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Dabhol set to go on stream by Jan
Mumbai, November 5
The Dabhol power plant, formerly belonging to the ill-fated Enron Corp, has begun trial production of power and would attain full capacity by the end of next January when all units begin functioning, according to officials here.

Spectrum Allocation
COAI’s action misleading: Anil

Mumbai, November 5
Billionaire Anil Ambani, whose group firm Reliance Communications is a key CDMA mobile player, today said rival GSM players' lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) does not represent the telecom industry and their propaganda on spectrum allocation was misleading.

Kerala plans tourism roadshows
Chennai, November 5
Kerala, the God’s own country, is on a roadshow blitzkrieg all over the world to attract tourists and also promote a new-concept called responsible tourism. “We will be organising roadshows in Frankfurt, Zurich, Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam and Sweden this month and next and early next year in Australia and Singapore,” says Sanjay Kaul, Director, Kerala Tourism.

Robert Rubin to head Citigroup
New York, November 5
Charles Prince resigned on Sunday as chairman and chief executive of Citigroup Inc, and the bank said it may suffer a $11 billion write-down for subprime losses. Robert Rubin, the former US treasury secretary, was named chairman, while Sir Win Bischoff, who runs Citigroup's European operations, was named acting chief executive.

Bajaj Auto picks up 14.5 pc in European Co
New Delhi, November 5
Bajaj Auto Ltd, the country's second largest two-wheeler manufacturer, today said it has picked up 14.5 per cent stake in European sports bike maker KTM Power Sports AG for more than Rs 300 crore.

Rupee rise boon for India Inc’s buyouts
New Delhi, November 5
Over 10 per cent appreciation in the domestic currency against dollar has thrown a new merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunity for India Inc which wants to reach out to the world by acquiring concerns on a global scale, an Assocham Eco Pulse (AEP) study has shown.



A model displays the world's thinnest 3G mobile handset "Prosolid"
A model displays the world's thinnest 3G mobile handset "Prosolid", produced by Matsushita Electric Industrial, with a thickness of 9.8mm and equipped with a 3-inch wide VGA LCD display, in Tokyo on Monday. Matsushita will put it on the market early next year. — AFP



 
CEO of Microsoft Corporation Steve Ballmer (R) speaks as chairman of Reliance Communications Anil Ambani looks at a press conference in Mumbai
CEO of Microsoft Corporation Steve Ballmer (R) speaks as chairman of Reliance Communications Anil Ambani looks at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday. Microsoft Corp and Reliance Communications signed a deal for $500 million, in a strategic partnership to launch internet television in India.The internel protocol television (IPTV) will be launched early next year in Mumbai and New Delhi, with an initial rollout in 30 cities across the country. — AFP

Direct tax collection up 43.15 pc
New Delhi, November 5
The government’s direct tax collection registered a growth of 43.15 per cent during April-October at Rs 1,28,864 crore as against Rs 90,180 crore during the same period last fiscal.

Buoyed by India success, Caparo eyes China
Beijing, November 5
After a stupendous growth of its Indian operations, London-based Caparo Group led by Lord Swraj Paul is now eyeing China where it wants to invest in automobile sector.

Indo-African hydrocarbon meet begins today
New Delhi, November 5
Investment and cooperation between Africa and India will receive a shot in the arm as petroleum and energy ministers, senior government officials and experts from 26 African countries would engage themselves with their Indian counterparts at a two-day India-Africa hydrocarbon conference and exhibition beginning here tomorrow.

‘Marginal’ fuel price hike on cards
New Delhi, November 5
Petroleum minister Murli Deora today said the government might go in for a minimum hike in fuel prices and would try not to make it harsh on the consumers.
A PetroChina employee stands next to refill machines at a gasoline station in Chengdu, in China's southwestern province of Sichuan
A PetroChina employee stands next to refill machines at a gasoline station in Chengdu, in China's southwestern province of Sichuan, on Monday. PetroChina became the world's largest company by market value on Monday, worth nearly $1 trillion — double the value of ExxonMobil — as its shares surged in their debut on the Chinese mainland. — AFP

LG’s festive mantra
Chandigarh, November 5
Value additions in place of gifts and discounts is LG Electronics’ mantra for the festive season this year.

Reliance Money in pact with McDonald’s
Chandigarh, November 5
Reliance Money today announced its tie-up with McDonald's to install financial desk at various McDonald's outlets in north India to give financial guidance to its customers while unveiling a limited free trading account offer for their customers in Haryana, Punjab and Himachal.

100-yr-old taxpayer
New Delhi, November 5
Union finance minister P. Chidambaram has personally appreciated the achievement of F.D. Engineer, who is about 100 years old, for filing his income-tax return on 31st July, 2007, along with payment of due taxes.

 
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Dabhol set to go on stream by Jan
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 5
The Dabhol power plant, formerly belonging to the ill-fated Enron Corp, has begun trial production of power and would attain full capacity by the end of next January when all units begin functioning, according to officials here.

The plant, now owned by Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd (RGPPL), a special purpose vehicle, began trial generation of 1,200 MW of power on Saturday last.

Two of the three units of the plant began to generate power while phase I of the plant is undergoing maintenance.

Petronet LNG, which is one of the major stakeholders in the company has been tasked with acquiring liquefied natural gas to run the plant.

According to sources, gas supply for the plant has been tied up from Oman and other countries. It would take more than eight cubic metres of natural gas daily to run the plant at full capacity. The plant will generate roughly 2,000 MW of its 2,150 MW capacity.

The commissioning of the power plant at Dabhol near Ratnagiri will, however, not mean the end of power shortage in Maharashtra which is presently facing a shortage of 4,562 MW of power, according to the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission. The power deficit will increase by at least another 1,000 MW by next summer, say officials.

RGPPL, the SPV set up to take over the assets of the ill-fated Dabhol Power Corporation owned by Enron, is owned by Gas Authority of India, NTPC Ltd, Maharashtra State Electricity Board and financial institutions.

Since May last, the plant was generating a measly 475 MW of power before it was shut down for maintenance during the onset of the monsoons. Since then, the plant has had to be retooled to produce power from natural gas.

The Maharashtra government now wants to augment the plant's power generation capacity to generate 5,000 MW of electricity by 2010 after the plant's LNG terminal is completed.

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Spectrum Allocation
COAI’s action misleading: Anil

Mumbai, November 5
Billionaire Anil Ambani, whose group firm Reliance Communications is a key CDMA mobile player, today said rival GSM players' lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) does not represent the telecom industry and their propaganda on spectrum allocation was misleading.

"Initially five companies out of nine took the matter to the apex tribunal TDSAT. I believe two of them have already withdrawn from the case and only three are left in this matter," Ambani said on sidelines of a function.

Aircel, Spice Telecom, Idea Cellular, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Essar had moved the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal under the banner of COAI, challenging the Centre's new norms on spectrum allocation and allowing usage of dual technology.

Aircel and Spice Telecom have since then withdrawn cases against the Department of Telecom (DoT). This was informed by communication minister A Raja to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week. The controversy over spectrum allocation and dual technology had reached Prime Minister's Office which sought clarification from Raja on various related issues.

In his letter to Singh, Raja had also exposed the divide in COAI, saying "operators have openly admitted that the COAI had misled them, media and the public in general". — PTI

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Kerala plans tourism roadshows
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, November 5
Kerala, the God’s own country, is on a roadshow blitzkrieg all over the world to attract tourists and also promote a new-concept called responsible tourism.

“We will be organising roadshows in Frankfurt, Zurich, Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam and Sweden this month and next and early next year in Australia and Singapore,” says Sanjay Kaul, Director, Kerala Tourism.

Kerala has the largest plan outlay for tourism in the country at Rs 100 crore, out of which Rs 15 crore has been earmarked for marketing activities. Tourism contributes 8 per cent of the state’s exchequer.

Kaul says the number of foreign tourists, along with the domestic ones, are on a rise with international arrivals recording a significant growth of 25.89 per cent.

The goal of Kerala tourism directorate is to increase the tourist inflow though the state ranks among one of the highest in India because it grants high priority to tourism industry.

After aggressive worldwide campaign, the number of foreign tourists is expected to multiply and the state is opening up new avenues for them, he adds.

Kaul says responsible tourism initiative, in which local population is actively involved to provide travel and lodging support and supply of locally-grown products, has taken off well and is being implemented on a pilot basis in four destinations - Kovalam, Kumarakom, Thekkady and Wayanad.

The government also plans to provide subsidies to the coffee and spices plantations in Munnar for the concept of “home stay” for tourists, quite popular among foreigners.

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Robert Rubin to head Citigroup

New York, November 5
Charles Prince resigned on Sunday as chairman and chief executive of Citigroup Inc, and the bank said it may suffer a $11 billion write-down for subprime losses.

Robert Rubin, the former US treasury secretary, was named chairman, while Sir Win Bischoff, who runs Citigroup's European operations, was named acting chief executive.

Citigroup said it expects to write down $5 billion to $7 billion, after taxes, for its roughly $55 billion of exposure to the US subprime mortgages.

The write-down equals $8 billion to $11 billion before taxes, and may change, Citigroup said.

The write-down is on top of the $6.5 billion that Citigroup wrote off three weeks ago for subprime mortgages, loan losses and other debt.

Citigroup now expects to restore normal capital levels by the end of June 2008.

It had previously expected an early 2008 return. The bank said it nevertheless has no plans to cut its 54 cents per share quarterly dividend.

Prince's departure ends a tumultuous four-year tenure marked by heavy management turnover, questions over strategy, and mounting losses from bad loans and mortgages.

It would also come five days after Merrill Lynch & Co ousted its own chief executive, Stanley O'Neal, following an $8.4 billion write-down.

''Given the size of the recent losses in our mortgage-backed securities business, the only honorable course for me to take as chief executive is to step down,'' Prince said in a statement. — Reuters

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Bajaj Auto picks up 14.5 pc in European Co

New Delhi, November 5
Bajaj Auto Ltd, the country's second largest two-wheeler manufacturer, today said it has picked up 14.5 per cent stake in European sports bike maker KTM Power Sports AG for more than Rs 300 crore.

The deal is in line with Bajaj's global expansion strategy and will see the two companies jointly develop engines and share each other's dealer network. Besides, it will also entail manufacturing the KTM's products at BAL's Chakan facility in Maharashtra.

"Bajaj Auto has acquired 14.5 per cent stake in KTM and thus becomes the second largest shareholder in the company after its promoters. This is our first step toward going global," BAL general manager (marketing) Amit Nandi told PTI.

Describing the deal as a win-win situation for both partners, Nandi said it would give BAL access to around 720 KTM dealers in Europe through which the Indian firm can retail its products.

"Right now details are being worked out as to what kind of products are to be sold there," he said, adding the two partners would also be jointly developing 125cc and 250cc 4-stroke water-cooled engines for future products. — PTI

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Rupee rise boon for India Inc’s buyouts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Over 10 per cent appreciation in the domestic currency against dollar has thrown a new merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunity for India Inc which wants to reach out to the world by acquiring concerns on a global scale, an Assocham Eco Pulse (AEP) study has shown.

A study of 70 deals done overseas in the first six months of the current fiscal, in which Indian firms undertook buyouts worth $14 billion, has revealed that Indian companies would have saved Rs 6,500 crore ($1.66 billion) just because of increase in rupee value.

While home-grown IT companies are struggling to cope with the rupee pressure, the currency appreciation has given an advantage in terms of prospects for inorganic growth worldwide, the study stated.

The IT sector, which dominated the overseas M&A activity of the domestic firms in the second quarter with deal valuation worth $1.56 billion, its total savings have been to the tune of Rs 795 crore in first half of the current year.

Thanks to a continuous decline in dollar value, the US had remained the most favourite hunting ground for the Indian companies in both first as well as second quarter. Even as the overall overseas buyouts of India Inc declined by 64 per cent in Q2, the deal valuations announced with the US- based companies remained the same at $2.9 billion for both quarters.

On the other hand, Europe, where the currency depreciation of euro against rupee was around 4 per cent since March this year, the buyout activity of the Indian companies witnessed a severe decline of 88 per cent in Q2 as compared to Q1. The valuation declined from $2.89 billion in the first quarter to $326 million in Q2.

“While the absence of big ticket overseas acquisitions and global slowdown can be held responsible for the sharp decline in the merger and acquisition activities by domestic firms in international market, rupee appreciation played an important role in keeping the buyout activity of India Inc intact in US”, said Assocham president Venugopal Dhoot.

The outcome of the study is based on a total of 125 deals tracked by Assocham for the first half of the current fiscal.

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Direct tax collection up 43.15 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
The government’s direct tax collection registered a growth of 43.15 per cent during April-October at Rs 1,28,864 crore as against Rs 90,180 crore during the same period last fiscal.

Corporate tax recorded a growth of 45.71 per cent at Rs 78,785 crore, up from Rs 50,072 crore during the previous fiscal. Personal income tax (including FBT, STT and BCTT) grew by 39.39 percent at Rs.49,890 crore, up from Rs.35,805 crore, according to official data released here today.

Growth in securities transaction tax (STT) was 57.61 percent (Rs 3,783 crore against Rs 2,400 crore) and fringe benefit tax (FBT) was 29.94 percent (Rs 2,755 crore against Rs 2,120 crore). Banking cash transaction tax (BCTT) grew by a modest 15.79 per cent, indicating decreasing incidence of large cash withdrawals.

In terms of payment types, advance tax increased by 28.44 per cent and tax deducted at source by 49.13 per cent, indicating all-round buoyancy in taxes. Self-assessment tax grew by 77.64 per cent, indicating better tax compliance levels.

Refund pay outs in personal income tax (PIT) category were ahead by 47.16 per cent (Rs 6,135 crore against Rs 4,169 crore), with over 30 lakh refunds having been issued during the period.

The refund banker scheme - launched in Delhi and Patna towards the end of last fiscal and extended subsequently to Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai - has helped increase the pace of refunds. It will now be extended to the entire country for the PIT category of taxpayers, an official statement said.

Continued buoyancy in direct tax collections indicates healthy growth in the economy, better tax administration and improving tax compliance levels, it added.

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Buoyed by India success, Caparo eyes China

Beijing, November 5
After a stupendous growth of its Indian operations, London-based Caparo Group led by Lord Swraj Paul is now eyeing China where it wants to invest in automobile sector.

"China is very much on our agenda. If an opportunity comes, our people would love to do so (make investment) in the automobile component sector," the $1.5 billion Group's chairman Lord Paul told PTI in an interview here.

Caparo, predominantly a steel products and engineering giant, already has a joint venture with a Chinese company and buys and sells industrial products in China. The Group also has an office in Shanghai.

"We certainly see more potential in China", although the Group has no specific plans as of now, the NRI industrialist said.

On India-specific investment plans, he said the company had built 15 new plants in the past 3 years and 16 more under construction were expected to be operational by late 2009.

"But, we are still looking for more," said Paul, adding that "if we have the customers, we will go to any extent (to invest), mostly in the automobile components".

The Group expects to earn $1 billion revenue by 2011 from its Indian operations. Caparo supplies auto components to a number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in India and has a joint venture with Maruti for sheet-metal and weld assemblies.

Caparo India is also setting up a unit to cater to tractor manufacturer TAFE in Tamil Nadu.

Queried if his group, which made more than two dozen acquisitions in 2006 alone, was scouting for more, Paul said "we are constantly looking in Britain. We are always looking in the US if there is an opportunity which fits in".

In India also, Paul said, the group was open to acquiring more companies. — PTI

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Indo-African hydrocarbon meet begins today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Investment and cooperation between Africa and India will receive a shot in the arm as petroleum and energy ministers, senior government officials and experts from 26 African countries would engage themselves with their Indian counterparts at a two-day India-Africa hydrocarbon conference and exhibition beginning here tomorrow.

The India-Africa engagement in the hydrocarbon sector assumes significance in view of Africa’s potential as an investment destination for India’s oil and gas companies and, in particular, Africa’s potential to play an increasing role in enhancing India’s oil supply security through diversification of its crude oil import sources.

The conference and exhibition is being jointly organised by the ministry of petroleum and natural gas and Ficci with the support of UNCTAD.

About a quarter of India’s crude oil imports are currently being sourced from Africa and given that the continent is expected to contribute approximately 25 per cent of the growth in the world’s petroleum and LNG supplies over the next three years, there is enormous potential for India to increase its volumes of crude oil imports from African countries in the future.

Apart from African ministerial session on country-specific overview and opportunities, the two-day conference will deliberate on trade, treaty and regulatory measures governing Indo-African trade and investment environment, project financing, capacity building and manpower development, India-Africa opportunities in upstream and downstream sectors, gas, EPC, services and material.

With 10 per cent of the world’s total oil and gas reserves, Africa’s hydrocarbon exploration potential remains relatively untapped.

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‘Marginal’ fuel price hike on cards

New Delhi, November 5
Petroleum minister Murli Deora today said the government might go in for a minimum hike in fuel prices and would try not to make it harsh on the consumers.

The oil minister will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to discuss the hike that is aimed at offsetting the mounting losses of state-run oil companies amounting to Rs 240 crore a day.

''We are trying for a minimum hike in fuel prices...I want people not to suffer,'' Deora told reporters here.

He hinted on duty cuts on oil prducts and issuing of oil bonds.

''We are trying our best to arrive at a solution in an attempt to strengthen our oil PSUs who are reeling under huge losses,'' he added.

Deora said he has discussed the issue with finance minister P Chidambaram and Prime Minister. ''Chidambaram is sympathetic and will come out a solution''.

The government was considering raising fuel prices or cutting duties last week in a bid to ease the pain of state oil firms, which sell fuel at discounted rates.

The government is yet to raise retail fuel prices this year even though global oil prices have jumped, topping $96 a barrel last week.

The Indian basket is now trading at over $85 per barrel, widening the revenue loss of Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum by nearly Rs 7,000 crore. — UNI

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LG’s festive mantra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Value additions in place of gifts and discounts is LG Electronics’ mantra for the festive season this year.

It seems to have gone down well with the public given the rising sale statistics and turnover of the festive season.

“We seem to be heading for a bumper Diwali. We are expecting a growth of at least 30 per cent from the sales for the October-November period. We are targetting the Rs 1,800-crore mark and our focusing on offering quality. As a policy, we decided not to compete on the platform of gifts and price and it has paid off,” said V Ramachandran, director (sales and marketing), LG Electronics here today.

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Reliance Money in pact with McDonald’s
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Reliance Money today announced its tie-up with McDonald's to install financial desk at various McDonald's outlets in north India to give financial guidance to its customers while unveiling a limited free trading account offer for their customers in Haryana, Punjab and Himachal.

The tie-up was announced by Reliance Money director and CEO Sudip Bandyopadhyay and McDonald's spokesperson Jyoti Rakheja here today. The company also announced a free trading account for one year.

Under the scheme, Reliance Money would be waiving off Rs 500, charged for trading up to Rs 5 lakh, for first year, in case the customers opens account with Reliance Money during the next few weeks.

Customers wanting to trade beyond Rs 5 lakh would have to pay Rs 500 for trading up to Rs 1 crore (for two months) or Rs 2,500 for Rs 6 crore (for one year), Bandyopadhyay said.

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100-yr-old taxpayer
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Union finance minister P. Chidambaram has personally appreciated the achievement of F.D. Engineer, who is about 100 years old, for filing his income-tax return on 31st July, 2007, along with payment of due taxes.

He congratulated the taxpayer and conveyed his best wishes.

The finance minister had asked the IT Department to process the return of Engineer, a resident of Secunderabad on October 11, and the same was done the next day, an official statement said here today.

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BRIEFLY

L&T unit
Mumbai, November 5
Larsen & Toubro has said it will set up a manufacturing unit in India at an investment of Rs 880 crore along with Japan-based Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The proposed manufacturing JV would be for supplying super-critical steam turbine and generator facility and would have a product configuration catering to plant capacities ranging from 500 MW to 1,000 MW. — PTI

Credit card
New Delhi, November 5
American Express has tied up with Kingfisher Airlines and Airtel to launch the American Express Kingfisher First Credit Card. The card allows members to get two or more round trip flights with Kingfisher Airlines every year through their everyday spend on the card. Airtel gives the members opportunity to to convert calls into free Kingfisher flights. — PTI

Deccan tie up
Bangalore, November 5
Deccan has announced its ‘mFly’ initiative in partnership with Oxigen, a market leader in electronic virtual distribution services, enabling passengers to book, pay and generate an e-ticket on their mobile phones. Deccan executive chairman Capt G R Gopinath and Oxigen CMD Pramod Saxena said the new initiative would be a ‘prepaid user account’, accessible through mobile phone to book Deccan tickets instantly. — UNI

Adani plans
New Delhi, November 5
Adani Agrifresh plans to invest Rs 1,000 crore in the next three years to create a supply chain from farmgate to retailers of fresh fruits and vegetables, aimed at becoming a major player in the organised segment. — PTI

Dabur skincare
Kolkata, November 5
Dabur India Ltd has announced entry into the skincare market with the launch of cold creams and lotions. “With the launch of Gulabari Cold Creme and Moisturising Lotion, Dabur is seeking to establish prominent position in the Rs 1,300-crore skin care market, which is growing by over 40 per cent since 2001,” the company said. — PTI

India Post
New Delhi, November 5
An MoU has been signed between India Post and Deutsche Post World Net to create a multi-layer relationship beneficial to both the organisations. The MoU will pave way for cooperation in the field of conveyance and distribution of mails, logistic and warehousing operation, aviation and line haul and financial services. — TNS

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