SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

ONGC makes five oil, gas discoveries
New Delhi, June 7
ONGC has made five oil and gas finds in eastern offshore and North-East, the most significant being a gas discovery in the Mahanadi basin block where 3-4 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves have already been established.

Vodafone gets call for releasing up to $75 b
London, June 7
Vodafone Group, which recently acquired control of Indian mobile operator Hutch-Essar for $10.9 billion, has received a call from an influential activist investor lobby to consider a restructuring proposal that could unlock up to $75 billion for its investors.

High steel prices hit manufacturing, realty sector
Chandigarh, June 7
The sharp rise in prices of steel over the past one year has hit the manufacturing and real estate sector hard. In the past one year, the prices of steel have gone up by Rs 6,000-Rs 8,000 per tonne.

Punjab seeks central industrial package 
Chandigarh, June 7
The Punjab government is mulling the idea of starting two special goods trains to ferry industrial goods from Ludhiana to Kolkata and Mumbai. Considering the need for low cost freight carriers to the ports, the government will now take up the matter with the union railways minister.



EARLIER STORIES

 
The historic Qantas Boeing 707-138B lands for the last time at Sydney International Airport on Thursday, before it becomes a permanent exhibit at the Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach in outback Queensland . The 48-year-old 'City of Canberra' was the first jet aircraft in the Qantas fleet, the first jet to arrive in Australia, the first Boeing aircraft sold outside of the USA and the first jet to fly around the world. — AFP
The historic Qantas Boeing 707-138B lands for the last time at Sydney International Airport on Thursday, before it becomes a permanent exhibit at the Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach in outback Queensland . The 48-year-old 'City of Canberra' was the first jet aircraft in the Qantas fleet, the first jet to arrive in Australia, the first Boeing aircraft sold outside of the USA and the first jet to fly around the world. — AFP
 

Taming Rupee
Exporters want tax on dollar inflow

New Delhi, June 7
The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) today placed an eight-point suggestion to save exporters from the brunt of the hardening rupee, which saw a 14 per cent appreciation against the dollar in the past two months.

Signet Solar to invest $2 billion in India
New Delhi, June 7

Signet Solar, a global company founded to design, develop and manufacture large area, low cost, thin-film silicon solar photo-voltaic (PV) modules today announced plans to invest over $2 billion towards establishing a manufacturing base in India.

NCDC lines up Rs 19,640 crore for 11th Plan
New Delhi, June 7
The National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) has chalked out a programme of Rs 19,640 crore for various cooperative development scheme in the country during the 11th Plan.

Lufthansa plans cargo operations in India
Frankfurt, June 7
Lufthansa Cargo (LHC) is in talks with Indian carriers to create a full-fledged cargo airline and also exploring the possibility of cargo ground handling.

In this file photo, a Metro train arrives at Indraprastha Station in New Delhi. France's Alstom Transport announced late on Wednesday that it had won a contract to supply operations systems for the Capital's metro rail network worth $63.8 million. Alstom, which builds the high-speed TGV train, will supply the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation a train control and signalling system covering 37 km
In this file photo, a Metro train arrives at Indraprastha Station in New Delhi. France's Alstom Transport announced late on Wednesday that it had won a contract to supply operations systems for the Capital's metro rail network worth $63.8 million. Alstom, which builds the high-speed TGV train, will supply the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation a train control and signalling system covering 37 km. — AFP

SBI officers’ strike today
Mumbai, June 7
Operations at all branches of SBI across the country are likely to be hit tomorrow as its officers' federation has called a day-long strike.

LSE finds hard to offload 51 pc stake 
Ludhiana, June 7
The Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) is finding it hard to offload 51 per cent stake, required under the demutualisation scheme, due to lack of equity trading facility and a proper business model.

India asks UAE for greater trade in agro products
New Delhi, June 7
India today sought greater trade between India and the UAE in agro products, especially vegetables, fruits and processed foods.

 

 

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ONGC makes five oil, gas discoveries
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
ONGC has made five oil and gas finds in eastern offshore and North-East, the most significant being a gas discovery in the Mahanadi basin block where 3-4 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves have already been established.

"ONGC made second discovery in Mahanadi basin in MN-DWN-98/3 block in east coast of India, about 60 km off Paradeep coast (in Orissa)," a company press release said today.

R.S. Sharma, chairman and managing director, said after the meeting that these discoveries were very significant for ONGC as the discoveries had taken place in new formations and might lead to many more exploration prospects in the near future.

The well MDW-4A at a water depth of 1,087 metres produced gas with a high flow potential from a depth of 1,800 metres. The state-run firm has 100 per cent interest in the block it won in first round of New Exploration Licensing Policy.

The company has so far drilled five wells in Mahanadi Basin and made the first discovery in 2006. It, however, did not say the reserve potential in the new discovery.

ONGC produced 99,840 cubic metres per day of gas and 91 barrels per day of condensate from Uppidi-1 well in Block-1B in Krishna Godavari basin, off the east coast. The block was awarded to ONGC prior to advent of NELP in 2000.

"The flow rate of oil is highest among the discoveries in North-East. Oil is of very good quality sweet crude with API gravity of 33 and pour point 300 degree Celcius," it said.

Another oil field was discovered when Paihing-6 well near Brahmaputra river produced 516 barrels per day. The prospect is about 27 km to the north of Nazira town. This is the second producing well over Panidihing prospect, ONGC said.

Besides, ONGC found gas in Kunjaban-2 well in north Agartala nomination block in Tripura. The well, spudded on December 19, produced 1,000,000 cubic metres per day of gas from 2,687-2,682 metre depth.

"The present discovery at Kunjaban is a new prospect located north of Agartala Dome. This discovery will add to the tally of gas fields in Tripura and help in meeting additional gas requirements for the planned Tripura Power Project," the release said.

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Vodafone gets call for releasing up to $75 b

London, June 7
Vodafone Group, which recently acquired control of Indian mobile operator Hutch-Essar for $10.9 billion, has received a call from an influential activist investor lobby to consider a restructuring proposal that could unlock up to $75 billion for its investors.

While acknowledging the receipt of the letter from Efficient Capital Structures (ECS), India-born Arun Sarin-led Vodafone said in a regulatory filing today that it was reviewing the contents of the letter and would make an announcement in due course.

ECS, backed by another investment group and former Marconi Finance Director John Mayo-run investment fund Beehive Capital, is asking Vodafone to submit a number of resolutions at the company's AGM on July 24 concerning the potential restructuring options for the company.

The activist fund said separately in a statement: "We believe Vodafone is undervalued because it has an inefficient capital structure. Its most valuable asset is a passive, minority share and its balance sheet is under-geared." The resolutions are designed to put this right and if implemented could release between £17-38 billion of value to shareholders, ECS chairman Glenn Cooper said. — PTI

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High steel prices hit manufacturing, realty sector
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 7
The sharp rise in prices of steel over the past one year has hit the manufacturing and real estate sector hard. In the past one year, the prices of steel have gone up by Rs 6,000-Rs 8,000 per tonne.

The steel manufacturers insist that the present rise in prices is a correction, after the prices had hit an all-time low in 2004-05 in the wake of international decline in prices. However, sources in the steel industry informed TNS that cartelisation of steel manufacturers is responsible for the rapid increase in prices.

Though there is a shortfall in the demand and supply of steel — the annual steel production of the country is around 40 million tonnes as against a demand of about 60 million tonnes — it is believed that the steel prices are being determined by the six top players in the steel industry. These players insist that the hike in prices is because of the rise in input costs. However, it is believed that the price hike is being orchestrated by the top players and the other smaller players have to follow what these three major manufacturers decide about the prices.

However, sources said that there is no major increase in input costs, but prices of MS ingot steel have gone up to Rs 25,350 per tonne, of hot rolled coil to Rs 32,300 per tonne and of cold rolled coil at Rs 36,500 per tonne.

“Interestingly, while steel prices in the domestic market continue to rise, steel is being exported at cheaper rates than those prevailing in the domestic market. There is a difference of at least Rs 6,000 - Rs 7,000 a tonne in the prices of steel sold in the domestic market and the price at which it is exported,” said S.C. Ralhan, regional chairman of Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC). He suggested that the government should come up with a raw material policy, to ban the export of any raw material which is in short supply.

However, steel manufacturers insist that prices have been rising because of a surge in demand in steel.“The steel industry is planning to gear up its production to 100 million tonnes per year in the next couple of years. Since India plans to become a major steel exporter, incentives like withdrawal of import duty of 5 per cent on raw material for steel industry will have to be provided,” said Amarjit Goyal, CMD of Modern Steels, Gobindgarh. 

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Punjab seeks central industrial package 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 7
The Punjab government is mulling the idea of starting two special goods trains to ferry industrial goods from Ludhiana to Kolkata and Mumbai. Considering the need for low cost freight carriers to the ports, the government will now take up the matter with the union railways minister.

This was stated by the Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, while presiding over regional award presentation function of the Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC), here tonight. He said the government was in process for acquiring 25 acres at the Wagah border post so that a separate trade route is made for exporting goods to Pakistan. He also said the industrial grow in the state was poor as compared to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, so the government would seek a central industrial package for Punjab.

On this occasion, awards were presented to the Steel Authority of India Ltd, Hero Honda Motors, Avon Cycles, Sriram Automotive Product Limited, Magpie International, Ambika Forgings, Kangaroo Industries, Punjab Tractors Limited.

The EEPC demanded an uninterrupted power supply for the export oriented units and freight subsidy as in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The council also demanded better infrastructure, allowing of free power trade between industrial units and computerisation of VAT returns for getting refunds.

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Taming Rupee
Exporters want tax on dollar inflow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) today placed an eight-point suggestion to save exporters from the brunt of the hardening rupee, which saw a 14 per cent appreciation against the dollar in the past two months.

In a meeting with the commerce secretary G.K. Pillai today, FIEO president Ganesh Kumar Gupta suggested that since cost of credit for exports has increased substantially, export credit may be provided at bank rate rather than BPLR minus 2.5 per cent.

The FIEO president also wanted the government to make formal announcement in line with commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath’s recent statement that the centre was looking at refunding local taxes to intensive units that have little or no import component.

Pointing that the RBI’s imposition of restrictions on dollar inflows through External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) route has led to corporates buying dollars from the market, which is increasing dollar demand.

Asserting that the substantial appreciation of the rupee requires certain ‘interim measures’ to be taken, which may not be WTO compatible, Gupta suggested taxing NRI deposits to curtail inflow of dollars, permitting dollar inflows at an official rate and also levying a cess on incoming dollars akin to an ‘anti-dumping duty’ on the dollar, which could help create an exchange fluctuation fund reserve.

The rupee has appreciated by more than 14 per cent from its low of 47.04 touched in July. More than half this appreciation has come over the past two months.

Although the rupee’s earlier levels of appreciation were around Rs 43.25, pressured goal of containing inflation in the larger interest of public policy have led the RBI to step back from the market and there is a growing apprehension among exporters that the rupee may be embarking upon another phase of a secular up tread.

Gupta pointed out that though exporters view appreciation of the rupee as a matter of national pride, sudden rise in the Indian currency has had an adverse impact on vast cross section of the SME export sector. It is more vulnerable since it lacks the skills of modern currency management techniques, the FIEO chief said.

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Signet Solar to invest $2 billion in India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
Signet Solar, a global company founded to design, develop and manufacture large area, low cost, thin-film silicon solar photo-voltaic (PV) modules today announced plans to invest over $2 billion towards establishing a manufacturing base in India.

Signet Solar will build three solar photo-voltaic manufacturing facilities, also known as fabs in the semiconductor industry. Each manufacturing facility is expected to have an annual output of about 300 MW.

The construction of the first manufacturing plant will begin by early 2008. The investment will be spread over a period of 10 years and will produce over 1 GW of annual output for export as well for the Indian market.

“The announcement by Signet Solar, to expand its production capacity, will contribute greatly to our plans to accelerate semiconductor and information technology (IT) hardware manufacturing in India,” said A Raja, union minister of Information Technology.

He said the guidelines for the recently announced ‘Special Incentive Package Scheme’ by the IT department are being framed and would be issued soon.

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NCDC lines up Rs 19,640 crore for 11th Plan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
The National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) has chalked out a programme of Rs 19,640 crore for various cooperative development scheme in the country during the 11th Plan.

An outlay of Rs 2,000 crore has been approved for programme activities for the current financial year, said Sharad Pawar, minister of agriculture and consumer affairs, while presiding over the 64th meeting of the general council of the NCDC here today.

Pawar said the NCDC would continue to support and supplement the efforts of the state government for the development of cooperative activities in agriculture and allied sectors.

Major thrust would be on marketing and distribution of inputs; consolidation of existing processing facilities by way of modernisation/ expansion; rehabilitation of sick and dormant units; development of weaker section activities like fisheries, dairy, handloom; area development programme on integrated basis; creation of adequate infrastructural facilities like cold storages, development of horticulture, improving production and productivity of plantation crops and agriculture credit, he added.

Pawar commended the NCDC for its spectacular performance of record financial sanctions of Rs 6,253 crore and highest ever disbursals of Rs 4,009 crore during 2006-07.

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Lufthansa plans cargo operations in India

Frankfurt, June 7
Lufthansa Cargo (LHC) is in talks with Indian carriers to create a full-fledged cargo airline and also exploring the possibility of cargo ground handling.

“Though tax and legal restrictions remain, we want to be a part of India’s development story,'” said LHC’s vice-president (Asia-Pacific) Martin Schlingensiepen. “The tonnage capacity is increasing consistently. We’ll also be looking at cargo ground handling at six metro and 30 non-metro city airports.”

Schlingensiepen said LHC could also consider operating a dedicated cargo terminal at one of the busy airports. “There is much scope for transporting perishables and refrigerated goods by air from smaller towns, especially with more airport capacity coming up in second-tier cities.” — UNI 

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SBI officers’ strike today

Mumbai, June 7
Operations at all branches of SBI across the country are likely to be hit tomorrow as its officers' federation has called a day-long strike.

The All-India SBI Officers Federation has called the strike demanding recruitment of adequate number of officers and clerical staff in branches and withdrawal of "harsh punishments for minor offences."

Around 60,000 officers from all the 14 circles of the bank, including 6,000-plus officers from the Mumbai circle would be on strike. — PTI

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LSE finds hard to offload 51 pc stake 

Ludhiana, June 7
The Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) is finding it hard to offload 51 per cent stake, required under the demutualisation scheme, due to lack of equity trading facility and a proper business model.

"Even as we decided to divest 51 per cent stake of members through strategic sales route, we have been unable to find any strategic partner as we do not have any equity trading here and any proper business model to attract the attention of partners," Ludhiana Stock Exchange executive director H.S. Sidhu said here.

LSE has to ensure that by September 14 at least 51 per cent of its shares are held by public other than the shareholders having trading rights in accordance with Securities Contract (Regulations) Act, 1956.

The 15-member disinvestment committee formed by the LSE had been scouting for strategic partners for quite some time but failed to attract any taker.

Another option for LSE is to divest stake through an IPO but it fears that it may remain under subscribed. LSE has a paid-up capital of Rs 6,02,000.

It had also requested the SEBI to extend the deadline of September 14 by six months. But the proposal was not approved by the market regulator, an LSE official said.

Equity trading at the bourse came to an end on January 23, 2002. Rental income accounts for a major part of the total income of the exchange. — PTI 

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India asks UAE for greater trade in agro products

New Delhi, June 7
India today sought greater trade between India and the UAE in agro products, especially vegetables, fruits and processed foods.

“Greater trade in agro products with the UAE and entire Gulf region is important to India. Our top priority for exports to the UAE is vegetables, fruits, processed foods, poultry etc,” said union commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath, in a meeting with Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, minister of foreign affairs, UAE.

The UAE minister concurred with Nath’s suggestion that a delegation from Agriculture and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) can visit the UAE to discuss possibilities in food and agriculture sector with importers in the UAE, official sources said. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

'Airtel Messenger'
New Delhi, June 7
Bharti Airtel today launched 'Airtel Messenger' service that offers text chatting within a personalised set of communities. Airtel Messenger users can send and receive messages in real-time via their mobile without the need to be attached to a computer. As an introductory offer, the service is free till August 31. The users can register by sending an SMS to 57070 with the message 'IM'. — UNI

SKF investment
New Delhi, June 7
SKF today said it will invest Rs 270 crore to set up a greenfield large size bearing manufacturing unit in India to cater to the growing demand from wind energy, mining, steel and off road applications. The new facility is expected to be commissioned in 2008. — PTI

Moser Baer
New Delhi, June 7
Moser Baer India Ltd today said its unit, Moser Baer Photo Voltaic Ltd has orders worth more than $100 million. The unit has started commercial shipment of its solar photo-voltaic cells, it said in a statement. In addition, the unit produces photo-voltaic cells at expected level of output with cell efficiency levels up to 15.5 per cent. — UNI

Larsen & Toubro
Mumbai, June 7
Larsen and Toubro today said it has bagged a Rs 207 crore ($51 million) contract from Dubai-based ENOC Processing Company LLC for mechanical erection of their naphtha hydro-treated reformer project, the company said. — PTI

Tata Steel order
Mumbai, June 7
Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) today said it has bagged a Rs 167.76 crore order from Tata Steel for execution of civil works. The contract would be be carried out in Tata Steel’s Kalinganagar project in Orissa, HCC said. — PTI

Vishal Retail
Mumbai, June 7
Vishal Retail will launch 22 retail stores in the next fiscal, for which the company is raising Rs 110 crore from equities. The initial public offer, slated at a price band of Rs 230 to Rs 270, is scheduled to hit markets by June 11. The IPO will close on June 13. — UNI

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