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Vodafone recasts Hutch-Essar board
To invest $2 billion this year
Mumbai, June 15

Having constituted a new board to administer India's third-largest mobile firm Hutch-Essar, Vodafone today said it would invest $2 billion in the country this year for expanding its business.

NTPC may tap capital market again
Dadri , June 15
Country's largest power generating company NTPC is planning to tap the capital market again after about three years of its initial public offer and has sent a proposal in this regard to the power ministry.

Global sports major eye pact with HP ski project
Helsinki, June 15
The world's largest sports goods maker is eyeing a tie-up with an upcoming ski resort in the western Himalayas in India.

Ball in GoM’s court
New Delhi, June 15
The much awaited new civil aviation policy, ‘Vision 2020’, was today referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM) by the union cabinet as wider consultations on several issues, including norms for allowing private carriers to fly abroad, were needed before the policy could be given a clearance.

Cut interest rates to boost realty growth: DLF chief
New Delhi, June 15
Hurt by the establishment's statements that have the potential to dampen demand, the country's largest real estate player DLF Ltd today asked the government to rather focus on augmenting supply and cutting interest rates to further boost growth in the sector.



EARLIER STORIES

 

Inflation dips further to 4.8 pc
New Delhi, June 15
The annual rate of inflation, calculated on point to point basis, declined further to 4.8 per cent for the week ended June 2, 2007 as against 4.85 per cent for the previous week, due to decline in prices of some food articles and fuel items.

A Matsushita Electric employee displays the world's first 12.2 mega-pixel compact digital camera "Lumix DMC-FX100", equipped with a 12.2 mega-pixel CCD on its image sensor and a 6.0 - 21.4mm zoom lens, equivalent to 28 - 100mm in 35mm camera, in Tokyo on Friday. The camera is priced at $400.
A Matsushita Electric employee displays the world's first 12.2 mega-pixel compact digital camera "Lumix DMC-FX100", equipped with a 12.2 mega-pixel CCD on its image sensor and a 6.0 - 21.4mm zoom lens, equivalent to 28 - 100mm in 35mm camera, in Tokyo on Friday. The camera is priced at $400. — AFP

Govt to move Bill for SBI stake
New Delhi, June 15
The government will promulgate an ordinance to buy the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) stake in the country’s largest bank, the State bank of India (SBI) at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

Vedanta defers offer for 20 pc in Sesa Goa
Mumbai, June 15
Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Resources plc, which acquired 51 per cent stake in Sesa Goa, has deferred its open offer for further 20 per cent stake in the leading iron ore exporter, as it is awaiting approval from the SEBI.

20 JAT pilots join AI
Mumbai, June 15
Air India, which is looking at a possible tie-up with Serbia’s national carrier Jugoslavenski Aerotransport (JAT) for expanding European operations, today said about 20 JAT pilots have already joined its low cost carrier, Air-India Express.

TRAI sets up consumer protection fund
New Delhi, June 15
TRAI today announced setting up of a telecom consumers education and protection fund to educate and inform the consumers about their rights and discourage operators to charge in excess, while shifting from one tariff plan to the other.

Sanjay Gupta, chief marketing officer, mobile services, Bharti Airtel (left), shakes hands with Peter Chou, CEO & president, High Tech Computer Corp, at the launch of HTC touch mobile phone in New Delhi on Friday. The mobile with the new touchFLO technology will be available exclusively to Airtel mobile users at a starting price of Rs 19,900.
Sanjay Gupta, chief marketing officer, mobile services, Bharti Airtel (left), shakes hands with Peter Chou, CEO & president, High Tech Computer Corp, at the launch of HTC touch mobile phone in New Delhi on Friday. The mobile with the new touchFLO technology will be available exclusively to Airtel mobile users at a starting price of Rs 19,900. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

World’s first online desktop launched
New Delhi, June 15
World's first Windows-based online desktop, Nivio, was launched here today. The service allows global access to a personal virtual desktop from any Internet-connected device providing the users with complete freedom.

Nod to OVL for stake in Egyptian field
New Delhi, June 15
The government today allowed ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), overseas arm of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), to acquire Royal Dutch/Shell’s 33 per cent stake in a deep-sea gas field off Egypt.

Balmer Lawrie net up
New Delhi, June15
The net profit of Balmer Lawrie and Company Ltd, a public sector undertaking for the financial year ending March 2007 registered a 50 per cent growth at Rs 70.22 crore compared to Rs 46.80 crore in the previous year.

 

 

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Vodafone recasts Hutch-Essar board
To invest $2 billion this year

Mumbai, June 15
Having constituted a new board to administer India's third-largest mobile firm Hutch-Essar, Vodafone today said it would invest $2 billion in the country this year for expanding its business.

"The meeting was excellent... we will invest $2 billion this year in India," Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin told reporters emerging from the first meeting of the new board.

The investment would be raised based on the progress, he said.

The constitution of the board marks the beginning of integration of Vodafone and its Indian partner Essar, which Sarin hoped would be completed by September.

"This (integration) will be an ongoing process, but we hope to complete it by end of September," the India-born chief of the British mobile leader said.

The new Board has 12 members - four from Essar and eight from Vodafone, including two independent directors.

On switching names, Sarin said no date has been decided for the brand change. "But it will happen. Next time you come here... you will see the Vodafone name." He also said the company was keen on creating a platform for infrastructure sharing, and welcomed industry players to join it.

As per the agreement between two entities, Essar vice-chairman Ravi Ruia would be the chairman, while Sarin would be the vice-chairman in the reconstituted board. Indian partners would have four out of 12 full-time members. The partners have also agreed that Hutchison Essar will be renamed Vodafone Essar and in due course they will market products and services under the Vodafone brand. — PTI

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NTPC may tap capital market again

Dadri , June 15
Country's largest power generating company NTPC is planning to tap the capital market again after about three years of its initial public offer and has sent a proposal in this regard to the power ministry.

"NTPC may go for a follow-on public offer. I have seen the proposal... It is one of the most trusted companies," power secretary Anil Razdan said while announcing the second stage of NTPC's Dadri project here.

NTPC chairman and managing director T Shankarlingam, however, did not confirm the plans. When asked whether NTPC would come out with a rights issue or yet another equity issue diluting the government's stake, the officials declined to comment.

In 2004, NTPC had brought down the promoter's equity in the company by 10 per cent through IPO and disinvestment to raise about Rs 5,360 crore.

NTPC is planning a huge expansion and is targeting to double its capacity to 50,000 MW by 2012 and take it to 75,000 MW from 27,904 MW currently. It plans to invest about Rs 88,000 crore during the 11th Plan.

The PSU had the government permission to dilute up to 24 per cent stake, out of which it has already liquidated 10 per cent in 2004.

Presently, the promoters, including the government, hold 89.50 per cent shares in the company while foreign institutional investors (FII) and other investors hold 7.07 per cent and 2.03 per cent, respectively.

The power major had earlier announced its plans to go in for equipment manufacturing as well and would soon start its transformer manufacturing unit, Razdan said.

Meanwhile, power minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the government would soon make it mandatory for the company to provide direct electricity supply to areas coming within the radius of 10 km from its units.

Shinde also asked NTPC to explore options for setting up a power generation unit in or around Kanpur to meet the needs of central Uttar Pradesh.

He said the company has also got the state government's nod for expansion of its Tanda unit and the work would start soon. NTPC plans to take the total capacity of its Tanda unit to 1,320 MW from the present 460 MW.

The government has given a target of two years to NTPC to start power generation from the second phase of its Dadri project keeping in mind the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Shinde said. Major chunk of power from the second phase of Dadri plant would go to Delhi.

NTPC is also planning to venture into coal mining and is looking for power generation orders from abroad too, CMD Shankarlingam said. — PTI

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Global sports major eye pact with HP ski project

Helsinki, June 15
The world's largest sports goods maker is eyeing a tie-up with an upcoming ski resort in the western Himalayas in India.

Amer Sports has also supplied costly equipment to a group of Indians who were in Finland for an advanced ski instructor's training course.

"We would definitely be interested in a 100 per cent equity venture or a joint venture" with the Himalayan Ski Village (HSV), a 350-million euro venture American billionaire Alfred Ford is creating in the Manali region of Himachal Pradesh, a company official here said.

"With our diversified portfolio, we could start with a strong rental programme, an essential feature at any ski resort," Max Alfthan, vice-president for communications at Helsinki-based Amer Sports, said.

The company posted sales of euro 1.7 million during 2006 with its portfolio of Salomon and Atomic winter sports equipment, Wilson ball sports equipment, Precor fitness equipment, and Suunto timing equipment for various sports.

While many of these brands, barring Wilson and Atomic might be unfamiliar in India, the proposed tie-up with HSV could see the others coming into the Indian market.

Amer Sports, however, is no stranger to India, being the largest supplier of its range of Koflach range of insulated boots to the Indian Army.

The company chose its Atomic range skis and boots to equip the 40 Indians who have just completed an intensive three-week training course in the Lapland area of northern Finland above the Arctic Circle and will be employed by HSV once its resort is up and running in 2008-09.

"Atomic's cooperation with the Indian skiers was a good beginning. If you can be in partnership from the beginning, it can be a really good opportunity to move ahead," Alfthan contended.

Amer Sports is just one of the many Finnish firms, a semi-government organisation and even a municipality that would be closely involved with the Manali resort, an association that came about following a chance meeting in New Delhi between HSV managing director John Simms and Seppo Keranen, who heads Finpro, the Finland Trade office in India.

Speaking about Amer Sports' specific involvement with the Manali resort, Alfthan said this would include the establishment of a rental shop with some 1,000 skis and related equipment like boots and jackets.

"The idea is to build a pyramid of entry-level, middle-level and high-end equipment," Alfthan explained. — IANS

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Ball in GoM’s court
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15
The much awaited new civil aviation policy, ‘Vision 2020’, was today referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM) by the union cabinet as wider consultations on several issues, including norms for allowing private carriers to fly abroad, were needed before the policy could be given a clearance.

At the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it was felt that several proposals contained in the policy needed to be further discussed, official sources said. ‘Vision-2020’ would replace the existing civil aviation policy and allow greater operating room for the private airlines, besides making air travel more affordable.

Some of the issues, which the cabinet felt, needed wider consensus also included the proposal to hive-off Air Traffic Control (ATC) from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to form a separate company.

There have been differing views among political circles and the industry on some of the proposals made in ‘Vision-2020’. There have been particular opposition from the Left parties on some them.

There was also a suggestion of separating ATC from the AAI that would lead the latter to lose a substantial chunk of its revenues.

The GoM would be constituted by the Prime Minister soon, the sources added.

Recently, civil aviation minister Praful Patel had said the five-year and 20-aircraft norm would be reviewed keeping in mind the capability of Indian carriers to handle major international routes and take on global competition.

On opening the gulf routes to private airlines, he had stated that the new policy framework would be need-based and Indian carriers, with standard operational experience and fleet, could be allowed to operate to selected routes.

Patel had pointed out that there were several international sectors where only the two merged Indian carriers, Air-India and Jet Airways, operate currently.

There were other sectors where the foreign airlines operated without any reciprocity from the Indian side, he said.

These issues are likely to be taken care of under the proposed ‘Vision 2020’.

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Cut interest rates to boost realty growth: DLF chief

New Delhi, June 15
Hurt by the establishment's statements that have the potential to dampen demand, the country's largest real estate player DLF Ltd today asked the government to rather focus on augmenting supply and cutting interest rates to further boost growth in the sector.

"The government should think of augmenting supply and not curtailing demand, which is a theoretical exercise," DLF chairman Kushal Pal Singh said.

Only last week, finance minister P Chidambaram said the government was keen to curb demand in overheated sectors like real estate and housing.

Incidentally, the finance minister's statement came when bidding process for the initial public offer of DLF was going on and the impact was seen immediately on Dalal Street with a sharp fall in the share prices of listed realty firms. Market observers said the statement also hurt the investors' sentiment towards the IPO.

Asked whether the government's over-cautious statements about overheating in the real estate sector hurt the demand for the DLF IPO, Singh said: "Definitely, very definitely." "Intention is to constrain demand in those sectors where there are signs of what you call overheating like real estate and housing," Chidambaram had said.

"The only way to contain the increasing (property) prices is to flush the market with more supply than demand... (and) by thinking positive," Singh said. — PTI

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Inflation dips further to 4.8 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15
The annual rate of inflation, calculated on point to point basis, declined further to 4.8 per cent for the week ended June 2, 2007 as against 4.85 per cent for the previous week, due to decline in prices of some food articles and fuel items.

The annual rate of inflation during the corresponding week last year was 4.88 per cent, according to the official data released here today.

However, the aggregate wholesale price index went up by 0.1 per cent during the week.

The index for ‘food articles’ group declined marginally due to lower prices of condiments and spices, moong and bajra (one per cent each). However, prices of gram moved up by one per cent.

The index for ‘non-food articles’ group rose by 0.1 per cent for the previous week due to higher prices of raw silk (three per cent), rape and mustard seed (two per cent) and sunflower, raw tobacco and groundnut seek (one per cent each). However, the prices of raw rubber (five per cent) and copra (one per cent) declined.

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Govt to move Bill for SBI stake
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15
The government will promulgate an ordinance to buy the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) stake in the country’s largest bank, the State bank of India (SBI) at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

The union cabinet accorded its approval for carrying out the amendments to the State Bank of India Act, 1955 through an ordinance.

“The amendments would enable the transfer 59.7 per cent of the RBI’s shareholding in the SBI to the central government,” information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi told reporters.

The Bill will be moved in the coming session of the Parliament to replace the ordinance, he said.

The deal would not have revenue implications for the government as the RBI is expected to transfer the surplus to the centre during first half of August.

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Vedanta defers offer for 20 pc in Sesa Goa

Mumbai, June 15
Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Resources plc, which acquired 51 per cent stake in Sesa Goa, has deferred its open offer for further 20 per cent stake in the leading iron ore exporter, as it is awaiting approval from the SEBI.

The draft letter of the open offer, which was submitted to SEBI on May 9, is still awaiting the market regulator's nod and hence the proposed date of opening of the offer is being deferred till further notice, Sesa Goa said in a public notice.

The offer was supposed to open from June 21 till July 10.

All other terms and conditions of the open offer remain unchanged, it added.

The company will make an open offer to acquire up to 78,72,404 equity shares of Sesa Goa at a price of Rs 2,036.30 per share. — PTI

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20 JAT pilots join AI

Mumbai, June 15
Air India, which is looking at a possible tie-up with Serbia’s national carrier Jugoslavenski Aerotransport (JAT) for expanding European operations, today said about 20 JAT pilots have already joined its low cost carrier, Air-India Express.

“The Serbian airline and Air-India have started to work together. About 20 JAT pilots have joined Air-India Express and 10 more would join soon,” Air-India chairman V Thulasidas, who will head the merged Air India-Indian, said.

“JAT has a good flight training school. We would send our pilots for training there,” Thulasidas said, adding there are plans to start flights to trans-Atlantic destinations through Belgrade. Air-India had earlier announced that Accenture has been appointed as consultant after JAT had approached it for tie-up. — PTI

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TRAI sets up consumer protection fund

New Delhi, June 15
TRAI today announced setting up of a telecom consumers education and protection fund to educate and inform the consumers about their rights and discourage operators to charge in excess, while shifting from one tariff plan to the other.

As per TRAI estimates, telecom companies have about Rs 10 crore undisbursed amount accumulated over last 10 years.

The fund will prevent unjust or undue enrichment of such service providers and educate consumers by utilising the excess amount charged from them, a TRAI statement said.

There will be a committee for making recommendations to the authority for utilisation of the amount. — PTI

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World’s first online desktop launched
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15
World's first Windows-based online desktop, Nivio, was launched here today. The service allows global access to a personal virtual desktop from any Internet-connected device providing the users with complete freedom.

Nivio will also provide a variety of services on demand to its subscribers, which will include rental of software applications, access to a rich library of educational content and expandable storage to keep all pictures, music and data, a company release said.

Sachin Duggal, founder & CEO, Nivio, said: “Originally named myremoteworkstation, I dreamed of a desktop that was stress-free and fault-less. And Nivio was born" The company plans to raise $5 million to fund expansion within the next 6 months.

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Nod to OVL for stake in Egyptian field

New Delhi, June 15
The government today allowed ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), overseas arm of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), to acquire Royal Dutch/Shell’s 33 per cent stake in a deep-sea gas field off Egypt.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the proposal at a meeting today.

OVL would pay $160 million to Shell and bring the fuel in liquefied form (LNG) to India, they said.

An OVL official said the company would not pay Shell for buying the stake, but for its share of exploration cost in 2007 of $140 million and a maximum of $40 million for future cost beyond 2007.

Besides, OVL will pay development bonus to Shell up to a maximum of $19.4 million at the time of award of lease by the local government and $35.343 million production bonus at the time of the start of production. — PTI

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Balmer Lawrie net up

New Delhi, June15
The net profit of Balmer Lawrie and Company Ltd, a public sector undertaking for the financial year ending March 2007 registered a 50 per cent growth at Rs 70.22 crore compared to Rs 46.80 crore in the previous year. The turnover of the company increased to Rs 1,300 crore from Rs 1,252 crore. The company has declared a dividend of 135 per cent, a release from the company said.— TNS

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BRIEFLY

Yes Bank tie-up
Mumbai, June 14
Yes Bank today announced a tie-up with Reuters (India) to provide electronic trading in forex to corporates and individuals through Reuters Trading for Foreign Exchange. Yes Bank will act as a market maker for the dollar-rupee pair for corporates having subscription to Reuters terminal, while other small corporates or individuals can avail on-line forex trading in any currency pair through the bank’s website, Bank’s group president (financial markets) Ajay Mahajan said. — PTI

Jewellery SEZ
New Delhi, June 15
MMTC Ltd has decided to join the SEZ bandwagon by setting up a gems and jewellery park in joint venture with a private player in the tax-free enclave. “The location for the park is being finalised and it could come up at one of the sites in Orissa, West Bengal, Karnataka, Haryana or Delhi,” a high level source said. — PTI

Amul revenue
New Delhi, June 15
The Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (marketing body of Amul) today said it has touched Rs 4,277.84 crore in revenues in fiscal year 2006-07, thus becoming the first billion-dollar co-operative in India. The federation reported a jump of 13.4 per cent in revenues at Rs 4,277.84 crore as compared to Rs 3,700 crore in the previous fiscal. — PTI

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