal went up slightly and closed at Rs 8,745 and Rs 8,790, respectively with a gain of Rs 55 for standard gold and Rs 50 for pure gold from the last close. — UNI

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SBI hikes interest rates on NRE deposits

Mumbai, June 1
State Bank of India (SBI) has hiked interest rates offered on NRI deposits with effect from today.

The interest rate on foreign currency non-resident (FCNR) accounts in dollars with maturity of one year to less than two years has been hiked to 4.64 per cent, two years to less than three years to 4.57 per cent, three years to less than four years to 4.55 per cent, four years to less than five years to 4.55 per cent and for five years only to 4.57 per cent, a bank statement said.

The interest rates on non-resident external (NRE) rupee term deposit for one year to less than two years the rates have been revised to 5.39 per cent from 5.3 per cent. — PTI

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BWI plans 100 hotels in India

Bangalore, June 1
The world’s largest chain of hotels, Best Western International (BWI) today announced its expansion plans in India by starting 100 hotels in the next 10 years.

The hotels would be set up under the leadership of BWI’s master licensee Cabana Hotel management private limited, which has 30 years of expertise.

Cabana would invest $1.2 billion, while BWI would provide its brand name and expertise in running these hotels, Cabana co-chairman Prabhu Goel said.

Cabana would identify existing properties to lend the BWI brand name. It would try and acquire stakes in some properties currently under development and also identify properties to be developed and owned by the group itself, he said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Multi-lingual SMS
Mumbai, June 1
MTNL and BSNL have tied up with Bangalore-based Geneva Software Technologies for multi- lingual short message service (SMS), which was launched in the western zone today. This messaging service will be available in 11 Indian languages, including Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Malayalam, Tamil, Telegu and Punjabi on MTNL and BSNL subscribers’ handsets at Re 1 per SMS. — PTI

S. Kumars
Mumbai, June 1
S Kumars Nationwide today said it has raised Rs 218.63 crore through allotment of 66.25 lakh equity share warrants to Mauritius Debt Management Ltd. The warrants carry an entitlement, with which the holder can subscribe to four equity shares of Rs 10 each at Rs 82.5 per share. — PTI

Etihad Airways
New Delhi, June 1
Major Gulf airline, Etihad Airways will now fly daily between Delhi and Abu Dhabi and will launch a new service between Abu Dhabi and Kochi from Monday. This will be followed up by launch of service between Abu Dhabi and Kochi from June 3," the company said. — PTI

Royal Classic
Mumbai, June 1
The Rs 225-crore textiles major, Royal Classic Group today said it would invest Rs 12 crore in the current fiscal for its retail expansion. "Presently, we have 35 retail outlets which we plan to increase to 100 by this year-end," the Tamil Nadu-based company's executive director R Sivaram told reporters here. — PTI

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