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Foreign trade policy today
New Delhi, April 18
On the eve of presentation of the annual supplement of foreign trade policy for 2007-08, the government was worried over the possibility of hardening rupee adversely impacting competitiveness of Indian exporters.

RIL to approach govt for SEZ cap removal
Mumbai, April 18
Teaming as a “knee-jerk reaction” the decision to cap the size of special economic zones, Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Industries said today it would take up the matter of lifting the ceiling of 5,000 hectares with the government.

SEZ size: Govt willing to be flexible 
New Delhi, April 18
The government is willing to be flexible on the limit of 5,000 hectare land area of special economic zones and the cap could be removed if circumstances permit, commerce minister Kamal Nath said today.

Essar bags US steel firm for Rs 350 crore
New Delhi, April 18
In its second overseas takeover within three days, Ruias-owned Essar Global today signed an agreement to acquire iron ore-rich Minnesota Steel LLC in the US for an estimated $80-90 million (Rs 350-375 crore).

Egypt to issue 3-yr visa to businessmen
New Delhi, April 18
To promote bilateral trade and open investment opportunities between India and Egypt, the Egyptian Government today said it will grant three-year visas to business visitors from India.



EARLIER STORIES

 
A Sony employee displays new digital audio players shaped like a lipstick called the "Walkman NW-E016", equipped with 4GB flash memory, direct USB connector and a color LCD display with a weight of 29g, in Tokyo on Wednesday. Sony will put it on the market on April 21 with an estimated price of 20,000 yen
A Sony employee displays new digital audio players shaped like a lipstick called the "Walkman NW-E016", equipped with 4GB flash memory, direct USB connector and a color LCD display with a weight of 29g, in Tokyo on Wednesday. Sony will put it on the market on April 21 with an estimated price of 20,000 yen.— AFP photo

Unescap survey pegs GDP growth at 9 pc
New Delhi, April 18
China, India and Japan are set to be the main driving forces for Asia-Pacific’s growth in 2007 against signs of slowdown in the US and European economies, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap) said in its annual economic survey.

TCS to set up IT hub
Kolkata, April 18
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will set up an IT hub in Rajarhat New Town employing at least 10,000 persons.

Toronto-New Delhi flight
Toronto, April 18
Jet Airways would introduce new flights between Toronto and New Delhi in August.

Wine not good for heart: Experts
New Delhi, April 18
Pooh-poohing campaign launched by wine producers that wine consumption is good for heart, top cardiologists of the country yesterday said “It is a myth that wine consumption supports smooth heart functioning.” Participating in a debated organised by Assocham on enhancing corporate health here, they pointed out that there were over 1.5 crore worldwide studies undertaken on alcohol linking heart so far, but not even a single has claimed that wine consumption, even in moderate quantity, is good for heart.
"The Rice Portait of Jane Austin" by British painter Ozias Humphry (1742-1810) is displayed at Christie's auction house in New York as part of a preview of the
"The Rice Portait of Jane Austin" by British painter Ozias Humphry (1742-1810) is displayed at Christie's auction house in New York as part of a preview of the important old master paintings sale to take place on Thursday. The painting is estimated to fetch $400,000 to $800,000. — AFP

Bank deposits: Non-metros also matter
New Delhi, April 18
While the four metros and big cities may still make up a major chunk of bank deposits, smaller cities are also contributing a significant amount to the kitty of

Coca-Cola in pact with UN arm
New Delhi, April 18
Coca-Cola as part of its corporate social responsibilty has partnered with UN-Habitat, a subsidiary organ of the United Nation, to provide clean drinking water and sanitation in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Nepal.

IDBI ups home loan rates
Mumbai, April 18
The Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) today announced to raise their retail reference rate (RRR), the benchmark used by the bank for pricing of its floating rate of home loans, by 75 basis points with retrospective effect from April 10. Accordingly, RRR has risen from 10.50 per cent per annum to 11.25 per cent, thereby pushing the floating interest rates of all existing home loan customers by 0.75 per cent, an official statement said. The bank's floating rate home loans stand revised to 11-11.25 per cent per annum, depending on the category of the borrowers.

S.K.Tuteja CWC to set up logistics park at Mumbai port
Chandigarh, April 18
Redefining itself as a logistic company, the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) will be setting up a logistics park at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Mumbai. The company will also be upgrading its rail logistic services with the starting of a container train between Delhi (Lohni) and Mumbai (JNPT), and establishing rail site warehousing complexes. The logistic park at JNPT will be the first-of-its-kind to be set up in any port across the country.                                              
S.K.Tuteja

Gold recovers due to firm global trend
New Delhi, April 18
Gold prices recovered on the bullion market today due to buying by stockists, triggered by firming international trend and closed higher by Rs 50 at Rs 9,520 per ten grams.

Vanaspati units seek duty cut on palm oil
New Delhi, April 18
Indian vanaspati industry today urged the Centre to further reduce the custom duty on crude palm oil as the 10 per cent cut by the government was a piecemeal approach.

JVC tie-up
New Delhi, April 17
Victor Company of Japan (JVC), a leading global developer and manufacturer of sophisticated audio and video products, has signed an MoU with Delhi-based Impel Electronics for the distribution of its products in India. The Japanese major, which showcased its range of products in the capital, is eyeing to tap Rs 750 crore in-car entertainment market in India.— TNS

 

 

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Foreign trade policy today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
On the eve of presentation of the annual supplement of foreign trade policy for 2007-08, the government was worried over the possibility of hardening rupee adversely impacting competitiveness of Indian exporters.

“It is a matter of concern. The hardening of rupee is bound to impact Indian exporters, especially small exporters,” commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath, who will be unveiling the trade policy, told newspersons here today.

The commerce minister said he would be holding a meeting with small exporters after the presentation of the Foreign Trade Policy to assess the exact impact the rupee volatility could have on various segments of Indian exports.

Exporters do not anticipate any big announcement in the policy as the finance ministry is not in favour of any more fiscal sops for exporters.

However, the government is expected to make some ‘course corrective’ policy statement with regard to agriculture, which has seen massive decline. As against the GDP growth rate of 9.2 per cent in 2006-07, agricultural production was just 2.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, an official statement said all stakeholder inputs have been taken into account in fine-tuning the elements of the policy.

The first-ever comprehensive Foreign Trade Policy was announced by Nath on August 31, 2004, with a five-year framework (2004-09), which took an integrated view of the overall development of India’s foreign trade with a two-fold objective of doubling India’s percentage share of global merchandise trade by 2009 and acting as an effective instrument of economic growth by giving a thrust to employment generation.

India’s merchandise exports since the announcement of the policy in August 2004 have gone up significantly. India’s exports crossed the landmark figure of $100 billion in 2005-06. India’s merchandise exports increased from $53 billion in 2002-03 to $103 billion in 2005-06. Export in the current year touched $109 billion during April 2006 to February 2007, showing a growth of 22.95 per cent.

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RIL to approach govt for SEZ cap removal

Mumbai, April 18
Teaming as a “knee-jerk reaction” the decision to cap the size of special economic zones, Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Industries said today it would take up the matter of lifting the ceiling of 5,000 hectares with the government.

“The cap on size of SEZ does not exist in any other country. This is one of the vital issues that would be taken up with the government,” Anand Jain, who heads Reliance’s SEZ group and is chairman of Mumbai SEZ, said.

On April 5, the Empowered Group of Ministers put a cap on size for SEZ to 5,000 hectares after land acquisition in Nandigram, West Bengal turned violent killing 14 persons in police firing.

The land cap would affect Reliance’s plan because its SEZ in Maharashtra is spread over 10,000 hectares in 45 villages with a projected investment of Rs 35,000 crore. The company’s SEZ in Haryana would also be affected by the new rule.

Reliance reaffirmed its earlier stand of one job per family and Rs 25 per lakh per hectare.

Jain pointed out that agriculture in the proposed area of SEZ was uneconomical. Most cropland was fit to grow low-yield paddy, he said.

Reliance does not plan to approach the court for removal of cap on land acquisition unlike a few SEZ promoters who have threatened legal course. — PTI

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SEZ size: Govt willing to be flexible 

New Delhi, April 18
The government is willing to be flexible on the limit of 5,000 hectare land area of special economic zones and the cap could be removed if circumstances permit, commerce minister Kamal Nath said today.

"In future should a proposal come that looks at an area that may be larger, we are willing to look at it...," Nath told reporters after releasing a UN Report.

"Right now we have certain set of rules based on certain set of circumstances. They (circumstances) may change in future once we have a rehabilitation policy... we will look at it. It is a part of the Act and not rules," he said.

Right now there was a land ceiling in SEZs and the cap remains, he said, when asked to comment on Reliance Industries' comment that current rules were not foolproof.

Reliance would be adversely affected from the limit of 5,000 hectares as it is already acquiring land for two SEZs spread over 10,000 hectares each in Haryana and Maharashtra. The limit put on the size of SEZs was one of the compromises reached at the last meet of Empowered Group of Ministers early this month that led to lifting freeze on them. — PTI

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Essar bags US steel firm for Rs 350 crore

New Delhi, April 18
In its second overseas takeover within three days, Ruias-owned Essar Global today signed an agreement to acquire iron ore-rich Minnesota Steel LLC in the US for an estimated $80-90 million (Rs 350-375 crore).

Essar Global Ltd through its subsidiary Essar Steel Holdings inked the pact with Minnesota Steel and announced an investment of $1.65 billion to set up a 2.5 million tonnes integrated steel firm.

Although the deal value was not disclosed, sources said the acquisition amount ranges between $80-90 million.

The US acquisition comes barely three days after Essar Global announced buying Canadian firm Algoma Steel for $1.58 billion.

Minnesota has iron ore reserves of more than 1.4 billion tonnes, the two companies said in a joint statement.

"By developing this significant ore resource, Minnesota has the opportunity to be one of the low cost producers of steel in the world," Essar Global chairman Shashi Ruia said.

Essar's takeover follows compatriot Tata Steel's buyout of Anglo-Dutch firm Corus Group Plc for $12.9 billion and comes amid a consolidation in the global steel industry.

The companies said steel plant would be built in stages, with the first phase expected to be commissioned in 2009 and produce up to 1.5 million tonnes of thick steel slab per year.

"Our investment in Minnesota Steel is exciting as it gives us a cornerstone in north American market. From this, we will further expand our global steel business," Ruia said. — PTI

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Egypt to issue 3-yr visa to businessmen

New Delhi, April 18
To promote bilateral trade and open investment opportunities between India and Egypt, the Egyptian Government today said it will grant three-year visas to business visitors from India.

“Focusing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the initiative has been taken to draw investment as well as to promote tourism,” Egyptian Ambassador to India Mohamed Higazy said at a seminar organised by industry body Ficci named Exploring Business Opportunities with Egypt. Investment cooperation between the two countries would be promoted through joint ventures, capacity building, enhancing people-to-people contact, creating employment opportunities and institutional capacity building at national and international levels, the Egyptian Ambassador said.

Meanwhile, the Ficci signed two MoUs with Egypt for promotion of two-way investments and cooperation in the tourism sector.

The MoU on cooperation in promoting investments across sectors in both countries was signed between the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones of Egypt (GAFI) and the industry body.

The other MoU on cooperation in tourism was signed between the Tourist Development Authority (TDA) of Egypt and the Ficci. — UNI 

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Unescap survey pegs GDP growth at 9 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
China, India and Japan are set to be the main driving forces for Asia-Pacific’s growth in 2007 against signs of slowdown in the US and European economies, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap) said in its annual economic survey.

The ‘Economic and social survey of Asia and the Pacific 2007’ forecasts a 9 per cent growth in India in 2007 even as it expected softer growth across the region at 7.4 per cent from 7.9 per cent in 2006.

“The economic dynamism of recent years is expected to continue, though concerns lie in any fresh oil price shock, the abrupt cooling of housing markets in the US, volatility in foreign exchange markets, a new downturn in Japan’s economy, ‘overheating in China’ and an avian flu pandemic,” noted Unescap executive secretary Kim Hak-Su after commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath released the report here today.

In India, the survey expects the central bank to “nudge interest rates” up over the year but with growth still strong at 9 per cent in 2007 led by services and accelerating industrial production, raising fears of ‘overheating’ leading to higher domestic prices.

China, while forecast to experience slower growth of 9.9 per cent this year from 10.7 per cent in 2006, will still see exports and investment as the main driving forces. The survey expects Yuan to strengthen, a tighter domestic policy to slow investment and weaker demand from the electronics sector.

For Japan, a slowing US economy is forecast to lead growth to under 2 per cent from 2.6 per cent in 2006.

The survey warns that the biggest challenge for Asia-Pacific economies lies in managing volatile exchange rates. Major currencies in the region are expected to continue to appreciate. The imbalances in the US and capital flows into the region are the main drivers.

The survey recommends greater exchange rate flexibility as the “one sustainable solution.” 

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TCS to set up IT hub

Kolkata, April 18
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will set up an IT hub in Rajarhat New Town employing at least 10,000 persons.

TCS chairman S Ramodorai today met Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and discussed the project for which at least 40 acres of land would be required. State IT minister Debesh Das and other senior IT department officials were also present at the meeting. “The state government will hand over the land to the company in a month,” Das said.

Ramodorai informed the CM that the construction would start by end of the year. “A few hundred crores of investment will come into this project. However, the TCS chairman did not give us an exact figure,” IT minister said. — UNI

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Toronto-New Delhi flight

Toronto, April 18
Jet Airways would introduce new flights between Toronto and New Delhi in August.

The airline would operate five flights per week between Toronto and New Delhi via Brussels or New York and extend it to dailies later this year, Jet spokesman B Chandrasekhar said yesterday.

Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) president Ajit Khanna said it would strengthen links between the two countries, adding that the ICCC has been working actively with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) and the Indian aviation industry to facilitate opening of a new air route. — PTI

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Wine not good for heart: Experts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
Pooh-poohing campaign launched by wine producers that wine consumption is good for heart, top cardiologists of the country yesterday said “It is a myth that wine consumption supports smooth heart functioning.”

Participating in a debated organised by Assocham on enhancing corporate health here, they pointed out that there were over 1.5 crore worldwide studies undertaken on alcohol linking heart so far, but not even a single has claimed that wine consumption, even in moderate quantity, is good for heart.

The cardialogists, who participated in the debate included chief cardiologist, Moolchand Medicity, Dr H.K. Chopra, additional prof, Deptt of Cardiology, AIIMS, Prof D. Prabhakran, chairman & chief cardiologist, Max Heart & Vascular Institute, Dr Ashok Seth, chairman, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr B K Rao and head of surgery, AIIMS, Prof M.C. Mishra.

All medical practitioners warned that wine intake adds toxic content in human body and damage and decay heart to the extent beyond repairs and advised that wine consumption ought to be avoided to keep your heart absolutely fit.

They sought immediate ban on pubs that were mushrooming in Delhi and particularly those that serve liquor.

The doctors emphasised that alcohol and wine consumption were essential evils that made the behaviour of those that consume it toxic and make them prone to heart attacks and instead recommended that grape juice was the best for arresting heart attacks.

They appealed that ignorance for alcohol and wine intake in little quantity should be unfolded to discourage alcohol intake as research undertaken worldwide in the past 30 years has produced sufficient literature which does not support intake of alcohol and wine for better heart functioning.

Prof Mishra said emergency health facilities even in city like Delhi were totally inadequate to take on the collective load of patients as chronic diseases were becoming more rampant, not only among corporates but within ordinary people.

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Bank deposits: Non-metros also matter

New Delhi, April 18
While the four metros and big cities may still make up a major chunk of bank deposits, smaller cities are also contributing a significant amount to the kitty of

cash-starved banks.

Cities, other than Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore, have contributed 54.71 per cent to the bank deposits in the third quarter of 2006-07, according to the RBI.

Scheduled commercial banks collected over Rs 12,95,000 crore from tier-II and tier-III centres alone in the third quarter of 2006-07 out of the all India mobilisation of Rs 23,67,000 crore.

Bankers attribute the growth to emergence of new industries in smaller towns and higher income base. As a result, per capita income of people in smaller towns is also increasing, providing them with a considerable amount of money which they want to park with the banks.

Absence of a suitable alternative like lack of access to the share market and higher interest rates being offered by the banks recently may be the reasons behind this change.

Mumbai topped both in terms of deposit mobilisation and advances, followed by Delhi. Deposit mobilisation for Mumbai stood at Rs 4,67,888 crore while for Delhi it was Rs 3,15,466 crore. Banks gave advances of Rs 5,22,465 from their Mumbai centres, while for Delhi the figure was Rs 2,11,253 crore.

Nationalised banks accounted for 48.6 per cent of aggregate deposits. The State Bank of India and its associates accounted for 22.4 per cent. The shares of other domestic, foreign and regional rural banks in aggregate deposits were 19.9 per cent, 5.9 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively. — PTI

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  Coca-Cola in pact with UN arm
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
Coca-Cola as part of its corporate social responsibilty has partnered with UN-Habitat, a subsidiary organ of the United Nation, to provide clean drinking water and sanitation in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Nepal.

''This is for the first time that we are collaborating with UN-Habiatat in India. With an investment of $3 lakh and spanning three years, the project aims at drinking water conservation, sanitation and awareness creation,'' said Deepak Jolly, vice- president, public affairs and communication, Coca Cola, India.

The project, a 50:50 partnership between Coca-Cola and UN-Habitat, will provide clean drinking water to 150 schools in West Bengal and 10 schools in Madhya Pradesh.

The venture is likley to provide employment to over one lakh persons and benefit around 75,000 schoolchildren. The deal was signed at the 21st session of the governing council in Nairobi.

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IDBI ups home loan rates

Mumbai, April 18
The Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) today announced to raise their retail reference rate (RRR), the benchmark used by the bank for pricing of its floating rate of home loans, by 75 basis points with retrospective effect from April 10.

Accordingly, RRR has risen from 10.50 per cent per annum to 11.25 per cent, thereby pushing the floating interest rates of all existing home loan customers by 0.75 per cent, an official statement said.

The bank's floating rate home loans stand revised to 11-11.25 per cent per annum, depending on the category of the borrowers.

The fixed rate of interest on home loans for three years shall range from 13.5 per cent per annum to 14 per cent, while that for five years shall range from 13.75 per cent to 14.25 per cent per annum, IDBI clarified. — UNI

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CWC to set up logistics park at Mumbai port
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Redefining itself as a logistic company, the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) will be setting up a logistics park at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Mumbai. The company will also be upgrading its rail logistic services with the starting of a container train between Delhi (Lohni) and Mumbai (JNPT), and establishing rail site warehousing complexes.

The logistic park at JNPT will be the first-of-its-kind to be set up in any port across the country. It will offer integrated logistic services (segregation of goods, packaging, custom bonding et al), and will be spread over an area of 30 hectares. The park, to be set up at a cost of Rs 240 crore, will be inaugurated by union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on April 20.

Talking to TNS here today, chairman of CWC, S.K. Tuteja, said a sum of Rs 90 crore had already been invested for this project.“In the past three years, we have upgraded ourselves from just storing food grains to becoming the largest logistic company in India. This was the need of the hour, considering the rapid industrialisation, leading to growth in logistics sector. Presently, we have a container capacity of five million tonnes and within the next 10 years, we will increase this capacity to 10 million tonnes,” he said, while adding that CWC has a presence in all 12 major ports in the country.

MD of CWC, N.K. Choubey, informed TNS that they had recently started a container train from Delhi to Mumbai.

Choubey also said in order to consolidate its rail logistics, CWC has signed agreement with the Indian Railways to construct and operate rail site warehousing complexes at 22 places in the country. “One of these complexes has already been made operational at Bangalore, while three have been commissioned at Delhi, Bhopal and Hyderabad. The union cabinet has now approved that CWC be allowed to have a subsidiary company for managing these complexes,” he said.

The chairman pointed out that over the past three years the company was growing annually at a rate of 12-15 per cent. “In 2006-07, we have recorded a profit of Rs 140 crore against a turnover of Rs 650 crore. In the last financial year, our profit was Rs 105 crore against a turnover of Rs 550 crore,” he said. 

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Gold recovers due to firm global trend

New Delhi, April 18
Gold prices recovered on the bullion market today due to buying by stockists, triggered by firming international trend and closed higher by Rs 50 at Rs 9,520 per ten grams.

The precious metal prices traded near an 11-month high in Asia as the dollar fell close to a two-year low against the euro, boosting appeal of the metal as an alternative investment.

Gold in Asia rose $4.32 to $690.86 an ounce while silver gained 18 cents to $14.07 an ounce.

Standard gold and ornaments gained Rs 50 each at Rs 9,520 and Rs 9,370 per ten grams respectively. Sovereign was unchanged at Rs 7,850 per piece of eight gram.

Silver ready also rose by Rs 25 at Rs 19,750 per kilo while weekly-based delivery plunged by Rs 300 at Rs 19,720 per kilo on withdrawal of support from speculators. — PTI

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Vanaspati units seek duty cut on palm oil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
Indian vanaspati industry today urged the Centre to further reduce the custom duty on crude palm oil as the 10 per cent cut by the government was a piecemeal approach.

Executive director of Indian Vanaspati Producers’ Association, I R Mehta said reduction in duty was not significant enough to impact the imported and indigenous oil prices. Prices of CPO, which were between Rs.41,500 to Rs.42,700 per tonne earlier, are prevailing around the same level or somewhat higher after price reduction. Similarly, price of other indigenous oils have also not declined.

The main reason for the all-round increase in edible oil prices is the estimated lower oilseed production in the country by about one million tonnes and reduced availability in international markets.

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JVC tie-up

New Delhi, April 17
Victor Company of Japan (JVC), a leading global developer and manufacturer of sophisticated audio and video products, has signed an MoU with Delhi-based Impel Electronics for the distribution of its products in India. The Japanese major, which showcased its range of products in the capital, is eyeing to tap Rs 750 crore in-car entertainment market in India.— TNS

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BRIEFLY

TV Today stake
Mumbai, April 18
Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) today offered to raise stakes in news broadcaster TV Today Network Ltd to 35 per cent, triggering a 10 per cent jump in the television company’s share price at the BSE at Rs 154.15. After partly paring some gains, the stock was trading at 7.4 per cent up at Rs 150.50. RCL, which already owns 11.93 per cent stake in the Delhi-based broadcaster, would require a maximum of Rs 151.38 crore for acquiring this additional shareholding. — PTI

PNB scheme
New Delhi, April 18
Punjab National Bank today announced the launch of ‘floating rate fixed deposit scheme’, under which the interest rate on the fixed deposits will change automatically with revision in fixed deposit card rates. The changes in the rate of interest will be made applicable automatically without fixed deposit receipt, a bank statement said. — UNI

Aptech pact
New Delhi, April 18
Aptech Training Solutions today tied-up with IT major Infosys to impart training to the banking personnel of Finacle. Aptech will deploy expert trainers at client sites, who will provide software training to the staff. Finacle, the universal banking solution from Infosys, addresses the core banking, e-banking, treasury, wealth management and CRM requirements of retail, corporate and universal banks worldwide. — UNI

Dish TV
Mumbai, April 18
India's first direct-to-home satellite television service provider Dish TV India was today listed on the NSE and the premier BSE. For every 100 shares of Zee, shareholders were given 57.50 shares of Dish TV. — UNI

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