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DoT tightens user verification norms
To penalise defaulting telecom operators 

New Delhi, December 1
Telecom operators will have to pay a penalty and immediately de-activate a pre-paid mobile connection if they fail to follow the new norms issued by the government to strengthen the subscriber verification system.

Don’t seek tax rate cuts: RBI
Mumbai, December 1
RBI Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan today asked industry chambers not to clamour for tax rate cuts, saying that the rates were already moderate by international standards.

A unique portal for media agencies
Chandigarh, December 1
Newsmen, public relations agencies, online news portals, wire agencies and all those connected with the news world have a reason to cheer. A company with its roots in the region and known for its information-broadcasting initiatives — IndiaTotal Infoline — has launched a unique service that will disseminate information to target groups as it happens.

Murthy hails Wal-Mart, Bharti joint venture
Opposes quota in education, jobs 
Bangalore, December 1
Chief Mentor of Infosys N.R. Narayana Murthy today supported the joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Wal-Mart, saying that the Indian partner would benefit from the world's largest retail chain's expertise and technology.

Rajesh Srivastava
Rajesh Srivastava

Cooperative farming ‘key to sustain growth’
Chandigarh, December 1

Cooperative farming is the only way to make farming sustainable in India, said Mr Rajesh Srivastava, Regional Head, Rabobank International, Asia, and Managing Director of Corporate and Commercial Banking, Rabo India Finance (a 100 per cent subsidiary of Rabobank International). He was in the city to participate in Agro Tech 2006, where Rabobank is a knowledge partner. He said the cooperative movement, except for in the dairy sector, has not really picked up in India.

 

 

Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat at a promotional event for a soft drink company in New Delhi
Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat at a promotional event for a soft drink company in New Delhi on Friday. —A Tribune photograph


 
A woman cleans a new Audi TT Roadster 3.2 Quattro at the opening of the Essen Motor Show in Essen
A woman cleans a new Audi TT Roadster 3.2 Quattro at the opening of the Essen Motor Show in Essen on Friday. About 400,000 visitors are expected at the trade fair until December 10. — Reuters

Ranbaxy picks up South Africa’s Be Tabs for Rs 315 cr 
New Delhi, December 1
Ranbaxy today announced the acquisition of South Africa's fifth largest pharmaceutical firm Be-Tabs Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd for $70 million (about Rs 315 crore).

Hero Honda keen on four-wheeler segment
Mumbai, December 1
India's largest motor cycle maker Hero Honda plans to foray into manufacture of four wheelers and auto parts, as the company seeks to diversify its portfolio.

China keen to boost trade with India
Chandigarh, December 1
The Minister of International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China, Mr Wang Jiarui, has stressed the need for cooperation in the fields of trade and cultural and educational exchanges between India and China.

SPIC to invest $200 m in Jordan
New Delhi, December 1
Chennai-based chemical company Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation Ltd (SPIC) will invest $200 million to double the manufacturing capacity of its Jordanian joint venture.
The world's most expensive Hello Kitty doll, priced at 18.9 million yen ($161,500), is unveiled at Sanrio headquarters in Tokyo
The world's most expensive Hello Kitty doll, priced at 18.9 million yen ($161,500), is unveiled at Sanrio headquarters in Tokyo on Friday for a Christmas gift. The platinum Hello Kitty, 56 mm in height and weighing 590 gm, wears a ruby studded ribbon with sapphire, diamond, brown diamond, amethyst, topaz and quartz. — AFP

Inflation up at 18-month high
New Delhi, December 1
Inflation surged to 5.45 per cent, the highest in 18 months, with Finance Minster P. Chidambaram attributing the rise to supply side constraints of essential commodities like pulses.

A-I Express gets Boeing
Seattle, December 1
Boeing and Air-India (AI) have celebrated the delivery of the first of 18 next generation 737-800s to Air-India Express, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air-India.

Reliance Comm m-cap touches
$20 b 

Mumbai, December 1
Anil Ambani group company Reliance Communications Ltd, the second largest telecom firm on the bourses, today consolidated its position as its market value rose to more than $20 billion. In line with the record-breaking rally in stock markets, RCL shares gained more than 3 per cent (Rs 13 a share) to close at an all-time high of Rs 442.05. The company's market capitalisation stands at Rs 90,400 crore ($20.19 billion). — PTI 

Kingfisher Airlines net loss at Rs 240 cr
New Delhi, December 1
Hit by high fuel costs and low air fares, Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines has suffered a net loss of Rs 240 crore in 2005-06.

 

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DoT tightens user verification norms
To penalise defaulting telecom operators 

New Delhi, December 1
Telecom operators will have to pay a penalty and immediately de-activate a pre-paid mobile connection if they fail to follow the new norms issued by the government to strengthen the subscriber verification system.

As per the norms, if after March 31, 2007, any subscriber’s number is found out to be without proper verification, a minimum penalty of Rs 1,000 per violation would be levied on the licensee, Department of Telecom sources said.

The new norms, issued on November 22, follow a meeting by the DoT on September 27 this year.

Further, the authorised person selling SIM cards would have to record in the application form that he has seen the subscriber and verified his documents with the original. In this regard, the operator would have to make the seller aware about his responsibilities and liabilities in the matter.

Pre-paid SIM cards, which make 80 per cent of the mobile connections, would be activated only after the customer acquisition form has been properly filled and copies of documentary proof submitted by the customer.

The authorised seller, who is directly accountable to operators, would have to verify that all documentary requirements have been completed before activating the SIM card.

The sources said if any discrepancy was found at any stage, the connection would have to be de-activated immediately, but in any case not later than 72 hours.

The sources said it had also been decided to strictly follow that pre-activated SIM cards would not be sold in the market.

"The licensee would have to ensure that information about the subscriber is entered into the licensee's database correctly based on the information in customer acquisition forms (CAF) and supporting documents," sources said.

For this purpose, the licensee would have to nominate officials responsible for entry of subscriber information in the database and cross-checking information from it.

The new norms were necessitated as the licence condition of cellular and unified mobile operators only says that the licensee must ensure "adequate verification" of each and every customer before enrolling his as a subscriber.

The DoT had cracked the whip on mobile companies ever since security agencies raised concern over fake addresses and bulk connections in a single person's name. — PTI 

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Don’t seek tax rate cuts: RBI

Mumbai, December 1
RBI Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan today asked industry chambers not to clamour for tax rate cuts, saying that the rates were already moderate by international standards.

"I was surprised by the chambers asking for more tax reductions while simultaneously asking for more expenditure on infrastructure," he said at a book release function at the Indian Merchants' Chamber here.

Interestingly, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram himself had hinted at further moderation of tax rates while addressing the Economic Editors' Conference last month, but added that this depended on greater tax compliance.

"I have not put any time-frame on moderation of tax rates," Mr Chidambaram had told reporters here yesterday when asked by when the rates would be rationalised.

According to Mr Mohan, there was now need for an efficient and automatic system for collection of taxes. He highlighted the model of tax deducted at source (TDS) as an ideal way of collecting taxes.

Mr Mohan described TDS as a painless method of collecting taxes and urged industry chambers to devise methodologies on the lines of TDS for tax collection. It was always painful to pay taxes after the money came into one's bank account.

Pointing out that not enough attention was being paid to tax administration, Mr Mohan said that presently there were 1,500 items that attracted excise duties as compared to just one in 1870 when excise duty was imposed on salt.

He, however, said that much progress had been achieved in indirect tax reforms with the number of excise rates coming down from 22 to three while customs duties have also reduced from 22 rates to four.

Earlier, V S Krishnan, Central Excise Commissoner of Pune III, whose book was released by Mr Mohan, said the Indian tax scenario comprised a narrow base and emphasised the need for its widening. — PTI

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A unique portal for media agencies
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Newsmen, public relations agencies, online news portals, wire agencies and all those connected with the news world have a reason to cheer. A company with its roots in the region and known for its information-broadcasting initiatives — IndiaTotal Infoline — has launched a unique service that will disseminate information to target groups as it happens.

The front end of the service, which can be accessed through the website infomailers.com can disseminate news instantaneously to more than 6,000 journalists. A tie-up with Yahoo is on the cards, extending the reach of the service to over 300,000 Indian net users.

According to Mr Narvijay Yadav, Chief Coordinator, IndiaTotal Infoline, the service is already available in English, Hindi and Punjabi and the only corporate news dissemination platform offering services in all three languages. “We are working on introducing these services in other Indian languages in phases”, he said.

The service launched earlier this year boasts of the largest number of membership from the media fraternity, who have consented to receive news items by email.

Mr Armaan Sharma, Technical Head of the company, said “Our objective let companies worldwide use our platform to disseminate their news to regulatory services, financial information systems, conventional and Internet-based news platforms.”

The website ‘infomailers.com’ allows journalists to receive news releases from leading clients of the service. The service is free for journalists, newspapers and other members of the media.

To avail the service, media organisations have to go through one-time registration online at www.infomailer.com or send an email to register@infomailers.com with their particulars, including topics and interests. 

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Murthy hails Wal-Mart, Bharti joint venture 
Opposes quota in education, jobs

Bangalore, December 1
Chief Mentor of Infosys N.R. Narayana Murthy today supported the joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Wal-Mart, saying that the Indian partner would benefit from the world's largest retail chain's expertise and technology.

"What's unique about Wal-Mart is its ability to leverage the power of technology for bringing in efficiency..bringing in customer comfort in an unheard of manner", the non-Executive Chairman of the Bangalore-based software major said.

"...that technology..that expertise and that environment will be made available to Indian partner", Mr Murthy said at a press conference on the sidelines of an international conference on 'Managing technology innovation in IT', organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) here.

He said the NASDAQ-listed firm drew 15 per cent its revenues from the retail sector, adding that it worked with all 'famous retail names', including Tesco and Wal-Mart.

Mr Narayana Murthy opposed reservation in educational institutions and employment, stressing that providing proper attention and training was the best way to "bring up" people.

Making a general comment on the Sachar Committee report, he said India had done "reasonably alright" in higher education thanks to Jawaharlal Nehru's vision and initiative in starting premier institutions in engineering, technology, science and medicine.

"But at the primary education level, we have not been as successful as we would like... whether it's one religion or another. It's again a reminder to us that we have a lot of work to do in the area of basic education," Mr Murthy said.

He said reservation was not the best way to bring up people. "You have to provide all inputs. First, make your primary education platform successful and then make your secondary education platform successful, and people will be able to compete," he said.

Murthy said Infosys and the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, in fact, were currently conducting an experiment to demonstrate that providing an efficient training programme to young men and women is a better way (to reservation). — PTI

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Cooperative farming ‘key to sustain growth’
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Cooperative farming is the only way to make farming sustainable in India, said Mr Rajesh Srivastava, Regional Head, Rabobank International, Asia, and Managing Director of Corporate and Commercial Banking, Rabo India Finance (a 100 per cent subsidiary of Rabobank International). He was in the city to participate in Agro Tech 2006, where Rabobank is a knowledge partner. He said the cooperative movement, except for in the dairy sector, has not really picked up in India.

The cooperative banks are not doing good business, and thus the Government of India has now come up with a Rs 15,000-crore fund for recapitalisation of these banks. Those states, which have decided to withdraw their control over the cooperative banks and bring these banks directly under the RBI, will be recapitalised. Mr Srivastava said in order to have an increased flow of credit in the agriculture sector, India needs to have cooperative institutions in place and this scheme would go a long way in enhancing agriculture growth.

He said Rabo India Finance (RIF) has set aside $75 million for its India operations. RIF offers sector-specific, knowledge-based customised solutions in core competencies like food and agribusiness, telecom, renewable energy and corporate finance. They have been helping the sugar industry in Uttar Pradesh, by extending credit for procurement, and are now preparing a Agri Vision Strategy for the Rajasthan Government.

“Recently, we have also submitted a vision document for 2015 to the Union Ministry of Food Processing, where we have highlighted the steps to be taken for the processed food industry in the country to grow from Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore by 2010.”

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Ranbaxy picks up South Africa’s Be Tabs for Rs 315 cr 

New Delhi, December 1
Ranbaxy today announced the acquisition of South Africa's fifth largest pharmaceutical firm Be-Tabs Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd for $70 million (about Rs 315 crore).

"This is the eighth acquisition we have done this year,” Ranbaxy CEO and Managing Director Malvinder Mohan Singh said.

The company would utilise Be Tabs' manufacturing facility in Johannesburg to produce drugs, including anti-retrovirals not only for the South African market but also to cater to the African continent.

Be Tabs is the 5th largest generics player and the biggest penicillin manufacturer in South Africa. It has a strong over-the-counter (OTC) portfolio with significant brand recognition, he said.

Earlier in the year, Ranbaxy had acquired Romania's Terapia for $324 million.

The acquisition of Be Tabs would catapult Ranbaxy to the top five generic producers in South Africa.

Mr Malvinder Mohan Singh said Ranbaxy's acquisition of Be Tabs would help in providing effective disease management solutions in support of the South African Government's objective to make healthcare affordable to a wider cross-section of its population.

The company said the transaction was valued at 2.2 times of sales and 7.7 times of EBITDA multiples of Be Tab.

The combined sales of Ranbaxy and Be Tabs would be around $55 million in South Africa.

South Africa is the largest pharma market in Africa, valued at close to $2 billion, with a high potential for generic growth. — PTI 

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Hero Honda keen on four-wheeler segment

Mumbai, December 1
India's largest motor cycle maker Hero Honda plans to foray into manufacture of four wheelers and auto parts, as the company seeks to diversify its portfolio.

The group will foray into four-wheeler manufacturing as and when it gets a good partner, company Managing Director Pawan Munjal said here today.

"As a group, there has been a natural progression for us... we started with bicycles and it makes sense for us to get into four-wheeler business," he said.

"As and when, there is a good partner, we could get into that..." Mr Munjal added.

Meanwhile, Hero Honda Motors is set to redefine the 100cc entry segment with the launch of its 'New CD De luxe and New CD Dawn' with stunningly attractive looks and a new engine priced at Rs 34,900 and Rs 31,900 (ex-showroom Delhi), respectively.

Announcing the launch here, Mr Pawan Munjal said :''The two new launches in 100cc entry segment seeks to fill the need gap of customers looking for value-for-money products with attractive looks.'' With this, Mr Munjal said, Hero Honda has already launched six new models, including variants. Two more launches are in the offing. 
— Agencies

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China keen to boost trade with India
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Minister of International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China, Mr Wang Jiarui, has stressed the need for cooperation in the fields of trade and cultural and educational exchanges between India and China.

Mr Wang Jiarui was interacting with the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and members of the delegation accompanying him in Beijing today.

He said the visit to India by the Chinese President, Mr Hu Jintao, had opened a new chapter in Sino-India relations and hoped that the bilateral relations could be further strengthened in a number of fields.

Mr Hooda said he was impressed with the infrastructure created in China and that too within a short period. He said Haryana was one of the most progressive states in India. The Haryana Government intended to achieve the goal of sustainable economic growth and recognised the importance of infrastructure and fostering a good investment environment in generating sustainable economic development.

He said from being a regulator, the Haryana Government's endeavour was to transform itself into a broad-based development catalyst and a facilitator. He said his government was also upgrading the social infrastructure to improve the living standards of the people. Mr Jiarui accepted Mr Hooda's invitation to visit Haryana.

Mr Hooda also met the Governor of Jiangsu province in Nanjing, Mr Liang Brohua, and discussed issues of mutual cooperation between Haryana and Jiangsu.

The delegation also visited the Nanjing Technology and Economic Development Zone in Nanjing. It also visited Dr Sun Yat Sen Memorial to pay homage to the great Chinese leader. 

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SPIC to invest $200 m in Jordan

New Delhi, December 1
Chennai-based chemical company Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation Ltd (SPIC) will invest $200 million to double the manufacturing capacity of its Jordanian joint venture.

Indo-Jordan Chemicals Company Ltd, a joint venture between SPIC with 52 per cent stake and Jordan Phosphate Mines Company with 35 per cent stake, manufactures phosphate which is then imported to India.

"The JV proposes to double its capacity from the existing 2.5 lakh metric tonnes per annum for which the company would make an investment of $200 million," SPIC Chairman A.C. Muthiah said here.

The combined export revenue after the new unit is commissioned would go up to $160-180 million from the existing $80-90 million, he said. — PTI

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Inflation up at 18-month high

New Delhi, December 1
Inflation surged to 5.45 per cent, the highest in 18 months, with Finance Minster P. Chidambaram attributing the rise to supply side constraints of essential commodities like pulses.

"It is a supply side problem. We have to manage it," he said here. The RBI has estimated 5-5.5 per cent inflation for 2006-07. The wholesale price-based annual inflation rose to 5.45 per cent for the week ended November 18, the highest so far this year and the highest after 5.6 per cent on May 14, 2005. — PTI

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A-I Express gets Boeing

Seattle, December 1
Boeing and Air-India (AI) have celebrated the delivery of the first of 18 next generation 737-800s to Air-India Express, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air-India.

The delivery also marked the first airplane delivered to A-I following the airline's order for 68 Boeing jetliners, the largest commercial airplane order in India's civil aviation history. The order was placed in December, 2005, and is valued at more than $11 billion at list prices. — UNI 

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Reliance Comm m-cap touches $20 b 

Mumbai, December 1
Anil Ambani group company Reliance Communications Ltd, the second largest telecom firm on the bourses, today consolidated its position as its market value rose to more than $20 billion. In line with the record-breaking rally in stock markets, RCL shares gained more than 3 per cent (Rs 13 a share) to close at an all-time high of Rs 442.05. The company's market capitalisation stands at Rs 90,400 crore ($20.19 billion). — PTI 

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Kingfisher Airlines net loss at Rs 240 cr

New Delhi, December 1
Hit by high fuel costs and low air fares, Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines has suffered a net loss of Rs 240 crore in 2005-06.

It has continued to be in the red in the first six months of the current financial year also, with the total loss mounting by Rs 107 crore, according to figures the airline furnished to the government.

The losses were primarily due to the pricing of tickets well below the direct operating cost, high price of aviation turbine fuel and heavy sales taxes on it, besides the loss of fuel due to heavy traffic congestion over major airports. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Pak sells 10 pc stake in oil Co
Islamabad, December 1
The Pakistan Government has sold a 10 per cent stake in the country's biggest oil company, Oil and Gas Development Co, to international investors for $813 million. Some 95 per cent of the stake was bought by institutional investors from the US, Britain, Asia and West Asia, the country's Privatisation Commission said today. Pakistani investors bought the remainder. Oil and Gas Development is the biggest player in Pakistan's oil and gas sector and the largest company, by market value, on the country's Karachi Stock Exchange 100 index. — AP

NSE awarded
Mumbai, December 1
The country's largest stock exchange in terms derivative volumes, National Stock Exchange of India, has been named Derivatives Exchange of the Year by Asia Risk Magazine. The award recognizes best practice, quality service and innovation in derivatives and risk management in the Asia-Pacific region, a statement on the NSE website stated. NSE has been adjudged the best institution because over the past year it has responded best in the needs of their clients, both on the asset and liability side. — PTI

Contract for TCS
London, December 1
British supermarket major Somerfield has announced the outsourcing of its IT services to India's Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a move estimated to save the company £2 million ($3.9 million) a year. The move is expected to result in the loss of 115 of 130 current IT jobs with the company. TCS and Somerfield have signed a seven-year agreement. Somerfield, with 1,300 stores, is Britain's fifth-largest grocery chain. Several of the employees who would be rendered redundant are likely to be offered jobs by TCS in their offices in Britain. Somerfield was acquired for £1.1 billion pounds in December, 2005, by a consortium made up of property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, a private equity firm Apax and investment bank Barclays Capital. — IANS

Surana Inds
New Delhi,December 1
Surana Industries Ltd (SIL) will set up an integrated steel complex at Raichur, Karnataka, at an investment of Rs 473 crore. The company, a part of the Rs 2,000-crore Surana group, is the leading manufacturer of steel with a large market share in south India. It has clocked a turnover of Rs 625 crore in the past financial year (2005-2006). The company possesses a fully operational state-of-the-art steel manufacturing plant at Gummidipoondi, Chennai. SIL has 12-MW captive power plants at Thirunelvelli that produce 3,82,00,000 units of wind energy. — UNI 

Forex reserves up by $2.42 b
Mumbai, December 1 
India's forex reserves went up by $2.42 billion to stand at $172.78 billion during the week ended November 24 as against $170.35 in the previous week. The reserves had increased by $2.071 billion during the preceeding week ended November 17, compared to a week- ago period. — PTI

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