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GAIL eyes equity in Trans-Sahara pipeline
ONGC, GAIL ink pact for monetising gas reserves
New Delhi, July 24
State-owned gas firm GAIL (India) Ltd is keen on joining the $13-billion Trans-Saharan gas pipeline that would supply gas from Africa to the European market, company chairman and managing director U D Choubey said today.

Ballarpur Ind to split stock, buyback BILT
New Delhi, July 24
Country’s largest paper-makes Ballarpur Industries Ltd today said it will undertake a stock split from Rs 10 to Rs 2 and buyback of BILT Graphic Paper Products Ltd (BCPPL) units at Bhigwan , Ballarpur and Kamlapuram, with an aim to reorganise the company.

BSNL prepaid WLL local call @ 75p
New Delhi, July 24
State-owned BSNL’s will introduce SIM-based prepaid CDMA WLL service from August 1 that will further bring down the local call rate to 75 paise a minute.

Satyam to mark presence in S. Africa
Hyderabad, July 24
Satyam Computer Services today announced strategic initiatives to strengthen its presence in South Africa.Satyam Sr V-P Aggarwal said the company was planning to recruit 200 South Africans in support of the Black Economic Empowerment Charter of South Africa.

Govt plans audit to curb excise evasion
New Delhi, July 24
Voicing concern over high degree of evasion in excise duty, finance minister P Chidambaram today said the government would strengthen excise audit, have a close look at CENVAT credit and also give publicity to those found faulting under the deterrent scheme.

Film actor Shah Rukh Khan speaks during a promotional event for Compaq computers, an information technology company, in Mumbai. Film actor Shah Rukh Khan speaks during a promotional event for Compaq computers, an information technology company, in Mumbai on Tuesday. — Reuters

 

A model poses with a cellular telephone during a launch ceremony for new handsets in New Delhi, on Tuesday. Sony Eriscon has launched eight new high-technology handsets with a starting price of Rs 14,000 ($348).
A model poses with a cellular telephone during a launch ceremony for new handsets in New Delhi, on Tuesday. Sony Eriscon has launched eight new high-technology handsets with a starting price of Rs 14,000 ($348). A Tribune photograph

EARLIER STORIES

 

Sasan bid on Lanco declared invalid 
New Delhi, July 24
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EgoM) on ultra mega power projects today declared Lanco-Globeleq consortium’s bid for the 4,000 MW Sasan plant as invalid, but did not specify whether bids will be invited afresh.

Minda Group ties up with Valeo
To set up manufacturing plant in Pune
New Delhi, July 24
Auto parts manufacturer NK Minda Group today tied up with France-based Valeo Electrical Systems to set up a manufacturing plant in Pune, which will manufacture starter motors and alternators, with an annual capacity of two million units.
Nirmal K. Minda (L), MD, NK Minda Group, and Orazio Ragni (R), vice- president, Valeo Electrical Systems of France, shakes hands after signing an agreement, at a press conference in New Delhi
Nirmal K. Minda (L), MD, NK Minda Group, and Orazio Ragni (R), vice- president, Valeo Electrical Systems of France, shakes hands after signing an agreement, at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.— Tribune photo by Manas Ranajn Bhu

NDTV may offload 26 pc stake to NBC
New Delhi, July 24
Media conglomerate NDTV is understood to be in talks with US entertainment major NBC universal for selling 26 per cent stake in its upcoming entertainment business.

‘Tex Summit’  to boost productivity
New Delhi, July 24
The ministry of textiles is holding a two day ‘Tex Summit’ from August 31 to deliberate upon areas of concern for textile sector to further boost productivity and export for realising the potential of the sector in generating employment.

DSP Merrill Lynch launches ‘gold fund’
Chandigarh , July 24
Investors in India will now be able to invest in gold mining companies across the world for the first time with DSP Merrill Lynch Fund Managers Ltd bringing the DSP Merrill Lynch World Gold Fund.

 
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GAIL eyes equity in Trans-Sahara pipeline
ONGC, GAIL ink pact for monetising gas reserves
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
State-owned gas firm GAIL (India) Ltd is keen on joining the $13-billion Trans-Saharan gas pipeline that would supply gas from Africa to the European market, company chairman and managing director U D Choubey said today.

“We have envisaged interest and are keen to participate in the project,” he said, adding “We being primarily gas transportation and marketing company, see a lot of synergy in participation in the trans-national project.”

Even as the pipeline has been on the drawing board for the past 20 years, GAIL chief said the project was feasible.

Nigeria currently has 180 trillion cubic feet of proved gas reserves and is committed to supplying TSGP, using gas that would otherwise be flared. It plans to eliminate gas flaring by 2008.

Once built, the 4,300-km line would transport gas from the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria through the Niger and into Algeria and Europe.

Separately, Choubey said GAIL was in talks with ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), and Oil India Ltd for buying energy assets abroad.

“We are looking at gas bearing areas like Libya, Algeria and South Africa,” he said.

Meanwhile, ONGC today signed an agreement with GAIL for transportation, processing and marketing natural gas from the Krishna Godavari (KG) and the Mahanadi basin of ONGC.

Under the agreement, a joint venture (JV) company will be formed, the name of which is yet to be finalised.

The MoU was signed by GAIL director (business development) A K Purwaha and ONGC director (HR and business development) A K Baliyan in the presence of ONGC chief R S Sharma and GAIL CMD U D Choubey.

Under the MoU, the two companies have agreed to come together through a JV approach for monetising the gas reserves discovered by ONGC in the KG and Mahanadi basin.

“A joint working group will be formed to examine specific opportunities for cooperation in pipeline infrastructure for the KG and Mahandadi basins,” Sharma said.

The cooperation with GAIL would help ONGC get quicker access of the discovered gas and also enable us to secure market price for gas to offset higher production cost from deep water, he added. “To harness natural gas, likely to come by 2011-12 and thereafter from the KG and Mahanadi basin, this agreement is a landmark development for both companies,” Choubey told reporters here.

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Ballarpur Ind to split stock, buyback BILT

New Delhi, July 24
Country’s largest paper-makes Ballarpur Industries Ltd today said it will undertake a stock split from Rs 10 to Rs 2 and buyback of BILT Graphic Paper Products Ltd (BCPPL) units at Bhigwan , Ballarpur and Kamlapuram, with an aim to reorganise the company.

Ballarpur Industries has decided upon the slump exchange for the three units at a value of Rs 1,950 crore, said a statement.

BILT will issue equity shares of Rs 450 crore and non-convertible redeemable debentures for Rs 1,500 crore to Ballarpur Industries.

Ballarpur Industries has two other unlisted subsidiaries incorporated in Netherlands, namely Ballarpur International Holdings BV and Ballarpur Paper Holdings BV (BPH). BPH will now hold the shares of BILT.

BPH will raise long-term debt and private equity to fund the acquisition.

According to the scheme, a stock split and a simultaneous buyback of 40 per cent of the paid up capital of the company will be undertaken. In addition, small shareholders holding 1,000 equity shares or less of the company prior to the stock split under the scheme, shall have the option to sell the shares in entirety.

Under the stock split, a single share of the company will be split into five shares of the face value of Rs 2 each. The non-split share has been valued at Rs 125, which is higher than the closing price of the shares of the company on July 23, 2007.

The buyback price for the share of the face value of Rs 2 for purchasing 40 per cent of the post-spilt stock from the paid-up capital of the company and will be bought back with two shares of the face value of Rs 2 for the purchase price of Rs 50. — UNI

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BSNL prepaid WLL local call @ 75p

New Delhi, July 24
State-owned BSNL’s will introduce SIM-based prepaid CDMA WLL service from August 1 that will further bring down the local call rate to 75 paise a minute.

The SIM-based prepaid Tarang WLL mobile service will cost 75 paise within BSNL’s own network, while it will cost Rs 1.20 a minute to other networks.

For STD, it will cost Rs 1.80 a minute in own network and Rs 2.40 a minute to other networks.

The ISD call charges are Rs 7.20 a minute on a 10-second pulse to the US, Canada, the UK and Sri Lanka. To Europe, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia, the charges are Rs 9.60 a minute on a 7.5-second pulse so is a subscriber calling Kuwait, Bharin, the UAE, Oman and Qatar. For the rest of the world, it is Rs 12 a minute for a 6-second pulse. — PTI

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Satyam to mark presence in S. Africa

Hyderabad, July 24
Satyam Computer Services today announced strategic initiatives to strengthen its presence in South Africa.

Satyam Sr V-P Aggarwal said the company was planning to recruit 200 South Africans in support of the Black Economic Empowerment Charter of South Africa.

The company was banking on a number of contracts from South Africa and saw potential in providing IT solutions to various sectors. — UNI 

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Govt plans audit to curb excise evasion
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
Voicing concern over high degree of evasion in excise duty, finance minister P Chidambaram today said the government would strengthen excise audit, have a close look at CENVAT credit and also give publicity to those found faulting under the deterrent scheme.

He, however, exuded confidence that the budget target for indirect taxes collection of Rs 2,78,013 crore for 2007-08 will be met.
As part of measures to plug revenue leakage from industries such as steel, chewing tobacco and furnace oil, the government today decided to do a ‘high-impact auditing’ of such units to curb duty evasion.

“There are some concerns about excise... It is one tax where I think there is high degree of evasion,” Chidambaram told reporters after inaugurating a two-day national conference of Central Customs and Excise Commissioners.

He said this was one of the measures the government has decided on to curb excise evasion. “The high-impact audit must cover assessees, products or sectors which are prone to tax evasion,” Chidambaram said.

Later, Central Board of Excise and Customs Chairman S K Singhal said that the department had found a large number of units in steel, furnace oil and ‘paan masala’ indulging in excise duty evasion.

The high-impact auditing would cover these sectors, he said, adding it would be based on certain internal risk parameters to check evasion.

Claiming that as a rule, trend in excise duty collections should follow VAT collections, Chidambaram said the department has been asked to share information with states on specific products, industries and cities to detect non-disclosures.

VAT collection has increased by 24.6 per cent during the first quarter, whereas excise duty has grown by 6.8 per cent year-on-year.

Excise duty collections grew to Rs 25,161 crore in the first quarter against Rs 23,560 crore in the previous Q1.

Services tax fetched 31.6 per cent more to the exchequer at Rs 7,257 crore against Rs 5,514 crore in the same period last fiscal. Customs duty collections grew by 20 per cent at Rs 23,570 crore against Rs 19,677 crore in the year-ago period.

“We are slightly behind on excise, a shade behind on service tax, but at the moment we have no grave concerns in respect to budgetary targets... Now, I am confident that with the economy growing at close to 9 per cent, the department will be able to meet the budget estimates of Rs 2,78,013 crore,” Chidambaram said.

Referring to other measures to curb duty evasion, he said it was now mandatory for assessees with duty liability of over Rs 50 lakh to make e-payment of excise duty.

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Sasan bid on Lanco declared invalid 

New Delhi, July 24
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EgoM) on ultra mega power projects today declared Lanco-Globeleq consortium’s bid for the 4,000 MW Sasan plant as invalid, but did not specify whether bids will be invited afresh.

The EGoM declared Lanco’s bid as “void ab-initio” (invalid from the outset) at the Request for Qualification stage, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters here.

The panel, however, did not take any decision whether to award the Rs 20,000 crore project to Reliance Energy-being the second-lowest bidder-or whether to invite fresh bids.

Lanco had outbid REL with a tariff bid of Rs 1.196 per unit, but the consortium later broke after Globeleq sold its stake to Lanco and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.

Shinde said the EGoM has directed Sasan Power Ltd, a special purpose vehicle set up by Power Finance Corporation, to examine the future course of action.

“It will have to submit a report within 3-4 days and EGoM will then consider,” he added.

The EGoM, which met for the fourth time today, was set up to resolve the imbroglio over the project after it was alleged that Lanco misrepresented facts during the bidding process. — PTI

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Minda Group ties up with Valeo
To set up manufacturing plant in Pune

New Delhi, July 24
Auto parts manufacturer NK Minda Group today tied up with France-based Valeo Electrical Systems to set up a manufacturing plant in Pune, which will manufacture starter motors and alternators, with an annual capacity of two million units.

The group said it expects a turnover of Rs 200-275 crore and the company will infuse Rs 100-120 crore in its newly formed entity with a French firm.

“We expect a turnover of Rs 250-275 crore from the joint venture in four to five years, with a growth of 15-20 per cent in auto parts segment,” Minda Industries Ltd Managing Director N K Minda told reporters here.

The JV company will invest about Rs 100-120 crore in the entity Valeo Minda Electrical Systems India Pvt Ltd and the commercial production in the plant will begin in March 2008, he said.

The investment will spread over four years and about 10 per cent of the total amount is earmarked for setting up a Research and Development (R&D) centre at the new facility.

The JV will be 66.7 per cent owned by Valeo, with the remainder held by NK Minda group, the parent company of Minda Industries Ltd.

The entity will be focusing on manufacturing starter motors and alternators for passenger cars initially and after consolidation in the sector will look at HCV, LCV and two to three wheeler segments.

The company will also supply the auto parts to major car manufacturers, Mr Minda informed.

The total OEM market for cars and MUV’s is currently slated to be 1.5 million starters and 1.5 million alternators respectively, which is growing at a rate of about nine per cent.

Valeo Group Vice-President Orazio Ragni said the company will be looking for more tie-ups in the near future but refused to name any partners. — UNI

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NDTV may offload 26 pc stake to NBC

New Delhi, July 24
Media conglomerate NDTV is understood to be in talks with US entertainment major NBC universal for selling 26 per cent stake in its upcoming entertainment business.

NDTV Entertainment is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Prannoy Roy-promoted New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) and could be valued at up to $ 500 million (over Rs 2,000 crore). It is likely to launch its entertainment channel soon.

When contacted Sameer Nair, Star’s ex-CEO, who is now heading NDTV Entertainment, declined to comment on the deal.

NDTV and NBC, a venture of GE Group, are understood to have signed a preliminary agreement or term-sheet last week for the purpose but the value for the proposed transaction could not be ascertained. — PTI

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‘Tex Summit’  to boost productivity
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
The ministry of textiles is holding a two day ‘Tex Summit’ from August 31 to deliberate upon areas of concern for textile sector to further boost productivity and export for realising the potential of the sector in generating employment.

Addressing mediapersons, union textile minister Shankarsinh Vaghela said the summit proposes to address variety of issues that are troubling the sector.

In recognition to the need of building on strengths like large production base, easy access to raw materials, availability of skilled workforce and expertise in designs and motifs, four working groups consisting of leading members of trade and industry have been constituted, Vaghela said, adding that they would examine various issues confronting the industry and submit their recommendations.

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DSP Merrill Lynch launches ‘gold fund’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , July 24
Investors in India will now be able to invest in gold mining companies across the world for the first time with DSP Merrill Lynch Fund Managers Ltd bringing the DSP Merrill Lynch World Gold Fund.

Among the first few feeder funds approved by SEBI, this open-ended fund will be further investing into an international fund: Merrill Lynch International Investments Fund - World Gold Fund. (MLIIF-WGF).

It has been in existence for the past 12 years and invests in gold mining companies across the world. It currently manages assets of over $5.4 billion (Rs 21,000 crore). The MLIIF-WGF scheme is rated AAA by S&P (Standard & Poor), which evaluates over 30,000 schemes from all over the world every year and grants an AAA rating to only 112 of them.

“With this, a new investment opportunity has opened for the Indian investor,” stated Ajit Menon, senior vice-president and channel head, DSP Merrill Lynch. “Traditionally, the Indian community has always believed in investing in gold. However, if a person had invested in physical gold 12 years ago, he would have got a return of 6.6 per cent today. On the other hand, if he had invested in MLIIF-WGF, his return would have been more than double at 14 per cent."

The reason for the higher return is not difficult to find. Every time there is an increase in gold prices, profitability of the gold mining companies increase to more than double. This is because the cost of gold mining remains constant and the hiked price adds to the profit of the gold mining company. 

The price of gold is expected to stay on the upward curve over the coming years because of increasing demand-supply gap.

The DSP Merrill Lynch World Gold Fund is now open and closes on August 23. The minimum investment is Rs 5,000.

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BRIEFLY

Idea Cellular subsidiary
Mumbai, July 24
Aditya Birla-promoted Idea Cellular today said its board has approved formation of a wholly-owned arm to hive off GSM towers and other passive infrastructure to monetise the assets and focus on core business. The Board of Directors of the Idea Cellular at its meeting today approved the formation of a wholly-owned subsidiary for possible transfer of passive infrastructure, a company statement said. — PTI

Aircel to set up cell cities in HP
Shimla, July 24
Cellular company Aircel will be setting up 13 cell cities across Himachal with its services reaching the interior parts of the state. A cell city was inaugurated at Baddi in Solan district by the head, sales and marketing of Aircel, Mr S.K. Bansal. This is the fifth cell city opened by Aircel in the state. Aircel would shortly be launching its services in Theog, Rampur, Narkanda, Jhakri, Kothkhai, Jubbal, Rohru and Una. Aircel recently launched a handset bundle offer (HBO) where a handset is made available at Rs 999 with lifetime validity. Aircel has also launched a value voucher of Rs 59 by which local call charges are as low as 19 p per minute. — TNS

MTNL order
New Delhi, July 24
Leading manufacturers of power and telecommunication cables RPG Cables today said it would be awarded an order worth Rs 33.31 crore from Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) for supply of PIJF Cables. The order is scheduled to be completed by November this year, the company said in a statement. — UNI

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