SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI
B U S I N E S S

Gas Row
Anil flays OilMin for volte-face on pricing

New Delhi, July 20
Industrialist Anil Ambani has virtually accused the Oil Ministry of doing a volte-face on gas pricing, saying its stand in the Supreme Court was in total variance with what it had said in Parliament.

KG Gas: AP seeks its due share
Hyderabad, July 20
As the Ambani brothers have locked horns in a legal battle over supply of gas from the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin, an exasperated Andhra Pradesh government today sought its "due share" of the precious natural resource.

Satyam Fraud
US market regulator seeks nod to probe
New Delhi, July 20
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency to regulate the securities industry in that country, has sought India’s permission to probe the multi-million dollar Satyam fraud case.



EARLIER STORIES


THE TRIBUNE
 SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks at the Nissan Works in Sunderland, north-east England, on Monday.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks at the Nissan Works in Sunderland, north-east England, on Monday. Japanese car giant Nissan announced plans to create hundreds of new jobs in a £200 million investment to build batteries for electric cars. — AFP

IT stocks push Sensex up
Mumbai, July 20
IT sector stocks led by TCS took the Sensex up 446 points to close at 15,191. In the broader markets, the Nifty was up 127.30 points to close at 4,502.

HDFC Bank cuts lending rate by 25 bps
New Delhi, July 20
Private sector lender HDFC Bank today slashed benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to 15.75 per cent. Benchmark Prime Lending Rate has been reduced to 15.75 per cent per annum with effect from July 20, HDFC Bank said on its website.

FDI dips by 47 pc in May
New Delhi, July 20
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India dipped by about 47 per cent to $2.1 billion in May due to the global recession and the trend is likely to continue for some more months, a senior government official said today.

FII inflow cross $6 bn mark
New Delhi, July 20
In a sign of confidence in the Indian markets, Foreign Institutional Investors pumped in over $6 billion, or about Rs 29,940 crore this year, with over $1 billion coming in July alone.

SMEs decry banks’ lending policies
Ludhiana, July 20
World over banks are assisting industrial borrowers to overcome the effects of recession, but in our country banks are playing the opposite role, say local industrialists. Punjab, being a home to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) with large concentration of smaller units, has the highest density of smaller units in the country.

Now, Haryana BSNL users can roam free in Chandigarh
Chandigarh, July 20
Telecom behemoth BSNL has floated fresh tenders for rolling out its high-speed wireless broadband service (WiMax), after the previous attempt was aborted after dubious operators were detected in the final shortlist.






Top












 

Gas Row
Anil flays OilMin for volte-face on pricing

New Delhi, July 20
Industrialist Anil Ambani has virtually accused the Oil Ministry of doing a volte-face on gas pricing, saying its stand in the Supreme Court was in total variance with what it had said in Parliament.

Seeking protection against what he called the overt and covert attempts and "partisan and biased approach" of the Petroleum Ministry to intervene in a commercial dispute with RIL, Anil wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offering to meet and explain the issues.

When contacted, Anil Ambani group spokesperson said today that a communication was sent to Prime Minister, but RIL spokesperson declined to comment.

Incidentally, the news of the letter dated July 15 surfaced on a day when the Supreme Court was to hear cross-appeals filed by an Anil group firm RNRL and Mukesh-led RIL challenging the Bombay High Court decision on the gas row.

Unfortunately RIL was influencing the ministry to adopt a "partisan and biased" approach and there was an unusually high frequency of public utterances by its officials on a sub-judice matter which is before the Supreme Court now, he said.

In response to the cross-appeals, the government first in its affidavit and then through a separate petition asserted its rights to fix gas prices and its utilisation.

However, the government had on many occasions stated in Parliament that it "does not fix gas price" and that under the Production Sharing Contract "the operators have freedom to market the gas..." Anil noted.

Anil said on at least 13 occasions, Petroleum Ministry has told Parliament that it has no role in fixing gas price.

He annexed copies of questions raised in Parliament, even once early this year, wherein Petroleum Minister or his deputies said: "As per the Production Sharing Contract...government does not fix gas price of gas. The role of the government is to approve the valuation..." "You may kindly direct the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons and other relevant Ministries and Departments to cease from "overtly and covertly attempting to intervene in our commercial disputes with RIL..." Anil asked the Prime Minister.

The government, in its petition, wanted the court to declare as "null and void" the Ambani family settlement that provides for RIL to supply gas to RNRL.

In his five-page letter, along with 16-page annexure, Anil repeatedly made it clear that was not questioning the government's "ownership, rights and entitlements" in the KG-D6 fields, but wanted the government to remain equi-distance in a commercial dispute.

"We're not claiming any rights to KG-D6 gas fields, whether through any family settlement, contractual claims or otherwise... Reliance ADA Group is only seeking gas from RIL's lawful share or entitlement of production and not from government share," he said. — PTI 

Top

 

KG Gas: AP seeks its due share
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 20
As the Ambani brothers have locked horns in a legal battle over supply of gas from the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin, an exasperated Andhra Pradesh government today sought its "due share" of the precious natural resource.

“It is unfortunate that our state does not get any share in the royalty or in the profit despite having the first land fall point of the KG basin (in east Godavari district). We do not enjoy any priority in allocation or pricing. This is completely unjust," Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy said here.

He was interacting with the visiting members of 13th Finance Commission headed by Vijay Kelkar.

The Chief Minister sought the Finance Commission’s intervention in the matter as the people of the state were entitled to reap the benefits of the hydrocarbon assets, found off the state's coast.

"The extreme interpretation of the constitutional provisions about offshore resources should not be invoked to deny the people of our state their due share," Reddy said.

He also pitched for changes in gas distribution mechanism to ensure that the gas requirements of the state's industry, especially the power projects were met first.

"The gas distribution network will be affected and gas will not reach the households as envisaged in the absence of clear allocation,” Reddy said.

He said estimates vary about the availability of gas in the KG basin. Reliance Industries Ltd has already started commercialising gas from its D6 block and the first land fall point for the gas is East Godavari district, he said.

Top

 

Satyam Fraud
US market regulator seeks nod to probe

New Delhi, July 20
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency to regulate the securities industry in that country, has sought India’s permission to probe the multi-million dollar Satyam fraud case.

“A team of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has requested permission from the Indian government and the CBI to probe the Satyam case,” CBI Director Ashwani Kumar said.

SEC, which is market regulator SEBI’s counterpart in the USA, has been probing the Satyam’s fraud case there.

Satyam Computer is listed in the New York Stock Exchange.

The CBI director said the agency plans to launch a joint prosecution with the help of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the SEBI.

Appreciating the role of investigators, especially from its Hyderabad’s zone office, he said the CBI plans to come up with a joint strategy to prosecute Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju and other accused in the case. He said he would also request for appointment of a special magistrate to facilitate speedy trial of the Satyam case.

“We are now going to come up with a joint strategy. We have requested the Andhra Pradesh Government and Hyderabad High Court to appoint special magistrate to try Satyam case,” the Director said, while inaugurating a five-day training course for media correspondents here.

The Satyam fraud case, allegedly involving approximately Rs 9,000 crore, came to light early this year after its founder Ramalinga Raju confessed to have inflated company’s account books.

The case on February 18 was handed over to the CBI after receiving a request from the Andhra Pradesh government.— PTI

Top

 

IT stocks push Sensex up
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 20
IT sector stocks led by TCS took the Sensex up 446 points to close at 15,191. In the broader markets, the Nifty was up 127.30 points to close at 4,502.

Better than expected results from TCS made it shoot up more than 15 per cent to end at Rs 500. Other IT scrips like Wipro also closed 7 per cent higher. The BSE IT index itself was up 7.2 per cent.

Among the Sensex stocks, TCS was the top gainer followed by Wipro, ICICI Bank and Infosys. Reliance also closed 5 per cent higher at Rs 2,030 after the Supreme Court adjourned the RIL-RNRL gas dispute case till September 1.

Other gainers included realty and banking stocks. While the realty index gained 4.9 per cent, the banking index closed 4.3 per cent higher.

Rupee spurts by 52 paise

The rupee appreciated sharply by 52 paise to end at a two-week high of 48.20/21 against the dollar on Monday as the weak US currency overseas and strong equity markets powered the local unit’s bounce-back.

In fairly active trade at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the domestic currency moved in a range of 48.18 and 48.56 after resuming stronger at 48.52/54 a dollar from its previous close of 48.72/73. — PTI

Top

 

HDFC Bank cuts lending rate by 25 bps

New Delhi, July 20
Private sector lender HDFC Bank today slashed benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to 15.75 per cent. Benchmark Prime Lending Rate has been reduced to 15.75 per cent per annum with effect from July 20, HDFC Bank said on its website.

The cut in lending rate follows the reduction in the fixed deposits rate effective from May 18.

In the past six months, the PLR has been reduced by 75 basis points. The bank last reduced its PLR in December 2008, when the rate was brought down by 50 basis points to 16 per cent. Private sector lenders mostly give loans below PLR.

However, some of the corporate loans are linked to the benchmark rate.— PTI

Top

 

FDI dips by 47 pc in May

New Delhi, July 20
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India dipped by about 47 per cent to $2.1 billion in May due to the global recession and the trend is likely to continue for some more months, a senior government official said today.

During the same month last year, FDI was $3.9 billion.

“The declining trend is likely to continue in the coming months,” the official said.

FDI in the first two months of this fiscal is $4.43 billion, the official said.

The government had scaled down the FDI target by $5 billion from $35 billion last fiscal. Cumulative FDI from April 2000 to March 2009 stands close to about $90 billion.

Thanks to robust trends in the first six months of the last fiscal, FDI in 2008-09 was $27.3 billion against $24.5 billion in 2007-08. — PTI 

Top

 

FII inflow cross $6 bn mark

New Delhi, July 20
In a sign of confidence in the Indian markets, Foreign Institutional Investors pumped in over $6 billion, or about Rs 29,940 crore this year, with over $1 billion coming in July alone.

An analysis of FIIs activity shows that overseas investors are the net purchasers of Indian stocks worth $6.18 billion (Rs 29,940.30 crore) from January to July this year.

According to SEBI data, FIIs were the gross buyer of shares worth Rs 2,98,675.70 crore while they sold equities valued at Rs 2,68,735.30 crore, resulting in a net inflow of Rs 29,940.30 crore.

In July, FIIs made a net investment of Rs 5,637 crore ($1.16 million) in the domestic equity markets, showing their confidence in an emerging market like India.

Significantly, during the same period, the Bombay Stock Exchange's barometer Sensex has lost nearly two per cent.

However, it seems that the overseas investors are still skeptic about debt market as they have not turned into net investor in this segment this year.

Till now, FIIs are the net seller of debts worth Rs 973.60 crore ($151 million), even as the overseas investors infused Rs 4,485.10 crore ($932 million) so far in July, the SEBI data said. — PTI 

Top

 

SMEs decry banks’ lending policies
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 20
World over banks are assisting industrial borrowers to overcome the effects of recession, but in our country banks are playing the opposite role, say local industrialists. Punjab, being a home to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) with large concentration of smaller units, has the highest density of smaller units in the country.

President of Apex Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Punjab, PD Sharma said Punjab's economy depended heavily on the SME sector. There are about 2,25,000 units in the small scale sector in Punjab with a fixed capital investment of about Rs 5,500 crore. Punjab's SME sector gave industrial production of about six times the capital investment whereas elsewhere this ratio was just 1:4.

The apex bank, RBI, has instructed banks to restructure the loans of SME sector to avoid defaults. But, the banks are not assisting the SME sector in this regard. Restructuring is being done not in a spirit to help the borrowers. On the structured loan, extra interest (up to 2 per cent) is being charged. RBI had allowed restructuring up to June 30, 2009. Sharma said they had asked RBI to extend the date by another year.

While the banks have reduced the deposit rates by about 4 per cent, the lending rates have come down by only 1 per cent or so. RBI had instructed to resort to administered interest rate regime. "Banks are working in a completely opaque manner whereas they should work in a transparent manner", said Sharma.

Another industrialist, VP Chopra said apart from high interest rates, banks were charging high and widespread processing charges. "For small and medium borrowers, the total impact of processing charges may be equivalent to enhanced rate of interest of about 2 to 3%. The bank working is so opaque that bulk of lending is going at sub-PLR rates", Chopra said, adding that smaller units were the only borrowers who paid the highest rate of interest.

Another anomaly in the process was that the interest rates of nationalised banks varied widely. No borrower could afford shifting banks frequently. As a result, many borrowers are paying much high interest compared to others. "These borrowers can not sustain. The government is urged to make rates of interest of all nationalised banks uniform," he said.

Sharma further said the Government of India had enacted Securitizations and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAAESI) Act in 2002. The threshold limit for the applicability of the act was Rs 1 lakh of overdue amount and notice period was 60 days. "SME sector has been requesting the government to increase the threshold limit to Rs 15 lakh at least and the notice period may be increased up to 6 months as while enacting this law, the government had promised a lenders reliability act. Unfortunately, it has not come as yet", said Sharma.

Top

 

Now, Haryana BSNL users can roam free in Chandigarh
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Kuldeep Goyal
Kuldeep Goyal

Chandigarh, July 20
Telecom behemoth BSNL has floated fresh tenders for rolling out its high-speed wireless broadband service (WiMax), after the previous attempt was aborted after dubious operators were detected in the final shortlist.

“We have tightened the eligibility criteria and introduced several new safeguards. The fresh tenders have been issued to run our WiMax services across 16 circles on a revenue-sharing franchisee basis. This time, only original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and system integrators can bid,” said BSNL chief Kuldeep Goyal.

WiMax allows users wireless access to high-speed Internet and other data applications.

Goyal, who was in city to launch a slew of value-added services on the 3G platform, said the cancellation of tenders and inviting fresh bids would not halt the expansion plans of BSNL as it was directly procuring equipment for the rest of the country and rolling out the service under its own supervision. “In fact, Punjab and Kerala will be the first two circles where WiMax will be launched and the equipment has already been ordered,” he said.

The CMD said they were also looking at earning Rs 100 crore by sharing its infrastructure with other telecom players. “We are tying up with new telecom players like Unitech and Tata. A separate division will be created to look after the infrastructure-sharing business. This infrastructure-sharing would also help us recover from our falling revenue,” he said.

Talking about the need for restructuring, Goyal said they have hired Boston Consulting Group for restructuring of the organisation.

He also said BSNL would soon launch 7.2 and 14.4 mbps speed rowing networks. “For our users in Haryana circle, we have today started a free roaming facility when they come to Chandigarh and Panchkula. Soon, free roaming facility for Haryana users will also be extended when they go to Faridabad and Gurgaon. We are holding talks with MTNL in this regard and hopefully this will be started next month,” he said.

Top

 
BRIEFLY

Financial Tech sells 5% stake in MCX-SX
Mumbai:
Financial Technologies India (FTIL) has sold its five per cent stake in Multi Commodity Stock Exchange (MCX-SX) to non-banking finance company IFCI through open market transactions for around Rs 250 crore. Financial Tech, a promoter firm of MCX-SX, sold its five per cent stake in MCX-SX to IFCI at Rs 35 a piece, the company said. — PTI

Allahabad Bank pays Rs 61.67 cr dividend
Chandigarh:
Allahabad Bank CMD KR Kamath handed over a cheque of Rs 61.67 crore to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Kolkata on Monday. The amount represents 25 per cent dividend on 55.23 per cent share of the central government in the bank for the financial year 2008-09. Meanwhile, the bank has reported a 3-fold rise in first quarter net profit at Rs 303 crore. The business of the bank touched Rs 1.5 lakh crore, registering a growth of 21.83 per cent. — TNS

Airtel launches 'Special 5'
New Delhi:
Bharti Airtel on Sunday launched a new scheme 'Special 5' for its customers, offering local calls at 20 paise per minute and STD at 50 paise a minute for calls to five persons. The plan will be available to pre-paid customers at a daily rental of Re 1 and to postpaid customers at a monthly rental of Rs 249. — PTI

J&K Bank profit up 41 pc
Srinagar:
While registering a business turnover of Rs 51,975.56 crore during the quarter ended June, the J&K Bank has recorded an increase of 41 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year in the operating profit which increased to Rs 256 crore. During this period, the Bank has recorded a net profit of Rs 117.05 crore, an increase of 24 per cent over Rs 94.56 pertaining to the corresponding period of the previous year. — TNS

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |