Wednesday, January 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Insurance formalities by May, says Sinha
NEW DELHI, Jan 18 — Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has said all formalities for opening up the insurance sector for private and foreign investors will be completed by May first week.

Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha with Lawrence H. Summers, US Secretary of Treasury, at North Bloc in New Delhi on Tuesday
Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha with Lawrence H. Summers, US Secretary of Treasury, at North Bloc in New Delhi on Tuesday — PTI

ONGC bends rules to favour firm
NEW DELHI, Jan 18 — Although Oil and Natural Gas Commission continues to suffer huge financial losses in its offshore operations, a section of its officials are hell-bent on favouring MESCO Airlines in violation of norms.

Five-star hotel for Rajasansi
AMRITSAR, Jan 18 — Rajasansi will soon have a five-star hotel to go with the status of an international airport.

FICCI says yes, CII no to second-hand cars
NEW DELHI, Jan 18 — Contrary to stiff opposition from the automobile industry and CII, FICCI today pleaded for the import of second-hand cars.



EARLIER STORIES
 

James Ochs, left, a programmer for the Dobelle Institute’s artificial vision programme, adjusts the computer gear worn by “Jerry” in New York. With the aid of the 10 pounds of computer gear and a tiny camera wired to his brain, “Jerry” can read large letters and navigate around big objects, the first artificial eye to provide useful vision, a researcher reports. — AP

PFC seeks nod to buy back shares
NEW DELHI, Jan 18 — Power Finance Corporation today said that it was awaiting the government clearance to buy-back 20 per cent shares worth Rs 570 crore and hoped that the proposal would be approved by the end of the current fiscal.

LG Electronics to invest
$ 50 m

NEW DELHI, Jan 18 — LG Electronics today unveiled an ambitious growth strategy for India envisioning an insertion of $ 50 million investment in the current year.

IT seminar at CII
CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 — Innovative Hitech Solutions Pvt Ltd today organised a seminar on IT solutions at the CII complex here in collaboration with Onward Novell, L&T IT Ltd, Spice Telecom, Satyam Infoway and Maxpro.

SBI holds customer meet
CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 — The SBI’s Sector 17 branch today organised a customers’ meet in which prominent traders, jewellers, industrialists and exporters participated.

GNFC invests 30 crore in electronics division
MUMBAI, Jan 18 — Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Company Ltd has invested Rs 30 crore in its electronics division for making a major foray into information technology, including “Online Telemedicine”.

IndusInd net soars
CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 — IndusInd Bank has registered an increase of 69.67 per cent in net profit for the nine months ended December 31, 1999.
Top



Insurance formalities by May: Sinha

NEW DELHI, Jan 18 (PTI) — Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has said all formalities for opening up the insurance sector for private and foreign investors will be completed by May first week. “By May first week all formalities, including statutory powers for the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority, will be completed,” Sinha told PTI adding the first private insurance companies would start operating in three to six months thereafter.

Agreeing that almost a month had elapsed since the passage of the IRDA Bill in the winter session of Parliament, Sinha said: “We do not want to hurry through and in two or three months all formalities would be completed to enable private companies to start their operations.”

Parliament passed several economic legislation, including IRDA, Foreign Exchange Management Act and an amendment to the Securities Control Regulation Act to allow trading in derivatives.

Asked why there was delay in the notification of FEMA which replaces FERA. Sinha said there are several details that needed to be worked out, including setting up of an appellate tribunal as provided in the Bill.

Wheat for Russia

India has offered to export wheat to Russia in the wake of surplus production in the last few years, Sinha said, adding that during the recent visit of a Russian delegation New Delhi had offered wheat exports.

Sinha, however, did not elaborate on the quantum of wheat that India could export, but only said the country’s godowns were overflowing with foodgrain stocks in the wake of good agricultural production which crossed the 200 million tonne mark in 1998-99.

Asserting that the economy has come out of the recession, Sinha told a Doordarshan interview that this had not happened by itself but was due to appropriate policies pursued by the Government.

When told there were differences on whether the economy had recovered and asked whether the Government should be believed, Sinha quipped: “You don’t have to believe any one, you can go by the statistics which suggest that the economy is on the recovery path”.

He said the industrial production had touched 6.5 per cent during April-November of the current fiscal as against 4 per cent during the corresponding period of 1998.Top




 

ONGC bends rules to favour firm
From Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 18 — Although Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) continues to suffer huge financial losses in its offshore operations a section of its officials are hell-bent on favouring MESCO Airlines in violation of norms.

A tender bid for making helicopters available for ONGC’s Bombay High offshore operations was invited about 11 months ago. But the tender’s validity was extended at least two times to enable MESCO Airlines to compete despite the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Home Ministry’s adverse comments against MESCO.

A note detailing grounds for disqualifying MESCO said that its "record of service is unsatisfactory".

"Helicopters have been grounded on technical grounds for months and days, causing disruption to ONGC’s operations and immense financial losses", the note pointed out.

MESCO uses Russian MI-172 helicopters, and there are serious problems in getting spares from Russia and other CIS states. This has also caused serious safety concerns because of possibly spurious parts.

MESCO has had four mid-air engine failures with passengers having miraculous escapes.

The internationally accepted availability rete of helicopters for offshore operations in 99 per cent as they are critical to oil operations.

A Committee comprising of members of the DGCA, ONGC and Pawan Hans has recommended against using Russian MI-172 helicopters for offshore operations.

Last-minute cancellations of helicopters at offshore platforms have resulted in ugly scenes, with those waiting to return home after a gruelling stint often turning violent.

The Home Ministry has refused security clearance for MESCO. "In view of the allegations against the three Directors viz. Shri Jitendra Singh, Mrs Rita Singh and Ms Natasha Singh which are serious and the cases registered against them are still under investigation, this Ministry is not in favour of granting security clearance to the above directors and the firm MESCO Airlines Limited from security point of view", a Home Ministry note said.

"Shri Jitendra Kumar Singh, Ms Natasha Singh, were involved in Case No. RC-SIG 1998 E 001 registered on the allegations that during the period 1992 to 1997, the accused persons are parties to a criminal conspiracy with an object to cheat the insurance company, banks, financial institutions share, share holders and others by misrepresentation of facts, forgery, falsification of accounts etc. to obtain benefits for themselves/others", the note stressed adding that "the case is under investigation".

"Shri Jitendra Kumar Singh, Chairman and Mrs Rita Singh, Director, MESCO Airlines Delhi were also involved in Case No RC-11 A /97 -MUM registered on the allegations that the accused persons conspired with others in the matter of according hanger No 10 and 35,000 sq ft of land at Juhu Aerodrome Mumbai, thereby causing wrongful loss to AAI (Airport Authority of India) to the tune of Rs 20.94 lakh", the note said.

ONGC officials in favour of MESCO, are taking advantage of the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Ram Naik’s noting on the said Airlines’ file, reliable sources said. The noting said "follow rules strictly" in case of giving renewing the contract with MESCO.

A contract between the ONGC and MESCO was signed during the Congress regime when MESCO Director Rita Singh swung the deal in her company’s favour. Mrs Rita Singh contested the Lok Sabha elections on a Congress ticket.

But her influence continues to be felt in the Vajpayee government and ONGC continues to drag its feet on the opening of the tender in which four companies including two international companies have submitted bids. Top


 

Five-star hotel for Rajasansi
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 18 — Rajasansi will soon have a five-star hotel to go with the status of an international airport.

This was decided at a meeting held at Chandigarh on January 4 and attended by the Secretary Civil Aviation, Mr R.P.S. Pawar, Mr V.S. Muleker, Airport Director, Mr S.S. Rajput (MC Commissioner), Mr Daljit Singh (ADC), PUDA representatives among others.

A plan for acquiring 23 acres near Rajasansi was discussed. The land will be used for two purposes — for straightening the runway for larger aircraft and undertaking commercial activity, including a five-star hotel.

It is learnt that the four-laning of the Ajnala road will commence shortly. Under AAI instructions, the recently installed electricity poles on the road have been uprooted. Residents of the area believe that the installation of the poles was an election gimmick.Top


 

FICCI says yes, CII no to second-hand cars

NEW DELHI, Jan 18 (PTI) — Contrary to stiff opposition from the automobile industry and CII, FICCI today pleaded for the import of second-hand cars.

FICCI President G.P. Goenka told PTI that the Government should allow imports of second-hand cars to generate competition and ensure that consumers benefited in terms of price, quality and choice of vehicle.

Goenka said the same policy should be applicable to all sectors and there were no grounds to make automobile industry an exception.

“When we wanted protection from cheap imports in certain core sectors, they called us a protectionist lobby,” he said pointing out that multinationals came to India with their eyes open.

CII President Rahul Bajaj along with automobile associations had opposed throwing open the market for secondhand cars saying that even 200 per cent duty on such cars would not effectively protect the domestic industry.

Goenka questioned the rationale behind the opposition from CII saying, “perhaps they are influenced by their members.”

Bajaj had asked the government to postpone the decision for at least five to 10 years saying the move would kill the domestic automotive industry.

“Manufacturing sector is equally vulnerable to cheaper imports. Why are they not applying the same logic there ?” Goenka said.Top


 

PFC seeks nod to buy back shares

NEW DELHI, Jan 18 (PTI) — Power Finance Corporation today said that it was awaiting the government clearance to buy-back 20 per cent shares worth Rs 570 crore and hoped that the proposal would be approved by the end of the current fiscal.

“We have made amendments in the company’s Articles of Association that would provide an enabling provision for PFC to buy back government shares at book-value” said Uddesh Kohli Chairman and Managing Director of PFC, in which the Government has 100 per cent equity now, told reporters.

Announcing a 13 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 659 crore for April-December 1999 from Rs 584 crore in the same period last year, Kohli said if PFC buys back government shares now, its share value would rise once the company decides to go to market in the next three years.

“If we decide to raise equity in the market after three years the amount would be larger and the share value would also rise,” PFC Finance Director Tantra Narayan Thakur said.

The state-owned company has a net worth of Rs 3,000 crore with the debt-equity ratio being at 1.86:1, Thakur said adding that the company as of now had no plans to go to the market to reduce government equity.

PFG’s income rose from Rs 1,232 crore to Rs 1,366 crore during the period, an increase of 7 per cent, while its disbursement was Rs 1.599 crore and sanctions being at Rs 5,725 crore during the period, he said.Top


 

LG Electronics to invest $ 50 m
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 18 — LG Electronics today unveiled an ambitious growth strategy for India envisioning an insertion of $ 50 million investment in the current year.

Apart from fresh investments, the growth strategy involves setting up of a new manufacturing plant, launch of 16 new models in all product categories, realignment to bring the high growth PC monitor business under its own wing and e-commerce drive with the launch of website.

For the year 2000, the company has outlined an initial financial plan to achieve a turnover of Rs 1500 crore.

Of the planned $ 50 million fresh investment in the Indian subsidiary LG Electronics India Limited (LGEIL), $ 20 million would be utilised for new production facility for refrigerators with an installed capacity of 200,000 refrigerators.

Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Mr Ajay Kapila said that in the colour TV segment (CTV) the company hopes to grab a 12 per cent market share during the year with the hi-tech flatron TVs being the highlight.

LGEIL had recorded a turnover of Rs 1,056 crore for the year 1999 with profit after tax being Rs 40 crore.

LG Electronics India Limited (LGEIL) has registered a 300 per cent growth in net profit at Rs 40 crore during 1999 against Rs 10 crore the previous year.

The actual turnover was around 62 per cent higher than the target of Rs 650 crore.

The company is targetting to earn net profit of Rs 50 crore this year by clocking Rs 1,500 crore turnover, he added.Top


 

IT seminar at CII
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 — Innovative Hitech Solutions Pvt Ltd today organised a seminar on IT solutions at the CII complex here in collaboration with Onward Novell, L&T IT Ltd, Spice Telecom, Satyam Infoway and Maxpro. IAS officers, corporate heads in and around Chandigarh attended the seminar. Mr N.S. Kalsi, Director, Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, was the chief guest.

A Novell Support Centre was inaugurated by Mr Kalsi.

Spice Telecom made a presentation on using its bandwidth for fax & data transfers. Maxpro Networking introduced networking products for the upcoming ISPs.

Seagate Crystal Reports was introduced by L&T Information Technology Limited to create best of the reports for the management of the companies using databases.Top


 

SBI holds customer meet
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 — The SBI’s Sector 17 branch today organised a customers’ meet in which prominent traders, jewellers, industrialists and exporters participated.

Presiding over the meet, Mr D.L. Manwani, General Manager (D&PB), said the rates of interest on trade advances charged by the bank are the lowest and there are no hidden charges.

Mr V.K. Gupta, Dy. General Manager, said the Sector 17 main branch of the SBI is the only branch of any bank in Chandigarh which sells gold at international prices.

Sangrur branch: The SBI has fully computerised its Sangrur branch. Mr Anirudh Tewari, DC, inaugurated the branch, which will provide customer services from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on week days and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.Top


 

GNFC invests 30 crore in electronics division

MUMBAI, Jan 18 (PTI) — Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Company Ltd (GNFC) has invested Rs 30 crore in its electronics division for making a major foray into information technology, including “Online Telemedicine”.

GNFC has entered into an (MoU) for a revenue sharing strategic alliances with Konee Bio-Medical (KBM) group’s two companies in the field of telemedicine and hi-end software development.

GNFC Managing Director A.M. Bhardwaj told reporters here today that the fertilizer major has tied up with 14 companies for development of hi-end software in various fields including banking and insurance.

He said in future the electronics division is expected to be hived off into a separate company. Top


 

IndusInd net soars
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 — IndusInd Bank has registered an increase of 69.67 per cent in net profit for the nine months ended December 31, 1999. The operating profit of the bank has also gone up by 62.50 per cent to Rs 132.97 crore. Total income grew by 12.5 per cent to Rs 553.00 crore, as compared to Rs 491.50 crore in the same period last year. Included in this is the interest income which surged to Rs 473.91 crore as compared to Rs 415.14 crore. The deposits went up to Rs 4201.68 crore as against 3809.10 crore in the corresponding period last year.Top


  cr
CORPORATE RESULTS

Global Tele-Sys

Global TeleSystems Ltd has recorded a 53 per cent rise in the net profit to Rs 26.99 crore on a turnover of Rs 160.21 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 1999, as against a turnover of Rs 135.87 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The software and e-commerce services company posted a 71 per cent growth in the net profit for the first nine months of financial year 1999-2000 at Rs 70.31 crore.

Gross margins for the current nine months improved to 27.12 per cent as compared to 17.6 per cent for the same period last year.

Pentafour Soft

Pentafour Software and Exports Limited has reported a 56 per cent growth in its turnover for the third quarter of the current financial year as compared to the corresponding period last year.

The company’s financial results for the third quarter of the year, declared today, said it had posted a turnover of Rs106 crore for the quarter compared to Rs 72.6 crore of the same period in the last year.

According to a company press release, the net profit of the current quarter was Rs 36 crore against Rs 24 crore of the corresponding period last year.

The company will hereafter concentrate on the core areas of film and broadcasting as it had been converted into a full-fledged entertainment company.

SRF

SRF Ltd today announced a net profit of Rs 24.13 crore during the first nine months of 1999-2000, reflecting a growth of 74 per cent over the comparable period last fiscal, and clocked sales of Rs 490 crore.

The company netted Rs 6.7 crore profit for the third quarter and sales of Rs 176.63 crore. The rise in the net profit was primarily due to the reduction in the interest burden from Rs 80.76 crore in 1998-99 to Rs 70.70 crore this fiscal, a company release said in Delhi on Monday.

Sri Adhikari

Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network Ltd has reported a 150 per cent increase in its net profit to Rs 5.05 crore for the third quarter compared to Rs 2.02 crore during the corresponding period of last year.

The television software company has declared a dividend of 18 per cent, having achieved turnover of Rs 11.88 crore during the third quarter, registering a growth of 34.74 per cent as compared to Rs 8.817 crore during the corresponding period last year.

During the nine month period, profits rose by 145 per cent to Rs 1.26 crore on a sales turnover of Rs 31.22 crore as against sales of Rs 23.85 crore in the same period last year.

Alps Ind

Alps Industries Limited, owners of the Vista Levolor brand, has registered a 39.9 per cent jump in net profit during the third quarter of 1999-2000 to Rs 2.43 crore as against Rs 1.46 crore a year ago.

Net profit during the nine-months ended December 31, 1999, was Rs 5.82 crore, up 63.4 per cent from Rs 3.56 crore a year ago while net sales for the period stood at Rs 69.18 crore.

— AgenciesTop


 
BIZ BRIEFS

Bullion
Gold Std. Rs 4490
Gold 22-Ct Rs 4340
Silver Ready Rs 7865
Silver delivery Rs 7885

Forex
US $ Rs 43.57/58
Stg Rs 71.18/20
Euro Rs 43.96/98
Yen (100) Rs 41.42/45

GIC MF
CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 (TNS) — GIC Mutual Fund has announced dividend in two of its open-ended schemes. The dividend is at the rate of 15 per cent in GIC Growth Plus II and 7.5 per cent in GIC D’MAT.

Metro Appl
CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 (TNS) — Metro Appliances Limited has been awarded the ISO-9002 certification, accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia & New Zealand.

Kol Dam
NEW DELHI, Jan 18 (TNS) — An agreement will be signed between the Centre and the Himachal Government in February for the 800 MW Kol Dam hydro electric project in the State. The State Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, who met the Union Power Minister, Mr P.R. Kumaramangalam, said that project would involve a total cost of Rs 5,000 crore and is expected to be completed within six years. The project will be constructed on the Sutlej river about 6 km upstream of the Dehar plant.

Videocon
MUMBAI, Jan 18 (PTI) — The NSE has decided to revoke the proposed suspension of trading in the securities of Videocon International and Videocon Appliances following the companies’ satisfacotry redressal of all issues of non-compliances.Top



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