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Govt under pressure to cut oil duties
New Delhi, February 2
With the mounting losses of oil marketing companies, which include over Rs 1,000 crore for HPCL alone, during the third quarter this fiscal, the government is under intense pressure to cut duties on oil products, crossing Rs 100,000 crore annually, in the coming Budget.

Mittal claims Arcelor shareholders’ support
India concerned over French opposition
Madrid, February 2
Mittal Steel Co. said today it is finding support among Arcelor shareholders for its Euro18.6 billion ($22.5 billion) takeover bid for the company.

President and Group CFO of Mittal Steel Aditya Mittal addresses the media in Brussels on Wednesday. President and Group CFO of Mittal Steel Aditya Mittal addresses the media in Brussels on Wednesday. Mittal Steel chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said that his company would not accept less than a 50.1 per cent stake in a merged Mittal-Arcelor company.
— AP/PTI

TUs’ demand for higher EPF rate skirted
New Delhi, February 2
Despite mounting pressure from central trade unions to restore the EPF rate for the current fiscal to 9.5 per cent, the government today remained non-committal on their demand for a review of the 8.5 per cent rate of interest.

Silver, gold at all-time high
Mumbai, February 2
The silver and gold prices today zoomed to all-time high on bullish global advice, traders at the bullion market here said.


West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (left) and Ficci President Saroj Poddar exchange greetings during the national executive committee meeting in Kolkata on Thursday.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (left) and Ficci President Saroj Poddar exchange greetings during the national executive committee meeting in Kolkata on Thursday. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES

 

RBI issues securitisation norms
Mumbai, February 2
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today issued guidelines on securitisation of standard assets as applicable to banks, financial institutions and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).

M&M launches Bolero variant
Mumbai, February 2
Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), India’s market leader in utility vehicles, today announced the launch of the Bolero SLX with the price tag of Rs 5.74 lakh (ex-showroom Thane).

Rajesh Exports keen to acquire Oyzterbay
New Delhi, February 2
In order to make foray into retail business, Rajesh Exports, the Rs 3,000-crore gold jewellery maker, is negotiating a deal to acquire Oyzterbay, which owns a chain of jewellery retail outlets in the country.

Corporate Results

Hexaware announces 30 per cent dividend
Mumbai, February 2
Hexaware Technologies Ltd today posted 41.70 per cent rise in profit after tax of Rs 30.05 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 21.30 crore for the same quarter in 2004-05.

  • BHEL gains

  • M&M profit up

  • Neyveli Lignite

  • Gujarat Ambuja

  • Patni Computers

  • Godfrey Phillips

Auto Scene

Ashok Leyland set to enter armoured vehicles segment
New Delhi, February 2
Country’s second largest truck maker Ashok Leyland as announced that it has won a Rs 230 crore order from the Indian army for supplying 872 specialised water carriers and said it will enter the tactical vehicle segment for the defence forces by making armoured vehicles.

  • Cummins, Tata Motors sign pact

  • Indian gearbox for Toyota

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Govt under pressure to cut oil duties
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
With the mounting losses of oil marketing companies, which include over Rs 1,000 crore for HPCL alone, during the third quarter this fiscal, the government is under intense pressure to cut duties on oil products, crossing Rs 100,000 crore annually, in the coming Budget.

The Left parties have categorically told the government that it should not dare to touch the kerosene and LPG prices. It has asked the government to bring down oil taxes, which is one third of the total Central revenue, to bail out the oil marketing companies.

Sources in the Petroleum Ministry said oil companies were pinning their hopes on the report of the Rangarajan Committee, an inter-ministerial committee set up to recommend a pricing and taxation policy for petroleum products. The committee is expected to submit its report before the Budget.

Union Minister of Oil and Natural Gas Murli Deora has held discussions with Dr. C. Rangarajan heading the committee, and urged him to submit the report at the earliest. He also held discussions with CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri last night on the issue of prices of the petroleum products in view of the rising international oil prices, now hovering around $ 68 per barrel.

He tried to press upon the Left parties for working out an acceptable solution to safeguard the interests of the oil companies. “Considering that international oil prices are still at a high level and that there is no intention to increase kerosene and LPG prices ... the recommendation of the (taxation) committee would help the government find a balanced solution,” Mr Deora said.

The sources said the Rangarajan Committee was expected to recommend the restructuring of oil taxes in the coming Budget, besides suggesting ways to provide support by the refineries to the oil marketing companies.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry is resisting the move, claiming that any move to cut down oil duties would adversely impact the government’s social projects like the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Bharat Nirman project.

Finance Minister P.Chidambaram has said: “One should not be worried about the financial health of the oil companies too much. It is up to the government whether to show the oil subsidy in the balance-sheets of oil marketing companies or in the Budget.”

The Petroleum Ministry is worried that oil marketing companies, including IOC, BPCL, HPCL and IBP, have incurred a cumulative loss of about Rs 2898 crore during April-December, 2005, against a net profit of Rs 5223 crore during the corresponding period of previous year. Notably, the upstream companies, including the ONGC and GAIL, have provided Rs 9751 crore assistance to them during that period.

Public sector oil firms are losing over Rs 130 per LPG cylinder and about Rs 12 on sale of every litre of kerosene, as input cost (crude oil) has shot up sharply.

IndianOil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp and Hindustan Petroleum Corp together lost about Rs 18,000 crore on account of selling petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene below their production cost in April-December 2005.

The sources said the Petroleum Minister was expected to meet the state Chief Ministers soon to convince them about bring down state taxes on petrol and diesel, and at least abolish levies like octroi and turnover tax. 

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Mittal claims Arcelor shareholders’ support
India concerned over French opposition

Madrid, February 2
Mittal Steel Co. said today it is finding support among Arcelor shareholders for its Euro18.6 billion ($22.5 billion) takeover bid for the company.

Mittal’s chief financial officer, Mr Aditya Mittal, a son of Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal, spoke after meeting with officials from Spain’s Asturias region, where Arcelor’s Spanish operations are based.

Arcelor employs 15,000 persons in Spain, although the Spanish government has no stake in the company.

He said that over the past four days company officials have met with “key shareholders and institutional shareholders” since announcing the takeover bid last week.

“They have expressed their support for this transaction. They appreciate the industrial logic. They like the value-creation that this transaction offers,” Mr Mittal said.

Mittal said his company has yet to meet Spanish shareholders.

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal is in Spain in the latest leg of his European tour to win support for his $24 billion bid for Arcelor, as French and Luxembourg leaders try to organise opposition to it. The Indian-born billionaire has vowed not to be intimidated by politicians as he strives to build a steel-making colossus that would control about 10 per cent of the global market.

The Indian government is concerned about France’s strong opposition to Mittal Steel’s hostile bid to take over European group Arcelor, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said today.

India has “concerns” about this, he told a joint press conference following a meeting in London with EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson to discuss wider trade issues.

“India is watching closely the issue of the takeover of Arcelor made by Mittal Steel and the comments being made and the reactions of the French government on this.”

The bid has come up against fierce European resistance to the bid, notably from France. “It’s a business to business issue and when (French building materials group) Lafarge was taking over much of our cement industry, India’s government welcomed it,” Mr Nath said. — Agencies

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TUs’ demand for higher EPF rate skirted

New Delhi, February 2
Despite mounting pressure from central trade unions to restore the EPF rate for the current fiscal to 9.5 per cent, the government today remained non-committal on their demand for a review of the 8.5 per cent rate of interest.

Parrying a direct reply on whether the rate would be revised in keeping with the demand of trade unions and Left supporters of the UPA Government, Union Minister of State for Labour Chandra Shekhar Sahu merely said “the Cabinet Minister (K. Chandrasekhar Rao) is out of town.” Mr Sahu was replying to questions from mediapersons soon after assuming his new office. The Central Board of Trustees of the Employees Provident Fund has decided to slash the EPF rate for 2005-06 by 1 per cent from 9.5 per cent in the previous year. — PTI

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Silver, gold at all-time high

Mumbai, February 2
The silver and gold prices today zoomed to all-time high on bullish global advice, traders at the bullion market here said.

Silver opened high at Rs 13,375 and closed at Rs 13,435 with a massive gain of Rs 95 from its yesterday’s close.

There was an increase of fresh demand from local industrial users along with encouraging advice from the overseas markets, they said.

In London, the white metal was quoted high at $ 9.80/9.85 per troy ounce from $ 9.70/9.75 per troy ounce from its previous close.

The prices of standard mint gold (99.5 purity) and pure gold (99.9 purity) opened high at Rs 8,210 and Rs 8,255 per 10 gm, respectively.

Later, both the prices closed high at Rs 8,225 and Rs 8,270 and had a huge gain of Rs 65 and Rs 70, respectively, from their last close. — UNI

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RBI issues securitisation norms

Mumbai, February 2
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today issued guidelines on securitisation of standard assets as applicable to banks, financial institutions and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).

These guidelines come into force with immediate effect, a RBI notification said.

The regulatory framework provided in the guidelines covers securitisation of standard assets by banks, all India term lending and refinancing institutions and NBFCs, including RNBCs.

Securitisation is a process by which assets are sold to a bankruptcy remote special purpose vehicle (SPV) in return for an immediate cash payment.

The cash flow from the underlying pool of assets is used to service the securities issued by the SPV. Securitisation thus follows a two-stage process.

In the first stage, there is sale of single asset or pooling and sale of pool of assets to a ‘bankruptcy remote’ special purpose vehicle (SPV) in return for an immediate cash payment. The second stage envisages repackaging and selling the security interests representing claims on incoming cash flows from the asset or pool of assets to third party investors by issuance of tradable debt securities. — UNI

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M&M launches Bolero variant

Mumbai, February 2
Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), India’s market leader in utility vehicles, today announced the launch of the Bolero SLX with the price tag of Rs 5.74 lakh (ex-showroom Thane).

The SLX, an upgraded variant of the Bolero GLX in the passenger vehicle category, has been conceived by Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) based on customer feedback and will cater to the needs of the status-conscious urban customer, affording them dual benefits of a luxurious and comfortable drive, a company press note said.

The SLX variant comes equipped with a powerful 2.5 litre, 72.5 bhp diesel engine and a synchromesh five-speed gearbox. — UNI

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Rajesh Exports keen to acquire Oyzterbay

New Delhi, February 2
In order to make foray into retail business, Rajesh Exports, the Rs 3,000-crore gold jewellery maker, is negotiating a deal to acquire Oyzterbay, which owns a chain of jewellery retail outlets in the country.

The Bangalore-based Rajesh Exports had earlier announced plans to enter retail business with a dedicated chain of jewellery stores.

Oyzterbay, which began operations in February 2001 by launching its first retail store at Bangalore, has a network of 36 showrooms spanning 25 cities across the country. The present market value of Oyzterbay is estimated to be over Rs 70 crore.

Mr Rajesh Mehta, Chairman of Rajesh Exports, had once declared that the company had drawn up a plan to launch a Rs 800-crore expansion programme involving the setting up of 100 jewellery stores in the southern states at a cost of Rs 450 crore. — PTI

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Corporate Results

Hexaware announces 30 per cent dividend

Mumbai, February 2
Hexaware Technologies Ltd today posted 41.70 per cent rise in profit after tax of Rs 30.05 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 21.30 crore for the same quarter in 2004-05.

Total income has increased 26.38 per cent to Rs 106.59 crore for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2005, from Rs 84.34 crore in the year-ago period, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The Board of Directors has proposed 30 per cent (Re 0.60 per share) final dividend on equity shares of Rs 2 each/

The company has posted profit after tax of Rs 77.53 crore for the year ended December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 43.77 crore for the year ended December 31, 2004.

BHEL gains

Power equipment major Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) third quarter profit was up by 78 per cent.

BHEL posted a net profit of Rs 423.19 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 237.40 crore for the corresponding quarter previous year.

M&M profit up

Auto major Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd has posted a 75 per cent increase in net profit for the third quarter ended December 31, 2005, at Rs 233.50 crore as compared to Rs 133.20 crore in the corresponding quarter previous fiscal.

Net sales and income from operations during the reporting quarter increased 25 per cent to Rs 2,207.20 crore as compared to Rs 1,772.30 crore in Q3 of FY-05, the company said in a release here today.

Neyveli Lignite

State-owned Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd has reported a 42.19 per cent decline in net profit at Rs 137 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 237 crore for the corresponding quarter during the previous fiscal.

Total income decreased to Rs 688 crore for the third quarter this fiscal from Rs 776 crore in the year-ago period, down 11.34 per cent, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Gujarat Ambuja

Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd has posted a 1.84 per cent dip in net profit at Rs 87.90 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, as compared to Rs 89.55 crore for the same quarter in the previous fiscal.

Total income (net of excise), however, increased 15.99 per cent to Rs 765.56 crore for the second quarter in current fiscal from Rs 659.98 crore in the year-ago period, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The group has posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 121.45 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005. The net profit of the group was at Rs 90.32 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2004.

Patni Computers

Patni Computer Systems has clocked a 37.9 per cent increase in its revenue at Rs 2,024 crore in the last calendar year, as against Rs 1,413 crore in CY ’04.

The company’s gross profit increased by 30.4 per cent at Rs 727 crore for the same period, as against Rs 537 crore in 2004, a press note issued here today said.

Its net income shot up by 11.3 per cent to Rs 273 crore, as against Rs 236 crore.

Meanwhile, the company’s Board has declared a dividend of 125 per cent for CY ’05, as against cent per cent the previous year.

Godfrey Phillips

India’s second largest cigarette manufacturer, Godfrey Phillips, has posted a 12.4 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 18.45 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 as compared to Rs 16.42 crore from the year-ago period. The company’s gross sales rose by 9 per cent at Rs 363.4 crore for the third quarter of the current fiscal, the company said in a statement.

Revenues from the cigarettes and tobacco products stood at Rs 350.08 crore and tea and related products amounted to Rs 13.39 crore of the total gross sales. — Agencies

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Auto Scene

Ashok Leyland set to enter armoured vehicles segment

New Delhi, February 2
Country’s second largest truck maker Ashok Leyland as announced that it has won a Rs 230 crore order from the Indian army for supplying 872 specialised water carriers and said it will enter the tactical vehicle segment for the defence forces by making armoured vehicles.

“The first indigenously-built water carrier, meeting General Staff Qualitative Requirements, has a capacity of 5 kilolitres and can carry potable water for army personnel in all terrains. The tanker has been designed to keep the temperature under control and maintain the purity of water,” Ashok Leyland Managing Director R Seshasayee said at a press conference at DefExpo.

The delivery of vehicles would begin in this quarter and would be completed over the next six months.

Cummins, Tata Motors sign pact

Cummins Inc and Tata Motors has signed an agreement that will allow their joint venture Tata Cummins Ltd (TCL) to begin manufacturing the ISB engine in the near future.

The expansion, estimated at around $60 million, will significantly increase the number of engines produced by the joint venture and strengthen Cummins position as a producer for the growing medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicle market in India, Cummins said today.

Meanwhile, Tata Motors aims at higher growth opportunities from the “pick up” category of Small Commercial Vehicles (SCV) segment showing exponential growth in recent times.

Indian gearbox for Toyota

Global car giant Toyota will be sourcing as many as 1,40,000 gearboxes from its Indian joint venture by March this year which is expected to go up by 5 to 10 per cent in the coming fiscal, a company official said today.

“We have been supplying gearbox to Toyota and hope to complete the financial year with about 1,40,000 units,” Toyota Kirolskar Motor (TKM) Vice-Chairman Vikram Kirloskar said on the sidelines of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit organised by Teri.

Kirloskar said the quality levels of the suppliers were found acceptable. — Agencies

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BRIEFLY

Nahar to raise $40 million
Mumbai, February 2
Nahar Industrial Enterprises Ltd, a diversified company promoted by the Oswal family from Ludhiana, has decided to raise $40 million from the international markets through the issue of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds or other equity linked financial instruments. The recently held EGM authorised the Board to raise the amount by way of FCCBs, GDRs or through private placement of securities, the company informed the BSE. The FCCB offer will also entail a green shoe option of $5 million, it said. — PTI

Arcadia offices in Punjab
Chandigarh, February 2
Mumbai-based Arcadia Share and Stock Brokers has opened four branches in Punjab. The branches were opened in Mohali, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana. Mr Nitin A. Brahmbhatt, Director of Arcadia, said the stock-broking house had 15,000 clients across the country and about 700 clients in Punjab. He also informed that the firm did trading worth Rs 800 crore a day. “We plan to open branches in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana soon,” he said. — TNS

Deepak Fertilisers retailing project
Mumbai, February 2
Deepak Fertilisers & Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd today said its speciality retailing project, Ishanya, will be leasing out about 20 per cent of its space to global brands. “Ishanya, a design centre and speciality mall will be leasing out 20 per cent of its 5.50 lakh sq ft of leasable space,” Deepak Fertiliser CEO I.S. Narula said. An agreement to this effect has been signed between Narula and Raghu Pillai, Managing Director, Home Solutions Ltd on January 6, Deepak Fertiliser said — PTI

Singapore Airlines upbeat on Punjab
Ludhiana, February 2
Singapore Airlines is upbeat on air traffic from Punjab to Singapore. The company, which started flights from Amritsar to Singapore in October 2004, has recorded a 40 per cent increase in air traffic so far, said Manager, Punjab, Singapore Airlines, Mr Bimal Rai. On the upcoming airport at Halwara, he said: “We would first gauge the impact and accordingly accommodate or change if an airport comes up in Ludhiana.” — TNS

Shreyans captive power plant soon
Ludhiana, February 2
Shreyans Industries Limited, a flagship company of the Shreyans Group of Ludhiana, has recorded a 20 per cent increase in its turnover from Rs 115.84 crore to Rs 139.77 crore for the first three quarters of the current financial year. Mr D.K. Oswal, CMD of the company, said the company is coming up with an additional captive co-generation plant of 3.5 MW at its paper division unit at Ahmedgarh at an estimated cost of Rs 1,400 lakh. — TNS

IOC arm
Mumbai, February 2
IndianOil Corporation Ltd (IOC) today said it would merge its wholly-owned subsidiary, Indian Oil Blending Ltd with itself. The shareholders of the company have approved the scheme of amalgamation of Indian Oil Blending with the company with requisite majority, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange. — PTI

India Infoline
Mumbai, February 2
India Infoline Ltd a financial service provider, has a entered into a strategic alliance with Saraswat Bank to offer equity research, broking and portfolio management services to the bank’s clients. The memorandum of understanding for the strategic alliance was signed today by India Infoline CMD Nirmal Jain and Saraswat Bank MD Samir Banerji. — PTI

BHEL solar plant
New Delhi, February 2
State-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd has commissioned a 110 kWp stand-alone solar photovoltaic power plant in Sunderbans area of West Bengal. The plant, at Kayla Para in Sagar Island, is the second solar project to be commissioned by BHEL against a contract for five such plants by West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency. The other three plants would also be commissioned by June 2006, a BHEL press note said. — PTI

JK Paper
New Delhi, February 2
World Bank’s private lending arm International Finance Corporation will invest Rs 50 crore in JK Paper, which has embarked on a Rs 250 crore expansion plan. Apart from IFC, promoters will also bring in a matching Rs 50 crore through preferential equity in JK Paper at a price of Rs 65 per share. Post allotment, the share of the Washington-based lending institution would be 10 per cent, while promoters share would go up to 43.9 per cent from 42.15 per cent. — PTI

Order from Heinz
Mumbai, February 2
Riddhi Siddhi Gluco Biols Ltd today said it has bagged a Rs 6-crore order from Heinz India and has completed the expansion and modernisation of its plants in seven months. The company invested Rs 30 crore in the modernisation of its plant, which has resulted in increased productivity. The overall maize crushing capacity has increased to 73 per cent, it informed the Bombay Stock Exchange. — PTI

Syndicate Bank
Bangalore, February 2
Syndicate Bank has signed agreements with National Exchange Company, Kuwait, and Zenj Exchange Company, Bahrain — two popular money transferring outfits — to increase its remittance business. “These new arrangements will catapult the bank into the powerful league of banks in the field of remittances with as many as 13 relationships in Gulf/Middle East, making it a strong player in the fiercely competitive Gulf remittance market,” N Kantha Kumar, the bank’s Chairman and Managing Director has said in a statement here. — PTI

Dr Reddy’s pact
Mumbai, February 2
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd today said it has entered into an agreement with the UK-based Argenta Discovery Ltd for the joint development and commercialisation of a new approach to the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). — PTI
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