SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Industrial output down 1.2% in Feb
New Delhi, April 9
Despite falling inflation, the production from factories has not increased. For the week ended March 28, inflation continued its downward journey, declining to 0.26 per cent, the lowest ever in more than three decades. But, India's factory output, too, fell for the third time in five months in February, as the global slowdown continues to hit hard.

NELP-VIII
70 oil, gas blocks to go under hammer
New Delhi, April 9
To decrease dependence on oil imports and to increase domestic production of natural gas, India today launched its biggest-ever auction of oil and gas exploration blocks under eighth edition of New Exploration Licensing Policy. On the offer are 70 areas for bidding, including 24 deep-sea blocks, 28 shallow water blocks and 18 onland blocks.

The sign of Buick is seen under a Chinese symbol saying "Happy New Year and Good Fortune" at a Buick car showroom in Beijing on Thursday.
The sign of Buick is seen under a Chinese symbol saying "Happy New Year and Good Fortune" at a Buick car showroom in Beijing on Thursday. Embattled US auto maker General Motors is aiming to double its sales in China over the next five years, the head of the firm's Chinese operations said in comments published on Thursday. — AFP

FDI dips over 73 pc
New Delhi, April 9
Foreign direct investment to India dipped to $1.49 billion in February from $5.67 billion a year ago amid the global credit crunch, but inflows in the 11-month period (April-February 2008-09) of the fiscal have already crossed the inflows in the entire preceding fiscal.


Buyers line up to book Nano

Mumbai, April 9
With the much-awaited bookings for the Nano opening today, scores of buyers are lining up outside dealerships of Tata Motors to buy the small car.

Arjun Malhotra Headstrong Corp to expand in India
Chandigarh, April 9
The $-200 million US-based Headstrong Corporation will be expanding its operation in India and in Philippines during this year. Though the global consultancy firm does not see a very robust growth during this year, but it says it will continue to grow at 10 per cent.
          Arjun Malhotra


Japanese mobile phone carrier KDDI’s new mobile phone and a box designed by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is displayed in Tokyo on Thursday.
Japanese mobile phone carrier KDDI’s new mobile phone and a box designed by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is displayed in Tokyo on Thursday. The product named “Dots Obsession, Full Happiness with Dots” is priced at 1 million yen and will go on sale in Japan this summer for a limited edition of 100 sets. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES



The BMW X6-M is unveiled at the 2009 New York International Auto Show in New York city on Thursday.
The BMW X6-M is unveiled at the 2009 New York International Auto Show in New York city on Thursday. Over a million visitors are expected to attend the 2009 New York International Auto Show, the nation’s oldest and often highest-attended auto show of the year. — AFP

Power firms to get 40 pc of KG gas
New Delhi, April 9
The government today approved the allocation of 40 per cent of Reliance Industries Ltd's eastern offshore KG-D6 gas to the power sector.

Asian stocks near 6-month high
London, April 9
Oil rose towards $51 on Thursday as rallies on stock markets revived thoughts of economic recovery and subsequent increased demand for commodities.

Sahara drags Jet to court, seeks
Rs 2,000 cr

Mumbai, April 9
Sahara Commercial Corporation today filed an application in the Bombay High Court alleging that Jet Airways had committed breach of contract in the takeover deal and was liable to pay it (Sahara) Rs 2,000 crore instead of the renegotiated Rs 1,450 crore agreed on by them.





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Industrial output down 1.2% in Feb
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
Despite falling inflation, the production from factories has not increased. For the week ended March 28, inflation continued its downward journey, declining to 0.26 per cent, the lowest ever in more than three decades. But, India's factory output, too, fell for the third time in five months in February, as the global slowdown continues to hit hard.

India's industrial output contracted to a record 15-year low growth of negative 1.2 per cent in February against a growth of 9.5 per cent in the same month of the last fiscal.

“The 1.2 per cent annual fall in the industrial output in February was mainly due to lower output in sectors linked to exports but domestic demand is still robust,” said Economic Affairs Secretary Ashok Chawla.

Sectors showing poor performance are those having export linkages like textiles, leather, and mining. However, the internal demand continues to be robust, he added.

According to statistics, the manufacturing output, which accounts for the bulk of the weight in the overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP), declined 1.4 per cent in February, against 9.6 per cent growth in the same month last year.

While mining output also fell 1.6 per cent, against 8 per cent growth in February 2008, electricity generation increased marginally by 0.7 per cent compared with a 9.8-per cent growth during the period under review.

But for inflation in the minerals group there was a decline by a whopping 11.8 per cent due to prices of fire clay going down 19 per cent, iron ore 14 per cent, and chromite two per cent.

Prices of some food items like tea have declined. But the fuel index remained unchanged at its previous week's level of 320.9.

Inflation at 0.26%

For the week ended March 28, inflation continued its downward journey, declining to 0.26 per cent, the lowest ever in more than three decades

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NELP-VIII
70 oil, gas blocks to go under hammer
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
To decrease dependence on oil imports and to increase domestic production of natural gas, India today launched its biggest-ever auction of oil and gas exploration blocks under eighth edition of New Exploration Licensing Policy. On the offer are 70 areas for bidding, including 24 deep-sea blocks, 28 shallow water blocks and 18 onland blocks.

The government has always made an endeavour to attract domestic and foreign oil companies to bid for the exploration rounds. Though the concentration has been more on the foreign majors but the response has been lukewarm since foreign oil companies are looking for more lucrative blocks and easier government norms while investing in countries in search for oil, say oil experts about the prospects of India’s oil exploration round.

“NELP-VIII will be completed in four months and a follow-on offer of more blocks may be made a few months later, depending on the response,” said Oil Secretary R S Pandey.

Alongside NELP-VIII, the government also offered for bidding 10 areas for extraction of gas, known as coal bed methane (CBM), from below coal fields.

Bidding for CBM-IV and NELP-VIII rounds would close on August 10, he said. In the latest auction, India for the first time offered exploration blocks in western Andaman, an area which is close to hydrocarbon-rich parts of Indonesia and Myanmar. So far, five blocks have been awarded in the eastern Andaman and in the current auction, 18 blocks will go under the hammer.

India had offered 57 blocks in NELP-VII last year and awarded 44 to companies like Reliance Industries, BHP Billiton and ONGC. In the first six rounds, 162 areas with an investment commitment of $ 8.33 billion were awarded.

Under the NELP blocks offered so far, 49 oil and gas discoveries have already been made in Cambay onland, North East Coast and Krishna Godavari deep-water areas, asserting over 600 million tonnes of reserves.

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FDI dips over 73 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
Foreign direct investment to India dipped to $1.49 billion in February from $5.67 billion a year ago amid the global credit crunch, but inflows in the 11-month period (April-February 2008-09) of the fiscal have already crossed the inflows in the entire preceding fiscal.

Despite over 73 per cent year-on-year drop in inflows in February, the FDI for the 11-month period of fiscal 2008-09 has aggregated to $25.38 billion against $24.57 billion in the previous fiscal, an official said.

Inflows remained robust in the first half of 2008-09 but with the deepening of international financial crisis, it slowed down.

Though the country would not achieve even the truncated FDI target of $30 billion in 2008-09, it has already seen an inflow expansion in the midst of difficult global environment.

India's cumulative FDI inflows from April 2000 to February 2009 stands close to $88 billion.

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Buyers line up to book Nano
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 9
With the much-awaited bookings for the Nano opening today, scores of buyers are lining up outside dealerships of Tata Motors to buy the small car.

Retirees, working people, women and youth in their late teens are queuing up to buy, what has been labelled as the world's smallest car.

"Ever since bookings opened this morning there has been a long queue of people waiting to book the car," says Gangadhar Shetty who is in charge of the Om Sai Motors dealership at Kandivli in North Mumbai. He expects at least 25,000-30,000 people to book the cars through the long week-end.

In all, there are seven dealerships of Tata Motors across Mumbai and all of them are reporting long queues of people trying their luck at buying the Nano.

In addition, Tata Motors allows buyers to book the car online. However, payment for the car can be made only via Netbanking and not via credit card, the website informs.

Tata Motors has sold application forms for the car via dealerships of various group companies and branches of State Bank of India in nearly 1,000 cities since the past month.

According to a Tata Motors' spokesperson, bookings for the Nano will close on April 25. Allotment for the first one lakh cars will be announced within 60 days of the closure of bookings. The ex-factory price of these cars will fixed at Rs 1 lakh. Cars sold in the following phases would be priced higher. Deliveries will begin from July this year.

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Headstrong Corp to expand in India
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The $-200 million US-based Headstrong Corporation will be expanding its operation in India and in Philippines during this year. Though the global consultancy firm does not see a very robust growth during this year, but it says it will continue to grow at 10 per cent.

Talking to TNS here today, Arjun Malhotra, CEO of Headstrong Corp, said they were planning to increase the headcount at its service delivery centres at Noida and Hyderabad and at Manila in Philippines. “We propose to add 1,000 seats at our centres in Noida and Hyderabad. We have a capacity to add another 500 seats at our Manila centre, and we will be expanding our base there as well,” he said.

He said though everybody seems to be downsizing, but technological upgradation was still the mantra for businesses across the world. “Since we offer specialised financial services supporting derivatives, equity and mortagage, we will continue our growth pattern. As compared to 2008, when we grew by 40 per cent, we are hoping that the growth this year will be relatively flat at 10-12 per cent. This is mainly because a lot of our onsite business will be moving offshore,” he said.

"As a financial services specialist organisation, we are looking for two things — creating business excellence with profitability and, creating a strong architecture of professionally rich talent base", he said. He informed that till date the company has a headcount of 2,000 in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Noida and the turnover from the Indian business was around $50 million.

Malhotra, who is the chairman of the global board of trustees of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), was in town to interact with entrepreneurs and tell them on how to make this recession an opportunity for growth. “Economic and financial factors are probably 25 per cent of the reason why we have a recession, but 75 per cent is because of lack of confidence and negativity in the business environment. For persons with entrepreneurial streak, this is fertile ground to flourish with their unique ideas and projects,” he added.

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Power firms to get 40 pc of KG gas

New Delhi, April 9
The government today approved the allocation of 40 per cent of Reliance Industries Ltd's eastern offshore KG-D6 gas to the power sector.

An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, allocated 18 million standard cubic metre per day of gas to the power sector, but the quantity to individual companies will be decided by the implementation committee, comprising officials of power and petroleum ministries.

Sources said the EGoM also decided to allocate all unutilised allocation of five mmscmd, meant for city gas projects, to power plants.

Earlier, 15.35 mmscmd gas from KG D-6 were allocated to fertiliser companies.

No official announcement was made, with the minister saying that because of the election code of conduct the decision would be kept under wraps.

None of the ministers attending the one-hour long meeting commented on the deliberations citing model code for elections.

At present, gas-based power plants are facing a deficit of about 36 million cubic meters per day.

The EGoM meeting had been necessitated with the beginning of gas production from the KG-D6 fields. Production is slated for a quickly ramp up to 20 million cubic meters per day by next month, creating surplus beyond the about 15 mmcmd allocation made to 15 urea making plants.

The gas utilisation policy gives topmost priority to urea plants, after which up to 3 mmcmd gas is to be given to LPG extraction plants. Thereafter, 18 mmcmd gas would go to power firms and another 5 mmcmd to city gas projects for retailing CNG to automobiles and piped cooking gas to households. — PTI

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Asian stocks near 6-month high

London, April 9
Oil rose towards $51 on Thursday as rallies on stock markets revived thoughts of economic recovery and subsequent increased demand for commodities.

Asian stocks pushed back towards a six-month high on Thursday following gains on the US markets, while European equities edged higher ahead of the Bank of England's rate decision later today.

US light crude for May delivery rose $1.44 cents to $50.82 a barrel by 1041 GMT, having risen more than $2 earlier. London Brent crude gained $1.31 cents to $52.90.

"I think oil is going up with a lot of other markets at the moment, stock markets have risen and base metals are performing well," said Rob Montefusco, a trader at Sucden Financial. Oil has often tracked equities this year as investors looked for signs of economic recovery to trigger higher oil demand.

Copper prices hit a 5-month high on Thursday after Japan unveiled a record stimulus plan worth $154 billion, adding to thoughts of an increase in demand. Aluminium prices also climbed.

Weekly stocks data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the United States showed a lower than expected build in crude oil stocks on Wednesday.

EIA said commercial inventories of crude oil rose 1.7 million barrels to 361.1 million barrels in the week ended April 3. Analysts had forecast a build of 1.9 million barrels.

A pipeline blast in Turkmenistan on Thursday fully halted Turkmen gas exports to Russia, which said the accident would not have an impact on its customers in Europe.

"The accident won't have an impact on gas supplies to Gazprom's customers," Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said in a statement, which did not specify the cause of the explosion but said it had caused a fire.— Reuters

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Sahara drags Jet to court, seeks Rs 2,000 cr

Mumbai, April 9
Sahara Commercial Corporation today filed an application in the Bombay High Court alleging that Jet Airways had committed breach of contract in the takeover deal and was liable to pay it (Sahara) Rs 2,000 crore instead of the renegotiated Rs 1,450 crore agreed on by them.

While Jet sought four days to file a rejoinder to Sahara's application, the court has given the airline time till this afternoon to go through the application, and it will then hear the matter. The court will give the date of the next hearing today.

Jet bought Sahara India Airlines from the Sahara Group in April 2007 for Rs 1,450 crore after an arbitration award.

Naresh Goyal-led Jet paid Rs 900 crore, and was to pay the balance in four instalments.

According to Sahara's application, Jet had, however, defaulted and thus was liable to pay it Rs 2,000 crore. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Re gains 16 paise
Mumbai:
In choppy trade, the Indian rupee today recovered by 16 paise to close at 50.02/03 against the greenback following expectations of increased capital inflows due to a sustained rise in local equity markets. In a see-saw trade at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market, the local unit opened firm at 50.02/03 per dollar from yesterday's close of 50.18/19. — PTI

Shakti Bhog foray
New Delhi:
FMCG player Shakti Bhog Foods Ltd is planning to foray into the biscuit and packaged mustard oil categories as it seeks to diversify its business and emerge as a Rs 10,000-crore company by 2013-14. Chief managing director of the company, K K Kumar said the company would henceforth focus more on 'healthy food' segment and biscuit and packaged mustard oil segment. — PTI

L&T bags Rs 605-cr orders
Mumbai:
Engineering firm Larsen and Toubro on Thursday said it has bagged orders worth Rs 605 crore in the last quarter of FY'09 for engineering and construction related works. In a filing to the BSE, L&T said its construction division would execute these contracts.— PTI

Toyota to launch Fortuner
New Delhi:
The world's largest carmaker, Toyota, on Wednesday said it would bring its sports utility vehicle Fortuner in India by September this year, expected to be priced at about Rs 20 lakh. The company would launch the SUV with a three-litre advanced common-rail diesel engine.— PTI

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