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Thursday, October 15, 1998
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Discovery channel targets 20 pc growth
NEW DELHI, Oct 14 — Discovery Communications (India), which will be turning into a pay channel next year, has drawn up plans to increase its penetration levels and targeted a 50-60 per cent growth in commercial revenues.

Government committed to PSU reform: PM
NEW DELHI, Oct 14 — Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee said today restructuring of public sector undertakings had become a national imperative and stressed the need for giving highest priority to productivity enhancement in all sectors of the economy.
No fund diversion by
Sahara: RBI

NEW DELHI, Oct 14 — The RBI today said that Sahara India Financial Corporation (SIFC) had not diverted money to any other group companies like Sahara Airlines or Sahara Mass Media.

Job agencies for disabled urged
NEW DELHI, Oct 14 — The Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mrs Maneka Gandhi, has mooted the idea of an employment agency for the disabled in each State while launching a national programme for rehabilitation of untrained workers and special educators in the field of disability.
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Honour for Ambani
MUMBAI, Oct 14 — Dhirubhai Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, has been chosen along with three other Asians by Asiaweek magazine for its 1998 Business Hall of Fame for having faced the toughest of times and succeeded in spite of them.

15,470 Santro cars booked
NEW DELHI, Oct 14 — As many as 15,470 full payment customer orders were received for Santro, the small car of Hyundai. Santro, priced at Rs 2.99 lakh and positioned along the lines of Maruti Zen, is the first among the series of other models in the same segment that are expected to hit the road in the near future.

Asian Paints to recast board
MUMBAI, Oct 14 — Asian Paints has embarked upon a major restructuring programme, including a revamp of its board, to achieve a turnover of Rs 2500-3000 crore by year 2003.


Buy-back rumour lifts sensex 58 points
MUMBAI, Oct 14 — Equities recovered its initial falls and even posted impressive gains lifting the sensex by 58.69 points on the stock market today on late buying from operators and modest purchases by financial institutions.


Pond’s to pay 72 pc
MUMBAI, Oct 14 — The board of Pond’s India Limited (PIL), has recommended a second interim dividend of 12 per cent taking the total dividend to 72 per cent for the year ending December 31, 1998.

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Discovery channel targets 20 pc growth

NEW DELHI, Oct 14 (PTI) — Discovery Communications (India), which will be turning into a pay channel next year, has drawn up plans to increase its penetration levels and targeted a 50-60 per cent growth in commercial revenues.

Along with revenue increase, Discovery has also targeted a growth of 20 per cent in terms of penetration level, Mr Kiran Karnik, Managing Director of Discovery India told PTI today.

In 1996-97 and 1997-98 the channel grew by 250 per cent and 200 per cent, respectively.

It is only in recent months that advertising support for the channel has picked up. The increase in commercial revenues is crucial for the channel as it will be turning into a pay channel by the beginning of next year.

Mr Karnik said that discussions were on with its cable operators for this purpose as the latter will have to shell out a higher amount on its becoming a pay channel. Discovery is also planning to provide support to its cable operators through ad campaigns.

Karnik has welcomed the competition provided by National Geographic Channel, which made its official debut in India late last month. It has already notched up a substantial penetration level of 5.5 million subscribers and Karnik admitted that around 20 to 30 per cent of the viewers of Discovery were likely to be weaned away by the new channel.

Discovery currently has a viewership base close to 12 million.

While Discovery has the advantage of being the first in India (in the non-fiction, documentary category), National is riding on the powerful brand equity of National Geographic society.

National has also targeted a growth of 20 per cent during next year with its penetration level expected to touch 6.5 million.

Discovery will soon be receiving a massive infusion of funds from its US-based parent, Discovery Communications Inc, which will double its equity base. Around three months ago the company had raised its equity by 250 per cent.

The channel will be pumping in funds for intensifying its Hindi feed, which is available round the clock. In fact the intention is to expand its reach beyond the 12 million households it services at present.

Discovery covers around 678 towns and cities with a large part of it being in small towns and in the South, but the North is fast catching up due to the Hindi feeds.

Its Hindi programming could be one added factor in Discovery’s favour though National too has plans to come up with regional language programmes.

Karnik estimated that around two-thirds of Discovery’s viewers were partial to its Hindi feeds.

National could be handicapped by the fact that it still follows the conventional pedantic presentation of graphic documentaries while Discovery has created an informal chatty style of its own, the stress being on entertaining while educating.
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No fund diversion by Sahara: RBI

NEW DELHI, Oct 14 (PTI) — The RBI today said that Sahara India Financial Corporation (SIFC) had not diverted money to any other group companies like Sahara Airlines or Sahara Mass Media.

In a report filed before Delhi High Court, RBI said “the latest inspection conducted by this respondent during September 1998 has revealed that there is no substance in the allegation that funds are siphoned away to other entities like Sahara Airlines, Sahara Mass Media etc.”

Earlier the court had directed the RBI to file latest financial status report of Sahara and a number of other Residuary Non-Banking Companies (RNBCs) and Non-Banking Finance Companies (NFCs).

The report said the RBI was constantly having vigil over the company’s deposit taking activities and Sahara India had substantially followed the directions applicable to RNBCs.

It said “Reserve Bank has no knowledge about the allegation that funds made available by the Central Government and world bodies to State Governments are being diverted to Sahara group of companies as alleged.”

As far as malpractices by SIFC is concerned, the report said so far, no complaint of this nature against the company has been made to the RBI.

The RBI had issued an order to Kuber Finance Ltd prohibiting it from accepting fresh deposits, the report said adding that the order was adhered to by the company.

The RBI report regarding Sahara India for the period March 31, 1998 to August 31, 1998, revealed that the company had more assets than total outside liabilities.

The company has a total asset of Rs 3347.62 crore and liability of Rs 3097.66 crore, the report said.

The RBI informed the court that Sahara India had submitted a certificate from its designated banker Bank of Baroda, Lucknow, that the securities were held in the custody of the bank as per provisions of RNBC directions.
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Government committed to PSU reform: PM

NEW DELHI, Oct 14 (PTI) — Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee said today restructuring of public sector undertakings had become a national imperative and stressed the need for giving highest priority to productivity enhancement in all sectors of the economy.

“We just cannot afford to have huge national assets to underperform or worse still, become a drain on scarce budgetary resources. My government is committed to PSU reforms that will safeguard both national and workers’ interests,” he said while giving away Shram awards for 1997.

The highest “Shram Ratna” award, carrying Rs 2 lakh, went jointly to a team of workmen of the Bhilai steel plant, while “Sharam Bhushan” carrying Rs 1 lakh went to four workmen of the Vindyachal super thermal power project of NTPC and to an artisan of Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited, Bhopal. Two women got the Shram Devi Award jointly.
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Job agencies for disabled urged
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 14 — The Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mrs Maneka Gandhi, has mooted the idea of an employment agency for the disabled in each State while launching a national programme for rehabilitation of untrained workers and special educators in the field of disability.

Declaring the bridge course open here today, Mrs Gandhi said that the first batch of the bridge course would start in 70 training institutes in 18 States. She acknowledged the efforts made by the Rehabilitation Council of India in preparing the curriculum and manuals in all four disabilities. She said this is the first endeavour of its kind in the world.
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15,470 Santro cars booked
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 14 — As many as 15,470 full payment customer orders were received for Santro, the small car of Hyundai. Santro, priced at Rs 2.99 lakh and positioned along the lines of Maruti Zen, is the first among the series of other models in the same segment that are expected to hit the road in the near future.

The first phase of booking of Santro took place between October 8 and 12 and the numbers were collected from 70 Hundai customer centres in 55 cities across the country.

Of these, the highest number of orders have been received from North India — 5,507. The southern region followed with 5,061 orders and the western region with 4,133 orders. East India recorded the least number of bookings with 769 orders.

The orders exceed the company’s initial ‘‘optimistic’’ target of 10,000 bookings by about 54 per cent. The Managing Director of Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL), Mr Y.S. Kim said that 2000 cars are going to be despatched during this month itself and by December 10,000 are expected to be despatched.

Regarding pricing, company officials said that there is proposal to hike the price in the near future. However, depending on next year’s Budget proposals, the price may have to be changed according to changes in the cost of production.

HMIL is offering a vehicle warranty of one year and parts warranty for six months or 10,000 km depending on whichever takes place first.
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Asian Paints to recast board

MUMBAI, Oct 14 (PTI) — Asian Paints has embarked upon a major restructuring programme, including a revamp of its board, to achieve a turnover of Rs 2500-3000 crore by year 2003.

The leading domestic paint company has sought to re-organise its businesses into three strategic business units (SBUs) — decorative paints business, industrial paints and chemical business and international business — with a separate Managing Director and President or Vice-President heading each, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Ashwin Dani said.

The Board of Directors would also be recast with greater representation of non-family professionals, he said while not ruling out a reduction in the number of family members on the board.

The board has six family members and three non-family members and would include two more professionals. However, the new board would continue to be headed by Ashwin Choksi with Dani as Vice-Chairman and Managing Director.

The company, which currently ranks 15th in the world, aims to be among the top five by capitalising on its strengths in brand equity, distribution network as well as opening new market segments, he told a press conference here today.

The company also expects to increase the share of international business in total turnover from 4 per cent today to around 15-20 per cent, he said.
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Buy-back rumour lifts sensex 58 points

MUMBAI, Oct 14 (PTI) — Equities recovered its initial falls and even posted impressive gains lifting the sensex by 58.69 points on the stock market today on late buying from operators and modest purchases by financial institutions.

Initially, operators had turned cautious and did not even respond to the Government’s efforts to bring back confidence in investors by strongly supporting the UTI and ruling out any crisis in the institution.

The market, however, flooded with fresh buy orders after 2 pm as operators rushed to cover their short positions on strong speculation that the Government would announce the buy-back of shares soon coupled with rumours that the market regulator was going to impose ban on short sales.

Domestic institutions, led by the Life Insurance Corporation and the UTI also made good purchases in index heavyweights like Hind Lever, ITC, Reliance Ind, SBI, Telco, HPCL, BPCL, Mah & Mah and BSES at lower levels.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were reported to have picked up shares of key scrips like ITC, Satyam Computer, SBI, Zee Telefilms, BHEL, Hind Lever and Infosys Tech.

The BSE sensitive index opened marginally down at 2831.27 and moved narrowly in the first half session but later recovered smartly to close at 2890.72, netting a gain of 58.69 over yesterday’s close of 2832.03.

The BSE-100 index closed higher with a rise of 24.47 points at 1290.13 as against its previous close of 1265.66. The BSE-200 ended higher at 300.76 and the Dollex at 118.27 from the last close of 296.19 and 116.44 respectively.

The recovery, which was seen as a necessary technical correction to the oversold positions, had raised hopes that prices would continue upward movements during the remaining sessions of the current settlement.

The total turnover on the Bolt-system was Rs 1289.88 crore, Satyam Computers was the most prominent scrips with a turnover of Rs 250.51 crore, followed by ITC Rs 211.31 crore, Zee Tele Rs 112.46 crore, SBI Rs 106.59 crore and Pentafour Software Rs 59.28 crore.

Satyam Computers gained by 26.50 to 572.25, ITC by 37.00 to 703, Zee Tele by 12.50 to 626.25, SBI by 11.80 to 167.40 and Pentafour Software by 40.25 to 646.
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Honour for Ambani

MUMBAI, Oct 14 (PTI) — Dhirubhai Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), has been chosen along with three other Asians by Asiaweek magazine for its 1998 Business Hall of Fame for having faced the toughest of times and succeeded in spite of them.

‘‘Reliance owes its position almost entirely to Ambani (65), a man who combines the shrewdness of the Gujarati businessman with American style entrepreneurship and a Japanese penchant for technology’’, said Asiaweek in its forthcoming issue of October 16.

The magazine points out that RIL seems to prosper in any environment under any regime — but does not depend on powerful benefactors. ‘‘When India instituted market reforms in 1991, RIL was perfectly placed — it was lean, had state-of-the-art facilities and cadre of keen managers’’, a release here said.

The others who figure in the Hall of Fame are Yamauchi Hiroshi of Nintendo, Japan, J.Y. ‘‘Joe’’ Pillay, former Chairman of Singapore Airlines and Jaime Zobel de Ayala, head of the House of Ayala, Philippines.
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Pond’s to pay 72 pc

MUMBAI, Oct 14 (PTI) — The board of Pond’s India Limited (PIL), has recommended a second interim dividend of 12 per cent taking the total dividend to 72 per cent for the year ending December 31, 1998. Earlier on July 31, the board had resolved to pay an interim dividend of 60 per cent, a PIL statement said here. PIL is proposed to be merged with Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL). The second interim dividend would bring the dividend entitlements of the PIL shareholders in line with the HLL shareholders in the light of the proposed amalgamation with the swap ratio of 3:4. HLL, in July this year, also had resolved to pay an interim dividend of 96 per cent or 9.60 per equity share of Rs 9.60 Rs 10 each.
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  BBC card
Tribune News Service
CHANDIGARH, Oct 14 — Jalandhar-based BBC Heart Care, affiliated to Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi, has launched a BBC Gold Card which offers a heart check-up once every year for five years and free emergency consultations. The card is transferable and also provides personal accident insurance policy worth Rs 1 lakh for the first year, according to Mr C.S. Pruthi, Chairman.

Medical advice
Tribune News Service
CHANDIGARH, Oct 14 — Spice Telecom has launched a new value-added service for its subscribers. By dialling 557 on his Spice phone, a subscriber can get professional advice on medical issue, said a company release here today.

LIC agent
Tribune News Service
CHANDIGARH, Oct 14 — Mrs Monika Abrol, agent of Panchkula branch of the LIC is the first woman agent in the entire Karnal Division to complete 1.03 crore sum assured today. She is also number one to collect maximum amount of first premium income amounting to Rs 7.33 lakh in the division during 1998-99.

DSE counter
Tribune News Service
AMRITSAR, Oct 14 — Punjab’s first counter for “the Delhi Stock Exchange” was opened in Dharam Singh market. The counter was inaugurated by Deepak Chowdhry, President, Delhi Stock Exchange, in the presence of Chief Guest Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly.

ISGEC wins
Tribune News Service
CHANDIGARH, Oct 14 — The “Deepak” Quality Circle from ISGEC today won the 11th QC Circle competition organised by the CII here. Mr K. Sahdev, Senior Vice-President, Works, JCT Electronics Ltd, gave away the trophy to the winners. The “Kavita” Quality Circle from Maruti Udyog Ltd was the first runners-up while, the “Sharp Edge” Quality Circle from Hero Honda Motors was the second runners-up at the competition. The other companies which participated included Hindustan Motors Ltd, Trident, Auro Spinning, BHEL, Cosmo Ferrites and Bharti Telecom.

Safety course
Tribune News Service
CHANDIGARH, Oct 14 — The three-day course on “organising and motivating for safety” organised by the National Safety Council, Mumbai, in collaboration with the North Zone Chapter concluded today. Mr K.K. Sharma from Ranbaxy, stressed the need for emergency planning for disasters arising out of natural events. Fiftytwo participants from various industries attended the course.

Forex rates
MUMBAI, Oct 14 (PTI) — The following were interbank forex and RBI rates (in rupees per unit):
U. S. $ Rs 42.31/32
Sterling Rs. 71.98/72.01
Deutsche Mark Rs. 25.83/85
Jap Yen (100) Rs. 35.59/61
The RBI reference rate was Rs 42.34.

Gold weak
NEW DELHI, Oct 14 (PTI) — Silver rolled down further on the bullion market today on hectic selling by stockists against fresh arrivals and closed with losses. Gold also remained weak on lack of buying support despite ongoing festival season and coming Divali festival. The quotations: Silver .999 (ready) 7280, delivery 7415, coins buyer 11,200 and seller 11,300. Standard gold 4360, ornaments 4210 and sovereign 3700/3750.

Commodities
From Our Correspondent
CHANDIGARH, Oct 14 — Wheat 595 to 600, dara 610 to 612, superior 612 to 618, maize 450 to 550, sarson 1800 to 1900, taramira 1700 to 1800, paddy Pr-106, 480 to 515, Pr-103 460 to 475, rice basmati 2400 to 4500, parmal 850 to 1150, sella 850 to 1150, maide (per bag 90 kg) 665, suji 700 to 715, atta 620 to 625, urd (per quintal) 2000 to 2200, urddal 2000 to 2200, moong 2100 to 2500, moongdal 2200 to 2500, moongdhuli 2600 to 3000, masoor 2000 to 2500, dalmasoor 2200 to 2500, kabli chana 2500 to 4000, kalachanna 1400 to 1750, dalchana 1550 to 1750, malkamasoor 2300 to 2500, arhar 3000 to 4200, rajmashchitra 3000 to 4000. Sugar M-grade 1525 to 1565, S-grade 1510 to 1565.
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