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B U S I N E S S

Fund to promote new ideas coming in Budget
New Delhi, November 28
In the forthcoming Budget, the government will announce a public fund for innovative ideas, of which 30 per cent will be given as licensing fee or patent fee, 30 per cent will go towards funding the project and the balance 40 per cent will be given to the institute where the research takes place, said Mr Kapil Sibal, Minister of Science, Technology and Earth Sciences.

Offer for Corus remains valid: Tata Steel
Kolkata, November 28
In its first official comment on the Corus deal since a rival bid came up, Tata Steel said today its offer for buying out the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker remained valid in spite of a counter bid by Brazil's CSN.

RBI: Rope in SHGs to recover loans 
Chandigarh, November 28
With agriculture loans worth crores of rupees being written off as non-performing assets (NPAs), the RBI has come up with a unique scheme for outsourcing the recovery in advances through self-help groups (SHGs).

IPO scam: MPs pull up SEBI 
New Delhi, November 28
A Parliamentary Committee has pulled up SEBI for not being vigilant and said timely action by the market regulator could have prevented recurrence of same errors by depositories that led to the IPO scam.

MUL to launch Zen as Estilo
New Delhi, November 28
Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) is all set to relaunch its once-upon- a time signature car, Zen, as Estilo in the Indian market.

Secys to examine AI-Indian merger 
New Delhi, November 28
The government has decided to set up a group of Secretaries to go into the proposed merger of Air-India and Indian.

Pak nod to textile machinery import
Karachi, November 28
Pakistan has allowed the import of most of the textile machinery from India under a recently extended positive list of importable items.


 

 

Ms Alice Cheng displays a Qianlong rose 'swallow' bowl after a Christie auction in Hong Kong
Ms Alice Cheng displays a Qianlong rose 'swallow' bowl after a Christie auction in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Cheng, the new owner of the ceramic bowl, spent $19,400,000 in the auction and set a new world auction record for a Qing ceramic. — Reuters

 
Mr Masahiro Takedagawa, President and CEO, Honda Siel Cars India, poses with an all-new Honda CR-V at its launch in New Delhi
Mr Masahiro Takedagawa, President and CEO, Honda Siel Cars India, poses with an all-new Honda CR-V at its launch in New Delhi on Tuesday. The SUV is powered by 2.4-litre i-VTEC engine, which delivers a torque of 161ps@5800rpm and is priced between Rs 17.7 lakh and Rs 18.4 lakh. The company will invest Rs 300 crore by the end of next year to ramp up the capacity from 50,000 to 1 lakh cars at its Noida facility. — Tribune photo by Rajeev Tyagi  

Wipro looks for buyouts
New Delhi, November 28
Wipro chief Azim Premji said today the company was looking at $50-100 million companies abroad for acquisition. Wipro, the country's third largest software services exporter, earlier said it was looking for takeovers in the US and Europe.

Gujarat NRE buys 85 pc in Austalian Co
Ahmedabad, November 28
With the acquisition of an 85 per cent stake in Zelos Resources NL, a company which explores gold and other base materials in Tasmania, the Gujarat NRE group has become the second Indian company to be listed in the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

Eurofly connects Rome, Delhi
New Delhi, November 28
Italian carrier Eurofly today announced launch of direct flights from New Delhi to Rome starting January 15.

BSNL, MTNL to lay submarine cable to Arab world
Chennai, November 28
India and Egypt on today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on mutual co-operation in information technology (IT) and allied services.
Chinese models display dresses designed with motifs of the Forbidden City and its treasure by Chinese designer Hu Xiaodan AT a fashion show in Tokyo
Chinese models display dresses designed with motifs of the Forbidden City and its treasure by Chinese designer Hu Xiaodan AT a fashion show in Tokyo late on Monday as part of the "Chinese Culture Festival", which will last until December 22 in Japan. — AFP  

GSM operators justify differential tariff 
New Delhi, November 28
GSM operators today defended the differential tariff being charged from subscribers for calls terminating in the networks of state-owned telecom companies — BSNL and MTNL — saying this was due to absence of direct connectivity with them.

Govt may compensate Reliance 
New Delhi, November 28
The government is likely to issue bonds to reimburse the turnover tax (ToT) paid by Reliance Industries Ltd.

Exports up 34 pc, imports jump 39 pc 
New Delhi, November 28
India’s overall merchandise exports grew by 34 per cent to Rs 319,008.94 crore during April-October, 2006 despite a slowdown in October while imports rose at a much faster pace of more than 39 per cent.

Farmers’ development institute
Chandigarh, November 28
Allahabad Bank has set up a Farmers and Entrepreneurship Development Institute at Bolpur (Shantiniketan) in Kolkata. The institute was inaugurated by Mr Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker, Lok Sabha. The institute, first-of-its-kind by any public sector bank, aims at providing training, credit and other escort services to farmers and entrepreneurs. — TNS

 

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Fund to promote new ideas coming in Budget
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
In the forthcoming Budget, the government will announce a public fund for innovative ideas, of which 30 per cent will be given as licensing fee or patent fee, 30 per cent will go towards funding the project and the balance 40 per cent will be given to the institute where the research takes place, said Mr Kapil Sibal, Minister of Science, Technology and Earth Sciences.

The government cannot expect private industry to start investing in innovation without investing in the university research system, he said while addressing the India Economic Summit here today.

Speaking on government initiatives to encourage innovation in the country, the minister informed that "an existing scheme provides a grant of Rs 50 lakh to fund idea incubation and a loan of up to Rs 10 crore for commercialising the idea."

He also announced that the government would soon launch a scheme which would enable women to contribute building wealth of the nation from the comfort of their homes.

Indian industry and India as a country are at an inflection point and are transforming from being "imitators to innovators", said Ms Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon India.

Talking about the basics that would fuel a culture of innovation in India, she emphasised, "There is a need to create an eco-system and an engine fuelled by academic research. The gap between the academia and the industry must also be bridged. An ethos of monetising early stage ideas is missing in India and must be developed".

She said innovation carries a high cost of failure, but India's advantage lay in the low cost of doing research, making failure affordable. India must therefore leverage the low-cost advantage to deliver high-value innovation.

Innovation is not a luxury for India, said Mr Naresh Trehan, Executive Director, Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre. "India needs to think out of the box and stop going down the beaten path. There is a case for setting a new paradigm in healthcare by delivering traditional healthcare and medicines for solving the problems of the masses" he said.

Talking about the government intervention in this area, Dr Trehan emphasised the need to fashion the 500 million Indian workforce to global needs for them to become a global resource. Encouraging companies to bring their innovative ideas to fruition, Dr Trehan said, "Companies in India have the holding power and should invest in innovative ideas even if they are a little ahead of their times".

India is amongst the oldest innovators in the world with the number system, spinning wheel and the chess to its credit, said Mr William G. Parrett, Global CEO, Deloitte, USA. Today, India's challenge is to make innovation work for the masses and create sustainable businesses out of it. Lessons from the pharma and IT sectors could be replicated in India's public sector, he added.

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Offer for Corus remains valid: Tata Steel

Kolkata, November 28
In its first official comment on the Corus deal since a rival bid came up, Tata Steel said today its offer for buying out the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker remained valid in spite of a counter bid by Brazil's CSN.

"We have made an offer for Corus on October 20. That remains valid," Tata Steel Deputy Managing Director T. Mukherjee said today on the sidelines of a metals seminar here.

Asked whether Tata Steel would revise its bid to match the CSN offer, he refused to comment.

India's largest private steel manufacturer had offered to buy out Corus at a price of 455 pence per share with a total deal size valued at $8.1 billion.

Subsequently, CSN made a counter offer at a price of 475 pence per share, which valued Corus at $8.5 billion.

Before the CSN bid, Tata Steel Managing Director B. Muthuraman had said that 455 pence was a fair value to the investors of Corus. Standard Life, which holds 7.8 per cent stake in Corus, was unhappy with Tata Steel's offer, saying that it was undervalued.

Meanwhile, Tata Steel will expand the capacity of its Jamshedpur plant from five million tonne per annum to 10 million tonne by 2009-10, a company official said today.

Tata Steel would jack up the capacity of the Jamshedpur plant to 6.8 million tonnes by 2007-08. The expansion would be done without adding a blast furnace, Mr Mukherjee said. — PTI 

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CSN talks with Corus pension trustees on

London: CSN on Tuesday started discussions with Pension Fund Trustees of its takeover target Corus, as more bankers evinced support for the Brazilian firm's bid while original bidder Tata Steel remained tight-lipped on matching the counter offer.

A CSN official said the Brazilian company had opened discussions with the Trustees of the Corus Pension Funds, who were reported to be in favour of Tata Steel.

Sources close to the development said that UBS, the joint broker to the Brazilian firm, had evinced interest in joining the syndicate of banks for financing the deal and so was Dutch banking major ING.

The renewed activities of CSN came in tandem with Corus deferring the EGM of shareholders to December 20. — PTI

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RBI: Rope in SHGs to recover loans 
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
With agriculture loans worth crores of rupees being written off as non-performing assets (NPAs), the RBI has come up with a unique scheme for outsourcing the recovery in advances through self-help groups (SHGs).

In a communiqué, RBI has advised banks that in order to make SHG movement more relevant to the changing scenario, they need to adopt strategies to leverage the vast network of SHGs for services like loan monitoring and collection of market intelligence. It has thus been decided to utilise services of a few well-functioning SHGs to supplement the efforts for recovery of NPA accounts.

The banks have been clearly told that the scheme would in no way dilute the laid down responsibility of the bank to affect recovery; SHGs will just supplement the efforts of the bank field staff for expediting recoveries. The move comes amidst strong opposition to any outsourcing of activities of public sector banks by their employees’ and officers’ unions.

The rationale behind the move is that SHGs can be more successful and persuasive than the bank field staff. Since the members of the SHGs are from the same village as the defaulter (s), they can better coerce them to repay loans, especially since bank staff is treated as outsiders. The SHGs will be paid 10 per cent of the recovery affected by them for all NPA accounts. This commission will be paid to them in monthly intervals, covering all accounts allotted to them.

Several public sector banks have thus launched the scheme for outsourcing recovery in advances through SHGs. Some banks have also decided to rope in the SHGs for recovery in advances (NPA and written off accounts) under agriculture, small and medium enterprises and personal loans.

The banks, after identifying the SHGs to be roped in for this scheme, will train them about their functions, with a special emphasis that only legally permissible means/ procedures be used for recovery. 

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IPO scam: MPs pull up SEBI 

New Delhi, November 28
A Parliamentary Committee has pulled up SEBI for not being vigilant and said timely action by the market regulator could have prevented recurrence of same errors by depositories that led to the IPO scam.

The ultimate onus of regulating the capital markets rests with SEBI, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance said, adding had the market regulator been vigilant, it would not have overlooked errors year after year by depositories.

The committee, headed by BJP MP B.C. Khanduri, said SEBI should introspect to find out the reasons as to why such recurrence could not be addressed by it earlier.

The report also asked the authorities to remain alert and increase vigil every time there is a bull run.

"Enough evidence is available to show that the past scams, namely the Harshad Mehta scam and the Ketan Parekh scam had accompanied the boom in the capital market," the report said.

The committee recommended amendment in the Companies Act to make multiple applications for public offers, which caused IPO scams, an offence. — PTI

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MUL to launch Zen as Estilo
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) is all set to relaunch its once-upon- a time signature car, Zen, as Estilo in the Indian market.

The all-new “Estilo” , which means style in Spanish, would be a feast Zen lovers. To be positioned as a “fashion statement” for young India, it would be a fusion of fashion and functionality.

Going by sheer looks and distinctive aerodynamics, it is distinctively positioned for the style conscious users, a top source at a dealership said.

The new Zen will be the first of the five models Maruti has promised to launch in the domestic market over the next five years. Maruti’s new offering will intensify the car war in the compact car segment, where it takes on rivals like Hyundai Santro and Tata Indica.

The company, which shared its Zen strategy with dealers at a series of zonal conferences across the country last week, is looking to cash in on the looks and styling of its latest model.

This will be the second model after Swift where MUL would be riding on looks and styling. Swift, launched 18 months ago, has been successful in India and sold a record, 61,200 units in the first year of its launch.

Maruti stopped production of the old Zen in March by which time the iconic brand had sold over 760,000 cars, including exports of 1,22,000 units. The Zen, first launched in 1993, was being heralded as India’s world car in the mid-1990s when it became the first car from the country to be exported to Europe.

Maruti launched several versions and limited editions of Zen.

A dealer said company officials remained tight-lipped about the price of the new Zen, except a hint by a top Maruti manager that as in the past, Zen will command a premium over its peers. 

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Secys to examine AI-Indian merger 

New Delhi, November 28
The government has decided to set up a group of Secretaries to go into the proposed merger of Air-India and Indian.

The decision to set up the group of Secretaries was taken at a meeting of the Group of Ministers, which was briefed on issues relating to the merger, including operational synergy, employees, taxation and legal matters.

"A small group of Secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi will examine all issues and present their recommendations in the next two weeks after which the GoM will meet again," Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said after the over 90-minute meeting yesterday.

The issue of branding of the proposed new entity after the merger of the two state-owned carriers also came up for discussion at the first meeting of the GoM, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, here.

A presentation was made to the GoM by the consultant selected for the purpose, M/S Accenture, he said.

The proposed merger of Air-India and Indian would establish a mega carrier with over 130 aircraft. Both carriers have together placed orders for 111 new aircraft from Boeing and Airbus Industrie, most of which would be used to replace their existing fleet of leased or aged planes.

Mr Patel said the meeting discussed issues concerning legal matters, employees, the question of stamp duty and taxation. — PTI

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Pak nod to textile machinery import

Karachi, November 28
Pakistan has allowed the import of most of the textile machinery from India under a recently extended positive list of importable items.

Dawn newspaper quoted President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Majyd Aziz as welcoming the ''long overdue'' decision.

Under the recent order, Pakistan has enlarged the positive list of importable items from India to 1,841 tariff lines that cover 1,074 products. Before this enlargement, Pakistan's positive list included 1,525 tariff lines covering 774 products.

The import of textile machinery is showing a declining trend for the past several months and after attaining a peak of $928.6 million in 2004-05 came down to $771.46 million in 2005-06. The textile machinery imports came down by more than 33 per cent on year-to-year basis in the past four months. — UNI

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Wipro looks for buyouts

New Delhi, November 28
Wipro chief Azim Premji said today the company was looking at $50-100 million companies abroad for acquisition. Wipro, the country's third largest software services exporter, earlier said it was looking for takeovers in the US and Europe.

''We will be scaling up the size of acquisitions globally from $25 million--$50 million to $50 million--$100 million. I, however, doubt that it will touch the $1 billion mark because at the end of the day IT acquisitions mean absorbing the workforce. It does not make sense to pay billion dollars for the same,'' he said while addressing the India Economic summit here.

Citing that Wipro acquired six companies — three in the US and Europe each — in the past nine months, which were strategic to the company's growth, Mr Premji indicated that his company would follow the same principle in future. Premji, one of India's richest men, has about 80 per cent stake in the company. — PTI 

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Gujarat NRE buys 85 pc in Austalian Co

Ahmedabad, November 28
With the acquisition of an 85 per cent stake in Zelos Resources NL, a company which explores gold and other base materials in Tasmania, the Gujarat NRE group has become the second Indian company to be listed in the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

Zelos, a limited company, listed in the Australian Stock Exchange, is now officially, 'Gujarat NRE Resources NL.

Aditya Birla Minerals Ltd, Hindalco's copper mining subsidiary in Australia, was the first Indian company to be listed on the ASX. The takeover came through when Gujarat NRE sold its Avondale Coal Mine in the Southern Coalfields of North South Wales, to Zelos for 170 million shares in Zelos and 130 million options of 20 cents. 
— UNI

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Eurofly connects Rome, Delhi

New Delhi, November 28
Italian carrier Eurofly today announced launch of direct flights from New Delhi to Rome starting January 15.

Eurofly Executive Vice-President Armando Brunini said a round-trip economy class ticket will cost Rs 20,000 plus taxes and a business class ticket will come for Rs 79,000 plus taxes. The flight to Rome would operate three times a week.— PTI

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BSNL, MTNL to lay submarine cable to Arab world

Chennai, November 28
India and Egypt on today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on mutual co-operation in information technology (IT) and allied services.

The pact was signed between the visiting Egyptian Information and Technology Minister Dr Tarek Kamel and the Union Information and Technology Minister Dayanidi Maran.

BSNL and MTNL will lay submarine cables connecting the United States through the Arab world.

The project would form part of the Asia-America Gateway to connect the United States through the Panama Canal, Union Minister for IT and Communications Dayanidhi Maran announced today.

Mr Maran said the BSNL and MTNL submarine cable channel will connect India to the Arab world and Egypt would be the gateway for this.

"BSNL and MTNL are now trying to take submarine cable to the Arab world. The work has already started and it is in preliminary stage. By asking for the co-operation of the Egypt we can have a gateway to the Arabian lands. This is the first time BSNL is laying a submarine cable. Earlier it was hiring the services of the private sectors," said Mr Maran.

"Areas of co-operation include multilingual content, multilingual IT-enabled products between Egypt and India," said Dr Kamel.

He further said Egypt would provide concessions to the Indian investors.— Agencies

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GSM operators justify differential tariff 

New Delhi, November 28
GSM operators today defended the differential tariff being charged from subscribers for calls terminating in the networks of state-owned telecom companies — BSNL and MTNL — saying this was due to absence of direct connectivity with them.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the GSM body, contended that since there was no direct connectivity between their networks, calls had to be routed like STD calls. Hence, the higher tariff.

"If our calling charges are different from BSNL, in such a scenario, we should not be held responsible," said COAI's counsel during the proceedings before telecom tribunal TDSAT.

"We have to pay more money for our call if it originates from our network to BSNL's or MTNL's network," contended COAI, adding that nature of call becomes different if it terminates at BSNL's network.

"Two unequals could not be treated as equals," the association argued and added that their cost was much higher.

The COAI had challenged TRAI's February 26 directive to private cell operators to stop charging differential tariffs for calls terminating on the BSNL CellOne network in four states.

In these four states, government has permitted direct connectivity between Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra, Kolkata and West Bengal and similarly between Chennai and rest of Tamil Nadu and two parts of UP (East and West). The tribunal has adjourned the matter till tomorrow. — PTI 

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Govt may compensate Reliance 

New Delhi, November 28
The government is likely to issue bonds to reimburse the turnover tax (ToT) paid by Reliance Industries Ltd.

Reliance has claimed compensation on ToT amounting to Rs 80.65 crore for the administered pricing mechanism (APM) period up to March, 2002.

"The compensation may be through the issue of bonds and the same may be included in the Budget for 2007-08," an official said.

Mr Mukesh Ambani, head of Reliance Industries Ltd, met Finance Minister P. Chidambaram yesterday presumably to take up the issue of compensation of ToT.

Reliance had requested for reimbursement of ToT payable to the state government for the period up to March, 2002, on the sale of petrol, diesel and aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to oil marketing companies for resale within Gujarat.

Officials said the file pertaining to reimbursement of the ToT to Reliance was with Petroleum Minister Murli Deora. The papers would also go to the Finance Ministry for necessary action. — PTI

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Exports up 34 pc, imports jump 39 pc 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
India’s overall merchandise exports grew by 34 per cent to Rs 319,008.94 crore during April-October, 2006 despite a slowdown in October while imports rose at a much faster pace of more than 39 per cent.

The cumulative value of India's imports during the first seven months of 2006-07 was Rs 457,537.17 crore, higher than imports at Rs 328,813.00 crore during April-October, 2005.

During October, imports were provisionally valued at Rs 71,970.75 crore compared with Rs 50,945.49 crore in October last year.

The crude oil imports were valued at $5346.14 million in October compared to $3441.25 million in the corresponding period last year, recording 55 per cent growth. Crude oil imports during April-October, 2006, were valued at $34,010.19 million, 39 per cent higher than crude oil imports of $24389.6 million in the corresponding period last year.

Non-oil imports were estimated at $10,482.88 million during October, 2006, as against $8,131.38 million in October, 2005.

Non-oil imports during April-October, 2006, were valued at $65,745.59 million, which was 13 per cent higher than $57924.82 million in April-October ,2005.

The trade deficit for April-October, 2006, was estimated at $30,230.14 million as compared to $23,515.21 million during April-October, 2005.

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Farmers’ development institute

Chandigarh, November 28
Allahabad Bank has set up a Farmers and Entrepreneurship Development Institute at Bolpur (Shantiniketan) in Kolkata. The institute was inaugurated by Mr Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker, Lok Sabha. The institute, first-of-its-kind by any public sector bank, aims at providing training, credit and other escort services to farmers and entrepreneurs. — TNS

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BRIEFLY


Children admire a guard robot "Guardrobo D1" from Japan's Sogo Securities Service, which is able to patrol inside a building and guide visitors by a LCD monitor mounted on its body at a demonstration in Tokyo
Children admire a guard robot "Guardrobo D1" from Japan's Sogo Securities Service, which is able to patrol inside a building and guide visitors by a LCD monitor mounted on its body at a demonstration in Tokyo on Monday. The security company started its new security system using the remote-controlled robot "Reborg-Q" at 380,000 yen ($3,300) per month. — AFP

Balmer Lawrie
Mumbai, November 28
Diversified oil PSU Balmer Lawrie & Company Ltd said today it had been upgraded to mini ratna category-I from mini ratna category-II status. The company has received a letter from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas regarding the upgradation, Balmer Lawrie & Company said. With this, Balmer Lawrie would be able to enjoy greater managerial and commercial autonomy in respect of capital expenditure, joint ventures, subsidiaries, mergers and acquisitions. — PTI

Accor Hotels
Mumbai, November 28
Accor Hotels today performed the ground-breaking ceremony of it's $106-million 5-star hotel project, 'The Sofitel' at the Bandra-Kurla complex, in suburban Mumbai. The hotel is a joint venture between Shree Naman Hotels Pvt Ltd, an associate company of Shree Naman Developers Ltd, and Accor. — UNI

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