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Mallya picks up 26 pc stake in Air Deccan
Vijay MallyaTo launch open offer for another 20 per cent
Bangalore, May 31
Heightening pace of consolidation in Indian aviation space, Vijay Mallya’s UB Group today acquired 26 per cent stake in Deccan Aviation Ltd for Rs 550 crore and would launch an open offer for another 20 per cent.

Decision on Reliance put off
Govt approves 23 SEZs

New Delhi, May 31
The Board of Approval (BOA) on the special economic zones (SEZs), which met here today to consider 40 new proposals, gave formal approval to 23 SEZs and ‘in principle’ approval to six SEZs, including Ski Infrastructure Limited’s tourism-based SEZ in Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

23 FDI proposals cleared
New Delhi, May 31
The government today cleared 23 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals worth Rs 418.33 crore, including UBS India’s plans to acquire domestic NBFCs.

Imported liquor to be cheaper
New Delhi, May 31
Under pressure from the USA and the EU, which have dragged it to the WTO over high duties on wines and spirits, India has decided to scrap additional customs duty (ACD) of up to 150 per cent on these products to make tax structure compatible with its international commitments.

 

 

EARLIER STORIES

 
A model for Japanese electronics maker Sanyo Electric submerges into a tank the world's first waterproof digital camcorder, called the "Xacti", which is capable of recording in the water up to 1.5 metre deep, in Tokyo on Thursday.
A model for Japanese electronics maker Sanyo Electric submerges into a tank the world's first waterproof digital camcorder, called the "Xacti", which is capable of recording in the water up to 1.5 metre deep, in Tokyo on Thursday. Sanyo will put the product on the domestic market from June 15 at an expected price of $490. — AFP photo
An employee of Japan's mobile phone carrier Willcom shows off its new cell phones "WX320T Carrots" where users can browse websites, in Tokyo on Thursday. The company will put the new product on domestic market from July end.
An employee of Japan's mobile phone carrier Willcom shows off its new cell phones "WX320T Carrots" where users can browse websites, in Tokyo on Thursday. The company will put the new product on domestic market from July end.— AFP

NHB relaxes age bar for reverse mortgage loans
New Delhi, May 31
Housing finance regulator, National Housing Bank (NHB) today relaxed the age restriction for availing loan facility by senior citizens under the Reverse Mortgage Loan (RML) scheme.

WB lowdown
Negative policies may stunt growth

Washington, May 31
India attracted a major chunk of the record $40.1 billion capital that flowed into South Asia in 2006, but restrictive policies could stunt investment growth leading to slower economic expansion, the World Bank warned in a report.

Thales opens software centre in Chennai
Chennai, May 31

French software giant Thales today inaugurated its centre here today with an investment of one million euros.

SBI to spend Rs 300 cr for 3,000 ATMs
Mumbai, May 31
State Bank of India (SBI) and its associates will invest around Rs 300 crore to roll out 3,000 ATMs across the country within the year in order to provide better services to customers.

Reliance Money to set up 10,000 kiosks
Kolkata, May 31
Reliance Money, the financial trading platform promoted by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group's Reliance Capital, would increase the number of web-enabled trading kiosks to 10,000 by March 2008, a company official said.

Ginger to build 17 budget hotels
Mumbai, May 31
Indian Hotels Company Ltd’s (IHCL) Ginger Hotels will invest over Rs 204 crore to set up 17 budget hotels in tier-II cities in next 12 months.

Tata Tea to buy 11 pc in mineral water Co
Mumbai, May 31
Tata Tea Ltd will buy 11 per cent of an Indian mineral water maker, a television channel said on Thursday, almost a week after the company agreed to sell a 30 per cent stake in a US vitamin water maker for $1.2 billion.

Corporate Results
Tata Chemicals declares dividend
Mumbai, May 31
Tata Chemicals has posted net profit of Rs 94.44 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31 and its total income stood at Rs 814.68 crore. The board of directors recommended payment of dividend at Rs 8 per share aggregating to Rs 201.33 crore, including tax payable on dividend pay-out.

CPI (IW) up by 1 point
Shimla, May 31
The All-India Consumer Price Index Number for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW), on base 2001=100, increased by one point to 128 in April this fiscal. The index recorded an increase of seven points in Sholapur centre, five in Rangapara Tezpur centre, four in four centres, three in eight centres, two points in nine centres and one point in 27 centres. — UNI

Morgan Stanley to buy Investa Properties
Sydney, May 31
Morgan Stanley's Research real estate unit has agreed to buy Australia's Investa Properties for $3.9 billion, the nation's third-largest property trust takeover. Morgan Stanley offered A$3.08 for each Investa share, its second major acquisition in the past week. — Reuters

 

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Mallya picks up 26 pc stake in Air Deccan
To launch open offer for another 20 per cent

Bangalore, May 31
Heightening pace of consolidation in Indian aviation space, Vijay Mallya’s UB Group today acquired 26 per cent stake in Deccan Aviation Ltd for Rs 550 crore and would launch an open offer for another 20 per cent.

UB Holdings has paid an advance of Rs 150 crore and the remaining amount would be paid in the next four weeks, Air Deccan managing director G R Gopinath told reporters after the company’s board meeting here.

The transaction, which values Air Deccan at Rs 155 a share, would be through allotment of 96,77,419 fully paid-up equity shares to UB, he said.

UB Group, which owns premier carrier Kingfisher Airlines, would eventually control 46 per cent of Deccan Aviation that runs the low-cost carrier Air Deccan after the open offer.

This is the third M&A deal in the domestic aviation space, after Jet Airways-Air Sahara and merger of Air-India and Indian, this year.

Last year, Tata Group acquired under 10 per cent stake in another budget carrier SpiceJet.

The two together would have a fleet of 71 aircraft, 70 destinations and 33 per cent market share, said Gopinath, who would continue as executive chairman of the board, while Mallya would be the vice-chairman.

The promoters and investors would have equal number of directors, besides six independent directors.

Gopinath said a team would be appointed next week to work out operational synergies with UB Group.

The two airline companies would sign a separate shareholders agreement in the near future, Deccan Aviation said in a filing on the BSE.

The deal comes weeks after a public spat between Gopinath and Mallya, after the latter made public his intention to pick stake in the low-cost carrier.

Mallya had said consolidation was inevitable in the industry, while predicting a shakeout reminiscent to that of the 1990s when several private carriers folded-up. — PTI

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Decision on Reliance put off
Govt approves 23 SEZs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
The Board of Approval (BOA) on the special economic zones (SEZs), which met here today to consider 40 new proposals, gave formal approval to 23 SEZs and ‘in principle’ approval to six SEZs, including Ski Infrastructure Limited’s tourism-based SEZ in Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the BOA deferred a decision on Mukesh Ambani-promoted Navi Mumbai SEZ due to pending objections from the Revenue Department even as it cleared the Tata’s Gopalpur Multi-product SEZ in Orissa.

Emerging out of the meeting, commerce secretary G K Pillai, who is the BOA chairperson, said the government would seek comments from the promoters and the Revenue Department and the issue was expected to come up again at the board’s next meeting on June 22.

Other prominent approvals are IT/ITES SEZ by ETA Technopark Pvt Ltd in Tamil Nadu, IT/ITES SEZ by Genpact India in Andhra Pradesh, IT/ITES SEZ by Shivajimarg Properties in Delhi, Biotech SEZ by Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation in Vadodara, Gujarat, Gems and Jewellery SEZ by Shirpur Gold Refinery at Dhulia, Maharashtra and three SEZs for textiles, leather and engineering goods by UPSIDC at Kanpur.

Other pominent ‘in principle’ approvals granted are multi-product SEZ by SRM Infrastructure Pvt Limited in Alwar, Rajasthan; multi services SEZ by Society for Innovative Education and Development at Alwar, and a Carpet and Handicraft SEZ by UPSIDC in Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh.

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23 FDI proposals cleared
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
The government today cleared 23 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals worth Rs 418.33 crore, including UBS India’s plans to acquire domestic NBFCs.

Union finance minister P Chidambaram, following recommendation from Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in its meeting held on May 18, cleared these proposals.

The proposals relate to ministries/departments of agriculture and cooperation, commerce, food and public distribution, heavy industry, information and broadcasting, industrial policy and promotion, power, telecommunications and economic affairs.

The finance minister also approved the proposal of four foreign investors to acquire 16 per cent stake in the Bombay Stock Exchange at an investment of Rs 13 lakh.

The government has also given green signal to BT Telecom India’s investment of Rs 142.60 crore towards change in the status of operating company into operating-cum-holding company to make downstream investments.

SSIPL Retail has also got nod for investment of Rs 26.50 crore towards induction of additional foreign investment up to 20 per cent.

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Imported liquor to be cheaper

New Delhi, May 31
Under pressure from the USA and the EU, which have dragged it to the WTO over high duties on wines and spirits, India has decided to scrap additional customs duty (ACD) of up to 150 per cent on these products to make tax structure compatible with its international commitments.

“We are planning to scrap ACD by July and allow states to impose taxes equivalent to the levy on domestic wine and spirit makers,” a senior commerce ministry official said.

He said this would be done through an executive order and there was no need to bring a central legislation for allowing states to levy additional taxes.

The taxes, the states would impose over and above the basic customs duty, would be WTO compatible, and would result in foreign liquor costing much less. — PTI

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NHB relaxes age bar for reverse mortgage loans

New Delhi, May 31
Housing finance regulator, National Housing Bank (NHB) today relaxed the age restriction for availing loan facility by senior citizens under the Reverse Mortgage Loan (RML) scheme.

"The restriction on married couples being eligible as joint borrowers provided both are above the age of 60 years, has been relaxed so as to include those couples also wherein one of the borrowers is below the age of 60," NHB said.

NHB has modified its operational guidelines for RML after receiving feedback from stakeholders on the draft guidelines.

According to the final norms, borrowers will not be required to pay any penalty toward prepayment of loans.

In order to balance risk perception and other requirements of lenders, the modified norms stipulate that RMLs will be restricted to self-acquired and self-occupied residential properties, owned by senior citizens, having a residual life of at least 20 years.

NHB also advised lending institutions to remain selective in giving loans against property and frame their internal policy guidelines for eligibility and end-use norms.

However, terms and conditions must be fully disclosed to the potential borrowers upfront, an NHB press release said.

The reverse mortgage guidelines allow senior citizens to have a steady stream of income by mortgaging self-occupied property to banks or other eligible financial institutions.

Punjab National Bank has already launched the reverse mortgage scheme after obtaining approval of NHB. — PTI

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WB lowdown
Negative policies may stunt growth

Washington, May 31
India attracted a major chunk of the record $40.1 billion capital that flowed into South Asia in 2006, but restrictive policies could stunt investment growth leading to slower economic expansion, the World Bank warned in a report.

"Much of the FDI inflows into India were concentrated in the services sector, telecommunications in particular, in response to liberalisation policies...such as easing ownership restrictions," the bank said in its Global Development Finance Report of 2007.

"...but its (India's) restrictive policy conditions are expected to lead to deceleration in investment growth and weaker private consumption and government spending, contributing to a slowdown in GDP growth to 7.8 per cent and 7.5 per cent in 2008 and 2009, respectively," it said.

India's GDP grew by 9.2 per cent in 2006-07, although signs of slowing appeared at the end of the fiscal. Total FDI inflows last fiscal (April'06-March'07) was $15.7 billion.

The bank said net capital inflows to South Asia increased to $40.1 billion in calendar year 2006, up from $28.3 billion in 2005 with strong capital inflows largely due to a $12 billion expansion in net private debt flows.

Net equity inflows to the region, however, increased only slightly as a $3 billion increase in FDI was partly offset by a decline in portfolio equity flows, the report said. The bank also said that FDI outflows from India was on the rise due to increasing cross-border M&A purchases by Indian companies, mainly in high-income economies.

Since 2004, FDI flows from India to the UK exceeded flows from the UK to India, said the report, which factored in Indian multinational Tata's over $12 billion acquisition of Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus early this year.

The World Bank said since 2003 the period for which imports could be covered by foreign reserves has declined by about four months in both India and Pakistan.

India's foreign reserves in April touched over $200 billion which is enough to meet import bill for over a year.

While reserves in India remain significantly above the level of three months worth of imports, they are much closer to that level in Pakistan and below it in both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, suggesting that each country would be vulnerable to a significant terms-of-trade shock, such as another hike in oil prices.

The report also noted that the continued easing of political tensions between the governments of India and Pakistan bodes well for continued progress toward improved relations.

It said high growth rates posted in recent years have helped South Asia make significant progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The GDP in South Asia expanded by a robust 8.6 per cent in 2006.

Most notably, the percentage of people living on less than a dollar a day declined to just over 30 per cent in 2003 from 40 per cent in 1990 and is now projected to be about 13 per cent in 2015. — PTI

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Thales opens software centre in Chennai
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, May 31
French software giant Thales today inaugurated its centre here today with an investment of one million euros.

The Euro 10.3 billion company’s centre here will be an in-house software development centre that will provide its services to Thales in 50 countries worldwide.

Thales group senior vice president (operations) Reynald Seznec said: “Thales further develops its presence in India with this centre, which will rely on its Indian team’s software programming skills to produce technologically advanced products for Thales businesses worldwide, supporting its growth as a leader in mission-critical information systems for aerospace, defence and security markets.”

The Thales group is a long term partner of the Indian armed forces. Its equipment and systems have been selected for various types of platforms in service with the army, air force and navy such as air defence radars, avionics for military and civil aircraft, optronics and sonars.

The company’s Indian wing generated sales of 200 million euros annually and plans to treble its investments in India.

With its expansion plans, Thales will employ 300 software engineers here by the end of next year and employ 1,000 persons by 2010.

Corporate director of Thales in India Francois Dupont said: “India will be the next multi-domestic country considering its vast software expertise. Chennai was chosen over other Indian cities because it is one of the software-centric cities in India producing over 50,000 engineering graduates per year and offering a lower attrition rat than other locations.”

The software centre here currently employs 100 engineers and in the long term is set to become an R&D centre in its own right.

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SBI to spend Rs 300 cr for 3,000 ATMs

Mumbai, May 31
State Bank of India (SBI) and its associates will invest around Rs 300 crore to roll out 3,000 ATMs across the country within the year in order to provide better services to customers.

“We have taken initiatives to set up 3,000 ATMs across the country. These will come up almost evenly on off-site and on-site locations,” SBI general manager (ATM and internet banking) Ravi Kaul told reporters here today.

The country’s largest commercial lender and its seven associate banks currently have around 6,800 ATMs.

“Setting up an ATM will cost around Rs 10 lakh, excluding the cost of land, which is generally taken on lease. This comes to around Rs 300 crore,” he said.

Kaul said almost 40 per cent of the group’s existing ATMs are located in rural and semi-urban areas and the present ratio would continue post-expansions. — PTI

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Reliance Money to set up 10,000 kiosks

Kolkata, May 31
Reliance Money, the financial trading platform promoted by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group's Reliance Capital, would increase the number of web-enabled trading kiosks to 10,000 by March 2008, a company official said.

Reliance Money CEO Sudip Bandopadhyay today said the company presently had 2,500 trading kiosks across the country. By March 2009, the number of suck kiosks would be increased to 25,000, he said.

Reliance Money also tied up with retail coffee chain Barista to set up trading kiosks at its 100 strategically located outlets across the country.

He said the trading platform provided by Reliance Money would help the investors in carrying out any kind of financial transaction (except banking), which included stock and commodity trading.

The platform also provides a single window to deal in insurance, mutual fund, gold coins purchase and other products. Bandopadhyay said the company was also in the process of starting buy back of gold coins to offer liquidity.

Emerging as one of the leading brokerage houses in the country, daily turnover in stock trading through the Reliance Money platform had already touched Rs 600 crore. — PTI

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Ginger to build 17 budget hotels

Mumbai, May 31
Indian Hotels Company Ltd’s (IHCL) Ginger Hotels will invest over Rs 204 crore to set up 17 budget hotels in tier-II cities in next 12 months.

“In next 12 months, the total number of Ginger hotels will go up to 25 from the current eight. Each 100-room Ginger hotel on an average will be set up at a cost of Rs 11to 12 crore, excluding the land cost, which varies from city to city,” Prabhat Pani, CEO, Roots Corporation, which operates the Ginger gen-next ‘smart basics’ hotels chain, said.

Roots Corporation is a 100 per cent subsidiary of IHCL, which also promotes the Taj Group of hotels.

The hotels would come up on less than one acre land each in Ludhiana, Pantnagar, Agartala, Pondicherry, Guwahati and Baroda, Pani said.

The eight Ginger hotels are in Nasik, Pune, Bangalore, Mysore, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneshwar, Haridwar and Durgapur in West Bengal. — PTI

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Tata Tea to buy 11 pc in mineral water Co

Mumbai, May 31
Tata Tea Ltd will buy 11 per cent of an Indian mineral water maker, a television channel said on Thursday, almost a week after the company agreed to sell a 30 per cent stake in a US vitamin water maker for $1.2 billion.

CNBC TV18 said the founders of Mount Everest Mineral Water Ltd., which makes Himalayan brand of bottled water, would make a preferential allotment to Tata Tea.

Tata Tea will also make an open offer for more shares in Mount Everest to take its holding to 42 per cent, the TV channel said, adding Tata Tea's board was expected to approve the deal at a board meeting tomorrow. — Reuters

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Corporate Results
Tata Chemicals declares dividend

Mumbai, May 31
Tata Chemicals has posted net profit of Rs 94.44 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31 and its total income stood at Rs 814.68 crore. The board of directors recommended payment of dividend at Rs 8 per share aggregating to Rs 201.33 crore, including tax payable on dividend pay-out.

Birla Corp

Birla Corporation has posted 50.71 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 101.19 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31 and the total income (net of excise) grew 14.86 per cent to Rs 455.91 crore for the quarter, Birla Corporation informed the BSE. The board of directors today declared a 35 per cent dividend of Rs 3.5 on 7.7 crore equity shares of Rs 10 each.

Bajaj Electricals

Bajaj Electricals has reported a 39 per cent increase in its net profit for the quarter ended March 31 at Rs 18.91 crore, Bajaj Electricals said in a statement. It also declared a final dividend of 80 per cent for the fiscal year ended March 31.

NTPC net up

NTPC has posted 10.75 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 1,734.7 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31 and the total income grew by 14.38 per cent to Rs 9,546.7 crore, NTPC said in a communique to the BSE. The board of directors today declared a final dividend of 8 per cent of the paid-up equity share capital in addition to the interim dividend of 24 per cent announced in February.

Crompton Greaves

Crompton Greaves has posted a net profit after tax of Rs 69.92 crore for the quarter ended March 31 and the total income (net of excise) was Rs 1003.27 crore, Crompton Greaves informed the BSE. — Agencies

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BRIEFLY

BHEL tie-up
New Delhi, May 31
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI), under which the Japanese firm will license technologies relating to pumps used in thermal power plants. "MHI is the first Japanese company to license pump technology to a power plant maker in India. Delivery of the first pump unit produced under the agreement is expected in late 2009," a Mitsubishi statement said today. — PTI

Jet Airways
Toronto, May 31
Jet Airways will begin flights from Toronto to Delhi in August on a route that Air Canada has discontinued from this month. Jet Airways (India) Ltd will begin five flights a week from Toronto through Brussels, destined for New Delhi beginning August 23, a senior general manager for the airline, Abraham Joseph said. — PTI

BNP Paribas
Mumbai, May 31
BNP Paribas Lease Group today announced Rs 775 crore investment in a 50:50 joint venture (JV) company with SREI Infrastructure Finance for equipment finance in the country. Infrastructure equipment business and insurance broking would be carved out and would be managed by the JV company, vice-chairman and managing director Hemant Kanoria said. — PTI

Ape TRUK
Chennai, May 31
Piaggio Vehicles Private Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Piaggio and C Spa of Italy, today rolled out its ‘Ape TRUK’ in the sub one-tonne four wheeler category. The vehicle is priced between Rs 2.15 lakh and Rs 2.2 lakh with Italian styling and contemporary design featured car-like interiors, excellent stability, highest payload and outstanding fuel efficiency. — TNS

Sona Okegawa
New Delhi, May 31
Sona Okegawa Precisions Forgings Ltd today said it will invest Rs 100 crore in next one year for capacity expansion and was looking at mergers and acquisitions to become a top three global company by 2011-12. The company, a joint venture of Sona group and Japan’s Mitsubishi Materials Corp, also announced setting up of a tool and die plant in Haryana at an investment of Rs 20 crore and a manufacturing plant near Pune with an investment of Rs 80 crore. — PTI

Minda tie-up
New Delhi, May 31
Automotive component manufacturer A K Minda Group today announced a 50:50 joint venture agreement with France's Valeo Group to manufacture auto security products as it anticipates the business to contribute Rs 300 crore to its top-line by 2010. The joint venture company -- Minda Valeo Security Systems -- would operate out of A K Minda group's manufacturing facility in Pune and would initially invest 5.7 million Euros (nearly Rs 31.35 crore). — PTI

PTC agreement
New Delhi, May 31
PTC India has entered into an agreement with India Infrastructure Finance Company (IIFC) to accelerate the development of power projects in the country to bridge the demand supply gap in power sector. As per the MoU, IIFC will undertake the due diligence process and appraisal for financing of power projects where PTC has signed power purchage agreement with project developers, a company statement said today. — TNS

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