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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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Sector-specific stimulus on anvil
New Delhi, January 19
The government is working on sector-specific stimulus packages to arrest the situation of unemployment, shutting down of industrial units and create more demand.

No bailout for Satyam
New Delhi, January 19
A week after saying the government could extend financial help to Satyam Computer Services, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today said: “There was never a bailout (plan)” for the troubled IT firm.

UK announces second package
London, January 19
Britain today announced its second package of measures, including an insurance scheme, to protect banks from “toxic debts” and to boost lending by the battered banking sector.

House prices crash to half on Mittal street 
London, January 19
In a double-whammy sort of blow to Lakshmi Mittal, value of three houses owned by his family on UK’s costliest street has nearly halved in about six months, while the NRI steel tycoon’s stock market net worth has plunged to about one-third in the same period.

Interest rates may ease further: Kamath
New Delhi, January 19
In what could augur well for the moderating demand, the country's largest private lender, ICICI Bank, today said interest rates are expected to come down further in the next one-and-a-half months.



EARLIER STORIES




A man walks into a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in London. RBS on Monday said it expected an annual loss of up to £28 billion linked to the credit crisis and its part-takeover of Dutch lender ABN Amro. Even at the low-end of its estimated losses - £22 billion - the bank was on course to post the biggest loss in British corporate history.
A man walks into a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in London. RBS on Monday said it expected an annual loss of up to £28 billion linked to the credit crisis and its part-takeover of Dutch lender ABN Amro. Even at the low-end of its estimated losses - £22 billion - the bank was on course to post the biggest loss in British corporate history. — AFP

Dena Bank plans more branches
Chandigarh, January 19
Dena Bank is planning a major expansion across North India with an aim to capture the large-scale SME (small and medium enterprises) segment and Punjabi NRI population. The bank will also focus on agriculture loans, home loans and auto loans.

Bharti Airtel forays into IPTV
New Delhi, January 19
Bharti Airtel today launched its Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service, becoming the first private player to offer the service in the country.

Vodafone to invest more in India
New Delhi, January 19
The world’s largest mobile operator by revenue, Vodafone that operates in India with a joint venture with Essar Group, today said it would invest more in India as it sees more opportunities in the country.

Fuel demand to be in sync with economy
New Delhi, January 19
Despite the slowdown the government has indicated that the fuel consumption will grow by 6 per cent next fiscal .The economy will grow at 7 per cent and hence the demand for petroleum products will grow at tandem by 6 per cent, said Oil Secretary RS Pande.

Unitech to raise Rs 5K cr
Mumbai, January 19
Real estate major Unitech today said it had got shareholders’ approval for raising Rs 5,000 crore through issue of securities.

Tata Teleservices
Karnal, January 19
Tata Teleservices has entered into an agreement with Impetus Technologies — pioneers in outsourced product development and engineering services — for launching its new service ‘Mandi Bhav’, offering information about the current market prices of various commodities across the country. 

Corporate Results

 





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Sector-specific stimulus on anvil
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 19
The government is working on sector-specific stimulus packages to arrest the situation of unemployment, shutting down of industrial units and create more demand.

Speaking at the Partnership Summit organised by the CII, Trade Minister Kamal Nath said the government would continue to inject money in long-term development projects especially in the infrastructure sector. The sector-specific policy will come around January 31, he said.

The minister along with the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Cabinet Secretary, Finance Secretary, Revenue Secretary and Secretary (Industries) is meeting exporters and export promotion councils and commodity boards on January 21 to discuss the export situation in wake of global meltdown.

Nath also indicated that since the inflation was coming down, there was a possibility that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would make a commensurate policy of injecting more liquidity in the economy.

“One of our biggest problems was inflation and this has now been addressed. The latest data shows inflation at 5.2 per cent, it will come down further,” the minister said, adding the growth of the economy would be at 7 per cent this year.

Despite the slowdown, Nath is confident that India will attract the foreign direct investment (FDI) target of $30 billion for 2007-08, as against the $25.5 billion achieved last fiscal.

“India will continue to be a magnet for FDI. Statistics show that India is a favoured destination for investors despite a slowdown,” the sinister said, stating that the country has achieved a figure of $18.7 billion during the April-October period. India had received $9.2 billion FDI in same period last year.

The government has already announced two stimulus packages to neutralise the adverse impact of the global financial meltdown on the country. The RBI has, through a series of monetary steps, released about Rs 3,20,000 crore in the system.

The RBI is going to meet on January 27 to review the credit policy. The industry is eager that there would be further rate cuts so that more liquidity is available at cheaper rate.

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No bailout for Satyam

New Delhi, January 19
A week after saying the government could extend financial help to Satyam Computer Services, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today said: “There was never a bailout (plan)” for the troubled IT firm.

“There was never a bailout (plan). It is up to the company and its board to look at the strategy as to how to possibly salvage the company,” Nath told reporters on the sidelines of the CII Partnership Summit here.

Suggesting new strategic investors for the cash-starved company, reeling under the Rs 7,800 crore fraud confessed to be committed by its founder B Ramalinga Raju, Nath said Satyam's bankers could look at ways to save the firm.

“(The) company has very strong bankers to look at new investors, new equity partners. These are the areas where the company must look at,” Nath said.

When Nath was asked on January 12 whether the government would consider extending financial support to Satyam, he had said: “Of course. There are many jobs at stake.”

Maytas chief executive resigns

Hyderabad: PK Madhav, chief executive of Maytas Infra, promoted by disgraced founder and former chairman of Satyam Computer Services B Ramalinga Raju, resigned as whole-time director of the board, the company said today.

In a notification to the Bombay Stock Exchange, the listed firm said Madhav had resigned from directorship and as CEO of the company January 14 “owing to personal reasons”.

Maytas Infra’s non-executive director and chairman RC Sinha has already resigned.

Loses Vedanta contract

Bhubaneswar: Maytas Infra has lost a contract from Vedanta Alumina to develop an integrated township in Orissa, Vedanta said here today.

“We have terminated the contract. A final settlement with the company will be done in a day or two,” Vedanta spokesperson Shashanka Pattnaik said.

Maytas Infra was awarded the contract in 2007 to develop the township in Jharsuguda district in western Orissa on an investment of about Rs.233 crore.

After the Satyam scam broke out, banks froze all accounts of Maytas, which is now unable to pay its contractors and suppliers.

Vedanta has taken note of the financial mess Maytas finds itself in. “We found it (Maytas) is not in a position to pump in money,” Pattnaik said, adding that the project was also behind schedule. — Agencies

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UK announces second package

London, January 19
Britain today announced its second package of measures, including an insurance scheme, to protect banks from “toxic debts” and to boost lending by the battered banking sector.

Unveiling the measures, Chancellor of Exchequer Alistair Darling said the measures were needed because if the banking system collapsed, the economy “would come down with it”.

The measures include a scheme to offer insurance against banks losing more money from the toxic debt that started the credit crunch.

The government has also agreed to change the terms of its rescue of Northern Rock and RBS Group.

Under the insurance scheme, banks would agree with the government the amount they expect to lose from particular debt. The banks will have to pay for the insurance, but the government said it did not expect to be paid in shares.

The Treasury will then sell insurance against about 90 per cent of the institutions’ additional losses from the debt. Most of the debt involved is very difficult to value because the market in it has collapsed.

But Chancellor Darling also indicated that the regulation of the banking sector might be reviewed, stating “in the world we’re living in just now we do need to look again at the way we supervise and regulate these banks”.

The latest deal with the banks would require the taxpayer to pour billions of pounds into the troubled banks in the form of guarantees for new lending and the purchase of a range of loans and other assets now on their books, in addition to the £37 billion pledged in October.

Details of the package include the extension of the £250 billion credit guarantee scheme announced with the last package of measures in October until the end of this year.

To shut doors on foreign workers

Britain is planning to ban advertising jobs overseas due to economic meltdown, a process that could hit Indian professionals aspiring for employment opportunities in the UK.

The government is mulling an idea to ensure that existing jobs go to British workers. The employers are being forced to notify vacancies in employment agencies within Britain to prioritise local candidates.

Indians are among the largest foreign professionals working in Britain.

Every day, thousands of jobs are being cut across the sectors in Britain. Official figures suggest that unemployment figures are reaching the 2 million mark, for the first time since the mid-1990s.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, has announced plans to force thousands of nursing, primary teaching, hotel management and other “skilled migrant” jobs to be advertised in employment agencies.

Companies that break the new rules could have their licence to employ non-European Union migrants revoked. — PTI

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House prices crash to half on Mittal street 

London, January 19
In a double-whammy sort of blow to Lakshmi Mittal, value of three houses owned by his family on UK’s costliest street has nearly halved in about six months, while the NRI steel tycoon’s stock market net worth has plunged to about one-third in the same period.

City’s Kensington Palace Gardens, where Mittal family has purchased three houses, was named as the costliest in a ranking of Britain’s 20 highest-value streets released by property website Zoopla in July last year.

The ranking had put the average price of a house on the street at that time at £41.4 million, which has now plunged to £23.5 million, although Kensington Palace Gardens is still the costliest street in Britain, as per the latest data available with Zoopla.

On this private avenue, lined with trees and dotted with foreign embassies, Mittal purchased a £70-million-house for his daughter Vanisha in June last year.

This purchase came close after a world record £117 million mansion bought for his son Aditya, while about four years ago, Mittal had purchased his first house on the Billionaire’s Row for about £57 million.

At the time of the purchase of the family's last on the street, the combined value of the three properties owned by Mittal family on this street is said to be valued at about £440 million - nearly £200 million more than the amount paid for these properties over a period of four years.

While the exact value of these houses are not known, the average price of a residential property in this area has nearly halved in the past six months, as per Zoopla data.

Taking the decline in average price of Kensington Palace Gardens houses into account, the three houses owned by the Mittal value would be worth about $200 million, an amount almost equivalent to the purchase prices. — PTI 

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Interest rates may ease further: Kamath

New Delhi, January 19
In what could augur well for the moderating demand, the country's largest private lender, ICICI Bank, today said interest rates are expected to come down further in the next one-and-a-half months.

“I think in the next six weeks, interest rates are expected to come down. I think interest rates would be adjusted on their own,” ICICI Bank CEO and managing director KV Kamath said on the sidelines of a CII function here. Borrowing cost has come down and banks have started lending at lower rate, he said, adding that one year deposit rates have come down as much as 2 per cent in past few weeks.

After reorganising their borrowing book, banks would have to pass it on to the customers, he said.

Following a series of rate cuts by the Reserve Bank, ICICI Bank reduced its prime-lending rate by 50 basis points to 16.75 per cent effective from December 31.

There is expectation that the RBI may signal softer interest rates even though it may not tinker much with key rates in the quarterly review of its annual monetary policy to be released on January 27 as inflation is declining sharply.

Bankers feel that the RBI may maintain a status quo in its key rates as the apex bank has already brought down cash reserve ratio and short-term rates to inject more than Rs 3,00,00 crore liquidity into the system. — PTI

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Dena Bank plans more branches
Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Dena Bank is planning a major expansion across North India with an aim to capture the large-scale SME (small and medium enterprises) segment and Punjabi NRI population. The bank will also focus on agriculture loans, home loans and auto loans.

This was stated by DL Rawal, chairman and managing director of Dena Bank, after inaugurating the North India regional office of the bank at Panchkula today. “We see a huge potential for growth in this region, and are planning to open 25 branches across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh during the next fiscal.,” he said.

Rawal said as against a total business of Rs 900 crore from the region this year, they were hoping to yield business worth Rs 3,000 crore by next year. “We will be targeting the cash rich Punjabi NRI population. New innovative products for getting NRE deposits will be introduced here,” he said.

He state that the bank was planning to open 100 branches across India in the next fiscal.

Rawal admitted that the economic slowdown was a cause of worry, but said that they were now restructuring the advances to SMEs. “This involves deferring the instalment payment period and providing more liquidity. But the loans would be restructured on a case-to-case basis. Our total advances to the SME sector is around Rs 4,040 crore,” he said.

Rawal also said they were working on reducing the cost of deposits, which presently stood at 6.24 per cent. “We were earlier relying on bulk deposits, which have now been brought down to 11 per cent of total deposits,” he added. 

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Bharti Airtel forays into IPTV

New Delhi, January 19
Bharti Airtel today launched its Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service, becoming the first private player to offer the service in the country.

“We will now offer triple play service - telephony, broadband and television - over a single line to customers in the NCR and will be followed by eight leading metros,” Bharti Airtel president (telemedia services) Atul Bindal said here.

IPTV refers to delivery of television content via a broadband connection. Apart from Airtel, state-owned MTNL and BSNL are also offering these services.

“Airtel has already tested IPTV services through its soft launch in some of the cities and we will soon extend these services in a phased manner to the top eight metros over the course of the year,” he said.

“We have close to two million customers and would look at catering to these customers as well as new users, who are looking for three services together from a single operator,” Bindal said.

He, however, declined to comment on the targeted number of subscribers.

The announcement follows the recent launch of Airtel’s direct-to-home (DTH) services in the country.

Airtel will provide these services under two packs - Magic@ Home Pack at Rs 999 per month, which would offer 135 channels, including 256 kbps broadband speed with unlimited download and a landline connection, and the Combo Pack, priced at Rs 599 per month, will provide 117 channels, including 256 kbps broadband speed with download limit of 2.5 GB.

The service will also offer features such as real-time interactivity, where customers can order pizzas and book movie tickets on their TV, record programmes for seven days, rewind, forward, and movie on demand. — PTI

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Vodafone to invest more in India

New Delhi, January 19
The world’s largest mobile operator by revenue, Vodafone that operates in India with a joint venture with Essar Group, today said it would invest more in India as it sees more opportunities in the country.

“We see eight to nine million mobile subscribers addition here. This means India needs more investment. We will continue to invest more here as there are opportunities here,” Vodafone chief executive officer Vittorio Colao said here at CII conference.

The company in 2007 had announced an investment of $2 billion.

Vodafone, which was earlier a miner stakeholder in Bharti, later exited the venture and acquired controlling stake in the Hong Kong-based Hutchison in a 11.2-billion deal last year to take control of the venture - Vodafone-Essar - which is the second largest GSM operator in India in terms of subscribers.

Not to exit Bharti completely

Vodafone today said it would continue to hold four per cent indirect stake in Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Airtel, putting at rest the speculation that the British company is keen to get out of Bharti completely.

“We have that stake (4 per cent in Bharti Airtel). One day we will discuss (Vodafone and Bharti Group) what to do with it. To have a discussion on any issue we need to have both partners,” Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said.

Vodafone exited the Bharti Group partly in which it was holding 10 per cent stake, while it’s indirect stake in the group’s mobile arm, Bharti Airtel, is still there. — PTI

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Fuel demand to be in sync with economy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 19
Despite the slowdown the government has indicated that the fuel consumption will grow by 6 per cent next fiscal .The economy will grow at 7 per cent and hence the demand for petroleum products will grow at tandem by 6 per cent, said Oil Secretary RS Pande.

Fuel consumption in April-November period has grown by 4 per cent, he said, adding that there has been a slow growth because jet fuel, naphtha, fuel oil and industrial LPG showed a low off-take and hence a negative growth. PSU oil sector companies expect that the petroleum product off-take will be around 3.5-4 per cent.

The government had targeted that 137.5 million tonnes of oil products will be consumed this fiscal, but a dip in demand has led to revisiting the forecast to 133.4 million tonnes.

In the 2007-08, fiscal the fuel consumption grew 128.94 million tonnes at the rate of 6.8 per cent .

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Unitech to raise Rs 5K cr

Mumbai, January 19
Real estate major Unitech today said it had got shareholders’ approval for raising Rs 5,000 crore through issue of securities.

The shareholders at the extra-ordinary general meeting has approved the raising of additional long-term funds up to Rs 5,000 crore, through issuance of further securities in the company, Unitech said.

The company, which on December 22 got board approval to raise long-term funds up to Rs 5,000 crore, is at present passing through a huge credit crunch and is in talks with potential buyers to offload some of its hotels and commercial properties. — PTI

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Tata Teleservices

Karnal, January 19
Tata Teleservices has entered into an agreement with Impetus Technologies — pioneers in outsourced product development and engineering services — for launching its new service ‘Mandi Bhav’, offering information about the current market prices of various commodities across the country. 

Developed by Impetus’ mobile and wireless technology Group, mLabs, ‘Mandi Bhav’ was a game-changing application that empowers the agrarian community with real-time information on prices in mandis, said Ajay Duggal, chief operating officer, TTSL (Haryana). — TNS

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Corporate Results
Allahabad Bank Q3 net flat 

Kolkata, January 19
Allahabad Bank has said its net profit remained almost flat during the third quarter of the current fiscal to Rs 369.47 crore, compared with Rs 365.05 crore a year ago, owing to higher provisioning for tax. Operating profit of the bank during the quarter increased 27.18 per cent to Rs 666.06 crore as against Rs 521.12 crore.

ITC profit up

ITC has reported a 8.73 per cent growth rate in its net profit at Rs 903.21 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2008, on the back of strong revenues from the FMCG segment. The firm had a net profit of Rs 830.72 crore in the December quarter of financial year 2007-2008, ITC said.

Rolta India

Rolta India has announced turnover of Rs 361.94 crore for the second quarter ending December 31, up by 49.7 per cent from the corresponding period last year. Sequentially, the growth was 4.6 per cent. Consolidated Profit After Exceptional Item and Tax for Q2 FY-09 was at Rs 60.56 crore as against Rs 60.22 crore in FY-08, registering a Y-o-Y growth of 0.6 per cent andd Q-o-Q growth of 153.3 per cent.

Ultratech net dips

Ultratech Cement has reported a 14.71 per cent decline in its net profit at Rs 238.36 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2008. The firm had a net profit of Rs 279.49 crore in the December quarter of FY'08, Ultratech said. However, the total income of the firm rose 17.74 per cent to Rs 1,651.16 crore during the quarter under review, from Rs 1,402.34 crore in the same period last fiscal. — Agencies

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BRIEFLY


An employee of Japanese electronics giant Sony displays the company’s new LCD TV ‘Bravia V5 series’ in Tokyo on Monday. The new Bravia is equipped with a motion and light sensor, which turns off the picture automatically when no one is present in the vicinity.
An employee of Japanese electronics giant Sony displays the company’s new LCD TV ‘Bravia V5 series’ in Tokyo on Monday. The new Bravia is equipped with a motion and light sensor, which turns off the picture automatically when no one is present in the vicinity. — AFP

Vasudeva is new ONGC 
director (offshore)
NEW DELHI
: Sudhir Vasudeva will be the new director (offshore) of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC). He will take over as the director (offshore) from February 1 succeeding NK Mitra, who superannuates at month-end, a company release said here. — PTI

Sadbhav Engg bags Rs 1,415-cr order
MUMBAI
: Infrastructure company Sadbhav Engineering Monday surged nearly 5 per cent after it announced it, in consortium with two other firms, has bagged an order worth Rs 1,415 crore from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for a road project for developing a road project in Maharashtra. — PTI

Suzlon Energy enters Sri Lanka
PUNE
: Suzlon Energy on Monday announced entry into Sri Lanka with an order for a 10-MW project. The company, in a release here, said under the project Suzlon would supply eight units of its S64 1.25 MW wind turbines for windpower projects developed by Senok Wind Power in Kalpitya region. The supply of turbines will commence this year and the project would be completed in fiscal 2010. — UNI

Birla Tyres shuts Balasore unit
BHUBANESWAR
: Birla Tyres on Monday announced a temporary closure of its Balasore plant till January 31 in view of the global meltdown. Birla Tyres, which employs nearly 4,500 people including 2,200 regular employees, had undertaken a similar temporary closure for a fortnight last month. The temporary closure was aimed at decreasing production. All employees would not be paid during the closure period. — PTI

L&T Infra reduces PLR
MUMBAI
: L&T Infrastructure Finance Company on Monday said it has reduced its prime-lending rate (PLR) by 0.75 per cent to 14.25 per cent. L&T Infra is a wholly owned subsidiary of engineering giant - Larsen & Toubro. The revised L&T Infra PLR shall be applicable in respect to all existing and new accounts, wherever the applicable interest rates are linked to it as a benchmark, a press release issued here said. — PTI

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