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Big investment in petrochem sector
National policy targets global sourcing
New Delhi, September 28
The petrochemical sector in the country is likely to witness an investment of over Rs 36,000 crore over the next five years, minster for steel, chemicals and fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan said here today.

Merrill Lynch, Citigroup buy 10 pc in MCX
Mumbai, September 28
Global financial services firms Merrill Lynch and Citigroup have picked up 5 per cent stake each in the country's biggest commodity exchange MCX for a total of about Rs 480 crore.

Inflation dips to 3.23 pc
New Delhi, September 28
Fall in the prices of some food and manufactured goods brought down the annual inflation rate to a new low of 3.23 per cent for the week ended September 15 as against the previous week’s 3.32 per cent. The annual inflation rate was 5.27 per cent during the corresponding week of the previous year, according to official data released here today.

Infra sector needs $492 b: Montek 
New York, September 28
With infrastructure poised for a major expansion and investment- friendly regulations in place, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia told investors that this sector provided attractive opportunities for them.




EARLIER STORIES

 
Japan's character goods maker Sanrio employee displays the pure gold playing cards with Hello Kitty characters in Tokyo on Friday.
Japan's character goods maker Sanrio employee displays the pure gold playing cards with Hello Kitty characters in Tokyo on Friday. The plastic laminated playing cards, produced by Japan's metal company Mitsubishi Material, contains 0.73g pure gold per card. Sanrio will start to accept orders from October 3 October with a price of $4,930. — AFP photo

Gold zooms in global markets
New Delhi, September 28
Gold prices surged in the bullion market today on aggressive buying by stockists and jewellery fabricators triggered by reports of the precious metal in overseas markets touching 28-year high levels.

ONGC turns down Lankan block offer
New Delhi, September 28
State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) today said it has turned down an offer from Sri Lanka to operate a block there due to the size of bonus request and poor prospects.

ADAG may foray into loan biz 
Mumbai, September 28
Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group (ADAG) may soon be rubbing shoulders with the likes of HDFC and ICICI Bank in the consumer loan business and the foray could give the group a return of more than 20 per cent in the next 3-4 years, a leading investment bank said today. Reliance Capital, ADAG’s financial services arm, is targeting disbursals of about Rs 6,000 crore ($1.5 billion) in its consumer loan business by the year-end, analysts at DSP Merrill Lynch wrote in a research note for their institutional clients.

Maruti to strengthen spare parts network
New Delhi, September 28
Alarmed at the increasing level of penetration of spurious spare parts in the country, Maruti is all set to redefine its spare parts network by appointing dedicated distributors across all states. It has already opened exclusive Maruti genuine parts (MGP) retail outlet in cities like Amritsar, Chandigarh and Jalandhar and is looking at opening more such outlets in other cities across the country.

Bharti to rope in Del Monte for FieldFresh
New Delhi, September 28
Bharti Enterprises and EL Rothschild Limited today announced that it will induct Del Monte Pacific Ltd as a strategic partner in their joint venture, FieldFresh Foods Pvt Ltd, with an equity of 40 per cent. Bharti will continue to hold 50 per cent in the company, with Rothschild staying in the company as a minority partner.

42 lakh tonne sugar for Oct-Dec
New Delhi, September 28
The government has released 42 lakh tonne of non-levy (free sale) sugar for the festival months of October to December. For the month of October, the non-levy sugar quota released is 16 lakh tonne. In addition, a quantity of 2.29 lakh tonne has been released under levy for distribution in public distribution system. 

UCO Bank plans follow-up issue
Shimla, September 28
UCO Bank will come out with a follow-up issue after restructuring of its capital heavy base towards the end of the current fiscal. Stating this here today, UCO Bank CMD S.K.Goyal said the bank wanted to pay back Rs 300 crore from its rather heavy capital of Rs 850 crore, but the Government of India did not agree.

IFCI shortlists 8 bidders for stake sale
New Delhi, September 28
Financial institution IFCI, which has invited initial bids for offloading its 26 per cent stake, has shortlisted eight entities out of the 10 bidders who have submitted expression of interests. Letters have been issued to interested parties for the next round of stake sale process, a senior IFCI official said.

 
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Big investment in petrochem sector
National policy targets global sourcing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 28
The petrochemical sector in the country is likely to witness an investment of over Rs 36,000 crore over the next five years, minster for steel, chemicals and fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan said here today.

Releasing “National policy on petrochemicals” here, he said the investment will increase ethylene capacity, the basic raw material for the industry, from the current level of 2.7 million tonnes to 6.9 million tonnes.

Expressing hope that the policy will help India to become a major global sourcing centre in petrochemicals and plastics, the minister said the implementation of Assam Gas Cracker project with an investment of Rs 5,460 crore ethylene capacity of 2.20 lakh tonnes per annum is being monitored by the ministry.

He said domestic petrochemical industry employs about 3.4 lakh persons, both in upstream as well as downstream processing industry, and has high potential to generate employment to the tune of 3.3 million more people during the 11th Plan. The policy aims to increase investments in the sector, capture a slice of resurgent Asian demand in polymers, creating quality infrastructure to ensure value addition and increase exports.

The other objectives include to increase the domestic demand and consumption of plastics and synthetic fibres and to increase the use of petrochemicals in thrust areas.

The existing per capita domestic polymer consumption of 4.7 kg is likely to be enhanced to 12 kg as compared to the existing world average of 25 kg. per capita.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, minister of state for chemicals & fertlisers B.K. Handique said in view of the country’s advantageous position in research and development front, the global companies from developed countries might look to India for investment and outsourcing their research requirements and we must be ready to seize the opportunity. 

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Merrill Lynch, Citigroup buy 10 pc in MCX

Mumbai, September 28
Global financial services firms Merrill Lynch and Citigroup have picked up 5 per cent stake each in the country's biggest commodity exchange MCX for a total of about Rs 480 crore.

Financial Technologies (India) Ltd, the parent company of Multi Commodity Exchange of India, sold the stake. FTIL has also entered into agreements to offload 3 per cent and 2 per cent stake to two foreign funds — Passport India Investment (Mauritius) and GLG Financials Fund, respectively. The transactions put the enterprise value of MCX at over $1.1 billion (Rs 4,400 crore).

FTIL will get about Rs 720 crore from selling 15 per cent stake in MCX, an exchange official said. The divestment by FTIL in MCX has come even though the government is yet to formulate guidelines on regulating foreign equity in Indian commodity exchanges. However, MCX officials said necessary approval has been taken from FMC and other authorities. — PTI

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Inflation dips to 3.23 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 28
Fall in the prices of some food and manufactured goods brought down the annual inflation rate to a new low of 3.23 per cent for the week ended September 15 as against the previous week’s 3.32 per cent.

The annual inflation rate was 5.27 per cent during the corresponding week of the previous year, according to official data released here today.

The decline in inflation was due to cheaper fruits, sugar, egg, fish meat, and a few manufactured items.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for all commodities for the week ended September 15 declined by 0.1 per cent to 214.4.

The index for primary food articles declined by 0.7 per cent to 226.4.

The index for the food articles group declined by 1.1 per cent to 225.7 due to lower prices of fish-marine and fish-inland (11 per cent each), eggs (5 per cent), fruits and vegetables (2 per cent) and moong, urad and maize (1 per cent each).

While some of the analysts feel that the RBI might go for marginal cut in interest rates to maintain growth momentum, some others feel that in the wake of large inflow of foreign capital and spurt in crude prices would force the central bank not to alter its present monetary policy.

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Infra sector needs $492 b: Montek 

New York, September 28
With infrastructure poised for a major expansion and investment- friendly regulations in place, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia told investors that this sector provided attractive opportunities for them.

Addressing the fourth India Investment Forum here, he highlighted the steps the Indian government was taking to attract investments in the infrastructure sector, saying it is open to suggestions which they might have to offer to make the investment process smoother.

"The Indian economy is doing well but the dynamism has put the infrastructure under great strain and if the country has to maintain a high level of growth rate, it is imperative that it develops the infrastructure at a fast pace," he said.

The spending on infrastructure sector last year — the base year for 11th five-year plan — was 5 per cent of the GDP which would be increased to 9 per cent over the next five years, he said.

This, he said, means India would need $492 billion over five years for this sector. If it was business as usual, the total investments would be around $300 billion. Thus the country would need to find extra $192 billion.

Pointing out that substantial part of investments would still be made by the public sector, he said private sector investments too are poised for a major expansion. He said the private sector contribution in the 5 per cent of GDP spent on infrastructure sector last year was only 0.9 per cent.

"We hope the private sector investments would grow to 2.2 per cent as spending goes up to 9 per cent of the GDP. The public sector investments are estimated to go up from 4.1 per cent to 6.8 per cent. — PTI 

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Gold zooms in global markets

New Delhi, September 28
Gold prices surged in the bullion market today on aggressive buying by stockists and jewellery fabricators triggered by reports of the precious metal in overseas markets touching 28-year high levels.

The yellow metal gained Rs 75 at Rs 9,595 per 10 grams despite the ongoing ‘shraddh’,- an inauspicious fortnight during which Hindus do not indulge in buying.

Gold in London shot up to $740 an ounce, a level last seen in January 1980 when the US inflation rate rose to record heights. Silver also moved up on increased offtake from industrial users and higher overseas advices.

Standard gold and ornaments shot up by Rs 75 each at Rs 9,595 and Rs 9,445 per 10 grams respectively. Sovereign was unaltered at Rs 7,800 per piece of eight grams. — PTI 

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ONGC turns down Lankan block offer
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 28
State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) today said it has turned down an offer from Sri Lanka to operate a block there due to the size of bonus request and poor prospects.

"We did not find the prospectivity. Moreover, they were asking for a fantastic signature bonus for that. So we are not interested," ONGC chairman-cum-managing director R. S. Sharma told reporters on the sidelines of an industry seminar. The Island nation earlier this year offered block 1 on a nomination basis to the Indian firm.

On the situation in Myanmar, he said it faces no pressure to withdraw or freeze operations in Myanmar.

"No, not at all," said Sharma, when asked if his company faced diplomatic pressure to withdrawal from the military-ruled nation, which has criticised internationally for its crackdown on pro-democracy protest by Monks.

ONGC has stakes in two gas fields and three exploration blocks off Myanmar.

The company holds 20 per cent stake in gas discovery blocks A-1 and A-3, operated by South Korea's Daewoo International.

He said ONGC was earning about $77 per barrel of crude oil it produces, over 16 per cent more than what it got in the last fiscal.

"Gross realisation is about $77 a barrel,'' Sharma. During April-June, ONGC's gross realisation was $71.77 per barrel but net realisation was $50.2 1 after it gave refiners a discount of $21.4 for subsidising prices of domestic cooking gas, LPG, and kerosene. In 2006-07 fiscal, ONGC's net realisation in crude sale was $44.22 per barrel while gross realisation was $66.33 per barrel.

"The rupee appreciation (against the US dollar) has been a dampener (as per ton realisation in rupee terms has come down) but the rise in international oil prices has brought us higher prices,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the country’s largest liquefied natural gas importer, Petronet LNG Ltd, is in talks with Sonatrach of Algeria for a 25-year contract to import 1.25 million tonnes of LNG per annum.

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ADAG may foray into loan biz 

Mumbai, September 28
Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group (ADAG) may soon be rubbing shoulders with the likes of HDFC and ICICI Bank in the consumer loan business and the foray could give the group a return of more than 20 per cent in the next 3-4 years, a leading investment bank said today.

Reliance Capital, ADAG’s financial services arm, is targeting disbursals of about Rs 6,000 crore ($1.5 billion) in its consumer loan business by the year-end, analysts at DSP Merrill Lynch wrote in a research note for their institutional clients.

The company is targeting all the major segments, including home loans, car loans and personal loans.

Its current disbursal mix is 30 per cent personal loans, 20 per cent mortgage, 25 per cent business and 25 per cent car loans.

Projecting a rosy picture for the company in this market, DSP Merrill Lynch said: “R-Cap, being a new entrant, is not affected by any legacy credit issues and is managing to capitalise on the growth opportunities, especially as banks seek to reassess their overall portfolios.”

Projecting R-Money as another strong driver, analysts said Reliance Money continues significant traction in its broking and distribution venture. Within a few months of its launch, Reliance Money has already acquired 1,50,000 customers and is adding almost 25,000 customers per month.

R-Money plans to expand its distribution network to 10,000 by 2008, from over 3,000 currently. — PTI 

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Maruti to strengthen spare parts network
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 28
Alarmed at the increasing level of penetration of spurious spare parts in the country, Maruti is all set to redefine its spare parts network by appointing dedicated distributors across all states.

It has already opened exclusive Maruti genuine parts (MGP) retail outlet in cities like Amritsar, Chandigarh and Jalandhar and is looking at opening more such outlets in other cities across the country.

By opening such dedicated outlets, it seeks to ensure round the clock availability of MGP’s to its customers.

Until recently, the distribution of MGP to Maruti authorised service stations (MASS) and other customers was primarily done by dealers.

Inspired by the FMCG pattern, the decision to create an alternate network for distributing MGP to MASSs and others came forth as a major policy shift. As many as 80 dedicated MGP distributors will be operational across the country, by the end of third quarter this year.

With dedicated MGP distributors in the vicinity, the service outlets can place orders almost every day and maintain a low inventory. The distributors will provide door-to-door service to MASS’s and other service outlets. This would increase productivity and profitability of service stations with low working capital requirement for spare parts, said C.K.Dave, executive director (spare parts) .

“With this intermediary channel, we expect to bring in standardisation in prices of spare parts and margins enjoyed by intermediaries for MGP. This will discourage the unorganised market and give relief to the customer,” says Dave.

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Bharti to rope in Del Monte for FieldFresh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 28
Bharti Enterprises and EL Rothschild Limited today announced that it will induct Del Monte Pacific Ltd as a strategic partner in their joint venture, FieldFresh Foods Pvt Ltd, with an equity of 40 per cent. Bharti will continue to hold 50 per cent in the company, with Rothschild staying in the company as a minority partner.

“Having created the basic building blocks of the business in the fresh produce category, we are looking at upscaling our operations through processing and value added products. Del Monte will bring to FieldFresh its immense strength and experience in the area of processing and branded food products. Going forward, our aim is to emerge as a significant player in this segment,” Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman, Bharti Enterprises said. 

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42 lakh tonne sugar for Oct-Dec

New Delhi, September 28
The government has released 42 lakh tonne of non-levy (free sale) sugar for the festival months of October to December. For the month of October, the non-levy sugar quota released is 16 lakh tonne. In addition, a quantity of 2.29 lakh tonne has been released under levy for distribution in public distribution system. Thus, the total availability of sugar in the month of October, 2007 would be 18.29 lakh tonnes. — TNS

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UCO Bank plans follow-up issue
Tribune News Service

Shimla, September 28
UCO Bank will come out with a follow-up issue after restructuring of its capital heavy base towards the end of the current fiscal.

Stating this here today, UCO Bank CMD S.K.Goyal said the bank wanted to pay back Rs 300 crore from its rather heavy capital of Rs 850 crore, but the Government of India did not agree. Now, the bank has taken up the matter for converting the amount into preferential capital which has been agreed to in-principle. A proposal has been submitted and a final decision would be taken over the next few months.

Once the capital restructuring was approved, the bank would come out with a follow-up issue either in the last quarter of the current financial year or first quarter of next year. The bank has set a target to increase its profit from Rs 316 crore last year to Rs 450 crore this year.

The bank would soon launch “nari zama yozna”, a deposit scheme exclusively for women, in which bank would employ women to tap deposits from women by visiting their houses and workplaces.

The bank also plans to start “samagrah gram vikas yojna”, under which loans would be provided not only for agriculture, but also for school buildings, roads and other common amenities. The model scheme would be launched in five villages in the first phase.

Goyal admitted that the non-performing assets of the bank were on higher side at 3.88 per cent and effort was to bring the figure down to 2.5 per cent. The board of directors of the bank, which met here today, sanctioned loans to the tune of Rs 200 crore. 

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IFCI shortlists 8 bidders for stake sale

New Delhi, September 28
Financial institution IFCI, which has invited initial bids for offloading its 26 per cent stake, has shortlisted eight entities out of the 10 bidders who have submitted expression of interests.

Letters have been issued to interested parties for the next round of stake sale process, a senior IFCI official said.

The pre bid meeting is scheduled to take place on October 3 and the company is likely to float request of proposals by mid-October.

Earlier, as many as 10 domestic and foreign financial institutions and consortia have evinced interest in picking up a 26 per cent stake in IFCI. Out of 10 suitors, seven are standalone, including domestic financial institution IDFC, Kotak Mahindra Bank, GE Capital, Cargill, French banking company Nataxis, US-based private equity fund manager Blackstone and Newbridge. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

CPI-IW up
Shimla, September 28
All India consumer price index number for industrial workes (CPI-IW), on base 2001-100 for the month of August, 2007 increased by one point and stood at 133. During August, the index recorded an increase of seven points in Faridabad centre, four points each in Kodarma, Munger-Jamalpur and Bokaro centres, three points in eight centres, two points in 10 centres and one point in 14 centres. — PTI

Oil prices
Singapore, September 28
Oil traded above $83 a barrel in Asia today as dealers watched a new storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico, which could impact on oil production. New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, was 46 cents higher at $83.34 a barrel in late morning trade. — AFP

UB plan
Mumbai, September 28
United Breweries (UB) has said it would raise Rs 425 crore through issue of equity shares on rights basis to the existing shareholders. The firm said the shares would be issued on rights basis and terms would be finalised by a committee of directors formed for this purpose. — PTI

Lodha Group
Mumbai, September 28
Lodha Group has received an investment of $425 million from a group of private equity investors led by Deutsche Bank, Singapore. This investment will fund the development of three of the Lodha group’s FDI-compliant projects located in and around the metropolis. — PTI

Naftogaz India
New Delhi, September 28
Naftogaz India Pvt Ltd today signed contracts worth Rs 832 crore for the Bina refinery project. “We have just signed two contracts with Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd for hydrogen generation unit (Rs 576 crore) and coke drum system package (Rs 256 crore),” Naftogaz (India) director R K Jain said. — PTI

Blackberry
New Delhi, September 28
Vodafone-Essar today introduced two new Blackberry models to attract more users to its network. The two models, Blackberry 310 and 8820, has been priced at Rs 24,990 and Rs 31,990 respectively. — PTI

Wipro
Bangalore, September 28
Wipro Limited today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Oki Techno Centre Singapore Pvt Ltd. “Wipro has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Oki Techno Centre Singapore Pvt Ltd, including its intellectual property rights in an all cash deal over a period of one year,” it said. — PTI

NFL dividend
Nangal, September 28
National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) has declared dividend of Rs. 52.83 crore for the financial year 2006-07 at its 33rd annual general meeting held here today. The government holds 97.64 per cent shares in NFL. The company, during 2006-07, has registered a net profit of Rs. 176.1 crore. — TNS

Infinite buyout
Bangalore, September 28
Infinite Computer Solutions (I) Pvt Ltd today announced the acquisition of US-based Comnet International Company. The acquisition marks Infinite’s strategy to shift to telecommunication solution-centric segments as the major and key vertical areas, Upinder Zutshi, CEO of the company said.
— PTI

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