SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Petro price cut only after excise reduction: Deora
Writes to PM, FM for Re 1 per litre excise cut

New Delhi, February 12
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a Re 1 per litre excise duty cut on crude oil to enable a reduction in auto fuel prices, necessary to contain inflation.

Crude imports to touch 85 pc by 2012 
New Delhi, February 12
India’s crude imports are likely to go up to about 85 per cent by 2012 from the current level of 70 per cent due to growing energy demands. This despite the manifold increases in the refining capacities by 58 per cent to touch 235 mn tonnes in the next five years.

Vodafone offloads 5.6 pc in Airtel for $1.6 billion
London, February 12
UK telecom giant Vodafone has offloaded its 5.6 per cent direct stake in India's mobile leader Bharti Airtel to promoter Sunil Mittal's Group for $1.6 billion, coinciding with its acquisition of controlling stake in Hutch-Essar.

Feb 23 last date for surrendering duplicate PAN cards
New Delhi, February 12
Those possessing more than one PAN cards can surrender extra PAN cards latest by February 23.

SC notice to Lodha in Priyamvada case
New Delhi, February 12
In a new twist to the controversial Will of late Priyamvada Birla, wife of Birla icon M.P. Birla, for a whopping Rs 5,000 crore assets in favour of her secretary, R.S. Lodha, the Supreme Court today took cognisance of petitions by three members of the business family stating that they have a right to be heard in the ongoing suit on the authenticity of the Will.


A model presents an outfit by Antonio Pernas at the Pasarela Cibeles Autumn/Winter 2007-08 fashion week in Madrid
A model presents an outfit by Antonio Pernas at the Pasarela Cibeles Autumn/Winter 2007-08 fashion week in Madrid on Monday. — Reuters

 

Sensex falls 
Mumbai: Giving a clear thumbs-down to the recent acquisition spree undertaken by India Inc, punters today hammered down all major scrips causing Sensex to plunge 348 points to close at 14,191.

Toyota to spend Rs 1,890 cr on Indian plant 
New Delhi, February 12
Japanese car major Toyota Motor Corp is reportedly planning an investment of $330 to $420 million (about Rs 1,890 crore) for setting up a small car plant near its existing facility in Bangalore.

Oracle acquires 82.92 pc in i-flex 
Mumbai, February 12
The Oracle Corporation has acquired a 28.03 per cent shareholding in i-flex as against the proposed 34.89 per cent in the open offer to shareholders of banking software solutions company.

GHCL buys US-based Best for $35m
Mumbai, February 12
GHCL said today that it had acquired US-based Best manufacturing group for $35 million through its international subsidiary, GHCL Inc, a move which would place the company as one of the dominant players in the home textile space globally.

Thomas Cook to merge with MyTravel
Geneva, February 12
Thomas Cook, Europe's second- largest travel company, agreed to merge with MyTravel Group Plc of the UK to cut costs and combat competition from low-cost airlines and Web-based travel agents.

RCom unveils Rs 11,000-cr expansion plan
New Delhi, February 12
Reliance Communications Chairman Anil Ambani today welcomed Vodafone to India after the UK giant emerged the top bidder for Hutch-Essar.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram (left) shakes hands with Regional Vice-President, South Asia, World Bank, Praful Patel (right), after the signing of an agreement as World Bank Country Director-designate, Ms Isabel M. Guerrero (centre), looks on in New Delhi
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram (left) shakes hands with Regional Vice-President, South Asia, World Bank, Praful Patel (right), after the signing of an agreement as World Bank Country Director-designate, Ms Isabel M. Guerrero (centre), looks on in New Delhi on Monday. The World Bank supported Tamil Nadu in restoring traditional water-bodies and improving irrigated agriculture and water management by signing the loan/credit agreement worth $485 million. — AFP

Essar JV plans $527-m steel plant in Vietnam
New Delhi, February 12
Essar Steel said today it had joined hands with two state-run Vietnamese companies for setting up a two million tonne steel plant in southern Vietnam at a cost of $527 million (about Rs 2371.5 crore).

Canara Bank ups term deposit rates
New Delhi, February 12
Canara Bank today increased the interest rates on term deposits by 0.25-0.50 per cent on various maturities with immediate effect.

Sonalika Tractors’ net up 17 pc
New Delhi, February 12
Sonalika Tractors has registered a net profit Rs 126.14 crore before tax for the nine months up to December 31, 2006, as against Rs 107.96 crore in the same period last year and has registered a 17 per cent increase in profit for the quarter ended December 2006, said company Chairman L.D. Mittal here today. — TNS

RSM merges with PwC
Mumbai, February 12
RSM and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have decided to merge their tax practices with effect from April 1, 2007, making the combined firm the largest accounting entity in the country.

Albit Electronics plans unit in HP
New Delhi, February 12
Albit Electronics, owner of True Power brand of power backup products, will invest Rs 25 crore to set up manufacturing units for expanding its operations to touch over Rs 100 crore turnover by 2007-08. ''We will set up a manufacturing unit at Parwanoo (HP) to produce inverters and UPS,'' company's Managing Director Vipin Goel said.

Ansal bonus issue
New Delhi, February 12
The Board of Directors of Ansal Properties & Infrastructure Limited today announced issue of bonus shares in the ratio of 1:1. Keeping in view its commitments towards enhancement of shareholders value, this is the second bonus issue announced by the company in the past three years. The earlier bonus issue was announced in 2005. — TNS

 

Top



 




 

Petro price cut only after excise reduction: Deora
Writes to PM, FM for Re 1 per litre excise cut

New Delhi, February 12
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a Re 1 per litre excise duty cut on crude oil to enable a reduction in auto fuel prices, necessary to contain inflation.

Mr Deora has written to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister P.Chidambaram stating that the rise in international oil prices this month has seen an erosion of gain on diesel sales. Oil firms are making a loss of Rs 0.30-0.35 a litre on the sale of this most- consumed auto fuel, a top official said.

The hardening of international oil prices, which has seen the Indian basket of crude rise from $51.74 a barrel in the second fortnight of January to $56.18 this month, has also reduced the profit made on petrol from Rs 3.50 a litre to less than Rs 2 a litre.

"For a very brief period, oil companies made a profit of about Rs 0.50 a litre on diesel but it has evaporated. There is a loss on diesel sale, leaving no scope of price reduction unless the government decides to cut excise duty," the official said.

If Mr Deora's request is heeded, the petrol price can be cut by Rs 2 per litre and that of diesel by Re 1 per litre, the official added.

The current excise duty on diesel is 8.16 per cent plus Rs 3.32 a litre - the two together translating into a total levy of Rs 4.98 per litre. Last year, excise duty on diesel was Rs 3.41 per litre.

Revenues from excise duty on diesel have increased to Rs 24,214 crore in 2005-06 from Rs 16,338 crore a year ago.

Revenue on diesel as a percentage of the total excise revenues has increased to 22 per cent from 16 per cent.

"The Finance Ministry is also getting increased revenues from raising cess on domestic crude oil to Rs 2,500 per tonne from Rs 1,800 per tonne previously," the official said.

It is slated to get Rs 6,700 crore this year as against Rs 5,100 crore earlier, the incremental revenues more than compensating for the excise duty cut, he added.

The Petroleum Ministry was seeking a shift to specific duties on fuel from the current mix of ad-valorem and specific duties. The current excise duty on petrol is 8.16 per cent of ex-factory price plus Rs 13.26 a litre. — PTI

Top

 

Crude imports to touch 85 pc by 2012 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12
India’s crude imports are likely to go up to about 85 per cent by 2012 from the current level of 70 per cent due to growing energy demands. This despite the manifold increases in the refining capacities by 58 per cent to touch 235 mn tonnes in the next five years.

India's demand for oil products rose 4 per cent in December, 2006, to 10.5 million tonnes as against 10.1 million tonnes a year ago on the back of an increase in diesel consumption.

The country’s dependence on crude oil will increase as domestic discoveries have not been taking place while our energy demand in future will multiply and rise to the level of 12-13 per cent compared to 7-8 per cent now, said a study by Assocham.

The study said the artificial ceiling on the prices of petroleum products would continue to persist in the near future and it would be difficult for the government to continue diverting development revenues to foot the burgeoning oil import bill as it wouldresult in fiscal pressures in servicing the oil bonds.

In financial years 2005 and 2006, India’s petroleum and crude oil products (POL) import bill has been growing at average 46 per cent per year. The major factor contributing to this rise has been the international crude prices which began ascending in late 2003.

The Indian basket of crude oil rose from less than $28 barrel in 2004-05 financial year to $55 barrel in 2005-06 financial year and $67 barrel in the first half of fiscal 2006-07. The crude oil prices have, however, started softening which, the chamber said, was unlikely to retain the current level and move up in the next couple of weeks.

Despite such high dependency on oil imports, its impact on domestic prices and economic growth has remained muted so far. This is because of the subsidies factor, it added.

Top

 

Vodafone offloads 5.6 pc in Airtel for $1.6 billion

London, February 12
UK telecom giant Vodafone has offloaded its 5.6 per cent direct stake in India's mobile leader Bharti Airtel to promoter Sunil Mittal's Group for $1.6 billion, coinciding with its acquisition of controlling stake in Hutch-Essar.

"Vodafone has sold its 5.6 per cent direct stake in Bharti Airtel to the group," Bharti Group Chairman Sunil Mittal said, elaborating that the deal was on a deferred payment basis.

Vodafone will, however, continue to hold an indirect 4.4 per cent stake in the company, as a financial investor and will not have any representation on Bharti Airtel's Board nor any management rights.

Mittal, whose group brought Vodafone to India by making that company a strategic partner, said: "We are pleased to welcome Vodafone and congratulate them on their Hutch acquisition.

Bharti Airtel also said it has entered into a comprehensive MoU with Vodafone on a range of significant areas, including infrastructure sharing, roaming and long- distance services.

The company will be the preferred vendor of Vodafone for NLD, ILD and leased-line services.

"Vodafone will also give 50 per cent of its in-bound international roaming traffic to the company for three years.

"The two companies will also work on a comprehensive range of significant infrastructure sharing options, including around 70,000 towers in India, enabling rapid network expansion to connect sub urban and rural areas across India," Bharti Airtel said.

Meanwhile, Vodafone said today it would retain the current management of Hutch-Essar after the takeover, while incumbent Managing Director Asim Ghosh made himself available for the top job.— PTI 

Top

 

Arun Sarin to meet Maran today

New Delhi/London, February 12
Riding high on the Hutch-Essar win, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin will visit India on Wednesday to pursue completion of the deal, ahead of which he would meet Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran in Barcelona tomorrow.

Maran is scheduled to attend the 3GSM World Congress in Spain, where Sarin is expected to meet the minister and discuss Vodafone's plans for its India operations.

The India-born CEO of Vodafone is also likely to meet Bharti Group Chairman Sunil Mittal in Barcelona.

Ahead of his India visit, Sarin told analysts during a webcast today that the company would offer to buyout Essar, which holds 33 per cent stake, from the venture.

"Essar's option is time limited. It will take us couple of weeks to make an offer to Essar on equivalent terms as HTIL and they have to decide whether to sell or stay (as) partners," Sarin said.

Sarin is also expected to hold parleys with various stakeholders when he visits the national capital to give further shape to the transaction that would cost Vodafone about $11 billion in cash.

Sarin said: "Essar may take 5-6 weeks to respond to this offer and if they do not want to remain partners in long term with us we will have to look for another partner for the 33 per cent stake in Hutch Essar."

Regarding the Foreign Direct Investment guidelines in the Indian telecom sector Sarin said: "We have plans in place that would staisfy the FDI regulations." On spectrum in India he said, the amount of spectrum available in the country is limited so it is not so easy for new players. 

Top

 

Feb 23 last date for surrendering duplicate PAN cards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12
Those possessing more than one PAN cards can surrender extra PAN cards latest by February 23.

According to a press note issued by the Income Tax Department here today, this is the final opportunity for surrendering the extra PAN cards. Henceforth if any person is found to possess more than one PAN cards, he or she or will be liable to penal action.

The extra PAN cards may be surrendered at help desks set up in income tax offices all over the country set up for the purpose.

It has come to the notice of the IT Department that some persons are involved in forgery of getting PAN allotted to fictitious persons or getting more than one PAN cards allotted to the same person using different identities.

Top

 

SC notice to Lodha in Priyamvada case
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 12
In a new twist to the controversial Will of late Priyamvada Birla, wife of Birla icon M.P. Birla, for a whopping Rs 5,000 crore assets in favour of her secretary, R.S. Lodha, the Supreme Court today took cognisance of petitions by three members of the business family stating that they have a right to be heard in the ongoing suit on the authenticity of the Will.

After heated arguments by a battery of top advocates, appearing from both sides in one of the hotly contested high stake suit, a Bench of Mr Justice B. P. Singh and Mr Justice H.S. Bedi issued notices to R.S. Lodha, the beneficiary secretary of Priymvada Birla’s 1999 Will.

While senior advocates Ram Jethmalani, K.K. Vanugopal and Arun Jaitley appeared for K.K. Birla, B.K. Birla and Yashovardhan Birla, who had moved caveats in the Calcutta High Court that they be heard in the suit on the authenticity of the Will, the Lodha side was represented by equally high profile lawyers Mukul Rohtagi, Rohighton Nariman and Harish Salve.

The Birlas moved the Supreme Court after the Calcutta High Court had rejected their claim that they had any role to contest the suit as caveators in the case where the legal authenticity of the Will was being examined.

The foundation of one of the high profile case in the history of Indian business community throwing various legal complexities was laid in a mutual Will executed by M.P. Birla and his wife Priyamvada in 1982, whereby she got absolute right over his share of property worth Rs 5,000 crore.

Since M.P. Birla died in 1999, she had executed a further Will the same year bequeathing the assets in the name of her secretary R.S. Lodha, who filed a suit in the high court for taking control of the same after her death in 2004.

The Birlas are contesting the suit on the ground that they were made trustees in the 1982 Will executed by M.P. Birla, in which it was laid down that in the event of Priyamvada’s death before him, the entire property would go to a charitable trust, and therefore, they have a legal right to contest the case.

But Lodha’s counsel argued that with the death of M.P. Birla before Priyamvada, that condition had automatically gone as he had in his Will said if he died before her then his wife will be the “absolute” owner of the property. “This gave her absolute control over the entire assets and she was free to give it to any one,” Lodha’s counsel contended.

However, the court issued notice to Lodha, with a direction that he should file a response to the petition moved by Birlas within four weeks.

Top

 

Toyota to spend Rs 1,890 cr on Indian plant 

New Delhi, February 12
Japanese car major Toyota Motor Corp is reportedly planning an investment of $330 to $420 million (about Rs 1,890 crore) for setting up a small car plant near its existing facility in Bangalore.

A report from Tokyo by AP quoting Japan's Nikkei business daily said the new plant, Toyota's second Indian manufacturing facility, would have an initial capacity of 1,00,000 cars a year.

Officials of Toyota Kirloskar Motors, the joint venture of the Japanese firm with Kirloskars, neither denied nor confirmed the news.

While the Japanese auto major holds an 89 per cent stake in the JV, Kirloskars have 11 per cent.

Toyota had set an ambitious target of garnering about 10 per cent of the Indian car market by 2010. According to the report, the small car to be rolled out from the new plant would be priced about Rs 2.88 lakh, the lowest price of Toyota cars. Toyota's first Indian plant became operational in 1999.

Currently it sells the Corolla and Camry sedans and multi- purpose vehicle Innova, which had replaced its once-popular MPV Qualis. — PTI

Top

 

Oracle acquires 82.92 pc in i-flex 

Mumbai, February 12
The Oracle Corporation has acquired a 28.03 per cent shareholding in i-flex as against the proposed 34.89 per cent in the open offer to shareholders of banking software solutions company.

Post-offer, the shareholding of Oracle Global (Mauritius) and Oracle Corporation now stands at 82.92 per cent, around 7 per cent less than the proposed 89.69 per cent stake.

Oracle had made the final offer of Rs 2,100 per share to the shareholders for increasing its stake to 90 per cent in the domestic company.

In August 2005, Oracle had acquired a 41 per cent stake in i-flex from Citigroup Venture Capital International at Rs 800 a share and launched an open offer to buy an additional 20 per cent at Rs 882.62 per share.

Seeking to up its stake to 90 per cent, the company launched a revised open offer for shareholders to tender their shares at Rs 1,475 per share, which was later sweetened to Rs 2,100. — PTI

Top

 

GHCL buys US-based Best for $35 m

Mumbai, February 12
GHCL said today that it had acquired US-based Best manufacturing group for $35 million through its international subsidiary, GHCL Inc, a move which would place the company as one of the dominant players in the home textile space globally.

GHCL said the total acquisition would be funded by existing lenders of Dan River and not through its current cash flows.

'Best' is the leading manufacturer and distributors of home textiles and certain related items for the hospitality and healthcare sector in the US.

"This further strengthens our position in the largest home textiles market of USA and provides us with an ideal opportunity to leverage Best's global platform and a renowned global brand in order to make GHCL one of the dominant players in the home textile space globally," GHCL Chairman Sanjay Dalmia said.

With the acquisition of Best manufacturing group Dan River is the only company in the world which will cater to all three segments -- retail chain in the US, hotel and restaurant industry and hospital industry, Mr Dalmia added.

This acquisition was close to the heels of its acquisition of H.W. Baker Lenin Co in December last year. GHCL had acquired assets of H.W. Baker Lenin, a division of the Best manufacturing group and a leading supplier of textile products.

Dan River before this acquisition, owned and operated warehousing network of 1.25 million sq ft, in-house designing capability and also has an over 200 strong multi-sourcing team in place and has its own brands and branding capabilities.

With the acquisition of Best, the current topline of Dan River will go from $250 million (including the earlier HW Baker acquisition) to a topline of $400 million.

Post these acquisitions, the process of restructuring the businesses will gather further momentum and the company is in the process of taking the above structure to the global financial market for value unlocking for the Indian shareholders. — PTI

Top

 

Thomas Cook to merge with MyTravel

Geneva, February 12
Thomas Cook, Europe's second- largest travel company, agreed to merge with MyTravel Group Plc of the UK to cut costs and combat competition from low-cost airlines and Web-based travel agents.

The transaction will create a company with annual revenue of about $15.6 billion, bringing it closer to Europe's largest travel operator TUI, which had sales in 2005 of $23.7 billion. — Bloomberg

Top

 

RCom unveils Rs 11,000-cr expansion plan

New Delhi, February 12
Reliance Communications Chairman Anil Ambani today welcomed Vodafone to India after the UK giant emerged the top bidder for Hutch-Essar.

"We congratulate Vodafone and welcome it to India.

Vodafone's participation is a further endorsement of the exciting future growth potential, and the progressive policies, prevailing in the Indian telecom sector," Reliance Communications Chairman Anil D. Ambani said.

A consortium led by NRI business group Hindujas and Essar were the other bidders in the fray for Hutch-Essar.

Meanwhile, Ambani announced that his company would maintain substantial financial strength and flexibility while investing a record capex of Rs 11,000 crore in the coming financial year. — PTI

Top

 

Essar JV plans $527-m steel plant in Vietnam

New Delhi, February 12
Essar Steel said today it had joined hands with two state-run Vietnamese companies for setting up a two million tonne steel plant in southern Vietnam at a cost of $527 million (about Rs 2371.5 crore).

The company, through is Singapore subsidiary Essar Steel Vietnam Holdings Pvt Ltd (ESVHL), has signed a joint venture agreement in this connection.

The project is expected to be completed within 30 months. — PTI

Top

 

Canara Bank ups term deposit rates

New Delhi, February 12
Canara Bank today increased the interest rates on term deposits by 0.25-0.50 per cent on various maturities with immediate effect.

The interest rate on fixed deposits of 46-90 days has been increased to 5.5 per cent from 5.25 per cent while for the deposits between 91-179 days it has been raised from 5.75 per cent to 6 per cent, the bank said.

Similarly, for one to less-than-two-years maturity, the interest rate would be 8.25 per cent.

The maximum increase of 0.50 per cent has been announced on the term deposits of three to less than five years maturity. The proposed interest rate of such fixed deposits is 9 per cent from earlier 8.5 per cent, it said. — PTI 

Top

 

RSM merges with PwC

Mumbai, February 12
RSM and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have decided to merge their tax practices with effect from April 1, 2007, making the combined firm the largest accounting entity in the country.

The combined operations will be under the common brand of PricewaterhouseCoopers and headed by their current Chairman and CEO, Mr Rathin Datta, an official release today announced.

''With the service sector growing at a rapid pace, it is natural to combine the strengths. The synergies will enhance the delivery capability of our firm,'' Mr Datta opined.

Though PricewaterhouseCoopers is a member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, it retains a separate and independent legal entity, registered as a limited company in India.

On the other hand, Ambit RSM is an Indian group, engaged in providing financial services like investment banking, financial consultancy, stock-broking, tax & business advisory services. — UNI 

Top

 

Albit Electronics plans unit in HP

New Delhi, February 12
Albit Electronics, owner of True Power brand of power backup products, will invest Rs 25 crore to set up manufacturing units for expanding its operations to touch over Rs 100 crore turnover by 2007-08. ''We will set up a manufacturing unit at Parwanoo (HP) to produce inverters and UPS,'' company's Managing Director Vipin Goel said.

The production in the plant would commence by the first quarter next fiscal. — UNI

Top

 


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |