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Norwegian Co takes 10 pc in ONGC field
New Delhi, July 3
After Petrobras of Brazil, Norway's Norsk Hydro has agreed to take a stake in ONGC's gas discovery block off the east coast. Norsk Hydro will take 10 per cent stake in the block KG-DWN-98/2 for $26 million and will have the option to raise it to 20 per cent, an ONGC press release said here.

Nokia Siemens wins $900-m Airtel deal
New Delhi, July 3
Bharti Airtel today extended its partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks by awarding a $-900-million contract for expansion of its mobile, fixed lines and next generation network.
President and CEO of Bharti Airtel Manoj Kohli (left) and CEO of Nokia Siemens Networks Simon Beresford Wylie shake hands prior to signing a memorandum of understanding in New Delhi on Tuesday.
President and CEO of Bharti Airtel Manoj Kohli (left) and CEO of Nokia Siemens Networks Simon Beresford Wylie shake hands prior to signing a memorandum of understanding in New Delhi on Tuesday. — AFP

RBI warns of economic slowdown
Mumbai, July 3
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Y.V. Reddy has warned that growth of the Indian economy may slow down slightly to 8.5 per cent.

Interpublic Group bags Lintas
Mumbai, July 3
New York-based Interpublic Group (IPG), a global player in advertising and marketing, has acquired 100 per cent stake in Lintas India Pvt Limited for an undisclosed amount.

Ashok Leyland inks pact with Finnish company
Chennai, July 3
Hinduja group flagship Ashok Leyland and Finland’s Alteams group today announced forming a joint venture (JV) that will invest over Rs 500 crore in next few years for setting up a unit to manufacture aluminium products.

VW to roll out ‘Passat’ in India
Mumbai, July 3
Wolfsburg-based carmaker Volkswagen will launch its first car 'Passat' in India this year, which will be the first model assembled in the country.

Infosys is ‘best outsourcing partner’
Bangalore, July 3
Infosys Technologies Ltd today announced its selection as ‘Best Outsourcing Partner’ by readers of ‘Waters’, a leading publication covering the needs of chief information officers in global capital market firms.



This file photo in London shows several US dollar and UK sterling notes and coins.
This file photo in London shows several US dollar and UK sterling notes and coins. The pound struck a 26-year high point against the dollar on Tuesday, on expectations of further interest rate rises in Britain. The pound rose to $2.0197 in early European trade — the highest level since 1981. It later stood at $2.0168. — AFP


EARLIER STORIES

 
World’s smallest handycam
A Sony employee displays the world's smallest high-definition digital camcorder "Handycam HDR-CX7", equipped with a 6.1 mega-pixel CMOS image sensor and a 5.4 - 54mm/F1.8 - 2.9 zoom lens which can record on a memory stick pro duo flash memory card, in Tokyo on Tuesday. Sony will put it on the market on July 10.
A Sony employee displays the world's smallest high-definition digital camcorder "Handycam HDR-CX7", equipped with a 6.1 mega-pixel CMOS image sensor and a 5.4 - 54mm/F1.8 - 2.9 zoom lens which can record on a memory stick pro duo flash memory card, in Tokyo on Tuesday. Sony will put it on the market on July 10. — AFP

Railways’ hotel project derails
New Delhi, July 3
The proposed construction of 100 railway budget hotels across India to meet the Commonwealth Games tourist rush has hit a road block with no clear signal as to which authority will execute them.

Rel Cap to enter consumer finance biz
Mumbai, July 3
Reliance Capital, which is present in mutual fund, insurance, stock broking and private equity space, today said it will start its consumer finance business shortly.

Immediate hike in petro prices ruled out
New Delhi, July 3
Petroleum minister Murli Deora today ruled out any immediate hike in petrol and diesel prices. “Right now, there is no plan to increase petrol and diesel prices,” the minister told reporters here refuting reports that claimed the government was considering a Rs 2 per litre hike in petrol and Re1 a litre raise in diesel prices.

Addl customs duty on imported liquor scrapped
New Delhi, July 3
India today scrapped additional customs duty on imported liquor, wine and beer following a complaint by the European Union and the USA in the WTO. Additional duty of customs in lieu of the state excise duty on imported liquor, wines and beer has been removed by the Central Board of Excise and Customs, a government spokesperson said.

Non-stop flight to NY
Mumbai, July 3
Air-India will introduce a daily, non-stop flight from New York’s JFK International Airport to Mumbai from August 1.

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UTI MF launches UTI-India Lifestyle Fund.
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Norwegian Co takes 10 pc in ONGC field

R.S. Sharma to head ONGC

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has given an approval to the appointment of R.S. Sharma as chairman and managing director of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

Sharma, who is currently the acting CMD since May 25 last year, will head the country's largest upstream company till 2011.

The petroleum ministry has cleared the order for his appointment.

The Public Enterprise Selection Board, headed by N.K. Sinha, had earlier selected Sharma after conducting interviews of 28 candidates.

Sharma, the senior most member in the corporation was director (finance) before being appointed as the acting head. — TNS

New Delhi, July 3
After Petrobras of Brazil, Norway's Norsk Hydro has agreed to take a stake in ONGC's gas discovery block off the east coast.

Norsk Hydro will take 10 per cent stake in the block KG-DWN-98/2 for $26 million and will have the option to raise it to 20 per cent, an ONGC press release said here.

ONGC last evening signed an agreement with the Norwegian deepwater export to develop deepwater oil and gas blocks. The agreement was signed by director (offshore) N.K. Mitra and Director (exploration) D.K. Pande on behalf of ONGC and Tore Torvund, executive vice-president, Norsk Hydro.

Petrobras had last month picked 15 per cent stake, with an option to raise it to 30 per cent, in the block where ONGC has reported six discoveries, the latest one at UD-1 well being assessed by upstream regulator DGH as holding 2.08 trillion cubic feet of reserves.

The block sits next to Reliance Industries' 50 trillion cubic feet KG-D6 block. Before farm-in by Petrobras, the block had ONGC holding 90 per cent stake and Cairn India the remaining 10 per cent interest.

ONGC chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma said his company, Petrobras and Norsk Hydro will do a joint appraisal of the gas discoveries in the block and prepare a development plan.

Oslo-based Norsk Hydro will also give ONGC technological support to increase the recovery from Vasai East oil field, off the Mumbai coast. The state-run oil major will pay $7 million to Norway's second-largest oil company for the job.

Norsk Hydro would also provide ONGC with offshore operator know-how. ONGC has offered the company a stake of up to 30 per cent in 32 offshore blocks. — PTI

Petronet pact for LNG

Meanwhile, Petronet LNG Ltd (PLL) today signed a contract with RasGas of Qatar for import of 1.25 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to fire the beleaguered 2,150 MW Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra.

The contract will be for supply of natural gas in its liquefied form in cryogenic tankers from July to September 2008, PLL CEO and managing director Prosad Dasgupta said.

"The first cargo will arrive on July 7," he said, but refused to divulge details on price of gas.

"We have committed to deliver at a price of $4.93 per million British thermal unit for the gas after pooling this contract price with the price of our existing long-term contract ($3.86 per mBtu)."

The agreement was signed by Dasgupta and RasGas managing director Hamad R Mohannadi in presence of RasGas chairman Ibrahim B Ibrahim, Qatar's minister of state for energy and industry Mohammed Al Sada and India's Ambassador to Qatar George Joseph in Doha today.

The LNG would be imported from Qatar at Petronet's Dahej terminal in Gujarat and after regassification piped to Dabhol through state-run gas firm GAIL's pipeline. — PTI

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Nokia Siemens wins $900-m Airtel deal

New Delhi, July 3
Bharti Airtel today extended its partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks by awarding a $-900-million contract for expansion of its mobile, fixed lines and next generation network.

There were also indications from the company that it may place a similar-sized contract with Swedish telecom vendor Ericsson for mobile expansion, discussions for which are currently going on. This will be among the largest GSM expansion deals in India with the installation of an estimated 22,000 base station sites.

"Discussions with Ericsson are going on," Bharti Airtel president and CEO Manoj Kohli said here without divulging financial details.

Bharti has already announced a capex of $3.5 billion for this fiscal to penetrate into the country.

Under the contract, Nokia Siemens Networks will expand Airtel's GSM network in eight existing circles, long-distance and international long-distance network with 1.8 million Next Generation Network (NGN) ports and its international calling card pre-paid service capacity by 4.5 million new users.

The MoU on the contract was signed between Manoj Kohli, and Simon Beresford Wylie, CEO of Nokia Siemens Networks.

Bharti Airtel is also planning to expand the international calling card service from the US at present to 10 more countries with sizable Indian NRI population during this fiscal.

The GSM and NGN expansions are planned over two years and the international calling cards expansion over three years.

The two-year GSM expansion will cover the eight existing circles of Mumbai, Maharashtra and Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand, Orissa, Kolkata and West Bengal where Nokia Siemens Networks already provides equipment and managed services.

Meanwhile, Nokia Siemens Networks had yesterday said it would invest up to $100 million in India over the next three years in a move to strengthen its grip in one of the fastest-growing markets for telecommunications equipment. — PTI

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RBI warns of economic slowdown
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 3
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Y.V. Reddy has warned that growth of the Indian economy may slow down slightly to 8.5 per cent.

Speaking at the Russian central bank yesterday, Reddy said the 8.5 per cent growth may be maintained provided there was no rise in crude oil prices and not internal or external shocks to the Indian economy.

“There are reasonable grounds for optimism about the growth of the Indian economy .... and this has been globally recognised,” Reddy said.

He, however, added that Indian policy-makers had to be guarded given global inflation pressures, persisting global imbalances, the re-pricing of risk and volatile capital flows, he said.

He said the government was committed to containing inflation close to 5 per cent.

“The acceleration of growth in the real sector has been reflected in the upward shift in the growth trajectory of credit extended by commercial banks, which in the past three years has been unprecedented in the history of the Indian economy,” he said.

“There has been some sign of deceleration in the recent period,” he added.

Reddy said Indian growth of 9.4 per cent in 2006-07 - the fastest growth in 18 years - reflected structural and cyclical factors, which were difficult to quantify.

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Interpublic Group bags Lintas

Mumbai, July 3
New York-based Interpublic Group (IPG), a global player in advertising and marketing, has acquired 100 per cent stake in Lintas India Pvt Limited for an undisclosed amount.

IPG already had 49 per cent stake in Lintas, which it acquired in two phases in 1969 and 1998. With the completion of integration process, Lintas would now operate as a part of IPG-promoted Lowe Worldwide Network.

The post-acquisition entity will be redesigned into a 'high- value ideas company' and will set up centres in 10 hubs worldwide, said Stephen Gatfield, IPG executive vice- president.

''Lintas has been a key partner of Lowe Worldwide for more than three decades and has brought great business in India. The entity will work closely in future also with IPG ventures'', Gatfield told reporters.

The group is also on the look out for suitable partners in its ventures and is likely to set up joint ventures, he said.

Lowe worldwide's client roaster include Unilever, Nokia, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Saab and Stella Artois.

Started in 1969, Lintas is providing integrated communication solutions to clients and has leading brands like Initiative, Insight, Interactions, Intellect and Media Futures.

The company has 200 clients in domestic market that include Industry-heads like Tata, Nestle, Bajaj Auto, ICICI Prudential and Berger Paints. — UNI

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Ashok Leyland inks pact with Finnish company

Chennai, July 3
Hinduja group flagship Ashok Leyland and Finland’s Alteams group today announced forming a joint venture (JV) that will invest over Rs 500 crore in next few years for setting up a unit to manufacture aluminium products.

The 50:50 JV factory would be commissioned by December, 2008 near here. The two partners would invest Rs 175 crore in the first phase and Rs 335 crore in the second stage over the next 5-6 years, Ashok Leyland managing director R Seshasayee and Alteams CEO Panu Routila told reporters here.

The new unit would make aluminium products, particularly for automotive and telecom industries. The turnover in the first year of operations was expected to be around Rs 280 crore. With the completion of second phase, the JV would achieve a turnover of Rs 650 crore and generate 1,000 jobs.

Routila said the JV would start functioning immediately and start distributing Alteams’ products, imported from the company’s unit at China, to Ashok Leyland and Nokia.

The factory would be located around Chennai so that it could be close to Ashok Leyland and Nokia factories.

Separately, Ashok Leyland informed that the JV would manufacture High Pressure Die Casting (HPDC) aluminium products, particularly for auto and telecom sectors.

The unit will also be used to partly meet Ashok Leyland’s captive needs for components for engines and gearboxes. — PTI

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VW to roll out ‘Passat’ in India

Mumbai, July 3
Wolfsburg-based carmaker Volkswagen will launch its first car 'Passat' in India this year, which will be the first model assembled in the country.

The company will also set up a subsidiary, Volkswagen Group Sales India Pvt Limited, in order to strengthen its operations in India.

The Indian operations would be headed by group MD Joerg Mueller while the passenger car segment will be headed by Andreas Prinz.

The company is initially targeting tier-1 cities Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to establish its dealership network and will gradually expand operations to other Indian cities.

The Indian subsidiary will operate as an independent distribution company for Volkswagen and Audi in India.

The group's popular brands include Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen commercial vehicles. — PTI

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Infosys is ‘best outsourcing partner’

Bangalore, July 3
Infosys Technologies Ltd today announced its selection as ‘Best Outsourcing Partner’ by readers of ‘Waters’, a leading publication covering the needs of chief information officers in global capital market firms.

Waters’ ranking recognises the outstanding achievements of solution providers that help financial institutions generate revenue and service their clients efficiently, Infosys said.

The Bangalore-based company was named the best outsourcing partner over nine competitors and by a margin of more than double from the closest competitor in the survey.

In May, editors of ‘Waters’ invited the publication’s readers and financial technology professionals to vote for the best hardware, software, financial service vendors and trading venues in the industry across 22 categories. — PTI

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Railways’ hotel project derails

New Delhi, July 3
The proposed construction of 100 railway budget hotels across India to meet the Commonwealth Games tourist rush has hit a road block with no clear signal as to which authority will execute them.

The ministry of railways had last month created a new Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) as part of its new policy to take care of the bidding process of these hotels, which was earlier being done by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation(IRCTC).

“Nothing has moved further ever since the authority is created. It is not clear who is in charge of the things,” said a senior ministry official.

The mandate of RLDA is to develop new budget hotels on unused railway lands. If the new policy comes through, this statutory authority of the railways may also have to look after the renovation, maintenance and operation of the hotels which has been under the supervision of IRCTC so far.

Earlier, there were plans to hand over the Rail Yatri Niwas and Rail Ratna (budget hotels) to private operators on a 15-year and 30-year lease, a ministry source said.

The plans also envisaged dividing the ownership of rooms between the builder and the Railways on 70:30 ratio.

But initial biddings had raised many eye-brows, so all previous deals are under the scanner now, the source added. — PTI

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Rel Cap to enter consumer finance biz

Mumbai, July 3
Reliance Capital, which is present in mutual fund, insurance, stock broking and private equity space, today said it will start its consumer finance business shortly.

“We will start the consumer finance business shortly,” Reliance Capital chairman Anil Ambani said while addressing the shareholders at the company’s AGM.

While denying any move to become a bank, he said the company may consider promoting or acquiring a bank if policy permits.

The company would also ramp up its work force to 50,000 in the next two years, Ambani said.

Reliance Capital group company — Reliance Money — has emerged as the largest money transfer company in private sector recently.

Reliance Capital is also planning to invest over Rs 2,000 crore in its life insurance business in the next few years. — PTI

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Immediate hike in petro prices ruled out

New Delhi, July 3
Petroleum minister Murli Deora today ruled out any immediate hike in petrol and diesel prices.

“Right now, there is no plan to increase petrol and diesel prices,” the minister told reporters here refuting reports that claimed the government was considering a Rs 2 per litre hike in petrol and Re1 a litre raise in diesel prices. To compensate losses incurred by the oil companies, Deora said he will meet finance minister P Chidambaram for seeking more oil bonds.

“We will meet Chidambaram next week with a detailed compensation package,” he said. Country’s crude oil basket increased to $69.62 a barrel yesterday.

State-run oil marketing companies are continuing to lose revenues due to under recoveries at Rs 50,000 crore in the current fiscal, against Rs 49,387 crore revenue loss last year. — UNI

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Addl customs duty on imported liquor scrapped

New Delhi, July 3
India today scrapped additional customs duty on imported liquor, wine and beer following a complaint by the European Union and the USA in the WTO. Additional duty of customs in lieu of the state excise duty on imported liquor, wines and beer has been removed by the Central Board of Excise and Customs, a government spokesperson said.

The additional customs duty imposed by India hitherto ranges between 20 and 150 per cent. This is over and above the basic customs duty of 150 per cent allowed by the WTO. The multiple duties, in some cases, took the overall tax incidence to up to 550 per cent.

The EU and the USA dragged India to the WTO disputes settlement body complaining that New Delhi was violating the duties allowed by the multilateral trade body. — PTI

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Non-stop flight to NY
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 3
Air-India will introduce a daily, non-stop flight from New York’s JFK International Airport to Mumbai from August 1.

These flights are in addition to Air India’s daily 747-400 direct service from New York to India via London, and from Newark to India via Paris. AI will press in its new Boeing 777-LR aircraft on this route.

The airline said the flight will depart daily at 9.30 p.m. from JFK International Airport, while Flight 141 will depart Mumbai at 12.45 a.m., arriving at JFK at 7.10 a.m. the same day.

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BRIEFLY

Cognizant plan
Kolkata, July 3
IT and business outsourcing company Cognizant today said it will invest $200 million by the end of 2008 to set up centres across the country. “We will spend $200 million (about Rs 800 crore) to build techno-complexes in Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Kolkata,” Cognizant president and managing director R Chandrasekaran told reporters. — PTI

Patni Computers
New Delhi, July 3
Patni Computer Systems Ltd today said it has acquired Europe-based Logan-Orviss International, a leading independent specialist telecommunications consulting services company for an undisclosed amount.. The consideration includes an upfront cash payment on completion of the transaction as well as performance-linked incentive payments on achieving financial targets over a three year period. — UNI

BHEL awarded
New Delhi, July 3
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has bagged the ‘ICWAI National Award for Excellence in Cost Management’ for the second year in a row. The awards are presented annually by the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India to corporate entities for excellence in cost, quality and delivery. — PTI

Trade centre
Chennai, July 3
The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is planning to set up an Indian Trade Centre in Bucharest to help Indian businessmen to launch projects in Romania. Called FIEO-ITC, the proposed warehouse-cum-display centre which will start operating within two months, will enable international buyers to base their purchasing decision through a touch-and-feel method. — UNI

Online trading
New Delhi, July 3
The State Bank of India (SBI) today announced the launch of its online share trading facility for its customers at a few select branches in Delhi. SBI (Delhi Circle) chief general manager Gautam Kanjilal will formally launch this facility tomorrow. Customers of the SBI can avail this service from any of the select branches extending this facility, said a statement. — UNI

L&T dividend
Mumbai, July 3
To commemorate the birth centenary of its co-founder Henning Holck-Larsen, Larsen & Toubro Limited decided to pay a special dividend of Rs 2 per equity share of Rs 2 each. The company, founded by Henning Holck-Larsen and Soren Toubro in 1938, has grown over the years to become India’s leading technology, construction and engineering company. — UNI

Tiger Airways
Chennai, July 3
Singapore-based low cost carrier Tiger Airways today said it will start direct flights to Singapore from the city and Kochi beginning October 28. Tiger Airways CEO Tony Davis said: “We would start operating four flights in a week between Chennai and Singapore from October 28 and three flights per week between Singapore and Kochi from October 30,” — PTI

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