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Deora rules out immediate hike in petro prices
Thiruvananthapuram, September 20
An immediate hike in prices of petroleum products, including petrol and diesel, was not under consideration of the UPA government, union minister for petroleum and natural gas Murli Deora said here today.

BPCL seeks increase
Mumbai, September 20
State-owned oil major BPCL has sought a hike in prices of petrol by Rs 4 and diesel by Rs 2 per litre in line with the rising crude oil prices in the international market.

Power Equipment Manufacturing
Shinde calls for more players
New Delhi, September 20
Ficci’s secretary-general Amit Mitra (L), union power minister Suhsil Kumar Shinde (centre) and power secretary Anil Razdan at the inauguration of a three-day international conference on “India Electricity 2007” in New Delhi on Thursday. Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today called for more players in power equipment manufacturing sector to meet the capacity addition of 78,000 MW needed in next five years to cater to the energy demands of the country.
Ficci’s secretary-general Amit Mitra (L), union power minister Suhsil Kumar Shinde (centre) and power secretary Anil Razdan at the inauguration of a three-day international conference on “India Electricity 2007” in New Delhi on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui



EARLIER STORIES

 

India Inc on M&A spree
62 deals worth $3.37 billion finalised in August
Mumbai, September 20
India Inc continued with its merger and acquisitions (M&A) frenzy in August striking an average of two deals per day, a marginal increase over the previous month's deal numbers, but over three-fold jump in value terms.

MRTPC clean chit to Maruti in Hyundai case
New Delhi, September 20
Fair trade practices watchdog MRTPC has given a clean chit to Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) in a case filed by rival Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) over the publication of advertisements, which the latter claimed were “disparaging”.

Punjab to set up 3 power plants
Chandigarh, September 20
Formalities have been completed in setting up at least three thermal power plants so that Punjab can be a surplus power state in the coming five years. This was stated by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at an interactive session organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday.

Wizard chairman Mark Bouris (L) at a press-conference in New Delhi on Thursday as CEO Egisto Franceschi looks on. GE-Wizard JV to offer home loans at 9.9 pc
New Delhi, September 20
Home loan segment is set to witness competition with consumer financial services provider GE Money and international mortgage player Wizard today announcing a joint venture 'Wizard Home Loans' that will offer 9.99 per cent floating interest rate on home loans, as against the prevailing market rate of between 11 per cent and 12 per cent for varying tenures.


Wizard chairman Mark Bouris (L) at a press-conference in New Delhi on Thursday as CEO Egisto Franceschi looks on. — AFP photo

FIPB clears Maruti, Citigroup proposals
New Delhi, September 20
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) today cleared proposals by car maker Maruti to form a joint venture for setting up an exhaust parts manufacturing facility in Haryana and by Citigroup Global Services to form a subsidiary to make investment in SEZ units.

Tiger Fight
Britannia starts legal action against Danone
New Delhi, September 20
The fight between Britannia Industries and Danone over intellectual property rights of Tiger brand of biscuits has finally reached court with the Indian firm initiating legal action against the French food giant in Singapore.

India woos investors Down Under
New Delhi, September 20
India today sought investments from Australian companies, particularly in the energy and infrastructure sector.

NHPC to hit capital market next year
New Delhi, September 20
State-owned National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) today said it expects to launch its initial public offer (IPO) in January-March quarter of this fiscal.

BSNL’s mobile card for foreigners
New Delhi, September 20
Seeking to tap the inbound foreign tourists segment, BSNL has launched a special pre-paid card with instant activation facility at a cost of Rs 5,618.

DMIC Project
More rail lines needed, says Nath
New Delhi, September 20
Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath has stressed on constructing more rail lines and improving their gauges for the development of industrial nodes being taken up under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Project.

BSNL contract
Chandigarh, September 20
Puncom has won a contract of BSNL for supply of synchronous transport mode equipment (STM-16) worth Rs 36 crore, informed Puncom MD Anurag Verma.

Onion prices rise due to rains
Mumbai, September 20
Heavy rains in Western India for the past few days have damaged onion crops in the region, according to reports from the main onion market of Lasalgaon in Nashik.

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Deora rules out immediate hike in petro prices

Thiruvananthapuram, September 20
An immediate hike in prices of petroleum products, including petrol and diesel, was not under consideration of the UPA government, union minister for petroleum and natural gas Murli Deora said here today.

Though the international crude prices were going up, the UPA government's approach was that the subsidy on petroleum products should continue as in the case of food and fertilisers, Deora told a press meet here.

The proposal to float oil bonds totalling Rs 25,000 crore to offset the deficit of the public sector oil companies due to increase in crude prices was expected to come up before the union cabinet shortly, he said.

"At present, we are not considering any increase. We are trying our best not to raise the prices of not only LPG and kerosene but also that of petrol and diesel," Deora said.

The minister was here to inaugurate the refinery technology meet organised by Centre for High Technology and Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd.

Stressing the need to continue with the subsidy on the petroleum products, Deora said he had been in touch with finance minister P Chidambaram on the issue.

Since the oil companies were losing heavily, the government was planning to float oil bonds to make up for part of the losses, Deora said.

IPI pipeline

On chances of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) natural gas pipeline project getting affected by the India-US nuclear pact, Deora said: "We cannot say that. I have no comment on that." Petroleum secretary M.S. Srinivasan, however, said official level talks on the project was still on.

Asked about the purpose of the planned visit to Myanmar by a delegation led by Deora, he said India would be bidding for some of the exploration blocks in that country.

Two blocks off the Kerala coast had been identified for exploration of natural gas. However, he said the places identified could not be disclosed at this state. These two blocks were in addition to three areas identified in Kerala-Konkan coast.

In the normal course, off-shore exploration and development would take eight years, he said.

On the progress of research on developing bio-fuel, he said two plants — jatropha and pongamia — had been shortlisted as the best potential source of bio-fuel. Researches and tests were going on at different research institutions and universities on developing the alternative fuel. — PTI

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BPCL seeks increase

Mumbai, September 20
State-owned oil major BPCL has sought a hike in prices of petrol by Rs 4 and diesel by Rs 2 per litre in line with the rising crude oil prices in the international market.

Speaking to media persons after its 54th annual general meeting yesterday, BPCL chairman and managing director Ashok Sinha said: "We are hoping the price of petrol and diesel would be raised by Rs 4 and Rs 2, respectively."

"The three oil companies are losing Rs 150 crore per day and BPCL's share is 25 per cent of that," Sinha pointed out. The other two companies are public sector Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil Corporation.

The basket of Indian crude oil touched an all-time high of $75.37 a barrel yesterday, widening the losses of the public sector oil companies. — PTI

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Power Equipment Manufacturing
Shinde calls for more players
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today called for more players in power equipment manufacturing sector to meet the capacity addition of 78,000 MW needed in next five years to cater to the energy demands of the country.

Delivering the keynote address after inaugurating the “India Electricity-2007” he said lack of adequate domestic manufacturing capacity for generation equipment had been a major bottleneck in the way of timely completion of generation projects, therefore, creating more players in this field is the only way to increase capacities, bring in cost-competitiveness and accountability to timelines.

Shinde said the capacity addition of 78,000 MW in the next five years was not too ambitious a target as various projects of a total capacity of 50,000 MW were already under implementation and the balance orders were expected to be placed by the year-end.

Alluding to the investment requirements of the Indian power sector of over Rs 10 lakh crore in the next five years, he said: “This would require special enabling dispensations. A financial sub-committee of the Group of Ministers has therefore been formed under the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission to suggest appropriate enabling measures.”

Shinde said in a bid to enable private companies enter power purchase agreements with utilities and achieve financial closure, a special task force on hydro projects had been constituted in which the major states and some load-centre states were represented.

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India Inc on M&A spree
62 deals worth $3.37 billion finalised in August

Mumbai, September 20
India Inc continued with its merger and acquisitions (M&A) frenzy in August striking an average of two deals per day, a marginal increase over the previous month's deal numbers, but over three-fold jump in value terms.

A total of 62 M&A deals valued at $3.37 billion were announced in August, against 59 deals worth about $0.94 billion in July, according to data compiled by Grant Thornton.

Although nearly equal number of domestic and cross-border deals were recorded last month, in value terms there was a distinct foreign flavour in the overall league table.

The international consultancy and research major in its M&A report for the month said 30 domestic deals were announced with a total value of $0.66 billion, while the value of 32 cross-border deals was nearly four-times of this figure at $2.71 billion.

The increase in the value was in sharp contrast to the general perception that the US sub-prime mortgage crisis and the subsequent impact on the global markets would slow down M&A activity.

The total tally of M&A deals announced so far this year stood at 460, with an announced value of $48.4 billion.

The most significant deals of the month were JSW Steel’s acquisition of three US firms Jindal United Steel Corp, Saw Pipes USA and Jindal Enterprises LLC and Wipro acquiring US-based Infocrossing Inc, Grant Thornton said.

Another outstanding cross-border deal includes Holcim's increasing of its stake in Ambuja Cements to 36.20 per cent for $220 million.

Out of total 32 cross-border deals, 21 were outbound with a value of $2.33 billion and 11 inbound deals with a value of $0.38 billion.

Besides, the total number of private equity deals announced in August stood at 37 with an announced value of $1.22 billion dollar, against 30 M&As worth $2.79 billion dollar declared in July.

The total tally of PE deals announced so far this year stands at 267, with an value of $10.82 billion.

The most significant PE deals were Fortress Capital, HSBC Principal Investments, Galleon Group, New Silk Route, GLG Partners, Quantum Fund (George Soros) and DA Capital investment of $337.50 million in infrastructure unit of Reliance Communication.

The other major PE deals were the investment of $150 million in Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCCL) and $110.47 million in Gokaldas Exports by Blackstone Group. — PTI

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MRTPC clean chit to Maruti in Hyundai case

New Delhi, September 20
Fair trade practices watchdog MRTPC has given a clean chit to Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) in a case filed by rival Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) over the publication of advertisements, which the latter claimed were “disparaging”.

Disposing of the one-year-old legal battle between the two auto giants, in which the Korean car maker accused MSI (formerly Maruti Udyog Ltd) of indulging in unfair trade practice by issuing “misleading” advertisements, an MRTPC Bench said there was no immediate cause for suspecting such a practice by the MSI.

“We have prima facie come to the conclusion that there is no immediate cause of suspecting an unfair trade practice on behalf of the respondent (MSI) and it may not be necessary to proceed in the main petition,” the Bench comprising M M K Sardana and D C Gupta said.

The commission observed that as per an undertaking, MSI had already stopped publication of objected advertisements in newspapers and hoardings.

In September 2006, HMIL had filed a case against MSI’s advertisements, which used findings of a survey by TNS-TCS alleging it disparaged the company’s products. During the subsequent hearing in November, MSI submitted that it would not publish the disputed advertisement.

Later, HMIL again filed an application alleging MSI that despite its assurance, the latter continued to use findings of the TNS-TCS study in advertisements and its dealers were circulating pamphlets and posters.

To this, MSI had contended that posters and pamphlets were outside the purview of HMIL petition. Later, HMIL amended its original petition.

Meanwhile, the commission allowed HMIL to bring the matter afresh, if felt necessary, in case of any violations by its rival. — PTI

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Punjab to set up 3 power plants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 20
Formalities have been completed in setting up at least three thermal power plants so that Punjab can be a surplus power state in the coming five years. This was stated by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at an interactive session organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday.

The Chief Minister lamented that Punjab used to be at the top in every field earlier, but the progress has now started declining.

He also informed that the state government was establishing skill centres in every block of the state as a part of its skill development plans. He also urged that a permanent committee of the government and industry needs to be created so that the manpower can be trained.

He also informed the delegates that e-filing of returns would be made more effective.

Sanjay Bhatia, president, PHDCCI, regretted that the agony of Punjab's economy was that it was continuously on the downslide and one important sector, agriculture, which was mainly responsible for state's economic growth, has recorded the slowest growth during the past five years.

Bhatia suggested that cluster-based industrial development was necessary for the state's growth. He said there should be a thrust on growth of small-scale units and economic incentives, improved infrastructure, good governance and focus on growth of agriculture would help Punjab to be on the growth path.

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GE-Wizard JV to offer home loans at 9.9 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
Home loan segment is set to witness competition with consumer financial services provider GE Money and international mortgage player Wizard today announcing a joint venture 'Wizard Home Loans' that will offer 9.99 per cent floating interest rate on home loans, as against the prevailing market rate of between 11 per cent and 12 per cent for varying tenures.

The joint venture will offer an aggressive interest rate of 9.99 per cent to consumers, T.P. Chopra, CEO, GE India, told reporters.

Australia's Wizard Home Loans will invest $200 million in India by 2011, and aims to be one of the top five mortgage companies in the country in 5-10 years, said company chairman Mark Bouris.

Wizard is a subsidiary of General Electric Co's retail finance arm GE Money. It expects to double its India business annually over the next three years. Wizard will initially offer its products through GE Money's Indian arm, and has applied to the regulator for its own operating licence. In addition, Wizard will provide loans against property to enable consumers meet needs such as business expansion or any other financial needs, he added.

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FIPB clears Maruti, Citigroup proposals

New Delhi, September 20
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) today cleared proposals by car maker Maruti to form a joint venture for setting up an exhaust parts manufacturing facility in Haryana and by Citigroup Global Services to form a subsidiary to make investment in SEZ units.

Maruti Suzuki India, till recently known as Maruti Udyog Ltd, plans to form a JV with Japan's Futaba Industrial Company to set up a facility in Manesar, Haryana. The proposal, which will see an FDI inflow of around Rs 45.90 crore with Futaba holding 51 per cent in the venture, was approved by FIPB today, official sources said.

Besides, a proposal by Citigroup relating to setting up special economic zone units in the country was also cleared.

The world's largest financial services group is looking to form a new subsidiary under its BPO arm which would make downstream investment for setting up SEZ units.

After FIPB approval, the proposals will go to finance minister P Chidambaram for final clearance. — PTI

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Tiger Fight
Britannia starts legal action against Danone

New Delhi, September 20
The fight between Britannia Industries and Danone over intellectual property rights of Tiger brand of biscuits has finally reached court with the Indian firm initiating legal action against the French food giant in Singapore.

“Based on legal advice and under the direction of its IPR committee, Britannia has initiated legal action against Groupe Danone in Singapore pertaining to Tiger IPR,” Britannia said in a statement.

When contacted, a Danone spokesperson said it had a different position from Britannia regarding the IPR of Tiger.

“We have tried to find a solution amicably. So a third party as a judge will be welcome to arbitrate,” the Danone spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Britannia said its chairman Nusli Wadia resigned yesterday from the IPR panel to ensure there was no conflict of interest in dealing with Tiger IPR matter and talks between Wadia Group and Danone over shareholder issues.

The IPR committee will now be headed by Vijay Kelkar, an independent director. It will consist of Britannia MD Vinita Bali and two other independent directors Nimesh Kampani and Keki Dadiseth.

The IPR Committee was created in May 2006 to deal with all IPR matters of the company and for the last year has been working to resolve the issue of use and registration of Tiger brand by Groupe Danone in several countries without the consent of Britannia Board. — PTI

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India woos investors Down Under
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
India today sought investments from Australian companies, particularly in the energy and infrastructure sector.

“India’s growing and stable investment climate present immense opportunities for Australian companies, particularly in energy and infrastructure sector,” Pawan Kumar Bansal, minister of state for finance said while addressing the Australia-India business council investors’ meeting in Sydney.

An official release quoting him here said India offered a huge market and enormous business potential with a growing middle class in the country. It had also the potential to become trade and business center of South Asia and East Asia with its proposed regional trade agreements with several countries and trade blocks in the near future.

Bansal said that trade between the two countries has been continuously expanding.

Bansal said that Indian investments in Australia are now well over $ 1 billion (US), mostly in IT sector. On the other hand, Australia ranks 10th and accounts for only about 2.37 per cent of total FDI approvals with $ 1.92 billion (US).

To further widen and diversity the investor base, the limit of FII investment in corporate debt in India has been increased from $ 1.5 billion (US) to $ 2 billion (US) in April 2006.

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NHPC to hit capital market next year

New Delhi, September 20
State-owned National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) today said it expects to launch its initial public offer (IPO) in January-March quarter of this fiscal.

“We are waiting for the appointment of independent directors by the government and hope to come out with IPO in the last quarter of the current financial year,” NHPC chairman and MD S K Garg told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar - India Electricity 2007 - here.

NHPC has a mandate to sell up to 24 per cent stake, but it proposed to offer 10 per cent to the public, and an additional 5 per cent disinvestment of government stake, he said.

Post IPO, government stake in the country’s largest hydroelectric power generating company would come down to about 86 per cent. — PTI

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BSNL’s mobile card for foreigners

New Delhi, September 20
Seeking to tap the inbound foreign tourists segment, BSNL has launched a special pre-paid card with instant activation facility at a cost of Rs 5,618.

Foreign tourists often complain of difficulties in getting a pre-paid connection due to regulatory reasons or identification problems. In calling cards the charges are exorbitantly high.

On the BSNL card, a user has to pay Rs 5,618 for an initial talk value of Rs 3,000 with a 30-day validity. The applicable pulse rate is 60 seconds and the charges are same as for India citizens, company officials said.

Local call charges are 90 paise a minute for BSNL's GSM network and Rs 1.20 for non-BSNL network. For STD calls, charges are Rs 2 per minute for BSNL's GSM and fixed line phones, while for other it is Rs 2.40. — PTI

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DMIC Project
More rail lines needed, says Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath has stressed on constructing more rail lines and improving their gauges for the development of industrial nodes being taken up under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Project.

In a communication to the railway minister today, Nath focused on the crucial need for the development of rail networks, especially in Madhya Pradesh, where the rail route kilometer length is much less than the neighbouring states, an official release said here.

He also urged the railway minister to start work on Indore-Dhar-Chotta Udaipur route, expedite new line work from Indore to Dahod and linking Indore to Khandwa on a broad gauge route.

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BSNL contract

Chandigarh, September 20
Puncom has won a contract of BSNL for supply of synchronous transport mode equipment (STM-16) worth Rs 36 crore, informed Puncom MD Anurag Verma.

This tender was for supply state-of-the-art technology equipment for transmission of voice and data on optical fibre cable using lasers.

Verma further said Puncom had entered into a strategic tie-up with a Bangalore-based company Ordyn, a major technology developer and manufacturer of optical telecom transmission equipment in India. — TNS

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Onion prices rise due to rains
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 20
Heavy rains in Western India for the past few days have damaged onion crops in the region, according to reports from the main onion market of Lasalgaon in Nashik.

Traders said onion prices in the wholesale market have increased to Rs 1,785 per quintal from Rs 1,300. Further increases are not ruled out.

The kharif crop from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are likely to be hit by the rains. However, the late crop coming in by October-end is expected to be plentiful because of the rains, thereby bringing down prices.

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BRIEFLY

UTV plan
New Delhi, September 20
Mumbai-based media company UTV Software Communications will invest Rs 600 crore over the next three years for launching nine television channels. The first general entertainment channel Bindass will go on air from September 24 along with a Hindi movie channel targeted at youth. Two other Bindass brand channels would be introduced in April next year. The four Bindass channels would entail an investment of Rs 270 crore, while the company will invest Rs 320 crore in five other channels.— PTI

SAIL order
Seoul, September 20
A unit of Posco, the world's fourth-largest steel maker, said today it has won a $350-million order to build India's biggest blast furnace from state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd. The furnace, which will be located north of Kolkata, will have the capacity to produce 2.7 million tonnes of steel a year, Posco Engineering & Construction Co said in a statement. — Reuters

Dalda variant
Chennai, September 20
Agri-business firm Bunge India Pvt Ltd today said it is expecting a revenue of Rs 1,500 crore this fiscal as against Rs 1,100 crore it achieved last year. Besides, it has set a sales target of Rs 80 crore from its new variant of the Dalda edible oil range — Dalda refined sunflower oil. — PTI

Avestha deal
Kuala Lumpur, September 20
A leading Malaysian drug and biotechnology firm will sign a $2 million deal with India's Avestha Gengraine Technologies Pvt Ltd to manufacture and supply salines. "This deal is important to us as the Indian biotechnology firm is one of Inno Biologics Sdn Bhd's first few clients which will use up almost the entire capacity," an official of the Malaysian company said. — PTI

Christie's director
London, September 20
Leading global auctioneer Christie's today appointed an NRI, Sashim Parmanand, as director for strategy and business analysis in Asia. Parmanand joins Christie's from Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, Inc. In her new role with Christie's, she will manage the strategic planning and business analysis division for the auctioneer in Asia. — PTI

Gemini Comm
Mumbai, September 20
Networking company Gemini Communication has bagged a Rs 10-crore order from BSNL for installation and commissioning of telecom equipments and accessories across 11 circles in India. BSNL's CDMA cell cites would come up in 11 states. This deployment would enhance connectivity and clarity for BSNL subscribers, it said. — PTI

Rs 2 coins
Chandigarh, September 20
The RBI will shortly put into circulation new stainless steel coins of Rs 2. The coins will be made of metal composition containing 83 per cent iron and 17 per cent chromium. The Rs 2 coins already in circulation shall also continue to be legal tender, RBI said. — TNS

Skoda variant
New Delhi, September 20
Skoda India today launched a new variant of its luxury sedan Superb at a price of Rs 20.41 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), nearly Rs 2 lakh lower than the existing variant Superb Elegante diesel. Skoda Superb Comfort is powered by a 2.5 litre TDi engine. — PTI

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