Mumbai: Chennai-based Paramount Airways [P] Ltd, a full-service airline that operates with smaller Brazilian Embraer planes, is starting its flights from Ahmedabad from 24 September, connecting various south Indian destinations. This marks the carrier’s entry into western India. Paramount, which has restricted its operations to south India till now, is also planning to start flights from Goa on 29 September.
“We will connect Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Coimbatore, Kochi and Madurai from Ahmedabad,” said M. Thiagarajan, managing director of Paramount Airways. “We are talking to Mumbai International Airport Ltd for a slot to start operations from Mumbai to link south India. We expect to start operations shortly.”
— Staff Writer
Under pressure: Gatwick airport up for sale
London/Madrid: The owner of London’s three major airports, BAA Ltd, plans to sell Gatwick after antitrust regulators recommended a break-up to reduce the company’s dominance in the UK.
Gatwick, 50km south of London, is “an important and valuable part of BAA and the decision to sell was not taken lightly”, chief executive officer Colin Matthews said in a statement on Wednesday.
Hochtief AG, Germany’s biggest builder, and Frankfurt airport operator Fraport AG both said they’d be interested in bidding for BAA assets after the Competition Commission issued a provisional report on 20 August. The companies weren’t immediately available for comment.
HSBC becomes world’s most valuable bank
Shanghai:Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) ceded its title as the world’s largest bank by market value to HSBC Holdings Plc. after shrinking by $241 billion (Rs11.15 trillion) in less than a year as the nation’s equity bubble burst. ICBC fell by the 10% daily limit in Shanghai and 8.1% in Hong Kong on Wednesday, taking its market capitalization to $169 billion, $9 billion less than London-based HSBC. The Chinese bank overtook Citigroup Inc. by value in July last year and peaked at $410 billion in October.
RIL may start gas output in November
Mumbai: Reliance Industries Ltd may start producing natural gas at its biggest field Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin in November, the oil regulator said.
The Mumbai-based company may initially produce 15 million cubic metres a day at the D6 field in the KG basin, V.K. Sibal, director general of hydrocarbons, said on Wednesday. Output may rise to 40 million cubic metres by February, he said.
India to set minimum price for biofuels
New Delhi: The country is considering setting a minimum price for biofuels and increasing the amount that is blended with transport fuels, renewable energy minister Vilas Muttemwar said.
The government plans to unveil a policy on biofuels next month that may include the “minimum support price,” Muttemwar said.
Blending of biofuels, including ethanol, may be raised to 20% by 2017, he said. The government said in March that it will become mandatory to blend 10% ethanol with petrol starting next month.
Japan to help India build greener power plants
Tokyo: Japan will help India build cleaner and more energy efficient power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Japanese trade minister Toshihiro Nikai and India’s Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia signed an accord in Tokyo on Wednesday, after the third round of the so-called Japan-India Energy Dialogue launched last year aimed at boosting the use of clean-energy technologies in South Asia.
India may miss target on investments
New Delhi: India’s investment in infrastructure may fall well short of the government’s projected Rs23 trillion mark for five years starting 2007-08, but will continue to grow despite global uncertainties, according to a research report released by ratings firm Crisil Ltd.
The report estimated that infrastructure investments would grow to Rs16 trillion in the five-year period, nearly twice what was invested between 2003-04 and 2006-07.
The Planning Commission expects the infrastructure sector to soak up about $500 billion, or Rs23 trillion.
The report said investment projections would be more likely to be met in certain infrastructure sectors such as telecom and roads, which have fewer policy-related risks and more mature government policy, and less likely in airports and special economic zones, or SEZs, where government policy is still evolving and have higher input costs and may face land acquisition problems.
— Rahul Chandran
Infy will consider hiring Lehman employees
Bangalore:Infosys Technologies Ltd, India’s second largest provider of software services, will consider hiring some Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s employees, after the bank declared bankruptcy. “Yes, we will hire,” Amitabh Chaudhry, chief executive officer of Infosys’ back-office unit, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “We continue to expand our business and we will look at Lehman staff also.”
By the end of the month, Lehman is expected to close its centre in Bombay that provides research and analytical support, the ‘Business Standard’ newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Gujarat State Petro to raise $1 bn in equity sale
New Delhi: State-run explorer Gujarat State Petroleum Corp. (GSPC), plans to raise $1 billion (Rs4,630 crore) through an initial share sale, an official said, declining to be named, citing policy.
The Gandhinagar-based company plans to sell as much as 15% of its equity through a share sale by January, said the official. GSPC has appointed DSP Merrill Lynch Ltd, Citigroup Inc., SBI Capital Markets Ltd, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd and JM Financial Ltd as bankers to the issue, he said.
ICICI Bank shares slide second day, down 5.25%
Mumbai: The country’s largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank Ltd, continued its losing streak for the second day on the Bombay Stock Exchange. On Wednesday, it lost 5.25% to close at Rs560.30, after losing 5.82% on Tuesday on reports of its exposure to US investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. which filed for bankruptcy on Monday. Since the beginning of the year, the stock has lost close to 55%, against 34.62% loss of the Sensex, the country’s most-tracked equity index.
ICICI Bank has also denied rumours its senior executives have been selling shares in the market. An ICICI Bank statement said, “It has been brought to the notice of ICICI Bank that a malicious rumour is being spread to the effect that some of the top management have been selling ICICI Bank shares for the last few days. These rumours are baseless and irresponsible, and no shares have been sold by members of the top management of the Bank during the current year.’’
— Anita Bhoir
US crisis may claim more institutions: IMF
Jeddah: The US financial crisis that has engulfed Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Bear Stearns Cos and American Investment Group Inc. may claim more institutions even as it nears an end, International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.
“We may be seeing the end of the financial sector crisis,” Strauss-Kahn said on Wednesday.
India to secure better deal for citizens abroad
New Delhi: India is set to sign a series of social security pacts with various countries for securing a better deal for its nationals working abroad, a government statement said on Wednesday. The Centre has already approved signing of agreements with Germany, the Netherlands, Oman and Bahrain. An agreement with France will come up for approval shortly.
Negotiations are also on with Switzerland, the statement said, while discussions are scheduled with Norway and Sweden. The country has already signed an agreement with Belgium.
Bilateral social security agreements can protect the interests of Indian professionals by securing exemption from social security contribution during short-term contracts (provided the worker is covered under the Indian system and continues to contribute to the Indian system during the period of contract), the statement said.
The agreement also helps in exporting benefits in case of relocation to India or any other country when an employee contributes over a longer term, it added. Such agreements would also make Indian firms more competitive as such exemptions substantially reduce costs to companies.
— Staff Writer
Asia-Pacific to be No. 1 in telecom sector: Gartner
New Delhi: Asia-Pacific will surpass North America, the largest telecom market in the world, in terms of revenues in 2008, research firm Gartner Inc., predicted on Wednesday, saying that growth in the fixed voice sector and in the most developed countries has slowed or even begun to shrink. And added that by 2012, the ratio of mobile to fixed connections will exceed 4:1.
— Staff Writer