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IRDA lifts pricing controls from Jan 1
General insurance premiums likely to come down

Hyderabad, December 21
Giving further freedom to insurance companies, sector regulator IRDA has announced removal of all pricing controls on general insurance products, including fire and engineering, beginning next year, which is expected to bring down premiums.

Fuel price may go up by mid-Jan
Coimbatore, December 21
The Union Government is expected to raise petrol and diesel prices moderately by the middle of January to help state-run oil firms reduce the loss they are incurring on selling fuel below cost.

MCX targets daily trading of Rs 1,500 cr in Punjab
Ludhiana, December 21
The Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) has planned to increase daily trading in commodity futures in Punjab from the existing Rs 300 crore to Rs 1,500 crore by the end of next year. To attain the target, the exchange is in the process of forging liaisons with financial institutions, farmers and traders associations.

Jet Airways to start operations in Gulf 
Dubai, December 21
Jet Airways would start its operations in the gulf countries from January 5, connecting India with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, a senior official of the airline said.




EARLIER STORIES

 


In this file photo, employees of German car-maker BMW are seen assembling a car at the company's plant in Leipzig, eastern Germany. BMW is set to eliminate ‘several thousand’ jobs in 2008 as part of a cost-cutting plan, a spokesman for the group said on Friday.
In this file photo, employees of German car-maker BMW are seen assembling a car at the company's plant in Leipzig, eastern Germany. BMW is set to eliminate ‘several thousand’ jobs in 2008 as part of a cost-cutting plan, a spokesman for the group said on Friday. — AFP photo

LG to pump in over Rs 1,100 cr
Pune, December 21
LG Electronics India Ltd, the local unit of South Korean consumer durables maker, will invest over Rs 1,100 crore in the next three years as it seeks to increase revenue and consolidate its position in the premium segment.

L&T floats power generation firm
Mumbai, December 21
Engineering firm Larsen and Toubro (L&T) today said it has floated a power generation arm called L&T Power Development and would invest Rs 20,000 crore in the new company.

New schemes for MSMEs on cards
New Delhi, December 21
The Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are in for a series of new year surprises, with additional secretary & development commissioner (MSME) Jawhar Sircar hinting at the establishment of a series of capacity-building schemes for enhancing the competitiveness of the MSMEs.

Philips to buy US firm for $5.1 b
Amsterdam, December 21
Philips Electronics said on Friday it would buy US medical products company Respironics for 3.6 billion euros ($5.17 billion) to strengthen its healthcare business. Philips is paying $66 per share in cash for Respironics. This is Philips's second acquisition in the medical products sector this week after its purchase of US medical systems and service provider Visicu Inc. on Tuesday.

Desi ‘Murginns’ to take on ‘Kelloggs’
New Delhi, December 21
In what could be dubbed as ‘desi’ versus ‘MNC’, KCL foods Ltd, a Faridabad-based industrial house, has entered the breakfast cereals market to take on the mighty product like “Kelloggs”.

10 pc ethanol-blended petrol from Oct
New Delhi, December 21
The Centre has said that the mandatory blending of 5 per cent ethanol with petrol would be increased to 10 per cent from October 2008.

 

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IRDA lifts pricing controls from Jan 1
General insurance premiums likely to come down

Hyderabad, December 21
Giving further freedom to insurance companies, sector regulator IRDA has announced removal of all pricing controls on general insurance products, including fire and engineering, beginning next year, which is expected to bring down premiums.

The new regime is likely to usher in intense competition among the players leading to reduction in premiums.

However, any revision in rates will only be effective on renewal date of the insurance and insurers shall not be permitted to cancel existing insurances and replace them by new insurances at revised rates, it said.

This is the second round of detariffication in the general insurance sector as the regulator had earlier allowed limited price freedom to the players beginning this year.

"Except for Motor Third Party risks, for all other new insurances and renewals effective on or after January 1, 2008, insurers shall be free to quote rates of premium in accordance with the rate schedules and rating guidelines that have been filed with the Authority," IRDA said in a release.

The move by insurance regulator is expected to bring down the premium rates on motor own damage (insurance cover over the vehicle), fire and engineering.

IRDA, however, said the premium rates for Motor Third Party risks will continue to be regulated by the Authority.

Insurers would be free to quote premium rate as per the schedule of rates and rating guidelines with the IRDA or can maintain the schedules and rating guidelines that have already been filed.

Boards of general insurance companies will assume effective control of the underwriting policy of the insurer.

IRDA will accept the rate schedules and rating guides as filed by the insurer on the premise that these are in compliance with the underwriting policies approved by the board.

"All the CEOs have given an assurance that insurers will maintain high standards of underwriting and market conduct even after price controls are removed," the release said.

Besides, IRDA also said, the terms and conditions of cover and the wordings of policies, endorsements, warranties and clauses set out in the erstwhile tariffs shall continue to apply until fresh market wordings are examined and accepted after considering the views of various stakeholders. — PTI 

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Fuel price may go up by mid-Jan

Coimbatore, December 21
The Union Government is expected to raise petrol and diesel prices moderately by the middle of January to help state-run oil firms reduce the loss they are incurring on selling fuel below cost.

"Be prepared for a modest or moderate hike in the prices of petrol and diesel, after a meeting of the Group of Ministers in the first week of January," petroleum secretary M.S. Srinivasan told reporters here.

"We are definitely not ruling out the hike. There will be a hike," he said.

Asked to quantify the hike, Srinivasan declined to directly specify it but indicated that the hike would be just the price of tea here (Rs 2 to Rs 3).

To a question on the hike of LPG prices, Srinivasan said the government was providing domestic cooking gas for around Rs 290, nearly half that of the actual cost.

Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum are projected to lose Rs 69,753 crore on sale of petrol, diesel, LPG and PDS kerosene as the government has not allowed them to raise prices in line with the price of imported crude. The government had last increased petrol and diesel prices on June 6, 2006.— PTI

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MCX targets daily trading of Rs 1,500 cr in Punjab
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
The Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) has planned to increase daily trading in commodity futures in Punjab from the existing Rs 300 crore to Rs 1,500 crore by the end of next year. To attain the target, the exchange is in the process of forging liaisons with financial institutions, farmers and traders associations.

After tying up with postal departments in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharasthra, the exchange is now working towards making spot and future prices of commodity rates available in banks and post offices across Punjab as well.

"There is heavy untapped potential and the coming three-four years would record a significant change in scenario. We are making all efforts to involve people from various categories, investors, traders and even the ones who are not much active so far like students," said Samir Patil, vice-president, MCX.

Among the key initiatives are awareness campaigns for various kinds of participants in the market. The areas identified include Jalandhar as a major centre for potatoes, Khanna for wheat and rice, Abohar for cotton. Ludhiana leads in terms of quantity and hogs major share of trading in this region.

While bullion tops the list in terms of quantum of daily trading, MCX is focusing on base metals in a big way. 

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Jet Airways to start operations in Gulf 

Dubai, December 21
Jet Airways would start its operations in the gulf countries from January 5, connecting India with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, a senior official of the airline said.

"Jet Airways will be India's first private airline to start services to the Gulf countries with non-stop daily flights connecting India with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar," Jet Airways Gulf regional manager Shakir Kantawala said.

Kuwait will be connected to New Delhi and Kochi, while Bahrain will have flights to Mumbai and Kochi.

Doha will have flights to Mumbai and Kozhikode and Muscat will be connected to Kozhikode and Kochi.

The Indian government has not allowed Jet to operate to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but Kantawala told PTI that the move was "under consideration".

"We are ready to start operations as soon as the government allows," he added.

"Now, with the commencement of Gulf operations, people from this region will also have the Jet Airways advantage to connect to the world, via India," Kantawala said.

Plans are also afoot to connect the Gulf to all world-wide destinations in the far East, Europe, US and Canada, he said. — PTI 

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LG to pump in over Rs 1,100 cr

Pune, December 21
LG Electronics India Ltd, the local unit of South Korean consumer durables maker, will invest over Rs 1,100 crore in the next three years as it seeks to increase revenue and consolidate its position in the premium segment.

"We are targeting 30 per cent sales in the premium segment in 2008, up from 20-22 per cent currently, for which, we will invest heavily in marketing," LGEIL head (sales and marketing) Amit Gupta said.

Of the planned investment, Rs 1,000 crore would be to fund marketing efforts with a focus on plasma TV, IT products, split AC and GSM handset, while Rs 120 crore would be to enhance production capacity.— PTI

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L&T floats power generation firm

Mumbai, December 21
Engineering firm Larsen and Toubro (L&T) today said it has floated a power generation arm called L&T Power Development and would invest Rs 20,000 crore in the new company.

"The overall investment in the company would be Rs 20,000 crore. L&T would invest Rs 5,000 crore and the rest would come through debt," L&T chairman and managing director A M Naik told reporters here.

The new firm would generate 5,000 MW of power in the next five years.

In November, L&T entered into a joint venture agreement with Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for setting up a manufacturing unit in India for super-critical steam turbine and generator facility.

The JV would be investing about Rs 880 crore and would have a product configuration catering to plant capacities ranging between 500 MW and 1,000 MW.

L&T also has a joint venture with Japan's Toshiba to manufacture power plant equipment in India.— PTI

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New schemes for MSMEs on cards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
The Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are in for a series of new year surprises, with additional secretary & development commissioner (MSME) Jawhar Sircar hinting at the establishment of a series of capacity-building schemes for enhancing the competitiveness of the MSMEs.

Speaking at a conference on standards, organised by the CII, that witnessed the signing of MoU between ANSI, BIS and CII, Sircar said four new schemes were likely to be added in April 2008, which would support development of the MSMEs through training and consulting. 

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Philips to buy US firm for $5.1 b

Amsterdam, December 21
Philips Electronics said on Friday it would buy US medical products company Respironics for 3.6 billion euros ($5.17 billion) to strengthen its healthcare business. Philips is paying $66 per share in cash for Respironics. This is Philips's second acquisition in the medical products sector this week after its purchase of US medical systems and service provider Visicu Inc. on Tuesday.

Philips's medical products division is key to its strategy of becoming a higher margin company.

The Respironics transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008, will immediately add to sales growth and earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) margin to Philips and its healthcare unit, Philips said.

''The acquisition of Respironics is another major milestone towards the completion of our objective to build market leadership positions in high-growth, high-margin businesses across the three market sectors of healthcare, lighting and consumer lifestyle,'' said Gerard Kleisterlee, chief executive of Philips. — Reuters

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Desi ‘Murginns’ to take on ‘Kelloggs’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
In what could be dubbed as ‘desi’ versus ‘MNC’, KCL foods Ltd, a Faridabad-based industrial house, has entered the breakfast cereals market to take on the mighty product like “Kelloggs”.

The company, which has its factories in Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh with latest machinery from Italy, Germany and France, has already launched five breakfast cereal products with the brand name “Murginns” in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, National Capital Territory Region, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and some southern states.

“The branded breakfast cereal market is currently estimated to be anywhere between Rs 250 crore to Rs 400 crore in India and has a potential to become Rs 1,000 crore industry in the next few years. There is immense scope in this sector as busy lifestyles and lack of time have made convenience a big issue,” KCL Foods Limited president Sanjeev Khemka told The Tribune here.

KCL, which is already in the business of contract manufacturing of health food products for several top companies in the country, is expected to launch 20 breakfast cereal products within the next four to five months.

“In the next four years, we are looking at a business volume of about Rs 200 crore, aiming to grab at least 20 per cent market share of this fast growing segment,” Khemka said, adding “Murginns range of products were more than 10 per cent cheaper than other products in the same segment available in the market.”

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10 pc ethanol-blended petrol from Oct
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
The Centre has said that the mandatory blending of 5 per cent ethanol with petrol would be increased to 10 per cent from October 2008.

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today said sugar factories would be allowed to convert sugarcane juice or molasses directly into ethanol and a notification in this regard was likely within a month.

Mandatory blending of ethanol with petrol would be increased to 10 per cent, except in J&K, north-eastern states and island territories, thereby giving an assured market to the industry of 600 million litres and 1,200 million litres of ethanol, respectively

Pawar also assured industry representatives that the Centre was trying to find a workable solution with states regarding state duties and restrictions on movement of ethanol and hoped that production, movement, blending and sale would be smooth and convenient.

Regarding laying down the BIS specifications for 10 per cent ethanol-blended petrol, the Department of Consumer Affairs is working on it and standards would be finalised by March 2008.

Meanwhile, Pawar told the sugar industry to ensure that cane farmers were paid their dues without any delay.

Speaking at the 73rd AGM of the Indian Sugar Mills Association here, Pawar said the Centre had taken several measures to assist the sugar industry and help sugarcane farmers and asserted that almost all financial assistance to sugar industry was meant for payment of cane dues.

Amongst measures taken to assist the industry includes creation of buffer stock of 50 lakh tonne for a period of one year, for which the Centre would pay buffer subsidy of almost Rs 880 crore from Sugar Development Fund.

Regarding other measures, banks would also provide additional credit of about Rs 970 crore and this amount had already been made available to sugar factories following instructions of the RBI and Nabard.

Besides this, assistance of Rs 300 crore would be available from the Sugar Development Fund for defraying of internal transport, handling and marketing charges and ocean freight on sugar exports made on or after April 19, 2007. This assistance is also to be used for payment of cane price, including cane price arrears to sugarcane farmers. 

Assurance on cane price difference

The government today assured the sugar industry that it would pursue states to pay the difference between the higher State Advisory Prices (SAP) of sugarcane fixed by them and the lower Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) declared by the Centre on the plea of helping mills in timely payment of cane-arrears to farmers.

Agreeing to the industry's contention, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said depressed prices of sugar had resulted in accumulation of cane arrears to farmers at about Rs 2,600 crore by the end of the sugar season 2006-07 (September-October).

Referring to the industry's long-standing demand for rationalisation of the sugarcane pricing by linking its price to the market price of sugar, Pawar said the issue had already been deliberated upon by the government.

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