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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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Raju elusive as probes begin
Hyderabad, January 9
The noose is tightening around the fallen IT icon B Ramalinga Raju as Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Andhra Pradesh CID commenced parallel probes into the Satyam scandal today.

Bailout package for Satyam
Centre should decide, says Andhra CM
Chennai, January 9
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy today said it was for the Centre to take a decision on a bailout package for Satyam Computers, which is in the eye of a storm after its chairman B Ramalinga Raju resigned two days ago, admitting financial mismanagement.

More lawsuits filed against Satyam in US
New York, January 9 
A new class action lawsuit was filed in the US courts today against Satyam Computer, against which already about half-a-dozen such suits have been filed on behalf of the thousands of the investors in the American Depository Shares of the Indian IT firm.

Tata Motors to shut Jamshedpur plant for 6 days
New Delhi, January 9
Tata Motors today said it will be shutting down its Jamshedpur plant, where it manufactures mainly heavy commercial vehicles, for six days from January 12 to January 17, the fourth block closure in three months.



EARLIER STORIES



Cabinet okays Rs 25,000 cr for NBFCs
New Delhi, January 9
The government today set in motion the process of providing liquidity support of up to Rs 25,000 crore to cash-strapped Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) to enable them to pay existing liabilities, as was announced in the second stimulus package to spur sagging economic growth.


Customers look at Panasonic television sets at an electronic shop in Tokyo on Friday. Panasonic Corp will cut its investment in two new flat-screen TV plants by about $1.5 billion and exit unprofitable businesses as the global economic slump slices into its profits.
Customers look at Panasonic television sets at an electronic shop in Tokyo on Friday. Panasonic Corp will cut its investment in two new flat-screen TV plants by about $1.5 billion and exit unprofitable businesses as the global economic slump slices into its profits. — Reuters

Truckers’ strike hits export-oriented units
Solan, January 9
With the truckers’ strike entering the fourth day, the export-oriented units (EoUs) in the region are having a tough time. Since their orders are time-bound and have to be shipped within a specific period, the transporters’ strike has put on hold all such consignments.

Sensex sheds 180 points
Mumbai, January 9
The markets continued to be buffeted by strong headwinds following the Satyam Computers scandal and the benchmark index closed lower by 180 points at 9,406 points. In the broader markets, the Nifty fell 47 points to close at 2,873.

Textile sector reels under crisis
Production down 25-30 per cent
Chandigarh, January 9
The second stimulus to the struggling Indian industry by the government last week has failed to bring cheers to the textile sector in North India. The textile and clothing sector which is the worst hit because of slow down in exports, feels that it is a case of too little and too late.

Tata Comm eyes buyouts; to raise Rs 3,000 cr
New Delhi, January 9
Tata Communications (formerly VSNL) has approached the government, a 26 per cent shareholder, for a rights issue to raise Rs 1,000 crore and another Rs 2,000 crore through debt to finance acquisitions in the US and the UK and bid for spectrum for wireless broadband.

Sasan Project controversy
Tata Power suppressed facts, Govt tells HC
New Delhi, January 9
The government today told the Delhi High Court that Tata Power has suppressed facts in challenging the decision to allow diversion of coal from Sasan project by Reliance Power (RPower).







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Raju elusive as probes begin
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 9
The noose is tightening around the fallen IT icon B Ramalinga Raju as Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Andhra Pradesh CID commenced parallel probes into the Satyam scandal today.

On being summoned by SEBI, Raju, who had admitted to committing fraud to the tune of Rs 7,100 crore, will appear before the authorities at Satyam headquarters here tomorrow.

Raju’s lawyer S Bharat Kumar went to Satyam headquarters today and informed the SEBI panel that his client was unwell, but assured to extend full cooperation with the regulatory and investigating authorities.

“Since Raju is not well, we have sought three days’ time for his appearance before SEBI team. But, we have been granted only one day’s time,” Kumar told the media.

Meanwhile, the state CID has started investigation into the fraud following orders from the state government which has been coming under increasing pressure to act.

The opposition parties have been targeting Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy for “showering favours” on the firms belonging to Raju’s family members.

The Director General of Police SSP Yadav will personally supervise the probe. He held a meeting with CID Additional Director-General A Sivanarayana, Inspector-General (economic offences wing) VSK Kaumudi and other senior officials to review the case.

Later, he had a meeting with chief secretary P Ramakanth Reddy regarding the case amid speculation over Raju’s imminent arrest.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister held a high-level meeting and asked the chief secretary to immediately evaluate the risks for the successful and timely completion of projects awarded to Maytas, promoted by Raju’s son B Teja Raju.

Maytas-led consortium has been awarded several projects, including the Rs 12,000-crore Hyderabad Metro Rail project, Rs 1,500-cr Machlipatnam Deep Water Project, the Godavari drinking water scheme to the twin-cities and a few major and medium irrigation works. There are fears that the mega projects may slow down following Satyam fiasco. 

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Bailout package for Satyam
Centre should decide, says Andhra CM
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 9
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy today said it was for the Centre to take a decision on a bailout package for Satyam Computers, which is in the eye of a storm after its chairman B Ramalinga Raju resigned two days ago, admitting financial mismanagement.

The Chief Minister, who was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention here, said Ramalinga Raju was very much in Hyderabad.

He said his government had already ordered a probe by the Crime Branch-CID wing of the police, which would submit a report to the government.

To a query whether he expected this sudden turn of events having known Raju for a long time, Reddy said, "Raju is an old friend of mine. This has come as a real shock to me. It was unfortunate and none of us expected that such things would happen."

On the fate of projects being undertaken by Maytas, the construction arm of Satyam Computer promoted by Raju's sons, Reddy said the state government would pay the firm only after all projects were completed.

Replying to a question whether the state government was considering withdrawing the projects awarded to Maytas, he said the state chief secretary was also looking at the viability of the projects, including the Metro Rail Project, in which Maytas was part of a consortium.

Asked if the Satyam scam will impact the investment into Andhra Pradesh, he said, "Anything like this will have an adverse impact. We must look at how to control the damage."

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More lawsuits filed against Satyam in US

New York, January 9 
A new class action lawsuit was filed in the US courts today against Satyam Computer, against which already about half-a-dozen such suits have been filed on behalf of the thousands of the investors in the American Depository Shares of the Indian IT firm.

Law firm Brodsky & Smith LLC today announced that it has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all persons who purchased ADSs of Satyam Computer between January 6, 2004 and January 6, 2009.

Other law firms having filed class action law suits against Satyam include Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, Harwood Feffer LLP, Sarraf Gentile LLP, Vianale & Vianale LLP and Izard Nobel LLP.

When asked about the specific damages sought in the lawsuit, Vianale & Vianale LLP's lawyer Keneth J Vianale told PTI that it could be in hundreds of millions of dollars.

Vianale said in an emailed statement: "We have not alleged a specific damages amount that we are seeking. That will be a subject of expert testimony.

"However, in cases of this sort, it is not unusual for the damages to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars." The class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, where the complaint has alleged that Satyam and its top officials "violated federal securities laws by issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the market, thereby artificially inflating the price of Satyam." This is the sixth class action lawsuit filed in the US since Wednesday, when Satyam's founder-chairman Ramalinga Raju resigned after disclosing massive financial irregularities to the tune of over a billion dollar at the company over several years. 

In these lawsuits, Satyam Computer has been charged with duping thousands of American investors of billions of dollars by artificially inflating share price.

Demanding trial by the jury against Satyam Computer, its chairman Ramalinga Raju, managing director and CEO B Rama Raju, the complainants have said that each of them is "liable as a participant in a fraudulent scheme and course of business that operated as a fraud or deceit..." The IT firm has also deceived the investing public regarding Satyam's business, its finances and the intrinsic value of shares, leading investors to purchase shares at artificially inflated prices, said the class action suit filed by law firm Vianale & Vianale LLP on behalf of shareholders.

Glancy Binkow & Goldberg, Federman & Sherwood, Harwood Feffer and Izard Nobel have filed their class action lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. — PTI 

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Tata Motors to shut Jamshedpur plant for 6 days

New Delhi, January 9
Tata Motors today said it will be shutting down its Jamshedpur plant, where it manufactures mainly heavy commercial vehicles, for six days from January 12 to January 17, the fourth block closure in three months.

"There will be a block closure at Tata Motors' Jamshedpur plant for commercial vehicles from January 12 to January 17," a company spokesperson P J Singh said.

He said a recessionary trend in the economy, coupled with a continuing credit squeeze and high interest rates, have depressed customer sentiment.

"This calls for appropriate action from Tata Motors from time to time to match the production with demand and avoid unnecessary build-up of inventories in the company or with the dealers," Singh said.

The company has had three block closures at its Jamshedpur unit on November 6-8, November 25-29 and December 8-13.

A heavy slump in demand for commercial vehicles had forced the company to undertake temporary block closures at its Pune and Lucknow plants as well.

It had closed the Pune CV plant on November 21-26 and December 5-7 and December 29-31.

The Lucknow facility was also closed down on November 10-15 and December 1-4 last year. — PTI

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Cabinet okays Rs 25,000 cr for NBFCs

New Delhi, January 9
The government today set in motion the process of providing liquidity support of up to Rs 25,000 crore to cash-strapped Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) to enable them to pay existing liabilities, as was announced in the second stimulus package to spur sagging economic growth.

According to the decision approved by the Cabinet here, a Stressed Asset Stabilisation Fund, set up for acquiring the stressed assets of IDBI, would function as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to provide money to non-deposit taking systemically important NBFCs.

"The SPV would issue government guaranteed securities, subject to a total amount of securities not exceeding Rs 20,000 crore with an additional Rs 5,000 crore, if needed.

"These securities would be purchased by the RBI and funds would be used by the SPV to acquire only investment grade commercial paper and non-covertible debentures of NBFCs," Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters here.

The funds will be used by NBFCs only to repay existing liabilities, he said, adding the RBI would issue guidelines for pricing and lending in consultation with the Department of Financial Services.

The second package announced by the government on January 2 to perk up the economy had said, "An SPV will be designated shortly to provide liquidity support against investment grade paper to NBFCs." Announcing the package, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said NBFCs were not directly affected by the additional liquidity provided in earlier measures. —PTI

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Truckers’ strike hits export-oriented units
Ambika Sharma

Solan, January 9
With the truckers’ strike entering the fourth day, the export-oriented units (EoUs) in the region are having a tough time. Since their orders are time-bound and have to be shipped within a specific period, the transporters’ strike has put on hold all such consignments.

There are nearly 68 EoUs in the region, having an annual turnover of nearly Rs 1,200 crore. A strike during this crucial period, which is the last phase of the current financial year, would cost the EoUs dearer as they were endeavouring to achieve their targets.

The strike had specially hit the cotton textile and synthetic fabric-producing units, processed foods, leather units, engineering goods and essential oil-based units in the region.

“Since our entire raw material comes from Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, etc., and our finished goods have to be transported to ports in Gujarat, the entire operation has come to a halt. This has led to finished goods piling up at the units and supply orders from abroad getting delayed,” quipped senior vice-president of a leading textile unit at Baddi.

The strike has affected the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) area badly as majority of its raw material is transported from other parts of the country. With Himachal having little market for the finished goods, the finished products, too, find markets in other parts of the country. But with no movement of truckers, the units have been forced to lower their production.

The investors opined that the government should step in and save the economy from facing further losses. 

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Sensex sheds 180 points
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 9
The markets continued to be buffeted by strong headwinds following the Satyam Computers scandal and the benchmark index closed lower by 180 points at 9,406 points. In the broader markets, the Nifty fell 47 points to close at 2,873.

Satyam's loss is seen as gains for other IT players as investors expect a migration of clients from the troubled technology company to the other Big Three players. TCS was up 6 per cent while Wipro gained 3 per cent and Infy closed 0.6 per cent higher.

Stocks seen to have corporate governance issues took a hammering. Realty stocks were the worst hit amidst reports that the chief financial officer of DLF, Ramesh Sanka, had sold 1 lakh shares this month. The scrip plunged to a 52-week low of Rs 145 before recovering.

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Textile sector reels under crisis
Production down 25-30 per cent
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
The second stimulus to the struggling Indian industry by the government last week has failed to bring cheers to the textile sector in North India. The textile and clothing sector which is the worst hit because of slow down in exports, feels that it is a case of too little and too late.

The industry here rues that while the government in India has failed to act in time, the governments in China and Pakistan have moved in quickly to save their textile units from financial ruin. While China is subsidising its textile sector by increasing the rate of tax refunds from six per cent to 13 per cent, Pakistan has announced a moratorium period of two years on term loans for the textile industry.

Talking to TNS here today, Satish Bagrodia, the newly elected president of PHDCCI and chairman of Winsome Yarns, said already most of the textile units in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Chandigarh have brought down their production by 25-30 per cent as there was no demand for goods.

“This sector is the largest employment generator in the country after agriculture, as it directly employs 3.5 lakh people. In the past couple of months, five lakh people have lost their jobs. If the same situation continues, another five lakh persons will be laid off by March,” he cautioned.

"We were expecting major relief in the second financial stimulus package. Apart from the recession, the textile mills in North India are facing closure due to several apathetic government decisions like a 40 per cent hike on MSP of cotton; reduction of drawback rates; withdrawal of interest subvention on export credit, and inordinate delay in disbursement of claims under Technical Upgradation Funds Scheme (TUFS),” he said.

Textile mills in North India exported textile products worth around $3 billion in 2007-08, out of the country's total textile exports of $20.5 billion. This was almost 20 per cent short of the target of $25 billion for the year.

“Due to lack of business and paucity of funds, the textile industry is in no position to invest in modernisation, let alone any expansion. Thus, increased credit availability is not going to help this industry unless it is first helped to stand on its feet. At the present interest rates, even working capital loans are unaffordable for this industry. The textile and clothing industry is already in a serious crisis and the coming months will see substantial closure of units and loss of jobs." said Bagrodia.

Sunil Kumar Jain, president of North India Textile Mills Association (NITMA), said they were expecting major package for this industry, including moratorium on repayment of term loans. “The poor financial health of the textile mills will lead to massive loan defaults, resulting in a large number of NPAs. This will have a serious impact on the textile industry and also on the banking sector," he said.

"We were also expecting restoration of duty drawback to the levels that prevailed before the reduction effected in September 2008. Four per cent interest subvention allowed in export credit was withdrawn from October 2008, of which two per cent was reinstated in the first stimulus package. There was expectation in the industry that the remaining two per cent would also be restored. This hope has also been belied by the package" he added.

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Tata Comm eyes buyouts; to raise Rs 3,000 cr

New Delhi, January 9
Tata Communications (formerly VSNL) has approached the government, a 26 per cent shareholder, for a rights issue to raise Rs 1,000 crore and another Rs 2,000 crore through debt to finance acquisitions in the US and the UK and bid for spectrum for wireless broadband.

Tata Communications is planning to deploy part of the funds for its new submarine cable projects and possible acquisitions in the managed services space, company sources said, indicating that a few targets in the US and the UK are being evaluated in the wake of their lower valuations.

They, however, declined to give details of the target companies. — PTI 

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Sasan Project controversy
Tata Power suppressed facts, Govt tells HC

New Delhi, January 9
The government today told the Delhi High Court that Tata Power has suppressed facts in challenging the decision to allow diversion of coal from Sasan project by Reliance Power (RPower).

Hearing the petition by Tata Power against a decision of the Empowered Group of Ministers to allow use of coal from the captive mines for Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project to other projects, the court did not give a stay and fixed the next date for hearing on February 24.

"There does not seem any reason to grant an interim stay at this stage," said a division Bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Siddharth Mridul and did not issue any notices to the government and RPower, led by Anil Ambani.

"There has been serious suppression of facts by Tata Power. It’s a serious issue and Tatas should not have approached the court on this," submitted Solicitor General of India G A Vahanvati appearing on behalf of the government.

The court also asked the the Anil Ambani group company and government to file their affidavits within three weeks to which Tatas should give their rejoinder in the subsequent two weeks.

"Apart from the project, we are asking for level-playing field and if the status quo is granted then it would not affect the project," Tata Power counsel L Nageshwar Rao said.

This was opposed by counsels appearing for the government and RPower.

On the issue of whether Tata Power was the bidder for Sasan UMPP, Rohatagi said it is an admitted fact that Tatas walked out of bidding process so there was no question of their being disqualified. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Re gains 52 paise
Mumbai:
The Indian rupee bounced back with a vengeance after breaching the crucial 49 level, only to end 52 paise stronger at 48.28/29 against the greenback on heavy dollar selling in the latter part of the day. The rupee had fallen to a one-month low of 49.28 against the dollar in early trade after the scandal in India's fourth-largest software exporter Satyam Computer sparked fears about capital outflows.— PTI

Inflation drops to 5.91 pc
New Delhi:
The inflation continued its downward trend for the ninth consecutive week ending December 27 to 5.91 per cent, against 6.38 per cent for the previous week. Food article index declined by 0.7 per cent to 240.8 from 242.6 in the previous week. — TNS

Nissan to axe 1,200 jobs
Tokyo/New Delhi:
Japanese auto major Nissan will reduce its headcount by 1,200 employees to protect the long-term viability of its manufacturing operations in Sunderland, the UK's largest car exporter and producer, Nissan said on Friday.— PTI

Tara Chand Industries’ plan
Chandigarh
: Tara Chand Industries is planning to inject Rs 100 crore for expanding its hotel business. The company, which runs a Pallavi Hotel in Panchkula, is planning to add another hotel in Mumbai, Jalandhar and Chandigarh. They are shortly going to open two new hotels — one in Panchkula and another in Navi Mumbai, said Himanshu Aggarwal, director of Pallavi Hotel.— TNS

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