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Raja to meet industry leaders today
DoT may come out with lock-in period clause
New Delhi, October 2
Communications Minister A. Raja has convened a meeting of all telecom operators tomorrow to discuss the broad industry scenario and a host of policy issues in the wake of scrambling by old and new players to get licences, besides TRAI's proposals on licencing reforms.

123 may happen or not, they are ready for the kill
Mumbai, October 2
A number of players in the private, public and state government sectors are gearing up to reap a windfall in the post-123 Agreement deal era when nuclear power generation is likely to be thrown open to the private sector.

J&K merchants seek Attari-like trade point
Srinagar, October 2
With India and Pakistan allowing cross-border movement of trucks through Punjab, Kashmiri traders are hoping for similar trading access on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road across the Line of Control (LoC) between them.



EARLIER STORIES

 

Indra Nooyi Nooyi retains the Fortune tiara
Named most powerful US businesswoman for 2nd year
New York, October 2
Indra Nooyi, the Indian-origin Queen of the American business world, kept her crown intact for the second year in a row as Fortune magazine named her the most powerful businesswoman in the US. Nooyi, the first woman chief executive of food and beverages giant Pepsico, made it to the top of the list last year.

A visitor walks past a giant Mercedes logo in Frankfurt. DaimlerChrysler is set to change its name to ‘Daimler’ at its annual general meeting on Thursday in Berlin.
A visitor walks past a giant Mercedes logo in Frankfurt. DaimlerChrysler is set to change its name to ‘Daimler’ at its annual general meeting on Thursday in Berlin. — AFP

FM has no plans on wealth fund
Shimla, October 2
The Centre does not have any proposal to set up a sovereign wealth fund (SWF), which is a corpus set aside from forex reserves and other resources for investment purposes.

5 Indian cities on outsourcing-hubs list
New Delhi, October 2
Reflecting the immense potential of India’s information technology and outsourcing prowess, five Indian cities are among the top 10 global emerging outsourcing destinations with Chennai topping the list.

Air travel demand on rise
New Delhi, October 2
Boosted by robust economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the global demand for air travel has risen considerably in the recent past, reaching an all-time high during this normally lean season.

Nokia takes Navteq for $8.1 b
Helsinki, October 2
Nokia, the world’s leading maker of mobile phones, said today it had agreed to buy US digital mapmaker Navteq for $8.1 billion.

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Indian luxury market boom.
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F&B sector to touch Rs 4,660 b.
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Raja to meet industry leaders today
DoT may come out with lock-in period clause

New Delhi, October 2
Communications Minister A. Raja has convened a meeting of all telecom operators tomorrow to discuss the broad industry scenario and a host of policy issues in the wake of scrambling by old and new players to get licences, besides TRAI's proposals on licencing reforms.

Two representatives from each operator are allowed to attend the meeting which does not have any fixed agenda except to discuss the telecom scenario, sources said, but added the issue of fresh licences could come up for discussion.

The meeting comes barely a day after the Department of Telecom's deadline for submitting licence applications expired on October 1. The DoT has received close to 500 applications for telecom licences, including from US-based AT&T, realty firms DLF, Unitech, Parsvnath, Omaxe, consumer durables major Videocon and metals giant Sterlite among others.

Official sources said the meeting could also discuss the spectrum allocation to existing players, operators' stand on regulator TRAI's licencing recommendations and the situation arising out of the sudden surge of telecom licence seekers.

Sources said DoT is also mulling imposing higher charges for spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz to existing operators and may initiate a dialogue with operators at tomorrow's meeting.

On the other hand, operators may suggest tough eligibility criteria to keep non-serious players out of the telecom sector, the sources said. This is important especially in view of the shortage of spectrum, which has impacted expansion plans of existing players.

However, the new hopefuls have said there was a scope for further competition in the sector and this would benefit subscribers in terms of choice of operators and tariffs.

Sources also said DoT may come out with strict clauses including lock-in period for any company to exit from the business in order to keep non-serious player out of race.

DoT is also mulling revising eligibility criteria like increasing the net worth of company and may demand full licence fee within a week of issuing the letter of intent and that too without guarantee of giving spectrum.

The meeting also assumed importance as operators' stand on various issues has been different. Moreover, a decision is pending on TRAI's recommendations on the licencing reforms.

An internal panel of DoT is already looking into TRAI's suggestions of August 29 on not capping the number of players, allowing dual (GSM and CDMA) technology to unified access operators and decreasing the combined subscriber base criteria from 67 per cent. — PTI

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123 may happen or not, they are ready for the kill
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, October 2
A number of players in the private, public and state government sectors are gearing up to reap a windfall in the post-123 Agreement deal era when nuclear power generation is likely to be thrown open to the private sector.

A statement by the Atomic Energy Chairman Anil Kakodkar earlier this year said that the Atomic Energy Act may be amended to permit private sector players to enter the field has caused a lot of action on the field. Reports say draft copies of the amendment to the Act are already being circulated for comments from policy makers.

Among those expected to be in the forefront include companies like Larsen and Toubro, which have been involved in setting up nuclear power plants for the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

“The company already provides engineering, procurement and construction services for NPCIL to set up nuclear power plants and we are well placed to tap this field,” says a senior official of the company.

L&T, one of the major suppliers for the 500-MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, is fabricating the safety vessel for the plant.

Others interested in nuclear power generation include existing power companies like Tata Power, Reliance Energy, the Essar group, the Vedanta group and infrastructure player GMR group.

However the real action seems to be in the field of equipment suppliers for nuclear power plants. The state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd has already begun negotiations with major international suppliers like Siemens, Areva, and General Electric. Sources say, BHEL may set up a joint venture with one of these companies to manufacture equipment for building for nuclear power plants.

Among private sector companies, Hindustan Construction Company, Gammon India, the Kirloskars, Mather & Platt are talking to the US companies bag a slice of the civil construction and equipment building pie. Some of the older players in the Indian power industry like equipment manufacturer Walchandnagar Industries, Godrej & Boyce and Bharat Heavy Plates & Vessels are also gearing up to exploit opportunities in the post-nuclear power era.

Meanwhile, international players in the nuclear field are making a beeline for India. While the Americans dropped anchor here earlier this year, the French plan to hold a roadshow later this month.

The Indo-French nuclear business meet scheduled to begin from October 15 is being organised by the French embassy in collaboration with the Nuclear Power Corporation. The public sector monopoly has plans to purchase 20 nuclear power plants from France.

Not to be left behind, even state governments are entering the nuclear power bandwagon. Reports say, Haryana government is mulling the establishment of a 1,600 MW nuclear power project by 2012.

The state government is said to be mobilising funds to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore.

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J&K merchants seek Attari-like trade point
Sarwar Kashani

Srinagar, October 2
With India and Pakistan allowing cross-border movement of trucks through Punjab, Kashmiri traders are hoping for similar trading access on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road across the Line of Control (LoC) between them.

Currently, huge amounts of fruits from Kashmir are wasted along the long and often-blocked Jammu-Srinagar highway. A truck usually takes 36 hours to reach New Delhi in fair weather and much longer if the weather is inclement.

In contrast, fruits sent through the all-weather Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road would reach Pakistani markets in six to eight hours.

Abdus Sattar Khuroo, a fruit grower in Sopore, 50 km from here, is upbeat because truck movement has become a reality between India and Pakistan. “I wish trade via Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road becomes a reality now,” says Khuroo, echoing the sentiments of thousands of producers and traders in the Kashmir Valley. Prior to 1948, Kashmiri goods, including fruits, almonds, walnuts and handicraft items, used to be traded via what was then Kashmir’s main trade highway — the Jhelum valley road, also known as Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road. After Pakistan-backed guerrillas invaded Kashmir in 1948, the LoC — a ceasefire line — became the de facto border and no movement was allowed on this road.

An alternative highway, known as the Srinagar-Jammu highway (NH1), the mainstay of trade these days, was constructed. However, it is vulnerable to harsh weather, and vehicle movement is often disrupted on the road.

After the 2005 earthquake, India and Pakistan opened the LoC at five points, allowing divided families to cross over freely and meet. The five points are at Nauseri-Tithwal, Chakoti-Uri, Hajipur-Uri, Rawalakot-Poonch and Tattapani-Mendhar. — IANS

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Nooyi retains the Fortune tiara
Named most powerful US businesswoman for 2nd year

New York, October 2
Indra Nooyi, the Indian-origin Queen of the American business world, kept her crown intact for the second year in a row as Fortune magazine named her the most powerful businesswoman in the US.

Nooyi, the first woman chief executive of food and beverages giant Pepsico, made it to the top of the list last year. She continues her reign, while beating competition from familiar foes - Xerox’s Anne Mulcahy and eBay’s Meg Whitman.

Her Indian cousins made a commendable appearance in Fortune’s international list of 50 most powerful women in business, making it to the 33rd, 38th and 50th positions.

ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochhar jumped four ranks from last year to 33rd in this year’s list. Likewise, HSBC India chief executive Naina Lal Kidwai improved her ranking by two positions to 38 but Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw slipped two spots to land at 50.

The international list does not include American businesswomen and had three Indians.

Fortune, a CNN-Time Warner group magazine, named 51-year old Nooyi at the top. “All the arrows are pointing in the right direction, with revenues ($35.1 billion), operating profits ($6.4 billion), and earnings per share ($3) all rising strongly last year,” the magazine said.

“In May (last year), Nooyi added the title of chairman to her own portfolio,” the magazine said.

ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochhar moved up by four places. She oversees more than half the bank’s $6.7-billion revenue, its presence in 18 countries and its involvement in most overseas acquisitions by Indian companies.

Following her closely is HSBC India’s Kidwai, who also improved her place on the list. Kidwai heads one of the country’s fastest-growing bank, with net profits rising 64 per cent to $192 million on $1.1 billion in revenue during the past fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Biocon’s Mazumdar-Shaw slipped in the ranking to 50th this year from last years’ 48th position. Fortune highlights her as the “founder of the company that made her India’s richest self-made businesswoman”. — PTI

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FM has no plans on wealth fund

Shimla, October 2
The Centre does not have any proposal to set up a sovereign wealth fund (SWF), which is a corpus set aside from forex reserves and other resources for investment purposes.

“No there is no such proposal,” finance minister P Chidambaram replied to a query by reporters on the sidelines of the launch of an insurance scheme for the rural landless here today.

In many parts of the world, SWF is created from the central bank reserves accumulated from budget, trade surpluses, forex as well as revenue generated from exports of natural resources.

The country’s forex reserves has risen to an all-time high of $235.89 billion last week.

Already, the finance ministry and the RBI are finalising norms for using forex reserves for financing infrastructure through an overseas subsidiary of India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Ltd.

Infrastructure companies will be able to borrow from this subsidiary for capital expenditure outside the country.

The RBI has agreed to provide $5 billion reserves per annum for this. However, the funding pattern is yet to be finalised. — PTI

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5 Indian cities on outsourcing-hubs list

New Delhi, October 2
Reflecting the immense potential of India’s information technology and outsourcing prowess, five Indian cities are among the top 10 global emerging outsourcing destinations with Chennai topping the list.

Among the top 10 cities, Hyderabad is ranked at the second position followed by Pune (3rd), Kolkata (5th) and Chandigarh (9th).

The study jointly carried out by Cyber Media’s Global Services magazine and investment advisory firm Tholons has drawn up a list of ‘Top 50 Emerging Outsourcing Cities’ and India is represented with six cities, including Coimbatore (21st), while China has five cities.

The Philippines city of Cebu (4th), Vietnamese city of Ho Chi Minh (6th), Colombo (7th), Shanghai (8th) and Beijing (10th) have also found a place in the top-10 chart.

“With the demand-supply gap widening, newer tier II cities will play a critical role in re-engineered globalisation models,” said Tholons chairman and CEO Avinash Vashistha.

Low cost, developed infrastructure, skilled workers and low attritions are the main reasons for Chennai bagging the top spot.

“Chennai is expected to house more than 73,000 workers of the top three Indian IT companies (TCS, Infosys and Wipro) by 2010,” the report said.

In addition, it point out, that Chennai is an established location for automotive engineering services, product development and healthcare BPO. It also houses big names like Accenture, Cognizant, TCS, Infosys, IBM, Satyam and Sun Microsystems.

Pointing out that infrastructure development has played a key role in attracting foreign investors to Hyderabad, the study also stated that commercial property rents are quite low in the city.

Pune is home to several educational institutions, making it attractive for IT and BPO services companies like Aviva, Zensar and Cognizant. Also, the city has lower operating costs and low attrition rates, the report adds.

Meanwhile, in Kolkata, the BPO sector has witnessed an attrition rate of 15-20 per cent, whereas the Indian industry average touches 30 per cent. Also, the cost of living is lower compared to Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.

“Chandigarh is one of the best-planned cities of India. It has wide, well-maintained roads, and is well connected to the Capital region of the country,” the report stated.

Apart from India and China, among the top 50 emerging cities, Brazil, the Philippines, and the USA are represented by three cities each, Czechoslovakia (2), Mexico (2), Poland (2), Russia (2), UK (2) and Vietnam (2).

Further, the Indian cities of Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Chennai, along with Dublin, are rated the best for getting application development and maintenance skill set.

For business analytics, the report has ranked Delhi NCR and Mumbai as established destinations, while Bangalore is one of the emerging cities.

The report also notes that Bangalore, Chennai and Pune are the established places for engineering services whereas Delhi NCR is an emerging city for engineering services.

The cities were selected on different criteria, including scale and quality of workforce, financial, infrastructure, risk environment and even the inclination towards identifying skill-sets and workforce-related metrics. — PTI

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Air travel demand on rise

New Delhi, October 2
Boosted by robust economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the global demand for air travel has risen considerably in the recent past, reaching an all-time high during this normally lean season.

Air traffic growth at 8.6 per cent this August was much higher than it was last year when security scare was witnessed in North America, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in its latest revised projection of passenger and freight demand released yesterday.

Maintaining that this was the “fastest growth rate for 16 months”, the IATA report said the growth reflected “an underlying improvement in travel into the third quarter of 2007, as airlines in Asia-Pacific in particular benefit from traffic generated by robust economic growth in the region.”

International air freight demand grew six per cent in August, its “strongest rate of growth in 16 months. The growth for the year till date was only 3.9 per cent, the IATA said.

The world aviation body also revised its forecast for 2007 upward from an industry profit of $5.1 billion to $5.6 billion.

The IATA also said that Asia-Pacific based airlines have added 42 per cent to their passenger carrying capacity, much higher than their counterparts in Europe and the US.

This rise was driven by the massive growth in air traffic in India and China, it said.

Airlines based in Asia-Pacific “preparing to serve the massive opportunities in China and India added 42 per cent to their capacity and improved load factors by 2 percentage points”.

In contrast, North American carriers added 11 per cent to their capacity and improved load factors by 6 percentage points, while the Europeans added 29 per cent capacity with 5 percentage point increase in load factor.

Despite this rise, IATA, in its revised financial forecast for world airlines, said though the global airlines’ balance sheets were improving, the whopping $200 billion “mountain of accumulated debt continues to make civil aviation a fragile industry”.

Stressing that commercial freedom was “a critical missing link”, IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani said, “we must now be looking forward to even broader liberalisation, including ownership.”

Referring to the addition in their capacity worldwide, the IATA study said North American carriers’ increased unit revenues and drove expected net profits to $2.7 billion, the highest among the major regions.

Conversely, poorer yields from Asia-Pacific carriers and sluggishness in cargo markets resulted in a decline in their absolute profits from $1.2 billion in 2005 to $700 million in 2007. — PTI

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Nokia takes Navteq for $8.1 b

Helsinki, October 2
Nokia, the world’s leading maker of mobile phones, said today it had agreed to buy US digital mapmaker Navteq for $8.1 billion.

The acquisition has been approved by the board of directors of the two companies but remains subject to regulatory approvals and Navteq shareholders’ approval, Nokia said.

“The navigation area is a fast-growing business, and with location-based services expanding rapidly into mobile communications devices, the industry is poised for even further growth,” Nokia said. Nokia will pay $78 in cash for each Navteq share. — AFP

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