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A-I profit, food quality nosedive
New Delhi, July 16
Air-India (A-I) has been making profit during the last three years though the provisional results for 2003-04 fiscal show a dip of nearly Rs 28 crore as compared to the previous financial year, the Lok Sabha was informed today. As per the provisional results, Air India will end fiscal 2003-04 with a profit of Rs 105.50 crore as against Rs 133.86 crore recorded in 2002-03, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said in a written reply

Ambuja raises Ropar plant capacity
Ropar, July 16
Suresh Neotia
Gujarat Ambuja Cements (GACL) today announced that it was investing Rs 200 crore for the expansion of its production facility near here by 1 million tonnes. The company, which commenced operations at the new unit in its fly-ash-based cement grinding plant, would now be able to produce 2.5 million tonnes of cement every year.

UK company apologises for ‘Om’
on footwear

London, July 16
A leading footwear company of London, which displayed the sacred ‘Om’ symbol on its sandals, has apologised to Hindus and withdrawn the sale of the product after the community members protested against the “insensitive” depiction.

Samsung Electronics employees walk past LCD monitors at the Samsung Electronics factory in Suwon Samsung Electronics employees walk past LCD monitors at the Samsung Electronics factory in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Friday. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co said its net profit for the second quarter almost tripled to 3.13 trillion won ($ 2.7 billion) from a year ago.
— AFP


A model displays a creation by Italian designer Michele Miglionico at the High Fashion 2004/2005 fall winter show in Rome on Thursday
A model displays a creation by Italian designer Michele Miglionico at the High Fashion 2004/2005 fall winter show in Rome on Thursday. — AP/PTI



EARLIER STORIES

 

IT round-up
Indian software and services exports log 20 pc growth

New Delhi, July 16
The software and services exports valued at Rs 55,510 crore in 2003-04, grew 20.4 per cent, while IT enabled services are estimated to have surged by a huge 54 per cent.

  • Xalted’s investment

  • Kaon Systems

Corporate news
Colgate Palmolive net surges 23 pc
Mumbai, July 16
Colgate Palmolive India Ltd today reported a 22.95 per cent rise in the net profit for the quarter ended June 30, 2004, at Rs 25.44 crore as against Rs 20.69 crore posted in the corresponding period last fiscal.

  • Jindal Stainless

  • SAIL sales grow

  • NDTV

Pharma sector
Pfizer’s $ 350-m Singapore plant to focus on anti-epilepsy drugs

Singapore, July 16
Pfizer Inc., the world’s biggest drug maker, opened its largest ingredients manufacturing plant in Asia here today and immediately announced plans to expand the $ 350 million- facility.

  • Zydus Cadila

In graphic: Passenger Earnings of Indian Railways

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A-I profit, food quality nosedive

New Delhi, July 16
Air-India (A-I) has been making profit during the last three years though the provisional results for 2003-04 fiscal show a dip of nearly Rs 28 crore as compared to the previous financial year, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

As per the provisional results, Air India will end fiscal 2003-04 with a profit of Rs 105.50 crore as against Rs 133.86 crore recorded in 2002-03, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said in a written reply.

The Minister said the decline in profit was due to cancellations and withdrawals during SARS outbreak, non-cooperation of pilots during April-May 2003, the Iraq war, increase in prices of Aviation Turbine Fuel and overall recessionary trend in the international market.

Mr Patel said A-I has already taken measures to generate more revenues which included dry leasing aircraft to increase frequencies on the existing routes and operating new service stations, implementing Automated Revenue Management System (ARMS), reducing staff strength at foreign destinations, banning recruitment except in operational areas, lowering retirement age and reducing agency commission from nine to seven per cent.

Government-owned flagship carriers Air-India (A-I) and Indian Airlines (IA) also came in for some flak today in Parliament over serving bad food to passengers on board.

Mr Praful Patel said 17 complaints were received by IA in the first half of current calendar year regarding poor quality of food. A total of 53 similar complaints were made by A-I passengers last year and 26 by IA passengers.

In 2002, 36 complaints of bad quality food were made against A-I compared to 67 in the previous year. For IA also, 36 complaints were registered in 2002.

“Caterers have been advised to take corrective action in all cases,” Mr Patel said in a written reply to Member of Parliament Bhartruhari Mahtab. In some cases, he said, they have also been penalised by blocking of part or full payment for the consignment. — PTI, UNI

IA launches non-metro sector service

In an apparent bid to have a head-start over the no-frill airlines in the country, Indian Airlines today launched its non-metro sector service where passengers would have to pay Rs 1000 plus some tax to fly to non-metro cities.

The offer comes for passengers travelling on non-metro sector in conjunction with a metro sector. Having flown on the metro route the passenger will have to pay just about Rs 1000 extra to fly on non-metro route.

Valid until October 15 this year, the scheme is aimed at shifting focus on the large untapped market of smaller cities and mini metros. — TNS
Top

 

Ambuja raises Ropar plant capacity
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 16
Gujarat Ambuja Cements (GACL) today announced that it was investing Rs 200 crore for the expansion of its production facility near here by 1 million tonnes.

The company, which commenced operations at the new unit in its fly-ash-based cement grinding plant, would now be able to produce 2.5 million tonnes of cement every year. The enhanced capacity was inaugurated by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today. Mr Suresh Neotia, Chairman, GACL, said, “With this round of capacity expansion, aimed at strengthening the company’s presence in the region, GACL’s production capacity now stands at 14.5 million tonnes per annum.”

In another related move, the company announced that it would also utilise 8 lakh tonnes of fly-ash annually, thereby becoming the first to utilise 100 per cent fly-ash generated by the Ropar thermal plant. Highlighting the company’s efforts in environment conservation, Mr Neotia said this was yet another environment-friendly move as, besides finding a useful application of fly-ash, a product of thermal power plants, it would also take care of the problem of its disposal.

Huge tracts of land currently used to dump fly-ash could be used for other purposes. According to independent estimates, over the past eight years GACL has prevented close to 200 acres in the region from turning into arid. "Market conditions are good.

With the interest rate remaining soft and the thrust of the government on infrastructure development both in the urban and rural areas, the demand for cement will go up and this augmented capacity will help meet the additional demand in the North Indian markets,” he said. Mr Neotia said the cement industry’s current favourite waste materials like industrial sludge, fly-ash and slag from steel plants could more than double the cement production without any additional expenditure. “Moreover, use of these by-products might end up cutting production cost by up to 20-25 per cent, which directly goes into the bottomline,” he explained. The company has a total of nine cement plants across the country, with two in Punjab, and both are fed on the fly-ash from the Ropar thermal plant and the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plants.

While the company’s market share at the national level is 12-13 per cent, the market share in Punjab and Haryana is 25 per cent and 17 per cent. Incidentally, the company is the third largest company in India, with an annual plant capacity of 14.5 million tonnes and revenue in excess of Rs 2,400 crore.
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UK company apologises for ‘Om’ on footwear

London, July 16
A leading footwear company of London, which displayed the sacred ‘Om’ symbol on its sandals, has apologised to Hindus and withdrawn the sale of the product after the community members protested against the “insensitive” depiction.

“I take this opportunity to apologise on behalf of Lacey’s Footwear for any offence or hurt the design on the sandal has caused to any member of the Hindu community,” Michael Ridgway of Lacey said in a statement here last night.

“We were completely unaware that the design could be read as a mirror image of the symbol, Om. However, in view of the serious nature of the Hindu Forum’s comments, we are acting immediately to withdraw this shoe from sale forthwith.”

Mr Ramesh Kalidai, Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain said: “The symbol represents a manifestation of God and it is considered deeply offensive for people to step on it with their foot.

“Hindus in Britain and around the world are shocked that a sacred symbol is being used in such an insensitive manner. Hence we immediately requested Lacey’s to withdraw the shoe and issue a public apology.” “One of our devotees spotted it at a shoe shop in the Shepherds Bush Market and immediately brought it to the attention of the Hindu Forum,” said Swami Nirliptananda, secretary of the London Sevashram Sangha. — PTI
Top

 

IT round-up
Indian software and services exports log 20 pc growth

New Delhi, July 16
The software and services exports valued at Rs 55,510 crore in 2003-04, grew 20.4 per cent, while IT enabled services are estimated to have surged by a huge 54 per cent.

According to the Annual Report of the Department of Information Technology (DIT) for 2003-04, the Indian software and services industry is expected to account for about 2.64 per cent of India’s GDP and 21.3 per cent of exports during 2003-04 and is projected to grow to seven per cent of India’s GDP and 35 per cent of exports by 2008.

During the same period, the Indian IT enabled services-Business Process Outsourcing (ITES-BPO) sector has also emerged as a key driver of growth for the Indian software and services industry. The IT enabled services-BPO Industry is estimated to have grown by about 54 per cent with export revenue of $ 3.6 billion during 2003-04, indicating that the sector is showing upward spiral growth on service lines like customer care, finance, HR, administration, billing and payment services.

Xalted’s investment

Broadband technology firm, Xalted Information Systems Pvt Ltd, will invest Rs 100 crore in the next 12 to 18 months to develop broadband applications in the country.

The Bangalore-based Xalted, funded and promoted by an American VC firm, Charter Venture Capital with about 500 employees has developed broadband applications like video streaming, interactive TV and the Internet on TV.

Kaon Systems

US-based technology developer Kaon Systems is in talks with the government and telcos Bharti, Reliance and Tata Telecom to develop alliances for deployment of Fourth Generation (4G) technologies that will enable India to develop broadband economy.

“Kaon is interested in pioneering WiMax Broadband OFMA-TDD opportunity in India with its partner STING Broadband and in close alignment with the government policies and industry organisations,” Kaon Systems CEO Vern Fotheringham told newspersons here.

STING Chairman and CEO Rabindra S Grewal said talks with most of the Indian carriers were underway. — Agencies
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Corporate news
Colgate Palmolive net surges 23 pc

Mumbai, July 16
Colgate Palmolive India Ltd today reported a 22.95 per cent rise in the net profit for the quarter ended June 30, 2004, at Rs 25.44 crore as against Rs 20.69 crore posted in the corresponding period last fiscal.

The board has recommended the first interim dividend of 15 per cent (Rs 1.50 per share) for the year ending March 31, 2005, payable on July 23, 2004, the company said.

The total income for the reporting quarter rose to Rs 248.23 crore as against Rs 235.02 crore in same period of 2003-04, it said.

Jindal Stainless

The board of Jindal Stainless has approved an investment of Rs 30 crore in a joint venture proposed to be set up with an Italian company christened “Jindal Stainless Steelways”.

Informing the BSE, Jindal Stainless said the Board of Directors at its meeting held on July 15, 2004, apart from approving the investment with an Italian company, also treated the two interim dividends making a total of 100 per cent already paid for the financial year ended March 31, 2004, as final dividend.

The company during the last fiscal (2003-04) gave first interim dividend at Rs 6 per equity share of Rs10 each and second interim dividend at 80 paise per share of Rs 2 each, making a total of 100 per cent dividend for the period.

The company has fixed September 21, 2004, to September 28, 2004, as book closure for the purpose of Annual General Meeting.

SAIL sales grow

SAIL has achieved highest-ever first quarter sales of finished steel in domestic market at 1.66 million tonnes.

This is a growth of 9 per cent over the same period last fiscal, the company said in a statement here.

The SAIL statement said the company reduced exports in April-June, 2004, period by 66 per cent over the corresponding period in 2003 to make higher volume of finished steel in the country.

NDTV

TV news broadcaster New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) today said its net profit for the first quarter ended June 30 stood at Rs 7.6 crore against a loss of Rs 20.5 crore in the same quarter last year. The company’s consolidated income in April-June quarter of this fiscal surged by 437 per cent to Rs 40.5 crore, NDTV added.
— PTI, UNI
Top

 

Pharma sector
Pfizer’s $ 350-m Singapore plant to focus on anti-epilepsy drugs

Singapore, July 16
Pfizer Inc., the world’s biggest drug maker, opened its largest ingredients manufacturing plant in Asia here today and immediately announced plans to expand the $ 350 million- facility.

The plant, built by subsidiary Pfizer Asia Pacific Ltd. over the past four years, will manufacture the active ingredients for two drugs — Neurontin and Lyrica — which are both used to treat epilepsy and pain.

Company executives said one of the ingredients, gabapentin, will be used to make Neurontin, a medicine that has annual sales revenues of $ 2.6 billion worldwide.

The other ingredient, pregabalin, will be used in Lyrica, which is expected to be approved by US regulators later this year and should also reach more than $ 1 billion in revenues after it hits the market.

However, Pfizer senior vice-president John Mitchell said the company had no plans to make sildenafil, the main ingredient for its best-selling anti-impotency drug Viagra, at the Singapore plant.

The Singapore facility, located on 22.23 acres of reclaimed land on the western edge of the island, would be dedicated to making ingredients for anti-epilepsy drugs, which are in high demand worldwide.

Zydus Cadila

After filing 12 abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) with the United States Food and Drug Administration, pharma major Zydus Cadila plans to launch nine medicines in the USA, the world’s largest generics market, next year.

“Of the total 12 ANDAs filed for finished dosage formulations, the company is planning to introduce nine drugs in the US in 2005, the market for which is estimated at $ 3.5 billion.

“The rest three drugs with an estimated market size of $ 3.9 billion will be launched after 2005,” Zydus Cadila said in a statement.

The company has already set up a subsidiary in the US, Zydus Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.

Cadila said its Moraiya plant for formulations manufacturing has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), which had inspected the plant in May last.

The FDA approval, which covers the plant’s tablet and hard gelatin capsule manufacturing facilities, will help the group export its products to the US, it added.
— Agencies
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Passenger Earnings of Indian Railways
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BRIEFLY

Inflation rises
New Delhi, July 16
Inflation continued to remain above 6 per cent, rising further to 6.16 per cent for the week ended July 3 mainly due to costlier aviation turbine fuel and manufactured items, including edible oils, despite government assurance that price rise would be “restrained”. — PTI

Internal debt
New Delhi, July 16
The internal debt of the country stood at Rs 11.34 lakh crore and the external debt at Rs 1.84 lakh crore as on March 31 this year, the Lok Sabha was informed today. Internal debt increased by 11.1 per cent in 2003-04 as compared with 11.8 per cent in the previous fiscal, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said during Question Hour.
— TNS

Bill on SEZs
New Delhi, July 16
The Union Government proposes to bring forward a legislation for Special Economic Zones to create a special investment climate and to attract substantial investment, the Lok Sabha was told today. The legislation for Special Economic Zones will cover all aspects of their establishment, operation and fiscal regime, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry E.V.K.S. Elangovan said in a written answer. — UNI

Birla Sun Life
Kolkata, July 16
Birla Sun Life Insurance, India’s second-largest private life insurer having a total premium income of more than Rs 15,000 crore, today announced the launch of two new open-ended health related products, including one exclusively for women. Christened as the “Critical Illness Plus Rider” and the “Woman First Plan” both the plans cover all the 17 major illnesses from cardiac arrest and Aorta graft surgery to end-stage lung disease and aplastic anaemia. — UNI

Pidilite brand
Mumbai, July 16
Pidilite Industries has acquired the Roffe/Roff brands and certain assets of the construction chemicals business for Rs 13 crore. The company has acquired Roffe/Roff brands, know-how and certain assets pertaining to construction chemicals business from Nitin L Jobanputra and Companies owned and/or controlled by him and his family members for consideration of Rs 13 crore, Pidilite said here. — PTI

ATM sharing
Mumbai, July 16
The State Bank of India has entered into an agreement with Indian Bank for bilateral sharing of their ATM networks. The SBI has a network of 4100 ATMs while Indian Bank has a network of 104 ATMs, it said in a statement. The agreement would come into effect from July 19, 2004. — PTI

GIC Housing
Mumbai, July 16
GIC Housing Finance has decided the price band of Rs15 to Rs18 per share on proposed rights issue of equity shares. Informing the BSE, the company said the board of directors at its meeting held on July 14, 2004, decided the price band on proposed rights issue of equity shares. — UNI

STC tie-up
New Delhi, July 16
Eyeing the Rs 28,000 crore personal products market, the State Trading Corporation today entered into a Rs 100 crore tie-up with India Household and Healthcare Ltd for import of LG Care personal products. — PTI
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