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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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B U S I N E S S

L&T in pact with Raytheon for fighter aircraft
Mumbai, November 20
In an attempt to deepen its foray into defense equipment supplies, engineering major Larsen and Toubro (L&T) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Raytheon to participate in the country’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme.

Govt has followed consumer-friendly policy: Deora
New Delhi, November 20
Maintaining that the government has consistently followed a consumer-friendly petroleum pricing policy, minister of petroleum and natural gas Murli Deora today asserted that during the UPA Government’s tenure customs duties on all petroleum products and crude have been brought down.

AP to have uranium plant
Hyderabad, November 20
India’s second uranium mining and processing plant s coming up in Kadapa, the home district of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy. Unlike the open cast mining in Jaduguda, the new site at Thummalapalle will see Uranium Corporation of India Limited carry out underground mining with a production capacity of 3,000 tonnes per day.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Photograph of the Carerra GT sports car at the Porsche centre in Mumbai
Photograph of the Carerra GT sports car at the Porsche centre in Mumbai on Tuesday. Porsche is set to achieve a near 17 per cent growth in sales in India for the year ending December by selling close to 150 cars. Porsche opened its first centre in South Mumbai. — AFP

President & CEO, Canon (India), Kensaku Konishi and vice-president, Canon (India), Alok Bharadwaj (left) at the launch of various products in New Delhi
President & CEO, Canon (India), Kensaku Konishi and vice-president, Canon (India), Alok Bharadwaj (left) at the launch of various products in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI

Nigeria blocks not under scanner: ONGC
New Delhi, November 20
Country’s flagship oil explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation today refuted the media reports that the licences won by the OMEL for two blocks in Nigeria are under scanner.

Loan Recovery
RBI warns ICICI against coercive methods
New Delhi, November 20
The Reserve Bank of India has warned ICICI Bank of stern action in case incidents of coercive methods by recovery agents of the bank recur, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.

FM seeks Rs 1,256 cr for oil bonds
New Delhi, November 20
Finance minister P Chidambaram today sought, from the Lok Sabha, an amount of Rs 11,256.92 crore for issuing oil bonds to state-run oil companies to compensate them partially for selling fuel at below cost.

Profit booking brings Sensex down
Mumbai, November 20
The Sensex fell 352 points or 1.8 per cent amidst profit booking in large-caps even as shares in the mid-cap and small-cap sectors kept the bullish momentum going. The benchmark sensitive index closed at 19,280 levels after moving in a broad range of 19,196-19,714 levels.

‘One stop shop’ boost for Indian tea
Guwahati, November 20
All grades of Indian tea produced in Assam, Darjeeling, Dooars and south India will be on the offer for tasting by tea buyers from India and abroad in the three-day India International Tea Convention billed at the ‘one stop shop for wide range of Indian tea’.

Tata to come out with Rs 10,000-cr issue
New Delhi, November 20
Tata group company Tata Steel is coming out with a mega rights issue of about Rs 10,000 crore to repay the ‘bridge loans’ raised for funding acquisition of British steel behemoth Corus.

Nooyi on USIBC board
Chandigarh, November 20
The US-India Business Council announced today the appointment of Indra K. Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer, PepsiCo, to its board of directors. The US-India Business Council is a premier business advocacy organisation representing 250 of the largest US companies investing in India and two dozen of India’s largest global companies.
Indra K. Nooyi

M&B footwear eyes expansion
Chandigarh, November 20
M&B footwear is one of the fastest growing companies in the shoe business in India. The company has seen humble beginnings in the form of a family run independent footwear retail store-Taj Shoes in New Delhi, which today has expanded into a multi crore business M&B footwear.

Consumption of gold down
New Delhi, November 20
As per the national mineral inventory prepared by the Indian Bureau of Mines, total annual production of gold during 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 has been 8.680, 9.757 and 12.825 tonnes, respectively.

CPI up by 3 points
Shimla, November 20
The All India Consumer Price Index numbers for agricultural and rural labourers increased by three points each to stand at 413 in October. The rise and fall varied for each state.

Beam Global Awards
Chandigarh, November 20
Beam Global Spirits & Wine held the 7th Annual Teacher’s Achievement Awards ceremony in Mumbai on Saturday.





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L&T in pact with Raytheon for fighter aircraft
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 20
In an attempt to deepen its foray into defense equipment supplies, engineering major Larsen and Toubro (L&T) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Raytheon to participate in the country’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme.

L&T, which has been involved in India’s space research programme and supplied equipment to the defence sector, is emerging as a major supplier to the armed forces in the private sector. “L&T has been a major supplier of critical systems to India’s defense and space research sectors for more than three decades. Defense products cover a wide range including rocket & missile launchers, naval systems, radar systems, gun-upgrades, fire-control systems, and tank electronics among others. This new agreement will help us induct `state of the art` technology, and expand our range of high value offerings in the defense sector,’’ MV Kotwal, senior executive vice president, heavy engineering division, L&T said.

On its part, Raytheon is looking to employ Indian talent. “We are now looking to develop our relationship and presence here in a more meaningful way over the long term,” Wes Motooka, vice president for international strategy and business development, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems said.

L&T has a defense engineering division, which the company is planning to spin off into an independent subsidiary. Company officials say the subsidiary may then apply with the defense ministry for the Raksha Udyog Ratna status which would give it a number of privileges in the defence contract sector.

The company has already been in talks with foreign firms to develop expertise for building submarines for the Indian Navy. The company is said to be interested in the technology for the Amur class submarines.

L&T chairman A M Naik had recently said that the company had Rs 300 crore worth of orders from India’s defence sector.

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Govt has followed consumer-friendly policy: Deora
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 20
Maintaining that the government has consistently followed a consumer-friendly petroleum pricing policy, minister of petroleum and natural gas Murli Deora today asserted that during the UPA Government’s tenure customs duties on all petroleum products and crude have been brought down.

He said the government has reduced taxes from time to time to protect the vulnerable section of the society. Central taxes - both customs duties and excise duties - have been made nil for PDS kerosene and domestic LPG. In addition, domestic LPG has been placed under the category of ‘declared goods’ restricting the ability of the state governments to levy taxes in excess of four per cent.

He emphasised that to protect the vulnerable section of the society, the government has not increased the prices of PDS kerosene and domestic LPG over last three years. Further, there has been no increase in prices of petrol and diesel during the current year.

The government is partly compensating the PSU oil marketing companies towards their under recoveries resulting from moderating the impact of high international oil prices on retail prices of sensitive petroleum products through issue of oil bonds.

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No shortage of LPG

New Delhi: The country is facing no shortage of domestic cooking gas at the moment, petroleum minister Murli Deora told the Rajya Sabha today. “Public sector oil marketing companies have reported that at present, there is no overall shortage of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) in the country,” he said in a written reply to a question.

As on October 1, OMCs were serving 9.79 crore LPG customers through their 9,355 distributorships. OMCs have released 27.7 lakh new LPG domestic connections in the country during April-September.

“OMCs have reported a waiting list of only 68,813 as on November 1. This waiting list is expected to be liquidated by December 15,” he said.

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AP to have uranium plant
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, November 20
India’s second uranium mining and processing plant s coming up in Kadapa, the home district of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy.

Unlike the open cast mining in Jaduguda, the new site at Thummalapalle will see Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) carry out underground mining with a production capacity of 3,000 tonnes per day.

Reddy today laid the foundation stone for the Rs1,106.25 crore plant, which is expected to become operational in three years.

The plant is being built as per International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines.

Over 44.48 million tonnes of Uranium deposits are available in the area and 26.79 million tonnes can be mined over the next three decades, the UCIL officials said.

An uranium processing plant would come up with an outlay of Rs 300 crore.

Allaying environmentalists' fears over radiation impact, the Chief Minister asserted that there would be no adverse environmental effect as all precautions had been taken and state-of-the-art technology was being used to extract the ore.

Mining of uranium will produce sodium diuranate, which will be processed and sent to the Nuclear Fuel Complex at Hyderabad, where it will be reprocessed before being supplied to nuclear power plants.

The plant would draw water from Chitravathi balancing reservoir through a pipeline and would draw power from Pulivendula through a 132-KV electric line.

However, an environmental NGO called Mines, minerals and people has warned that the project could cause public health hazard in the region.

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Nigeria blocks not under scanner: ONGC

New Delhi, November 20
Country’s flagship oil explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) today refuted the media reports that the licences won by the OMEL for two blocks in Nigeria are under scanner.

OMEL, a joint venture between ONGC and steel tycoon L N Mittal, had won the rights to explore the two blocks - Block 285 and 279 - in 2005.

It has been reported that the JV had secured the licences through the back door, in the wake of pay-off complaints received by the Nigerian government.

“The report is totally wrong. There is no such thing happening there,” ONGC chairman and managing director R S Sharma said here on the sidelines of a national workshop on ‘Strategy for investment of surplus funds by CPSEs in mutual funds.’

The new government in Nigeria, formed early this year, is reviewing contracts of oil blocks awarded in the last couple of years after it received complaints of irregularities in their allotments with some quarters.

OMEL had committed to invest $6 billion in setting a 1,80,000 barrels per day refinery, a 2,000 MW power plant and laying a railway line from east to the west of Nigeria.

OMEL had paid a signature bonus of $50 million for OPL 285 and $75 million for OPL 279. — UNI

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Loan Recovery
RBI warns ICICI against coercive methods
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 20
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has warned ICICI Bank of stern action in case incidents of coercive methods by recovery agents of the bank recur, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.

“The bank was advised by the RBI in October that if such incidents recur in future, the RBI would be constrained to take stern action,” minister of state for finance PK Bansal said.

Earlier, in view of the alleged harassment of customers by ICICI Bank’s recovery agents and the judgement of the Supreme Court, the bank was advised by the RBI in August to investigate and take action against the recovery agents involved.

The bank was also advised to look into the system of appointing and reviewing performance of recovery agents and undertake comprehensive review of customer complaints at the highest levels.

Bansal said the apex bank has reported that the customer, who had availed the car loan from ICICI Bank, filed a case under Section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide).

The guidelines issued by the RBI clearly stipulate that the banks would be responsible for all acts of omission and commission of their agents, finance minister P Chidambaram said in the house in reply to another question. — PTI

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FM seeks Rs 1,256 cr for oil bonds

New Delhi, November 20
Finance minister P Chidambaram today sought, from the Lok Sabha, an amount of Rs 11,256.92 crore for issuing oil bonds to state-run oil companies to compensate them partially for selling fuel at below cost.

The monies were sought in supplementary demands for grants for 2007-08, which could not be passed by the House as it was adjourned due to pandemonium by the BJP-led Opposition demanding a discussion on the Nandigram violence.

The funds have been sought for providing compensation through issue of special securities to the oil marketing companies towards estimated under-recoveries on account of sale of sensitive petroleum products.

A joint exercise by petroleum and finance ministeries had been undertaken to assess the revenue loss of oil companies on selling petrol, diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene.

The government has not allowed Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum to raise fuel prices in line with cost and instead has decided to compensate them partially through oil bonds.

Expectations are that Rs 24,000 crore worth of oil bonds this fiscal will be issued. The hike in international crude oil prices, which touched a record of more than $95 a barrel has been a matter of grave concern for the government.

India imports 73 per cent of its crude oil needs to meet the fuel requirements. Currently, petrol is being sold at a loss of nearly Rs 2.79 per litre while diesel is priced Rs 4.65 a litre below the cost.

Oil firms suffer a loss of Rs 15.5 on sale of every litre of kerosene and Rs 178.15 on sale of every LPG cylinder.

Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum are together estimated to incur a loss Rs 52,452 crore in revenues this financial year if fuel prices are not raised in line with cost. — UNI

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Profit booking brings Sensex down
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 20
The Sensex fell 352 points or 1.8 per cent amidst profit booking in large-caps even as shares in the mid-cap and small-cap sectors kept the bullish momentum going.

The benchmark sensitive index closed at 19,280 levels after moving in a broad range of 19,196-19,714 levels. In the broader markets, the Nifty fell 2.1 per cent or 126 points to close at 5,780 levels.

Among the major losers today were IT, real estate, capital goods and oil and gas companies.

Among the big losers today were Hindalco, BHEL, DLF, Maruti Suzuki, Infosys, ONGC, TCS, Grasim Industries and Mahindra & Mahindra, which fell by more than 2.4 per cent each.

Among the biggest losers on Nifty were Nalco, which slipped 7.2 per cent to close at Rs 373. Other losers included Sterlite Industries, MTNL, BPCL, Tata Power, Unitech and Sun Pharma.

Among the sectoral indices BSE IT, realty and capital goods indices fell by more than 2.3 per cent. Among IT companies Infosys was down 3.4 per cent while TCS was down 2.8 per cent.

However, a few scrips in the sugar and media and entertainment sectors closed in the green.

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‘One stop shop’ boost for Indian tea
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 20
All grades of Indian tea produced in Assam, Darjeeling, Dooars and south India will be on the offer for tasting by tea buyers from India and abroad in the three-day India International Tea Convention (IITC) billed at the ‘one stop shop for wide range of Indian tea’.

Executive director of the tea broad Chandrajit Saikia informed that at least 42 varieties of tea produced in different regions of India, including all varieties of CTC, organic and leaf tea, would be showcased as well as made available for tasting for buyers in the IITC-2007 that is getting underway here on November 22.

About 500 participants, including tea producers, Indian buyers, representatives of tea importing countries like Russia, Germany, the UK, Egypt and Pakistan, representatives of other tea growing countries like Sri Lanka, Kenya and Bangladesh will converge to Assam for the IITC-2007, organised jointly by the tea board of India, CCPA, Indian merchant tea exporters forum, Federation of all India tea traders association, South Indian tea exporters association and India trade promotion organisation with support from the union ministry of commerce and the Assam government.

There will be about 50 foreign delegates participating in the convention that will also have a league at the tea research station (TRS) of the tea research association (TRA) at Tocklai in Jorhat in Upper Assam.

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Tata to come out with Rs 10,000-cr issue

New Delhi, November 20
Tata group company Tata Steel is coming out with a mega rights issue of about Rs 10,000 crore to repay the ‘bridge loans’ raised for funding acquisition of British steel behemoth Corus.

“The proceeds will be used to repay bridge loans taken for acquisition of Corus. Tata Steel UK has raised £3.15 million of debt for financing the acquisition,” a Tata Steel spokesperson said.

The issue, opening on November 22, will include 12.18 crore shares of Rs 300 each to be issued on rights basis in the ratio 1:5 and cumulative compulsory preference shares of Rs 100 to be converted into equity on September 1, 2009, he said. The issue will close on December 21.

According to the draft letter of offer filed with the Securities Exchange Board of India, the rights issue will fetch Rs 3,654 crore while CCPS will bring in Rs 6,000 crore.

The enlargement of equity base may impair Tata Steel’s ability to maintain a high rate of dividend to its shareholders. — PTI

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Nooyi on USIBC board
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
The US-India Business Council (USIBC) announced today the appointment of Indra K. Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer, PepsiCo, to its board of directors.

The US-India Business Council is a premier business advocacy organisation representing 250 of the largest US companies investing in India and two dozen of India’s largest global companies. The USIBC’s mandate is to strengthen US-India commercial ties, and its board of directors represents a spectrum of companies and industries.

PepsiCo is a chairman’s circle member of USIBC, the highest level of membership. “Nooyi is a distinguished business leader, who will be a wonderful addition to our board of directors,” says council chairman Charles Kaye.

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M&B footwear eyes expansion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
M&B footwear is one of the fastest growing companies in the shoe business in India. The company has seen humble beginnings in the form of a family run independent footwear retail store-Taj Shoes in New Delhi, which today has expanded into a multi crore business M&B footwear.

Owned by Dev Singh Musafir, M&B footwear has 75 stores ‘walk in M&B’ in the country and has two manufacturing facilities, one each in Baddi and Noida.

The company plans to increase its production capability through expansion of its manufacturing facilities, targeting a production of 8,000 pairs a day.

“M&B footwear has been able to build a vast network of distribution covering every corner of India. Brands marketed by M&B are sold in over 1,000 stores across India,” states Dev Singh Musafir. He states that talks are also on with other large upcoming players in the retail sector, to have arrangements of private label manufacturing of ranges designed specifically for larger players.

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Consumption of gold down
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 20
As per the national mineral inventory prepared by the Indian Bureau of Mines, total annual production of gold during 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 has been 8.680, 9.757 and 12.825 tonnes, respectively. And the domestic consumption of gold during the same time-period has been 791.136, 733.103 and 725.888 tonnes.

The production of gold depends on mining commences only after detailed exploration activities are completed.

Since April 1, 2004, till March 31, 2007, the government’s approval had been conveyed for grant of two mining leases and three prospecting licences for gold, minister of state for mines T. Subbarami Reddy said today.

As per the bureau, as on April 1, 2005, total reserves of gold ore are estimated at 19.25 million tonnes. State-wise there are 1.54 million tonnes in Andhra Pradesh, 0.09 million tonnes in Jharkhand and 17.62 million tonnes in Karnataka.

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CPI up by 3 points

Shimla, November 20
The All India Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers for agricultural and rural labourers increased by three points each to stand at 413 in October.

The rise and fall varied for each state. The index registered an increase of one to seven points in 17 states, decreased by one point in one state and remained stationary in two states for agricultural labourers.

Haryana with 447 points topped the table, while Manipur was at the bottom with 362 points.

The CPI numbers for Bihar and Himachal for agricultural labourers and Bihar and Haryana for rural labourers registered the highest increase of seven points each. — UNI

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Beam Global Awards

Chandigarh, November 20
Beam Global Spirits & Wine held the 7th Annual Teacher’s Achievement Awards ceremony in Mumbai on Saturday. The award for business category was bagged by Chanda Kochar of ICICI Bank. Bollywod director Raj Kumar Hirani won the award for the entertainment category. K V Kamath was honoured with the lifetime achievement award. — TNS

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