SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Tatas’ debt to cross Rs 1-trillion mark
New Delhi, March 16
Tata group’s total debt is set to exceed Rs 1,00,000 crore in the current fiscal, but it appears comfortable on the liquidity front, a report has said. “We expect the total debt of Tata group as of the end of FY'09 (ending this month) at over Rs 1 trillion, of which Rs 117 billion is due through March 2010,” analysts at domestic brokerage unit of financial major Kotak group said.

India’s GDP growth to stabilise around 7 pc: CMIE
Mumbai, March 16
India’s real GDP is projected to grow by seven per cent in FY10, which can be partly seen in the signs of recovery in the data available for January 2009, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said in its monthly review here.



EARLIER STORIES



Gail plans bidding for CNG retailing
New Delhi, March 16
GAIL Gas Ltd, the city gas subsidiary of state-run GAIL India Ltd, is planning to bid for 20 cities for retailing CNG to automobiles and piped gas to households, its chairman UD Choubey said.

GAIL (India) chairman and managing director UD Choubey (C) with Bangkok Exhibition Services managing director David Aitken (L) and technical director KK Gandhi at a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI

HCL inks $350-m deal with Reader’s Digest
New Delhi, March 16
Country’s leading IT solutions major HCL Technologies today said it had bagged a $350-million deal from Reader’s Digest spread over seven years to provide a wide range of outsourcing services.

Meltdown PANGS


Unemployed people sit in the foyer of the Chine Resource Building as police and security staff surround them in Beijing on Monday. Chine has warned that it faces a severe test this year in providing enough jobs with the global taking its toll and threatening to swell ranks of the unemployed. — Reuters

India back on FDI radar
New Delhi, March 16
At a time when the world economy is facing the worst credit freeze in several decades, India attracted $2.7-billion foreign direct investment (FDI) in January, up 58.8 per cent from a year ago, and remained a favourite destination for cross-border investments.

Wills Lifestyle eyes tier-II cities
Chandigarh, March 16
The global meltdown notwithstanding, ITC remains undeterred with its expansion plans for its lifestyle retailing business - Wills Lifestyle. For the first time, the company is also planning to take the franchisee route to make in roads into smaller cities across India.

Now, Australia to cut on skilled migrants
Canberra, March 16
Australia will cut its intake of migrants for the first time in a decade, the government said today, amid concern that skilled foreign workers could stoke resentment by taking jobs at a time of rising unemployment.

Sachs sees deflation in India
New Delhi, March 16
Already witnessing a sharp decline in inflation, India would see deflation or reduction in general price level from next month due to slackening demand, financial services firm Goldman Sachs said today.

 





Top








 

Tatas’ debt to cross Rs 1-trillion mark

New Delhi, March 16
Tata group’s total debt is set to exceed Rs 1,00,000 crore in the current fiscal, but it appears comfortable on the liquidity front, a report has said.

“We expect the total debt of Tata group as of the end of FY'09 (ending this month) at over Rs 1 trillion, of which Rs 117 billion is due through March 2010,” analysts at domestic brokerage unit of financial major Kotak group said.

When contacted, Tata Sons spokesperson said: “We are not in a position to comment on such reports. As you are aware Tata Sons does not aggregate the debt of individual group companies as each company is a standalone legal entity and is evaluated accordingly.” Increase of more than Rs 30,000 crore in group’s overall outstanding debt position from year-ago level of about Rs 70,000 crore is primarily due to its aggressive capital expenditure plans and past acquisitions, the report stated.

Analysts, however, noted that Tatas’ funding challenges are manageable and debt obligations could be met through free cash flow generated at various group companies and proceeds from the stake sale by holding company Tata Sons.

“We believe the group’s liquidity position is comfortable at an aggregate level,” Kotak Institutional Equities Research analysts said, adding that possible fund-raising options include monetising Tata Motors’ commercial vehicle division and stake sale by Tata Sons in TCS and Tata Tele Services.

“We believe the Tata Group of companies (represented by five largest listed entities) would generate Rs 10,000 crore in free cash flows in FY2010, against Rs 11,700 crore in debt coming due for repayment/refinance, implying a funding gap of Rs 1,700 crore,” the report noted.

Total debt of these entities — Tata Motors, Tata Steel, TCS, Tata Power and Tata Communications — which account for 90 per cent of the group’s revenues, the analysts said. — PTI

Tata Motors’ ranking may get a hit

Tata Motors faces the possibility of its long-term credit rating being downgraded by Standard and Poor's (S&P) due to deterioration of its financial profile, particularly after acquisition of British marquees JLR.

"We will review Tata Motor's debt and funding plan in the next few days and believe there is a high likelihood that we will lower the rating further, possibly by more than one notch," the rating agency said today.

S&P's current long-term corporate credit rating of Tata Motors is BB-, which implies the possibility of repayment of loans is moderate.

"We have kept the ratings on watch pending clarification of the company's strategy to minimise deterioration of its cash flow. We believe Tata Motors cash flow - particularly from Jaguar and Land Rover - and related metrics may materially deteriorate on consolidated basis," S&P said.

Top

 

India’s GDP growth to stabilise around 7 pc: CMIE

Mumbai, March 16
India’s real GDP is projected to grow by seven per cent in FY10, which can be partly seen in the signs of recovery in the data available for January 2009, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said in its monthly review here.

Economic think-tank CMIE expects the growth rate to climb slowly from around 6 per cent in the first-half to about 8 per cent in the second-half of FY10.

The global liquidity crisis in September 2008 has suddenly brought the economy’s story of nine per cent growth to a grinding halt. FY10 would gradually recover from this jolt.

Signs of recovery are already evident in the little data that is available for January 2009. While the global economy seems to be getting into a deep crisis, the domestic economy is likely to see a smarter and quicker recovery in FY10, it said. The agricultural sector has traditionally been the principal source of volatility in the overall growth of the Indian economy. A decline in GDP growth is usually the result of a fall in agricultural production.

In the last 10-year period ending 2005, the agricultural sector recorded a fall in output in every alternate year.

CMIE pointed out that this seriously debilitating trend seems to have been reversed. The agriculture sector has registered positive growth for four consecutive years - FY06 to FY09.

CMIE expects it to register a positive growth rate again for fifth consecutive year, in FY10.

We expect the growth rate to slow down to 2.4 per cent. Nevertheless, a fifth consecutive year of positive growth in agriculture would contribute directly to the growth in FY 10 and would have a positive impact on domestic demand, CMIE report said.

The agriculture sector registered a 2.2 per cent fall in output in the third quarter of FY09. This decline was not expected, although it comes after a 2.4-per cent fall in kharif sowing and, it comes over a high base since the corresponding quarter a year ago had seen a growth of 6.9 per cent.

“We believe that at least a part of the fall may get corrected with revisions in agriculture production data. This is likely to happen in the case of cotton and to a small extent in the case of rice. The fall of October-December 2008 does not dilute the new confidence in agriculture because production is increasingly shifting in favour of the rabi season. And, while Kharif sowing was down by 2.4 per cent, rabi sowing is up by 3.1 per cent. Higher MSPs and market prices have spurred sowings in favour of cash crops,” CMIE said. — PTI

Top

 

Gail plans bidding for CNG retailing

New Delhi, March 16
GAIL Gas Ltd, the city gas subsidiary of state-run GAIL India Ltd, is planning to bid for 20 cities for retailing CNG to automobiles and piped gas to households, its chairman UD Choubey said.

GAIL Gas had bid for Sonepat, Mathura, Kota, Dewas, Meerut and Kakinada for setting up city gas distribution (CGD) projects recently, he told reporters here.

Sector regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) will decide on the bids shortly.

Apart from CNG projects, GAIL Gas is constructing three compressed natural gas (CNG) stations under the first phase of CNG corridor projects at Mathura, Panvel and Kovvuru to cater to Delhi-Agra, Mumbai-Pune and Vijayawada-Rajahmundry corridors.

“In the next five years, it is estimated that 74.34 million standard cubic meters per day of additional gas would be required for city gas projects in 298 potential cities,” he said. Later talking to reporters, Choubey said GAIL is likely to borrow $500 million for its expansion plans in the last quarter of 2009-10 fiscal or in the first three-months of 2010-11 financial year.

GAIL’s one-fifth of the planned Rs 5,558 crore investment in 2009-10 would be from internal resources. — PTI

Top

 

HCL inks $350-m deal with Reader’s Digest
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
Country’s leading IT solutions major HCL Technologies today said it had bagged a $350-million deal from Reader’s Digest spread over seven years to provide a wide range of outsourcing services.

The company in a statement issued here said scope of the deal includes development of software applications, infrastructure support, network security, data storage, disaster recovery and support for data centres.

These solutions will be enabled through an integrated help desk in 14 languages - Portuguese, French, Russian, Czech, Spanish, Polish, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Romanian, Slovak and Turkish, the statement added.

As part of the deal, HCL will provide its support services across 45 countries through its global delivery locations in Poland, the US and India. It would also provide a worldwide on-site support network.

Al Perruzza, senior vice-president, global operations, Reader’s Digest, said: “We expect HCL will bring down cost of operations significantly, while improving services and bringing cutting-edge technology and capabilities to transform our IT functionality and service”.

The $5 billion HCL group, founded in 1976 comprises two companies listed on India bourses - HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems.

Headquartered at Pleasantville, New York, Reader's Digest Association publishes 92 magazines, including 50 editions of Reader’s Digest - touted as the world’s largest-circulation magazine.

Top

 

India back on FDI radar

New Delhi, March 16
At a time when the world economy is facing the worst credit freeze in several decades, India attracted $2.7-billion foreign direct investment (FDI) in January, up 58.8 per cent from a year ago, and remained a favourite destination for cross-border investments.

“January numbers are very good...it is an indication of the confidence that the rest of the world has in India,” secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Ajay Shankar said.

The FDI inflows for the April-January period aggregated to $23.8 billion and is expected to cross the last year’s target of $25 billion this fiscal.

Though the government had set a target of $35-billion FDI for 2008-09, it looked rather ambitious in the wake of the global downturn.

Up to September this fiscal, the monthly inflows were in excess of $2 billion. However, the following three months saw a sharp dip in the overseas investments.

The January figures bring a renewed hope that India is back on the radar of global investors. — PTI

Top

 

Wills Lifestyle eyes tier-II cities
Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The global meltdown notwithstanding, ITC remains undeterred with its expansion plans for its lifestyle retailing business - Wills Lifestyle. For the first time, the company is also planning to take the franchisee route to make in roads into smaller cities across India.

Atul Chand, divisional chief executive, Wills Lifestyle, said here today that they were panning to open 45 new stores across India in the next two years. “Unlike others, ITC has not deferred its expansion plans because we have been very careful while choosing the market where we enter. Though we have 55 stores across 30 cities now, we are looking at expanding our stores to all tier-II cities by March 2011. Of the 45 new stores that will be opened now, 20 stores would be franchisee-based stores,” he said.

Chand said the company was looking at the franchisee route, because it wanted to penetrate deeper into tier-II cities. “Franchisees will have a better understanding of the local market,” he said, adding that talks were on with various players for a franchisee agreement.

He said the company was also weighing plans to roll out a smaller specialty retail format, targeting very high-end consumers. These stores will initially be opened in Delhi and Mumbai on a pilot basis. “At this point, we are evaluating the project. The results have been encouraging and we are open to the idea of rolling out more such niche stores across the country in the future,” Chand said.

Top

 

Now, Australia to cut on skilled migrants

Canberra, March 16
Australia will cut its intake of migrants for the first time in a decade, the government said today, amid concern that skilled foreign workers could stoke resentment by taking jobs at a time of rising unemployment.

With a recession looming and the government expecting unemployment to reach 7 per cent by mid-2010, Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the intake of skilled migrants would be reduced by about 14 per cent. Australia goes to the polls in late 2010 and immigration has been a charged issue in past polls, particularly following economic downturn.

A leading migration expert, former government official Bob Kinnaird, said record recent migrant arrivals in a fast shrinking job market were leading to “highly combustible” conditions in regional areas, where many new arrivals had settled.

Australia is a nation of immigrants and has been enjoying a boom in new arrivals for the past decade to help meet labour shortages as a China-fuelled mining boom drove unemployment rates to 30-year lows.

Australia’s jobless rate spiked to 5.2 per cent from 4.8 per cent last month with the biggest impact felt by full-time workers. — Reuters

Top

 

Sachs sees deflation in India

New Delhi, March 16
Already witnessing a sharp decline in inflation, India would see deflation or reduction in general price level from next month due to slackening demand, financial services firm Goldman Sachs said today.

Deflation can also come due to high base effect, which is an impact of high inflation last year on the current level of the rate of price rise, Goldman Sachs said.

“We expect yearly headline WPI inflation to fall rapidly below 1 per cent in March...and enter a period of deflation beginning in April, which could last till end-2009 due to not only continuing demand destruction but also a sharp step-up in the base,” it said in a research report.

Inflation fell to over a six-year low of 2.43 per cent for the week ended February 28 against 3.03 per cent in the previous week mainly on account of a fall in the prices of manufactured products.

It further said in a deflationary environment, those sectors with a high proportion of variable costs are likely to benefit from falling input prices.

In 2010, however, it expects inflation to come back due to both a gradual pick-up in demand, and conversely, a low base from 2009. It further said the Reserve Bank could slash cash reserve ratio for banks by 150 basis points by mid-2009 to provide liquidity into the system. — PTI

Top

 
BRIEFLY

Amas Bank is now Hinduja Bank
MUMBAI:
Amas Bank (Switzerland) Ltd on Monday announced that it has changed its name to Hinduja Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. The bank belongs to the family-owned Hinduja Group, one of the largest diversified business groups in the world. “The change reflects the growing strength of the Hinduja name in global business, as well as the group’s increased commitment to the bank in Switzerland. — UNI

Kuwait to scrap $15-b refinery project
DUBAI:
The Kuwaiti government will cancel a $15-billion oil refinery project i its weekly meeting on Sunday Prime Minister Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah has said. The refinery would be the second multi-billion-dollar oil project to be scrapped in about three months on meeting parliamentary opposition. — PTI

LIC hikes stake in SBI
MUMBAI:
LIC has raised its stake in public sector lender State Bank of India to 9.16 per cent by acquiring additional 1.34 crore shares of the bank for Rs 1,484.12 crore. LIC has acquired 1.34 crore shares representing 2.11 per cent stake through open market transactions, SBI said. — PTI

Iyer is COO StanChart (India)
MUMBAI:
Standard Chartered Bank on Monday said that it had appointed Sreeram Iyer as the chief operating officer for its India operations. Iyer will oversee critical operational functions. Earlier, Iyer was the global programme director for the integration of the erstwhile American Express Bank’s consumer banking business with StanChart. — PTI

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |