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B U S I N E S S

Satyam Saga
Satyam seeks CLB nod

New Delhi, February 18
Fraud-hit Satyam Computer Services Ltd has sought the approval of the Company Law Board (CLB) to conduct a public auction for induction of a strategic investor in the company.

CBI takes over probe
New Delhi, February 18
A day after Corporate Affairs Minister P C Gupta announced in Parliament that the investigations in Rs 7,800-crore fraud in Satyam Computer Services would be handed over to the CBI, the agency today said it was taking over the inquest from Andhra Pradesh police.

Maytas to contest govt’s decision
Hyderabad, February 18
Maytas Infra, an infrastructure company owned by family members of former Satyam chairman B Ramalinga Raju, today announced that it would contest the union government’s petition before the Company Law Board to take control of the company’s board.

Raju’s bail plea dismissed
Hyderabad, February 18
The disgraced former chairman of Satyam Computers B Ramalinga Raju will remain in jail as a local court here today dismissed bail petitions filed by him and other top executives of the software giant.



EARLIER STORIES




This file photo shows Chinese 100 yuan notes being counted at a bank in Shanghai. China will keep its currency stable, a top foreign exchange regulator said on Wednesday as the government rushed to stamp out rumours that Beijing could allow the yuan to weaken.
This file photo shows Chinese 100 yuan notes being counted at a bank in Shanghai. China will keep its currency stable, a top foreign exchange regulator said on Wednesday as the government rushed to stamp out rumours that Beijing could allow the yuan to weaken. — AFP

General Motors to cut 47,000 jobs
Detroit (US), February 18
General Motors Corp, presenting a dire outlook for the future, said it may need $30 billion in total government financing to weather the economic downturn and would cut 47,000 jobs worldwide and shutter five more US factories in a massive restructuring plan.

Re breaches 50-mark
Mumbai, February 18
The Indian rupee today breached the 50-mark against the greenback for the second time in more than two months but closed a shade lower at 49.92/93, still down by 22 paise from its last close.

Gold zooms to Rs 15,650
New Delhi, February 18
Gold surged to set a new peak at Rs 15,650 per 10 gram in opening trade in the national capital today on brisk buying triggered by a firming global trend.

Despite meltdown, India ‘favourable’ destination for FDI
New Delhi, February 18
Despite global slowdown, India continues to be regarded as a favourable investment destination. Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar told the Rajya Sabha today that with seven per cent growth rate and reasonable rate of returns, India continued to be widely regarded as a favourable destination for foreign direct investment (FDI).

Pvt banks raise minimum balance limit
Chandigarh, February 18
With retail deposits becoming the mainstay of growth for banks, they are now raising the bar for maintaining average quarterly balance in savings account. If earlier it was only the private sector banks that were raising the bar for maintaining the minimum balance in savings account, public sector banks, too, have joined in by hiking the fine imposed on customers for failing to maintain their minimum balance in current accounts.

Now, make payment via mobile
Mumbai, February 18
IDBI Bank has announced the launch of payment services through mobile phones. According to a statement issued by the company, the bank's customers can purchase goods and services from merchants by paying via their mobile phones.

RIL to start gas supply from KG-D6 by April
New Delhi, February 18
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries (RIL) will start selling natural gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields by April to ease fuel deficit at power and fertiliser units, the government has said.

 





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Satyam Saga
Satyam seeks CLB nod
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi, February 18
Fraud-hit Satyam Computer Services Ltd has sought the approval of the Company Law Board (CLB) to conduct a public auction for induction of a strategic investor in the company.

The company has written to the CLB and has sought the approval for the same. The petition has been admitted by CLB and the hearing on the issue will continue tomorrow.

In its petition, Satyam has asked CLB to permit it "to devise a plan which provides for transparent, open and competitive process for continued operation" of the company in the interest of its all shareholders.

The company would also consider making "preferential allotment of equity shares or other securities for financing" its operating and capital costs and other financial needs without holding any Annual General Meeting, the petition said.

Satyam submitted that once the plan was approved and functional, the funds received by it would be kept in a 'no-lien account' wih the IDIBI Bank and Bank of Baroda, which recently gave the company Rs 600-crore loan towards working capital needs, and would be used for revival of the company. The company has also sought approval for raising its authorised share capital to 120 crore equity shares without holding any AGM.

At the end of last fiscal ended March 31, 2008, the company's authorised equity capital stood at 80 crore shares.

Satyam has also asked CLB to permit it to "conduct a transparent, open and competitive price bid auction" following relaxation of strict provisions of takeover norms by SEBI and to receive requests for pre-qualification of bidders for participation in the company as strategic investors.

The Satyam board, which was formed as per the CLB orders, would have full discretion to accept or reject such requests and furnish the pre-qualified bidders with the confidential information about the company on payment of a refundable fee of Rs 5 crore. — PTI

CBI takes over probe
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
A day after Corporate Affairs Minister P C Gupta announced in Parliament that the investigations in Rs 7,800-crore fraud in Satyam Computer Services would be handed over to the CBI, the agency today said it was taking over the inquest from Andhra Pradesh police.

"We have received the notification from the Government of India to take over the Satyam Computers scam cases from CID, Andhra Pradesh. We are going into various aspects of this multi-dimensional and unique scam. We will soon register the case," the agency said in a statement.

The CBI is now looking at establishing a multi-disciplinary investigation team based in Hyderabad as there are various aspects to the fraud which would have to be probed simulatneously. The Department of Personnel, under which the CBI functions, issued a notification this morning asking the agency to probe the scam.

The Centre’s decision to hand over the investigations to the CBI has been taken after the Andhra Pradesh government sent in a request for the same. The agency can now avail up to nine days to interrogate Satyam founder B. Ramalinga Raju.

The Satyam fraud came to light on January 7 last when its chairman and founder Ramalinga Raju confessed to having tampered with the company's account books for the past several years.

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Maytas to contest govt’s decision
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 18
Maytas Infra, an infrastructure company owned by family members of former Satyam chairman B Ramalinga Raju, today announced that it would contest the union government’s petition before the Company Law Board to take control of the company’s board.

“The Ministry of Corporate Affairs had approached Company Law Board and filed a petition yesterday for change of the board of directors of Maytas Infra Limited. Maytas Infra had already filed a caveat before the Company Law Board. In pursuance of the caveat, the MCA has to serve a copy of the petition filed before the CLB to Maytas Infra before it is being heard,” the company said in a release here.

“The honourable Bench of the CLB has directed the counsel appearing on behalf of the government to serve a copy of the petition on Maytas Infra and has listed the matter for hearing on February 24. Maytas Infra has not yet received any copy of such petition till date. However, Maytas Infra has decided to contest the petition on February 24 which was filed by the government before the CLB,” it said.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister K Rosaiah said the state government would not act in haste against Maytas Infra.

"The government will not cancel the projects awarded to Maytas just because the management is changing. The government has signed the agreement with the company and it would be responsible for carrying the projects forward," he said.

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Raju’s bail plea dismissed
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 18
The disgraced former chairman of Satyam Computers B Ramalinga Raju will remain in jail as a local court here today dismissed bail petitions filed by him and other top executives of the software giant.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the sixth additional chief metropolitan magistrate Ramakrishna rejected the bail pleas of Raju, his younger brother and former managing director Rama Raju and former CFO V Srinivas.

The trio, accused in the Rs 7,200-crore accounting fraud in the IT company, are lodged in Chanchalguda central prison here. They were remanded to judicial custody till February 21. This was the second time that the bail applications of the three accused have been rejected by the court.

Public prosecutor Ajay Kumar told reporters outside the court complex that the magistrate has dismissed fresh bail petitions of Raju brothers and Srinivas.

Earlier, the court had reserved its orders after hearing arguments of both sides on February 13.

During the arguments, the prosecution told the court that the investigations into the biggest corporate fraud were at a crucial stage and that if the accused were granted bail they could tamper with the evidence.

Earlier on January 28, the magistrate had dismissed bail pleas of the three accused and they subsequently moved fresh applications.

Meanwhile, the court permitted the Income Tax Department to question Ramalinga Raju and record his statement on February 21. The IT officials had earlier sought three days time for questioning the Satyam founder but the court granted them permission for a day.

In another decision, the magistrate permitted market regulator SEBI to interrogate the two former auditors of Pricewaterhouse S Gopalakrishnan and T Srinivas and ex-CFO of Satyam V Srinivas for one day each, beginning tomorrow.

While the auditor duo will be quizzed tomorrow, the former CFO will be questioned on February 20.

The court initially permitted the market watchdog to question the trio in Chanchalguda jail today itself. However, the SEBI counsel sought a change in the dates for questioning, saying the interrogation could not be taken today because of paucity of time.

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General Motors to cut 47,000 jobs

Detroit (US), February 18
General Motors Corp, presenting a dire outlook for the future, said it may need $30 billion in total government financing to weather the economic downturn and would cut 47,000 jobs worldwide and shutter five more US factories in a massive restructuring plan.

The automaker is already surviving on $13.4 billion in federal loans and said in a plan submitted to the US Treasury Department that it would seek an additional $16.6 billion if economic conditions worsen, but it could achieve profitability in two years and fully repay its loans by 2017.

The US automaker presented its turnaround plan to the Obama administration as it worked to win concessions from the United Auto Workers union and bondholders to dramatically resize the company.

The UAW said it reached a tentative deal with GM, Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co on contract changes but discussions were still under way about how the companies would fund union-run trust funds that will take over the companies' retiree health care obligations starting next year.

GM said it was making progress but had not yet achieved all concessions from union workers, debt holders, dealers and suppliers that the Bush administration sought in the loan terms provided last December.

President Barack Obama's administration will review the plans from GM and Chrysler LLC but could pull the loans if they don't approve the turnaround plans by March 31.— AP

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Re breaches 50-mark

Mumbai, February 18
The Indian rupee today breached the 50-mark against the greenback for the second time in more than two months but closed a shade lower at 49.92/93, still down by 22 paise from its last close.

Sustained dollar buying by foreign banks put pressure on the local unit and it fell to 50.06 in intra-day, a level not seen since December 3, 2008.

Dealers in foreign exchange said foreign banks frantically bought dollars believed to be for selling in the offshore non-deliverable forwards market to make an immediate risk free profit.

In straight three sessions since Monday, the rupee has lost a whopping 125 paise or 2.57 per cent. The rupee crashed by a massive 88 paise or 1.80 per cent yesterday alone. — PTI

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Gold zooms to Rs 15,650

New Delhi, February 18
Gold surged to set a new peak at Rs 15,650 per 10 gram in opening trade in the national capital today on brisk buying triggered by a firming global trend.

The precious metal, which is on a record-setting spree for the last few sessions, shot up by Rs 230 to Rs 15,650 per 10 gram in tandem with the continuous rise of gold in Asian region since July as deepening global recession drove investors to purchase bullion as a store of value.

Low interest rate environment and melting stock markets also prompted investors to buy the metal as an alternative investment. — PTI

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Despite meltdown, India ‘favourable’ destination for FDI
Vibha Sharma/Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
Despite global slowdown, India continues to be regarded as a favourable investment destination. Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar told the Rajya Sabha today that with seven per cent growth rate and reasonable rate of returns, India continued to be widely regarded as a favourable destination for foreign direct investment (FDI).

“In a globalised economy some effect of global economy downturn on the Indian economy is expected. We are not insulated from the world. But despite economic meltdown, India will continue to grow at seven per cent in GDP terms on an annual basis. In 2008-09, despite global slowdown, $30 billion in FDI is expected. This is because India is still widely regarded as a favourable destination considering rate of return in investment,” he added.

The reason behind this was because the Indian economy was driven by domestic consumption and demand, Kumar said, adding that the meltdown in the rest of the world had impacted India on a much lesser scale. “We are not totally insulated... (but) since Indian economy is driven by domestic consumption and demand, the impact will be relatively less.”

Regarding apprehensions voiced by some members regarding increase in the cap of FDI of foreign newspapers, the minister said while FDI in print media relating to news and current affairs continued to be restricted at 26 per cent, but 100 per cent FDI in facsimile editions had been allowed as such editions do not affect the culture and political fabric of the country since they are not supposed to publish Indian news and content. The decision to permit foreign newspaper to print a facsimile edition was taken last month.

Kumar also categorically stated that there was no question of backdoor dilution of sectoral cap, adding that recent liberalisation of FDI norms would not result in backdoor dilution of sectoral foreign investment caps as management control would continue to be with Indians.

He said caps on foreign investment in certain sectors had been put to ensure that majority 51 per cent stake and management control in a company remained with Indians. “We have ensured that control of the company will remain in Indian hands,” he added.

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Pvt banks raise minimum balance limit
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
With retail deposits becoming the mainstay of growth for banks, they are now raising the bar for maintaining average quarterly balance in savings account. If earlier it was only the private sector banks that were raising the bar for maintaining the minimum balance in savings account, public sector banks, too, have joined in by hiking the fine imposed on customers for failing to maintain their minimum balance in current accounts.

While IDBI Bank has hiked its requirement for average quarterly balance (AQB) from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000, HDFC Bank, too, is tipped to increase its AQB to Rs 10,000 in the beginning of the next fiscal. Though this is not applicable to the salary, no-frills and senior citizen accounts, the banks maintain that they are increasing this for other account holders in view of the number of services offered by the banks.

The move is aimed at increasing the float (maximum cash reserves at their disposal for lending and earn more on low cost). Most of the private banks have raised the minimum balance from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000, while Punjab National Bank has increased the fine imposed on customers for failing to maintain an AQB of Rs 5,000 in the current bank account from Rs 500 to Rs 700 now. Though the banks deny it, but customers alleged that many of these banks have failed to notify them about the new stipulations that came into force last month, and have instead been imposing charges on them for failing to maintain the minimum balance. The banks, however, maintain that the head office had issued letters to all its customers, informing them of the raise.

A senior banker with HDFC Bank said with cost of transaction having gone up drastically, they cannot be loaded with low-cost accounts. “The cost of running establishments has gone up and AQBs cannot be seen in isolation. Banks are able to break even only if the AQB is Rs 20,000, and raising the AQB is the only way to recover as much as possible from the customers,” he said, justifying the hike in AQBs.

Manmeet Singh, a businessman in Mohali, said because of the banks raising their AQBs, it had become difficult for people to maintain multiple accounts.

When contacted, a senior official in the Regional Office of RBI said the banks were free to fix their own limits for minimum balance. “However, the banks have to notify the raising of the limit, advertise it on their websites, send notices to its customers or issue a notice in a leading newspaper. In case the banks have flouted this regulation, we will look into the matter,” he said.

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Now, make payment via mobile
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 18
IDBI Bank has announced the launch of payment services through mobile phones. According to a statement issued by the company, the bank's customers can purchase goods and services from merchants by paying via their mobile phones.

According to S Muhnot, executive director, IDBI Bank and head-personal banking group, this service comes absolutely free of cost to the bank's customers.

"This technology enables a mobile phone to become your wallet. In short, this is an m-wallet that substitutes the traditional physical wallet. It allows you to use your mobile phone to make easy and secure payments while shopping online or over the counter at accredited merchants who accept such payments," Muhnot said.

According to Muhnot, IDBI Bank has tied up with 13,000 merchants, including online portals and retail chains to accept payments via the m-wallet.

"Payment happens instantly and the amount is deducted from the savings or current account that has been linked to your mobile phone," says Muhnot.

According to him, the security angle has also been taken care of and the customer would not have to disclose confidential information like the CVV number on the back of credit cards.

At the moment, subscribers to every mobile service in the country can sign up for m-wallet.

Subscribers are allotted a Personal Identification Number (PIN) via SMS message. They would then have to change the PIN with a secret number of their choice and then begin mobile transactions.

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RIL to start gas supply from KG-D6 by April

New Delhi, February 18
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries (RIL) will start selling natural gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields by April to ease fuel deficit at power and fertiliser units, the government has said.

"Supply of gas from KG-D6 is likely to begin by April 2009," Oil Minister Murli Deora has said at the meeting of Parliamentary Consultative Committee yesterday evening.

Reliance is likely to start gas production by the first week of March but the initial volume would go for testing the equipment and building pressure in the pipeline. The first sale may by early April.

Initial output may be 5-10 million standard cubic meters per day that would rise to 15-20 mmscmd by April and to 40 mmscmd by July/August.

"It has been decided to supply the first 40 mmscmd of natural gas to meet the shortfall in existing gas-based urea plants, LPG plants and power plants," Deora said.

KG-D6 gas would be a boon for the fuel-starved fertiliser and power companies, increasing production at cheaper rates.

Reliance gas that is being priced at $4.20 per million British thermal unit — at least 50 per cent cheaper than competitive domestic gas — would increase supply of urea in the country and bring down fertiliser subsidy, he said. It would also increase power generation and reduce dependence on imported oil to meet energy needs.

The initial volumes from KG-D6 would be sold to gas-based urea manufacturing plants and the Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra. Fertiliser plants with a cumulative consumption of over 14 mmscmd have been identified.

The 2,150-MW Ratnagiri power plant, erstwhile known as Dabhol project, would get priority equal to fertiliser units. It will initially get 1.4 mmscmd, which would rise to 2.7 mmscmd by May/June and finally to 8.5 mmscmd before year-end.— PTI

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BRIEFLY

Jet Airways’ CEO quits
Mumbai
: Jet Airways group CEO Ravi Chaturvedi has resigned from the company, with effect from April 1. When contacted, the private air-carrier's chairman Naresh Goyal confirmed the resignation. "Chaturvedi is my good friend and has quit only to join his family in the United States," Goyal told PTI over phone from Malaysia. — PTI

Jet cuts international routes
New Delhi
: Amid difficult times for the aviation industry, Jet Airways has cut three of its biggest loss-making international routes and plans to lease four wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft, besides phasing out three Boeing 737 planes. The carrier discontinued the Amritsar-London-Amritsar route in December, Bombay-Shanghai-San Francisco and Bangalore-Brussels sectors in January as part of its network rationalisation exercise.— PTI

Rs 365-cr orders for KEC
Mumbai
: Transmission towers manufacturer KEC International on Wednesday said it has received Rs 365-crore orders from different government entities for rural electrification and transmission space. The company said that rural electrification orders are awarded under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana and transmission order is awarded by Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh.— PTI

Areva bags Rs 101-cr order
New Delhi
: The Indian arm of France's Areva Power, Areva T&D, on Wednesday said it has bagged a Rs 101-crore order for supplying gas insulated substation from the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. Areva T&D would supply 420 KV and 230 KV gas insulated substation package for Mettur Thermal Power Project of TNEB, the company said.— PTI

Tata Motors agreement
chandigarh
: Auto major Tata Motors on Wednesday tied up with public sector lender Central Bank of India for providing retail finance facilities to its passenger vehicle customers. Under this association between the two firms, financing facilities would be available at all the 3,500 branches of the lender as well as the 329 sales touch points of the auto maker, it added.— TNS

PNB-Hyundai tie-up
New Delhi
: Punjab National Bank has signed an MoU with Hyundai Motor India, the second largest car manufacturer in India. The pact will offer competitive auto loan schemes for Hyundai's potential customers across India. — TNS

BOR in pact with Escorts
New Delhi:
The Bank of Rajasthan has announced a tie-up with Escorts Ltd, a leading tractor & farm equipments manufacturer. The pact will help farmers in Rajasthan to obtain loan for tractors and farm equipments at lower interest rates.— TNS

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