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President unveils growth-centric agenda for new govt
New Delhi, June 4
Outlining the Congress-led UPA alliance’s policies after a convincing election victory in May, President Pratibha Patil said today the new government would revive economic growth with higher spending on social programmes. “Our immediate priority must be to focus on management of the economy that will counter the effect of the global slowdown.

President Pratibha Patil

President Pratibha Patil

Chinese walnuts hit trade in J&K
Jammu, June 4
The worldwide recession has hit the Kashmiri walnut trade hard. Chinese walnuts, available at cheaper rates, have sent the Kashmiri produce for a toss, causing nearly 50 per cent reduction in export of the dry fruit.





EARLIER STORIES



Cheema Boilers targets US, Europe
Chandigarh, June 4
Kurali-based boiler manufacturer, Cheema Boilers Ltd., plans to start exports to the USA and European markets soon. At present, the company caters to the needs of the domestic industry besides exporting boilers to countries like Vietnam, Russia, Mozambique, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
A view of Cheema Boilers’ unit at Kurali.
A view of Cheema Boilers’ unit at Kurali

Govt to scrutinise Bharti-MTN deal
New Delhi, June 4
The government today said it has asked Bharti to furnish all details of its proposed $23-billion deal with South African company MTN for legal scrutiny. "We have asked for formal request/papers about the deal from the company... there seems to be no problem with the deal but still we want to be sure (about the compliance)," Salman Khursheed, Minister of Corporate Affairs, told PTI, adding that the matter will be referred to the law ministry for legal opinion.

Ludhiana to have first textile park by Dec 2010
Ludhiana, June 4
By December 31, 2010, Ludhiana will get an integrated textile park, the first-of-its-kind in the region. The cost of the total project will be about Rs 117 crore and the Central Government will put its share of Rs 40 crore, out of which Rs 4 crore has already been released.

Audi launches compact SUV
Mumbai, June 4
Punjab and National Capital Region has turned out to be the biggest market for luxury car manufacturer, Audi India. Though the first two months of the year saw a flat growth, the carmaker achieved an impressive growth of 57 per cent over last year since March.
Audi India managing director Benoit Tiers answers questions at the launch of Audi Q5 car in Mumbai on Thursday. The limited edition SUV Audi Q5, available in two models, will be priced at Rs 38.29 lakh onwards. — AFP
Audi India managing director Benoit Tiers answers questions at the launch of Audi Q5 car in Mumbai

Nokia unveils N-97
New Delhi, June 4
At a time when reports are suggesting that Nokia has lost its charm with the youth of the country, the Finnish manufacturer of the mobile phones has decided to bring in its flagship touch-screen handset N-97.
Vineet Taneja (centre) director-marketing, Nokia India poses with models at the launch of Nokia N97 mobile handset in New Delhi on Thursday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Vineet Taneja (centre) director-marketing, Nokia India poses with models at the launch of Nokia N97 mobile handset in New Delhi

Wal-Mart to hire over 22,000 in US
New York, June 4
Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores will hire over 22,000 persons this year, a move that will bring cheer to the country's strained labour market grappling with rising unemployment woes.

ISB absorbs its own students
Hyderabad, June 4
Indian School of Business (ISB), the Hyderabad-based premier management institution, has come up with a novel idea to help its students hit by global recession.

Indian market may outdo global peers: Morgan Stanley
Mumbai, June 4
The Indian market is likely to outperform its global peers and the benchmark BSE Sensex could hit the 19,000-level by the end of this year, financial services major Morgan Stanley said in a report.





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President unveils growth-centric agenda for new govt
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 4
Outlining the Congress-led UPA alliance’s policies after a convincing election victory in May, President Pratibha Patil said today the new government would revive economic growth with higher spending on social programmes.

“Our immediate priority must be to focus on management of the economy that will counter the effect of the global slowdown. My government will ensure the growth process is not only accelerated but also made socially and regionally more inclusive and equitable. My government is firmly committed to maintaining high growth with low inflation, particularly in relation to prices of essential agricultural and industrial commodities”, Patil said in an address to Parliament a month ahead of the new government’s first budget.

The economic slowdown has seen inflation drop further to 0.48 percent in the 12 months to May 23 from the previous week's level of 0.61 percent, government data showed Thursday.

“The new government” Patil stated, “will steadfastly observe fiscal responsibility so that the Centre’s ability to invest in essential social and economic infrastructure is continuously enhanced. This will require all subsidies reach only the truly needy and poor sections of our society. A national consensus will be created on this issue and necessary policy changes implemented”.

“The government will set higher targets for developing rural infrastructure in the second phase of the Bharat Nirman programme, besides completing the schemes initiated in the initial phase. The scheme was launched five years ago as a time bound business plan for rural infrastructure. It has succeeded in bringing basic infrastructure - roads, electricity and telephones - to a large number of villages. The remaining tasks will be completed in the programme’s second phase, for which it is also proposed to set enhanced targets,” the President said, adding “the government has achieved most of its targets of providing rural water supply and rural housing and has also increased irrigation potential”.

“Indira Awas Yojana, which exceeded its original target of 60 lakh houses for the period 2004-09, will now double the target of rural housing to 1.2 crore houses to be completed in the next five years, she stated.

“On the economic side the new Congress-led government will sell minority stakes in state-run firms so as to help fund spending. The government will also take steps to encourage foreign investment inflows, list shares of state-run firms and infuse more capital in banks to help boost economic growth which is at a six-year low. The current fiscal is expected to see a slowing down of growth on account of the global recession”, Patil said.

She stated the government would significantly increase realization of direct taxes with a simplified tax administration. The roadmap for moving towards a goods and services tax would also be vigorously pursued.

Reiterating the continued thrust to infrastructure programmes, the president said infrastructure development would be a key focus area for the next five years. Bottlenecks and delays in implementation of projects because of policies and procedures, especially in railways, power, highways, ports, airports and rural telecom, would be systematically removed, she emphasised.

The thrust of the integrated energy policy will be to electrify villages and households, for which the effort would be to see that at least 13,000 MW of generating capacity is added each year through a mix of sources - coal, hydroelectric, nuclear and renewable, she added.

Welcoming the government's programme, which emphasises on sectors that have been adversely hit by the global financial meltdown, FICCI president Harsh Pati Singhania said in a statement: “These reforms and institutional proposals can usher India into the next phase of growth. The agenda focuses on infrastructure development and addresses the issue of energy security”. The BSE Sensex that opened on a dull note jumped nearly 137 points crossing the 15,000 mark after the President’s speech.

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Chinese walnuts hit trade in J&K
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 4
The worldwide recession has hit the Kashmiri walnut trade hard. Chinese walnuts, available at cheaper rates, have sent the Kashmiri produce for a toss, causing nearly 50 per cent reduction in export of the dry fruit.

Kashmiri walnut is one of the major dry fruits exported to several countries. Though China and California produce far more walnuts than this state, the quality of the local dry fruit has always put it ahead over others.

The global downturn has hit the buying capacity of traders and consumers in the foreign countries. According to reports from the traders in Jammu and Kashmir, consumption of dry fruits has reduced largely worldwide. Those still buying are going for cheaper produce offered by China.

Ram Sahai, president, Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the Chinese walnut is exported at almost half the price of Kashmiri walnut pegged at Rs 250 per kg.
“People across America, Canada and Europeon markets earlier preferred quality over money. But now the cheapest available walnut is getting the preference.”

He revealed that Kashmiri walnut has always been labelled one of the best in the world. “They were ready takers of the dry fruit as it was produced just about 40,000 tonnes per season, whereas China produces over 3 lakh tonnes of walnuts per season.”

Ghulam Rasool Bhat of the Jammu and Kashmir Fruit Growers Association said the recession has not hit the farmers so far, “At least in this season, the traders, who had bought produce from the farmers have suffered the export decline. This is surely going to hit the farmers if conditions do not improve.”

He said a number of traders have suffered huge losses, “The banks have rescued many with lower interest rate on debt instalments or giving more time to pay off the debts.”

“You can well imagine that the exports figure have dipped to Rs 110 crore this season from a lucrative Rs 250-crore business last season,” he claimed.

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Cheema Boilers targets US, Europe
Sanjay Khurana
Tribune News Service

Harjinder Cheema
Harjinder Cheema

Chandigarh, June 4
Kurali-based boiler manufacturer, Cheema Boilers Ltd., plans to start exports to the USA and European markets soon. At present, the company caters to the needs of the domestic industry besides exporting boilers to countries like Vietnam, Russia, Mozambique, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Boilers are used in almost every industry. The company’s major clients include sugar, textiles, distilleries, paper, and leather industry. This was revealed by Harjinder Cheema, managing director, Cheema Boilers Ltd., in an exclusive interview to The Tribune here today.

“Our next target is to start exports to the USA, the UK, and European markets, as we have got certification from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), which is must for exporting engineering products to the USA, the UK, Europe and even in Australia,” he said.

Cheema Boilers is the biggest boiler manufacturing unit in North India, set up by Harjinder Cheema in 1990. Cheema, a marine engineer from Pune, worked as service engineer with Thermax Ltd for about 12 years before starting his own venture. In 1990, he set up Cheema Engg Services (P) Ltd., at Bazpur (Uttar Pradesh). He later shifted his base to Mohali in 1999 and started manufacturing boilers at Kurali, where his plant is spread across 25 acres of land. Under the dynamic leadership of Cheema, the company achieved a turnover of Rs 200 crore in 2008-09, from a meagre Rs 3 crore in 1999. Besides Kurali, the company has a manufacturing facility at Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh also.

The company is targeting a turnover of Rs 250 crore in the current fiscal (2009-10). The company has so far invested Rs 26 crore at both its units.

The company has a total workforce of 650 besides employing 200 qualified engineers, who provide on site services to their clients. The company has an engineering office at Coimbatore also.

When asked about the future plans of the company, Cheema said, “We are very much on the move and plan to start manufacturing pulverized fuel-fired boilers (the ones being used at Bathinda Thermal Power Plant).”

At present, the company manufactures two types of boilers - packaged boilers and power plant boilers. According to Cheema, it takes at least one year to manufacture a single boiler. The company has a capacity to manufacture 120 packaged boilers per annum and 24-30 power plant boilers per annum.

Besides making boilers, the company has interests in captive power production and generates about 500 MW of power at various captive power plants installed by them. According to Cheema, the major thing about their captive and co-generation power is that they produce electricity without burning coal/oil, thereby properly utilising renewable energy source (biomass).

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Govt to scrutinise Bharti-MTN deal

New Delhi, June 4
The government today said it has asked Bharti to furnish all details of its proposed $23-billion deal with South African company MTN for legal scrutiny. "We have asked for formal request/papers about the deal from the company... there seems to be no problem with the deal but still we want to be sure (about the compliance)," Salman Khursheed, Minister of Corporate Affairs, told PTI, adding that the matter will be referred to the law ministry for legal opinion.

Bharti chief Sunil Mittal had met Khursheed earlier this week and is learnt to have apprised him of the deal while seeking clarity in the existing corporate laws to take the deal forward.

Bharti has reopened talks for acquiring 49 per cent stake with South African MTN in an estimated $23 billion deal, exactly a year after it pulled out of negotiations alleging that the foreign company had deviated from agreement.

The two companies have signed an agreement to hold exclusive talks for a deal that could include $10 billion in cash and $13 billion in shares and see emergence of a combined entity of $20 billion in terms of revenue and 200 billion subscribers globally.

"We will refer the Bharti-MTN deal to the Law Ministry to look at various aspects of the deal," Khursheed said.

Mittal had denied any report of revising the offer to MTN earlier this week saying that "there is no such occasion for this. We are still in discussions." "We are excited at the prospect of teaming up with Bharti, India's number one wireless operator and one of the most strongly capitalised players amongst emerging market pear group," MTN CEO Phuthuma Nhleko had said in a statement. — PTI

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Ludhiana to have first textile park by Dec 2010
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 4
By December 31, 2010, Ludhiana will get an integrated textile park, the first-of-its-kind in the region. The cost of the total project will be about Rs 117 crore and the Central Government will put its share of Rs 40 crore, out of which Rs 4 crore has already been released.

The managing director of Ludhiana Integrated Textile Park Ltd, Vinod Thapar, told The Tribune that the negotiations on the project with the state government were started in 2006. It was duly cleared and sent to the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, the main funding agency under the Scheme for Industrial Parks Development.

"The construction of the park, which will have 85 industrial units, started recently. 60 acres of land on the GT Road between Sahnewal and Doraha has been provided by the government for the project. Ludhiana contributes more than 95 per cent share to the total woollen industry in the country. All industrial units will be run by the local industrialists in the park", he informed.

He further added that over 1 lakh job opportunities will be created and an annual turnover of over Rs 500 crore is expected after the completion of the park. The park will be developed in accordance with the modern specifications conforming to the provisions of scheme of integrated textile parks. There will be substantive business growth.

"We will be able to compete both at national and international levels as development of the park will ensure convenience for our customers from outside to meet all their business requirements in the cluster (park) itself. The total expected investment on this project is Rs 217 crore", said Thapar. He also added that as the work progresses, government's share will come in instalments.

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Audi launches compact SUV
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 4
Punjab and National Capital Region (NCR) has turned out to be the biggest market for luxury car manufacturer, Audi India. Though the first two months of the year saw a flat growth, the carmaker achieved an impressive growth of 57 per cent over last year since March.

Recession or economic downturn seems to have had a little impact on the sale of these luxury cars, especially in North India (NCR and Punjab), which contribute 45 per cent of the total sales. Considering the craze for cars in North India, the company has appointed maximum number of dealerships and service centres in this region. Interestingly, the company, which also customises accessories for its clients, says that though maximum orders come in from the metros of Delhi and Mumbai, Punjab is a close second.

No wonder, buoyed by the success of its high price luxury sedans, A4, A6 and A8 and its SUV Q7, the German carmaker today launched its compact SUV Q5 here today. “This launch of Q 5 in India speaks about our commitment to the Indian market. Though presently we are not looking at high volumes in sales, we are bringing all our models in India as part of Audi’s branding exercise,” Benoit Tiers, managing director, Audi India, informed TNS on the sidelines of the launch.

He said this year the company hoped to sell 100 units of this SUV, with a price band of Rs 38 lakh to Rs 57 lakh, in India. “We will be importing these limited edition SUVs and offering it to our customers in India. Buyers can even ask for customised accessories to be fitted in this SUV, which is the best selling SUV in the world and has won awards like Golden Steering Wheel and the Best Off Roader in Europe,” he said, adding that in year 2010 they were hoping to sell 400 units of Q 5.

Tiers said though the company had set up an assembly line unit in Aurangabad, they were only assembling two models here — A4 and A6. “As soon as the economies of scale permit us, we will start assembling other models in India. We are also looking at the Government of India to bring down the duty structure on cars imported as completely-built units (CBUs), which is as high as 116 per cent. The reduction in duty would allow us to pass on the benefit to the customers directly,” he said.

Audi India also hopes to sell 1,500 units of various models in India this year, as compared to 1,050 units sold in 2008. “We will be opening new dealerships and expanding our service network. We have already sold 617 units this year,” he said.

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Nokia unveils N-97
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 4
At a time when reports are suggesting that Nokia has lost its charm with the youth of the country, the Finnish manufacturer of the mobile phones has decided to bring in its flagship touch-screen handset N-97.

Vineet Taneja, director marketing, Nokia India, told reporters here that N-97 would be launched nationwide within two weeks and was expected to cost around Rs 35,000. "The company is expected to begin shipping it in India in the next two weeks," he said.

"Fuelled by a multitude of media and applications through the Ovi Store, the N-97 transforms the Internet into an experience that is completely tailored to the tastes and interests of its users," Taneja said.

Ovi Store is Nokia's application downloading service through which users can procure free mobile applications for their handsets.

Designed for the needs of Internet-savvy consumers, the model supports up to 48 GB of storage, including 32 GB of on-board memory, expandable with a 16 GB microSD card for music, media and more.

The model is complimented by excellent music capabilities with full support from the Nokia music store. It has a continuous playback time of up to 1.5 days.

The N-97 has a 5-megapixel camera with high-quality DVD quality video capture. It also pioneers the concept of a personalised home screen that lets people choose their favourite content.

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Wal-Mart to hire over 22,000 in US

New York, June 4
Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores will hire over 22,000 persons this year, a move that will bring cheer to the country's strained labour market grappling with rising unemployment woes.

The retailer, which is one of the least unscathed entities amid the financial turmoil, would be recruiting people for its new and expanded stores nationwide.

Wal-Mart has said it would "create more than 22,000 jobs in 2009 to staff new or expanded stores in the US".

The company would be taking people for positions including store management, pharmacists, human resource managers, customer service associates, cashiers and sales associates.

In a statement today, the retailer said it would create over 1,000 jobs in several individual states. — PTI

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ISB absorbs its own students
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 4
Indian School of Business (ISB), the Hyderabad-based premier management institution, has come up with a novel idea to help its students hit by global recession.

It has started absorbing its own students who could not get job offers in campus placements earlier this year.

In a goodwill gesture, the ISB, ranked 15 among global business schools, has absorbed some 10 students from the Class of 2009 so far in various roles including senior managers, assistant/associate directors of research centres and departments.

The remuneration package offered for the students ranges from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per year with an initial employment period of three years.

This was the institute’s unique way to help students tide over the impact of recession and slowdown in the job market. Perhaps for the first time in history of ISB, about 100 students, out of 437 who graduated from the Class of 2009 in April this year, could not get a job offer in the campus placements programme because of the recession.

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Indian market may outdo global peers: Morgan Stanley

Mumbai, June 4
The Indian market is likely to outperform its global peers and the benchmark BSE Sensex could hit the 19,000-level by the end of this year, financial services major Morgan Stanley said in a report. "A global market selloff remains a key risk to absolute performance in Indian equities, though we think Indian equities will likely outperform," Morgan Stanley’s Indian strategy report said.

“There is 40 per cent probability of a bull run in which case the BSE Sensex could hit the 19,000 mark by the end of 2009, the report said adding there is only 10 per cent probability of a bear phase in which case the Sensex could tank to 8,600 levels”, the report said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Sensex regains 15k level
Mumbai:
The Sensex closed above the 15,000 mark for the first time after September 2 last year at the end of a volatile session today. The benchmark index, which was trading in the negative zone during early trade, recovered later in the day and closed 137 points higher at 15,008. — TNS

US firm NVP to buy into NSE
New Delhi:
The US-based private equity firm Norwest Venture Partners has said it would pick up a little over 2 per cent stake in NSE, the country's largest stock exchange in terms of trading volume, for about Rs 252 crore, valuing the bourse at over Rs 12,000 crore. The equity firm has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 2.11 per cent stake for a consideration of about Rs 252 crore in the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE), Norwest Venture Partners said. — PTI

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