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Gas Pricing
EGoM meet again tomorrow
Govt has no role in fixing price: OilMin

New Delhi, August 27
The first meeting of a group of ministers looking into the contentious issue of natural gas pricing remained inconclusive today, even as the oil ministry said the government has no role in fixing prices in areas auctioned since 2000 to companies such as Reliance Industries.

PMT Fields
GAIL seeks review
New Delhi, August 27
Gas firm GAIL (India) has sought review of price of natural gas produced by the consortium of Reliance Industries, BG Group of UK and Oil and Natural Gas Corp from Panna/Mukta and Tapti (PMT) fields, off the Mumbai coast.

TRAI can override mutual pacts: TDSAT
New Delhi, August 27
The telecom tribunal TDSAT has ruled that the sectoral regulator TRAI could frame terms and conditions overriding or superseding the mutually negotiated interconnection agreements between two operators.

Stop promotional services, TRAI to Airtel
New Delhi, August 27
TRAI today directed Bharti Airtel to discontinue immediately several promotional valued added services it recently launched in various circles as they violate the national numbering plan. The operator has been asked to ensure the compliance within seven days.



EARLIER STORIES

 
A South Korean model poses with a new Ford model Taurus in Seoul on Monday.
A South Korean model poses with a new Ford model Taurus in Seoul on Monday. The new model by the US auto giant Ford Motors is equipped with V6 DOHC (3,500cc) engine. — AFP

Punjab Chemicals to acquire Dutch firm
Mumbai, August 27
Chandigarh-based Punjab Chemicals and Crop Protection today said it will acquire Netherlands-based firm Pegevo Bcheer BV for about Rs 221.41 crore to expand its presence in the European market.

Sensex surges 418 points
Mumbai, August 27
Amidst growing signs that the Left front will not pull the plug on the UPA government in a hurry, the Sensex began to mirror the bullish relief of the international markets and surged a whopping 418 points or 2.9 per cent to close at 14,842 levels. In the broader markets, the Nifty closed 2.7 per cent or 112 points higher to end the day at 4,301 levels.
Campell Soup, owner of Godiva chocolates, has announced that it is considering selling its Belgian chocolate business because it wants to streamline its products to focus on bigger consumer foods like baked snacks, vegetable-based beverages and cans of soup.
Campell Soup, owner of Godiva chocolates, has announced that it is considering selling its Belgian chocolate business because it wants to streamline its products to focus on bigger consumer foods like baked snacks, vegetable-based beverages and cans of soup. According to the Wall Street Journal, investors from the Persian Gulf may also be interested in the business along with the major food and confectionery companies. — AFP

Uncertainty over retail plans of Reliance
New Delhi, August 27
Uncertainty prevails on the roll out of Reliance group’s retail venture, particularly in the northern and eastern region, amid reports that the company has decided to delay opening its outlets.

LIC consolidates stake in Bharat Forge
Mumbai, August 27
Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has consolidated its stake in Bharat Forge and Vijaya Bank by 2.86 per cent and 0.35 per cent respectively.

Oberoi Group to invest Rs 4,500 crore
Kolkata, August 27
EIH Limited, the flagship company of the Oberoi Group, will invest about Rs 4,500 crore in new projects for 60 per cent capacity addition in the country and abroad in the next five years.

SC notice to Atlas Cycles over use of brand name
New Delhi, August 27
The Supreme Court today issued notice to bicycle manufacturer Atlas Cycles (Haryana) Ltd on a petition challenging a Delhi High Court order that restrained Atlas Products Pvt Ltd from using ‘Atlas’ as a part of its corporate or trade name.

Merger with SBS
SBI Board gives approval
Mumbai, August 27
State Bank of India, the country’s largest commercial bank, today said its board has given go ahead to the merger of State Bank of Saurashtra with itself.

Parsvnath to foray into telecom sector
New Delhi, August 27
Announcing its diversification into telecom sector, real estate developer Parsvnath Developers Ltd today said it has submitted applications to the Department of Telecom (DoT) for providing unified access services in the 22 telecom circles across the country.

Air Deccan adopts new pricing strategy
Fares range from Re 1 to Rs 500
Kolkata, August 27
Air Deccan’s mission for every Indian to fly is being implemented by adopting a dynamic pricing strategy of “earlier booking meaning lesser prices”, claimed the airlines CEO Ramki Sunderam, while accompanying mediapersons in Air Deccan’s inaugural flight to Jamshedpur yesterday.

IT/ITeS zones to dominate BoA meet
New Delhi, August 27
Proposals of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for IT and ITeS, including those by Tata Consultancy Services and Cognizant Technology, will dominate the next meeting on August 30 of the Board of Approval, which will take up 31 applications in all.

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India's wedding industry $800- billion market.
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Gas Pricing
EGoM meet again tomorrow
Govt has no role in fixing price: OilMin

New Delhi, August 27
The first meeting of a group of ministers looking into the contentious issue of natural gas pricing remained inconclusive today, even as the oil ministry said the government has no role in fixing prices in areas auctioned since 2000 to companies such as Reliance Industries.

“The meeting was inconclusive... we will meet again at 6 pm tomorrow,” petroleum minister Murli Deora told reporters after the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) here.

The EGoM, headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, is to decide on pricing and utilisation of gas based on inputs from a report of cabinet secretary and Prime Minister’s economic advisory council that went into the issue.

Deora said issues were flagged off at today’s meeting and the oil ministry made a presentation. He did not elaborate.

However, official sources said the petroleum ministry told the EGoM that as per production sharing contracts, signed with firms like RIL for areas auctioned under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), the government has the right to only approve the gas formula and it cannot fix a particular price.

The PSCs talk of gas utilisation policy, not allocation, only to give powers to the government to dictate its usage domestically. They do not empower the government to earmark gas to certain priority sectors, it said, adding unlike crude oil discoveries, export of gas was permissible under NELP.

Sources said the ministry asked the EGoM to honour the commitment given under NELP of marketing freedom at market determined pricing as any kind of regulation would send wrong signals to investors. It supported RIL proposed price of $4.33 per mBtu as it was lower than the market price ranging between $4.75 to $5.7 per mBtu. — PTI

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PMT Fields
GAIL seeks review

New Delhi, August 27
Gas firm GAIL (India) has sought review of price of natural gas produced by the consortium of Reliance Industries, BG Group of UK and Oil and Natural Gas Corp from Panna/Mukta and Tapti (PMT) fields, off the Mumbai coast.

Taking a cue from the fact that the government has asked a group of ministers to look into pricing of gas from RIL’s eastern offshore Krishna Godavari fields, GAIL last week wrote to the Petroleum Ministry seeking price review of PMT gas.

“When the price of gas from KG basin is being looked into by the government, we in GAIL, strongly feel that there is enough scope for review of price paid to PMT joint venture at the rate of $ 4.75 per million British thermal unit and also for supplying the entire volume of gas produced from PMT fields to GAIL,” the letter stated.

RIL had proposed to price gas from its KG-D6 field off the Andhra coast at $ 4.33 per mBtu, a price that is now being looked into by the Empowered Group of Ministers headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

GAIL said Petroleum Ministry had in March 2005 decided that PMT JV shall supply only 6 million standard cubic meters per day of gas to GAIL for one year at $ 3.86 per mBtu.

A year later, it was decided that PMT JV shall supply gas in excess of 4.8 mmscmd out of the total available gas (10-12 mmscmd) at the rate of $ 4.75 per mBtu for two years ending March 31, 2008.

“Gas so purchased from PMT JV is being sold to core sector consumers at administered price ($ 2.1 per mBtu) and difference between the higher purchase price of PMT gas and the APM gas is being adjusted under pool mechanism,” it said. GAIL said it was earlier receiving the entire quantity of gas produced at Panna/Mukta and Tapti offshore fields. — PTI

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TRAI can override mutual pacts: TDSAT

New Delhi, August 27
The telecom tribunal TDSAT has ruled that the sectoral regulator TRAI could frame terms and conditions overriding or superseding the mutually negotiated interconnection agreements between two operators.

“TRAI is legally competent to interfere ... enjoys a statutory mandate in as much as Section 11(1)(b)(iv) of the TRAI Act requires it to regulate arrangements amongst service providers for sharing their revenue from private telecommunication services,” TDSAT said.

“This power of the TRAI overrides private arrangements or agreements between the parties and as a matter of law, TRAI is empowered to lay down provisions which may require modifications or suppression of such mutual agreements,” observed the TDSAT Bench.

The tribunal’s observations came, while rejecting an appeal challenging TRAI’s power to regulate interconnection agreement, filed by state-run telecom major BSNL.

Earlier, on April 27, 2005, TDSAT held that the TRAI could not override the terms and conditions of licence agreements and the terms of interconnectivity.

On this, TRAI relied on an order by the Delhi High Court on July 9 this year in which it held that regulator could fix the terms.

BSNL had challenged a TRAI regulation in which the regulator had fixed Rs 30 p/pm as the revenue to be shared among operators for roaming calls.

However, BSNL sought 50:50 share. — PTI

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Stop promotional services, TRAI to Airtel

New Delhi, August 27
TRAI today directed Bharti Airtel to discontinue immediately several promotional valued added services it recently launched in various circles as they violate the national numbering plan. The operator has been asked to ensure the compliance within seven days.

The services, which has drawn the ire of the regulator, are a promotional offer - free hello tunes, khel khel mein kammal in the Rajasthan circle, a devotional portal in the Himachal Pradesh circle, ibadat portal in J & K circle and marathi mobile radio and ‘ringtone genie’ in Maharashtra and Goa circles.

The value added service - voice chat - in the Bihar and UP telecom circles, meet and greet Shahrukh Khan, Airtel FM in UP (west) circle, live counselling portal in J & K circle and free hello tunes were also in line of fire. The short codes of SMS for all these valued added services were not in conformity with the DoT guidelines.

‘Register for no telemarketing calls’

Mobile phone and landline users, who often get annoyed by telemarketing calls, can now heave a sigh of relief with telecom regulator TRAI today asking the consumers to register themselves with the national do not call registry.

“Telephone users, not wanting commercial/unwanted calls, may now register their request with their telephone operators,” TRAI said in a public notice issued today.

With the verification of the request, operators would intimate registration within 10 days and the users would stop getting such calls after maximum of 45 days from registration. No extra charges would be charged from the customers for availing this service, it said. — PTI

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Punjab Chemicals to acquire Dutch firm

Mumbai, August 27
Chandigarh-based Punjab Chemicals and Crop Protection today said it will acquire Netherlands-based firm Pegevo Bcheer BV for about Rs 221.41 crore to expand its presence in the European market.

Pegevo is a provider of substance formulations for crop protection agents, including herbicides and fungicides.

The company’s wholly-owned SD Agchem (Europe) NV has entered into a share purchase agreement with Pevobel NV and Gevobel NV, to acquire 100 per cent equity shares in Pegevo, the company informed the BSE. — PTI

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Sensex surges 418 points
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 27
Amidst growing signs that the Left front will not pull the plug on the UPA government in a hurry, the Sensex began to mirror the bullish relief of the international markets and surged a whopping 418 points or 2.9 per cent to close at 14,842 levels. In the broader markets, the Nifty closed 2.7 per cent or 112 points higher to end the day at 4,301 levels.

Today’s biggest gainer was SBI, which moved up 6.2 per cent, or Rs 90 following its decision to merge the State Bank of Saurashtra with itself.

ICICI Bank, Maruti Udyog, Hindalco, Reliance Communication, Larsen & Toubro, BHEL, Reliance Energy and Tata Steel were among the other gainers.

Only Ambuja Cements and Cipla slipped closing 1.6 per cent and 0.4 per cent lower, respectively.

Among the sectoral indices, the BANKEX was the top gainers closing 4.7 per cent or 346 points higher.

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Uncertainty over retail plans of Reliance

New Delhi, August 27
Uncertainty prevails on the roll out of Reliance group’s retail venture, particularly in the northern and eastern region, amid reports that the company has decided to delay opening its outlets.

When queried over reports that Reliance Retail has decided to hold back opening new Reliance Fresh stores in the backdrop of the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to close outlets of all big corporates, a company spokesperson declined to comment.

Reliance Retail chief executive officer Raghu Pillai, who was quoted in media reports as saying the company wanted assurances on safety of its employees and properties before opening any new store, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

The Uttar Pradesh government last week asked all big retailers, including Reliance and RPG Group, to shut down their outlets selling vegetables and other food items after small traders attacked the stores in Lucknow and Varanasi.

Media reports said Reliance Retail has delayed plans to open stores in Uttar Pradesh and and West Bengal following protests from small traders.

Meanwhile, in West Bengal, the Forward Bloc demanded a discussion with the CPI-M on the state government’s policy on retail trade promoted by big companies, including Reliance Industries, in West Bengal.

The state secretary of the Forward Bloc Ashok Ghosh told reporters in Kolkata that there was a clear contradiction between the CPI-M’s declared intention to protect small traders and the state government’s green signal to big corporate houses. — PTI

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LIC consolidates stake in Bharat Forge

Mumbai, August 27
Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has consolidated its stake in Bharat Forge and Vijaya Bank by 2.86 per cent and 0.35 per cent respectively.

LIC raised its stake to 7.17 per cent in Bharat Forge by acquiring 63.61 lakh shares for about Rs 166.48 crore, the forging company said in a communique to the BSE.

It also bought 14.94 lakh shares of Vijaya Bank last week through open market transactions for Rs 7.77 crore. LIC now has 5.33 per cent in the public sector lender. — PTI

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Oberoi Group to invest Rs 4,500 crore

Kolkata, August 27
EIH Limited, the flagship company of the Oberoi Group, will invest about Rs 4,500 crore in new projects for 60 per cent capacity addition in the country and abroad in the next five years.

Announcing this here today at the end of the company’s 57th annual general meeting, Oberoi Group chairman PRS Oberoi said during the period the number of rooms would go up to 6,800 from the present 4,100.

“With the enormous growth in the hospitality industry, we plan to invest Rs 4,300 crore-Rs 4,500 crore in new projects over the next five years. Of this, EIH will contribute Rs 1,000 crore and the rest will come from borrowings and partners,” he told reporters.

Having set a target of 50 per cent capacity addition in the country alone, EIH will add up 1,400 more rooms in its Trident Hilton category projects in Mumbai, Bangalore international airport and Hyderabad city, entailing an investment of Rs 800 crore, he said. — UNI

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SC notice to Atlas Cycles over use of brand name

New Delhi, August 27
The Supreme Court today issued notice to bicycle manufacturer Atlas Cycles (Haryana) Ltd on a petition challenging a Delhi High Court order that restrained Atlas Products Pvt Ltd from using ‘Atlas’ as a part of its corporate or trade name.

A Bench headed by Justice S H Kapadia issued notice, asking Atlas Cycles (Haryana) to file its reply as to why the high court order against Atlas Products should not be stayed.

The HC had restrained Arun Kapur and his company Atlas Products from using the word ‘Atlas’ in their corporate name or trade name for bicycles and bicycles parts.

The HC had passed the order on a petition filed by Atlas Cycles to restrain Atlas Products from using trade mark ‘House of Atlas’.

Senior counsel C A Sundram, appearing for Atlas Products, submitted that the restraint order would hurt its business and it could not be compensated in monetary terms.

Stating that the company was managed by members of the Kapur family (also known as the Atlas group) and was within the knowledge of Atlas Cycles (Haryana), the petitioner said the MoU entered between Atlas family members provided that all three groups, comprising three brothers and their sons and grandsons, would be allowed to use the name Atlas.

According to the petition filed through counsel Vijaya Lakshmi Menon, Atlas Products had changed its trademark to ‘Premium Gold’ after being restrained from using the name ‘House of Atlas.’

Tags Gulita Securities’ plea

The Supreme Court today tagged a petition filed by Gulita Securities with other similar pending cases challenging a tribunal’s ruling that upheld SEBI’s order denying continuity benefit in registration fee to them.

A Bench headed by Justice Tarun Chatterjee tagged the matter with petitions filed by other stockbrokers - Premium Global Securities Ltd and VNS Finance - seeking Fee Continuity Benefit on account of transfer of National Stock Exchange membership from their parent companies.

The stockbrokers had contended that the SEBI demands for fees without considering their entitlement to Fee Continuity Benefit was arbitrary. They said they were entitled to the benefit as per the SEBI circular, which laid down provisions for badla transactions and Fee Continuity Benefit.

Securities Appellate Tribunal while dismissing its appeal had held that the act of transfer remained a voluntary act and the segregation of the brokering business by transferring the same to a group company would not constitute a transfer by compulsion of law so as to take fee continuity benefit. — PTI

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Merger with SBS
SBI Board gives approval

Mumbai, August 27
State Bank of India, the country’s largest commercial bank, today said its board has given go ahead to the merger of State Bank of Saurashtra with itself.

SBI said its central board on August 25 had approved the merger, subject to approval of the government and Reserve Bank in accordance with State Bank of India Act, 1955.

“This is the beginning of whole group’s restructuring.

SBS is the smallest of the seven associates and based on the experience we will look at other banks,” bank MD TS Bhattarcharya said yesterday.

The other associates are State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Indore and State Bank of Patiala. The merger would help SBI consolidate its position as the country’s biggest bank and widen the gap with nearest rival ICICI Bank.— PTI

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Parsvnath to foray into telecom sector

New Delhi, August 27
Announcing its diversification into telecom sector, real estate developer Parsvnath Developers Ltd today said it has submitted applications to the Department of Telecom (DoT) for providing unified access services in the 22 telecom circles across the country.

“This is a great opportunity for the company to diversify into a new business area, which is continuously growing. Despite increasing number of subscribers, the penetration of mobile telephony in India is still low as compared to developed countries. As and when number portability is introduced, it would offer immense business opportunity to new entrants,” company’s chairman Pradeep Jain said.

With the government following an open policy on spectrum, the realty major seeks to use this opportunity for providing unified access service on a pan-India basis, including rural telephony, a company statement said.

The licence for unified access services would entail a 2G licence for GSM and a triple play of various services, including IPTV, Wi-Max, internet, broadband and any other services relating to the signal.

The diversification would be subject to obtaining necessary approvals, it added.

Bags 70-cr project

Parsvnath Developers today said it has won a project worth Rs 70 crore from BEST to develop a plot for commercial and residential utilisation at Mahim Bus Station in Mumbai.

The project will give Parsvnath a developable area of 40,000 sq ft with, a statement said.

The Mahim project would be on lease to Parsvnath for a period of 60 years and would be executed within 24 months from the date of commencement of work. — UNI

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Air Deccan adopts new pricing strategy
Fares range from Re 1 to Rs 500
Tribune News service

Kolkata, August 27
Air Deccan’s mission for every Indian to fly is being implemented by adopting a dynamic pricing strategy of “earlier booking meaning lesser prices”, claimed the airlines CEO Ramki Sunderam, while accompanying mediapersons in Air Deccan’s inaugural flight to Jamshedpur yesterday.

The fares, they are offering, start from the paltry Re 1 to Rs 500 at the first opening of booking, which has been something novel in the country, he claimed.

Sunderam said the step has encouraged a large number of people, including poor farmers, artisans, daily wage-earners and other working class to come forward and enjoy the air travel.

“But still we have not achieved much and our efforts will continue till we reach every nook and corner of the country,” he added.

The unknown private airlines company, built by a group of retired air force personnel led by Capt G.R.Gopinath with only two small two winged aircrafts, had launched its first flight on August 23, 2003 from Bangalore to Hubli. It is considered to be the country’s largest low-cost airlines with a fleet of 43 brand new aircraft, flying more 360 flights a day and connecting 66 small and big cities in the country.

Sunderam said theirs was the largest airline in terms of reach and it has already set up eight aircraft bases across the country, including Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Trivandum and Chennai.

“We have plan to extent our operation to Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan in the coming years,” said an official spokesperson.

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IT/ITeS zones to dominate BoA meet

New Delhi, August 27
Proposals of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for IT and ITeS, including those by Tata Consultancy Services and Cognizant Technology, will dominate the next meeting on August 30 of the Board of Approval, which will take up 31 applications in all.

Most of the new proposals for SEZs in IT and ITeS will come up in Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, the SEZ promoters are taking IT and ITeS beyond the hubs of Gurgaon and Hyderabad.

The Commerce Ministry says the new economy of IT is spreading to the hinterland of Chittor districts of Andhra Pradesh. Likewise, Panipat and Sonepat in Haryana are trying to catch up with Gurgaon.

Anant Raj Industries proposes to build a 10-hectare IT zone in Sonepat near Delhi. Mittal Infratech is setting up an IT zone in Panipat. Pune and Mohali, where IT and ITeS have already established its presence, are also on the radar of the new SEZ investors. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Kingfisher’s offer
Kolkata, August 27
Kingfisher Airlines is expected to make an open offer in the coming week for further 20 per cent stake in Air Deccan, in which it had acquired 26 per cent earlier for Rs 550 crore. Sources said the open offer was expected to be announced next week. The share price for the open offer would be Rs 155 per share. — PTI

Vikas WSP
New Delhi, August 27
The equity shares of Gaur gum polymer manufacturer, Vikas WSP Limited, today resumed trading in the BSE after a six-year suspension. Trading on the stocks of the company was suspended from October 1, 2001 pending investigation against allegations levelled by competitors in 2000. The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau asked various department and director general of foreign trade to make discreet investigations and the SEBI also probed into the issue, it said, adding all these agencies gave their final verdict stating nothing incriminating was found. — TNS

KLG Systel
Mumbai, August 27
KLG Systel today said it has become a major stake holder in engineering services provider Atlantis Lab after acquiring 51 per cent stake. As a result, Atlantis Lab has become a subsidiary of KLG Systel, which has extensive experience in the Plant Life Cycle Solutions (Plant Design Solutions) business catering to major oil refinery, power plants and engineering construction projects. — PTI

Syndicate Bank
Bangalore, August 27
Syndicate Bank today signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi-based UAE Exchange company to provide speedy remittance facilities that would benefit Indian expatriates. The agreement was signed here by the bank’s CMD C P Swarnkar and UAE Exchange CEO and MD B R Shetty. — PTI

Canara Bank
Mumbai, August 27
Canara Bank today said it will make an open offer for 51 per cent stake in Can Fin Homes, a housing finance company, and convert it into a subsidiary. The company’s board of directors have approved the acquisition of 51 per cent differential shares in Can Fin Homes through an open offer, Canara bank said. — PTI

Cipla’s i-pill
Chandigarh, August 27
Cipla has introduced i-pill, the first single pill emergency contraception. Decreasing the chances of pregnancy by over 84-90 per cent when consumed preferably 12 hours or not later than 72 hours of unprotected sex, it is useful as a birth control method, the company claims. — TNS

Tripp Lite
Chandigarh, August 27
Chicago-based Tripp Lite, manufacturers of power protection equipment, has expanded their operations to India by launching a slew of products and partnering with Rajdeep Energies, provider of energy products. The company products, include an ultra compact inverter and series of UPS, which would now be available in Punjab & Haryana. — TNS

SpiceJet
New Delhi, August 27
SpiceJet today said it will soon start direct flights between Kolkata and Port Blair, SpiceJet chief commercial officer Samyukth Sridharan said. — PTI

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