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40 pc cut in Speed Post rates
Dept of Posts mulls home collection service
New Delhi, June 11
The government today slashed the local speed post service rate by 40 per cent to Rs 12 from Rs 20 earlier for up to 50 grams, but increased the rates in the weight slabs above 50 grams.

DLF offer propels realty stocks
Mumbai, June 11
Real estate stocks today rose by as much as 8 per cent as the initial public offering (IPO) of realty giant DLF, the country's largest IPO, was subscribed over 65 per cent within three hours of opening.

Arcelor Mittal signs slew of pacts with Bangladesh
Dhaka, June 11
Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker and a business conglomerate with extensive interests in India, plans to invest $2.9 billion in Bangladesh.

India’s M&A saga gets overseas tinge
New Delhi, June 11
India Inc is showing a distinct foreign flavour in M&A (merger and acquisition) deals with the cross-border deal value going up nearly 16 times at $4.11 billion as compared to the value of domestic deals in May, a latest report shows.

Airlines want more of Indian skies
Vancouver, June 11
Several airlines in the region are planning to operate to more Indian destinations, subject to bilateral air traffic rights and their respective fleet strengths.



EARLIER STORIES

 



A Cambodian rides his mobike loaded with bananas near Phnom Penh on Monday. The World Bank has announced a grant of $18.5 million to Cambodia to be used to construct cross-border transmission lines to neighbouring Lao PDR and Vietnam. The new funding will further expand power trade with Vietnam, enabling Cambodia to import electricity and bring down the cost for poor consumers.
A Cambodian rides his mobike loaded with bananas near Phnom Penh on Monday. The World Bank has announced a grant of $18.5 million to Cambodia to be used to construct cross-border transmission lines to neighbouring Lao PDR and Vietnam. The new funding will further expand power trade with Vietnam, enabling Cambodia to import electricity and bring down the cost for poor consumers. — AFP

Tax on disability pension irks RBI
Chandigarh, June 11
The Reserve Bank of India would be taking up the matter of banks deducting income tax at source on disability pension of ex-servicemen, despite such individuals being exempted from paying tax.

India, Russia to notch up trade
New Delhi, June 11
India and Russia have signed a statement of understanding to set up a joint task force to monitor the implementation of the programme recommended by the joint study group intending to reach a bilateral trade of $10 billion by 2010.

Corporate News
Strides Arcolab acquires Grandix for Rs 98 crore
Mumbai, June 11
Pharma firm Strides Arcolab today said it has acquired Chennai-based Grandix Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary Grandix Laboratories for over Rs 98 crore.

Belief triggers discount on Maruti cars
New Delhi, June 11
Maruti Udyog today said it will offer discounts between Rs 5,000 and Rs 35,000 across various models. The offer is available on Maruti 800, Omni, Alto, Esteem, Versa and on the petrol variants of WagonR and Swift.

Motorola (India) head resigns
New Delhi, June 11
Motorola Inc’s India head, Firdose Vandrevala, has resigned from the company with effect from July 1 to pursue other interests, Simon Leung, president (Asia Pacific) Motorola Inc said. “Amit Sharma, vice-president, strategy (Asia Pacific and regional management) will assume additional responsibility for India in the interim,” he added.

 

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40 pc cut in Speed Post rates
Dept of Posts mulls home collection service
Tribune News Service and UNI

New Delhi, June 11
The government today slashed the local speed post service rate by 40 per cent to Rs 12 from Rs 20 earlier for up to 50 grams, but increased the rates in the weight slabs above 50 grams.

The revised rate of Rs 12 is a composite rate including service tax and education cess.The new rates come into effect from today.

With this revision, Speed Post will be quite competitive in the express industry, an official statement said.

However, there has been some increase in the weight slabs above 50 grams.

Speed Post articles booked in and destined for Delhi, Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad will be treated 'local' for the purposes of Speed Post tariff, he said.

The articles meant for the same town will be delivered either on the same day or the next working day

Speed Post, which currently has a market share of 27 per cent, posted a revenue of Rs 449 crore during 2006-07, he said.

Speed Post was launched in the year 1986 and continues to be the market leader, with a monthly traffic exceeding 1.4 crore in March 2007.

The Department of Posts targets Rs 550 crore revenue by the end of this fiscal.

In August last year, DoP launched 'One India, One Rate' scheme under with a new weight slab of 'up to 50 grams' was introduced at Rs 25 for all Speed Post centres.

"Our objective is to compete with other market players and maintain a stronghold in the local segment. We aim to garner Rs 550 crore revenue from the Speed Post by the fiscal-end, against Rs 450 crore last fiscal," Department of Posts General Manager (Business Development and Marketing Directorate) John Samuel told mediapersons here.

At present, Speed Post services are available at more than 1,200 towns across the country.

"We will increase the Speed Post centres by 300 to 1,500 by the end of this year," he said.

The DoP will also introduce home collection service very soon.

"After setting up call centres in eight cities, we will launch this home collection service," Mr Samuel said.

The cities are Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad.

He said the cost per unit will further come down once the department gets its own aircraft which is expected by this year-end.

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DLF offer propels realty stocks

Mumbai, June 11
Real estate stocks today rose by as much as 8 per cent as the initial public offering (IPO) of realty giant DLF, the country's largest IPO, was subscribed over 65 per cent within three hours of opening.

Shares of Unitech, so far the country's largest realty firm in terms of market capitalisation, rose by nearly 4 per cent to Rs 524.90 while stocks of Parsvnath Developers soared by 3 per cent to Rs 329.70, data on the BSE showed.

As the news of qualified institutional buyers queueing up to subscribe to the issue of the Gurgaon-based company spread, shares of almost all major players in the sector zoomed as investors transacted on an average two lakh shares per stock.

The shares of Delhi-based Ansal Properties rose the maximum by 7.7 per cent or nearly Rs 23 while shares of Sobha Developers gained 3 per cent to touch intra-day high of Rs 880.10, data available show on the bourses show.

DLF would mop up up to Rs 9,625 crore at the upper band of Rs 550 per share, resulting in a market value of Rs 93,500 crore and displacing Unitech as the top listed realty firm.

As per the BSE website, the DLF issue received bids for over 11.3 crore shares as against 17.50 crore shares on offer.

Smaller players like Lok Housing, Mahindra Gesco and Peninsula Land rose by 2 to 4 per cent as did shares of Orbit Corporation, the newest listed firm in the space, gaining Rs 15 (6.5 per cent) to touch its intra-day high of Rs 245.90.

Sector analysts see the DLF issue as an important landmark for the real estate industry, which off-late has seen stock valuations take a dip on concerns of overheating.

Depending on DLF's performance, others like Omaxe, which has lined up a public issue to mop up around Rs 1,000 crore, will get important cues, said an analyst. — PTI

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Arcelor Mittal signs slew of pacts with Bangladesh

Dhaka, June 11
Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker and a business conglomerate with extensive interests in India, plans to invest $2.9 billion in Bangladesh.

"This is our rough estimation, but it may increase or decrease after necessary evaluation," Vinod Mittal, managing director of Ispat Industries Limited (IIL), which is controlled by the Mittal family, told reporters on Monday.

A Mittal Group delegation arrived late on Sunday to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the investments, which include $300 million for mine development, $100 million for oil exploration and production, $500 million for power plants, $1.5 billion for petrochemicals and $500 million for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and related projects.

"We received very encouraging words from the chief of the (Bangladeshi) caretaker government (former central bank chief Fakhruddin Ahmed) and are looking for exploring the investment potentials in Bangladesh," Vinod said.

The MoU was signed between the state-run Board of Investment (BOI) and Global Oil & Energy Limited, UK, an offshore investment arm of IIL owned by Pramod and Vinod Mittal, relatives of Arcelor Mittal's chairman and chief executive officer, Lakshmi Mittal.

“As the principal investment promotion agency, we will facilitate all assistance in conducting feasibility on the proposed projects," said Nazrul Islam, executive chairman of BOI.

"This is their preliminary proposal, which may later be increased substantially," he said earlier, after a meeting with Vinod and his team.

"We have come here to see the opportunity and to sign a deal for investment in the power and energy sector," Vinod told reporters after arriving in Dhaka.

The company plans to invest initially in gas exploration and in the liquefied petroleum gas sector, the BOI chief said.

"The group will invest another more than $1 billion after the successful completion of these projects," Nazrul said.

Vinod said his firm was also interested in investing in the power, steel and coal-mining sectors.

"Very soon the feasibility study will start," Vinod said.

"What is needed for attracting foreign investment is good governance, which is now prevailing in Bangladesh," he said.

The Mittal Group has investments in 27 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and America.

Bangladesh has yet to finalise a $3 billion investment offer by India's Tata group, for energy, fertiliser and steel projects. — Reuters

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India’s M&A saga gets overseas tinge

New Delhi, June 11
India Inc is showing a distinct foreign flavour in M&A (merger and acquisition) deals with the cross-border deal value going up nearly 16 times at $4.11 billion as compared to the value of domestic deals in May, a latest report shows.

According to the data compiled by global consultancy firm Grant Thornton, 42 cross-border deals, with an announced value of $4.11 billion, were carried out by corporate India in May, while 32 domestic M&As garnered just $0.26 billion to their kitty.

The total number of M&A deals announced in May was worth $4.37 billion, with United Spirits buying out Whyte & Mackay for $1.11 billion, and Suzlon Energy’s controlling stake in REpower for $1.7 billion, being the most significant deals of the month, Thorton said.

The M&A deals in the month totalled 74 with announced values of $4.37 billion as against 57 deals worth $3.98 billion in April, Thornton’s deal tracker report said.

Out of the total cross-border deals, 30 were outbound with Indian companies acquiring businesses outside the country for a value of $3.79 billion. There were 12 inbound deals with an announced value of close to $0.32 billion.

Besides, the total number of private equity deals announced during the month stands at 24 with an announced value of $1.56 billion as against 23 deals with a total announced value of $0.44 billion in April.

World Bank’s private sector arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested $30 million in Kanoria Chemicals and Electrotherm India in May.

Some of the major inbound cross-border deals include French banking major BNP Paribas’s acquisition of 45 per cent stake in financial services firm Sundaram Home Finance for $45.81 million. Besides, Standard Chartered Bank bought 49 per cent stake for $34.19 million in UTI Securities and Interpublic Group hiked its stake in Lintas India to 100 per cent for $100 million.

In March and April, there were 111 M&A deals with a total value of about $6.12 billion. These included 62 domestic deals with a value of $0.73 billion.

The number of inbound cross-border deals has been 17 with a value of $1.98 billion and the number of outbound cross border deals was 32 with a value of $3.41 billion. — PTI

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Airlines want more of Indian skies
Amitabha Roychowdhury

Vancouver, June 11
Several airlines in the region are planning to operate to more Indian destinations, subject to bilateral air traffic rights and their respective fleet strengths.

Carriers like Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Garuda of Indonesia and Air Mauritius are eyeing Indian cities to launch flights, top officials told PTI in separate interviews.

"We would like to operate to more cities in India, but will have to wait for bilateral negotiations between the two governments as we are utilising all (air traffic) rights granted by India", PIA Chairman Zaffar Ahmad Khan said.

He said the airline, which was now flying from Karachi and Lahore to Delhi and Mumbai, would like to operate services to Chennai, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram.

Its senior vice-president S. Kamran Hasan said the new flights, when allowed, would operate thrice a week with Airbus A-320 aircraft. The frequencies could be increased later depending upon the load factor.

Air Mauritius Chairman Sanjay Bhuckory said his airline was exploring options of flying to Bangalore. "There has been a strong and steady growth of Indian tourists to Mauritius and our flight to Bangalore will complement those we operate to Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai", he said.

Similarly, Garuda Indonesia planned to fly to Chennai from Jakarta four flights a week using Boeing 737-500 aircraft, its Vice President Pujobroto said.

“We have been permitted by the Indonesian government to start these services. We plan to operate 110-seater Boeing 737-500 aircraft,” he said, adding that the number of weekly flights could increase depending on the market response.

Pujobroto also said Garuda could operate to more Indian cities in future, depending upon the grant of air traffic rights.

Responding to questions about their India operations, the PIA officials said the main roadblock was the issuance of visas where a "lot of liberalisation" was needed.

"The differences between India and Pakistan are being resolved. There are lot of opportunities developing between the two countries", Khan said, adding that most of the travellers between the two countries were to visit families or relatives. — PTI

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Tax on disability pension irks RBI
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would be taking up the matter of banks deducting income tax at source on disability pension of ex-servicemen, despite such individuals being exempted from paying tax.

According to a letter written by R.A. Balwataar, manager-in-charge of the RBI’s Department of Government and Bank Accounts, Mumbai, the RBI has sought details of such instances so that the matter could be taken up with the banks concerned for suitable action.

Disability pension comprises of two elements, the service element (also known as service pension) and the disability element. The first element is paid in accordance with the length of service rendered and the second is paid in accordance with the percentage of disability suffered by an individual.

Both are exempt from tax.

However, a number of disabled ex-servicemen complained that banks were deducting tax from their pensions in violation of government instructions. There have been instances where the tax so deducted was as high as Rs 8,000.

Several ex-servicemen affected had written to the Chief General Manager-in-Charge of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) department of banking services that banks were deducting tax from their pension as was being done in the case of regular pensioners. They had urged the RBI circulate instructions to banks, clarifying the correct position.

Reference was also made to Finance Ministry’s instruction 135 of 1970, which ordained that disability pension (including the service element) of armed forces personnel be exempt from payment of income tax. The same instructions were reiterated by the government in July 2001 and a circular in this regard was sent to all commissioners and directors general of income tax for dissemination.

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India, Russia to notch up trade
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11
India and Russia have signed a statement of understanding to set up a joint task force (JTF) to monitor the implementation of the programme recommended by the joint study group (JSG) intending to reach a bilateral trade of $10 billion by 2010.

As per the agreement signed by Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath and Minister of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation German O Gref in St Petersburg, Russia, the two countries would explore options and facilitate the smooth flow of goods and services.

Both countries have also agreed to explore the feasibility of concluding Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between the two countries to boost bilateral trade and investment, an official press note issued here said today.

The task force will further the objectives laid down by the JSG which was set up between India and Russia in February 2006, to formulate a programme for increasing the India-Russia bilateral trade through significant increase of mutual bilateral trade turnover between the two countries in a wide range of areas particularly with regard to trade in goods and services, investment and economic cooperation.

Three meetings of JSG have been held so far and the fourth meeting would be held in July 2007.

The JSG is in the process of finalising a report that would analyse the current situation of bilateral trade and the prospects for expansion of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and India and contain a list of recommendations for the Russian and Indian Governments and business communities directed towards boosting bilateral trade and investment flows and developing the potential of Russian and Indian relations in the economic sphere, it said.

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Corporate News
Strides Arcolab acquires Grandix for Rs 98 crore

Mumbai, June 11
Pharma firm Strides Arcolab today said it has acquired Chennai-based Grandix Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary Grandix Laboratories for over Rs 98 crore.

The company has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100 per cent of Grandix Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary Grandix Laboratories on a cash and debt free basis, Strides Arcolab said.

L&T fund

Construction major, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) Group is planning to launch an offshore fund to invest in infrastructural projects in emerging markets mainly in India.

Talking to the mediapersons, on the sidelines of launching a new brand identity for L&T Infotech, Chairman and Managing Director, A M Naik of the company said “ It’s an integrated approach towards infrastructure where we will invest in select infrastructural projects in emerging markets.” The fund will have an initial corpus of $500 million, which will be increased to $1 billion in a period of one year.

Hero Motors’ pact

Hero Motors Ltd has signed a memorandum of understanding with Kiriu, a subsidiary of Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. for a joint venture and a technical collaboration to make auto parts. — Agencies

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Belief triggers discount on Maruti cars

New Delhi, June 11
Maruti Udyog today said it will offer discounts between Rs 5,000 and Rs 35,000 across various models. The offer is available on Maruti 800, Omni, Alto, Esteem, Versa and on the petrol variants of WagonR and Swift.

However, the offer does not cover the models like Swift diesel and SX4, a television report said.

'Adhik mahina' is seen as the reason for these discounts, which is considered inauspicious to buy any new products.

Moreover, Maruti will shut down all its plants for maintenance purpose between June 17 to 24. However, dealer dispatches will not be hampered by shutdown, the report added. — UNI

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Motorola (India) head resigns
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11
Motorola Inc’s India head, Firdose Vandrevala, has resigned from the company with effect from July 1 to pursue other interests, Simon Leung, president (Asia Pacific) Motorola Inc said. “Amit Sharma, vice-president, strategy (Asia Pacific and regional management) will assume additional responsibility for India in the interim,” he added.

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BRIEFLY

 

Pierre Simon, president of chambre de Commerce et d’industrie de Paris (CCIP) speaks at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday to announce the opening of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The organisation will aid French companies to increase their presence in India, who will organise conventions and trade fairs.
Pierre Simon, president of chambre de Commerce et d’industrie de Paris (CCIP) speaks at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday to announce the opening of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The organisation will aid French companies to increase their presence in India, who will organise conventions and trade fairs. — AFP

Vishal retail
New Delhi, June 11
Vishal Retail Ltd expects to double production capacity to about 10,000 cloth pieces a day by year-end, as its new manufacturing plant will go on stream soon. It is also planning to diversify into the fast moving consumer goods segment to leverage on its strong network of retail chains. “We are setting up our second manufacturing plant in Dehradun with a capacity of 4,000-5,000 cloth pieces per day,” Vishal Retail CMD R C Agarwal said. — TNS

CII project
Chennai, June 11
The CII and MARG Constructions Ltd has signed a MoU to launch their “Grassroots Level Skill Development Initiative” (GLSDI) in Tamil Nadu. It would provide pre-employment skills and technical training to 5,000 unskilled workforce in the state by 2008. — TNS

Welspun-Gujarat
Mumbai, June 11
Welspun-Gujarat Stahl Rohren today said it has bagged Rs 1,166 crore pipeline orders for supply of line pipes overseas. “The successive new orders, received within a span of a month, is a testimony of the growth,” Welspun Group vice-chairman B.K. Goenka said. — PTI

HFC profit
Chandigarh, June 11
The Haryana Financial Corporation (HFC) has registered a net profit of Rs 6.37 crore and an operational profit of Rs 3.27 crore during the last financial year. Stating this, HFC chairman M L Tayal said a target had been fixed to sanction term loans amounting to Rs 225 crore during 2007-08. — UNI

Motilal Oswal
New Delhi, June 11
Motilal Oswal, CMD Motilal Oswal Financial Services Limited, has been appointed as a member on the managing committee of the prestigious Indian Merchants’ Chamber, a company press note said. — TNS

ICICI Lombard
New Delhi, June 11
ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd has partnered with London-based Barclays, for providing exclusively designed non-life insurance products for Barclays retail customers. — UNI

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