SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

IMF chief warns of ‘Great Recession’
Dar Es Salaam, March 10
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday warned that the world economy will likely contract this year in a ''Great Recession'' and African leaders said the financial crisis could undo hard-won social-economic gains.
The IMF expects global growth to slow below zero this year, the worst performance in most of our lifetimes.

The IMF expects global growth to slow below zero this year, the worst performance in most of our lifetimes.

— Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director, IMF

Satyam Saga
CBI sleuths interrogate Raju
Hyderabad, March 10
The probe into the Rs 7,800-crore fraud in Satyam Computers has moved into top gear with the CBI sleuths today commencing interrogation of the software giant’s disgraced former chairman B Ramalinga Raju and four others.

UN to terminate contract with Satyam
Washington, March 10
The United Nations is to snap a direct contract with the scam-hit Indian software exporter Satyam Computer Services, a media report has said.



EARLIER STORIES



Board member for sales and marketing at Skoda Auto India Thomas Kuehl (R) and general manager of sales and dealer development Ashutosh Dixit pose with Skoda's Superb car at its launch in New Delhi on Tuesday. The Skoda Superb will be available in Delhi at an Rs 18.88 lakh (ex-showroom).
Board member for sales and marketing at Skoda Auto India Thomas Kuehl (R) and general manager of sales and dealer development Ashutosh Dixit pose with Skoda's Superb car at its launch in New Delhi on Tuesday. The Skoda Superb will be available in Delhi at an Rs 18.88 lakh (ex-showroom). Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Idea to launch Blackberry service
Chandigarh, March 10
Idea Cellular will soon launch Blackberry service in Punjab. The Aditya Birla Group company, which made its entry into the state by acquiring Spice Telecom, will also be launching its data card.

KG Gas
RIL to sign pact with fertiliser units
New Delhi, March 10
Reliance Industries (RIL) has resolved almost all issues with fertiliser firms, who are first in line to receive natural gas supplies from the company's prolific KG-D6 fields, and is likely to sign gas supply agreements this month.

Global M&A deals decline 35 per cent
New Delhi, March 10
The downturn in global economy has hit the merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions as their value so far this year has dropped 35 per cent at $384 billion.

 





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IMF chief warns of ‘Great Recession’

Dar Es Salaam, March 10
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday warned that the world economy will likely contract this year in a ''Great Recession'' and African leaders said the financial crisis could undo hard-won social-economic gains.

''The IMF expects global growth to slow below zero this year, the worst performance in most of our lifetimes,'' IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told African political and financial leaders in the Tanzanian capital.

''Continued deleveraging by world financial institutions, combined with a collapse in consumer and business confidence is depressing domestic demand across the globe, while world trade is falling at an alarming rate and commodity prices have tumbled,'' Strauss-Kahn added.

As advanced countries focus on problems in their own economies, Strauss-Kahn called on the international community not to forget Africa, where regional growth is expected to slow sharply to 3 percent this year, half the rate of the past five years.

That forecast may ''even be too optimistic'', he said.

''Even though the crisis has been slow in reaching Africa's shores, we all know it is coming and its impact will be severe,'' he said. ''We must ensure that the voices of the poor are heard. We must ensure that Africa is not left out,'' he added.

The IMF chief warned that millions of people in Africa will be thrown back into poverty by the crisis, while fragile political systems will be tested.

''This is not only about protecting economic growth and household incomes - it is also about containing the threat of civil unrest, perhaps even war. It is about people and their futures,'' he added.

He said the combined impact of economic and financial shocks on Africa's growth will be severe. Financial flows are becoming more scarce, trade financing even scarcer and more expensive and foreign investment in Africa's stock and bond markets has fallen, he added.

Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete said the crisis posed the biggest threat to the region in recent history.

''So far, Africa's voice on this unnerving situation has been muted as witnessed in different global initiatives and processes, which have emerged to respond to the crisis,'' he told the 300 delegates at the conference.

He said a meeting of the Group of 20 leaders in London on April 2 was an opportunity to send a clear message to the world on Africa's concerns about the crisis.

The big challenge going forward he said was how to maintain and sustain the gains in economic stability in Sub-Saharan Africa. — Reuters

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Satyam Saga
CBI sleuths interrogate Raju
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 10
The probe into the Rs 7,800-crore fraud in Satyam Computers has moved into top gear with the CBI sleuths today commencing interrogation of the software giant’s disgraced former chairman B Ramalinga Raju and four others.

Armed with a court order, a multi-disciplinary investigation team of CBI, headed by its DIG V V Lakshmi Narayana, started quizzing the accused at the state-owned Dilkusha Guest House here.

Following a local court order granting 7-day CBI custody, the accused were brought to the CBI’s camp office from Chanchalguda jail where they are presently lodged.

A team of CBI officials went to the prison in the morning and brought the accused to the guest house.

The designated court of CBI cases had yesterday allowed the CBI to take custody of Ramalinga Raju, his brother and former managing director B. Rama Raju, former chief financial officer V Srinivas and sacked PriceWaterhouse partners S Gopalakrishnan and T Srinivas.

The investigation into the biggest scandal in the country’s corporate history was handed over to CBI last month, following pressure from the opposition parties who accused the Congress government of adopting soft approach towards Raju.

The federal investigating agency will focus on how Ramalinga Raju manipulated the accounts for years without being noticed, the involvement of other company officials, diversion of Satyam funds to over 300 companies floated by him and his family members and purchase of lands and other property by the accused.

There are allegations that Raju had diverted Satyam funds to real estate and infrastructure firms owned by his sons.

The 16-member CBI team includes banking experts, chartered accountants and officials from SEBI, Registrar of Companies, Serious Fraud Investigation Office, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax.

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UN to terminate contract with Satyam

Washington, March 10
The United Nations is to snap a direct contract with the scam-hit Indian software exporter Satyam Computer Services, a media report has said.

The Fox News in an online report quoted a spokesman for the UN Secretariat as saying that "one direct contract it (UN Secretariat) had with Satyam is to be terminated".

However, the report did not have details of the particular contract.

Satyam has been in the doldrums following its founder B Ramalinga Raju's confession in January that he cooked company's account books and inflated profits for many years.

"... in light of the developments with Satyam, the UN has also asked a little-known UN agency called the International Computer Centre, which has served as an intermediary in hiring Satyam indirectly, replace its contract with Satyam as soon as possible," the report published on Monday said.

Earlier in January, the UN had suspended Satyam from the the Secretariat's vendor database and placed all ongoing contracts with the company under review.

"Satyam has been suspended from the UN Secretariat vendor database. The information has been communicated to the UN procurement system and the UN Global Marketplace.

"Ongoing contracts with Satyam are currently under assessment," UN Procurement Division's Integrated Support Service Chief Kiyohiro Mitsui had said. — PTI

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Idea to launch Blackberry service
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Idea Cellular will soon launch Blackberry service in Punjab. The Aditya Birla Group company, which made its entry into the state by acquiring Spice Telecom, will also be launching its data card.

Talking to TNS here today, Anish Roy, chief operating officer, Idea Cellular (Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir), said they were currently in the process of doing trials for the Blackberry and the data card. “The Blackberry will be launched in the next six weeks. Though we have not decided on the rates, it will be quite competitive,” he said.

With a major chunk of subscribers being post-paid subscribers, Idea is hoping that they will be able to have a huge market for its Blackberry connections. Almost 35 per cent of the company’s subscribers are post-paid subscribers.

Roy said ever since Spice had been taken over by Idea Cellular, they had managed to increase their subscriber base. “Our subscriber base has increased by almost 2.21 lakh in the past four months to reach the level of 23.68 lakh connections. In order to strengthen our position further, we have launched a number of innovative tariff plans, which have helped us increase our market share in this telecom circle,” he added.

He said the company would focus on expanding its network, upgrade its technology, IT systems and call centers.

9.1 m new mobile users in Feb

New Delhi: Slowdown failed to hit rising mobile usage as Indian GSM operators added a record 9.1 million subscribers in February, taking total users to 277.1 million, thus, maintaining rapid expansion in the world's fastest-growing wireless market.

Bharti Airtel, India's top mobile operator, led the signings, adding 2.73 million subscribers in February to take its mobile customer base to 91 million. Vodafone Essar Ltd, controlled by Britain's Vodafone, added 2.5 million users in the month, to take its subscriber base to 65 million, data from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) showed.

State-owned BSNL added 1.5 million users in February taking its total to 44 million. Idea Cellular gained 1.5 subscribers as well, and now has 41 million users.— PTI

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KG Gas
RIL to sign pact with fertiliser units

New Delhi, March 10
Reliance Industries (RIL) has resolved almost all issues with fertiliser firms, who are first in line to receive natural gas supplies from the company's prolific KG-D6 fields, and is likely to sign gas supply agreements this month.

Reliance has offered liberal take-or-pay terms in the revised Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement that is being sent to nine fertiliser units this week for possible signing along with Gas Transportation Agreement this month.

Sources said fertiliser units will necessarily have to pay for 90 per cent of the volumes allocated to them in a year even though they may not draw even a single cubic meter. But they will have the liberty to take the quantities not drawn, in the next year.

Reliance would extend the five-year supply contract by three months to enable companies to draw the volumes they may not have taken previously. The company will refund money for volumes remaining even after this three-month period. — PTI

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Global M&A deals decline 35 per cent

New Delhi, March 10
The downturn in global economy has hit the merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions as their value so far this year has dropped 35 per cent at $384 billion.

"Global M&A volume reached $384 billion via 5,227 deals in 2009 year-to-date (YTD), down 35 per cent from $591.7 billion via 7,662 deals in 2008 YTD," says global deal tracking firm Dealogic. There has also been a significant drop in large-sized deals of over $10 billion.

"There have been nine deals valued over $10 billion announced in 2009 with the total volume of $183.7 billion, accounting for 48 per cent of volume in 2009 YTD compared with 21 per cent in 2008 YTD," it said.

The United States has been ranked as the most targeted nation with total deals worth $165.8 billion, down 27 per cent from $227.8 billion in 2008 YTD.

The US was followed by Germany with $33.6 billion, up almost four-fold from $9.1 billion, however the number of deals decreased from 279 in 2008 YTD to 250 in 2009 YTD.

"German M&A volume is driven by the $13.6 billion acquisition of Commerzbak by Federal Republic of Germany, the fifth largest M&A deal globally, and the acquisition of Volkswagen by Porsche Automobil for $11.7 billion, the ninth largest M&A deal globally in 2009 YTD," Dealogic added.

A sector-wise analysis shows that finance is the most targeted sector in 2009 YTD with deals worth $101.1 billion, followed by healthcare with $80.2 billion and utility and energy with $52.1 billion, the report said.

It added that the volume of these top three sectors have increased more than 30 per cent in 2009 YTD compared to the same time last year.

Citi leads the Global M&A advisory ranking in 2009 YTD with $125.5 billion, followed by JPMorgan with $122.3 billion and Morgan Stanley with $116.6 billion. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Malaysia unveils $16.2-b stimulus plan
Kuala Lumpur
: In a bid to spur economic activity, the Malaysian government on Tuesday unveiled a massive second stimulus package worth $16.2 billion, which is almost nine per cent of the country's GDP. Announcing the package, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is also the finance minister, said package would be implemented over the period of two years.— PTI

Sodexo’s buyout
New Delhi:
France-based global food services company Sodexo has taken over India's largest food service player Radhakrishna Hospitality Services in a deal worth more than Rs 400 crore. The new entity would function under Sodexo's ownership although Radhakrishna Hospitality Services (RKHS) promoter Raju Shetty would take over as the non-executive chairman of the combined entity, a source close to the development said.— PTI

PVR to invest Rs 100 cr
New Delhi
: Entertainment firm PVR Ltd on Tuesday announced its foray into the fashion bowling business in a joint venture with Thailand-based Major Cineplex Group and has plans to invest Rs 100 crore over the next three years for opening 500 bowling lanes across the country. The two companies have entered into a 51:49 JV to bring the global fashion bowling brand 'Blu-O' into the country.— PTI

Tata Motors pact
Mumbai:
Carmaker Tata Motors on Tuesday said it has entered into a tie-up with the Union Bank of India for financing its range of passenger vehicles. UBI offers car loans up to 85 per cent of invoice, for tenure ranging up to five years, at a rate of 11-11.25 per cent, a Tata Motors said in statement. The loan facility will be available at all branches of Union Bank of India and 329 sales touch-points of Tata Motors.— PTI

Max New York Life in J&K
Jammu
: Max New York Life Insurance Company has decided to open two branches in Jammu and Kashmir. Talking to The Tribune, Ashish Jaitly, regional manager of the company, said they would open offices in Srinagar and Udhampur in the near future. — TNS

O P Munjal awarded
Ludhiana
: O P Munjal, chairman and managing director, Hero Cycles Limited, Ludhiana, has been awarded Amity Lifetime Achievement Award by the Amity International Business School, Noida, for his outstanding contribution to the industry, during the International Business Summit held at Noida recently. Pankaj Munjal, his son and managing director, Hero Motors, New Delhi, received the award on his behalf. — TNS

Central Bank CMD
Chandigarh
: S. Sridhar has taken over as the chairman and managing director (CMD) of the Central Bank of India. He was previously serving as chairman of National Housing Bank. — TNS

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