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Cabinet clears oil bonds
No fuel hike till March next year
New Delhi, October 11
The union cabinet today decided to issue bonds to bail out oil companies for selling fuel below cost until March next. The cabinet decided to issue oil bonds worth Rs 23,458 crore to oil marketing companies (OMCs) to offset their under-recoveries of 42.7 per cent arising from rising global crude prices.

Infosys nets 1,100-cr profit
Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan announces financial results in Bangalore on Thursday. Bangalore, October 11
Software maker Infosys did not bely expectations but also failed to delight investors as it reported a 18.4 per cent rise in net profit for the second quarter, which saw its revenue cross the $1-billion mark.

Offers 18,000 jobs

Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan announces financial results in Bangalore on Thursday. — AFP

ICICI Bank cuts home loan rates
Mumbai, October 11
After State Bank of India, country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank has cut floating home loan rates by 0.5 per cent to 11 per cent. The new rates, implementable with immediate effect, will be applicable on new loans till October 31, an ICICI spokesperson said here today.



EARLIER STORIES

 
A model drives the concept car “i-REAL” of Japan’s auto giant Toyota Motor Corp. at a pre-event in Tokyo on Thursday for a forthcoming motor show.
A model drives the concept car “i-REAL” of Japan’s auto giant Toyota Motor Corp. at a pre-event in Tokyo on Thursday for a forthcoming motor show. The one-seat electric vehicle runs at a maximum speed of 30 kph in high-speed mode and moves slowly among pedestrians at similar eyesight in low-speed mode. — AFP

Maruti inks pact with Fiat subsidiary
New Delhi, October 11
Diesel engines, being produced by Maruti Suzuki Indian Ltd (MSIL), is about to get a boost as the company, along with its parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), is entering into a joint venture with Italian manufacture Magneti Marelli to produce electronic control units (ECU).

Wages for staff of HMT, other
sick PSUs

New Delhi, October 11

The Union Cabinet today decided to pay outstanding dues, salary and wages of employees belonging to 12 sick or loss-making central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) and also approved payment of 70-day wages as productivity-linked bonus (PLB) for non-Gazetted Railway employees for the financial year 2006-07.

BSNL challenges TRAI’s order
New Delhi, October 11
BSNL today challenged in the sectoral tribunal regulator TRAI's direction to open up the domestic leased circuit to the private sector, contending that its implementation would hurt the PSU's business significantly.

Qualcomm ready to bring TV on mobile
New Delhi, October 11
Telecom equipment major Qualcomm India Pvt Ltd today said it is ready with a technology that will enable mobile users to watch television channels on their handsets.

Re ends stronger
Mumbai, October 11
The rupee today continued its upward march against the greenback and ended at yet a fresh 9-1/2 year high of 39.30/31 on sustained capital inflows amidst a feeble attempt of intervention by the central bank.

DLF to raise $ 1.5b from overseas
New Delhi, October 11
DLF Ltd, the country’s largest real estate firm, today announced its plan to raise upto $ 1.5 billion (about Rs 5,900 crore) loan from the overseas market for executing its business plan and to pick up stake in DLF Asset’s proposed IPO in Singapore.

Scandinavian Cos free to fix air fare: Govt
New Delhi, October 11
The government today amended a clause that required airlines of Denmark, Norway and Sweden to sign advance agreements with the Indian fliers, and gave them a freedom to fix fares on commercial basis.

Verdict in Birla-Lodha case reserved
New Delhi, October 11
The Supreme Court today reserved judgment in the cross-appeals filed by the Birlas and R.S. Lodha challenging each other's right to object to late Priyamvada Birla's purported 1999 Will and late M.P. Birla's 1982 Will, respectively.

IFC to fund Tata Power project
New Delhi, October 11
The private sector lending arm of the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) has decided to fund the 4,000-MW ultra mega power project to be developed by Tata Power at Mundra in Gujarat.

Tourism fair begins today
Chandigarh, October 11
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in association with Department of Tourism, Chandigarh Administration, is organising a two-day event "The North India Tourism Conclave 2007”, beginning from tomorrow.

Birla Sun Life capital up
Chandigarh, October 11
To meet with the company’s plans on capital expenditure and to conform to the solvency margin requirements as stipulated by the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority, the promoters of Birla Sun Life Insurance have infused an additional capital of Rs.100 crore into the capital base of the company.

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Maiden ATM manufacturing unit.
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Cabinet clears oil bonds
No fuel hike till March next year
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The union cabinet today decided to issue bonds to bail out oil companies for selling fuel below cost until March next.

The cabinet decided to issue oil bonds worth Rs 23,458 crore to oil marketing companies (OMCs) to offset their under-recoveries of 42.7 per cent arising from rising global crude prices.

The first tranche of bonds worth Rs 12,000 crore will be issued on October 13, petroleum secretary M.S. Srinivasan said and ruled out any hike in fuel prices till March 2008.

The government last raised fuel prices to reflect higher crude rates in June 2006, but has subsequently rolled back the increase. India imports 70 per cent of its crude oil requirements.

The upstream companies have been asked to share one-third of the total under recoveries of the oil marketing companies, Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, information and broadcasting minister said after the cabinet meeting.

He also stated the government has decided to extend the existing subsidy scheme for the period of three more years beginning from April 2007.

Dasmunshi said 42.7 per cent of the total under recoveries for the current fiscal would be borne by the government in the form of oil bonds.

He said the cabinet decision would result in the continuation of subsidies on kerosene and domestic LPG and sharing the burden of OMCs’ under recoveries on account of sale of sensitive petroleum products.

The oil marketing companies (lOC, HPCL and BPCL) are selling petrol, diesel, domestic LPG and PDS kerosene at lower than international oil prices. The Indian basket of crude oil has averaged about $ 70 per barrel during 2007-08 as against the average price of about $ 62 per barrel last year.

Due to the mismatch between the retail prices of the four sensitive petroleum products and the international oil prices, the companies are facing financial under-recoveries of approximately Rs 54,935 crore this year.

About 1/3rd of the under-recoveries would be shared by the upstream oil PSUs in the form of discounts on crude oil and products. Further, the subsidies schemes for PDS kerosene and domestic LPG which were available till March, 2007, have been extended till March, 2010.

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Infosys nets 1,100-cr profit

Bangalore, October 11
Software maker Infosys did not bely expectations but also failed to delight investors as it reported a 18.4 per cent rise in net profit for the second quarter, which saw its revenue cross the $1-billion mark.

The country's second largest software exporter said it earned a net profit after tax of Rs 1,100 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2007, on the back of new clients and higher operating margins despite a rising rupee.

Announcing the Q2 consolidated results, Infosys CEO and managing director S Gopalakrishnan said: "We have achieved another milestone by crossing $1 billion in revenues this quarter".

Income was Rs 4,106 crore for the second quarter, registering a year-on-year growth of 19 per cent. Earnings per share increased to Rs 19.26 from Rs 16.75 for the corresponding quarter in the previous year, clocking a y-o-y growth of 15 per cent.

The results had a cascading effect on other IT shares, resulting in a hefty fall of 282.28 points or 5.59 per cent in the BSE IT Index.

"Our operating margins improved during the quarter despite the appreciating rupee", said V Balakrishnan, CFO. "We are proactively hedging our currency exposures to mitigate this impact. Our hedging position as of September 30, 2007, was $1.4 billion", he added.

The company is confident of absorbing the Rs 2,000-crore revenue loss for the fiscal year 2007-08 due to appreciation of rupee.

Infosys also announced an upward revision of its annual guidance for the year to 34.5 - 35 per cent. — PTI

Offers 18,000 jobs

Infosys Technologies Ltd is on a hiring spree. For the ensuing fiscal year (FY 2008-09), it has made a whopping 18,000 job offers in about 1,000 colleges across the country to take its total headcount to over 100,000, a top company official said here today.

"We have offered jobs to about 18,000 graduating engineers in campus interviews conducted in 1,000 engineering colleges across India during the first two quarters of this fiscal," Infosys board member T V Mohandas Pai told reporters here. "Our attrition rate is less than the industry average although it has gone up by 0.5 per cent to 14.2 per cent from 13.7 percent in the previous quarter and 12.9 per cent in the same quarter a year ago," Pai noted. — IANS

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ICICI Bank cuts home loan rates

Mumbai, October 11
After State Bank of India, country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank has cut floating home loan rates by 0.5 per cent to 11 per cent.

The new rates, implementable with immediate effect, will be applicable on new loans till October 31, an ICICI spokesperson said here today.

The reduction follows the finance minister P Chidambaram asking banks to have a re-look at the interest rates to stimulate demand in the economy.

Bank of Rajasthan

Private lender Bank of Rajasthan (BOR) has mooted a cut in its deposit rates with effect from October 1.

For deposits having maturity one year to two years, rates have been brought down to 9 per cent from the existing 9.50 per cent while for deposits having maturity over 2 years, rates were revised to 9 per cent from 9.25 per cent at present. — Agencies

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Maruti inks pact with Fiat subsidiary
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
Diesel engines, being produced by Maruti Suzuki Indian Ltd (MSIL), is about to get a boost as the company, along with its parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), is entering into a joint venture with Italian manufacture Magneti Marelli to produce electronic control units (ECU).

The agreement is to create a joint venture (JV) in India whereby the Italian company, an arm of Fiat Group, would eventually create a manufacturing hub here for the ECUs. According to the agreement, Magneti Marelli will contribute 51 per cent of the share capital of the new company, SMC’s contribution will be 30 per cent and MSIL’s 19 per cent.

The initial investment is expected to be about Euro 15 million (about Rs 750 million) and the project will be funded through a mix of equity and debt.

MSIL is already producing diesel engines with Italian technology, which they had bought from the Fiat Group, but were importing the ECUs from Magneti Marelli. Experts here said the production of the ECUs would eventually bring down the cost of production of the engine.

The industrial facilities of this JV company will be located at MSIL’s facilities at Manesar.

The ECus will be initially used for MSIL diesel cars and, later on, will also cater to other car manufacturers.

According to Eugenio Razelli, CEO, Magneti Marelli: “The joint venture with Suzuki and Maruti significantly strengthens an important partnership already in existence, giving the car-maker a possibility to rely on competitive systems, featuring cutting-edge technology and the component-maker the chance to increase its presence in a strategic and fast-growing market.”

Tata Motors, Fiat form JV

Strengthening their alliance further, Italian auto major Fiat and Tata Motors today entered into a joint venture to produce cars, engines and transmissions.

Under the 50:50 joint venture agreement, the partners will manufacture passenger cars, engines and transmissions for Indian and overseas markets at the facility located at Ranjangaon in Maharashtra. The overall investment in the facility would exceed $650 million, Tata Motors said.

The JV will manufacture Fiat's premium cars, Grande Punto and Linea (respectively in the B and C segments), its 1.3 litre Multijet diesel engine, 1.2 and 1.4 litre Fire gasoline engine and matching transmissions, the statement said, adding one of Tata's next generation vehicles would also be manufactured at the unit. — PTI

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Wages for staff of HMT, other sick PSUs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The Union Cabinet today decided to pay outstanding dues, salary and wages of employees belonging to 12 sick or loss-making central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) and also approved payment of 70-day wages as productivity-linked bonus (PLB) for non-Gazetted Railway employees for the financial year 2006-07.

It gave its approval for budgetary support of Rs 63.20 crore to 12 CPSEs, including HMT Limited, HMT (Watches) Ltd, HMT (CW) Ltd, towards liquidating outstanding statutory dues, salary and wages for the period up to June 30, 2007.

The other CPSEs covered are Andrew Yule and Co. Ltd, Bharat Wagon Engg. Co. Ltd, Hindustan Cables Limited, Hindustan Photo Films Ltd, Instrumentation Ltd, National Instruments Ltd, NEPA Ltd, Triveni Structurals Ltd and Tunghabadra Steel Products Ltd.

About the productivity linked bonus, all eligible non-gazetted railway employees, excluding RPF and RPSF personnel, would get payment equivalent to 70 days wages for the financial year 2006-07, an official statement said.

The Union Cabinet also gave its approval to the winding up of M/s Bharat Yantra Nigam Limited (BYNL), Allahabad, a public sector holding company to enable its six subsidiary companies to have an independent status as CPSEs, which the government said would improve their performance and profitability.

As part of the winding up process, the Cabinet approved waiver of Government of India loan of Rs 1.10 crore as on March 31, 2007, waiver of interest of Rs 4.14 crore accrued on GoI loan as on March 31, 2007 and any addition up to the date of closure.

It also approved writing down of the share capital of BYNL to the tune of Rs 2.31 crore, opening of voluntary retirement scheme to enable the employee desirous of opting for an early separation before closure of the company, budgetary support for the cost of closure of the company to the extent of Rs 3.82 crore, transfer of the assets and liabilities as on a cut off date of March 31, 2007 of the company among the subsidiaries, transfer of shares held by BYNL in subsidiaries to the GoI.

Closure and winding up of BYNL, the holding company under the relevant provisions of Companies Act, 1956 after transfer of assets and liabilities to the subsidiary companies and transfer of shares of the Subsidiary held by BYNL to the GoI has also been approved.

The six subsidiary companies of BYNL are Bharat Heavy Plate and Vessels Ltd, Vishakapatnam, Bharat Pumps and Compressors Ltd, Naini, Bridge and Roof Company India Ltd, Kolkata, Richardson and Cruddas (1972) Ltd, Mumbai, Triveni Structurals Ltd, Naini and Tungabhadra Steel Products Ltd, Karnataka.

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BSNL challenges TRAI’s order

New Delhi, October 11
BSNL today challenged in the sectoral tribunal regulator TRAI's direction to open up the domestic leased circuit to the private sector, contending that its implementation would hurt the PSU's business significantly.

Admitting the BSNL's petition to stay the regulator's direction, the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal issued notices to TRAI asking it to file its reply within four weeks.

TRAI on September 14 issued a notification mandating the government firms BSNL and MTNL to open up the domestic leased circuit (DLC) to the private cellular operators for the last mile connectivity.

Moreover, it has also directed the PSUs to confirm availability of the circuits within 30 days of any formal request by the private operator.

BSNL and MTNL had earlier said that TRAI's direction on opening up of DLC would lead to hoarding of last mile connections by the private sector, rendering the two PSUs uncompetitive. — PTI

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Qualcomm ready to bring TV on mobile

New Delhi, October 11
Telecom equipment major Qualcomm India Pvt Ltd today said it is ready with a technology that will enable mobile users to watch television channels on their handsets.

''We are ready with the technology called MediaFLO that will enable the customers to watch various television channels on the mobile sets,'' Nikhil Jain, chief technology adviser (India) said.

The mobile operator and manufacturer now have to get green signal from the regulatory bodies to launch this service in the country, he added.

Nearly one-third of the world has a cell phone and this technology will enhance the entertainment, advertising, commerce and information.

''Worldwide mobile TV subscribers is expected to reach 216.2 million by 2011 from 12.3 million currently,'' Jain said.

The MediaFLO has presence in the UK, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia. — UNI

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Re ends stronger

Mumbai, October 11
The rupee today continued its upward march against the greenback and ended at yet a fresh 9-1/2 year high of 39.30/31 on sustained capital inflows amidst a feeble attempt of intervention by the central bank.

The local currency neared the 39.26 level touched on February 25, 1998 during early trade as stock market rallied smartly for the third straight day.

In quiet trade at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the rupee moved in a narrow range of 39.28 and 39.33 during the day after resuming firm at 39.28/30 per dollar from previous close of 39.31/3150 a dollar.

The rupee drew support mainly from surging equity markets in Asia even as the Reserve Bank intervened through public sector banks to curb the currency's sustained rise against dollar, forex dealers said.

Inching toward the 19k milestone, the benchmark Sensex today scaled a new peak at 18,814 points on the Bombay Stock Exchange on strong buying by funds in heavy-weight stocks led by capital goods and metal sector. — PTI

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DLF to raise $ 1.5b from overseas

New Delhi, October 11
DLF Ltd, the country’s largest real estate firm, today announced its plan to raise upto $ 1.5 billion (about Rs 5,900 crore) loan from the overseas market for executing its business plan and to pick up stake in DLF Asset’s proposed IPO in Singapore.

DLF Assets, promoted by K P Singh, is independent of DLF. It will float an IPO in Singapore to raise $ 1.5 billion and would be listed there.

DLF, the flagship company, would invest $ 750 million to participate in the IPO of DLF Assets and would invest similar amount in projects or firms in furtherance of its business in India and abroad, DLF Ltd executive VP (Finance) Saurabh Chawala said. DLF would not dilute any stake for raising the loan from abroad, he said, adding that the transaction was expected to get completed in 30 days. — PTI

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Scandinavian Cos free to fix air fare: Govt

New Delhi, October 11
The government today amended a clause that required airlines of Denmark, Norway and Sweden to sign advance agreements with the Indian fliers, and gave them a freedom to fix fares on commercial basis.

The Cabinet, at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here today, approved changes in India's air services agreements with these countries, information and broadcasting minister P R Dasmunsi told reporters here.

Earlier, the seat capacity was used to be decided in advance through agreements between the airlines. Now, the requisite article has been amended removing the section that required these agreements to be signed between the designated carriers.

The provision on tariffs has also been amended to make the designated carriers of respective countries free to decide fares based on commercial considerations. Airlines of the three countries would also not be required to file tariffs for air services to India.

Another article on cooperative marketing arrangements would enable designated carriers of the three countries and India to operate code-share flights including those to third countries.

The clauses relating to aviation security have also been re-drafted and a new article on safety provisions introduced.

Dasmunsi said the amendments have the potential to spur greater trade, investment and tourism between these countries and bring the air services agreements in line with global practices. — PTI

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Verdict in Birla-Lodha case reserved

New Delhi, October 11
The Supreme Court today reserved judgment in the cross-appeals filed by the Birlas and R.S. Lodha challenging each other's right to object to late Priyamvada Birla's purported 1999 Will and late M.P. Birla's 1982 Will, respectively.

Under the 1999 Will, Priyamvada had bequeathed her Rs 5,000 crore estate to Lodha, her chartered accountant. A Bench headed by Justice S.B. Sinha, which heard the matter since Tuesday, reserved its verdict. — PTI

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IFC to fund Tata Power project

New Delhi, October 11
The private sector lending arm of the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) has decided to fund the 4,000-MW ultra mega power project to be developed by Tata Power at Mundra in Gujarat.

“We are talking to Tatas and will participate in the project through a mix of debt and equity. We will also help them in obtaining syndicated loans from other financial institutions,” said Neil Gregory, manager, South Asia Department of IFC.

The quantum of equity and debt to be provided by the IFC to Tata Power’s Mundra project, he said, would be determined after the negotiations. Tata Power has secured the contract to develop the Mundra project on a Build-Own-Operate basis with an estimated cost of Rs 16,000 crore.

The project to be developed over 7-8 years was awarded to Tata Power on the basis of a tariff-based international competitive bidding by the ministry of power. — PTI

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Tourism fair begins today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in association with Department of Tourism, Chandigarh Administration, is organising a two-day event "The North India Tourism Conclave 2007”, beginning from tomorrow.

Aimed at generating competitiveness of the tourism sector in northern India, the conclave would provide a common platform to the stakeholders to showcase their products and to formulate a comprehensive strategy towards sustainable growth of tourism industry in northern India .

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Birla Sun Life capital up

Chandigarh, October 11
To meet with the company’s plans on capital expenditure and to conform to the solvency margin requirements as stipulated by the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority, the promoters of Birla Sun Life Insurance have infused an additional capital of Rs.100 crore into the capital base of the company. This enhances the company's capital to Rs.877 crore as of September 26.

The additional infusion is as per the current IRDA guidelines and is in the ratio of 74:26 between the Aditya Birla Group and Sun Life Financial Inc. respectively.

"We expect to grow our branch strength with additional branches planned in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns across India," Vikram Mehmi, President & CEO, Birla Sun Life Insurance, said. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

Gold surges
London, October 11
Gold rose to a 27-year high in London on speculation that a decline in the dollar will prompt investors to buy the precious metal as an alternative investment. Silver also rose. Gold for immediate delivery rose $6.56 to $747.66 an ounce in London after earlier reaching $748.10, the highest since January 21, 1980. — Bloomberg

Reliance store 
Gurgaon, October 11 
Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Retail today opened its first exclusive apparel store under the 'Reliance Trends' brand here as it moves ahead with its Rs 25,000 crore retail juggernaut. The store, spread across 30,000 sq ft, is the first of 100 such stores that the company plans to set up in the next three years. — PTI

Chevy Spark
New Delhi, October 11
General Motors India today said it will offer a discount of up to Rs 53,000 on its small car Chevrolet Spark as part of the centennial celebrations of its parent company. Spark's base model would now be available for Rs 2.79 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The offer is valid only for bookings between October 12 and October 22. — PTI

Airtel broadband
Jerusalem, October 11
Airtel Broadband & Telephone Services has chosen Israeli firm Optibase's IPTV encoding platforms for its planned IPTV service offerings, a company release here said. Meanwhile, Airtel has also announced the launch of 8 Mbps broadband service in India, becoming the first service provider in the country to offer such high speed broadband service. — PTI

L&T buyout
Mumbai, October 11
Engineering major Larsen & Toubro today said it would acquire Tamco Switchgear Malaysia Sdn Bhd, the de-merged switchgear business of Malaysia-based Tamco Corporate Holdings Bhd. In this regard, the firm entered into a share sale agreement with Tamco Corporate Holdings Bhd in Kuala Lumpur today.— PTI

PNB foray
New Delhi, October 11
Punjab National Bank today said it plans to expand its services to Australia, Canada and South Africa besides South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries. The bank will also launch its first branch in Hong Kong besides upgrading its office to a branch in Shanghai, he said.— PTI

Bajaj Avenger
New Delhi, October 11
Bajaj Auto today introduced its new 200cc motorcycle 'Avenger DTS-i'. The upgraded bike tagged at Rs 64,830 (ex-showroom New Delhi). — PTI

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