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CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Divestment still part of govt’s agenda: FM
Pranab Mukherjee NHPC, Oil India IPOs this year; RITES issue put off

New Delhi, July 14
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today the UPA government remained committed to divesting stakes in the state-run companies but “without diluting their public sector character”.

Markets cheer, Sensex up 453 pts
Mumbai, July 14
The BSE benchmark, Sensex, shot up 453 points to close at 13,853 points today, netting a rise of 3.38 per cent over its previous close after global markets gained amidst reports that troubled US banks could be on the verge of turning around. The Sensex had fallen by 770 points or 5.43 per cent in the last four days.

Patel: No plan to privatise AI
New Delhi, July 14
The government said today it was contemplating capital infusion into the cash-strapped national carrier, Air India, which is going through a bad patch, by way of equity and soft loans.



EARLIER STORIES



Sony India managing director, Masaru Tamagawa poses with models at the launch of wire-free W series MP3 player in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Sony India managing director, Masaru Tamagawa poses with models at the launch of wire-free W series MP3 player in New Delhi on Tuesday. It comes with 2GB of internal storage with a quick charge feature that allows it to play back up to 90 minutes of music with a 3-minute charge and up to 12 hours of music with a full charge. It is priced at Rs 4,990. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Gas Row
Govt has no role to play, RNRL to SC

New Delhi, July 14
The government has no role to play in a private gas sharing dispute it has with Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd, Anil Ambani group company RNRL told the Supreme Court today.

HDFC Bank’s net up 30 pc
Mumbai, July 14
Buoyed by a robust rise in its fees and commissions, HDFC Bank today posted a 30.5 per cent increase in its net profit at Rs 606.1 crore for the first quarter of FY'10. The bank's earnings from fees and commissions stood at Rs 649.3 crore in the same quarter, up 27 per cent over the year-ago period, a statement said.

Fuel price cut if global rates stabilise, says Deora
New Delhi, July 14
The government will cut petrol and diesel prices if international oil rates stabilise at lower levels, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said today.

IT ombudsman devises new redressal mechanism
Chandigarh, July 14
The recently appointed income tax ombudsman for the northwestern region will now be reaching out to the small and individual taxpayers. By sending letters to various registered citizens, traders and industry associations, the IT Lokpal has devised a novel way of informing them about the new redressal mechanism.

Cairn India to account for 20 pc oil production
New Delhi, July 14
At a time when domestic LPG is in great demand in smaller towns, Cairn India's Barmer field production can be good news for the housewives. According to industry estimates, the Barmer crude, if refined in any of the modern refineries in the country, can yield enough LPG to fill 4.5 million domestic cylinders per month at the rate of 14.2 kg per cylinder.

Exxon plans alternative fuel from algae
Washington, July 14
Oil giant Exxon Mobil plans to announce today a $600-million investment to produce liquid transportation fuel from algae, The New York Times reported.

 

 





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Divestment still part of govt’s agenda: FM
NHPC, Oil India IPOs this year; RITES issue put off
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today the UPA government remained committed to divesting stakes in the state-run companies but “without diluting their public sector character”. He said he had initiated talks with other ministries to identify PSUs where a portion of government equity could be sold, adding details would be announced soon.

Replying to a question in the debate on the national budget in the Lok Sabha, Mukherjee said “there had been some disappointment” over not enough being said on disinvestment in public sector units in his July 6 budget speech. “My ministry has initiated discussions for identifying these PSUs”, he added.

The minister also said the reason why not much had been said in this regard in his July 6 speech was that the budget was “not a document to spell out micro policy details”.

“Perhaps, people expected me to announce the names of the companies and how much money we intend to raise”, he said, but clarified the government’s policy on divestment remained the same as what President Pratibha Patil had told a joint session of Parliament last month. "Details are being worked out and might be announced in due course”, he said.

Mukherjee said PSUs were the “nation's wealth and part of that should rest in the hands of the people. Accordingly, while retaining at least 51% equity the government will encourage ‘people's participation in the divestment programme”.

In his budget speech the FM had said the government, while offloading part of its equity in state-run firms to the public, would retain a 51% holding especially in nationalised banks and insurance companies. The budget hoped to raise only Rs 1,120 crore this fiscal from sale of equity in PSUs such as RITES, Cochin Shipyard, Manganese Ore, Telecommunications Consultants India, Rashtriya Ispat and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam.

The government also plans to divest its holding in NHPC and Oil India through an IPO (initial public offer) in the current fiscal. However the RITES public issue has been deferred due to change in the company’s capital requirements.

The government has also approved disinvestment in two lossmaking PSUs - Tyre Corp of India Ltd (TCIL) and Central Inland Water Transport Corp (CIWTC), Mukherjee told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply. “While considering the recommendations of the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises for reviving and restructuring TCIL and CIWTC, the government approved disinvestment in the two companies”, he said.

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Markets cheer, Sensex up 453 pts
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 14
The BSE benchmark, Sensex, shot up 453 points to close at 13,853 points today, netting a rise of 3.38 per cent over its previous close after global markets gained amidst reports that troubled US banks could be on the verge of turning around. The Sensex had fallen by 770 points or 5.43 per cent in the last four days.

The index ranged between 13,589 and 13,902 points today. In the broader markets, the Nifty gained 137 points to close at 4,111.

All Sensex stocks except HDFC Bank closed higher. DLF was the biggest gainer gaining 11.4 per cent to close at Rs 300. Other scrips like Reliance Infra, JP Associates and ICICI Bank gained more than 7.6 per cent each.

Among the major gainers today included stocks in the power sector, realty, metals and consumer durables. The BSE realty index was the biggest sectoral gainer closing 9.4 per cent higher. The BSE Metal index closed 5.5 per cent higher.

PTI adds: Market sentiment was also bolstered by reports that Singapore upgraded its growth forecast after the construction and pharmaceutical sectors registered growth. Even as India Inc is expected to witness fall in its sales and net profit growth, investors made across the board purchases and also covered short Nifty positions on forecast of heavy rains in the country. Bonanza Portfolio assistant vice-president Avinash Gupta said, "The Indian bourses joined the global party. The news from overseas was good and there was recovery in the global markets. Yesterday the US markets closed on a positive note. The Asian as well as European markets were up taking cues from the US. The rise was widespread."

Mid-cap and small-cap stocks outperformed the Sensex, with the indices shooting up by more than four per cent each. Foreign institutional investors too were believed to be net buyers in equity during the day. Asian indices closed higher by about 1.66 per cent to 3.66 per cent except the Kospi, which gained 0.54 per cent. 

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Patel: No plan to privatise AI
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
The government said today it was contemplating capital infusion into the cash-strapped national carrier, Air India, which is going through a bad patch, by way of equity and soft loans.

Responding to a Calling Attention Motion on Air India in the Rajya Sabha, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said, “An equity infusion and soft loan by the government as a measure of softening the adverse financial situation is contemplated".

He also said Air India had also deferred delivery of new aircraft in the wake of mounting losses which were to the tune of Rs 7,200 crore.

The airlines had adopted various measures to improve its financial position which included rescheduling/cancellation of future aircraft delivery, rationalisation of routes, manpower and incentives of employees, he said.

A turnaround committee, comprising representatives of senior management and the unions, has been set up to look at all areas of cost reduction, including closure of all offline offices and reduction of employees at foreign stations, Patel said.

"I took up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who said that Air India is our national pride and we will do everything possible to see that it becomes a better organisation," he said.

"We want Air India to continue in the public sector. We will not divest Air India," Patel said charging the opposition BJP with initiating moves during NDA government to sell off the company.

Accepting that the results of the merger of erstwhile carriers Air India and Indian Airlines were "not up to our satisfaction", he, however, added that it would be unfair to say that merger per se was wrong. It was not a "knee-jerk" decision as a well-laid down process was followed.

While saying that a decision to reschedule or cancel future aircraft deliveries had also been taken, the minister added that there was also a plan to return the planes leased by the airlines at the earliest.

The minister pointed out that Air India's equity base was only Rs 145 crore and said that "the government, in the past, has never assisted Air India unlike governments in other countries that have assisted their airlines in similar difficulty."

In the post-merger period, a plan for issuing of an IPO was mooted "but the market conditions then were not conducive to this process," he said while pointing out that in the past year, the surge in oil prices had also adversely impacted the cost of operations of the airline and deteriorated its financial condition.

The airlines, which was forced to defer payment of June salary to majority of its staff, has piled up a loss of Rs 7,200 crore as on March 31, 2009.

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Gas Row
Govt has no role to play, RNRL to SC

New Delhi, July 14
The government has no role to play in a private gas sharing dispute it has with Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd, Anil Ambani group company RNRL told the Supreme Court today.

RNRL, in its reply to RIL's petition that names government as an intervener, said the Mukesh-run company was trying to portray the dispute as one between RNRL and the government rather than one between RIL and RNRL and the government had little role to play in the private dispute.

"The sale of gas is from RIL's share over which it has complete marketing freedom. RNRL is not concerned with any part of the government's share of gas," it stated, adding the impugned Bombay High Court judgement had no fiscal impact on the government and protected its interests.

The high court ruling in no way undermined the government's power to value the gas, but on the contrary had held that the value which the government was free to put on gas might be different from the price at which RIL sells the same to RNRL, the Anil Ambani group firm submitted. — PTI 

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HDFC Bank’s net up 30 pc

Mumbai, July 14
Buoyed by a robust rise in its fees and commissions, HDFC Bank today posted a 30.5 per cent increase in its net profit at Rs 606.1 crore for the first quarter of FY'10. The bank's earnings from fees and commissions stood at Rs 649.3 crore in the same quarter, up 27 per cent over the year-ago period, a statement said.

Other income registered a strong growth rate of 75.9 per cent from Rs 593.4 crore in Q1 FY'09 to Rs 1,043.7 crore in Q1 FY'10, it said.

The private sector lender's total income increased by Rs 921.6 crore to Rs 5,136.8 crore, while its net revenue stood at Rs 2,899 crore, up 25.1 per cent over the year-ago period. — PTI

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Fuel price cut if global rates stabilise, says Deora

New Delhi, July 14
The government will cut petrol and diesel prices if international oil rates stabilise at lower levels, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said today.

"The Parliament is in session and I don't want to say anything outside the House which I haven't said in Parliament," Deora told reporters here.

"I had said in Parliament that we will reduce petrol and diesel prices if international crude oil prices were to stabilise at lower rates. I stand by that statement," he said.

He, however, refused to say what level of crude oil prices would trigger a price cut.

Prices at lower levels will have to stabilise for four to six weeks, a Petroleum Ministry official said.

The government had earlier this month raised petrol and diesel prices citing spike in international crude oil prices to $70 a barrel.

International rates have eased since. The basket of crude oil India buys was at $59.81 a barrel yesterday but the average for July was $63.65 per barrel. The July average was certainly lower than $69.12 a barrel average price of Indian basket of crude for June. — PTI 

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IT ombudsman devises new redressal mechanism
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Pamela Bhandari
Pamela Bhandari 

Chandigarh, July 14
The recently appointed income tax ombudsman for the northwestern region will now be reaching out to the small and individual taxpayers. By sending letters to various registered citizens, traders and industry associations, the IT Lokpal has devised a novel way of informing them about the new redressal mechanism.

Talking to TNS here today, Pamela Bhandari, the first income tax ombudsman for Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, HP, and J&K, said besides hearing the grievances of the income tax assesses, she is now devoting time to create awareness about her office. “Though initially we began creating awareness by holding meetings with the income tax lawyers and chartered accountants’ associations, we have now made our presence felt in all income tax offices in the region, where literature about the ombudsman scheme is available,” she said.

She also disclosed that they were also writing to the officials in the Income Tax Department, informing them of the scope of the scheme, and requesting compliance to the directions.

“Though this office has been functional only for 10 months, we have received as many as 76 complaints and disposed of 43 complaints. Most of these complaints have been received from individual assessees and deal with delay in getting income tax refunds. The highest number of complaints have come from Ludhiana and Chandigarh. But we would like to reach out to more people from amongst the 30 lakh income tax assessees in the northwestern region,” she said.

The income tax ombudsman can help taxpayers with the problems like refunds, interest waiver petitions, appeal effects, release of seized books of accounts and assets and allotment of PANs/issue of PAN card and any other matter where government instructions in administrative matters have been violated or not followed by any official. With the first-of-its kind appointment, any taxpayer can file his complaint on these matters on a simple paper and hope to get his compliant redressed within a period of 30 days.

Bhandari said a complaint can also be made to the ombudsman through fax or electronically, which has to be followed with a signed printout.

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Cairn India to account for 20 pc oil production
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
At a time when domestic LPG is in great demand in smaller towns, Cairn India's Barmer field production can be good news for the housewives. According to industry estimates, the Barmer crude, if refined in any of the modern refineries in the country, can yield enough LPG to fill 4.5 million domestic cylinders per month at the rate of 14.2 kg per cylinder.

As production is ramped up to 1,75,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) by 2010-11, the Barmer crude oil production will account for more than 20 per cent of India’s current total crude production. This will also help savings on the transportation costs for imported crude. This additional fuel in the market will bring relief since the calendar 2008-09 witnessed a healthy growth in demand for petrol and diesel by 9 per cent and 8.4 per cent, respectively.

Peak production from Cairn India's Barmer oilfield in Rajasthan is expected to be 1,75,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd).

Besides, the Barmer crude will also yield fuel for a 3.4 million cars each day, averaging about 150 litres per car per month. 

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Exxon plans alternative fuel from algae

Washington, July 14
Oil giant Exxon Mobil plans to announce today a $600-million investment to produce liquid transportation fuel from algae, The New York Times reported.

The effort by Exxon, whose chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson once derided ethanol as "moonshine," includes a partnership with the biotechnology company Synthetic Genomics.

A top Exxon research told the newspaper that the company has researched fuel alternatives for years.

"We literally looked at every option we could think of, with several key parameters in mind," said Emil Jacobs, vice president for research and development at Exxon's research and engineering unit.

"Scale was the first. For transportation fuels, if you can't see whether you can scale a technology up, then you have to question whether you need to be involved at all." But Jacobs acknowledged that it would take at least five to 10 years before large-scale commercial plants could produce algae-based fuels.

Environmentalists struck a note of skepticism at the plans.

"Research is great, but we need to see new products in the market," Greenpeace research director Kert Davies told the Times.

"We've always said that major oil companies have to be involved. But the question is whether companies are simply paying lip service to something or whether they are putting their weight and power behind it." — AFP

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BRIEFLY

Indra Nooyi is CEO of the year
Indra Nooyi
New York:
Beverages major Pepsico's India-origin CEO Indra Nooyi has been named as 2009 CEO of the Year by Global Supply Chain Leaders Group (GSCLG) for promoting socially responsible business practices. The award recognises industry leaders who have made extraordinary contributions in responsible corporate citizenship, the combat against global warming, involvement in social causes and creating jobs in America in a globalised economy.— PTI

Honda Siel in pact with BoB
Chandigarh: Honda Siel Cars India has signed a MoU with Bank of Baroda for financing their cars across the country. The bank will offer loans at of 10.5-11 per cent. This facility will be available at all the branches of the bank and 103 facilities of Honda Siel Cars India. — TNS 

Collins, Q2AMedia in Pact
Chandigarh:
Q2AMedia, a leader in education content development for children, and Collins Language, a leading dictionary and language learning provider in the UK, have joined hands to develop a range of dictionaries and language products for the foreign language learning and English Language Teaching (ELT) markets. These products will be launched in 2010 across several markets, including India. — TNS

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