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Wednesday, September 9, 1998

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Rs 517 crore plan to retire PSU workers
NEW DELHI, Sept 8 — The Industry Ministry has moved a Rs 517 crore package for the Cabinet’s consideration to retire about 11,000 workers from nine public sector undertakings identified to be closed down in 1998-99.

Maruti Udyog silent
on new models

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 — Maruti Udyog Limited has announced a 30 per cent dividend for the financial year 1997-98.

Rs 33 crore for
power projects

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 — The Union Power Ministry has sanctioned Rs 33.54 crore for the start of pre-construction infrastructure development work at the 710 MW Koel Karo project in Bihar and 90 MW Loktak Downstream project in Manipur of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation.

Punish erring cos: Sebi
NEW DELHI, Sept 8 — The Sebi has directed stock exchanges to initiate stern action against companies not complying with listing agreements.

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Most Asian share markets rally
  • Hong Kong bid to discipline markets
  • Rouble fall speculative

Honda to pull out of Kinetic venture

Corporate briefs



Rs 517 crore plan to retire PSU workers

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 (PTI) — The Industry Ministry has moved a Rs 517 crore package for the Cabinet’s consideration to retire about 11,000 workers from nine public sector undertakings (PSUs) identified to be closed down in 1998-99.

Confirming the move Industry Minister Sikander Bakht said workers in companies, which are being wound up are eligible for retrenchment benefits but the new package would give them the best possible benefits under an improvised voluntary retirement scheme (VRS).

“We are not interested in throwing out even a single worker on the road. We are going to be very generous with the workers,” Bakht told PTI in an interview.The nine PSUs are National Bicycle Corporation (NBCIL), Cycle Corporation (CCIL), Bharat Process and Mechanised Engineering (BPME), Weighbird India (WIL), Mining and Allied Machinery Corporation (MAMC), Tannery and Footwear Company (TAFCO), Rehabilitation Industries Corporation (RIC), National Instruments (NIL) and Bharat Ophthalmic Glass (BOGL).

Mr Bakht said though he did not expect workers to retaliate against the “extremely positive” package, which is expected to be cleared this month, there could be a “backlash from vested interests who are politically interested in keeping the issue going.

”Mr Bakht declined to give details on funding of the package but said raising resources for the VRS would not be a problem.“There is going to be no difficulty in finding the money. As such we are already giving them money from the exchequer to pay their wages,” he added.

The new VRS package envisages a maximum of five years wages for a worker in these PSUs for 30 years of completed service, Industry Ministry sources said.At present the government gives a non-plan support of about Rs 50 crore annually to pay wages and for working capital to these nine PSUs.

Closure of nine PSUs is part of a five-pronged strategy for improving the performance of 48 PSUs under department of heavy industry (DHI).The action prepared by DHI last month to improve performance and financial health of 48 PSUs envisages financial restructuring, joint ventures, manpower rationalisation, restructuring of boards, besides the board for industrial and financial restructuring (BIFR) route.

“Revival is one of our chief aims, whenever a decision has to be taken to wind up a PSU, it would be taken only after exhausting all other options,” Bakht said.He said the Ministry was waiting for court clearance in the case of two PSUs, where BIFR’s winding up notices have been challenged.


Most Asian share markets rally
*Hong Kong seeks measures to discipline markets
*Rouble fall speculative

SINGAPORE, Sept 8 (Reuters) — Major Asian share markets rallied for the second day today, with a stronger yen and buoyant Japanese stocks helping Hong Kong and Singapore markets rise more than 2 per cent in morning trade.Tokyo shares were up more than 2 per cent and Taiwan and New Zealand also rose more than 1 per cent.The stunning rise in Malaysian shares began to fizzle today with shares down more than 6 per cent in morning profit taking.And the rally faded for Australia and Manila where shares were mixed. An opening rally in Seoul also faded leaving South Korean shares 0.44 per cent down in afternoon trade.

HONG KONG (AFP): Hong Kong on Tuesday called for a global plan to discipline financial markets and control the flow of funds to fight speculators after reinforcing its own regulatory arsenal.“We believe there has to be some discipline — universally agreed, internationally agreed discipline in regulating the flow of funds which are used for speculative purposes of this kind,” Financial Secretary Donald Tsang said.

Tsang’s call came amid a debate in Asia sparked by wide-ranging capital controls introduced last week by Malaysia aimed at shielding its financial markets from foreign speculators.

MOSCOW (Reuters): A senior Russian government official said on Tuesday the dramatic fall in the rouble against the dollar was “absolutely speculative” and the central bank’s gold and foreign currency reserves now stood at $ 11 billion.Igor Shabdurasulov, acting head of the government administration, told reporters that acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin planned a sharp cut in the number of licences available to banks wanting to deal in foreign currencies if he was confirmed in office by parliament.

The central bank fixed the rouble at 18.9 to the dollar today compared with around 6 to the dollar three weeks ago. The rate on the streets is even lower.


Rs 33 crore for power projects
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 — The Union Power Ministry has sanctioned Rs 33.54 crore for the start of pre-construction infrastructure development work at the 710 mw Koel Karo project in Bihar and 90 mw Loktak Downstream project in Manipur of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation.

The amount forms part of the budgetary support to NHPC. NHPC has been asked to initiate advance action, pending the investment decision on the main project. The two projects are to be completed during the 10th Plan period.

The pre-construction works and infrastructure facilities include construction of temporary residential and office accommodation, roads and bridges, power supply for project construction, preparation of environmental management plans and acquisition of land for the project works. Top


Maruti Udyog silent on new models
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 — Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) has announced a 30 per cent dividend for the financial year 1997-98. The total payout amounted to Rs 39.6 crore.MUL Managing Director R S S L N Bhaskaruddu told newspersons here today that audited turnover for the last financial year stood at Rs 8,475 crore.

“The annual accounts have been approved by the Board”, Mr Bhaskaruddu said .Refusing to give any further details, Mr Bhaskaruddu said that “making all details public could affect the company’s business”.On being asked whether the issue of rolling out new models came up for discussion at the Board meeting , Mr Bhaskaruddu said that “we will decide when time comes”.Top


Punish erring companies: Sebi

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 (PTI) — The Sebi has directed stock exchanges to initiate stern action against companies not complying with listing agreements. Non-compliance of listing agreement includes failure to publish annual, half yearly and quarterly results, non-payment of listing fees with the exchanges among others.

A Sebi official told PTI that they have already written to the stock exchanges of National, Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi regarding this and would soon communicate this to other stock exchanges as well.He said at BSE itself there were about 3800 scrips which were not being traded for the last few years and the respective companies were also not paying the listing fees.

At the DSE, about 1,800 companies were not traded out of the listed 3,800 companies.The Sebi wants stock exchanges to delist these companies. However, it did not specify the action to be taken against these companies by the exchanges, he said.

Sources in Sebi said they have not given any timeframe to the stock exchanges to initiate action against erring firms though they would like to see some measures being taken soon.A DSE official said it was considering delisting the scrips of firms not paying listing fees. However, in other cases like non-payment of dividend, failure to publish company results, the stock exchange would resort to delisting as a last step, he said.

The DSE official said delisting was easier said than done as it involved the investments of a large number of retail investors. Besides, the Sebi guidelines on the issue were also not clear enough, he said.

As far investors were considered, delisting would end all hopes to sell the shares when the stockmarket turns around or the need arises.Top


Honda to pull out of Kinetic venture

TOKYO, Sept 8 (PTI) — Honda Motor Co said today it will pull out of its scooter joint venture in India with Kinetic Engineering Ltd (KEL) as the demand for scooters is not likely to increase.“We are waiting for the Indian government’s approval for selling out stake to the partner, KEL,” a Honda spokesman here said.Honda, which owns 51 per cent of the joint venture, Kinetic Honda Motor Ltd, is capitalised at Rs 154.4 million with KEL holding 19 per cent.

However, the company will continue providing the Indian partner with technical support but scooters produced will carry the brand Kinetic and not Honda.The venture was set up in 1984 in Pune and started producing 100 cc scooters in 1986. Its annual output is about 100,000 units compared with its production capacity of 120,000 units.

Honda will retain its 26 per cent stake in another Indian joint venture, Hero Honda Motors Ltd, based in New Delhi which produces motor cycles.Top


Corporate briefs

Autolite gets Technology Award
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 8 — Autolite (India) Limited has been given the Technology Award for 1997-98 by the Automotive Components Manufacturers’ Association of India. During 1997-98 the company’s turnover was Rs 37.5 crore and net profit Rs 2.02 crore which is 177 per cent higher than last year’s profit. The current year’s turnover is projected at Rs 48 crore. The company exports more than 80 per cent of its total production.

Sterlite to pay 85 per cent

MUMBAI, Sept 7 (PTI) — Sterlite Industries Ltd has achieved an excellent turnover of Rs 1402.11 crore in the financial year ended June 30, 1998, registering a 31 per cent increase over the previous year’s level of Rs 1071.44 crore. The company’s net profit, after providing for higher depreciation at Rs 36.69 crore, rallied to Rs 156.67 crore during the period, showing a rise of 23 per cent from last year’s level of Rs 126.92, the board of directors has announced a dividend of 85 per cent.

Kirloskar to mortgage assets

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 (UNI) — In a last-ditch attempt to obtain additional financial assistance, the loss-making Kirloskar Ferrous Industries limited (KFIL) is mortgaging its immovable and movable assets with IDBI, IFCI, ICICI and Industrial Investment Bank of India. The KFIL board has already approached the four institutions with the proposal and the institutions have agreed to assist the company in meeting its long-term resources by subscribing to the private placement of non-convertible debentures or sanction of term loans. The company’s board will be seeking the shareholders nod for going ahead with the mortgage at the AGM in Pune on September 18.

Issue norms for core companies relaxed

MUMBAI, Sept 8 (PTI) — Sebi has granted specific relaxations to public issues from infrastructure companies and asked them to offer shares only in dematerialised (paperless) form and cut costs. The relaxations are available provided the projects are appraised by any developmental financial institution or infrastructure development finance corporation (IDFC) or infrastructure leasing financial services (ILFS). It has also allowed 100 per cent book building for issues above Rs 25 crore and reduced the number of mandatory collection centres, as part of cost-cutting measures.Top


IMF team coming for bailout talks

A six-member IMF team will arrive in Islamabad on September 11 for bailout talks following an understanding reached with the USA in London recently.The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Dr Hafeez Pasha, says: “Before we receive any IMF conditions we will put together our own home-grown package to discuss with the fund team.”Pakistan is desperately seeking a financial bailout package from international financial institutions to improve the balance of payment position and avoid default on its foreign debt and interest obligations. From September 10 to September 30, Pakistan will have to pay $ 1.2 billion in foreign loans and interest payments. — ANI

Sugar issue
Sugar exports to India from Pakistan have increased sharply during the last one month with at least six lakh tonnes being registered for imports from across the border in view of Islamabad’s decision to cut down sugar prices to $ 270-280 a tonne from $ 300.Pakistan’s decision to double export subsidies for the commodity has also helped to a large extent.Reports in Pakistan said 4.2 lakh tonnes had been exported to India since January this year. — PTI

Costly calls
With the introduction of multi-metering of telephone calls in Pakistan, the middle income, salaried class and individual subscribers are hit hardest.In the new system, Rs 2 is charged after every five minutes on a local call.Ordinary subscribers, under the growing cost of living and spiralling inflation, have suffered an average increase of Rs 300 in their telephone bills.The Pakistan Telecommunication Company’s package allows unlimited telephone calls on payment of Rs 2,000 per month. This benefits mostly corporate subscribers. — ANI

Top investors
The USA and Hong Kong were Pakistan’s biggest foreign investors in the just-concluded 1997-98 fiscal year, government records show.Investors from both these countries made a combined investment of $ 822.6 million. Out of this, the foreign direct investment (FDI) accounted for $ 601.3 million dollars, while the investment in portfolio was $ 221.3 million. The total private investment in the preceding year was $ 949.5 million. — ANI

Capital flight
Foreign investors have withdrawn more than $ 175 million from stock markets in Pakistan after the Islamabad launched action against independent power projects and conducted nuclear tests in May.Pakistan in April had asked independent power projects (IPPs) mostly run with foreign collaboration, to voluntarily reduce power tariff from 6.6 US cents to lower rates.Under a presidential decree, the government served notices to 21 IPPs to submit an affidavit that they did not bribe officials for obtaining contracts during the government of sacked Premier Benazir Bhutto. Later it also cancelled some power deals on charges of corruption.— AFP

Wheat imports
Pakistan will import about 2.2 million tonnes of wheat during the current fiscal year from the USA and Australia at an average price of $ 118 per metric tonne.Pakistan’s production of wheat from the fiscal year 1997-98 was expected to be 19 million tonnes and this has reduced the import requirement almost half from 4 million tonnes to about 2.2 million tonnes.
....................................................................................................— ANI

  Bailed out
CHANDIGARH, Sept 8 (FOC) — Mr Justice S.C. Malte of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today allowed bail to Mr H.R. Swaminathan, Managing Director of Hallmark Health Care Ltd, Gurgaon, jailed for the alleged misappropriation of funds of the Haryana Financial Corporation and causing loss to it to the tune of Rs 2.7 crore. In the related case the judge rejected the anticipatory bail plea of S. Parthasarathi, proprietor of Clean Room Technologies, Gurgaon. The Haryana Financial Corporation had sanctioned loans to Hallmark Health Care for the purchase of plant and machinery. It was alleged that the Directors of the company failed to purchase the machinery and submit original bills. Mr Swaminathan contended that out of Rs 2.4 crore released to the company, bills worth Rs 1,85,15000 have been submitted.

TV models
CHANDIGARH, Sept 8 (TNS)— National Panasonic India Ltd launched a series of digital television and audio systems last night here at a function attended by dealers from this region. Mr Y. Kaburagi, Deputy Managing Director of the company, said the new TV series comprised nine models of “Digital Sophia”, “New Sophia” and “Elegance”, while the new audio systems included four AK series and a fashion CD set (DS-28). These sets were produced at the Noida plant of Matsushita Television & Audio India Ltd.

Music awards
NEW DELHI, Sept 8 (TNS) — Coca-Cola India today announced its sponsorship of the 1998 Channel [V] Music Awards and launched the Coca-Cola viewers’ choice contest for the awards. The contest will commence on September 9 in 50 cities across the country. The seven candidates for this year’s contest are Daler Mehndi, A R Rahman, Lucky Ali, Silk Route, Sonu Nigam, Shiamak and Kamal Khan.

Forex rates
MUMBAI, Sept 8 (PTI) —The following are interbank forex and RBI rates (in rupee per unit). U.S. $ Rs 42.56/57 Sterling Rs 70.60/63 D. Mark Rs 24.63/65 Jap Yen (100) Rs 32.17/19. The RBI reference rate was Rs 42.56.

Gold falls
NEW DELHI, Sept 8 (PTI) — Gold prices shrugged off part of its gains on bullion market today on lack of buying support amidst lower overseas advices and closed with small losses. The quotations: Silver .999 (ready) 7580, ready 7580, coins buyer 10,900 and seller 11,100. Gold standard 4550, ornaments 4100 and sovereign 3550.

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