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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
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B U S I N E S S

Volkswagen to pick 19.9 pc in Suzuki
Volkswagen AG's CEO Martin Winterkorn (R) and Suzuki Motor Corp chairman and CEO Osamu Suzuki at a joint news conference in Tokyo New Delhi/Tokyo, December 9
Europe's Volkswagen will buy 19.9 per cent stake in Indian carmaker Maruti's Japanese parent Suzuki for about $2.5 billion, a move aimed at enhancing its presence in small car segment in Asia.

Volkswagen AG's CEO Martin Winterkorn (R) and Suzuki Motor Corp chairman and CEO Osamu Suzuki at a joint news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. Reuters

Exports to grow by 15 pc next fiscal: Sharma 
New Delhi, December 9
The government today expressed confidence that exports, which have been falling for over a year now due to the global slowdown, would grow by 15 per cent next fiscal and the pace of decline has already been arrested.

Satyam approves settlement with Upaid
Mumbai, December 9
Mahindra Satyam, formed after the takeover of the troubled Satyam Computer Services by the Mahindras, has reached a settlement with Upaid Systems which has sued the former for more than $1 billion.

Industrialists seek ban on cotton exports 
Ludhiana, December 9
The local industry, garment and textiles in particular, has raised objections over large quantity of cotton being purchased by certain traders for the purpose of export, which, in turn, will cause a hike in the price of yarn. Sore over the increased prices of cotton, industrialists have urged the Central government to intervene at the earliest for the betterment of industry.

No final bid yet from RIL, says LyondellBasell
New Delhi, December 9

Amid reports that Indian corporate giant Reliance Industries was mobilising funds for its acquisition, global petrochemical major LyondellBasell has said it has not yet received a final bid. "Reliance has not made a final bid, (it has made) only a preliminary non-binding offer," said a spokesperson for LyondellBasell, currently fighting to get out of bankruptcy.


Labourers work at a construction site in Tokyo
Labourers work at a construction site in Tokyo on Wednesday. Japan's economy grew at a far slower rate than previously thought in the third quarter, fresh data showed on Wednesday, as the country struggles to emerge from deep recession weighed by 
a soaring yen. AFP 




EARLIER STORIES



A monorail train travelling from Sentosa Island resort passes the Brani container terminal in Singapore
A monorail train travelling from Sentosa Island resort passes the Brani container terminal in Singapore on Wednesday. Private sector economists in Singapore have tipped an average 5.5 per cent economic growth for the city-state in 2010, beating official forecasts of 3-5 per cent, the central bank said. AFP 

ONGC to bid for Iraqi oilfield
New Delhi, December 9
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, along with state-run Oil India Ltd and Turkish Petroleum Corp (TPAO), is likely to bid for Iraq's giant Halfaya oilfield under that country's second licensing round this week.

Nakheel posts $3.65 b loss in H1
Dubai, December 9
Nakheel PJSC, the real estate company of debt-laden conglomerate Dubai World, has reported a loss of 13.4 billion dirhams ($3.65 billion) in the first half of this year.

PNB to sell 26 pc stake in housing arm
New Delhi, December 9
Punjab National Bank today announced that it will sell 26 per cent stake in subsidiary PNB Housing Finance to Destimoney Enterprises Private Limited for Rs 79.17 crore.

Gold loses Rs 440
New Delhi, December 9
Gold today fell by Rs 440, its second second biggest fall in the year, halting the rising trend of several weeks.





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Volkswagen to pick 19.9 pc in Suzuki

New Delhi/Tokyo, December 9
Europe's Volkswagen will buy 19.9 per cent stake in Indian carmaker Maruti's Japanese parent Suzuki for about $2.5 billion, a move aimed at enhancing its presence in small car segment in Asia.

Maruti Suzuki accounts for over half the cars on Indian roads, giving Volkswagen the volumes it needs to topple Toyota as the world's largest carmaker with an estimated sales of seven million units this year. In return, Suzuki would benefit from the European company's expertise in hybrid cars.

"The automobile industry is going through a fundamental shift. Alliances are at the top of the agenda and they are indispensable for competition," Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was quoted by Bloomberg telling reporters in Japan.

While Volkswagen would pay $2.5 billion (over Rs 11,500 crore) for the partnership that will focus on making cars for emerging markets, Suzuki would use half of this amount to buy Volkswagen shares.

Suzuki CEO Osamu Suzuki was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that the two companies plan to develop hybrids and electric vehicles under the brand of both the companies.

The cross-border deal is expected to have a positive fallout for Maruti Suzuki, which could become a global hub for supplying small cars through Volkswagen's strong network.

"Volkswagen has looked at Suzuki obviously from a small car angle," Maruti Suzuki India chairman RC Bhargava told PTI. He said India could become an original equipment manufacturer and supplier of small cars for Volkswagen.

"It is too early to speculate on its (deal's) implications on India (Maruti). The deal means Volkswagen and Suzuki see much value in the arrangement in terms of technology sharing," Bhargava said.

VW's brands include Audi, Skoda and Porsche.

Suzuki holds 54 per cent stake in Maruti, which contributes an estimated 20 per cent of the Japanese giant's global revenues.

Experts said the deal is expected to catapult Maruti into a small car hub for Volkswagen, which is the world's No.3 car maker and is aiming for the top slot by 2018.

"It is too early to speak about concrete projects and plans that Volkswagen and Suzuki might jointly take in India. Details will be worked out in the weeks and months to come," a VW Group official said.

He said the two auto giants are likely to focus on synergies in supply chain and vendor development. But the two firms will maintain their independent dealership network.

"Both parties are focussed on achieving synergies in the areas of rapidly growing emerging markets as well as in the development and manufacturing of innovative and environment friendly compact cars," Suzuki said.

"...even with existing gasoline and diesel powered cars, it is necessary to improve engines and make the automobile frames lighter to improve fuel efficiency and decrease the output of carbon dioxide," it added. PTI

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Exports to grow by 15 pc next fiscal: Sharma 

New Delhi, December 9
The government today expressed confidence that exports, which have been falling for over a year now due to the global slowdown, would grow by 15 per cent next fiscal and the pace of decline has already been arrested.

"The government expects the position to improve in the coming months," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said in the Rajya Sabha during question hour.

Recalling the steps taken by the government and the Reserve Bank to neutralise the impact of the global financial meltdown on the country's exports, the minister said India's exports would grow by 15 per cent during the next fiscal despite global recession.

India's exports have been falling since October 2008, though the pace of decline had been arrested in recent months.

The country's merchandise exports, which had declined by 38.9 per cent in May 2009, Sharma said, have started showing signs of improvements and the downturn has been arrested to a single digit level (6.6 per cent) in October this year.

Exports fell short by $11 billion of target of $200 billion in 2008-09 due to slump in global demand. Exports stood at $189 billion in the last fiscal.

During April-October this year, the oveaseas shipments declined by 26 per cent to $91 billion compared to $123 billion in the same period last year.

The progressive reduction in the decline, Sharma said, "indicates that while the impact of global recession is still continuing on our exports ... the steps taken by the government and RBI are contributing to arrest the steep decline in exports.

He further said that sectors like handicraft, handloom and gems and jewellery sectors suffered badly due to recession and witnessed job crunch between October 2008 and March 2009.

Answering a supplementary on SEZs, Sharma said till date 570 SEZs have been approved by the Centre in consonance with state governments. PTI

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Satyam approves settlement with Upaid
Tribune News Service & PTI

Mumbai, December 9
Mahindra Satyam, formed after the takeover of the troubled Satyam Computer Services by the Mahindras, has reached a settlement with Upaid Systems which has sued the former for more than $1 billion.

In a statement released today, Mahindra Satyam said its board has approved the settlement under which it would pay $45 million to Upaid Systems immediately and another $25 million in a year's time. In return, Upaid is required to dismiss all lawsuits it had brought against the Indian company.

The American company would also give Mahindra Satyam worldwide royalty-free licence on software written by the latter under the agreement.

Upaid had sued the Indian company alleging fraud and forgery by the former management of Satyam in a case pertaining to transfer of title to software.

Appoints Deloitte as auditor, Damodaran on board

Mahindra Satyam on Wednesday appointed Deloitte as auditors, within days of CBI charging Price Waterhouse of complicity in the Rs 14,000 crore accounting scam.

The company also brought on board former market regulator M Damodaran, and former World Bank executive Gautam S Kaji.

"The board has also appointed Damodaran and Gautam S Kaji as members of the Audit Committee," the company said in a filing to the stock exchanges.

Deloitte Haskins & Sells, one of the two audit firms roped in by the post-scam Satyam Board to restate accounts, will vet the accounts of Mahindra group company for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 fiscals as statutory auditor.

The company, which was acquired by Tech Mahindra in April, has secured time until June 2010 from the Company Law Board to file financials, including quarterly results, in the aftermath of founder B Ramalinga Raju disclosing that he fudged accounts for years. He has since been arrested and is awaiting trial.

Deloitte is also the principal auditor of Tech Mahindra, which owns 43 per cent in Mahindra Satyam, as well as that of Mahindra group flagship firm M&M. Ramesh Rajan, who was Price Waterhouse's India head, when the scam came to fore, has since stepped down. PTI

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Industrialists seek ban on cotton exports 
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 9
The local industry, garment and textiles in particular, has raised objections over large quantity of cotton being purchased by certain traders for the purpose of export, which, in turn, will cause a hike in the price of yarn. Sore over the increased prices of cotton, industrialists have urged the Central government to intervene at the earliest for the betterment of industry.

A letter in this regard has been sent to Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister of Textiles, by the Knitwear Club here.

Vinod.K.Thapar, president, Knitwear Club, said the government should put a ban on the exports of cotton and fulfil the requirement of cotton within India till next season. Only then, the textile products, produced either for domestic consumption or for exports, will be available at competitive prices.

The industrialists feel during the procurement period, cotton had witnessed an abnormal increase as against the normal prices. "The major reason for this anomalous situation is that a large quantity of cotton is being purchased by many traders for export purposes. It will be surprising to know that traders are exporting cotton at the rate of Rs 22,000 per candy during the season but are being forced to import the same for Rs 28,000 per candy at the end of the year. It is not just causing loss of foreign exchange but the interests of large number of fabric/garment manufacturers, workers and labourers were being sacrificed at the hands of certain traders", said Thapar.

Due to increase in prices of raw material, there has been a tremendous increase in the prices of yarn/threads, especially of cotton and polyester cotton (PC) yarn. The yarn which was available between Rs 110 and 120 in October, was now being sold between Rs 130-140 per kilogram.

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No final bid yet from RIL, says LyondellBasell

New Delhi, December 9
Amid reports that Indian corporate giant Reliance Industries was mobilising funds for its acquisition, global petrochemical major LyondellBasell has said it has not yet received a final bid.

"Reliance has not made a final bid, (it has made) only a preliminary non-binding offer," said a spokesperson for LyondellBasell, currently fighting to get out of bankruptcy.

In reply to emailed queries, the spokesperson told PTI that a settlement agreement has been reached between LyondellBasell and the financial party defendants in the litigation brought by the unsecured creditor's committee on behalf of the bankruptcy estate.

"The proposed settlement, which must be approved by the bankruptcy court, calls for a cash payment of $300 million to unsecured creditors upon the company's exit from bankruptcy.

LyondellBasell and RIL late last month disclosed a "preliminary non-binding offer" by the Indian company for taking a controlling interest in the world's third largest independent chemical maker. Going by industry sources, Reliance Industries' bid could be more than $12 billion. PTI 

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ONGC to bid for Iraqi oilfield

New Delhi, December 9
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, along with state-run Oil India Ltd and Turkish Petroleum Corp (TPAO), is likely to bid for Iraq's giant Halfaya oilfield under that country's second licensing round this week.

Russia's Gazprom or Rosneft may also join ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of the state-run explorer, in Iraq's second post-war bid round on December 11-12, industry sources said.

Turkish Petroleum will have 50 per cent interest in the consortium, while OVL would hold 30 per cent. OIL would keep the remaining 20 per cent. In case the Russian firm joins the consortium, the shareholding of TPAO and OVL may be reduced.

Baghdad has put 10 groups of fields on offer in the second tender. Halfaya field has 4.60 billion barrels of reserves with a projected 13-year peak output of 4,00,000 barrels per day (20 million tonnes a year). The Indians may face competition from French energy major Total SA while Royal Dutch/Shell is believed to have studied the Halfaya field, which would require an investment of $8-10 billion for beginning production, the sources said.

Iraq is seeking bids from 45 pre-qualified oil firms on the dollar-per-barrel remuneration fee they want for developing the fields and the targeted plateau production. PTI

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Nakheel posts $3.65 b loss in H1

Dubai, December 9
Nakheel PJSC, the real estate company of debt-laden conglomerate Dubai World, has reported a loss of 13.4 billion dirhams ($3.65 billion) in the first half of this year.

Nakheel's loss is on account of a steep fall in the value of land prices and related writedowns.

Dubai World, the parent of the realty firm, had rattled global markets last months, after announcing that it would seek six months additional time to repay debts of $59 billion, including the Nakheel bonds which are due on December 14.

Currently, Dubai World is looking to restructure debts of $26 billion, including the bonds worth about $4 billion.

In a filing to the Nasdaq Dubai Exchange, Nakheel said the firm and it subsidiaries incurred a loss of $3.65 billion.

The entity had a profit of 2.64 billion dirhams in the same period a year ago.

Moreover, Nakheel's revenues plunged 78 per cent to 1.97 billion dirhams in the first half of 2009. PTI

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PNB to sell 26 pc stake in housing arm

New Delhi, December 9
Punjab National Bank today announced that it will sell 26 per cent stake in subsidiary PNB Housing Finance to Destimoney Enterprises Private Limited for Rs 79.17 crore.

The bank would sell 78 lakh shares in its wholly-owned housing finance subsidiary at Rs 101.5 each, the bank's CMD KR Kamath told reporters here after signing an agreement with Destimoney. Destimoney will have the option to raise its shareholding in the housing finance company up to 49 per cent, a Bombay Stock Exchange filing by PNB said. PTI 

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Gold loses Rs 440

New Delhi, December 9
Gold today fell by Rs 440, its second second biggest fall in the year, halting the rising trend of several weeks.

The precious metal lost 2.47 per cent at Rs 17,360 per 10 grams in the bullion market on heavy selling by stockists amid a weak global trend.

Gold, which has been on a correction drive over the past week, lost Rs 510 on Saturday, the steepest for the year, taking the loss in the past five trading sessions to Rs 1,260 after touching an all-time high of Rs 18,550 on December 3.

A similar weakness was noticed in silver, which has been under selling pressure ever since the metal in international markets fell from over $19 to trade near $17 an ounce.

Silver ready dropped 420 to Rs 28,080 per kg and weekly-based delivery by Rs 1,220 to Rs 27,680 per kg on reduced off take by speculators.

Gold has been on a rally since the central banks in India, Russia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius purchased more than half of the International Monetary Fund's scheduled sale of 403 tonnes of gold. PTI 

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BRIEFLY

Rupee gains 14 paise
Mumbai:
In contrast to equities, the Indian rupee on Wednesday snapped three-session of losses moving up by 14 paise against the US dollar on waning fears of fresh capital outflows amid a weak American currency overseas. Forex dealers said the dollar selling by exporters and weakness in US currency against its rivals aided the rupee to recover to settle the day at 46.53/54 a dollar from its previous close of 46.67/68. PTI

JP Dua,
JP Dua, who has taken over as chairman and managing director of Allahabad Bank. 

Godrej Properties IPO over-subscribed
Mumbai:
Godrej Properties Ltd's public offer, through which the realty developer expects to raise up to Rs 500 crore, got over-subscribed 1.13 times on the first day of issue on Wednesday. The IPO received bids for over 87.68 lakh shares of the company against 77.32 lakh equities on offer for public, the latest data with the National Stock Exchange (NSE) shows. PTI

Bajaj launches new Pulsar
New Delhi:
Two-wheeler maker Bajaj Auto on Wednesday launched Pulsar 135 cc bike priced at Rs 51,000 (ex-showroom Delhi). The new bike, Pulsar 135 LS, is powered with a 4-valve DTS-i engine. PTI

Nomura to expand in India
Tokyo/New Delhi:
Japanese financial services major Nomura on Wednesday said it was planning to expand its base in India and China next year, says a media report. In an interview with the Financial Times, Nomura CEO (Asia operations, excluding Japan) Minoru Shinohara said the bank intended to expand significantly in China and India next year. PTI

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