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B U S I N E S S

Industry wants Pranab as FM
New Delhi, May 19
Industry associations have made a representation to the Prime Minister as to who they wosuld like to see as the next Finance Minister. In a letter submitted to the PM, they have recommended four names. According to sources, they have suggested the names of Pranab Mukherjee, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Kamal Nath (former Commerce Minister), and C Rangarajan (former chairman of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council) for the coveted post.

Market Watch
Record volatility after historic rally
Mumbai, May 19
Retail investors and traders who missed on magnificent Monday’s Sensex surge were rewarded today as the belwether index surged close to 15,000 points allowing profit-booking in frontline stocks. Making a sort of record in terms of volatility, the BSE Sensex began the day with a gain of 473.61 points, but lost over 900 points minutes later.



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The logo of German luxury sportscar manufacturer Porsche can be seen in front of the company's plant in Weissach, southern Germany.
The logo of German luxury sportscar manufacturer Porsche can be seen in front of the company's plant in Weissach, southern Germany. Porsche's supervisory board held a crisis meeting as efforts to clinch a merger with Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen faltered. — AFP 

NSE records highest trading volumes
Mumbai, May 19
The country's leading bourse, National Stock Exchange (NSE), today witnessed the highest-ever trading volume in a single day, while the number of trades crossed the 1-crore mark. The number of trades at National Stock Exchange today witnessed a record 1.12 crore trades, data available on the NSE shows. The bourse also witnessed the highest-ever trading volume both in terms of value and quantity.

Ultimatum to NTPC for gas pact with RIL
New Delhi, May 19
The government has given NTPC Ltd an ultimatum to decide on buying natural gas from Reliance Industries by the weekend, failing which it (government) will cancel its allocation and give the fuel to other power producers.

IPI Pipeline
Iran, Pak to finalise deal next week
Tehran, May 19
Iran and Pakistan will hold the last round of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline talks in Tehran next week, the special rsepresentative of Iran's oil minister to the talks has said.

DoT asks telcos to list issues for new govt
New Delhi, May 19
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has sought the views from telecom operators on various priority areas and pending policies to be placed as a consensus agenda in the coming first few months of the new government.

Crystal group to adopt 200 fields in Punjab
Chandigarh, May 19
The Rs 500-crore Crystal group is on an expansion spree. The leading agrochemical company is looking at expanding its market share in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh by introducing new molecules, besides diversifying into agri-implements business.

Maruti may upgrade M800
Kolkata, May 19
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country's leading carmaker, on Tuesday said it was working on upgrading the Maruti 800 engine so that it complies with emission requirements that will take effect in April 2010.

JSW may shut US mills
Mumbai, May 19
Sajjan Jindal-owned JSW Steel today said it plans to shut down its mills in the US for three months from June due to poor demand, and in the interim it will take measures to upgrade and modernise the units.

BoB to expand network
Chandigarh, May 19
The Bank of Baroda is looking at major expansion this year. It proposes to open at least four new overseas branches and 168 new branches across the country. This was stated by the executive director of the bank, R K Bakshi, during an interaction with mediapersons, after inaugurating the bank’s retail loan and SME loan facility here recently. He said this year, the bank would open two branches each in Uganada and Trinidad and Tobago.  —TNS






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Industry wants Pranab as FM
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 19
Industry associations have made a representation to the Prime Minister as to who they would like to see as the next Finance Minister. In a letter submitted to the PM, they have recommended four names. According to sources, they have suggested the names of Pranab Mukherjee, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Kamal Nath (former Commerce Minister), and C Rangarajan (former chairman of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council) for the coveted post.

Interestingly, P Chidambaram’s name is missing from the list. The sources said Chidambaram was not being viewed as a man who could bring back the growth that industry was eyeing in the coming year.

The Foreign Institutional Investors’ lobby has been siding with Chidambaram for the Finance Minister’s post.

One of the reasons why the industry is upset with Chidambaram is the P- Notes curb that it had to face, resulting in the stock markets going in a tailspin. The curbs on P-Notes has also gone against the industry because the value of shares have taken terrible beating.

The industry lobby is in favour of Pranab Mukherjee because it knows that he will be able to tweak the tax structure a bit better in these hard times as the RBI recently said the economy might not grow even at 6 per cent in 2009-10, as was earlier estimated.

The industry is also looking at lower indirect taxes, at least for this year, so that there is a bit of relief on its overburdened shoulders. The government is also going to see a decline in its revenue from direct and indirect taxes in this fiscal.

The issue of widening fiscal deficit, controlling inflation and curbing government borrowing, is also to be dealt with. Cutting interest rates and giving a fillip to the small and medium industries is going to be a matter of great dexterity with which the next Finance Minister will have to function. Policy watchers say, who better than a seasoned Mukherjee, to put the slowing economy back on track.

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Market Watch
Record volatility after historic rally
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 19
Retail investors and traders who missed on magnificent Monday’s Sensex surge were rewarded today as the belwether index surged close to 15,000 points allowing profit-booking in frontline stocks. Making a sort of record in terms of volatility, the BSE Sensex began the day with a gain of 473.61 points, but lost over 900 points minutes later.

Re-emergence of buying at lower levels of the market again pushed the market and the Sensex rose to the day's high of 14,930.54 points by early afternoon.

However, investors could not resist booking profits at such high levels, especially after a record single-day rally of 2,111 points yesterday, and the benchmark index finally closed the day at 14,302.03 points.

The closing level of the Sensex represented a fall of over 600 points from its intra-day high, although it closed with a gain of 17.82 points since its yesterday's close.

At the end of the day, the Sensex recorded a movement of over 3,000 points, first a rise of about 500 points in opening trade, then a fall of over 900 points in early morning trade, again a rise of over 1,100 points to its intra-day high level by early afternoon and finally a fall of over 600 points till the closing bell.

In the broader markets, the Nifty closed at 4,318, down five points.

Among the Sensex pack, 18 stocks zoomed with realty major DLF leading the pack. The scrip shot up 19.4 per cent to close at Rs 384. Other gainers included SBI, RCom, Grasim and Mahindra and Mahindra, up more than 9 per cent each. Among the major losers included IT stocks like Infosys Technologies, which was down 11.6 per cent. Wipro and TCS lost more than 8 per cent of their market cap today as the strengthening rupee caused worries about profit margins.

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NSE records highest trading volumes

Mumbai, May 19
The country's leading bourse, National Stock Exchange (NSE), today witnessed the highest-ever trading volume in a single day, while the number of trades crossed the 1-crore mark. The number of trades at National Stock Exchange today witnessed a record 1.12 crore trades, data available on the NSE shows.

The bourse also witnessed the highest-ever trading volume both in terms of value and quantity. Moreover, it saw a record daily turnover in terms of value at Rs 40,151.91 crore and a record traded quantity of 19,225 lakh shares.

The top five traded counters on National Stock Exchange in terms of highest trading volumes in value terms were Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, DLF, SBI, Larsen & Toubro and Reliance Capital. ICICI Bank scrip gained 7 per cent, DLF advanced as much as 18 per cent, SBI climbed 11 per cent, but RIL lost 5 per cent in today's trade.

The top five traded scrips in terms of the quantity of shares were Unitech, IFCI, Suzlon, RNRL and DLF. Realty major DLF, Reliance Capital and ICICI Bank were the top traded counters of the day. — PTI

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Ultimatum to NTPC for gas pact with RIL

New Delhi, May 19
The government has given NTPC Ltd an ultimatum to decide on buying natural gas from Reliance Industries by the weekend, failing which it (government) will cancel its allocation and give the fuel to other power producers.

The Oil Ministry has conveyed to NTPC chairman R S Sharma that the state-run firm has to decide this week on taking 2.67 million cubic metres of gas a day that was allocated to it from RIL's Bay of Bengal KG-D6 fields, a senior official said.

"There is a long waiting list. Many plants need the fuel and NTPC cannot be sitting on the allocation," he said.

Before the stern message to Sharma, the ministry had on May 12 written to the Power Ministry saying NTPC was not signing the gas purchase contract even though the state-run firm was the one that had vehemently fought to get the allocation.

NTPC, he said, was delaying signing the Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement because it has sought legal opinion if such an act would compromise its court gas against RIL.

Of the 17.99 mmcmd gas allocated to the power sector, a gas supply pact of only 2.67 mmcmd allocated to NTPC remained to be signed. NTPC's opposition had also delayed the GSPA for a separate 2.7 mmcmd allocated to the Dabhol power plant and the same is now slated to be signed this week.

In case NTPC does not want to take the gas, it should state so officially so that the gas can be re-allocated to other fuel-deficit power plants, the official said. — PTI

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IPI Pipeline
Iran, Pak to finalise deal next week

Tehran, May 19
Iran and Pakistan will hold the last round of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline talks in Tehran next week, the special representative of Iran's oil minister to the talks has said.

"A Pakistani delegation headed by Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Asim Hussain is to arrive in Tehran May 23 to finalise the Peace Pipeline deal based on the new price formula," Hojjatollah Ghanimifard was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

Iran has suggested a new price formula which was approved by Pakistan's cabinet April 10.

"The two sides are to set the date of signing the final contract in the meeting," he added. Pakistan will import as much as 750 million cubic feet of gas per day from Iran to meet its growing energy needs.

The IPI pipeline or the Peace Pipeline, is a proposed 2,775-km pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India.

The project is expected to greatly benefit India and Pakistan, which do not have sufficient natural gas to meet their rapidly increasing domestic demand for energy.

The negotiations over the $7.4 billion pipeline project were initiated in 1994 but it faced repeated delays on concerns over security along the Pakistani route, pricing mechanisms and tensions between Pakistan and India.— IANS

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DoT asks telcos to list issues for new govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 19
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has sought the views from telecom operators on various priority areas and pending policies to be placed as a consensus agenda in the coming first few months of the new government.

As there were still a large number of issues pending when the previous UPA government went into the poll mode, the views sought by DoT would help clear air over these issues and also put them in the list of high and low priority.

The DoT is also expected to hold a meeting with some of the key players in the industry to arrive at a common agenda for the first three months of the new government.

"A new government is likely to be in place by the later half of May 2009. The government will have to take decisions on a number of matters which are still constraining growth of the telecom sector. I would like to know the issues which in your opinion, need to be addressed urgently," Telecom Secretary Siddhharth Behura said in a communication to telcos.

The much-needed reforms in the sector would include a new spectrum policy, listing of government-owned telco BSNL besides auctioning of the third generation 3G spectrum.

The new government is expected to speed up the auction process for third generation spectrum which would allow users to enjoy high-end services such as high-speed Internet and video conferencing. The 3G auctions have been postponed many times since 2007 due to constant sparring among the ministries of finance, defence and communications.

Reports suggested that the new UPA government would introduce more rural India-oriented policies, besides taking high-speed Internet to villages. The new government is also expected to usher in mobile number portability before the year-end. 

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Crystal group to adopt 200 fields in Punjab
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

N K Aggarwal
N K Aggarwal 

Chandigarh, May 19
The Rs 500-crore Crystal group is on an expansion spree. The leading agrochemical company is looking at expanding its market share in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh by introducing new molecules, besides diversifying into agri-implements business.

Talking to TNS here today, N K Aggarwal, chairman of Crystal group, said they were planning to increase their turnover to Rs 650 crore this year. “Most of the new molecules for agrochemicals in India are introduced by the multinational companies. We are the only company that has been buying new molecules and introducing these to the Indian farmers.

Our target is to bring in at least two new molecules a year in the Indian market, as well as export these to other developing countries in Africa, West and South-East Asia,” he said.

Aggarwal said Punjab was the largest market for the company and they were getting business worth Rs 50 crore per annum from the state. “This is the reason we are concentrating on Punjab farmers in a big way. 

As part of our market development and agri extension service, we have decided to adopt 200 fields (one acre each) across Punjab, wherein farmers will be trained to maximise their productivity through effective and efficient use of agrochemicals. We have deputed a team of 90 agri specialists to visit key agriculture belts across the state and advise farmers on proper utilization of agro chemicals so that the farmers yields’ can increase by at least 10 per cent. 

We will also be holding farmer meetings to update them about new molecules, diseases and deficiencies in crop, different pests and their control, and new spraying equipment,” he said.

He further said they had recently doubled the capacity of their plant at Kundli (Sonepat).

Aggarwal also said the company was diversifying into agriculture implements. 

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Maruti may upgrade M800

Kolkata, May 19
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country's leading carmaker, on Tuesday said it was working on upgrading the Maruti 800 engine so that it complies with emission requirements that will take effect in April 2010.

Major Indian cities, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore, will implement Euro-IV emission rules, and there have been reports that Maruti 800 and its Omni minivan would not meet the standard to run in those cities.

"We have the engineering capabilities to upgrade the engines of Maruti 800, so that it could meet the emission norms and we are working on it," sales and marketing director Shuji Oishi told reporters at the launch of Maruti's premium Ritz hatchback.

He declined to comment on the impact of compliance on vehicle prices. The Maruti 800 starts at about Rs 185,000.

Maruti, which sells one of every two cars sold in India, is not planning to phase out the 800 model, which revolutionised the Indian market when it was launched in 1984, Oishi said.

Sales of the 800 have fallen as consumer wealth and the range of cars on sale have increased. In the year ending March 2009, sales fell by about 23 per cent to 62,323 units. — Reuters 

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JSW may shut US mills

Mumbai, May 19
Sajjan Jindal-owned JSW Steel today said it plans to shut down its mills in the US for three months from June due to poor demand, and in the interim it will take measures to upgrade and modernise the units.

"Our US mills are running at 10-15 per cent capacity now. Instead of running them at that level, we are thinking of temporarily closing them down to upgrade and modernise them in the interim," JSW Steel joint managing director and Group CFO M V S Seshagiri Rao said here.

Rao, however, said that a decision on that front would be taken by the end of the month. The cost for the purpose would 'not much'."There will not be any job cuts," he said. Sajjan Jindal-owned JSW Steel had acquired the mills in the US in November 2007 for $800 million from Jindal Saw. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

Oil bonds worth Rs 10,306 cr okayed
New Delhi:
The government has approved issue of Rs 10,306 crore worth of more oil bonds to fuel retailers to make up for the losses on fuel sales in 2008-09. Indian Oil Corp will get Rs 6,207 crore, Bharat Petroleum Rs 2,065 crore and Hindustan Petroleum Rs 2,034 crore, an Oil Ministry official said. — PTI

Jet Konnect to offer five more flights
New Delhi:
Jet Airways Konnect, the new all-economy service started by the Naresh Goyal-led carrier, will expand its network with the addition of five flights from May 20. The service will enhance connectivity in the north-eastern region with the introduction of flights to Jorhat, Agartala and Guwahati from Kolkata. It will also include Guwahati-Agartala sector, apart from launching Kolkata-Bengaluru service, Jet said in a statement. — PTI

Parsvnath to build township project at Panipat
New Delhi:
Realty firm Parsvnath Developers Ltd on Monday said it would build a township project in Haryana with an investment of Rs 212 crore. "The company has received environmental clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Haryana, for the construction of a proposed township project at Panipat in Haryana," Parsvnath said in a statement. — PTI

Vodafone profit up 16.7 pc
London:
Global mobile phone major Vodafone Group Plc on Tuesday reported a 16.7 per cent increase in operating profit at £11.8 billion for the year ended March 31, 2009, on higher revenues from emerging markets - mainly India. The company's operating profit stood at £10.07 billion in the financial year 2008. — PTI

Jakhar is Iffco chairman
New Delhi:
Fertiliser major Iffco has re-elected Surinder Kumar Jakhar as the chairman of thse cooperative. The cooperative also elected N P Patel as its vice- chairman, Iffco said in a statement here. — PTI

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