SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Lalu pitches for private players in railways
New Delhi, February 26
As large quantum of money is required for the modernisation of the Indian railways to be on par with the European standards, Railway minister Lalu Prasad today pitched for public-private partnership (PPP) in several areas.


Budget will boost R&D: CII

New Delhi/Chandigarh, February 26
India Inc today hailed the railway budget as promising and said the measures enlisted would not only enhance the operational efficiency of the Indian railways but also be beneficial for the industry and the general public. 

Industry speaks
Industry speaks

Renault, Nissan, M&M zero in on TN
Chennai, February 26
For the first time in the world three giant automakers — Renault, Nissan and Mahindra — signed an MoU here today committing an investment of Rs 4,000 crore in the world's largest auto joint venture and one of the largest automotive production sites in India.

NTPC bids for Globeleq’s assets
New Delhi, February 26
Country's largest power generator, NTPC, has placed a bid for British power major Globeleq's assets in Egypt.

  • Rules out hiking Reliance gas price






A model presents a creation by Japanese designer Atsuro Tayama as part of his Autumn/Winter 2007/08 ready-to-wear fashion collection in Paris
A model presents a creation by Japanese designer Atsuro Tayama as part of his Autumn/Winter 2007/08 ready-to-wear fashion collection in Paris on Monday. — Reuters

 
Sony's new IC recorder "ICD-SX77", which enables high-quality stereo recording with triple ultra-sensitive microphones and built-in 1GB flash memory, is displayed in Tokyo
Sony's new IC recorder "ICD-SX77", which enables high-quality stereo recording with triple ultra-sensitive microphones and built-in 1GB flash memory, is displayed in Tokyo on Monday. Sony will put it on the market on March 16 at a price of
 25,000 yen. — AFP

Luxottica eyes Indian market
New Delhi, February 26
Italy's Luxottica Group SpA, which holds a 44 per cent stake in RayBan Sun Optics India, owner of luxury eyewear brand 'Rayban', is seeking the latter's no-objection certificate to enter the Indian eyewear business on its own.

Indian firm in JV to set up Oman steel tube plant
Dubai, February 26
India's Jindal Saw International have entered into a joint venture with UAE's Shadeed Iron and Steel to set up a one million tonne per annum seamless tube plant in Oman.

Autoline to buy majority stake in Belgian Co
Mumbai, February 26
Autoline Industries said today it had entered into an agreement to acquire a 51 per cent strategic stake in Belgium-based Stokota NV for Rs 66.8 crore.

Vodafone moves FIPB for nod on Hutch buyout
New Delhi, February 26
Vodafone is learnt to have approached the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for approval to acquire 52 per cent stake of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom in Hutch-Essar, and also for investing in telecom activities.

Maharashtra farmers spurn Reliance offer
Uran (Raigad district), February 26
An offer by Reliance Industries Ltd to pay Rs 10 lakh per acre of farmland under paddy cultivation for the proposed SEZ has been spurned by farmers who are demanding more money.

Package likely for food processing units
New Delhi, February 26
As part of its grand plan to link the rural and urban economy, the UPA government is contemplating a package for the food processing sector.

Gold, silver at nine-month high
Mumbai, February 26
Spot silver today zoomed to a 9-1/2 month high and closed at Rs 20,700 per kg while Gold ended at a nine-month high at Rs 9,865 per 10 gm on the Bombay Bullion Exchange.

Allahabad Bank opens first overseas branch
Kolkata, February 26
Allahabad Bank today opened its first overseas branch in Hong Kong, marking another step in the growing relationship between China and India, the world's fastest-growing economic powerhouses.

GoAir summer bonanza 
New Delhi, February 26
Wadias’-promoted GoAir said today that it would be giving out tickets for free as part of a new marketing initiative.

 

Top



 

 

 

Lalu pitches for private players in railways
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
As large quantum of money is required for the modernisation of the Indian railways to be on par with the European standards, Railway minister Lalu Prasad today pitched for public-private partnership (PPP) in several areas.

Reasoning the need for PPP, he said investments at a much-larger scale will be required for capacity and expansion of networks as compared to the provisions made in the 10th five-year Plan, Lalu Prasad said while presenting the railway budget for 2007-08.

The PPP option will be explored in modernisation of metro and mini-metro stations with world-class passenger amenities, development of agro retail outlets and supply chains, construction of multi-modal logistic parks, warehouses and budget hotels and expansion of network and increase in production capacity.

Ruling out blind privatisation, he said “We are seeking partnership with private sector on the terms that are in the interest of railways and our customers.”

He said “We have constituted a PPP cell which will develop the policy framework to provide non-discriminatory level-playing field to investors, prepare the bankable documents and set up the procedure for awarding partnership through open tendering system.

Highlighting the successful PPP experiment, he said while retaining the core activity of train operations, we have awarded licences to private parties for running container trains, which is likely to attract investment of thousands of crores in wagons and construction of terminals over the next few years.

“We want to have many more such PPP schemes where one and one make 11 and not two,” he said.

Lauding the achievement of IT companies globally, he invited them to participate in PPP in various IT projects of the railways. “A common website integrating more than 50 different websites of railways will be developed with built-in facilities like e-payment and e-tendering,” he said.

Lalu Prasad said an organisation, CRIS, will be developed as an autonomous and empowered organisation, drawing officers from various railways services. It would be entrusted with coordination of all IT applications of railways and for development of a comprehensive vision on information technology.

Top

 

Industry speaks
Budget will boost R&D: CII
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Chandigarh, February 26
India Inc today hailed the railway budget as promising and said the measures enlisted would not only enhance the operational efficiency of the Indian railways but also be beneficial for the industry and the general public.

The CII hailed the freight rate cuts on petrol, diesel and iron ore, saying it would have an overall positive impact on the economy.

Welcoming the host of initiatives introduced by the railway minister, CII president R Seshasayee said: “The budget truly heralds a modern approach to managing the largest public service through use of technology and innovation. The announcement of the policy, allowing wagon manufacturers to roll out wagons with their own designs within the parameters of the RSDO will encourage R&D in the field of railways.”

Assocham president Venugopal N. Dhoot said Lalu has done the best to enhance the operational efficiency of Indian railways without introducing any increase in freight and fare charges.

The proposals particularly for introduction of 800 new wagons as also 20,000 km of high-density railway network through PPP model would enhance the railways traffic movement and result in its future all round turnaround, he added.

Ficci president Habil Khorakiwala said: “The railways are now working like a private sector corporation. This is great news for India. We wish other public services, especially in the social sector, like education and health would follow suit.”

He applauded thrust on modernisation and technological upgradation, especially, the minister’s announcement on introduction of high-speed trains, new wagons to replace old ones, a pilot scheme for three-storey container trains and enhanced passenger amenities by way of on-the-spot ticketing through hand-held computers, ATMs, etc.

However, PHDCCI president Sanjay Bhatia observed that the budget has failed to carve out the strategy for long-term sustainability of growth and investments.

He observed that the budget lacked commercial orientation and did not include adequate measures to generate substantial resources for major investment projects.

Talking to TNS here today, CMD, Modern Steels, Mandi Gobindgarh, Amarajit Goyal, welcomed the budget and said it was aimed at giving a boost to the steel and cement industry. “There has been no hike in freight of steel, and 5 percent freight cut in steel ore. This is a progressive step for the sector and would help achieve the railways’ mission of a share of 200 million tonnes of steel by 2001-12,” he said.

President and managing director of Bombardier Transportation Rajeev Jyoti said the budget is on the back of a good GDP growth of a three-year average of 8.5 per cent plus. “This reflects in their strategy to create a dedicated freight corridor (north-west and north-east) for an estimated Rs 30,000 crore, for which the work is expected to start next year. The budget has also correctively identified the capacity constraints of rolling stock and they are planning to increase the rolling stock production through new factories for manufacturing electric/ diesel locomotives, coaches and wheel and axle factories,” he said.

Mr Suresh Kumar, a supplier of dairy products like cheese and milk-based sweets from Saharanpur to Rajpura and Chandigarh, too, hailed the decision to have separate coaches for small vendors.

Top

 

Renault, Nissan, M&M zero in on TN
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 26
For the first time in the world three giant automakers — Renault, Nissan and Mahindra — signed an MoU here today committing an investment of Rs 4,000 crore in the world's largest auto joint venture and one of the largest automotive production sites in India.

The MoU was signed this morning in the presence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Mahindra group chairman Keshub Mahindra and representatives of Renault and Nissan for the manufacturing facility to be located 50 km from here with a production capacity of 400,000 vehicles per annum.

Pawan Goenka, the newly appointed CEO of the joint venture, which is yet to be named, said: "This is the first time in the world that three large original equipment manufacturers have joined hands for the world's largest auto joint venture and is the largest investment in Tamil Nadu. It will be also one of the largest automotive production sites in the country." The Tamil Nadu Government will allot 925 acres of land to the trio to manufacture passenger cars and SUVs and 200 more acres for a suppliers’ park for ancillary and component manufacturing industries.

With an indirect reference to the controversial Tata Motors project at Singur in West Bengal, chairman of the Mahindra group Keshub Mahindra said: "A controversy is raging over land acquisition for industry in the country. We pledge to relocate all those persons who will be displaced. During the gestation period of the plant we will have a location school to train people and offer them employment in this largest venture in the world." The three corporates - Indian Mahindra and Mahindra, French Renault and Japansese Nissan - will invest Rs 4,000 crore in the site during the next seven years with an equity holding of 50 per cent by Mahindra and 25 per cent each by Renault and Nissan respectively.

The industrial complex at Oregadam in Kancheepuram district will provide vehicle production for each carmaker, plus a powertrain facility for Renault and Nissan. The range of products mainly suited for Indian customers will be manufactured though at a later stage vehicles will be exported and the venture also plans to set up a SEZ.

The partners will optimise production costs through economies of scale through joint investment in plant and infrastructure, as well as purchasing systems.

While Renault will contribute its expertise in engineering, manufacturing and adaptation to meet customer requirements, Nissan will offer its worldwide export opportunities and manufacturing technologies while Mahindra will pitch in with its in-depth understanding of the Indian market and supplier base as well as manufacturing through years of market leadership.

Asked about the competition between the two different products to be made by Renault and Nissan along with its Indian partner, Mahindra said that there would be healthy competition between the two products.

Replying to a question whether the two foreign companies were entering India through Mahindra group's shoulders, he said: "We will lean on each others shoulders and learn from each other".

Tamil Nadu industry secretary S.K. Das said: "The value addition by the new consortium to Tamil Nadu's GDP will be Rs 18,000 crore per annum. An additional investment of Rs 10,000 crore was expected from the existing and new ancillary and component industries that will come to the state.”

"Though the direct employment because of this venture will be for 5,000 persons the employment potential emerging through the service providers will be around 40,000."

Renault executive vice-president Patrick Pelata said: "India is a key market for Renault's international growth ambitions both up to and beyond the limit of Renault commitment, 2009."

Nissan executive vice-president Carlos Tavares said: " Through the strong partnership of Renault and Mahindra, Nissan is able to leverage the alliance and gain a rapid entry advantage for local manufacturing's

Top

 

NTPC bids for Globeleq’s assets

New Delhi, February 26
Country's largest power generator, NTPC, has placed a bid for British power major Globeleq's assets in Egypt.

The power major said today it ''is submitting a non-binding indicative bid to the United Kingdom-based Lehman Brothers for acquisition of assets of 682.5 MW Sidi Krir Power Project in Egypt through 100 per cent equity acquisition of Globeleq Maghreb''.

Globeleq has appointed Lehman Brothers as the investment bankers to the deal.

Tata Power, Kalpataru Group, Reliance ADAG and Lanco are already in race to take over the British company's assets of 4,500 MW in Asia and Africa.

On February 14, Lanco Infratech's Mauritius-based holding company Prince Stone Investments and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) acquired 100 per cent of Globeleq's holding in Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project.

The Globeleq Singapore and Lanco Infratech consortium won the project with the lowest bid of Rs 1.19 per unit.

Prince Stone Investments would acquire 60 per cent of Globeleq's stake and the rest would be held by JSPL.

Rules out hiking Reliance gas price

Meanwhile, NTPC has ruled out paying more for natural gas it plans to buy from Reliance Industries' Bay of Bengal gas field, saying there cannot be any out-of-court settlement and Reliance will have to supply gas at the price it quoted in the 2004 tender.

"No one at NTPC can do that (increase the price). There is no question of an out-of-court settlement as we think we have a very strong case and Reliance will have to honour price it quoted for our tender for sourcing gas," NTPC chairman and managing director T Sankaralingam said in an interview.

Reliance had in 2004 won an international tender to supply 12 million standard cubic metres per day (3 million tonnes per annum) of natural gas to NTPC's Kawas and Gandhar power plants in Gujarat at a delivered price of $2.97 per million British thermal unit (mBtu).

The company, however, did not honour the contract over some terms like liabiilty in case of default, forcing NTPC to move the Mumbai High Court. Originally, Reliance was to begin supply of natural gas from its Krishna Godavari field this year but the delivery schedule was moved back by one year to mid-2008.

"They (Reliance) had accepted the letter of intent (LoI) we placed on them. Acceptance of LoI showed that they agreed with the terms of our tender. Now they cannot go back," he said.

Sankaralingam denied reports of out of court settlement being worked out under terms that allowed increase of gas price to around $4.2-4.5 per mBtu and liability in case of default capped at certain percentage of yearly volumes. "No one has officially approached us for an out-of-court settlement." — Agencies

Top

 

Luxottica eyes Indian market

New Delhi, February 26
Italy's Luxottica Group SpA, which holds a 44 per cent stake in RayBan Sun Optics India, owner of luxury eyewear brand 'Rayban', is seeking the latter's no-objection certificate to enter the Indian eyewear business on its own.

Keeping up with the trend of foreign firms quitting their Indian partners to go alone in the domestic market, Luxottica has indicated its intention to set up wholly-owned subsidiaries for the purpose.

Such subsidiaries are proposed to be set up either directly or through one of its subsidiaries, engaged in the business of carrying out wholesale distribution of various luxury and fashion brands in the eyewear industry.

Under the proposal made to RayBan, the Italian firm proposes to grant a five-year exclusive license to the company for manufacturing and distribution of frames and sunglasses under the RayBan trademark manufactured by Luxottica.

RayBan's board of directors have recommended its approval to the shareholders at the ensuing AGM.

The proposal from Luxottica comes exactly a month after its announcement to acquire an additional 20 per cent interest in Rayban Sun Optics for about Euro 11 million.— UNI

Top

 

Indian firm in JV to set up Oman steel tube plant

Dubai, February 26
India's Jindal Saw International have entered into a joint venture with UAE's Shadeed Iron and Steel to set up a one million tonne per annum seamless tube plant in Oman.

The new plant, to be set in Sohar Industrial Port, is targeting more than 50 per cent of the region's market of seamless tubes, Vice-Chairman of Jindal Saw International Prithvi Jindal said yesterday.

"We are investing over $1 billion in the first phase of this project, aiming to acquire half of the West Asian market," he said.

Jindal said demand was increasing sharply because of large-scale expansion projects in the oil and gas industry.

The commercial production will start by the third quarter of 2008. — PTI

Top

 

Autoline to buy majority stake in Belgian Co

Mumbai, February 26
Autoline Industries said today it had entered into an agreement to acquire a 51 per cent strategic stake in Belgium-based Stokota NV for Rs 66.8 crore.

The MoU has been entered into to execute a merger of the two companies, wherein Autoline would acquire a 51 per cent stake in Stokata's global operations.

The merger's key objectives include leveraging on Autoline's design talent to use the integrated Autoline-Stokota design operations as the group's global hub for engineering design and development, it said.

Autoline Industries is a design, engineering and manufacturing solutions provider focused on sheet metal assemblies and formed tubular products, with integrated engineering, tool design and manufacturing facilities in Pune. — PTI 

Top

 

Vodafone moves FIPB for nod on Hutch buyout

New Delhi, February 26
Vodafone is learnt to have approached the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for approval to acquire 52 per cent stake of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom in Hutch-Essar, and also for investing in telecom activities.

The clearance is sought since under the government guidelines, FIPB will have to approve Vodafone's exit from Bharti and acquisition of Hutchison Telecom's 52 per cent direct stake in HEL, official sources said.

Guidelines under Press Note 1 make it mandatory for a foreign investor to submit a no-objection certificate (NOC) from its existing Indian partner if permission is sought for another venture in the same sector.

Vodafone has submitted its board resolution and the NOC from Bharti, sources said, adding this should be sufficient to get the FIPB approval.

Since Bharti has already endorsed the acquisition, the British major believes it is just filling into the Hutch's shoes in India and is complying with the local laws. — PTI

Top

 

Maharashtra farmers spurn Reliance offer
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Uran (Raigad district), February 26
An offer by Reliance Industries Ltd to pay Rs 10 lakh per acre of farmland under paddy cultivation for the proposed SEZ has been spurned by farmers who are demanding more money.

Several committees are being formed at the village level to get the conglomerate shell out bigger sums for the land. "We have heard that Reliance has paid as much as Rs 22 lakh per acre of land in Haryana, so Rs 10 lakh is too little" says Shreyas Patil, a land owner and lawyer from Uran.

Another villager, Vasant Parab, noted that the land should be considered as commercial land instead of agricultural land when it came to compensation.

With protests mounting, posters and banners are coming up in many villages asking Mukesh Ambani and Reliance Industries to go back.

Many farmers say that they would lose their houses apart from their farms. "Over the years we have built houses on the farms to accommodate our growing families," says Shanta Kamble, a villager in the area.

The villagers say, apart from the money they will need to be rehabilitated in the same area before their land is acquired by RIL.

Farmers are roping in a number of NGOs in the country like Medha Patkar's National Alliance for Peoples' Movements to begin a struggle against Reliance.

Earlier, RIL had promised to pay Rs 10 lakh or 10 times the value of the land notified in the government's ready-reckoner.

The company 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.

The NMSEZ would be spread across 12,500 acres. RIL has so far managed to buy just about 2500 acres of land from farmers.

Top

 

Package likely for food processing units

New Delhi, February 26
As part of its grand plan to link the rural and urban economy, the UPA government is contemplating a package for the food processing sector.

There is a realisation in the government that unless concerted action is taken, the existing mismatch between farm production and the processing capacity would aggravate. This would result not only in substantially higher levels of wastage of agri-produce, but also in unremunerative prices to the farmers, low level of processing, higher levels of wastage of agri-produce, poor value addition and low share of processed food in the global food market. In short, there is need for an integrated strategy for the food processing sector.

The government is considering granting investment in food processing industry the status of infrastructure, strengthening institutional framework for developing world class technologies, an integrated food law, undertaking capacity building of small and unorganised sector, launching a major promotional campaign for this sector and incentivising retailing.

Informed sources say the package could form part of the Budget 2007-08 or may see its reflection and manifestation in it.

With the farm sector weighing heavily on its agenda, the government is all set to give a boost to the sector. Refrigerated trucks, refrigeration equipment and capital goods needed for the food processing sector could witness a reduction in custom duty. Besides, sources say, interest subsidy could be extended to setting up such facilities in rural areas.

The lack of cold chains lead to a wastage of about 40 per cent of farm produce, resulting in an annual loss of Rs 50,000 crore. — UNI 

Top

 

Gold, silver at nine-month high

Mumbai, February 26
Spot silver today zoomed to a 9-1/2 month high and closed at Rs 20,700 per kg while Gold ended at a nine-month high at Rs 9,865 per 10 gm on the Bombay Bullion Exchange.

Silver fineness resumed high at Rs 20,810 per kg on good demand.

Later, it slipped down and closed at Rs 20,700 per kg with a loss of Rs 15 from its Saturday's closing.

However, standard gold (99.5) and pure gold (99.9) opened high at Rs 9,840 and Rs 9,895 per 10 gm on better buying support.

The yellow metal eased slightly and closed at Rs 9,820 and Rs 9,865 per 10 gm with a gain of Rs 25 for standard gold and Rs 20 for pure gold from its last closing.

Following are the spot silver and gold closing prices: silver (per kg) .999 grade : Rs 20,700 , gold (per 10 gm): standard mint 99.5 purity : Rs 9,820 , pure gold 99.9 purity : Rs 9,865. — UNI

Top

 

Allahabad Bank opens first overseas branch

Kolkata, February 26
Allahabad Bank today opened its first overseas branch in Hong Kong, marking another step in the growing relationship between China and India, the world's fastest-growing economic powerhouses.

The bank, which currently had 55.23 per cent holding of the Government of India, opened a branch at the Lippo Centre today to serve retail and corporate clients in presence of Mr T.Y. Chan, head of banking supervision, Hong Kong Monetary Authority and consul-general of India B.K. Gupta. As part of its China expansion plans, the bank also opened a representative office in Shenzhen to explore opportunities in southern China. — UNI

Top

 

GoAir summer bonanza 

New Delhi, February 26
Wadias’-promoted GoAir said today that it would be giving out tickets for free as part of a new marketing initiative.

The offer would be available on the tickets bought till February 28 for travel between March-August, the company said here.

It would be applicable on all GoAir destinations, it said. The customers will, however, have to bear the taxes on the tickets.

"This initiative offers them a chance to book now for (free)... for their summer travel. This also safeguards them against any probable change or hike in airfares post-budget." GoAir Managing Director Jeh Wadia said. — PTI

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 |