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TRAI proposes network sharing
New Delhi, April 11
With the telecom sector set to grow exponentially, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today asked wireless telecom operators to share passive, active and back haul infrastructure to cut the cost of expansion.

FinMin seeks cabinet nod on investment of pension funds
New Delhi, April 11
With early resolution of issues relating to the PFRDA Bill not in sight, the finance ministry has prepared a cabinet note seeking clearance for investment of funds collected from new government recruits under the New Pension Scheme (NPS) in accordance with the investment pattern prescribed for non-government provident funds.

FTA with Thailand likely by June
New Delhi, April 11
Union minister for commerce and industry Kamal Nath (right) with Thailand's commerce minister Krirk Krai Jirapaet in New Delhi on Wednesday. India may sign a full-fledged free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand by end of June this year, whereby India will bring 2,800 items under the concessional tariff list.

Union minister for commerce and industry Kamal Nath (right) with Thailand's commerce minister Krirk Krai Jirapaet in New Delhi on Wednesday. — A Tribune photograph

First Asian real estate expo from tomorrow
New Delhi, April 11
Asian Real Estate exposition, the first-of-its-kind, will begin here from April 13 to address the burgeoning real estate market and offer international property developers the option of India as an investment destination.

Jet-Sahara pact likely today
Mumbai, April 11
Having salvaged a nearly failed deal to acquire Air Sahara, private carrier Jet Airways is expected to sign an agreement with the takeover target in a day or two, after submitting the new offer for the arbitration tribunal's approval tomorrow.

Beer baron plans project in North
New Delhi, April 11
India-born beer baron Karan Bilimoria, has ambitious plans for India and is looking at capturing a substantial part of the market with his products, specially focusing on opening new ventures in North India.

14 suitors for IFCI
New Delhi, April 11
Around 14 funds and institutions, including eight from overseas, have shown interest in buying a strategic stake in India’s oldest term lending institution, IFCI Ltd, with a few even ready to pick up 51 per cent equity.


A model displays a footwear at the launch of global footwear firm’s 'Crocs' brand in New Delhi on Wednesday.
A model displays a footwear at the launch of global footwear firm’s 'Crocs' brand in New Delhi on Wednesday. —  Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

EARLIER STORIES

 
A Tiffany diamond is seen at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington on Tuesday. It is one of the world's largest yellow diamonds, 128.54 carats and is in a cushion cut, which is on loan from Tiffany & Co. till September 23.
A Tiffany diamond is seen at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington on Tuesday. It is one of the world's largest yellow diamonds, 128.54 carats and is in a cushion cut, which is on loan from Tiffany & Co. till September 23. — AP/PTI

ONGC okays Rs 3,540-cr investment
New Delhi, April 11
ONGC has cleared an investment of over Rs 3,540 crore in a slew of projects, including the 740 MW Tripura power project.

Citigroup to cut 17,000 jobs
New York, April 11
World's largest financial services firm, Citigroup Inc, today said it would eliminate 17,000 jobs or nearly 5 per cent of its global workforce, even as it plans to move 9,500 positions to India and other low-cost locations.

IMF: Indian economy to slow down
Washington, April 11
Seeing further room for interest rate hikes to contain inflation, International Monetary Fund (IMF) said today India's economic growth would slow down to 8.4 per cent in 2007 and even further to 7.8 per cent by the next year, as against 9.2 per cent in 2006.

Fidelity scheme launched
Chandigarh, April 11
Fidelity Fund Management has launched an open-ended equity growth scheme 'Fidelity International Opportunities Fund'. Through the scheme, the investors have an opportunity to add an element of geographical diversification to their portfolios with a fund house that has a strong track record in investing globally.

IBM Daksh top BPO firm in India
New Delhi, April 11
IBM Daksh has been ranked as the number one BPO firm in the ‘India’s most respected companies’ survey conducted by the Business World Magazine, a company statement said here today.

Porsche officials pose besides a second generation Cayenne SUV at its launch in New Delhi on Wednesday. The SUV is priced at Rs 49,30,000.
Porsche officials pose besides a second generation Cayenne SUV at its launch in New Delhi on Wednesday. The SUV is priced at Rs 49,30,000. — AFP

Rel Capital enters retail broking
Mumbai, April 11
Reliance Capital today announced its foray into the brokerage business through Reliance Money, which will offer fixed flat fee structure.

India, Brazil to discuss trade
New Delhi, April 11
India and Brazil will hold a third meeting of the joint commission here on April 13 to give a fillip to their burgeoning ties.

Larsen & Toubro plan
Mumbai, April 11
India’s largest engineering firm Larsen & Toubro (L&T) will be the first company to set up a major state-of-the-art ship building yard at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore.

NSDL to track pension records
New Delhi, April 11
Interim pension regulator, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has appointed National Securities Depositories Ltd (NSDL) as an agency to track the pension records of those under the new pension scheme (NPS).

 

 

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TRAI proposes network sharing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
With the telecom sector set to grow exponentially, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today asked wireless telecom operators to share passive, active and back haul infrastructure to cut the cost of expansion.

Licensing conditions should be amended to allow mobile phone service providers to use each other's equipment, including relay towers and antennas, the telecom regulator said in its proposals to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

No sharing of spectrum at access network side is permitted, it said. The exponential growth in wireless telecom services calls for massive investment in infrastructure, TRAI said. The country would require about 3.3 lakh towers by 2010 against the present 1 lakh towers, it said.

Apart from huge investments needed, the time taken to roll out wireless services could be a major bottleneck in the achievement of 500 million subscribers by 2010, TRAI said. Even if the target is achieved, it will only be about 50 per cent of the teledensity with major gaps in the rural areas, it said.

Passive infrastructure sharing means sharing of physical sites, buildings, shelters, towers, power supply and battery backup and is permitted under the licences. TRAI has, however, not favoured any policy intervention for this.

TRAI has also proposed active infrastructure sharing which is currently not permitted in the licences.

The mode of commercial agreement has been left to the telecom service providers, but it has reserved the option of prescribing a standard commercial agreement format in future if the process of infrastructure sharing does not become a pattern of planning in the schemes of telecom service providers. It seeks conclusion of commercial agreements in four weeks time.

In a major recommendation, the authority has recognised the need for immediate identification of critical infrastructure sites. It has recommended a joint working group under the chairmanship of the district magistrate to take spot decisions. The representatives of the telecom service providers, municipal corporation/local bodies and a representative of military land control wing, where necessary, would be its members.

In another major recommendation, TRAI has sought amendment in the licence condition to allow active infrastructure sharing limited to antenna, feeder cable, node B, radio access network and transmission systems. Another major initiative is backhaul sharing.

In order to provide level-playing field and roll out opportunities to all licencees, the authority has expanded the scope of financial incentive for passive infrastructure sharing in rural and far-flung remote areas. Accordingly, it has recommended that all licencees in any service areas should qualify for financial subvention schemes meant for rural areas though at reduced scale compared to the winner in the tender process of USOF Administration.

Welcoming the decision, T V Ramachandran, director-general, Cellular Operators Association of India, said the recommendations to amend licence to share active elements as well as backhaul and the emphasis laid by the authority on the use of solar power and alternative fuels and its recommendation that government should evolve a scheme of subsidy per site to operators using non-conventional energy.

He said the TRAI recommendation that the total amount charged per tower should not be more than 1.2 times the amount being charged from individual service providers would definitely make infrastructure sharing an extremely attractive proposition as all operators are looking at ways and means to drive down their costs.

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FinMin seeks cabinet nod on investment of pension funds
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
With early resolution of issues relating to the PFRDA Bill not in sight, the finance ministry has prepared a cabinet note seeking clearance for investment of funds collected from new government recruits under the New Pension Scheme (NPS) in accordance with the investment pattern prescribed for non-government provident funds.

“A cabinet note has been prepared seeking approval of the union cabinet for investment of NPS funds lying unemployed in accordance with the investment pattern prescribed for non-government provident funds,” K.P. Krishnan, joint secretary (capital markets) in the ministry of finance told newspersons on the sidelines of a Ficci conference on pension reforms.

“Now the ball is in the cabinet’s court,” he said, adding if the cabinet approves it then the states will also follow suit.

The cabinet note, which has been sent to the cabinet secretariat, is in line with the suggestions made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Chief Ministers conference on the issue on January 22, 2007.

The Prime Minister had suggested notifying an interim investment pattern for funds collected under the NPS, which will allow putting in a part of such amount in stock markets.

As per the provisions, non-government provident funds can invest up to 5 per cent of their corpus in shares of companies with investment grade debt rating from two rating agencies, 25 per cent in central government securities, 15 per cent in state government securities, 25 per cent in bonds and securities of public financial institutions and the balance in any of these three categories.

Till date, all funds collected from new government recruits under the NPS (about Rs 2,000 crore) were deposited with the public account of India. This yielded a return of only 8 per cent per annum to the subscribers.

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FTA with Thailand likely by June
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
India may sign a full-fledged free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand by end of June this year, whereby India will bring 2,800 items under the concessional tariff list.

“We are in the process of including more content in the bilateral trade relationship and we are hoping to finalise it by June end,” commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath told newspersons here after meeting Thailand’s commerce minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet.

“We have discussed ways to increase two-way investment and we have also set up a joint business council to look into the matter,” Nath said during the negotiations the sensitivities of both countries will be adequately addressed. A framework agreement for establishing a FTA between the two countries was signed by the two governments in October 2003 in Bangkok, covering goods, services and investment and areas of cooperation.

The agreement also provides for a early harvest scheme (EHS) under which common items of export interest to both sides have been agreed for elimination of tariffs on a fast-track basis.

The tariff concessions on 82 items of EHS list have been implemented with effect from September 1, 2004, with the signing of the protocol between India and Thailand in August 2004 in New Delhi.

India Thailand Trade Negotiating Committee has been constituted to carry forward the programme of negotiations as per the framework agreement. According to Nath, during the meeting both sides underlined the scope for substantially stepping up the level of two-way trade, which stood at $2.2 billion in 2005-06.

India’s exports to Thailand registered a growth of almost 20 per cent over the previous year, while imports from Thailand increased by about 39 per cent.

With regard to investments, while several major Indian companies have interest in Thailand, in the post-liberalisation era, Thailand too had emerged as an important investor in India with FDI inflows of about $77.6 million from August 1991 to December 2006. Thailand now ranks 27th largest investor in India and third largest from the Asean region, after Singapore and Malaysia.

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First Asian real estate expo from tomorrow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
Asian Real Estate exposition, the first-of-its-kind, will begin here from April 13 to address the burgeoning real estate market and offer international property developers the option of India as an investment destination.

Brought to India by Al Fajer Information and Services, a pioneer in the exhibition industry and known globally for its exhibitions, the three-day exposition will showcase the latest developments in the real estate sector for leading, local, regional as well as other international developers.

Leading real estate developers and companies from countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, USA, the UAE and India will address the rapidly growing real estate market in India.

The exhibitions aims at offering international property options to the Indian consumers and at the same time providing an opportunity to global estate players to look India as a viable investment destination.

The show will will bring together investors and property developers and explore profitable areas of investment in the real estate domain as India has opened its door to foreign investors and FDI up to 100 per cent under the automatic route has been permitted in housing, built-up infrastructure and construction development projects.

Some of the key participating companies include Al Fajer properties, Damac Properties, Cypress Pointe, Florida, USA, PNB Housing Finance, Al Safi real estate, Best Homes Emirates Real estate, Green Homes, National Builders Guild, Maruthi Corporation, Resource Group, PNB Housing Finance, Ocean Estates International, Pioneer Property Management, Wegman Industries, M Tec Developers, Uppal Housing LTD.

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Jet-Sahara pact likely today

Mumbai, April 11
Having salvaged a nearly failed deal to acquire Air Sahara, private carrier Jet Airways is expected to sign an agreement with the takeover target in a day or two, after submitting the new offer for the arbitration tribunal's approval tomorrow.

"The final draft of Jet-Air Sahara deal will be completed tonight and will be presented to the arbitration panel tomorrow for a final decision," Jet Airways counsel Harish Salve told reporters here.

"It is a big deal, there are lot of changes in the original share purchase agreement, which have to be reworded and finalised by tonight," he said.

Under the revised deal, Jet Airways is understood to have valued Air Sahara at Rs 2,050 crore, of which Rs 600 crore is expected to be adjusted as arrears, interest and other liabilities.

Of the remaining Rs 1,450 crore, Jet has already paid Rs 500 crore as advance in lieu of the shares pledged by Sahara last year, which leaves Rs 950 crore to be paid in cash.

If the merger goes through, the deal would give Jet more than 32 per cent of the domestic aviation market in passenger terms, and add at least 27 aircraft to its 62-aircraft fleet, in addition to prime landing and take-off slots at major airports such London Heathrow, New Delhi and Mumbai.

The merged entity would also become the only privately owned Indian airline with permission to fly overseas. — PTI

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Beer baron plans project in North
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
India-born beer baron Karan Bilimoria, has ambitious plans for India and is looking at capturing a substantial part of the market with his products, specially focusing on opening new ventures in North India.

Having launched his brands of Cobra Beer in Chandigarh and Delhi in January last, Lord Bilimoria, who heads the more than £200 million company, while talking to The Tribune, said that his company had achieved a 400 per cent growth in India ever since the launch in November 2006.

After opening his first brewery in Goa at the same time, he has already opened two more breweries earlier this month in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and is looking at setting up a greenfield project, again in North India, by the end of the summer.

Lord Bilimoria says that emulating the UK achievements will be his goal in India. Although Bilimoria did not disclose his company’s investment plans, he said with India being the fastest growing economy around the world, the potential for his company is huge.

Cobra, which was initially brewed in Bangalore and shipped to Britain, besides being the fastest-growing beer brands in Britain, is also the recipient of numerous Monde Selection gold medals — the spirits equivalent of the Oscars.

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14 suitors for IFCI

New Delhi, April 11
Around 14 funds and institutions, including eight from overseas, have shown interest in buying a strategic stake in India’s oldest term lending institution, IFCI Ltd, with a few even ready to pick up 51 per cent equity.

According to market sources, some Indian institutions and foreign entities have approached Earnst and Young, advisor to the IFCI for strategic investment in the company.

Those interested in buying stake in the IFCI has sounded E&Y to include them in investors’ memorandum, to be prepared by the consultant.

However, Punjab National Bank and IDBI have so far not evinced interest in buying strategic/controlling in the IFCI. Earlier there was a proposal to merge the IFCI with PNB or IDBI, but it was not pursued.

After reports of the appointment of E&Y as consultant, the IFCI share has been witnessing buying interest in the markets.

Financial institutions hold about 40.32 per cent stake in the company as on December 2006, which includes 8.4 per cent stake of LIC.

The IFCI, which has been ailing for quite some time, has accumulated losses of Rs 4,300 crore as on December 31, 2006.

The institution, however, did well in the current financial year posting a net profit of Rs 230 crore in April-December 2006 as against a loss of Rs 160 crore during the corresponding period last year.

The government in budget 2007-08 announced Rs 1,300 crore to meet restructuring liabilities of the IFCI including payment for outstanding loan of Rs 880 crore.

To raise funds, the IFCI decided to sell its seven per cent stake in the NSE and eight per cent stake in the ICRA through offer for sale. — PTI

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ONGC okays Rs 3,540-cr investment
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
ONGC has cleared an investment of over Rs 3,540 crore in a slew of projects, including the 740 MW Tripura power project.

The board has approved an investment of Rs 576 crore as equity in the Rs 3,844 crore, 740 MW gas-based power project in Tripura and another Rs 1,817 crore in augmentation of gas production in the state to feed the power plant.

It also approved an incremental investment of Rs 795 crore above Rs 3,195 crore already approved in the development of C-series fields in western offshore and another Rs 355 crore in building seven pipelines in Mumbai high north field.

The board also approved an incremental investment of Rs 795 crore for ‘C-series’ development project for exploitation of 15.14 billion cubic meters of gas.

The board further approved construction of an energy-efficient, green, intelligent and barrier-free office building at Rajarhat in Kolkata at an investment of Rs 228 crore.

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Citigroup to cut 17,000 jobs

New York, April 11
World's largest financial services firm, Citigroup Inc, today said it would eliminate 17,000 jobs or nearly 5 per cent of its global workforce, even as it plans to move 9,500 positions to India and other low-cost locations.

With an aim to cutting its annual expenses by $4.6 billion in the next three years, the US-based banking giant said today its restructuring plans also include shutting down some offices and relocating employees.

While announcing these large-scale job cuts, Citigroup said its total headcount would continue to grow in 2007, but the rate of growth, excluding acquisitions, new branches and other investments, would slow significantly.

The company could move a large chunk of its jobs - which could be in the range of 5,000-8,000 - to India, especially for equity research, investment banking and back-office transaction-related activities, sources close to the development said. — PTI

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IMF: Indian economy to slow down

Washington, April 11
Seeing further room for interest rate hikes to contain inflation, International Monetary Fund (IMF) said today India's economic growth would slow down to 8.4 per cent in 2007 and even further to 7.8 per cent by the next year, as against 9.2 per cent in 2006.

Amid a slowdown in the world economy, the "Emerging markets and developing countries are expected to continue to grow strongly, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than in 2006," IMF said in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released here today.

While noting that growth remains rapid in India with strong momentum in the manufacturing and services sectors, IMF said further tightening was likely to be needed in view of the still strong inflationary pressures. — PTI

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Fidelity scheme launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Fidelity Fund Management has launched an open-ended equity growth scheme 'Fidelity International Opportunities Fund'. Through the scheme, the investors have an opportunity to add an element of geographical diversification to their portfolios with a fund house that has a strong track record in investing globally.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Jed Wrigley, director with Fidelity International, said the scheme was its first international offering in India and other global products would be introduced once guidelines were issued under the recently announced $50,000 remittance scheme. The offer is open till April 30.

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IBM Daksh top BPO firm in India

New Delhi, April 11
IBM Daksh has been ranked as the number one BPO firm in the ‘India’s most respected companies’ survey conducted by the Business World Magazine, a company statement said here today.

The rankings are the outcome of an Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) conducted poll that obtained views from 682 senior managers across industry who rated companies across various parameters.

IBM acquired Daksh in April 2004 with a view to enhance its business transformation capabilities in key areas including customer relationship and financial management services in areas like banking, insurance, retail, technology, telecommunications, travel and transportation. — PTI

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Rel Capital enters retail broking

Mumbai, April 11
Reliance Capital today announced its foray into the brokerage business through Reliance Money, which will offer fixed flat fee structure.

Reliance Money would offer the brokerage services across 700 cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, through 3,000 outlets.

Investors would need to pay brokerage at the rate of 0.05 per cent for delivery trades and 0.005 per cent for non-delivery trades (fixed fee of Rs 500 for delivery trades up to Rs 10 lakh and/or non-delivery trades up to Rs 1crore), the company said.

Reliance Money consumers can trade in equities, commodities and offshore investments , IPOs, mutual funds, besides insurance, money transfer and money changing — all through single window, both offline and online. — PTI

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India, Brazil to discuss trade
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
India and Brazil will hold a third meeting of the joint commission here on April 13 to give a fillip to their burgeoning ties.

The joint commission will review cooperation in various sectors such as agriculture, science and technology, defence, energy, health, tourism, culture and infrastructure.

Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim, who arrived here yesterday, will meet external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, commerce minister Kamal Nath and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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Larsen & Toubro plan

Mumbai, April 11
India’s largest engineering firm Larsen & Toubro (L&T) will be the first company to set up a major state-of-the-art ship building yard at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore.

The Rs 1,500-crore ship building yard would come up on a 1,000 acre area and have capability to make all types of ships, including high tech such as CNG, LNG carriers and containers upto three lakh dead weight tonnes (DWT), L&T senior vice-president M V Kotwal said. — PTI

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NSDL to track pension records

New Delhi, April 11
Interim pension regulator, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has appointed National Securities Depositories Ltd (NSDL) as an agency to track the pension records of those under the new pension scheme (NPS).

NSDL has been selected as the central record-leeping agency (CRA) out of six bidders, including UTI and LIC.

"We have moved ahead with the appointment of CRA and have selected NSDL for the job," PFRDA chairperson D Swarup said. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

PNB ups PLR
New Delhi, April 11
Punjab National Bank (PNB) today increased the Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) by 75 basis points to 13 per cent. PNB informed the BSE about its decision to increase BPLR from 12.25 per cent to 13 per cent. The increased BPLR will come into effect from April 16, 2007. Several other large banks like the State Bank of India and ICICI Bank have already increased their lending rates to bridge the credit-deposit mismatch. — PTI

Simplex Infra
Mumbai, April 11
Leading infrastructure and engineering company Simplex Infrastructures has bagged orders worth Rs 708 crore. The company did not immediately provide any details regarding the projects in its filing to the NSE. Simplex is already engaged in executing design and construction of viaduct and structural work of three elevated stations in Chattarpur, Ghitorni and Arjangarh for the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. — PTI

Tanla Mobile
Mumbai, April 11
As part of its expansion plans in Europe, Tanla Solutions today said its subsidiary, Tanla Mobile, has inked revenue sharing agreements with leading mobile operators including Vodafone. Tanla Mobile would offer its payment and messaging services to Irish companies wishing to exploit the commercial mobile market like media companies and telecom service providers. — PTI

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