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Montek rules out fresh stimulus
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Ahluwalia New Delhi, July 21
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Ahluwalia today ruled out any more stimulus package for industry as the Budget has given a substantial boost to the slowing economy."The Budget includes a very stringent boost, plan expenditure and investment ... We don't need any more stimulus packages.

Govt may offload 10% stake in BSNL
New Delhi, July 21
The government said today it was looking at listing BSNL and TCIL at the bourses with an initial 10 per cent divestment, but the timeline for this would be decided in consultation with the Finance Ministry. The government believes the listing, especially of BSNL, would help improve the company's image and promote its growth."Two of our companies BSNL and TCIL are not yet listed. We would like to list them with 10 per cent divestment in each of them initially. 



EARLIER STORIES



A Hitachi employee demonstrates the prototype model of an auto vending machine that uses Hitachi's finger vein authentic system to charge users at the company's advanced technology exhibition in Tokyo on Tuesday. The vending machine reads venous patterns of the user's finger instead of a password to confirm the users identity.
A Hitachi employee demonstrates the prototype model of an auto vending machine that uses Hitachi's finger vein authentic system to charge users at the company's advanced technology exhibition in Tokyo on Tuesday. The vending machine reads venous patterns of the user's finger instead of a password to confirm the users identity. — AFP

Subsidy on urea should go: Industry
New Delhi, July 21
The fertiliser industry has set a deadline for supply of urea, phosphatic and potassium fertiliser under the subsidy-controlled regime. In a recently written letter to the government, the industry has stated that the subsidy on urea should be phased out by March 31, 2010.

Reliance Capital mulls IPO
Mumbai, July 21
ADA Group firm Reliance Capital is planning to unlock shareholder value by either going for an IPO or strategic sale of its life insurance business, chairman of the company Anil Ambani told shareholders at the 23rd AGM here today.

Rel Infra plans cement plants
Aiming to become one of the top five cement companies in the country, Anil Ambani group company Reliance Infrastructure has chalked big plans to set up plants which entail an investment of Rs 10,000 crore.

M&A deal volume tanks 73 pc in H1’09 
New Delhi, July 21
The global credit crunch has taken toll on the country's merger and acquisition activities with the total announced deal volume slumping by 73 per cent to $5.4 billion in the first half of the year.

RIL plans SEZ at Mohali
Chandigarh, July 21
Reliance Industries (RIL) and YellowStone Infra is coming up with an IT SEZ in Mohali. The SEZ will have Satyam Computers as its anchor company.

3G Spectrum
Auction likely to be put off again
New Delhi, July 21
The auction for the third generation (3G) spectrum, which would provide consumers with the option of fast transfer of data and e-mails besides host of other features, may get postponesd till the next year with the government seeking to rake in the most from it.

Efforts on to make telecom companies more accountable
New Delhi, July 21
Efforts are underway to bring about changes in the existing acts which govern the telecom sector in an effort to make the telcos more accountable, not only for the service which they provide to the consumers, but also to ensure payment of pending dues from the companies.

 





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Montek rules out fresh stimulus

New Delhi, July 21
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Ahluwalia today ruled out any more stimulus package for industry as the Budget has given a substantial boost to the slowing economy.

"The Budget includes a very stringent boost, plan expenditure and investment ... We don't need any more stimulus packages," Ahluwalia told reporters here. "We should concentrate on implementing what is there," he said.

The government has cut excise duty by six per cent and service tax by two per cent in three stimulus packages.

Besides, the fourth stimulus package was given in the Budget for 2009-10.

About monsoon, he said, "Monsoon has improved; there was deficient rainfall but deficiency was more earlier — it has reduced now, (and) the monsoon has not ended yet, I think we should wait and see the entire month of July." He said if there is continuous improvement in July, the situation will not be that bad.

About the impact of the delayed monsoon on GDP, he said, "Now it is too early to say about the condition of the monsoon; this is true that so far there is a problem but the impact of this could be ascertained only when we come to know the total deficiency in rainfall; if it is 5-10 per cent deficit then there would not be much impact."

On the rising prices of food articles and other commodities, he said although wholesale price inflation is negative, prices of some commodities have surged. — Agencies

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Govt may offload 10% stake in BSNL

New Delhi, July 21
The government said today it was looking at listing BSNL and TCIL at the bourses with an initial 10 per cent divestment, but the timeline for this would be decided in consultation with the Finance Ministry. The government believes the listing, especially of BSNL, would help improve the company's image and promote its growth.

"Two of our companies BSNL and TCIL are not yet listed. We would like to list them with 10 per cent divestment in each of them initially. But the timeline will be decided in consultation with the Finance Ministry," Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura said here. BSNL sources said there would not be any fresh equity, but only offloading by the government. The company will not get any proceeds from the IPO.

BSNL's net profit has hit a low of Rs 104 crore on revenue of Rs 34,937 crore, both down from a year earlier, hit by higher staff costs and declining income from services.

The government had planned to sell 10 per cent of BSNL and list its shares last year, but had to defer the proposal after opposition from a major workers union and the stock market meltdown.

TCIL's CMD Rakesh Upadhyay said whatever decision the government takes, the PSU will abide by it. No valuation had been done yet, he said, but the listing would be good for the company.

Meanwhile, the BSNL union has decided to observe an "Anti-Disinvestment Day" on July 22 protesting the government's plan to sell its shareholding in the company.

"The plea of the management that IPO is necessary to mop up funds for development and expansion is far from the truth, as the BSNL has more than Rs 37,000 crore stashed in banks. It can be used for expansion instead of selling shares," V A N Namboodiri, convener, Joint Forum of BSNL Associations, said in a statement.

The Joint Forum of BSNL Employees Association/Unions of Executives and Non-executives has said it would be sending telegrams to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Telecom Minister A Raja demanding dropping the IPO and disinvestment proposal. — PTI 

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Subsidy on urea should go: Industry
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
The fertiliser industry has set a deadline for supply of urea, phosphatic and potassium fertiliser under the subsidy-controlled regime. In a recently written letter to the government, the industry has stated that the subsidy on urea should be phased out by March 31, 2010.

The industry has also said that though phosphatic and potassium (P&K) fertilisers have in principle been decontrolled, the industry should be given the freedom to price and control the movement of this fertiliser from October 1, 2009.

The industry has also stated that they would like to have a nutrient-based subsidy regime in keeping with the government’s plan of phasing out product subsidy, as is the case at present.

However, fertiliser subsidy, pricing, and distribution being a politically-sensitive matter, there are hectic inter-ministerial deliberations going on the issue between the various ministries. The government, at present, controls the supply, pricing and movement of urea, however, for P&K.

The industry has stated that the government should fix the subsidy for various nutrients and free the market price of all fertilisers. This, they say, will bring in more competition and efficiency among the producers. The industry has also written that the government should be authorised to control on the quality of the fertiliser that is being produced.

It has also stated that it will support the government to make a payment to the farmers directly, which will help the government kick in the new subsidy regime.

Fertiliser industry has been pressing the government hard for removal of subsidy regime and instead give a nutrient-based subsidy to the farmers. However, the method of payment, identification of the farmers and mode of payment are issues that the government is still deliberating on, though it has in principle agreed to move to a nutrient-based subsidy regime.

The Tribune had earlier written about the recommendations of various ministries to the Prime Minister on how to deliver the nutrient-based subsidy. The Fertiliser Ministry has stated that there are inter-ministerial deliberations carried out on the various methods of giving the subsidy and the report will be presented to the PMO shortly.

At present, the supply, movement and pricing of urea is controlled by the government and industry has no major role in deciding the same.

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Reliance Capital mulls IPO

Mumbai, July 21
ADA Group firm Reliance Capital is planning to unlock shareholder value by either going for an IPO or strategic sale of its life insurance business, chairman of the company Anil Ambani told shareholders at the 23rd AGM here today.

The company had earlier managed to unlock the shareholder value by placing five per cent stake in its asset management business with a global financial investor, Ambani said.

The life insurance business of the company has grown rapidly over the past four years and it has emerged as among the top four private life insurance players in the country, he stated.

"We are considering various options to unlock the value in life insurance business from a potential IPO to strategic or financial stake sale or a combination of both. A final decision in the matter will be taken shortly," the company chairman said.

He, however, said there was no such plan for an IPO for general insurance business.

Referring to its foray into private equity, Ambani said the company has commenced domestic fund raising for its first private equity fund with a foucs on high networth individuals and financial institutions.

Normally, private equity funds are raised in offshore markets but Ambani said the company would first cater to the needs of the under-served domestic investors before going overseas. On the new businesses, he said Reliance Equities International, an institutional broking business launched last year has set up over 50 FII parent accounts and over 500 sub accounts so far.— PTI

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Rel Infra plans cement plants

Aiming to become one of the top five cement companies in the country, Anil Ambani group company Reliance Infrastructure has chalked big plans to set up plants which entail an investment of Rs 10,000 crore.

Explaining the logic behind entering the cement sector, company Chairman Anil Ambani said, "As a natural extension of the power and infrastructure interest of our group, it gives us strategic advantage to enter into cement." Observing that nearly 40 per cent of the cost of making cement comes from coal, fly ash and power, Ambani told shareholders at the 80th annual general meeting that "given all the three ingredients are at the core of our existing portfolio, there are obvious synergies that are waiting to be exploited".

The company will invest Rs 10,000 crore in setting up cement plants with a total capacity of 20 million tonnes per annum over the next five years which will make the firm one the top five cement players in the country, Ambani said.

Last week, another group company Reliance Cementation had signed an MoU with the Maharashtra government for setting up a 5 million tonnes integrated cement plant in Yavatmal with a grinding unit at Batibori in Nagpur district at an investment of Rs 2,250 crore. Ambani said the cement industry grew by 8 per cent in 2008-09 despite a slowdown and is expected to maintain the same growth pattern in the next 10-15 years. — PTI 

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M&A deal volume tanks 73 pc in H1’09 

New Delhi, July 21
The global credit crunch has taken toll on the country's merger and acquisition activities with the total announced deal volume slumping by 73 per cent to $5.4 billion in the first half of the year.

During the first half of 2009, there were just 55 M&A deals with an announced valuation of $5.4 billion, against 124 deals worth $20 billion in first half (H1) of 2008, according to the data compiled by deal tracking firm Venture Intelligence.

"There were no risk appetite among investors as liquidity crunch is causing financing problems as we saw in the Tata- Jaguar Land Rover deal," Venture Intelligence Founder Arun Natarajan said.

Besides, the total number of deals in the first six months of 2009 nearly halved to 136 from 296 transactions in the year-ago period.

The average deal value has also fallen from $162 million in the first half of 2008, to $98 million in 2009.

"The number of outbound deals have come down as demand for overseas expansion has fallen. There has been no deal so far in 2009 which involved a large financing, thereby lessing the average deal volume," Natarajan said. — PTI 

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RIL plans SEZ at Mohali
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Reliance Industries (RIL) and YellowStone Infra is coming up with an IT SEZ in Mohali. The SEZ will have Satyam Computers as its anchor company.

An official press release said they were in the process of land acquisition for the company, and the project will be launched by October this year. “The SEZ will be spread across 125 acres. We have already got the change in land use (CLU) and have acquired more than 50 per cent of the land needed for the SEZ,” it said.The release further said that they were in talks with other IT majors like US-based ETech and CM Software, Amadeus Software and Moksha BPO for setting base in the SEZ. The total investment in the SEZ will be around Rs 940 crore. The promoters are also in talks with a leading hospitality chain to set up a five-star hotel in the SEZ. 

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3G Spectrum
Auction likely to be put off again
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
The auction for the third generation (3G) spectrum, which would provide consumers with the option of fast transfer of data and e-mails besides host of other features, may get postponesd till the next year with the government seeking to rake in the most from it.

With differences prevailing over the pricing of the 3G spectrum between the Telecom Ministry and the Finance Ministry besides the prevailing recession in the market, there is apparently a re-think within the government to put off the auction till the beginning of next year.

Reports emerging from the official sources said there was a feeling that the government may not get the revenue it is looking at if it bids out spectrum in the midst of a global recession.

The government has projected a revenue of Rs 35,000 crore in the Budget 2009-10 from the auction of spectrum and had last month decided to keep the reserve price at Rs 4,040 crore for radio waves for pan-India operations.

This is not the first time that the auction of the 3G spectrum would be put off. Earlier, late last year, the auction was put off thrice due to lack of interest being shown by the private telecom players, specially those from abroad.

Sources now said the auction could well be put off till next year. This as the newly setup GoM, again to work out the costing, under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was still to meet. With no solution in sight, sources said auction of spectrum may happen only in January-February next year.

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Efforts on to make telecom companies more accountable
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
Efforts are underway to bring about changes in the existing acts which govern the telecom sector in an effort to make the telcos more accountable, not only for the service which they provide to the consumers, but also to ensure payment of pending dues from the companies.

Reports suggest that telecom regulator, TRAI has written to the Department of Telecom (DoT) to amend the TRAI Act so that it has powers to make the companies accountable for the service being provided to the customers. It would include imposing of penalty on telecom operators for unsatisfactory service to the subscribers.

The DoT is also looking to change existing regulations which shield telcos from paying pending dues to the government in cases where the payments are disputed.

Telcos owe crores to the department as a result of pending payments which they have disputed citing frivolous issues.

According to reports, a proposal is under consideration to give more powers to TRAI, including imposing penalty on operators for not providing quality service.

This is apparently been done as it is being felt that with the increase in the number of operators the quality of service has been on the decline, especially in the mobile sector. The complaints are mainly in regard to the quality of service, billing and metering, refund of security deposit, tariffs and unsolicited commercial calls.

While the complaints are forwarded to the operators but there is no provision for imposing a penalty on an operator for not addressing any of these problems.

At present, only the DoT has penalty powers and TRAI has powers to set tariffs. However, TRAI is considering setting up of a grievance monitoring system to protect the interests of consumers.

DoT is also looking at bringing changes in the its act to ensure payment of dues from the operators who are increasingly holding back payments using the telecom tribunal TDSAT as a platform for frivolous litigation.

Reports suggest that up to Rs 500 crore has been held up on account of telcos challenging numerous government decisions to impose financial penalties on service providers.

The DoT is now looking at bringing in a change whereby the telcos would have to pay 50 per cent of the disputed amount upfront before challenging the financial penalties imposed on them in the telecoms tribunal.

Amendments are being made in the existing regulations to invoke the bank guarantees of telcos, which would ensure the payment of at least 50 per cent of the disputed amount to the government.

The move would also ensure that the telcos do not try to exploit any loopholes and approach the TDSAT with litigations over minor matters, an official said. 

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BRIEFLY
Pedestrians walk in front of signs in a shopping district in Hong Kong on Tuesday. The Census and Statistics Department released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for June 2009. According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices fell by 0.9% in June 2009 compared with the same month a year earlier.
Pedestrians walk in front of signs in a shopping district in Hong Kong on Tuesday. The Census and Statistics Department released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for June 2009. According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices fell by 0.9% in June 2009 compared with the same month a year earlier. — AFP

Tata Steel to raise $500 m
Mumbai:
Tata Steel on Tuesday said it will raise $500 million (about Rs 2,418 crore) through issue of securities in the global markets. The company would be issuing 6,54,10,589 GDRs at a price $7.64 a piece, aggregating to $500 million, Tata Steel said in a filing to the BSE. — TNS

GM offers buy back scheme
New Delhi
:
Car maker General Motors India has offered a new scheme under which customers can exchange their Opel cars for Chevrolet brands. Under the buy back scheme all existing Opel owners can get a new Chevrolet model for their Astra or Corsa cars, General Motors (GM) India said in a statement. In addition, customers will also be offered free accessories worth Rs 10,000 by the dealer under the Opel exchange programme. — PTI

Merck Q2 net down 34 pc
New Delhi:
Drug firm Merck Ltd on Monday reported a net profit of Rs 11.88 crore for quarter ended on June 30, 2009, a decrease of 34 per cent over the same period last year. During the quarter under consideration, the total income of the company stood at Rs 135.39 crore registering an increase of 28 per cent compared to Rs 105.06 crore in the corresponding quarter last year. — PTI

IDFC Q1 profit up 26 pc
Mumbai:
Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) has reported a 25.72 per cent rise in consolidated net profit at Rs 272.44 for the first quarter ended June 30, 2009. Total income rose 14.26 per cent to Rs 994.61 crore for the June quarter, from Rs 870.51 crore in the corresponding period a year-ago. — PTI

Sterlite Tech net up 5-fold
Mumbai: Sterlite Technologies on Monday reported a robust five-fold increase in its net profit for the quarter ended June 30 to Rs 45.48 crore, over the corresponding period a year ago. Net income of the telecom connectivity products and solutions provider also rose to Rs 436.18 crore during the three-month period ended June 30, 2009 from Rs 404.18 crore of last year. — PTI

Stake sale in MCX-SX
Mumbai:
Financial Technologies India (FTIL) has sold its five per cent stake in Multi Commodity Stock Exchange (MCX-SX) to non-banking finance company IFCI through open market transactions for around Rs 250 crore. Financial Tech, a promoter firm of MCX-SX, sold its five per cent stake in MCX-SX to IFCI at Rs 35 a piece, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). — PTI

Financial literacy camp
Chandigarh:
A financial literacy and coin distribution camp was organised by the RBI here on Tuesday. The regional director, RBI, Dr J Sadakkadulla, presided over the camp and informed public about features of genuine notes, banking ombudsman scheme and no-frills accounts. He informed that such camps would also be held in Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda, Ferozepur and Hoshiarpur. — TNS

Samsung LCD monitors
Chandigarh: Samsung India has launched LCD monitors in the Lavender series. They are available in 21.5” and 23” screen sizes, priced at Rs 12,500 and Rs 13,500, respectively. — TNS

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