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B U S I N E S S

ONGC, Rosneft join hands 
To bid jointly for exploration, refining projects
New Delhi, January 25
The ONGC and Rosneft have decided to expand relationship in other projects in Russia, India and third countries following their positive participation in the Sakhalin-I project.

Rift persists on gas price
Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline

New Delhi, January 25
The stalemate over pricing of gas to be supplied through the proposed $7.4 billion Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline continued today, with the buyers and sellers failing to reach any agreement.





EARLIER STORIES

 
A model displays Softbank Mobile’s new mobile phones “707SC”, which are covered with Swarovski’s crystal glasses, at a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday. Softbank will put 14 new 3G handsets in the market next month.
A model displays Softbank Mobile’s new mobile phones “707SC”, which are covered with Swarovski’s crystal glasses, at a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday. Softbank will put 14 new 3G handsets in the market next month. — AFP

Corus bid: CSN dismisses ore supply dispute
London, January 25
Brazil’s CSN today reaffirmed its commitment to acquire steel maker Corus, while dismissing reports that suggested a legal dispute over iron ore supply with mining group CVRD back home could threaten the bid.

Internet telephony gets cheaper
New Delhi, January 25
World Phone Internet Services Private Limited has introduced international calls to over 30 countries at the rate of 95 paisa per minute, the cheapest international call rates in India on any legal internet telephony network.

TVS launches electric-start bike
New Delhi, Janaury 25
TVS Motor Company today launched an electric start version of its entry-level motor cycle “StaR City” priced at Rs 36,750 (ex-showroom price Delhi).

Reliance Money mulls tie-up with UK firm
New Delhi, January 25
Reliance Money, promoted by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group firm Reliance Capital, is mulling a tie-up with UK-based CMC Markets to allow Indian customers to invest in various overseas products like foreign equity, commodities and currency.

Post offices to sell BSNL products in HP
Shimla, January 25
India telephone cards, mobile recharge coupons, sanchar net cards and other pre-paid products of BSNL will now be available at all the 2,778 post offices in Himachal Pradesh.

Airtel offer in HP
Shimla, January 25
Airtel today announced a slew of benefits for new prepaid customers to commemorate the completion of 10 years of its service in Himachal Pradesh. The pack is priced at Rs 449 with an enhanced validity of six months.

Sony to tackle grey market
Ludhiana, January 25
In a bid to deal with significant share of grey segment in market for car audio, Sony India is planning to reducing prices of its products in this category. The company will also focus on B and C category cities where it sees high market potential.
A Volkswagen worker stands outside the company’s Brussels plant. Workers at the plant stopped production on Thursday to express dissatisfaction with proposed restructuring plans, a union official said.
A Volkswagen worker stands outside the company’s Brussels plant. Workers at the plant stopped production on Thursday to express dissatisfaction with proposed restructuring plans, a union official said. — Reuters

Inflation down at 5.95 pc 
New Delhi, January 25
Inflation declined to 5.95 per cent during the week ended January 13 from a two-year high of 6.12 per cent in the previous week, primarily due to a decline in the prices of food products.

Corporate Results
HMT posts Rs 4.49-crore net loss
New Delhi, January 25
Watch maker HMT Ltd today posted a net loss of Rs 4.49 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to a net loss of Rs 1.45 crore for the corresponding period last year.

Siemens to buy UGS for $3.5 b
New York/Boston, January 25
Siemens AG has agreed to buy industrial design software maker UGS Corp for $3.5 billion and sell shares in automotive engineering unit VDO.

Ruias to delistoil, steel ventures
Mumbai, January 25
Ruias-led conglomerate Essar will delist its two arms - Essar Steel and Essar Oil - from the bourses, sending share prices of the two companies more than 10 per cent higher in intra-day trade. 

 

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ONGC, Rosneft join hands 
To bid jointly for exploration, refining projects
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
The ONGC and Rosneft have decided to expand relationship in other projects in Russia, India and third countries following their positive participation in the Sakhalin-I project.

An MoU to this effect was signed by Mr R.S. Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director, ONGC; and Mr Sergey Bogdanchikov, President of Rosneft, which called for joint study of the possibilities for mutual projects in exploration, production and marketing as well as other projects related to the hydrocarbon industry, including joint bidding for oil and gas stakes in Russia, India and third countries.

The two companies also agreed to jointly explore the options for participation in refining and retail marketing projects in India, including integration of other companies in India.

To implement this MoU, Rosneft and ONGC will establish two joint study groups, one of which will be responsible for upstream projects and the other for downstream ones. Upon jointly identifying a project, the parties shall mutually decide on the structure of the joint venture to implement it.

The ONGC will conduct the activities under this MoU in Russia and third countries through ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), its wholly owned subsidiary.

The President of Rosneft, Mr Sergey Bogdanchikov, noted the high potential of the Indian market, which can’t be ignored by rapidly growing Rosneft. “It would be ideal to match growing Russian production with the growing Indian market through dedicated joint ventures”, he observed.

ONGC chief R.S. Sharma, noted: “The signing of the MoU shall open up opportunities for both companies to work together in Russia, India, and third countries.”

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Putin supports OVL stake in Sakhalin-III

In the first sign of Russia’s willingness to give ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) a stake in the giant Sakhalin-III oil and gas project, President Vladimir Putin said today he would support the Indian company’s efforts.

“Petroleum Minister (Mr Murli Deora) has spoken to me about (involving OVL in) Sakhalin-III... I will support it,” he said at a meeting here. — PTI

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Rift persists on gas price
Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline

New Delhi, January 25
The stalemate over pricing of gas to be supplied through the proposed $7.4 billion Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline continued today, with the buyers and sellers failing to reach any agreement.

While Iran proposed a formula linking the price to Brent crude plus a fixed cost, India and Pakistan put up a combined case for capping the price at the Iran-Pakistan border at $4.25 per million British thermal unit, officials said.

The meeting (in Teheran) remained inconclusive, they said, adding that another meeting would be held later.

Officials said there was a wide gap between the prices Iran, as the seller, and India and Pakistan, as purchasers had proposed. The two-day talks could not resolve the differences.

Last year, India and Pakistan rejected a gas sale price put up by Iran-appointed Gaffney Cline and Associates for the gas to be supplied through the proposed 2,700-km pipeline.

Teheran had proposed a price equivalent to 10 per cent of the Brent crude oil price, plus a fixed cost of $1.20 per mBtu. At $50 per barrel, this translated into a price of $6.20 per mBtu at the Iran-Pakistan border. Transportation costs beyond that point would add to the price.

On the other side, New Delhi does not want to pay more than $4.25 per mBtu for the gas delivered through the 2,100-km line at its border. — PTI 

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Market holiday

Mumbai, January 25
Trading in all spot and future markets like BSE, NSE, Forex, Call money, bullion, cotton, sugar, metal, edible oils and others will remain officially closed tomorrow on account of Republic Day. — UNI

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Corus bid: CSN dismisses ore supply dispute

London, January 25
Brazil’s CSN today reaffirmed its commitment to acquire steel maker Corus, while dismissing reports that suggested a legal dispute over iron ore supply with mining group CVRD back home could threaten the bid.

“Should CSN acquire Corus, it will exercise its rights to supply iron ore from its Casa De Pedra mine to all its operations, including those in Europe,” a CSN spokesperson said.

According to a report in British daily Financial Times, the Latin American firm’s bid to acquire Corus could be blown off the course by a dispute over CSN’s rights to iron ore supply that would be crucial to a merged business and this could lend fresh impetus to the rival bidder Tata Steel.

Meanwhile, reports said today the Chief Executive of Corus Philipe Varin would leave if it was bought by CSN.

British magazine The Business cited unnamed sources close to Corus as saying that Varin was unlikely to stay if CSN wins, while he would hold onto his position if Tata managed to acquire the company.

As per CSN’s offer, Varin's contract expires after six months and can be renewed if both parties agree to extend it.

Market expectations for a fierce battle has pushed Corus’ share price well above CSN’s current offer of 515 pence, which values Corus at $9.7 billion. — PTI

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Internet telephony gets cheaper
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
World Phone Internet Services Private Limited has introduced international calls to over 30 countries at the rate of 95 paisa per minute, the cheapest international call rates in India on any legal internet telephony network.

“Our aim is to make superior quality international voice-calling extremely affordable for every Indian customer. At the same time, we want to assist the government in curbing the rapid proliferation of illegal internet telephony service providers in India and help users understand the relevance of the issue,” said Mr Aditya Ahluwalia, Chairman of the company.

World Phone’s pre-paid internet telephony cards are available in the denominations of Rs 100, Rs 250, Rs 500 and Rs 1000 with validity up to 100 days and can be purchased either by logging on to www.worldphone.in or through World Phone’s nationwide network of resellers, he said.

According to IDC report, India is the second largest market for Internet telephony services in Asia after China. The voice market in India is estimated to be Rs 33,000 crore, (including international long distance and national long distance) of which Internet telephony is about 2 to 3 per cent. 

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TVS launches electric-start bike

New Delhi, Janaury 25
TVS Motor Company today launched an electric start version of its entry-level motor cycle “StaR City” priced at Rs 36,750 (ex-showroom price Delhi).

“StaR City ES” has the distinction of being the first 100 cc motor cycle in the country with electric start,” company General Manager Sales S Ram Mohan said.

The new motor cycle comes with new graphics and added features such as switch suspension, pass beam switch, headlight faring with halogen bulb, sporty looking silencer with freshly designed heat shield, it said.

“StaR City” has crossed one million in sales in 24 months of launch capturing 25 per cent market share in the entry-level segment, it added. — PTI

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Reliance Money mulls tie-up with UK firm

New Delhi, January 25
Reliance Money, promoted by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group firm Reliance Capital, is mulling a tie-up with UK-based CMC Markets to allow Indian customers to invest in various overseas products like foreign equity, commodities and currency.

Reliance Money would be an exclusive partner of the UK's Internet trading platform provider in India and the tie-up would allow the customers to buy various offshore investment products under the RBI prescribed limits.

Earlier, the RBI had hiked the remittance scheme for resident individuals to freely remit $50,000 from $25,000.

Resident Indians are allowed to remit up to $50,000 per financial year for any current or capital account transaction. A Reliance spokesperson declined to comment. — PTI 

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Post offices to sell BSNL products in HP
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 25
India telephone cards, mobile recharge coupons, sanchar net cards and other pre-paid products of BSNL will now be available at all the 2,778 post offices in Himachal Pradesh.

The BSNL and the Department of Posts signed an MoU for the Himachal Circle here today, under which the latter will sell the products of the former on commission basis. The MoU has been signed for a period of three years.

The Department of Posts will charge a Re less from the the BSNL for delivering telephone bills. Similarly, BSNL will give discount to the Postal Department on telephone bills. Mr Shri Kant Sharma, Chief General Manager, BSNL, said the arrangement would enable the BSNL to make its products available in the remotest part of the hill state.

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Airtel offer in HP

Shimla, January 25
Airtel today announced a slew of benefits for new prepaid customers to commemorate the completion of 10 years of its service in Himachal Pradesh. The pack is priced at Rs 449 with an enhanced validity of six months.

 The subscriber will get free talk time and SMS worth Rs 450 (50 minutes talk time, 250 minutes local Airtel to Airtel spread over five months, 150 local and national SMS valid for three months). In addition, all local calls will be charged at Re 1 per minute for the first three months. — TNS

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Sony to tackle grey market
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
In a bid to deal with significant share of grey segment in market for car audio, Sony India is planning to reducing prices of its products in this category. The company will also focus on B and C category cities where it sees high market potential.

“Grey market has a sizeable 65 to 70 per cent share in total, which is not only eating up on organised segment but also goes against consumers’ interests. Heavy price differentials in branded products and this segment have had a harmful effect on car audio market. We are reducing price differential which would help tackle this chunk,” said Mr Vivek Handoo, Product Head (car entertainment division) of the company.

The company would open 150 more outlets by the end of this year. The company currently has more than 50 per cent share in the organised segment and expects to add to this share with the launch of “Xplod” car audio systems.

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Inflation down at 5.95 pc 

New Delhi, January 25
Inflation declined to 5.95 per cent during the week ended January 13 from a two-year high of 6.12 per cent in the previous week, primarily due to a decline in the prices of food products.

 Even though inflation fell compared to the previous week, it is still higher than the threshold of RBI's projection of of 5-5.5 per cent for this fiscal. At 5.95 per cent, inflation is the highest this fiscal. This would put pressure on the RBI to hike interest rates in its credit policy review slated for January 31.— PTI

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Corporate Results
HMT posts Rs 4.49-crore net loss

New Delhi, January 25
Watch maker HMT Ltd today posted a net loss of Rs 4.49 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2006, as compared to a net loss of Rs 1.45 crore for the corresponding period last year.

The company's total income increased 6.9 per cent to Rs 70.13 crore for the quarter from Rs 65.59 crore for the third quarter of last fiscal.

MRPL net profit  Rs 118 crore

Mangalore Refinery and Petro Chemicals Limited (MRPL), a subsidiary of the ONGC, has registered a net profit of Rs 118 crore during the third quarter ended December 2006, a top official of the company said.

MRPL Managing Director R Rajamani said the net profit of Rs 118 crore as against Rs 19 crore in the corresponding quarter was after providing for interest and finance charges of Rs 51 crore, depreciation of Rs 89 crore and tax liability of Rs 99 crore.

The turnover for the quarter includes Rs 143 crore released by oil marketing companies towards LPG and super kerosene oil discounts with effect from April 1 last year, he said.

Apollo Tyres

Apollo Tyres has posted over two-fold increase in net profit at Rs 35.07 crore for the quarter ended December 31 as compared to Rs 16.44 crore for the same quarter last year.

The total income (net of excise) increased 26.38 per cent to Rs 857.63 crore for the quarter ended December 31, from Rs 678.61 crore for the corresponding quarter a year ago.

Arvind Mills

Arvind Mills has posted a net profit of Rs 104.79 crore for the quarter ended December 31 whereas the same was Rs 23.4 crore in the year-ago period.

The total income of the apparel major was at Rs 450.52 crore in the third quarter while the same was Rs 384.39 crore for the corresponding quarter in the previous fiscal, Arvind Mills said.

Cummins India net up

Cummins India has posted a net profit after tax of Rs 62.89 crore for the quarter ended December 31, up 29.75 per cent as compared to Rs 48.47 crore in the same period a year ago.

Total income has increased by 22.79 per cent to Rs 502.95 crore for the third quarter as against Rs 409.58 crore in the corresponding period in 2005, Cummins India said. The Board of Directors has declared an interim dividend of 100 per cent on equity shares of a face value of Rs 2 each for the financial year 2006-2007.

Novartis India

Novartis India has posted a decline of 8.62 per cent in net profit at Rs 21.07 crore for the quarter ended December 31, as compared to Rs 23.06 crore for the same quarter last year. Total income increased 8.46 per cent to Rs 157.75 crore from Rs 145.44 crore for the corresponding quarter a year ago.

Union Bank of India

Union Bank of India has posted a net profit of Rs 255.84 crore for the quarter ended December 31as compared to Rs 229.08 crore in the year ago period.

Total income has increased to Rs 2054.44 crore for the third quarter, registering a growth of 24.31 per cent over Rs 1652.50 crore recorded in the corresponding period in the previous fiscal.

CBoP Q3 net up

The Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP) has posted a 44 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 33.5 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006 as compared to Rs 23.3 crore in the corresponding quarter last fiscal. Total income rose to Rs 248.2 crore during the third quarter in 2006-07, up 51.7 per cent from Rs 163.6 crore in the year-ago period. — Agencies

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Siemens to buy UGS for $3.5 b

New York/Boston, January 25
Siemens AG has agreed to buy industrial design software maker UGS Corp for $3.5 billion and sell shares in automotive engineering unit VDO.

Siemens said it planned an initial public offering of VDO, which had annual sales of 10 billion euros ($13 billion) in the last fiscal year.

Siemens said it would hold a majority stake in VDO, but a spokesman declined further comment on the size of the stake.

An IPO would give that business additional financial resources and flexibility for future growth, Siemens said. — Reuters

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Ruias to delist oil, steel ventures

Mumbai, January 25
Ruias-led conglomerate Essar will delist its two arms - Essar Steel and Essar Oil - from the bourses, sending share prices of the two companies more than 10 per cent higher in intra-day trade. 

Essar group promoters, which control 87-88 per cent in the two companies, may have to shell out as much as Rs 1,600 crore for buying shares of the two firms from the public at the current market prices.

The group, which is currently eyeing to buy out its foreign partner Hutchison Telecom's 67 per cent stake in mobile venture Hutchison Essar, said the delisting was aimed at gaining more flexibility in running the companies. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

TACO, Sasken form JV
Bangalore, January 25
Tata AutoComp Systems Ltd (TACO) and Bangalore-based embedded communications solutions firm Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd today announced a joint venture partnership to design, develop and market automotive electronics products for the global market. The JV, TACO Sasken Automotive Electronics Pvt Ltd, will initially focus on automotive electronics products in the areas of telematics, infotainment and occupant convenience. — PTI

Best airport
Seoul, January 25
South Korea's Incheon International Airport has been named the world's best airport for 2006 in a survey of airport standards conducted by a prestigious US-based monthly travel magazine, an airport official said yesterday. Incheon took the top spot in the annual survey conducted by Global Traveller magazine with its 14,000 readers via snailmails, faxes, e-mails and its website, according to the official of the Incheon International Airport Corporation. Among competitors for the prize were Singapore Changi Airport, Heathrow Airport of the United Kingdom, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and Hong Kong International Airport. — Yonhap

Apollo fund
Hong Kong, January 25
US private equity firm Apollo Management will pour around $2 billion into Indian real estate, having raised one of the biggest funds yet for a sector that has been buzzing since rules on inward investment were eased two years ago. Hooking up with India's Sun Group, Apollo has raised $630 million in equity from institutional investors, pension funds in particular, for a fund that will see its spending power magnified three-fold by borrowing. India represents a first foray into Asia for Apollo's property investment arm, which has raised $6.6 billion of equity for the US and European markets since 1993. — Reuters

SpiceJet offer
New Delhi, January 25
Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today announced a promotional offer, under which 99,999 seats would be up for grabs at just 99 paisa each. The tickets purchased under the offer, launched on the eve of Republic Day celebrations, would be valid for travel between February 15 to April 15, SpiceJet CEO Siddhanta Sharma said. —PTI

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