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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

NHPC to speed up work on HP, J&K projects
New Delhi, April 24
The country largest hydroelectric power producer, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), has announced that under-construction power projects across the country, including a few key ones in Himachal Pradesh and J&K, are scheduled for completion this year and by the next year.

Tech Mahindra may raise open offer price for Satyam
New Delhi, April 24
Hinting at a possible increase in its open offer price for Satyam, the new owner Tech Mahindra has advised shareholders of crisis-hit IT firm to wait till June 22 for the final price before tendering their shares.

Jet Airways cuts pay of senior staff
Mumbai, April 24
In view of the global economic meltdown coupled with mounting financial losses, Naresh Goyal-run domestic private air-carrier, Jet Airways, has slashed salaries by up to 25 per cent for all its employees drawing a gross salary of above Rs 75,000 per month.

Microsoft Q3 net down 32 pc
New York, April 24
Software giant Microsoft reported a decline in quarterly revenue for the first time in 23 years as adverse economic conditions globally took a toll on the entity's business. Hit by plunging sales, Microsoft saw its profit plunge to a little below $3 billion for the third quarter ended March 31, 2009.

Citi chief Pandit may lose job: Report
New York, April 24
In what "might be the pound of flesh some shareholders want", the US may axe Vikram Pandit as the chief executive of banking major Citigroup, says a media report.


Geely automobile, one of China's major independent car makers, shows off its GE at the Shanghai auto show on Friday.
Geely automobile, one of China's major independent car makers, shows off its GE at the Shanghai auto show on Friday. The Chinese auto company denied its new top-of-the-line car was a copy of a Rolls-Royce, but the world renowned luxury brand said it was keeping its options open about taking legal action. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES



In this file photo, employees work on the Nissan production line at the company's factory in Washington, northern England.
In this file photo, employees work on the Nissan production line at the company's factory in Washington, northern England. British car production fell 51.3 per cent in the year to March as falling demand forced manufacturers to cut output sharply, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Friday. — Reuters

RIL to sell gas to ADAG
New Delhi, April 24
Reliance Industries (RIL) will sell natural gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields to Anil Ambani Group firm's power plant in Andhra Pradesh at government approved rates. While ADAG has taken RIL to court seeking gas from KG-D6 at rates decided in a private agreement that split Dhirubhai Ambani empire between the two brothers, Power Ministry has identified Reliance Energy Ltd's Samalkot plant in Andhra Pradesh as one of the recipients of KG-D6 gas.

IDBI Bank to foray into mutual fund biz
Mumbai, April 24
State-run lender IDBI Bank, which reported 28 per cent growth in net profit at Rs 313.67 crore for the fourth quarter FY'09, today said it would enter into the mutual fund business.

A man looks at Samsung computers displayed at an electronics shop in Seoul on Friday. Samsung Electronics, the world's top maker of memory chips and LCD screens, posted a 72 per cent drop in quarterly profit and said it was too early to call a recovery in demand or prices.
A man looks at Samsung computers displayed at an electronics shop in Seoul on Friday. Samsung Electronics, the world's top maker of memory chips and LCD screens, posted a 72 per cent drop in quarterly profit and said it was too early to call a recovery in demand or prices. — Reuters

Good times ahead for dairy farmers
Chandigarh, April 24
Dairy farmers in Punjab have never had it so good, with the private and cooperative dairy sector in the state all out to woo them by offering high rates for milk. As the summers approach, milk production begins to slow down. As a result, private and cooperative dairy players are increasing the rate for procurement in order to corner the maximum milk.

Maruti profit down 18 pc
New Delhi, April 24
The country's largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India, today reported 18.33 per cent decline in its net profit after tax for the quarter ended March 31, 2009, at Rs 243.13 crore as against Rs 297.68 crore in the same period previous year. The net sales, however, increased by 32.45 per cent at Rs 6,308.35 crore in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal compared to Rs 4,762.91 crore in the corresponding period of 2007-08, Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) said in a statement.





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NHPC to speed up work on HP, J&K projects
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 24
The country largest hydroelectric power producer, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), has announced that under-construction power projects across the country, including a few key ones in Himachal Pradesh and J&K, are scheduled for completion this year and by the next year.

The company said the construction work on one of the projects on the Parbati river in Himachal Pradesh would restart soon. The progress on this project has been held up for more than two years now.

The company had set a target of adding 5,322 MW between 2000 and 2012 (XI plan). A total of 12 power projects were planned. A total of 1,030 MW capacity has already been added and the rest are coming up. Some of these are in extreme conditions like Ladakh and deep inaccessible valleys in Arunachal Pradesh.

On the power projects, company officials said stage III of the Parbati project in the Kullu area having an installed capacity of 520 MW was to be completed by November 2010.

However, on the 800 MW (stage II) of the same project, the NHPC said it would be completed in March 2013. The work on the project had to be stopped due to hurdles caused by the nature. In November 2006, there was heavy ingress of silt and water in tunnels. The boring machine also suffered a loss. The machine has now been refurbished and work would restart shortly. About 81 per cent of the 31.50 km long head race tunnel has been excavated as on date. Also, the stablisation of the hill slopes, where the power house is to come up, was being carried out. These had collapsed two years ago. Work on this project will restart in November this year.

Among other projects scheduled for completion is the 231 MW Chamera (stage III) on the Ravi. This is expected to be completed by 2010.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the Sewa stage II hydroelectric project of 120 MW is expected to be commissioned by October this year. The 240 MW project in Uri is expected to be completed by 2011.

Amongst the significant new projects in the northern region, the NHPC has signed an MoU with Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC ) to develop hydroelectric projects in Chenab basin with an aggregate capacity of 2,100 MW through a joint-venture company.

The company has also signed an MoU with JKSPDC for operation and maintenance of Baghlihar Power Station in J&K.

The 330-MW Kishanganga project, which has got a clearance of the Cabinet Committe on Economic Affairs (CCEA), is proposed to be commissioned by 2016.

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Tech Mahindra may raise open offer price for Satyam

New Delhi, April 24
Hinting at a possible increase in its open offer price for Satyam, the new owner Tech Mahindra has advised shareholders of crisis-hit IT firm to wait till June 22 for the final price before tendering their shares.

The open offer for acquiring 20 per cent equity in Satyam at Rs 58 a share is set to commence on June 12 and close on July 1.

While market regulator SEBI has ruled that the open offer price cannot go below Rs 58 per share, the acquirer, in its public announcement, has said that it can raise the offer price by June 22.

"As the offer price cannot be revised during seven working days prior to the closure of the offer, it would, therefore, be in the interest of shareholders to wait until the commencement of that period to know the final offer price," Tech Mahindra said.

Tech Mahindra, which won the bid to acquire Satyam Computer Services, has made a public announcement to acquire 20 per cent of the IT company through its wholly-owned subsidiary Venturbay Consultants, a move that is aimed at increasing the new owner's stake to 51 per cent.

However, the offer price need not be necessarily hiked as Tech Mahindra can raise its stake to 51 per cent at the same price of Rs 58 through a second preferential allotment if it fails to garner 20 per cent equity through the open offer. — PTI

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Jet Airways cuts pay of senior staff

Mumbai, April 24
In view of the global economic meltdown coupled with mounting financial losses, Naresh Goyal-run domestic private air-carrier, Jet Airways, has slashed salaries by up to 25 per cent for all its employees drawing a gross salary of above Rs 75,000 per month.

"Huge financial losses have forced the airline to slash salaries by up to 25 per cent to all its employees drawing a gross salary of above Rs 75,000 per month," an industry source told PTI here today.

A Jet Airways spokesperson confirmed the pay cuts but said the move was only temporary and once the situation improved, it would do a revision.

The salary cuts range from 5 to 25 per cent and include the top management. In addition, other perks like car facilities and car maintenance allowances have also been withdrawn from May onwards, the source said.

While the top management faces a 25 per cent pay cut, those drawing a salary of Rs 5 lakh and above would have to take a 20 per cent cut, the source said.

Salaries of employees in the Rs 2-5 lakh bracket have been cut by 10 per cent, whereas those employees getting Rs 75,000-2 lakh have to take a five per cent cut.

Jet Airways will discontinue some senior management perks and undertake a graded salary reduction for its management cadre to be effective from May, the spokesperson said.

This temporary salary reduction would only apply on employees earning a gross salary of Rs 75,000 and above, the airline said.

The move was a part of a cost-restructuring exercise, which the airline has undertaken to meet the challenges of the global economic downturn and in the aviation sector in particular, the spokesperson said.— PTI

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Microsoft Q3 net down 32 pc

New York, April 24
Software giant Microsoft reported a decline in quarterly revenue for the first time in 23 years as adverse economic conditions globally took a toll on the entity's business.

Hit by plunging sales, Microsoft saw its profit plunge to a little below $3 billion for the third quarter ended March 31, 2009.

The software major posted a six per cent fall in revenue at $13.65 billion, the first-of-its-kind since the company went public 23 years ago. In the year-ago period, Microsoft's revenue stood at $14.45 billion, the firm said in a statement.

The entity's third-quarter profit slumped 32 per cent to $2.97 billion. It had a profit of $4.38 billion in the year-ago period.

With the global economic turmoil hitting the personal computers and server markets, the software giant had a negative impact on various business segments, including 'Microsoft Business Division' and 'Server & Tools'. Striking a gloomy note, the company's CFO Chris Liddell warned the "weakness to continue through at least the next quarter". — PTI

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Citi chief Pandit may lose job: Report

New York, April 24
In what "might be the pound of flesh some shareholders want", the US may axe Vikram Pandit as the chief executive of banking major Citigroup, says a media report.

The New York Post has reported that the US, which is wrapping up stress tests on banks, may oust Pandit as Citi's CEO.

"With the bank stress tests wrapping up ... regulators think they might have to make the bold move of removing Pandit to signal Washington is taking as hard a line with the banks as it did with General Motors when it effectively ousted GM CEO Rick Wagoner," the report said quoting sources.

Pandit's future at Citi has been hanging in the balance as the financial services major has already received three lifelines from the Federal government to stay afloat.

The New York Post pointed out that Pandit, who took over in December 2007 from the deposed Charles Prince, has voiced his commitment to breathing life into the troubled bank, and is widely seen as not being part of Citi's problem. The country's 19 big banks are being subject to stress tests to ascertain how well-capitalised they are. The results of the stress test are expected on May 4.

"Geithner (US Treasury Secretary) and other regulators have said that they would boot CEOs if the government had to rescue them further," it added. The publication quoted Citi CFO Ned Kelly as saying, "Replacing (Pandit) would be dramatically destabilising both for Citi and the system".

A Citi spokesperson said, "Our recent quarterly results reveal the underlying strength of the franchise and Vikram Pandit's strategy at work to restore Citi to profitability". — PTI

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RIL to sell gas to ADAG

New Delhi, April 24
Reliance Industries (RIL) will sell natural gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields to Anil Ambani Group firm's power plant in Andhra Pradesh at government approved rates.

While ADAG has taken RIL to court seeking gas from KG-D6 at rates decided in a private agreement that split Dhirubhai Ambani empire between the two brothers, Power Ministry has identified Reliance Energy Ltd's Samalkot plant in Andhra Pradesh as one of the recipients of KG-D6 gas.

The 220-MW power plant has been allocated 0.19 million cubic meters per day of KG-D6 gas at government approved rates of $4.20 per million British thermal unit plus taxes and transportation, a government official said.

ADAG is seeking gas from RIL at $2.34 per mmBtu.

Samalkot is one of the eight power plants identified in Andhra Pradesh to receive KG-D6 gas from next month, he said.

Though RIL was promised marketing freedom when it won the KG-D6 block in Bay of Bengal in international tender, it has been stripped of all its rights and is being forced to sell the fuel from its discoveries it made in the block to customers identified by the government.

"RIL has already signed gas sales agreements with six power plants in Andhra Pradesh and I believe they would be doing the same with Samalkot next week," the official said.

Company officials could not be reached for comments. — PTI

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IDBI Bank to foray into mutual fund biz

Mumbai, April 24
State-run lender IDBI Bank, which reported 28 per cent growth in net profit at Rs 313.67 crore for the fourth quarter FY'09, today said it would enter into the mutual fund business.

"The board today approved the proposal to set up and enter into the mutual fund business and promote and sponsor the proposed MF, the trust or trustee company and the asset management company either as a wholly-owned subsidiary or as a JV," IDBI Bank said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The bank today said its net profit rose to Rs 313.67 crore in the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2009, from Rs 245 crore in the same period of FY'08.

Total income rose by 41 per cent to Rs 3,734.50 crore in the March quarter from Rs 2,646.97 crore in the corresponding period a year ago, it said.

During the quarter, IDBI's interest income jumped 45 per cent to Rs 3,262.21 crore, while interest expenditure stood at Rs 2,780.81 crore, up 38 per cent over the same period last fiscal.

The board declared a dividend of 25 per cent for FY'09, at the rate of Rs 2.50 a piece on shares of face value of Rs 10 each. — PTI

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Good times ahead for dairy farmers
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Dairy farmers in Punjab have never had it so good, with the private and cooperative dairy sector in the state all out to woo them by offering high rates for milk.

As the summers approach, milk production begins to slow down. As a result, private and cooperative dairy players are increasing the rate for procurement in order to corner the maximum milk. While Milkfed has raised the milk procurement rate from Rs 265 per kg fat to Rs 270 per kg fat, the private dairy players are offering Rs 285-Rs 290 per kg fat.

These rates have been hiked with effect from April 21, just before the onset of summer season. Sources said generally the milk production goes down around May because of the high temperature, leading to a heat stress in cattle. Interestingly, the move to raise the procurement rates has been initiated by Milkfed, which wants to get the maximum supply during the coming months. The private dairy sector, too, has followed suit.

Senior officials in Milkfed, Punjab, informed TNS they had hiked the procurement prices so that they could get milk as per their demand. “Last year, we had achieved a growth of 11 per cent in our milk production. This year, our target for growth is 15 per cent, and in order to achieve this, we have increased the procurement price. Also, the input cost for dairy farmers has gone up substantially, so the increase in procurement price is justified,” he said.

Dairy experts said this year there was a cyclical decline of 15 per cent in milk production. The dairy cooperatives are increasing their milk procurement prices so that the flow of raw milk in their milk plants remains unaffected. The private dairy entrepreneurs say that not only are they forced to pay a higher price than the dairy federations, but their production is hit because of the low availability of dairy milk.

Private dairy owners said the milk procurement prices have never gone beyond Rs 230-Rs 240 per kg fat. “The demand for milk is increasing, but the availability is low. With the procurement price being increased, we will be left with no option but to increase the retail price of milk,” they said.

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Maruti profit down 18 pc

New Delhi, April 24
The country's largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India, today reported 18.33 per cent decline in its net profit after tax for the quarter ended March 31, 2009, at Rs 243.13 crore as against Rs 297.68 crore in the same period previous year.

The net sales, however, increased by 32.45 per cent at Rs 6,308.35 crore in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal compared to Rs 4,762.91 crore in the corresponding period of 2007-08, Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) said in a statement.

For 2008-09 financial year, MSI's audited consolidated net profit plunged by 31.42 per cent to Rs 1,227.45 crore as against Rs 1,789.87 crore in 2007-08.

The audited consolidated net sales of FY'09, however, rose by 14.09 per cent at Rs 20,557.94 crore, while the same stood at Rs 18,020.83 crore in FY'08. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

RBI to introduce Rs 10 coins
Chandigarh:
The RBI will shortly put into circulation two new bi-metallic coins of Rs 10. An official release said the obverse face of both Rs 10 coins will comprise of Lion Capitol of Ashok Pillar with the ‘Satyamev Jayate’ in Hindi and word India and ‘Bharat’ along with numerals of Rs 10. The reverse face of one type of Rs 10 coin wll have four heads sharing a common body to represent 'Unity in Diversity'. — TNS

Nomura's loss touches $7.2 billion
Tokyo/New Delhi:
Japanese financial services major Nomura Holdings on Friday saw its net loss widen to 709 billion yen (about $7.22 billion) for the year ended March 31, as acquisition costs of Lehman Brothers and writedowns weighed heavily on the company's bottomline whereas the same stood at 67.8 billion yen in the year-ago period. In the comparable period, the revenues stood at 1,593 billion yen. — PTI

Vodafone bonus card
Chandigarh:
Vodafone has launched a bonus card 41 for its pre-paid customers in Punjab. With this new bonus card, customers can make unlimited local SMSs at one paisa from 11 pm to 8 am. The card is priced at Rs 41 and comes with a validity of 30 days. — TNS

Chennai-Dubai flight
New Delhi:
Jet Airways on Thursday launched its inaugural daily service to Dubai from Chennai and a second service on the Mumbai-Dubai sector. The carrier now has four daily flights to Dubai from three Indian metros, it said in a statement. — PTI

Allahabad Bank
Chandigarh:
Allahabad Bank on Friday celebrated its 145th foundation day. On this occasion, customer meets were organised in Chandigarh, and in the states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. — TNS

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