|B U S I N E S S||
Monday, November 29, 1999
|ASEAN aims at sustaining recovery
MANILA, Nov 28 Southeast Asian leader held an annual summit here today aimed at sustaining the regions recovery from its worst post-war crisis and maintaining stability amid separatist threats and territorial disputes.
|Bank seeks quashing of BIFR order
MUMBAI, Nov 28 The Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction would hear on December 1 an appeal filed by Canara Bank challenging the order of BIFR which had declared Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd a sick entity.
Reforms in SEBs to be
may ease tax structure: Chawla
about putting food in mouths
venture route for 24 PSEs mooted
turn net buyers
ASEAN aims at sustaining recovery
MANILA, Nov 28 (AFP) Southeast Asian leader held an annual summit here today aimed at sustaining the regions recovery from its worst post-war crisis and maintaining stability amid separatist threats and territorial disputes.
Philippine President Joseph Estrada, opening the meeting, called transparency among the 10-member ASEAN and more dialogue with China, Japan and South Korea, whose leaders will later today join an expanded summit.
Joseph Estrada called for greater openness with our neighbours, saying the future of ASEAN members Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam is intertwined with that of greater East Asia.
AP adds: Despite their strong recovery, Southeast Asian countries remain economically vulnerable and need to do much more to avoid possible future crises, an ASEAN report said.
The economies of all of ASEANs countries are expected to grow in 1999 after a 7 per cent contraction in 1998 at the worst of the Asian financial crisis, said the report, obtained today.
It said benefits from painful economic reforms undertaken by the regions countries are now beginning to be felt.
Interest rates and inflation have fallen sharply, regional currencies have stabilised at up to 40 per cent below pre-crisis levels, and exports have picked up.
The report was drawn up by a surveillance group established by ASEAN to monitor economic conditions in each of its members to prevent the onset of another crisis.
It said an unexpectedly resilient global economy and sustained demand in the USA for Asian exports have helped the region recover.
But it warned the region remains vulnerable to risks both at home and abroad.
Bank and corporate restructuring in ASEAN countries have been slow and investment has not recovered sufficiently.
A joint statement from Asian leaders on improving their cooperation has been updated to include support for Indonesia peacefully resolving a bloody separatist movement in Aceh province and maintaining the countrys territorial integrity, officials say.
Several senior officials from ASEAN who met for four days in advance of the groups annual summit expressed concern about Aceh, where secessionist sentiment has intensified since East Timor voted on August 30 to break away from Indonesia.
Asian leaders fear that
giving Aceh the right to leave the sprawling archipelago
will encourage other separatist movements there and
elsewhere in the region. They have made a distinction
between East Timor, which Indonesia invaded in 1975 and
annexed the following year, and Aceh, which has been part
of the country since it gained independence.
Bank seeks quashing of BIFR order
MUMBAI, Nov 28 (PTI) The Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (AAIFR) would hear on December 1 an appeal filed by Canara Bank challenging the order of BIFR which had declared Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd (ABCL) a sick entity.
In the appeal filed under Section 25 of Sick Industrial Companies (Provisions) Act, 1985, the Canara Bank has sought quashing of BIFR order and directions for appointment of special auditors to probe ABCLs accounts for last three years, its counsel Nishit Dhruve told PTI.
Canara Bank, in consortium with Allahabad Bank, had given a credit of about Rs 14 crore to ABCL, promoted by mega star Amitabh Bachchan, which included its share of Rs 10 crore.
The bank contended that BIFR in its July 9 order had ignored the objections raised by it and declared ABCL a sick company. BIFR had merely accepted ABCLs submissions without any documentary proof in support thereof, the bank said adding the order had provided an effective shield to ABCL under Section 25 of the act putting creditors in a disadvantageous position.
The bank said BIFR had also failed to seek ABCLs explanation on allegations regarding irregularities in its balancesheet and depletion of stocks.
Canara Bank pleaded that ABCL could not be defined as an industry as it failed to produce the certificate showing the presence of any manufacturing capacity of five lakh units as required under law.
ABCL had stated that its main business activity was manufacturing and assembling of audio cassettes while the subsidiary business was of motion pictures production, distribution and related services besides TV serials and software, the bank said.
These statements were in total contradiction of what was set out in the memorandum of association of ABCL, main objects and other incidental objects of the company, the bank pleaded.
The appellant submitted that ABCL had stated that the factory licences for manufacturing under Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, had been issued only by March 12. It is thus clear that prior to these dates ABCL was not engaged in any manufacturing activity and had just come into the ambit of the Act.
As soon as these licences were obtained, ABCL moved the BIFR (on March 22) under Section 15 of SICA Act, the bank alleged.
Canara Bank further submitted that ABCL had falsely declared that no court receiver had been appointed. The Mumbai High Court had appointed court receiver on March 17 before ABCL moved BIFR for registration on March 22.
Canara Bank submitted
that ABCL was incorporated as M/s Sapan Leasing and
Holding Ltd on December 18, 1986 but subsequently changed
to Amitabh Bachchan Pvt Ltd on December 29, 1994. It was
only on February 28, 1995 that this company became
Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd.
Row over Tazo & Amazzo
NEW Delhi, Nov 28 (PTI) A marketing war between two potato chips giants Pepsi and Uncle Chips over free distribution of children games as promotional (promo) device has intensified further with the former in Delhi High Court alleging that Uncle Chips had copied its promo Tazo.
Filing an appeal before a Division Bench against a Single Bench order that ruled that Pepsi subsidiary Fritolays Tazo and Uncle Chips Amazzo were closely similar in shape and names, but not similar.
Fritolay in September 1998 had introduced distribution of plastic grooves with each packet of its Lays Chips in two different shapes which could be used by children as disc games. Following introduction of the games, the sale of Lay Chips had reportedly surpassed that of Uncle Chips.
Former Finance Minister and Senior Advocate P. Chidambaram appearing for Fritolay said the company had copy right over the game and Uncle Chips had simply copied its product Tazo and named it as Amazzo which is almost identical to former.
A Division Bench
comprising Justice Devinder Gupta and Justice S K
Aggarwal while allowing continuation of existing promo
advertisements in four TV programmes by Uncle Chips on
distribution of Amazzo last week adjourned hearing to
December 6 after a lengthy arguments by Chidambaram on
the issue of copy rights.
Reforms in SEBs to be over soon
NEW DELHI, Nov 28 (UNI) Spurred by the Power Finance Corporation and other Financial institutions the reforms in the countrys 25 state electricity boards would be completed by the end of next year, according to PFC Chairman and Managing Director Udesh Kohli.
Joining recently the reforms bandwagon are Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh, together with Orissa, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi and Goa.
These States have either set up the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) or in the process of putting it in place. Nine states have set up SERCs as on October 1, 1999. They are Assam, West Bengal, Punjab, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Five States have already started negotiating with the World Bank, out of which three have been approved Rs 2 billion loan from the bank. Uttar Pradesh has passed the reform Bill in the Assembly, however the speed of the reform process would depend on the new State Government. Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are interacting with the ADB for loans.
In addition PFC is working with Kerala.
Punjab, Delhi and Goa have issued the notification to the PFC for setting up SERCs Dr Kohli said.
Reform related studies are on by the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI). Another feasibility study is on in Goa by the US-based Sergeant and Lundy. Ernst and Young are helping Tamil Nadu for setting up a reform package.
On the other hand the World Bank criterion for loan sanction and selection is that the State must have an SERC in place, must have unbundled the utility into generation, transmission and distribution companies and eventually corporatised them.
Govt may ease tax structure:
AMRITSAR, Nov 28 The Punjab Government is planning to simplify the taxation structure so that the tax can be charged on single point. This assurance was given by the Deputy Speaker, Dr Baldev Chawla, while addressing the gathering of retailers here today.
Dr Chawla felt that the Punjab Government was committed to end the inspector raj and corruption. It was the Governments efforts to wipe out tax evasion for which it was contemplating measures to improve the tax collection, at the minimum harassment of traders.
Dr Chawla assured the retailers that the Government was planning to amend the law with regard to stop the adulteration in food items.
The President of the All-India Retailers Federation Mr Uttam Chawla said the Punjab Government must enhance the limit for filing sales tax return at par with Maharashtra which was Rs 25 lakh while in Haryana and Himachal the limit was Rs 15 lakh.
SIDBI for stake in SSIs
NEW DELHI, Nov 28 (PTI) SIDBI is planning a corpus to pick up direct equity stake in small scale units, SIDBI Managing Director Shailendra Narain has said.
SIDBI, the apex financial institution for SSIs, is working on plans to take direct equity stake in small scale industries at the upper end (in size and turnover), Narain told PTI.
Small units have to grow to meet competition, domestic and international, and SIDBI by such assistance would help these units to achieve financial clout, he said.
Asked about size of the corpus fund and when it would begin investing in SSIs, he said the bank was working on plans but details were yet to be worked out.
This assistance will not be like that of Venture Capital fund, he said adding if start-ups or other units supported by the venture fund fail to take off, all investments have to be written off.
However, equity investment deals would be structured in such a way that SIDBI would have charge on the assets of the units, he said.
The Kapur Committee set up by for recommendations to strengthen the SSI sector had suggested creation of a similar fund to provide equity support Narain said.
We expect units wishing to benefit from this scheme to improve their accounting and information disclosure practices, he added.
SIDBI, which is at present a subsidiary of IDBI, would become a apex financial institution once Parliament clears the Bill to this effect, Narain said.
The bank would remain a development financial institution and an apex body for small scale sector with responsibility to provide refinance facility to State financial corporations and banks to extend assistance to SSIs.
Refinancing to financial intermediaries accounts for 50 per cent of assistance by SIDBI, he said.
On the banks need to provide foreign exchange to small units, he said SIDBI needs about $ 300-400 million to provide credit to Indian small companies for importing capital goods.
We may also soon
hit the international market to raise these funds,
he said adding those availing of the foreign currency
loans would be expected to pay in international currency
and those wishing to pay back credit and interest in
rupees would need to bear currency risks.
putting food in mouths
Tuesdays World Trade Organisation talks in Seattle are not about e-commerce or Hollywood, nor about bananas or hormones in beef. They are about the one in three children who go to sleep hungry every night.
For many of the developing countries represented in Seattle, putting food in mouths is the key issue. They want to sell their agricultural products to western markets so they can raise living standards. They will insist that agriculture is at the top of the WTO agenda.
The problem is a world trading system that is biased against the poorest countries, flooding their markets with cheap food while denying them access to the richest markets. This is the acid test for the WTO. If the claims made for globalisation mean anything, they require the dismantling of the monstrous system of agricultural protection in the west so that developing countries can take advantage of a global marketplace.
Trade diplomats in Geneva, where the WTO is based, dont need to go far to see what the problem is. On a clear day, they can gaze across Lake Geneva to the lush Alpine pastures that lead to the foothills of Mont Blanc. There, cattle graze peacefully to provide the milk that makes Swiss chocolate. But the milk comes at a price. Swiss farmers are the most heavily subsidised in the world, each receiving around $33,000 a year.
Subsidies encourage over-production, which is then dumped on the world market with disastrous effects on producers in developing countries.
For most developing countries agriculture is the backbone of the economy. In 1996 agriculture provided one third of national income in the poorest countries, while labour force in agriculture was more than two thirds of total labour force in these countries.
Mike Moore, the director-general of the WTO, admits that developing countries are getting a raw deal. But rectifying the great injustices of the trading system will not be easy. US officials freely admit that their farm lobby is enormously powerful in Washington, while just about every agricultural product that the EUs exporters have on offer is directly or indirectly subsidised.
Moreover, political reality means that it is impossible for governments to ignore the plight of those western farmers struggling to keep their heads above water even in a highly subsidised regime. Freer trade will create losers and winners. Financial worries mean western farmers are among the groups most prone to suicide.
The world community must come up with a fairer system. Ideally, developing countries should insist that the undertakings made in the Uruguay round are carried out, that anti-dumping measures are tightened up, that there is the elimination of tariff peaks and tariff escalation, that there is a deadline for duty free access for all goods from least-developed countries, and that food security is guaranteed by a cautious approach to phasing out domestic support in poor countries. Rich countries, for their part, should fully embrace a system of income support for farmers rather than trade-distorting production subsidies.
Achieving this will be long and difficult, but not impossible. For one thing, developing countries carry more clout inside the WTO than they used to. If they unite around a common agenda they will be able to wring concessions, particularly as they have some allies among the rich countries.
Second, it is clear that the enlargement of the EU makes its common agricultural policy (CAP) unsustainable. Bringing in Poland and Hungary, with their inefficient agricultural sectors, would break the bank.
Just as last time, the issue of agriculture would be sensitive and nasty. Developing countries are rightly suspicious of multifunctionality the EUs latest tactic the claim that agriculture benefits the environment and helps sustainable development and should be subsidised for those reasons. Asked what it means in practice, one official said:
Multifunctionality means subsidising Swiss mountain farmers to make the Alps look nice for tourists, or preserving the way of life for the Lapps, maintaining the small scale of the Japanese paddy fields.
Joint venture route for 24 PSEs mooted
MUMBAI, Nov 28 (PTI) The Union Government will take the joint venture (JV) route in respect of 24 public sector enterprises (PSEs) under the Department of Heavy Industry out of the 48 identified for disinvestment.
Out of the 24, only seven are profit-making and the rest are all loss-making enterprises, Union Minister for heavy industries and public enterprises Manohar Joshi told reporters here today.
Action has already been initiated to identify JV partners and we are taking steps to expedite the process, he said.
When asked whether the current fiscals divestment target of Rs 10,000 crore would be realised with only four months remaining for the end of this fiscal, he said, the market is improving and there is no reason why the target cannot be reached.
He pointed out that the Government had already carried out divestment in 39 PSEs in 14 tranches garnering more than Rs 12,000 crore.
The Government move to bring down its stake in PSEs in the non-strategic sectors to 26 per cent was aimed at making the organisations stronger, he said.
Review of laws and regulations relating to the industry were on the anvil so as to free them from bureaucratic control, he said adding, attempts were on to ensure speedy redressal of sickness in industries.
Joshi said as many as 100 PSEs out of 236 were either making losses or had been declared sick and referred to the BIFR.
No major change likely in the market
THE stock market continued to move within a narrow range. During the last fortnight the Sensitive Index was up by 1.66 per cent and Nifty by1.86 per cent. Only the top software scrips made some gains. As had been stated in this column last fortnight, the stock market is unlikely to move up during November and December. Indeed, the market may go further down in December. Only in January, the market may move up, and that too only for a short period of time.
I expect the market to go down in December for two reasons. First, FII executive do not engage themselves in the market activities actively because of the X-mas holidays when they go on vacation and also because they have to finalise their annual accounts. Secondly, the FIIs have instructed their fund managers to keep off India and not to trade in the market after December 15, in view of the Y2K bug fear. They may invest only in such companies which have gone high on Y2K compliance.
There is no doubt that there has been significant industrial revival during April-October, 1999. The latest CII survey indicates that about 100 segments have recorded modest to excellent growth during the last six months (April-October). Only 14 segments have suffered negative growth.
Segments which have recorded over 20 per cent growth are: telecom cable industry (126 per cent), power cables (34 per cent), caustic soda (30.7 per cent), auto components (22 per cent), passenger cars (40 per cent), audio products (26 per cent), heavy commercial vehicles (73 per cent), power transformers (51 per cent), colour TV (26 per cent), sugar (70 per cent), personal computers (30 per cent) and software (56 per cent).
The 14 industrial segments which have registered negative growth are: scooters, black and white TV, cigarettes and tobacco. The cement segment registered a growth of 19 per cent and the steel industry 10.8 per cent.
This detailed analysis of the industry segment-wise is useful for long-term investors and may serve as indicator of where to invest and what industrial segments to avoid. Over 30 per cent growth in the caustic soda must be welcomed for this segment has been in a bad condition during the last many years. Gujarat Alkalies, which is quoting around Rs 19 per share should be kept on the watch list and picked up at the right time when its third quarter results are announced.
In general, however, investment purchases should be deferred to mid-December when the stock market is expected to move down significantly. Investment in the textile sector should be avoided as this segment is still facing a lot of trouble. Even in the software industry, the investors have to be very cautious for the top scrips are fully priced in the market and a further appreciation is unlikely. Infosys, Satyam, NIIT and Penta Software have already declared bonus shares. No doubt, there is a possibility of increased speculation in Infosys which is splitting its shares, but there is not much for the long-term investors though it may provide a good playing ground for the traders.
New public issues relating to the software scrips should be watched with great caution and care for many of them may not be of much genuine value. Even in the case of good and attractive software scrips approaching the investors in public issues, due to the book-building approach by these companies, the small investor has little chance of getting a good allotment.
It may be interesting to note that all scrips which have been recommended is this column during the last six months are maintaining their high profile. Vikas-WSP, Cyber Tech, Global Tele, Hindustan Inks, Sterlite Industries and Novarties have not shed off any of their phenomenal gains. Clariant, no doubt, has come down in its ex-bonus market price, but this is a temporary phenomenon and this share will shoot back. Even now, its market price is substantially higher than the rate at which it had been recommended, if its bonus content is added to it.
I expect Sterlite Industries to maintain its upward flight and even at its present market price of Rs 409 per share, it appears to me to be somewhat underpriced. I have no hesitation in recommending two other scrips which may be picked up in December or later. The first is GNFC, which had been recommended at Rs 18 (cum dividend) earlier and is now quoting around Rs 22 per share. Even at this rate, it offers a net dividend of 10 per cent to the investor as it had declared a dividend of 22 per cent. I expect this scrip to notch up to Rs 30 per share in October, 2000. It is almost certain to maintain its dividend at 22 per cent. It is entering the software business too.
Will fog delay flights in winter?
COME foggy season (December-January), it will be known whether upgraded Instrument Landing System (ILS) will stand the pressure of handling flights or flights will continue to be diverted or delayed.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is not yet fully geared up to function normally when the visibility is below normal. The problem between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the US-based manufacturers has been sorted out but the equipment has yet to stand the rigours of rough and turbulent weather.
Some experts have gone on record as saying that some aircraft flying on the domestic sector have not have sophisticated gadgets.
It was planned last year that ILS category-III would be installed sometime this year. But it has not been installed. It is yet to be confirmed whether it will be installed because of the change of the minister.
The situation is quite bleak and there will again be another round of chaos when mercury dips and fog accumulates. The IGIA has not been upgraded to the extent it should have been and passengers will face inconvenience.
Delayed or bunching of flights may cause insurmountable problem to passengers but it is a boom time for hotelwallahs who enhance their tariffs.
Air Indias subsidiary Centaur hotel may also gain in occupancy. It is situated near airport and it should perform well. But its management needs upgradation. If it gets a suitable trouble-shooter, it should be able to function well.
Jet Airways has been declared Y2K compliant by the Computer Maintenance Corporation of India after the external audit.
The CMC and other experts have notified that Jet Airways is in absolute control of its Y2K project.
Air India and Indian Airlines have also geared up to meet the situation. There is nothing to worry about, said a senior official, adding: We will cross the bridge when we come upon it.
Jet Airways has
relaunched the frequent flier programme. According to
information available, Jet Airways programme is easy and
passengers can enrol themselves even at check-in. There
will be no fee. The membership will be of three classes
JP Blue, JP Silver and JP Gold depending upon the
number of miles accrued or the flights flown.
In invested Rs 6000 for one year fixed deposit with Ace Laboratories Limited CC-52, Okhla Industries Area, Phase-I, New Delhi-20 on September 1,1998 vide FDR No 6201. The amount of FDR was matured on August 31, 99 along with interest. But to my utter surprise by todate, I have not received the payment even after making four requests.
I sent in original share certificate No 00025929 with Folio No S-11922 to Global Tele-systems Ltd on 23.2.99 for classification of joint names of shareholders. Till todate I have not received that back despite many reminders.
I had applied for 300 shares of Whirlpool of India against right issue-form No 20912, for which as per letter No. ACT-WIL-99 dated 24.8.99 Registrar to issue (Whirlpool of India Ltd.) Allied Computer Tech. I was allotted 300 shares and the certificates were despatched which never received by me till today.
I hold 100 debentures of Torrent Gujrat with folio No TGO-004730. Its partial redemption fell due on March 24 99. Since then I have been requesting for the redemption proceeds, but company is not paying any heed to my request. I have not received the interest cheque also, which was due on 31.03.99.
I purchased OBC shares with certificates No 596466, 46075 Folio No 108 and sent to OBC Harsha Bhawan for registration on 22.05.98. The same was misplaced at their office. I had again sent all documents for issue of duplicate share certificate as requested by SRG-Infotect by regd post on 08.06.99. Till date I have not received any response inspite of repeated reminders.
FIIs turn net buyers
MUMBAI, Nov 28 (PTI) After three months of being net sellers, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have turned net buyers in the capital market during the first 25 days of November, with fresh investments of $ 254.7 million (Rs 1,106.5 crore).
During the week ended November 25, FIIs made a net investment of $ 38.6 million (Rs 177.3 crore) in the capital market, according to the latest data available with the SEBI.
July was the last month, before November, in which FIIs were net buyers with $ 348.6 million, and the following three months they remained net sellers August ($ 28.2 million), September ($ 170.4) and October ($ 139.5).
Still the net
investments by the FIIs during the year todate $
1159.3 million, is short of the July peak of $ 1247.3
million by $ 88 million. During November, FIIs have made
net investment in equities and debt to the tune of $
248.8 million (Rs 1,080.9 crore) and $ 5.9 million.
Tribune News Service
AMBALA, Nov 28 The National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board has sponsored establishment of a Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Ambala.
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