SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Sensex zooms 419 points
Mumbai, June 26
Reliance Industries and ICICI Bank triggered fresh buying today as the benchmark Sensex rallied by 419 points to end at 14,764.64 on the back of firm global cues.Reliance Industries shot up 3.53 per cent as the company agreed to sell natural gas to some of state-run NTPC's power plants and is keen on signing a gas sales agreement at the earliest.

Infosys to bid for national ID card project 
Bangalore, June 26
Infosys CEO S Gopalkrishnan today said Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was a “tremendous project” aimed at benefitting the common people and addressing the security needs of the country.

Lakshmi Mittal-led ArcelorMittal is committed to invest Rs 1-lakh crore in India
Lakshmi Mittal-led ArcelorMittal is committed to invest Rs 1-lakh crore in India

Mittal bullish on India
London, June 26
Emphasising that the worst is over for the global steel industry, ArcelorMittal chief LN Mittal today said that he sees "pre-recession" demand to resurface in the next 2-3 years.The NRI billionaire also asserted that the steel maker is bullish on India plans and committed to the investments there.



EARLIER STORIES



This file photo shows the Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan
This file photo shows the Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Daimler introduced its Hybrid car on Friday as the first German carmaker to do so in Germany. — AFP

Budget Countdown – I
Farm sector for bigger spend on R&D, tech
Chandigarh, June 26
Increased funds for research and development as well as information & communications technology - these two items top the wishlist of farmers and farm economists in the region as they wait in anticipation for the maiden Budget to be presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. With the agricultural growth still posting a good performance over last year they feel the 2009-10 Budget should aim at giving a fresh impetus to this sector.

Crude oil output falls 4.3% in May
New Delhi, June 26
India's crude oil production fell by 4.3 per cent in May due to a decline in output at Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, the nation's largest producer.

RBI hints at rate cut
Kolkata, June 26
Hinting at further cuts in key rates to spur consumption in the economy, the RBI today said it would continue to ensure that money supply was easy."There is plenty of liquidity in the system and we want to assure that it will be manitained," RBI deputy governor Usha Thorat said, when asked by reporters if the central bank would change its monetary policy in view of the falling rates.

Tata Motors posts loss of Rs 2,505 crore
New Delhi, June 26
Facing the global meltdown and the investments made for acquiring Jaguar and Land Rover, Tata Motors today declared that it had suffered a loss of Rs 2,505.25 crore in the financial year 2008-09. The company said the loss came after a year in which the company recorded a profit of Rs 2,167 crore after taxes.





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Sensex zooms 419 points

Mumbai, June 26
Reliance Industries and ICICI Bank triggered fresh buying today as the benchmark Sensex rallied by 419 points to end at 14,764.64 on the back of firm global cues.

Reliance Industries shot up 3.53 per cent as the company agreed to sell natural gas to some of state-run NTPC's power plants and is keen on signing a gas sales agreement at the earliest.

India's largest private sector ICICI Bank ended higher by 7.96 per cent after its ADR jumped by 4.75 per cent on Thursday.

Fresh buying in index pivotals propelled key benchmark indices to an intra-day high in mid-afternoon trade. Firm global markets also boosted sentiment on the domestic bourses today.

The Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share index ended the day at 14,764.64, a smart gain of 419.02 points or 2.92 per cent from its previous close.

Similarly, the National Stock Exchange's 50-share Nifty also jumped by 133.65 points or 3.15 per cent to close at 4,375.50 from its last close.

Bonanza Portfolio Assistant Vice-President Avinash Gupta said: "The market is expected to trade with caution in view of the Budget ahead."

Asian markets ended higher as commodity prices jumped amid optimism that the US recession may ease after the economy shrank less than expected in the first quarter. Key indices in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Japan were up between 0.09 per cent and 1.78 per cent.

European markets also opened higher as rise in crude oil and metal prices boosted commodity stocks indices in the UK, Germeny and France, which moved up between 0.26 and 0.83 per cent.

Banking and financial shares soared, mirroring firm American depository receipts (ADRs) and hopes of financial sector reforms in the Union Budget 2009-10.

Other major gainers were Sterlite Ind (6.11 per cent), Larsen & Toubro (5.47 per cent), TCS (4.35 per cent), Infosys Tech (3.93 per cent), Rel Com (3.93 per cent), BHEL (3.20 per cent), Maruti Suzuki (3.12 per cent) and SBI (2.62 per cent).

However, Sun Pharmaceuticals ended sharply lower by 12.17 per cent after the US health regulator seized drugs from the Michigan facilities of Caraco, a subsidiary of the domestic pharma company.

Ranbaxy Lab fell 4.37 per cent and Tata Steel 2.53 per cent.

The market breadth was positive with 1,689 gainers against 937 losers on the BSE. — PTI

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Infosys to bid for national ID card project 
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, June 26
Infosys CEO S Gopalkrishnan today said Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was a “tremendous project” aimed at benefitting the common people and addressing the security needs of the country.

Gopalkrishnan said Infosys would participate in the bidding for the project. Asked whether it would be ethical on the part of Infosys to bid for the project since Nandan Nilekani, named as chairman of UIDAI, would continue to be a stakeholder of Infosys by holding shares worth more than Rs 3,000 crore, Gopalkrishnan said Nilekani would ensure that there was enough transparency in the bidding process and in the allotment of the contract.

He said the onus would be on “both parties” (UIDAI chairman and Infosys) to rule out any suspicion of favouritism clouding the bidding process.

“Nandan is a man of very high integrity,” the Infosys CEO said.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of CII event here today, he said Infosys was already working on projects similar to the one being taken up by the UIDAI. “The Karnataka government is also in the advanced stages of a project regarding giving identity card to residents,” he said and hinted that Infosys was working on bagging the contract.

Gopalkrishnan said Infosys had always shown interest in e-governance projects. “For the coming Budget also, we have urged the government to enhance funding for e-governance projects. This will provide work to the domestic IT companies and will lead to betterment of the lives of people,” he said.

On the impact of Nilekani’s exit from Infosys, Gopalkrishnan said Nilekani’s responsibilities would be distributed among the other top executives of the company. “We have depth in leadership,” the Infosys CEO said and added that the company had already prepared a succession plan for the next rung of leaders to take over.

He said there was no immediate plan of filling up the post of co-chairman which had fallen vacant as a result of Nilekani’s resignation. “The board will have to take a decision with regard to a new co-chairperson,” he said. “We shall miss Nandan. But we are also proud of him and we are glad that he has been chosen by the Prime Minister for a prestigious assignment,” he said. 

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Mittal bullish on India

London, June 26
Emphasising that the worst is over for the global steel industry, ArcelorMittal chief LN Mittal today said that he sees "pre-recession" demand to resurface in the next 2-3 years.

The NRI billionaire also asserted that the steel maker is bullish on India plans and committed to the investments there.

"For (the) pre-recession demand to come back, I give 2-3 years...Everyone believes and we also believe that the decline has stopped.

"The worst is behind us and the question which we are asking ourselves is what is going to be the shape of recovery," Mittal, who is the Chairman and CEO of the world's largest steel company, told CNBC TV18 in an interview.

ArcelorMittal is committed to its proposed Rs 1-lakh crore investment in India, to set up two 12-million tonnes per annum steel mills in the state of Jharkhand and Orissa.

"I am very optimistic about India. I am in fact bullish about India. We are committed to India, we will invest in India for our steel companies," Mittal noted.

The company had earlier this year said the commercial operations of its proposed steel plants would be delayed by at least two years to 2014.

Earlier this year, ArcelorMittal had said the firm would go slow on its greenfield expansion, mergers and acquisition plans in the wake of the prevailing economic scenario.

Hit hard by the slump in steel demand and the consequent fall in prices, ArcelorMittal had posted losses in the last quarter of the previous fiscal and the first quarter of the current financial year.

The company has resorted to cost-cutting by slashing jobs and trimming down production to stay afloat amid the global economic crisis, which started last year. The company is now witnessing some signs of revival in demand for its products.

"ArcelorMittal, as I said is doing much better in the sense from where we started in October crisis. We are seeing some of the demand reviving though we are still operating at 50 per cent of our capacity," he said.

Maintaining that the steel sector undergoes and cyclical depression over a period of time, Mittal said that the industry did not anticipate a global crisis of this magnitude to have occurred. — PTI 

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Budget Countdown – I
Farm sector for bigger spend on R&D, tech
Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Increased funds for research and development as well as information & communications technology - these two items top the wishlist of farmers and farm economists in the region as they wait in anticipation for the maiden Budget to be presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. With the agricultural growth still posting a good performance over last year they feel the 2009-10 Budget should aim at giving a fresh impetus to this sector.

Both researchers and farmers say that they are looking forward to a futuristic farm policy that would ensure better growth in agriculture as also help in raising productivity to ensure the country’s food security is maintained.

Talking to TNS, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said there is a need to frame a national agricultural policy that would help in improving farm output and give a fillip to sustainable development in the sector. “Since 70 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture it is necessary to have a uniform farm policy to enable productivity to rise 20 per cent over the next five years to keep pace with the increase in population. Presently just one per cent of GDP is spent on farm research and development, which should be raised to at least 5 per cent” he said.

Rajewal also demanded a special package for Punjab’s farmers who he observed have contributed immensely to the country’s food security. “Farmers in the state are now facing a tough time because of loss of groundwater and micro nutrients from the soil as a result of intensive cultivation. Some kind of compensation, be it in shape of a higher MSP (minimum support price) should be given to them,” he added.

Concurring, noted farm economist SS Johl said greater emphasis will have to be laid on R&D and on ICT so that farmers even in distant places can know about and access new technologies. “Government spending on agricultural research institutions will have to be increased and awareness about cash crops spread, especially for small and marginal farmers, in a uniform way across the country. A policy on participation by corporates in postharvest farm operations too should also be introduced,” he said.

Suresh Kumar, a farmer from Kharak Pandova village, Kaithal, said the government should release more funds for improving the irrigation system. “Since the government is still not giving us the MSP as per production costs, at least steps should be taken to scale down these costs. It can also provide us some subsidy on buying diesel for farm operations,” he added.

While laying emphasis on increased cash flow to research in agriculture, RS Ghumman, a leading farm expert in the state, said the budget should convey Punjab’s priorities of developing the nonfarm sector, boosting agricultural productivity in the context of marginal and small farmers and ensuring food security. “The budget should provide guidelines that ensure private moneylenders are issued licenses so that checks can be maintained on them. Steps to help farmers seek institutional loans, rather than relying on traditional sources like these, should also be announced”.

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Crude oil output falls 4.3% in May

New Delhi, June 26
India's crude oil production fell by 4.3 per cent in May due to a decline in output at Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, the nation's largest producer.

Crude oil production at 2.78 million tonnes in May was 4.3 per cent lower than 2.9 million tonnes in the same month a year ago, according to the data released by the Petroleum Ministry here today.

ONGC output fell by 6 per cent to 2.06 million tonnes as its prime Mumbai High offshore fields produced 1.43 million tonnes of oil against 1.52 million tonnes in May 2008.

Reflecting slowdown in fuel demand, refineries converted 4.3 per cent less crude oil into fuel at 12.77 million tonnes.

Reliance Industries' Jamnagar refinery saw a 6.9 per cent drop in crude throughput to 2.96 million tonnes.

Natural gas output, however, rose by 18.3 per cent mostly because of RIL ramping up production from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields. Gas production in May stood at 3.41 billion cubic meters, up from 2.88 bcm in same month last year.

KG-D6 helped offshore gas output to nearly double to 1.21 bcm in May.

In April-May, crude oil production dipped 3.7 per cent to 5.51 million tonnes with ONGC reporting a 4.9 per cent decline in output at 4.09 million tonnes.

Refineries converted 4.4 per cent lesser crude into oil in April-May at 25.24 million tonnes with RIL seeing a 7.9 per cent decline at 5.73 million tonnes.

Natural gas production in April-May was up 11.7 per cent at 6.34 bcm, the data showed. — PTI 

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RBI hints at rate cut

Kolkata, June 26
Hinting at further cuts in key rates to spur consumption in the economy, the RBI today said it would continue to ensure that money supply was easy.

"There is plenty of liquidity in the system and we want to assure that it will be manitained," RBI deputy governor Usha Thorat said, when asked by reporters if the central bank would change its monetary policy in view of the falling rates.

The RBI has been cutting the key rates at which it lends (repo) and borrows (reverse repo) funds from banks in the short-term, with the latest reduction being in March.

A cut in rates would prompt banks to reduce interest rates on loans, stirring demand for loans that would in turn lead to increased consumer and corporate spending. The central bank will take up its monetary policy for a quarterly review on July 28.

Replying to a query whether India's growth prospects would be affected due to the failing monsoon, Thorat said it was too premature to comment. "RBI will make a detailed assessment in July quarterly review of the economy," she said. — PTI 

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Tata Motors posts loss of Rs 2,505 crore
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
Facing the global meltdown and the investments made for acquiring Jaguar and Land Rover, Tata Motors today declared that it had suffered a loss of Rs 2,505.25 crore in the financial year 2008-09. The company said the loss came after a year in which the company recorded a profit of Rs 2,167 crore after taxes.

The company had a consolidated gross revenue of Rs 7,415.1crore.

“The consolidated financial performance of the company is not comparable to 2007-08 on account of the acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover in June 2008,'' it said.

The company said Jaguar Land Rover made a profit in 2007 and continued to do so in the first half of 2008. But as the global meltdown caused vehicle financing and demand to dry up, Land Rover sales “fell considerably'', the statement said. Jaguar, however, fared better with the launch of its XF sedan.

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BRIEFLY

Rupee stronger
Mumbai:
The Indian rupee strengthened by 50 paise to end at 48.10/11 against the American currency on hopes of resumption of capital inflows from foreign funds, triggered by strong recovery in equity markets, amidst the weakness of the dollar overseas. In the global market, oil and metal prices rose on Friday, driving a rise for world stocks, while the US dollar and government bond prices slipped as investors gradually put funds back into riskier assets. US crude oil prices limped towards $71 a barrel, extending a two per cent gain. — PTI

Mahindra Holidays’ IPO oversubscribed
Mumbai:
The initial public offer of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts got over-subscribed nearly four times on the final day of offer on Friday till 1300 hrs, with most of the bids coming in from institutional investors. According to the latest data available on the NSE, the issue received bids for over 3.64 crore shares as against 92.65 lakh shares on offer. The issue, which began on June 23, generated demand close to Rs 1,184 crore at the end of the upper end of the price band.— PTI

IOC to augment refining capacity
New Delhi:
Indian Oil Corp is augmenting its refining capacity by setting up a 15 mmtpa refinery at Paradip at a cost of about Rs 29,777 crore. The Paradip refinery project execution is primarily on conventional mode with some packages on LSTK/BOO /BOOT basis. IOC is also utilising services of a pool of consultants so that the project is completed in time. — TNS

Tata Tele’s GSM services
New Delhi:
Tata Teleservices in partnership with Japanese telecom firm NTT DoCoMo on Friday launched GSM mobile operations in Kerala and offered local and STD call rates at just one paise per second. This is the second telecom circle where Tata-DoCoMo has started GSM services after Tamil Nadu. — PTI

Business management courses
Chandigarh:
The Institute for International Management and Technology (IIMT) will conduct entrance test in Jalandhar and Ludhiana on June 27 and 28, respectively, for admission to various courses from Oxford Brookes University, UK. The institute provides courses in business and hotel management for both undergraduate and graduate students. — TNS 

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