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RBI's tight policy to dilute growth: S&P 
Mumbai, December 5
India's economic growth would slow down to 8.1-8.6 per cent in 2008 in the face of Reserve Bank's strict measures to contain inflation, global rating agency S&P said today.

Reliance Industries president Atul Chandra speaks during Reuters India Investment Summit in Mumbai on Wednesday. Reliance Industries, which owns the world's third-biggest refinery, may make a "world-scale" acquisition in the energy sector for up to $15 billion after years of strong organic growth, Chandra told Reuters on Wednesday.
Reliance Industries president Atul Chandra speaks during Reuters India Investment Summit in Mumbai on Wednesday. Reliance Industries, which owns the world's third-biggest refinery, may make a "world-scale" acquisition in the energy sector for up to $15 billion after years of strong organic growth, Chandra told Reuters on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

India Inc apprehensive of growth momentum: Ficci
New Delhi, December 5
Rising global crude price and the US sub-prime crisis, coupled with hardening of Rupee and high interest rate hurting exports, corporate India is apprehensive about the country’s growth momentum in the near future, according to the latest Ficci business confidence survey released here today.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan walks the ramp during the launch of a bridal collection of watches by Swiss watchmaker Longines.
Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan walks the ramp during the launch of a bridal collection of watches by Swiss watchmaker Longines, in New Delhi on Wednesday. The collection comprises of three lines, Longines DolceVita, BelleArti and La Grande Classique De Longines, priced at $2,532 onwards.— Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

Clean chit to Indiabulls in IPO scam 
Mumbai, December 5
Capital market regulator SEBI today absolved Indiabulls Securities of charges of cornering shares meant for retail investors in IPOs and dropped an inquiry initiated against the brokerage firm.

Myanmar Gas Field
China edges out India 
New Delhi, December 5
China has edged out India in the race to secure supply of natural gas from Myanmar’s biggest field, the South Korean operator of the field confirmed today.

OPEC not to cut output 
Abu Dhabi, December 5
OPEC agreed on Wednesday to keep oil supplies unchanged, Nigerian oil minister Odein Ajumogobia said, rebuffing consumer country calls for more crude to rein in prices now near $90 a barrel.

5 PSUs to invest in coal mines abroad
New Delhi, December 5
Five public sector companies - SAIL, RINL, NTPC, CIL and NMDC - have joined hands to acquire coal mines abroad with an initial investment of Rs 3,500 crore to meet the demand of steel industry, power sector and others.
The Beaute du Siecle, a treasure chest for a blend of Hennessy Cognac contained in Baccarat decanter with other luxury items, is displayed at a press preview held by MHD Diageo Moet Hennessy in Tokyo on Wednesday. The Beaute du Siecle, which was designed by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, will go on sale with a price of 26,250,000 yen ($238,636).
The Beaute du Siecle, a treasure chest for a blend of Hennessy Cognac contained in Baccarat decanter with other luxury items, is displayed at a press preview held by MHD Diageo Moet Hennessy in Tokyo on Wednesday. The Beaute du Siecle, which was designed by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, will go on sale with a price of 26,250,000 yen ($238,636). — AFP photo

Reliance, Tatas among 100 emerging global challengers
New Delhi, December 5
Larsen and Toubro, Suzlon and Bharat Forge may be names not big enough on the global arena as of now, but they along with domestic giants like Tatas, Birla, Mahindra and Ambanis figure among 100 firms posing an “urgent threat to industry leaders” of the world.

Microsoft, Dell in pact for integrated solutions
New Delhi, December 5
Microsoft today said it is adopting a multi-pronged strategy to curb software piracy in India, which include ensuring cheaper availability of commonly-used software.

Nokia to invest $75 m
Chennai, December 5
Nokia today announced fresh investments to the tune of $75 million towards its manufacturing plant in Sriperumbudur. This investment is geared towards enhancing the capacity of the manufacturing plant to cater to the burgeoning need of the Indian and other emerging markets.

TDSAT rejects COAI affidavit
New Delhi, December 5
Telecom tribunal TDSAT today rejected an affidavit filed by GSM operators association COAI, which accused the government of changing its policy on spectrum allocation in a covert and malafide manner.

Futures trading banned in Essar oil, IFCI 
Mumbai, December 5
Trading in stock futures of Ruis-led Essar Oil, state-run lender Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) and five other companies have been banned at the National Stock Exchange.

 

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RBI's tight policy to dilute growth: S&P 

Mumbai, December 5
India's economic growth would slow down to 8.1-8.6 per cent in 2008 in the face of Reserve Bank's strict measures to contain inflation, global rating agency S&P said today.

"The Central Bank's measures are expected to slow down economic growth marginally in 2008, with real GDP growth projected at about 8.1-8.6 per cent as against 8.5-9 per cent in 2007," S&P said in a report titled 'Asia-Pacific Markets Outlook 2008'.

However, a strong domestic demand is expected to keep the economy on a relatively high growth trajectory, it said.

RBI has raised interest rates and bank's mandatory cash deposits to check credit growth in rapidly growing sectors such as real estate, as also to contain inflation that touched a high of 6.69 per cent in January. The price index has since then declined to around 3 per cent.

"The moderation to 8.1-8.6 per cent this year reflects a soft landing, taking the Indian economy closer to its current trend growth rate, estimated at 8.5 per cent," S&P chief economist Asia Pacific Subir Gokarn said.

While India remains relatively immune to US credit woes, the oil prices, if sustain the current high levels, may impact the ability of Indian economy to grow under its own steam.

On the equity market, S&P gave a neutral outlook and said the market was at a comfortable point with corporate earnings growth to support further upward movement in 2008.

"We are largely neutral on the Indian equity markets as additional foreign inflows may be muted owing to recent government moves to limit foreign fund inflows via offshore derivatives," S&P head Asia Pacific equity research Lorraine Tan said, adding that the market was at a comfortable point and corporate earnings could result in an upside of 10-15 per cent for the Indian equity markets in 2008.

On risks facing the Indian economy, Gokarn said apart from oil prices, it was the pace of infrastructure growth that has not been able to close the gap between demand and supply.

The overall corporate credit outlook is stable, but the negative bias remains with entities pursuing rapid inorganic growth with leveraged buyouts and debt-supported expansion.

"Strong domestic and export demand continues in line with expectations and Indian corporates are not likely to face significant challenges in accessing resources," S&P senior director corporate and infrastructure rating Anshukant Taneja said.

For the overall Asia Pacific market, S&P said the economic outlook for the region for 2008 is relatively robust, but debt and equity markets could face increasing pressure in the year ahead. — PTI 

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India Inc apprehensive of growth momentum: Ficci
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
Rising global crude price and the US sub-prime crisis, coupled with hardening of Rupee and high interest rate hurting exports, corporate India is apprehensive about the country’s growth momentum in the near future, according to the latest Ficci business confidence survey released here today.

The survey also reveals that slow down in exports is also taking a toll on even the intermediate and capital goods sectors severely denting the sentiments of the corporate India, pulling down the overall business confidence index from 68.4 in the last survey to 61.2 in the present survey.

In fact, the value of the three indices computed by Ficci - current conditions index, expectations index and overall business confidence index - have touched a five-year low as the outlook for exports, investments, employment and profit has taken a severe hit.

The survey notes that previously only export-oriented units bore the brunt of an appreciating Rupee but now even companies that are peripherally connected with exports are getting hit.

Ficci’s business confidence survey for the second quarter of 2007-08 show that there is considerable sluggishness in the industrial and services sector.

“The previous surveys had shown that sudden and sharp appreciation of the Rupee is impacting industry sectors that have a strong export orientation. Feedback received in the present survey shows that the impact of a slowdown in exports is being felt even in sectors that are not directly involved in exporting activity,” the survey said.

***As an example, one can consider the case of textile machinery manufacturers, whose performance has been affected by the drop in the country’s textile and apparel exports, it said.***

Further, while previous surveys showed that the rising interest rates were affecting industries that had a direct exposure to consumer spending, the present survey shows that the intermediate and capital goods industries are also witnessing a slowdown in growth.

While a drop in the sales of automobile industry has been quiet evident, we are now witnessing cases of industries such as steel that are reporting a slowdown in production due to fall in demand from the auto sector, it added.

Besides the rise in Rupee and the successive hikes in interest rates, rise in the cost of raw materials is also adversely impacting the performance of Indian companies. 

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Clean chit to Indiabulls in IPO scam 

Mumbai, December 5
Capital market regulator SEBI today absolved Indiabulls Securities of charges of cornering shares meant for retail investors in IPOs and dropped an inquiry initiated against the brokerage firm.

"The present adjudication proceedings against the noticee (Indiabulls Securities Ltd) is disposed of," said SEBI adjudicating officer S Biju today.

Although SEBI had last year banned Indiabulls from carrying out trades in the market after a scam was unearthed in IPOs launched between 2003-05, the order was kept in abeyance till completion of the inquiry after the brokerage firm challenged the decision.

SEBI conducted investigation into the dealing of Indiabulls in the IPOs of 21 companies, including those of Amar Remedies, Datamatics Technologies, Dishman Pharma and Chemicals, Gokaldas Export, ILFS Investmart, Indraprasth Gas, Infrastructure Development Finance, Jet Airways and NTPC.

Other companies, whose public issues were investigated included Patni Computer, Suzlon Energy, TV Today Network, TCS and Yes Bank, the regulator said in a statement.

SEBI had observed that the some entitites had cornered shares of these companies by making fictitious applications in the category reserved for retail investors.— PTI 

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Myanmar Gas Field
China edges out India 

New Delhi, December 5
China has edged out India in the race to secure supply of natural gas from Myanmar’s biggest field, the South Korean operator of the field confirmed today.

The Chinese government-run PetroChina will be the preferred buyer of gas from the A-1 fields and potential output from the adjacent A-3 block, a fact that Indian authorities came to know in February, but was repeatedly denied by South Korea’s Daewoo International and authorities in Myanmar.

Daewoo International, operator of A-1 and A-3 blocks with a 60 per cent stake, in a regulatory filing to the Seoul Stock Exchange said it has picked a Chinese company as the preferred bidder for the gas. It, however, did not name the Chinese company that has been selected. Daewoo said the gas would be transported to China through a pipeline.

Previously, Myanmar had chosen GAIL India Ltd as the preferred buyer of gas from the two blocks in the Bay of Bengal.

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and GAIL hold 30 per cent interest in the blocks that are estimated to hold 7.7 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

OVL to sign MoU with Hindujas

The board of ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) today approved singing of an MoU with Hinduja Group for jointly exploring possibility of acquiring oil fields abroad.

“What we have approved is an MoU and not a joint venture (JV) company. We will look at opportunities and if there is a possibility of a joint collaboration, we will form a project- specific joint venture company or a special purpose vehicle,” a senior ONGC official said. — PTI 

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OPEC not to cut output 

Abu Dhabi, December 5
OPEC agreed on Wednesday to keep oil supplies unchanged, Nigerian oil minister Odein Ajumogobia said, rebuffing consumer country calls for more crude to rein in prices now near $90 a barrel.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also agreed to meet again at the end of January to review its decision ahead of a regular March gathering, Ajumogobia told Reuters.

Ahead of the meeting, ministers said they saw no reason to lift output because they were already pumping enough crude to meet winter fuel demand.

''We've seen nothing yet to justify an increase or a decrease,'' said powerful Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi.

''Our position is that demand and supply are balanced and there is no need to increase oil to the market,'' said Iranian oil minister Gholamhossein Nozari.

The 13-member cartel is under pressure from big consumers like the United States to raise output to help contain an oil price rally that saw crude hit a record above $99 a barrel on November 21. Expectations for an increase were one of the factors behind an $11 reversal in prices in the two weeks before OPEC met.

Prices rose a dollar after the decision to $89.32 a barrel.

Some in OPEC share consumer country concerns about the impact of high energy costs on economic growth as the US slowdown threatens to spill over into the global economy. — Reuters 

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5 PSUs to invest in coal mines abroad

New Delhi, December 5
Five public sector companies - SAIL, RINL, NTPC, CIL and NMDC - have joined hands to acquire coal mines abroad with an initial investment of Rs 3,500 crore to meet the demand of steel industry, power sector and others.

The government has approved formation of a special purpose evhicle (SPV) with five PSUs as constituents for acquiring coal mines abroad to ensure security of supply of coking coal and high quality thermal coal to meet the demand.

SAIL and CIL have put in Rs 1,000 crore each as an initial equity capital while the other three PSUs have contributed Rs 500 crore each, minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao said in Lok Sabha today.

The approved initial authorised capital of the SPV has been fixed at Rs 10,000 crore and the initial equity capital is Rs 3,500 crore to be contributed by the five PSUs. —PTI 

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Reliance, Tatas among 100 emerging global challengers

New Delhi, December 5
Larsen and Toubro, Suzlon and Bharat Forge may be names not big enough on the global arena as of now, but they along with domestic giants like Tatas, Birla, Mahindra and Ambanis figure among 100 firms posing an “urgent threat to industry leaders” of the world.

According to a new list of 100 new global challenger giants released here by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), India is home to 20 such firms, next only to China that accounts for 41.

Tata Group alone accounts for one-fourth of Indian participation with five companies - Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited - figuring in the list.

Reliance Group, IT giants Infosys, Wipro and Satyam, automakers Bajaj Auto and Mahindra & Mahindra, pharma majors Ranbaxy, Dr Reddy’s Labs and Cipla, Aditya Birla group’s Hindalco Industries, L&T, Bharat Forge and Crompton Greaves are also on the list.

These new global challengers from rapidly developing economies are globalising so quickly that they pose an urgent threat to the industry leaders around the world, US-based management consultancy major said.

BCG said 17 new companies have joined the annual list of 100 emerging giants, including one from India - Suzlon Energy.

These are the firms “that are growing fast, globalising aggressively, and reshaping global industries,” it noted.

“With over $1.2 trillion in total revenues and more than a half trillion dollars in yearly purchases, the BCG new global challengers are already formidable. But their ambitions are daunting... their combined revenues will reach $3.3 trillion by 2010 and a massive $11.8 trillion by 2015,” BCG said.

“Industry leaders need to understand these new rivals and act quickly,” the report’s co-author and BCG’s Beijing-based senior partner David Michael said.

By many measures, these firms are already outperforming the established industry leaders with a revenue growth faster than the S&P 500 companies in the past five years.

Of 100 companies on the list, 41 are from China, 20 from India, 13 from Brazil, while the rest coming from 11 other rapidly developing economies.

Besides Suzlon, other newcomers to the 2008 list include Grupo Bimbo of Mexico, Nine Dragons Paper Holdings and Sinomach of China, Tenaris of Argentina, Marcopolo of Brazil, and Inter RAO UES of Russia.

These firms were short-listed from more than 3,000 companies from all of the world’s major rapidly developing economies and took into consideration their total revenues, overseas revenue share and degree of global ambition. — PTI  

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Microsoft, Dell in pact for integrated solutions
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
Microsoft today said it is adopting a multi-pronged strategy to curb software piracy in India, which include ensuring cheaper availability of commonly-used software.

“Primarily, it is the law enforcing agencies, which will have to help the software industry in a big way to check piracy. However, from our side we have adopted several measures to encourage the customers to use genuine software,” managing director, Microsoft (India), Neelam Dhawan told The Tribune here.

“We have launched a massive education drive to create awareness among the customers to use genuine software and are also constantly trying to make the software available at a cheaper price to discourage buyers from indulging in piracy,” she said.

According to a recent report by Nasscom, a whopping 71 per cent of the software being used in India are pirated and only 29 per cent are genuine ones, she added.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Dell today announced a large account reseller agreement (LAR) to provide integrated technology solutions to Indian enterprises.

Under the agreement, the two companies will offer core infrastructure and business productivity solutions with a focus on the banking and financial services, IT enabled services and manufacturing verticals, Dell (India) vice-president and general manager Rajan Anandan said.

He added that the company’s Sriperumbudur manufacturing hub is operational and the company would manufacture its notepad series from there in the near future. 

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Nokia to invest $75 m
Tribune News Service

Chennai, December 5
Nokia today announced fresh investments to the tune of $75 million towards its manufacturing plant in Sriperumbudur. This investment is geared towards enhancing the capacity of the manufacturing plant to cater to the burgeoning need of the Indian and other emerging markets.

Nokia had initially committed to invest $150 million in 2006 over a four-year period. However, given the buoyant demand for mobility in India, it has so far cumulatively invested already $210 million in its Chennai operations.

Currently, approximately 50 percent of the production from the plant is consumed domestically and the rest is exported to countries across Middle East and Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

“This is a testimony of operational efficiencies achieved through people, processes, global best practices and standards,” said Sachin Saxena, director (operations), Nokia (India). 

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TDSAT rejects COAI affidavit

New Delhi, December 5
Telecom tribunal TDSAT today rejected an affidavit filed by GSM operators association COAI, which accused the government of changing its policy on spectrum allocation in a covert and malafide manner.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had filed this affidavit as part of the ongoing legal battle against the government's decisions on allocation of additional spectrum and usage of dual technology.

Turning down the plea of the GSM lobby group, TDSAT chairman Justice Arun Kumar said it would complicate the issue.

"We would take stock of that later during the hearing," said Kumar. — PTI 

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Futures trading banned in Essar oil, IFCI 

Mumbai, December 5
Trading in stock futures of Ruis-led Essar Oil, state-run lender Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) and five other companies have been banned at the National Stock Exchange.

The derivative contracts in the underlying Essar Oil, IFCI, Rajesh Exports, Adlabs Film, Arvind Mills, Nagarjuna Fertilisers and Bongaigoan Refinery are currently in the ban period, a NSE circular said today.

These companies have been banned from trading as they have crossed the 95 per cent of market-wide position limit and consequently restricted from making any fresh contracts, the circular added.

In the cash segment, the scrip of Essar Oil witnessed an over 411 per cent surge in the last two months. From the levels of Rs 58.20 quoted on October 5, the scrip has moved to Rs 297.60 as on December 4, a jump of Rs 239.40.

Similar trend was witnessed in the scrip of IFCI. Its shares soared from Rs 85.40 as on October 5 to Rs 104.25, quoted on December 4, a jump of Rs 18.85 or 22.07 per cent.

Essar Oil stock registered a turnover of over Rs 23.84 crore in the first few minutes of trade today even as the scrip is trading down 0.14 per cent at Rs 296.40 on the BSE.

IFCI's turnover in the first few minutes of the morning trade was over Rs 13.17 crore, the scrip was trading up 1.53 per cent at Rs 105.85 on BSE.— PTI 

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BRIEFLY

BT Group
Singapore, December 5
BT Group will buy Singapore IT firm Frontline Technologies for S$202 million ($139.8 million), in a bid to expand its Asian business, the firm said. BT will pay 24.5 Singapore cents for each Frontline share, which is a premium of 17 per cent over the closing price of Frontline shares of S$0.21 prior to their suspension on Monday. — Reuters

Accenture
New Delhi, December 5
Accenture has announced the opening of its management consulting centre of excellence in Gurgaon and plans to open similar centres in Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai by 2008 to give its clients a full range of services across a broad spectrum of business functions. — UNI

Blue Star
Mumbai, December 5
Blue Star has said its board has approved the acquisition of electrical contracting firm Naseer Electricals Pvt Ltd. The board at its meeting held today also authorised a four-member committee to conclude the transaction before December 31, Blue Star said. — PTI

RPG Cellucom
Hyderabad, December 5
RPG Cellucom has launched MP3 and MP4 players at its outlets across the country. Stylish and affordable, the new range from the brand ‘Musiquu’ comprises over seven MP3/MP4 models, including features like gaming console, DIVX player and an e-book reader among others. — UNI

Grasim Inds
Mumbai, December 5
Grasim Industries has said it will sell its 53.63 per cent stake in Shree Digvijay Cement Company to Cimpor - Cimentos De Portugal for Rs 322 crore. The board has approved the sale of 7.58 crore equity shares representing 53.63 per cent of SDCC for Rs 42.5 a share to Cimpor, Grasim Industries said. — PTI

ONGC contract
New Delhi, December 5
NaftoGaz of Ukraine has bagged a 129.69-million-euro (Rs 725-crore) contract from ONGC for inter-connecting power facilities in the state-run firm’s Mumbai High offshore fields. ONGC’s 12 platforms in Mumbai High fields have separate power stations and NaftoGaz would be inter-connecting them through offshore cabling, NaftoGaz (India) said. — PTI

SOTC awarded
Chandigarh, December 5
SOTC has been awarded the best national outbound tour operator award for 2006-2007 for the fourth consecutive year at the Galileo Express Travel World Awards-2007. Travel The Galileo Express Travel World Award is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the country and endeavours to recognise and encourage excellence in the Indian travel and tourism industry. — TNS

Dish TV
Mumbai, December 5
Dish TV India Ltd, belonging to Zee Network Enterprises, today approved the proposal to raise Rs 250 crore through preferential allotment of shares and convertible warrants to Indivision India Partners, a Mauritius-based private equity fund. The board of directors took a decision to this effect at its meeting, the company said in a filing to the BSE. — PTI 

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