SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Sensex zooms 447 pts
Mumbai, April 2
Overnight rally in the US markets propelled the bourses in Asia, including India, to newer heights. The BSE benchmark index, Sensex, jumped 4.5 per cent to close at 10,348, nearly 5-month high, as frontline scrips like Reliance and the metal stocks made huge gains.

Inflation marginally up
New Delhi, April 2
After continuously declining for nine weeks, inflation has taken a reverse trend for the week ended March 21 and moved up marginally to 0.31 per cent from 0.27 per cent a week earlier.

Maruti records highest sales ever
New Delhi, April 2
Country’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) has recorded its highest-ever annual sales in 2008-09 by selling as many as 7,92,167 vehicles.

RIL begins gas output from KG basin
Mumbai, April 2
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) today began production of natural gas from its Krishna-Godavari basin oil fields.



EARLIER STORIES



Satyam sale likely by mid-April
Bangalore, April 2
Financial bids for Satyam Computer will be put in by next week, three banking sources involved in the deal said on Thursday.

Karl Slym GM to launch two new cars
Chandigarh, April 2
Riding high on the success of its small cars, Spark and U-VA, General Motors (GM) will launch another premium hatchback by the end of this year. The company will also be launching its compact sedan, Chevrolet Cruz this year.                                                               
Karl Slym

This file photo shows the Euro sculpture in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt.
This file photo shows the Euro sculpture in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt. The European Central Bank shocked financial markets on Thursday. It cut its main interest rate by a smaller-than-expected 25 basis points, taking it to a new low of 1.25 per cent. — Reuters photo

2 new directors on
Maytas board
New Delhi, April 2
The government today appointed
two more directors — former
Airports Authority of India chairman
K Ramalingam and past president of
Assocham Anil K Agarwal — on the
board of Maytas Infra, a company
promoted by kin of disgraced
founder chairman of Satyam B
Ramalinga Raju. The government had
last month appointed noted tax
lawyer O P Vaish and past president
of ICAI Ved Jain on the board of
Maytas Infra following an order by
the Company Law Board. — TNS

NELP-8 launch on April 9
New Delhi, April 2
India will launch its biggest-ever auction of oil and gas exploration blocks next week, offering 70 areas for bidding, Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey said on Thursday. The 8th edition of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) round will feature 24 deep-sea blocks, 28 shallow-water blocks and 18 onland areas. Alongside, the government will also offer 10 blocks for coal bed methane (CBM) exploration, he said. — PTI

Poonch-Rawlakote Route
Cross-LoC trade at all-time high
Rajouri, April 2
The tension between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai terror attack has not affected the trade along the Line of Control (LoC) Poonch-Rawlakote road.

SC stays arrest of Nimesh Kampani
New Delhi, April 2
The Supreme Court today stayed the arrest of J M Financial founder and investment banker Nimesh Kampani in the Nagarjuna Finance scam case.

Telecom sector revenue up 5% in Q3
New Delhi, April 2
Telecom sector of the country seems to be unaffected by the economic slowdown with the gross revenue for the third quarter (October-December 2008) of the previous fiscal rising by over five per cent and the private sector especially, seeing an amazing seven per cent increase in its gross revenues.

Zaheer Khan Zaheer Khan to bat for Dabur
New Delhi, April 2
FMCG major Dabur India has roped in cricketer Zaheer
Khan as the new brand ambassador for its flagship energy
drink Dabur Glucose.

 





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Sensex zooms 447 pts
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 2
Overnight rally in the US markets propelled the bourses in Asia, including India, to newer heights. The BSE benchmark index, Sensex, jumped 4.5 per cent to close at 10,348, nearly 5-month high, as frontline scrips like Reliance and the metal stocks made huge gains.

Of the Sensex scrips, RIL gained 5.2 per cent or Rs 83 to close at Rs 1,662 on the back of the company commencing gas production from the Krishna-Godavari fields, a historic feat that will help India save $9 billion in oil imports a year.

The big gainers today were led by DLF, which was up 15 per cent to end at Rs 203. JP Associates and Tata Motors, closing 12.8 per cent higher, were the other major gainers. Only Hindustan Unilever closed in the red.

Among sectoral indices, realty, metal, oil & gas, banking and capital goods stocks were the major gainers. The BSE realty index was the top gainer closing 9.1 per cent higher. The BSE metal index was up 6.9 per cent while the oil and gas index shot up 5.7 per cent.

PTI adds: Expectations of an early recovery in the US after improvement in data on manufacturing and housing lifted the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index by 2.01 and 1.51 per cent, yesterday, paving the way for other markets to rally. Asian indices also ended higher between 0.72 per cent and 7.41 per cent today.

After beginning above the 10,000-mark, the 30-share barometer remained in positive terrain throughout the day to touch a high of 10,432.31 before ending at 10,348.83, a level not seen since November 10, 2008.

In three sessions of gains, the Sensex gained by a whopping 780.69 points or 8.16 per cent. The 50-issue Nifty of the National Stock Exchange also went up further by 150.70 points or 4.92 per cent to end at 3,211.05 from its last close.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs), after a couple of days of selling, turned net buyers and pumped in Rs 173.75 crore on April 1, as per provisional data.

Expectations of a positive outcome from the Group of 20 nations' meeting aided the rise. The total market depth remained bullish with 2,014 gainers against only 535 losers on the BSE.

The trading volume shot up to Rs 4,926.47 crore from Rs 3,887.60 crore on Wednesday. ICICI Bank topped the list of highest traded securities with a turnover of Rs 329.44 crore, followed by RIL (Rs 284.23 crore).

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Inflation marginally up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 2
After continuously declining for nine weeks, inflation has taken a reverse trend for the week ended March 21 and moved up marginally to 0.31 per cent from 0.27 per cent a week earlier.

The items that contributed to higher prices include cement, plastic products and oil seeds. Inflation was 7.85 per cent in corresponding week last year.

However, the situation for the common man is far from good as the retail inflation figures released recently reveal that inflation stood at 9.75 per cent.

Food items became cheaper over the week with prices of vegetables (6 per cent) and certain grains like barley and jowar (2 per cent each) coming down.

The annual inflation for food articles, which have been at a year-high of 11.63 per cent has eased to about 6 per cent this week.

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Maruti records highest sales ever
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 2
Country’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) has recorded its highest-ever annual sales in 2008-09 by selling as many as 7,92,167 vehicles.

Even as its closest rival Hyundai Motor India recorded a negative growth in the month of March, losing its sales by 1.8 per cent over the previous month, MSIL sales rose by about 21.87 per cent.

It recorded total sales during March at 85,669 units as compared to 70,296 units in the same month last year.

Its overall sales figures for the year also rose by 3.57 per cent. It has sold 7,92,167 vehicles against 7,64,842 units in the previous fiscal. The previous highest annual sales were in 2007-08.

"2008-09 marked Maruti Suzuki's Silver Jubilee year in India. Over these 25 years, the company sold over 70 lakh cars in the domestic market. Additionally, over five lakh cars have been exported worldover," Maruti Suzuki India said in a statement.

For March, the domestic sales of MSIL stood at 73,855 units compared with 64,421 units in the same month a year ago, up by 14.64 per cent, it said.

Incidentally, MSIL also recorded a two-fold increase in its exports last month at 11,814 units as against 5,875 units in the corresponding month last year.

MSIL had recorded a negative sales percentage in October, November and December by 7.1 per cent, 27.4 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

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RIL begins gas output from KG basin
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 2
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) today began production of natural gas from its Krishna-Godavari basin oil fields.

According to a company spokesman, gas output began in the fields at 5 pm on Wednesday and the gas reached the on-land receiving facility at Gadimoga near Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh this morning.

It takes between 12 and 14 hours for the gas to reach the receiving station from the depths of the basin.

RIL completed the process "in a world record time of six-and-half years from discovery to begin gas production as against the global practice of 9-10 years," the company said in its statement.

The output announced by the company was from just two fields — Dhirubhai-1 and 3 of the 18 gas finds that have been put into production.

At peak production, the K-G D6 facility will produce 5,50,000 barrel equivalents of oil per day, the company said. "KG D6 gas would substantial the wealth transfer from India to other nations due to energy imports," the statement said.

According to the company, 15 million cubic metres per day of KG-D6 gas has been allotted to the urea-making plants and would thus save the country about Rs 3,000 crore per annum in fertiliser subsidy.

Another 18 mmcmd of gas will go to power plants, with one mmcmd capable of producing 250 megawatt of electricity, the company said.

In all, 15 fertiliser plants are to get the gas generated by the initial output. The first gas will be made available in three to four days and the plant most distant from the receiving station will get the gas in five days' time.

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Satyam sale likely by mid-April

Bangalore, April 2
Financial bids for Satyam Computer will be put in by next week, three banking sources involved in the deal said on Thursday.

The sale of the fraud-hit Indian outsourcer was likely to be completed by mid-April, another source with knowledge of the proceedings said. "By April 9 we have to put in the final and financial bids," one banker involved in the deal said.

The company's government-appointed board had said last month it hoped to finalise a buyer by April 30. "It is expected to be completed much earlier than that," said another source. — Reuters

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GM to launch two new cars
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Riding high on the success of its small cars, Spark and U-VA, General Motors (GM) will launch another premium hatchback by the end of this year. The company will also be launching its compact sedan, Chevrolet Cruz this year.

This was stated by the president and managing director of General Motors India, Karl Slym, in an interview with The Tribune here today. He was in town to inaugurate a new dealership at Panchkula.

“The premium hatchback — a mini car — will be priced around Rs 4 lakh and will have a 50 per cent indigenisation component. We will also launch an LPG variant of Spark this year, and introduce a CNG variant of our mid range cars like Aveo,” he said.

Slym said this year, the company had managed to grow by 10 per cent over last year, even as growth in automobile sector had shrunk by two per cent.

“In spite of the gloomy forecasts for this year, we are sure of achieving a similar growth this year. In India, GM plans to grow through introduction of new products at regular intervals. We have already announced plans to introduce Chevrolet Cruz, which will be priced between Rs 12-14 lakh. We are also looking to rationalise versions under a certain product category,” he said.

Though he refused to comment on the fiscal health of the company in the US, he said that the company was growing rapidly in India, China and Brazil.

“In India, we are investing heavily. A new plant has just been commissioned at Talegaon, near Pune, which is being constructed at an estimated cost of $300 million. This facility, with a capacity of 1.40 lakh units, is currently being used to manufacture Spark, and this can be scaled up as the demand rises. Another power training (engine manufacturing) plant is under construction there, which will cost $200 million,” he said.

GM India has not yet kept a sales target for calendar 2009. “The first two months of 2009 have shown a recovery in automobile sales. If the economy continues to fare well, sales will grow. Lowering of interest rates on auto loans will also give sales a further boost. We are eyeing to capture 10 per cent of the country’s passenger car vehicles by 2010,” he said, adding that they were planning to increase their dealerships from the present 184 to 400 by 2012.

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Poonch-Rawlakote Route
Cross-LoC trade at all-time high
Shariq Majeed
Tribune News Service

Rajouri, April 2
The tension between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai terror attack has not affected the trade along the Line of Control (LoC) Poonch-Rawlakote road.

The trade, which takes place every week through the cross-LoC road on barter system, in fact, touched an all-time high since its start on October 21 last year along this road.

In fact, this week, trade along the cross-LoC Poonch-Rawlakote road touched all-time high, with traders from Poonch and Jammu exporting goods worth about Rs 11 lakh and traders from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) dispatching goods worth more than Rs 26 lakh.

The second highest volume of trade through this cross-LoC road was on March 17 and March 18 this year, with traders from Poonch exporting goods worth Rs 6.53 lakh and traders from PoK sending goods worth Rs 14.13 lakh.

With trade along this cross-LoC trade route touching new heights every week, not only are the traders who are already doing trade with their counterparts in PoK happy, but, more and more traders are showing interest in trade with traders in PoK.

“It is quite good that trade is picking up along this cross-LoC trade route. Not only is trade between India and Pakistan flourishing but it is also spreading goodwill on either sides,” said Bansi Lal, owner of Bansi Lal and Sons Vegetable and Fruit Corporation, Poonch, who frequently sends vegetables and fruits and receives the same from PoK.

Matloob Khan, general manager, District Industries Centre, who facilitates the trade along this route, told The Tribune, “It is quite heartening to see trade along this route, which used to be a traditional one before the Partition, touching new heights. Not only has trade touched all-time but what is more encouraging is that more and more traders are coming forward for trade with traders in PoK. We are expecting the volume of the trade to go up further”.

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SC stays arrest of Nimesh Kampani

New Delhi, April 2
The Supreme Court today stayed the arrest of J M Financial founder and investment banker Nimesh Kampani in the Nagarjuna Finance scam case.

J M Financial yesterday said Kampani would move the Supreme Court soon on the Nagarjuna Finance scam case.

"He (Kampani) would move the Supreme Court in the Nagarjuna Finance case," a company spokesperson said today.

Kampani, against whom the Andhra Pradesh police had issued a search circular, was a non-executive director in Nagarjuna Group's non-banking financial company Nagarjuna Finance.

Nagarjuna Finance had collected deposits from the public but failed to meet its commitments to depositors following adverse market reaction towards the company after a setback to its hire purchase business. — PTI

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Telecom sector revenue up 5% in Q3
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 2
Telecom sector of the country seems to be unaffected by the economic slowdown with the gross revenue for the third quarter (October-December 2008) of the previous fiscal rising by over five per cent and the private sector especially, seeing an amazing seven per cent increase in its gross revenues.

According to data released by telecom regulator TRAI, the gross revenue for the third quarter for the telecom service was Rs 39,408 crore as against Rs 37,196 crore for the second quarter thereby showing increase of 5.9 per cent.

The adjusted gross revenue (AGR) for the quarter under review was placed at Rs 28,940 crore as against Rs 27,357 crore for the previous quarter thereby showing an increase of 5.79 per cent.

While the gross revenue and AGR of the public sector units in telecom sector was Rs 10,542 crore and Rs 8,321 crore, respectively, as against Rs 10,265 crore and Rs 8,544 crore for the previous quarter, the gross revenue and AGR of the private sector enterprises in telecom sector stood at Rs 28,866 crore and Rs 20,619 crore, respectively, as against Rs 26,931 crore and Rs 18,813 crore for previous quarter.

The tele-density for the quarter ending December 2008 reached 33.23 as compared to 30.64 for the quarter ending September 2008.

The subscriber base for wireless services has increased from 315.31 million for the quarter ending September 2008 to 346.89 million for quarter ending December 2008.

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Zaheer Khan to bat for Dabur

New Delhi, April 2
FMCG major Dabur India has roped in cricketer Zaheer Khan as the new brand ambassador for its flagship energy drink Dabur Glucose.

"The company plans to leverage Khan in its product advertising in print and mass media with the ace bowler endorsing Dabur Glucose's new 'Sar Se Panv Tak Zabardast Energy' campaign," Dabur said in statement. The campaign would kick off next week.

"We are confident that Dabur Glucose and Zaheer will take this energy partnership to newer heights, and Zaheer will be the role model for all the energetic kids who have the 'never-say-die' attitude to succeed," Dabur India executive vice- president-marketing (healthcare) K K Rajesh said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

L&T bags Rs 1,344-cr order
Mumbai:
Engineering major Larsen & Toubro on Thursday said it has bagged two orders worth Rs 1,344 crore from Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) for construction-related work in Mangalore. "With this announcement, L&T has booked large orders valued at Rs 5,177 crore this week. — PTI

Re stronger by 36 paise
Mumbai:
With the sharp rise in equity markets and expectations of more capital inflows, the Indian rupee on Thursday rallied further by 36 paise to close at 50.34/35 against the greenback. In quiet trade at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market, the local currency opened higher at 50.30/32 a dollar against its previous close of 50.70/71 and ended at 50.34/35. It moved in a narrow range of 50.24 and 50.42 a dollar. — PTI

Dish TV inks ad deal with BJP
New Delhi:
Aiming to cash in on the upcoming general elections, direct-to-home (DTH) major Dish TV on Thursday said it has signed an advertising pact with the BJP and is in discussion with other parties, including the Congress. The Zee Group firm will advertise BJP's 'Strong Leader, Decisive Government' election campaign on their platform for the forthcoming general elections, Dish TV said in a statement. — PTI

SBoP revises interest rates
Patiala:
The State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) has revised interest rates on NRE term deposits w.e.f. April 1 and kept it at 3.72 per cent per annum for deposits for one year and less than 2 years, 3.15 per cent for a period of 2 years and above but less than 3 years and 3.45 per cent for 3 years and up to 5 years. — TNS

M&M sales at record high
Chandigarh:
Mahindra & Mahindra on Thursday announced domestic sales of 25,748 units in March 2009, its highest ever. The figures also denote the highest-ever monthly sales this year. Domestic utility vehicles have grown by steady 30 per cent, riding on the back of the highest-ever sales of Scorpio, Bolero and the Pik-Up. The recently launched Xylo, too, clocked a sale of 3,171 units. — TNS

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