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DoT stakes claim over spectrum
Seeks Rs 5,000 cr from defence ministry
New Delhi, August 10
In a build-up that would pitch two ministries against each other, the telecom ministry has staked its claim over spectrum and said the defence ministry has to pay about Rs 5,000 crore for occupying this sparse resource, top ranking sources said.

Rules out BSNL, MTNL merger
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has ruled out the possibility of merging the two PSUs — BSNL and MTNL — on the grounds of the listed entity status of MTNL.Telecom minister A Raja was recently apprised by DoT officials of this decision which says MTNL has private stakeholders who may not favour a merger with BSNL, official sources said.

RBI forms panel on interest rate futures 
Mumbai, August 10
The Reserve Bank has constituted a working group to examine the scope of participation of non-residents, including foreign institutional investors, in interest rate futures.

Inflation up at 4.45 pc
New Delhi, August 10
Costlier food items like vegetables, fruits, eggs and some manufactured products pushed inflation up marginally to 4.45 per cent for the week ended July 28 as against 4.36 per cent in the previous week. Despite this increase, inflation at 4.45 per cent is within the RBI’s target level of five per cent for the fiscal 2007-08 and also its projection of 4-4.5 per cent in the medium term.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Tata Tea plans unit in Russia
Kolkata, August 10
Tata Tea, the country's second- biggest maker of the beverage, is firming up plans to form a joint venture for a manufacturing plant in Russia and is also looking at new markets of South America and the Far East.


Tata group chairman Ratan Tata at the AGM of Tata Tea in Kolkata on Friday. — AFP photo

Tata group chairman Ratan Tata at the AGM of Tata Tea in Kolkata

Small-car project on schedule: Tata
Kolkata, August 10
Tata group chairman Ratan Tata today alleged that some vested interests were delaying the Tata Motors plant at Singur but, he reiterated that they would complete the on-going motor plant in time and bring out the small-priced cars in market in 2008.He was in the city today to attend annual general meeting of Tata Tea Limited.

Eyes south-east Asia
Bangkok:Tata Motors said today it was looking to expand its auto sales in south-east Asia and planned to use Thailand as a manufacturing base. 

Bollywood actress and brand ambassador of General Motors Rani Mukherjee and managing director of GM India Rajeev Chaba at the launch of new Chevrolet Aveo in New Delhi on Friday.
Bollywood actress and brand ambassador of General Motors Rani Mukherjee and managing director of GM India Rajeev Chaba at the launch of new Chevrolet Aveo in New Delhi on Friday. The car is priced between Rs 5,85,000 and Rs 6,75,000. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

BSNL pre-paid landline service soon
Chandigarh, August 10
In a first-of-its-kind initiative for the benefit of telecom subscribers, the Punjab circle of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has decided to launch the pre-paid landline service.

Sonalika to expand; mulls US foray 
N ew Delhi, August 10 
Farm equipment manufacturer International Tractors Ltd (ITL), part of the Sonalika Group, today said it will raise Rs 800 crore through an IPO by 2008 to fund capacity expansion and acquisitions in overseas markets, including Europe and Russia.

Now, Chennai baby youngest PAN card holder 
Chennai, August 10
India’s youngest PAN card holder, 51-day-old Akshita, a resident of the city, is not capable of being aware of the fact that she had created a record in the annals of the IT Department. The baby has broken the record of two-month-old Krishna Sameer of Mumbai, who till Monday was the youngest PAN card holder.Akshita’s parents, S. Balamurugan and Ranjana, are thrilled by the limelight their first-born is now hogging.

Industrial production grows by 11 pc
New Delhi, August 10
India’s industrial production rose by 11 per cent during the first quarter of the current fiscal against 10.5 per cent in the same period last year.

SEBI seeks embargo on regulators
New Delhi, August 10
Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman M Damodaran has come out with a prescription for the government to put an embargo on further setting up of regulatory authorities and sought functional autonomy for existing regulators to enable them do justice to their assigned jobs.

Suggests review in MFs’ structure 
Kolkata, August 10
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today suggested reviewing organisational structure of mutual funds (MF) following sharp growth in the industry.SEBI wholetime member T C Nair said there was need for a review in the organisation model, which MFs currently followed, as the industry was witnessing rapid growth in assets under management.

Rupee cheaper at 40.63/64
Mumbai, August 10
The rupee today ended at 40.63/64 against the US currency, cheaper by 11 paise from previous close, largely due to a worldwide meltdown in equity markets, affected by renewed worries about the US subprime mortgage sector.

 
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DoT stakes claim over spectrum
Seeks Rs 5,000 cr from defence ministry

New Delhi, August 10
In a build-up that would pitch two ministries against each other, the telecom ministry has staked its claim over spectrum and said the defence ministry has to pay about Rs 5,000 crore for occupying this sparse resource, top ranking sources said.

Sources said telecom minister Azhimuthu Raja will meet external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and defence minister A K Antony next week and stake the claim for these radio waves that could ease out congestion, bring in quality of services and usher in 3G and 4G technologies in the country's already booming telecom sector.

The telecom ministry is also hinging on the argument that according to the 1885 Indian Telegraph Act the communication ministry is the sole owner of the spectrum, sources said.

The meeting next week comes in the backdrop of the Group of Ministers, headed by Pranab Mukherjee, who will meet this month and look into the ways and means to vacate the unutilised spectrum from defence forces.

The Department said about 60 MHz of spectrum is lying unutilised with the defence ministry and wants the release of these radio waves for mobile use currently under Air Force (42.5 MHz), for which the alternate network will be ready in two months.

The defence ministry, on the other hand, has also claimed ownership over the spectrum and wants to have the network ready for its forces, which may take two years.

Recently, Raja had said that DoT sanctioned Rs 1,600 crore for laying an optical fibre alternative network for the defence forces so that they would be able to vacate 42.5 Mhz spectrum by September for the 3G spectrum.

Raja said as soon as the spectrum was vacated, the DoT would be fully utilising Rs 30,000 crore for rural telephony and broadband services.

Raja said he had taken up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, the Chairman of the GoM constituted for this purpose.

He said the DoT has ownership of the spectrum and stressed the need to bring it under its domain the resource which had been lying unutilised for the past over 100 years. — UNI 

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Rules out BSNL, MTNL merger

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has ruled out the possibility of merging the two PSUs — BSNL and MTNL — on the grounds of the listed entity status of MTNL.

Telecom minister A Raja was recently apprised by DoT officials of this decision which says MTNL has private stakeholders who may not favour a merger with BSNL, official sources said.

While BSNL is 100 per cent owned by the government, MTNL has 56.25 per cent government stake. MTNL is listed in the domestic market as well as on the New York Stock Exchange.

The merger plan was first floated by the late communications minister Pramod Mahajan and it was revived later by former minister Dayanidhi Maran.

While MTNL operates in the lucrative circles of Mumbai an Delhi, BSNL operates in rest of country. — PTI 

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RBI forms panel on interest rate futures 

Mumbai, August 10
The Reserve Bank has constituted a working group to examine the scope of participation of non-residents, including foreign institutional investors, in interest rate futures.

The eight-member group, to be headed by RBI executive director V K Sharma, would analyse the experience with interest rate futures so far and focus, inter alia, on product design issues.

It would also examine the possibility of aligning the regulatory guidelines for banks for interest rate futures with the interest rate swap scheme.— PTI

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Inflation up at 4.45 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
Costlier food items like vegetables, fruits, eggs and some manufactured products pushed inflation up marginally to 4.45 per cent for the week ended July 28 as against 4.36 per cent in the previous week.

Despite this increase, inflation at 4.45 per cent is within the RBI’s target level of five per cent for the fiscal 2007-08 and also its projection of 4-4.5 per cent in the medium term.

The wholesale price index for all commodities for the week ended July 28 rose by 0.1 per cent to 213.4.

The index for food articles group rose by 0.5 per cent to 221.8 due to higher prices of eggs (2 per cent), mutton (four per cent), and fruits and vegetables, masur and bajra (one per cent each).

The index for non-food articles group declined by 0.2 per cent to 209.7 due to lower prices of sunflower (7 per cent), skins (raw) and groundnut seed (2 per cent each) and raw cotton (one per cent).

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Tata Tea plans unit in Russia

Kolkata, August 10
Tata Tea, the country's second- biggest maker of the beverage, is firming up plans to form a joint venture for a manufacturing plant in Russia and is also looking at new markets of South America and the Far East.

The Russian venture is likely to be put in place in the next six to seven months and this would be a 'pathbreaking venture' of the company, Tata Tea vice-chairman R K Krishna Kumar told reporters after the annual general meeting today.

He said there would be a big Russian partner and a few smaller ones with whom Tata Tea would tie-up for the manufacturing and processing plant to make beverages such as tea and coffee. The plant would be a stepping stone for catering to CIS countries like Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

The official said after successfully acquiring brands like Tetley and Glaceau among others, the company was now looking at the markets of South America as well.

"As part of our global strategy, Tata Tea will also like to spread its wings to countries in the Far East," he said.

Earlier, replying to shareholders' queries, Tata Tea chairman Ratan Tata said the company was also looking at the food processing business.

He said the surplus fund generated would be used to finance acquisitions. However, he dismissed reports that Tata Tea was eyeing US company AriZona, saying that it was speculative in nature.

Tata also said the company might consider share split in future. He said restructuring or amalgamation of the company would also take place at some point in time since there were tax implications involved.

The company has divested its plantation operations in south India. The model would also be replicated in the north, he said. — PTI

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Small-car project on schedule: Tata
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, August 10
Tata group chairman Ratan Tata today alleged that some vested interests were delaying the Tata Motors plant at Singur but, he reiterated that they would complete the on-going motor plant in time and bring out the small-priced cars in market in 2008.

He was in the city today to attend annual general meeting of Tata Tea Limited.

Talking to mediapersons, Rata Tata strongly criticised those who were hampering the progress of the country for their narrow interests.

He admitted that initially they had selected Kharagpur for the motor plant site but afterwards, the site was shifted to Singur for the larger interests of the industry as well as the local people.

Calling Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as very dynamic and pragmatic person, Rata Tata said the climate was much favourable now for new investments in Bengal and industrialists would now like to invest in the state. 

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Eyes south-east Asia

Bangkok: Tata Motors said today it was looking to expand its auto sales in south-east Asia and planned to use Thailand as a manufacturing base. Ajit Venkataraman, CEO of Tata Motors (Thailand) said the company was considering launching a range of products to tap into healthy demand in the region. “It is a very important step for us,” Venkataraman told Reuters in an interview about the joint venture’s 1.3 billion part investment in Thailand to build up to 35,000 one-tonne pickup trucks a year over the next 3-5 years. — Reuters

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BSNL pre-paid landline service soon
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
In a first-of-its-kind initiative for the benefit of telecom subscribers, the Punjab circle of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has decided to launch the pre-paid landline service.

To be launched on a pilot basis in the Punjab circle around August 15, the service is intended to suit the growing needs of the telecom subscribers, chief general manager, telecom, Punjab circle, SR Aggarwal, told The Tribune here today.

In fact, a competitive tariff had been worked out for the service with a one-time activation charge of Rs 100 only for availing off the facility by the subscriber.This account card will have a talk value of Rs 90 and validity for 60 days.

However, the recharge coupons will have certain features which would retain the landline connections of the public sector telecom giant. For instance, the recharge coupon of Rs 100 will have a talk value of Rs 120 and validity of 90 days. Similarly, a Rs 200 card will have a talk value of Rs 240 and validity period of 120 days. And for the Rs 500 card, the talk time would be worth Rs 600 and it would be valid for 150 days. The calls would be charged at the rate of Rs 1.20 per minute — the same tariff as that of the landline calls. A grace period of seven days in addition to validity period will be added advantage on all recharge cards.

Officials highlighted that the pre-paid landline service would have certain inherent advantages over the traditional landline service. One, the subscriber would not have to pay the rentals, which was currently Rs 250 per month. Second, the subscribers could select the recharge card of their choice depending on their requirements and time for which it was required.

The officials said currently about 80 per cent of the subscribers were mobile users and rest use the landlines. The new service could prove to be quite a hit in the Punjab circle as Punjab has about 10 lakh landline connections in addition to Chandigarh having 1.4 lakh connections.

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Sonalika to expand; mulls US foray 

New Delhi, August 10
Farm equipment manufacturer International Tractors Ltd (ITL), part of the Sonalika Group, today said it will raise Rs 800 crore through an IPO by 2008 to fund capacity expansion and acquisitions in overseas markets, including Europe and Russia.

The company is also planning a foray in the USA, within six months, with a new range of product co-developed with Japanese firm Yanmar, which holds 12 per cent stake in it.

“We are planning an IPO by early next year to raise Rs 800 crore for expansion and acquisition of tractor companies in India and other identified international markets like Europe and Russia,” ITL chairman L D Mittal said.

He added that the company would increase production capacity of its tractor manufacturing facility at Hoshiarpur in Punjab to 80,000 units per annum by the end of the year, up from 40,000 units currently. An investment of Rs 150 crore would be made for capacity expansion.

On the US foray, Mitttal said: “The new tractor is likely to be branded as Sonalika-Yanmar. It is being designed for the international market and will be ready soon and enter the US market in the next six months, followed by the 26 countries, where the company already has some presence.”

ITL today announced a joint asset financing company with Magma Shrachi Finance Ltd for financing Sonalika tractors to farmers across the country. — PTI 

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Now, Chennai baby youngest PAN card holder 
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 10
India’s youngest PAN card holder, 51-day-old Akshita, a resident of the city, is not capable of being aware of the fact that she had created a record in the annals of the IT Department. The baby has broken the record of two-month-old Krishna Sameer of Mumbai, who till Monday was the youngest PAN card holder.

Akshita’s parents, S. Balamurugan and Ranjana, are thrilled by the limelight their first-born is now hogging .

“We did not know that our baby has created a record. We planned to invest in mutual funds in her name and, hence, first opened a bank account with Canara Bank. We applied for a PAN card since it is better to have one for investing large amounts,” said Ranjana, who works as a stenographer in the Chennai Port Trust here.

The parents received the PAN card within 16 days after applying through the Unit Trust of India service centre.

“Since both of us pay income tax and file returns, we applied for a PAN card for Akshita on her behalf and received it,” said Balmurugan, who works as an electrician in the Integral Coach Factory at Perumbur in the outskirts of the city.

However, tax consultants said all these were being done in many parts of the country just to gain some publicity as the income-tax law clearly stated that a minor can possess a PAN card and file return, provided he or she earns a taxable income through some skills.

“There are cases of child actors, dancers, singers and painters, who earned enough to pay income tax and have PAN cards. But it is strange how a baby can have earnings through skills and minors, without any income, can be allotted a PAN card ?” said a tax consultant.

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Industrial production grows by 11 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
India’s industrial production rose by 11 per cent during the first quarter of the current fiscal against 10.5 per cent in the same period last year.

The industrial growth in June grew marginally to 9.8 per cent against 9.7 per cent during the same month last year, according to the quick estimates of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) released today by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).

The manufacturing sector during the first quarter grew by 11.9 per cent as compared to 11.7 per cent in the same period last year. 

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SEBI seeks embargo on regulators
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman M Damodaran has come out with a prescription for the government to put an embargo on further setting up of regulatory authorities and sought functional autonomy for existing regulators to enable them do justice to their assigned jobs.

Delivering 10th JRD Tata memorial lecture under the aegis of Assocham yesterday, Damodaran asked whether India needed regulatory authorities or commissions, and if yes, their members have to be qualified enough and should have a clear cut tenure either for three or five years, a chamber press release said.

The SEBI chief lamented that regulators under current statutory mechanism were required to appear before Parliamentary committees to appraise them of what they have done in past six months and what they propose to do in another six months, suggesting that the minister of concerned department should come out with a statement in Parliament, informing it about the performance of regulators.

Appearing before parliamentary committees and briefing such committees about regulators performance is something which should not be required in a system which appoints and selects regulators in a transparent manner, he felt.

However, functional autonomy and accountability should co-exist so that the concept of independent functioning is not diluted and productivity of regulators is not misused in any manner, the SEBI chairman said.

Damodaran reiterated saying that there was a strong case for putting an embargo on setting up of regulatory commissions and regulatory authorities until their functioning was not remotely monitored by head of concerned administrative ministries.

He hoped that the new SEBI Act would take care of all necessary requirements of stock markets, their relationship with RBI and various concerned departments and said SEBI has given a comprehensive consultation paper to the government in this regard. 

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Suggests review in MFs’ structure 

Kolkata, August 10
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today suggested reviewing organisational structure of mutual funds (MF) following sharp growth in the industry.

SEBI wholetime member T C Nair said there was need for a review in the organisation model, which MFs currently followed, as the industry was witnessing rapid growth in assets under management.

It was not because of any shortcoming in the system that the review was being recommended, but there is always a scope for improvement, Nair said on the sidelines of a seminar organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

Currently, MFs in the country operate in a 20-year-old three-tier structure. In the pyramid structure, there is a sponsor at the top, followed by a trustee body and then the asset management company.

Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) chairman A P Kurien said as it was an old system and a look at it might give clues for improvement.

“There could be one trustee body for all MF schemes instead of trustees for each fund at present. These are possibilities of the review,” Kurien said.

Nair did not mention any time frame for the review to be complete. However, it would be done in joint consultation with the AMFI.

Nair also recommended a dedicated distribution agency for MF schemes in line with the Life Insurance Corporation.

“There should be a dedicated distribution agency for either each AMC or of all companies,” he said.

However, it was at the concept stage and nothing had been formalised, he said. — PTI

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Rupee cheaper at 40.63/64

Mumbai, August 10
The rupee today ended at 40.63/64 against the US currency, cheaper by 11 paise from previous close, largely due to a worldwide meltdown in equity markets, affected by renewed worries about the US subprime mortgage sector.

In volatile activity at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the local currency fluctuated in a range of 40.6100 and 40.6950 during the day after resuming sharply lower at Rs 40.67/68 per dollar.

There was some dollar demand from banks as well as oil refiners in the exchange maket, forex dealers said.

The rupee, which showed signs of a rally yesterday, came under pressure after the stock market went into a tailspin on worries of a fallout from the US subprime problems, they added. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

Tata Power
Mumbai, August 10
Tata Power Company Ltd today announced a contract to Japan’s Toshiba Corp for supply of five 800-MW steam turbine generators for the 4,000-MW Mundra ultra mega power project in Gujarat. The scope of work for Toshiba would include design, manufacture, test and supply of equipment related to the steam turbine generators. — PTI

AirAsia stake
Kuala Lumpur, August 10
British businessman Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, will take a 20 per cent stake in Malaysia’s AirAsia long-haul budget carrier, which is tipped to begin services next month, an airline executive said today. “Branson is injecting capital into Fly Asian Xpress Sdn Bhd (FAX),” the official said. FAX is the long-haul operator of AirAsia X. — AFP

RIL loan
Toronto, August 10
Export Development Canada (EDC) has announced its $100 million participation in a 10-year $2 billion syndicated loan for Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). RIL will use the funds for a gas exploration and development project. “EDC’s business in India continues to expand as Canadian exporters find meaningful ways to grow their business in this opportunity rich market,” Eric Siegel, president and CEO of RDC, Canada’s largest export credit agency, said. — PTI

TCS pact
New Delhi August 10
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) today said it has entered into an MoU with Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd (TRIL) to develop properties on land owned/to be owned by the former. The properties will be developed in a phased manner over the next few years for TCS, a company statement said, adding that the buildings will be constructed and owned by TRIL and will be leased to the company. — UNI

SBoP initiative
Chandigarh, August 9
To make investors aware of their rights and facilities available to them, the State Bank of Patiala (SBoP), in association with Central Depository Service, held a meeting. Chief manager of the Bank A.S. Ahi said many investors had doubts regarding opening of demat accounts, which were cleared. He added that the bank had started a programme of educating people about the banking services and facilities available to them. — TNS

Awards
Shimla, August 10
Kamla Nayar of Chamba and Om Prakash Malhotra of Mandi have been awarded first prize for year 2006 for making significant contribution in the handicraft and handloom sectors respectively. Sonam Tenzin of Kulu has bagged the second prize and Hardev of Chamba bagged the third prize in the handicraft sector. In the handloom sector, Bhagat Singh of Solan and Anshul Malhotra of Mandi have been awarded the second and third prizes respectively. The awards will be presented by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on August 15 at Rekong Peo. — TNS

Max New York
Chandigarh, August 10
Max New York Life commenced its operations in the state of Jammu & Kashmir by opening its first office in the city of Jammu today. Max New York Life has now established a countrywide network of 172 offices and representatives across 120 cities in India. — TNS

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