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SEBI for closing down losing exchanges
Chennai, August 2
SEBI chairman M. Damodaran today suggested a reduction in the number of regional stock exchanges, while pointing out that companies were increasingly looking at becoming private for short-term gains though in the long run being public was advantageous.
SEBI chairman M Damodaran speaks at the inaugural session of 'National conclave on the changing face of financial leadership', as managing director, Ashok Leyland, R Seshasayee, looks on, in Chennai on Thursday .
SEBI chairman M Damodaran speaks at the inaugural session of 'National conclave on the changing face of financial leadership', as managing director, Ashok Leyland, R Seshasayee, looks on, in Chennai on Thursday. — PTI 

Airlines seek time to implement new flight norms
New Delhi, August 2
The airlines in the country have sought more time from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to implement the new Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) regarding the flight duty time and flight time limitations (FDTL), which came into effect from yesterday.

Exporters welcome land-route trade via Wagah
Amritsar, August 2
Enthused by the initiative taken by the governments of India and Pakistan to allow movement of trucks through Wagah joint check-post, the local exporting community said it is going to be a major turning point to improve trade relations between the neighbours.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Vice-president of Samsung Telecommunications India Hyun-bai Kim (left) and Vinayak Deshpande, president, Tata Teleservices, display the country's first touch-screen based dual SIM mobile in Mumbai on Thursday.
Vice-president of Samsung Telecommunications India Hyun-bai Kim (left) and Vinayak Deshpande, president, Tata Teleservices, display the country's first touch-screen based dual SIM mobile in Mumbai on Thursday. The phone, priced at Rs 11,999, contains two SIM slots and features such as a large 2.2 TFT touch screen, 1.3mega pixel camera, micro sd card slot and an mp3 player. — AFP

Change in fertiliser subsidy method opposed
New Delhi, August 2
The Fertiliser Advisory Forum, comprising states and industry, has strongly opposed any move to give fertiliser subsidy directly to farmers and favoured the continuation of the existing practice of subsidy to the industry.

Ashwani Kumar in SA to boost trade ties
Chandigarh, August 2
Minister of state for industry, Dr Ashwani Kumar, will inaugurate the centennial celebrations of the Indian Merchants Chamber at Johannesburg in South Africa along with Dr Mbeki, President of South Africa, this week. Dr Kumar will also discuss bilateral relations with Dr Mbeki.

SBI to raise Rs 15,000 cr
Kolkata, August 2
With the credit and deposit outlook of 25 and 20 per cent, respectively in the current fiscal, the State Bank of India intends to raise a capital of Rs 15,000 crore by December either through upper tier II route or international funds.

A Casio employee displays the new digital camera “Exilim EX-S880”, in Tokyo on Thursday.
A Casio employee displays the new digital camera “Exilim EX-S880”, in Tokyo on Thursday. The camera features a pre-installed YouTube capture software to easily upload videos to the website. — AFP

Mittal names aides on HPCL refinery board
New Delhi, August 2
India-born billionaire Lakshmi N Mittal has named his close aides Sudhir Maheshwari and B P Banka to the board of Rs 18,919-crore refinery project, which he is undertaking with state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd.

Jute packaging must for sugar, food grains
New Delhi, August 2
Under pressure from the Left parties, the Manmohan Singh government today made jute packaging for food grains and sugar mandatory.

MFs richer by $20 b in July
Mumbai, August 2
Domestic mutual funds have added over $20 billion in July to their $100-billion kitty, driven by fresh capital raised through new fund offerings (NFOs) as well as a sharp rally in stock markets.

No small car for India yet: Toyota
Bangalore, August 2
Japanese auto major Toyota yesterday said a small car was the need of the hour in the Indian market, but the company did not have any such project up its sleeve as of now.

BoB revises interest rates
Mumbai, August 2
Bank of Baroda (BoB) has reduced interest rates on its FCNR (B) and NRE term deposits.

SGT to invest $8 m
Chennai, August 2
SGT India Private Limited will invest $8 million to scale up its operations in India and set up its fourth centre in Bangalore.

Punj Lloyd inks pact with PSL
Chandigarh, August 2
Punj Lloyd Limited (PLL), a global EPC services provider in energy and infrastructure domains, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to invest Rs 403 crore for acquiring 25.1 per cent stake in Pipavav Shipyard Limited (PSL).

Mumbai-NY flight takes off
Mumbai, August 2
Air India's maiden non-stop Mumbai-New York flight, which took off from here yesterday, arrived 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

 

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SEBI for closing down losing exchanges

Chennai, August 2
SEBI chairman M. Damodaran today suggested a reduction in the number of regional stock exchanges, while pointing out that companies were increasingly looking at becoming private for short-term gains though in the long run being public was advantageous.

"As far as exchanges are concerned, it has to be seen that those regional exchanges that do not have any business are able to bring their innings to a close, because there is no economic model to take business forward," he said while speaking at a CII national conclave on the ‘Changing face of financial leaders’ here today.

He also said the number of exchanges in India should be reduced.

Damodaran said companies were increasingly looking at becoming private rather than being public companies because of compliance norms, accountability demanded from shareholders and other such factors.

The chairman of the market regulator pointed out that such things were necessary to push companies further ahead.

"Ultimately they will realise that the benefits of being private is short term and being public would be advantageous and would be able to improve in the long run," he said.

Damodaran added that a committee had been formed by SEBI to look into disclosures and accounting standards.

A National Institute of Securities Market is being set up outside Mumbai for literacy and higher education about the financial market on the lines of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, he said.

The project was coming up in partnership with the private sector, he added. — PTI

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Airlines seek time to implement new flight norms
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
The airlines in the country have sought more time from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to implement the new Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) regarding the flight duty time and flight time limitations (FDTL), which came into effect from yesterday.

According to reports, the airlines have sought time from the DGCA as the new FDTL is not only very exhaustive but also most of the airlines are, at present, not in a position to implement it due to flight schedules and pilot requirements.

Besides, the DGCA had given the airlines just about four days to implement the new CAR, having brought out the notification on July 27 with the instructions of it being implemented from August 1.

Sources said this left the airlines with no other option but to write to the DGCA seeking time to implement the new CAR. Apparently, the DGCA has also accepted the plea and given them about another week to put the new FDTL in place.

According to the pilots and crew members, who are directly affected by this new FDTL, the DGCA has done a good job while preparing the new CAR, in which everything has been catered to keeping in mind the new hi-tech aviation scenario in the country.

The new FDTL not only caters to domestic and neighbouring countries flight operations, but also to international long haul operations. It has also taken into account situations like training flight, ground training, executive office duties, simulator training, consecutive night flying, standby and mixed duties.

As per the new CAR in the domestic and neighbouring countries’ operations, the crew members and pilots would have an 11 hour duty time in any 24 hours, which would include seven hours of flight time.

In seven consecutive days, they can not have more than 60 hours of flight duty time with 35 hours of flight time.

For the international operations, the new CAR also specifies the number of crew combinations keeping in mind the flight time of eight, nine, 10, 12 or 14 hours. But, again, the maximum flight duty time and the flight time remains the same of 1,600 and 1,000 respectively for every pilot in one year.

In the 14 hour flight time, flight duty time would be considered as 17 hours and would include two sets of crew i.e. a total of four pilots. For a flight with a time zone of seven to 12 hours away from the base station, the rest period would be of 72 hours, dividing it at two stations.

This means that on a Mumbai-London-New York flight, a cumulative rest time of 72 hours would be given at London and New York, subject to a minimum of 20 hours at each station.

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Exporters welcome land-route trade via Wagah
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, August 2
Enthused by the initiative taken by the governments of India and Pakistan to allow movement of trucks through Wagah joint check-post, the local exporting community said it is going to be a major turning point to improve trade relations between the neighbours.

A leading exporter and general secretary of Amritsar Exporters Chamber Rajesh Setia said they have been closely monitoring the talks and this landmark decision would not only cut costs but would also increase the trade quantum many folds.

The bilateral talks on trade would pave way for the opening of more items and the government must draw a long-term and a short-term strategy to enhance trade between the two nations. Rajdeep Uppal, who is currently in Delhi to meet Pakistan commerce secretary, said more and more items were likely to be considered for exports to India and Pakistan. He said presently the secretaries were discussing various modalities to increase trade to meet the demands of various items required by both countries.

Meanwhile, the government has chalked out a comprehensive international check-post project with an outlay of Rs 300 crore for widening of the Wagah road. The government of India is expected to implement the project on a time-bound frame to facilitate trade.

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Change in fertiliser subsidy method opposed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
The Fertiliser Advisory Forum, comprising states and industry, has strongly opposed any move to give fertiliser subsidy directly to farmers and favoured the continuation of the existing practice of subsidy to the industry.

'The direct subsidy to farmers was opposed by the forum as it felt it was not in their interest,' minister for chemicals, fertilisers and steel Ram Vilas Paswan said after the second meeting of the forum.

The issue of direct subsidy to farmers is likely to figure at the meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) next week that will also explore ways of sustainable use of fertilisers, besides deciding on prices and subsidies.

The minister said within the next three years there would be uniform price of fertilisers in the country and companies not meeting price requirement would face closure.

The forum, which was attended by state agriculture ministers, CEOs of leading fertiliser companies and senior government officials, in a resolution expressed deep concern over reports of slowdown in agricultural productivity.

The total subsidy during the current financial year (2007-08), including the last year's arrears of Rs 80.82 billion, is estimated at over Rs 510 billion.

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Ashwani Kumar in SA to boost trade ties
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
Minister of state for industry, Dr Ashwani Kumar, will inaugurate the centennial celebrations of the Indian Merchants Chamber at Johannesburg in South Africa along with Dr Mbeki, President of South Africa, this week. Dr Kumar will also discuss bilateral relations with Dr Mbeki.

He is leading a 200-strong Indian delegation to South Africa. The significance of the function is enhanced by the fact that Mahatma Gandhi was an honorary member of the Indian Merchants Chamber in 1931. The chamber has a membership of over 5,000, including young entrepreneurs and about 1,600 women.

The theme of the conference being organised in Johannesburg is “India Calling”. The objective of the conference is to further expand economic relationship between India and South Africa. At present, India is South Africa’s 13th largest trading partner and the trade between the two countries in 2005-06 was in the region of $4 billion. This figure is sought to be trebled by 2010, considering the 30 per cent year-on-year increase in bilateral trade between India and South Africa. By the end of 2007, the trade is expected to reach $6 billion.

Dr Ashwani Kumar will also lead a high-powered business delegation to Israel from August 4 and 7 on the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister of Israel. During his visit, Dr Kumar will have one to one meetings with Eliyahu Yishai, the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and ministry for industry, trade and labour, the minister for transport of Israel, and leading CEOs of major Israeli companies.

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SBI to raise Rs 15,000 cr

Kolkata, August 2
With the credit and deposit outlook of 25 and 20 per cent, respectively in the current fiscal, the State Bank of India intends to raise a capital of Rs 15,000 crore by December either through upper tier II route or international funds.

''If the government reduces its stake in the SBI from 59 to 55 per cent, we can raise Rs 5,000 crore through stake dilution.

Otherwise we will have to raise Rs 15,000 crore through other routes,'' SBI chairman and managing director O.P. Bhatt said.

The SBI is planning to raise at least Rs 5,000 crore from the share flotation. It intends to use the money to expand existing operations and enter venture capital, private equity and wealth management segments.

SBI is governed by a separate Act which pegs the minimum government holding at 55 per cent. While the government's current holding is 59.73 per cent. — UNI

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Mittal names aides on HPCL refinery board

New Delhi, August 2
India-born billionaire Lakshmi N Mittal has named his close aides Sudhir Maheshwari and B P Banka to the board of Rs 18,919-crore refinery project, which he is undertaking with state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd.

Mittal has a right to appoint three members on the board of Guru Gobind Singh Refineries Ltd - the company implementing the nine-million-tonne a year refinery project at Bathinda.

He named Sudhir Maheshwari, the man who looks after acquisitions by the steel magnate and heads his Indonesian company PT Ispat Indo, and old associate B P Banka to the board, sources said.

The steel baron, who recently took a 49 per cent stake in the Bathinda project through Mittal Energy Investments Pte Ltd, however, has not named his third nominee on GGSRL board.

HPCL, which has a 49 per cent stake in GGSRL, has its chairman Arun Balakrishnan, director (finance) C Ramulu and director (refineries) M A Tankiwala on the board of GGSRL. — PTI

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Jute packaging must for sugar, food grains
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
Under pressure from the Left parties, the Manmohan Singh government today made jute packaging for food grains and sugar mandatory.

For the year 2007-08, packing of food grains and sugar in jute bags would be cent per cent, said finance minister P Chidambaram after the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

However, he said the ministry of textiles would be empowered to authorise the user agencies to relax these provisions up to a maximum of 20 per cent for sugar and food grains in case of any disruption in supplies.

Chidambaram said small consumer packs of 25 kg and below and export packing in respect of food grains and sugar should be exempted from the operation of compulsory packing.

Packaging in 100 kg or more will be exempted from the purview of the compulsory packaging, he said, adding 'sugar fortified with vitamins' will be exempted from this decision.

Since the Congress-led UPA came to power in May, 2004, the Left parties have launched a campaign for giving an impetus to the jute industry, which had been going through a rough patch.

The CCEA gave its approval for implementation of the Rs 1,581-crore project for 'vocational training improvement,' which aims to improve the employment outcomes of graduates from vocational training system by making the design and delivery of training more demand responsive.

The project is to be implemented with World Bank assistance on a cost-sharing basis. The cost sharing is on the basis of 75:25, except for the North-East and Sikkim where the cost-sharing ratio will be 90:10. The share of the central government would be Rs 1,231 crore. The states'share will be Rs 30 crore. 

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MFs richer by $20 b in July

Mumbai, August 2
Domestic mutual funds have added over $20 billion in July to their $100-billion kitty, driven by fresh capital raised through new fund offerings (NFOs) as well as a sharp rally in stock markets.

The total asset under management (AUM) of the country's fund houses rose to Rs 4,86,513 crore at the end of July, a jump of 21.5 per cent from Rs 4,00,333 crore a month ago, according to the latest data released by the Association of Mutual Funds in India.

The cash raised from NFOs such as Reliance Equity Advantage Fund and Franklin Templeton High Group Companies and a sharp rally in the stock market during the month, barring a major one-day fall on July 27, were primary drivers in expanding the asset base of fund houses, the analysts said.

The stock market's benchmark index, Sensex, achieved its 15,000 peak and gained a total of 886.73 points or 6.04 per cent in the month.

Reliance Mutual Fund maintains its top position as the country's largest fund house with AUM of Rs 66,420.03 crore in July as against Rs 59,857.01 crore for June, the AMFI data shows. Its assets have grown over 10 per cent in the month.

ICICI Prudential remained at the second slot and added Rs 5,074.8 crore in last month to its AUM which stand at Rs 48,688.55 crore, while PSU major UTI MF is at the third rank with assets worth Rs 42,547.60 crore in July.

Besides, assets under management of HDFC MF and Franklin Templeton MF stood at Rs 40,153.47 crore and 32,213.84 crore, respectively in July.

"AUMs of mutual funds have surged up due to few factors, including new fund offers, existing schemes, lesser outflow of cash and the robust rally in the stock markets," mutual fund tracking firm Value Research Online CEO Dhirendra Kumar said.

Overall, according to SEBI data, mutual funds have been sellers in equities with a net sale of Rs 900.60 crore in July even as they purchased over Rs 12,800 crore in debt markets. — PTI

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No small car for India yet: Toyota
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 2
Japanese auto major Toyota yesterday said a small car was the need of the hour in the Indian market, but the company did not have any such project up its sleeve as of now.

Speaking to newsmen after inaugurating Toyota Technical Training Institute here, company’s executive vice-president Mituso Kinoshita said surveys conducted in India had revealed the growing market of small cars in India. “We on our part may bring a small car to India in the near future”, Kinoshita said.

He also clarified that Toyota was not in the race to acquire the prestigious brands “Land Rover” or “Jaguar”.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) managing director Atsushi Toyoshima said no decision had been taken on setting up a second plant in India when asked whether Bidadi facility of the company, near Bangalore, would be expanded to incorporate the second plant.

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BoB revises interest rates

Mumbai, August 2
Bank of Baroda (BoB) has reduced interest rates on its FCNR (B) and NRE term deposits.

The revision comes into force from today onward, a press release said.

With regard to its dollar-denominated FCNR (B) deposits of maturity period of one year to less than two years and two years to less than three years, the rate has been revised downwards from 4.68 per cent to 4.5 per cent and 4.42 per cent respectively.

For three years to less than four years and four years to less than five years, the rates have been revised downward from 4.71 per cent to 4.46 per cent and from 4.75 per cent to 4.54 per cent respectively.

Interest rates on NRE term deposits of one year and above but less than two years and two years and above but less than three years, the rates have been reduced from 5.43 per cent to 5.25 per cent and 5.17 per cent respectively.

For maturities of three years and above but less than four years and four years and above but less than five years, the rates have been revised from 5.46 per cent to 5.21 per cent. — PTI

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SGT to invest $8 m
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 2
SGT India Private Limited, a leading knowledge process innovation and Management services provider, will invest $8 million to scale up its operations in India and set up its fourth centre in Bangalore.

The company plans to recruit over 500 professionals in the current fiscal year to meet its client requirements and currently employs around 500 people worldwide.

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Punj Lloyd inks pact with PSL
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
Punj Lloyd Limited (PLL), a global EPC services provider in energy and infrastructure domains, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to invest Rs 403 crore for acquiring 25.1 per cent stake in Pipavav Shipyard Limited (PSL).

PSL will provide Punj Lloyd access to fabrication facilities for platforms, SBMs, rigs and jackets to exploit the opportunities in this sector. Punj Lloyd is currently executing the Heera Field Redevelopment project for the ONGC. The facility at Pipavav Shipyard can also be used for fabrication of vessels for petrochemicals and refineries.

PLL expects to gain through this association, given the increasing demand for offshore facilities in India and abroad and with the ongoing shortage of shipyard capacity in India and globally. 

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Mumbai-NY flight takes off
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 2
Air India's maiden non-stop Mumbai-New York flight, which took off from here yesterday, arrived 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

The flight was flagged off by Praful Patel, union minister of state for civil aviation.

The 16-hour long flight to John F Kennedy International Airport in New York is the first-of-its-kind by any Indian carrier.

"It took us close to 13 years to bring you something really exciting, something totally unique," V. Thulasidas, CMD, Air India said. He added that Air India would soon expand its fleet size so that it would be able to connect other American destinations to Indian cities.

According to AI, its new Boeing 777-200 LR deployed on the non-stop Mumbai-NY route is specially built to provide long- haul travel stress-free and comfortable. 

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BRIEFLY

Indian Hotels’ expansion plan
Mumbai, August 2
Tata Group’s hospitality arm Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) has drawn up a Rs 1,000-crore capital expenditure plan over the next three years. “We plan to increase our room capacity to 10,000 rooms in 2009, along with setting up of seven Ginger hotels across the country,” IHCL managing director, Raymond Bickson, said. — PTI

Punj Lloyd
Mumbai, August 2
Punj Lloyd today said it has secured a 250 million Singapore dollars (about Rs 666 crore) construction project from Singapore-based Resorts World at Sentosa Pvt Ltd. Punj Llyod’s subsidiary Sembawang Engineers and Constructors has bagged the contract for sub-structural works at Sentosa Integrated Resort. — PTI

SBI plans
Kolkata, August 2
The State Bank of India will rope in a foreign partner this fiscal to enter general insurance business. Speaking to mediapersons here today SBI CMD O P Bhatt said the bank would select the foreign partner in 2007-08 and commence business after that. “We have already shortlisted three to four companies for this venture. However, we will take the final decision soon,” Bhatt said. — UNI

Satyam awarded
Kolkata, August 2
Satyam Computer Services Limited has won the Microsoft Partner of the Year Award for Citizenship at the 2007 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Program Awards. Company sources said Satyam was picked up for the award among 1,800 organisations around the world for delivering market-leading customer solutions built on Microsoft technology. — UNI

Whirlpool
Kochi, August 2
Whirlpool will invest about $15 million to $20 million in India in the next 12 to 18 months, company vice-president (marketing) Shantanu Das Gupta said today. He added that the money would be invested in manufacturing the company’s new range of products including the refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners and microwave ovens. — UNI

Seiko watches
Chennai, August 2
Seiko Watch Corporation has unveiled a wide range of its latest, premium international watches in India. Seiko launched its latest range of wrist watches ‘Sportura’, ‘Premier’ and ‘Spring Drive’ collections. Altogether 110 watches will be launched in India, within the price tag of Rs 6,700 to Rs 1,70,000. — UNI

Used-car store
Mumbai, August 2
Mahindra Group vice-chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra unveiled the company’s first multi-brand used-car superstore named ‘FirstChoice’, formerly known as Automartindia, today. The superstore will offer a new and refreshing buying experience to its customers and is a three-way joint venture between the Mahindra Group, HDFC and Sah & Sanghi. — UNI

Pepe Jeans
Chandigarh, August 2
After opening the world’s largest Pepe store in Hyderabad, Pepe Jeans London has chalked out plans to increase its retail presence across the country, especially in the region. On a visit to the city, Chetan Shah, country head, Pepe Jeans London, informed that the company would be opening 20 more stores in the region. — TNS

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