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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

GE engines to power A-I, Jet planes
Mumbai, February 21
Air-India has ordered General Electric (GE) engines for its Boeing 777 and 787 fleets, according to a statement. The order is worth $2.2 billion. The agreement was signed today at Asian Aerospace between Ms Sulekha Shrivastava, South-East Asia Regional Manager for Air-India, and Mr David Joyce, Vice-President of GE - Aviation’ s Commercial Engine Operation.

Reliance, Rites set to enter Sudan
New Delhi, February 21
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is expected to sign major contracts for exploration of oil and gas in Sudan while Rites has been chosen to lay the railway infrastructure in the country, Sudan ambassador to India Dr Abdul Mahmood A. Mohammed said today.

ONGC contests GAIL’s claim
New Delhi, February 21
The Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) today disputed claims made by gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd of an agreement with the operators of Panna/Mukta and Tapti (PMT) fields to continue selling gas beyond March 31 and said it, along with British Gas and Reliance Industries, wants to sell gas directly to customers.

Jindal may opt for thermal plant at Hisar
Ratan Jindal Chandigarh, February 21
With severe power shortage, stainless steel major Jindal Stainless is relying completely on its own power generation. After having inked a deal with the Haryana government for a gas-based plant at Hisar, the group is now building a 500 MW thermal power plant at Kalinganagar, Orissa.

FM may restructure edible oil duties
New Delhi, February 21
Armed with the Lahiri Committee report on edible oils submitted today, Finance Minister P.Chidambaram is expected to present a roadmap for restructuring duties in the edible oil sector.

SpiceJet to buy 10 Boeing-737 jets
Singapore, February 21
Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet signed a deal today to buy 10 737 jets from US aircraft manufacturer Boeing worth $ 700 million at Asian Aerospace, the world’s third-largest airshow.


President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam holds an award before its presentation  at the golden jubilee celebrations of the All-India Management Association (AIMA)  in New Delhi on  Tuesday.
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam holds an award before its presentation at the golden jubilee celebrations of the All-India Management Association (AIMA) in New Delhi on Tuesday. Calling more Indian companies to dream to be in the Fortune 500 list, the President said righteousness in life and possessing an indomitable spirit were the two key ingredients to become a great corporate or a brand institution. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES

 
Actor Rahul Bose, accompanied by a model, launches Titan’s brand, Xylys, in New Delhi, on Tuesday.
Actor Rahul Bose, accompanied by a model, launches Titan’s brand, Xylys, in New Delhi, on Tuesday. This premium watch from Titan is priced between $225 and $742, coming in three collections — contemporary, classic and sport. — PTI

Caparo group starts operations in Bawal
Bawal (Haryana), February 21
Targeting a four-fold jump in turnover at Rs 1,000 crore in three years, NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul’s Caparo Group today started operations at its manufacturing unit here and announced an investment of Rs 325 crore for setting up four facilities in Chennai.

SBI hikes home loan rates from March 1
Mumbai, February 21
The State Bank of India said here today that it would raise the interest rates by 25-75 basis points from March 1 on home loans.

Xenitis to foray into two-wheeler segment
Kolkata, February 21
After having made a mark in the branded computers market, the Xenitis group is foraying into the two-wheeler segment.

Arcelor buys 88 pc stake in Dofasco
London, February 21
Arcelor has bought 88.38 per cent of Canada’s Dofasco and extended its $4.8 billion takeover offer for the remaining stock.
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GE engines to power A-I, Jet planes
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 21
Air-India has ordered General Electric (GE) engines for its Boeing 777 and 787 fleets, according to a statement. The order is worth $2.2 billion. The agreement was signed today at Asian Aerospace between Ms Sulekha Shrivastava, South-East Asia Regional Manager for Air-India, and Mr David Joyce, Vice-President of GE - Aviation’ s Commercial Engine Operation.

The airline has ordered eight 777-200LRs and 15 777-300ERs, all powered by the GE90-115B engine.

In addition, Air-India ordered 27 787-8 aircraft powered by the GEnx engine. Delivery of the 777s is scheduled to begin in 2007, with the 787 deliveries to begin in 2008.

Jet Airways has also selected General Electric’s CF6-80E1 engines for its 10 Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The value of the engine order is more than $300 million, GE said in a statement today.

The airline is scheduled to begin taking delivery of the new aircraft in 2007. “We are very excited that Jet Airways has selected GE’s CF6 engines as the power plant for its new A330 aircraft,” said Mr Scott Donnelly, President and CEO of GE - Aviation. “Jet Airways is an important customer to GE, and this order further strengthens our relationship.”

“Jet Airways has selected the GE’s CF6-80E1 engines after an in-depth technical and economic evaluation of the available options,” said Mr Naresh Goyal, Chairman, Jet Airways. “We have been a satisfied customer of GE since we commenced operations with our B-737 fleet”

Indian favours CFM International

Indian, earlier known as Indian Airlines, has signed an agreement with CFM International to purchase engines to power the state-owned carrier’s newly acquired fleet of Airbus aircraft.

As per the agreement, the CFM 56-5B engines would power Indian’s new fleet of 43 Airbus A320 family of aircraft scheduled for delivery between late 2006 and 2010, CFM said in a press note.

CFM 56-5B engines are produced by CFM International (CFM), a 50:50 joint venture between French aeroengine major Snecma and US Engine maker General Electric Company. — UNI

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Reliance, Rites set to enter Sudan

New Delhi, February 21
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is expected to sign major contracts for exploration of oil and gas in Sudan while Rites has been chosen to lay the railway infrastructure in the country, Sudan ambassador to India Dr Abdul Mahmood A. Mohammed said today.

Negotiations in this regard have been completed barring a few formalities which remain, he said in an internal discussion on “Business Opportunities in Sudan”, organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) here in honour of the visiting 30-member Sudanese delegation to India.

Dr Mohammed announced that the Sudan government has already decided to award two oil and gas blocks to RIL for which contracts would be finalised soon. Senior RIL executives would shortly visit the Sudan Embassy here to fulfil certain formalities before the contract is awarded, he said.

Likewise, the Sudanese Government has also decided to involve Rites for laying the rail infrastructure in Sudan. Negotiations for working out details regarding the railway network in Sudan are at an advanced stage and the contract would be signed as soon as possible, the Ambassador indicated.

He also mentioned that Indian company Aircon’s representatives were in talks with the authorities concerned in Sudan and its Embassy in New Delhi for undertaking the job of supplying pumps and air-conditioners.

In addition, senior executives of 12 leading PSUs have visited Sudan in the past two months to explore opportunities, the envoy said but declined to divulge further details.

On the progress of the BHEL project in Sudan, Dr Mohammed said the work has commenced and it has been progressing well. BHEL was expected to be in the running for other power projects in the country.

Eng. Ibrahim Musa al Khalifa, leader of the visiting business delegation to India, said Sudan would like Indian SMEs to make their investments in Sudan in areas of construction, building of ports, airports and bridges, besides opening up new areas of cooperation in the area of science and technology and consolidate joint ventures not only in the area of energy but also in IT, electronics and other heavy engineering projects and mutually agreeable conditions and affordability. — UNI

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ONGC contests GAIL’s claim

New Delhi, February 21
The Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) today disputed claims made by gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd of an agreement with the operators of Panna/Mukta and Tapti (PMT) fields to continue selling gas beyond March 31 and said it, along with British Gas and Reliance Industries, wants to sell gas directly to customers.

“GAIL collects $0.10-0.20 per million British thermal unit (mBtu) marketing margin for selling gas from the PMT fields to consumers. We don’t see why customers should pay extra when they can get the supplies directly from us,” ONGC CMD Subir Raha told reporters here.

Mr Raha said ONGC-BG Group-Reliance Industries had asked Petroleum Ministry for permission to sell 6 million standard cubic meters per day of gas from Tapti and Panna-Mukta fields, currently being supplied to GAIL, directly to customers at market price from April 2006.

Currently, the joint operators sell 6 mmscmd of gas to GAIL at controlled price of $3.86 per mBtu or Rs 7,046 per thousand cubic meters (exclusive of sales tax). They market the remaining 4.8 mmscmd of gas from the fields at $4.08 per mBtu (or Rs 7,448 per thousand cubic meters).

Mr Raha said the government had asked ONGC-BG-RIL to supply 6 mmscmd of gas from the fields to GAIL for one year from April 1, 2005, so that power and fertiliser companies on HBJ pipeline do not get impacts. “Though there is a rethink on the decision, we haven’t yet been instructed on the issue and so the PMT joint operators have not reached any agreement with GAIL to continue selling gas beyond March 31.”

“We don’t want middleman (to sell gas to consumers),” he said.

GAIL had last week posted notices to the stock exchanges saying “with the recent communication from the Government of India to the PMT consortium to continue supply of 6 mmscmd of natural gas beyond March 2006, broadly on same terms and conditions, GAIL does not anticipate any difficulty in meeting the demand during the ensuing summer and Rabi season, for want of PMT gas.”

ONGC also said it has completed due diligence for the acquisition of Pic and Tide Water Oil. — PTI

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Jindal may opt for thermal plant at Hisar
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
With severe power shortage, stainless steel major Jindal Stainless is relying completely on its own power generation. After having inked a deal with the Haryana government for a gas-based plant at Hisar, the group is now building a 500 MW thermal power plant at Kalinganagar, Orissa.

Mr Ratan Jindal, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Jindal Stainless Ltd., informed TNS that one unit (250 MW) of the thermal power plant at the group’s integrated stainless steel plant in Orissa would be operational by the end of the year, while the other unit would be operational by end of 2007.

“Steel being a power intensive industry, the severe shortage has hit the industry hard. Since we are coming up with the largest stainless steel plant in the country, at Kalinganagar (with a capacity of 1.6 million tonnes), it would require 100 MW of power, thus we decided to set up our own power plant. In fact, many steel units are shifting to the Eastern states because of better availability of power,” he said.

Talking about Jindal Group’s Rs 8,000 crore project in Orissa, Mr Jindal said with this plant the capacity of Jindal Stainless would increase from a present 7,00,000 tonnes to 1.6 million tonnes. “The plant, spread over 1,600 acres, would have its own railway siding to ferry the goods directly, besides a centre to train the employees,” he said.

Asked about the progress of the 1,000 MW gas-based power plant to be set up by the group at Hisar, Mr Ratan Jindal said that they were taking up the matter with the Haryana government, to impress upon GAIL for extending the gas pipeline, which has presently been laid till Bahadurgarh.

“In case this is feasible, we will have a gas-based power plant. As an alternative, we may also opt to have a thermal plant at Hisar, which will not only meet the Jindal Group’s demand for power, but power will also be available for trading,” he said.

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FM may restructure edible oil duties
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
Armed with the Lahiri Committee report on edible oils submitted today, Finance Minister P.Chidambaram is expected to present a roadmap for restructuring duties in the edible oil sector.

The committee has recommended a reduction in duty differential between crude and refined products to 7.5 per cent and uniform rate of 72.5 per cent for all refined products from the present level of 75-90 per cent, except soyabean.

Official sources, however, said the Finance Minister would find it difficult to bring down the uniform rate to 72.45 per cent, following opposition from the agriculture ministry which has called for a hike in duty to protect Indian edible seed growers.

Headed by Dr. Ashok K. Lahiri, Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, it was appointed to suggest rationalisation of the excise and customs duties on edible oils.

Expressing concern over duty differential on palm oil in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal (import of palm oil in Sri Lanka and Nepal are duty free, while it is 80 per cent in India), it has suggested to encourage India refiners to invest in Sri Lanka and Nepal.

“A durable solution lies in convergence of external tariffs in the entire South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA), making it a customs union. Until such convergence, given the Indian tradition of living by its international contracts, a temporary solution lies in vigorous outward investment by Indian oil refiners in Nepal and Sri Lanka and rigorous enforcement of the rules of origin,” it added.

According to the committee, major problems with the edible oil import duty included an inverted duty structure for vanaspati, wide dispersion of rates across various edible oils, and lack of stability in duty structure with frequent changes in duties.

The considerably lower duty rate of 45 per cent on soyabean oil relative to 80 per cent on crude palm oil has led to national welfare loss because of the lower revenue realisation and a higher import bill.

“ It is privately profitable to import soyabean rather than crude palm oil when the prices per tonne of the two are say, $415 and $380, respectively, and simultaneously suffer a higher foreign exchange outgo of $35 and also a revenue loss of Rs. 5,357 (at an exchange rate of Rs. 44.79 per dollar) per tonne,” it pointed out. 

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SpiceJet to buy 10 Boeing-737 jets

Singapore, February 21
Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet signed a deal today to buy 10 737 jets from US aircraft manufacturer Boeing worth $ 700 million at Asian Aerospace, the world’s third-largest airshow.

The deal includes an option to buy 10 more aircraft.

The purchase is for five 737-800 and five 737-900 ER models. The delivery will begin in October, 2007, with the handing over of 737-900ER first. Shipments will continue until 2009.

“We are absolutely delighted to be placing a new order with Boeing and we think that this new order reflects the rapid growth in the Indian market,” said Mr Ajay Singh, Director of SpiceJet.

Mr Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s Senior Vice-President for sales, said the 737-800 had 189 seats in an all-economy configuration while the 737-900 ER had 215. — AFP

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Caparo group starts operations in Bawal

Bawal (Haryana), February 21
Targeting a four-fold jump in turnover at Rs 1,000 crore in three years, NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul’s Caparo Group today started operations at its manufacturing unit here and announced an investment of Rs 325 crore for setting up four facilities in Chennai.

The sheet metal stamping plant, which is part of the joint venture Caparo Maruti Ltd, was inaugurated by Governor of Bank of England Mervyn King in the presence of Lord Paul.

The plant has been put up with an investment of Rs 25 crore. This is the third plant of the joint venture company, a statement from the firm said.

The UK-based Caparo group has four running plants in India with a total turnover of Rs 250 crore at present. The group is targeting a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore by 2008.

It is focusing attention on Chennai to set up four modern facilities at an investment of Rs 325 crore for sheet metal automotive components, aluminium foundry, research centre for tool manufacturing and steel forgings. — PTI

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SBI hikes home loan rates from March 1
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 21
The State Bank of India said here today that it would raise the interest rates by 25-75 basis points from March 1 on home loans.

State Bank said the floating home loan interest rate for up to five years would rise by 50 basis points to 8.5 per cent from March, and to 9.25 per cent for 15 to 20 years.

The floating interest rate for loans between five and 15 years will be 8.75 per cent against 8.50 per cent.

The fixed-rate loans for up to five years will go up to 9.25 per cent from 8.5 per cent, and for five to 10 years to 9.5 per cent from 9 per cent.

The SBI said it would stop offering fixed-rate home loans for above 10 years because of uncertainties about interest rates over longer terms.

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Xenitis to foray into two-wheeler segment

Kolkata, February 21
After having made a mark in the branded computers market, the Xenitis group is foraying into the two-wheeler segment.

Xenitis, through its subsidiary Global Automobiles, had entered into a joint venture with China-based Guangzhou Motors Company for technical support to set up a two-wheeler unit at Hooghly with Rs 300-crore investment.

The funding would be made from internal accruals and loans from public sector banks, Xenitis group Chairman Santanu Ghosh told reporters.

The company had planned to enter the market with three variants of 100 cc, 125 cc and 150 cc motor cycles under the brand name “Xoom”.

The first phase of the factory at Hooghly would be ready by June 30.

Initially, the production capacity at the Hooghly factory would be 30,000-35,000 units per month, to be raised to 50,000-60,000 units later, Mr Ghosh said.

The company planned to sell more than 1.5 lakh units during 2006. — UNI

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Arcelor buys 88 pc stake in Dofasco

London, February 21
Arcelor has bought 88.38 per cent of Canada’s Dofasco and extended its $4.8 billion takeover offer for the remaining stock.

Arcelor, based in Luxembourg, will continue Dofasco shareholders to trade until March 7, from an original deadline of yesterday, the company said in a statement today.

“Dofasco becomes the centre of Arcelor’s growth strategy in North America, and cornerstone of our continued worldwide leadership in the market for automotive steel,” Chief Executive Officer Guy Dolle said in the statement.

Arcelor is expanding in North America to challenge Mittal Steel Co’s leadership in the car-steel market.

Dofasco would give it a 10 per cent slice of the market and supply contracts with Ford Motor and Toyota Motor.

Arcelor is the target of a $22.5 billion hostile takeover bid by Mittal, which would create a company three times larger than its nearest rival. The spread suggests that investors are betting the acquisition of Arcelor will be completed at a price higher than Mittal’s current bid. — Bloomberg

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BRIEFLY

HP clears 38 industrial projects
Shimla, February 21
The Himachal Pradesh Single-window Clearance and Monitoring Authority has cleared the setting up of 38 new industrial units with an investment of Rs 437 crore. The decision was taken at the 19th meeting of the authority under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh yesterday. Pharmaceutical majors Unichem Laboratories and Whiteline Industries, Lucas — TVS Limited, Havell’ s India Limited, Liberty, Lloyd Electric and Engineering, Timex Watches and Hem-An BioTech Laboratories would set up their units in the state. Mr Virbhadra Singh said these units would provide employment to 5,183 persons from Himachal, adding that the registration of skilled and unskilled industrial workers with the local Labour Officer was essential. The government had already issued identity cards to them to ascertain whether the new units being set up in the state were providing employment to 70 per cent Himachalis. — UNI

Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, Ian Diamond, addresses mediapersons at a press conference in New Delhi, on Tuesday.
Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, Ian Diamond, addresses mediapersons at a press conference in New Delhi, on Tuesday. Turner International India Pvt Ltd (TIPL) announced a strategic business alliance to launch two theme amusement parks, Cartoon Network Townswille and Planet Pogo. — AFP

SBI scheme for Tibetans
Dharamsala, February 21
The State Bank of India (SBI), Chandigarh Circle, has for the first time in the banking arena, launched special loaning scheme for Tibetans residing at McLeodganj, Dharamsala, Palampur, and other places in Himachal Pradesh to meet credit requirements. A meeting of Tibetan nationals was held at McLeodganj today which was addressed by Mr J.P.S. Arora, AGM, Dharamsala. — TNS

PNB organises lending function
Bathinda, February 21
Punjab National Bank (PNB) today organised a retail lending function-cum-customer meet here. PNB GM ID Singh presided over the function in which customers from all 15 branches of the district participated. More than Rs 25 crore were disbursed under various loan schemes like home loan, education loan, retail trade, SSI, agriculture and other schemes. — TNS

Dell loses $700 m deal with Philips
Round Rock (US), February 21
Dell Inc has lost an estimated $ 700 million service deal with the Netherlands’ Royal Philips Electronics NV after the companies mutually agreed to end the contract, a Dell spokesman said. The five-year deal was among the largest in Dell’s expanding service business when announced in December, 2004, but it ended after the companies decided the contract “doesn’t guarantee a successful conclusion,” Dell spokesman Bob Kaufman said yesterday.— AP

Matrix Lab
Mumbai, February 21
Hyderabad-based Matrix Laboratories Ltd is close to acquiring a Latin American contract research firm for $ 60 million. The company, which made the biggest-ever acquisition in the Indian pharma history last year by taking over controlling stakes in DocPharma in Belgium, has finalised the Latin American deal and an announcement would be made soon, market sources said here.— PTI

RCVL listed
Mumbai, February 21
Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Capital Ventures Ltd (RCVL) as been listed on the country’s two leading bourses BSE and NSE today. RCVL, the first of the four newly carved-out companies from Mukesh Ambani’s RIL and transferred to Anil, was listed at Rs 24.80 at the Bombay Stock Exchange and at Rs 24.50 at the National Stock Exchange. — PTI

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