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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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B U S I N E S S

TCS opens confidently on debut day
Mr Ratan Tata, the chairman of Tata Group, India’s second-largest business conglomerate, attends a news conference in Mumbai on WednesdayMumbai, August 25
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) opened at a good premium to its IPO price when it was listed in the bourses on Wednesday.

In video (28k, 56k)


Mr Ratan Tata, the chairman of Tata Group, India’s second-largest business conglomerate, attends a news conference in Mumbai on Wednesday. Shares of India’s Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) jumped by a fifth in their market debut on Wednesday, as investors flocked to the leader of the nation’s $12.5 billion software services export industry. — Reuters photo

Major telecom operators avoid paying licence fees
New Delhi, August 25
Bharti Cellular, Bharti Mobile, MTNL and BSNL are among the operators that have not paid their telecom licence fees, Lok Sabha was informed today.

M. Anandan
M. Anandan

Cholamandalam targets Punjab
Chandigarh, August 25
Having captured a major market share in south India, Cholamandalam Financial Services Group, a pan-Indian composite financial services provider, plans to consolidate and expand its presence in the North, particularly Punjab, in the coming months.





EARLIER STORIES

 

Kuwait keen on investing in Indian refineries
New Delhi, August 25
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath flanked by Foreign Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabbah Al-Salem Al-Sabbah and Secretary General of GCC Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al Attiyah before signing the agreement on India-GCC framework on economic cooperation in New Delhi
Giving a boost to their commercial and economic ties, India and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) today signed a Framework Agreement on Economic Cooperation to explore the possibility of a Free Trade Area between them. The agreement was inked here by Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Mohammed Al-Sabbah Al-Salem Al Sabbah, the visiting Foreign Minister of Kuwait, who chairs the Council.
In video (28k, 56k)

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath (centre) flanked by Foreign Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabbah Al-Salem Al-Sabbah (left) and Secretary General of GCC Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al Attiyah (right) before signing the agreement on India-GCC framework on economic cooperation in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Court rejects caveat quash demand in Birla-Lodha case
Kolkata, August 25
The Calcutta High Court today ‘rejected’ the demand for quashing the caveat petition of the Birlas on Priyamvada Birla’s will bequeathing the MP Birla property worth Rs 5,000 crore to R.S.Lodha, her solicitor.

Ford’s Fusion soon
New Delhi, August 25
Ford Motor India has firmed up plans to launch ‘Fusion’ within the next three months as the prototype of the vehicle, a crossover between a car and an MUV, has been developed.

A Singapore Airlines plane flies past a row of jets at Singapore’s Changi Airport in this file photo. Boeing Co. has won a $3.7 billion aircraft order from Singapore Airlines Ltd. for 18 long-range 777s.
A Singapore Airlines plane flies past a row of jets at Singapore’s Changi Airport in this file photo. Boeing Co. has won a $3.7 billion aircraft order from Singapore Airlines Ltd. for 18 long-range 777s. 
— Reuters

Singapore needs babies
Singapore, August 25
Singapore announced a Singapore $ 300 million ($ 175 million) baby-boosting package today in hopes of reversing an alarming slide in its birth rate to record lows and countering rapid ageing of the population.

CORPORATE NEWS
ITC to merge its hotel arm

Mumbai, August 25
ITC Ltd is to merge ITC Hotels Ltd (ITCHL) and Ansal Hotels Ltd (AHL) with itself with effect from April 1, 2004. The board of ITC Ltd approved the amalgamation.

  • HCL Info

  • Eicher Motors

  • Star Group

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TCS opens confidently on debut day
Tribune News Service and PTI

Mumbai, August 25
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) opened at a good premium to its IPO price when it was listed in the bourses on Wednesday. The TCS initial public offering, which was priced at Rs 850 per share of Re 1 face value, opened at Rs 1076 at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

The first deal was contracted at Rs 1076 per share for 50 shares, according to the information put out by the BSE. At the National Stock Exchange, the TCS scrip was listed at Rs 1049.

The scrip, however, saw major volatility touching a high of Rs 1198 and a low of Rs 1020 soon after the listing. The stock closed at Rs 987.50 in the evening.

The TCS had been oversubscribed 7.5 times after more than 13 lakh applications were received. The valuation of construction baron Pallonji Mistry, who holds about 20 per cent of stake in Tata Sons, has been pegged at $1.7 billion. Tata Sons is the single largest shareholder of the TCS.

Tata group is looking beyond Indian shores to expand the companies under its fold, even as it has received a 20-year gas supply contract from the government of Bangladesh.

“We are planning to grow our companies across the globe and would be looking for both organic and inorganic growth,” Tata group Chairman Ratan N. Tata told reporters on the sidelines of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) listing on National Stock Exchange here today.

At present, the group has a presence in Nepal, Sri Lanka, the USA and Singapore, among other countries through its subsidiary companies, and Tatas would be looking at new geographies, including China.

Meanwhile, speaking on the 20-year oil contract in Bangladesh, Tata said the neighbouring country has confirmed the contract.

However, he did not divulge the financial aspects of the contract, but added that the details would emerge after his visit to Bangladesh next month.

Bangladesh had earlier agreed to guarantee a 20-year gas supply for a power plant, fertiliser factory and steel unit to be built by Tata group in that country.

The guarantee came after the Bangladesh government studied a proposed $2 billion investment by Tata, earlier this month.

On the proposed merger of Tata group information technology companies with TCS, he said it would be considered at a later stage.

“We will go for a merger only if it makes sense to TCS and other companies, and at present the group will concentrate on growing business in the right direction,” he said.

Tata also said that he was overwhelmed by the interest shown by individual investors for the TCS IPO.

Talking on the cut in steel prices by Tata Steel, he said that steel prices were ruling high and this has had a cascading effect on other industries in the country.

Justifying the slash in steel prices, Tata said most of the steel manufacturers were making “good profits” and this would not have a “great impact” on their revenues.

TCS Managing Director S. Ramadorai said the company would look at an overseas listing at a later stage. The company would also expand its presence in other countries, he added.

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Major telecom operators avoid paying licence fees

New Delhi, August 25
Bharti Cellular, Bharti Mobile, MTNL and BSNL are among the operators that have not paid their telecom licence fees, Lok Sabha was informed today.

According to the details given in a written reply by Minister of State for Communications and IT Shakeel Ahmad, BSNL and MTNL had not paid Rs 557.38 cr and Rs 293.87 cr respectively towards licence fees.

These include dues from basic service operations for MTNL and basic servcies, national long distance and VSAT in respect of BSNL.

Bharti Cellular and Bharti Mobile owed Rs 7.43 cr and Rs 3.19 cr respectively while Hexacom had dues to the tune of Rs 4.25 cr.

Idea Cellular had not paid Rs 3.02 cr, Reliance Telecom Rs 0.33 cr and Escotel Rs 2.86 crore.

The government today said that the BSNL was planning to launch International Long Distance (ILD) services but ruled out the state-owned telecom major’s foray into cable TV business.

The Minister of State for Communications Shakeel Ahmad said ILD services would be launched after signing an agreement with international carriers and establishment of required infrastructure.

In a separate development, telecom regulator Trai today released a consultation paper on community radio, which, inter alia, aims at obtaining structured inputs on issues like eligibility, licensing process, funding, regulation and monitoring for the segment.

The regulator said the consultation paper was aimed at expanding the ownership of community radio beyond educational institutions and providing a cost-effective means for empowering local communities and the same would be accepted till September 15. — PTI

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Cholamandalam targets Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
Having captured a major market share in south India, Cholamandalam Financial Services Group, a pan-Indian composite financial services provider, plans to consolidate and expand its presence in the North, particularly Punjab, in the coming months.

Talking to TNS, Mr M. Anandan, Managing Director of Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company Limited, said the company had registered a steady growth and recorded a 23 per cent growth in profit before tax ( PBT) for the quarter ended June 30, 2004. The PBT was Rs 14.02 crore as compared to Rs 11.42 crore for the same period during the previous year.

He said the company, which came into North only three years ago, already has a strong presence in the region with 26 locations, including six branches in the bigger cities of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. “We are trying to improve our market share and achieve a position of leadership as an integrated financial service provider.”

In Punjab, the company’s vehicle finance business has offices and franchises in nine locations offering finance for heavy and light commercial vehicles, MUVs, cars and cargo three-wheelers, having a customer base of over 5,000. “Disbursements for the last year stood at Rs 75 crore and is expected to cross Rs 100 crore, thus registering a growth of 30 per cent,” he added.

Cholamandalam AMC Ltd plans to strengthen its corporate sales in Chandigarh and Ludhiana this year by utilising the resources available in its Delhi office. Tie-ups with leading motor dealers, individual agents and insurance brokers are also part of the expansion plans.

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Kuwait keen on investing in Indian refineries

New Delhi, August 25
Giving a boost to their commercial and economic ties, India and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) today signed a Framework Agreement on Economic Cooperation to explore the possibility of a Free Trade Area between them.

The agreement was inked here by Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Mohammed Al-Sabbah Al-Salem Al Sabbah, the visiting Foreign Minister of Kuwait, who chairs the Council.

Mr Nath said the agreement would “act as a catalyst in our efforts to achieve closer commercial, economic and political relationship.”

Pointing to India’s traditional economic ties with the GCC comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, Mr Nath said the agreement had elements that would enable both trading partners to exploit opportunities to the maximum.

Kuwait, the world’s third largest oil producer, today said it was keen on investing in Indian refineries even as it plans to sell more crude to India.

“Kuwait is keen on investing in Indian refineries,” country’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Salem Al-Sabah told reports on the sidelines of signing of agreement.

Attributing the spike in international oil prices to speculation, he said Kuwait wanted to sell more of its crude oil to India.

Currently, India buys some 12 million tonnes of crude oil from Kuwait annually. — PTI

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Court rejects caveat quash demand in Birla-Lodha case
Subhrangshu Gupta

Kolkata, August 25
The Calcutta High Court today ‘rejected’ the demand for quashing the caveat petition of the Birlas on Priyamvada Birla’s will bequeathing the MP Birla property worth Rs 5,000 crore to R.S.Lodha, her solicitor.

Instead, the court decided that further hearings be held on the petition filed on behalf of R.S. Lodha against the caveat petition of the Birlas — K.K.Birla, B.K.Birla, G.P.Birla and Yasovardhana Birla — on two subsequent days on next Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

The court will also take up the petition of the Birlas for authenticating the two mutual wills prepared by M.P.Birla and his wife, Priyamvada Birla, on the succession of their property in 1981 which they had already submitted before the court

The Birlas will controversy today came up for hearing at the court of Justice K.J. Sengupta after a gap of a month to discuss on the caveat petitions filed by the Birlas and the probate petition of the Priyamvada Birla’s will. A large number of people mostly, lawyers and mediapersons, thronged inside court to listen to the hearings.

The court today appointed B.K.Birla and Mr Yosavardhga Birla the two executers of M.P.Birla and Ms Priyamvada Birla’s two separate wills, respectively, which were prepared by M.P.Birla and Ms Priyamvada Birla in 1981.

Mr Arun Jaitley, the BJP MP, appearing for the Birlas argued that M.P.Birla and Ms Priyamvada Birla had already prepared the mutual wills as back as 1981 — subsequently revised in 1982 which should be taken as true and authentic legal documents in disposing of the Birlas will controversy.

Hence, the will which R.S.Lodha, an outsider to the Birla clan, submitted to the court for probating with the claim that the entire M.P. Birlas property bequeathing him by Ms Priyamvada should be treated as an “unacceptable document.”

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Ford’s Fusion soon

New Delhi, August 25
Ford Motor India has firmed up plans to launch ‘Fusion’ within the next three months as the prototype of the vehicle, a crossover between a car and an MUV, has been developed.

The Vice-President (Marketing), Mr Vinay Piparsania, said the delivery of car to customers would begin in about 3-4 months. Asked about the price of Fusion, he said “we have not deliberated on the price yet”. Industry sources, however, said it would be priced between Rs 5-7 lakh.

Initially, the company plans to sell about 500 to 1,000 units.

The Fusion will hit the road soon after the launch of Hyundai Motor India’s premium compact car Getz, which is scheduled to make a debut next month. — PTI

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Singapore needs babies

Singapore, August 25
Singapore announced a Singapore $ 300 million ($ 175 million) baby-boosting package today in hopes of reversing an alarming slide in its birth rate to record lows and countering rapid ageing of the population.

Measures include bigger housing grants to encourage singles to marry, cash payments of up to S $ 18,000 if the baby is a third or fourth child, baby care subsidies, tax rebates for working mothers, longer maternity leave and more leave days for working parents.

Like many developed Western countries, Singapore is grappling with a fall in its birth rate to far below the 2.1 children per woman needed to replenish its population.

Baby making has become a national priority for the new Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong. The new measures will cost the government an estimated S $ 300 million a year, bringing its total expenditure on pro-family measures to about S $ 800 million a year. — Reuters

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Corporate News
ITC to merge its hotel arm

Mumbai, August 25
ITC Ltd is to merge ITC Hotels Ltd (ITCHL) and Ansal Hotels Ltd (AHL) with itself with effect from April 1, 2004. The board of ITC Ltd approved the amalgamation.

Under the merger scheme, ITCHL shareholders will receive three ordinary shares of Rs 10 each of ITC Ltd for every 25 equity shares of Rs 10 each of ITCHL held by them on such date as may be determined, the company informed the Stock Exchange here today.

The members of AHL will receive one ordinary share of Rs 10 each of ITC Ltd for every 150 shares of Rs 10 each of AHL held by them.

The board, which met today, however, decided against the amalgamation of its wholly-owned subsidiary Bay Islands Hotels Ltd, it added.

HCL Info

HCL Infosystems Ltd today said its net profit for the year ended June 30, 2004, increased by 96 per cent to Rs 120.9 crore as compared to Rs 61.73 crore in the previous year. The total income (net of excise) has decreased from Rs 1,579.67 crore in the FY-03 to Rs 1,438.82 crore in the year ended June 30, 2004. The company’s net profit rose by 26 per cent to Rs 29.67 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2004, as compared to Rs 23.47 crore for the same period a year before.

The group has posted a net profit of Rs 45.85 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2004, as compared to Rs 34.15 crore for same period in 2003.

Eicher Motors

The automobile major, Eicher Motors Limited (EML), a part of the Birla Group of Industries, will launch an environment-friendly Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) passenger bus within three months time.

Star Group

Star Group affiliate Asian Broadcasting FZ LLC (ABF) is to make an open offer to the shareholders of Balaji Telefilms Ltd (BTL) for acquiring a 20 per cent stake in the latter at a price of Rs 90 per share aggregating over Rs 117 crore payable in cash.

ABF is making an offer to the BTL shareholders to acquire up to 13,042,089 fully paid up equity shares of Rs 2 each, representing an 20 per cent of the post issue equity capital, manager to the offer DSP Merill Lynch informed Stock Exchange, Mumbai (BSE).

The offer opens on October 18 and closes on November 16, it said. — Agencies

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BRIEFLY

Lanka-BPCL deal
Colombo, August 25
Sri Lanka has said it will go ahead with its deal with the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) in oil retailing in the island nation despite opposition from the People’s Liberation Front. The Finance Minister, Mr Sarath Amunugama, said the BPCL was willing to pay $ 50 million for a 49 per cent stake in the third petroleum distribution company to be set up using assets of the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). — PTI

Anil Ambani
New Delhi, August 25
Mr Anil Ambani, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, has been adjudged the most admired chief executive in India. According to the ‘Opinion Poll 2004’ carried out by Business Barons, Mr Ambani is India’s most admired chief executive in the 2004 poll, leaving behind three-times winner, Mr N.R.Narayan Murthy, Mr Azim Premji and elder brother, Mr Mukesh Ambani. — PTI

McDonald’s
Manila, August 25
McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, won a 16-year legal battle in Philippines to stop local rival Big Mak Burger from marketing a burger with a similar name. The order reverses a November 1999 decision from the Court of Appeals, which found Big Mak Burger was not in violation and ordered McDonald’s to pay $ 33,906 in damages to the Philippine company. — Bloomberg

Philips mobile
Kochi, August 25
Philips India Limited, a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics, today launched their mobile ‘Philips 355,’ in the Kerala market. Mr Jitendra Jotwani, Business Manager, Wireless-South, Philips, said the new ‘Philips 355’ is unique in its category with a 65K colour display, integrated camera phone and priced at Rs 6,990. — PTI

Rs 50-note
New Delhi, August 25
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will shortly issue currency notes in the denomination of Rs 50 in the Mahatma Gandhi series. The notes, carrying the signature of RBI Governor, Mr Y.V. Reddy, will have only one change - inset letter ‘L’ in both numbering panels. — UNI

ICICI card
Mumbai, August 25
ICICI Bank today announced the launch of ICICI Bank Easy Deposit Card, a credit card which is available free for life with its fixed deposit account. With this card, one can earn attractive interest on the fixed deposit while enjoying the convenience of a credit card. — UNI

Crew BOS
Chandigarh, August 25
Crew BOS, an exports fashion accessories maker, is floating an IPO of 40,00,724 equity shares of Rs 10 each. The company that has set up a subsidiary in Italy named La Tatva proposes to enter the retail segment in India. — TNS
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