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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Ensure transparency in spectrum allocation: PM
Asks telcos to focus on rural areas
New Delhi, December 12
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the inaugural session of 2nd international exhibition & conference 'India Telecom 2007' in New Delhi on Wednesday. Amid intensified tug of war between various telecom players over allocation of spectrum, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the precious resource should be allocated in a transparent and equitable manner so that it should not create barriers for new players.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the inaugural session of 2nd international exhibition & conference 'India Telecom 2007' in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Industrial growth up 11.8 per cent in October
New Delhi, December 12
India’s output growth rebounded to a stronger than expected 11.8 per cent year-on-year in October from an upward revised 6.8 per cent in September (initially reported at 6.4 per cent), largely because of base effect and robust performance of the manufacturing sector.



EARLIER STORIES

 

PNB credit counselling centre in Chandigarh soon
Chandigarh, December 12
In order to ensure maximum reach to the society to speed up the drive of financial inclusion among masses, Punjab National Bank will be opening a financial education and credit counselling centre in the city. The bank already has opened one at Yamunanagar.

RIL to invest $24 b in Gulf
Dubai, December 12
India's largest industrial conglomerate Reliance Industries (RIL) will invest as much as $24 billion in petrochemical projects in the Gulf countries in the next 10 years, company's chairman and managing director Mukesh D Ambani said.

Job Openings
Tier-II cities catching up fast: Survey
Chandigarh ranks 5th among top 10
New Delhi, December 12
The buoyancy in Indian economy appears to have penetrated smaller cities as well. It is evident by the job openings in IT, education, financial services and real estate sectors, which have enabled the top 15 tier-II cities to corner more than 20 per cent job space in the last four months, according to an Assocham Eco Pulse (AEP) study.


A Sony employee displays the company's new high-definition projector "VPL-FH300L" and the newly developed LCD device "BrightEra" with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,080 pixels, in Tokyo on Wednesday. The new projector, equipped with dual 275W lamps which can project bright images of 6,000 lumens, was developed for commercial use at large venues such as auditoriums, large class rooms and meeting rooms.
A Sony employee displays the company's new high-definition projector "VPL-FH300L" and the newly developed LCD device "BrightEra" with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,080 pixels, in Tokyo on Wednesday. The new projector, equipped with dual 275W lamps which can project bright images of 6,000 lumens, was developed for commercial use at large venues such as auditoriums, large class rooms and meeting rooms. — AFP

SDB Cisco to expand in North
New Delhi, December 12
Seeing large potential for growth in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and its adjoining areas, SDB Cisco, one of the leading security services companies, has decided to expand its operations in North India by recruiting about 3,000 persons locally.

SBI cuts interest rate on FDs
Mumbai, December 12
Country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) today announced reduction of as much as 0.25 per cent in fixed deposit rates. The 15-45 days term deposits would now attract 4.75 per cent as compared to 5 per cent, while 46-270 days fixed deposits rates has been slashed by 0.25 per cent to 5.25 per cent, SBI informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

‘Crop Tiger 60’ production at Morinda by April
Chandigarh, December 12
'Crop Tiger 60', the latest product from the house of Claas, is all set to start production from its Morinda unit by April 2008.

GMR Infra sells 9% stake
New Delhi, December 12
Industry conglomerate GMR today announced raising $1 billion through equity sale in the group company GMR Infrastructure — a move that pegs its value at about Rs 45,000 crore.

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Ensure transparency in spectrum allocation: PM
Asks telcos to focus on rural areas
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
Amid intensified tug of war between various telecom players over allocation of spectrum, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the precious resource should be allocated in a transparent and equitable manner so that it should not create barriers for new players.

At the same time, the revenue potential to the government must not be lost sight of, the Prime Minister said inaugurating an international conference and exhibition ‘India Telecom 2007 - digital divide to digital opportunities’, organised jointly by ministry of communications and information technology and Ficci.

Asserting that the revenue potential to the government must not be lost sight of, Singh said “after all, governments across the globe have harnessed substantial revenues while allocating spectrum”.

“In the final analysis, the key issues are correct pricing, fair allocation rules, and a pro-competitive stance,” he added.

Noting that spectrum availability can be a constraint for the growth of telecom sector in future, he said “we must realise that we need to make use of this precious and limited resource optimally. All technological options must be explored to maximise its utilisation.”

On the supply side, he said the government has taken steps for vacation of spectrum by existing users. “This is at an advanced stage and the requirement of making spectrum available for commercial uses is being addressed. I have asked the Group of Ministers tasked with this to expeditiously conclude its deliberations and suggest a roadmap regarding availability and timing,” the Prime Minister said.

Lauding the telecom industry for the rapid growth, Singh expressed his government’s concern on two counts — little or no telecom penetration in rural areas and lack of telecom R&D and manufacturing in India.

“Although the growth in the last few years has been impressive and our tariffs are among the lowest in the world, vast stretches of our rural areas have little or no telecom penetration. Rural tele-density is still in single digits,” he said.

While we can be satisfied with the growth of tele-density, from the country’s point of view, “I am concerned about our capabilities in telecom R& D and manufacturing.”

“Can we have a sector where we are world-class in telecom networks but do not have an adequate manufacturing presence,” he said, adding “we need to create an ecosystem for the rapid growth of manufacturing for telecommunication products.”

“It is important both from an economic and a strategic point of view that we are present in the entire telecom value chain,” he said assuring that the government will develop a forward looking policy regime that will encourage investment in manufacturing in this sector.

Meanwhile, on the spectrum issue, telecom minister A Raja said the government has already announced its policy to auction the spectrum for next generation 3G mobile services. But on the issue of auctioning of existing 2G spectrum, the minister said the allocation would be considered as per the existing policy.

Raja also emphasised that growth needs to be with equity and sustainability.

Raja said the government has also taken steps to create an environment for innovation through establishment of seven Telecom Centres of Excellence in premier institutes of the country in PPP mode with all stakeholders on board.

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Industrial growth up 11.8 per cent in October
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
India’s output growth rebounded to a stronger than expected 11.8 per cent year-on-year in October from an upward revised 6.8 per cent in September (initially reported at 6.4 per cent), largely because of base effect and robust performance of the manufacturing sector.

The rebound was mainly the result of base effects: industrial output grew 4.5 per cent in October 2006 and manufacturing output rose 13.3 per cent y-o-y in October versus 7.1 per cent in September.

Analysts attribute the increase in manufacturing output to increase in consumer spending in October due to Diwali and Id-ul-Fitr. Demand for consumer durables like cars and manufactured products like mobile phones rose as companies pitched for sales through festive offers.

Mining and electricity output growth were sluggish at 3.7 per cent y-o-y and 4.2 per cent, respectively in October.

The investment-led capital goods sector continued to be the main driver, with output growth at 20.5 per cent y-o-y in October, unchanged from September. Consumer goods output rose 12.5 per cent y-o-y in October from -0.9 per cent in September as both consumer durables and non-durables gathered steam.

Within the manufacturing sector, growth in 16 of the 17 sub-groups was positive, according to official data released today.

As in previous months, wood products, other manufacturing, leather and machinery and equipment sectors were the best performers, while food, textiles and paper products were the worst performers within manufacturing.

The surprises were the stronger growth of beverage and tobacco and basic chemicals output, and sharper fall in the growth of metal products output (down 19.8 per cent y-o-y in October).

During April-October 2007, the IIP went up by 9.7 per cent, but was marginally down from 10.1 per cent recorded in the corresponding period last year.

The manufacturing sector during the seven-month period of current fiscal recorded a growth of 10.4 per cent, while the mining and electricity sectors grew by 4.8 per cent and 7.2 per cent, respectively.

Despite the stronger data, analysts are skeptical over industrial ouput in the months ahead.

“We judge that industrial output will continue to face headwinds from past interest rate hikes, rupee appreciation and softening world demand. Also, the base effect is likely to turn adverse as output grew by an average of 13.3 per cent y-o-y between November 2006 and March 2007,” Sonal Varma of Lehman Brothers said.

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PNB credit counselling centre in Chandigarh soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
In order to ensure maximum reach to the society to speed up the drive of financial inclusion among masses, Punjab National Bank will be opening a financial education and credit counselling centre in the city. The bank already has opened one at Yamunanagar.

The Chandigarh centre is expected to be functional by next month. The bank also plans to hold literacy programmes for the farmers and less-educated persons, free of cost. This was informed today by R.K. Gupta, general manager, PNB, Haryana Zone.

Talking to media persons, Gupta informed that outstanding retail advances of the bank grew by 21.8 per cent to touch Rs 24,100 crore as at the end of September 2007 as compared to Rs 19,794 crore at the end of September 2006. Education loan is the main thrust area of the bank, showing an increase of 35 per cent to Rs 1,155 crore and loan to traders increased by 46 per cent to Rs 7,889 crore.

Gupta further added that the bank has also launched Internet banking services for retail as well as corporate customers. As a part of value addition to Internet banking services, facilities like utility bill payment, booking of railway/air tickets, shopping over internet, funds transfer through RTGS to accounts in other banks etc have been introduced.

Speaking on the performance of Haryana Zone of the bank, Gupta stated that Haryana Zone of the bank reported a net profit of Rs 248.26 crore as on September 2007 as against Rs 221.44 crore as at September 2006.

The core deposit of the zone as on September 2007 amounted to Rs 9,867 crore, showing an increase of Rs 1,557 crore or 18.74 per cent over the corresponding period last year.

Total credit of the zone as on September, 2007 stood at Rs 8,725 crore, registering an increase of Rs 2,108 crore or 32 per cent over the corresponding period last year.

Recognising the potential offered by the retail segment, the zone has continued its emphasis on financing retail customers.

To reach the farmers in the field for creating awareness about farm techniques to increase production and the yield, PNB also started its farmers' training mobile van-cum-lab in the state of Haryana.

He further informed that the bank will introduce ATM-enabled Krishi Card which will enable farmers to fulfil their money requirements instantly.

He also stated that in Haryana, out of 20 districts, 10 districts i.e. Bhiwani, Yamunanagar, Narnaul, Panipat, Sonepat, Panchkula, Jind, Mewat, Kurukshetra & Rohtak have already been covered under 100 per cent financial inclusion and the remaining 10 districts were likely to be covered under 100 per cent financial inclusion by the end of the current financial year.

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RIL to invest $24 b in Gulf

Dubai, December 12
India's largest industrial conglomerate Reliance Industries (RIL) will invest as much as $24 billion in petrochemical projects in the Gulf countries in the next 10 years, company's chairman and managing director Mukesh D Ambani said.

Also, it will reposition its global operation to Dubai by strengthening its office here, he said, adding, ''Dubai will be the gateway for our future investment in this part of the world and beyond''.

In an interview to the Gulf News, the business tycoon said, ''We will increase our headcount in Dubai, which will be the nerve centre of our international operations.'' Ambani further said, '' We plan to set up a number of petrochemical plants in the next decade, with each costing $4 billion to $6 billion.'' At this rate, four refineries or petrochemical plants could require investment to the tune of $20-24 billion.

''We have major commitments to the region, which is the hub of the oil and gas sector. We import $30 billion to $40 billion worth of oil, including the bulk from the Gulf, refine it and export gasoline worth $80 billion to Europe and the US,'' he said.

By strengthening the company's position in the Gulf, he said, ''We are bringing the Indian market to the Gulf. The region's biodiversity creates a great opportunity for us as the region has the wealth and we have the knowhow.''

''India, China and the Gulf are the future of business. That's why there is a shift among the Gulf's leadership to focus on India and China instead of Europe and the US. The Gulf region is ready for us and the future growth will come from India and China,'' he added.

Ambani, who is visiting Dubai to explore business opportunites, has met His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai. — UNI

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Job Openings
Tier-II cities catching up fast: Survey
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
The buoyancy in Indian economy appears to have penetrated smaller cities as well. It is evident by the job openings in IT, education, financial services and real estate sectors, which have enabled the top 15 tier-II cities to corner more than 20 per cent job space in the last four months, according to an Assocham Eco Pulse (AEP) study.

According to the study on 'Trends of job openings' done during August-November, Chandigarh has been ranked fifth among the top 10 employment providing cities in India.

After Chandigarh, Vadodara, Jaipur, Pune, Agra and Ahmedabad topped the chart of small cities generating maximum employment opportunities. These were followed by Ludhiana, Bhopal and Vijaywada. The next five were occupied by Kozhikode, Surat, Ranchi, Amritsar and Lucknow.

The AEP study was based on the sample of 4,400 vacancies posted by around 1,000 companies in the national and regional dailies, journals and job portals during the four-month period of August-September.

Delhi-NCR has emerged as the top employment provider with a share of 37.5 per cent in the sample jobs tracked by the AEP. Mumbai and Chennai were ranked second and third constituting 9.25 per cent and 6.4 per cent of the total vacancies offered. The next in line were Bangalore (5.6 per cent), Chandigarh (3 per cent), Kolkata (2.7 per cent) and Hyderabad (2.3 per cent).

The IT and IT-enabled services accounted for 11 per cent of the total job openings in tier-II cities. The low-cost cities of Agra, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Mangalore and Pune were the most sought after by the IT firms.

The second largest share of the vacancies posted in the upcoming cities was for teachers and professors in schools and universities. Almost 10 per cent of the openings publicised in last four months in smaller cities belonged to the education sector.

The financial services sector was ranked at third place with 5 per cent share by the AEP in terms of employment opportunities in the emergent cities.

While Chandigarh, Pune and Jaipur recorded maximum vacancies in finance-related jobs, Amritsar and Chandigarh have recorded maximum of real estate jobs among the smaller cities.

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SDB Cisco to expand in North
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
Seeing large potential for growth in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and its adjoining areas, SDB Cisco, one of the leading security services companies, has decided to expand its operations in North India by recruiting about 3,000 persons locally.

“A lot of multinational banks companies have started their operations in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and other northern states. This has resulted in immense demand for security services and end-to-end security solutions. We are keen on tapping this potential,” company’s managing director Brig H.C. Chawla told The Tribune here.

As part of its expansion programme, the company would recruit about 3,000 persons, both skilled and semi-skilled from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Panchkula by 2009, he said.

SDB Cisco is a joint venture of the Security and Detective Bureau Limited (SDB) and Cisco of Singapore.

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SBI cuts interest rate on FDs

Mumbai, December 12
Country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) today announced reduction of as much as 0.25 per cent in fixed deposit rates.

The 15-45 days term deposits would now attract 4.75 per cent as compared to 5 per cent, while 46-270 days fixed deposits rates has been slashed by 0.25 per cent to 5.25 per cent, SBI informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Fixed deposits for 271 days-one year term would invite 6.5 per cent as against 6.75 per cent, term deposit in between one year and 550 days would come down by 0.25 per cent to 8.5 per cent, it said.

One year-549 days fixed deposit would attract 8.25 per cent interest, down by 0.25 per cent. The bank has retained rate for 3-10 years deposits at 8.5 per cent. The new rates would be effective from December 17, it added.

The bank has also revised term deposit rates for senior citizens. In case of one year-549 days term deposit rates would go up by 0.25 per cent to 8.75 per cent.

Term deposit with a tenor of 550 days has been slashed to 9 per cent as compared to 9.25 per cent earlier. — PTI

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‘Crop Tiger 60’ production at Morinda by April
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
'Crop Tiger 60', the latest product from the house of Claas, is all set to start production from its Morinda unit by April 2008.

Talking to TNS, Pradeep Kumar Malik, managing director and president, Claas India Limited, informed that the pilot production of new Crop Tiger 60, which has been developed after intensive India-oriented research at the Faridabad facility of Claas, is already underway and will be fully commissioned for serial production at the Morinda factory.

While elaborating upon the enhanced scope of Crop Tiger 60, Bhanu Sharma, EVP, Class India, said the product can be used for a variety of crops like rice, wheat, basmati, muchhal, mustard and soybean, among others.

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GMR Infra sells 9% stake

New Delhi, December 12
Industry conglomerate GMR today announced raising $1 billion through equity sale in the group company GMR Infrastructure — a move that pegs its value at about Rs 45,000 crore.

The transaction, equivalent to a 9 per cent equity dilution to institutional investors, was concluded today and the resources would be used for the group's overseas acquisitions as also domestic power and SEZ projects.

Terming the deal as the country's largest QIP transaction, GMR Group chief financial officer Madhu Terdal told PTI, "This is part of our major expansion programme aimed at becoming a $25-billion company in the next 2-3 years." — PTI

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Edelweiss up 83 pc on debut

Mumbai, December 12
Brokerage firm Edelweiss Capital today witnessed huge response from investors, with shares of the company surging as much as 83 per cent in its debut on the BSE. The stock opened firm at Rs 1,443.75 and rallied ahead to witness an intra-day high of Rs 1,608.75, a gain of Rs 783.75 over its issue price of Rs 825. At the end of today's closing session, the scrip parted with some gains and was quoted at Rs 1,509.05. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Tata Steel JV
New Delhi, December 12
Tata Steel has signed a pact with Ivory Coast's state-owned firm Sodemi to form a joint venture that will invest up to $1.5 billion over the next few years for mining iron ore in the African nation. "Tata Steel will hold 75 per cent stake in the joint venture. The JV will make an investment of close to $1-1.5 billion over the next three to four years," Tata Steel managing director B Muthuraman said last night. — PTI

Deccan offer
Bangalore, December 12
Low-cost carrier Deccan will now deliver tickets directly at the doorstep of passengers to boost its reach. Door delivery service can be availed by passengers booking through the 24/7 all-India Deccan call centre, the release stated. Tickets delivery service could be availed in all the 65 destinations that Deccan flies to, it added. — PTI

Eton Park
Mumbai, December 12
Anil Ambani Group firm Reliance Capital today said global investor Eton Park will invest Rs 501 crore for acquiring 5 per cent stake in the company's subsidiary Reliance Capital Asset Management (RCAM). The proposed investment values RCAM at about 13 per cent of its assets under management and the valuation translates into a price of Rs 400 per share of Reliance Capital, the statement said. — PTI

Birla Sun Life
Mumbai, December 12
Birla Sun Life Asset Management Company, a part of Aditya Birla group, today launched Birla Sun Life Special Situations Fund. About 80 per cent of the collected money under the fund would be invested in equity and the rest in debt. The fund opens on December 17 and closes on January 15. Each unit would cost Rs 10 and there is an entry load. Minimum deposit to the fund would be Rs 5,000. — PTI

Arshiya Intl
Mumbai, December 12
Logistics company Arshiya International Ltd today said it will invest Rs 3,000 crore over the next five years for setting up free trade warehousing zones (FTWZs) in the country and West Asia. The company would invest the amount in two phases. In the first phase, the company would invest Rs 1,800 crore for development of three FTWZ in west zone (near Mumbai), north zone (near Delhi) and Sohar Port in Oman, the company informed the BSE. — PTI

Network18
Mumbai, December 12
Media company Network18 yesterday said it has acquired 40 per cent stake in publication company Infomedia for Rs 178 crore making its entry into publication business. Infomedia is backed by private equity firm ICICI Venture. — PTI

Rel Energy
New Delhi, December 12
Reliance Energy today said it has bagged engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract valued at Rs 3,725 crore from Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) to set up 1,200 MW coal-based power station at Raghunathpur in West Bengal. The EPC Group of Reliance Energy currently has orders on hand for execution aggregating over Rs 10,000 crore, a statement said. — UNI

RCom offer
Chandigarh, December 12
Reliance Communications (RCom) has launched “Micro SMS pack of Rs 10” for its pre-paid customers. The pack will have 30 local SMS free with validity of 30 days. — TNS

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