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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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B U S I N E S S

Satyam seeks CLB nod for selling stake
New Delhi, April 15
Crisis-ridden Satyam Computer Services today moved the Company Law Board (CLB) to seek approval of its proposal to sell the IT company to Tech Mahindra.

Infosys Q4 net up 29 pc
Bangalore, April 15
Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan announces results of the company in Bangalore on Wednesday. Software major Infosys today reported a 29 per cent increase in its Q4 net profit on improved operating margins, but forecast a decline in its revenue and earnings during the current fiscal as many of its clients have been hit by the global financial crisis.
Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan announces results of the company in Bangalore on Wednesday. — AFP

ATF prices hiked by 6.7 pc
New Delhi, April 15
Keeping in line with the international trend, state-run oil companies today raised prices of jet fuel or aviation turbine fuel (ATF) for the third time in a month. Despite the fact that crude oil is hovering at around $ 50 levels, the ATF prices have been increased by 6.7 per cent, applicable from Thursday. The US crude, which was at $40 a barrel in March, was trading at $50.5 on Wednesday.

Domestic air traffic falls 12 per cent
New Delhi, April 15
Domestic air travel in the first three months of this year witnessed a sharp fall with the number of passengers carried declining by almost 12 per cent over the same period last year.


The file photo shows the New York office of Swiss-based bank UBS AG. UBS said on Wednesday it would slash 8,700 jobs in a bid to cut costs after it reported fresh losses for the first three months of this year.
The file photo shows the New York office of Swiss-based bank UBS AG. UBS said on Wednesday it would slash 8,700 jobs in a bid to cut costs after it reported fresh losses for the first three months of this year. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES



Nokia India marketing director Vineet Taneja (R) poses with a model at the launch of Nokia E75, the first side slider device from Nokia that supports up to 16 email accounts, in New Delhi on Wednesday. The phone is priced at Rs 26,900.
Nokia India marketing director Vineet Taneja (R) poses with a model at the launch of Nokia E75, the first side slider device from Nokia that supports up to 16 email accounts, in New Delhi on Wednesday. The phone is priced at Rs 26,900. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Excise duty cut fails to make drugs cheaper
Chandigarh, April 15
The sharp reduction in excise duty on drugs has failed to bring down the prices of most essential drugs. On the contrary, most essential drugs have become dearer ever since the excise duty has been reduced from eight to four per cent in February.

Sensex at 6-month high, crosses 11k
Mumbai, April 15
Overcoming initial pressure, the Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share Sensex surged by 318 points to end at a six-month high of 11,284.63 today on revival of buying support.

Be ready for tough decisions, Obama tells Americans
Washington, April 15
Giving an update of the steps taken by him to revive the American economy in the first three months as the US President, Barack Obama yesterday asked his countrymen to be ready for tough decisions.

The file photo shows planes of Air France at the Orly airport, outside Paris.
The file photo shows planes of Air France at the Orly airport, outside Paris. Air France said on Wednesday it would cut 2,500-3,000 jobs in the next two years while avoiding forced redundancies, in addition to about 1,000 jobs already shed in the past 12 months. — AFP

Wagah Route
Indo-Pak trade touches Rs 400 cr
in 2008-09

Wagah (Amritsar), April 15
The prevailing tension and freezing of “composite dialogue” between India and Pakistan over issues related to terrorist attacks notwithstanding, trade between the two countries continues to flourish, at least through this Indo-Pak border post.

Hero pulls out from JV with Daimler
New Delhi, April 15
Diversified business house Hero Group today pulled out of its joint venture with the world's largest commercial vehicle maker Daimler to produce trucks in India due to the economic slowdown.

Britannia snaps ties with Danone
New Delhi, April 15
Ending a 13-year old association, the Wadia Group and Groupe Danone have terminated their joint venture in biscuit major Britannia Industries Ltd (BIL), with the Indian partner buying out the French food giant.

RIL allots 200 shares under stock option
Mumbai, April 15
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries on Wednesday said it has allotted 200 equity shares to its employees under stock option plan.





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Satyam seeks CLB nod for selling stake

New Delhi, April 15
Crisis-ridden Satyam Computer Services today moved the Company Law Board (CLB) to seek approval of its proposal to sell the IT company to Tech Mahindra.

The approval of the CLB is necessary for the new management to come in and take control of Satyam, which is currently being managed by the government-appointed board members.

Tech Mahindra, a company promoted by the industrial house Mahindras, won the bid to acquire 31 per cent fresh equity in Satyam on Monday.

Tech Mahindra outbid the engineering giant L&T with an offer of Rs 58 a share - entailing up to Rs 2,900 crore for a majority stake in Satyam.

Having won the bid, Tech Mahindra would have to make an open offer for an additional 20 per cent stake within a week of getting clearances from the CLB, which had in January allowed the government to appoint a board to run the company thrown into crisis after its founder Ramalinga Raju disclosed a Rs 7,800-crore accounting fraud.

The winning bidder, Satyam Chairman Kiran Karnik had said, would have to bring in Rs 1,756 crore for 31 per cent, in addition to making an open offer for 20 per cent at the bid price of Rs 58 a share entailing a total of about Rs 2,889 crore.

Earlier, talking to reporters, Corporate Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta said, "Right now, they (Satyam) have to move honourable CLB. Unless, they take a view, I can't say anything and it would not be fair on my part..." The minister, however, exuded confidence that there would not be any delay in the constitution of the new board of Satyam and the incoming management would retain the existing staff. — PTI

Tech Mahindra raises Rs 875 cr for Satyam

Tech Mahindra has raised Rs 875 crore from debt securities to help fund the acquisition of the beleaguered IT firm.

Sources said the company sold Rs 300 crore each of four and five-year bonds carrying coupon rate of 10.25 per cent and about Rs 275 crore of one-year bonds at 8.5 per cent rate. So, while the company raises Rs 600 crore through sale of bonds, it has garnered Rs 275 crore via short-term debt.

Tech Mahindra, which has to arrange Rs 2,990 crore to fund the deal, has already Rs 700 crore cash available on its balance sheet. The remaining amount will be arranged through internal accruals, sources said. Kotak Mahindra Bank, which managed the Satyam acquisition, was the arranger of the issue. — PTI

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Infosys Q4 net up 29 pc

Bangalore, April 15
Software major Infosys today reported a 29 per cent increase in its Q4 net profit on improved operating margins, but forecast a decline in its revenue and earnings during the current fiscal as many of its clients have been hit by the global financial crisis.

The country's second largest IT exporter's net profit after tax rose to Rs 1,613 crore in the quarter ended March 31, up 29.1 per cent from the year-ago period. The revenue rose 24.1 per cent to Rs 5,635 crore on year-on-year basis.

In dollar terms, the results were, however, not that encouraging as revenue dipped by 1.8 per cent to $1.12 billion and net income after tax grew by just 2.6 per cent to $321 million in the three-month period ended March 31.

In its business outlook for the current quarter and fiscal, Infosys warned of tough times ahead and said that "many of our clients are impacted by the financial crisis." On an optimistic note, CEO and MD S Gopalakrishnan said these clients might look up to Infosys to help cut their expenses and optimise their businesses and its offerings were "well suited to help them in this environment." Infosys said its fiscal 2010 revenue was expected to decline by up to 6.7 per cent in dollar terms, although it could rise by up to 5.7 per cent in rupee terms.

The company reported a growth of 30 per cent in its full-year revenue for the period ended March 31 to Rs 21,693 crore.

The company continued to expand its headcount, but warned of "challenging" times ahead on employee front. It hired close to 5,000 employees during the quarter, but the net addition to its headcount was just 1,772 employees after taking into account attrition and other factors.

The company, which along with its subsidiaries, added 37 clients during the quarter, also announced a final dividend of Rs 13.5 per share (270 per cent on par value of Rs five per share) for the fiscal 2008-09.— PTI

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ATF prices hiked by 6.7 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Keeping in line with the international trend, state-run oil companies today raised prices of jet fuel or aviation turbine fuel (ATF) for the third time in a month. Despite the fact that crude oil is hovering at around $ 50 levels, the ATF prices have been increased by 6.7 per cent, applicable from Thursday. The US crude, which was at $40 a barrel in March, was trading at $50.5 on Wednesday.

Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum had on April 1 raised ATF prices by 10 per cent after a marginal Rs 158 per kl increase two weeks prior to that. Now, ATF in Delhi will cost Rs 31,926 per kl from tomorrow as against Rs 29,925.97 per kl (presently), an IOC official said.

However, there has been no indication from the airline industry whether increase in fuel prices will translate in ticket costs rising as well.

On March 16, jet fuel rates were raised by Rs 168.85 per kl and by Rs 2,651.02 per kl on April 1. The cumulative increase in the past three fortnights works out to 17.8 per cent. The prices have been raised as international rates have been on the rise since second week of March, he said.

In Mumbai, home to the nation's busiest airport, ATF rates were raised to Rs 32,855 per kl from Rs 30,784.81 per kl. The increase in jet fuel prices announced today varied from airport to airport depending on local taxes and levies and on average worked out to be Rs 2,066 per kl.

PTI adds: Prior to these increases, the public sector oil firms had reduced jet fuel prices 11 times since September last year. In between, the oil firms had raised ATF prices by 3.3 per cent on January 16. ATF prices had peaked to Rs 71,028.26 per kl (in Delhi) in August on international crude prices touching historic high of $147 a barrel. But subsequently they had fallen, slashed every month till October and twice a month from November. Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum revise ATF rates on the 1st and 16th of every month based on the average international jet fuel rates in the preceding fortnight.

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Domestic air traffic falls 12 per cent

New Delhi, April 15
Domestic air travel in the first three months of this year witnessed a sharp fall with the number of passengers carried declining by almost 12 per cent over the same period last year.

The number of passengers carried by domestic airlines between January and March stood at 99.82 lakh against 113.04 lakh carried in the same period a year ago, recording a "negative growth" of 11.69 per cent, the official air traffic figures released today stated.

The market share of Kingfisher Airlines, including its low-cost carrier Kingfisher Red, was ahead of its competitors at 27.2 per cent, though it was lower by 2 per cent form the same period in 2008. Jet Airways registered 17.9 per cent and its no-frills arm JetLite recorded 7.4 per cent market share.

However, Air India (domestic) improved its market share to 17 per cent from its 2008 figure of 14.7. Likewise, among the no-frills carriers, IndiGo led the way with 13.5 per cent share, increasing its score from 10.3 per cent last year, the figures showed.

SpiceJet, Paramount Airways and GoAir recorded 12.1 per cent, 2 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively, in the first quarter of 2009 against 10.3 per cent, 1.3 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively, in the corresponding period of 2008.

Paramount, which caters mainly to business class passengers, continued to record the highest seat factor of over 81 per cent in the first three months of 2009. — PTI

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Excise duty cut fails to make drugs cheaper
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
The sharp reduction in excise duty on drugs has failed to bring down the prices of most essential drugs. On the contrary, most essential drugs have become dearer ever since the excise duty has been reduced from eight to four per cent in February.

Espin, a common drug consumed by patients suffering from high blood pressure, has seen an increase of 33 per cent in its price during the past two months. Before the excise duty was reduced on drugs as part of the economic stimulus package, this drug was being sold for Rs 9 per pack. This is now being sold for Rs 13.50 per pack. Similarly, cefaperazone plus salbactum, an antibiotic injection, has seen a rise of Rs 50 (25 per cent) per dose in the past two months. Interestingly, the ex factory price of this drug is just Rs 16.

Though the government had been reducing the excise duty on drugs since March 2008, besides giving other sops to the pharmaceutical industry, the manufacturers have chosen to increase prices of most generic drugs. Since 70 per cent of the pharma industry in India operates from tax-exempt states and do not fall under the MRP-based tax regime, they are allegedly fixing the MRP of drugs at their own will.

With the excise duty having been reduced from 16 per cent (before March 2008) to four per cent now, the drug manufacturers in the tax-exempt states have been losing their edge over drug manufacturers in other states wherein they have to pay excise on MRP. Thus, these drug manufacturers in tax-free zones have increased the MRP in order to maintain their profit advantage.

“The government had introduced MRP-based tax regime to increase its revenue and bring down the cost of medicines. But the drug manufacturers shifted to tax-free zones, defeating the very purpose of a MRP-based tax regime. The government is not just losing revenue (because most manufacturers are now in tax free zones), but drug prices too have gone up manifold,” said Jagdeep Singh, president of Punjab Drug Manufactuers Association.

Another reason for the prices of medicines going up is that a number of imported drugs have entered the market. The salts of most of these drugs that are being imported and sold, are manufactured in India under different brand name and at much lower cost. Sources in the drug trade informed TNS that the government had recently allowed licences to import over 1,000 drugs. Since medics get a good commission for prescribing these expensive drugs, these are being prescribed and supplied at the door steps of patients by the marketing agents of these imported drugs.

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Sensex at 6-month high, crosses 11k

Mumbai, April 15
Overcoming initial pressure, the Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share Sensex surged by 318 points to end at a six-month high of 11,284.63 today on revival of buying support.

Initially, the market touched a low of 10,719.18 as IT bellwether Infosys Technologies this morning came out with a discouraging forecast for the current year.

Today's rally for the Sensex being for the eighth day in a row, the index registered a net gain of 317.51 points or 2.90 per cent over its previous close.

The National Stock Exchange's 50-share Nifty also firmed up by 101.55 points or 3.00 per cent to close at 3,484.15 from its last close.

Brokers said sustained net purchases by foreign funds and expectations of further monetary steps by the RBI also boosted market sentiment later in the day.

Foreign institutional investors pumped in more than Rs 580 crore in equity on Monday, as per provisional figures. — PTI

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Be ready for tough decisions, Obama tells Americans

Washington, April 15
Giving an update of the steps taken by him to revive the American economy in the first three months as the US President, Barack Obama yesterday asked his countrymen to be ready for tough decisions.

Listing out the steps being taken by his administration to ensure that the American economy is back on track again, Obama asked his countrymen to be ready for tough times and took the help of a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells the story of two men.

"The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was destroyed as soon as the storm hit. But the second is known as the wise man, for when "the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock," Obama said while delivering a major economic policy address at Georgetown University in Washington.

Lashing out hard at his predecessors and the politics at the Capitol for avoiding taking tough decisions for long and indulging in short-term gains and publicity, Obama said he would not shy away from taking those decisions which would benefit the nation 20 years from now.

The US President said his foundation for a strong US economy is built on five pillars; which he claimed is destined to make this new century another American century.

These are first, new rules for Wall Street that will reward drive and innovation; secondly new investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive; third new investments in renewable energy and technology that will create new jobs and industries; fourth new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and finally new savings in federal budget that will bring down the debt for future generations. Concluding his speech, Obama said there is no doubt that times are still tough, but the steps taken by him since January 20 have started showing glimmer of hope of revival of the economy. — PTI

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Wagah Route
Indo-Pak trade touches Rs 400 cr in 2008-09
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Wagah (Amritsar), April 15
The prevailing tension and freezing of “composite dialogue” between India and Pakistan over issues related to terrorist attacks notwithstanding, trade between the two countries continues to flourish, at least through this Indo-Pak border post.

According to sources, about 150 truckloads of onions cross the post towards Pakistan from India everyday . The inflow of goods from Pakistan is negligible. However, there is substantial import of dry fruits through this post from Afghanistan to India via Pakistan.

Dry fruits worth Rs 425 crore were imported from Afghanistan via Pakistan, which is used as a transit route, during the last financial year. “We have earned about Rs 60 crore as duty on the dry fruits”, said an official posted here. The import of dry fruits from Afghanistan through this post in 2007-08 was to the tune of Rs 350 crore.

As far as exports is concerned, India, at the moment, is supplying onions to Pakistan in huge quantity. Besides, raw cotton is also exported. “We send about 150-160 truckloads of onions to Pakistan daily”, said Om Parkash, president of the Indo-Pakistan Exporters Association. Indian trucks offload the onions and other wares in custom-bound territory in Pakistan after crossing this post. Custom-bound territory is located adjacent to the post in Pakistan area.

In fact, exports from India to Pakistan through this post have more than doubled during the 2008-09. These have gone up to Rs 400 crore as compared to Rs 175 crore during the previous fiscal year. Besides onions, India had earlier exported tomatoes, meat etc. Even biscuits under the UN aid programme were sent to Afghanistan through this route. It is learnt that more consignments of biscuits would be sent in the next few months.

Large fleet of trucks loaded with onions on the either side of the Amritsar-Wagah road can be seen. “We have expedited the process of clearing trucks. About 150 to 160 trucks are cleared daily”, said an officer of the Customs Department. “We ensure that truckers face no problem at this post. There is a transparent system for allotting tokens to truckers for clearance of their trucks.”

Om Parkash said his association was satisfied with the pace at which trucks loaded with goods were cleared by the Indian customs officers at this post. He said onions were exported to Pakistan at about Rs 8 to 10 per kg. And in Pakistan, these are sold at about Rs 15 per kg after including the transportation and other costs.

Earlier, tomatoes were also exported. But a few weeks ago, the Pakistan government had imposed duty on tomatoes to discourage its import from India.

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Hero pulls out from JV with Daimler

New Delhi, April 15
Diversified business house Hero Group today pulled out of its joint venture with the world's largest commercial vehicle maker Daimler to produce trucks in India due to the economic slowdown.

"We are disengaging from the joint venture, but the company (joint venture) will continue to exist and run by Daimler. The reason for it is the current economic slowdown and we would not like to commit such big investment in the circumstances," Hero Corporate Services chairman Sunil Kant Munjal told PTI.

Last year, the two companies agreed to form a JV in which the German firm was to have a 60 per cent stake and the Hero Group the rest. The partners had announced an investment of Rs 4,400 crore for the purpose, including setting up a manufacturing plant in Chennai. — PTI

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Britannia snaps ties with Danone

New Delhi, April 15
Ending a 13-year old association, the Wadia Group and Groupe Danone have terminated their joint venture in biscuit major Britannia Industries Ltd (BIL), with the Indian partner buying out the French food giant.

The two partners have also agreed to end their dispute over the intellectual property of BIL's Tiger brand of biscuits.

In a joint statement, the two firms said Danone has sold its 50 per cent interest in ABI Holdings Ltd (held through Britannia Brands Limited) to Wadia Group. ABI Holdings holds an effective 50.96 per cent interest in Britannia Industries, a leading bakery company in India.

"(The) Wadia Group is pleased with this acquisition... The company (BIL) is led and managed by a competent team of professionals, who will continue to explore profitable growth opportunities in food — both in India and overseas," Britannia Industries chairman Nusli N Wadia said. — PTI

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RIL allots 200 shares under stock option

Mumbai, April 15
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries on Wednesday said it has allotted 200 equity shares to its employees under stock option plan. "The company has allotted 200 equity shares on March 31 to its employees, pursuant to the employees stock option scheme," Reliance Industries said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange. In February, the company had allotted 400 equity shares to its employees under ESoP. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

JSW Energy to pump in Rs 5,000 cr
New Delhi:
Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Energy will invest Rs 5,000 crore in commissioning power projects worth 1,200 MW capacity during the current financial year (2009-10). The company would commission a 600 MW power project in Karnataka, a 300 MW unit of the Barmer project in Rajasthan and 300 MW unit of the Ratnagiri power project in Maharashtra, JSW Energy managing director Sajjan Jindal said. — PTI

ArcelorMittal to lay off 400 workers
Pittsburgh:
Steel producer ArcelorMittal SA plans to idle a plant in Indiana and lay off about 400 workers because the global economic downturn has weakened demand for the metal. The world's largest steel maker says it will suspend operations indefinitely at the Indiana Harbor Long Carbon facility in East Chicago. The plant is part of a larger facility that employs about 5,000 union workers.— AP

Credit Suisse to open 2nd centre in India
Mumbai:
Aiming to expand its knowledge process outsourcing offering, Credit Suisse on Wednesday said it would set up its second Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Mumbai which will be operational by September this year. "The new CoE in Mumbai will enable the bank to expand its KPO offering and access the highly educated talent available in Mumbai," Credit Suisse's KPO head Vineet Nagrani said. — PTI

Pantaloon to raise Rs 1,500 cr
Mumbai:
Kishore Biyani's Pantaloon Retail India intends to complete in the next two months legalities for its ambitious plans of raising Rs 1,500 crore and realignment of group companies for expansion. The company’s board has approved raising Rs 367 crore through preferential allotment of shares and warrants. It is believed that Future Group is in talks with Carlyle, Bain Capital, Blackstone, Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts for private equity funding of about Rs 1,100-1,200 crore.— PTI

Allahabad Bank branch at Rewari
Chandigarh:
Allahabad Bank on Wednesday opened its branch at Rewari in Haryana. The branch was inaugurated by Sudip Banerjee, DGM, Chandigarh Zone. It is the 46th branch of bank in the Chandigarh zone and 38th in the state of Haryana. — TNS

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