Wednesday, October 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India






National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Process for selling ITDC, HCI hotels begins
New Delhi, Oct 23
The stage is set for the sale of eight hotels of Indian Tourism Development Corporation and five properties of Hotel Corporation of India with the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment today finalising transaction documents for these units.

Core group to solve SSI problems
Chandigarh, October 23
The CII has proposed a core group with the RBI to resolve finance-related issues of the small Scale industry, said Captain Alok Sharma, Vice-Chairman, Small Industry Sub Committee, CII, at a press conference here today.

Exports give relief to farmers
Chandigarh, October 23
Export of parboil rice in a big way from Punjab this year has provided a big relief to the beleaguered government procurement agencies and the farmers in the state which are sitting on a mountain of foodgrains which nobody seems to want in the country.

HCL Tech net income inches up
New Delhi, October 23
HCL Technologies today reported a marginal 1.76 per cent rise in its net income (after non-cash charge and extraordinary provisions) for the first quarter ended September, 2001, at Rs 97.9 crore, as compared to Rs 96.2 crore in the same period previous year.



EARLIER STORIES
 

Wheat stocks worry Punjab
Chandigarh, October 23
The unscientific handling of wheat stocks worth Rs 11,000 crore piled up with different procuring agencies in Punjab has become a cause of concern.

Samsonite sales fall 35 pc
New Delhi, October 23
With travellers rescheduling tours in the gory aftermath of the terrorist strikes in the USA, Samsonite is feeling the heat of dwindling sales which has made all year-end projections go haywire.

HFC loans for cold storage
Chandigarh, October 23
The Haryana Financial Corporation has been brought under the purview of the Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme of the National Horticulture Board for construction of cold storages for horticulture produce.

CORPORATE NEWS

Ashok Leyland performs well
Chennai, October 23
Hinduja group flagship Ashok Leyland has reported improved performance in the second quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal with the net profit of the company during the period touching Rs 18.52 crore as against Rs 14.91 crore in the same period last fiscal.
  • Eicher Motors net up
  • Sesa Goa net falls
  • Krishna Bank’s rights issue
  • OIL pays 140 crore

SBP loan for doctors
Patiala, October 23
The State Bank of Patiala has launched a new scheme known as the SBP-Medihome Flexi Scheme for granting loans to all qualified doctors in allopathy, homoeopathy and ayurvedic branches.

UTI’s exposure to PSU selloff proves costly
New Delhi, October 23
Unit Trust of India’s exposure to government disinvestment in public sector units proved costly, according to documents released by the Department of Disinvestment.

Corporation Bank net up 31.29 pc
Mumbai, October 23
Corporation bank has posted a 31.29 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 93.24 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, 2001, compared to Rs 71.02 crore in same period of previous fiscal.


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Process for selling ITDC, HCI hotels begins
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, Oct 23
The stage is set for the sale of eight hotels of Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and five properties of Hotel Corporation of India (HCI) with the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment today finalising transaction documents for these units.

The prestigious Ashoka hotels of the ITDC group at New Delhi and Bangalore would be given out on lease for 30 years whereas in the case of other properties it would be outright sale, Disinvestment Minister, Mr Arun Shourie, told newspersons after a meeting of the CCD here.

In the case of the properties of Hotel Corporation of India, barring the hotel5at Srinagar, all the units are being brought under the selling block. This includes the two Centaurs at Mumbai, one at New Delhi and its subsidiary Chef Air and the property at Rajgir.

The ITDC hotels are located apart from Delhi and Bangalore, in Agra, Madurai, Manali, Bodhgaya, Hasan and Mahabalipuram.

Mr Shourie said some of the bidders wanted the government to stagger the price bids for ITDC over eight days and five days for HCI properties and this had been agreed to by the CCD, which was chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The Minister said the proceeds from the sale of HCI properties would be ploughed back into Air India for strengthening the international airline.

A total of 115 potential bidders, including 97 for ITDC, have been identified for the 13 hotels and the government would issue letters to them from tomorrow.

He said the meeting took note of the progress made by the Disinvestment Ministry regarding sale of 13 public sector units. He said the time-table for disinvestment was being adhered to in most cases, except for one or two cases where the bidders had asked for some more time to bid.

He said the delay in the bidding process of two companies - Bharat Heavy Vessels and Plates and Instrumentation Ltd - would not affect the overall time-table set for completion of disinvestment of these PSUs.

The other decision taken at the meeting today was the approval of the transaction document of Hindustan Zinc Ltd.

Draft shareholders agreement for sale of 26 per cent government stake in HZL were finalised.

Mr Shourie clarified that in the case of the sale of IBP Co Ltd, the petroleum products retailing giant, it had been decided that the buyer would have to commit to spend Rs 2000 crore on hydrocarbon projects other than on strengthening the retail network. The investments would have to be made within ten years of taking over IBP.

On the Government’s stand on Sterlite’s participation in disinvestment process after the Securities Appellate Tribunal yesterday struck down SEBI’s order barring the company from accessing capital markets for two years, Mr Shourie said “the government guidelines are very clear in security and non-security offences and we will apply them mechanically.”

He said if a bidder gets a stay or if any order gets overturned then they would become eligible to bid.
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Core group to solve SSI problems
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The CII has proposed a core group with the RBI to resolve finance-related issues of the small Scale industry, said Captain Alok Sharma, Vice-Chairman, Small Industry Sub Committee, CII, at a press conference here today.

In an interactive session , the CII emphasised competitiveness together with infrastructural development and second generation reforms at the national and state levels to help the Indian industry turn global.

“The focus on competitiveness in WTO regime is extremely important for the growth and survival of the Indian industry”, said Mr Adesh Gupta, Chairman, CII Haryana Council and Executive Director of Liberty Footwear .

The CII has taken initiatives in various sectors including power, exports, agriculture and finance in Haryana.

A single comprehensive law for small scale industry would help solve problems which the industry facing today on account of complex regulatory framework.

Capt Alok Sharma , while talking about the finance-related issues like no dedicated credit delivery system, delay in sanctioning of loans, lesser bank branches etc for the SSI, emphasised overall infrastructural improvement and legal reforms.

Restructuring of the State Finance Corporations, effective monitoring of banks by the RBI and more specialised SSI bank branches are the need of the hour. Joint ventures should be promoted and the scope of technology upgradation and modernisation fund needs to be expanded. Awareness about IT and promoting its use in the small enterprises can substantially contribute to the industrial growth in the country, said he.
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Exports give relief to farmers
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Export of parboil rice in a big way from Punjab this year has provided a big relief to the beleaguered government procurement agencies and the farmers in the state which are sitting on a mountain of foodgrains which nobody seems to want in the country.

The Government of India has contracted for the export of 10 lakh tonnes of parboil rice to the Middle East and Africa this year. Almost the entire exports of this commodity are taking place from Punjab. In a rare display of coordination, teams of private traders, millers and FCI officials have come together informally. These informal teams go from place to place in the state to select paddy stocks which are then milled according to required specifications for exports.

“We have opened our stocks to inspection by traders,” said Mr V.K. Singh, Senior Regional Manager, Food Corporation of India, Punjab, in talk with TNS here today. “They can go and visit our godowns anywhere in the state to select the stocks they want to buy.” Contrary to apprehensions expressed earlier that the private traders may not evince much interest this year because of the easy availability of rice in the country and yet another bumper paddy crop in Punjab, private traders have so far purchased 13 lakh tonnes of paddy. And they continue to be still quite active in the market.

Most of the export activity is taking place in the districts of Ferozepore, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Amritsar where the units for parboil are located. In the rest of the state, rice milling units do not have facility for parboil rice. “I am sure that impressed by the profits being raked in by the parboil rice units in these four-five districts, a large number of units for parboil rice will come up all over the state next year”, said Mr Singh. “It requires quite a big investment. But the private traders will have to invest more and be quality conscious if they want to survive in the trade in future”.

Punjab has had a bumper crop of nearly 120 lakh MTs of paddy this year. Almost the whole of it is marketable surplus. So far, 96 lakh tonnes of paddy has been purchased by the government procurement agencies as against 78 lakh tonnes during the same period last year. FCI has purchased 21 lakh tonnes against 18 lakh tonnes during the same period last year.

The FCI has been assigned the target of procuring 30 per cent of the market arrivals of paddy. “But we have been able to procure only about 26 per cent of the arrivals because of our insistence of strict quality control”, says Mr V.K. Singh. “And I must say that the farmers too have risen to the occasion and are cooperating fully”.

Cleaners and sieves have come up in most of the mandis in the state where the paddy stocks are cleaned by the farmers before they are marketed by them. “All of the damaged paddy stocks and broken rice are being taken back by the farmers to their villages for feeding their farm animals”, says Mr Singh. “This is a new phenomenon which I feel augurs well for the state and its farmers. This will once again restore the prestige of the Punjab foodgrains which was seriously undermined when the government procurement agencies were forced to lift damaged grain stocks not conforming to specifications a few years ago”.

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HCL Tech net income inches up

New Delhi, October 23
HCL Technologies today reported a marginal 1.76 per cent rise in its net income (after non-cash charge and extraordinary provisions) for the first quarter ended September, 2001, at Rs 97.9 crore, as compared to Rs 96.2 crore in the same period previous year.

Company’s net income (non-cash charges and before extraordinary provisions) was up 20 per cent during the period to touch Rs 119.9 crore, from Rs 100.2 crore in July-September 2000.

During the quarter a total of Rs 24 crore has been provided towards doubtful debts and diminution in the value of investments.

HCL Tech’s gross revenues were at Rs 372.4 crore in the first quarter 2001, as compared to Rs 317.7 crore in the same period previous year, reflecting a year-on-year growth of 17 per cent.

Company’s earnings after tax was pegged at Rs 112.2 crore during the period from Rs 91.2 crore in the same period previous year.

HCL Tech’s Chairman, President and CEO Shiv Nadar said, “The recent acquisition in the banking and EAI practices, in line with our non-linear growth strategy, will start contributing to revenues from the second quarter and I am confident that we will achieve revenue target of Rs 1750 crore and Rs 575 crore net profit after provisioning for financial year 2001-02.”

Highlights of the quarter included addition of six new ‘fortune 500’ clients during the quarter, and total customer increased by 20 to 360 as on September 2001.

Some of the new clients which were acquired during the quarter include General Motors, Hitachi, World Bank, Motorola, and Seagate among others. PTI
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Wheat stocks worry Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The unscientific handling of wheat stocks worth Rs 11,000 crore piled up with different procuring agencies in Punjab has become a cause of concern.

Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Punjab, Co-operation Minister, stated this during a workshop on ‘Bulk Storage of Food Grains’, organised by Markfed here today.

In absence of adequate demand from other states it may take almost seven years for these stocks to be cleared. He emphasised the need for setting up of silos for proper storage. “Awareness, finance and government support are of extreme importance today “, he said.

Mr D.S. Bains, MD Markfed emphasised the need of bulk storage of food grains and a mechanical handling system which would help cut down losses estimated between 8-10 per cent . Silos which are used worldwide, will help preserve grain moisture and temperature control, he said.

These measures would increase free market availability of the food grains and in turn, reduce the prices.

Representatives from Punjab Agricultural University, AUSBULK of Australia, Robo Bank, Howe India , CWC, American Embassy, Reliance, ICICI, CEBECO, Railways, Adanis and Cargill India participated in the workshop. Mr S.S. Brar, Secretary Co-operation Punjab was also present.
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Samsonite sales fall 35 pc
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 23
With travellers rescheduling tours in the gory aftermath of the terrorist strikes in the USA, Samsonite is feeling the heat of dwindling sales which has made all year-end projections go haywire.

There was a 35 per cent drop in sales volumes in the USA alone on a day-to-day comparison with the figures of the previous year. In Asia a 31 per cent drop in sales volumes was recorded as an immediate fallout of the strikes in New York and Washington, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Samsonite Corporation, Heinz Tretter told The Tribune.

Mr Tretter, who was recently in India as part of his year worldwide visit to review business operations, however, said there were signs of recovery. There seems to be a slight recovery by at least one percentage point every day.

It will, however, take at least five months to reach the planned sales levels and by the sixth month (after September 11), the volumes should start compensating for the loss in business, he said.

India, where the company enjoys 18 per cent market share in the organised market, still continues to be a minor player in the global scheme of things for the corporation.

Samsonite is a 65:35 joint venture between Samsonite Corporation (the US parent) and the Tainwala group.

The company has a state-of-the-art fully integrated manufacturing facility in Nashik with a capacity of 40,000 pieces per annum and has been set up with an investment of Rs 70 crore. 
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HFC loans for cold storage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The Haryana Financial Corporation (HFC) has been brought under the purview of the Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme of the National Horticulture Board for construction of cold storages for horticulture produce.

While stating this here today, Managing Director of the corporation P.K. Gupta said the board had agreed to provide capital investment subsidy to borrowers of the corporation for construction of cold storage even if the corporation did not avail refinance from NABARD.

Capital investment subsidy at the rate of 25 per cent of the project cost would now be available to the entrepreneurs seeking financial assistance from the corporation for their projects, subject to a maximum of Rs 50 lakh per project. He said the corporation was providing financial assistance to the extent of Rs 5 crore in case of companies and Rs 2 crore in case of partnership and sole-proprietary firms. 
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CORPORATE NEWS

Ashok Leyland performs well

Chennai, October 23
Hinduja group flagship Ashok Leyland has reported improved performance in the second quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal with the net profit of the company during the period touching Rs 18.52 crore as against Rs 14.91 crore in the same period last fiscal.

According to figures released by the company here today, the company’s turnover also scaled upto Rs 637.46 crore during the quarter as against Rs 618.69 crore in the same period in 2001-01, registering an increase of three per cent.

Eicher Motors net up

Eicher Motors Limited (EML) today reported a minuscule jump in its net profits at Rs 7.27 crore for the half-year (April-September) ended September 30, 2001 as compared to Rs 6.76 crore for the same period last fiscal. The profit before tax recorded a quantum jump of 53 per cent at Rs 11.31 crore as against Rs 7.37 crore for the corresponding period last year.

Sesa Goa net falls

Sesa Goa Ltd has posted a higher net loss of Rs 8.27 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, 2001 as compared to a net loss of Rs 5.75 crore in the corresponding period last year.

Krishna Bank’s rights issue

Lord Krishna Bank will come up with a Rs 35 crore rights issue by December for increasing its capital base to Rs 100 crore. The bank also declared a dividend of 10 per cent to its shareholders. “The bank is expanding its net worth to more than Rs 100 crore and will come up with a rights issue of Rs 35 crore by December.” LKB Director A.K. Puri said.

OIL pays 140 crore

Oil India Limited (OIL) has paid a dividend of Rs 140 crores to the Union Government for the year 2000-01. The cheque for the aid dividend was handed over to Minister of Petroleum and natural Gas Ram Naik by Chairman and Managing Director of the company B. B. Sharma, today, an OIL release informed here today. Agencies

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SBP loan for doctors
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 23
The State Bank of Patiala has launched a new scheme known as the SBP-Medihome Flexi Scheme for granting loans to all qualified doctors in allopathy, homoeopathy and ayurvedic branches.

Loans will be granted for opening of clinic-cum-residences, nursing homes, specialty hospitals, dental clinics, radio-diagnostic centres and ambulances.

Under this scheme there will be no limit on the amount of the loan which is basically need- based. The rate of interest has been kept low and loans are repayable in three to 10 years.

No extra charges like processing fees, pre payment penalty are levied and interest is charged on reducing balance.

A function was organised to explain salient features of the scheme to the doctors where fresh loans to 12 doctors were distributed by Mr J.R. Devgan, General Manager (operations).
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UTI’s exposure to PSU selloff proves costly
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 23
Unit Trust of India’s exposure to government disinvestment in public sector units proved costly, according to documents released by the Department of Disinvestment.

UTI was the single largest institutional buyer of PSU disinvestment between 1991-95 with the value of PSUs shares divested in the mutual fund amounting to Rs 6403 crore.

Had the investment been made in a fixed deposit which gave a return of 9 per cent per annum compounded annually, it would have fetched UTI Rs 13109 crore as on date.

The notional profit in this case worked out to Rs 6706 crore.

However, the market operations of UTI yielded it a net profit of Rs 1650 crore on the PSU investments.
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Corporation Bank net up 31.29 pc

Mumbai, October 23
Corporation bank has posted a 31.29 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 93.24 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, 2001, compared to Rs 71.02 crore in same period of previous fiscal.

Total income in Q2 increased by 17.1 per cent at Rs 588.20 crore from Rs 502.15 crore in corresponding quarter of last year, Bank Chairman and Managing Director Cherian Varghese told newspersons here today. PTI
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BIZ BRIEFS

Andhra Bank
Chandigarh, October 23
Andhra Bank today opened its fully computerised branch at Karnal which was inaugurated by Mr Devinder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Karnal and the function was presided over by the Executive Director of Andhra Bank Mr C.R. Sharma. Mr A. Murlidhar, DGM of the bank, New Delhi Zone, was present on the occasion. The bank recently opened branches at Faridabad, Gurgaon and Panchkula. TNS

ICRA rating
Chandigarh, October 23
ICRA has assigned an LAAA to the Rs 500 crore bond programme of Infrastructure Development Finance Company Limited (IDFC). The rating indicates highest safety. ICRA has also retained the LAAA rating assigned to the earlier bound programme of Rs 500 crore. TNS

Mohan Clothing
Chandigarh, October 23
Mohan Clothing , the makers of Blackberrys, will shift its focus from suits and jackets to khakis, shirts, formal trousers and women wear, stated Mr Nikhil Mohan, Director Marketing in a press release. The company expects a turnover of at least Rs 45 crore by the end of this fiscal. TNS

Ventilating fans
Chandigarh, October 23
Newtek brand in ventilating fans segment introduces a new range of international quality premium ventilating fans. These space saving models are ideal for kitchens, restaurants, cabins, rooms, schools, departmental stores, shops etc. TNS

SBI trophies
Chandigarh, October 23
The Chief General Manager, State Bank of India, awarded CGM’s trophies to the top performers of the circle in the area of community services banking in consonance with bank’s objective of serving the community as a caring corporate citizen. the Chief General Manager, Mr Rajender Kakker, called upon the AGMs and Branch Managers to attach due importance to CSB activities in both banking as well non-banking.
TNS

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