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Excise duty cut on diesel in the offing
Deora to meet Chidambaram today
New Delhi, January 22
An excise duty cut on diesel is on the cards to rein in inflation, which is at a two-year high of 6.12 per cent, when Petroluem Minister Murli Deora meets Finance Minister P Chidambaram here tomorrow.

GoM meeting inconclusive
Fate of 300 SEZ proposals hangs in balance
New Delhi, January 22
The fate of 300 SEZ proposals hung in balance as a crucial meeting of the empowered group of ministers (GoM), set up to resolve all contentious issues over the setting up of SEZs, ended inconclusively today.

Pull up socks, Nath to textile units
New Delhi, January 22
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has called upon the captains of textile industry to get ready to meet the new challenges emerging in the textile market.

Plan panel allots Rs 6,000 cr to Central power utilities 
New Delhi, January 22
The Planning Commission has rejected the Power Ministry's demand for a huge 68 per cent rise in gross budgetary support (GBS) for 2007-08 and has agreed to provide only about Rs 6,000 crore to central power utilities.

No plan to spin off KG basin gas find: RIL
New Delhi, January 22
Reliance Industries said today it had no plans to hive off its Bay of Bengal gas field into a separate company to get a strategic partner, saying it had the necessary technology and was on schedule to begin natural gas production from June 2008.

Maruti Q3 net up 11 pc to Rs 376.41 cr
New Delhi, January 22
Spurred by robust sales, Maruti Udyog Ltd today reported an 11 per cent jump in net profit at Rs 376.41 crore in the third quarter ended December 2006, as compared to Rs 339 crore in the corresponding period a year ago.The company, which included losses of its wholly-owned subsidiary Maruti Suzuki Automobiles India Ltd (MSAIL) in this quarter, said total income (net of excise) stood to Rs 3,807.9 crore during the period under review, a growth of 18.3 per cent compared to the same quarter of 2005-06.

 

A model presents a creation by Lebanese designer Elie Saab as part of his Spring-Summer 2007 fashion collection in Paris.
A model presents a creation by Lebanese designer Elie Saab as part of his Spring-Summer 2007 fashion collection in Paris on Monday. — Reuters photo

EARLIER STORIES

 

Japanese toy maker Tomy’s collaboration model of Willcom’s WS005IN mobile phone is displayed in Tokyo on Monday. The personal handyphone system (PHS) handset names “nico.neco”, featuring a baby cat, will be put on the Japanese market in February.
Japanese toy maker Tomy’s collaboration model of Willcom’s WS005IN mobile phone is displayed in Tokyo on Monday. The personal handyphone system (PHS) handset names “nico.neco”, featuring a baby cat, will be put on the Japanese market in February. — AFP photo

Corporate Results
Quantum jump in Dr Reddy’s Q3 net profit 
Mumbai, January 22
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has posted a net profit of Rs 503.49 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 54.25 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

SAGE India goes global
New Delhi, January 22
SAGE India, a leading academic publishing house in the country, today went global by merging itself with the US-based SAGE Publications Group, as its shareholders offloaded their entire 76 per cent equity in favour of the parent company for Rs 12 crore.

Bank Account
Kotak Mahindra Bank Q3 PAT up 39 pc

Mumbai, January 22
Kotak Mahindra Bank today posted a profit after tax of Rs 45.40 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, registering growth of 39.09 per cent as compared to Rs 32.64 crore recorded in the year-ago period.

Anil Kapoor
Anil Kapoor

Western Union to tap rural market
Chandigarh, January 22
Western Union Money Transfer is all set to expand its base in the emerging remittance markets of UP, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar, said the Managing Director, South Asia, Western Union, Mr Anil Kapur, here today.

Adlabs acquires stake in Synergy Communications
Mumbai, January 22
Paving the way for Anil Ambani Group’s entry in television broadcasting, Adlabs Films said today it had acquired a controlling stake in Siddhartha Basu’s Synergy Communications for an undisclosed amount.

Himachal to ink MoUs for mega cement plants
Shimla, January 22
The Himachal Pradesh Government will soon ink MoUs with Lafarge, a global cement-manufacturing giant, and Jaypee Industries for setting up mega cement plants at Al Sindi in Mandi and Broh-Shind in Chamba, respectively.

Wockhardt in pact with UK firm
Mumbai, January 22
Pharma major Wockhardt said today it had signed an in-licensing agreement with UK-based Crawford Healthcare to market Viticolor, a skin camouflage gel used in the treatment of patients suffering from leucoderma.

 

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Excise duty cut on diesel in the offing
Deora to meet Chidambaram today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 22
An excise duty cut on diesel is on the cards to rein in inflation, which is at a two-year high of 6.12 per cent, when Petroluem Minister Murli Deora meets Finance Minister P Chidambaram here tomorrow.

"I have sought a meeting with the Finance Minister," Mr Deora told reporters. He said:“It is a pre-Budget exercise," he said.

The ministers are likely to specifically discuss rationalisation of excise duties or local taxes on petroleum products.

Petroleum Ministry sources said the pre-Budget memoranda would press for a excise duty cut on diesel as most of the goods are moved on diesel trucks and transportation has a cascading effect on prices of commodities.

The 6.12 per cent inflation for the week ending January 6 was due to a sharp increase in the prices of primary articles like wheat, pulses, milk and fruit and compounded by escalations in manufactured goods prices of metals, cement and textiles.

Oil ministry sources said the ministry was seeking a shift to specific duties on fuel from the current mix of ad-valorem and specific duties.

The Rangarajan Committee on pricing and taxation of petroleum products had asked the government to shift from the current mix of specific and ad-valorem levies to a pure specific levy.

“The wisdom of imposing ad-valorem duties during a time of persistent price increases is debatable. Not only do ad-valorem levies exacerbate the burden on the consumer, but they also result in the government willy-nilly benefiting through higher tax yields, making it vulnerable to the criticism of ‘profiting at the expense of consumers’. There is, therefore, need for both softening and smoothing the impact on the consumers of international price variations and for the government sacrificing ‘windfall gains’ in revenue,” it said.

The current excise duty on petrol is 8.16 per cent of the ex-factory price plus Rs 13.26 a litre while for diesel it is 8.16 per cent plus Rs 3.32 a litre. The ministry has suggested a specific duty of Rs 15.92 for petrol and Rs 6.08 per litre for diesel in the forthcoming Budget.

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GoM meeting inconclusive
Fate of 300 SEZ proposals hangs in balance
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 22
The fate of 300 SEZ proposals hung in balance as a crucial meeting of the empowered group of ministers (GoM), set up to resolve all contentious issues over the setting up of SEZs, ended inconclusively today.

The ministerial group, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, will meet again in early February to discuss issues such as a rehabilitation policy for people displaced by SEZs and imposing a cap on the number of SEZs in the country, sources said.

The deferment of the meeting would mean that the Board of Approval (BoA) for SEZs will not be in a position to take a decision of the 300-odd SEZ proposals pending before it. It will have to wait till a rehabilitation policy is worked out.

“We discussed land issues, the rehabilitation question and possible misuse of tax concessions for SEZs ,” Commerce Minister Kamal Nath told newspersons.

The GoM is also awaiting the feedback from states on the touchy issue of land acquisition for SEZs, which is a state subject.

The centre does not have any say in the matter of land acquisition, Mr Nath said responding to a question on the violent protests in Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal over land acquisition.

Mr Nath said some of the ministers at the meeting had other prior engagements due to which decisions were deferred. The next meeting, he indicated, would be held after his return from Davos where he is going to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual summit.

The deferment of a decision on fresh proposals is not expected to affect the 63 notified SEZs which could go ahead as proposed, sources said.

The meeting, among other issues, was to look at all matters raised by the allies of the UPA as also the Left parties, which support the government from outside.

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Pull up socks, Nath to textile units

New Delhi, January 22
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has called upon the captains of textile industry to get ready to meet the new challenges emerging in the textile market.

Inaugurating the 48th Annual General Meeting of the Northern India Textile Mill’s Association here today, Mr Nath said at present Indian economy was growing at the rate of about 9.2 per cent, but the country’s textile and clothing industry contributes about 17 per cent to total exports. Presently, Indian textile products are sourced by larger international chains and being sold in different brand names, he said, adding that this trend should be changed and “we have to build a range of products that carry the zeal of Indian companies”.

Minister of State for Textiles E.V.K.S. Elangovan said in order to provide the industry with world class infrastructure for setting up of textile unit, recently, the government had sanctioned four more textile parks under the Scheme for Integrated Textile Park. — UNI

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Plan panel allots Rs 6,000 cr to Central power utilities 

New Delhi, January 22
The Planning Commission has rejected the Power Ministry's demand for a huge 68 per cent rise in gross budgetary support (GBS) for 2007-08 and has agreed to provide only about Rs 6,000 crore to central power utilities.

The Power Ministry had proposed a GBS of Rs 9,228.51 for the next fiscal. But the plan panel has suggested increasing the total gross budgetary support to the power sector by 8.79 per cent to Rs 5,983 crore as compared to Rs 5,500 crore in the current financial year, official sources said.

Sources said in a recent meeting held at the Planning Commission, it was estimated the Power Ministry would be able to spend only Rs 4,700 crore out of the Rs 5,500 crore allotted to it for 2006-07.

"As such it was decided to give them a gross budgetary support of Rs 5,983 crore for 2007-08," they said.

In view of certain non-plan schemes, centrally sponsored schemes and central schemes being restructured or discontinued, Rs 16.77 crore was deducted from the Budget allocation to the Power Ministry.

However, Power Secretary R.V. Shahi sought to play down the cut in GBS. "There is no question of cutting the gross budgetary support. NTPC, PGCIL, NHPC, all have massive plans for the 11th Plan and their debt equity ratio is such that they do not need any support," he said.

Mr Shahi said the commission's proposal could prove to be an impetus for the power PSUs. "The idea is to improve their working," he said. — PTI 

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No plan to spin off KG basin gas find: RIL

New Delhi, January 22
Reliance Industries said today it had no plans to hive off its Bay of Bengal gas field into a separate company to get a strategic partner, saying it had the necessary technology and was on schedule to begin natural gas production from June 2008.

“There is no such idea (to spin off the gas field). We are proceeding on development of the gas field and will deliver gas in June 2008,” RIL CEO (Oil and Gas) P.M.S. Prasad said here.

Reliance was on schedule to start production from the KG-D6 field in Krishna Godavari basin off Andhra coast by June 2008, but was targeting oil produce 40,000-50,000 barrels per day of oil from the block before gas flows, he said.

Reliance’s prolific gas find in KG-D6 block has reserves of about 11.3 trillion cubic feet, and will produce 80 million standard cubic meters per day of natural gas at its peak. The company has also found some 1.4 billion barrels of oil reserves in the block.

“It is rather late in the day to say that we don’t have technology. It is not even a time to think of a strategic partner (as) once a partner comes in, it will look at things ab-initio (afresh) that will slow down the whole thing,” Mr Prasad said.

Meanwhile, the government’s upstream technical arm DGH has approved RIL’s $8.83 billion development plan for KG-D6. An estimated 80 mmscmd gas would be produced from 50 wells. — PTI

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Maruti Q3 net up 11 pc to Rs 376.41 cr

New Delhi, January 22
Spurred by robust sales, Maruti Udyog Ltd today reported an 11 per cent jump in net profit at Rs 376.41 crore in the third quarter ended December 2006, as compared to Rs 339 crore in the corresponding period a year ago.

The company, which included losses of its wholly-owned subsidiary Maruti Suzuki Automobiles India Ltd (MSAIL) in this quarter, said total income (net of excise) stood to Rs 3,807.9 crore during the period under review, a growth of 18.3 per cent compared to the same quarter of 2005-06.

The results for the quarter and cumulative nine months are not comparable with the corresponding period in the previous fiscal as losses incurred by MSAIL had been accounted for in this quarter, a company statement said.

“Pursuant to the merger of MSAIL, profit before tax for the current quarter has been arrived after deducting the loss the erstwhile subsidiary had incurred for period April-December 2006, amounting to Rs 54.61 crore, of which Rs 21.32 crore relates to the period April 1 2006 to September 30, 2006,” it said.

Vehicle sales during the quarter grew by 18.7 per cent at 1,72,181 vehicles, including 9,073 units of exports, it added.

For the nine month period (April-December) of the ongoing fiscal, net profit stood at Rs 1,113.42 crore, up 34.45 per cent over April-December 2005.

Total income (net of excise) stood at Rs 10,617.56 crore during the period, a growth of 16.8 per cent over the same period previous year, it said. — PTI

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Corporate Results
Quantum jump in Dr Reddy’s Q3 net profit 

Mumbai, January 22
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has posted a net profit of Rs 503.49 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 54.25 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

Its total income (net of excise) has increased from Rs 532.22 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, to Rs 1212.11 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006.

As per the consolidated results, the group has posted a net profit attributable to the shareholders of Rs 105.63 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, whereas the same was Rs 63.72 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

The total Income (net of excise) is Rs 1521.48 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, whereas the same was Rs 620.60 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

Pfizer declares 125 pc dividend

Pfizer has announced a dividend of 125 per cent for the financial year ended November 30, 2006.

Pfizer has posted a marginal dip of 2.13 per cent in net profit to Rs 17 crore for the quarter ended November 30, 2006, compared to Rs 17.37 crore posted in the year-ago period.

The total income (net of excise and sales tax) for the fourth quarter, however, rose to Rs 182.86 crore, an increase of 1.69 per cent as compared to Rs 179.82 crore posted in the year-ago period, Pfizer said.

The consolidated total income of the group (net of excise and sales tax) increased to Rs 726.26 crore for the year ended November 30, 2006, from Rs 644.09 crore in the previous year.

For the year ended November 30, 2006, the consolidated net profit of the group stood at Rs 106.33 crore as compared to Rs 70.73 crore recorded in the year-ago period.

Colgate Palmolive

Colgate Palmolive India has posted a net profit after tax of Rs 50.34 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, up 20.63 per cent as compared to Rs 41.73 crore recorded in the year-ago period.

The total income rose to Rs 338.94 crore, an increase of 14.28 per cent from Rs 296.57 crore posted in the quarter ended December 31, 2005, Colgate Palmolive said.

Nucleus Software PAT up

Banking and financial software solutions provider Nucleus Software Exports has posted a 58 per cent rise year-on-year in its profit after tax (PAT) to Rs 13.94 crore in the third quarter ended December 31, 2006.

The company’s consolidated revenues for the quarter increased by 50.21 per cent on a yearly basis to Rs 56.18 crore.

Nucleus Software added eight new customers during the quarter, taking its total number of clients to 143.

The company bagged a multimillion-dollar deal in the third quarter from Japan’s Acom Co Ltd for implementation of its flagship product Finnone. It also bagged three new orders each from India and Nigeria and a cash management order from a European bank.

Honda Siel Power

Honda Siel Power Products has reported a net profit of Rs 4.36 crore in the third quarter ended December 31, 2006, up 77.95 per cent over Rs 2.45 crore recorded in the year-ago period.

The net sales of the company rose to Rs 61.75 crore for the latest quarter, up 28.24 per cent as against Rs 48.15 crore, Honda Siel Power said.

Zee Telefilms

Subhash Chandra-controlled Zee Telefilms Ltd (ZTL) has posted a profit after tax of Rs 79.37 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, whereas the same was at Rs 34.16 crore in the year-ago period.

The total income stood at Rs 246.41 crore for the latest quarter while the same was Rs 240.16 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

The consolidated results of the company show that the company has posted a profit after tax of Rs 95.81 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, whereas the same was pegged at Rs 33.55 crore for the corresponding period in the previous fiscal.

JK Paper Q2 PAT up 28 pc

JK Paper Ltd has reported a 28 per cent increase in profit after tax (PAT) for the second quarter ended December, 2006, at Rs 12.18 crore compared to Rs 9.48 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The company said its gross sales and other income for the quarter increased to Rs 246 crore, up 21 per cent, while PBIDT stood at Rs 41.21 crore.

For the half year ended December, PAT stood at Rs 21.86 crore while the gross sales was Rs 470.21 crore.

India Cements

India Cements clocked an 11-fold increase in net profit at Rs 79.78 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to Rs 7.22 crore posted in the year-ago period.

The total income (net of excise) has increased to Rs 474.12 crore for the latest quarter, registering 35.35 per cent growth as against Rs 350.28 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, India Cements said. — Agencies

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SAGE India goes global

New Delhi, January 22
SAGE India, a leading academic publishing house in the country, today went global by merging itself with the US-based SAGE Publications Group, as its shareholders offloaded their entire 76 per cent equity in favour of the parent company for Rs 12 crore.

The US-based company's President and CEO Blaise Simqu said SAGE was one of the world's major academic publishers, globally publishing over 450 academic journals and more than 500 new book titles a year. — UNI

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Bank Account
Kotak Mahindra Bank Q3 PAT up 39 pc

Mumbai, January 22
Kotak Mahindra Bank today posted a profit after tax of Rs 45.40 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, registering growth of 39.09 per cent as compared to Rs 32.64 crore recorded in the year-ago period.

The total income of the bank rose 95.96 per cent to Rs 452.53 crore for the latest quarter as against Rs 230.92 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005..

Kotak Mahindra Bank Executive Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Uday Kotak said the consolidated results of the group showed that it had posted a profit after tax of Rs 169.57 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006.

Bank of India net up

The Bank of India has posted a net profit of Rs 254.87 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, registering a rise of 78.10 per cent over Rs 143.10 crore recorded in the year-ago period.

The bank's total income has increased to Rs 2641.01 crore for the latest quarter, up 28.01 per cent as compared to Rs 2063.09 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2005.

IDBI Q3 net up 6 pc

The Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) has posted a net profit of Rs 126.79 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, up 6.27 per cent as compared to Rs 119.30 crore recorded in the year-ago period.

The total income rose to Rs 1,877.65 crore in the third quarter, witnessing growth of 21.28 per cent as against Rs 1,548.16 crore recorded in the quarter ended December 31, 2005, IDBI said.

J&K Bank

J&K Bank posted a net profit of Rs.83.89 crore during the third quarter of the current financial year, an increase of 66 per cent over that in the corresponding quarter last year.

Dr.Haseeb Drabu, Chairman of the bank, said the bank's operating profit was also up by 36 per cent at Rs.144.15 crore as compared to Rs.106 crore last year.

The total deposits stood at Rs20,296 crore with advances being of the order of Rs14,831 crore. The NPAs had decreased from Rs136.29 crore to Rs.108.84 crore. — Agencies, TNS

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Western Union to tap rural market
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
Western Union Money Transfer is all set to expand its base in the emerging remittance markets of UP, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar, said the Managing Director, South Asia, Western Union, Mr Anil Kapur, here today.

“Though we have penetrated the urban areas in these states, we are now aiming at increasing our rural penetration,” he said, while adding that rural penetration in their biggest markets (states like Punjab and Kerala) was over 65 per cent.

Mr Kapur pointed out that as against the popular notion that most of the remittances were made by the rich NRIs, it was the low-income group of migrants who were contributing to the legalised remittance business.

“While there is no count of the illegal money transfer into India, the legal remittances in year 2006 were to the tune of $23 billion. A recent report by the RBI showed that 54 per cent of these legal remittances are sent for family maintenance. This means that these remittances are being sent by the migrants to their families here,” he said.

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Adlabs acquires stake in Synergy Communications

Mumbai, January 22
Paving the way for Anil Ambani Group’s entry in television broadcasting, Adlabs Films said today it had acquired a controlling stake in Siddhartha Basu’s Synergy Communications for an undisclosed amount.

Synergy Communications is the producer of popular gameshow “Kaun Banega Crorepati” and several other TV shows such as “Jhalak Dikhla Jaa”, “India’s Child Genius”, and “Mastermind India”.

Adlabs said it had completed the process of acquiring a controlling stake in Synergy Communications and the new entity would be called as Synergy Adlabs Ltd.

The strategy and business operations of the company would be led by CMD Siddhartha Basu. — PTI

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Himachal to ink MoUs for mega cement plants
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 22
The Himachal Pradesh Government will soon ink MoUs with Lafarge, a global cement-manufacturing giant, and Jaypee Industries for setting up mega cement plants at Al Sindi in Mandi and Broh-Shind in Chamba, respectively.

For the first time, a provision is being made in the MoU to make it mandatory for the companies to spend 1.5 per cent of the total cost of the project on the development of the local area on the pattern of hydroelectric projects.

Each plant will be of two million tonne capacity and cost around Rs 850 crore.

With this, the total number of cement plants, including the medium CCI plant at Rajban, in the state will be raised to eight and the aggregate installed capacity will reach 17 million tonnes. 

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Wockhardt in pact with UK firm

Mumbai, January 22
Pharma major Wockhardt said today it had signed an in-licensing agreement with UK-based Crawford Healthcare to market Viticolor, a skin camouflage gel used in the treatment of patients suffering from leucoderma.

The licensing deal follows the launch of Vitix, a patented product from UK-based LSI, for the treatment of vitiligo in the Indian market this week.

Vitiligo, popularly known as leucoderma, is a skin disorder that affects 3 to 4 per cent of the Indian population.

Wockhardt would manufacture Viticolor in India from imported active ingredients. Viticolor would be launched in the second quarter of 2007 by its dermatology team.

Crawford Healthcare is an UK-based speciality pharmaceutical company dedicated to providing treatment for a range of skin conditions. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

Indian Bank to offload 20 pc govt stake
Mumbai, January 22
Indian Bank today announced divestment of 20 per cent post-issue fully diluted paid-up equity capital through an IPO of 8.59 crore shares in the price band of Rs 77-91. "We want to complete the entire process before the Union Budget," Indian Bank Chairman and Managing Director K.C. Chakrabarty said while announcing the bank's maiden public issue here. At present, the Union Government holds 100 per cent stake in the Chennai-headquartered lender. Indian Bank is seeking to raise around Rs 662 crore at the lower price band and Rs 882 crore at the upper band to meet the growing credit requirement of customers and improve the capital adequacy ratio, currently at 12.02 per cent. Indian Bank has a network of 1,408 branches across 26 states and three Union Territories. The issue opens for subscription on February 5 and closes on February 9. — PTI

UTI Bank to raise $250 m
New Delhi, January 22
UTI Bank said today it would raise $250 million through sale of bonds for loan growth overseas. The proceeds will be used to fund loan business in Singapore where UTI Bank opened a branch in April, UTI Bank Chairman P.J. Nayak said in an interview to Bloomberg. There will be "strong loan volume there this quarter," he said. — PTI

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