Tuesday, October 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

B U S I N E S S

India to get 670 cr German assistance
New Delhi, October 29
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said today India’s concerns on implementation issues are legitimate but that should not stop them from supporting the next round of WTO Ministerial talks at Doha, beginning next month.

German chancellor Gerhard Schroder flanked by Sanjiv Goenka, president CII and Chirayu R Amin president FICCI at Indo-German economic relations seminar in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo

Smooth procurement of paddy in Punjab
Ludhiana, October 29
The procurement of paddy in Punjab has crossed the figure of more than 1 crore tonne this year. The state agencies did not face problem of storing the procured stocks except that some problem arose on the payment of procured stocks to the farmers during the past few days.

Wheat exports price to be fixed soon
New Delhi, October 29
The Centre will announce the price for wheat product exports within 10 days as the WTO compatibility had been nearly worked out, Food Minister Shanta Kumar said here today.




EARLIER STORIES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Simputer field trials by December
Bangalore, October 29
India’s “common man’s PC,” the simputer, will be ready for field trials by December when the state-run Bharat Electronics rolls out the first set of 150 hand-held devices.

HSIDC loans for commercial complexes
Panchkula, October 29
The Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation has decided to include commercial complexes in the purview of its term lending activity. Dr Harbakhsh Singh, Managing Director of the corporation, said here today that the decision had been taken to meet the persistent demand of a large number of entrepreneurs who were deviating into the real estate business in Haryana. 

Notification on ministries merger soon
New Delhi, October 29
The government will issue notification for merger of the Communication and IT Ministries in the next three to four days, a senior government official said today.

CORPORATE NEWS

Indal net profit jumps 10 pc at Rs 59.4 cr
Mumbai, October 29
Indal has posted a 10 per cent growth in the net profit at Rs 59.4 crore during the six-month period ended September, 2001. The company has attributed this rise in the profit to a higher turnover of Rs 678.5 crore, in spite of a recessionary pressure in the global as well as domestic economy and a rise in input costs.
  • Kinetic net up 13.2 pc
  • Indo-Gulf’s net soares
  • Videocon International
  • SSI’s revenues on the decline
  • EIH net drops
  • Raymond net rises
  • Eveready net falls
  • Shalimar Paints
  • Guj Ambuja Centre
  • Morepen net rises 15 PC
  • Sundaram Fastners net down

ROUND-UP

HCL ties up with British Telecom
New Delhi, October 29
HCL Technologies has formed a strategic alliance with British Telecom (BT) to provide contact centre services through the Apollo Contact Centre operated by British Telecom at Belfast, Northern Ireland.

  • Satyam to invest in MedBiquitous
  • GM sells Hughes Elect to US firm
  • Adopt flexible approach




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India to get 670 cr German assistance
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said today India’s concerns on implementation issues are legitimate but that should not stop them from supporting the next round of WTO Ministerial talks at Doha, beginning next month.

Speaking at a seminar on “Indo-German Economic Relations: Looking Ahead”, jointly organised by the CII and FICCI here, Mr Schroeder said “we should not do a mistake” of waiting for the implementation of the earlier WTO decisions for the launch of a new round. He appealed to India to adopt a “constructive attitude” at the conference.

Elaborating on Germany’s stand on the new round, Mr Schroeder said his country was concerned with protecting human rights and environment and therefore was in favour of widening the new round to include social dimensions.

While acknowledging India’s concern on the implementation issues and also the concern that the European Union could promote protectionism and deny free market access by bringing in social issues, the Chancellor assured that Germany would counter any such tendencies.

He reiterated that Germany was committed to reduce trade barriers to developing countries. Both Germany and India had identical concerns as far as implementation and anti-dumping issues were concerned and could enter into a positive and constructive dialogue to make the new round a success.

Referring to the terrorist attacks in the USA, he said these were aimed at shaking the confidence of investors, shareholders and other players of free economy.

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that terrorism does not prevail over economic development and cooperation. The concerns and uncertainty should not be allowed to grow into fears and efforts should be made to promote international cooperation in every way possible.

Meanwhile, India and Germany today signed four agreements for German assistance totalling Rs 670 crore.

The projects are the 140 MW Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC) Power project at Mathania village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan (DM 250 million), the national pulse polio programme (DM 20 million), import of fertiliser muriate of potash (DM 40 million) and rural water supply, sanitation and community participation programme (phase one), Rajasthan (DM 10 million).

The agreements were signed on the occasion of the visit of the German Chancellor.

Despite global recession, the bilateral trade has registered an increase of 10 per cent in the first six months.

India exported goods worth 2.7 billion DM in the first six months as compared to 2.3 billion DM during the same period in the previous year. Imports from Germany also registered an increase by 18.5 per cent from 1.94 billion DM to 2.3 billion DM.

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Smooth procurement of paddy in Punjab
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 29
The procurement of paddy in Punjab has crossed the figure of more than 1 crore tonne this year. The state agencies did not face problem of storing the procured stocks except that some problem arose on the payment of procured stocks to the farmers during the past few days.

Smooth procurement was reportedly made possible this year due to instructions given by the government to the procuring agencies that no lapses on their part would be tolerated, and that the government would not allow any harassment to the farmers.

In view of the approaching elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in February, the government had made elaborate arrangements for paddy procurement, including alternative arrangement for storing paddy stocks. Huge stocks of bardana (gunny bags) were acquired for the same.

The biggest favourable factor for smooth procurement were dry weather conditions during September and October, which did not create problems like damage to paddy and higher moisture and discolouring of the same. During the past few years, the state had been facing untimely rains, which had resulted in damage to the harvested and standing paddy crop and farmers had to suffer heavy losses.

There was stricter control on the use of combine harvester as these were allowed to harvest the crop from 10 pm to 6 pm. The unchecked use of combines results in glut in the mandis of paddy. Since there was no glut in the mandis, the mandi operations, including cleaning, bidding, filling and weighing and lifting, were handled without any hindrance. The alternative arrangements for the storage of procured paddy stocks saved official agencies and exploitation of farmers by rice millers.

There were very few reports of distress sale of paddy this year compared to previous years and farmers got the minimum support price of Rs 560 for grade A and Rs 530 per quintal for common variety of paddy. Even the distress sale was not less than Rs 400 per quintal. In the past it used to be between Rs 250 to 300 per quintal.

The procurement of 1,02,41,648 tonnes by different agencies has been as under: Food Supplies Department 11.60 lakh tonnes, Markfed-16.9 lakh tonnes, Punsup 16.84 lakh tonnes, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation — 14.46 lakh tonnes, Punjab Agro-Industries Corporations — 5.95 lakh tonnes and Food Corporation of India 22.62 lakh tonnes, respectively.

The total procurement by the agencies was 88,44,244 tonnes, while rice miller purchased 13.97 lakh tonnes which is about 13 per cent of the total arrivals. Rice millers have been purchasing up to 30 per cent of the total arrivals of paddy in the past. Rice mills in the past were making purchase at distress rates and officials of the Punjab Government claim that the concept of assuring minimum support price for paddy has been firmly established this year. The exploitation of farmers was not allowed by rice millers, they assert.

Lately, the procurement of paddy is running into trouble because of delay in making payment to the farmers for the procured stocks of paddy for the past 10 years.

The mandis are receiving about 1 lakh tonnes of paddy these days and the total will touch about 1.10 crore tonnes.
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Wheat exports price to be fixed soon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
The Centre will announce the price for wheat product exports within 10 days as the WTO compatibility had been nearly worked out, Food Minister Shanta Kumar said here today.

“Now it is for millers to work towards the end of achieving 2 million tonne export target and become a permanent feature in the international market,” Mr Shanta Kumar said at the inaugural day 61st annual general meeting of the Roller Flour Millers Federation here.

Also, “lustre lost crop” of the current season would be reduced by Rs 40 per quintal.

Retaining open market price for wheat for three months would ensure stability in wheat prices and increase offtake from government stocks.

To expedite sale of the current wheat crop which had lost its lustre because of premature heavy rains in the North, its ex-FCI price had been reduced by Rs 40 in all zones in the country.

At present under the OMSS the government was selling wheat at Rs 650/ql (North zone), Rs 695/ql (West), Rs 700/ql (East) and Rs 720/ql (South).

He also announced that a new foodgrain policy was being formulated to reduce state’s role in procurement to the minimum.

“A new foodgrain policy will be brought out soon to cope with the liberalised scenario in the economy and drastically reduce the expenditure of Rs 21,000 crore under the current dispensation,” he said.

One of the key proposals being considered was reducing the government’s role in fixing a minimum support price and doing away with the procurement.

The farmers could sell their produce at the open market price and the differential with MSP would be reimbursed by the government.
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Simputer field trials by December

Bangalore, October 29
India’s “common man’s PC,” the simputer, will be ready for field trials by December when the state-run Bharat Electronics rolls out the first set of 150 hand-held devices.

The number could surge with non-government organisations (NGOs) wanting to use it in micro banking and World Space radio and PicoPeta Simputers for a pilot education project in the tribal belt of Bastar in Chattisgarh.

“We have placed the orders for the components. Once they arrive at the end of November, we should be able to roll it out in two weeks,” N.N. Simha, General Manager (new projects) of Bharat Electronics, told IANS.

Added Vijay Chandru, Director of PicoPeta Simputers: “We are in discussions with the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka governments, which want to use it in some of their projects.

“But the hot topic is the micro banking sector among NGOs who want to use it for ledger keeping and other activities.”

PicoPeta Simputers is a start-up of four professors of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, who along with three technologists of Encore software, invented the hand-held device that is slightly larger than a palmtop but has 10 times the processing speed.

In 1998, the idea to produce a cheap, reliable IT device came up at a session to bridge the digital divide at the annual BangaloreIT.com fest. It took less than 18 months for the seven-member team to set up the Simputer Trust to produce the product.

The Linux-based device can operate in multiple languages, play MP3 files and can be used for e-mail as well as Internet browsing. It also has a text to speech capability. The simputer would cost Rs. 9,000 or $200. IANS
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HSIDC loans for commercial complexes
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 29
The Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC) has decided to include commercial complexes in the purview of its term lending activity.

Dr Harbakhsh Singh, Managing Director of the corporation, said here today that the decision had been taken to meet the persistent demand of a large number of entrepreneurs who were deviating into the real estate business in Haryana. The commercial complex under the scheme had been defined as a building for the purpose of market outlet, business centre, department store, corporate office, etc.

The term loan limit under the scheme has been fixed at Rs 10 crore with a minimum promoters’ contribution of 30 per cent and a debt equity ratio of not more than 1:1. The repayment period for this loan will be 8 years, including a moratorium of one and a half-year. The rate of interest applicable to this scheme will be the same as applicable to industrial units in the medium and large-scale sector.

To avail the loan the land on which the commercial complex is proposed to be constructed should be in the name of the company or its promoters and it could be mortgaged with the corporation.
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Notification on ministries merger soon

New Delhi, October 29
The government will issue notification for merger of the Communication and IT Ministries in the next three to four days, a senior government official said today.

“The notification will be issued in the next three to four days. We have already got all other required formalities in this regard, including obtaining Presidential assent and clearance from Cabinet Secretariat”, S. Lakshminarayan, Joint Secretary, IT Ministry, said at a FICCI seminar here.

Asked about the likely fallout of the merger on the staff strength of both ministries, he said, “Yes, there will be downsizing in due course of time.”

He, however, declined to comment on the specific time-frame or extent of downsizing.

The merged ministry is likely to have one consultative committee and an national advisory committee. There are two national advisory committees today, one for IT and one for telecom. PTI
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CORPORATE NEWS
Indal net profit jumps 10 pc at Rs 59.4 cr

Mumbai, October 29
Indal has posted a 10 per cent growth in the net profit at Rs 59.4 crore during the six-month period ended September, 2001.

The company has attributed this rise in the profit to a higher turnover of Rs 678.5 crore, in spite of a recessionary pressure in the global as well as domestic economy and a rise in input costs.

Higher output from most plants, better sales volumes and an improved performance in downstream businesses with a thrust on domestic sales and exports, have been the major contributors to the performance during the half-year ended September 30.

During the second quarter ended September 30, the net profit grew by 8 per cent at Rs 30.7 crore, while sales and income from operations went up by 4 per cent to Rs 342.6 crore.

The company’s chemicals, metal and power divisions operated at full capacity with a record production volume at Belgaum, Muri, Hirakud and Alupuram plants. Hot metal production rose to 15,096 tonnes and alumina production increased to 227,850 tonnes during the six-month period.

Kinetic net up 13.2 pc

Scooter maker Kinetic Motor Company said today its second quarter net profit has increased by 13.2 per cent even as sales dropped by 1.12 per cent.

The company has recorded a net profit of Rs 7.44 crore during the quarter ended September 30 as against Rs 6.57 crore in the year-ago quarter, according to the unaudited financial results released here.

Net sales have, however, declined to Rs 1,199.8 crore year-on-year from Rs 1,213.5 crore.

The Kinetic board of directors declared an interim dividend of 25 per cent at Rs 2.50 per share for the current financial year to its shareholders.

Indo-Gulf’s net soares

Indo Gulf Corporation Ltd, an Aditya Birla Group Company has posted a net profit of Rs 78.78 crore during the quarter ended September 30, 2001, registering an increase of Rs 20.13 crore as compared to Rs 58.65 crore recorded during the corresponding period last year.

According to an unaudited financial results declared by the company here today, total sales also shot up by Rs 162.16 crore to Rs 693.71 crore during the second quarter ended September 30, 2001, as compared to Rs 531.55 crore recorded in the corresponding period last year.

The company has posted a net profit of Rs 130.93 crore during the half-year ended September 30, 2001, showing an increase of Rs 28.94 crore from Rs 101.99 crore reported in the first half of previous year. UNI

Videocon International

Videocon International said today that it will raise Rs 450 crore through private placement of 4.5 crore equity shares of Rs 100 each within two-three months for the first phase of capacity expansion.

Videocon International Ltd (VIL) has been barred by the SEBI from accessing capital markets till April 2004. So, the company has obtained shareholder nod for raising funds via authorised capital expansion.

“We have decided to privately place equity shares of Videocon International to raise Rs 450 crore to fund the first phase of expansion. The issue will be made over the next two-three months, as soon as market conditions become conducive,” Chairman of Videocon International V.N. Dhoot said.

SSI’s revenues on the decline

SSI Ltd, a leading IT training and software technology company, is among the latest victims of the current slowdown in IT business with company’s revenues coming down to Rs 82.87 crore in the quarter ended on September 30 against Rs 101.53 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

However, SSI’s net profit during the quarter had gone up slightly to touch Rs 2.78 crore from Rs 2.76 crore registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

EIH net drops

EIH Ltd, the Oberoi Group company recorded a drop of 79.13 per cent in its net profit to Rs 1.73 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2001 compared to Rs 8.29 crore in the corresponding period last year.

The total income during the period stood at Rs 104.03 crore against Rs 119.29 crore in the same period last year. The earning per share remained nil against Rs 1.10 in the same period last year.

Raymond net rises

Raymond has posted a net profit of Rs 40.83 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, 2001, compared to net loss of Rs 15.17 crore in same period of previous fiscal.

Other income was, however, higher at Rs 6.55 crore compared to Rs 5.23 crore in Q2 of FY-01, he said.

Eveready net falls

Eveready Industries India registered a 49.77 per cent drop in its net profit to Rs 20.52 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, 2001 compared to Rs 40.86 crore during the corresponding period last year. The earning per share also declined to Rs 3.68 from Rs 7.33 in the same period last year.

Shalimar Paints

Shalimar Paints today announced a decline of 34.78 per cent in its net profit to Rs 23 lakh for the second quarter ended September 30, 2001 compared to Rs 31 lakh in the corresponding period last year. The total income for the period also dropped marginally to Rs 32.77 crore against Rs 33.55 crore in the same period last year.

Guj Ambuja Centre

The board of Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd (GACL) has proposed to buyback equity worth Rs 50 crore with a maximum share price of Rs 170 per share.

Morepen net rises 15 PC

Morepen Laboratories has earned a 15 per cent growth in the net profit and 13 per cent in revenue during the second quarter of the current fiscal.

While its net profit grew to Rs 23.81 crore from Rs 20.70 crore in the correponding period last year, revenue rose to Rs 119.17 crore from Rs 105.16 crore.

Sundaram Fastners net down

The net profit of the Chennai-based Sundaram Fastners Ltd during the quarter ended on September 29 last had come down to Rs 7.37 crore against Rs 9.61 crore in the same quarter last year.

According to figures released by the company here the total sales revenues including exports during the quarter, however, had gone up to Rs 102.80 crore from Rs 99.86 crore in the same quarter last year.

Export revenues during the quarter was lower at Rs 19.33 crore as against Rs 21.68 crore during the corresponding quarter of last year. Agencies
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ROUND-UP
HCL ties up with British Telecom

New Delhi, October 29
HCL Technologies has formed a strategic alliance with British Telecom (BT) to provide contact centre services through the Apollo Contact Centre operated by British Telecom at Belfast, Northern Ireland.

HCL Technologies, either directly or through its subsidiaries, will pay $11.5 million initially to acquire 90 per cent equity stake in Apollo Contact Centre with British Telecom holding the remaining 10 per cent. HCL Tech will acquire the 10 per cent holding from BT at the end of the third year for a sum of 1.2 million dollars.

This strategic alliance has guaranteed a revenue of $ 30.24 million over the next three years, according to Mr Shiv Nadar, Chairman and CEO, HCL Tech.

The 400 seat Apollo Contact Centre will be managed by HCL E Serve Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of HCL Technologies, providing IT-enabled services. UNI

Satyam to invest in MedBiquitous

HYDERABAD: Satyam Computer has joined forces with Johns Hopkins University, Johnson and Johnson Development Corporation and Medtronic to invest in MedBiquitous Services Inc. (Medbiquitous Services) aimed at improving healthcare worldwide using XML standards to build online communities.

Satyam’s initial investment will be $ 1 million for a 7 per cent stake in MedBiquitous Services with an option to increase it to $ 2.5 million for a 14 per cent stake. Satyam will have representation on the Board of MedBiquitous Services. Besides participating in the quity investment, Satyam will use its rightsourcing software development model, which involves onsite, offshore and offsite development with SEI CMM level 5 quality processes, to deliver best-of-breed solutions. UNI

GM sells Hughes Elect to US firm

New York
General Motors has sold its subsidiary Hughes Electronics, owner of satellite television company DirecTV, to US firm EchoStar for $ 25.8 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported, quoting sources close to the deal.

The General Motors Board of Directors approved the deal late yesterday, after Australian-born media Mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation withdrew its bid on Saturday, according to the newspaper’s website, www.wsj.com. AFP

Adopt flexible approach

Mumbai
Britain has asked India to adopt a ‘flexible approach’ for the WTO meet at Doha saying failure to arrive at a ‘consensus’ on the agenda for a new round will adversely affect its trade prospects and clout.

India has emerged as a strong voice in the international trading community and the WTO offers the country the best chance to exercise its influence to the full, British Ambassador to India Rob Young said here today. PTI

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BIZ BRIEFS

ST deposit
Hoshiarpur, October 29
Traders can deposit sales tax amount on the two days of every quarter in branches of the SBI after 8 a.m. in future. This was disclosed by Mr Tikshan Sud, Punjab Minister for Excise and Taxation, while addressing a meeting of traders and officers of the bank here yesterday. The bank branch here today opened its counters to receive the cash of sales tax at 8 a.m. It would also open its counter at 8 a.m. tomorrow. OC

SBP branch
Chandigarh, October 29
Mr S.C. Madan, AGM, State Bank of Patiala, Jalandhar today inaugurated its 325th full computerisation branch at Mukerian. He said that the bank purpose to computerise all its branches by March 2003. TNS

L&T branch
Yamunanagar, October 29
L&T John Deere Limited opened its first branch of Haryana in Yamunanagar. It was inaugurated yesterday by Mr Klaus Ramsauer Chief Executive Officer of L&T John Deere company of U.S.A. OC

Versa launched
Jalandhar, October 29
Versa of Maruti Udyog was launched at Lovely Autos here today. Mr Ramesh Mittal, Managing Director of the Lovely Autos said the new model characteristics to ensure smooth driving, spacious interiors, besides special arrangements for safety of the passengers. OC

Hafed
Chandigarh, October 29
With a view to avoid exploitation of mustard seed growers, Hafed procured a record quantity of 36,030 metric tonnes of mustard seed on support price during the current year, an official release said here today. TNS

Syndicate Bank
Hyderabad, October 29
The operating profit of Syndicate Bank for the first quarter of the current financial year rose to Rs 181.44 crore from Rs 155.75 crore for the corresponding period of the previous year, recording a growth of 16.49 per cent. The net profit of the bank increased from Rs 126.33 crore to Rs 128.14 crore. PTI
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