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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Ambani Gas Row
SC rejects RNRL’s speedy trial plea
New Delhi, July 30
The Supreme Court today expressed its inability to commence final hearing of the gas dispute between the Ambani brothers from September one, but said it would try to give an early date.

Anil seeks probe into RIL’s ‘huge scandal’ 
New Delhi, July 30
Questioning clearance by junior Oil Ministry officials to the near four-fold hike in costs to Rs 45,000 crore for gas fields by Mukesh Ambani-led RIL, Anil Ambani today demanded a probe into the "huge scandal." "I am deeply concerned that RIL's capital expenditure of nearly Rs 45,000 crore on KG-D6 fields as confirmed in Parliament by the Petroleum Minister and which is nearly 33 per cent of India's total defence budget was cleared by a management committee..." he told PTI in an e-mailed interview.

Lakshmi Mittal committed to India projects
New Delhi, July 30
ArcelorMittal chief L N Mittal has said he will not give up his Rs 1 lakh-crore India projects though he is disappointed at the delays the company is facing in securing regulatory approvals.



EARLIER STORIES



Overcoming setbacks, she realised her father’s dream
Punjab Governor Gen SF Rodrigues (retd) confers Trident Young Innovative Entrepreneur Award to Sandeep Minnie Riat in Ludhiana on Thursday. Ludhiana, July 30
The untimely death of her father came as a great shock to Sandeep "Minnie" Riat, who was only 20 years old then and had just graduated from the Amity School of Business. However, it proved to be the defining moment of her life. She found herself suddenly placed in charge of her dad’s business that was going through a rough patch. 


Punjab Governor Gen SF Rodrigues (retd) confers Trident Young Innovative Entrepreneur Award to Sandeep Minnie Riat in Ludhiana on Thursday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Infosys gets CISF cover
New Delhi, July 30
With some top IT firms coming under terror radar, Software giant Infosys in Bangalore will tomorrow become the first private establishment to get the cover of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which usually guards only government installations.

Inflation falls to -1.54%
New Delhi, July 30
After showing a small rise for two weeks, inflation slipped again at (-)1.54 per cent for the week ended July 18, but there was no respite from soaring prices of essential items like cereals, pulses, and fruit and vegetables.

Sumitomo to buy Citi’s Japanese arm
Tokyo/New Delhi, July 30
Sumitomo Trust and Banking Co will acquire Nikko Asset Management, the Japanese asset management arm of Citigroup, for about 112.4 billion yen.

FTA with Gulf Cooperation Council likely
Chandigarh, July 30
India’s total trade with the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Oman, Iran and Kuwait) will grow phenomenally to $150 billion by 2012, provided the Free trade Agreement (FTA) is signed between the two countries.

Corporate Results
SBI Q1 profit up 42 pc 
Mumbai, July 30
Backed by healthy growth in treasury, wholesale and retail banking operations, India's largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI), clocked a 42 per cent jump in its net profit for the quarter ended June 30.

 





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Ambani Gas Row
SC rejects RNRL’s speedy trial plea

New Delhi, July 30
The Supreme Court today expressed its inability to commence final hearing of the gas dispute between the Ambani brothers from September one, but said it would try to give an early date.

On a prayer of RNRL that the apex court should start the final hearing on the issue from September 1, a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said it will decide on the date of final hearing on September 1, the day when all petitions related to the dispute are scheduled to come up for consideration.

RNRL wants gas from RIL at $2.34 per mmBtu, while RIL contends it cannot fix price without government's consent - a point separately amplified by the Oil Ministry in its petition before Supreme Court.

The apex court said it will try to give an early date but the first week of September is not possible.

When the RNRL prayer came up for mentioning, the company's counsel Mukul Rohtagi requested that the final hearing be taken up on September 1, as the entire Bombay High Court record was before the apex court and there was nothing was left to be filed.

Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran said the government too wanted early resolution of the dispute. RIL counsel Harish Salve said he had no problem on early final hearing, but wondered "what public interest would this serve."

When the court enquired whether the petitioner wanted interim arrangement on September 1 or the final order, Rohtagi said that RNRL was not looking for interim arrangement.

At this point Salve requested the court that there should be complete silence from all parties and that people are going to the media. In response, Rohatagi said, "It's raised everywhere." Seeking an early resolution to the gas supply dispute involving Mukesh Ambani led RIL and Oil Ministry, Anil Ambani yesterday said that his group firm RNRL would approach the Supreme Court for final hearing on September 1.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on September 1 cross-appeals by both Ambani group firms, as also a petition by the Petroleum Ministry against a Bombay High Court order that asked RIL to supply gas to RNRL at $2.34 per mmBtu against the officially prescribed $4.2 per mmBtu. — PTI 

 

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Anil seeks probe into RIL’s ‘huge scandal’ 

New Delhi, July 30
Questioning clearance by junior Oil Ministry officials to the near four-fold hike in costs to Rs 45,000 crore for gas fields by Mukesh Ambani-led RIL, Anil Ambani today demanded a probe into the "huge scandal." "I am deeply concerned that RIL's capital expenditure of nearly Rs 45,000 crore on KG-D6 fields as confirmed in Parliament by the Petroleum Minister and which is nearly 33 per cent of India's total defence budget was cleared by a management committee..." he told PTI in an e-mailed interview.

"The committee comprised of one junior level official each from the Petroleum Ministry and Director General of Hydrocarbon and two representatives of the contractor (RIL)...talk about conflict of interest," he said, adding that any expenditure above Rs 150 crore by any arm of government goes to the CCEA for approval.

Given the incredibly high stakes involved, the Comptroller and Auditor General and Central Vigilance Commission should examine relevant facts and find out if capex was overstated, Anil said, pointing that budgeted expenditure of RIL for peak production of 40 mmscmd was only Rs 12,000 crore in 2004.

Anil alleged that Petroleum Ministry, particularly after the changes in 2006 (when Murli Deora took over as minister), was colluding with RIL in its quest to make "super-normal profits of Rs 50,000 crore" at the cost of power and fertiliser sectors.

Anil hoped that public accountability bodies like CAG and CVC will examine the facts as he feared that ultimately the users of gas would end up paying for RIL's capital expenditure Appropriate action should be taken "if indeed they (CAG/CVC) find that the capex has been over-stated, and as a result huge losses caused to the public exchequer and all end-users of the gas produced from KG-D6," he said.

He said the surge in capex has even surprised independent observers and the government could have lost over Rs 30,000 crore by this "gold-plating of costs". — PTI

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Overcoming setbacks, she realised her father’s dream
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 30
The untimely death of her father came as a great shock to Sandeep "Minnie" Riat, who was only 20 years old then and had just graduated from the Amity School of Business. However, it proved to be the defining moment of her life. She found herself suddenly placed in charge of her dad’s business that was going through a rough patch. At a time when girls of her age remained busy in their studies and did not bother much how their families supported them, she took up the responsibility of steering the family business.

Coping with the grief of losing her beloved father, Manjit Singh, and at the same time handling a floundering business was no mean task, but Minnie took the challenge her stride though it took some time. Eventually she pulled through and did so well in turning the business around that today she was the proud recipient of the Trident Young Innovative Entrepreneur Award for 2008, given away by Punjab governor SF Rodrigues at a function organised here by the Ludhiana Management Association.

Talking to The Tribune, Minnie, now 27, said when her father died even well-wishers of her family had suggested the business be sold off as she and her two sisters would find it impossible to manage it on their own. At the time her only brother was too young to take on any responsibility. “During those stressful days my father appeared in a dream and told me to carry on with his business. I shared the dream with my mother who supported me wholeheartedly. I took up the challenge and after that there was no looking back", she said.

Making the task more daunting, the house was sold off and the family’s meager resources dried up. The family was running debts and Minnie sought some more time from the creditors to pay them off. "When I was desperate in finding a job I often had to put up with taunts. Though there were well wishers who helped me out there were also those who discouraged me, saying a girl of my age shouldn’t work. Perhaps it is because of that criticism that I was able to revive my family business and have achieved my goal today. My father also received an award from the Ludhiana Management Association ten years ago", she added.

Minnie’s firm- Akal Springs - currently supplies its products to big names like Mahindra & Mahindra and also exports them to many countries including the United States, Netherlands, Nigeria, Sudan and Lebanon. "I’ve sought an appointment with Ratan Tata and am hopeful of getting orders from auto majors like Tata Motors and Swaraj Mazda", she said.

 

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Lakshmi Mittal committed to India projects

New Delhi, July 30
ArcelorMittal chief L N Mittal has said he will not give up his Rs 1 lakh-crore India projects though he is disappointed at the delays the company is facing in securing regulatory approvals.

"We are not going to give up," Mittal said in an exclusive interview with PTI, expressing disappointment at the "progress made so far." ArcelorMittal wants to cash in on the demand for steel in India but said it is constrained by the delays in getting mining and environmental clearances for the projects.

"We are losing the opportunity of participating in India's growth. We are committed to the country. We have been working on this project for several years. We have a team already in India which is all the time working on it," he said over phone.

Asked if the company is considering acquisitions, Mittal said, "takeover is not the idea for India." The world's largest steel producer is working on modalities to set up two 12-million tonnes per annum steel mills, one each in Jharkhand and Orissa.

"I think we are in constant dialogue with all the government authorities and bureaucrats. Whenever I have a chance I appraise them of the progress that we are making," Mittal said. — PTI

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Infosys gets CISF cover

New Delhi, July 30
With some top IT firms coming under terror radar, Software giant Infosys in Bangalore will tomorrow become the first private establishment to get the cover of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which usually guards only government installations.

The induction of over 100 personnel at the Infosys facility in Bangalore's Electronic City will take place in the presence of Infosys chief mentor NR Narayana Murthy fulfilling the request of the IT major for a specialised force after the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26 last.

At least 79 corporate houses, including Reliance, Tata, Oberois have approached the Centre seeking CISF security cover for their installations.

"A contingent of 101 men, headed by an Assistant Commandant will take over security duties at the Infosys facility at Bangalore tomorrow," a CISF officer said.

The company will incur an annual expenditure of around Rs 2.5 crore for the anti-terrorist and anti-sabotage based security cover provided by the Central force.

The security cover is the first assignment for the CISF after the force was mandated to protect the private sector with an amendment in the CISF Act in January this year, in the aftermath of 26/11.

The CISF security will ensure "armed" protection for the company with the help of Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) and commando units besides the existing security and access control measures deployed by Infosys, the officer said.

The personnel have been trained on similar lines as done for the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space installations, the officer said. — PTI

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Inflation falls to -1.54%

New Delhi, July 30
After showing a small rise for two weeks, inflation slipped again at (-)1.54 per cent for the week ended July 18, but there was no respite from soaring prices of essential items like cereals, pulses, and fruit and vegetables.

The wholesale price index, for the seventh week in a row, remained below zero. It was (-)1.17 per cent a week before.

However, prices of food items like mutton rose 14 per cent, arhar 9 per cent, gram 4 per cent, and fruit and vegetables 2 per cent during the week

At the same time, prices of imported edible oil increased 4 per cent, and coconut oil, sugar, butter, ghee and gur were expensive by one per cent each.— PTI

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Sumitomo to buy Citi’s Japanese arm

Tokyo/New Delhi, July 30
Sumitomo Trust and Banking Co will acquire Nikko Asset Management, the Japanese asset management arm of Citigroup, for about 112.4 billion yen.

The acquisition is expected to be complete by October 1, Sumitomo Trust said in a statement today.

"The Sumitomo Trust and Banking Co has reached an agreement today with Nikko Citi Holdings Inc and another shareholder to acquire the shares (up to 98.55 per cent of all outstanding shares) of Nikko Asset Management Co, subject to regulatory approvals and permits," the statement said Estimated to be worth 112.4 billion yen, the deal would create one of the largest asset management groups in Japan.

Sumitomo Trust has assets under management worth 25.7 trillion yen while NikkoAM has 8.8 trillion yen. — PTI

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FTA with Gulf Cooperation Council likely
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Extradition treaty

India and Saudi Arabia will also discuss signing of an extradition treaty during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Saudi Arabia. A large number of Indian immigrants, who entered the country illegally, are lodged in prisons there and serving time. They can be sent back to India once the treaty has been signed, said the Ambassador, Faisal Hassan Trad. 

Chandigarh, July 30
India’s total trade with the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Oman, Iran and Kuwait) will grow phenomenally to $150 billion by 2012, provided the Free trade Agreement (FTA) is signed between the two countries.

This was stated by the Ambassador, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Faisal Hassan Trad, while talking to TNS on the sidelines of an Indo-Arab and Indo-Gulf conference organised by industry body Assocham here today.

“Already India accounts for 70 per cent of the total trade with the GCC. With a sizeable increase in trade between the two sides and a potential for further increase in trade relations calls for an early signing of an FTA,” he said.

Negotiations for an FTA between the GCC and India are at an advanced stage. After two rounds of talks, a third round of talks at the ministerial level is likely to begin next month. The issue of signing of FTA will also be discussed during the Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, scheduled for later this year.

Interestingly, GCC already has an FTA with Singapore, which they signed in a years’ time and with other countries in Asia like China and Malaysia. “India's trade with GCC countries has expanded beyond oil trade. India's trade basket with GCC is highly concentrated and its top five exports categories, including jewellery, mineral fuels, copper articles, cereals and steel article, account for over 50 per cent and top five import items represent over 17 per cent of total import basket from the bloc,” he said.

It is for furthering the trade ties that a major portion of the market access initiative of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is now being used to promote trade between the two countries. Sangeeta Godbole, director, foreign trade, West Asia and North Africa (WANA) informed TNS that exports to WANA countries have grown by 17 per cent this year as compared to a growth of just six per cent in total exports for last fiscal. “Even the imports from these countries have grown by 23 per cent, as compared to a national growth in imports of 21 per cent. One fourth of our total trade (worth $ 810 billion) is done with these countries, so there is a special focus on promoting trade with them. We are hopeful that the third round of talks will be quite successful and pave the way for an early signing of FTA,” she said. 

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Corporate Results
SBI Q1 profit up 42 pc 

Mumbai, July 30
Backed by healthy growth in treasury, wholesale and retail banking operations, India's largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI), clocked a 42 per cent jump in its net profit for the quarter ended June 30.

Net profit grew to Rs 2,330 crore in Q1 FY'10, up 42.03 per cent from Rs 1,641 crore in the same quarter last year.

Total income of the bank, during the quarter, rose by 29.8 per cent to Rs 21,041.51 crore from Rs 16,203.07 crore in the same period last year.

M&M nets Rs 400 cr profit

Automobile major Mahindra & Mahindra today reported a net profit of Rs 400.85 crore in the first quarter ended June 30 against Rs 159.30 crore in the same quarter last year.

However, June quarter figures are not comparable with the results of the corresponding period a year earlier due to merger of its two subsidiaries — Mahindra Holdings & Finance Ltd and Punjab Tractors Ltd — with the company, M&M said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

Total income of the company stood at Rs 4,266.16 crore in the latest quarter of this fiscal, whereas the same was at Rs 3,331.80 crore in the corresponding period last year.

IOC net jumps 9-fold

State-run Indian Oil Corporation today reported a nine-fold jump in its net profit on falling crude oil prices and inventory gain.

IOC posted a net profit of Rs 3,682.83 crore in the April-June quarter, as opposed to Rs 415.13 crore a year ago.

"Lowering of crude oil prices has had a positive impact on our earnings," company Chairman Sarthak Behuria said told reporters here.

Reliance Infra net up 25 pc

Anil Ambani group firm Reliance Infrastructure today reported a net profit of Rs 316.57 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2009, up 25.35 per cent over the corresponding period last fiscal.

Total income rose to Rs 2,690.51 crore during the April-June quarter from Rs 2,400.55 crore in the same period last fiscal, Reliance Infra said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

Reliance Infrastructure's net worth, on a standalone basis, stood at Rs 12,172 crore, the filing added.

UBI profit rises 65 pc

United Bank of India (UBI) net profit in the first quarter of 2009-10 increased 65 per cent touching Rs 70.28 crore as compared to the corresponding period last fiscal. UBI CMD S C Gupta said the growth in net profit was due to 158 per cent rise in non-interest income.

Operating profit of the bank increased to Rs 162 crore in the current first quarter against Rs 96 crore in the same period last fiscal. Total business of the bank reached Rs 99,372 crore with deposits touching Rs 59,783 crore and advances at Rs 39,589 crore.

SAIL net falls 28 pc

Hit by lower sales and higher input cost, the country's largest steel maker, SAIL, today posted a 27.74 per cent decline in its net profit at Rs 1,326.09 crore for the first quarter of the current fiscal.

"Lower sales realisation and higher input cost led to the fall in our profit in the first quarter of the current fiscal," SAIL chairman S K Roongta told reporters here. — PTI

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