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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

UPA spares consumers from oil shock
Not possible any more, says Montek

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman, Planning Commission. New Delhi, November 22
Despite the global oil prices nearly doubling in the last one year, the government has passed only a fifth of the hike to the consumers. But the Planning Commission said that the burden of rising oil prices in the international market would have to be passed on to the customers without compromising the interests of the underprivileged.

"Burden of rising oil prices in the international market will have to be passed on to the customers as it is the only sustainable policy. — Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman, Planning Commission.

ISRO-Tata pact
Hydrogen car by next year
Bangalore, November 22
An indigenous cryogenic engine may have taken long in the coming but a home grown spin off of rocket technology may well result in a “vehicle of the future” with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) teaming up with Tata Motors to produce a hydrogen powered car.

Price Stability
RBI for active intervention
New Delhi, November 22
Concerned over rising oil and food prices in the global market, the Reserve Bank today said it would adopt all necessary monetary measures to maintain price stability in the country.



EARLIER STORIES

 

Jaguar, Land Rover acquisition
Unions support Tatas’ bid: Reports
London, November 22
Indian business behemoth Tata Group seems to have further strengthened its position in the race to acquire US carmaker Ford’s British brands Jaguar and Land Rover, with the workers union backing its bid.

ArcelorMittal enters China
Beijing, November 22
Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal- led ArcelorMittal has become the first foreign company to acquire controlling stake in a Chinese steel firm - China Oriental - in a deal valued at about $1.6 billion (over Rs 6,000 crore).

  • Bags coal blocks for Jharkhand, Orissa projects

Relief package for textile workers soon
New Delhi, November 22
Expressing concern over declining employment ratio in the organised sector, the government today promised to extend relief package for textile workers, who have been losing their jobs due to rupee appreciation.

Japanese electronics giant Hitachi unveils its new humanoid robot ‘EMIEW 2’ (excellent mobility and interactive existence as workmate), equipped with convertible legs, at the company’s laboratory at Hitachinaka on Wednesday. From left: four-wheel, two-wheel and legs version of the robot, which measures 80cm tall and weighs 13kg.
Japanese electronics giant Hitachi unveils its new humanoid robot ‘EMIEW 2’ (excellent mobility and interactive existence as workmate), equipped with convertible legs, at the company’s laboratory at Hitachinaka on Wednesday. From left: four-wheel, two-wheel and legs version of the robot, which measures 80cm tall and weighs 13kg. — AFP

Foreign fund inflow varies daily: RBI
New Delhi, November 22
Inflow of foreign funds in the country was varying on a daily basis and it was difficult to ascertain whether capital flows continue to be large, a top Reserve Bank official said today.

BHEL bags 2,108-cr contract
New Delhi, November 22
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has bagged a Rs 2,108-crore contract for installing two thermal sets of 525 MW each at the upcoming Maithon right bank thermal power project in Jharkhand.

‘Bio-diesel policy for transportation sector’
New Delhi, November 22 Minister for new and renewable energy sources Vilas Muttemwar said today that his ministry was preparing the hydrogen energy road map under the leadership of industrialist Ratan Tata and a bio-diesel policy was also under formulation essentially for the transportation sector.

Tomato prices up
New Delhi, November 22
Tomato prices have surged by about 25 per cent in the past four days in wholesale markets of the national capital due to lower arrival from supply centres in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Imperial raises £ 1.5 m for India venture
New Delhi, November 22
Imperial Innovations Group plc today said £ 1.5 million (about Rs 878 crore) has been raised for its Indian venture, i2india Holdings Ltd, a technology commercialisation and investment firm. Imperial Innovations, a UK-based firm listed on the AIM market of London Stock Exchange, holds 35 per cent stake i2india Holdings.

Puncom bags Rs 98-cr order
Chandigarh, November 22
State-run IT and telecom equipment maker Punjab Communications Ltd (Puncom) today said it has secured an order worth Rs 98.08 crore from BSNL for supply of dense wave division multiplexer (DWDM).

 

 

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UPA spares consumers from oil shock
Not possible any more, says Montek

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
Despite the global oil prices nearly doubling in the last one year, the government has passed only a fifth of the hike to the consumers. But the Planning Commission said that the burden of rising oil prices in the international market would have to be passed on to the customers without compromising the interests of the underprivileged

Union petroleum minister Murli Deora said in Lok Sabha today, “UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had directed us to see that petroleum product prices do not increase and we are trying to do that.”

There has been a marked increase in the prices of crude oil prices to nearly $ 100 a barrel a day from $ 40-45 last year but the government has not increased the prices by even Re 1.

Responding to another question, Deora said punitive action would be taken against companies for not completing the committed work programme for areas awarded to them under the New Exploration Licensing Policy since 2000. “We are, however, trying that the companies finish their committed work programme within the given time frame,” the minister added.

Meanwhile, the Planning Commission said the burden of rising oil prices in the international market will have to be passed on to the customers without compromising the interests of the underprivileged. Expressing concern about the hardening oil prices, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the only sustainable policy was that while ensuring the needs of the poor, the burden of high oil prices should be passed on to the consumers.

He insisted that the interest of the poor could be protected by providing targeted subsidy. At the same time the increased energy cost would have to be borne by the public sector oil companies.

Ahluwalia said the present policy of insulating consumers from global price rise was not sustainable, as it would impair the ability of the government to fund social sector programmes.

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ISRO-Tata pact
Hydrogen car by next year
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, November 22
An indigenous cryogenic engine may have taken long in the coming but a home grown spin off of rocket technology may well result in a “vehicle of the future” with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) teaming up with Tata Motors to produce a hydrogen powered car.

A proto type of the car, which will be environmental friendly as it will emit only water vapour, will hit the Indian roads next year, according to ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair.

Nair said a memorandum of understanding had been signed with Tata Motors to develop hydrogen-based fuel cells and build some automobile models, which were expected to be put on the road next year. While Tata would use its expertise in making cars, ISRO would use cryogenic technology to develop the cells as well as take care of storage and handling of hydrogen.

“Hydrogen will be the fuel for next generation application for transport”, Nair said while talking to newsmen on the sidelines of the 14th session of Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-14) at ISRO headquarters here today. He said the proto type would be electric driven and would not have an engine.

ISRO chairman said the same technology had been used in developing the country’s cryogenic upper stage of the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle in which liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen were used with hydrogen working as the fuel and oxygen as the oxidiser.

The new technology would also provide a market for a number of industrial plants.

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Price Stability
RBI for active intervention

New Delhi, November 22
Concerned over rising oil and food prices in the global market, the Reserve Bank today said it would adopt all necessary monetary measures to maintain price stability in the country.

“RBI’s main objective remains price stability, financial stability and m of high growth through adequate provision of credit. We will use all monetary instruments as and when necessary (to meet the objective),” its Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan said at a business conference here.

Inflation stood at 3.11 per cent for the week ended November 3, compared to 2.97 per cent a week ago, mainly due to rise in prices of food articles, petroleum products and manufactured items.

Mohan said Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has predicted that food prices would be rising at a higher rate in the next 5-10 years than in the past, adversely impacting those economies that have higher weight of food items in price levels.

In India, food items account for 57 per cent in Consumer Price Index and 26.94 per cent (primary and manufactured products) in the Wholesale Price Index that is used to measure inflation.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in Parliament this week that prices of essential commodities have gone up by around 25 per cent during the past one year.

Referring to rising crude oil prices, which crossed 99 dollars a barrel yesterday, Mohan said the apex bank would maintain its policy views expressed in the Mid-Term monetary review on high oil and food prices.

Monetary measures by RBI, which last month hiked the percentage of depositors money that banks should keep in reserve, have helped cool down credit offtake.

Unlike other central banks, Mohan said “we have been taking action on prudential instruments to cool down certain sectors like housing and retail credit.” He said RBI would move cash reserve ratio, both upward and downward, depending upon the situation. “We are ready to use all instruments-MSS (used to suck out liquidity through sale, purchase of government securities), liquidity adjustment facility and cash reserve ratio-depending on the situation. — PTI

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Jaguar, Land Rover acquisition
Unions support Tatas’ bid: Reports

London, November 22
Indian business behemoth Tata Group seems to have further strengthened its position in the race to acquire US carmaker Ford’s British brands Jaguar and Land Rover, with the workers union backing its bid.

The support came after three shortlisted bidders - Tatas, another Indian firm Mahindra and Mahindra and private equity firm OneEquity-made presentations to representatives of the union in London on Tuesday, media reports said today.

“Local officials from the factories serving the two luxury brands opted to back Tata because they felt that a manufacturer would offer more long-term security than OneEquity, other leading bidder,” UK daily The Times reported.

OneEquity is led by former Ford CEO Jacques Nasser, during whose tenure the US carmaker had purchased Land Rover seven years ago.

The union representatives also voiced their concern over Tatas’ bid mainly due to fears of possible outsourcing of manufacturing activities.

Another British daily Financial Times quoted a person familiar with Tatas’ presentation saying “the carmaker committed to the two brands as a long-term investment and endorsed the two brands’ management.”

Even though the union backing is not essential, the support is seen as important for the politically-sensitive deal, the report said.

Land Rover and Jaguar are estimated to directly employ 16,000 persons. The figure touches around 40,000 when employment generated throughout the supply and support chain are included.

In a statement, British trade union Unite’s joint general secretary Tony Woodley said that the union’s shop stewards at Jaguar and Land Rover had made it clear that they would prefer to stay as part of Ford but “if the sale was decided, they felt the best interests of the workforce would be served by finding a partner with an established presence and background in manufacturing”.

Based on serving the best interests of the union members at Jaguar and Land Rover, the stewards agreed that Tata best fit these criteria, the statement added.

Ford is looking to finalise the bidder for its two luxury brands by December and the US carmaker is expected to get about £ one billion from the sale. — PTI

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ArcelorMittal enters China

Beijing, November 22
Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal- led ArcelorMittal has become the first foreign company to acquire controlling stake in a Chinese steel firm - China Oriental - in a deal valued at about $1.6 billion (over Rs 6,000 crore).

Hong Kong-listed China Oriental is a holding company for Heibei Jinxi Iron and Steel Company Limited, one of China’s largest suppliers of steel billets.

ArcelorMittal acquired 820 million shares on November 6, amounting to a 28.02 per cent stake, which it has raised to 2.14 billion shares or a 73.13 per cent stake since then.

The two companies are yet to formally announce the change in the controlling shareholding structure of China Oriental, pending the transfer of the shares.

ArcelorMittal today said from Luxembourg that it “is in talks with the controlling shareholders in China Oriental Group Ltd (COGL) about future co-operation and including increasing its stake in the company.”

However, ArcelorMittal confirmed that it owns a 28 per cent stake in COGL. Trading in COGL shares has been suspended since November 7, pending the release of “an announcement, which may be price sensitive in nature,” the company said.

Mittal has been trying to get a breakthrough in China, but his ambitions have been hampered by the government’s prohibitive policy against foreigners owning control of steel firms, terming it has a strategic sector.

However, Mittal succeeded in his latest attempt because COGL is one of the few Chinese steel firms that are privately owned as well as listed outside mainland China.

Mittal is looking at COGL as the entry point to China, the world’s biggest producer as well as consumer of steel. — PTI

Bags coal blocks for Jharkhand, Orissa projects

ArcelorMittal today said it has been allocated two coal blocks for the captive power plants linked with the first phase of its steel projects in Jharkhand and Orissa. The goverment has allocated coal blocks on a sharing basis at Sereghara block in Jharkhand and Rampia and dip-side of Rampia blocks in Orissa, it said.

In Jharkhand, ArcelorMittal has been allocated 83.33 million tonnes of coal out of the 150 million tonnes allocated jointly with other companies. In Orissa, its share is 84.16 million tonnes out of a total of 645.24 million tonnes.

“This announcement is a positive sign that the government and the state governments of Jharkhand and Orissa are supportive of ArcelorMittal and our commitment to these projects,” M P Singh, vice-president (mining, mergers and acquisition), ArcelorMittal said. — PTI

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Relief package for textile workers soon

New Delhi, November 22
Expressing concern over declining employment ratio in the organised sector, the government today promised to extend relief package for textile workers, who have been losing their jobs due to rupee appreciation.

“The proposed package would be worked out in next few weeks and would be extended for workers, particularly in northern and western region,” Minister of State for Labour and Employment Oscar Fernandes said, while addressing a conference on ‘Labour Reforms without Tears’ here.

Fernandes said collective efforts were being put in to accelerate the pace of employment generation in the organised sector and added that 93 per cent of the employment is provided under various categories in the unorganised sector.

The minister said that certain cases have come to the notice of the government that some employers instead of paying to their workers gratuity, bonus and other benefits, were channelising these funds to meet their legal and financial obligations.

He added that action would be taken against those who indulge in such activities and it is the employer’s sole responsibility to extend relief package in case of any tragedy at places of employment.

INTUC president and Member of Parliament G Sanjeeva Reddy said the employers and not the government are responsible for violating labour laws. “The government should make effort to ensure that labour laws are implemented and enforced in the corporate sector,” Reddy added. — UNI

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Foreign fund inflow varies daily: RBI

New Delhi, November 22
Inflow of foreign funds in the country was varying on a daily basis and it was difficult to ascertain whether capital flows continue to be large, a top Reserve Bank official said today.

“Very difficult to give a definitive answer. Foreign inflows are varying on a day-to-day basis and (we are) yet to come to a clear view,” RBI Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan told reporters on the sidelines of business conference here today.

He was replying to queries on whether inflow of foreign funds was still copious.

Overseas investors have invested a record $ 18.6 billion in stocks and bonds this year. This has helped the rupee gain 12.3 per cent against the US dollar since January and pushed the benchmark stock index to a record high, leading to the imposition of some capital controls.

Earlier this month, the rupee rose to 39.16 per dollar, its highest level in nearly a decade. It has slightly come down following dollar purchases by the RBI.

Mohan also said India’s exposure to subprime loans was small and the economy has so far been insulated from the subprime mortgage crisis. — PTI

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BHEL bags 2,108-cr contract

New Delhi, November 22
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has bagged a Rs 2,108-crore contract for installing two thermal sets of 525 MW each at the upcoming Maithon right bank thermal power project in Jharkhand.

The order for the greenfield project has been placed on BHEL by Maithon Power Limited (MPL), a joint venture company of Tata Power and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), a BHEL spokesman said. This is the first ever order secured by BHEL for the new rating units of 525 MW each.

BHEL’s scope of work envisages design, engineering, manufacture, supply, erection and commissioning of steam generators, turbine generators, electrostatic precipitators and associated auxiliaries, besides state-of-the-art controls and instrumentation.

Having demonstrated its track record in successfully establishing new technologies to serve the nation’s power sector, BHEL is now poised to introduce 800 MW thermal sets with supercritical parameters, the spokesman said. — UNI

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‘Bio-diesel policy for transportation sector’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
Minister for new and renewable energy sources Vilas Muttemwar said today that his ministry was preparing the hydrogen energy road map under the leadership of industrialist Ratan Tata and a bio-diesel policy was also under formulation essentially for the transportation sector. Inaugurating the Energy India-2007 conference focussing on clean energy and energy efficiency here, Muttemwar said the government was fully convinced about the need to involve the private sector in augmenting generation in the renewable space.

With India ranked fourth with regard to wind energy generation, which has an installed capacity of 7700 MW, the minister said that most of the generation of wind energy was in the private sector. Financial incentives and the facilitating role of his ministry had helped in the augmentation of the generation capacity.

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Tomato prices up

New Delhi, November 22
Tomato prices have surged by about 25 per cent in the past four days in wholesale markets of the national capital due to lower arrival from supply centres in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

The better quality tomato is currently being sold at Rs 10 a kg at Azadpur wholesale market here, which was Rs 7-8 per kg four days back, traders said.

“The tomato prices have gone up as arrivals have been lower from supply points such as Ratlam, Nasik and Kotputli,” a wholesale trader said.

Mother Dairy, through its Safal outlets, was selling the vegetable at Rs 16 per kg yesterday. In the neighbourhood market, it is available in the range of Rs 14-16 per kg. — PTI

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Imperial raises £ 1.5 m for India venture

New Delhi, November 22
Imperial Innovations Group plc today said £ 1.5 million (about Rs 878 crore) has been raised for its Indian venture, i2india Holdings Ltd, a technology commercialisation and investment firm. Imperial Innovations, a UK-based firm listed on the AIM market of London Stock Exchange, holds 35 per cent stake i2india Holdings.

The company said i2india would focus on creating commercial value from intellectual property (IP) developed in India.

However, the technologies this IP represents would arise from a range of Indian research institutes, universities, research organisations and corporations, organisations with which Imperial Innovations and Chris Mathias chairman of i2India, have strong relationships. — PTI

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Puncom bags Rs 98-cr order

Chandigarh, November 22
State-run IT and telecom equipment maker Punjab Communications Ltd (Puncom) today said it has secured an order worth Rs 98.08 crore from BSNL for supply of dense wave division multiplexer (DWDM).

Puncom bagged the order, beating competition from the likes of Siemens, ITI and ZTE.

During the month of November alone, the company has secured orders worth a total Rs 118.29 crore.

Puncom marketing head Deepinder Dhillon said the company has already secured two separate orders from BSNL worth Rs 16.27 crore and Rs 3.94 crore for the supply of 32 channel 2.5G DWDM equipment in November. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

SBI plans
Bangalore, November 22
The State Bank of India (SBI) proposes to increase its share capital by Rs 16,000 crore by April 2008, SBI group chairman Om Prakash Bhatt said. He said the Centre had been asked to invest Rs 10,000 crore towards share capital its approval was awaited. After getting this investment, the bank would raise another Rs 6,000 crore through rights issue, he said. — UNI

Baldota Group
New Delhi, November 22
Baldota Group today said it will double its existing capacity of 191.6 MW to 400 MW by 2010 with an investment of Rs 1,100 crore. “This augmentation in capacity is in tune with India’s rapid march toward energy independence,” said company CMD Narendra Kumar Baldota. — UNI

PVR investment
New Delhi, November 22
PVR Ltd has said it would invest up to Rs 400 crore in the next three years to set up 250 new screens across the country. “Our idea is to expand the PVR brand both in metro and non-metro cities. We will be setting up 250 new screens in the next three years, which could entail an investment between Rs 300-400 crore,” PVR Ltd CMD Ajay Bijli said. — PTI

Realty fund
Bangalore, November 22
A $200 million realty fund was launched here today to develop projects in south India, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Launched by Cordea Savills of the UK and Nichani Group of the USA, the Cordea Nichani India Limited would tap resources from outside the country, aimed at developing projects in south India besides Maharashtra and Gujarat. — UNI

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