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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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B U S I N E S S

Mittal pays Rs 500 crore for 49 pc stake
New Delhi, July 25
Steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal, who is also chairman of Mittal Energy Investments Pvt Ltd, today paid the first instalment of Rs 500 crore for its 49 per cent stake in the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery Project (GGSRP), being set up at Bathinda with joint venture partner Hindustan Petroleum Corportation (HPCL).
Mittal Investments chairman Lakshmi N. Mittal (left) with minister of petroleum Murli Deora in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Mittal Investments chairman Lakshmi N. Mittal (left) with minister of petroleum Murli Deora in New Delhi on Wednesday. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

May transfer Lukoil assets to OMEL
Talking to mediapersons, L.N. Mittal today said he was planning to transfer his assets in Lukoil, Russia's main oil producer, to the joint venture entity ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd (OMEL).

Govt hints at petro price hike
New Delhi, July 25
With the surge in global crude prices and the resultant increase in the subsidy burden on oil companies, the Centre today broadly hinted at the imminent hike in petrol and diesel prices.

Infosys bags $250 m Philips contract
Bangalore, July 25
Infosys Technologies won a $250 million contract from Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands and said would acquire three

Protest against ‘corporate hijack of retail’
New Delhi, July 25
Basing their argument on a study that claims to expose ‘the myths of Reliance retail’, hawkers, street vendors, farmers, retailers and social organisations today called for an all-India ‘Corporations Quit Retail’ protest action on August 8-9 to urge the government “to stop the corporate hijack of retail”.


Actress Sonali Bendre at the launch of Omega jewellery range in Chennai on Wednesday. — PTI
Actress Sonali Bendre at the launch of Omega jewellery range in Chennai on Wednesday. — PTI

 

EARLIER STORIES

 
Sony India managing director Masaru Tamagawa (left) along with models at the launch of range of 'Vaio' series laptops in New Delhi
Sony India managing director Masaru Tamagawa (left) along with models at the launch of range of 'Vaio' series laptops in New Delhi on Wednesday. The new CR range of notebooks are priced between Rs 54,990 and Rs 64,990. —  Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Orissa woos Haryana investors
Hisar, July 25
A delegation of the Department of Industries of the Orissa government led by industry secretary A M R Dalwai visited the town today to invite local industrialists to set up units in Orissa.

Flamingo forays into North
Chandigarh, July 25
Flamingo Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a quality-driven Indian pharmaceutical company with an experience of over two decades in global pharmaceutical markets , has decided to set up a USFDA-approved plant in India. This plant shall be a 100 per cent export-oriented unit and will lead Flamingo's entry into the US market.

Private investment in airports sought
New Delhi, July 25
The government today reiterated that it was looking at attracting private investment to develop merchant airports and other airstrips in different parts of the country to promote civil aviation and make it more affordable for the people.

Reva unveils new model
Bangalore, July 25
India’s only electric car company — Reva today launched REVAi, an air-conditioned electric car with a host of new features, including increased speed, range and acceleration even as it prepares to go global with 70 per cent of production being exported to the United Kingdom and Spain.

Deputy chairman of Reva Electric Car Company Chetan Maini poses wiht the newly launched car in Bangalore on Wednesday. — AFP photo 
Deputy chairman of Reva Electric Car Company Chetan Maini poses wiht the newly launched car in Bangalore on Wednesday.

MRTPC notice to 14 cement companies 
New Delhi, July 25
The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) has issued notices to 14 cement firms, including Grasim, ACC and Ultratech, after its investigative arm director-general of investigations and registration (DGIR) pointed toward cartelisation and slammed the Cement Manufacturers' Association for the "exorbitant" increase in prices.

ONGC profit up 11.9 pc
New Delhi, July 25
Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) today reported a 11.9 per cent rise in first quarter profit as a stronger rupee helped the nation's largest oil producer to reduce subsidies it pays to refiners for selling fuel below cost price.

 
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Bathinda Refinery
Mittal pays Rs 500 crore for 49 pc stake
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal, who is also chairman of Mittal Energy Investments Pvt Ltd, today paid the first instalment of Rs 500 crore for its 49 per cent stake in the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery Project (GGSRP), being set up at Bathinda with joint venture partner Hindustan Petroleum Corportation (HPCL).

Mittal presented the cheque of Rs 500 crore to HPCL chairman and managing director Arun Balakrishnan, in the presence of petroleum minister Murli Deora and other top officials, marking the beginning of joint venture company Guru Govind Singh Refineries Limited.

“This is a historical day for Punjab as this is the biggest project for the state,” Mittal said, adding “For me, this is an opportunity to return to the country and help build world-class infrastructure complex. I am indeed grateful for this chance.”

While appreciating the speedy clearance of the project by the Centre and state governments, Mittal said though HPCL and Mittal Group had actually completed all work for commercial agreement in February 2007 itself, but due to Punjab elections, the formal agreement was signed after the election process was over.

Speaking on the occasion, Deora said “I am happy that now work will commence in full earnest for building the first refinery in Punjab.”

“The project which has been hanging for the past seven-eight years will soon see the light of the day,” he said adding “It is expected that best practices followed by the Mittal Group will be used in the JV company. We have many expectations from this partnership and hope that the project will be completed expeditiously.”

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who held a meeting with Mittal and Deora, said the project would be completed within four years.

“I am happy that actual work will commence soon. This will herald a new economic and industrial revolution in the state. We invite all industries to set up their units in Punjab,” Badal said.

He said the Bathinda refinery will create about one lakh jobs directly and about two lakh jobs indirectly in the region. “Besides, there will be industrialisation and development of support industries. The transport and ancillary industries will also get a boost”, he said.

Meanwhile, Mittal said the JV company was in talks with Engineers India Limited (EIL) for the construction of the refinery. As per the JV agreement, HPCL and Mittal will contribute Rs 3,506 crore each for 49 per cent equity and balance 2 per cent equity of Rs 143 crore will be taken by the financial institutions.

The investment by Mittal Investments of Rs 3,506 crore (or about 5 per cent of total FDI in 2006-07) is the largest FDI brought into the petroleum refining sector in collaboration with a public sector undertaking (PSU).

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Orissa, Jharkhand steel plants on track

Meanwhile, Lakshmi Mittal today said the two steel plants proposed by his company in Jharkhand and Orissa are on course and hoped allocation of iron ore and coal mines for the projects soon.

“The projects are on course. The capacity of these two projects would be 10 million tonnes each,” Mittal said.

“I am confident of getting iron ore, coal and land. There is definitely an assurance from the government and on this assurance we are progressing,” Mittal said.

The two steel plants would each need 600 million tonnes of iron ore over 30 years and the company is preparing a feasibility report on the ventures, he said.

Stating that his company has made lot of progress and was getting tremendous support from the centre and state governments, Mittal said during his current visit to India, his CFO and son Aditya Mittal and he, himself, would meet Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to reaffirm “our commitment to setting up the steel plants in both the states.”

He, however, could not give a time frame for the commencement of work in these two steel projects.

Asked about the delays, he said: “This is the first time, after Vizag steel plant, that such large investments (Arcelor Mittal’s two steel plants and another steel plant by South Korea’s Posco) have been announced. The government was not geared for such large investments.”

After the initial learning, steps are being taken for allocation of iron ore and coal mines and land for the projects, he said, adding he saw all the three big steel plants coming up in the near future. — TNS

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May transfer Lukoil assets to OMEL

Talking to mediapersons, L.N. Mittal today said he was planning to transfer his assets in Lukoil, Russia's main oil producer, to the joint venture entity ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd (OMEL).

The joint venture between the Mittal Group and state-owned ONGC's overseas arm OVL will have the first right of refusal, Mittal said.

''The matter is under consideration and there is a commitment,'' he said.

The steel baron had completed acquisition of Russian oil company Lukoil's 50 per cent stake in a Kazakhstan energy firm for $980 million (nearly Rs 4,018 crore), in April this year.

ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd was formed to scout for oil and gas assets across 21 countries, including Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Indonesia.

Both, Lukoil Overseas and Mittal Investments, hold a 50 per cent stake. — UNI

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Govt hints at petro price hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
With the surge in global crude prices and the resultant increase in the subsidy burden on oil companies, the Centre today broadly hinted at the imminent hike in petrol and diesel prices.

“We are trying very hard to see that prices are not increased…I can’t say if they will never be raised,” petroleum minister Murli Deora said here.

“I don’t know how long we can sustain this (current retail price),” Deora said amply hinting at the government’s thinking on the price hike.

IndianOil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum were losing Rs 195 crore per day on account of selling petrol, diesel, kerosene and domestic cooking gas (LPG) below the cost price, the minister said.

Asked whether any fiscal measures are on the cards, Deora said he had held discussions with finance minister P Chidambaram on fiscal measures to ease burden of oil companies so that fuel price hike could be avoided.

In this context, he said fiscal measures like reducing excise duty and shifting from ad-valorem rates to fixed rates were long-pending demands that would certainly help ease the burden of spurt in international oil prices.

He, however, hastened to add that no decision has been taken as yet and consultation would continue. He also added that he has apprised the Prime Minister about the situation and was also in touch with the Left leaders.

Petrol and diesel prices were cut by Rs 2 a litre and Re 1 per litre, respectively, in February this year, but since then global crude prices have appreciated. The Indian basket of crude oil has averaged $72.31 per barrel this month, up 14 per cent from February.

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Infosys bags $250 m Philips contract

Bangalore, July 25
Infosys Technologies won a $250 million contract from Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands and said would acquire three

BPO centres from the Dutch company for $28 million.

As part of the outsourcing contract agreement, Philips will enter into a seven-year contract with Infosys BPO to provide finance and accounting (F&O) services and the processing of purchasing orders.

"The deal size is approximately $250 million over seven years," Infosys' chief operating officer S.D. Shibulal said. "We are acquiring three shared service centre located in India, Poland and Thailand from Philips. We are making a one-time payment of $28 million and acquiring the three centres on a as-is-where-is basis."

The acquisition expands Infosys' global network, particularly strengthening its European operations, with 1,400 skilled BPO staff joining the IT and consulting major.

The multi-year contract is among the largest F&A deals in BPO from India. — PTI 

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Protest against ‘corporate hijack of retail’
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Basing their argument on a study that claims to expose ‘the myths of Reliance retail’, hawkers, street vendors, farmers, retailers and social organisations today called for an all-India ‘Corporations Quit Retail’ protest action on August 8-9 to urge the government “to stop the corporate hijack of retail”.

The group says India’s two largest sources of employment and livelihoods are in retail and agriculture sectors and the world’s largest corporations are trying to enter and control them.

“The corporate retail is growing at the cost of small retail,” Navdanya director Vandana Shiva said, adding that “the entry of giant corporations like Wal-Mart and Reliance in India’s food market will have a direct impact on India’s 650 million farmers and 40 million people employed in small retail. More than 6,600 mega stores are planned with an investment of Rs 40,000 crore by 2011”.

Currently the value of the retail market is estimated at around $270 billion with a growth rate of 5.7 per cent per annum according to the Indian retail report. “The large-scale corporate retail is projected to grow at a rate of 28 to 30 per cent per annum, reaching $70 billion from 2010 from the current size of $8.7 billion,” she says.

As per the plan, protesters will march from Red Fort to Chandni Chowk in Delhi on August 8 and burn effigies of Reliance, Wal-Mart and Bharti. A call for Mumbai trade bandh has been given for August 9. Protest march would also be held and effigies would be burnt in Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kalicut, Ranchi, Jaipur and Bhopal.

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Orissa woos Haryana investors
Tribune News Service

Hisar, July 25
A delegation of the Department of Industries of the Orissa government led by industry secretary A M R Dalwai visited the town today to invite local industrialists to set up units in Orissa.

Talking to mediapersons at Jindal Stainless plant here, Dalwai said 15 per cent industrial houses in India were investing in Orissa, which offered big potential for small and ancillary as well as mega industrial units.

He said Jindal Stainless had acquired 1,200 acres to build a plant of eight tonne per annum capacity at Kalingnagar. It would commence production next year and would be expanded by adding another 300 acres to its premises to double its capacity.

He stated that Orissa had decided to invite industrialists from Hisar as well as Ludhiana in Punjab. Teams of investors from these towns would visit Orissa next month to get first hand information about investment opportunities there. 

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Flamingo forays into North
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 25
Flamingo Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a quality-driven Indian pharmaceutical company with an experience of over two decades in global pharmaceutical markets , has decided to set up a USFDA-approved plant in India. This plant shall be a 100 per cent export-oriented unit and will lead Flamingo's entry into the US market.

Stating this at a press conference here today, K.K. Puri, director, Flamingo Pharmaceuticals, also announced the launch of Flamingo's products in North India. Flamingo today launched in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh a comprehensive range of innovative and quality formulations covering anti-infectives, gastroenterologicals and orthocare.

"Northern India accounts for almost Rs 2,000 crore of India's pharma market. We have already launched operations in southern, western and eastern India and plan to create a pan-India presence for our products by September 2007. The launch in North India is aimed at spearheading our company's plan to cross the target turnover of Rs 500 crore in the next 3 years. We are targeting a four-fold increase through a two-pronged strategy of entry into domestic market and leveraging the export opportunity in contract manufacturing. " he added .

Flamingo has a presence in over 45 countries across five continents.

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Private investment in airports sought
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
The government today reiterated that it was looking at attracting private investment to develop merchant airports and other airstrips in different parts of the country to promote civil aviation and make it more affordable for the people.

Civil aviation secretary Ashok Chawla, after inaugurating a seminar on airports here, said there were many unused airstrips in different states which would be developed for civil aviation. The commercial viability of some of these are being looked at by the respective state governments.

He said the centre was encouraging the state governments to identify these locations.

He said the ministry was considering creation of merchant airports, which would be developed solely by private operators, who would own the land as well.

Maintaining that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) would modernise Kolkata and Chennai airports, he said 35 non-metro airports were also being developed through public-private partnership (PPP) and it would be completed by March 2010 and the legal formalities would be completed by the first week of August.

He said the Indian airports and operators, including the AAI, would soon go in for international ratings by complying with the various standards and parameters set by the Airports Council International.

Asked about the bilateral air traffic right to be granted to Chinese cargo carrier, Great Wall of China, Chawla said: “Their application is being processed. There is no decision as yet.”

Problems arose with the carrier when it was found that it had not received security clearance from the US agencies. However, Beijing has clarified that the ownership of the airline has since changed hands. 

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Reva unveils new model
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 25
India’s only electric car company — Reva today launched REVAi, an air-conditioned electric car with a host of new features, including increased speed, range and acceleration even as it prepares to go global with 70 per cent of production being exported to the United Kingdom and Spain.

Unvieling the new REVAi car here, company’s deputy chairman Chetan Maini said the new car had state-of-the-art technology, making it the most advanced electric car in the global market today. Giving details of the progress made by the company after an influx of $ 20 million in funds for its expansion plans last year, he said the company, which was based in Bangalore, would now expand to other cities also.

Maini said the company, which was able to put 600 cars on the road last year, was looking at a 400 to 500 per cent increase in volumes this year. He said the new facility coming up in Bangalore would have a capacity of producing 30,000 cars by next year. Reva has set sales target of 3,000 units this year.

At present, the car is being exported to the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.

The new REVAi comes with 40 per cent increase in mid-torque capacity, a maintenance-free brushless motor, provision of disc brakes, an anti-roll bar, a trip odometer and an automatic computer-controlled indicator for power consumption and regeneration. The car is priced at Rs 3.49 lakh onwards.

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MRTPC notice to 14 cement companies 

New Delhi, July 25
The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) has issued notices to 14 cement firms, including Grasim, ACC and Ultratech, after its investigative arm director-general of investigations and registration (DGIR) pointed toward cartelisation and slammed the Cement Manufacturers' Association for the "exorbitant" increase in prices.

The DGIR, in its report submitted to the MRTPC, said industry body CMA was instrumental in fixing prices in the sector.

"Cement manufacturing companies have got a forum of CMA to meet together and discuss marketing strategies, including prices, so as to increase the prices without any fear of competition from other members of CMA," DGIR said in its preliminary investigation report.

"It amounts to an informal agreement among the cement manufacturing companies on the terms and conditions of sale of cement to consumers," DGIR said.

Admitting the report, MRTPC issued notice of enquiry to 14 companies, asking them to file replies within four weeks.

The companies include ACC, Binani Industries, Birla Corporation, Dalmia Cement, Grasim Industries, Gujarat Ambuja, J K Cement, Indian Cement Ltd, NCL Industries, OCL Industries, Saurastra Cement, Ultratech and Zuari Cement.

MRTPC's action is among a series of measures taken by the government and the Commission to rein in cement prices. In fact, finance minister P Chidambaram had in April admitted the presence of a cement cartel and its inability to deal with them without effective competition law in the country.

DGIR analysed prices of 2005-06 and found that cost of raw material such as limestone and bauxite rose marginally. — PTI

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ONGC profit up 11.9 pc

New Delhi, July 25
Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) today reported a 11.9 per cent rise in first quarter profit as a stronger rupee helped the nation's largest oil producer to reduce subsidies it pays to refiners for selling fuel below cost price.

Net profit in April-June quarter rose 11.9 per cent to Rs 4,610.53 crore as compared to Rs 4,118.99 crore a year ago, a company press release said here.

"The increase in profit is due to reduction in subsidy discounts for the quarter," the

company said.

ONGC gives discounts to Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum on crude oil it sells to them so as to enable the refiners to follow the government diktat of not raising petrol, diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene prices in line with rise in cost of raw material (crude oil). — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Sunil Mittal donates Rs 4 cr  
New Delhi, July 25
In response to the call made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to industry captains to moderate their compensation and participate in community programs, Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Bharti Mittal today decided to donate Rs 4 crore from his salary bonus towards education of underprivileged children in the villages. The donation will be administered by Bharti Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Bharti Enterprises. — TNS

Sify website
Chennai, July 25
Sify.com has announced the launch of www.chennailive.in, the first website for Chennai with live video steaming. Launching the website here last night, Tamil Nadu IT secretary C Chandramouli said with its exciting and extensive city-centric content, the website would enable citizens of this metropolis to keep abreast with the happenings in the city anytime and anywhere. The portal would also help people living overseas to stay in touch with their favourite city, he informed. — UNI

Infra index
New Delhi, July 25
IDFC and UK-based index provider FTSE Group have came out with indices comprising shares of companies like BHEL, NTPC and Bharti Airtel. “The FTSE IDFC India infrastructure index series will be extremely useful to Indian and international investors in getting exposure to infrastructure sector through funds and structured products,” IDFC managing director Rajiv Lall said. — PTI

IOC contract
New Delhi, July 25
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) today said it has bagged a Rs 431 crore-contract from Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for setting up a co-generation power plant at its Gujarat Refinery Complex. Under the engineering, procurement and construction contract, it would set up a 2xframe-6 gas turbine-based co-generation power plant for IOC, BHEL said. — PTI

RCom service
Mumbai, July 25
Reliance Communications (RCom) and travel portal Yatra.com has launched a mobile service to provide hotel and air ticket bookings. The service can be accessed using Reliance Mobile World, the multi-media application suite of RCom. — UNI

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