New Delhi: The Union government has formed a dedicated committee to tackle hijacking of aircraft specifically for the city’s Indira Gandhi International airport.The government decided to have a specific aerodrome committee meant for India’s second busiest airport, undergoing modernization with several thousand labourers working through the day, after the Mumbai attack, a senior government official, who declined to be named, said. Officials of security agencies including Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, home ministry and civil aviation ministry will preside over as members of the new committee and review airport operations on Wednesday.
— Staff Writer
India’s basmati costlier; Pakistan benefits
New Delhi: European traders have bought 80,000 tonnes of basmati rice from Pakistan in the last 10-15 days, sidestepping India’s new season crop because of higher prices, Gurnam Arora, joint managing director of Kohinoor Foods Ltdand former president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association, said on Tuesday. He said exporters lost out because of an export duty of $200 (Rs10,100) a tonne imposed in April, because of which Indian basmati rice was quoting between $1,400 and $1,500 per tonne, about $400-500 above Pakistani prices.
Dabur to integrate Fem Care by March
Mumbai: Dabur India Ltdsaid Fem Care Pharma Ltdwill become a subsidiary of the company around March, chief executive Sunil Duggaltold television channel NDTV Profit, “once the modalities of the open offer are through”. Separately, the company confirmed that its health and beauty stores chief executive Peter Bakerhad left the company about a week ago to join Kishore Biyani’s Future Group.Dabur is holding back its retail expansion plans to capitalize on sliding retail rentals.
— Reuters & PTI
Unilever to slash 250 R&D jobs globally
London: Unilever Plc.has announced slashing of 250 research jobs across the world as a part of its restructuring plan to consolidate its research and development activities. “As a result of the intended changes, Unilever expects that approximately 390 full-time positions will be impacted, resulting in a net reduction of 250 full-time positions,” according to a company statement. The company has selected six strategic sites as the global expertise base, from which it would deliver an integrated research programme.The locations include Bangalore, Shanghai (China), Port Sunlight & Colworth (UK), Trumbull (US) and Vlaardingen (The Netherlands).
Govt may borrow more, decision expected soon
New Delhi: The Union government is likely to borrow more than budgeted for the fiscal year to the end of March and a decision is expected soon, a senior finance ministry official said on Tuesday.“There is scope for borrowing in the budget. It is obvious there will be extra borrowing,” the official, who did not want to be identified, told ‘Reuters’, saying a decision was expected soon.The government has won parliamentary approval for an extra $21.7 billion (Rs1.09 trillion) in spending for the current fiscal year to March, including funds for a farm debt waiver scheme, food and fertilizer subsidies. Reuters Thailand protests delay India-Asean meet New Delhi: The India-Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit scheduled for 17 December has been postponed, as Thailand, facing political turmoil, on Tuesday said it cannot host the meeting of the 10-nation trading bloc that was to sign a free trade pact with New Delhi. “Our ambassador (in Bangkok) informed us this morning about the postponement of the summit,” a commerce ministry official said. The India-Asean meeting was fixed for the last day of the 12-17 December summit.
Direct tax receipts up 21.9% in Apr-Nov
New Delhi: India’s direct tax receipts during the April to November period rose 21.9% to Rs1.80 trillion, a senior official said on Tuesday, citing provisional data. The official, who did not want to be identified, said the figures may be revised when more data from across the country is received. Reuters ELECTIONSEC gives clean chit to Deora on fuel prices New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday gave petroleum minister Murli Deoraa clean chit saying he did not violate the model code of conduct when referring to taking a decision on the fuel prices after assembly polls in six states. EC sources said that the commission looked at the video clippings and found no substance in the complaint made against Deora.
OVL may sign pact with Iraq for oil block
New Delhi: ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas investment arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd, is likely to sign an agreement in the next couple of months for an oil block in Iraq that was awarded to it by the erstwhile Saddam Husseinregime.OVL, which will hold 100% interest in the block, had commenced seismic survey in November 2000, before the US-led war on Iraq started. The block has a reserve of about 645 million barrels, of which 54 million barrels was recoverable.
ONGC appoints four independent directors
New Delhi: Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltdon Tuesday said four more independent directors have been appointed on its board in compliance with Securities and Exchange Board of India listing requirements.Those appointed are Chanda Kochharof ICICI Bank Ltd, S. Balachandranof Indian Railway Finance Corp. Ltd, S.S. Rajsekarand Santosh Nautiyal, a company press statement said here. PTI HEALTH CAREIndia to receive more US funds for HIV/AIDS Kohima: Under a programme initiated by the US president, India will receive an additional amount of $30 million (Rs151.5 crore) in 2009 to support an integrated HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programme, Deputy director of the US consulate in Kolkata Moulik D. Berkana said here.
‘Judiciary has no power to legalize gay sex’
New Delhi: The Union government has questioned the judiciary’s power to legalize gay sex in India and said that it should refrain from doing so as it might amount to encroaching upon legislative functions.“The court is not the authority to decide what should be the law or what should not be the law. These are the functions of the Parliament and the will of the Parliament is represented by its members. They know the will of their people, the difficulties of their people,” additional solicitor general P.P. Malhotra said. The Union government’s response came on a public interest litigation filed by gay rights activists seeking court’s direction for legalizing gay sex among consenting adults in private.
Tata Motors drops after sales decline, rating cut
Singapore/Mumbai/Shanghai:Tata Motors Ltd, the maker of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, fell 3.28% in Mumbai trading on Tuesday after sales declined in India and Credit Suisse downgraded the stock. Shares of Tata Motors ended the day at Rs128.40 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The Mumbai-based company’s vehicle sales plunged 30% in November, the most in at least four years.
On Monday, the auto maker turned to the public to raise loans for the first time in 13 years as the credit crunch limits its ability to refinance $3 billion (Rs15,150 crore) of bridge loans taken to buy Jaguar and Land Rover. Tata Motors is offering as much as 11% annual interest on three-year deposits to raise money from the public, spokesman Debasis Ray said. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse has downgraded the company to “neutral” from “outperform.”
Vedanta may buy back 10% shares for $250 mn
London:Vedanta Resources Plc., a mining company controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, will buy back as much as 10% of its shares for up to $250 million (Rs1,262.5 crore).
The London-based company has $5 billion in cash, it said in a statement distributed by the Regulatory News Service. Volcan Investments Ltd, the company through which Agarwal holds his controlling stake in Vedanta, won’t take part in the buy-back, it said.
10-year bond yield drops to three-year low
Mumbai: The yield on the 10-year benchmark bond dipped to its three-year low on Tuesday as bond dealers started punting on an impending rate cut by the central bank. The yield on the 10-year bond closed at 7% after dipping to 6.97% intra-day, a level last seen in July 2005.
Meanwhile, banks parked Rs52,980 crore with the Indian central bank on Tuesday and borrowed no money, indicating liquidity situation has improved in the system.
— Anup Roy
Kalaignar TV launches Tamil news channel
Chennai: Kalaignar TV Pvt. Ltd, backed by Tamil Nadu chief minister and the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi and his family members, has launched a 24-hour news channel called “Seithigal’, which means ‘News’ in Tamil.
The Chennai-based company has two other channels—‘Kalaignar TV’, a news and entertainment channel, and ‘Isai Aruvi’, a music channel.’
— Vidhya. S
NPPA revises prices of 331 drug formulations
New Delhi: The drugs price regulator, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, has revised and fixed the ceiling prices of 331 drug formulations based on 52 bulk drugs including insulin, the drug for diabetes. The revised prices were announced on November 27.
The revisions cover multivitamins from companies such as GSK, Wyeth and Cipla, bronchospasm reliever salbutamol tablets from Cipla, GSK, Sun and Zydus Cadila as well as human and monocomponent insulin products of companies including Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, Biocon and Shreya Life Sciences.
There was no information about the directive on these changes due to a technical error on the NPPA website. Mint could only independently ascertain the details in one instance. The price of Shreya Life Science’s Recosulin, which was cut by 9.9% in October, has now been increased by 9.3%.
“The prices have been revised due to three reasons: bulk drugs prices were revised, some companies had applied for price revision, and many companies were selling products without price approval ,” a NPPA official, who did not want to be named, said.
— Radhieka Pandeya
Gold imports decline as price rise deters buyers
Mumbai: Gold imports by India, the world’s biggest consumer, fell in November after the biggest monthly price gain in nine years, and terror attacks on the country’s financial capital last week deterred jewellery buyers.
Purchases dropped 26% to about 40 tonnes from 54 tonnes a year earlier, according to provisional estimates from the Bombay Bullion Association Ltd, a grouping of 230 traders.
Gold prices fell sharply by Rs410 per 10grams to close at Rs12,600 on the bullion market in Mumbai on Tuesday.
— Bloomberg & PTI
ZTE not keen on making CDMA equipment locally
Bangalore: Chinese telecom firm ZTE Corp. is rethinking plans to build locally code division multiple access or CDMA telephony equipment with public sector ITI Ltd, after it found the venture to be unviable against cheaper imports.
“As of now, it is substantially cheaper to import,” said D.K. Ghosh, chairman and managing director of ZTE Telecom India Pvt. Ltd, the India operations of ZTE.
An ITI spokesman said he could not comment on this now.
The India operations earned $1 billion (Rs5,050 crore) or 10% of ZTE’s global revenues for the year to September. ZTE and ITI jointly supply telecom equipment for vendors such as BSNL Ltd to the tune of Rs500 crore a year, he said. In 2003, the two firms had decided to manufacture CDMA equipment locally.
— Krishnan Raghu
DoT directs firms to sever ties
New Delhi: The department of telecommunication (DoT), has directed two mobile phone service firms Dishnet Wireless Ltd, which runs the Aircel brand of service, and Bharti Hexacom Ltd to sever ties with around 30 franchisees, whose actions flouted security norms for telecom firms.
“The law enforcement agencies found some irregularities in the workings of the agencies. While they have not told us what the irregularities have been found leading the authorities to believe that the operations of those distributors are not sound. The distributors have essentially erred on the security front,” said a Aircel executive, who asked not to be named.
In a letter to Aircel, reviewed by Mint, DoT sought the termination of operations with 11 franchisees in Jammu and Kashmir, four in Assam and one in Nagaland. The DoT has sought agreement termination with seven agencies in Tripura, one in Meghalaya and six in Manipur for Bharti Hexacom, a Bharti Airtel Ltd unit with networks in Rajasthan and the North East. The reasons for the termination were not given.
The companies have been asked to comply within a fortnight of receiving the letters dated 18 November.
— Shauvik Ghosh
Hyundai India’s sales plunge 23.3%
Domestic sales at Hyundai Motor India Ltd., (HMI) the country’s second largest carmaker plunged 23.3% to 14,605 cars in November as compared to 19,052 cars in the same month last year, the company said in a release. In contrast, export growth was brisk. HMI exported 28,500 cars in November, a gain of 188%. General Motors India also reported a 19.6% decline in sales to 4,307 units in November.
Auto shares extended their decline with the 14 firm auto index on the Bombay Stock Exchange down 3.04% to 2154.75. Tata Motors shed 3.05% to close at Rs 128.60. Maruti was down 5.8% to Rs460. Bajaj Auto closed at Rs301.90, a decline of 1.9%
— Staff Writer
Birla Sun Life Insurance President & CEO to move on
Mumbai: Vikram Mehmi, President & CEO, Birla Sun Life Insurance (BSLI) has decided to move on and explore other opportunities.
Mehmi took charge as President and CEO of Birla Sun Life Insurance Company in December 2006. During his tenure BSLI has gained strong momentum. Today, the company is one of India’s leading life insurance companies and in the current financial year has the distinction of achieving the 3rd fastest growth rate amongst the top 10 private players, year to date.
Prior to taking over as President and CEO of Birla Sun Life Insurance Company, Mehmi was with the Aditya Birla Group since December 1999, when he joined Birla AT&T as CFO. Subsequently he moved over to Idea Cellular in November 2003, as its CEO.
Commenting on his decision, Mehmi said: “The last two years at BSLI have been very exciting and fulfilling as we gained momentum and built a strong foundation for future growth. I wish the business and team all success as I move back to Pune, for personal reasons.”
Until Mehmi’s successor is in place, Ajay Srinivasan, will take charge of the company’s operations. Srinivasan said: “Vikram has steered BSLI towards leadership during a critical phase of the company’s growth. Today, I believe that BSLI has in place all the required ingredients for continued success viz. the products, distribution, brand and people. We wish him all success in his future endeavors.”
Mehmi will be with the company till the end of December 2008.
— Staff Writer