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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

TRAI may enforce regulation to cut roaming tariffs
New Delhi, January 2
Faced with opposition from mobile operators on reducing roaming tariffs, TRAI said today it might enforce a regulation for the purpose but would first explore all options to arrive at a solution.

Jet Airways to buy 10 aircraft from Boeing
Mumbai, January 2
Jet Airways said today it would buy 10 aircraft from US-based aerospace major Boeing to expand its international operations. The company has signed an agreement with US-based Boeing Company.
A computer-generated image of a Boeing 787-8 jet
A computer-generated image of a Boeing 787-8 jet.

Nissan Motor to finalise India plans by March
New Delhi, January 2
Japanese auto major Nissan today said it expected to finalise its India plans, including setting up of a manufacturing facility, by March this year as it was still at an early stage of talks with Mahindra-Renault for a joint venture.

Govt weighs options for Indian-AI merger
New Delhi, January 2
The government is considering several routes like enacting a law or getting a court order or simply issuing an ordinance for merging the two state-owned carriers -- Indian and Air-India, official sources said today.



EARLIER STORIES
Vodafone may revise bid for Hutch-Essar
 January 2, 2007
IT Department blocks duplicate PAN cards
 January 1, 2007
Economists for mid-term corrections in Budget
December 31, 2006
Farm experts urge FM to focus on small farmers
December 30, 2006
Reliance joins battle with Vodafone for Hutch-Essar
December 29, 2006
HAL to set up Rs 100-cr plant in Orissa
December 28, 2006
Nath told to make Cabinet note on opening up retail
December 27, 2006
Builders under IT Dept scanner
December 26, 2006
Centre to revive sick PSUs: PM
December 25, 2006
ESIC hikes outlay for medical benefits
December 24, 2006
49 per cent foreign funds allowed in stock exchanges
December 23, 2006
GoM to decide amendments to insurance laws
December 22, 2006
FM to consider use of forex reserves for infrastructure
December 21, 2006
 
A general view shows the high-rise buildings of Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Avenue
A general view shows the high-rise buildings of Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Avenue. The Gulf emirate of Dubai has slapped a limit on rent hikes in an attempt to put a lid on soaring prices seen as threatening its competitiveness in attracting foreign business, newspapers said on Tuesday. Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktum issued a decree imposing a 7 per cent cap on annual rent increases in 2007.— AFP

TDSAT seeks TRAI views
Channel rates in DTH service
New Delhi, January 2
Broadcast tribunal TDSAT today asked regulator TRAI to look into the possibility of fixing prices of TV channels under the DTH (direct-to-home) service following a similar arrangement for the conditional access system(CAS).

Ruias get $25 b fund pledges
London/New Delhi, January 2
The high-profile bidding war for control of Hutch-Essar could intensify with reports in the British media suggesting that Indian partner Ruias have received funding pledges worth up to $25 billion to buy out foreign stakeholder Hutchison Telecom.

UTI Bank to raise Rs 100 cr
Mumbai, January 2
UTI Bank today said it planned to raise at least Rs 100 crore by issuing debentures. The bank will issue upper tier II unsecured redeemable subordinated debentures (series II), with an option to retain over subscription.

Panel to monitor steel prices
New Delhi, January 2
More than a decade after deregulating steel prices, the government has set up a high-level committee to monitor price movements, a move that could indicate reverting back to administered mechanism.

Morgan Stanley buys stake in Core Projects
Mumbai, January 2
Core Projects & Technologies Ltd has received conversion notices from the holders of FCCBs worth Rs 39.76 crore.

Bank Account
Bank of Baroda hikes PLR by .5 pc
New Delhi, January 2
The Bank of Baroda (BoB) has announced a hike in its Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) by 0.5 per cent from existing 11.50 per cent per annum to 12 per cent per annum with effect from yesterday.

USFDA nod to Ranbaxy drug
Mumbai, January 2
Ranbaxy Laboratories has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manufacture and market Atenolol tablets 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg.

A clarification
Chandigarh, January 2
It is not the SBI, which is offering a 0.25 per cent of the interest charged (of 8- 8.5 per cent) to its employees for getting more fixed deposits, as mentioned in these columns on December 31. It is some of its associate banks like the State Bank of Patiala, which is offering gold coins to its officers for meeting the targets set for fixed deposits, besides giving mementoes and other awards. — TNS

 

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TRAI may enforce regulation to cut roaming tariffs

New Delhi, January 2
Faced with opposition from mobile operators on reducing roaming tariffs, TRAI said today it might enforce a regulation for the purpose but would first explore all options to arrive at a solution.

"They (operators) have expressed a point of view. I think there may be a counter point of view, which would also be shown to them... the best approach would be a resolution acceptable to all.”

"So we must try up to that point before a regulation comes into the picture.. the regulation should be the last resort not the first," TRAI Chairman Nripendra Misra said after an open discussion with all stakeholders on the issue.

He said TRAI would again discuss the matter with the COAI and the AUSPI to reach a resolution and the recommendations for the roaming tariff review were expected by month-end.

Mr Misra, however, seemed to agree it would be difficult to make operators agree to a further ceiling on roaming tariffs.

Asked if TRAI would impose a regulation in case operators do not agree to reduce roaming tariffs, he said: "Today we have got their response and we will find out a way how we can move forward to discuss the matter with them..

"There is already a regulation. Operators are asking to do away with the ceiling and let this be part of forbearance. So they want a further approach of deregulation which in all regulatory regimes is a possibility. But all this must address with respect to affordability and consumers," he said.

TRAI has proposed to revise the existing roaming tariff by fixing a ceiling based on usage. This means there would not be any rental charges and only a composite roaming tariff on a per minute basis.

The TRAI Chairman also said number portability was necessary for greater competition.

On the issue of roaming tariffs, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI) have opposed the TRAI proposal to slash these charges. — PTI

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Jet Airways to buy 10 aircraft from Boeing

Mumbai, January 2
Jet Airways said today it would buy 10 aircraft from US-based aerospace major Boeing to expand its international operations.

The company has signed an agreement with US-based Boeing Company for acquisition of 10 Boeing 787-8 series aircraft, subject to regulatory approvals.

Boeing would deliver the aircraft between July, 2011, and December, 2012.

The company did not disclose the financial details of the agreement. However, sources said the deal could be valued at about $1.5-2 billion.

Under the agreement, Jet has the option to substitute other models of Boeing aircraft.

Meanwhile, Jet would take delivery of the B777-300ER and A330-200 aircraft, ordered in September and October, 2005, respectively, during March-April 2007.

Meanwhile, Jet Airways Executive Director Saroj Dutta said the company would decide on utilising the aircraft on various international routes only when the time for taking deliveries approached.

"We will get the first plane by June-July 2011, by when, our international operations will mature. We will finalise plans to using these aircraft on international routes only then," he said.

The acquisition of larger wide-bodied aircraft such as the Boeing-787 series would help the company expand its overseas operations.

Mr Dutta said Jet would also take the delivery of Boeing B777-300ER and Airbus A330-200 aircraft in March-April this year. — PTI

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Govt weighs options for Indian-AI merger

New Delhi, January 2
The government is considering several routes like enacting a law or getting a court order or simply issuing an ordinance for merging the two state-owned carriers -- Indian and Air-India, official sources said today.

The fastest way to merge the two would be the ordinance route as was done in 1953 when the Air Corporation Act was repealed to create the two public sector airlines, the sources said.

However, legislation could also be brought in during the Budget session of Parliament after the Union Cabinet gives its final nod to the proposal of the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The Committee of Secretaries (CoS), which was asked by the GoM to finalise various options and work out the nuances of the merger process, has already favoured the merger and offered several choices as to how to go about it.

The GoM, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, is yet to consider the CoS recommendations and proposals.

The sources said there could be some delay in the process but not an inordinate one as the statutory time frame had to be met.

The two airlines, they said, would have to give notice to their creditors and lenders about the process going forward.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had set April 1 as the deadline for the merger which, the sources said, could be overshot. This target date was set assuming that the Union Cabinet would accord clearance to the proposal by the end of this month.

It is not yet clear as to whether the two subsidiaries, Air-India Express and Alliance Air, would be merged to form a new low-cost airline or would these subsidiaries of the merged entity. — PTI

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Nissan Motor to finalise India plans by March

New Delhi, January 2
Japanese auto major Nissan today said it expected to finalise its India plans, including setting up of a manufacturing facility, by March this year as it was still at an early stage of talks with Mahindra-Renault for a joint venture.

"Discussions with Mahindra-Renault are still at an initial stage and we have not finalised anything yet at this stage," a senior official of Nissan Motor, India, said.

Last year Nissan had pulled out of talks with Japanese counterpart Suzuki to set up a joint manufacturing unit for compact cars in favour of joining the Mahindra-Renault team.

The official, however, reiterated it would be premature to say if Nissan would partner with Mahindra-Renault or set up the manufacturing facility on its own.

"We expect a final decision by March," the official said. — PTI

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TDSAT seeks TRAI views
Channel rates in DTH service

New Delhi, January 2
Broadcast tribunal TDSAT today asked regulator TRAI to look into the possibility of fixing prices of TV channels under the DTH (direct-to-home) service following a similar arrangement for the conditional access system(CAS).

"For CAS, you have come out with an order of Rs 5 per channel... but for DTH, you do not have any plans like that," TDSAT Chairman Justice Arun Kumar said.

In the absence of any firm pricing formula, DTH companies would continue to fight among themselves, he said while hearing a case between DTH platform TataSky and content provider Zee-Turner.

"Now, we have to take a larger prospective. Ultimately, customers are suffering," he said and asked TRAI to file a reply within two weeks.

Before the roll-out of CAS in notified areas of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, TRAI had fixed a ceiling of Rs 5 per pay channel. Various broadcasters had raised objections on the cap, but consumer organisations had welcomed the move.

Besides DTH, Justice Kumar sought TRAI's views on the channel pricing formula for non-CAS areas.

He also directed DTH operators Tata Sky and Zee-Turner to send a copy of their pleadings to TRAI so that the regulator could have a view on it.

The TDSAT remarks come even as confusion prevails among consumers in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai following the implementation of CAS in select areas.

Since pay channel prices under CAS are regulated, DTH firms have also been forced to lower costs in areas where CAS is being implemented. However, in areas outside CAS, overall costs of DTH are still perceived as high. — PTI 

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Ruias get $25 b fund pledges

London/New Delhi, January 2
The high-profile bidding war for control of Hutch-Essar could intensify with reports in the British media suggesting that Indian partner Ruias have received funding pledges worth up to $25 billion to buy out foreign stakeholder Hutchison Telecom.

Essar has lined up Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered, Lehman Brothers and Citigroup as lead arrangers for funding a takeover bid for India's fourth-largest mobile player Hutchison-Essar, 'Financial Times' reported.

FT quoted unnamed people familiar with the matter as saying Essar had "received funding pledges worth $20-25 billion", but was yet to decide whether to make a formal offer.

Meanwhile, top officials of another potential bidder Maxis of Malaysia are believed to be in Hong Kong for talks with Hutchison Telecom International Ltd (HTIL) regarding a revised offer to purchase its Indian business, sources said.

The visit follows after Maxis' initial offer of $13.5 billion was reportedly rejected as the Hong Kong-based firm thought the valuation was below expectations.

A Maxis spokesperson was not available for comments.

FT also quoted "people close to talks related to rival bids" as saying they were sceptical about the ability of Essar, which has an enterprise value of $15 billion, to raise that level of financing for a proposed deal.

"The move underscores Essar's potential as a serious bidder for Hutchison Telecom International's (HTIL) 67 per cent stake in their Indian joint venture, an outcome that would be bad news for rival bidders Vodafone and Reliance Communications," the paper said. — PTI

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UTI Bank to raise Rs 100 cr

Mumbai, January 2
UTI Bank today said it planned to raise at least Rs 100 crore by issuing debentures. The bank will issue upper tier II unsecured redeemable subordinated debentures (series II), with an option to retain over subscription.

The bond will have a face value of Rs 10 lakh and is being issued at the coupon rate of 9.5 per cent payable annually, the bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange(BSE). The bond will be listed on Bombay Stock Exchange Ltd and National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. Subscription for the bond closes on January 20. — PTI 

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Panel to monitor steel prices

New Delhi, January 2
More than a decade after deregulating steel prices, the government has set up a high-level committee to monitor price movements, a move that could indicate reverting back to administered mechanism.

The formation of this committee, which is slated to meet tomorrow, comes as a dampener to the industry as it could initiate measures to prevent the hikes in prices in tandem with the international trend.

Headed by Mr Amrit Singh Deo, a Joint Secretary in Ministry of Steel, the committee is holding its first meeting tomorrow. — PTI

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Morgan Stanley buys stake in Core Projects

Mumbai, January 2
Core Projects & Technologies Ltd has received conversion notices from the holders of FCCBs worth Rs 39.76 crore.

The three allottees, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Grants Investments Ltd, (an investment arm of Goldman Sachs) have thereby taken a 10 per cent stake in the company, said a Core press note here today.

Morgan Stanley has the largest share at 4.03 per cent while Grants has taken a 3.46 per cent stake and Deutsche Bank has 2.59 per cent.

Following this development, FCCBs worth Rs 15.90 crore still remain for conversion. Core Projects issued 1,225 Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds of USD 10,000 each on November 13. The FCCB issue was successfully closed and the bonds have been listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Mr Sanjeev Mansotra, Chairman and Managing Director, Core Projects and Technologies

Said the FCCB issue proceeds and various internal resources had put together a kitty of about Rs 100 crore for Core Projects. The company planned to utilise these funds to acquire companies in the USA and the UK.

With offices in the US, the UK, Africa, West and India, Core Projects & Technologies Ltd has delivered 50 projects to its global clientele. It reported a consolidated turnover of Rs 59.36 crore for the six months ended on September 30, 2006, with a profit after tax of Rs 10.84 crore. — UNI

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Bank Account
Bank of Baroda hikes PLR by .5 pc

New Delhi, January 2
The Bank of Baroda (BoB) has announced a hike in its Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) by 0.5 per cent from existing 11.50 per cent per annum to 12 per cent per annum with effect from yesterday.

The bank’s move follows many other PSU and private sector banks which had raised their lending rates after the central bank announced last month that it was increasing the proportion of deposits that banks were required to keep in cash.

Syndicate Bank

Syndicate Bank has increased interest rates on NRE and FCNR (B) deposits with effect from January 1.

Interest rates on US dollar deposits having a maturity period of one year and above but less than two years have been revised to 5.33 per cent; 5.16 per cent for maturity of two years and above but less than three years; 5.08 per cent for maturity of three years and above but less than four years; 5.07 per cent for maturity at four years and above but less than five years and 5.09 per cent for the maturity of five years the bank said in a press note issued here.

Punjab National Bank

The rate of interest on dollar deposits has been revised to 5.33 per cent for maturity of one year to less than two years; 5.16 per cent for two years to less than three years; 5.08 per cent for three years to less four years; 5.07 per cent for four years to less than five years and 5.09 per cent for five years.

The applicable rate of interest on NRE term deposits for January, 2007 is 6.33 per cent for maturities of one year to less than two years; 6.16 per cent for maturities of two year to less than three years and 6.08 per cent for maturities of three years to five years.

Central Bank of India

The Central Bank of India today said it had increased interest rates on NRE and FCNR (B) deposits.

Interest rates on NRE term deposits have been revised for one year to less than two years to 6.33 per cent from 6.24 per cent, for two years to less than three years to 6.16 per cent from 6 per cent and for three years to 6.08 per cent from 5.91 per cent, the bank said in a press note issued here.

Interest rates on FCNR(B) have been revised to 5.33 per cent from 5.24 per cent for one year to less than two years, 5.16 per cent from 5 per cent for two years to less than three years.

Union Bank of India

The Union Bank of India has revised the interest rates on Non Resident External (NRE) and Foreign Currency Non Resident (FCNR) term deposits.

The interest rates on NRE rupee deposits of maturity one year to less than two years has been raised to 6.33 per cent from 6.24 per cent, for two years to less than three years to 6.16 per cent from 6 per cent and for three years and above the rates applicable would be 6.08 per cent from 5.91 per cent.

Dena Bank

Dena Bank has hiked the rate of interest offered on NRE and FCNR (B) term deposits

The interest rates offered on NRE deposits for one year and above but less than two years have been increased to 6.33 per cent from 6.24 per cent, for two years to less than three years to 6.16 per cent from 6 per cent and for three years only, the rates would be 6.08 per cent from 5.91 per cent, the bank said in a press note issued here.

The interest rates on USD FCNR deposits of maturity one year to less than two years has been raised to 5.33 per cent from 5.24 per cent, for two years to less than three years to 5.16 per cent from five per cent, for three years to less than four years 5.08 per cent from 4.91 per cent, for four years to less than five years it has been increased to 5.07 per cent from 4.89 per cent and for five years it is 5.09 per cent from 4.90 per cent.

ICICI Bank

ICICI Bank has revised its interest rates on NRI fixed deposits and FCNR deposits.

The interest rates on NRI fixed deposits have been increased by up to 19 bps (basis points) for various maturities. Interest rates on one year FCNR deposits denominated in US dollars have been increased to 5.33 per cent per annum. — Agencies

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USFDA nod to Ranbaxy drug

Mumbai, January 2
Ranbaxy Laboratories has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manufacture and market Atenolol tablets 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg.

The FDA's office of Generic Drugs has determined the company's formulations to be bioequivalent and have the same therapeutic effect as that of the reference listed drug Tenorminฎ of Astra Zeneca LP, the company said today. The total annual market sales for Atenolol were $133.6 million.

Atenolol is indicated in the management of hypertension. Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Inc (RPI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company based in Jacksonville, Florida, is engaged in the sale and distribution of generic and branded prescription products in the US healthcare system. — UNI

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BRIEFLY


A woman clerk in a kimono dress serves sake (rice wine) to New Year's shoppers who queued up to wait for the opening at a Tokyo shopping mall on Tuesday. The New Year holiday is one of the biggest holidays of the year in Japan.
A woman clerk in a kimono dress serves sake (rice wine) to New Year's shoppers who queued up to wait for the opening at a Tokyo shopping mall on Tuesday. The New Year holiday is one of the biggest holidays of the year in Japan. — AFP

Dabur arm in UAE
New Delhi, January 2
Dabur India Ltd today announced the incorporation of a wholly owned subsidiary in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. Dabur International Ltd, a 100 per cent subsidiary of the company, has promoted the subsidiary company in Ras Al Khaimah with the name of Naturelle LLC. Naturelle LLC has been established for the manufacture and trade of cosmetics, food articles, personal care products, home care products, health foods and ayurvedic preparations. —UNI

Dr Chandra Pal
New Delhi, January 2
Dr Chandra Pal, a 1972 batch IAS Officer of the UP cadre, has taken over as the Secretary, Ministry of Small-Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries (SSI & ARI). Earlier, he was Principal Advisor in the Planning Commission. Dr Pal succeeded Mr Anupam Dasgupta, who retired on superannuation. Dr Pal held many responsible positions before joining the Ministry of Small Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries. — UNI

Air Sahara
New Delhi, January 2
Air Sahara today launched a new concept of fares under which passengers can travel at Rs 2.40 per km. It had earlier pioneered the concept of per coupon and per day. Passengers can enjoy up to 80 per cent discount on normal fares under the new scheme. The traffic on each flight determines the availability of seats under the new scheme. The advantage is that these fares can be purchased anytime unlike the advance purchase fares where passengers have to purchase the ticket in advance. — UNI

Nagarjuna Cons
New Delhi, January 2
Nagarjuna Construction Company today announced securing of orders aggregating Rs 255 crore. The orders include a contract valued at Rs 131 crore for rural electrification work in Singhbhum (West) district of Jharkhand from the Jharkand State Electricity Board. The second order valued at Rs 42 crore is an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on a turnkey basis for the complete water intake system for the 500-MW Chhabra Thermal Power Project in Chhabra district of Rajasthan received from Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd. The balance Rs 82 crore of orders comprise smaller projects. — UNI

UTI branch
Bhiwani, January 2
UTI Bank opened its branch in Bhiwani today. The president of Northern Zone of the bank, Mr. R.K. Bammi, inaugurated the bank's branch.He said the bank had 389 branches, 94 extensions counters and 2,115 ATMs across the country. — OC

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