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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Pak says no to wheat export, sugar import
Denies talks to allow trade across LoC
New Delhi, August 3
Pakistan today stated that it has no plans to resume export of wheat and does not intend to import sugar now, as the cane crop has been harvested.
Commerce secretary of Pakistan Syed Asif Shah with president, India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Onkar S Kanwar (R), Pakistan high commissioner Shahid Malik (left) and Amit Mittra, secretary, Ficci, during an interactive business meeting organised by Ficci in New Delhi on Friday.
Commerce secretary of Pakistan Syed Asif Shah with president, India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Onkar S Kanwar (R), Pakistan high commissioner Shahid Malik (left) and Amit Mittra, secretary, Ficci, during an interactive business meeting organised by Ficci in New Delhi on Friday. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

Government clears 17 FDI proposals
New Delhi, August 3
The government today approved 17 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proposals worth Rs 575.83 crore, including a Rs 202-crore proposal relating to MTV and Raghav Bahl-promoted TV 18 group.

Inflation dips to 4.36 pc
New Delhi, August 3
Inflation dipped to 4.36 per cent for the week ended July 21 as against 4.41 per cent in the previous week due to a fall in the prices of some food items. The wholesale price based inflation stood at 4.72 per cent for the corresponding period a year ago, according to the government data released here today.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Workers enter a building housing a software company at Cyberabad IT City on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Friday. With threats of terror operatives trying to infiltrate software companies emerging, Cyberabad Security Council and the police authorities have decided to put employees, working at high-tech city and other information technology hubs, under the scanner.
Workers enter a building housing a software company at Cyberabad IT City on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Friday. With threats of terror operatives trying to infiltrate software companies emerging, Cyberabad Security Council and the police authorities have decided to put employees, working at high-tech city and other information technology hubs, under the scanner. — AFP photo

JP Group enters steel sector; acquires Malvika Steel
New Delhi, August 3
City-based infrastructure group Jaiprakash Associates today announced its foray into the steel sector with the acquisition of Malvika Steel in Jagdishpur, Uttar Pradesh, for Rs 207 crore.

To invest Rs 4,000 crore in cement units
Jaiprakash Associates will invest Rs 4,000 crore by 2009 to increase its cement capacity by more than three-fold to 25 million tonnes to meet the growing demand of the building material in the country.

GSM operators counter CDMA charge
New Delhi, August 3
GSM-based mobile players, under attack from CDMA lobby for allegedly getting additional spectrum free of cost, today countered the charge saying they have paid about Rs 1,800 crore on radio waves till date.

Genpact soars 20 pc on NYSE debut
New York, August 3
Shares of India’s largest BPO Genpact surged nearly 20 per cent over its issue price on its debut trade at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

SBoP revises interest rates
Patiala, August 3
The State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) has revised interest rates on NRE term deposits with effect from August 1 from 5.25 per cent per annum for one year up to and less than two years, and 5.17 per cent for a maturity period of two years and above.

India-S. Africa Business Conclave
Ashwani for strong fiscal ties
Chandigarh, August 3
Minister of State for industry, Dr Ashwani Kumar, made a strong plea for giving a fresh boost to bilateral economic ties during his ongoing visit to South Africa for the ‘India Calling’ conference.

Corporate News
Tata Steel picks up 35 pc stake in mining firm

New Delhi, August 3
Tata Steel today signed an accord with Riversdale Mining Ltd to acquire 35 per cent stake in its Mozambique coal project for $100 million (Rs 400 crore).

Decision on interest rate revision next week: SBI chief
Mumbai, August 3
India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) will decide on a revision of interest rates next week when its asset-liability committee (ALCO) meets to take up the matter, a top bank official said today.


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Pak says no to wheat export, sugar import
Denies talks to allow trade across LoC
Tribune News Service & Agencies

New Delhi, August 3
Pakistan today stated that it has no plans to resume export of wheat and does not intend to import sugar now, as the cane crop has been harvested.

“Currently we have some surplus wheat and we are keeping it as a strategic reserve. We have no plans to start wheat exports,” Syed Asif Shah told reporters on the sidelines of a business meeting.

Pakistan suspended wheat exports in May to control increase in domestic prices, five months after a ban was lifted. Syed said Pakistan had no plans to buy sugar overseas.

The commerce secretary said cement export from Pakistan to New Delhi would begin by the end of August.

“There were hurdles in cement exports from Pakistan to India but we have moved forward and the first tranche of cement will reach India by August-end,” he said at a business meeting organised by Ficci.

He said Pakistan has an annual production capacity of 37-38 million tonnes, while it consumes 22-25 million tonnes, Shah said.

He denied that there were any talks with India on allowing trade through the Line of Control (LoC).

“We did not have any talks (with the Indian authorities) on having trade through the LoC. Trade through the Wagah route by trains is already happening, whether it would take place through roads or not has not yet been decided,” Shah said .

Minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh was yesterday quoted as saying that Pakistan was in favour of duty-free movement of a limited number of goods through the LoC.

Indian ships for Pak shores

Indian ships will now be allowed to touch the Pakistani ports for unloading the cargos after a shipping protocol was signed between the two countries, Pakistan commerce secretary Syed Asif Shah said today. “Now, the Indian ships will be allowed to touch the Pakistani shores. And the cargos can be unloaded at the ports itself,” Shah said.

Investment promotion pact

With environment for bilateral trade improving, India wants to boost its economic ties with Pakistan and has proposed an agreement to facilitate investment flows between the two neighbours.

“We have noted the request of the Indian authorities (on investment promotion agreement). We will take it back to our leadership and discuss it in detail,” Syed Asif Shah said at a business meeting with Ficci.

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Government clears 17 FDI proposals
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
The government today approved 17 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proposals worth Rs 575.83 crore, including a Rs 202-crore proposal relating to MTV and Raghav Bahl-promoted TV 18 group.

Finance minister P Chidambaram approved the proposals based on the recommendations of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in its meeting held on July 27, an official statement said here.

As per the proposal by MTV India Private Limited, TV 18 Group will invest $50.5 million (about Rs 202 crore), through its Mauritius-based wholly-owned arm B K Holdings Ltd, to pick up an equity in MTV Networks India.

MTV India would make royalty payment to Viacom amounting to two per cent of net revenues for use of Viacom brands.

The deal is part of the strategic alliance between Viacom and the TV 18 Group announced in May this year.

Among other proposals cleared include M/s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited, Japan’s Rs 37.35-crore proposal, to set up a new JV company to undertake manufacture, import, market, sell, distribution and servicing of diesel engines and components.

Rs 235-crore proposal of Human Value Developers Private Limited, Mumbai, has also been cleared.

The government has also given nod to CR Seals India Pvt Ltd’s (now known as M/s SKF Sealing Solutions India Pvt Limited) Rs 88-crore proposal to bring additional investment within the approved percentage (i.e. 100 per cent) in the company for being engaged in designing, engineering, manufacturing, reconditioning and dealing of industrial bearings for sale in both Indian market and export outside India.

FIBP also took note of direct and indirect foreign holding in Hutch-Essar Ltd.

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Inflation dips to 4.36 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
Inflation dipped to 4.36 per cent for the week ended July 21 as against 4.41 per cent in the previous week due to a fall in the prices of some food items. The wholesale price based inflation stood at 4.72 per cent for the corresponding period a year ago, according to the government data released here today.

The latest inflation rate is within the RBI’s medium term target of 4 to 4.5 per cent as spelt out in the quarterly monetary policy on July 31.

The wholesale price index, on which inflation data is based, rose by 0.1 per cent to stand at 213.1 points for the week under review.

The index for primary food articles rose by 0.1 per cent to 220.7 (provisional) due to lower prices of eggs (6 per cent), mutton (4 per cent), fish-marine (3 per cent) and gram, maize, condiments and spices and moong (1 per cent each). However, prices of fruits, vegetables, coffee and port moved up by 1 per cent each.

The 4.85 per cent provisional inflation figure for the week, ended May 26, was revised to 5.15 per cent as the wholesale price index has been revised to 212.3 points.

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JP Group enters steel sector; acquires Malvika Steel

New Delhi, August 3
City-based infrastructure group Jaiprakash Associates today announced its foray into the steel sector with the acquisition of Malvika Steel in Jagdishpur, Uttar Pradesh, for Rs 207 crore.

“We will put in Rs 1,800 crore over next 26-28 months to make it one million tonne integrated steel plant,” Jaiprakash Associates executive chairman Manoj Gaur said here. The company acquired Malvika Steel, earlier promoted by Usha Group, in an open auction made by the Debt Recovery Tribunal.

The steel firm was taken over by some financial institutions after it failed to meet its interest obligations.

Jaiprakash would pump in Rs 800 crore and Rs 1,000 crore in two phases. The amount would be funded through a mix of debt and internal accruals, Gaur said. The group would also leverage a part of $ 400 million raised recently through an offshore convertible bonds issue.

Malvika Steel is a brownfield project. Jaiprakash Group seeks to produce long steel products used mainly in the construction sector. “The company already has interests in power, engineering, construction and cement and a foray into the steel segment was a natural diversification for us,” Gaur added.

He said acquiring the company was a strategic investment since setting up a greenfield unit and making it operational would have taken a minimum of five years.

“With this steel plant, we have the basic infrastructure in place and the plant can be made operational in the next 24 months,” he said, adding that the company would leverage the tremendous growth opportunity in the sector in northern region, especially Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

To invest Rs 4,000 crore in cement units

Jaiprakash Associates will invest Rs 4,000 crore by 2009 to increase its cement capacity by more than three-fold to 25 million tonnes to meet the growing demand of the building material in the country.

The company has a combined cement capacity of seven million tonnes at its four plants in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It will scale up the capacity to 25 million tonnes, after setting up new plants in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, by December 2009, Jaiprakash Associates executive chairman Manoj Gaur said.

The company had acquired UP Cement Corporation last year and production from the unit would commence soon, Gaur said.

The capacity expansion would require an investment of Rs 4,000 crore, of which Rs 2,500 crore is already under way, he said, adding that the expansion is being funded through internal accruals.

Cement manufacturers in the country have already lined up investments to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore to create capacity of 80 million tonnes in the next three years to meet the growing demand of cement, he said. — PTI 

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GSM operators counter CDMA charge

New Delhi, August 3
GSM-based mobile players, under attack from CDMA lobby for allegedly getting additional spectrum free of cost, today countered the charge saying they have paid about Rs 1,800 crore on radio waves till date.

“GSM operators are paying an extremely high charge for the additional spectrum that is allotted to them,” it said in a letter to telecom minister A Raja.

As per the existing regime, the GSM industry, over next three years alone, will pay over Rs 10,000 crore as spectrum usage charges to the government, of which almost Rs 6,000 crore would be on account on the high incremental charges being applied by the government over and above the initial 2 per cent charges.

Spectrum is not being given away free to the GSM operators and in fact a very heavy price is being imposed on the operators as charges for GSM spectrum use, T V Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director general Ramachandran said in the letter to Raja.

The lobby claimed that the government is likely to recover 10 times the entry fee over licence period from spectrum usage charges.

As per the current formula, GSM operators with 10 MHz of frequency are paying charges of 4 per cent of adjusted gross revenue and this would increase to 6 per cent for allocation of 15 MHz, Ramachandran said. — PTI

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Genpact soars 20 pc on NYSE debut

New York, August 3
Shares of India’s largest BPO Genpact surged nearly 20 per cent over its issue price on its debut trade at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

The scrip settled at $ 16.75, up 19.64 per cent over its issue price of $ 14 a share, after touching an intra-day high of 17.10 at the NYSE yesterday.

Global consultancy Dealogic has termed the initial public offering of Genpact, a spin-off of General Electric Company, as the 11th biggest IPO in the US so far in 2007.

Genpact’s market capitalisation stood around $ 3.6 billion at end of its debut trade while a total of 18.5 million shares of the company had changed hands at the exchange.

Genpact raised $ 494 million (about Rs 2,000 crore), through its IPO, which was priced at $ 14 per share, below the proposed price band of $16-18 dollars for the issue of 35.3 million shares. — PTI 

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SBoP revises interest rates
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 3
The State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) has revised interest rates on NRE term deposits with effect from August 1 from 5.25 per cent per annum for one year up to and less than two years, and 5.17 per cent for a maturity period of two years and above. Interest rates on FCNR (B) deposits in dollar have been revised to 4.5 per cent per annum for a period of one year and above but less than two years, at 4.42 per cent per annum for two years and above but less than three years, and at 4.46 per cent per annum for three years and above but less than four years.

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India-S. Africa Business Conclave
Ashwani for strong fiscal ties
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
Minister of State for industry, Dr Ashwani Kumar, made a strong plea for giving a fresh boost to bilateral economic ties during his ongoing visit to South Africa for the ‘India Calling’ conference.

In his address, Kumar underlined the crucial role that India and South Africa would play in defining the new global order as they addressed the challenges of economic growth and social justice within the context of heterogeneous societies and pluralistic, multiparty democracies. Highlighting the giant strides made by the Indian economy in recent years, Dr Kumar said the economic policies initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have set an example of a democratic nation striving to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and social justice.

The ‘India Calling 2007 - India-South Africa Business Conclave’ earlier got off to an impressive start at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

The conference was also addressed by Madame Phumzile MlamboNgcuka, Deputy President of the Republic South Africa, Mandisi Mpahlwa, minister of trade and industry and by other senior government 
dignitaries. 

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Corporate News
Tata Steel picks up 35 pc stake in mining firm

New Delhi, August 3
Tata Steel today signed an accord with Riversdale Mining Ltd to acquire 35 per cent stake in its Mozambique coal project for $100 million (Rs 400 crore).

“Tata Steel and Riversdale Mining Ltd have entered into an MoU for strategic investment in Riversdale’s Mozambique coal project by acquiring 35 per cent stake in it for a sum of $100 million,” a Tata Steel spokesperson said.

Fibcom plans

Telecom equipment maker Fibcom India today said it expects a two-fold increase in turnover to Rs 120 crore this fiscal and is negotiating deals with firms like RCom and Tata Teleservices.

The company is also negotiating with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC)

Eicher sales up

Eicher Motors today reported a 12 per cent increase in its total sales (including exports) during July at 2,234 units. The company had sold 2,363 units during the same month last year, Eicher said.

The July sales figures include 129 units sold in the overseas market, it informed. — Agencies

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Decision on interest rate revision next week: SBI chief

Mumbai, August 3
India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) will decide on a revision of interest rates next week when its asset-liability committee (ALCO) meets to take up the matter, a top bank official said today.

“Interest rates have peaked and there is no possibility of them going higher but will they remain stable or come down, we will have to take a decision at our ALCO meet,” SBI chairman O P Bhatt told reporters here.

On the Reserve Bank’s raising the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 0.5 per cent during its July 31 monetary review, Bhatt said the hike would result in a total outgo of Rs 2,400- 2,500 crore from the bank.

Its margins would also be impacted by 0.05 per cent, Bhatt said.

“The CRR hike will not have much of an impact. We will try to cut our expenses or increase our income to offset this,” the SBI chairman said.

The bank will create a holding company for its mutual funds and life insurance businesses in the next 3-4 months, he said, adding, “It is an internal restructuring.”

“We will dilute 5-10 per cent to strategic investors for price discovery purposes,” he said.

On plans for a follow-on public offer (FPO), Bhatt said no decision has been taken on fund-raising. “We expect to finalise our plans within this month,” he said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

CBoP plans
Mumbai, August 3
The Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP) will raise Rs 500 crore through qualified institutional placements. The bank said its shareholders have extended approval for the capital raising programme at its annual general meeting (AGM) held today. The AGM also approved the employees stock option plan to issue up to 10 crore additional stock options to the employees of the bank. — UNI

Pidilite Inds
Mumbai, August 3
Pidilite Industries Ltd today said it will raise $50 million (about Rs 201.63 crore) through the issue of foreign currency convertible bonds. The board of directors today passed the proposal to raise the amount in one or more tranches, subject to shareholders’ approval, the company said. — PTI

Xerox India
Chennai, August 3
Xerox India has launched three latest high-tech printers from ‘DocuColor’ portfolio here. Company director (productions) Vipin Tuteja said the newly launched products in the ‘DocuColor’ series - DC 242, DC 252, DC 260 and ‘Xerox Nuvera 288’ - make production colour printing more affordable with outstanding image quality. — UNI

Dabur Odomos
Chandigarh, August 3
Dabur India Limited today announced the relaunch of its popular Odomos range of mosquito repellents (personal application products) at a press conference held in the city. The brand, in the cream, lotion and gel formats, has been relaunched after making the formulation more skin-friendly, along with certifications from reputed institutes on its efficacy and safety for usage.— TNS

Kotak Mahindra
New Delhi, August 3
Kotak Mahindra mutual fund today said it expects to raise $200 million (Rs 800 crore) from a three year close ended ‘Global Emerging Market Fund’. The investment objective of the scheme is to provide long-term capital appreciation by investing in stocks of global emerging market mainly in Asia, Kotak Mahindra asset management chief strategist Alroy Lobo said. — PTI

HPCL-Airtel
Chandigarh, August 3
HPCL Ltd and Airtel today jointly announced an offer for over 2,50,000 LPG customers of HPCL in Haryana through which they will be able to get free prepaid Airtel SIM cards or waiver of the activation fee in case they opt for a new Airtel postpaid plan. — TNS

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