New Delhi: India is likely to witness bumper foodgrain production this year, breaching last year’s record, on the back of conducive weather and higher acreage under rice, coarse cereals, oilseeds and pulses.
“As on today, probably we will be able to cross last year’s production. Last year, India had produced highest foodgrain. I think we will be able to cross that figure,” food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said here on Tuesday.
India produced a record 230.67 million tonnes of foodgrain in 2007-08, favoured by an all-time-high output of rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses. Higher acreage and good weather would boost prospects, he said.
TR Prasad quits Nelcast,GMR and DIAL boards
New Delhi: In the aftermath of the Satyam fraud case, T.R. Prasad—one of the independent directors of the disbanded board of IT firm—on Tuesday resigned from the boards of GMR Infrastructure Ltd, Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) and castings firm Nelcast Ltd. “He (Prasad) has resigned from the board of GMR Infrastructure due to personal reasons,” a spokesperson of GMR Group said. A DIAL official also confirmed Prasad’s resignation from the board.
Bric nations see 20% fall in corporate loans
New Delhi: Emerging nations—Brazil, Russia, India and China (Bric)—have witnessed a 20% decline in loans taken by companies in 2008, largely due to the fall in volumes in the last quarter of the year under review, a latest report says.
“Bric combined syndicated loan volume hit $144.2 billion in full year of 2008, down 20% from $180.2 billion recorded in 2007,” the latest report by global deal tracking firm Dealogic said.
Syndicated loans are large financing facilities granted to a borrower by a group of financial institutions which share the lending risk. They combine the commercial financing relationship between a bank and its client with the features of market traded debt.
Vizag refinery project put on hold by HPCL
Mumbai: The country’s third biggest refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) has put on hold a planned 14 million tonnes a year refinery and chemicals project at Vizag, an official said. The Vizag project is on the backburner at the moment because the petrochemicals business isn’t doing too well, B. Mukherjee, finance director, said by telephone from Mumbai. We will take a look at how the petrochemicals business fares before taking a decision.
HPCL planned to build the project with billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, Total SA and GAIL India Ltd. Demand for chemicals and plastics has declined amid a deepening recession.
RIL may reopen fuel outlets if policy changes
New Delhi: The country’s biggest non-state company, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), may reopen its fuel stations if the government’s controls on oil-product pricing are removed or it gets subsidies.
We would always prefer to sell in the domestic market if there’s a level playing field, P. Raghavendran, president of Reliance’s refinery business, said in New Delhi on Tuesday. It’s the lack of clarity in policy which is holding us back.
The decision to pay subsidies only to state-run refiners was partly responsible for Reliance shutting its fuel stations, chairman Mukesh Ambani had said in June.
NTPC plans to invest Rs6,000 cr in power
New Delhi: State-run NTPC Ltd on Tuesday said it will invest Rs6,000 crore in super thermal power projects in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
“NTPC board has approved Rs6,037 crore investment for its Super Thermal Power Projects (STPP) in Madhya Pradesh (Vindhyachal), Uttar Pradesh (Rihand) and Chattisgarh (Korba),” the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The company’s board of directors approved Rs5,915 crore for 2x500MW Vindhyachal STPP. They also okayed investments worth Rs67.3 crore and Rs54.5 crore to undertake renovation and modernization works at 2x500MW Rihand STPP and 3x500MW Korba STPP, respectively.
Uphaar case: SC to hear Ansals’ appeal on 23 Jan
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will hear on 23January the appeals filed by Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, the owners of the Uphaar cinema hall in New Delhi, , against their conviction in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy that claimed 59 lives.
The two petitions, filed separately by the brothers who are real estate developers, have challenged a Delhi high court judgement that upheld a trial court verdict holding them guilty. The high court had, however, reduced their jail term from two years to one year.
Business in order, Rolta tells stock exchange
Mumbai:Rolta India Ltd on Tuesday said all its businesses and operations were in order in a clarification issued after the software service provider’s shares crashed nearly 60%.
“The company categorically states that all its operations and business are in order and there are no new developments which have taken place that have any material impact on the company’s operations,” the company said in a statement to stock exchanges.
Shares had crashed on speculation stocks pledged by promoters have been sold by creditors, which was denied by chairman Kamal Singh on television.
There was also speculation that foreign funds had sold stake in the software firm, which could not be confirmed immediately. As of December-end, foreign institutional investors held 35.3% in Rolta, according to data with the BSE.
Shares of the Mumbai-based firm fell to a 52-week low of Rs42.40 in the afternoon, but recovered subsequently. The shares fell 17.17% to close the day at Rs87.15.
—Reuters & Staff writer
Aditya Birla PE buys stake in BSE
Mumbai: Aditya Birla group on Tuesday announced its maiden private equity fund with an initial commitment of $100 million (Rs486 crore) and said that it has bought stake in the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) for an undisclosed amount. The fund—Aditya Birla Private Equity Fund—targets to collect $250 million over the next few quarters, Aditya Birla Private Equity funds’ managing director and chief executive officer Bharat Banka said.
Banka, however, did not elaborate on the stake that the fund has picked up in BSE and said the stake purchase was as part of the demutualization of the bourse. Apart from the investment in BSE, the fund has also invested in apparel retail chain V Mart by picking up a 26% stake in the company.
Terror: media groups resent news curbs
New Delhi: Indian democracy will be damaged if the government tightens media laws in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, media groups said on Tuesday.
Indian television channels were criticised by security agencies for showing live pictures of November’s Mumbai siege and allegedly giving away important information to the attackers trapped inside hotels and a Jewish centre.
The government now wants to amend the Cable Network Regulations Act to give the police power to check and approve live television feeds in certain circumstances.
“We urge you to immediately suspend the proposed measures,” television editors said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, calling them a “historical blunder”.
Brief Parliament session likely from 16 February
New Delhi: A brief session of Parliament is likely to begin from 16 February and continue till 24 February.
While no formal decision has been taken by the government about the dates, sources said the tentative schedule was under consideration.
This would be the last session of the 14th Lok Sabha whose term expires by the middle of May. During the session, the government will go for a vote on account in view of the Lok Sabha polls which could be held in April-May, Parliament sources said.
Drug discovery: Jubilant in pact with US firm
Mumbai: Drug maker Jubilant Organosys Ltd said on Tuesday its unit has entered into a drug discovery partnership with US-based BioLeap Llc.
Jubilant Biosys Ltd, a unit of the Indian company, and BioLeap will integrate their respective strengths to provide pre-clinical drug development services, it said in a statement.
The promoters of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint, and promoters of Jubilant Organosys Ltd are closely related. The companies have no promoter cross-holdings.
Unitech reschedules its loan of Rs1,000 crore
New Delhi: The country’s second largest real estate firm, Unitech Ltd, has rescheduled the payment of loans to the tune of Rs1,000 crore to banks. The company, which is currently facing a financial crunch, has to repay loans of Rs2,500 crore by March.
Sources said that Unitech has rescheduled its Rs1,000 crore loan payment and is negotiating with banks for another Rs500 crore. The company has a total debt of about Rs8,000 crore, of which Rs2,500 crore has to be repaid by March.
CMC Q3 net profit up 19% to Rs25.98 crore
Mumbai: Tata Group company CMC Ltd on Tuesday said its consolidated net profit surged 19.12% to Rs25.98 crore for the third quarter ended 31 December, against Rs21.81 crore in year-ago period.
However, its consolidated revenue dipped 23.92% to Rs216.37 crore for the quarter under review, from Rs284.38 crore in the corresponding period a year ago.
During the quarter, CMC reported a 10.29% growth in its standalone net profit at Rs23.36 crore, from Rs21.18 crore a year ago.
The standalone total revenue dipped to Rs161.71 crore, from Rs273.41 crore in the December quarter of 2007.
Shares of CMC closed at Rs291, up 0.67% on BSE.
India may snap business links with Pakistan
London/New Delhi: India may snap its business, transport and tourist links with Pakistan if it fails to help to investigate the Mumbai attacks, union home minister P. Chidambaram has warned, pressing Islamabad to “cooperate soon.”
“There are many, many links between India and Pakistan, and if Pakistan does not cooperate and does not help to bring the perpetrators to heel, those ties will become weaker and weaker and one day snap,” Chidambaram told ‘The Times’ daily.
Separately, Radha Vinod Raju, special director general of police in Jammu and Kashmir, has been shortlisted for the post of chief of the new National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Two other senior IPS officers—A.P. Singh and S.C. Sinha—are the other contenders for the crucial post.