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B U S I N E S S

Source of Funds
BJP wants bull run probed

New Delhi, September 27
As the unprecedented bull run pushed the Sensex beyond the 17K mark, the BJP today cautioned the small investors from entering the market at this juncture and demanded that the government should conduct discreet probe on the source of funds entering the Indian stock exchanges.

RNRL stock under scanner
Mumbai, September 27
Stock market authorities have sought explanation from the Anil Ambani group firm Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), whose share price has nearly doubled in the past few days, on media reports about its business plans.

Rising food prices worrisome: FM
Philadelphia, September 27
India's government remains concerned over costlier food items even though overall inflation rate based on wholesale prices has fallen to a near five-year low, finance minister P Chidambaram said.

FDI in retail not very far: Chidambaram
Philadelphia, September 27
India will open up its $330 billion retail market to foreign investors after convincing mom and pop store owners that their jobs are not at threat from big players, finance minister P Chidambaram has said.



EARLIER STORIES

 
From left: Musicians Rahul Sharma, Taufiq Qureshi, Titan Industries managing director Bhaskar Bhatt, and design manager of the company Abhijit Bansod at the launch of Titan Heritage Collection in New Delhi on Thursday.
From left: Musicians Rahul Sharma, Taufiq Qureshi, Titan Industries managing director Bhaskar Bhatt, and design manager of the company Abhijit Bansod at the launch of Titan Heritage Collection in New Delhi on Thursday. —A Tribune photograph

Microsoft e-mail
Mumbai, September 27
Microsoft today unveiled over 250 custom domains as part of its plan to offer every kind of distinct Indian personalised e-mail IDs powered by Windows Live Hotmail. This follows the announcement of its first custom domain Lokhandwalarocks.com in May and the enhancements to Windows Live Hotmail, including increased storage limits to 5 GB.

Nifty breaches 5,000 mark
Mumbai, September 27
Both the Sensex and the Nifty set new benchmarks closing above the 17,000 and
5,000 mark, respectively. It is for the first time that Nifty touched the new level.

Models pour water on Matsushita Electric Industrial's notebook PC "Let's Note" series, equipped with 10.4 to 14.1-inch sized LCD display, during a proof test demonstration in Tokyo on Thursday.
Models pour water on Matsushita Electric Industrial's notebook PC "Let's Note" series, equipped with 10.4 to 14.1-inch sized LCD display, during a proof test demonstration in Tokyo on Thursday. The new tough body notebook PC, which has function of shock and water proof, will go on sale on October 19. — AFP photo

N-E’s tea lady, millionaire at 25
Guwahati, September 27
She is only 25, but already a millionaire. That is quite fast by the North-east standard and obviously can’t be ignored even by global standard. A 2004-batch tea husbandry graduate, Shariti C Syiem of Meghalaya has become the role model for hundreds of small tea planters in the North-east because of her feat.

Now, call to US, Canada at 50 p/min
New Delhi, September 27
World Phone, an internet telephony company, has introduced a Rs 1,500 monthly package, offering international calls to the USA and Canada at 50 paise
per minute.

Reliance Retail may shelve UP, Orissa plans
New Delhi, September 27
Peeved by the treatment meted out to its retail venture by Uttar Pradesh and Orissa governments, Reliance
Industries is understood to be shelving its estimated Rs 13,000 crore roll out plans in the two states, putting at least 10,000 jobs at stake.

Bangalore-Mysore Expressway
Stay on call for fresh tenders
New Delhi, September 27
The Supreme Court today stayed the move of the Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka to have fresh global bidding for the multi-crore Bangalore-Mysore corridor project, which has been facing one controversy after the other and was the main reason for the JD(S) withdrawing support to the Congress-led Dharam Singh government.

Shishir firms stake in Bajaj Hindusthan
Mumbai, September 27
Shishir Bajaj, CMD of largest sugar manufacturer Bajaj Hindusthan, has consolidated his position in the company by picking up an additional 4.75 per cent stake for an estimated Rs 123.48 crore.

Rigs, skill crunch ups exploration cost
New Delhi, September 27
Oil exploration and production companies are not only facing acute shortage of drilling rigs by over 60 per cent but also suffering from a crunch of skilled personnel to an extent of 40 per cent which has resulted into inordinate delays of their hydrocarbons discovery schedule, with projects cost exceeding about 30 per cent in the past 3-4 years.

Bajaj brothers end pact; battle on
New Delhi, September 27 
The warring Bajaj brothers, Rahul and Shishir, have finally decided to terminate a family settlement agreement after prolonged peace talks for which they had also sought additional time from Company Law Board.

BHEL joins Rs 1 trillion m-cap club
Mumbai, September 27
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), the country’s biggest maker of power equipment, today became the third public sector firm to breach the level of Rs 100,000 crore of market capitalisation.


Video
HDFC and ICICI bank cut loan rates.
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Source of Funds
BJP wants bull run probed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 27
As the unprecedented bull run pushed the Sensex beyond the 17K mark, the BJP today cautioned the small investors from entering the market at this juncture and demanded that the government should conduct discreet probe on the source of funds entering the Indian stock exchanges.

“The rise in Sensex is not fundamental driven. There is a cause of apprehension over the possibility of manipulation in the market. In the interest of investors as well the country as a whole, the government should keep a close watch on the source of funds entering the Indian stock exchanges,” convenor of BJP investor cell Arun Singh said here today.

Referring to the statements made by Prime Minister’s security adviser M.K. Narayanan a few months back on the possibility of terrorist outfits routing their money into Indian stock exchanges, Singh demanded that the government should not only keep a close watch on all stock exchanges, but also conduct discreet probe on the source of funds.

Claiming that 40 per cent of the money being invested in the stock exchanges by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) are the ones routed through Promissory Notes, he said “The government should devise a mechanism to keep track on who are routing their money through FIIs.”

The BJP also demanded constitution of a regulator for the real estate sector to ensure transparency, accountability and fair deal for the end users.

“Due to lack of a regulatory authority, there is unregulated growth in the real estate sector has not only led to unprecedented increase in property prices, but also resulted in raw deal for the end consumers,” Singh said. He also favoured issue of licence to brokers to bring transparency and accountability in property dealing.

The BJP also demanded that the Centre as well as the state government should focus on providing low-cost housing for the poor, lower middle-class and middle-class segment of the society either on their own or through pubic-private partnership.

In this context, he said the party is also holding a conference on “Investor protection in new economic regime” here tomorrow, which will be inaugurated by BJP president Rajnath Singh.

RNRL stock under scanner

Mumbai, September 27
Stock market authorities have sought explanation from the Anil Ambani group firm Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), whose share price has nearly doubled in the past few days, on media reports about its business plans.

Both the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) brought the company under scanner last week and early this week to ascertain if the price movement was normal.

From Rs 52 at close on September 19, the share price hit a one-year high of Rs 103 during trading on September 25, although it ended down at Rs 94.85 that day.

There have been media reports that it plans to sell stake in coal-bed methane blocks to strategic investors and has applied for starting city gas distribution projects.

The NSE wrote to company officials on September 21 after reports that it plans to start CGD projects in various cities. — PTI 

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Rising food prices worrisome: FM

Philadelphia, September 27
India's government remains concerned over costlier food items even though overall inflation rate based on wholesale prices has fallen to a near five-year low, finance minister P Chidambaram said.

The rate of "3.32 per cent is perfectly acceptable, tolerable. But one component of WPI — primary articles' inflation was 7.5 per cent. Within primary articles, food is 5.8 per cent. This is a worrying inflation," he said during an interaction with Wharton Business School students here.

Inflation based on wholesale price index fell to 3.32 per cent for the week ended September 8, the lowest since December 2002.

Primary articles, comprising farm products, have a weight of 22 per cent in wholesale price index. According to official estimates released last week, although the overall rate fell, the index for primary items rose.

India is the world's second-fastest growing major economy and the rapid expansion is fueling demand, forcing the government and the central bank to take steps to tighten money supply and augment availability of food items. India is importing wheat, pulses and edible oils, reduced customs duty, banned export of some other products and even suspended futures trading in rice, wheat and some pulses.

Chidambaram said rising prices of primary food articles was worrying him. High food prices the world over and a supply-demand mismatch were behind the high prices, he said, adding this was beyond the influence of the monetary policy. — PTI 

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FDI in retail not very far: Chidambaram

Philadelphia, September 27
India will open up its $330 billion retail market to foreign investors after convincing mom and pop store owners that their jobs are not at threat from big players, finance minister P Chidambaram has said.

"In course of time their fears will be allayed and it is only a matter of time before the policy is tweaked to allow FDI in retail," he said during an interaction with students of Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania here.

While political opposition to allowing FDI is well known, there has been a growing opposition from tens of thousands of small retailers who employ millions of people to even entry of domestic corporates into the sector.

"Experience tells us (organised) retail does not drive them (small retailers) out. They will reorganise themselves and thrive. But there is genuine fear that has to be allayed," Chidambaram told students at a packed Dhirubhai Ambani auditorium at the school after delivering the Wharton Leadership Lecture.

Earlier this week, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath had said that the issue was not about allowing FDI in retail but that of large versus small players. His ministry has asked economic think-tank ICRIER to study the situation and the report is expected in a month.

Food products and groceries make up about 55 per cent of the entire retail market, which has been growing at a CAGR of 10 per cent over the past five years, according to India Brand Equity Foundation.

The finance minister said: "We will patiently educate them (mom and pop store owners) before they accept retail chains." India allows 100 per cent FDI in cash-and-carry and wholesale operations, besides 51 per cent FDI in single-brand retail.

"This (opening retail to FDI) will take a little time," Chidambaram said. — PTI 

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Microsoft e-mail

Mumbai, September 27
Microsoft today unveiled over 250 custom domains as part of its plan to offer every kind of distinct Indian personalised e-mail IDs powered by Windows Live Hotmail. This follows the announcement of its first custom domain Lokhandwalarocks.com in May and the enhancements to Windows Live Hotmail, including increased storage limits to 5 GB.

"Microsoft will continue to reveal more new custom domains for users over the next few months and also look at feedback from users and communities to provide its users more personalised e-mail IDs on demand," the company said. — PTI

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Nifty breaches 5,000 mark
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 27
Both the Sensex and the Nifty set new benchmarks closing above the 17,000 and 5,000 mark, respectively. It is for the first time that Nifty touched the new level.

Overall, the Sensex gained 1.3 per cent or 229 points to close at 17,150 levels. In the broader markets, Nifty touched a new high of 5,016 levels before closing at 5,000 with a gain of 1.2 per cent. It took the Nifty 205 trading sessions to gain 1,000 points.

Today’s biggest gainer in the Sensex pack was Reliance Energy, which gained 8.8 per cent to close at Rs 1,117 levels. Other gainers included Tata Steel, Infosys Technologies, HDFC Bank, ONGC, Cipla and ACC. Losers included Hindustan Unilever which shed 2.8 per cent to close at Rs 218. Ambuja Cements, Reliance Communications, Hindalco Industries and Grasim Industries were the other losers.

The Nifty’s rise today was powered by Sterlite Industries, NALCO, Zee Entertainment, HCL Technologies, Satyam Computers, TCS and Reliance Energy.

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N-E’s tea lady, millionaire at 25
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 27
She is only 25, but already a millionaire. That is quite fast by the North-east standard and obviously can’t be ignored even by global standard. A 2004-batch tea husbandry graduate, Shariti C Syiem of Meghalaya has become the role model for hundreds of small tea planters in the North-east because of her feat.

The 1.6 hectares small tea garden called Sharawn Tea at Sohrygkham in East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, run by her along with her father John W Marbaniang, produces about 800 kilograms of high value organic that is at par with famous Darjeeling Tea.

They manufacture the organic tea in the small factory in the estate set up by Marbaniang himself.

Tea produced in their small garden, located in an unconventional tea growing area, has made a big splash in domestic as well as markets abroad because of its high quality and flavour.

“We sell about 100 kg of our organic tea in Australia at average price of Rs 800 per kg while in the domestic markets in Meghalaya, Mizoram and other states, we sell the rest of the produce at average Rs 560 per kg,” Syiem said.

The daughter-father tea planters’ duo is slowing expanding their tea plantation area every year to cater to growing demand in the market. 

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Now, call to US, Canada at 50 p/min

New Delhi, September 27
World Phone, an internet telephony company, has introduced a Rs 1,500 monthly package, offering international calls to the USA and Canada at 50 paise per minute.

The company has launched Internet telephony unlimited plans to the USA, UK, Australia and Canada, which will be available at Rs 1,500 per month, it said.

MTNL has also launched voice over internet telephony services, where call charges to the USA, UK, Canada and Australia are Re 1 per minute.

World Phone’s new service will allow consumers to connect to subscribers in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and many other countries for a fixed monthly subscription without using a computer, the company said.

The packages include unlimited US and Canada calls with Rs 1,500 a month. Other packages are unlimited calls to the USA, UK and Canada at Rs 2,000 a month and unlimited US, UK, Canada and Australia calls at Rs 2,500 per month. — PTI 

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Reliance Retail may shelve UP, Orissa plans
10,000 jobs at stake 

New Delhi, September 27
Peeved by the treatment meted out to its retail venture by Uttar Pradesh and Orissa governments, Reliance Industries is understood to be shelving its estimated Rs 13,000 crore roll out plans in the two states, putting at least 10,000 jobs at stake.

Reliance Retail had planned to invest around Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 crore in Uttar Pradesh for retail operation, including about 200 'Reliance Fresh' stores in three years as also the back-end logistic chain. However, in the wake of state government asking it to shut down the outlets, the company has decided to put the plans on hold, sources said.

Similarly, the company is having a rethink on its strategy in Orissa, where it had planned to open an initial 14 stores in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The overall investment in the state is estimated to be about Rs 3,000 crore.

Reliance suffered a setback in Orissa two days back, when it was forced to down shutters as soon as its three outlets were opened following protests by local traders.

When contacted, company officials declined to comment. It is, however, learnt that the company has decided to focus on states which are favourable to its retail venture.

Reliance's move will put at stake about 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. These people are involved in the company's back-end as well as front-end operations, the sources said.

Already, about 1,000 persons, 60 per cent of whom are directly employed, have been sacked in the northern state as the company starts folding up its retail operations, they added.

While Reliance is facing stiff opposition in a number of states such as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa and Kerala, it appears to making up for the uncertainty with aggressive expansion plans in other states such as Madhya Pradesh. — PTI 

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Bangalore-Mysore Expressway
Stay on call for fresh tenders
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 27
The Supreme Court today stayed the move of the Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka to have fresh global bidding for the multi-crore Bangalore-Mysore corridor project, which has been facing one controversy after the other and was the main reason for the JD(S) withdrawing support to the Congress-led Dharam Singh government.

The Kumaraswamy government, which itself is facing a threat on the issue of giving the BJP chance to head the coalition as per the accord reached at the time of installation of the JD(S) ministry, had moved the apex court earlier seeking permission to call fresh tenders and divest the present bidder Nandi Infrastructure from the contract, awarded to it by the previous Dharam Singh government.

A three-judge Bench, headed by Justice B N Agrawal, today restrained the Kumaraswamy government from going ahead with the fresh bids after Nandi moved an application questioning its motive.

The court issued notice to the government while giving it four weeks time to submit a reply to the application of Nandi. It said the notification issued by the government on September 17 calling for fresh tenders, would not be acted upon.

It further restrained the government from issuing any advertisements pursuant to the notification inviting global tenders.

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Shishir firms stake in Bajaj Hindusthan

Mumbai, September 27
Shishir Bajaj, CMD of largest sugar manufacturer Bajaj Hindusthan, has consolidated his position in the company by picking up an additional 4.75 per cent stake for an estimated Rs 123.48 crore.

Bajaj, along with persons acting in concert, purchased 67.25 lakh shares amounting to 4.75 per cent in the company from open market between September 19 to 26, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Between September 19 to 26, the company's share price closed in the range of Rs 177.30 to Rs 189.95. Calculated on the basis of the average price during the period, the deal amounts to approximately Rs 123.48 crore.

With the acquisition of the additional stake, Shishir Bajaj now holds over 6.45 crore shares aggregating to 45.65 per cent stake in the company. For the quarter ended June 30, Shishir Bajaj on his own had 4,77,780 shares amounting to 0.34 per cent stake in the company. — PTI

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Rigs, skill crunch ups exploration cost
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 27
Oil exploration and production companies are not only facing acute shortage of drilling rigs by over 60 per cent but also suffering from a crunch of skilled personnel to an extent of 40 per cent which has resulted into inordinate delays of their hydrocarbons discovery schedule, with projects cost exceeding about 30 per cent in the past 3-4 years.

The mismatch between demand of drilling rigs and their supplies on one hand and shortage of skilled personnel against their demand for oil and gas exploration, if not addressed urgently, could result in India’s crude import going up by 20 per cent, according to a study.

Currently, 70 per cent of India’s petroleum, oil & lubricant requirements are met through imports which might go up to 90 per cent by 2010, warns the study jointly brought out by Assocham and Ernst & Young.

The chamber president Venugopal N Dhoot said as per available statistics, 138 offshore rigs were on order or under construction in July 2007 as compared to just 29 in April 2005. Fabrication yards that make rigs are running huge backlogs and some of the reputed yards are completed booked with current orders till 2010.

The severity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that the issue of non-availability of rigs in the market has even prompted the government to push back announcements of 7th round of new exploration and licensing policy (NELP) to November this year.

The study observed that the availability of rigs should be created with government efforts and oil production companies be given free hand to order chartering of rigs from their manufacturers even without little intervention as one day operational costs for a rig works out to be nearly $ 1,40,000. 

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Bajaj brothers end pact; battle on

New Delhi, September 27 
The warring Bajaj brothers, Rahul and Shishir, have finally decided to terminate a family settlement agreement after prolonged peace talks for which they had also sought additional time from Company Law Board.

A day after accepting termination of the MoU reached by the two sides in 2003, Shishir Bajaj went on an offensive by increasing his stake in Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd (BHL), a company in which the opposition camp of brother Rahul had also hiked his stake earlier this year.

Shishir, CMD of the country’s largest sugar maker, consolidated his stake in the company to 45.65 per cent through open market purchase by picking up an additional 4.75 per cent for an estimated Rs 123.48 crore.

The move comes a day after Shishir's lawyers informed their counterparts in Rahul’s camp about agreeing to end the June 2003 settlement agreement, which was never implemented.

As per the MoU, Bajaj Hindusthan and Bajaj Consumer Care Ltd was supposed to have gone to Shishir. — PTI 

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BHEL joins Rs 1 trillion m-cap club 

Mumbai, September 27
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), the country’s biggest maker of power equipment, today became the third public sector firm to breach the level of Rs 100,000 crore of market capitalisation.

BHEL scrip surged 3.87 per cent to an intra-day high of Rs 2,066 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, taking its market value to Rs 1,01,134 crore. However, the scrip pared some gains to end only 2 per cent up at Rs 2,040, resulting in a market value of Rs 99,896.35 crore.

The company is the tenth overall and third PSU after Oil and Natural Gas Corp and power generating firm NTPC Ltd to join the Rs 1,00,000 crore market value club. The elite 10-member club is led by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries with a market capitalisation of Rs 3,23,321.74 crore. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Tata Steel MD awarded
New Delhi, September 27
Asia Brand Congress has awarded managing director, Tata Steel, B Muthuraman with ‘CEO of the year’ award at the Asia Brand Summit Awards. The award was conferred upon him for his indomitable leadership, courage, foresight and successful strategies. He was instrumental in giving India, its biggest overseas acquisition (Corus) till date. — TNS

Reliance MF
Chandigarh, September 27
Reliance Mutual Fund (MF) today announced its strategic tie-up with MSCI Barra. With this tie-up, Reliance MF becomes the first company in India to offer globally recognised risk management services across all its funds. — TNS

Wapcos payout
New Delhi, September 27
Water resources minister Saiffudin Soz was presented a dividend cheque of Rs. 2.4 crore for the year 2006-07 by the CMD, Wapcos, D. Dutta. Water and Power Consultancy Services (Wapcos) has declared dividend of 120 per cent of its paid up capital for the year 2006-07, the highest ever since its inception in 1969. — TNS

HAL pact
Bangalore, September 27
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and CAE, Canada on Wednesday signed an agreement to establish a joint venture (JV) company that will open a helicopter simulator training centre in Bangalore. The training centre is expected to begin operations in 2008 by providing both civil and military helicopter pilot and maintenance training services. — TNS

Emaar IPO
Mumbai, September 27
Emaar MGF has approached SEBI for its initial public offer (IPO) that will help it garner an estimated between Rs 5,000-6,000 crore. Emaar MGF has filed a draft prospectus with the SEBI for selling 10 per cent stake (11.74 crore shares) in the company to the public through the IPO, it said. — PTI

Getz diesel
Chennai, September 27
Hyundai Motor India Ltd today announced the launch of the diesel variant of Getz Prime. It would be available from October at Rs 5.69 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). — PTI 

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