Thursday, December 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Industrial growth dips to 1.9 pc
New Delhi, December 12

Industrial growth continued to be low at 1.9 per cent during October this year compared to an impressive growth of 6.8 per cent in the same month last year, mainly due to dismal performance of the manufacturing sector.

Daewoo sales dip 75 pc, loss mounts
New Delhi, December 12

The current slowdown in the domestic car market has badly hit beleagured Daewoo Motors India whose sales dipped by 75 per cent, resulting in Rs 213 crore net loss during the first half this fiscal.

Govt for 100 pc FDI in integrated townships
New Delhi, December 12

The government is considering allowing 100 per cent FDI in integrated townships of less than 100 acres, Ananth Kumar said today. "We have forwarded the proposal. It is now with the Finance and Law Ministeries for vetting. We expect a decision on the same in the next 15-20 days," he said at the inauguration of Infranet 2001 here.

Reliance to buy DPC stake through BSES
Kolkata, December 12

Reliance Power said today that it was not in the race for buying out the Enron stake in troubled-Dabhol Power Corporation, put on the block following a severe payments crisis.

J.P. Morgan sues Enron for $ 2.1 bn
New York, December 12

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. one of Enron Corp.’s biggest creditors, has filed a $ 2.1 billion lawsuit against the troubled energy trader, in a move to protect some money it loaned.



EARLIER STORIES
 

Page Modi for baby-sitting 
Chandigarh, December 12
When mobile phone service providers (both WLL and cellular) fight, it’s the paging industry that gets trampled. This is what has been happening in Chandigarh. But now paging companies too are gearing up to meet the challenge.

Haryana to focus on prawn cultivation
Chandigarh, December 12
With a view to promoting diversification in agriculture, Haryana is eyeing a share in the global market for prawns. The state Department of Fisheries will forward the proposal regarding cultivation of fresh-water prawns in the state to the Planning Commission.

CORPORATE NEWS

HLL nod for transfer of seed trade business
Mumbai, December 12
The Board of Hindustan Lever Ltd today granted an in-principle approval for transfer of its seeds business to Paras Extra Growth Seeds Ltd, a subsidiary, on a “going-concern” basis.

  • ABB to issue shares

  • IOC to sell Indo Mobil stake

  • Approval for Tata-BP

  • Sandvik AB makes offer

  • ICICI not to up stake

ROUND-UP

MTNL to enter cable TV segment
New Delhi, December 12

MTNL will enter the cable television segment in collaboration with Prasar Bharati to provide multimedia facilities by using state-of-the-art technology. Minister of State for Communications Tapan Sikdar told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that on getting the licence, MTNL would be in a good position to use its optic fibre and high end cooper cable distribution systems along with ATM switches. 

  • Computers with 3-D vision!

  • Pathnet sets up lab in Gurgaon

  • Fed cuts US interest ratesTop







 

Industrial growth dips to 1.9 pc

New Delhi, December 12
Industrial growth continued to be low at 1.9 per cent during October this year compared to an impressive growth of 6.8 per cent in the same month last year, mainly due to dismal performance of the manufacturing sector.

According to quick estimates of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) released by the Central Statistical Organisation, the manufacturing sector growth plummeted to 2.2 per cent in October against 6.2 per cent in the same period last year.

The cumulative growth (April-October, 2001) remained subdued at 2.2 per cent as against 5.9 per cent during the first seven months last fiscal.

The industry has recorded a growth of 1.6 per cent in September this year.

According to the figures, the mining sector recorded a growth of 2.4 per cent in October this year, compared to 6.6 per cent in same month last year.

Cumulative growth in this sector stood at 0.5 per cent, much lower than 4.2 per cent growth during April-October last year.

The power sector, after registering an impressive 4.1 per cent growth in September this year, dipped to 0.6 per cent in October as against 11.5 per cent growth in the same month last year.

However, seven month performance of the electricity sector recorded a growth of 2.6 per cent compared to 4.6 per cent last year, CSO release said.

Defying the trend consumer durables registered a growth of 28 per cent in October compared to 15.2 per cent in the year-ago month. Cumulative growth, however, declined to 14.4 per cent from 19 per cent during the year-on-year period.

Basic goods recorded a massive decline to 0.7 per cent during the reference month over 8.8 per cent in the same month last year. But during the first seven months of this fiscal, basic goods dipped to 1.9 per cent from the 5.2 per cent growth of April-October 2000-01.

Capital goods registered negative growth of 0.2 per cent in the month under review over 2.1 per cent in October last year. Cumulative growth also slid into negative territory to 6.6 per cent from 3.9 per cent. In the category of intermediary goods, the performance remained dismal and the sector registered a growth of 1 per cent from 3.3 per cent during the period under consideration.

The cumulative growth, too, declined to 2.6 per cent in April-October this year from 5 per cent in the same period last year.

Mirroring the trend, the consumer goods segment posted a lower growth of 5.2 per cent in October, 2001, from 9.8 per cent in the same month last year and the cumulative growth also remained low at 5.3 per cent as against 8.3 per cent, CSO added. PTI
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Daewoo sales dip 75 pc, loss mounts

New Delhi, December 12
The current slowdown in the domestic car market has badly hit beleagured Daewoo Motors India whose sales dipped by 75 per cent, resulting in Rs 213 crore net loss during the first half this fiscal.

The car maker, which is witnessing declining sales after bankruptcy of its parent Daewoo Motor Co of South Korea in November 2000, saw its net losses accumulate by 30 per cent from Rs 163 crore during April-September 2000-01, sources said here today.

When contacted, Daewoo India officials declined to comment on the financial results.

The Rs 213 crore loss was more than the rs 196 crore loss incurred by the company during fiscal 2001.

Net sales went down 75 per cent to Rs 158 crore year-on -year from Rs 641 crore, the sources said adding the unaudited results were taken on record in a recent board meeting.

Daewoo India’s gross loss almost doubled to Rs 109 crore from Rs 54 crore.

The net loss would have been higher had the company not reduced its depreciation provisions to Rs 104 crore from Rs 109 crore in first half last fiscal, the sources said.

Daewoo India is 91.6 per cent owned by Daewoo Corp., the parent of Daewoo Motor Korea. The remaining stake is held by domestic financial institutions and public.

For the second quarter ended September 30, 2001, the company’s net loss increased 17 per cent to Rs 121 crore from Rs 103 crore in the year-ago quarter, same as recorded during the April-June quarter. PTI
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Govt for 100 pc FDI in integrated townships

New Delhi, December 12
The government is considering allowing 100 per cent FDI in integrated townships of less than 100 acres, Ananth Kumar said today.

"We have forwarded the proposal. It is now with the Finance and Law Ministeries for vetting. We expect a decision on the same in the next 15-20 days," he said at the inauguration of Infranet 2001 here.

At present 100 per cent FDI, through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board route, is permitted in development of integrated townships of over 100 acres area.

Kumar said 100 per cent FDI would be permitted for housing if they part of the integrated township.

The minister said the Centre has asked states to rationalise registration fee and stamp duty on building activities. "We are seeking reduction in registration fee and stamp duty from the present 15 per cent to 3-5 per cent."

A national summit chaired by Atal Bihari Vajapyee would seek to develop a consensus on the issue and also on repealing urban land ceiling act and implementation of model Rent Control Act, he said.

Ananth Kumar said that "these measures would give a tremendous fillip to building and construction activity in the country."

Kumar said the Centre would also pursue states to rationalise property tax rates as has been done in patna where property tax rates have been slashed one third but revenue collection on that head has increased 10 folds. PTI
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Reliance to buy DPC stake through BSES

Kolkata, December 12
Reliance Power said today that it was not in the race for buying out the Enron stake in troubled-Dabhol Power Corporation (DPC), put on the block following a severe payments crisis.

The company would prefer to go through BSES, one of the two companies to have expressed interest in buying out the Enron stake in Dabhol, Chairman of Reliance Power D.V. Kapur told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar here.

Kapur, a former union Power Secretary, said the Reliance group was more keen to concentrate on BSES, for which Rs 800 crore had been spent in picking up more than 30 per cent stake in the company.

“Reliance is more interested in the success of BSES,” Kapur said. PTI
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J.P. Morgan sues Enron for $ 2.1 bn

New York, December 12
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. one of Enron Corp.’s biggest creditors, has filed a $ 2.1 billion lawsuit against the troubled energy trader, in a move to protect some money it loaned.

The New York-based bank — which until now has been an Enron ally even after the company revealed a string of questionable financial transactions and filed for bankruptcy protection — claimed rights in a suit filed yesterday in the US bankruptcy court in New York to Enron assets such as accounts receivables, commercial paper, cash, and other property.

“It sounds like they are trying to get some of their money back,” said Andre Meade, an analyst at Commerzbank.

The suit comes the day before the first formal meeting of Enron’s largest unsecured creditors at New York’s Hilton Hotel, which is expected to be a heated exchange. Enron is the largest bankruptcy in US history and has drawn widespread attention.

Enron spokesman Vance Meyer said he had not seen the suit yet so could not comment.

While the suit, over complex securitisations of Enron’s accounts receivables, appeared confrontational, J.P. Morgan was interested in safeguarding its money and seeing the books and investments related to a group, Sequoia Financial Assets, that securitised Enron bills, one J.P. Morgan source said.

Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan each have hundreds of million dollars of exposure to Enron. They also are trying to line up investors to participate in a $ 1.5 billion loan to help Enron run its business while it reorganises. Citigroup was not immediately available to comment on J.P. Morgan’s suit.

J.P. Morgan said its exposure as a lead agent in transactions that securitised Enron’s receivables is under $100 million. The total value of the assets in question, which also involve other banks like Bank of America Corp. And FleetBoston Financial Corp. Unit Fleet National, is $ 2.1 billion the suit said.

J.P. Morgan said last month it has around $ 500 million of unsecured exposure to Enron entities, including loans, letters of credits and derivatives. It has additional secured exposures, including $ 400 million in loans backed by the Transwestern and Northern natural pipelines.
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Page Modi for baby-sitting 
Peeyush Agnihotri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
When mobile phone service providers (both WLL and cellular) fight, it’s the paging industry that gets trampled. This is what has been happening in Chandigarh. But now paging companies too are gearing up to meet the challenge.

To check the fall in revenue, Modi Telecom, a pager company, is toying with the idea of baby-sitting, fixing leaking taps and burnt fuses and even booking cinema tickets for you. “The service, billed Facilities Unlimited, which is primarily targeted at working couples in Chandigarh and its satellite towns has already been launched on a trial basis and will be formally launched within a couple of days,” J. Sam Nicholas, Assistant General Manager of the company told The Tribune.

Due to come in two categories, premium and standard that will cost Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,800, respectively, these services have been launched as a diversification strategy by Modi Telecom.

Facilities Unlimited will take care of payment of school fees, repair of basic household plumbing, electric installation repair, gardening services at home, booking of train and cinema tickets and repair and maintenance of computers, besides other mundane daily chores that may sap up a lot of time, money and energy of working couples.

As an extra benefit for members, the company is planning to give special discounts for a tourist resort and a personal accident insurance of Rs 1 lakh.

When asked to comment on the steep fall in the revenues of paging services as an industry, Nicholas agreed that there had been a 20 per cent fall in business revenue as compared to the previous year. “The unfortunate part is that no one is realising that pagers can be used to give complete messages also,” he said and added that they are now targeting the worker segment of the society, like carpenters, electricians and drivers, where only orders have to be given and no discussion is required.

“The future for paging service is that it might survive as a complementary service to WLL and mobiles,” Nicholas commented and added that they are also planning to educate the masses about the benefits of pagers.
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Haryana to focus on prawn cultivation
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
With a view to promoting diversification in agriculture, Haryana is eyeing a share in the global market for prawns. The state Department of Fisheries will forward the proposal regarding cultivation of fresh-water prawns in the state to the Planning Commission.

According to official sources, the plan relating to the said project will be discussed with the members of the Planning Commission who are visiting Yamunanagar tomorrow to assess development activities in the state relating to horticulture and fisheries etc.

"The export of fish is almost one-third of the total agricultural export from the country. The focus on this area is likely to fetch substantial revenue inflow to the state from domestic as well as foreign markets", an official said.

Earlier, trial farming was undertaken in Yamunanagar, Sonepat, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Sirsa and Hisar. "Good results have been received in a few places where the production was as high as one tonne per hectare which is at par with that of the coastal states. These states already have the right climate and other facilities for this purpose," the official stated, adding : "Realising the potential that fish cultivation holds in this region, we drafted the plan which will shortly be implemented."

"The farmers in this region have not been into fresh-water prawn cultivation, so we decided to provide them incentives for the purpose. Earlier, there were problems, like those relating to the procurement of seed and feed even in the coastal areas . Now this has been solved and it will also help us to implement the project more effectively," he said.

To begin with, around 50 hectares will be brought under cultivation during the first year which will later be increased to 150 hectares within two to three years which will involve around 200 farmers.

The Fisheries Department will identify farmers who can also avail finance from the banks. The department will also construct ponds for the cultivation of prawns and fish. 
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CORPORATE NEWS

HLL nod for transfer of seed trade business

Mumbai, December 12
The Board of Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) today granted an in-principle approval for transfer of its seeds business to Paras Extra Growth Seeds Ltd, a subsidiary, on a “going-concern” basis.

The proposed transfer would take place by way of a transitory measure to segregate the company’s seeds business into a separate entity, so that as and when HLL is able to identify a suitable technology partner, a joint venture could be entered into in securing long-term business at the hands of the technology partner, HLL said here.

ABB to issue shares

The Board of Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) will consider a proposal at a meeting on December 19 to issue equity and preference shares to Introl India, ABB Lenzohm Services, ABB Analytical Services and ABB Instrumentation.

The proposal is to allot 9.63 equity shares (Rs 10 each) of Rs 9.63 crore and 7.5 lakh 10-year cumulative shares (of Rs 100 each) of Rs 7.5 crore carrying 11 per cent interest rate per annum as part of proposal to merge these four companies with itself, ABB said today.

IOC to sell Indo Mobil stake

Indianoil Corporation Ltd will divesting its entire equity holding in Indo Mobil Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture company promoted by Indian Oil and Mobil Petroleum Corporation Inc, the USA.

The jv company was incorporated on March 4, 1994, to import, blend and market, Mobil branded lubricants in India, Nepal and Bhutan. The equity holding of Indian Oil in joint venture company is 50 per cent, while the remaining 50 per cent is held by Mobil Petroleum, the USA.

The transfer of equity held by Indian Oil in Indo Mobil Pvt. Ltd in favour of Mobil will be effected for a consideration of Rs 22 crore.

Approval for Tata-BP

Shareholders of Castrol India at meeting held on December 10, have approved the scheme of amalgamation of Tata-BP Lubricants India Ltd with the company.

This meeting was held as per the direction of the High Court of Judicature at Mumbai.

Sandvik AB makes offer

Swedish engineering group, Sandvik AB, is making an open offer to acquire 10.7 per cent equity in its Indian subsidiary, Sandvik Asia Ltd (SAL), at a price of Rs 850 per share (Rs 100 per share), payable in cash.

The Swedish giant, along with its associate companies, at present holds 88.91 per cent of the paid up equity share capital in the Pune-based company.

In a notice to the BSE, the parent company said it would acquire 2,12,960 full paid up equity shares of Rs 100 each and accordingly de-list itself from the bourses.

ICICI not to up stake

ICICI is unlikely to hike its stake in South India Bank (SIB) from the present 12.24 per cent before completing its universal banking exercise.

“ICICI is the single largest shareholder in SIB with a stake of 12.24 per cent. There is no plan for the FI to hike its stake in the bank,” SIB Chairman A Sethumadhavan told PTI here today. Agencies
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ROUND-UP

MTNL to enter cable TV segment

New Delhi, December 12
MTNL will enter the cable television segment in collaboration with Prasar Bharati to provide multimedia facilities by using state-of-the-art technology.

Minister of State for Communications Tapan Sikdar told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that on getting the licence, MTNL would be in a good position to use its optic fibre and high end cooper cable distribution systems along with ATM switches. UNI

Computers with 3-D vision!

San Francisco: Researchers at computer chip maker Intel have released free software that allows computers to “see” in three dimensions.

The software gives computers the ability to recognise depth as well as objects on a flat surface, the world’s largest computer chip maker announced yesterday.

Future computer capabilities, such as the ability to recognise gestures and facial features, could flow from the software. AFP

Pathnet sets up lab in Gurgaon

New Delhi: Australia’s Gribbles Group and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories of Hyderabad have formed a 51:49 equity joint venture, Pathnet India Pvt Ltd, to develop 28 laboratories and 300 collection centres in India over the next three years at a cost of $ 25 million. The operations commenced on December 3, 2001 at a laboratory in Gurgaon, with 25 collection centres throughout Delhi. UNI

Fed cuts US interest rates

Washington: The Federal Reserve cut US interest rates a quarter percentage point extending one of the most aggressive rate-cutting campaigns in its history as it tries to lift the economy out of recession. Reuters
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BIZ BRIEFS

Indo-US pact
New Delhi, December 12
The US Agency for International Development and the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance today signed a MoU, launching India’s participation in the South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Cooperation and Development (SARI/Energy). SARI/Energy promotes mutually beneficial energy linkages among India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives. TNS

SBI gold card
Chandigarh, December 12
Rajendra Kakker, Chief General Manager, SBI, Chandigarh circle, today launched the bank’s new product “kisan gold card scheme” at its ADB Indri and Grain Market branches in Karnal. As many as 205 cards worth Rs 2.65 crore were issued. TNS

BSNL connections
Jalandhar, December 12
BSNL has decided to provide telephone connections on demand basis to the subscribers in the city from April, 2002. The General Manager (Telecom), Mr K.C. Jindal, said the work on the installation of nine new exchanges having a total capacity of 17,000 lines would be completed by the end of December. OC

Scheme extended
New Delhi, December 12
Bank of Punjab is extending its festival offer of reduced interest rates on home loans by 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent along with other attractions like “no processing fee scheme” and “no guarantors for salaried class” till December, 2001. TNS

UK speakers
New Delhi, December 12
Wharfedale International, a UK-based loud speaker manufacturer, will launch its range of hi-end speakers next month in India viewing the huge potential for home entertainment products in the music industry. PTI

Hafed rice mill
Chandigarh, December 12
Mr Om Prakash Chautala will lay the foundation stone of Hafed Rice Mill and Storage complex at Rania and Hafed storage complex at Ramnagania in Sira district tomorrow. The mill will be constructed at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore and start functioning by December next year. TNS
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