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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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B U S I N E S S

Hindujas willing to buy 100 pc stake in Hutch
Mumbai, January 12
The Hindujas today announced they have made a preliminary bid to buy Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom's stake in mobile firm Hutch Essar Ltd and said they were open to acquire even Essar's share, but kept their options open in partnering with the Ruias-promoted group.
Essar determined to block Vodafone bid: Reports

Hindujas eye stake in Telecom Italia: Report
London, January 12
The Hinduja Group is considering to buy part of a controlling stake in Telecom Italia, media reports said here.

Hyundai may make diesel engines in India
New Delhi, January 12
Hyundai is planning a major expansion in the diesel segment, including possibility of manufacturing diesel engines in India in another two or three years.
Mr H.S. Lheem, Managing Director, Hyundai Motors, at the launch of Sonata CRDI car
Mr H.S. Lheem, Managing Director, Hyundai Motors, at the launch of Sonata CRDI car in Gurgaon on Friday. — AFP photo

 

 

EARLIER STORIES

 
Mr Katsuhiko Machida, President of Japan's electronics giant Sharp Corporation, introduces the world's biggest 108-inch LCD TV in Tokyo on Friday. Sharp announced plans to ramp up its output of flat screen televisions with new production lines in Japan and Mexico
Mr Katsuhiko Machida, President of Japan's electronics giant Sharp Corporation, introduces the world's biggest 108-inch LCD TV in Tokyo on Friday. Sharp announced plans to ramp up its output of flat screen televisions with new production lines in Japan and Mexico — AFP photo

Union to launch strike

EPF Board to meet on Jan 27
New Delhi, January 12
Amid possibility of a 0.5 per cent cut in the interest rate for the current fiscal, the Employees Provident Fund Board will meet here on January 27 to finalise the EPF rate, which is 8.5 per cent at present.

Govt to monitor steel prices
New Delhi, January 12
The government will monitor steel prices continuously with a view to keeping a check on private producers from raising prices artificially.

Petro price review on Jan 31
Panipat, January 12
The government will review the petrol and diesel prices on January 31 and a reduction is likely if the international crude prices fall further.

IOC plans JV with RIL
Panipat, January 12
The Indian Oil Corporation said today it planned to invest about Rs 2,000 crore in a joint venture with Reliance Industries for retailing natural gas to households and automobiles.

Gujarat bags investment worth Rs 2,10,000 cr
Ahmedabad, January 12
It rained moolah on Gujarat's industrial horizon today with business tycoons, led by Reliance Industries

Simbhaoli Sugars plans IMFL distilleries
Chandigarh, January 12
Uttar Pradesh-based Rs 590-crore Simbhaoli Sugars Ltd is in an expansion mode. The group is planning to set up distilleries for Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) at its plants and plans to increase its power generation.

Models present Bomex-tuned Honda S2000 (centre) and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (front) at the Tokyo Auto Salon, 2007,
Models present Bomex-tuned Honda S2000 (centre) and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (front) at the Tokyo Auto Salon, 2007, at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, on Friday. A total of 319 companies are displaying more than 600 vehicles at the exhibition. — AFP

Mastek declares 60 pc dividend
Mumbai, January 12
Mastek Ltd has posted a net profit of Rs 16.94 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 8.81 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

Toshiba exits Canon TV venture
Tokyo, January 12
Japan's Canon Inc said today that it had agreed to buy Toshiba Corp's stake in their joint venture making a new type of flat television panel because of a legal wrangle in the US.

Kodak to sell health imaging biz to Onex
New Delhi, January 12
Eastman Kodak company is planning to sell its health imaging business to Canadian Onex Healthcare Holdings, a subsidiary of the Onex Corporation, for $2.55 billion.

Inflation jumps to 5.58 pc
New Delhi, January 12
Breaching the upper range of RBI’s target of 5.5 per cent for this fiscal, inflation jumped to 5.58 per cent for the week ended December 30 mainly due to higher prices of food articles, some fuel items and a few manufactured products.

 

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Hindujas willing to buy 100 pc stake in Hutch

Mumbai, January 12
The Hindujas today announced they have made a preliminary bid to buy Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom's stake in mobile firm Hutch Essar Ltd and said they were open to acquire even Essar's share, but kept their options open in partnering with the Ruias-promoted group.

"We are open to buy 100 per cent stake, provided the Ruias are willing to sell their stake," Mr Gopichand Hinduja, President, Hinduja Group Worldwide, told reporters, just a day after Mr Arun Sarin, the CEO of its rival suitor Vodafone, wrapped up his India visit in connection with the acquisition.

Hindujas have made a non-binding bid to acquire HTIL's 67 per cent stake, he said. A final bid would be made by the end of this month after conducting due diligence of HEL on January 24-25, he said, while wooing the Essar Group, saying Hindujas had "cordial relations" with the Ruias.

His comments come a day after Sarin described Essar as a "natural partner". With both Vodafone and Hindujas wooing Essar, the Ruias are now in an enviable position as they control 33 per cent in India's fourth-largest mobile operator.

Asked about the valuation of Hutch-Essar that is being pegged at up to $20 billion, the Hindujas said they would not like to come out with any numbers and a decision on valuation would be finalised only after due diligence.

"Our first phase of financials has been accepted by Hutch," Mr Ashok Hinduja, Chairman, Hinduja Group India, said, indicating they were ready with the funds to clinch the deal. — PTI

Essar determined to block Vodafone bid: Reports

London, January 12
Contrary to Vodafone's statement that Essar was a "natural partner" in its pursuit to acquire Hutch-Essar, media reports today expressed fears that the Ruias-promoted Indian conglomerate was determined to prevent the British giant from acquiring the venture.

A number of reports here, including one in Financial Times, as also the US daily Wall Street Journal (WSJ), have quoted unnamed sources as saying that Essar may try to outbid Vodafone or take the fight to court.

A WSJ report said Essar, a 33 per cent partner in the target company, would deem any move by Vodafone to raise its bid for Hutch-Essar as hostile and would try to match the bid again or fight in court.

Essar could also try to team up with another bidder Reliance Communications in the battle with Vodafone, WSJ said.

The US daily said Vodafone has put forward a non-binding initial bid of $16.5 billion for Hutch-Essar and Essar plans to use its "contractual rights" to match Vodafone's bid.

Vodafone chief Arun Sarun had said during his two-day visit to India that a formal bid was still a few weeks away.

Meanwhile, FT cited unnamed sources as saying Vodafone could be forced to raise its $17 billion expected offer to prevent Essar from exercising "blocking tactics" over a deal.

Essar is determined to match Vodafone's offer and exercise its claimed right of first refusal over two-third of the company owned by its foreign partner, unless it could be dissuaded by a sharply higher offer from Vodafone, FT said.

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Hyundai may make diesel engines in India

New Delhi, January 12
Hyundai is planning a major expansion in the diesel segment, including possibility of manufacturing diesel engines in India in another two or three years.

"In another two to three years if our overall diesel car sales volumes touch about 50,000 units then definitely we would make diesel engines in India," Hyundai Motor India Ltd Managing Director H.S. Lheem said here.

Currently, the company sells about 2,500 units of diesel vehicles a month, he said at the launch of the diesel version of its top-end sedan Sonata Embera tagged at an introductory price of Rs 14.75 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

Hyundai is also getting ready with a diesel 'Getz' to be launched in the second half of the year. Maruti, the country's largest carmaker has already set up a diesel engine manufacturing plant at Maneshar in Haryana.

Hyundai is also preparing to launch a compact car, which will be positioned between its flagship model 'Santro' and premium hatchback 'Getz' and let the former take on Maruti's most popular model 'Alto'.

A company source said Hyundai was looking at the yet-to-be launched compact car code-named 'Pa' compete with the likes of 'Zen Estilo' and 'Wagon R'.

'Pa' was expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of this year or early next year. — PTI

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Union to launch strike

Seoul, January 12
The union at Hyundai Motor, South Korea's largest auto firm, today decided to launch a strike to press demands for payment of a disputed bonus, a union spokesman said.

The decision was made at an emergency meeting of some 400 union representatives in the south-eastern city of Ulsan where Hyundai Motor's main plants are located. "The union decided to launch a strike," the spokesman said. — AFP

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Hindujas eye stake in Telecom Italia: Report

London, January 12
The Hinduja Group is considering to buy part of a controlling stake in Telecom Italia, media reports said here.

The conglomerate, whose interest is preliminary for now, is the latest to join the list of various potential suitors for Italy's dominant telecom operator, 'Financial Times' reported today.

A senior Hinduja group official, however, declined to comment on the report.

The British daily reported that private equity group Blackstone had said in November, 2006, it might be interested in taking a stake in Telecom Italia. The company's biggest shareholder is controlled by Italian tyre and real estate group Pirelli. — PTI 

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EPF Board to meet on Jan 27

New Delhi, January 12
Amid possibility of a 0.5 per cent cut in the interest rate for the current fiscal, the Employees Provident Fund Board will meet here on January 27 to finalise the EPF rate, which is 8.5 per cent at present.

EPFO sources said the organisation was facing an acute shortage of funds and would be left with a surplus of only Rs 10.25 crore if it paid 8 per cent interest in the current financial year. If the existing rate of 8.5 per cent had to be retained, the EPFO would face a deficit of Rs 450 crore.

The Central Board of Trustees of EPF at its last meeting here on December 7 had failed to arrive at a consensus on the interest rate because of the financial position.

While trade unions, particularly those affiliated with the Left parties, demanded a 9.5 per cent interest rate, representatives of employers and state and central government officials were of the view that the rate should be in proportion to the returns on the investments of the fund.

The government had last year cut the rate to 8.5 per cent for 2005-06 from 9.5 per cent in 2004-05.

The January 27 meeting is likely to firm up a decision on investing a part of the fund in the stock market as the income from investing in government-run Special Deposit Scheme (SDS), which gave only 8 per cent interest, did not suffice, the sources said.

Trade unions, mostly affiliated to Left parties, which support the government from outside, are angry over the fall in the EPF interest rate and have opposed any more cut. — PTI

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Govt to monitor steel prices

New Delhi, January 12
The government will monitor steel prices continuously with a view to keeping a check on private producers from raising prices artificially.

"We have set up a joint public-private steel price monitoring committee (SPMC) to monitor price movements of various steel products so that small consumers could get steel at reasonable prices," Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said. He, however, emphasised that this was not to regulate steel prices.

The committee will work as an interface between producers and consumers to stabilise the prices.

Meanwhile, SAIL will invest over Rs 100,000 crore till 2020, higher than the combined investment of Rs 90,000 crore announced by global giants Mittal and Posco for India,Mr Paswan said.

Mr Paswan said these investments would make SAIL a 40 million tonne entity.

SAIL was in the process of expanding its capacity to over 23 million tonnes at an investment of Rs 39,433 crore in the first phase, which would be completed by 2010.

SAIL Chairman S.K. Roongta, however, said investment figures to expand to 40 million tonnes were yet to be finalised by the Board and this was a directional plan for future expansion. — PTI

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Petro price review on Jan 31

Panipat, January 12
The government will review the petrol and diesel prices on January 31 and a reduction is likely if the international crude prices fall further.

"There will be a review on January 31. If the current average continues there will be no cut. For a reduction to happen prices have to fall further," Petroleum Secretary M.S. Srinivasan said here.

The international crude prices have fallen to 19-month-low this month. The Indian basket of crude oil is currently averaging around $51 a barrel and a reduction in the petrol and diesel prices was possible only if the crude prices slip below $50 a barrel on a sustained basis.

In November, the petrol and diesel prices were cut by Rs 2 and Re 1 a litre, respectively, when the basket of crude that Indian refiners buy was at $56.8 per barrel. The Indian basket has since fallen to just under $53 per barrel, the lowest this fiscal.

State-run oil companies are currently incurring a loss of Rs 0.22 per litre on petrol and Rs 1.42 a litre on diesel, he said. Kerosene was being sold at a loss of Rs 13-14 per litre and domestic LPG at a loss of Rs 50 per cylinder.

Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and IBP together are losing about Rs 100 crore a day on fuel sales. — PTI

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IOC plans JV with RIL

Panipat, January 12
The Indian Oil Corporation said today it planned to invest about Rs 2,000 crore in a joint venture with Reliance Industries for retailing natural gas to households and automobiles.

"We are in talks for a 50:50 JV for a city gas distribution project along the pipeline Reliance Industries is building from its K.G. basin field," IOC Chairman Sarthak Behuria said here.

RIL is building pipelines from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai in South, Ahmadabad in West and Haldia in East.

The proposed JV would supply piped gas to households and industries and CNG to automobiles in cities falling along the route of these pipelines. — PTI

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Gujarat bags investment worth Rs 2,10,000 cr
Reliance Industries to invest Rs 67,000 cr

Ahmedabad, January 12
It rained moolah on Gujarat's industrial horizon today with business tycoons, led by Reliance Industries

chief Mukesh Ambani, signing MoUs worth Rs 2,10,000 crore with the Narendra Modi-led government to give a momentum to its development saga.

Participating in the inaugural session of the third edition of the two-day 'Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit' at the Science City here, Mr Mukesh Ambani said his company would invest Rs 67,000 crore in a host of projects like the Jamnagar SEZ, lignite coal

gasification, port city of Jamnagar, city gas pipeline and retail chain.

Mr Ambani said the MoUs would include bringing in gas from the Godavari basin.

''Gujarat will be our first state where we will bring our corporate governance to create logistics in rural Gujarat. This will provide through our investments in the coming year jobs for 2 lakh persons,'' he announced.

He said 'Vibrant Gujarat' had been a milestone for Reliance Industries when it signed MoUs worth Rs 9,300 crore in 2003 in the petrochemical and chemical projects, all of which had gone on stream.

In 2005, he said the company had signed an MoU for setting up a refinery in the Jamnagar SEZ, which was likely to be completed next year.

Mr Ambani said he had already invested over Rs 35,000 crore in the Jamnagar SEZ.

In yet another bonanza for the state, he announced that Reliance would create a world-class university in ''my father's name'' for enhancing competency and development skills of the future workforce.

In his rather brief speech, Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, National Investment Advisory Commission, said the Tatas would help in setting up a 4,000 MW power plant in Gujarat and the details of its implementation were being worked out.

Mr Kumaramangalam Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group, promised additional Rs 3,700 crore of investment in the state.

''We have invested Rs 7,000 crore. With our investments so far, we have provided employment to more than 8,000 persons,'' he said.

Essar Group Chairman Shashi Ruia said his group investments in Hazira would be Rs 10,500 crore. He supported the special economic zones being developed in the country.

Mr Das Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director of Petronet India Ltd, said a partnership with Adani is being worked out and Petronet will be investing Rs 7,000 crore by 2010.

Mr Sudhir Mehta, Chairman, Torrent Group, said his company would invest Rs 9,000 crore for a 2,000 MW power project at Pipavav.

Mr Pankaj Patel, CMD, Zydus Cadilla, promised investments worth Rs 5,300 crore plus setting up of two SEZs in Ahmedabad and Bharuch.

Indravadan Modi of Cadila Pharmaceuticals, said he would be signing MoUs worth Rs 2,300 crore tomorrow. ''And this will be multiplied in times to come,'' he added. — UNI 

GSPC finds gas in KG basin

Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC) has struck natural gas in the KG basin off the Andhra Pradesh coast, state Chief Minister Narendra Modi said here today.

The gas find in a well in the Deendayal Upadhyay block is near the place where the company had found a massive discovery of gas four years back, Mr Modi said at the third Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit 2007. — PTI

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Simbhaoli Sugars plans IMFL distilleries
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Uttar Pradesh-based Rs 590-crore Simbhaoli Sugars Ltd is in an expansion mode. The group is planning to set up distilleries for Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) at its plants and plans to increase its power generation.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Sanjay Taparia, Director, Finance, Simbhaoli Sugars Ltd., said they would increase the capacity of its distilleries to over 2 lakh litres a day by setting up a distillery in Brijnathpur.

“We already have two distilleries in our sugar plants at Bahraich and Simbhaoli, and the third distillery at our Brijnathpur plant will become operational in the next cane crushing season this year. Though our distillery at the Simbhaoli plant has been manufacturing only country made liquor, we are now getting this distillery to manufacture IMFL,”he said. The Bahraich distillery has a capacity to produce 60,000 litres of ethanol.

Mr Taparia also said the power generation capacity at two of its sugar mills were being increased. “We are increasing the power generation capacity at Simbhaoli by 14 MW per hour and at Bahraich by 16 MW per hour. This additional power will be sold to the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation,” he said, adding that the power generation at the Brijnathpur mill was 6 MW per hour.

He hailed the lifting of ban on sugar export by the government and said this would allow Simbhaoli Sugars to export at least 10 per cent of their total produce (2.50 lakh tonnes) to countries like Indonesia, Syria, Israel, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and some countries in North Africa. 

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Corporate Results
Mastek declares 60 pc dividend

Mumbai, January 12
Mastek Ltd has posted a net profit of Rs 16.94 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 8.81 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

The total income increased from Rs 94.26 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, to Rs 128.50 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006.

The total Income has increased from Rs 175.15 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, to Rs 209.76 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006.

Meanwhile, the Board of Mastek declared an interim dividend of Rs 3 per equity share of Rs 5 for the financial year 2006-2007.

UTI Bank Q3 net up

UTI Bank has posted an increase of 40.16 per cent in net profit at Rs 184.61 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 131.71 crore for the same quarter last year.

The total income increased 59.69 per cent to Rs 1469.36 crore from Rs 920.12 crore for the corresponding quarter last year, the bank said.

Jaiprakash Associates

Jaiprakash Associates Ltd has posted a net profit of Rs 102.0 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 56.0 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

The total income has increased from Rs 820 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, to Rs 931.0 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006.

Meanwhile, the Board of Jaiprakash Associates has declared an interim dividend of Rs 2per share (20 per cent) absorbing a sum of Rs 43.74 crore (excluding dividend distribution tax of Rs 6.13 crore) for the financial year ending March 31, 2007. — Agencies

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Toshiba exits Canon TV venture

Tokyo, January 12
Japan's Canon Inc said today that it had agreed to buy Toshiba Corp's stake in their joint venture making a new type of flat television panel because of a legal wrangle in the US.

Austin, Texas-based Nano-Proprietary Inc, is suing Canon for allegedly breaking their 1999 patent licence agreement for key technology in the production of surface conductor electron emitter display screens (SED).

The purchase price is believed to be around $83 million, the Nikkei business daily reported.

SED television sets are due to be introduced in Japan in the fourth quarter of 2007. — AFP

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Kodak to sell health imaging biz to Onex

New Delhi, January 12
Eastman Kodak company is planning to sell its health imaging business to Canadian Onex Healthcare Holdings, a subsidiary of the Onex Corporation, for $2.55 billion.

"Kodak’s health group is a business with a significant market presence and intellectual property assets. This sale maximises shareholder value by obtaining a full and fair valuation for this business, and allows Kodak to increase its financial flexibility," Kodak Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Antonio M. Perez said here.

The company plans to use the proceeds to fully repay its $1.15 billion of a secured term debt. "We now plan to focus our attention on the significant digital growth opportunities within our businesses in consumer and professional imaging and graphic communications," Mr Perez said.

Onex has global operations in healthcare, service, manufacturing and technology industries. — PTI

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Inflation jumps to 5.58 pc

New Delhi, January 12
Breaching the upper range of RBI’s target of 5.5 per cent for this fiscal, inflation jumped to 5.58 per cent for the week ended December 30 mainly due to higher prices of food articles, some fuel items and a few manufactured products.

Inflation stood at 5.48 per cent in the previous week and 4.56 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year. Inflation at 5.58 per cent is this fiscal's highest, according to provisional estimates.

However, as per the revised estimates inflation had already touched 5.61 per cent during the week ended October 21. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Sunil Mittal is Asia’s Businessman of the Year
Sunil MittalNew York, January 12
India's Sunil Mittal has been adjudged Asia's Businessman of the Year by prestigious US magazine Fortune for steering his telecom business in the world's fastest-growing wireless market. In a lead article in its latest issue, Fortune said after establishing Bharti Airtel as India's number one mobile service provider, Mittal is now forging his "most audacious" foreign partnership yet. — PTI

IPO price band
New Delhi, January 12
The Power Finance Corporation has fixed the price band for its IPO at Rs 73-85 per share. ''The issue of 11,73,16,700 shares is expected to mop up over Rs 1,200 crore at this price band,'' according to company sources. —UNI

Re rebounds
Mumbai, January 12
The Rupee today made a handsome recovery against the dollar on fresh dollar sales after a further slump in world oil prices. The rupee started weak at Rs 44.62/64 per dollar as against yesterday's close of Rs 44.59/60, but later shot up on heavy dollar sales and hit a low of Rs 44.41 per dollar, before ending at Rs 44.42/43, sharply higher than the previous close.— PTI

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