Thursday, December 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India






National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Oil rises as Russia ready to cut exports
London, December 5
Oil prices jumped on Wednesday after Russia caved in to OPEC demands for a big cut in its exports, which dealers said should be enough to trigger a global supply reduction from January 1.

Infosys to focus on web services
Bangalore, December 5
Infosys Technologies today indicated that web services and wireless would be its key focus areas for the coming months.

  • Bags US contract

HLL may spinoff seed trade
Mumbai, December 5
The Board of Hindustan Lever Ltd will meet on December 12 to consider a proposal to transfer company’s seed business to its subsidiary, Paras Extra Growth Seeds.

FM for more funds for infrastructure
New Delhi, December 5
Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today said the government was in favour of increasing the budgetary allocation to infrastructure even at the cost of an increased fiscal deficit, provided the expenditure was done in a productive way.

Zuari-Chambal eyes stake in Paradeep
Manpura (HP), December 5
The Zuari-Chambal group has evinced interest in acquiring 74 per cent government stake in Paradeep Phosphates and has given an expression of interest (EoI) to buy 51 per cent holding in NFL.

Oracle Corporation Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison gives the keynote address on the third day of the week-long Oracle Open World Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on Tuesday. Ellison told the audience about the new Oracle9i Database, the new version of Oracle's application server and database. — Reuters

India, Oman sign pact on urea project
New Delhi, December 5
India and Oman today signed the urea off-take agreement (UOTA) clearing the long pending Indo-Oman urea project with a capacity of 1.6 million tonnes.


The CEO of German sportscar maker Porsche AG, poses for the media at the driver’s seat of a Porsche 911 Targa prior to the annual news conference on the results for the last fiscal year, on Wednesday in Stuttgart, Germany.
The CEO of German sportscar maker Porsche AG, poses for the media at the driver’s seat of a Porsche 911 Targa prior to the annual news conference on the results for the last fiscal year, on Wednesday in Stuttgart, Germany.
— Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 

ROUND-UP


Julia Roberts and Madonna are the lone superstars to grace this year’s Hollywood Reporter list of the 50 most influential women in show business.
Julia Roberts and Madonna are the lone superstars to grace this year’s Hollywood Reporter list of the 50 most influential women in show business.
— Reuters


‘Goner’ computer worm on the prowl
WASHINGTON: Anti-virus companies have scrambled to protect their customers against a new virus-like e-mail attack that purports to be a computer screen-saver program.

  • Bank NPAs touch 150,000 cr mark
  • Ford Mondeo to hit market on Dec 17
  • LG tops list of adspender
  • Shell, GAIL eye Enron terminal



VIDEOS
The Engineering Construction and Contracts Division of Larsen and Toubro acquires works of artist "Dizi".
(28k, 56k)

Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran assures French investors that India is a safe place to invest.
(28k, 56k)

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Oil rises as Russia ready to cut exports

London, December 5
Oil prices jumped on Wednesday after Russia caved in to OPEC demands for a big cut in its exports, which dealers said should be enough to trigger a global supply reduction from January 1.

Brent blend crude oil rose 58 cents to $19.87 per barrel in early London trade. U.S. crude futures gained 70 cents to $20.27 per barrel.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov met with Russian oil companies on Wednesday morning and a government spokesman said the firms "consider it possible to carry out a deeper reduction in the export of oil, which will reach 150,000 barrels a day from January 1, 2002."

"This will be music to OPEC's ears," said Peter Gignoux, head of the energy desk a Schroder Salomon Smith Barney in London.

After weeks of uncertainty about Russia's position, OPEC officials indicated that this offer could open the way for their fourth output cut within a year to reverse a recent slide in prices. Kuwaiti Oil Minister Adel al-Subaih said: "Kuwait welcomes this decision. It will help a lot to reach a collective cuts deal."

But he added: "Non-OPEC has to put together 500,000 bpd."

OPEC had demanded that rival producers, including Russia, Norway and Mexico, cut 500,000 barrels from their daily production as a condition for OPEC slashing 1.5 million bpd from January.

Mexico had already offered to cut 100,000 bpd and Norway between 100,000-200,000 bpd depending on the size of the Russian curbs. Oslo is expected, at best, to match the Russian cut.

With Russia's offer, brokers said a deal now looked within reach.

"Russia's offer is the bare minimum that OPEC will accept. It is a realistic cut that OPEC is not likely to shun, especially if it means higher prices," said Lawrence Eagles of GNI Research.

Non-OPEC exporters will now wait for some more small cuts by other independent producers like Angola and Oman to reach the magic 500,000 bpd figure.

"Prices are already rallying to it and the rally is likely to go further," Eagles added.

Oil prices have dropped by a third since mid-September as producers failed to trim supplies enough to match a sharp slow-down in demand as a global recession bites.

But with a big supply cut from next month, just as the northern hemisphere enters its winter season of higher demand, some industry analysts believe prices could rise several dollars over the next few months. Reuters
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Infosys to focus on web services

Bangalore, December 5
Infosys Technologies today indicated that web services and wireless would be its key focus areas for the coming months.

Anchoring these initiatives would be Infosys’ SETLabs and the Mobility Research Group, respectively, the company said.

“Setlabs (Software Engineering and Technology Labs) in Infosys is working on a project codenamed “4Ge” which stands for fourth generation enterprises where an effort is being made to define what organisations will look like a decade from now,” the company said in a statement.

Subu Goparaju, head, SETLabs, said “we need to know exactly how the 4th generation enterprise will evolve. We will continue to track such emerging trends and the enabling technologies and leverage them for the business benefit of our clients”.

Deepak Padaki, Head, Mobility Research Group in Infosys, said technology acceleration and converging business were throwing up new challenges in the market place.

Service providers are looking for technology frameworks and business models to rapidly realise revenues from wireless data applications. These applications should have the potential to offer more than just the combination of mobility and availability of information from the Internet, he said.

Infosys said it will continue to leverage domain expertise in key technology areas for sustained growth.

Bags US contract

Infosys Technologies today announced that SunAmerica, a financial services company specialising in retirement savings, has contracted it to help transform its legacy policy administration system into a new web-based thin client J2ee compliant architecture.

Infosys will help SunAmerica in redesigning the output management systems and provide a MQ Series and JMS-based Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) solution, the company said in a statement here.

“The competition for this assignment was very tough, with many vendors initially contacted by SunAmerica. Infosys won this project based on our knowledge of the insurance business and our commitment to deliver on time and within budget”, Basab Pradhan, Regional Manager and Vice-President, Sales, Infosys Technologies (West North America) said.

SunAmerica is a leading financial services company specialising in retirement savings and a member of American International Group Inc. PTI
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HLL may spinoff seed trade

Mumbai, December 5
The Board of Hindustan Lever Ltd will meet on December 12 to consider a proposal to transfer company’s seed business to its subsidiary, Paras Extra Growth Seeds.

HLL informed the BSE today that it was in the process of identifying an appropriate technology partner for its seeds business and in the meanwhile it proposed to transfer the business undertaking on a “going concern” basis to its subsidiary.

Through the transfer, HLL’s seeds division would become a separate legal entity, allowing it to induct suitable parties who might add value through technology, marketing and product development as joint venture partners and thereby secure the long term future of the business, the company said.

The seed business with an annual estimated turnover of Rs 95 crore was engaged in production, marketing and distribution of a variety of hybrid seeds of cotton, maize, jowar, vegetables.

In the new globalised environment, the seed business requires a continuous infusion of contemporary international technology and knowhow. Since HLL’s parent, Unilever, was no longer in seeds research, the company’s seed business had no access to latest technologies.

HLL said to secure the long term future of the seed business, it was necessary to ensure uninterrupted flow of technology and knowhow from a technology partner under a technology collaboration agreement or an agreement. PTI
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FM for more funds for infrastructure
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today said the government was in favour of increasing the budgetary allocation to infrastructure even at the cost of an increased fiscal deficit, provided the expenditure was done in a productive way.

“I am even prepared to ignore the fiscal deficit and make more money available to the infrastructure sector if the expenditure is productive,” Mr Sinha said while speaking at the 74th Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.

The Finance Minister, however, hastened to add that the “government had its own limitations ( in increasing the budgetary allocation for infrastructure),” while adding that the government realised the importance of infrastructure as an essential ingredient for economic revival.

Pointing out that over Rs 60,000 crore had been allocated in last year’s Budget for key infrastructure sectors, he said that at this point of time, there was a need to give a major boost to the economy.

He urged the private sector players not to leave the task of pump-priming only to the government, pointing out that the interest rates were the lowest in the recent times.

Highlighting the need to ensure security of the country’s external sector which will prove to be the bedrock of the economy, the minister said that the easiest way a nation can be destablised today was by destablising its external sector.

Expressing satisfaction at the current economic situation of the country, he said the forex reserves were at comfortable levels and external debt was within reasonable limits.
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Zuari-Chambal eyes stake in Paradeep

Manpura (HP), December 5
The Zuari-Chambal group has evinced interest in acquiring 74 per cent government stake in Paradeep Phosphates and has given an expression of interest (EoI) to buy 51 per cent holding in NFL.

“We are interested in acquiring 74 per cent stake in Paradeep Phosphates. We have also given EoI for a 51 per cent stake, which the government intends to offload in NFL,” the Zuari Chambal group Chief Executive Officer H.S. Bawa told PTI on the sidelines of commissioning of ‘technituber’ facility.

The company was also interested in acquiring other fertiliser companies too, he said, but did not give details.

Outlining the strategy of the Rs 4,000 crore group, Bawa said “IT will also be the area of focus”.

The technituber facility has been developed by Chambal Agritech, a joint venture between the K.K. Birla group company Chamber Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd, and Australia-based Technico Pty. PTI
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India, Oman sign pact on urea project
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
India and Oman today signed the urea off-take agreement (UOTA) clearing the long pending Indo-Oman urea project with a capacity of 1.6 million tonnes.

Fertilizers Secretary Ashok Pahwa signed the agreement on behalf of the government in Oman.

Other agreements inked were the Ammonia Off-Take Agreement between IFFCO and OMIFCO, Gas Supply Agreement between the Government of the Sultanate of Oman (GOO) and OMIFCO and the related direct agreements with the lenders.

The Urea Off-Take Agreement will provide India with a reliable and long-term source of urea.

Under the agreement, of India and IFFCO will commit to buyback all Oman-Indian Fertilisers Company’s urea and surplus ammonia at pre-fixed prices for a 15 and 10-year period, respectively.

Under the Gas supply agreement, Oman GOO will supply gas to the project for 20 years, at fixed prices for the first 10 years and at a pre-agreed escalation for the remaining 10 years.

The initialling of these key agreements is a significant milestone for the project and will facilitate an early financial close.

OMFICO is a $ 969 million project company whose shareholders are Oman Oil Company (50 per cent), KRIBHCO (25 per cent) and IFFCO (25 per cent).

The project to produce 1.65 million metric tonnes of granulated urea and 0.25 million metric tonnes of surplus ammonia per year will be built by Snamprogetti of Italy and Technip of France.

The funding requirements will be met with $ 320 million of equity and $ 649 million of debt.
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ROUND-UP

‘Goner’ computer worm on the prowl

WASHINGTON: Anti-virus companies have scrambled to protect their customers against a new virus-like e-mail attack that purports to be a computer screen-saver program.

Security company McAfee reported that thousands of its clients had sent in copies of the worm, called Goner. An Internet worm has the ability to spread to other computers on its own. AP

Bank NPAs touch 150,000 cr mark

KOCHI: Bad debts or non-performing assets (NPA) of banks in India touched a new peak at Rs 150,000 crore, according to the All-India Bank Officers Confederation, an apex body of over 50 organisations representing bank officers.

Confederation vice-president P.V. Mathew told a news conference here today that the amount would further escalate, following the large-scale retirement of bank officers under VRS. UNI

Ford Mondeo to hit market on Dec 17

NEW DELHI: Ford Mondeo with several special features will be available for delivery through 20 dealer outlets from December 17. These cars with petrol and diesel options, will have a price tag of Rs 15.56 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, for the petrol version and Rs 16.79 lakh for the diesel version. UNI

LG tops list of adspender

NEW DELHI: The country’s biggest spender on advertising Hindustan Lever cut its adspend by 5.6 per cent to Rs 696.6 crore during 2000 while LG topped the list of companies which actually increased adspend during the year, by effecting a whopping 70 per cent hike of Rs 131.4 crore.

The list of top 25 spend hikers in 2000-01, ranked by the rupee-value raise in spending, was headed by LG, followed by Hyundai Motors, Godrej Industries, Gillette India and SmithKline Beecham. PTI

Shell, GAIL eye Enron terminal

NEW DELHI: Royal Dutch Shell has joined Gas Authority of India Ltd in the race for acquiring liquefied natural gas facilities of fallen energy group Enron Corp.

Shell India in a recent communication to Enron promoted Dabhol Power Company IDBI and the Power Ministry has expressed its interest in acquiring the 5.5 million tonne LNG import and regassification facilities being put up by Houston-based energy trader. PTI
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BIZ BRIEFS

IA aircraft
New Delhi, December 5
The much-awaited aircraft purchase plan of Indian Airlines to replace its ageing fleet was given the green signal by the National Carrier’s Board today. The Board, which met today, said revised financial bids from aircraft manufacturers — Boeing and Airbus Industries — should be obtained by December 21, sources stated, adding that in the initial phase, 20 planes could be bought to augment the fleet. UNI

Palwal sugar mill
Faridabad, December 4
The Cooperative Sugar Mill at Palwal town in the district has reportedly topped the recovery level in cane crushing so far in the current season in the state. According to a report, the average recovery in the Sugar Mill here so far had been 9.35 per cent while it touched a record 10 per cent on last Sunday. TNS

ABN Amro cards
MUMBAI, December 5
ABN Amro Bank will launch its credit and debit cards by the end of first quarter (January-March) of 2002 to boost its retail banking business. “The bank will have a national launch at end of first quarter of 2002 and expects to issue over five lakh cards in three to four years,” bank’s Senior Vice-President Romesh Sobti said here today. PTI

Subsidy due
Amritsar, December 5
The focal point industries association here has alleged that the industrial units have been awaiting the payment of subsidy amounting to more than Rs 450 crore in spite of the fact that sanctions have already been accorded. OC

ISO 9001
Jalandhar, December 5
Two city hospitals, Satyam Hospital and Trauma Centre and Tagore Heart Care and Research Centre, have been recommended for certification as per ISO 9001-2000 standard by the United Registrar of Systems, UK. TNS

Nestle dividend
Mumbai, December 5
The Board of Directors of Nestle India has declared a second interim dividend of Rs 10 per equity share for 2001 at their meeting held here today. This is proposed to be paid on/from December 20, 2001. UNI

HDFC MF
Mumbai, December 5
HDFC Mutual Fund has declared an annualised tax free dividend of 7 per cent of its liquid fund under its weekly dividend option. The per unit dividend for HDFC Liquid Fund under its re-investment plan is Rs 0.01342 for the week ended December 3. UNI

ICICI Info
Mumbai, December 5
ICICI Infotech Services has forged a strategic alliance with Korean software company IMS Systems for introducing latter’s core banking solution in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. PTI

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