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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

HPCL plans IPO to fund Bathinda refinery
New Delhi, March 24
Stunned by the pullout of its partner, British oil major BP, from the Rs 10,000- crore Bathinda refinery project, HPCL said today it would bring out an IPO to partly finance the project and explore the possibility of tying up with other foreign partner.

Sahara to be Jet’s subsidiary
Mumbai, March 24
Ending the uncertainty over the fate of India’s biggest aviation deal involving takeover of Air Sahara for Rs 2,300 crore, Jet Airways today announced making an advance payment of Rs 500 crore towards the acquisition, even as the two sides agreed to extend the transaction period by three months.

Punjab, Haryana to get power from Bhutan
New Delhi, March 24
This summer power-deficient Punjab, Haryana and other northern states may get power from a new project constructed with Indian assistance in Bhutan

MoU with DLF to develop SEZ in Amritsar
Amritsar, March 24
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Punjab Government and M/s DLF Universal Limited here in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet colleagues.



EARLIER STORIES

 

Full Re float within striking distance

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram speaks at a press conference in Bangalore on Friday. The function marked the launch of SyndBank Services Limited, a whollyowned BPO subsidiary of Sydicate Bank. Mr Chidambaram indicated that the government was at a “striking distance” of implementing the Tarapore Committee Report on capital account convertibility.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram speaks at a press conference in Bangalore on Friday. The function marked the launch of SyndBank Services Limited, a whollyowned BPO subsidiary of Sydicate Bank. Mr Chidambaram indicated that the government was at a “striking distance” of implementing the Tarapore Committee Report on capital account convertibility. — AFP

12 industries to get sites at Manesar
Chandigarh, March 24
The Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation has in principle allotted 12 sites at the Technology Park at Manesar.

Subbu bids adieu to Hyundai
B.V.R. Subbu New Delhi, March 24
Mr B.V.R. Subbu, President of South Korean auto major Hyundai in India, today announced his exit from the company days before his contract was to come up for renewal , ending a nearly decade-long stint that saw the company emerge as the country’s second-biggest carmaker.

Arcelor seeks support from
small investors

Paris, March 24
Steel producer Arcelor staged a glitzy rally for ordinary shareholders yesterday and urged them to block hostile bidder Mittal Steel. Chief Executive Guy Dolle urged an audience of 1,000, mainly elderly people who own shares in the world’s second biggest steel firm to help him fight off the $ 24 billion bid from steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and said he was confident of success.

Fiji-India air link may become reality
Gurgaon, March 24
The airline authorities of India and Fiji have opened talks to provide direct link services between the two countries.

Jaypee, Shree, Birla Cement vie for jv
New Delhi, March 24 Three private cement manufacturers — Jaypee Cement, Shree Cement and Birla Cement — are in the race to form a joint venture with Steel Authority of India Limited to set up a 2.5 million tonne cement plant.

Van Gogh’s painting entitled L’Arlesienne, Madame Ginoux, is pictured at Christie’s auction house in London on Friday. The painting is expected to realise in excess of $40 million when auctioned in New York on May 2.
Van Gogh’s painting entitled L’Arlesienne, Madame Ginoux, is pictured at Christie’s auction house in London on Friday. The painting is expected to realise in excess of $40 million when auctioned in New York on May 2. — AFP

PSIEC to market MMTC pig iron
Chandigarh, March 24
The Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation today entered into an agreement with the Punjab Small Industries & Export Corporation, a nodal agency for the distribution of raw material among SSI units in Punjab, for marketing pig iron. The agreement helps meet the long-standing demand of industry for pig iron at competitive prices at its doorstep.

ONGC jv to get $70 m from Panna gas
New Delhi, March 24
ONGC-Reliance-BG will get additional revenue of $70 million from realising higher price for gas produced from Panna/Mukta and Tapti fields. “The joint venture stands to gain $70 million in 2006-07,” Reliance Industries President R.P. Sharma told reporters here.

Reliance-ADAG announces merger schedule
Mumbai, March 24
Moving a step further towards consolidating its businesses, the Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group today announced a tentative schedule for merger of two firms transferred from Mukesh Ambani group earlier this year with its flagship power entity Reliance Energy Ltd and financial services company Reliance Capital Ltd.

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HPCL plans IPO to fund Bathinda refinery
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 24
Stunned by the pullout of its partner, British oil major BP, from the Rs 10,000- crore Bathinda refinery project, HPCL said today it would bring out an IPO to partly finance the project and explore the possibility of tying up with other foreign partner.

Talking to reporters here today Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) CMD Mahesh B. Lal, said: “Though we have not received any former letter from BP about withdrawal from the project, we understand BP is shifting focus from India to other countries. But the Bathinda refinery project is on track. We are scheduled to complete the project by 2010-end.”

BP Plc has pulled out of the joint venture with HPCL, saying that the investment climate in India did not suit new investments in refining and fuel marketing. After recent changes in duty structure, official sources said, the refinery margins have drastically come down in India from around $6 per barrel to below $ 2 per barrel, forcing it review its investment plan for the refinery project.

The two companies had signed a letter of intent on October 13 last year to form a 50:50 venture with plans to build a 180,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Bathinda and to create a network of service stations.

The sources said despite surplus refinery capacity in the country, public sector oil companies, including the ONGC and the IOC, are expanding their refinery capacity. Reliance has also announced to double its capacity at the biggest refinery in India by investing over $6 billon, thus forcing BP to review its investment plan.

BP has also been disappointed by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s Budget this year as he declined to raise the oil prices. Significantly, Indian fuel prices rose by about 15 per cent last year while the US benchmark crude prices soared about 40 per cent.

Incidentally, two other international majors, Saudi Aramco and Exxon, which had initially expressed interest in the project, also backed out after questioning the viability of the proposed refinery.

HPCL was also in touch with other international companies like Total of France for a possible partnership in the nine million tonne refinery, said the HPCL chief.

Official sources in the Petroleum Ministry said it would not be easy for HPCL to raise funds from the market or find another partner for the project unless the government agreed to allow oil companies to hike the domestic oil prices. HPCL like other oil companies has suffered huge financial losses this year.

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Sahara to be Jet’s subsidiary

Mumbai, March 24
Ending the uncertainty over the fate of India’s biggest aviation deal involving takeover of Air Sahara for Rs 2,300 crore, Jet Airways today announced making an advance payment of Rs 500 crore towards the acquisition, even as the two sides agreed to extend the transaction period by three months.

“Air Sahara will be a 100 per cent subsidiary of Jet so that we can enjoy all the infrastructural facilities presently with it, as we need approval from the High Court for the merger. Till that time Air Sahara will be our subsidiary,” Jet Airways Chief Naresh Goyal told reporters a day after concluding discussions with Sahara Chief Subroto Roy.

Contrary to speculation that he was seeking a devaluation of the deal by an estimated Rs 1,000 crore, Mr Goyal said: “I have paid Rs 100 crore working capital expenditure to Air Sahara and soon will be paying another Rs 500 crore for 100 per cent stake in lien with ICICI bank.

“There is no change in enterprise value and it is $500 million,” he said, adding that the two sides had agreed for extension by 90 days, the deadline for concluding the deal.

By that time, the government should come up with all necessary guidelines for mergers and acquisitions in the aviation industry, he hoped, while attributing the dip in Jet share prices, which on Monday touched its lowest level since it came up with an IPO last year, to the uncertainty over the deal.

Mr Goyal said at that time “we did not have any clarity and we didn’t inform the exchanges, as we were going through negotiations with Sahara Management. Now we have clarity and there is no problem in the deal.

The deal had come under pressure after an announcement by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel earlier this month that the government was not informed about the deal, besides Air Sahara’s inability to obtain necessary clearances from Directorate General of Civil Aviation before the March 24 deadline for completing the transaction.

Failure to get the clearances had triggered speculation that Jet was keen on lowering the value of the deal by about Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,100 crore. — PTI

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Punjab, Haryana to get power from Bhutan
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 24
This summer power-deficient Punjab, Haryana and other northern states may get power from a new project constructed with Indian assistance in Bhutan

These states will get power from the 1080-MW Tala hydroelectric project, which is all set to be commissioned by next month.

All units (6x170) of this mega power project, constructed with financial assistance from the Indian Government, are likely to be commissioned by August-September this year. As much as 90 per cent of its power would be transmitted to India, mainly for power-deficient states in North India like Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.

“ The 200-km transmission line from Taal in Bhutan to Siliguri in India will be ready for power transmission by next month from this project, and via Purnia- Muzzafarpur, Gorakhpur- Lucknow-Delhi transmission line, power will be supplied to Punjab, Haryana and other northern states,” said Mr R.P Singh, CMD, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd.

The transmission line has been constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 1,600 crore by Power Grid in collaboration with Tata Power. Under an agreement, the Power Trading Corporation will sell power to the state electricity boards from Bhutan and from the eastern region through this transmission line.

The Bhutan Government is going all-out to tap the full potential of hydro power in the country estimated around 30,000 MW. It is encouraging India to participate in many hydel projects in the country.

Mr R.G. Yadav, Executive Director, System Operation, Power Grid, said: “ Since the eastern region is power surplus, the new transmission line would help us feed the power-deficient Northern Grid.”

The corporation has plans to set up a national power grid by 2011 at an estimated cost of about Rs 70,000 crore.

It has also signed MoUs with private power producers to construct new transmission lines at a cost of over Rs 5,000 crore for projects in Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Tripura. In the coming years, northern states will get power through them as well.

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MoU with DLF to develop SEZ in Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 24
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Punjab Government and M/s DLF Universal Limited here in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet colleagues.

Addressing mediapersons, Capt. Amarinder Singh outlined the terms and conditions of the MoU and said that M/s DLF Universal Limited would set up a special economic zone (SEZ) at Amritsar in 1,000 acres or above at an investment of Rs 453.69 crore in five years from the date of handing over the possession of the land. He asserted that the state government would act as a facilitator and the SEZ would be eligible for all benefits under the SEZ Policy of the state.

Lashing out at Navjot Sidhu, MP from Amritsar, Capt Amarinder Singh said he was unnecessarily politicising the SEZ issue for his vested interests, adding that it was unbecoming of an MP to make ‘irresponsible’ statements without verifying the facts. He said the SEZ project had been approved by the Council of Ministers two months ago, paving the way for signing this agreement.

Capt. Amarinder Singh said the Punjab Government had liberalised its policies to attract foreign investment and restore confidence among foreign entrepreneurs. Punjab was being projected as a preferred investment destination. To boost industrialization, 149 mega projects had been approved by the empowered committee involving an investment of Rs. 56,000 crore , thereby generating direct and indirect employment for 10 lakh persons.

The Chief Minister said the Government of India had approved three out of nine SEZs, two at Mohali in IT by Quark, one on pharmaceuticals by Ranbaxy and a multi- product one at Amritsar The proposal for the remaining six SEZs was under active consideration.

Capt Amarinder Singh said developers and promoters had evinced a keen interest to develop mega townships in Punjab and the empowered committee had approved projects worth Rs.3,500 crore in this sector.

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12 industries to get sites at Manesar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC) has in principle allotted 12 sites at the Technology Park at Manesar. The Board of Directors of HSIDC will meet on Sunday and give a formal approval to the allotment, thus setting the stage for the development of first Information Technology (IT) Park in Haryana.

The sites have been allotted to HCL Technoparks, Agilent Technologies International, Primrose Projects (a Bharti Televentures project), Arora Udyog, Anant Raj Industries (with KLG Systems as an anchor unit), Shapoorji and Pallonji, T3 Infratech, Sofed Retailer, Rishiraj Realtors, Galileo India, A.N. Buildwell and Vigneshwara Developers.

Senior officials in HSIDC informed TNS that the allotment letters would be issued to these companies only after the Board meeting on March 26.

These companies will now have to pay 25 per cent of the total land cost (at the rate of Rs 4,200 per sq. meter), before a ‘possession letter is issued to them. HSIDC is also coming up with some regulations to ensure that the companies finish the construction and start the projects in a fixed timeframe.

The IT Park at Manesar is coming up on 135 acres of land, and each of these companies have been allotted a 10 acre piece of land for campus development.

Meanwhile, A committee appointed by the Haryana government to identify the land needed by Reliance Industries for setting up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has identified 15,000 acres on the Gurgaon- Jhajjar highway. Though Reliance had asked for 25,000 acres of land for setting up the SEZ yet a single large chunk of this size could not be identified.

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Subbu bids adieu to Hyundai

New Delhi, March 24
Mr B.V.R. Subbu, President of South Korean auto major Hyundai in India, today announced his exit from the company days before his contract was to come up for renewal , ending a nearly decade-long stint that saw the company emerge as the country’s second-biggest carmaker.

Mr Subbu, whose contract was set to expire on March 31, put in his papers, calling it quits just when the company had embarked on a major expansion drive in India involving an investment of $600 million to scale up production capacity to 6,00,000 units by 2007 from the current levels of 2,80,000.

“I step down from the post of President, Hyundai Motor India, at the end of my term of office effective from March 31, 2006.... I leave Hyundai Motor India with a sense of satisfaction at having helped to create and nurture a truly world-class organisation of exceptional promise,” Mr Subbu said in a statement.

Hyundai India Managing Director H.S. Lheem termed Subbu’s exit as “an irreparable loss” and said the company would always look up to his “professional guidance and support” for the future.

“Hyundai and Mr Subbu will explore opportunities for a continued professional relationship,” Mr Lheem, who joined India operations in January this year, said.

Mr Subbu had joined Hyundai India in 1996 as Director (Marketing) and was elevated as President in March, 2002, succeeding Mr A. P. Gandhi. — PTI

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Arcelor seeks support from small investors

Paris, March 24
Steel producer Arcelor staged a glitzy rally for ordinary shareholders yesterday and urged them to block hostile bidder Mittal Steel.

Chief Executive Guy Dolle urged an audience of 1,000, mainly elderly people who own shares in the world’s second biggest steel firm to help him fight off the $ 24 billion bid from steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and said he was confident of success.

“I hope that you too will reject this bid,” Mr Dolle said amid loud cheers in a hall under the Grand Arch at La Defense — a striking glass, steel and marble monument inaugurated in 1989 to celebrate the bicentenary of the French Revolution.

The struggle between Arcelor and Indian-born Mittal’s fast-growing steel empire has come to symbolise a clash between old and new wealth as Europe tries to adapt to globalisation.

Arcelor has been fighting against Mittal’s bid with the support of Luxembourg, its chief shareholder, as well as France and Spain, where it has steel plants and thousands of workers. — Reuters

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Fiji-India air link may become reality
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, March 24
The airline authorities of India and Fiji have opened talks to provide direct link services between the two countries.

Talking to TNS here last night, the High Commissioner of Fiji in India, Mr Luke Rokovada, disclosed that Air-India and Fiji’s Air Pacific are in touch with each other. The proposed direct flight from Fiji to India may possibly have Mumbai as the terminal point.

Mr Rokovada was here to take part in an interactive business session with local industrialists and diplomatic missions in India organised by the NCR Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Apart from Fiji, representatives of High Commission and Embassies of Turkey, Vietnam, Austria, Georgia, South Africa and Malaysia took part in it.

He further said that Australia has already given the green signal to Air Pacific for its flight to go over its air space to facilitate the proposed direct services to India.

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Jaypee, Shree, Birla Cement vie for jv

New Delhi, March 24
Three private cement manufacturers — Jaypee Cement, Shree Cement and Birla Cement — are in the race to form a joint venture with Steel Authority of India Limited to set up a 2.5 million tonne cement plant.

SAIL would have a 24 per cent stake in the JV, while the majority 76 per cent stake would be owned by one of the three bidders, sources said.

The proposed joint venture will source limestone, a key ingredient for cement manufacturing, from SAIL mines and the slag produced from the cement plant would be sold back to SAIL, sources added. — PTI

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PSIEC to market MMTC pig iron
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC) today entered into an agreement with the Punjab Small Industries & Export Corporation, (PSIEC), a nodal agency for the distribution of raw material among SSI units in Punjab, for marketing pig iron.

The agreement helps meet the long-standing demand of industry for pig iron at competitive prices at its doorstep.

The MMTC will initially offer pig iron from the 1.1 million tonne Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd (NINL) plant. MMTC pig iron will help industries in Punjab produce quality finished goods for domestic and export market.

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ONGC jv to get $70 m from Panna gas

New Delhi, March 24
ONGC-Reliance-BG will get additional revenue of $70 million from realising higher price for gas produced from Panna/Mukta and Tapti fields.

“The joint venture stands to gain $70 million in 2006-07,” Reliance Industries President R.P. Sharma told reporters here. The joint venture will sell 5.4 million cubic meters per day of gas from Panna/ Mukta and Tapti fields to Gail at $4.75 per million British thermal unit (mBtu), about a dollar more than the present price.

“The consortium will continue selling 5.4 mmscmd of gas from the fields to Gail for two more years beyond the expiry of current contract on March 31, 2006,” a source said.

This month, ONGC struck a deal with Torrent Power of Gujarat for sale of 1.5 mmscmd of PMT gas at $4.75 per mBtu and this was set as the benchmark price, sources said. — PTI

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Reliance-ADAG announces merger schedule

Mumbai, March 24
Moving a step further towards consolidating its businesses, the Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group today announced a tentative schedule for merger of two firms transferred from Mukesh Ambani group earlier this year with its flagship power entity Reliance Energy Ltd and financial services company Reliance Capital Ltd.

The announcement came shortly after the Bombay High Court directed the companies — Reliance Energy Ventures, Reliance Capital Ventures Ltd, REL and RCL — to hold shareholders’ meeting on April 26 for approving the schemes of amalgamation. The merger process would be completed by July this year.

The companies would file petitions with the High Court seeking sanction of the scheme shortly after the April 26 meeting. — PTI

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BRIEFLY


A model presents a traditional design by Tunisian Aida Sassi at the Handicraft week in Tunis on Thursday
A model presents a traditional design by Tunisian Aida Sassi at the Handicraft week in Tunis on Thursday. — AFP 

Mallya is Bank of Maharashtra CMD
New Delhi, March 24
Mr M.D. Mallya, Executive Director , Oriental Bank of Commerce, has been appointed Chairman and Managing Director of Bank of Maharashtra. Mr Allen C. A. Pereira, General Manager , Syndicate Bank, will replace Mr Mallya as Executive Director in the Oriental Bank of Commerce, an official announcement said today. — PTI

Merger talks
Paris, March 24
French telecom technology provider Alcatel and US telecom equipment firm Lucent Technologies are in negotiations on a possible merger, the two groups announced today. “We can confirm that Lucent and Alcatel are engaged in discussions about a potential merger of equals that is intended to be priced at market,” the statement said. — AFP

Inflation up
New Delhi, March 24
After falling for two weeks, inflation surged by 0.26 per cent to touch 4.28 per cent during the week ended March 11 due to an increase in the prices of some food products, electricity, lubricants and manufactured goods. The rise in inflation was despite the fact that bankers are complaining of tightening liquidity in the system. — PTI

Osonide inhaler
Mumbai, March 24
Ranbaxy said today it had launched its osonide (Ciclesonide) inhaler for the treatment of asthma. The product with a once-a-day dosage is available in Hydroxy Fluoro Alkane-based pressurised metered dose inhalers in two strengths. — PTI


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