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Govt may relax norms to rope in infrastructure players
Mumbai, October 29
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today said that India's growth trajectory would continue unhindered and the country's GDP would show a growth of 9 per cent for the current year as well.

Dalal St the world’s 20th to hit 20K
3 milestones within a fortnight
Mumbai, October 29
India today became the 20th nation in the world to have seen its stock market benchmark enter the league of bourses that have touched the 20,000-point milestone. The bellwether index Sensex today breached the 20k level in intra-day trade for the first time in it’s over two-decade history.
All eyes and ears: A stock broker speaks through two cellphones while watching the rise of BSE benchmark Sensex in Mumbai on Monday.
All eyes and ears: A stock broker speaks through two cellphones while watching the rise of BSE benchmark Sensex in Mumbai on Monday. — PTI photo


An item to be auctioned off by Christie’s is displayed at an exhibit in Dubai, on Monday. The auction house is set to break sale records in the West Asia by offering nearly UAE Dirham 109 million (almost $30 million) worth of art, jewellery and watches at an auction to be held on Wednesday. An item to be auctioned off by Christie’s is displayed at an exhibit in Dubai, on Monday. The auction house is set to break sale records in the West Asia by offering nearly UAE Dirham 109 million (almost $30 million) worth of art, jewellery and watches at an auction to be held on Wednesday.— AFP photo



EARLIER STORIES

 

Maruti to pump in $1.8 b, rejigs top order
New Delhi/Chandigarh, October 29
Stressing on the need for maintaining supremacy in India, Japanese auto major Suzuki Motor Co today said its subsidiary Maruti Suzuki will invest $1.8 billion on R&D, marketing and capacity expansion while announcing a top management rejig.

Mukesh Ambani Bull dash makes Ambani Sr richest of ’em all
New Delhi, October 29
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani today became the richest person in the world, surpassing American software czar Bill Gates, Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim Helu and famous investment guru Warren Buffett, courtesy the bull run on the stock market.

India wants to join Turkmen gas link
Doha, October 29
India is keen to receive gas from Turkmenistan via a planned pipeline and is also considering investments in gas and oil producer Qatar to meet rapidly rising domestic demand, India's oil minister said on Monday.

Monetary Policy Review
Industry pitches for credit flow to SMEs
New Delhi, October 29
Even as industry chambers pitched for cut in repo rate and moderation of interest rate on the eve of the mid-year review of the monetary policy by the RBI Governor Y V Reddy, analysts here felt that the central bank may maintain a status quo.
Air hostesses walk along side a Deccan aircraft at an event to announce the stake pact between Air Deccan and Kingfisher Airlines, in Mumbai on Sunday night. The agreement, which enables both airlines to trim costs and share resources, triggered an open offer by Mallya’s Bangalore-based UB Group to Air Deccan shareholders for a further 20 per cent stake in the airlines.
Air hostesses walk along side a Deccan aircraft at an event to announce the stake pact between Air Deccan and Kingfisher Airlines, in Mumbai on Sunday night. The agreement, which enables both airlines to trim costs and share resources, triggered an open offer by Mallya’s Bangalore-based UB Group to Air Deccan shareholders for a further 20 per cent stake in the airlines. — AFP photo

Gold hits new high on global cues
New Delhi, October 29
The gold prices spurted by Rs 130 to touch Rs 10,220 per 10 gram on the bullion market today on heavy buying for the ongoing festival and marriage season besides a boost from international markets. The precious metal surpassed its last week’s record and touched a new peak as the firm global trend pushed it up to 28-year high at $793 per troy ounce after the dollar plunged to record low against leading 13 currencies.

Corporate Results
PNB plans to enter Bhutan
New Delhi, October 29
The Punjab National Bank (PNB) has posted a 6.63 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 538.48 crore for the quarter ended September 30, against Rs 504.99 crore for the same period last fiscal. However, the bank reported a 4.97 per cent fall in the operating profit for Q2 FY07-08 at Rs 854.98 crore. 

Hindujas pursue majority stake in ONGC project
Chennai, October 29
The Hinduja Group is looking at taking majority stake in public sector ONGC's proposed Kakinada refinery project, a top company official said. "Wherever we go, we do not have anything other than majority stake... we would like to have majority stake," Gopichand P. Hinduja, president, Hinduja Group of companies, told reporters here today.

 

 

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Govt may relax norms to rope in infrastructure players
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, October 29
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today said that India's growth trajectory would continue unhindered and the country's GDP would show a growth of 9 per cent for the current year as well.

Addressing the US-India CEO forum here, the finance minister said India would have to continue upgrading infrastructure to keep up with its growth targets and called for increased investments in this sector. Chidambaram said the government would take a number of measures in order to give a fillip to building ports, airports, roads and railways. The measures included relaxing of norms pertaining to external commercial borrowings (ECBs), the minister said. "ECB norms for infrastructure must be made flexible, pension and insurance funds should invest more in infrastructure," Chidambaramam said.

He added that India needed to raise investment in infrastructure from the current level of 5 per cent of GDP to 9 per cent of GDP over the next five years. He, however, regretted that the initiative for dedicated infrastructure funds were not progressing due to the lack of projects. "We are sensitising state government to make a shelf of projects for investment," he said.

Chidambaram also took the opportunity to defend the government's curb on P-notes. " What we are concerned about is investment from unregistered and unregulated sources. We welcome investments by insurance and pension funds in the country," he said.

According to the minister, the Planning Commission has estimated an investment of $488 billion in infrastructure. About 70 per cent of the investments would come from the public sector through budgetary resources and retained earnings while the rest would be from the private sector.

“We are sensitising state governments to make a shelf of projects for investment,” he said.

He said he was concerned over inflow of funds into the stock exchanges from unregistered entities.

“Our concern is about inflows from unregistered entities, especially from unregulated jurisdictions... So long as funds come in after registration, they are welcome to do so,” he said at the US-India CEO Forum here.

He said India wishes to move forward and liberalise the financial sector but it will do so in a careful and calibrated manner.

“We cannot afford shocks,” he added. US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who was the main guest at the event, was all praise for the comments made by the minister. "'We heard some positive things about the intent there," Paulson told mediapersons on the sidelines of the meet.

The regulators’ measure to mitigate risks associated with capital flows into India are in the right direction, but they also need to remove certain caps and restrictions on foreign investment, US treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr said.

“We understand Indian officials are concerned that greater capital flows associated with a financial centre would add to inflationary pressures, destabilise financial markets or add to exchange rate volatility,” he said at the US-India CEO Forum on Monday.

The country was allowing greater flexibility in its exchange rate in recent months, the US official said, adding that the appreciation in rupee has helped reduce inflationary pressures.

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Dalal St the world’s 20th to hit 20K
3 milestones within a fortnight

Mumbai, October 29
India today became the 20th nation in the world to have seen its stock market benchmark enter the league of bourses that have touched the 20,000-point milestone.

The bellwether index Sensex today breached the 20k level in intra-day trade for the first time in it’s over two-decade history. As many as 32 indices, spanning across 19 countries, have already crossed this mark.

After crossing the magical figure in late afternoon trade, Sensex, however, fell to close at 19,977.67.

In Asia, the bellwether index is second only to Hong Kong's Hang Seng to achieve this feat, while markets like China and Japan are yet to see any of their indices touching 20k points.

Even in the West, markets like the US, UK, Canada, Germany and France have not seen their indices reaching this mark.

The countries whose stock market indices have crossed 20k level include Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Venezeula, Peru, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Italy, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Turkey, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Hong Kong.

Italy and Hong Kong have four indices each trading above 20k level, while South Africa and Peru have three such indices each. Mexico and Russia have two such indices each, while others have one index each to have crossed 20k level.

Argentina's Indice Bolsa General is trading above 1,28,300 points, while Jamaica's JSE Market Index is near 99,000 level.

Other big indices in terms of sheer value include Egypt's Hermes Index, Russia's ASP General, Brazil's Bovesta Index, Poland's WSE WIG Index, Turkey's ISE National 100 Index and benchmark index of Nigeria stock exchange, all of which are quoted above 50k points.

In India, October would go in history as the only month to have seen the benchmark Sensex scaling three milestones as the index has covered the last 3,000 points journey in just 14 days.

The fastest 1,000-point journey was of four trading sessions when the Sensex rallied from 18,000 to 19,000 points between October 9 and October 15. The second-shortest period of six days was witnessed when the index travelled from 16,000 to 17,000 points in September.

The journey between 17,000 and 18,000 had taken eight trading sessions, a rally spanning through 19 days was recorded between the 11,000 and 12,000 in March 2006. The stride from 14,000 to 15,000 points had taken 143 trading sessions, the longest 1,000-point march since the Sensex touched the five-figure level of 10,000 in February last year. The 15,000-level was reached on July 6.

The index took 143 days to travel from 14K to 15K, 26 days from 13K to 14K, 132 days from 12K to 13K and 19 days from 11K to 12K. — PTI

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Maruti to pump in $1.8 b, rejigs top order
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi/Chandigarh, October 29
Stressing on the need for maintaining supremacy in India, Japanese auto major Suzuki Motor Co today said its subsidiary Maruti Suzuki will invest $1.8 billion on R&D, marketing and capacity expansion while announcing a top management rejig.

“We have expanded our production capacity at Manesar.

Hereafter, Maruti Suzuki will have to invest in sales and research and development. Therefore, the focus will shift on R&D and marketing,” Suzuki Motor Co chairman Osamu Suzuki told reporters here.

He said with many of the major international manufacturers increasing their share in India, MSIL could not afford to be working on at the current pace.

“There has to be a strong link between SMC and MSIL in terms of product pipeline and R&D and we should be able to develop more and more products in India,” Suzuki added.

He said overall Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) will invest $1.7-1.8 billion, which would be equally distributed on setting up a R&D facility and marketing, and expanding the capacity of its Manesar plant where it manufactures new models like Swift and the SX4.

“We have already sought 500 acres of land from the Haryana government for setting up of the R&D facility,” he added.

The R&D facility in India will be the second largest facility for SMC after Japan and it will be used to develop products not only for the India but also for Suzuki’s global markets.

MSIL also announced a top management rejig with its current Managing Director Jagdish Khattar to retire on December 18 and S Nakanishi, the incumbent Joint Managing Director succeeding Khattar while R.C. Bhargava will take over as the Chairman.

“We have to think of promoting more Indians in higher positions in core areas of administration, marketing, production and engineering hereafter,” Suzuki said.

The company registered total income of Rs 47,358 million during the second quarter (Q2) of the fiscal (July-September 2007), a growth of 33.7 per cent over the same period last year.

Profit Before Tax went up to Rs 6,841 million during Q2 of 2007-08, a growth of 28 per cent over the same period last year while net profit stood at Rs. 4,665 million, up 27 per cent over July-September 2006.

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Bull dash makes Ambani Sr richest of ’em all

New Delhi, October 29
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani today became the richest person in the world, surpassing American software czar Bill Gates, Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim Helu and famous investment guru Warren Buffett, courtesy the bull run on the stock market.

Following a strong share price rally today in his three group companies —India’s most valued firm Reliance Industries, Reliance Petroleum and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Ltd — the net worth of Mukesh Ambani rose to $63.2 billion (Rs 2,49,108 crore).

In comparison, the net worth of both Gates and Slim is estimated to be slightly lower at around $62.29 billion each, with Slim leading among the two by a narrow margin.

Warren Buffett, earlier the third richest in the world, also dropped one position with a net worth of about $56 billion.

Ambani’s wealth of about Rs 2,49,000 crore includes about Rs 2,10,000 crore from RIL (50.98 per cent stake), Rs 37,500 crore from RPL (37.5 per cent) and Rs 2,100 crore from RIIL (46.23 per cent).

Slim’s wealth has been calculated on the basis of his stake in companies like America Movil (30 per cent), Carso Global (82 per cent), Grupo Carso (75 per cent), Inbursa (67 per cent), IDEAL (30 per cent) and Saks Inc (10 per cent).

According to information available with the US and Mexican stock exchanges where these companies are listed, Slim currently holds shares worth a total of $62.2993 billion, with more than half coming from Latin American mobile major America Movil. Slim is closely followed by Gates with a net worth of $62.29 billion currently.

Earlier last month, US business magazine Forbes had named Gates as the richest American with a net worth of 59 billion dollars, calculated as on August 30. The magazine had said that a movement of $2 in the share price for Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, could “add or subtract a billion dollars” from his wealth.

Since August-end, Microsoft’s share price has risen by $6.58 (based on yesterday’s closing on Nasdaq at $35.03), which results into a gain of $3.29 billion in Gates’ wealth based on Forbes assumption.

Besides a stake in Microsoft, Gates’ wealth also includes the commission and license fees earned by him and gains through his shares in an investment holding company that invests across the market.

Gates is followed by Buffett at the fourth place in the league of the world’s richest with a net worth of $55.9 billion through his holding in his investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway and in other companies. At the end of August, Buffett’s wealth stood at $52 billion, as per the Forbes magazine. Berkshire Hathaway’s share price has gained by about 7.5 per cent since then.

Earlier on September 26, Ambani had overtaken steel czar Lakshmi Mittal to become the richest Indian in the world.

Mittal currently ranks as the fifth richest in the world with a net worth of $50.9 billion through his 44.79 per cent stake in world’s biggest steel maker ArcelorMittal.

While most of Mittal’s wealth comes from his steel empire, though he has also spread his wings into businesses like oil and real estate, those of Ambani and Gates are mostly through petrochemicals and software, respectively. However, Buffett and Slim are making money from investments across a host of sectors. — PTI 

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India wants to join Turkmen gas link

Doha, October 29
India is keen to receive gas from Turkmenistan via a planned pipeline and is also considering investments in gas and oil producer Qatar to meet rapidly rising domestic demand, India's oil minister said on Monday.

Murli Deora said he was interested in joining Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan in building the link and said the Indian Cabinet had already passed a resolution on this.

''India is very interested in becoming formal partner. I am not sure if now is the right time because of the elections (in Pakistan).'' An Indian oil ministry official told Reuters in Delhi that energy ministers of the four countries were expected to hold talks in Islamabad on November 28 and 29.

''India, which been enjoying observer status, is expected to be inducted as a member country in the project after a formal approval by the remaining three nations,'' said the official who did not want to be named. India was hoping to get 40 million standard cubic metres through this trans-national pipeline but the final offtake depends on certification of reserves in the fields, he said.

The idea of building a pipeline through Afghanistan has been floating for more than a decade, but conflict has hampered efforts to get it off the ground.

The project aims to export gas to Pakistan and India, both also talking to Iran on the possibility of a similar deal. Deora said this project will not affect a possible Iran link. — Reuters

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Monetary Policy Review
Industry pitches for credit flow to SMEs
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
Even as industry chambers pitched for cut in repo rate and moderation of interest rate on the eve of the mid-year review of the monetary policy by the RBI Governor Y V Reddy, analysts here felt that the central bank may maintain a status quo.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) demanded that the RBI should, besides effecting a 50 basis points cut in repo rate, ensure priority treatment to SMEs and agri-business in line with their requirements in its monetary review to be unveiled tomorrow.

The cut in repo rate, as proposed by the Assocham, interest rates would moderate and make an ideal combination for good economic growth for current fiscal as inflation has already come down to around 3 per cent.

Further fall in interest rates will make positive contributions to increase in manufacturing and have good impact on liquidity release, besides prices of essential commodities, including pulses and other cereal items would come down to provide much required relief to aam adami, said Assocham president Venugopal N Dhoot.

He also pointed out that the RBI should also lay down regulatory framework for lending to farmers and rural dwellers by commercial banks for which the lending norms should be stringent enough to have check on misuse of subsidised financing.

In addition, there should be a supportive environment to encourage new investments in the core sector, particularly in neglected areas of infrastructure development. Resource flow, including long-term funding to productive and green field projects should also be enhanced, added Dhoot.

SMEs contribution to the GDP is high and they help in creation of jobs in the local economy, thus, banks should reduce their PLRs to ensure a level playing ground for all borrowers.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations hoped that taking cue from the US Federal Reserve, the RBI would consider a reduction in the short term credit rates.

The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the RBI should reduce CRR in a phased manner from 7 per cent to its target of 3 per cent. This will improve the liquidity in the system.

“The RBI should use flexibility regarding stipulating of holding of liquidity instruments by banks to enhance the lendable resources by reducing the floor limit of SLR presently pegged at 25 per cent,” it said.

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Gold hits new high on global cues

New Delhi, October 29
The gold prices spurted by Rs 130 to touch Rs 10,220 per 10 gram on the bullion market today on heavy buying for the ongoing festival and marriage season besides a boost from international markets.

The precious metal surpassed its last week’s record and touched a new peak as the firm global trend pushed it up to 28-year high at $793 per troy ounce after the dollar plunged to record low against leading 13 currencies.

Gold rose by $7.75 to $792.95 an ounce in London, the highest since January 1980, which mainly lifted the market sentiment here in domestic arena.

The market, which was passing through a firm phase due to festive and marriage demand, gathered further momentum as dollar-priced metal surged in the overseas market after the US currency dipped to record low against major currencies, including the euro. Rising crude oil prices also boosted the market sentiment.

Standard gold and ornaments remained in demand. Sovereign, however, ruled flat at Rs 8,050 per piece of eight gram.

In a similar fashion, silver ready jumped up by Rs 255 at Rs 18,980 a kilo while weekly-based delivery by Rs 55 at Rs 18,880 a kilo. — PTI 

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Corporate Results
PNB plans to enter Bhutan

New Delhi, October 29
The Punjab National Bank (PNB) has posted a 6.63 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 538.48 crore for the quarter ended September 30, against Rs 504.99 crore for the same period last fiscal. However, the bank reported a 4.97 per cent fall in the operating profit for Q2 FY07-08 at Rs 854.98 crore. “In the current environment, higher pressure on Net Interest Margin and NPAs and the need for additional provisioning for pension, gratuity and leave encashment for staff of the bank under projected unit credit method resulted in lower operating profit of the bank,” PNB CMD P.K. Chakraborty told newspersons here.

On whether the bank would offload its stocks in the market to meet the Basel II norms, Chakraborty said the bank has no plans as of now to hit the market as its capital adequacy was comfortable. PNB is also exploring possibilities for its presence in Bhutan through the joint venture route, he added.

Mahindra & Mahindra

M&M has posted a 26.01 per cent decline in net profit at Rs 285.95 crore for the quarter ended September 30 as against Rs 386.48 crore for the same quater last fiscal. The total income of the firm rose to Rs 2,871.55 crore for the quarter under review as against Rs 2,563.42 crore for the comparable period last year, up by 12.02 per cent.

Jet Airways

Jet Airways today posted a nearly two-fold decline in net profit at Rs 28.36 crore for the quarter ended September 30, while it stood at Rs 55.13 crore for the reviewed quarter last year. However, the total income of the airline increased to Rs 2,254.17 crore for the quarter ended September 30, from Rs 1,787.33 crore during the same quarter last fiscal, Jet Airways said in a communique to the BSE.

Mico posts profit

Motor Industries Company has posted an increase of 9.09 per cent at Rs 136.75 crore for the quarter ended September 30, compared to Rs 125.35 crore for the reviewed quarter last year. The total income of the company rose by 4.62 per cent to Rs 1,068.33 crore for the September quarter, against Rs 1,021.11 crore for the same quarter last fiscal.

OBC

The Oriental Bank of Commerce has posted 23.97 per cent decline in net profit at Rs 236.24 crore for the quarter ended September 30, as against Rs 310.75 crore in the same period last year. However, total income of the bank rose by 28.1 per cent to Rs 1,788.21 crore for the second quarter as compared to Rs 1,395.86 crore in the year-ago period. — PTI, TNS

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Hindujas pursue majority stake in ONGC project

Chennai, October 29
The Hinduja Group is looking at taking majority stake in public sector ONGC's proposed Kakinada refinery project, a top company official said.

"Wherever we go, we do not have anything other than majority stake... we would like to have majority stake," Gopichand P. Hinduja, president, Hinduja Group of companies, told reporters here today. He was responding to a query on the project, after signing an agreement between the group's company Ashok Leyland and Nissan Motor Co.

"Our group company, Gulf Oil would pick up stake in the project," he said.

The president also informed that the Centre had cleared the company's power project at Vishakapatnam which would be based on a merchant power plant.

"So, we would be selling 25 per cent of the power to the state, while we are free to sell the remaining 75 per cent to whoever pays us the best price," Hinduja said.

"It would be around 1,040 to 1,200 MW. Experts are working on what would be the most economical one. The project cost is Rs 500 crore and would be completed in about 32 months," he said. — PTI

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