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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

3G policy by end of this month: DoT
New Delhi, June 6
The government would come out with 3G policy, which would enable faster data transfer, by the end of this month, said a senior government official. No decision had been taken on allowing foreign players to bid for the 3G space, D.S. Mathur, secretary, Department of Telecommunications, told reporters on the sidelines of an annual telecom seminar organised by CII.

Curbing unsolicited calls
DoT issues norms for telemarketers’ registration
New Delhi, June 6
The government today announced guidelines for registration of telemarketers, which will enable curbing of unsolicited commercial calls in the country by putting in place a mechanism for reducing the unsolicited commercial communication.

Airtel to bring instant messaging service soon
New Delhi, June 6
How about chatting online while on the move with your friends in another corner of the country or even across the globe. Well, that is possible in desktop with messengers. But, the next big thing is that such chatting is now possible from your mobile with instant messaging.

Reliance bonanza for HP subscribers
Shimla, June 6
Reliance Communications today announced GSM double bonanza offer for its subscribers in Himachal Pradesh. Under the scheme, lifetime validity recharge will be available for just Rs 222 and GSM handset package with pre-paid connection and lifetime validity will cost Rs 1,234.





EARLIER STORIES

 
Managing director of Sony India Masaru Tamagawa (centre) along with models display the new high definition digital handycams and cyber-shot cameras at their launch in Mumbai
Managing director of Sony India Masaru Tamagawa (centre) along with models display the new high definition digital handycams and cyber-shot cameras at their launch in Mumbai on Wednesday. — PTI

Taiwan's leading flat panel maker AU Optronics Corp unveils a 65-inch TFT-LCD (thin-film-transistor liquid crystal display) television, in Taipei
Taiwan's leading flat panel maker AU Optronics Corp unveils a 65-inch TFT-LCD (thin-film-transistor liquid crystal display) television, in Taipei on Wednesday. It is the second company in the world to have put in the market a TV of the same size. — AFP

HP to have 30 pc stake in Luri project
Shimla, June 6
The Himachal government will soon sing an agreement with the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam for the execution of the 775 MW-Luri project. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh told media persons here today that the centre had agreed to raise equity share in the project to 30 per cent on the pattern of the Rampur project.

Govt committed to economic reforms, says Ashwani Kumar
Chandigarh, June 6
Union minister of state for industry Ashwani Kumar met leading bankers and private equity fund managers at an interactive breakfast session in New York yesterday. Earlier, the minister released the India Factor Report prepared by Societe Generale Bank.

HFC earns profit, NPA down by 11 pc
Chandigarh, June 6
Building a standard portfolio after risk mapping, debt swapping and doing away with the lease financing and merchant banking have helped Haryana Financial Corporation earn a net profit of Rs 6.37 crore and for the first time, in a decade, helped bring down the NPA level by 11 per cent.

B.M.Singh
B.M.Singh, an IRS officer and alumnus of Government College, Chandigarh, has taken over as chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes, New Delhi.

Jet unveils overseas expansion plans
Vancouver, June 6
Unveiling its plans for the newly created hub at Brussels, Jet Airways today said it would operate five flights a day from India to the Belgian capital and provide seamless connections for onward journey to the USA and Canada.

UB makes offer for another 20 pc in Air Deccan
New Delhi, June 6
Vijay Mallya-led UB Group, which has acquired 26 per cent in Deccan Aviation Ltd, today made an open offer to shareholders of the company to buy an additional 20 per cent stake for about Rs 420 crore.
Video: Kingfisher-Air Deccan to revise fleet plans. (56k)

TCS to hire 5,000 workers in Mexico
Mexico, June 6
Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest computer-services provider, plans to hire 5,000 workers in Mexico in the next five years as labour costs climb in its home market because of a rising rupee.

R.S. Sharma to head ONGC
New Delhi, June 6
R.S. Sharma, whose appointment to the top job at ONGC was vetoed by the Prime Minister's Office a few months ago, was today again selected for the post of chairman and managing director. A head-hunting committee, headed by PESB chairman N K Sinha, recommended Sharma, who has been acting chairman of ONGC since May 25 last year, for the job while preferring former bureaucrat Najeeb Jung as its second best choice.

R.S. Sharma
R.S. Sharma

Rupee weakens
Mumbai, June 6
The rupee today fell sharply to end at one-week low of 40.66/67 against the dollar, following aggressive intervention by the central bank and a sharp slide in equity markets.





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3G policy by end of this month: DoT
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
The government would come out with 3G policy, which would enable faster data transfer, by the end of this month, said a senior government official.

No decision had been taken on allowing foreign players to bid for the 3G space, D.S. Mathur, secretary, Department of Telecommunications, told reporters on the sidelines of an annual telecom seminar organised by CII.

On allocating additional spectrum, he indicated that India's defence services were likely to release 42 mega hertz of spectrum by July. He said leading telecom companies were now increasingly shifting their focus on the rural areas. “We currently have 30 million users in the rural area, and we hope to take it to 150 million soon. We wish to make mobile service in rural areas as ubiquitous as in urban areas,” Mathur said.

He also indicated that the government was building about 8,000 towers for effective mobile telephony service in remote villages and the project was likely to be completed by the end of this year.

Telecom regulator TRAI said it would consider a policy for allowing sharing of spectrum among telecom companies. "After sharing of active and backhaul infrastructure is accepted, the next step will be sharing of scarce resource-spectrum," TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra said.

The new policy may come into effect in the next two years, he said. Misra said TRAI would also consider giving incentives to telecom companies for their performance in the rural areas.

"In the next 2-3 days, TRAI will come out with a consulation paper, which will look into various issues such as mergers and acquisitions, substantative equity holding in telecom companies, use of two technologies by a telecom company and roll out obligations," he said.

The government has fixed a target of achieving 250 million subscribers by the end of this year and 500 million by 2010.

The CII report “Wireless India: catalysing next wave in economic growth” was released at the seminar. Presenting the key findings of the report, Duncan Clark, chairman, BDA said, “Mobile growth has transformed India’s telecom markets by delivering all round value. There are three forces that have driven mobile growth, within a supportive regulatory climate which are competition, utility and affordability.

He added that India’s competitiveness is slipping as a result of poor ICT infrastructure and India is ranked 57th in area of connectivity and technology infrastructure.

Clark said that Advanced Wireless Services will accelerate economic growth and employment and will generate $10 billion in the first 10 years of introduction.

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Curbing unsolicited calls
DoT issues norms for telemarketers’ registration
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
The government today announced guidelines for registration of telemarketers, which will enable curbing of unsolicited commercial calls in the country by putting in place a mechanism for reducing the unsolicited commercial communication.

It has been an endeavour of the government to usher in policy decisions that could facilitate better telecommunications facilities as per the National Telecom Policy, 1999, the government said in a release.

The guidelines issued by the department of telecommunications stated that access service providers shall accept the application from a telemarketer in a prescribed proforma, along with registration processing fee of Rs 1,000 per telemarketing centre.

The applications shall be acknowledged on receipt. The acknowledgement shall be treated as provisional registration valid for providing service by the telemarketer (unless instructed otherwise by the service provider/ DoT/TRAI). This provisional registration shall be valid for a period of three months.

Subsequently a registration shall be issued by the DoT to the telemarketer valid for 10 years.

Any person providing telemarketing service, without any registration now, should also register themselves in a manner prescribed latest by August 31, 2007.

National Informatics Centre (NIC) has been authorized to set up a National Do Not Call (NDNC) registry. The telephone users, who do not want unsolicited commercial calls, can register with NDNC registry.

The telemarketers shall scrupulously follow the directions issued by DoT/TRAI on the unsolicited commercial communication including scrubbing of the list of the subscribers to be called for telemarketing purpose through the NDNC registry of the NIC.

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Airtel to bring instant messaging service soon
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
How about chatting online while on the move with your friends in another corner of the country or even across the globe. Well, that is possible in desktop with messengers. But, the next big thing is that such chatting is now possible from your mobile with instant messaging.

The country’s leading telecom operator Airtel plans to launch this service in the country in the coming days. It would be pioneers in providing this service in India and there are few telecom operators across the globe who have or in the process of launching this service.

“The advantage of instant messaging is that Airtel brings this desktop feature to mobile. The service offers various personalised options of usage, including status tag options like “online/offline”, “I am busy” or “In a meeting”. It also gives the users the advantage to convey multiple emoticons while in conversation. Its presence-enabled address book allows the sender to know when their contacts are online,” Harish Gandhi, vice-president, value-added services, Airtel, told The Tribune.

He said the new service to be launched in a couple of days in the country would be a great hit amongst youth and young professionals. The service would work only on GPRS-enabled phones and according to estimated 40 per cent of the mobiles across the country are ready to adopt this service.

Moreover this service is interoperable — users can now chat on mobile with their friends across operators, he said.

However, concerns are on the tariff that customers would have to pay to access this service and the pace of delivery of the message.

While the service would be free for the customers till August 31, Gandhi said the company would later come out with the tariff plan.

The GSM Association (GSMA) has announced an initiative to make instant messaging as popular and ubiquitous among mobile users as text messaging. As part of this initiative, 15 of the world's leading mobile phone operators plan to rollout instant messaging services that will work across networks.

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Reliance bonanza for HP subscribers
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 6
Reliance Communications today announced GSM double bonanza offer for its subscribers in Himachal Pradesh.

Under the scheme, lifetime validity recharge will be available for just Rs 222 and GSM handset package with pre-paid connection and lifetime validity will cost Rs 1,234.

President of the personal business, Reliance Communications, S.P. Shukla, said his company had not only reduced the cost of staying mobile with its lifetime Rs 222 recharge but also made the cost of mobile extremely affordable with its GSM handset package offer.

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HP to have 30 pc stake in Luri project
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 6
The Himachal government will soon sing an agreement with the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVL) for the execution of the 775 MW-Luri project.

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh told media persons here today that the centre had agreed to raise equity share in the project to 30 per cent on the pattern of the Rampur project. It had also been agreed that the state would have 30 per cent share in all the projects being executed by the SJVN within or outside Himachal Pradesh and it would contribute 30 per cent equity in all the projects. The state had 25 per cent shares in the Nathpa Jhakri project. However, it managed to get its equity share increased to 30 per cent in the Rampur project and the same principle was being followed in case of the Luri project.

The project involves construction of a diversion dam at Neerath, 14 km from Rampur, from where water from Sutlej will enter the head race tunnel. With a diameter of 1.75 m and total length of 38 km, it will be the longest in the Himalayan region.

The power house to be set up at Sunni will be underground like that of the Nathpa Jhakri project. The height of diversion dam has been restricted to 50 m to avoid submergence. Besides, tail race water of the 412 MW Rampur project, the scheme will utilise water from the streams between Nathpa dam and Neerath. Unlike the Nathpa Jhakri project ,the de-silting chambers will be on the surface.

There will be four generating units of 193.75 MW of each which will generate 3,056 million units in a 90 per cent dependable year. The total cost has been estimated at Rs 4,090 crore with the first year generation cost of Rs 2.34 per unit. The levelised tariff comes to 2.17 per unit.

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Govt committed to economic reforms, says Ashwani Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 6
Union minister of state for industry Ashwani Kumar met leading bankers and private equity fund managers at an interactive breakfast session in New York yesterday. Earlier, the minister released the India Factor Report prepared by Societe Generale Bank.

The minister gave a presentation on the Indian economy, highlighting its phenomenal growth cutting across various sectors. While outlining major policy initiatives such as the recently announced policy on petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals investment regions (PCPIRs), he emphasised the government’s commitment to continue the process of economic reform.

Kumar said the resilience of India’s democratic institutions had contributed to the economic growth of the country consistent with equality and freedom of its people. Highlighting some of the success stories in India, in real estate and manufacturing, he stressed the qualitative distinction of India’s success story was defined by the state’s commitment to pro-actively intervene with a view to impacting positively on the living standards of the poor.

The presentation was followed by a discussion with the bankers, fund managers and CEOs on the future growth potential of the Indian economy and vast opportunities available to foreign investors.

He encouraged US companies to invest in major growth sectors such as infrastructure, both physical and social infrastructure, which hold significant promise. He said at least one-third of the estimated $550 billion required to be invested in the infrastructure sector alone could come by way of the foreign direct investment and foreign institutional investment.

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HFC earns profit, NPA down by 11 pc
Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 6
Building a standard portfolio after risk mapping, debt swapping and doing away with the lease financing and merchant banking have helped Haryana Financial Corporation (HFC) earn a net profit of Rs 6.37 crore and for the first time, in a decade, helped bring down the NPA level by 11 per cent.

Top officials in HFC said in 2006-07 they have been able to recover a sum of Rs 30 crore out of the settlement approved, which has helped them reduce the NPA from 75 per cent to 64 per cent. This has led to the writing back of provisioning to the tune of Rs 3.1 crore during 2006-07- inspite of the fact that the corporation had to make additional provisioning of Rs 14.04 crore during last fiscal after the tightening of norms by SIDBI.

Two years ago, HFC was running into losses, but by making premature payment of high cost borrowings out of its internal accruals besides raising fresh funds at current interest rates, getting its portfolio restructured by SIDBI and equity support by the government and guarantee for Rs 135 crore from the state government, HFC has been able to witness a complete financial turnaround.

The corporation has also abandoned various schemes like withdrawing working capital loans, lease financing and merchant banking, and introduced schemes like equipment refinance scheme (ERS), which have helped in improving its fiscal health. Officials said the ERS has been introduced where only big industrial units, having a good fiscal track record and with an annual turnover of Rs 80 to 100 crore, are advanced loans up to Rs 1 crore against post dated cheques.

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Jet unveils overseas expansion plans

Vancouver, June 6
Unveiling its plans for the newly created hub at Brussels, Jet Airways today said it would operate five flights a day from India to the Belgian capital and provide seamless connections for onward journey to the USA and Canada.

The hub would give the airline access to entire Europe, besides allowing services to North America.

It would focus not only on connecting Indian passengers, but also carry traffic fed by Brussels Airlines from Europe and Africa for onward journey to the USA and Canada.

Jet Airways has got 10 pairs of slots at the Brussels airport, which is handling only about half of its capacity of over 30 million passengers annually.

“It has got a lot of space and capacity, which we will be using. Since (Belgian carrier) Sabena closed down, the airport was being operated only by the Brussels Airlines and some American carriers. We are the only Indian carrier to be creating such a hub on foreign soil,” Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal said.

“Our vision is to make Jet Airways match larger carriers like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Through this hub, we will be participating in the European market as well,” he said.

While first of the five flights would be launched from Mumbai to Newark via Brussels on August 5, the premier private carrier would start four more flights from Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad to connect New York, Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles by summer next year, Goyal said.

Besides the Brussels operations, Jet Airways would also launch a flight to San Fransisco via Shanghai and was in the process of finalising a code share deal with Australian carrier Qantas to carry passengers to Australia via Singapore. — PTI

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UB makes offer for another 20 pc in Air Deccan

New Delhi, June 6
Vijay Mallya-led UB Group, which has acquired 26 per cent in Deccan Aviation Ltd, today made an open offer to shareholders of the company to buy an additional 20 per cent stake for about Rs 420 crore.

Kingfisher Radio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Breweries Holding Ltd, made the offer for acquiring 2.70 crore shares of Deccan Aviation at a price of Rs 155 per share.

The offer, which is being managed by Edelweiss Capital, would open from July 25 and close on August 13, the company said in a public announcement.

UB group plans to utilise a combination of internal accruals and borrowed capital to fund the acquisition.

UB Holdings had on May 31 announced acquisition of 26 per cent stake in Deccan Aviation for Rs 546 crore. The company had made an initial investment of Rs 150 crore in the low-cost carrier. — PTI

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TCS to hire 5,000 workers in Mexico

Mexico, June 6
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's largest computer-services provider, plans to hire 5,000 workers in Mexico in the next five years as labour costs climb in its home market because of a rising rupee.

Tata Consultancy last week opened a software-development centre in Guadalajara, northern Mexico and that facility will start with about 300 employees doing tasks currently completed in India, said Gabriel Rozman, head of company's operations in Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

The rupee gained 9.2 per cent against the dollar this year, eroding Tata Consultancy's earnings from the US, its biggest market, and increasing Indian costs relative to other nations.

Tata Consultancy gets about half of its sales from North America. The Mexican peso was little changed this year against the dollar. — Bloomberg

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R.S. Sharma to head ONGC

New Delhi, June 6
R.S. Sharma, whose appointment to the top job at ONGC was vetoed by the Prime Minister's Office a few months ago, was today again selected for the post of chairman and managing director.

A head-hunting committee, headed by PESB chairman N K Sinha, recommended Sharma, who has been acting chairman of ONGC since May 25 last year, for the job while preferring former bureaucrat Najeeb Jung as its second best choice.

Sharma was PESB's number one choice in interviews conducted for the job in August last year but in February this year his appointment was not confirmed by the PMO as it wanted the selection process to be widened by inviting candidates from private sector. — PTI

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Rupee weakens

Mumbai, June 6
The rupee today fell sharply to end at one-week low of 40.66/67 against the dollar, following aggressive intervention by the central bank and a sharp slide in equity markets.

The RBI suspected to have made heavy dollar purchases through state-owned banks when the rupee touched 40.52 level before mid-session.

In active trade at the interbank foreign exchange (forex) market, local currency fluctuated widely in range of 40.52 and 40.74, after resuming at 40.55/56 a dollar against yesterday’s close of 40.52/53 a dollar.

Heavy dollar demand from public sector banks and a 1.92 per cent plunge in the benchmark, the sensex weighed on the rupee sentiment, forex dealers said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Essar to raise $5 billion
New Delhi, June 6
Essar group is in talks with international bankers to raise about $5 billion by leveraging its 33 per cent stake in Hutch-Essar. The borrowing would be made by Essar Global, the overseas arm of Essar group, and the funds would be used for financing the recent acquisitions of steel plants in Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, the USA and building power plants. — PTI

BSNL contract
New Delhi, June 6
Aiming to roll out six million connections over the next three years, BSNL today awarded a three-year contract to Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) to modernise its network. By July-end, NSN will integrate Gigabit Ethernet-capable IP DSLAMs (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers) in the carrier’s network and also supply the end-user devices required for subscribers. — TNS

Rajesh Exports
Mumbai, June 6
Rajesh Exports today said it will invest Rs 1,000 crore for acquiring firms or floating joint ventures abroad. The board of directors today authorised its executive chairman Rajesh Mehta to explore joint ventures, acquisitions of up to Rs 1,000 crore, which are the current cash reserves of the company, generated from internal accruals and proceeds of an FCCB issue. — PTI

SBoP pact
Chandigarh, June 6
The State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with National Bulk Handling Corporation Ltd. (NBHC), a group company of Financial Technologies (India) Ltd. The bank will provide credit facilities to individual farmers, traders, commission agents (arhtiyas), firms and corporates who have stored their agriculture commodities in the warehouses with NBHC and pledge the warehouse receipts with the bank. — TNS

GEI Systems
Mumbai, June 6
GEI Industrial Systems today said it bagged a Rs 35 crore order from US-based Solar Turbine Inc for supply of gas and lube oil coolers for compressor package for Oman Gas Company. — PTI

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