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Govt unveils policy for petrochemical hubs
New Delhi, May 8
The government today unveiled an integrated petroleum, chemicals and petrochemical investment regions (PCPIRs) policy aimed at boosting the manufacturing sector, increasing exports and making the sector globally competitive.

WB attracts Rs 74,000-cr investment in 5 months
Kolkata, May 8
West Bengal has attracted investments worth Rs 74,000 crore in the first five months of this year as against Rs 32,000 crore during the same period in 2006, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today.

Harley still keen on India
New Delhi, May 8
American bike maker Harley Davidson, which last week criticised “daunting trade barriers” imposed by India, today said it was still keen on entering the country but wanted some tax concessions.

Vikas Goel eSys to log in Rs 1,000 cr
Chandigarh, May 8
The $ 2-billion multinational IT company, eSys Technologies will be expanding its operations in India. Over the next three years, the company proposes to invest Rs 1,000 crore in its India operations.



EARLIER STORIES

 
IBM chief meets Dayanidhi Maran
New Delhi, May 8
US-based technology giant, IBM Corp's CEO and chairman Samuel J Palmisano today called on communications and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran to discuss company's plans in India.


                                                                                                         Samuel J. Palmisano
Samuel J. Palmisano

Thomson Corp offers $17.5 b for Reuters
London, May 8
Canada's Thomson Corporation has announced a preliminary takeover offer worth over £8.7 billion ($17.5 billion) in cash and stock for Reuters Group Plc, one of the world's largest leading publicly traded financial data provider.

Punjab seeks package for co-ops
New Delhi, May 8
Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh today met finance minister P Chidambaram and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to apprise them of the problems faced by the farmers of the state.

Ranbaxy acquires Be-Tabs
New Delhi, May 8
Ranbaxy Laboratories has acquired South African Be-Tabs Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd for $70 million, making it the fifth largest generic pharmaceutical company in the country.


LG launches range of audio systems
Bangalore, May 8
Targeting a turnover of Rs 450 crore from the digital audio-video products business by the year-end, consumer electronics maker LG India today ventured into MP3 player and car audio systems segment.







A model walks on the ramp with a newly launched MP3 player in Bangalore on Tuesday. — AFP
A model walks on the ramp with a newly launched MP3 player in Bangalore.

HAL to develop aircraft engine in JV
New Delhi, May 8
With Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) efforts to build a jet engine not producing results even after 20 years, the government has cleared proposals to allow the blue chip state-run undertaking to join hands with international design houses for the venture.


In this file photo, Sotheby's head of Australian paintings Georgina Pemberton points out a feature on the Brett Whiteley's painting 'Opera House' in Sydney.
In this file photo, Sotheby's head of Australian paintings Georgina Pemberton points out a feature on the Brett Whiteley's painting 'Opera House' in Sydney. The 'Opera House', which took Whiteley more than 10 years to finish, set a record on Tuesday to sell at an auction for $2.88 million. — AFP

IFC to extend loan of $50 m to OCL
New Delhi, May 8
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, will extend a loan of $50 million to Orissa Cement Ltd (OCL) to expand its production to remain competitive and enhance employment opportunity in the region.

FM assures steps to tame inflation
New Delhi, May 8

Finance minister P Chidambaram today said the government would take every measure to address the high inflation rate but the long-term remedy was to correct the demand-supply mismatch in foodgrains.

Industry gives thumbs down to manufacturing projections
New Delhi, May 8
India Inc is not very optimistic about the growth of manufacturing sector, despite overall growth of economy at 9 per cent and expected sustained buoyancy in growth, according to a perception analysis conducted by the PHDCCI.

 

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Govt unveils policy for petrochemical hubs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
The government today unveiled an integrated petroleum, chemicals and petrochemical investment regions (PCPIRs) policy aimed at boosting the manufacturing sector, increasing exports and making the sector globally competitive.

Each project is expected to attract $8.5 billion in investment and first such region is expected to come up later this year.

Launching the PCPIR Policy, minister for chemicals, fertilisers and steel, Ramvilas Paswan said the new initiative was aimed at projects in oil refining, fertilisers, chemicals, crackers and pharmaceuticals as also infrastructure for the same.

"The policy framework has been so designed as to promote investment in this sector and make the country an important hub for both domestic and international markets," he said.

“Each of these PCPIRs is expected to attract Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 crore,” he said, adding that each project would cover an area of around 250 sq km with a minimum processing area of 100 sq km.

The processing area will have manufacturing facilities for domestic and export led production in petroleum, chemicals & petrochemicals, along with the associated services and infrastructure.

The minister said the role of state governments would be in providing the physical infrastructure and utilities linkages under its jurisdiction. While doing so, the state governments should ensure that the rehabilitation policy for the families likely to be displaced should be humane, he said.

Paswan said “it will be the government’s effort to ensure that the land owner gets his due, while at the same time the process of land transfer, being a complex issue, is between the private developer and the land - owner directly, as far as possible.”

Paswan said the first PCPIR will come up by the year-end.

The PCPIRs may include one or more special economic zones, industrial parks, free trade and warehousing zones, export-oriented units or growth centres duly notified under the relevant central or state legislation policy. Each PCPIR will have a refinery/petrochemical feedstock company as an anchor tenant.

The centre will ensure the availability of external physical infrastructure including rail, national highways, ports, airports and telecommunication facilities in a time-bound manner.

This infrastructure will be created/upgraded through public-private partnerships to the extent possible. The state governments will be responsible for providing infrastructure facilities like power, water, sewerage and health, safety and environmental concerns.

The Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals will be the nodal department at the centre. A high-powered committee will be constituted by the centre to scrutinise applications for setting up the PCPIR and then monitor and expedite the implementation.

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WB attracts Rs 74,000-cr investment in 5 months

Kolkata, May 8
West Bengal has attracted investments worth Rs 74,000 crore in the first five months of this year as against Rs 32,000 crore during the same period in 2006, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today.

"It is a sharp jump from average investment of Rs 6,000 -7,000 crore during the past few years," Bhattacharjee said inaugurating Nippon Power Ltd's mini hydel power project in Darjeeling.

He encouraged renewable energy projects in view of the global warming threats saying it was high time for shifting from traditional to renewable energy.

Bhattacharjee said there was a potential to generate 200 MW of hydel power in Darjeeling. At present, seven private companies were involved in new renewable energy projects in the state totalling 40 MW, which would entail a total investment of Rs 300 crore. The country's first tidal power project is on the anvil in the Sunderbans, Bhattacharjee said.

Bhattacharjee said the state would add 2,270 MW of power very shortly. While, 2,800 MW of power generation was being done by the state-owned power utilities, 5,000 MW would be added by private and central PSUs in the 11th Plan period. — PTI

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Harley still keen on India

New Delhi, May 8
American bike maker Harley Davidson, which last week criticised “daunting trade barriers” imposed by India, today said it was still keen on entering the country but wanted some tax concessions.

“We remain very much interested in entering India and have not scrapped our plans,” Harley Davidson Motor Co vice-president (government affairs) Tim Hoelter told reporters here.

However, 60 per cent custom duty on heavyweight motor cycles coupled with 30 per cent taxes would double the price of its product in the Indian market, he said.

He welcomed the government’s decision to harmonise technical standards for high-powered bikes with global norms. — PTI

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eSys to log in Rs 1,000 cr
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The $ 2-billion multinational IT company, eSys Technologies will be expanding its operations in India. Over the next three years, the company proposes to invest Rs 1,000 crore in its India operations.

This was stated by Vikas Goel, chairman and group managing director of eSys Technologies, during an interaction with The Tribune here today. He said they would set up a manufacturing facility for computers at Nalagarh at an estimated cost of Rs 250 crore, with a capacity to manufacture 1.2 million PCs a year.

“We are also setting up our global back office operations at the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP), where we will be recruiting 2,000 persons initially. The number of recruitments will go up to 5,000 by 2010, thus making us the second largest employer in RGCTP after Infosys. Other than this, we will be investing about Rs 700 crore in strengthening our back-end operations and distribution network across the country,” he said.

Vikas hails from Ludhiana and had founded the company in 2000, at the time of dotcom meltdown. In six years, he has managed to spread his business to 117 wholly owned operations in 38 countries. With global leadership position in desktop hard disk drive distribution and other technology products, eSys has successfully diversified into PC manufacturing and business process and IT services. eSys has state-of-the- art, automated PC manufacturing facilities in Singapore, Los Angeles, Dubai and New Delhi.

The chairman of the company, who has received several awards for entrepreneurship, has pioneered unique concept of TBO (total business off shoring/ outsourcing) in which whole businesses in multiple locations are run from low-cost, high-skilled countries. “eSys will be using its nerve centre in India to carry out this concept of lower inventory costs, by providing global logistics, transactional services, sales/ service support, reverse logistics and ERP. With this concept, the cost of selling, general and administrative expenses is reduced from 15 per cent to 4 per cent,” he said.

Goel also informed TNS that after having driven computerisation projects across the world, eSys was now looking at similar projects in India. “We have already signed an agreement with the Bihar government for computerisation of 2,500 schools. Each school will be provided with 10 PCs and a server, for computer education,” he said.

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IBM chief meets Dayanidhi Maran

New Delhi, May 8
US-based technology giant, IBM Corp's CEO and chairman Samuel J Palmisano today called on communications and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran to discuss company's plans in India.

According to official sources, during the meeting Maran invited IBM to take part in India's national e-governance initiative besides discussing IBM's India plans.

Elaborating on Palmisano's sixth visit to India, IBM Asia- Pacific director (external communications) Amanda Garland said, "India is an important country for IBM. He (Palmisano) met some of company's existing clients during the visit."

On the reported talks for providing technology support to Bharti-Walmart proposed retail venture, Garland said, "I am not aware of it." She also denied any meeting of the company's CEO with Reliance officials. According to reports, Reliance Communications is in talks with IBM for outsourcing its IT functions.

IBM had in June 2006 announced an investment of $6 billion in India over the next three years to set up research facilities and expand its centres here.

It had recently signed a 10-year contract worth $600-800 million with mobile operator Idea Cellular to manage its IT infrastructure and with real estate major DLF.

It already has an IT outsourcing agreement with Bharti Televentures. The US giant employs over 50,000 people in India, its largest employee base outside the US. — PTI

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Thomson Corp offers $17.5 b for Reuters

London, May 8
Canada's Thomson Corporation has announced a preliminary takeover offer worth over £8.7 billion ($17.5 billion) in cash and stock for Reuters Group Plc, one of the world's largest leading publicly traded financial data provider.

In less than a week after Reuters first disclosed an unsolicited takeover approach from an unidentified suitor, the two companies said in a joint statement that they were in talks for combining their businesses to create a "global leader in business-to-business information markets." The announcement came late in the night yesterday within hours of Thomson confirming that it has made a preliminary approach to Reuters.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Reuters' shareholders would get 352.5 pence and 0.16 Thomson stock per share. Based on Thomson's yesterday closing price, the offer values Reuters at 697 pence a share, representing nearly 13 per cent premium over the London-listed Reuters' last closing price.

Thomson's bid for Reuters comes on the heels of media baron Rupert Murdoch making a $5 billion hostile bid for US-based media giant Dow Jones group, which also owns news brands like The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires.

The two companies said that a potential deal would result in annual synergies worth over $500 million within three years.

The enlarged group would be called Thomson-Reuters, while the combination of Reuters' financial and media businesses and Thomson Financial unit would be named as Reuters.

In addition to the cash and stock offer, Reuters said it would also declare a dividend of 12 pence a share with five pence as an interim dividend and seven pence as a final dividend if the deal closes before the year end. — PTI

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Punjab seeks package for co-ops
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh today met finance minister P Chidambaram and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to apprise them of the problems faced by the farmers of the state.

Kanwaljit Singh talked about the problems faced by credit cooperatives relating to release of re-finance by the Nabard for short term and long terms loans. He sought an increase in short term refinance from 40 per cent to 70 per cent, while emphasising the need to maintain low rate of interest on refinance on long term operation funds provided by the Nabard.

Referring to the issue of levy of income-tax on cooperative banks, Singh said it would deprive the credit cooperatives of a sizeable amount of funds, which could otherwise be used for the welfare of farmers.

Kanwaljit also sought a Rs 544.15 crores package for credit cooperatives in the state, which had initiated measures for reducing loan burden on the farmers.

According to a state government spokesman, Chidambaram has assured to strengthen financial resources of the Nabard and permission has been given for raising tax free bonds. He said interest subsidy will be released for providing crop loan at seven per cent and also promised to look into the possibility of using collected tax for the benefit of the cooperatives.

Kanwaljit also met union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and informed him about the problems faced by cooperative sugar mills in the state, six of which had been closed. He urged Pawar to revise prices of levy sugar , which was far less than the cost of production.

Singh called for an incentive of Rs 20 per quintal to sugarcane farmers to boost diversification and also highlighted the problems being faced by the mills in getting financial assistance.

Pawar promised assistance for revival of cooperative sugar mills in the state. The two ministers also discussed production of ethanol by these mills.

The spokesman said Pawar would be chief guest at the national conference of cooperation ministers, to be organised by Punjab cooperatives in Chandigarh in July.

Kanwaljit informed the union ministers about various relief measures taken by the credit cooperatives in the state for the benefit of indebted farmers. Flow of agriculture credit to the farmers has been enhanced and rate of interest on agricultural loans has been reduced. 

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Ranbaxy acquires Be-Tabs

New Delhi, May 8
Ranbaxy Laboratories has acquired South African Be-Tabs Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd for $70 million, making it the fifth largest generic pharmaceutical company in the country.

“The acquisition of Be-Tabs will ensure that Ranbaxy develops deeper roots in South Africa with a strong local flavour,” company’s global pharmaceutical division president Peter Burema said.

Ranbaxy (South Africa) chief executive officer Desmond Brothers said, “The company will further invest in the local economy to provide quality medicine at an affordable price to the South African market.”

Be-Tabs will remain an independent trading entity and will form one of the three companies within the Ranbaxy SA group - the other two being Sonke Pharmaceuticals and Ranbaxy (South Africa), company said in a statement. — UNI

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LG launches range of audio systems

Bangalore, May 8
Targeting a turnover of Rs 450 crore from the digital audio-video products business by the year-end, consumer electronics maker LG India today ventured into MP3 player and car audio systems segment.

"We are already the top brand in video segment and are aiming to achieve the numero-uno status in digital audio segment by the end of 2007," company managing director M B Shin told reporters here.

The Indian unit of the South Korean giant launched "touche" range of high-end home theatres, lifestyle audio systems, MP3 players and high definition DVDs and dual format high definition disc players in India.

The newly launched MP3 and MP4 players have been priced in the range of Rs 3,000 to Rs 12,000 while the car audios are available for a cost starting from Rs 5,000 up to Rs 60,000.

The dual format high definition disc player, "Super Multi Blue" would be the first in the market to play both generation disc formats, meeting the challenge of the current format war, Shin said. — PTI

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HAL to develop aircraft engine in JV

New Delhi, May 8
With Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) efforts to build a jet engine not producing results even after 20 years, the government has cleared proposals to allow the blue chip state-run undertaking to join hands with international design houses for the venture.

Under the new proposals, the government will allow HAL to become a co-development partner with established aircraft engine developers to give initial impetus to the development of aero-engines in India.

The step, defence ministry officials said, was mooted as there is an urgent need to bridge the extensive gap between India and advanced countries in the field of aircraft engine development.

HAL will become the second major official agency to try to develop an indigenous aero-engine, they said.

The DRDO’s Bangalore-based Gas Turbine Research Establishment is working to produce Kaveri engine to power the indigenous light combat aircraft . — PTI

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IFC to extend loan of $50 m to OCL
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, will extend a loan of $50 million to Orissa Cement Ltd (OCL) to expand its production to remain competitive and enhance employment opportunity in the region.

The IFC finance will help OCL build and operate a new kiln line of 1.3 million tonnes per year at the company’s existing cement plant at Rajgangpur, district Sundergarh of Orissa. It will also help the company set up a cement grinding unit of 9 lakh tonnes per year at Kapilas, Cuttack, a company press note said here.

Sujoy Bose, regional manager for IFC South Asia, said in addition to providing long-term funds, IFC will advise the company on developing and implementing an integrated community development plan and on adoption of higher environmental, health, and safety standards.

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FM assures steps to tame inflation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
Finance minister P Chidambaram today said the government would take every measure to address the high inflation rate but the long-term remedy was to correct the demand-supply mismatch in foodgrains.

Replying to supplementaries during question hour in the Rajya Sabha, he said, "I am confident that RBI's monetary steps and government's fiscal measures will moderate inflation".

The minister pointed out that the current high rate of inflation had been triggered by hardening of commodity prices, particularly of metals and crude oil, supply-demand mismatch — first in sugar, then in wheat and now in pulses, increase in money supply due to capital inflow and increase in demand as a result of rise in public expenditure.

The long-term solution to bring down inflation is to correct the supply-demand mismatch created mainly due to stagnation in production of wheat, paddy and pulses, he said.

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Industry gives thumbs down to manufacturing projections
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
India Inc is not very optimistic about the growth of manufacturing sector, despite overall growth of economy at 9 per cent and expected sustained buoyancy in growth, according to a perception analysis conducted by the PHDCCI.

The overriding reason for the not so upbeat mood of the sector stems from steady erosion of share of manufacturing, key driver of the industry segment, to India’s real GDP at factor cost.

The share of industry to the real GDP at factor cost was 22 per cent in 2001-02, but dropped to 19.6 per cent in 2006-07. Share of manufacturing has also gone down from 17.2 per cent to 15.2 per cent.

To ensure sustainable economic growth and employment creation in India, the manufacturing sector has to contribute more significantly. Majority of respondents are of the view that focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is important to drive growth of the industry and to put it in a sustained growth path of over 12 per cent.

Technological obsolescence, liquidity crunch and high rate of interest are stumbling blocks in the growth of the SME sector, which forms the backbone of the Indian manufacturing sector.

Huge cost involved in modernisation, expansion and diversification has adversely affected competitiveness of the Indian manufacturing sector in general and SME sector in particular.

The analysis also highlights need for capacity building of SMEs in terms of knowledge about global product and quality standards, technical standards, WTO, and intellectual property rights.

SMEs also need exposure to e-business environment and adopt IT tools more comprehensively.

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BRIEFLY

Infosys plan
Bangalore, May 8
Infosys is boosting its investments in training by more than two-and-half-times to Rs 1,600 crore besides adding to the seating capacity, as scramble for talent in the industry gains further momentum. The computer services major had the largest hiring of 30,946 employees in 2006-07. "We aim at hiring 24,500 for this year (gross number without attrition)," said the Bangalore-based firm's head for HRD, training and education, T.V. Mohandas Pai. — PTI

Raymond stores
Mumbai, May 8
Textile retailer, Raymond Ltd plans to increase its exclusive outlets to 1,000 stores across the country in the next three years, according to a statement put out by the company's CMD Gautam Hari Singhania. At present, Raymond has 350 outlets across the country. Apart from a new unit in Kolhapur, the company has set up modern, integrated worsted suitings unit at Vapi in Gujarat at an investment of Rs 320 crore. — TNS

Larsen & Toubro
Mumbai, May 8
Larsen & Toubro Ltd has secured an order amounting to Rs 215 crore ($51.7 million) from the Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority for supply and installation of 33 KV power and fibre optic cables for interconnections between various substations in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi. — UNI

Nilkamal
Mumbai, May 8
Moulded furniture major Nilkamal will set up a new manufacturing unit at Jammu shortly, as part of its Rs 150 crore expansion plan in the next three years. The company has another manufacturing unit in Jammu under its joint venture company called Nilkamal-Bito Industries with a 50:50 joint venture with German material handling firm Bito Lagertechnik. — PTI

AIG Fund
Ahmedabad, May 8
US-based financial services major AIG Global Investment Group (AIGGIG) has launched its maiden “AIG India Equity Fund” scheme from May 3 to May 31. It is an open- ended diversified equity fund with no biases, AIGGIG Asia head Ravi Mehrotra said in a press conference here today. — UNI

Tata Tea
Mumbai, May 8
Tata Tea Ltd today joined hands with China-based Zhejiang Tea Import and Export Company to float a joint venture in China. The agreement involves setting up a company at the economic development zone of Anji County in Zhejiang, China for the manufacture and marketing of tea extracts. The project will come up at an initial investment of $16 million. Tata Tea will hold 70 per cent of the registered capital in the venture. — UNI

Murugappa Group
Chennai, May 8
Murugappa Group of companies, with interest in sugar, abrasives, ceramics, fertilisers and sanitary-wares, today announced it would be investing Rs 1,000 crore in its business arms during the current fiscal. These investments would include an exclusive sugar factory for exports in a special economic zone to be set up by the group at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, the group’s vice-president A Vellayan told reporters here. The new tubes factory in Sushou, China, would commence production very soon, while another unit at Jingri in China is expected to be operational in the third quarter. — PTI

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