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Kurdish pique: Iraq threat to bar Reliance
Riyadh, November 15
Iraq today threatened to blacklist India's Reliance Industries (RIL) from future oil contracts after the company struck a deal with the Kurdish Regional Government for two blocks without Baghdad's approval.

Laxmi N. Mittal
Laxmi N. Mittal

Mukesh Ambani
Mukesh Ambani

Lakshmi Mittal richest Indian again
Mukesh Ambani year’s biggest gainer
New York, November 15
King of steel Lakshmi N Mittal reigns as the richest Indian for the fourth year in a row with a wealth of $51 billion, although his crown is under threat from Mukesh Ambani, whose net worth soared to $49 billion, according to Forbes’ India’s 40 richest list- 2007. But Mukesh’s position too is under threat from his younger brother Anil, who is closing on his heels with a wealth of $45 billion at the third spot, US-based Forbes magazine said.

India, China must work together for growth: Montek
New Delhi, November 15
Greater integration and interaction between India and China, especially in the infrastructure sector, will drive economic growth of both Asian giants, deputy chairperson of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said here today.



 
Chief operating officer, Ashok Leyland, Vinod K. Dasari poses for a photograph during the launch of the company’s 4921 TT Truck in New Delhi on Thursday. Askok Leyland unveiled a new truck 4921 TT, which is priced at Rs 1,975,000 ($50,260).
Chief operating officer, Ashok Leyland, Vinod K. Dasari poses for a photograph during the launch of the company’s 4921 TT Truck in New Delhi on Thursday. Askok Leyland unveiled a new truck 4921 TT, which is priced at Rs 1,975,000 ($50,260). — AFP photo

TCS bags over $200-m contract
Mumbai, November 15
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has bagged a four-year contract of over $200 million from the Social Security Institute, Mexico (IMSS).

Thappar group is now ‘Avantha’
Yamunanagar, November 15
The Gautam Thappar-led group of companies today unveiled its new ‘group corporate identity’.

Day after big jump, Sensex pauses
Mumbai, November 15
After Wednesday’s surge, the Sensex today slipped 144 amidst profit booking by investors to close at 19,784 points. In the broader markets, the Nifty fell by 0.43 per cent or 25 points to close at 5,912.

Cement giants zero in on HP’s Saal Baag region
Shimla, November 15
Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd and DS Constructions are among those in the race to set up a cement plant in the state's Saal Baag region.
In this photo, provided by Al & Eds Autosound, journalist Stefan Pollack peers through the sun roof of a classic 1957 BMW Isetta Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The car, restored by Al & Ed's Autosound, is designed to travel 180 miles on a full three-gallon tank of gasoline.
In this photo, provided by Al & Eds Autosound, journalist Stefan Pollack peers through the sun roof of a classic 1957 BMW Isetta Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The car, restored by Al & Ed's Autosound, is designed to travel 180 miles on a full three-gallon tank of gasoline. — PTI photo

Interest rates may remain soft and stable: Bankers
New Delhi, November 15
Public sector lenders SBI and Canara Bank today said interest rates are expected to remain soft and stable in the near future as inflation is down and there is ample liquidity with the banks.

Goa SEZs: Opposition gathers momentum
Mumbai, November 15
Activists and environmentalists in Goa are being joined by the powerful Catholic Church and the Opposition in a major protest to oppose the construction of 13 SEZs in the tiny state.

L&T launches tipper truck
Bangalore, November 15
Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) has launched a tipper truck manufactured by Swedish heavy vehicle major Scania, with an aim to capture up to 35 per cent of market share in its class.

Maruti tops again in consumer satisfaction
New Delhi, November 15
For the eighth consecutive year, Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) has emerged as the top ranking company in customer satisfaction with authorised dealership service in the J.D. Power Asia Pacific-2007 India Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) study released today.

Refex to issue Rs 200-cr bonds
New Delhi, November 15
Refex Refrigerants Limited has announced that the board of directors of the company have approved a proposal to raise up to Rs 200 crore through placement of foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCB).

 

 

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Kurdish pique: Iraq threat to bar Reliance

Riyadh, November 15
Iraq today threatened to blacklist India's Reliance Industries (RIL) from future oil contracts after the company struck a deal with the Kurdish Regional Government for two blocks without Baghdad's approval.

"Our position is very clear. Any company that signs contracts with the Kurdish Regional Government, without the approval of the central government, will compromise chances of getting future opportunities in Iraq," Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said here.

Hussain, who is here to attend the OPEC ministerial meeting ahead of the summit level talks among member countries, said Baghdad had "conveyed this to all companies that have recently signed production sharing contracts... That has also been conveyed to Reliance Industries." Reliance Industries (RIL) had last week signed the contract for the blocks Rovi and Sarta in northern Iraq with the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

Reliance is confident of making a discovery soon. RIL paid a signing amount of $15.5-17.5 million for the blocks. Asked about the consequences if companies go ahead and sign the contract, the minister said: "Iraq will not allow its oil to be exported without federal government approval. We have informed and warned the companies of the consequences.

The Kurdish region is located in land-locked northern Iraq and has no port facilities, which makes sale of gas without Baghdad’s approval virtually impossible.

Besides the two blocks to RIL, KRG had awarded five others to foreign companies defying Baghdad’s proposed new oil law. The central government opposes unilateral sell-off of crude blocks in the absence of a national oil law, which is yet to be passed by Parliament.

“There is no legislative vacuum in Iraq... these contracts have no standing with the Iraqi government,” Hussain said, while threatening companies that have signed contracts with KRG with “dire consequences.” — PTI 

Contracts as per law: RIL

Mumbai: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has said its agreement with the autonomous Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq for two oil blocks conformed to law.

“The two exploration blocks in northern Iraq in Kurdistan region are within the legal framework,” RIL said in response to Iraqi oil minister’s comment today that the company would be barred from future oil contracts. “Reliance has always maintained highest cordial relationship with the Government of Iraq and all other stakeholders in the countries where we operate. We will continue to do so in future,” RIL said.

Iraqi oil minister said in Riyadh today that companies entering into agreements without Baghdad’s approval would comprise their chances of getting future oil contracts. — PTI

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Lakshmi Mittal richest Indian again
Mukesh Ambani year’s biggest gainer

New York, November 15
King of steel Lakshmi N Mittal reigns as the richest Indian for the fourth year in a row with a wealth of $51 billion, although his crown is under threat from Mukesh Ambani, whose net worth soared to $49 billion, according to Forbes’ India’s 40 richest list- 2007.

But Mukesh’s position too is under threat from his younger brother Anil, who is closing on his heels with a wealth of $45 billion at the third spot, US-based Forbes magazine said.

Real estate tycoon Kushal Pal Singh of DLF elbowed Wipro’s Azim Premji from the fourth spot in the list, which for the first time features all billionaires.

“The four richest Indians are worth an astonishing $180 billion,” Forbes said, attributing the surge in wealth to a booming stock market.

The net worth of Mukesh Ambani has jumped from $30.5 billion to $49 billion, making him the year’s biggest gainer. Anil’s net worth increased to $45 billion from $30.2 billion.

The fourth richest Indian Kushal Pal Singh has a net worth of $35 billion and after the listing of his flagship DLF, he is now the world’s richest real estate developer, Forbes said.

“... thanks to the roaring Mumbai stock market, with the benchmark index gaining as much as 53 per cent in the past year and a strong rupee that appreciated 12 per cent, for the first time, all India rich-listers are billionaires,” the magazine said in a report.

The minimum wealth required to make it to the rich-list was $1.6 billion against $790 million last year.

“In aggregate, their wealth surged to $351 billion, a bit more than double of last year’s $170 billion, making India’s 40 by far the wealthiest such group in all of Asia,” the magazine added.

Forbes said 29 of the people, who returned to the list, were richer than last year, with the exception of Rahul Bajaj, whose fortune was flat at $2.3 billion.

Newcomers to the list include Gautam Adani, who built Mundra Port; Anand Jain, Mukesh Ambani’s school buddy; and Gautum Thapar, whose Ballarpur Industries is India’s largest paper maker. Notable drop offs include Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and among those who failed to make the cut are Infosys’ Nandan Nilekani and Senapathy Gopalakrishnan, and investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. — PTI

Forbes Survey
Top 10 richest Indians

Rank Name Net worth

1. Lakshmi Mittal $51 b
2. Mukesh Ambani $49 b
3. Anil Ambani $45 b
4. KP Singh $35 b
5. Azim Premji $14.8 b
6. Sunil Mittal $12.5 b
7. Shashi and Ravi Ruia $12 b
8. Ramesh Chandra $11.6 b
9. Kumar Birla $11 b
10. Tulsi Tanti $10 b

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India, China must work together for growth: Montek
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
Greater integration and interaction between India and China, especially in the infrastructure sector, will drive economic growth of both Asian giants, deputy chairperson of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said here today.

Speaking at an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (China office) and China Economic Review, with the support of the Indian Consulate General in Shanghai, Ahluwalia said the target to enhance the bilateral trade between India and China to $40 billion (Rs 1.6 trillion) by 2010 would easily be met before the deadline.

Ahluwalia suggested public-private partnerships to build infrastructure facilities in India. He said India presented huge investment opportunities for Chinese and other foreign companies in infrastructure construction.

The Indian government has outlayed an investment plan of about $500 billion over the next five years in infrastructure at the current dollar rate, with about 40 per cent of that going towards power generation. India currently invests about five per cent of its GDP in infrastructure and at the end of the 11th Five-year Plan would increase it to about nine per cent of the GDP.

Pointing that demand for investment in higher education would also rise enormously as the Indian economy expands, he stressed on public-private partnerships in the education sector also to meet the target. India would require major upgradation of vocational and higher education institutions to meet India’s growing demands.

As for the healthcare sector, Ahluwalia said he was glad to see Indian pharmaceutical companies operating in China and exploring market opportunities in both geographies.

China is the fastest growing economy in the world today, about three times that of India, and boasts per capita income about twice that of India. While India is not yet the fastest growing economy, growth has been accelerating at an average rate of 8.5 per cent over the last five years, and will continue to accelerate at approximately nine per cent over the next five years.

It is projected that by 2030, China will be the largest economy globally, followed by the USA and India. Our political and economic systems are different, China’s rate of investment stands at 45 per cent of its GDP, it is possible for India to raise its rate of investment to 35-36 per cent of GDP if the economy continues to grow at nine per cent, Ahluwalia added. 

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TCS bags over $200-m contract

Mumbai, November 15
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has bagged a four-year contract of over $200 million from the Social Security Institute, Mexico (IMSS).

As the strategic IT services partner for IMSS, TCS will provide IT services, including application maintenance and support, custom software development, business analysis services and value-added initiatives for the organisation’s affiliates, a release said today.

TCS won the order following a public bid process and an assessment based on technology and financial parameters, it added.

“This agreement with IMSS is the largest deal for us to date in Latin America, coming after similar large engagements we have won in recent years with ABN Amro Bank in Brazil, Registro Civil in Chile and Banco Pichincha in Ecuador,” TCS Iberoamerica president Gabriel T Rozman said.

“It consolidates our position as the IT partner of choice for major Latin American organisations and also marks our emergence as a key player in the Mexican technology sector,” he added. — PTI 

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Thappar group is now ‘Avantha’
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, November 15
The Gautam Thappar-led group of companies today unveiled its new ‘group corporate identity’.

The group with its presence in more than six diverse business vertical globally will now be ‘Avantha’ group. Ashok Kumar, associate vice-president, Ballarpur industries, unit Shree Gopal, Yamunanagar, univeiled the new logo and name of the companies. 

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Day after big jump, Sensex pauses
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 15
After Wednesday’s surge, the Sensex today slipped 144 amidst profit booking by investors to close at 19,784 points. In the broader markets, the Nifty fell by 0.43 per cent or 25 points to close at 5,912.

Today’s main losers were Reliance Energy, Wipro, Infosys, HDFC Bank, NTPC and ICICI Bank, which fell by more than 2.2 per cent. In the Nifty, Tata Power, HDFC, State Bank of India, BHEL, ABB, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Grasim Industries and Punjab National Bank were the main losers.

A dab of green on the bourses came from BPCL, HPCL, Bharti Airtel, Siemens India, ITC Limited, VSNL, MTNL, Hero Honda, Zee Entertainment and Suzlon Energy, which gained by more than 1.5 per cent each.

Among sectoral indices, BSE consumer durables and Bankex slipped by more than two per cent while realty and oil & gas closed firm.

IT scrips Wipro and Infosys were down by more than 3 per cent while Moser Baer and I-flex closed in the red.

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Cement giants zero in on HP’s Saal Baag region

Shimla, November 15
Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd and DS Constructions are among those in the race to set up a cement plant in the state's Saal Baag region.

Sources in the industries department said that a survey has already been carried out in the area.

According to the survey, there are an estimated 800 million tonnes of top-class limestone reserves in the Saal Baag region. Ninety percent of the reserves are said to be located on government land.

Interested parties have already begun to bid for the plant although the decision to award the project will be taken after the new government takes over at the end of next month. Assembly elections are currently underway in the state.

The Saal Baag cement plant will be the second plant in Shimla district. A plant is already being built by India Cements at Gumma in Chopal valley in the district. — IANS

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Interest rates may remain soft and stable: Bankers

New Delhi, November 15
Public sector lenders SBI and Canara Bank today said interest rates are expected to remain soft and stable in the near future as inflation is down and there is ample liquidity with the banks.

"Interest rates are expected to remain stable to down," SBI chairman O.P. Bhatt told reporters before participating in a meeting of bankers and exporters with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram here.

Interest rates have already eased off a bit, he added.

Canara Bank CMD MBN Rao, who also heads Indian Banks' Association, said there is adequate liquidity in the system and with low inflation, interest rates are likely to remain soft and stable.

"Inflation being under control, I do not see any reason for interest rate to go up," he said.

However, high global oil prices are a cause for concern and should be watched carefully, Rao said.

He said lower interest rates internationally will increase the funds flowing into India, adding to the liquidity.

On credit offtake he said, credit has picked up in October and the offtake was likely to be of the order anticipated by the RBI in its credit policy.

Rao further said there has been brisk demand for credit from agriculture and other sectors of the economy.

The net interest rate margin (NIM) was also expected to improve as a result of increase in credit offtake, the Canara Bank CMD said, adding that NIM, which was above 3 per cent in 2006-07, came down to below that level in the initial months of the current fiscal. "It has now started improving."

Canara Bank was also in a process of rebalancing its assets to improve NIM, which is an important parameter to determine the profitability of a bank. — PTI 

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Goa SEZs: Opposition gathers momentum
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 15
Activists and environmentalists in Goa are being joined by the powerful Catholic Church and the Opposition in a major protest to oppose the construction of 13 SEZs in the tiny state.

While two SEZs have already received the green signal and work on them is on in full swing, 11 more are undergoing various stages of approval. The opposition to the SEZs gathered steam after activists obtained details regarding their functioning under the Right to Information Act.

As per the data provided by the Goa government, the 13 SEZs will together employ 9,77,000 people over the next few years. Goa’s population currently stands at a little more than 12 lakh people. The number of unemployed people registered with the state’s employment exchange is presently 90,000.

With data like these coming out from the government’s own records, there is fear among the people that locals will soon be swamped by an influx of people from other parts of the country. “Goa’s infrastructure will not be able to handle these many people. The state’s roads, hospitals, water supply, everything will be completely stretched if all the SEZs come into operation,” leader of the Opposition Manohar Parrikar said.

The BJP will join in a major rally being planned by civil rights groups and the powerful Catholic Church in Panaji on November 20.

So far two SEZs have been notified at Keri and at the industrial estate at Verna while others are planned across the state, including a major SEZ on the outskirts of capital Panaji which is occupied by forests and mangroves.

Opponents of the SEZs say land owned by panchayats will be doled out to promoters of SEZs thereby making it a big real-estate scandal.

However, the proposal has received the support of the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry. President Nitin Kuncolienkar said the SEZs will house non-polluting units that generate more jobs for the locals and put less pressure on water and power resources.

With protests threatening to snowball into a major embarrassment to the government, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has shown signs of a roll back.

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L&T launches tipper truck

Bangalore, November 15
Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) has launched a tipper truck manufactured by Swedish heavy vehicle major Scania, with an aim to capture up to 35 per cent of market share in its class.

The Scania multi-axle tipper truck, used in the construction and mining sectors, priced in the range of Rs 58-65 lakh, was launched at the ongoing Excon 2007, a CII-organised Indian construction equipment and technology trade fair here.

“We are aiming for 25-35 per cent market share in this class of trucks as early as possible,” J P Nayak, whole-time director and president (machinery and industrial products), L&T, said.

The other major players in this category of trucks in India are Volvo, Daimler and Tatra, said Nayak, who added that Scania tipper trucks meet advanced emission standards. — PTI 

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Maruti tops again in consumer satisfaction
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
For the eighth consecutive year, Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) has emerged as the top ranking company in customer satisfaction with authorised dealership service in the J.D. Power Asia Pacific-2007 India Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) study released today.

The study measures the overall satisfaction of vehicle owners, which is determined by utilising seven measures, including problems experienced, service quality, user-friendly service, service advisor, service initiation, service delivery and in-service experience.

A release issued by the J.D. Power Asia Pacific said among the nine Indian companies reviewed for the award, MSIL leads the industry in customer satisfaction with a CSI score of 838 points on a 1,000-point scale.

“The steady improvement in industry-wide CSI performance during previous three years reflects the success that many manufacturers have had in enhancing the customer experience at their dealerships,” said Mohit Arora, senior director, J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Singapore.

The 2007 India CSI study is based on responses from more than 5,300 owners of nearly 40 different vehicle models. The study was fielded from May to August and includes customers, who serviced their vehicles at an authorised service facilities between November 2006 to August 2007. 

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Refex to issue Rs 200-cr bonds

New Delhi, November 15
Refex Refrigerants Limited has announced that the board of directors of the company have approved a proposal to raise up to Rs 200 crore through placement of foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCB).

Funds generated from this offering will be utilised for the long-term and short-term fund requirement of the company as well as related working capital requirement of further expansion programme envisaged, a company statement said here today. — TNS

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