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B U S I N E S S

Govt mops up Rs 1 lakh crore from direct taxes 
New Delhi, October 4
The booming economy helped the Centre collect 40 per cent more in direct taxes, comprising corporate and personal income taxes, at Rs 1,11,055 crore in the first half this fiscal from Rs 79,208 crore a year ago. Generally considered most backward area in the country, Bihar-Jharkhand region threw a big surprise by showing highest corporate tax growth.

World Bank for govt support to counter Re rally
New Delhi, October 4
Empathising with Indian exporters hit by a rising rupee, the World Bank today said government should look at options beyond tax sops to raise productivity and make the industry globally competitive.

  • Rupee at new peak

Norms for new telecom licences soon: Raja
New Delhi, October 4
The government would come out with fresh guidelines within 10 days for new telecom licences, which has evoked interest from global players and others to enter the fast-growing sector.

2G Mobile Services 
BSNL gets additional spectrum 

New Delhi, October 4
The Department of Telecom (DoT ) is understood to have given additional spectrum to BSNL for mobile services in 17 circles, taking the allocation of radio waves to the state-run firm to a maximum of 10 Mhz in each of these regions.

TRAI fixes tariff ceiling for non-CAS areas 
New Delhi, October 4
Broadcast regulator TRAI today fixed a ceiling of Rs 77-260 on monthly cable TV charges in non-CAS areas to bring the tariffs in such regions on par with those in CAS areas and DTH services.

DLF mulls overseas acquisitions 
Mumbai, October 4
DLF plans to raise about Rs 2,000 crore from foreign markets to fund various projects, and will consider acquiring companies abroad at a board meeting later this month.

Nod to 13 FDI proposals 
New Delhi, October 4
The government today approved 13 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals in the country worth Rs 393.36 crore.




The newly discovered Rothschild Faberge Egg is pictured in London
The newly discovered Rothschild Faberge Egg is pictured in London on Thursday. The egg, which is to be auctioned in November, is expected to raise between £6-9 milllion. — AFP




EARLIER STORIES

 
Tata Motors’ president Rajiv Dube at the launch of new Safari Dicor in New Delhi
Tata Motors’ president Rajiv Dube at the launch of new Safari Dicor in New Delhi on Thursday.The SUV is priced at Rs 7.33 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). It is powered by new generation 2.2 VTT Dicor engine and comes with added features and additional two-year warranty. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

Tata Steel-Corus Merger
No plan to make single entity for now

London, October 4
It has almost been six months now since India's Tata Steel acquired the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus for $13 billion, but they are in no hurry to merge the Indian and British companies and the two different brands into one single entity, a top Corus official said today.

Videocon to invest 15,000 cr in steel, power sectors
Kolkata, October 4
Consumer durable major Videocon Ltd today formally signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government and for setting up a 3,000 MT capacity steel plant near Asansol, about 170 km from here. The MoU was signed in the presence of the chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot.

Pak court allows sale of Indian sugar 
Islamabad, October 4
The Lahore High Court has allowed the release of Indian sugar in the local market after dismissing a petition by the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association that had claimed it was unfit for human consumption.

Caparo Group eyes Rs 4,000-cr turnover
Sriperumbudur, October 4
The first phase of Caparo Group's Rs 600 crore auto metal sheet manfacturing facilities here was today formally commissioned with the group announcing plans for a turn-over of Rs 4,000 crore from its Indian operations by 2011.

Reliance Power seeks $6-b loan
New Delhi, October 4
Anil Ambani Group's Reliance Power has asked banks to arrange $6 billion (Rs 24,000 crore) of syndicate loan required for funding its ongoing and proposed projects in the power sector.

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Govt mops up Rs 1 lakh crore from direct taxes 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 4
The booming economy helped the Centre collect 40 per cent more in direct taxes, comprising corporate and personal income taxes, at Rs 1,11,055 crore in the first half this fiscal from Rs 79,208 crore a year ago. Generally considered most backward area in the country, Bihar-Jharkhand region threw a big surprise by showing highest corporate tax growth.

The surprise does not end there. Vidarbha, which recently hogged the headlines for agrarian distress and farmers’ suicide, has thrown up an astounding figure of highest personal income tax growth in the country.

Among regions, corporate tax growth was the highest in Bihar-Jharkhand at 265 per cent, while it was lowest in Vidarbha at minus 34 per cent.

Personal income tax growth was the highest in Vidarbha at 83 per cent, while it was lowest in the north-eastern region at minus 17 per cent.

Mumbai region recorded a growth of 96 per cent in corporate taxes and 40 per cent in personal income tax.

Delhi region recorded a growth of 8 per cent in corporate taxes and 29 per cent in personal income tax.

Direct tax collections maintained a growth of over 40 per cent for the six-month period ended September 2007.

Net tax collections stood at Rs 1,11,055 crore, up from Rs 79, 208 crore during the same period last fiscal.

Corporate tax recorded a growth of 41 per cent at Rs 72,240 crore, up from Rs 49,813 crore during the previous fiscal.

Personal income tax (including FBT, STT and BCTT) grew by 39 per cent at Rs 40, 744 crore, up from Rs 29,329 crore.

The growth in Securities Transaction Tax (STT) was 48 per cent and Banking Cash Transaction Tax (BCTT) was 17 per cent.

Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) recorded a growth of 103 per cent, the Finance Ministry said.

In terms of payment types, advance tax increased by 30 per cent and tax deducted at source (TDS) by 48 per cent indicating all-round buoyancy in taxes.

Self-assessment tax grew by 80 per cent, indicating better tax compliance levels.

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World Bank for govt support to counter Re rally

New Delhi, October 4
Empathising with Indian exporters hit by a rising rupee, the World Bank today said government should look at options beyond tax sops to raise productivity and make the industry globally competitive.

Rupee at new peak

Mumbai: The rupee today ended at a new nine -and-half-year high of 39.49/50 versus the greenback, stronger by 8.50 paise from previous close of 39.5750/5850 on the back of consistent portfolio inflows and in the absence of any major dollar demand as well as weak Asian stocks.

In continued volatile trade at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the local currency resumed marginally lower at 39.58/60 a dollar and later fluctuated in a range of 39.3550 and 39.6350 during the day. 

"Appreciation of currency is a challenge for firms...Government should support firms in the early stage of technology development. Tax concessions can be one of the options, but government should look at a range of options to raise productivity levels of the industry," World Bank senior economist Mark Dutz told PTI today.

The rupee has appreciated against the US dollar by over 11 per cent since January this year, touching nine-and-half years' high mark of 39.57 to a dollar.

The World Bank economist, who is in India for the launch of a report 'Unleashing India's Innovation' said: "A fund of funds should be created to spur public-private venture capital funds targeted at early-stage investing."

In July, finance ministry announced a financial package of Rs 1,400 crore for the exporters hit by Indian currency appreciation against the greenback.

The government should also relax investment guidelines for pension and insurance funds to allow them to increase their investments in venture capital funds, within prudential norms, said Dutz.

It has also recommended that to encourage stronger competition among enterprises, government should remove non-essential regulations, barriers to import competition as well as introducing bankruptcy reforms and modernising the Industrial Disputes Act. — PTI

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Norms for new telecom licences soon: Raja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 4
The government would come out with fresh guidelines within 10 days for new telecom licences, which has evoked interest from global players and others to enter the fast-growing sector.

“The committee set up for the purpose would submit its report in next few days with its recommendations for putting in place fresh guidelines as per which new telecom licences would be issued,” union minister for communications A Raja said.

He said after the government receives suggestions of the committee, it would take a minimum of 10 days to announce the guidelines so that additional telephone networks are laid with accelerated pace to timely meet the projections for telephone density, both in urban and rural India.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has received about 300 applications from nearly 30 companies to enter the telecom sector. Various corporate houses and multinational companies, including AT&T, Russian firm Sistema, Sterlite, Hindujas, DLF, Parsvnath, Videocon and others have entered the fray to get telecom licences.

There has been an unanimous decision among the telecom players for having no cap on the number of players, Raja said, who met with industry players yesterday and took cognisance of all issues.

He said, "after knowing all facts, a transparent approach will be followed to deal with these applications."

On the issue of capping number of players in a circle, he said, "the operators are also not in favour of capping number of players in a circle." Raja said for allocating new licences, all three categories — existing operators, licence holders without spectrum and fresh applicants would be dealt with separately.

Raja also said his ministry was committed to creating infrastructure for mobile services in rural and remote areas through public-private partnership and announced that government had targeted to reduce the urban-rural digital divide from current 25:1 to 5:1 by 2010.

The minister also said the government would also provide connectivity to 14,183 remote far-flung villages through satellite phone terminals in which USO fund would be used for meeting operational expenditure on this initiative by concerned stakeholders.

Praising private and public sector for their significant role which brought about substantial dynamism and enterprenurial spirit in the growth of telecom sector, Raja said the share of private sector in the total telephones had increased from 57 per cent as on March 2006 to 65 per cent as on December 31, 2006.

“In the area of FDI, during the period August 1991 to November 2006, FDI of Rs 41,551 crore was approved which is second only to power and oil refinery sector. The actual inflow of FDI up to November 2006 was Rs 11,808.79 crore, which would multiply significantly in the years to come”, the minister said.

He also announced that with initiatives taken by government to promote its telecom sector for over 25 per cent growth, telecom equipment manufacturing sector was expected to attract about $855 million in next 1-2 years.

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2G Mobile Services 
BSNL gets additional spectrum 

New Delhi, October 4
The Department of Telecom (DoT ) is understood to have given additional spectrum to BSNL for mobile services in 17 circles, taking the allocation of radio waves to the state-run firm to a maximum of 10 Mhz in each of these regions.

With this, BSNL now has 10 Mhz spectrum each in 16 circles, while in West Bengal it has around 8.8 Mhz.

A senior DoT official, however, said the PSU has been allocated 1-2 Mhz of trial spectrum in certain circles and no regular allocation has been made to it.

So far, a handful of operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and BPL Mobile have got a maximum of 10 Mhz in two-three circles.

In a letter to circle heads late last month, BSNL head office had asked them to put the allocated trial spectrum to commercial use immediately.

The additional 2G (current mobile usage) spectrum has been earmarked in the 1800 Mhz band for the 16 circles in the range of 2-3.8 Mhz in the run-up to the total 10 Mhz. In all these circles, spectrum was already earmarked in the 900/1800 Mhz up to 8 Mhz.

The Wireless Planning Coordination (WPC) wing of DoT had during March-May this year allocated trial spectrum to BSNL for these circles. However, it was later decided that this would be converted for commercial use, according to BSNL’s directive to its circle heads.

The circles for which additional spectrum for trial was given were Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chennai Metro, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Kolkata Metro, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, North East, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (east and west) and West Bengal.

GSM operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and BPL Mobile have earlier been allotted maximum spectrum of 10 Mhz in Delhi and Mumbai till March this year. — PTI

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TRAI fixes tariff ceiling for non-CAS areas 

New Delhi, October 4
Broadcast regulator TRAI today fixed a ceiling of Rs 77-260 on monthly cable TV charges in non-CAS areas to bring the tariffs in such regions on par with those in CAS areas and DTH services.

The new charges, which are excluding taxes and depend on the package of channels, would be effective from December 1, 2007, TRAI said in a statement today.

The measure is expected to enable multi-service operators and cable TV providers to choose a package specific to subscribers in the locality and reduce the tariff-burden of unwanted channels on the users, it said.

According to the order, the rates of bouquets and stand-alone channels as existing on December 1 cannot be increased by more than 4 per cent by the broadcasters.

For accessing a minimum of 30 free-to-air channels, subscribers across the country would have to pay Rs 77 per month, it said.

TRAI also stated that the ala-carte of each channel could not be more than three times the average rate of the pay channel in the bouquet.

For 30 FTA and 20-45 pay channels, cable operators can charge only in the range of Rs 130-260 depending upon the town or city. — PTI

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DLF mulls overseas acquisitions 

Mumbai, October 4
DLF plans to raise about Rs 2,000 crore from foreign markets to fund various projects, and will consider acquiring companies abroad at a board meeting later this month.

In a communique to the Bombay Stock Exchange, DLF today said the Board of Directors would also consider participation in the proposed initial public offer of DLF Offices Trust in Singapore and investment in various development projects in India and abroad.

According to company sources, itis in talks with various investment bankers like JP Morgan and Merill Lynch.

Raising funds from abroad and international acquisitions are "enabling resolutions" that the board would consider, a company official said. The official, however, said no decision regarding fund raising or acquisitions has been taken so far.

The board would also decide DLF's participation into the proposed IPO of DLF Offices Trust, the trust of DLF Assets Pvt Ltd (DAPL), of about one billion dollar in Singapore.

Billionaire KP Singh is planning to list his another closely held group company DAPL. — PTI

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Nod to 13 FDI proposals 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 4
The government today approved 13 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals in the country worth Rs 393.36 crore.

Finance minister P Chidambaram approved the proposals on the basis of recommendations by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, an official statement said.

A major chunk of this FDI would flow through induction of foreign stake in telecom infrastructure provider Aster Infrastructure Ltd. The Secunderabad-based company plans to hike foreign stake to 72.5 per cent for Rs 232.58 crore.

Chidambaram also cleared a proposal by Maruti Suzuki India to set up an exhaust system components unit in Haryana in collaboration with Japan-based Futaba Industrial Company. The company would attact FDI of Rs 45.90 crore.

Power sector company KVK Energy and Infrastructure Pvt Ltd's proposal to bring 70 per cent foreign stake will see an FDI flow of Rs 97.06 crore.

Three other companies — Devas Multimedia Ltd, Manipal Universal Learning Ltd, Bangalore, and IBSS Techno Park Ltd — have been asked to approach RBI with their proposals since the requests are for post facto approval and regularisation of past violations of FDI policy, the statement said.

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Tata Steel-Corus Merger
No plan to make single entity for now

London, October 4
It has almost been six months now since India's Tata Steel acquired the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus for $13 billion, but they are in no hurry to merge the Indian and British companies and the two different brands into one single entity, a top Corus official said today.

"We are keeping two separate entities, but we are working together..I remain Corus CEO and M Muthuraman remains the CEO of Tata Steel...the merger of the two entities into a single one would take its time," Corus CEO Philippe Varin told an Indian media delegation here.

Corus was acquired by Tata Steel earlier this year after a bitter takeover battle with Brazilian steelmaker CSN, which countered Tatas' takeover bid for the Anglo-Dutch company.

Tata Steel emerged the winner in late January and the merger was closed after about two months.

"We started to work together in April...we are a little less than six months in the process of integration.. and we are progressing well on track to complete this process as per the plans," he said.

We are working on integration of cost synergies, manufacturing facilities, purchasing activities, tax and financial savings among various factors, Varin noted.

"One of the key focus areas in terms of integration will be raw materials which remain to be expensive and we (Tata Steel and Corus) need to be at least 80 per cent integrated on this front."

"We are in the process of increasing our capacity in Jamshedpur and Orissa in India, while another area where we need to focus is that we need more products in India ...there is a huge growth potential there for steel demand in industries like automotive, construction and packaging," Corus chief executive said.

Corus's Corporate Development and Strategies Director Jean Sebastien Jacques said the group was aiming to increase the output at Jamshedpur plant to 10 million tonne per annum by 2010 while at Kalinganagar, Orissa, it was aiming an output of six million tonne.

Besides, the group had other projects under assessment, including a five-million tonne (MT) project in Chhattisgarh, 12 MT at Jharkhand, 2.4 MT at Bangladesh, 4.5 MT at Vietnam and 2 MT in Iran.

When asked by when Corus and Tata Steel would be one single entity rather than two different companies working together, Varin said.— PTI

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Videocon to invest 15,000 cr in steel, power sectors
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, October 4
Consumer durable major Videocon Ltd today formally signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government and for setting up a 3,000 MT capacity steel plant near Asansol, about 170 km from here. The MoU was signed in the presence of the chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot.

The Rs 15000-crore Videocon industrial proposal which also includes a 1200MW capacity power project, when completed after 2009,would absorb over 10,000 unemployed people both directly and indirectly, claimed the chief minister.

Bhattacharjee said about 2,500 acres of lands at Barabani near Asansol town has already been identified; it would be handed over to the company within a couple of days. He was confident that this time there would be no problem in the acquiring of the land since most of the land-owners had already agreed to voluntarily hand over the land to the government.

The chief minister also said within next two years a magnum IT tower to be built by the Videocon would come up at Salt Lake sector V, creating 30,000 jobs in the IT and software engineering.

Dhoot said a special purpose vehicle (SPV) had been floated where Videocon group and Dhoot Brothers would jointly have 50 per cent equity and the remaining would be held by a US firm. The SPV, Videocon Natural Resources Ltd, would list on the stock market later.

State industries minister Nirupam Sen, who was also present, said the Balaji Group of Industries would soon set up a separate steel plant and power plant in Purulia district’s Raghunathpur town. The Balaji industries would invest Rs 16000 crore for their industrial project, which would create 30,000 new job opportunities.

The project would come up on 4,000-acre land to be acquired by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, chairman and managing director of Jai Balaji group Aditya Jajodia said. The foundation stone laying ceremony would be held on October 16 and the first phase involving a capacity of two million tonne would go on stream in three years, he said.

The industry minister said that land losers would get compensation at a rate higher than the prevailing market price. He said the company would set up a training centre to train one member in each land loser family so that they could get a job in the project.

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Pak court allows sale of Indian sugar 

Islamabad, October 4
The Lahore High Court has allowed the release of Indian sugar in the local market after dismissing a petition by the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association that had claimed it was unfit for human consumption.

Justice Syed Hamid Ali Shah yesterday accepted petitions by two importers, Rana Brothers and Sawera Group, who had sought the release of Indian sugar seized by the customs. They pointed out that Indian sugar was fit for consumption and was being sold across Pakistan.

Shahid Bilal, counsel for Rana Brothers, said that tests on samples of the Indian sugar showed it was fit for human consumption, the Dawn reported. — PTI 

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Caparo Group eyes Rs 4,000-cr turnover

Sriperumbudur, October 4
The first phase of Caparo Group's Rs 600 crore auto metal sheet manfacturing facilities here was today formally commissioned with the group announcing plans for a turn-over of Rs 4,000 crore from its Indian operations by 2011.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi commissioned the facilities at SIPCOT which has a stamping unit, R and D centre, tool room, aluminium foundry and a forging unit which will employ 1,000 persons. It has been built on 120 acres of land with an initial investment of Rs 400 crore.

"We expect a revenue of at least Rs 1,000 crore from the facility by 2010," Angad Paul, Caparo India chairman, said.

The group has also signed an MoU with the Tamil Nadu government for manufacturing auto components with an investment of Rs 300 crore which is expected to be on stream in 2008. Both these plants are expected to generate a direct employemnt for about 1,400 persons.

Earlier in the day, Lord Swraj Paul, chairman of Caparo Group, told a press conference in Chennai that the company had earned Rs 220 crore in India and is expected to touch about Rs 2,000 crore by 2009.

When asked about the size of investments Caparo planned in India, Angad said: "It is very difficult to put a number to that... As long as the economic boom continues, our investment will be on its lines." Angad said Caparo was developing a platform for small cars for its customers. — PTI

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Reliance Power seeks $6-b loan

New Delhi, October 4
Anil Ambani Group's Reliance Power has asked banks to arrange $6 billion (Rs 24,000 crore) of syndicate loan required for funding its ongoing and proposed projects in the power sector.

"We have mandated certain banks and financial institutions to arrange up to $6 billion in syndicated loans for us on a secured basis to fund the identified projects," the company said in the draft red herring prospectus filed with market regulator SEBI today.

Macquarie Bank, ABN-Amro NV and Deutsche Bank have each arranged $2 billion for Reliance Power.

The company has plans to raise Rs 76,472.80 crore in debt to fund its 12 projects that are currently under various stages of development.

The loan would be in addition to the about Rs 12,000 crore which the company expects to raise from the proposed public issue.— PTI

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BRIEFLY

Dabur foray
Kolkata, October 4
Dabur India Ltd today announced its foray into the Rs 1,500-crore malted food drink market with chawanprash blended with chocolate. "Chawan Junior is our first brand in the category to be unveiled in West Bengal and Maharashtra. Later, it will be unveiled across the country," Dabur general manager K.K. Chutani said here today. — PTI
Jeh Wadia, managing director of GoAir India, addresses a press conference at the inauguration of new GoAir Airbus A-320 in New Delhi
Jeh Wadia, managing director of GoAir India, addresses a press conference at the inauguration of new GoAir Airbus A-320 in New Delhi on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

REC offer
New Delhi, October 4
State-run Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has received approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board for its proposed Rs 1,200-crore public offer and is awaiting government clearance to appoint independent directors on its Board before hitting the capital market. — PTI

Syndicate Bank
Bangalore, October 4
Syndicate Bank has revised the rate of interest on non-residential external (NRE) term deposits and foreign currency and non-resident (banks) FCNR (B) deposits. Interest rates on NRE deposits for a period of one year to less than two years have been revised to 4.90 per cent, two years to less than three years to 4.59 per cent and for three to five years to 4.64 per cent. The revision came into effect from October 1. — PTI

Ranbaxy Labs
Mumbai, October 4

Ranbaxy Laboratories has received final approval from USFDA to make and sell clarithromycin, a drug used for treating infections. Ranbaxy is the first company to have been granted a generic approval for the oral suspension form. — PTI

Gold plunges
New Delhi, October 4
Gold prices fell sharply by Rs 140 at Rs 9,450 per 10 gram on the bullion market today on reduced offtake amid weakening global trend. — PTI

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