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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

DoT to rework spectrum charges
New Delhi, December 27
Mobile operators may have to pay higher yearly fees to the government for airwaves with communication minister A Raja today asking the Telecom Commission to review the annual spectrum charges being paid by service providers as licence fee.

MF Schemes
SEBI moots fast track clearance model
Mumbai, December 27
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India today proposed a fast track mechanism for clearance of mutual fund schemes.

GAIL, OIL to jointly bid in NELP-VII
New Delhi, December 27
GAIL (India) Limited and Oil India Limited (OIL) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint cooperation in various business areas, including joint bidding for NELP-VII.

Nuclear Power Corp to spend Rs 30,000 cr 
Kolkata, December 27
The Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) would spend around Rs 30,000 crore over the next five-six years to generate 5,600 MW of nuclear power in the country, a top official of the company said.

CII’s Auto Expo in Delhi from Jan 10
Chandigarh, December 27
Strong participation by auto component manufacturers from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh would be visible in the forthcoming 9th Auto Expo, being held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, from January 10, 2008, to January 17.



EARLIER STORIES

 


A promoter poses with Samsung SDI's 31-inch active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AM-OLED) FHD TV in Seoul on Thursday. Samsung said it had developed a 31-inch ultra-thin organic screen, raising the stakes in an accelerating worldwide race for organic displays
A promoter poses with Samsung SDI's 31-inch active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AM-OLED) FHD TV in Seoul on Thursday. Samsung said it had developed a 31-inch ultra-thin organic screen, raising the stakes in an accelerating worldwide race for organic displays. —Reuters photo

Growth of six core sectors slips to 4.5 pc
New Delhi, December 27
Index of six core infrastructure sectors, which have direct bearing on economic growth, slumped to 4.5 per cent in October 2007 as compared to 9.9 per cent in the same month last year.

Indian MFIs top Forbes list
New York, December 27
After billionaires and household names like Ambanis and Mittals, it is the turn of little-known microfinance institutions (MFIs) from India to hit the pages of famed magazine Forbes, which has named seven such entities in the list of world's top 50 — highest for a country.

Rural FMCG sale to touch $3.5 billion: Assocham
New Delhi, December 27
Industry chamber Assocham yesterday said the sale volume of the FMCG industry in rural segment was likely to be around $3.5 billion by December 31, 2007.

L&T to invest Rs 1,800 cr
Kolkata, December 27
Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) today said it will invest around Rs 1,800 crore in the oil and gas and port sectors.

Gold rises to 4-week high at Rs 10,580
New Delhi, December 27
Gold prices soared to touch a four-week high of Rs 10,580 per 10 gram on the bullion market here today on strong global trends.

Mind Tree buyout
Mumbai, December 27
Global IT and R&D services company MindTree Consulting today said it has completed the acquisition of TES PV Electronic Solutions Pvt Ltd, which has become its 100-per cent subsidary. TES PV Electronic Solutions was the India-based subsidiary of France-based TES Electronic Solutions SA.— PTI

XL Telecom to enter Spain
Mumbai, December 27
Hyderabad-based XL Telecom & Energy has said it will enter into power generation segment in Spain with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore and targets a capacity of 28 MW in the first year. The company would establish a series of solar farms for power generation in Spain through its wholly-owned subsidiary Saptashva Solar, the company said in a filing to BSE.— PTI

 

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DoT to rework spectrum charges

New Delhi, December 27
Mobile operators may have to pay higher yearly fees to the government for airwaves with communication minister A Raja today asking the Telecom Commission to review the annual spectrum charges being paid by service providers as licence fee.

Raja's direction comes within a day of accepting TRAI's subscriber-linked criteria for allotment of additional spectrum to existing GSM players. The Commission has been asked to give its recommendations within 15 days.

"Since it has been decided to accept TRAI subscriber base for allocation of additional spectrum, a decision needs to be taken on spectrum charges," Raja said in a note to Telecom Commission chairman D S Mathur.

Sources said operators may be asked to pay higher charges for spectrum beyond a particular level. There has been demand that spectrum charges beyond 10 MHz should be increased to 10 per cent of a firm's revenues.

Telecom regulator TRAI had in August recommended that spectrum charges in terms of percentage of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) may be enhanced. However, a decision on this was to be taken after finalising the subscriber-linked criteria.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently said that there was need for maximising revenue from telecom sector without creating entry barriers and compromising on growth.

RCom slaps legal notice on DoT

Unhappy over communication ministry's decision to allot addition spectrum based on regulator TRAI's formula, CDMA mobile operator Reliance Communications (RCom) today served a legal notice to the government to freeze allocation of airwaves to existing players.

The notice came in the wake of government accepting TRAI's recommendations to award spectrum to mobile operators and deciding to file an affidavit in the Delhi High Court.

RCom also said the government should enforce Telecom Engineering Center's proposed subscriber base for allocation of spectrum, which was earlier accepted by DoT 'in-principle'.

TEC norms were much more stringent than those proposed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. TEC had raised subscriber base by up to 15 times while TRAI had suggested up to six times increase in the users base.

The notice has been filed to ensure that excess spectrum held by GSM operators is being returned, RCom said in a statement. It said GSM operators should immediately return over 50 MHz of spectrum being hoarded by them free of cost and beyond their entitlement of 6.2 MHz.

RCom had yesterday said the government's decision to accept TRAI's norms for allotment of additional spectrum tantamount to succumbing to the pressure tactics of GSM lobby. — PTI 

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MF Schemes
SEBI moots fast track clearance model

Mumbai, December 27
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India today proposed a fast track mechanism for clearance of mutual fund schemes.

"To begin with, it is proposed that we may adopt the fast track model for FMPs (fixed maturity plans), (and) close-ended schemes," the regulator said in its draft scheme on which it has invited public comments till January 15 next.

Under the proposed model, Asset Management Companies (AMCs) will have to file final offer document with SEBI as against the current practice of submitting draft offer document.

After receiving the confirmation of receipt of the document from SEBI, the AMC would be free to launch the scheme. The regulator, however, will retain the right to advise amendments, "if required in the interest of investors, to the offer document." The final offer document, which will be posted on SEBI website, will have to be accompanied by due diligence certificate from the trustees and additional due diligence certificate from the compliance committee comprising chief executive of the AMC, compliance head and fund manager.

The aim of adopting the new procedure, the regulator said, is to compress the existing process without compromising on the quality of disclosures to investors.

The proposal seeks to do away with the existing procedure pertaining to disclosing the draft document for comments for 21 working days, receiving the communications from SEBI and launching the scheme within six months.

Initially, the regulator proposes to launch the fast track clearance for FMPs and close ended schemes as these funds invest the money in debt and money market instruments and also because most of the fund houses operate such schemes.

Such schemes, SEBI said, also constitute bulk of the new offer documents being filed with the regulator. SEBI has drafted the new procedure on clearance of mutual funds after going through the practice being followed in countries like the US, United Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia and Korea, it said. — PTI 

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GAIL, OIL to jointly bid in NELP-VII
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 27
GAIL (India) Limited and Oil India Limited (OIL) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint cooperation in various business areas, including joint bidding for NELP-VII.

As part of the agreement, the two companies will jointly participate in the potential blocks, mainly onshore and offshore blocks in the forthcoming NELP VII bidding round. The two companies will also examine the possibility of joint bidding for overseas exploration blocks and also securing farm-in options in already awarded exploration blocks in India and abroad. The agreement was signed by U D Choubey, CMD, GAIL and M R Pasrija, CMD, OIL.

Various areas of mutual interests identified in the MoU include exploration and production, natural gas marketing and transmission, city gas distribution, coal bed methane, petrochemicals and technology and knowledge sharing.

Both companies will explore opportunities for cooperation in greater details so that respective resources could be pooled on the basis of mutuality and reciprocity, a joint statement said here today.

Further, GAIL and OIL may consider examining joint participation in gas pipeline projects abroad, including transnational gas pipeline projects.

Both companies will also examine joint implementation of city gas distribution projects in major cities of Assam and in other states through joint venture route along with interested third parties. 

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Nuclear Power Corp to spend Rs 30,000 cr 

Kolkata, December 27
The Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) would spend around Rs 30,000 crore over the next five-six years to generate 5,600 MW of nuclear power in the country, a top official of the company said.

NPC chairman and managing director S K Jain told reporters on the sidelines of Chemical Congress 2007 (Chemcon) here today that the first stage of the nuclear programme would be completed once the eight reactors are commissioned with each having a generating capacity of 700 MW.

Upon completion of stage one, the country would embark upon the second stage of the nuclear programme which envisages production of fast breeder reactors, he said.

While uranium was the main raw material used for normal reactors, fast breeder reactors would use plutonium.

The average cost of nuclear power tariff worked out to be over Rs two per unit.

The government is yet to decide on the location of probable sites for nuclear power plant proposed to be set up in the country. Haripur in West Bengal is one of the sites which has been identified for the purpose.

In the 11th Five-Year Plan, the government had laid substantial stress on increased generation of N-power. — PTI 

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CII’s Auto Expo in Delhi from Jan 10
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
Strong participation by auto component manufacturers from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh would be visible in the forthcoming 9th Auto Expo, being held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, from January 10, 2008, to January 17.

Not only participation by auto component manufacturers, the organisers of the event — the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) — expect a huge rush of visitors from the northern states.

Addressing the regional press conference about the highlights of the eight-day Asia’s largest automobile carnival, the chairman of the CII, Chandigarh State Council, Pratap.K.Aggarwal, said it would be the biggest show in terms of space. An area of 1,20,000 sq mt was being provided this year, around 60 per cent more than the 2006 auto show.

Vikram Hans, convenor (hardware panel), CII, said this year alternative fuel-based vehicles, personal computer-aided cars and futuristic design of cars would be some of the highlights of the auto show. Apart from 30 new models, the much-hyped Rs 1 lakh car from Tata Motors, concept car A-Star and Splash of Maruti-Suzuki, sports utility vehicle Touareg of Volkswagen and compact car Jazz from Honda would be on display.

Notably, three auto giants, Maruti, Tata Motors and Volkswagen, have booked Hall No 14, 11 and 12, respectively. The other companies which have booked full hall are Ashok Leyland, Bajaj Auto, Force Motors, TVS Motors, Hero Honda and Yamaha. 

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Growth of six core sectors slips to 4.5 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 27
Index of six core infrastructure sectors, which have direct bearing on economic growth, slumped to 4.5 per cent in October 2007 as compared to 9.9 per cent in the same month last year.

During April-October 2007-08, six core infrastructure industries, comprising crude petroleum, petroleum refinery products, coal, electricity, cement and finished steel, declined to 6.2 per cent as against 8.9 per cent during the corresponding period of the previous year.

Significantly, all six core sectors, which has a combined weight of 26.7 per cent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), remained sluggish in October 2007 as compared to same period last fiscal.

The slowdown in core sector could have a direct bearing on economic growth, as well as indirect adverse affect on other sectors, which use inputs from these industries.

Crude petroleum production (weight of 4.17 per cent in the IIP) registered a negative growth of 0.1 per cent (provisional) in October 2007 compared to a growth rate of 9.3 per cent in October 2006. During April-October 2007-08, it registered 0.6 per cent as compared to 4.8 per cent during the same period last fiscal.

Petroleum refinery production (weight of 2 per cent) registered a growth of 2.8 per cent in October 2007 as against 18.1 per cent in October 2006. The growth of this sector slowed down to 8.8 per cent during April-October 2007-08 compared to 13.1 per cent during the same period of 2006-07.

Cement production (weight of 1.99 per cent) slowed down to 7.0 per cent in October 2007 compared to 9.4 per cent in October 2006. Cement production grew by 8.1 per cent during April-October 2007-08 compared to an increase of 10.4 per cent during the same period previous fiscal.

Finished (carbon) steel production (weight of 5.13 per cent) registered a growth of 4.8 per cent in October 2007 compared to 10.6 per cent in October 2006.

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Indian MFIs top Forbes list

New York, December 27
After billionaires and household names like Ambanis and Mittals, it is the turn of little-known microfinance institutions (MFIs) from India to hit the pages of famed magazine Forbes, which has named seven such entities in the list of world's top 50 — highest for a country.

In its first ever list of World's Top 50 Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), the US business magazine has named Bangalore-based Bandhan at the second position.

Bandhan, as well as two other Indian MFIs — Microcredit Foundation of India (ranked 13th) and Saadhana Microfin Society (15th) — have been placed even above Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank, which along with its founder Mohammed Yunus was awarded Nobel Prize last year.

Grameen Bank has been ranked 17th in the list topped by another Bangladesh-based institution, ASA.

India, along with Bangladesh, are jointly home to the maximum number of MFIs to be featured in the list. Among others, there are five from Bosnia and Herzegovina, four each from Morocco and Peru, three from Colombia and two each from Equador, Ethiopia and Serbia.

One each from 15 other countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Mexico and Brazil have also been named in the list.

Besides Bandhan, Microcredit Foundation of India and Saadhana Microfin Society, other Indian entries include Grameen Koota (19th), Sharada's Women's Association for Weaker Section (23rd), SKS Microfinance Private Ltd (44th) and Asmitha Microfin Ltd (29th).

Interestingly, two of the Indian MFIs featured in the list — Grameen Koota and SKS Microfinance — are working on the same model adopted by Grameen Bank.

Forbes magazine said that "microfinance has become a buzzword of the decade, raising the provocative notion that even philanthropy aimed at alleviating poverty can be profitable to institutional and individual investors." "Billionaires, global leaders and Nobel Prize recipients are hailing these direct loans to uncollateralised would-be entrepreneurs as a way to lift them out of poverty while creating self-sustaining businesses," it noted.

The magazine said the list was made after going through data available with the Microfinance Information Exchange and the analysis from rating firms Micro-Credit Ratings International Limited and MicroRate. — PTI 

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Rural FMCG sale to touch $3.5 billion: Assocham
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 27
Industry chamber Assocham yesterday said the sale volume of the FMCG industry in rural segment was likely to be around $3.5 billion by December 31, 2007.

According to estimates made by Assocham, based on feedback received from leading constituents in FMCG sector, the FMCG size in value terms is expected to be over $18 billion of which its rural segment could be slightly more than 1/5th of total FMCG market.

In calendar 2006, the total FMCG market size was estimated at $15 billion, of which the rural segment was measured at around $2 billion. The total FMCG size by October 2007 was estimated at over $17 billion.

The factors responsible for increased market penetration in rural FMCG sector comprises of higher consumption patterns of rural population for products such as consumer durables, which include refrigerator, TV sets, electrical appliances as rural India is getting connected with power facilities, personal care products, toiletries & soaps and soft drinks, said Assocham president Venugopal N. Dhoot quoting the estimates.

Dhoot, who himself is a lead consumer durable player, adds that consumer durable manufacturers in 2007 introduced and designed special budgeted products as per rural requirement, as a result of which their sales increased by over 30 in rural areas in first 10 months of calendar 2007.

The trend remained almost similar for television sets and other consumer and electrical appliances. The production strategies for this also remained identical by MNCs and their counterparts in domestic company for increased and higher rural market penetration of FMCG products. This worked and amounted to higher sales, which in comparison to last year went up by over 25 per cent.

In India there are approximately 128 million households, the rural population is nearly three times the urban. As a result of growing affluence, fuelled by good monsoon and the increase in agriculture output to 200 million tonnes, rural India has a large consuming class with 41 per cent of India’s middle class and 58 per cent of total disposal income.

The importance of the rural market for some FMCG and durable marketers is underlined by the fact that the rural market accounts for close to 70 per cent of toilet-soap users and 38 per cent of all two-wheelers purchased.

The rural market accounts for half the total market for TV sets, fans, pressure cookers, bicycles, washing soaps, blades, tea, salt and toothpowder. The rural market of FMCG products is growing much faster than the urban counterpart, points out Assocham.

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L&T to invest Rs 1,800 cr

Kolkata, December 27
Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) today said it will invest around Rs 1,800 crore in the oil and gas and port sectors.

The company would invest around Rs 650 crore ($165 million) for building an installation vessel for the upstream sector, L&T president (operations) K Venkataramanan told reporters on the sidelines of Chemical Congress 2007 here.

L&T was keen to acquire technological strength in deep water exploration for which it was entering into collaboration with foreign companies, he said.

The company was upgrading its facility at Hazira.

Venkataramanan said L&T would also invest Rs 1,000 crore for constructing a shipyard and was also building a port at Sohar near Oman at an investment of around Rs 118 crore ($30 million).

Besides the energy sector, L&T was also engaged in the construction of greenfield airports at Hyderabad and Bangalore. — PTI

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Gold rises to 4-week high at Rs 10,580

New Delhi, December 27
Gold prices soared to touch a four-week high of Rs 10,580 per 10 gram on the bullion market here today on strong global trends.

Silver prices also followed suit and improved by Rs 65 per kilo.

Standard gold and ornaments remained in hectic demand and saw a jump of Rs 130 each at Rs 10,580 and Rs 10,430 per 10 gram, respectively. Sovereign also gained Rs 75 at Rs 8,800 per piece of eight gram.

Silver ready strengthened by Rs 65 at Rs 19,200 per kilo but silver weekly-based delivery dropped by Rs 135 at Rs 19,100 per kilo on lack of speculators support.

Marketmen said persistent buying by stockists and jewellery fabricators to meet the ensuing marriage season demand amid reports of steep rise in global markets pushed up gold.— PTI

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BRIEFLY


Tanaka Kikinzoku displays 18-karat gold Hello Kitty charms featuring Japan's local attractions of (R-L) Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and Fukuoka whose shops are found in these cities at the company's main shop in Tokyo on Thursday. The shops will start selling them from January 2
Tanaka Kikinzoku displays 18-karat gold Hello Kitty charms featuring Japan's local attractions of (R-L) Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and Fukuoka whose shops are found in these cities at the company's main shop in Tokyo on Thursday. The shops will start selling them from January 2. — AFP photo

Time Technoplast
Mumbai, December 27
Polymer products maker Time Technoplast Ltd today said it has acquired Bahrain-based Gulf Powerbeat WLL (GPW) through its subsidiary NED Energy Ltd (NED), Hyderabad. Earlier this year, the company had entered into the battery business through the acquisition of NED, Time Technoplast said in a communique to the Bombay Stock Exchange.— PTI

Suven Life
Mumbai, December 27
Pharmaceutical firm Suven Life Sciences today said the US Patent office has granted product patent for compounds used in the treatment of neuro-degenerative disorders. Suven has been granted product patent 'US 7,297,711', its first product patent in the United States, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange. — PTI

Special fares
Bangalore, December 27
Singapore Airlines today announced special economy class fares to Singapore and popular cities in Malaysia from Bangalore. The offer included an economy class fare of Rs 9,000 to Singapore Rs 10,000 to Kuala Lumpur/Penang and Rs 11,000 to Bangkok. However, they do not include taxes and surcharges. The fares were available for sale with immediate effect and are valid for travel between March 1 and May 3, 2008, the release added.— UNI

Art Karat
Karnal, December 27
Art Karat’s latest designer choice collection was launched here today. Designed by world renowned jewellery designer Asha Kamal Modi, the collection is made up of classic designs in silver dipped in gold, studded with colorful semi-precious stones. The range includes a collection of earrings, necklaces, bangles and bracelets. — TNS

Chola MS
Chennai, December 27
Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Co Ltd (Chola MS), a joint venture by Murugappa Group and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance of Japan, today announced a tripartite tie-up with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and CMC Ltd to revamp their IT infrastructure. A company release here today said the new system would ensure improved service delivery processes for customers in India. — UNI

StanChart
Mumbai, December 27
India's largest international bank Standard Chartered Bank will launch a reward programme for its savings account customers using electronic banking channels from January 1. Under the programme, the bank will pass back reward points on savings made by the customers using the electronic channels of payments. Customers will be rewarded a point for every single use as per the terms of the proposition, irrespective of the size of their transactions, the bank release said. — UNI

Stock split
Mumbai, December 27
Steel maker Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) today said shareholders have approved splitting of its stock in the ratio 1:5. Consequent to the approval, the shares of the company of Rs 5 each would be sub-divided into five shares of Re 1 each, it said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.— PTI

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