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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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B U S I N E S S

Satyam Saga
KPMG, Deloitte to audit Satyam’s accounts

Satyam's new board today named KPMG and Deloitte as its auditors, even as its previous bookkeeper Price Waterhouse said its audit of the IT company's account could be construed as 'unreliable' in the wake of Ramalinga Raju's admittance to fraud.

HDFC Bank’s net up 45% at Rs 621 cr
Mumbai, January 14
Buoyed by an impressive growth in its net interest margin and other income, India's second largest private sector lender, HDFC Bank has clocked a 44.81 per cent surge in its net profit for the quarter ended December 31.

No gas supply pact with RNRL, says RIL
Mumbai, January 14
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries' lawyer today told the Bombay High Court that the company had not signed an MoU with Anil Ambani's group firm Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) for gas supply.



EARLIER STORIES




Chief of Operations of Mahindra & Mahindra Rajesh Jejurikar poses for picture at the launch of a new multi-utility vehicle 'Xylo' in New Delhi on Wednesday. The 2.49- litre, 112 bhp car is priced at Rs 6.24 lakh onwards.
Chief of Operations of Mahindra & Mahindra Rajesh Jejurikar poses for picture at the launch of a new multi-utility vehicle 'Xylo' in New Delhi on Wednesday. The 2.49- litre, 112 bhp car is priced at Rs 6.24 lakh onwards. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

India offers 10 pc stake in Petronet to Qatar
New Delhi, January 14
India today offered Qatar a 10 per cent stake in Petronet LNG Ltd to get the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter to sell 18 more LNG cargoes this year and agree on a long-term supply deal for meeting fuel needs of beleaguered Dabhol power plant.

Promoters hike stake in RIL to 49 pc
Mumbai, January 14
Reliance Industries' promoters have increased their stake in the country's largest private sector company to over 49 per cent as of the December quarter this financial year.

Power pangs hit industrial output in region
Chandigarh, January 14
Erratic power supply in Punjab and Haryana has brought the industrial production in the region to a grinding halt. With the industry in the region having to face unscheduled power cuts and compulsory off days (36 hours in Punjab), industrial production has come down by 20 per cent.

This file photo shows the twin towers, headquarters of Germany's largest business bank, Deutsche Bank, in Frankfurt. Deutsche Bank AG and Deutsche Post AG have agreed new conditions for the takeover of Deutsche Postbank, two sources familiar with the negotiations said on Wednesday. The move comes as Deutsche Bank said it expected record net losses of 4.8 billion euros for the fourth quarter and 3.9 billion euros for 2008 in a surprise profit warning which sent its shares tumbling more than 7 per cent. — Reuters

Citi to shrink itself by one-third
New York, January 14
Bogged down by mounting losses, the Citigroup is speeding up efforts to dismantle various parts of the banking behemoth and shrink the company by one-third, say media reports. Vikram Pandit-led Citi has been in the eye of a financial storm in the wake of credit crisis, forcing the US Federal government to throw two lifelines worth over $45 billion to the company.

Pak imposes duty on Indian potatoes
Islamabad, January 14
Pakistan has imposed a 25 per cent regulatory duty on potatoes imported from India to provide an incentive to local farmers to increase crop yield. The Economic Coordination Committee of the federal cabinet imposed the duty during a meeting yesterday that was chaired by Shaukat Tarin, adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance.

Rechargeable study lamp launched
Chennai, January 14
India’s first rechargeable study lamp called StudyLite™ was launched by BPL here on Wednesday. Developed in collaboration with Sankara Nethralaya, the "StudyLite" has been designed to provide ideal lighting for children, for their studies. Furthermore, with a built-in rechargeable back-up, it can provide light for up to 6 hours without mains power. — TNS








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Satyam Saga
KPMG, Deloitte to audit Satyam’s accounts
Mumbai, January 14

Satyam's new board today named KPMG and Deloitte as its auditors, even as its previous bookkeeper Price Waterhouse said its audit of the IT company's account could be construed as 'unreliable' in the wake of Ramalinga Raju's admittance to fraud.

"We have decided to appoint Deloitte and KPMG to assist the board in the restatement of financial statements of Satyam," Satyam board member C Achuthan told PTI here today.

Both accounting firms have been asked to 'restate' the accounts of India's fourth largest IT company, "as quickly as possible", Achuthan said.

The appointment comes amid investigation into Satyam's accounts and the role of Price Waterhouse in it.

Meanwhile, Price Waterhouse in a letter to the newly constituted board yesterday said that it would like to work with the company and "provide assistance to the new board of directors to address any issues that arise in the course of such investigations..." PwC said its audit of the IT company's financials could be "inaccurate and unreliable" in view of the financial irregularities disclosed by Ramalinga Raju.

It had previously said its audit on Satyam was supported by "appropriate audit evidence" and complied with "applicable standards." KPMG and Deloitte, however, cannot be termed as auditors of Satyam as the appointment of an auditor can be done only after securing the company's shareholders' consent.— PTI

More directors soon

New Delhi: The government is likely to appoint more directors on the board of the crisis-ridden Satyam Computer Services soon. "More directors will be appointed within two days," a senior official of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs said today.

The government earlier appointed a three-member board comprising HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, Nasscom past president Kiran Karnik and past presiding officer of Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) C Achuthan to steer the beleaguered company out of the present crisis.

Among the probables, the government is considering to appoint noted industry expert and former chairman of the Hindustan Lever (presently Hindustan Unilever) Ashok S Ganguly to the Satyam board.

In view of the disclosure by Satyam's founder-chairman B Ramalinga Raju that company was doctoring account books, the government disbanded the existing board of the IT major and appointed its own nominees.

As per the Company Law Board (CLB) decision on Satyam, the board of the IT major can have a maximum of 10 directors. After the first meeting of the newly constituted three-member board on Monday, Parekh had said the board would elect a chairman after more members are appointed by the government. — PTI 

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HDFC Bank’s net up 45% at Rs 621 cr

Mumbai, January 14
Buoyed by an impressive growth in its net interest margin and other income, India's second largest private sector lender, HDFC Bank has clocked a 44.81 per cent surge in its net profit for the quarter ended December 31.

Net profit, during the period, grew to Rs 621.74 crore as against Rs 429.36 crore in the year-ago period.

The bank has decided to be cautious on its loan disbursals in the coming months in view of the challenging market conditions in sensitive credit portfolios, its Executive Director, Paresh Sukhtankar said.

"We will be cautious in our lending given the current market conditions. Maintaining the quality of assets is important (to avoid further slippages)," Sukhtankar told PTI here.

The bank has seen a rise in its gross non performing assets (NPA) in Q3, which went upto 1.9 per cent as against 1.6 per cent as on September 30, 2008. Net NPAs during the period stood at 0.6 per cent, he said.

"The bank is well positioned to maintain the business growth and expects the NPA levels under manageable levels," Sukhtankar said.

The lenders's total income, during the period, rose 58.79 per cent to Rs 5,407.89 crore in the December quarter, from Rs 3,405.79 crore in the year-ago period while the interest income grew 63.87 per cent to Rs 4,468.50 crore. The non-interest income, during the period jumped by around 40 per cent grew to Rs 934.4 crore as against Rs 678.9 crore in the year-ago period.

Presently, HDFC Bank has a credit portfolio of Rs 71,387 crore, which grew by around 38 per cent year-on-year. Total deposits of the bank presently stands at Rs 1,44,862 crore.

"Retail portfolio continues to be a focus area of the bank and contributes 59 per cent to the total advances of the bank. A similar focus will be given to the corporate loan segment also," he said.

The bank has only an "insignificant exposure" to the crisis-ridden Satyam Computers in the form of current accounts, forward contracts and "a few vehicle loans to Satyam employees".

HDFC Bank plans to open nearly 200-branches in the next 12-months and would hire more staff to support its expanding operations, the ED said. — PTI

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No gas supply pact with RNRL, says RIL

Mumbai, January 14
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries' lawyer today told the Bombay High Court that the company had not signed an MoU with Anil Ambani's group firm Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) for gas supply.

The MoU says the gas supply agreement is with Reliance Energy and for the Dadri power project, senior counsel Harish Salve representing RIL said. "Nowhere does it say that the gas will go to RNRL," Salve told the division Bench of Justices J N Patel and K K Tated.

He said the "28 mmscmd of gas is specific for Reliance Energy at NTPC price".

REL and RNRL are both Anil Ambani group companies.

State-run NTPC, too, has filed a separate suit against RIL, seeking that the Mukesh Ambani company execute the contract of gas supply. RIL has denied that the contract with NTPC was formalised.

The high court is hearing a dispute between RIL and RNRL over supply of gas from the former's eastern offshore Krishna Godavari D6 field to the latter. Salve alleged that RNRL had "changed key expressions in the MoU and excluded them from court submissions". — PTI

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India offers 10 pc stake in Petronet to Qatar

New Delhi, January 14
India today offered Qatar a 10 per cent stake in Petronet LNG Ltd to get the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter to sell 18 more LNG cargoes this year and agree on a long-term supply deal for meeting fuel needs of beleaguered Dabhol power plant.

Qatar has committed to sell six 'loose' LNG cargoes in the first half of the current year and it may export an additional 18 cargoes on Petroleum Minister Murli Deora's request.

"Deora requested for extra cargoes and I simply can't say no to him," Qatari oil minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah told PTI in an interview.

Deora did some breakfast diplomacy with Attiyah to get commitment for additional cargoes this year and further made a plea for 2.5 million tonnes of LNG on a long-term contract for the 2,150 MW Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra.

"Qatar has been our most trusted and reliable friend and we hold this friendship in high esteem. It has come to our rescue several times in past and I am confident Attiyah will not disappoint us when we desperately need fuel for Dabhol," Deora said after the meeting.

Deora doled out a 10 per cent stake to Qatar Petroleum in Petronet, a proposal to which Attiyah said, "Our companies will certainly examine (the offer)".

"It will be done through Qatar Investment Board," he said.

Qatar had in 2004 offered Indian firms a five per cent stake in Qatar Petroleum but ONGC which was assigned to pick up the equity hesitated in making the $135 million payment. The stake is now worth $1 billion.

"We will divert some cargoes to India," Attiyah said referring his nation's commitment on selling more cargoes over an above the six shiploads already committed. The additional LNG would help ease the fuel deficit faced by power and fertilizer units in the country.

RasGas of Qatar currently sells five million tonnes a year of LNG to Petronet LNG under a 25-year contract. An additional 2.5 million tonnes would be supplied under the same contract from September this year, he said. — PTI

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Promoters hike stake in RIL to 49 pc

Mumbai, January 14
Reliance Industries' promoters have increased their stake in the country's largest private sector company to over 49 per cent as of the December quarter this financial year.

The promoters have purchased 12 crore shares, amounting to over a 4 per cent stake in the company, during the period between September and December 2008, according to the latest shareholding pattern information available on the stock exchange.

For the quarter ended December 31, promoters of RIL hold 771,698,164 shares amounting to a 49.03 per cent stake in the company, while in the September quarter they had 651,258,164 shares, a 44.80 per cent stake.

The shares of the company reacted positively to this development and surged nearly seven per cent on the bourses.

On the Bombay Stock Exchange the scrip touched an intra-day high of Rs 1,154.40, a jump of 6.79 per cent from its previous closing price, and on the National Stock Exchange the stock touched an intra-day high of Rs 1,154.80, a surge of 7.17 per cent from its previous close. — PTI 

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Power pangs hit industrial output in region
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Erratic power supply in Punjab and Haryana has brought the industrial production in the region to a grinding halt. With the industry in the region having to face unscheduled power cuts and compulsory off days (36 hours in Punjab), industrial production has come down by 20 per cent.

Industrialists say that on the one hand they are hit hard by the recession, and on the other, the government is doing little to ensure a regular power supply. In today’s time, when we are facing a shortage in cash flow, it is becoming difficult to shell out more money for running the units on captive power. Since generation of captive power is three times more expensive than the power supplied by the state electricity board/power utilities, industry says they are now forced to dig in their cash reserves to generate power.

Rakesh Verma, an industrialist in Panipat, said though a thermal power plant was located in the city, they were forced to go without power for eight to nine hours at a stretch. “The situation is so bad that we have stopped calculating the hours when there is no power supply. We only calculate the hours when the state power utilities manages to ensure a regular supply,” he rued.

Verma said the poor power availability had led to many units in the city having to cut down on their production.

The worst affected is the industry located in urban areas, which is fed through the urban industrial feeders. These mixed use feeders also cater to the domestic consumers. Since power cuts ranging from six to eight hours have been imposed on the domestic consumers, the industry in these areas, too, faces similar cuts during the day.

A similar situation is reported in Punjab, where the power availability is just 43,000 MW as compared to a demand of almost 90,000 MW. “On the one hand, the Punjab government talks about bringing about a new industrial policy, but without adequate power availability, we will not be able to invite new industry to the state,” said Amarjit Goyal, chairman of Mandi Gobindgarh-based Modern Steels.

R S Sachdeva, a Mohali-based businessman and co-chairman of PHDCCI, said “We agree that there is a shortage of power. Only if the government were to regulate the power cuts, we would ask our labour to work in shifts when uninterrupted power is available. The exporters are the worst hit as they cannot finish their orders in time.”

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Citi to shrink itself by one-third

New York, January 14
Bogged down by mounting losses, the Citigroup is speeding up efforts to dismantle various parts of the banking behemoth and shrink the company by one-third, say media reports.

Vikram Pandit-led Citi has been in the eye of a financial storm in the wake of credit crisis, forcing the US Federal government to throw two lifelines worth over $45 billion to the company.

The New York Times quoting two persons with the knowledge of the plan has reported that the Citi is planning to split itself into two, under pressure from Washington and Wall Street.

Citi, which is scheduled to report its quarterly results next week, is widely expected to post a $10-billion operating loss for the fourth quarter. Quoting people familiar with the bank, The Wall Street Journal has said the banking behemoth would soon announce a plan to shed a host of businesses and "shrink itself by one-third." — PTI 

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Pak imposes duty on Indian potatoes

Islamabad, January 14
Pakistan has imposed a 25 per cent regulatory duty on potatoes imported from India to provide an incentive to local farmers to increase crop yield.

The Economic Coordination Committee of the federal cabinet imposed the duty during a meeting yesterday that was chaired by Shaukat Tarin, adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance.

The ECC said the move would provide an incentive to Pakistani farmers to increase crop yield to cater to domestic needs. Pakistan is self-sufficient in potatoes as it produces over 2.5 million tonnes of the tuber on 1.3 million hectares.

Indian potato exports to Pakistan witnessed a significant jump in the past month despite tensions between the two countries after the Mumbai terror attacks.

The exports picked up in mid-November, shortly before the attacks in India's financial hub. There has been a bumper potato crop in India this season and prices crashed.— PTI

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BRIEFLY

Re stronger by 30 paise
Mumbai:
Fresh dollar offerings from banks and anticipation of capital inflows helped the Indian rupee to close stronger by 30 paise at 48.82/84 on Wednesday against the greenback amid a rise in local stock markets. Dollar sales by exporters also aided the local currency to recover from 49-level it touched yesterday, dealers in foreign exchange said. — PTI

JLR to cut 450 more jobs
London
: Buffeted by falling sales and credit crunch, Tata Group-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) on Wednesday announced laying off 450 more jobs, including 300 managers. The job losses will also affect 150 salaried agency staff, the company announced. — PTI

Carol Bartz is Yahoo CEO
San Francisco
: Yahoo Inc on Wednesday named Silicon Valley veteran Carol Bartz as its new chief executive, bringing in a no-nonsense leader known for developing a clear focus — something that has eluded the struggling Internet company during a three-year slump. — AP

Geojit Fin Q3 net up 74 pc
Mumbai
: Geojit Financial Services on Tuesday said its net profit grew 73.69 to Rs 38.63 crore during the third quarter of FY'09. Income of the company dipped to Rs 38.13 crore for the quarter under review, against Rs 76.28 crore a year ago.— PTI

‘Kashmir’ festival in London
Srinagar
: For promoting "Kashmir" brand and motivating people living in countries where advisories have been issued for not visiting Kashmir, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry is organising a month-long festival in London from January 15 to February 14. The London festival will be followed by a festival at New York in March. — TNS

Binani Cement unit in Gujarat
Mumbai
: Binani Cement on Tuesday signed a MoU with Gujarat government to set up a Rs 825-crore greenfield cement plant with a capacity of 2.5 MPTA in Junagadh. The plant would manufacture ordinary Portland cement and Pozzolona Portland cement in various grades, it said. — PTI

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