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Doha Round
India committed to early conclusion: PM

New Delhi, March 13
India is committed to an early positive conclusion to the Doha Round as a multilateral trade regime is in our strategic interests, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today.

Havell’s buys Sylvania’s lighting biz
New Delhi, March 13
Havell's India said today it has acquired SLI Sylvania's lighting business for $300 million (about Rs 1,350 crore), the biggest overseas takeover by an Indian electrical equipment manufacturer.

CLB stays board meetings of Bajaj Cos
New Delhi, March 13
In a relief to the Shishir Bajaj camp, the Company Law Board (CLB) has stayed all board meetings of the two holding companies, Bajaj Sevashram and Jamnalal Sons Pvt Ltd, and asked Rahul Bajaj to file a reply by March 30.

Ranbaxy, Pfizer at it again
New Delhi, March 13
Ranbaxy Laboratories today stood firm on its strategy of challenging patents, even as Pfizer has filed a suit against it to block the Gurgaon-based firm from going ahead with plans for a generic form of cholesterol and blood pressure medicine, Caduet.

Bids for Merck’s generic unit

Infosys ‘christened’ at Shivaji Park
Mumbai, March 13
Shivaji Park, the sprawling ground in central Mumbai, associated with political rallies and cricket matches, has an IT connection as well, software giant Infosys was christened here.


Model Indrani Dasgupta showcases a dress designed by Anupama Dayal, one of the participants of Lakme Fashion Week 2007, at a fashion show in New Delhi
Model Indrani Dasgupta showcases a dress designed by Anupama Dayal, one of the participants of Lakme Fashion Week 2007, at a fashion show in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI 

EARLIER STORIES

 
Japanese firm Sanyo displays a new pocketsize digital movie camera, Xacti DMX-CG65, in Tokyo
Japanese firm Sanyo displays a new pocketsize digital movie camera, Xacti DMX-CG65, in Tokyo on Tuesday. The camera records video using an MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format allowing it to be uploaded onto websites as well as taking a 6 mega pixel still image. Sanyo will start selling it from April this year with an expected market price of around 50,000 yen ($426). — AFP

Malaysian firm bags 9 pc in IDFC
Mumbai, March 13
The investment holding arm of Malaysian government, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, has acquired 8.97 per cent stake in IDFC, a specialised financial intermediary for infrastructure, for Rs 848.16 crore.

M&M to scale up production of Swaraj tractors
Chandigarh, March 13
Mahindra & Mahindra, which has recently acquired a 43.5 per cent stake in Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL), will be using the additional capacity of the PTL plant here for manufacturing Mahindra tractors.

Bombay High fire
ONGC receives Rs 1,700-cr claim
New Delhi, March 13
The United India Insurance Company (UIIC) has paid around Rs 1,700 crore to ONGC towards claims in respect of the Bombay High accident against company’s offshore package policy.

China to issue express visas to Indian businessmen
New Delhi, March 13
In a move aimed at increasing trade between India and China, Ambassador of China Sun Yuxi today announced that ‘express visas’ would be issued to Indian businessmen recommended by the India-China Business Alliance (ICBA) launched here by the Assocham and the Embassy of China.

Banks gear up for Basel II norms
Mumbai, March 13
All banks in the country are gearing up to implement the Basel II norms, which covers three aspects, including credit risk, market risk and operational risk.

Bharti set to enter MF segment
New Delhi, March 13
In its drive to diversify into financial services, Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Group is all set to enter the over Rs 3.5 lakh crore mutual fund industry in association with French company AXA and announced an investment of up to Rs 1,500 crore.

Dabur retail stores
New Delhi, March 13
Dabur India Ltd today announced its foray into the domestic organised health and beauty retail space with a chain of 350 stores entailing an outlay of Rs 140 crore by 2010.

Hyundai to build $270-m US engine plant
Seoul, March 13
Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea's biggest carmaker, will invest about $270 million to construct its second engine plant in the US as it and affiliate Kia Motors seek to double their market share by 2010.

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Doha Round
India committed to early conclusion: PM
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13
India is committed to an early positive conclusion to the Doha Round as a multilateral trade regime is in our strategic interests, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today.

“We are keen that multilateral trade talks do succeed. We are firm believers in a rule-based global trading system and hence, welcome resumption of negotiations in the Doha Round at the WTO,” Dr Singh said speaking at the Economist round table on India here.

“As a relatively small trading nation, we benefit from global rules of the game. We are, therefore, committed to an early positive conclusion of the Doha Round,” he said, adding in order to break the impasse, developed countries must make meaningful offers to reduce the huge trade-distorting subsidies provided to their agriculture sector.

“Equally, it must be recognised that for us agriculture is not just a business but a way of life and a major source of livelihood. Markets are good for those who are a part of market systems but have no meaning for those who do not have the skills or resources to participate in it,” he said.

“We should, therefore, work towards an outcome which does not destabilise and cause distress to this large section of people,” he said adding our own economic policies demonstrate, however, that we are going to be contributors to the successful completion of this round.

Prime Minister, who dwelt at length various issues relating to Indian economy, dismissed the impression that Indian economy is relatively inward-looking economy.

“I find it surprising when I continue to hear complaints about our economy still being a relatively inward-looking economy,” Dr Singh said insisting that the Indian economy has become much more open and is increasingly integrated with the global economy.

“In the last three years, we have taken more unilateral steps to integrate our economy with the evolving world economy. The peak rate of import duty, which was very high till only recently, has now been reduced to 10 per cent, bringing it very close to Asean levels,” he said to buttress his viewpoint.

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Havell’s buys Sylvania’s lighting biz

New Delhi, March 13
Havell's India said today it has acquired SLI Sylvania's lighting business for $300 million (about Rs 1,350 crore), the biggest overseas takeover by an Indian electrical equipment manufacturer.

"We have acquired Sylvania's lighting business for $300 million through our Dutch subsidiary — Havell's Netherlands BV... The combined revenues are expected to be $1 billion," Havell's joint managing director Anil Gupta told reporters here.

The all-cash deal would be funded through a mix of debt and internal accruals. The subsidiary would raise a debt of $265 million from Barclays Bank to fund the deal.

SLI Sylvania operates in key geographies of Europe, Latin America and Africa through 10 manufacturing facilities.

"The takeover would give us access to all key markets in Europe, Latin America and Africa where Sylvania has a stronghold. Post-acquisition, we would target emerging markets in North Africa and Asia," Gupta said.

Sylvania Osram had sold its lighting business to a consortium of three private equity funds comprising Subros, JP Morgan and DDG Capital and Havell's has acquired the business from the consortium.

Gupta said Sylvania would operate as Havell's subsidiary, Havell's Sylvania, and the company would continue marketing its popular brands under the same name.

The transaction is expected to be completed in April-May this year. For the year ended December 31, 2006, SLI Sylvania had generated revenues of $594 million. — PTI

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CLB stays board meetings of Bajaj Cos

New Delhi, March 13
In a relief to the Shishir Bajaj camp, the Company Law Board (CLB) has stayed all board meetings of the two holding companies, Bajaj Sevashram and Jamnalal Sons Pvt Ltd, and asked Rahul Bajaj to file a reply by March 30.

Admitting the stay application filed by Rahul’s younger brother Shishir, the principal bench of the CLB directed that Bajaj Sevashram and Jamnalal Sons could not hold any board meeting till the application was disposed off.

“No board meeting to be held till the petition is disposed off,” CLB chairman S Balasubramanian said in the interim order yesterday.

He directed Bajaj Auto chairman Rahul Bajaj to file a reply by March 30 and also asked Shishir to file rejoinders by April 15.

According to Kushagra Bajaj, son of Shishir, induction of Neeraj Bajaj and Sanjiv Bajaj on the board of these companies amounts to an indirect takeover of the company by Rahul Bajaj and other family members.

However, the scheduled board meeting of Bajaj Sevashram and Jamnalal Sons to induct Rahul’s sons Niraj and Sanjiv was already called off.

He had also objected to Bajaj Auto buying 1.9 per cent stake in Bajaj Hindusthan from stock markets. Presently, Shishir Bajaj controls the Uttar Pradesh-based sugar company Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd.

The stay application was filed in the case in which Shishir had approached the CLB in March 2003, alleging that Rahul was planning to oust him from the chairmanship of Bajaj Sevashram. — PTI

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Ranbaxy, Pfizer at it again

New Delhi, March 13
Ranbaxy Laboratories today stood firm on its strategy of challenging patents, even as Pfizer has filed a suit against it to block the Gurgaon-based firm from going ahead with plans for a generic form of cholesterol and blood pressure medicine, Caduet.

“Our strategy on litigations is a considered strategy, where we bring to bear our innovative R&D capabilities to develop generic alternative and litigate against patents, which are weak in our opinion. We challenge them based on the fact that we believe, after due consideration and careful study, they are invalid or not infringed,” a company spokesperson said reacting to the latest bout between the two companies.

Ranbaxy had filed an abbreviated new drug application under Para IV with the USFDA seeking approval to sell a low-cost version of Caduet, which combines Pfizer’s blood pressure drug Norvasc with the cholesterol treatment Lipitor, the world’s best-selling medicine. — PTI

Bids for Merck’s generic unit

Meanwhile, Ranbaxy has put in its bid to acquire generic business of German pharmaceutical firm Merck.

Industry sources said the company had put in its bid yesterday for acquiring Merck’s generic business, which is estimated to be valued around $6 billion.

The Gurgaon-based company has appointed Goldman Sachs and Citigroup as its managers for the deal, the sources said.

Merck is the fourth biggest generic drug manufacturer in the world for which Novartis AG, Stada Arzneimittel AG and Teva are reportedly to be in the race.

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Infosys ‘christened’ at Shivaji Park

Mumbai, March 13
Shivaji Park, the sprawling ground in central Mumbai, associated with political rallies and cricket matches, has an IT connection as well, software giant Infosys was christened here.

This was disclosed by Sudha Murthy, wife of Infosys founder Narayan Murthy, at a function here last night.

“We decided to name our new company as Infosys while sitting at a corner of Shivaji Park,” she told the audience at a function after the couple were presented the Yashwantrao Chavan Award for 2006.

Recalling the time spent in Mumbai, she said, “We have nice memories of our stay in both Mumbai and Pune”. “In Pune, we frequented the cinema halls so much that even the doormen there began to recognise us,” she said, drawing peals of laughter from the audience and a shy grin from Narayan Murthy. “Although I hail from Karnataka, I feel I also belong here,” she said.

Recalling that a Rs 10,000 contribution from her had helped launch Infosys, she said, “I am a good investor. See, what my Rs 10,000 has become today”. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said if Murthy was known world over for leading India’s IT revolution, it was Sudha Murthy, who had conquered the audience with her speech. — PTI

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Malaysian firm bags 9 pc in IDFC

Mumbai, March 13
The investment holding arm of Malaysian government, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, has acquired 8.97 per cent stake in IDFC, a specialised financial intermediary for infrastructure, for Rs 848.16 crore.

In a block deal that was struck yesterday, Khazanah Nasional Berhad on account of Sipadan Investments acquired around 10.09 crore shares at a price of Rs 84 each from UBS Securities Asia who sold the shares on behalf of Mauritius-based Swiss Finance Corporation, data available on the NSE shows. — PTI

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M&M to scale up production of Swaraj tractors
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
Mahindra & Mahindra, which has recently acquired a 43.5 per cent stake in Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL), will be using the additional capacity of the PTL plant here for manufacturing Mahindra tractors.

Though the company will now be scaling up the production of Swaraj tractors from the present 31,000 units per annum, a substantial part of the plant (with a capacity of 60,000 tractors) will be used to manufacture Mahindra tractors. This was disclosed by the president, farm equipment sector of Mahindra & Mahindra, A. Choudhari, here tonight.

Talking to TNS, he said the production of Swaraj tractors would be scaled up substantially as the brand as very popular in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. “This would be complementary to the volumes produced by Mahindra & Mahindra. M & M has an annual capacity of 1,10,000 units, at its various plants.

He said the extensive dealer network of Swaraj tractors would be retained and M&M would invest in marketing and brand building of Swaraj. He said they had also seen some new products designed by PTL in the recent months and would like to launch these in the market, so as to get more volumes in sales. He said they would also look at exporting Swaraj tractors to Africa (Chad, Mali, Nigeria) and Middle-East, where M&M already has its marketing and distribution network.

Brushing aside queries about the proposed vigilance probe by Punjab government into PTL disinvestment, he said they would soon raise their stake by another 20 per cent from the market. 

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Bombay High fire
ONGC receives Rs 1,700-cr claim
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13
The United India Insurance Company (UIIC) has paid around Rs 1,700 crore to ONGC towards claims in respect of the Bombay High accident against company’s offshore package policy.

UIIC chairman and managing director M.K. Garg today handed over a cheque of Rs 864 crore to ONGC chief R.S. Sharma towards full and final payment of all insurance claims, an ONGC press note said here.

The accident took place on July 27, 2005, causing a major fire, which totally destroyed the platform, while multipurpose support vessel (MSV) 'Samudra Surkasha', which sustained major damages, sank on August 2, 2005.

ONGC's offshore properties damaged in the above accident were insured with UIIC under ONGC's Offshore Package Insurance Policy for 2005-06 Policy year w.e.f. 11th May, 2005 against all risk of physical damage/loss.

As BHN platform was totally destroyed, claim for BHN's full insured value i.e. $195.08 million less policy deductible $20 million was lodged by ONGC on August 10, 2005, and an "on account" payment of Rs 768.56 crore was received by ONGC from UIIC on September 16, 2005.

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China to issue express visas to Indian businessmen
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13
In a move aimed at increasing trade between India and China, Ambassador of China Sun Yuxi today announced that ‘express visas’ would be issued to Indian businessmen recommended by the India-China Business Alliance (ICBA) launched here by the Assocham and the Embassy of China.

Express visas would be issued to businessmen intending to set up their manufacturing and export-oriented units in China in close technical and non-technical co-operation with their Chinese counterparts, he said.

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Banks gear up for Basel II norms

Mumbai, March 13
All banks in the country are gearing up to implement the Basel II norms, which covers three aspects, including credit risk, market risk and operational risk.

While some of the banks are going for it on their own by opening a separate cell for the job, few others have appointed consultants for the same. The private sector bank, UTI, and the public sector bank, Union Bank of India (UBI) have appointed 'i-Flex' as their consultants for the implementation of Basel II norms.

Speaking on the sidelines of a workshop on Basel II, organised by the Indian Bank's Association (IBA) and the UK Trade and Investment here today, UTI Bank Asst vice-president Sanjay Sinha said: ''We've appointed i-flex to cover aspects like credit risk and market risk.

However, it is SAS which has been appointed by us to take care of our operational risk requirements as per the Basel II norms.'' Agreeing to the fact that the confusion still persisted among bankers over the issue of operational risk, which has been added in the Basel norms for the first time, a UBI official said: ''It should be looked at four parameters people risk, process risk, system risk and technology risk.''

Indian Bank is already under the process of finalisation of the consultant for the implementation of the project.

IBA, which has already formed a consortium of country's banks for the purpose, is busy preparing data warehousing for the operational risk part. Informing about the developments, IBA senior vice-president G Sankaranarayanan said: ''The data pooling work as undertaken by my organisation is still in its primary stage and soon we will be inviting expression of interest (EoI) for selection of proper vendor for the job'' He said 11 major banks of the country had already joined the consortium and he hoped that the remaining ones will also join it in near future.

After advising the banks to have standardised approach towards credit risk, market risk and operational risk, the RBI has formed a 14-member steering committee to monitor the Basel II implementation. Giving more details about it, Chief GM-in charge of the central bank, Prashant Saran said ''While Ashok Gawli committee has been formed by the RBI to look into the aspect of corporate governance, guidelines have already been issued by us on the front of anti-money laundering activities.'' — UNI

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Bharti set to enter MF segment

New Delhi, March 13
In its drive to diversify into financial services, Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Group is all set to enter the over Rs 3.5 lakh crore mutual fund industry in association with French company AXA and announced an investment of up to Rs 1,500 crore.

“We have already agreed upon entering into mutual fund and general insurance businesses in partnership with AXA, while the launch of real estate fund is being examined,” group chairman and managing director Sunil Mittal said.

Mittal, however, said there was no plan to get into banking services.

“As AXA will be our partner in all financial services endeavours and they are not into banking,” Mittal said, adding that life insurance services have already been launched, general insurance has been agreed upon and an agreement for mutual fund has actually been signed.

Asked whether investment would be stepped up, Mittal said: “We need investments mainly in the life insurance business and for that combined investment of about Rs 1,000 crore was committed with AXA at 26 per cent and remaining with us”. For all financial services put together, the investments have been pegged at about Rs 1,500 crore.

There are about 32 mutual funds with total assets under management of about Rs 3.54 lakh crore in February, according to the Association of Mutual Funds of India. — PTI

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Dabur retail stores

New Delhi, March 13
Dabur India Ltd today announced its foray into the domestic organised health and beauty retail space with a chain of 350 stores entailing an outlay of Rs 140 crore by 2010. The company said it would enter the retail space through a wholly-owned subsidiary, H&B Stores Ltd, which is still under incorporation. “Retail is the next big focus area for Dabur India. H&B Stores Ltd plans to set up 350 retail stores across India in five years and expand it to over 1,000 stores by its 10th year of operation, company chairman V.C. Burman said. — UNI

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Hyundai to build $270-m US engine plant

Seoul, March 13
Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea's biggest carmaker, will invest about $270 million to construct its second engine plant in the US as it and affiliate Kia Motors seek to double their market share by 2010.

The factory in Montgomery, Alabama, will produce 2.4-litre engines for Hyundai's assembly plant in the same town and for a Kia plant under construction, the company said today.

Hyundai Motor opened a $1.1 billion car factory in Montgomery in 2005 to raise sales in the world's biggest auto market and lower the impact of currency fluctuations.

Hyundai's affiliate Kia is building a plant in West Point, Georgia, near Hyundai's Alabama plant. Hyundai Motor aims to produce 300,000 2.4-litre engines a year in the new plant for Sonata sedans and Santa Fe sport- utility vehicles, I.C. Kim of Hyundai Motor said in Montgomery today. — Bloomberg

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BRIEFLY

Geojit stake
Mumbai, March 13
French banking giant BNP Paribas today acquired 27 per cent equity stake in domestic brokerage firm Geojit Financial Services for Rs 147.6 crore and plans to ramp up its shareholding up to 54 per cent for expanding its brokerage, investment banking and retail finance businesses.
Geojit Financial issued 5.68 crore shares, representing 27.18 per cent stake, and an additional 2.28 crore warrants convertible into shares, to BNP Paribas, making it the single largest shareholder in the company. — PTI

Spice IPO
New Delhi, March 13
Spice Telecom, which is planning to tap the capital market with an initial public offer, has got Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s nod for the public issue. The foreign equity in the company would increase after the proposed IPO, making it mandatory for Spice Telecom to get a prior approval from the FIPB. After the proposed IPO, the foreign holding would increase to 74 per cent of the total post-issue equity capital, from 73.78 per cent currently. As per the country’s FDI policy, FDI up to 49 per cent is permitted in the telecom sector under the automatic route and up to 74 per cent with prior approval of the FIPB. — PTI

VSNL tie-up
Mumbai, March 13
Tata group's VSNL in collaboration with software behemoth Microsoft today launched 'ReadyAccess' business messaging & collaboration services. ''Targeted towards the rapidly growing SME market in India, this service provides secure, enterprise grade messaging capabilities with quick and easy deployment on a pay per use basis, without the need for high up-front capital investments. — UNI

L&T dividend
Mumbai, March 13
Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) has informed the BSE that the board of directors of the company at its meeting held today has decided to pay Rs 11 per share of Rs 2 each as interim dividend for the current financial year ending March 31, 2007. — UNI

IndusInd offer
New Delhi, March 13
Hindujas-owned IndusInd Bank has launched a scheme with an interest rate of 10 per cent on fixed deposits of 100 days to attract short-term deposits. Senior citizens will get an additional interest rate of 0.50 per cent. The scheme would cover deposits made between March 6 and April 30. — PTI

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