SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Spectrum Row
Telecom tussle turns murkier
GSM operators’ body serves legal notice on DoT
New Delhi, December 26
Acting swiftly on news reports, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) served a notice to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and its secretary D.S. Mathur cautioning against grant of GSM spectrum to CDMA operators, till the pendency of hearing of the case in the Delhi High Court.


RCom cries foul

NMDC moves HC against Tata Steel
New Delhi, December 26
The Delhi High Court has sought an explanation from the Centre on a petition challenging its decision to grant prospecting licence for mining iron ore to Tata Steel in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

Iran, Malaysia sign $6-billion gas deal
Tehran, December 26
Iran and Malaysia today signed a multi-billion dollar contract to develop two offshore Iranian gas fields, officials said. Iran's Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC) and Malaysia's SKS Ventures signed the $6 billion contract for development of Golshan and Ferdos gas fields at a ceremony in Tehran.



EARLIER STORIES

 
A large wooden board with a white mouse drawing is displayed above the Asakusa shopping street crowded with year-end shoppers to celebrate upcoming "Year of the Rat" in Tokyo on Wednesday.
A large wooden board with a white mouse drawing is displayed above the Asakusa shopping street crowded with year-end shoppers to celebrate upcoming "Year of the Rat" in Tokyo on Wednesday. While the actual "Year of the Rat", according to the lunar calendar, will be ushered in across the region in February, the Japanese New Year, known as "shogatsu" and one of the biggest holidays of the year, will be celebrated on January 1. — AFP
A Toshiba employee displays the company's new notebook computer, "Qosmio G40", which has the world's first rewritable high-definition DVD (HD DVD-RW) disk drive, in Tokyo on Wednesday.
A Toshiba employee displays the company's new notebook computer, "Qosmio G40", which has the world's first rewritable high-definition DVD (HD DVD-RW) disk drive, in Tokyo on Wednesday. The Qosmio G40, equipped with a 2.2GHz Intel Core2Duo processor and a 17-inch wide LCD display, started to sell here last week. — AFP

Videocon to foray into power sector
New Delhi, December 26
Consumer electronic goods maker Videocon Industries today said it plans to generate 5,000 MW power at an estimated cost of Rs 25,000 crore and is scouting for land in Gujarat, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.

LIC’s health insurance products in February
New Delhi, December 26
Life Insurance Corporation of India has got the approval of regulator IRDA for its health insurance product 'LIC Health Plus', which would be launched by February.

Spice to sell 875 telecom towers
Mumbai, December 26
Mobile service provider Spice Communications today said it will sell 875 telecom towers to a tower operating firm and would raise over $800 million through debt.

$120-150 billion needed for energy security: Report
New Delhi, December 26
To achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency in the long run, India’s power and upstream energy sectors need investments to the tune of $120 to $150 billion over the next five years, according to a CII-KPMG report.

ADB to give $1.85 b to North-East
New Delhi, December 26
Multilateral funding agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) is likely to allocate a total of $1.85 billion for the less developed northeastern states like Assam and Mizoram in the next three years.

OVL to take 40 pc in Venezuelan oilfield
New Delhi, December 26
ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas investment arm of state-run ONGC, will take a 40 per cent stake in San Cristobal oilfield in Venezuela.

Panoramic to invest over Rs 3,000 cr
Mumbai, December 26
Hospitality firm Panoramic Universal plans to build a 159-acre township project at Jaipur with an estimated outlay of over Rs 3,000 crore.

Share of SSIs in manufacturing to go down: Assocham
New Delhi, December 26
The share of small scale units in the country's manufacturing sector may decline as newer technologies, trade barriers and strict quality norms erode their competitiveness, industry body Assocham has said.


Videos
Toyota to sell 9.85 million vehicles in 2008.
(56k)
Indian market 2nd best performer in 2007.
(56k)

 

Top



 

 

 

Spectrum Row
Telecom tussle turns murkier
GSM operators’ body serves legal notice on DoT
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
Acting swiftly on news reports, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) served a notice to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and its secretary D.S. Mathur cautioning against grant of GSM spectrum to CDMA operators, till the pendency of hearing of the case in the Delhi High Court.

In the notice served through its standing counsel Manjul Bajpai, the COAI stated that any attempt to proceed with the allotment of GSM spectrum to CDMA operators pending court decision would be an act of “impropriety” and would amount to over-reaching and pre-empting a court decision.

Pointing that the writ petition No. 9654 of 2007 in the Delhi High Court “is now by consent” adjourned to January 3, 2008, the COAI urged the DoT to defer its reported decision to proceed with the allotment of GSM spectrum to CDMA Operators.

“It has been reported in the electronic media last night, the source was not disclosed, that DoT has decided to proceed with the allotment of GSM spectrum to CDMA operators despite the circumstances mentioned above. It is earnestly requested that any such decision be deferred since any attempt to proceed with the allotment pending court decision would be an act of impropriety and would amount to over-reaching and pre-empting a court decision,” the notice said.

In view of the magnitude and seriousness of the matter and the issues involved, and the pendency of the proceedings before the High Court challenging the rejection of the stay by TDSAT, it is earnestly requested that DoT do await the decision of the court and not proceed with allotment of GSM spectrum to CDMA operators, it added.

The COAI notice comes in the wake of reports that the government today accepted spectrum review committee’s recommendation of allocating additional frequency to existing GSM operators based on TRAI's subscriber linked formula and in multiples of 1 MHz.

A PTI report quoting unnamed officials said communications minister A Raja today signed the file and sent it to Department of Telecom Secretary D S Mathur for action.

The GSM lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had challenged TRAI's figures, saying these were not based on scientific calculation and were without consultation of the stakeholders.

Till now, the GSM operators were getting additional spectrum in the multiples of 2.4 to 2.8 MHz and lowering it to 1 MHz would hit the operators as this would mean additional capital expenditure for them.

The panel, headed by R Bandyopahdyay, had suggested that another committee be set up with technical experts to arrive at a scientific subscriber base for apportioning additional spectrum and in the interim period TRAI recommendation be implemented.

The committee was of view that the subscriber base as suggested by the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), which is higher than TRAI, could be still higher if all the parameters were taken into account.

RCom cries foul

Reliance Communications today said the government's decision to accept regulator TRAI's norms for allotment of additional spectrum tantamounts to succumbing to the pressure tactics of GSM operators' lobby.

"Department of Telecom (DoT) has succumbed to private GSM players' pressure tactics. This is unnecessary and unwarranted concession given to them," an RCom spokesperson said in a statement.

RCom chairman Anil Ambani had supported the spectrum allocation norms of Telecom Engineering Centre that were much more stringent than those proposed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. RCom, which offers services under the CDMA technology platform, had also demanded return of excess spectrum held by rival GSM players such as Bharti Airtel. — PTI

Top

 

NMDC moves HC against Tata Steel

New Delhi, December 26
The Delhi High Court has sought an explanation from the Centre on a petition challenging its decision to grant prospecting licence for mining iron ore to Tata Steel in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

Justice S Ravindra Bhatt also sought response from Chhattisgarh government and Tata Steel on the petition filed by state-run mineral firm NMDC Ltd. The state government had recommended Tata Steel for the licence for iron ore over an area of 2,500 hectares in Bailadila area of the district.

NMDC, a mini-ratna public sector company, has sought suspension of Centre's approval given on February 14 which granted prospecting licence to Tata Steel for two years.

The PSU contended that Chhattisgarh government, with whom it was pursuing the matter since April 15, 1991 for prospecting licence over an area of 1,130 hectare, ignored its rightful claim and recommended Tata Steel's name.

The company said the decision of both Centre and Chhattisgarh government to grant prospecting licence to steel major was arbitrary and illegal as it had applied way back in April 1991 whereas Tata had applied only in March 2006 for this deposit. Tata Steel plans to construct a steel plant in the state and requires iron ore for the purpose.

NMDC said it was the first applicant over this area and by virtue of seniority it has preferential right under Section 11 (2) of Mines Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, which says that "the applicant whose application was received earlier, shall have the preferential right to be considered for grant of prospecting licence". — PTI

Top

 

Iran, Malaysia sign $6-billion gas deal

Tehran, December 26
Iran and Malaysia today signed a multi-billion dollar contract to develop two offshore Iranian gas fields, officials said.

Iran's Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC) and Malaysia's SKS Ventures signed the $6 billion contract for development of Golshan and Ferdos gas fields at a ceremony in Tehran.

"The estimation for the investment for both the upstream and sweetening sectors of the project is about $6 billion," oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said. The project would be completed in about five and half years, he said.

Golshan's reserves amount to more than 50 trillion cubic feet of gas and it is expected to produce 2.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. — AFP

Top

 

Videocon to foray into power sector

New Delhi, December 26
Consumer electronic goods maker Videocon Industries today said it plans to generate 5,000 MW power at an estimated cost of Rs 25,000 crore and is scouting for land in Gujarat, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.

The company recently signed memoranda of understanding with West Bengal and Chhattisgarh to set up power projects in the states, sources said.

It is believed to be on a look out for a global partner for the power generation business.

"We are yet to start the land identification process. Once the land is identified, the company will prepare feasibility reports," company sources said.

The projects would be financed in the debt-equity ratio of 70:30, they said.

The company in an advertisement issued today said it has an objective of producing 5,000 MW electricity in West Bengal, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh along with a major global player.

However, when contacted Videocon Industries chairman Venugopal Dhoot refused to give further details.

The company invited bids from global EPC contractors for setting up a 1,600-MW imported coal-based power plant in Gujarat.

"Videocon Industries through its SPV, Pipavava Energy Pvt Ltd has decided to set up 2x800 MW imported coal-based super critical thermal power project near Pipavav port in Gujarat," the company said in the advertisement.

The sources said that the cost of this project is expected to be around Rs 8,000 crore depending on several factors such as availability of fuel.

Contractors for the project, to be implemented on a single turnkey basis, would be selected through international competitive bidding. The last date for submission of bids is June 9, 2008.

The first unit of the plant is expected to commence operations from mid-2012 and the second unit in six months thereafter.

On December 17, Videocon said it will hive off its power, oil and gas, and coal renewable energy into wholly-owned special purpose vehicles. — PTI

Top

 

LIC’s health insurance products in February

New Delhi, December 26
Life Insurance Corporation of India has got the approval of regulator IRDA for its health insurance product 'LIC Health Plus', which would be launched by February.

"We have got Insurance Regulatory Development Authority's (IRDA) nod to launch the health insurance products. The long-term comprehensive health insurance products would be launched in the second week of February next year," LIC executive director (health) D D Singh told PTI.

The product was originally supposed to be launched in last week of December, but has been postponed partly due to the delay in regulatory approval.

Unlike the cashless transaction model followed by competitors, LIC's product would be based on the lines of floater plan, which would give the policyholder the option to receive a lumpsum — which means claims could be made for even treatment undergone at home.

"The additional feature would be domiciliary claim, where a patient taking treatment at home will be reimbursed as and when he submits the complete bills," he said.

LIC is targeting to provide health cover to close to one crore families in the first year of the launch of the product and expects over Rs 5,000 crore of revenues.

The company has claimed that the present cashless model is not in favour of the customer as many hospitals were not accepting the facility. Moreover, in many cases hospitals are charging more if a patient comes with an insurance cover that offers cashless treatment.

LIC's product will also be a long-term product of over 10 years.

The sources said unlike the current mediclaim products offered by general insurance companies that cover the insured's hospitalisation expenses and are annual in nature, LIC would pay the insured a predetermined lumpsum amount, depending on his premium payment. The product is expected to be marketed in a big way through all distribution channels of LIC, including its over 10 lakh agents.

LIC has set up its health department at Hyderabad, which will contain the centralised data.

It is also learnt that the product will not have a level premium and will increase with the age of the insured and if more benefits are opted for. The pre-existing diseases will be covered, but with some clauses.

It will also have a health savings account and a unit-linked component attached to it. The product will cover outdoor patient expenses, but there will be limits to ensure overcharging by health care providers.

Earlier, LIC selected 83 third-party administrators (TPAs) in different regions across the country. The TPAs will issue health cards and will be used only for settling the claims. For claim payouts, the public sector insurer has tied up with Axis Bank, Syndicate Bank and Bank of America. — PTI

Top

 

Spice to sell 875 telecom towers

Mumbai, December 26
Mobile service provider Spice Communications today said it will sell 875 telecom towers to a tower operating firm and would raise over $800 million through debt.

The company's board of directors at its meeting yesterday approved a proposal in this regard, the B K Modi promoted company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Spice Communications has also decided to avail borrowing facilities to the tune of $810 million from Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) and China Development Bank (CDB). — PTI

Top

 

$120-150 billion needed for energy security: Report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
To achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency in the long run, India’s power and upstream energy sectors need investments to the tune of $120 to $150 billion over the next five years, according to a CII-KPMG report.

Pointing that the Indian energy sector is exhibiting a rich potential for investment in diverse streams, driven by the surging economy and the resultant demand-supply gap in the short run, the report released recently emphasises the need for strong private sector participation to complement public sector and to bring in the required capabilities and technologies.

“Policies have increasingly recognised the need to promote private investment. Private interest in captive coal mining, oil and gas exploration and in power sector has shown significant progress and is also envisaged in nuclear sector,” the report titled ‘India Energy Inc. — Emerging Opportunities & Challenges’, said.

By world standards, India’s current level of energy consumption is very low. For the year 2004-05, the total annual energy consumption for India is estimated at 572 Mtoe (million tons oil equivalent) and the per capita consumption at 531 kgoe (kilograms oil equivalent).

With a target GDP growth rate of 8-10 per cent and an estimated energy elasticity of 0.80, energy requirement is expected to grow at 6.4-8.0 per cent. This would mean a five-fold increase in India’s energy requirement over the next 25 years, the report said.

Energy transport infrastructure such as ports, railways, pipelines and power transmission networks need significant investment. The policy now allows private participation in all these areas and some private sector activity is already under way.

The report also asserted that the tariff reform in the energy sector and distribution reform in the power sector are two important steps that need to be successfully carried out. Tariff reform to phase out subsidies or to target them effectively and distribution reforms to bring efficiency in the power sector are vital.

Referring to a move to bring in market mechanisms in the energy sector along with private participation under an independent regulatory oversight, the report said a gradual approach is important till the supply side position improves and more players enter the sector so that markets can work effectively.

Top

 

ADB to give $1.85 b to North-East

New Delhi, December 26
Multilateral funding agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) is likely to allocate a total of $1.85 billion for the less developed northeastern states like Assam and Mizoram in the next three years.

ADB has earmarked $250 million aid for development of cities in the region, according to the bank's India:Country Operations Business Plan for 2008-10.

In addition, during 2008 the multilateral agency would provide $100 million for Assam Governance and Public Resource Management and $300 million for roads development programmes.

Under the Assam Governance Programme, the agency would provide funds to the state government to help it increase revenue and improve fiscal performance.

Under the Northeastern Region Capital Cities Development Investment Programme, the agency would provide funds to improve the quality of urban living conditions and enhance urban productivity.

The cities to be covered in this programme are Agartala (Tripura), Aizawl (Mizoram), Shillong (Meghalaya), Kohima (Nagaland), and Gangtok (Sikkim).

According to the Business Plan, the ADB would provide $550 million to the northeastern region during 2009 for programmes like North East States Integrated Food Control and River Erosion Mitigation Project, Assam energy efficiency enhancement project, etc.

For 2010, the ADB approved about $650 million for funding projects which include North East Region Urban Development Investment Programme and North East National Highway Investment Programme. — PTI

Top

 

OVL to take 40 pc in Venezuelan oilfield

New Delhi, December 26
ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas investment arm of state-run ONGC, will take a 40 per cent stake in San Cristobal oilfield in Venezuela.

OVL will make a total investment of $355.738 million comprising signature bonus of $173.1 million for the stake, a company official said. Venezuelan national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) will hold the remaining 60 per cent through a subsidiary.

Besides, ONGC would also be required to sanction a loan of $355.74 million for the project that covers 160.16 sq km located in the Orinoco Heavy Oil belt.

The production from San Cristobal field was started in October, 1981. Till date 44 wells have been drilled, of which 24 are active. The field is currently producing about 24,000 barrels of oil per day.

Ultimate recoverable reserves in the project area have been estimated by a joint team of ONGC and PDVSA at 232.38 million barrels that can yield up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

"OVL and the the PDVSA subsidiary will form a joint venture company to operate the San Cristobal project," the official said. The Indian firm will have two directors on the board of the joint venture company, while PDVSA subsidiary would have three directors, including the chairman.

Capital expenditure as per the business plan mutually agreed by OVL and PDVSA would be $446.13 million. — PTI

Top

 

Panoramic to invest over Rs 3,000 cr

Mumbai, December 26
Hospitality firm Panoramic Universal plans to build a 159-acre township project at Jaipur with an estimated outlay of over Rs 3,000 crore.

The company is negotiating with a local trader in Jaipur to buy the land, which is expected to come through by the end of February next year, Panoramic Universal's chairman Sudhir Moravekar told PTI here.

Following the land acquisition, the company would start developing the township in phases and complete the project in the next five years.

"We have plans to put up residential, commercial, hotel and hospitality projects over there. The total investment in the project will be over Rs 3,000 crore," Moravekar said.

The project would be funded through a mix of debt and equity in the ratio of 70:30, he added.

Panoramic, he said, would form a special purpose vehicle for the project with a leading private equity player, to which it will offer equity stake.

Of the equity part, Panoramic would keep 50 per cent of the stake and the remaining would be offered to the PE player, he said.

Panoramic Universal, which owns nine hotels in the US, India and New Zealand, plans to add nine more over the next two to three years with an investment fo Rs 1,000 crore. — PTI

Top

 

Share of SSIs in manufacturing to go down: Assocham

New Delhi, December 26
The share of small scale units in the country's manufacturing sector may decline as newer technologies, trade barriers and strict quality norms erode their competitiveness, industry body Assocham has said.

According to a study by Assocham, the contribution to manufacturing and job creation by small scale industries (SSI) is likely to slip by 5 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively, as it has already plunged into deceleration because of its inability to absorb latest technologies.

The report, "Prospects of SSIs in 2008 vis-a-vis other booming sector", said that large and medium industries are sourcing their inputs through cheaper imports that have endangered SSIs' existence and the trend is unlikely to be arrested in the coming year.

"SSIs will encounter a gloom period, beginning 2008 as its contribution to manufacturing will come down to 35 per cent as compared to 40 per cent of now and over 45 per cent preceding year until 2006-07," chamber president Venugopal N Dhoot said in a press release.

The number of SSI units in 2006-07 were estimated at 44 lakh with employment capacities for nearly 2.38 crore workers with Rs 14 lakh crore of output to manufacturing, it said.

"As a result of deceleration, the number of units in SSIs have come down to around 40 lakh by now and employment generation has shrunk to 2.25 crore workers. Their output to manufacturing has come down to Rs 12 lakh crore," Dhoot said.

The report pointed out that due to lack of visible policy decisions, the export by SSIs would also decline by 7-8 per cent as the inputs being produced by the entire sector are costing to their supplier higher by over 6-7 per cent. — PTI

Top

 
BRIEFLY

Spanco foray
Mumbai, December 26
Telecom system integration company Spanco Telesystems and Solutions has forayed into the domestic BPO segment with an initial investment of Rs 400 crore. Known as 'Spanco BPO', the new venture has set up two flagship customer support centres in Gurgaon and Mumbai to provide back-office services to domestic clients, the company said in a release.— PTI

Order for L&T
Mumbai, December 26
Larsen and Toubro, the country's biggest engineering firm, today said its joint venture in Oman has bagged three contracts worth Rs 748.70 crore. The biggest contract is for the Muscat Golf Course valued at Rs 433.50 crore. The contracts from Dhofar Power Company (DPC) and Muscat Electricity Distribution Company for substations and associated works are worth Rs 315.20 crore. Both these projects would be completed in 7-16 months.— PTI

Gemini Comm
Mumbai, December 26
Gemini Communication along with Midas Communication Technologies has bagged Rs 260 crore order from BSNL for executing a project in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Haryana. Both firms — Gemini Communication and Midas Communication Technologies — have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.— PTI

Himalya plan
Mumbai, December 26
Enthused by orders from Reliance Retail and similar expectations from other retail chains, processed foods manufacturer Himalya International Ltd will expand its dairy processing plant and invest in a Yogurt unit. Himalya International today said Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Retail has agreed to source Yogurt and flavoured milk from the company, Himalya International informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.— PTI

Indowind
Mumbai, December 26
Wind power company Indowind Energy today said it has raised Rs 118 crore though Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs) for overseas business expansion. The FCCBs contain a coupon payment of 2.5 per cent paid semi-annually and have a maturity period of five years and one day. They would be converted into equity shares at a premium of 33 per cent, Indowind said in a statement.— PTI

Elder deal
Mumbai, December 26
Elder Pharmaceuticals yesterday said it has signed an in-licensing agreement with Gnosis of Italy. Under the agreement, Gnosis has licensed an anti-osteoarthritic nutritional supplement, S-Adenosyl methionine, and would supply the product in finished form to be marketed in India. The market for anti-arthritic products in India is about Rs 600 crore and is showing a good growth, Elder said. — PTI

Kinetic Engg
Mumbai, December 26
Pune-based component manufacturer Kinetic Engineering today said it plans to raise Rs 100 crore through foreign currency convertible bonds and allotting compulsory convertible preference shares on preferential basis. The committee of the board of directors took a decision to this effect at its meeting on December 21, the company today said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange. — PTI

Top

 



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |