SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

SEBI plans realty trusts
Also finalising norms for real estate MF
Mumbai, November 21
SEBI chairman M Damodaran today said the process to permit the functioning of real estate investment trusts (REITs) will be kicked off shortly.

In this file photo, Apple's iPhone is unveiled in central London.
In this file photo, Apple's iPhone is unveiled in central London. German telecommunications operator Deutsche Telekom said on Wednesday, following a court ruling it would sell Apple's mobile iPhone without forcing customers to subscribe to a mobile telephone service. But Deutsche Telekom will charge 999 euros ($1,480) for the hot-selling multimedia item instead of the 399 euros charged when buyers also take a Deutsche Telekom subscription, a statement said. — AFP

Spectrum Row
No consensus at DoT-operators meet
New Delhi, November 21
The Department of Telecom (DoT) and mobile service providers, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Communications , failed to reach a consensus on the spectrum issue during a meeting held today.

India world’s best performing stock market
New Delhi, November 21
India has emerged as the world's best performing stock market in the past three months, notwithstanding the five-day plunge that wiped off close to 85 billion dollars of investors' wealth from the bourses.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Jennifer Woods, managing director of the New Zealand-based Index Distribution, an export-oriented firm, raises a toast in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Jennifer Woods, managing director of the New Zealand-based Index Distribution, an export-oriented firm, raises a toast in Mumbai on Tuesday. Vijay Mallya's UB Group, the world's third-largest maker of alcoholic spirits, said it will import seven premium wines from four New Zealand wineries through its wholly-owned subsidiary United Vintners. — AFP

TDSAT rejects COAI’s affidavit
New Delhi, November 21
In a setback to GSM operators, telecom tribunal TDSAT today refused to accept an affidavit filed by their lobby group that had accused the government of changing the telecom policy in a "covert and malafide" manner.

Oil soars above $99
London, November 21
Oil soared to an all-time high on Wednesday, closing in on the $100 milestone as the US dollar sank to new lows and cold weather in the world's biggest fuel consumer stirred anxiety over winter supplies. The US light crude surged to a record $99.29 early in the session, but pared gains to stand 29 cents higher at $98.32 a barrel by 1004 GMT.

Sensex melts on global fears
Mumbai, November 21
The Sensex today plunged 678 points amidst global fears about the sub-prime crisis deeply impacting the economies around the world. As the Asian markets closed deep in the red, the across the board selling on the Sensex intensified with the benchmark index slipping 3.52 per cent during closing hours.

Free alternative to MS Office
Mumbai, November 21
Sabeer Bhatia, the man who founded Hotmail which he later sold to Microsoft, has now launched Live Documents, which he claims is a free alternative to Microsoft Office 2007.

Ashwani Kumar meets Presidents of Uganda, Rwanda
Dr Ashwani Kumar, minister of state for industry, addresses the Commonwealth Business Forum 2007, in Kampala, Uganda, on Tuesday. Chandigarh, November 21
Dr Ashwani Kumar, minister of state for industry, who is leading a business delegation from India to the Commonwealth Business Forum 2007, being held in Kampala, Uganda, on the eve of the 8th CHOGM, used the occasion for meetings with the Heads of Governments of Uganda and Rwanda.


Dr Ashwani Kumar, minister of state for industry, addresses the Commonwealth Business Forum 2007, in Kampala, Uganda, on Tuesday.

Raju, Upadhyay entrepreneur of the year
New Delhi, November 21
B. Ramalinga Raju, chairman and founder of Hyderabad-based Satyam Computer Services, bagged the prestigious Ernst and Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2007 while other prominent winners included Shiv Nadar, Ela Bhatt, Sajjan Jindal and Raghav Behl.

Assocham’s 6-point strategy for 10 pc growth
New Delhi, November 21
To achieve high and sustainable growth rate of 10 per cent, industry body Assocham has proposed a six-point strategy, including corporatisation of agriculture and tax sops to emerging sectors.

Afghanistan to be SAFTA member next year
New Delhi, November 21
Afghanistan’s economic engagement with India will receive a major boost from February next year when the protocol to make Afghanistan the eighth member of SAFTA is finalised.

Reliance Life child plan
Chandigarh, November 21
Reliance Life Insurance today announced the launch of Reliance Secure Child plan. The unique proposition of the plan is that in the event of total and permanent disability of the child due to an accident, the plan offers the benefit of fixed income at a rate of 10 per cent of the sum insured under the policy, per annum, payable to the child throughout his/her life.

 

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SEBI plans realty trusts
Also finalising norms for real estate MF
Tribune News Service & PTI

Mumbai, November 21
SEBI chairman M Damodaran today said the process to permit the functioning of real estate investment trusts (REITs) will be kicked off shortly.

"We are looking at introducing REITs and consultations with persons that have better understanding of these products have commenced," Damodaran said while delivering a key note address at CII's 2nd Capital Market Summit here.

He added that the market watchdog will soon be writing the first set of proposals.

An REIT offers common shares to the public, representing ownership in an operating business and share most of the profits in the form of dividends. As these shares can be bought or sold in stock exchanges, REITs provide easy liquidity to investors.

SEBI was also in the final stages of preparing norms for the much awaited real estate mutual fund (REMF).

"The accounting solution for valuation of real estate were being worked out by AMFI and ICAI," he assured.

"We will ensure that both products are made available to the investors and there won't be any partiality in introducing REMF and REIT," he said.

In 2008, the regulator planned to launch a nationwide campaign to educate investors and encourage the market participants to take up the role of self-regulating organisations (SROs) more seriously.

"Recognising that the informed investor is going to be the backbone of the market, SEBI is going to devote calendar year 2008 to a nationwide investor education campaign," Damodaran said, adding that the regulator has already set up its own investor protection fund.

"The regulations for the Fast Track Security Issuance are ready and 30 large companies will be able to avail fast track for raising money from the market," he said.

The regulator, Damodaran said, was also working towards speeding up the development of the corporate bond market.

On the recently announced derivative products, the regulator had already started consultations with stock exchanges to see how quickly these new products can be introduced in the market, he said.

Damodaran also said foreign investors were showing interest in coming to the Indian market directly after the recent curb on the issue of Participatory Notes (PNs).

"In the last one month, we have evidence of a large number of investors wanting to come to our market... and there was a flood of applications coming in," he said, adding that the intention is to see that Indian market is largely an onshore market and not an offshore market.

On the Dedicated Infrastructure Fund announced during the annual budget for 2007-08, the regulator said that consultations were about to complete.

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Spectrum Row
No consensus at DoT-operators meet

New Delhi, November 21
The Department of Telecom (DoT) and mobile service providers, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Communications , failed to reach a consensus on the spectrum issue during a meeting held today.

After a two-hour meeting between telecom secretary D.S. Mathur and mobile operators, Bharti Airtel chairman and managing director Sunil Mittal declined to talk to the media, saying "operators have been asked not to make any comment".

As there was no consensus among the operators, Mathur asked operators to meet him individually later today.

According to sources, Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani raised the issue of extra spectrum being held by GSM operators. He asked how over 6.2 MHz of radio waves have been given to GSM players beyond their contractual agreement.

Some of the operators also demanded that Letter of Intent for new telephony licences should be issued immediately as in the last two years the government has granted over 50 permissions or LoIs under the same policy.

Telecom secretary gave a patient hearing to all operators and asked them to resolve the issues amicably.

Mathur also requested GSM operators to withdraw their petition from TDSAT. The Cellular Operators Association of India has challenged government's new norms, including enhanced subscriber base and allowing of dual technology by a single operator under the same licence.

Vodafone-Essar managing director Asim Ghosh was also present in the meeting among others.— PTI

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India world’s best performing stock market

New Delhi, November 21
India has emerged as the world's best performing stock market in the past three months, notwithstanding the five-day plunge that wiped off close to 85 billion dollars of investors' wealth from the bourses.

The country's benchmark Sensex has lost over 1,300 points in five trading sessions pulling down the total market capitalisation of all the listed firms from about $ 1,650 billion to $ 1,565 billion during the same period.

However, an analysis of three-month US dollar return data available with the global market intelligence service provider MSCI Barra for equity markets across the world shows that Indian bourses have delivered the highest gain of 33.64 per cent during this period, thus adding over $ 400 billion to the investors' kitty.

The developed markets like the US, Japan, Austria, Sweden and Belgium have given negative returns in this period, while UK managed a modest return of 0.6 per cent.

The best performing developed markets has been Spain (18 per cent) and Hong Kong (17 per cent). But, their returns is just about half of the same on Indian bourses since August 21.

Worldwide, India is followed by Qatar, UAE and Egypt with a gain of about 28 per cent each. — PTI

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TDSAT rejects COAI’s affidavit

New Delhi, November 21
In a setback to GSM operators, telecom tribunal TDSAT today refused to accept an affidavit filed by their lobby group that had accused the government of changing the telecom policy in a "covert and malafide" manner.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) today did not take cognisance of the affidavit filed by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) yesterday. The Association will be asked to take it back, sources in the legal fraternity said.

Sources said there was no direction to COAI by the tribunal to file either a rejoinder or an affidavit in reply to the one submitted by Department of Telecom (DoT) to defend its new telecom norms that allowed dual technology for mobile services and enhanced subscriber linked criteria for spectrum.

COAI had said in its affidavit that "crossover allocation of spectrum is not permissible under the existing policy and licensing regime and the policy change has been carried out in a covert and legally malafide manner".

The policy was implemented on October 18 even before it was announced through a mere press release on October 19.

DoT in its affidavit filed last week had said that the issue of dual technology cannot be challenged as it was a policy matter. The COAI had said it appeared that representatives of CDMA player Reliance Communications were at hand to receive the "in-principle" approvals after office hours on October 18. — PTI

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Oil soars above $99

London, November 21
Oil soared to an all-time high on Wednesday, closing in on the $100 milestone as the US dollar sank to new lows and cold weather in the world's biggest fuel consumer stirred anxiety over winter supplies. The US light crude surged to a record $99.29 early in the session, but pared gains to stand 29 cents higher at $98.32 a barrel by 1004 GMT.

Prices blasted past the previous $98.62 record, extending a rally that has lifted oil by 45 per cent since mid-August as speculative investment rises, supplies tighten and the dollar weakens.

''It's firing on its own momentum — do or die to reach $100,'' said Jonathan Barratt, of Australia's Commodity Broking Services.

London Brent crude rose 12 cents to $95.61 a barrel.

Oil's strength is in part a result of the weakness of the dollar, which has driven buying of relatively cheap dollar-denominated commodities.

The dollar sank to a new record low against the euro and versus a basket of currencies on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve cut its growth outlook for next year, keeping alive hopes for another interest rates cut in December.

Some commodities such as gold and platinum have also rallied in response to the falling dollar, although others like copper and zinc have slumped to multi-month lows on concerns the US mortgage crisis could slow economic growth and demand. — Reuters

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Sensex melts on global fears
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 21
The Sensex today plunged 678 points amidst global fears about the sub-prime crisis deeply impacting the economies around the world. As the Asian markets closed deep in the red, the across the board selling on the Sensex intensified with the benchmark index slipping 3.52 per cent during closing hours.

The Sensex touched a high of 19,218 points and a low of 18,515 points before closing at 18,602. In the broader markets, Nifty fell 3.80 per cent or 219 points.

Punters offloaded scrips in the metals, capital goods, banking, real estate and FMCG space. Among the Asian markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Tokyo's Nikkei fell by 4.1 per cent and 2.4 per cent, respectively.

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Free alternative to MS Office
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 21
Sabeer Bhatia, the man who founded Hotmail which he later sold to Microsoft, has now launched Live Documents, which he claims is a free alternative to Microsoft Office 2007.

"Live Documents will give you the same experience of Microsoft Office 2007 — which costs $400 — for free online," Bhatia told at the launch function here.

Live Documents has been developed by Bhatia's company InstaColl set up in Bangalore. Apart from Bhatia, the company's investors include Soft Bank China and India Holdings.

According to Bhatia, Live Documents allow Microsoft Office 2007 to be accessed by a browser like Internet Explorer of Firefox. "Many users can access a document simultaneously," Bhatia said.

He noted that the data store on Live Documents was very secured. "Documents would be completely secured on the Net. They are encrypted in the back-end. The user can give digital rights on who should open the document," he said.

The company hopes to earn revenue by drawing users from Microsoft. "If Live Documents makes 1 per cent of Microsoft Office revenues, then we would earn $200 million a year. If Live Documents makes 10 per cent of Microsoft Office revenues then our revenues would be $2 billion a year in the next three to four years," Bhatia added.

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Ashwani Kumar meets Presidents of Uganda, Rwanda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 21
Dr Ashwani Kumar, minister of state for industry, who is leading a business delegation from India to the Commonwealth Business Forum 2007, being held in Kampala, Uganda, on the eve of the 8th CHOGM, used the occasion for meetings with the Heads of Governments of Uganda and Rwanda.

Dr Kumar met with President Yoweri Museveni of the Republic of Uganda and also held meeting with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Dr Kumar reiterated India's desire to reinforce India's special and historic relationship with countries in the African continent. President Museveni told Dr Kumar that he was looking forward to his visit to India next year and that he hopes to have extensive discussions with PM Manmohan Singh, who is visiting Kampala from November 22-25 for the 8th CHOGM meeting.

Dr Kumar informed President Museveni that India recognises its leadership in Uganda as an important influence in the east African community and that Uganda is on high economic growth trajectory because of his government's progressive policies.

In a separate conversation with President Kagame of Rwanda, Dr Kumar expressed deep appreciation for President's leadership in restoring political and economic stability to Rwanda after years of violence. He told both leaders that India looks forward to increasing its economic engagement with East Africa. Dr Kumar also had informal meetings with representatives of leading business houses in Uganda and encouraged them to forge mutually beneficial relationships with Indian corporations.

Dr Kumar also exchanged views with the foreign minister of Nigeria, who expressed deep appreciation for the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and recalled Singh's recent visit to Nigeria. He expressed the hope that the strategic relationship between India and Nigeria would prove to be mutually beneficial.

He told the foreign minister of Nigeria that India attaches great importance to its strategic partnership with Nigeria. It may be recalled that Nigeria is a major supplier of crude oil to India.

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Raju, Upadhyay entrepreneur of the year

New Delhi, November 21
B. Ramalinga Raju, chairman and founder of Hyderabad-based Satyam Computer Services, bagged the prestigious Ernst and Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2007 while other prominent winners included Shiv Nadar, Ela Bhatt, Sajjan Jindal and Raghav Behl.

The E&Y award for business transformation went to Raghav Behl, managing director Network 18 while E&Y manager award was bagged by Shikha Sharma, ICICI managing director and chief executive officer.

Meanwhile, Manoj Kumar Upadhyay, founder and managing director of ACME Tele Power Limited (ATPL), was presented the Startup Entrepreneur of the Year award by Ernst and Young.

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Assocham’s 6-point strategy for 10 pc growth
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 21
To achieve high and sustainable growth rate of 10 per cent, industry body Assocham has proposed a six-point strategy, including corporatisation of agriculture and tax sops to emerging sectors.

At a meeting with the officials of the finance ministry, chaired by revenue secretary P V Bhide today, Assocham delegation led by its president Venugopal N Dhoot, proposed making India a common economic market by initiating the process of implementing GST, reduction in the excise duty rates, rationalisation of taxes on key infrastructure, encouragement of indigenous R&D, corporatisation of agriculture and promoting India as global headquarters of business enterprises.

The chamber favoured creation of agriculture economic zone on the lines of SEZ to achieve sustained agriculture growth of 4 per cent. The government will have to ensure adequate investments in the areas like pre & post-harvest management, food processing, export promotion related activities, specific crop related activities and application of the R&D to the agricultural production.

In order to ensure that there is adequate quality produce, investment in irrigation, transport, rural electrification, telecom connectivity will be required apart from pre & post harvesting activities, the chamber said adding this will help develop rural infrastructure as well as provide employment to labourers engaged in agriculture.

The chamber stressed the need to implement GST (Goods and Services Tax) at the earliest so that cascading effect of taxes is removed from indigenous manufacturing and services cost, transaction cost is reduced and trade & industry grow faster by taking advantage of scale economy and efficient supply chain.

Assocham delegation said, the manufactured goods were still quite expensive and therefore, reduction in the excise duty rate to 12 per cent will make them affordable to larger population and will boost their demand accelerating the manufacturing sector’s growth with minimum impact on revenue.

To upgrade significantly the infrastructure to sustain economic growth, it said the service tax and excise duty on inputs during the investment phase should be exempted from tax or refunded. Tax may be collected once the projects are put to use and start earning revenue.

For a strong research base and pool of intellectual properties, it has proposed that scientific research in emerging sectors should be given favourable tax treatment.

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Afghanistan to be SAFTA member next year
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 21
Afghanistan’s economic engagement with India will receive a major boost from February next year when the protocol to make Afghanistan the eighth member of SAFTA is finalised.

As member of SAFTA, Afghanistan will receive the benefit of zero import duty by India on 4536 tariff lines, minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh said here today.

Inaugurating a seminar on Doing business with Afghanistan, organised by Ficci, in association with the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) and USAID, he said, currently, under the Preferential Trade Arrangement (PTA) with Afghanistan, the rules of origin stipulate 50 per cent domestic value addition for export within the South Asian region.

“Once Afghanistan come under the SAFTA fold, this would come down to 30 per cent. This would mark a significant step forward for the Afghan economy and help boost its export to India”, the minister said.

Ramesh also announced that India would undertake a review of the 744 items in sensitive list of export (largely in the area of agriculture and textiles), adding, “we are currently working on a review of the negative list, particularly with regard to the least-developed countries (LDCs) in the South Asian region — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Afghanistan.”

Responding to the observations made by Ficci’s secretary general Amit Mitra, the minister said investment was the key to increasing trade in the region. “What we need to import, you don’t export,” he told the Afghanistan business delegation, adding that in order to bridge the gap there was imperative need to promote Indian investment in Afghanistan as much as in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The minister lamented that the track record of Indian investment in the LDCs of the region was not positive.

He, however, expressed satisfaction that the total commitment of Indian investment for the reconstruction of the Afghan economy during the last five years was a whopping $750 million, making India the fifth largest development partner of Afghanistan.

President and CEO of AISA Omar Zakhilwal invited Indian companies to invest in Afghanistan. 

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Reliance Life child plan

Chandigarh, November 21
Reliance Life Insurance today announced the launch of Reliance Secure Child plan. The unique proposition of the plan is that in the event of total and permanent disability of the child due to an accident, the plan offers the benefit of fixed income at a rate of 10 per cent of the sum insured under the policy, per annum, payable to the child throughout his/her life. The plan also offers an inbuilt waiver of premium benefit in the event of the death of the insured proposer (parent), that protects the future of the child by paying all the future premiums, so that the plan remains in full force.— TNS

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BRIEFLY


R.K. Gupta, who has taken over as general manager, PNB, Chandigarh Zone.
R.K. Gupta, who has taken over as general manager, PNB, Chandigarh Zone.

Religare listing
Mumbai, November 21
Financial services provider Religare Enterprises today surged 182 per cent over the issue price on its debut trade on the bourses and settled for the day at Rs 521.75 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Earlier in the morning, the company got listed at a premium of 75 per cent over the issue price of Rs 185 a share on the bourses.— PTI

Gold surges
New Delhi, November 21
Gold prices zoomed by Rs 200 per 10 gram on the bullion market today amid reports of a steep rise in its prices in overseas markets as crude oil surged to record high. Silver also moved up by over Rs 500. The yellow metal, which closed with loses yesterday, bounced by Rs 200 to Rs 10,300 per 10 gram. — PTI

Godrej Ind
Mumbai, November 21
Godrej Industries today said it has raised nearly Rs 600 crore through the allotment of over 2.79 crore equity shares to various domestic and foreign investors. The company has alloted shares of Rs 215 each to investors, including ABN Amro Bank, Deutsche Securities, State Bank of India and the Royal Bank of Scotland.— PTI

PGCIL pact
Patna, November 21
The Power Grid Corporation Of India Limited (PGCIL) today signed a MoU with the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) to improve the overall distribution of electricity in the state by 2012 at an expenditure of Rs 1,240.86 crore. — UNI

Abhijeet Group
New Delhi, November 21
Steel and mining major Abhijeet Group today said it will invest Rs 55,000 crore to build steel and power plants in various parts of the country, besides planning forays into other sectors. "We would invest around Rs 40,000 crore to build three steel plants with production capacity of 10 million tonnes (MT) in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal," Abhijeet Group director Abhishek Jayaswal said here today.— PTI

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