Wednesday, October 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

PM’s 3-pronged strategy for rural uplift
New Delhi, October 16
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today unveiled a three-pronged rural development strategy based on a strong policy and regulatory government leadership, a dynamic and efficient private sector and active participation of panchayati raj institutions.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee addressing at a national summit at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday. —PTI photo

PM to review export in textile sector
New Delhi, October 16
Concerned over declining exports particularly in textile sector, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee along with his ministerial colleagues will review the impact of September 11 events in the USA on the export front on October 20.

VSNL selloff this fiscal: Mahajan
New Delhi, October 16
The government today sold its majority stakes in Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC) and Hindustan Teleprinter (HTL) and indicated that VSNL selloff would be completed by the end of this fiscal.



EARLIER STORIES
 

BIS holds seminar on environment
Chandigarh, October 16
Protection of the environment is of vital importance and has to be a national commitment, said Mr Puranjeet Singh, Chief Engineer, Chandigarh Administration while inaugurating the seminar on “Environment and Standards — close together”, organised by the Bureau of Indian Standards on the occasion of the World Standards Day, here today.

Anthrax drug by Ranbaxy
Mumbai, October 16
Top Indian pharma companies Glaxo, Cipla and Ranbaxy will jointly market the latter’s anti-anthrax drug “ciprofloxacin” in India. The once a day “Ciprofloxacin” formulation is a broad-spectrum anti-bacterial dosage from Ranbaxy’s novel drug delivery system (NDDS) research pipeline.

Markfed sends food products to Andhra
Chandigarh, October 16
Markfed today sent its first consignment of Markfed basmati rice and ready to eat canned food products to Andhra Pradesh. An MoU was recently signed between Andhra Pradesh State Co-operative Marketing Federation and Markfed, said Mr D.S. Bains, MD.

Fire-resistant fabric from Amartex
Chandigarh, October 16
Amartex has launched a high-tech fire-resistant fabric. The fabric reduces the risk of injury and death from burns. Fire-retardant process is a state-of-the-art technology which renders the cotton/viscose fabrics flame-retardant quality.

More difficult time for economy: FM
New Delhi, October 16
Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said today that a more difficult time for the economy has emerged following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA and adequate measures were being taken to tackle the situation.

Mahindra eyes Russian market
New Delhi, October 16
Mahindra is eyeing the Russian market for its utility vehicles through a possible joint venture with Russian-based Indian company, the Sun group. "We are considering a JV with the Mahindras for utility vehicles. The talks are still on but we hope to be able to finalise the deal soon,” Director Sun group, Shiv Vikram Khemka, said here.

 

CORPORATE NEWS

Hindustan Lever net profit rises 14 pc
Mumbai, October 16
Hindustan Lever (HLL) today announced a 14 per cent increase in its net profit at Rs 377.65 crore for the quarter ended September 30, compared with the quarter of previous year.

  • Bonus debentures

  • Raymond to invest 135 cr

  • HDFC may hike FII limit

  • Reliance MF pays

  • Godrej Consumer Products

  • Exide net falls 12.9 pc

 

ROUND-UP

New Grasim cement plant for Bathinda
Dehradun, October 16
Grasim Industries will set up a new cement plant at Bathinda in Punjab. “We will soon set up a new plant in Bathinda, keeping in view our growing market share of 16 to 17 per cent in Northern India,” Jayant Dua, Senior Vice-President (Marketing), Grasim Industries, told reporters here after launching a cement brand ‘Birla Plus’.

  • Moody’s upgrades Microsoft rating

  • Ford, GM ratings down

  • Maruti signs Amitabh, Abhishek

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PM’s 3-pronged strategy for rural uplift
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 16
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today unveiled a three-pronged rural development strategy based on a strong policy and regulatory government leadership, a dynamic and efficient private sector and active participation of panchayati raj institutions.

Calling upon both the Government and industry to adopt rural prosperity as the mantra of the decade, Mr Vajpayee said this would deliver growth with equity and social justice which were the two goals set out in the Tenth Plan.

Inaugurating a National summit on “Public-Private Partnership for Rural Prosperity”, organised by the Assocham and the Ministry for Rural Development, Mr Vajpayee said the Government would not allow economic reforms to be hijacked as a scheme for “privatisation of profits and socialisation of pain”.

He called for a multi-faceted public-private patnership that delivers socially useful and affordable goods and services to the rural people.

Lamenting that rural development did not figure prominently in the concerns and plans of the business community, the Prime Minister pointed out that it remained alienated from the life of over half of the population that depended on agriculture and allied rural economic activities.

Attributing the slowdown in the Indian economy to internal causes, Mr Vajpayee stated that the chief stimulus for economic revival has necessarily to come from within. “This is the only sure way to put the Indian economy on a path of strong and quick recovery leading to a sustained eight per cent rate of GDP growth envisaged in the 10th Plan”.

The Prime Minister said public-private partnership was manifest in Indian companies engaged in philanthropic activities, but it was clearly inadequate. “I would like a far greater portion of your profits set aside for socially useful philanthropy in rural and backward areas”, he said.

He asked each business house to adopt one or more NGO or one or more geographical area and take up focussed development work. He said there was huge business potential in food processing, storage and handling of grains and marketing of the products of village industries, especially handicrafts.

He said there was need for a stronger collaboration between the private sector and the Khadi and Village Industries Commission with a greater infusion of technology, better product design, modern management and savvy marketing.

“KVIC has a wide range of products that cater to local, national and international markets and with a greater infusion of technology, better product design, modern management and savvy marketing, KVIC can become a powerful engine of rural prosperity”, he said.

The Prime Minister also stressed the need for partnership in healthcare and education which have to date suffered from government control and bureaucratic administration.

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PM to review export in textile sector
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 16
Concerned over declining exports particularly in textile sector, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee along with his ministerial colleagues will review the impact of September 11 events in the USA on the export front on October 20.

Finance Minister Yaswant Sinha and Textile Minister Kashiram Rana will attend the meeting, which is being held to evolve an effective strategy for arresting the downslide in country’s exports particularly in the textile sector.

India’s exports have declined by 2.30 per cent in the first five months of the current financial year after achieving an impressive 20 per cent growth last year.

Textile exports are among the worst hit sectors, with about 17 per cent decline in the first six months in the present fiscal year.

“The Prime Minister is concerned over the export decline”, the Textile Minister said.

Pending drawback claims of Rs 2000 crore to exporters is one of the issue between the Textile and Finance Ministries which would be addressed at the review meeting with the Prime Minister.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K.C. Pant has also been asked to attend the meeting along with Commerce Secretary Prabir Sengupta and Revenue Heads of the different Exports Promotion Councils (EPCs), who in their meeting with Mr Rana yesterday had protested against the harassment that they were facing.

In fact, the Textile Ministry is also backing the demand of the exporters to restore the drawback rates to the June, 2001 level. “The mess up began only after the Finance Ministry had tampered with these rates in June this year”, official said.

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VSNL selloff this fiscal: Mahajan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 16
The government today sold its majority stakes in Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC) and Hindustan Teleprinter (HTL) and indicated that VSNL selloff would be completed by the end of this fiscal.

The two firms were sold for Rs 207 crore to Tata Sons and HFCL respectively.

The 51 per cent stake in CMC was bought by the Tatas for Rs 152 crore and HFCL acquired the majority stake in HTL by shelling out Rs 55 crore. The two companies were the sole bidders.

The agreement for transfer of the government equity and the management were signed by top officials of the two companies and the Ministry of Information Technology in the presence of Mr Pramod Mahajan here.

Yashwant Sinha in his Budget presentation had set a disinvestment target of Rs 12,000 crore for the current financial year.

The two companies are the first PSU disinvestment this fiscal. The disinvestment of Balco for Rs 551.5 crore to Sterlite Industries had run into rough weather with the Opposition alleging that the PSU had been sold less than the potential price.

Mr Mahajan told reporters on the sidelines of the signing ceremony that the VSNL selloff would be completed this fiscal after the TRAI finalises the international long distance guidelines.

He said: “We are expecting the ILD guidelines from TRAI by November 8 or 9 after which we would need about a week to study the same. Once the guidelines are finalised, the process could be completed within two more months.”

Reliance, BPL and the Tatas have submitted their “expression of interest” for the international telephone carrier.

The Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment on October 5 presided over by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee approved the disinvestment of CMC and HTL.



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BIS holds seminar on environment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
Protection of the environment is of vital importance and has to be a national commitment, said Mr Puranjeet Singh, Chief Engineer, Chandigarh Administration while inaugurating the seminar on “Environment and Standards — close together”, organised by the Bureau of Indian Standards on the occasion of the World Standards Day, here today.

He said in our country approximately 70 per cent of available water is polluted resulting in loss of nearly 75 million work days on account of water related diseases, he said.

The chief engineer lauded the role played by BIS in the formulation of 500 Indian Standards in the field of environment protection.

Mr V.K. Kapoor, Deputy Director General, BIS, He said the BIS has launched Environmental Systems (EMS) Certification and is the sole national agency authorised to operate EMS certification in India under Act of Parliament as per International Standards ISO 14000 series.

Mr S.K. Sharma, General Manager, HMT, Pinjore read out the messages received from International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO), International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC).

Those who spoke were Mr S.K. Puri, Director, BIS; Mr S.K. Sharma, President Environment Society of India, Chandigarh: Mr Naveen Chaddha, Manager, ACC; Dr D.P. Maini, Retd Professor Panjab University.

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Anthrax drug by Ranbaxy

Mumbai, October 16
Top Indian pharma companies Glaxo, Cipla and Ranbaxy will jointly market the latter’s anti-anthrax drug “ciprofloxacin” in India.

The once a day “Ciprofloxacin” formulation is a broad-spectrum anti-bacterial dosage from Ranbaxy’s novel drug delivery system (NDDS) research pipeline.

“Both the Indian and multinational companies will work together to leverage their combined strength in marketing and distribution to ensure that Ciprofloxacin OD reaches maximum number of patients”, Ranbaxy Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director D.S. Brar said.

As per the arrangement Ranbaxy would manufacture the drug at Paonta Sahib and supply to Glaxo and Cipla.

For marketing purposes, Ranbaxy and Cipla would sell the the product under their individual brand names Cifran OD and Ciplox OD respectively, while Glaxo would launch the drug under the brand name C-OD, the notice said. PTI

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Markfed sends food products to Andhra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
Markfed today sent its first consignment of Markfed basmati rice and ready to eat canned food products to Andhra Pradesh. An MoU was recently signed between Andhra Pradesh State Co-operative Marketing Federation and Markfed, said Mr D.S. Bains, MD.

Mr Bains said Andhra Pradesh Marketing Federation will work as clearing and forwarding agent for all their products in Andhra Pradesh.

Mr S.S. Brar , Secretary Co-operation, who flagged off the first consignment today said the farmers of Punjab need relief from the wheat paddy cycle which can be possible only if more farm crops are processed for greater shelf life.

Markfed will be able to attain the years target of 3.5 lakh tonnes of exports shortly, said Mr Bains. He informed that an MoU has also been signed with Great Wholesale Club, a unit of Food world (retail food chain) for the supply of canned products and basmati rice to the company who will market the same through their stores. “They have also shown interest in marketing our fresh fruits and vegetables “, he said. 

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Fire-resistant fabric from Amartex
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
Amartex has launched a high-tech fire-resistant fabric. The fabric reduces the risk of injury and death from burns. Fire-retardant process is a state-of-the-art technology which renders the cotton/viscose fabrics flame-retardant quality. When this specially treated fabric comes in contact with flame, a localised insulating char is formed and there is no smouldering, unlike the untreated fabric where in the flame progression results in complete burning of cloth.

Remarkably fire-resistant cotton, corduroy, woollen fabrics retain the essential comfort characteristics such as air-permeability, moisture absorption, etc. Their durability has been established and can withstand any numbers of dry-cleaning cycles and laundering. The processed fabrics are environment-friendly and tested for toxicity.

Amartex has launched ready-to-wear garments in fire-resistant fabric for children.

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More difficult time for economy: FM

New Delhi, October 16
Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said today that a more difficult time for the economy has emerged following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA and adequate measures were being taken to tackle the situation.

Addressing the Economic Editors’ conference here, he said, things were already difficult before the incident and now it had become “more difficult”.

“Instability did not go well with economic well being,” he added. PTI


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Mahindra eyes Russian market

New Delhi, October 16
Mahindra is eyeing the Russian market for its utility vehicles through a possible joint venture with Russian-based Indian company, the Sun group.

“We are considering a JV with the Mahindras for utility vehicles. The talks are still on but we hope to be able to finalise the deal soon,” Director Sun group, Shiv Vikram Khemka, said here.

Khemka, refused to divulge any more details about the future JV but said the company would go by the name Sun Mahindra.

An official from Mahindra confirmed the development but said the details of the tie-up were still being thrashed out.

The venture would initially import the parts from India but in the long run set up a local assembling unit in Russia. PTI

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CORPORATE NEWS

Hindustan Lever net profit rises 14 pc

Mumbai, October 16
Hindustan Lever (HLL) today announced a 14 per cent increase in its net profit at Rs 377.65 crore for the quarter ended September 30, compared with the quarter of previous year.

After including a one-time exceptional net income of Rs 21.51 crore, the net profit was at Rs 399.16 crore, leading to an earnings per share (EPS) increase of 20.5 per cent. The sales turnover grew by 7 per cent to Rs 2,635.22 crore during the quarter.

Addressing a press conference after the Board meeting here, the HLL Chairman M. S. Banga said the growth was mainly due to the relentless focus on power brands of its products, in which the company was investing significantly to upgrade the quality and enhance competitiveness. HLL has invested Rs 70 crore during the year in product upgradation, while stepped up its expenditure by 30 per cent in advertising and media campaign.

Bonus debentures

The HLL Board today approved a scheme to issue bonus debentures in the ratio of one fully paid debenture of Rs 6 each for every equity share of Re 1 by drawing upon the general reserves.

The Directors also adopted an enabling resolution to raise the limit for FIIs holding in HLL to 49 per cent of equity capital from 24 per cent, M. S. Banga said.

At the end of the third quarter, the FII holding in the company was 11.94 per cent.

The issue and allotment of the debentures would account for approximately Rs 1,320 crore from general reserves. The dividend distribution tax would account for Rs 135 crore and thus the total amount used would be Rs 1,455 crore.

The debentures, with an interest rate of 9 per cent, would be secured and redeemable at par in two equal instalments on the second and third anniversary of the issue of debentures, Banga said.

The whole process of approaching the Mumbai High Court and convening an extra-ordinary general meeting was expected to take four to six months, Banga said.

A buyback would not have been equitable to every shareholder, because not all of them would have diluted their holdings. Apart from this, such a move would need to be staggered over a period of at least three years and accounted for only under three per cent of HLL’s equity, Banga said.

Raymond to invest 135 cr

Raymond said today it would invest about Rs 135 crore over the next six months in expanding textiles and denim manufacturing capacities.

Speaking to PTI, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales) of Raymond S.K. Gupta said: “We plan to increase the installed capacity of denim production by 5 lakh metres to 15 lakh metres over the next six months”.

Also on the anvil is a hike in textiles manufacturing capacity by a million metres to 24 million metres.

HDFC may hike FII limit

The Board of HDFC will consider a proposal to raise the investment ceiling for FII to 74 per cent of equity capital from the existing 49 per cent at its meeting scheduled on October 17.

The Board will also consider the unaudited financial results for the second quarter ended September 2001.

Reliance MF pays

Reliance Capital Mutual Fund has declared a dividend at the rate of 0.158 per cent per unit (Rs 0.0158 per unit in the hands of the investor) which is 8.24 per cent annualised in the weekly dividend option of the treasury plan of Reliance Liquid Fund.

Godrej Consumer Products

Godrej Consumer Products has posted a net profit of Rs 10.66 crore for the second quarter ended September 2001.

The Board of Directors has recommended an interim dividend of Rs 2 per share (Rs 4 face value) for the current financial year, the company said in a release here today.

The Board also gave an “in principle” nod for a proposal to buy back equity shares with maximum price of Rs 100 per share up to Rs 10 crore, it added.

Exide net falls 12.9 pc

Exide Industries ltd has posted a 12.9 per cent lower net profit at Rs 12.25 crore for the second quarter ended September 30 as against Rs 14 crore in the same period last year, following a slump in the automobile industry.

The total income increased marginally to Rs 201.5 crore for the reporting quarter as against Rs 200.5 crore in the second quarter ended September 30, 2001, EIL Chairman and Chief Executive S.B. Ganguly said. Agencies

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ROUND-UP

New Grasim cement plant for Bathinda

Dehradun, October 16
Grasim Industries will set up a new cement plant at Bathinda in Punjab.

“We will soon set up a new plant in Bathinda, keeping in view our growing market share of 16 to 17 per cent in Northern India,” Jayant Dua, Senior Vice-President (Marketing), Grasim Industries, told reporters here after launching a cement brand ‘Birla Plus’.

Grasim Industries produces 1.5 million tonne cement per year, with a turnover of 22 crore. PTI

Moody’s upgrades Microsoft rating

NEW YORK: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the issue rating for Microsoft Corporation to Aa2 from Aa3, saying the outlook for the software company was positive.

“The rating upgrade and positive outlook reflect strong performance from the company’s increasingly diversified businesses, continued improvements in the company’s financial flexibility, and positive developments in the anti-trust case since Moody’s last upgraded Microsoft’s rating in the fall of 1999,” the service said in a statement yesterday. AFP

Ford, GM ratings down

NEW YORK: General Motors Corp.’s and Ford Motor Co.’s credit ratings were cut today by Standard & Poor’s which said the world’s two largest automakers may suffer falling profits in a deepening auto industry slowdown.

S&P cut Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford’s and Detroit-based GM’s long-term senior unsecured debt ratings two notches each, more than some analysts were expecting, to “BBB-plus,’’ its third lowest investment grade, from “A.’’ It also cut both automakers’ short-term debt ratings to “A-2’’ from “A-1.’’ The downgrades also affect the automakers’ finance arms. Reuters

Maruti signs Amitabh, Abhishek

New Delhi
With the launch of the much-awaited ‘Versa’ around the corner, Maruti today announced that cine superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan have been signed on as brand ambassadors for its new luxuary multi purpose vehicle (MPV).

Commenting on the synergies that this relationship offers, J. Sugimori, Director (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Udyog, said “it is akin to two icons coming together — the best of talent teaming up with the best in automotive technology and comfort.”

He said Maruti’s first 21st century vehicle would create a new category that has not existed before. Versa will provide new value to Indian customers. PTI

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BIZ BRIEFS

IDBI ratings
Chandigarh, October 16
ICRA has revised IDBI’s long term and medium term ratings from LAAA and MAAA indicating highest safety, to LAA+ and MAA+ respectively, indicating high safety, IDBI’s short term rating of AI+ indicating highest safety has been retained. The revision in rating is due to concerns on IDBI’s asset quality and pressures on profitability. IDBI’s net NPAs increased to Rs 8,371 crore as on March 31, 2001 as compared to Rs 7,675 crore as on March 31, 2000. TNS

Haryana Tourism
Chandigarh, October 16
Mr Om Praksh Chautala today stressed the need for bringing about changes in the quality of services provided in Haryana Tourism complexes. He said this while reviewing the functioning of the Haryana Tourism Corporation at a meeting here today. Mr S.Y. Qureishi, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister said all complexes should be privatised. TNS


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