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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Federal Rate Cut Fallout
Sensex scales Mt. 16K
Gains 653 points to close at 16,322 level
Mumbai, September 19
Triggered by a 50 basis points rate cut by the US Fed, the bulls rushed passed the psychological 16,000 mark, taking the Sensex to 4.2 per cent high of 16,322 levels or 653 points. It was the biggest intra-day gain for the Sensex in absolute terms ever.
Stock dealers place trades on behalf of clients at a local brokerage firm in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Stock dealers place trades on behalf of clients at a local brokerage firm in Mumbai on Wednesday. — AFP

ONGC seeks 40 pc hike in gas price
New Delhi, September 19
Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), the nation's largest oil and gas producer, has sought a 40 per cent increase in the price of government-regulated natural gas to justify the investment it is making.

Mulls share split, bonus issue

Britannia to take legal action against Danone
Kolkata, September 19
Britannia Industries today said it would take legal action against one of the promoters, French food giant Group Danone, for unauthorised use of the Tiger biscuit brand in other countries.





EARLIER STORIES

 
Visitors chat behind models of Airbus A380 and A350 on the opening day of the China Aviation Expo 2007 in central Beijing on Wednesday.
Visitors chat behind models of Airbus A380 and A350 on the opening day of the China Aviation Expo 2007 in central Beijing on Wednesday. China, the world's fastest growing aviation market, will need 3,400 new airplanes worth about $340 billion over the next 20 years, US aircraft maker Boeing said. The expo showcases both local and foreign, civil and military aviation hardware and will run until September 22. — AFP

Dongfang’s plea against REL dismissed
New Delhi, September 19
The Supreme Court today dismissed Chinese power firm Dongfang Electric Corporation’s petition that challenged award of contract to Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) for setting up Yamunanagar power project in Haryana.

Hutch is now Vodafone
New Delhi, September 19
Hutch's migration to the Vodafone brand became complete today, but the pug that made the mobile company ever so popular with the masses will remain.

Spectrum allocation may be delayed
New Delhi, September 19
There could still be some delay in the defence forces vacating the spectrum for the Department of Telecommunication for mobile telephony, with the ministry of defence, today saying that a solution for releasing spectrum would be arrived at only after meeting all security concerns of the armed forces.

A Casio Computer employee displays the new all-in-one printer "PCP-1000", equipped with a 7-inch wide LCD display, which enables it to make 2L sized inkjet print with characters inserted from a keyboard, in Tokyo on Wednesday.
A Casio Computer employee displays the new all-in-one printer "PCP-1000", equipped with a 7-inch wide LCD display, which enables it to make 2L sized inkjet print with characters inserted from a keyboard, in Tokyo on Wednesday. Casio will put it on the market on September 20. — AFP

Gold prices soar
New Delhi, September 19
Gold prices in India were seen heading towards the milestone of Rs 9,500 per 10 gm after global prices surged to a 27-year peak of over $722 an ounce, driven by the US central bank's decision to cut rate.

Paswan rules out SAIL-RINL merger
Kolkata, September 19
The government appears to have put on hold the merger of Rastriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) with the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), with union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan today saying there was no such proposal now.

Japanese tourism magazine to hard sell Bihar
Patna, September 19
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s ‘look east’ policy — to usher in economic revival of the state- received a major boost with Japan’s leading tour operator Nippon Express Company Ltd agreed to do a special feature on ‘Buddhism and Bihar’ for its magazine.

Indo-Chile preferential trade pact ratified
New Delhi, September 19
The ratification process for Indo-Chile Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) has been completed following the recent visit of the Chilean President to India, an official announcement said here yesterday.

Ericsson project in TN
Mahabalipuram, September 19
Ericsson today announced the launch of ‘Gram Jyoti Rural Broadband Project’, which would introduce benefits of wireless technology in rural India.

Video
Life insurance growth to double.
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Federal Rate Cut Fallout
Sensex scales Mt. 16K
Gains 653 points to close at 16,322 level
Tribune News Service & PTI

Mumbai, September 19
Triggered by a 50 basis points rate cut by the US Fed, the bulls rushed passed the psychological 16,000 mark, taking the Sensex to 4.2 per cent high of 16,322 levels or 653 points. It was the biggest intra-day gain for the Sensex in absolute terms ever.

In the broader markets, the Nifty also surged 4.1 per cent or 186 points to close at 4,732 levels.

Among the biggest gainers today were HDFC and HDFC Bank which shot up by more than 7.5 per cent each. Other gainers included Bharti Airtel, ONGC, Maruti, Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, Bajaj Auto and Reliance Communication.

Among sectoral indices, the banking index, Bankex, was among the top gainers that zoomed 4.8 per cent.

The gainers in this space included Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI, Union Bank of India, Axis Bank and Canara Bank.

An announcement by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar that sugar mills might be allowed to produce ethanol directly and sell it at Rs 21.5 per litre saw sugar stocks make record jumps. Sugar scrips like Shree Renuka Sugar, Balrampur Chini, Bajaj Hindusthan Sakthi Sugars etc were up between 20 and 24 per cent in just one trading session.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) 30-share barometer opened above its previous all-time intra-day high of 15,868.85, logged on August 24, and rallied to a new peak of 16,335.30. It took 52 trading days to travel from 15K to 16K.

Previously, the Sensex had risen by a record 615.62 points on June 15, 2006.

The rally was so strong that all sectorial indices led by realty, banking and oil & gas ended with sharp surge while all 30 Sensex-based shares showed smart gains at close.

Marketmen said the rate cut might compel foreign investors to invest in high-yielding assests in emerging markets such as India and China.

"The market has rallied largely because of the (US) Fed move and the outlook remains bullish as lower interest rates in the US are likely to translate into downward pressure on interest rates globally and give upward boost to other assets like equities," Enam Securities economist Sachchidanand Shukla said.

Top heavyweight and petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries (RIL) was the most sought after stock, which touched a life-time intra-day high of Rs 2,185 before concluding the day higher by 5.56 per cent.

Besides China, most of the Asian markets also closed with sharp gains. The Hang Seng hot up by 3.98 per cent, the Nikkei by 3.67 per cent, Strait Times by 3.35 per cent, Kospi by 3.48 per cent and Taiwan weighted by 0.30 per cent at close today.

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ONGC seeks 40 pc hike in gas price

New Delhi, September 19
Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), the nation's largest oil and gas producer, has sought a 40 per cent increase in the price of government-regulated natural gas to justify the investment it is making.

"We are hoping price of APM (administered price mechanism) gas will be raised to Rs 4.5 per cubic meter (excluding royalty) from Rs 3.2 per cubic meter currently," ONGC chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma told reporters here.

The Tariff Commission had in May this year recommended a base minimum producer price of Rs 3.6 per cubic meter ($2.21 per million British thermal unit).

"There has been an in-principle agreement (in the government) that ONGC deserves higher gas price. We are awaiting final decision now," he said, adding that the company would gain Rs 2,000 crore annually in revenues if prices were raised.

An ONGC official said the company was expecting an increase in gas price to a minimum of Rs 4.1 per cubic meter (excluding royalty). Together with 10 per cent royalty, this would translate into a consumer price of Rs 4.5 per cubic meter ($2.5 per mBtu).

Sharma said the company was seeking market price, which ranges between $4.2 to $5.7 per mBtu, for incremental gas production from fields given to ONGC on nomination basis. He asked the government to raise the rates of gas sold under the administered pricing mechanism to Rs 4.5 per cubic metre.

Investment Plan

Meanwhile, the company will invest $4.5-5 billion in developing its ultra deep-sea Krishna Godavari basin gas field by 2012-13. “The investment can be in the range of $4.5 to 5 billion,” ONGC director (exploration) D K Pande told reporters here. — PTI

Mulls share split, bonus issue

ONGC today said it was mulling a share split and a bonus issue, but did not give a time frame.

"Immediately there is no decision to do a share split or a bonus issue (but) we are sensitive to concerns of small investors that they may be able to buy ONGC share at current prices (so) in due course we will resort (to share split and/or bonus issue) but when it will happen I cannot say," ONGC CMD R.S. Sharma said.

Oil blocks in Columbia

Meanwhile, ONGC today said it has won three offshore blocks in Columbia.

''We have secured three offshore blocks in Columbia,'' ONGC Videsh Ltd chairman R.S. Butola told reporters here.

The company will operate in two blocks in joint-partnership with Columbia's Ecopetrol with a stake of 50 per cent each.

In the third block, it will operate in partnership with Ecopetrol and Brazil's Petrobras. ONGC and Ecopetrol will have 40 per cent stake each while Petrobras will hold 20 per cent stake in the block.— Agencies

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Britannia to take legal action against Danone

Kolkata, September 19
Britannia Industries today said it would take legal action against one of the promoters, French food giant Group Danone, for unauthorised use of the Tiger biscuit brand in other countries.

The board would take a decision once the IPR (intellectual property rights) sub-committee submitted its view to it, Britannia chairman Nusli Wadia told reporters on the sidelines of the company's AGM here.

The Tiger brand, he said, had been created and developed in India by Britannia. He said subsidiaries of Group Danone had been using the brand in several countries without seeking authorisation from the company.

Managing director of Britannia Vinita Bali said Danone had applied for registration of the Tiger brand in 70 countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

"We are seeking legal counsel both in the UK and India for initiating a case," she said.

Danone had been using the Tiger brand in other countries since 1998.

Through Associate Biscuits International Holdings UK, where Group Danone and Nusli Wadia hold 50 per cent stake each, the foreign promoter holds almost 25 per cent in Britannia. Total public shareholding in Britannia is 49.04 per cent.

Bali said the company would seek to get the brand back under its fold first, following which Danone would be asked to pay compensation to Britannia. — PTI

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Dongfang’s plea against REL dismissed

New Delhi, September 19
The Supreme Court today dismissed Chinese power firm Dongfang Electric Corporation’s petition that challenged award of contract to Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) for setting up Yamunanagar power project in Haryana.

A bench headed by Justice S B Sinha, while dismissing the petition, said the only remedy available to the Chinese power equipment manufacturer was to enforce its contractual right with Anil Ambani-run REL.

Dongfang had sought to restrain Haryana Power Generation Corp (HPGC) from granting letter of award for the 500-MW power project to REL.

The Anil Ambani group company had teamed up with the Chinese firm for sourcing of boilers, generators and turbines for the project.

Challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order that upheld the award, the Chinese company said REL had submitted its bid not as a consortium but as an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor with it.

“Collaboration was a condition pre-requisite to the bid. REL could not bid without the Chinese company. Replacement was done in connivance with HPGC,” Dongfang counsel M C Dhingra contended.

It alleged that HPGC had twice rejected REL’s request for change of collaborator and had later permitted the same in deviation of bidding norms that too by dolling out huge concessions.

Dongfang had submitted that REL bagged the contract on its strength as a collaborator. Since REL has dumped it, the contract should be scrapped on the ground that the Anil Ambani group firm is an ineligible bidder since it changed the collaborator after grant of letter of award. — PTI

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Hutch is now Vodafone

New Delhi, September 19
Hutch's migration to the Vodafone brand became complete today, but the pug that made the mobile company ever so popular with the masses will remain.

The re-branding marks the completion of UK-based Vodafone's acquisition of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecommunication Ltd's Indian assets in May 2007. The company was in July 2007 renamed Vodafone Essar.

India will now become the 26th country where Vodafone has operations, covering across five continents and 40 partner networks with over 200 million customers worldwide. — PTI

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Spectrum allocation may be delayed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
There could still be some delay in the defence forces vacating the spectrum for the Department of Telecommunication for mobile telephony, with the ministry of defence, today saying that a solution for releasing spectrum would be arrived at only after meeting all security concerns of the armed forces.

Certain quarters of the armed forces have expressed security concerns that need to be addressed before taking a decision to release spectrum, defence minister A.K. Antony said on the sidelines of a conference of coast guard commanders.

He said all concerned parties were trying to find an amicable solution to this issue. Asked when a solution could be expected, “at the earliest,” he said.

The government has constituted a group of ministers to look into spectrum allocation and during its recent meeting, it decided to form a technical assessment committee to identify areas where frequency can be vacated by the defence ministry.

Sources in the ministry said the three services — army, navy and air force — have demanded a secure network before releasing spectrum for civilian use.

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Gold prices soar

New Delhi, September 19
Gold prices in India were seen heading towards the milestone of Rs 9,500 per 10 gm after global prices surged to a 27-year peak of over $722 an ounce, driven by the US central bank's decision to cut rate.

Gold prices in the global market jumped to $722.05 an ounce today after the US Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark rate by half a percentage point to 4.75 per cent, the first cut in four years.

The analysts believe that the rate cut would put downward pressure on the US dollar, thus boosting the gold prices in the non-dollar currency markets.

The October contracts at MCX and NCDEX were hovering near Rs 9,450 level in the morning trade. The spot prices at Ahmedabad was quoted near Rs 9,446 and in Mumbai at Rs 9,472.— PTI

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Paswan rules out SAIL-RINL merger

Kolkata, September 19
The government appears to have put on hold the merger of Rastriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) with the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), with union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan today saying there was no such proposal now.

“There is no proposal of merger of the two state-owned steel companies now,” Paswan said, adding the central government wanted the merger of SAIL and RINL, but there was resistance from the Andhra Pradesh government and political parties.

However, the merger of Neelachal Ispat, Maharastra Electrosmelt Ltd and Bharat Refractories Ltd with SAIL was at an advanced stage, he said.

Paswan’s comments came days after SAIL chairman S K Roongta made a renewed pitch for the merger of RINL and SAIL.

“As far as SAIL is concerned, we are for the merger as there are lot of synergies between the two companies,” he had said last week.

Roongta had also said the government would have to take a call on it.

On the dispute over renewing the lease of Chiria iron ore mine to SAIL, Paswan said Chiria had a reserve of three billion tonnes and according to the formula devised by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), lease for one billion tonne would be renewed. An MoU would be signed for another one billion tonne with the company, which has proposed to set up a greenfield plant in Jharkhand.

He said SAIL would pump in Rs 49,000 crore in the next three years to scale up production to 26 MT from the current level of around 14 MT.

Referring to modernisation of IISCO steel plant, Paswan said tendering was over for 80 per cent of the equipment. — PTI

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Japanese tourism magazine to hard sell Bihar
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 19
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s ‘look east’ policy — to usher in economic revival of the state- received a major boost with Japan’s leading tour operator Nippon Express Company Ltd agreed to do a special feature on ‘Buddhism and Bihar’ for its magazine.

The magazine has a circulation of over 4.5 lakh in Japan and the special feature is expected to create awareness about tourism in Bihar.

Besides Japan, the Nitish government is also exploring possible areas of cooperation with China, Thailand and Indonesia by capitalising on the famous Buddhist circuit of the state, which already figures in international tourist map.

After returning from the seminar on ‘Indian tourism’ held in Tokyo on September 12, the state tourism minister Nandkishore Yadav said a team of Nippon company, engaged in publication of the magazine, would soon visit the state in this connection. Yadav informed that even though 91 per cent of the Japanese tourists visit Bihar in connection with religious tourism, only 2.6 per cent of the total foreign tourists were from Japan.

He referred to the recent move by the central government to enhance the strength of Japanese tourists claiming that Bihar could play a pivotal role here.

Japan is alreday engaged in a big way in setting up the proposed international university in Nalanda. Besides, Japan was also said to be keen to fund Rs 5,600 crore on infrastructure development in Buddhist circuit of the state. Meanwhile, India is reportedly set to resume its Gaya-Bangkok and Gaya-Yangon flights from October 2, which is expected to help international tourists to visit the Buddhist circuit here.

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Indo-Chile preferential trade pact ratified
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
The ratification process for Indo-Chile Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) has been completed following the recent visit of the Chilean President to India, an official announcement said here yesterday.

The PTA provides tariff concessions ranging from 10 per cent to 50 per cent on 178 tariff lines at the eight-digit level to Chile and similar range to tariff concessions on 296 tariff lines to India.

Tariff concessions offered by Chile inter-alia, include agriculture products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, dyes and resins, plastic, rubber and miscellaneous chemicals, leather products, textiles and clothing, footwear and some industrial products.

Tariff concessions offered by India inter-alia, include meat and fish products, rock salt, iodine, copper ore and concentrates, chemicals, leather products, newsprint and paper, wood and plywood articles, industrial products, shorn wool and noils of wool.

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Ericsson project in TN

Mahabalipuram, September 19
Ericsson today announced the launch of ‘Gram Jyoti Rural Broadband Project’, which would introduce benefits of wireless technology in rural India, connecting communities to high- speed internet services for the first time.

The project, which uses CDMA (W-CDMA)/ high speed packet access, showcases the benefits of mobile broadband applications across 18 villages and 15 towns near Chennai. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

Oil prices up
Singapore, September 19
Oil prices topped $82 today, soaring to a fresh record in Asian trade after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to boost the US economy. New York’s main futures contract, lightsweet crude for October delivery, was trading at new all-time high of $82.32 a barrel today, up by 81 cents from is close of $81.51 in late US trades yesterday. — AFP

DLF Assets
New Delhi, September 19
K P Singh, whose flagship firm DLF recently went public with India’s largest IPO, is looking to list his another closely held group company DLF Assets with a $1 billion issue. DLF Assets is expected to file for REIT (real estate investment trust) IPO in Singapore next month, the company said. — PTI

Kirloskar Bros
Mumbai, September 19
Kirloskar Brothers has said it has taken over the management of Kolhapur Steel to meet its captive steel requirements. The company would deposit Rs 14.86 crore to repay Kolhapur Steel’s debt. Kolhapur Steel is a firm listed with Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR). Earlier this month, BIFR passed an order for induction of directors nominated by Kirloskar Brothers on the board of Kolhapur Steel. — PTI

Anti-AIDS drug
Chicago, September 19
Pfizer has unveiled a new anti-AIDS drug, which, it said, could help HIV patients stay healthy for longer. Selzentry is the first new class of oral HIV medicines to be introduced in more than 10 years, Pfizer said. After a 48-week trial, nearly three times as many patients receiving the drug combined with traditional medication recorded undectectable levels of HIV virus, compared with those just getting the normal treatments. — AFP

Orient-Express
New York, September 19
Orient-Express Hotels Ltd, the owner of New York’s 21 Club restaurant, told Indian Hotels that it doesn’t want to pursue strategic discussions. The board made the decision after Indian Hotels bought a 10 per cent stake in Orient-Express and sent an unsolicited letter dated September 14 seeking talks about forming an alliance. Orient-Express, based in Hamilton, Bermuda, said it intends to remain an independent company. — Bloomberg

Publicis buyout
Paris, September 19
Publicis, the world’s fourth largest advertising group, said today it had bought a majority stake in Indian company Capital Advertising, strengthening its position in the booming Indian economy. Financial details regarding the transaction were not disclosed by Publicis. — Reuters

Airtel deal
New Delhi, September 19
Bharti Airtel has awarded a $150 million deal to Chinese vendor Huawei for building and managing GSM mobile infrastructure for its Sri Lankan operations. Huawei will deploy comprehensive 2G and 3H network for Bharti Airtel Lanka. Airtel has signed three-year deal managed networks deal for its Lanka operations with Huawei Technologies and it includes telecom applications and software. — PTI

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