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HPCL-Mittal bid for 51 pc in Nigerian refinery 
Mittal picks up 49 pc stake in Bathinda refinery
New Delhi, February 20
India-born billionaire Lakshmi N. Mittal, who has ambitions to expand his steel empire into oil and gas business, plans to invest billions of dollars in acquiring stakes in refineries across the world.

Apollo eyes UK hospitals
London, February 20
India's biggest hospital chain, Apollo Hospitals Group, has drawn up a list of British takeover targets, including Priory's Healthcare and Capio UK.

SEZs: Reliance bonanza for farmers 
Mumbai, February 20
Reliance Industries Ltd, which has unveiled ambitious plans to set up SEZs across the country, is paying record sums to farmers whose lands are being sought for the project. The company has announced that it would pay Rs 10 lakh per acre of cultivable land acquired for the two SEZs coming up in Raigad district on the outskirts of Mumbai.

SEBI slaps Rs 1-cr fine on DLF arm
Mumbai, February 20
SEBI today imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore on DLF Commercial Developers (DLFCD) for trading in the shares of Bhoruka Financial Services at the de-recognised Magadh Stock Exchange Association (MSEA).

HLL rechristened Hindustan Unilever
Mumbai, February 20
Hindustan Lever Ltd said here today that it would change its name to 'Hindustan Unilever Ltd'.


 

A model displays a creation from the La Perla Fall-Winter 2007-08 women's collection at the Milan Fashion Week on Tuesday.
A model displays a creation from the La Perla Fall-Winter 2007-08 women's collection at the Milan Fashion Week on Tuesday. — Reuters

 
Olympic figure skating champion Shizuka Arakawa of Japan shows off a one billion yen ($8.3 million) wedding dress, designed by Japanese designer Yumi Katsura, at a bridal fashion show in Tokyo on Tuesday. The dress is decorated with 8.8ct green-coloured diamonds and 5ct 502-faced cut diamonds.
Olympic figure skating champion Shizuka Arakawa of Japan shows off a one billion yen ($8.3 million) wedding dress, designed by Japanese designer Yumi Katsura, at a bridal fashion show in Tokyo on Tuesday. The dress is decorated with 8.8ct green-coloured diamonds and 5ct 502-faced cut diamonds. — AFP|
 

Hewlett-Packard drops plan for SEZ in Bangalore 
New Delhi, February 20
Amidst controversies, global IT giant Hewlett Packard has decided to drop its plans for a special economic zone in Bangalore, following changes in the government norms on the minimum area requirement.

Dabur to invest Rs 100 crore
New Delhi, February 20
Buoyed by the increased demand for its flagship product, Real juice, FMCG major Dabur Foods Ltd said today it would invest Rs 100 crore to expand capacities and expects to double revenues to Rs 500 crore in the next three years. "We would close the current fiscal at a turnover of Rs 250 crore and are targeting to touch Rs 500 crore by 2009-10.

Kuldeep Goyal may head BSNL
New Delhi, February 20
Mr Kuldeep Goyal, CGM, BSNL, Maharashtra circle, is likely to head the world's seventh largest telecom company from August 1 when the current CMD A.K.Sinha retires.

Higher transaction cost, cess ‘hit’ exports
New Delhi, February 20
Six key economic activities in areas of engineering goods, metal, ores, textile, leather and pharma are the worst victim of severely higher transaction costs, inadequate infrastructure and levies and cess, imposed by the government that are adversely impacting India’s export competitiveness, according to Assocham findings.
Nissan Motor unveils "X-Trail FCV", the world's first limousine powered by hydrogen fuel-cell batteries, in Tokyo on Tuesday. The company launched the vehicle for chauffer-driven hire car service Kanagawa Toshi Kotsu, based in Yokohama.
Nissan Motor unveils "X-Trail FCV", the world's first limousine powered by hydrogen fuel-cell batteries, in Tokyo on Tuesday. The company launched the vehicle for chauffer-driven hire car service Kanagawa Toshi Kotsu, based in Yokohama. — AFP
 

UNDP Report
India’s economic growth fails to create jobs 
New Delhi, February 20
The stunning economic growth enjoyed by many Asian developing countries, including India, has failed to create enough jobs, improve income distribution and reduce poverty. 

Volvo launches $1.07-b offer to take over Nissan Diesel
Tokyo, February 20
Swedish truck-maker AB Volvo made a $1.07 billion offer today to take over Japan's Nissan Diesel in a strategic move aimed at gaining a solid presence in Asia.

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HPCL-Mittal bid for 51 pc in Nigerian refinery 
Mittal picks up 49 pc stake in Bathinda refinery
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, February 20
India-born billionaire Lakshmi N. Mittal, who has ambitions to expand his steel empire into oil and gas business, plans to invest billions of dollars in acquiring stakes in refineries across the world.

Mittal Investment Sarl, the Luxembourg-registered Mittal family firm that holds 38 per cent stake in Mittal Steel Co, is investing over Rs 3,300 crore for taking a 49 per cent stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd's Rs 16,700-crore Bathinda refinery in Punjab and has bid for taking a majority 51 per cent stake in a Nigerian refinery.

"We will sign a joint venture agreement with Mittals for Bathinda refinery on March 2," HPCL Chairman and Managing Director M.B. Lal said here.

The Mittals have also formed a 50:50 joint venture with HPCL to bid for a 51 per cent stake in the 9 million tonnes Port Harcourt refinery in Nigeria, where the government has invited expression of interest for a strategic partner.

"We needed the ttals to give the financial muscle to the Bathinda refinery. They have a vast presence across the globe which we will be using for acquiring refineries and natural gas business (LNG projects)," Mr Lal said.

This move is expected to revive the Rs 16,000-crore refinery-cum -petrochemicals project coming up at Bathinda in Punjab. The refinery will have a capacity of 1,80,000 barrels a day.

Mr Lal said the project would be completed in 48 months and would have the capability to process 100 per cent high sculpture and heavy crude. The project would be financed in a debt equity ratio of 1.5:1 making equity portion of Rs 6,600 crore.

The project would provide direct employment to 10,000 persons during the project execution phase and direct and indirect employment around the same number in the post-execution phase.

The HPCL-Mittal combine would lay a 1,100-km crude oil pipeline from Mundra port in Gujarat to Bathinda and build a crude oil terminal and associated facilities at an estimated cost of $600 million.

The approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) are must to the formation of the joint venture as both companies would invest over Rs 1,000 crore. HPCL has already invested about Rs 500 crore in the project.

In the event of a possible divestment or relinquishment of stake by HPCL, Mittal Investment will have the option to buy the shares held by HPCL at a price determined by experts.

India plans to raise its refining capacity by 62 per cent in 2007-12 to 4.82 million barrels a day and become a major player in this sector. Some of the projects likely to be commissioned during the 11th Plan are 29-million tonne Reliance Petroleum refinery at the Jamnagar SEZ, IOC's 15 million tonne refinery coming up in Orissa, and HPCL’s nine- million tonne refinery in Bathinda, Punjab.

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Apollo eyes UK hospitals

London, February 20
India's biggest hospital chain, Apollo Hospitals Group, has drawn up a list of British takeover targets, including Priory's Healthcare and Capio UK.

Quoting people with knowledge of Apollo's plans, the media here reported that the Indian company had already expressed an interest in the operating arm of Capio UK, one of Britain's biggest hospital operators, which includes Nightingale Hospital here.

Britain is understood to have become particularly attractive to Apollo's founder and Chairman Pratap Reddy, following a surge of transactions that have seen Britain's private healthcare industry rapidly consolidate into private- equity-backed portfolios.

Capio's business in Britain, which consists of 21 hospitals across the country, is part of a much larger European group of the same name.

The Apollo Group, which has 39 hospitals, is also looking at other British targets, including Priority Healthcare, the country's best-known home for celebrity addicts, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

ABN Amro, the Priory's major shareholder, has appointed Morgan Stanley to conduct a strategic review, and Apollo would have enough firepower to mount a bid if it teamed up with private equity backers.

In addition to his hospitals in major Indian cities, Dr Reddy has also taken Apollo to Dubai, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Oman. — PTI 

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SEZs: Reliance bonanza for farmers 
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 20
Reliance Industries Ltd, which has unveiled ambitious plans to set up SEZs across the country, is paying record sums to farmers whose lands are being sought for the project. The company has announced that it would pay Rs 10 lakh per acre of cultivable land acquired for the two SEZs coming up in Raigad district on the outskirts of Mumbai.

For non-cultivable land, the price would be half this rate, according to the company. RIL's price for the land is 10 times the market value as notified by the Maharashtra Government.. The company also promised to raise compensation to farmers if required to do so by the government.

Apart from the money, RIL is also offering 12.5 per cent of the land developed under the SEZ back to the farmers. Land owners who give up their land will not be displaced either, the company said. According to an RIL spokesperson, the company is also working on a rehabilitation plan for farmers which would be in addition to the price paid for the land.

RIL is seeking 25,000 acres spread across 45 villages for its Mumbai SEZ in Raigad district. In addition, the company in a joint venture with the Maharashtra City and Industrial Development Corporation is setting up the Navi Mumbai SEZ adjoining the Mumbai SEZ.

RIL's decision to raise the compensation for land follows protests by farmers in the area. With opposition mounting, RIL managed to buy just about 2,500 acres of land from farmers. The company now says the higher compensation would also be paid to farmers who have already sold their land to it.

The rehabilitation package offered by RIL includes a job guarantee for one member of every family whose land is purchased for the SEZ. The chosen member would be paid a stipend equivalent to daily agricultural wages for the period he or she is undergoing training.

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SEBI slaps Rs 1-cr fine on DLF arm

Mumbai, February 20
SEBI today imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore on DLF Commercial Developers (DLFCD) for trading in the shares of Bhoruka Financial Services at the de-recognised Magadh Stock Exchange Association (MSEA).

SEBI said MSEA's renewal for recognition as a stock exchange was at a proposal stage when the transaction in the BFSL scrip took place.

DLFCD is a fully owned subsidiary of realty major DLF Universal. Apart from DLF Commercial Developers, SEBI imposed a combined fine of Rs 1 crore on 11 others on a similar charge.

Meanwhile, Sebi has barred 22 stock brokers and sub-brokers from the market with immediate effect. They were declared defaulters by the respective exchanges earlier and thereby failed to fulfil the pre-requisite condition of registration as a stock broker with Sebi, the order said. — PTI

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HLL rechristened Hindustan Unilever
Tribune News Service & PTI

Mumbai, February 20
Hindustan Lever Ltd said here today that it would change its name to 'Hindustan Unilever Ltd'.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the company's Board of Directors, HLL said in a statement to BSE.

The move would be put up before the company's shareholders at its next AGM on May 18.

"The name change is a significant milestone. It retains the company's continued commitment towards local roots while leveraging the global scale and reputation of Unilever with its consumers and other stakeholders in India," Unilever Asia Chairman and President Harish Manwani said.

Meanwhile, the company has posted a 10.27 per cent increase in profit after tax (PAT) in the fourth quarter of 2006 at Rs 483 crore as against Rs 438 crore in the year-ago period.

Net sales in the October-December quarter of 2006 grew over 6 per cent at Rs 3,156 crore as against Rs 2,974 crore in the corresponding period of last fiscal.

The company registered an increase of 9 per cent in net sales during 2006 at Rs 12,103 crore as against Rs 11,060 last fiscal, while its net profit climbed 31.7 per cent to Rs 1,855 crore last year as against Rs 1,408 crore in 2005. 

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Hewlett-Packard drops plan for SEZ in Bangalore 

New Delhi, February 20
Amidst controversies, global IT giant Hewlett Packard has decided to drop its plans for a special economic zone in Bangalore, following changes in the government norms on the minimum area requirement.

The company has informed the Commerce Ministry as it would not be in a position to meet the new stipulation of minimum area required for IT and IT-enabled Services (ITeS), it is withdrawing its application, which had received the formal approval by the Commerce Ministry.

Initially, the world's largest computer maker wanted to set up SEZ over an area of 60,000 sq metres. However, later the minimum built-up area of an IT, ITeS and electronics SEZ was revised upwards to 100,000 sq metres on the directive of the empowered Group of Ministers.

HP had got final approval from the Board of Approvals for the SEZs in September 2006 but it decided that it would not be able to match the condition of minimum build-up area and gave up its plans.

Apart from HP, another developer proposing to set up IT and ITeS SEZ in Hyderabad, CA Associates, has also decided not to go ahead with its plans even after having final approval.

With two companies dropping out, the number of developers having final approvals for SEZ has come down to 235 from 237.— PTI

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Dabur to invest Rs 100 crore

New Delhi, February 20
Buoyed by the increased demand for its flagship product, Real juice, FMCG major Dabur Foods Ltd said today it would invest Rs 100 crore to expand capacities and expects to double revenues to Rs 500 crore in the next three years. "We would close the current fiscal at a turnover of Rs 250 crore and are targeting to touch Rs 500 crore by 2009-10.

The company would invest Rs 100 crore over the next three years to upgrade and expand facilities," Dabur Foods Chairman Amit Burman said. He said nearly 70 per cent of the Dabur Foods' turnover come from its flagship product, Real juice, and the company expects the brand to contribute as much as Rs 350 crore to its turnover by 2009-10.

"Real brand has been growing over 30 per cent year-on-year and we want this growth to continue in future as well.— PTI

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Kuldeep Goyal may head BSNL

New Delhi, February 20
Mr Kuldeep Goyal, CGM, BSNL, Maharashtra circle, is likely to head the world's seventh largest telecom company from August 1 when the current CMD A.K.Sinha retires.

He had emerged as the front-runner after the Public Enterprises Selection Board recommended his name to Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, who is understood to have approved the appointment and the file is now with the Prime Minister’s Office for final clearance. — PTI

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Higher transaction cost, cess ‘hit’ exports
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20
Six key economic activities in areas of engineering goods, metal, ores, textile, leather and pharma are the worst victim of severely higher transaction costs, inadequate infrastructure and levies and cess, imposed by the government that are adversely impacting India’s export competitiveness, according to Assocham findings.

A study on `Export turnover, product exposure, territorial exposure and capacity to domestic sourcing of inputs’ undertaken by Assocham has revealed that the aggregate adverse impact of fiscals, poor infrastructure and cumbersome procedures on exports was to the extent of 14 per cent of the total value of exports.

The study notes that the transaction cost is much more on exporters who import higher volumes of inputs which leads to a higher manufacturing cost. Therefore, the government should check the procedure of transaction costs in trade, imports and exports, points out the Study.

Cess and levies also impact exports perhaps the most with incidence of around 5.22 per cent of the freight on board (FOB) value. Problems in exports impact exports to the extent of 4 per cent of the FoB value.

Assocham President Venugopal N. Dhoot said that metals and ores sector were burdened the most by cess, levies, poor infrastructure and export procedures.

The incidence as a percentage of the FoB value of exports is found to be 19.39 per cent, fiscal 7.79 per cent, infrastructure 7.7 per cent and procedures 4.6 per cent. It is followed by the pharma sector with the total impact amounting to 17.1 per cent of the FoB value of exports, fiscal 6.84 per cent, infrastructure 5 per cent and procedures 5.26 per cent, points out the study. 

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UNDP Report
India’s economic growth fails to create jobs 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20
The stunning economic growth enjoyed by many Asian developing countries, including India, has failed to create enough jobs, improve income distribution and reduce poverty. The trend of "jobless growth" has profound implications for the achievement of the millennium development goals in the Asia-Pacific region because productive employment is the main channel of poverty reduction.

These are the findings of a new joint report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which studied eight countries — India, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The "Asian experience on growth, employment and poverty" study provides insights into why the employment intensity of growth is declining in some of the fastest growing Asian economies.

The report notes that barring Malaysia all other Asian countries experienced inadequate employment growth and the problem has got worse in recent years.

In India and China, the two largest-developing countries, the sharp fall in the employment intensity of growth has been a problem. In Indonesia and Thailand, the cause was both a reduction in employment intensity and a drop in the rate of growth. In Cambodia, Philippines and Sri lanka, poor employment performance was due to inadequate growth, bypassing the large sectors where poor workers were concentrated.

Identifying several factors behind this phenomenon, the report noted that a major cause is the nature of transition from an inward looking, regulation-based, import substitution economy to one based on competition and integration with the global economy. The transition itself entails restructuring and job losses in inefficient enterprises and reallocation of workers to new export-oriented industries.

Another reason is the sharp shift away from labour intensive economic activities towards capital intensive ones. A third one is the inappropriate market interventions affecting relative costs.

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Volvo launches $1.07-b offer to take over Nissan Diesel

Tokyo, February 20
Swedish truck-maker AB Volvo made a $1.07 billion offer today to take over Japan's Nissan Diesel in a strategic move aimed at gaining a solid presence in Asia.

The move, which would raise Volvo's stake from the current 19 per cent to full ownership of Nissan Diesel, highlights the company's ambitions in Asia's burgeoning truck market, where Volvo has lacked a local brand while owning Mack Trucks in the US and Renault Trucks in Europe.

Volvo is the world's second-largest truck-maker after Daimler Chrysler AG of Germany, while Nissan Diesel is Japan's fourth-largest truck-maker.

The $4.52 cash per share offer, which represented a premium of 32 per cent based on the Japanese company's average share price during the past three months. — AP

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BRIEFLY

RIL market cap
Mumbai, February 20
Reliance Industries Ltd today crossed the Rs 2 trillion-mark in market capitalisation, becoming the third company ever to reach this milestone. The Mukesh Ambani-led firm’s surged to a 52-week high of Rs 1,444.80, up Rs 26, in mid-session trade at the Bombay Stock Exchange. "If one had invested Rs 1,000 in RIL's first public issue in 1977, it is worth more than Rs 10.5 lakh today with over Rs 40,000 as dividend," an industry analyst said. — PTI

Essar buyout
New Delhi, February 20
Essar Global today announced it has acquired Global Vantedge, a Bermuda-based BPO company, from Chrys Capital for about Rs 100 crore to boost its presence in the BPO space. This acquisition is expected to contribute over $25 million in revenues to the BPO business of Essar and is its fourth acquisition in the last one year, the other three being Customer First and Orion in India and Technion in the USA. Essar already has a presence in the BPO segment through its wholly-owned subsidiary Aegis BPO. — PTI

FrameFlow stake
Chennai, February 20
US-based Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) today announced acquiring a 50.1 per cent stake in FrameFlow, a visual effects and animation studio in the city, for about $5 million. As part of the deal, FrameFlow will become Imageworks India and will work with Sony Pictures Image works' main production facility in Culver City, California. — PTI

Tata Tea
Mumbai, February 20
Aiming to capitalise on huge demand for agriculture produce, Tata Tea said today it had created a new company — Amalgamated Plantations Ltd — to run its north India plantation operations. The new company, with the enterprise value of Rs 360 crore, will have equity participation from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and IL&FS, holding 20 per cent stake each. — PTI

ICI India
New Delhi, February 20
ICI India Ltd today signed an agreement to divest a portion of its auto-refinish paints business to its technology partner, PPG Industries, US, for Rs 52 crore. The business, comprising advanced refinish range (2K), will be transferred as a going concern to Asian PPG Industries Ltd over the next few weeks.— PTI

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