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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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B U S I N E S S

Indian growth prospects to moderate: Report
New Delhi, March 27
Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) has predicted that South Asian economy, 80 per cent of which is accounted for by India, will grow at a slower pace of 7.7 per cent in 2007, due to tight monetary measures pursued by several countries.

Tata Steel, Nippon in talks for joint output
New Delhi, March 27
Fresh with its takeover of Anglo-Dutch giant Corus, Tata Steel has now started talks with world’s second-largest steelmaker Nippon of Japan for jointly producing the alloy for automakers and other companies.
Ratan Tata among best CEOs
New York, March 27
Two Indian steel tycoons — Ratan Tata of Tata Steel and NRI Lakshmi Mittal of global powerhouse Mittal Steel — have made it to the world's best CEOs list compiled by US stock market weekly Barron's.
Ratan Tata

Tata-Corus deal approved
London, March 27
Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus group said today its $12- billion takeover by Indian steel giant Tata Steel has been approved by the UK court, paving the way for completion of the deal early next week.

TCS signs pact for global drug centre
New Delhi, March 27
Global IT giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and pharma major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have entered into a multimillion dollar contract for setting up a global drug development centre in Mumbai.

 

Bollywood actress and Omega brand ambassador Sonali Bendre at the launch of Omega jewellery in New Delhi
Bollywood actress and Omega brand ambassador Sonali Bendre at the launch of Omega jewellery in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

 

Tatas exit Sitel
Mumbai, March 27
Tatas have exited from BPO joint venture firm Sitel India by selling their 50 per cent stake for $22.2 million (about Rs 100 crore) to US-based Sitel Corp.

VRS a hit among tax officials
Top officers quit jobs to join private sector
New Delhi, March 27
Around 100 top officials of the Income Tax Department and Customs and Central Excise have left the jobs to join the lucrative private sector with 4-6 times hike in salary package.

Airlines to explain to HC on levy
New Delhi, March 27
Days after the deadline for removal of congestion surcharge levied by the private airlines passed, the airlines have decided to explain before the Delhi High Court the reasons for imposing the Rs 150 surcharge.

Parryware Roca to invest Rs 750 cr
New Delhi, March 27
Parryware Roca, a joint venture of Murugappa Group and global leader in sanitary ware Roca, said today it planned to invest Rs 750 crore in two years for acquisitions and expansion in India.

Nepal for cooperation in energy sector
Considering the increasing demand of energy in South Asia for its economic growth, Nepal has given priority for forwarding its agenda of constructing a few big hydropower projects during the upcoming 14th SAARC summit, scheduled to be held in New Delhi.

BSNL bags major pie in rural project
New Delhi, March 27
BSNL has bagged majority of the projects to build towers for rural telephony, which is seen as the next major area of expansion for telecom companies in the country.

STC aims turnover of Rs 10,000 crore
New Delhi, March 27
The State Trading Corporation (STC) has projected a turnover of Rs 10,000 crore during 2007-08, envisaging a growth of 11 per cent over 2006-07, excluding the wheat import turnover.

IOC bids for Turkish firm
New Delhi, March 27
Indian Oil Corp, the country’s largest oil firm, has bid for acquiring Turkey’s state-run chemicals maker Petkim Petrokimya Holdings AS and has also proposed to construct a $6 billion refinery on the Mediterranean sea.

Hooda aims big for Haryana
New Delhi, March 27
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has unveiled his dream of making the state industrially number one in the country and urged the business leaders to participate in the growth story.

 

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Indian growth prospects to moderate: Report

New Delhi, March 27
Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) has predicted that South Asian economy, 80 per cent of which is accounted for by India, will grow at a slower pace of 7.7 per cent in 2007, due to tight monetary measures pursued by several countries.

"Tight monetary policy measures taken by several countries in the region in 2006 are expected to dampen consumption while investment and growth in developed countries ease," said ADB's annual report Asian Development Outlook, which was released today.

South Asia's recent economic performance shows it has emerged as a new growth pole in Asia, the Manila-based multilateral bank's chief economist Ifzal Ali said. The region can match East Asia's exemplary growth rates, albeit from a lower base.

The growth in this region would be fuelled by strengthening domestic demand and a broadly favourable outlook for the international economy, the Asian Development Outlook added.

The multi-lateral agency expected that South Asian economic growth will rise in 2008 to 8 per cent, but would still remain below the 2006 levels of 8.7 per cent.

The growth in South Asia's economy in 2006 was mainly led by consumption and investment. The region has averaged more than 7.5 per cent growth since 2003, which helped in reducing poverty levels in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Every economy in the region posted growth of more than 6 per cent in 2006, except Nepal, which suffered in the wake of political unrest.

India had clocked the highest growth of 9.2 per cent among the large economies and Maldives grew at 18.2 per cent, fastest among the small economies.

In India, vibrant industrial growth supported by buoyant services led to a 9.2 per cent growth rate in 2006, the highest since 1988. But an uptick in inflation, an overheated property sector and rapid credit growth led the central bank to hike interest rates and restrain property sector lending.

Tight monetary policies taken by several countries in 2006 and improved fiscal balances would help the region curb inflation at about 5 per cent in 2007 and 2008. High growth rates in the region with elevated interest rates would continue to attract large capital inflows, it said.

It said the structural policy reforms undertaken by the governments of the region that spurred private sector-led growth should continue with focus on reducing barriers to employment growth. — PTI

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Tata Steel, Nippon in talks for joint output

New Delhi, March 27
Fresh with its takeover of Anglo-Dutch giant Corus, Tata Steel has now started talks with world’s second-largest steelmaker Nippon of Japan for jointly producing the alloy for automakers and other companies.

“We are in talks with Nippon Steel for joint production of steel to meet rising demand from automotive sector,” a Tata Steel spokesperson said. The two companies are in the process of finalising the details of the venture, he added.

Nippon Steel also confirmed the discussions in a statement, but gave no details about the venture.

Japanese media reports said the companies were likely to spend about $423 million (Rs 2,000 crore) to make thin-sheet steel mainly used in automotive bodies at a jointly built plant using Nippon’s technology.

The proposed facility would meet the demand from automakers, including Suzuki Motor, Toyota and Honda. — PTI

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Ratan Tata among best CEOs

New York, March 27
Two Indian steel tycoons — Ratan Tata of Tata Steel and NRI Lakshmi Mittal of global powerhouse Mittal Steel — have made it to the world's best CEOs list compiled by US stock market weekly Barron's.

As per the magazine, Tata and Mittal are among the 30 top corporate leaders from around the world. The two Indians are the only CEOs from the steel sector to find place on the list.

The Tata Group Chairman also finds place among the 10 overseas CEOs on the list. — PTI

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Tata-Corus deal approved

London, March 27
Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus group said today its $12- billion takeover by Indian steel giant Tata Steel has been approved by the UK court, paving the way for completion of the deal early next week.

The High Court of Justice in England and Wales today sanctioned the scheme of arrangement related to Corus' acquisition by Tata Steel at a price of 608 pence a share, the London Stock Exchange listed firm said in a regulatory filing.

Corus expects the transaction to be effective on April 2.

The court decision follows approval of the deal by Corus shareholders with an overwhelming majority of over 96 per cent on March 7.— PTI

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TCS signs pact for global drug centre

New Delhi, March 27
Global IT giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and pharma major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have entered into a multimillion dollar contract for setting up a global drug development centre in Mumbai.

Under the contract, TCS will provide a variety of services in clinical research, including clinical data management and clinical submissions support.

“GSK has chosen to partner with TCS because of its strong record in knowledge process outsourcing, underpinned by operational excellence,” Amber Salzman, senior vice-president, development operations, GSK, said in a statement Tuesday.

According to Salzman, the partnership will also help deliver new medicines to patients. — IANS

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Tatas exit Sitel

Mumbai, March 27
Tatas have exited from BPO joint venture firm Sitel India by selling their 50 per cent stake for $22.2 million (about Rs 100 crore) to US-based Sitel Corp.

TCS said today it would sell its 40 per cent stake in BPO firm Sitel India to US-based Sitel Corp for $17.73 million.

Tata International Ltd, which holds 10 per cent in the venture, has also decided to sell its stake. An agreement for the transfer of ownership has been concluded, it said.

Sitel India is a joint venture between Tata Group and Sitel Corp formed in 2000 with both parties holding 50 per cent of the equity.

Recently, Sitel India opened its fifth centre at Gurgaon with plans to double India headcount to 8,000 by next year. It plans make the Gurgaon BPO its biggest centre in the world. — PTI

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VRS a hit among tax officials
Top officers quit jobs to join private sector

New Delhi, March 27
Around 100 top officials of the Income Tax Department and Customs and Central Excise have left the jobs to join the lucrative private sector with 4-6 times hike in salary package.

“Our most experienced tax officials are leaving service to join private firms like Ernst & Young, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, India Bulls and even industrial houses like Reliance and Tata Group, as they get much higher financial package in the private sector,” said a senior official in the I-T Department.

Almost every fortnight one or two officials of the department are opting for voluntary retirement as they find they have unlimited opportunities in the market with expertise in corporate tax and legal matters, he said.

In fact, over the past few months, over 26 Grade-A officials have put in their papers in the department.

While in the Central Customs and Excise Department 55 have left service in 2006 alone, sources said, adding that many officials are waiting whether the government would provide some interim relief or better financial package under the VRS.

After the creation of new 288 posts, the I-T Department has about 4,100 Group A officials, while the number is around 2,500 in the Central Excise and Customs.

Official sources in the CBDT said with direct tax collection growing by over 35 per cent annually, the department was facing shortage of professionals, which was affecting the scrutiny and investigations.

In a submission to the Sixth Central Pay Commission, the IRS Officers Association of Customs and Excise claimed that despite higher skills, tax officials were not offered parity with IAS cadre as far as salary, housing and promotion avenues are concerned.

In the private sector, while salaries have increased by around 15-20 per cent over the past few years, their living standards have rather come down due to increase in cost of living, the tax officials said.

The government is, in fact, losing revenue worth thousands of crores by not attracting and retaining young tax officials who join service with a qualification of MBA or a law degree.

The officials claimed that while total central tax collections were expected to cross Rs 5,00,000 crore next fiscal, the government should consider to provide separate financial package to the officials in the tax division.

The tax officers have demanded enhancement in retirement age to 62 years, besides a 10 per cent skill enhancement pay. — PTI

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Airlines to explain to HC on levy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
Days after the deadline for removal of congestion surcharge levied by the private airlines passed, the airlines have decided to explain before the Delhi High Court the reasons for imposing the Rs 150 surcharge.

The private airlines had imposed the surcharge to meet additional jet fuel expenses while aircraft hover over major airports due to air traffic congestion.

The decision to put forward the view to the Delhi High Court comes in the wake of the judiciary asking the civil aviation ministry to explain how the airlines have decided to impose the congestion surcharge. State-owned Indian is the only carrier which has not imposed it.

Incidentally, reports suggest that the majority of the airlines have written to the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that they are unable to withdraw the surcharge.

"As we have explained to the ministry, we will implead ourselves and explain to the court why the surcharge was imposed," liquor baron and Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Airport and Airline Expo here.

Following the High Court directive, the airlines had been asked by DGCA to give their point of view on the surcharge by March 24.

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Parryware Roca to invest Rs 750 cr
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
Parryware Roca, a joint venture of Murugappa Group and global leader in sanitary ware Roca, said today it planned to invest Rs 750 crore in two years for acquisitions and expansion in India.

"Every year we will invest about 12-15 million euros for both marketing activities and scaling up manufacturing," Parryware Roca chairman A Vellayan said here.

Roca Corporation Empresarial’s senior MD of executive board Domingo Colomo Prados said the company’s acquisition budget for Indian market is about 100 million euros for the next two years. The company is upgrading its Alwar and Perundurai facilities to start manufacturing Roca products in India by next year.

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Nepal for cooperation in energy sector
Bishnu Budhathoki writes from Kathmandu

Considering the increasing demand of energy in South Asia for its economic growth, Nepal has given priority for forwarding its agenda of constructing a few big hydropower projects during the upcoming 14th SAARC summit, scheduled to be held in New Delhi.

Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and minister for foreign affairs K.P. Sharma Oli said, “We should be prepared to develop a few big hydropower projects as model for the regional or sub-regional cooperation in the energy sector”.

He also stressed the need of inter-connectivity of power grids and the development of trans-border gas and oil pipelines for creating economics of scale in energy trade, which is utmost important for the whole region.

Oli said SAARC had to give thought to the implementation aspect of regional and sub-regional projects in all possible sectors for rapid socio-economic transformation in the region.

According to Oli, three concrete programs and projects, establishment of South Asian University, SAARC telemedicine project and SAARC museum on textiles and handicrafts, will be finalised during the summit.

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BSNL bags major pie in rural project
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
BSNL has bagged majority of the projects to build towers for rural telephony, which is seen as the next major area of expansion for telecom companies in the country.

It bagged about 80 per cent of the DoT’s Rs 2,500 crore rural mobile telephony project for which bids were invited by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

The company will work with Reliance Communications, Hutch Essar and GTL, a Mumbai-based IT company to build around 6,000 towers.

The deal calls for building a total of 8,100 towers under ‘Part A’, of the contract.

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STC aims turnover of Rs 10,000 crore
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
The State Trading Corporation (STC) has projected a turnover of Rs 10,000 crore during 2007-08, envisaging a growth of 11 per cent over 2006-07, excluding the wheat import turnover.

Exports and domestic sales are slated to grow by 20 per cent over 2006-07. This is indicated in the MoU signed by the STC with the ministry of commerce here yesterday.

The MoU was signed by chairman-cum-managing director Arvind Pandalai on behalf of the STC and commerce secretary G.K. Pillai.

The corporation plans to enter into many new areas of trade such as bio-fuels, mining, import of rough diamonds for cutting, polishing and re-export, extension of current overseas steel operations.

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IOC bids for Turkish firm

New Delhi, March 27
Indian Oil Corp, the country’s largest oil firm, has bid for acquiring Turkey’s state-run chemicals maker Petkim Petrokimya Holdings AS and has also proposed to construct a $6 billion refinery on the Mediterranean sea.

“We have put in an expression of interest (EoI) for 53-54 per cent stake in Petkim,” IOC director (planning and business development) B.N. Bansal said today.

The state-run refiner may get Turkey’s Calik Group for making a joint bid for Petkim, he said.

IOC plans to spend Rs 43,000 crore by 2012 to expand in India and overseas. It is scouting for investment opportunities in Africa, Central Asian countries and West Asia and is interested in taking over a medium sized oil producer, he said.

Turkey invited bids for a majority stake in chemicals maker Petkim worth at least $500 million on March 16. Offers are due on June 15. — PTI

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Hooda aims big for Haryana
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has unveiled his dream of making the state industrially number one in the country and urged the business leaders to participate in the growth story.

He said there was a need of joint effort by the industry and the state government.

While the government is committed to provide good quality of infrastructure, the private sector also needs to play a partnership role so as to sustain the economic growth, he said.

The CM said the state had received 72 proposals for setting up SEZs with an investment of Rs 1,75,000 crore.

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BRIEFLY


Microsoft Office in Hindi
New Delhi, March 27
Microsoft Corporation India today announced the availability of Hindi version of 2007 Microsoft Office software to accelerate local language computing in the country. Currently, the Hindi edition will be available with Microsoft Office Professional 2007 and Microsoft Office Standard 2007 versions. — PTI

Wockhardt
Mumbai, March 27
Pharma major Wockhardt Ltd has said it has received US FDA approval for marketing furosemide injection in the US. Furosemide injection is one of the most widely used diuretics in hospitals and ICUs in several life-threatening conditions. This is Wockhardt’s second FDA approval in a week following the approval of painkiller dextropropoxyphene and acetaminophen tablets a few days ago, the company said. — PTI

BSEL projects
Mumbai, March 27
BSEL Infrastructure Realty Ltd has bagged two projects for developing a hotel and a tourist facility in Gujarat with a total value of Rs 100 crore. One project involves the development of a star hotel near Sardar Sarovar dam, 80 km from Vadodara, while the other is a world-class tourist facility near Ahmedabad. With the addition of current projects of around 5 lakh sq ft area, BSEL’s land bank currently stands at around one crore sq ft, the company said. — PTI

SBoP camp
Chandigarh, March 27
The State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) has started organising investors’ camp. Amrik Singh Ahi, chief manager, personal banking branch, today explained various deposits schemes of the bank. Sanjay Mehtani, tax consultant, highlighted various aspects of the budget concerning tax on property and wealth. — TNS

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