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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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B U S I N E S S

WB to extend $4 b for power sector
New Delhi, September 21
The World Bank will extend a financial assistance of up to $4 billion to help meet the power generation target of more than 78,000 MW during the 11th Plan period.

BSE market-cap breaches 50-trillion mark
Mumbai, September 21
The record breaking rally in the country's stock market today pushed the total investor wealth past the Rs 50,00,000 crore milestone for the first time in its history.

A Sony employee displays the new professional use handy camcorder "XDCAM PMW-EX1", equipped with three high-definition CMOS image sensors to record 1,920 x 1,080-pixel movies on the new SxS pro-memory card that can record 50-minutes of high-definition image on the 16GB card, in Tokyo on Friday. Sony will put it on the market in November. A Sony employee displays the new professional use handy camcorder "XDCAM PMW-EX1", equipped with three high-definition CMOS image sensors to record 1,920 x 1,080-pixel movies on the new SxS pro-memory card that can record 50-minutes of high-definition image on the 16GB card, in Tokyo on Friday. Sony will put it on the market in November. — AFP



EARLIER STORIES

  Power Equipment Manufacturing
New pre-qualification norms in the offing
New Delhi, September 21
In a move to resolve difficulties faced by new entrants in power equipment manufacturing, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has constituted a group to formulate new pre-qualification criteria.

America’s Richie-Rich
Gates richest 14th year in a row
New York, September 21
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the richest person in America for the 14th year in a row, followed by investor Warren Buffett, according to Forbes magazine’s latest list of the wealthiest Americans. The pair’s fortunes each grew by $6 billion in the past year, Forbes said today, with Gates’ fortune $59 billion and Buffett $52 billion.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett

ADAG seeks city gas distribution licence
New Delhi, September 21
Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) firm Reliance Fuel Resources Ltd (RFRL) has re-applied for licences to set up city gas distribution (CGD) projects in the NCR and Mumbai, citing KG basin gas fields of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) as a source of fuel.

A 290-carat "Ponahalo" necklace, which includes a 102-carat emerald and a 70-carat diamond as its centre pieces (bottom and top), is displayed at De Beers group's diamond collection in Tokyo. The worldwide appetite for diamonds continues to grow, led by huge demand in India and China, a director of De Beers said.
A 290-carat "Ponahalo" necklace, which includes a 102-carat emerald and a 70-carat diamond as its centre pieces (bottom and top), is displayed at De Beers group's diamond collection in Tokyo. The worldwide appetite for diamonds continues to grow, led by huge demand in India and China, a director of De Beers said. — AFP

FDI limit may be hiked
New Delhi, September 21
Hinting that the UPA government may have a re-look at increasing the foreign equity holding in the insurance sector, a contentious issue with the Left parties, minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal today said insurance sector in India was poised for tremendous expansion.

Direct tax collection up 41.5 per cent
New Delhi, September 21
Net collection of direct taxes, including corporate tax and income tax, is estimated to have gone up by 41.5 per cent to Rs 1,09,000 crore till September 15 over Rs 77,000 crore a year ago.

SC restrains Atlas Products from using ‘Atlas’ brand name
New Delhi, September 21
The Supreme Court today restrained Arun Kapur and his company Atlas Products Pvt Ltd from using 'Atlas' as part of its corporate or trade name in relation to bicycles and bicycle parts.

HFCL Infotel launches ‘Ping’
Chandigarh, September 21
HFCL Infotel today launched its mobile service on CDMA platform under the name ‘Ping’ for Punjab and Chandigarh.

Exporters seek RBI intervention
New Delhi, September 21
Exporters today mounted pressure on the government to bail them out of the crisis triggered by the rupee rising to sub-40 level against the dollar, while demanding immediate RBI intervention to abate the Indian currency.

Suzuki to invest Rs 150 crore
Kolkata, September 21
Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, today forayed into the domestic scooter segment with the launch of its Access 125 and said it will invest Rs 150 crore for expansion.

Inflation at five-year low of 3.32 pc
New Delhi, September 21
Inflation touched a five year low of 3.32 per cent for the week ending September 8 due to lower prices of vegetables, energy and some minerals, raising expectations that the RBI may ease its monetary policy stance.

Tea Board in pact with Russia to boost exports
Moscow, September 21
The Tea Board of India has signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia's 'Roschaikofe' association to promote export of premium quality tea to this country in an effort to restore the flagging image of the Indian beverage in the local market.

HDFC may cut interest rates
Mumbai, September 21
Interest rates on housing loans look set to follow the downhill route with the country’s biggest mortgage player HDFC Ltd today saying it may lower rates next week as cost of funds has come down.

CLB order on HPL shares set aside
Kolkata, September 21
The Calcutta High Court today set aside an order of the Company Law Board that directed West Bengal government to exit from Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd by selling its stake to joint venture partner The Chatterjee Group.

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WB to extend $4 b for power sector

New Delhi, September 21
The World Bank will extend a financial assistance of up to $4 billion to help meet the power generation target of more than 78,000 MW during the 11th Plan period.

"The 11th Plan has an ambitious plan for power generation and to achieve that goal we will provide an assistance of up to $4 billion to India," the World Bank sector manager, energy, (South Asia) Salman Zaheer told PTI on the sidelines of the international conference and exhibition on power sector here.

The financial package would be in the form of loan and half of the lending would be spent in generation and the other half would be spent in building capacities for transmission and distribution, he said.

"We have sanctioned around $400 million for the 412 MW Rampur Hydro Power project," Zaheer said.

Another $400 million will be provided for setting up 440 MW Vishnugarh Pipalkoti hydro-electric power project in Uttarakhand on Alaknanda River.

Besides, it would also extend loans to two 'thermal rehabilitation of old coal plants' in West Bengal and Maharashtra.

"Total financial assistance involved in these two projects will be around $150 million," World Bank financial analyst (South Asia) Ashish Khanna said.

The World Bank would also assist in 700 MW Luhri hydro power project in Himachal Pradesh, Zaheer said, adding, "We are waiting for the request and it will be about $400 million," Khanna said. — PTI

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BSE market-cap breaches 50-trillion mark

Mumbai, September 21
The record breaking rally in the country's stock market today pushed the total investor wealth past the Rs 50,00,000 crore milestone for the first time in its history.

The cumulative market capitalisation of all 4,500-odd companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, the world's biggest bourse in terms of listed firms, today soared to a new peak of Rs 50,18,265.06 crore.

BSE's benchmark 30-share index, Sensex, rose to a new peak of 16,616.84 points before settling 1.32 per cent higher at a new closing high of 16,564.23 points. Today's gain added more than Rs 70,000 crore to investors' wealth.

The collective market cap of 30 Sensex scrips today stood at Rs 21,66,048 crore, led by the country's most-valued firm RIL with over Rs 3 trillion.

The total market cap of all companies listed at the National Stock Exchange, which has relatively lower number of listings, also rose to a new high of Rs 47,16,035 crore. — PTI

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Power Equipment Manufacturing
New pre-qualification norms in the offing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21
In a move to resolve difficulties faced by new entrants in power equipment manufacturing, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has constituted a group to formulate new pre-qualification criteria.

The authority is also working on model contract guidelines with proper sharing of risks in a bid to tide over the shortage of civil contractors in hydro projects said Rakesh Nath, chairman, CEA, here today.

Nath said the CEA has been having regular interaction with power equipment manufacturers. After meeting with manufacturers in Chennai, a CEA team is headed for Chandigarh next week to apprise themselves of the problems faced by the prospective manufacturers and determine the support that could be extended by way of tax concessions and other sops.

He said new entrants in the power equipment manufacturing were getting bogged by the existing pre-qualification criteria. This, he said, is being taken up by a group, which will simplify the criteria to enable new companies to enter the field.

The CEA chairman said the management of hydro plants was up against a huge shortage of contractors, particularly on the civil side.

The CEA, he said, was working on a model contract agreement, which will assess and determine the sharing of risks in an objective manner. The model guidelines will be formulated soon and discussed at a conference to be held on November 15.

“We need about 10 lakh persons for construction, operation and maintenance of power plants and distribution. Even private plants were plagued with shortage of manpower. This was causing delay in the commissioning of the plants from nine months to a year,” he said.

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America’s Richie-Rich
Gates richest 14th year in a row

New York, September 21
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the richest person in America for the 14th year in a row, followed by investor Warren Buffett, according to Forbes magazine’s latest list of the wealthiest Americans.

The pair’s fortunes each grew by $6 billion in the past year, Forbes said today, with Gates’ fortune $59 billion and Buffett $52 billion.

Buffett has pledged 85 per cent of his net worth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and family charities.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson ($28 billion), head of Las Vegas Sands Corp and software tycoon Larry Ellison ($26 billion), chief executive of Oracle Corp, remain at No 3 and No 4 on the 25th annual ranking of 400 rich Americans, which now requires a minimum net worth of $1.3 billion for inclusion.

“The collective net worth of those listed on the 400 this year rose $290 billion to $1.54 trillion,” Forbes said.

“Despite market jitters, nearly half of the 45 new members come from hedge fund and private equity investments.'' For the first time since 1989, there are no members of the Walton family, descendants of Wal-Mart Stores Inc founder Sam Walton, in the top 10. Four members - Jim, Christy, Robson and Alice - slipped to 12th and 15th place.

The Waltons were displaced by Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who came in at No 5 with fortunes of $18.5 billion, and brothers Charles and David Koch, who run Koch Industries, the world’s second largest private company, and are each valued at $17 billion, earning them 9th place.

There were 82 American billionaires who did not make the list. — Reuters

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ADAG seeks city gas distribution licence

New Delhi, September 21
Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) firm Reliance Fuel Resources Ltd (RFRL) has re-applied for licences to set up city gas distribution (CGD) projects in the NCR and Mumbai, citing KG basin gas fields of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) as a source of fuel.

RFRL group president A N Sethuraman, on September 3, filed three separate applications with the petroleum and natural gas regulatory board for licences to sell CNG to automobiles and piped gas to households in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida.

On the same day, he also filed a separate application seeking permission to build a Rs 16,000-crore gas pipeline from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Dadri in Uttar Pradesh.

“A large portion of the gas, transported by the proposed pipeline, will be utilised by the 7,480 MW gas-based power project near Dadri,” the application stated.

RFRL had last year applied for CGD and pipeline approvals.

The 1,594-km pipeline would have a capacity of 50 million standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd), 60 per cent of which would be used for the Dadri power plant.

RFRL’s application for CGD licences cited RIL’s KG basin gas fields and other producers in the region as sources of gas.

The petroleum ministry officials said authorisation for CGD and pipelines are contingent upon the proposer showing gas tie-ups through gas sales and purchase agreement.

ADAG and RIL are in court over gas supplies.

RFRL pipeline would travel from Gadimoga (Kakinada) to Nagpur to Vijaipur and finally to Dadri. It will connect GAIL’s Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline at Vijaipur.

After using 30 mmscmd capacity for transporting gas for the Dadri power plant, RFRL would offer the balance capacity to other gas producers in the KG basin.

In phase-II, capacity in the Kakinada-Vijaipur stretch would be enhanced to 70 mmscmd, the application said. — PTI

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Insurance Sector
FDI limit may be hiked
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21
Hinting that the UPA government may have a re-look at increasing the foreign equity holding in the insurance sector, a contentious issue with the Left parties, minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal today said insurance sector in India was poised for tremendous expansion.

The foreign equity up to 26 per cent is allowed in the insurance sector. The entry of foreign partners has resulted in the sector attracting FDI of $543 million as on March 31. The private companies have created a niche for themselves, Bansal said while addressing a meeting of Insurance Australia Group in Sydney today.

An official release quoting him said they have been able to increase their share in the insurance market in competition with their counterparts in the public sector. As a part of the reform process, premium rates for non-life insurance products have been de-tariffed.

Bansal said in insurance sector though the growth in recent years has been significant, India is far behind the world averages and ranks 78th in terms of insurance density and 54th in terms of insurance penetration.

Bansal said Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has granted registration to 37 insurance companies, which include 17 life insurance, 19 non-life insurance companies and one re-insurance company.

At present 17 insurance companies are operating in the general insurance side and 17 insurance companies on the life side.

Bansal said the banks also have entered the insurance sector in the form of corporate agencies or under referral arrangements to utilise the extensive and broad reach for marketing of insurance products.

He said IRDA has also notified micro insurance regulations facilitating insurers to tap the potential of rural markets.

He said India offers a stable investment climate as well as a huge market with a growing middle class. He said investor confidence in India was at an all-time high today. A.T. Kearney in 'The FDI Confidence Index 2005' has ranked India as the 2nd most attractive investment destination, just behind China.

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Direct tax collection up 41.5 per cent

New Delhi, September 21
Net collection of direct taxes, including corporate tax and income tax, is estimated to have gone up by 41.5 per cent to Rs 1,09,000 crore till September 15 over Rs 77,000 crore a year ago.

"The net direct tax collection figures can touch Rs 3,00,000 crore this fiscal, crossing indirect tax collection for the first time, if the current growth of over 40 per cent is maintained," sources said.

During April 1-September 15 this year, the advance tax collection is estimated to have touched Rs 57,000 crore as against Rs 43,000 core last year, they said.

Public sector oil major ONGC has emerged as the highest tax payer so far by depositing Rs 3,400 crore advance tax by September 15, the sources said.

The gross tax collection is estimated to be Rs 1,26,000 crore by September 15 this year, as against about Rs 94,000 crore in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, refund of overpaid taxes was at the same level of around Rs 17,000 crore, the sources said.

The government has set a target Rs 5,48,122 crore tax collection as against Rs 4,67,848 crore (budget estimates) in the previous fiscal, representing an increase of over 17 per cent. The targeted amount includes Rs 2,67,490 crore through direct tax collection. — PTI

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SC restrains Atlas Products from using ‘Atlas’ brand name

New Delhi, September 21
The Supreme Court today restrained Arun Kapur and his company Atlas Products Pvt Ltd from using 'Atlas' as part of its corporate or trade name in relation to bicycles and bicycle parts.

A Bench headed by Justice S H Kapadia dismissed Atlas Products' plea challenging a Delhi High Court order that restrained it from using the trade name 'House of Atlas'.

However, the apex court allowed the company to use the name for statutory purposes like in correspondence and for sales tax payment, besides other purposes.

The high court had passed the order on a petition filed by Atlas Cycles (Haryana) Ltd to restrain Atlas Products from using the trade mark.

Atlas Products' counsel Harish Salve contended before the Supreme Court that the company had already changed its trade mark to 'Premium Gold' and suggested the court to allow the petitioner to clear its stock of 67,000 cycles using an opaque sticker on the trade name 'House of Atlas'.

He further contended that there had been a dilution in the name and 'Atlas' as such was being used for a lot of other products like toys and prams, import-exports business etc.

Atlas Cycles' counsel Soli Sorabjee and Sudhir Makkar said the petitioner was trying to piggyback on 'Atlas' tag to market its products under 'Premium Gold' brand. — PTI

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HFCL Infotel launches ‘Ping’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
HFCL Infotel today launched its mobile service on CDMA platform under the name ‘Ping’ for Punjab and Chandigarh.

With the launch of this service, the company has become the third player on CDMA platform and seventh mobile service provider in Punjab. The company also introduced two sim-based mobile sets at Rs 999 on which Ping mobiles service would be available to the customers. Under this service, the company would allow the customers to pay for the time of using the mobile service. “Ping will offer call charges of one paisa per second with the benefit of single second billing.”

This SIM-based stylish colour mobile handset has a speaker phone feature with a large phone book and voice recording facility. The sleek colour mobile handsets have been procured from ZTE and Huawei.

The service would be available in 150 towns and 5,000 villages of Punjab and Chandigarh on the CDMA platform, for which nearly Rs 100 crore have been invested, stated G D Singh, COO, HFCL Infotel Ltd.

HFCL Infotel has been allotted mobile series of 9,877 for this CDMA service by the Department of Telecom.

The existing Connect landline subscribers have been offered ‘valued customer advantage’, under which the bundled Ping mobile handset, with connection costing Rs 1,298, would be available to them for an effective amount of Rs 698 only. The company has already set up a statewide distribution network of 8,000 retail outlets to reach out to the market of Punjab.

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Rupee Surge
Exporters seek RBI intervention

New Delhi, September 21
Exporters today mounted pressure on the government to bail them out of the crisis triggered by the rupee rising to sub-40 level against the dollar, while demanding immediate RBI intervention to abate the Indian currency.

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president Ganesh K Gupta said the RBI should not only intervene directly in the foreign exchange market to support the falling dollar but also cut the interest rates to check the foreign fund flows.

Besides checking the overseas fund flows, a cut in the PLR would reduce exporters’ cost of borrowing.

“The advantage of pre-shipment and post-shipment credit at 4.5 per cent below PLR has been offset by the increase in the benchmark interest rates,” the FIEO chief said.

Gupta said the government has not implemented the package for exporters announced in June. “The announcement simply remained on paper and arrears of increased DEPB and drawback have not been given to exporters,” he said.

The IT sector is also feeling the brunt of rupee appreciation with a fall in margin from offshore business, which forms bulk of its revenue.

Industry body Nasscom said the government should extend the tax benefits under the Software Technology Park of India scheme for another 10 years. — PTI

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Suzuki to invest Rs 150 crore

Kolkata, September 21
Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, today forayed into the domestic scooter segment with the launch of its Access 125 and said it will invest Rs 150 crore for expansion.

The company aims to capture a market share of 10 per cent in the scooter segment, which is dominated by home-grown Bajaj Auto, Suzuki India vice-president (sales and marketing) Atul Gupta said here.

He said the company would invest around Rs 150 crore in the next few years. It has already invested Rs 350 crore at its manufacturing plant at Gurgaon in Haryana. Suzuki would launch two new products in the coming months, he said. — PTI

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Inflation at five-year low of 3.32 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21
Inflation touched a five year low of 3.32 per cent for the week ending September 8 due to lower prices of vegetables, energy and some minerals, raising expectations that the RBI may ease its monetary policy stance.

The annual rate of inflation, calculated on point to point basis, stood at 3.32 percent for the week ended September 8 compared to 3.52 percent for the previous week.

The inflation stood at 5.22 percent a year ago. The decline in the price index is likely to give a much-needed breather to the country’s ruling coalition UPA government, which has been battling rising prices for over a year now.

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Tea Board in pact with Russia to boost exports

Moscow, September 21
The Tea Board of India has signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia's 'Roschaikofe' association to promote export of premium quality tea to this country in an effort to restore the flagging image of the Indian beverage in the local market.

The MoU signed last night by the chairman of the Tea Board Basudev Banerjee and Ramaz Chanturiya, the general director of 'Roschaikofe' association of Russian tea and coffee traders and packers, provides for creating favourable conditions for activities of tea organisations to boost trade turnover. — PTI

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HDFC may cut interest rates

Mumbai, September 21
Interest rates on housing loans look set to follow the downhill route with the country’s biggest mortgage player HDFC Ltd today saying it may lower rates next week as cost of funds has come down.

“The funding costs have come down by 50 basis points and we are reviewing our lending rates in a week’s time,” HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh said here.

“There is a case for an interest rate cut. A decision in this regard will be taken next week but we have not yet decided on the quantum of the cut,” HDFC executive director Renu Karnad said. — PTI

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CLB order on HPL shares set aside

Kolkata, September 21
The Calcutta High Court today set aside an order of the Company Law Board (CLB) that directed West Bengal government to exit from Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd by selling its stake to joint venture partner The Chatterjee Group (TCG).

A Bench of Justice Jayanta Biswas also dismissed the CLB order that asked the state government to transfer its 155 million shares in HPL to Purnendu Chatterjee-led TCG. The court, however, upheld Indian Oil Corp's entry into HPL. — PTI

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AAA rating for SBI Life

Chandigarh, September 21
SBI Life has become the first life insurer in India to receive highest financial strength rating of AAA from Crisil. U.S. Roy, managing director and CEO of SBI Life Insurance, said: “To our customers, AAA rating by Crisil reiterates the trust they have in us. When you’re insuring your life and family against the unexpected, it’s important to choose a company that is financially secured and able to keep its promises and meet its future obligations”. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

Satyam plans
New Delhi, September 21
Satyam Computer plans to hire more than eight new employees a day in the next six months with a target to expand its headcount by over 15,000 persons by the end of this fiscal. “Our organisation has 40,000 people today and at the end of the fiscal year (March 2008), we will probably have more than 55,000. Many of the people we bring in will be straight from colleges,” Satyam Computer’s founder and chairman Ramalinga Raju said in an interview to McKinsey Quarterly. — PTI

Oil prices
London, September 21
World oil prices eased today after New York crude hit a record $84.1 per barrel yesterday on fears a storm could threaten energy facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. London Brent had also surged yesterday to an all-time record of $79.28 per barrel amid supply concerns in the USA ahead of peak winter demand for heating fuel, analysts said. — AFP

IIFCL inks MoU
New Delhi, September 21
India Infrastructure Finance Corporation (IIFCL) has tied up with Japan’s financial institution Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC) for raising resources worth $5 billion by 2012 to fund core sector projects in the country. Under the MoU signed betweeen the two companies, SMBC would support core projects and also the fund raising need of IIFCL to the tune of $5 billion over a period of five years, IIFCL chairman S S Kohli said. — PTI

Suzlon Energy
New Delhi, September 21
Suzlon Energy Ltd has issued foreign currency convertible bonds worth $200 million with a maturity of five years and one day. The bonds are convertible at a conversion price of Rs 1,859.4 per share, which is at a premium of 30 per cent over the five day volume weighted average price of Rs 1,430.31 on the NSE on September 20. — UNI

ICRA tie-up
Mumbai, September 21
ICRA today said it has signed an MoU with Dena Bank for assigning ratings to the latter’s loans and other exposures. The agency would assign ratings to Dena Bank’s loans and its other exposures under the standardised approach of the RBI’s new capital adequacy framework for basel-II, ICRA said. — PTI

Simplex Infra
Mumbai, September 21
Simplex Infrastructures has bagged domestic and overseas orders worth Rs 802 crore. The orders have been bagged by the four business segments of the company - industrial structures, urban utilities, piling, and marine structures. — UNI

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