Adlabs Films to operate cinema chain in US

Adlabs Films to operate cinema chain in US

Mumbai:Adlabs Films Ltd said on Monday it has entered into agreements with several cinema properties and will be operating a 200 screen cinema chain in the US, covering 28 cities. The cinemas would play Hollywood and Indian language movies.


ONGC cuts gas supply after pipeline leak

Mumbai: State-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) said it had cut gas supplies by about 0.5 million cu. m per day following a leak in a pipeline off the west coast of India. The leakage occurred on Sunday morning in a gas pipeline from its Heera field off the Mumbai coast, ONGC said in a statement late on Sunday. It said repair work was taken up immediately and the pipeline had been depressurized. “The pipeline would be made fully operational within a week’s time," it said.


Bharti offers to top RCom bid for spectrum

Mumbai: The country’s biggest wireless operator, Bharti Airtel Ltd, said it is prepared to pay more than Reliance Communications Ltd for additional airwaves to maintain its lead in the world’s fastest growing major mobile phone market.

Bharti, based in New Delhi, offered Rs2,650 crore for the spectrum, above the Rs1,650 crore floor price set by the regulator that Reliance paid. Bharti said it will also fight changes to rules for allocating airwaves that favour its Mumbai-based rival.

The “only plausible explanation" for allowing Reliance to extend its global system for mobile communications network is the money, managing director Akhil Gupta said in a letter to the telecommunications ministry. “We are left with no option but to follow the same practice." The race to win more spectrum in the world’s third largest mobile phone market is intensifying after record subscriber growth crowded the airwaves and led to poor call quality. Rival operator Tata Teleservices on Monday filed a separate petition seeking parity with Bharti in garnering the radio frequencies used for wireless services.


Scheme cleared to help sugar-cane farmers

New Delhi: The government on Monday cleared a scheme for financing sugar companies to enable them to clear cane price arrears to the farmers for the years, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

The quantum of total loan amount will be fixed by the Centre, and will be equivalent to the central excise duty payable on total sugar production by sugar mills during these two years. The loan will be given by the banks including co-operative banks.

The banks will be provided full interest subvention (subsidy) by the government at 12%, for a maximum of six years.

Sangeeta Singh

Govt to go by AG on DIAL fund-raising plan

New Delhi: The government will go by the attorney general’s opinion on whether the current financial plan proposed by the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) for floating subsidiaries and raising deposits is acceptable or not, civil aviation minister Praful Patel said on Monday.

“All I can say is that whatever approval of the attorney general has been sought, we will go by that. There is no question of going beyond (that). All these issues are unnecessarily again being highlighted. ...Its not that money has been collected and money has been taken away. It is a question of interpretation…there is no issue which has yet happened and we are acting on an after thought," he said replying to a question whether the ministry would be looking for other options.

There is still no clarity on what specific direction the fund-raising plan could take.

Tarun Shukla

Reliance to invest in uranium exploration

Sydney: India’s biggest company by market value, Reliance Industries Ltd, agreed to invest in a uranium venture in Australia, its first in the country, with Uranium Exploration Australia Ltd.

Reliance will earn a 49% interest in eight exploration licences held by Uranium Exploration in exchange for A$3.45 million (Rs12 crore), Sydney-based Uranium Exploration said on Monday in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.


STC calls bids to import wheat, build reserves

New Delhi/Mumbai: The State Trading Corp. has called bids to import 350,000 tonnes of wheat as part of plans by the world’s second biggest user of the grain to replenish reserves.

Suppliers have until the afternoon of 17 December to submit offers, according to the tender document posted on the company’s website on Monday. The wheat is for delivery by 15 April 2008.

Since July, India has bought 1.79 million tonnes (mt) of wheat from traders including Glencore International AG and Cargill Inc. to build its reserves, helping support this year’s 87% gain in prices on the Chicago Board of Trade.

State warehouses held 9mt on 23 November, enough to meet demand for nine months, Food Corp., the nation’s biggest buyer of foodgrains, said on 3 December.

Still, the government said in October it will buy one mt through state trading firms to cope with emergencies.

State Trading is seeking 65,000 tonnes of wheat at Mundra and 45,000 tonnes at Kandla on the country’s west coast; 40,000 tonnes each at Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Tuticorin and 50,000 tonnes at Kakinada, all in south India. It is seeking 35,000 tonnes each at Cochin and Mumbai ports.


Austrian firm, RITES to build high-end wagons

New Delhi: Austria-based Siemens Transportation System has entered into a joint venture with consultancy firm RITES to manufacture high-end railway wagons in India entailing an investment of about €30 million (Rs173 crore).

Siemens, a leading international supplier to the railway industry, signed a memorandum of understanding with RITES—a consultancy organization in the fields of transport, infrastructure and related technologies—here on Monday at a seminar organized by industry chamber Ficci. The Austrian firm would hold a 74% stake in the proposed JV, while the remainder would be with RITES. The first wagon would roll out in 2009 and 50% of them would be exported, Siemens Transportation Systems managing director Andreas Gerstenmayer said.


Vodafone India to hike market share to 25%

London: The world’s biggest mobile-phone company, Vodafone Group Plc., will increase market share in India to as much as 25% in “a few years", chief executive officer Arun Sarin said.

“We expect our market share to be between 20% and 25%," Sarin said on Monday at an investor conference in London. “We’re today at 17.5%."

Newbury, England-based Vodafone spent $10.7 billion (Rs42,158 crore) in May for a controlling stake in Hutchison Essar Ltd, India’s fourth biggest wireless provider. Vodafone will benefit from a deal struck with Bharti Airtel Ltd, and Idea Cellular Ltd under which the three will share wireless towers, which will reduce costs and expand reach.

“When we look at our exposure to emerging markets, we are quite pleased by the countries that we see on the list where we are participating," Sarin said. “India is having fast economic growth."


Kyndal to set up JV with Dutch group Lucas Bols

Mumbai: Spirit importer and distributor Kyndal India Pvt. Ltd will announce its joint venture with Dutch firm Lucas Bols Distilleries NV by early 2008.

Kyndal and Lucas will hold equal equity in the venture, which will have a distillery in Karnataka and another in Goa. The joint venture plans to bottle and market popular brandy and liqueur brands of the Dutch drinks company for the Indian market, said Kyndal’s director Siddharth Banerji.

Kyndal India was earlier a wholly owned subsidiary of Scottish whisky maker Whyte & Mackay Ltd, which was acquired by Vijay Mallya-led United Spirits Ltd.

C.H. Unnikrishnan

Essar talks on for 50% stake in Kenyan refinery

London: The Essar Group is understood to have begun talks for acquiring a 50% stake in a Kenyan refinery from international oil players. The refinery in Mombasa, in which the government of Kenya owns a 50% stake, has an annual production capacity of about 4 million tonnes.

According to people familiar with the development, Essar is looking to buy out the remaining 50% stake held by Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch and British Petroleum Plc. in Kenyan Refinery and Petroleum Ltd, and an announcement is expected shortly on this potential deal. The group already has three exploration and production blocks in Madagascar and an additional block in Nigeria.

Essar officials from Mumbai said: “We continue to look for growth opportunity in sectors, whereever we are present. As a corporate policy we will not like to talk about any such proposal."

Essar has been scouting for refinery assets outside India for quite some time and had recently expressed its intention to expand its refining capacity to one million barrels per day, including 300,000 barrels per day outside the country.


SC to hear pleas against Modi in encounter case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday a bunch of applications seeking to make Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi a co-accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter killing on the basis of a statement being attributed to him, which justified the killing. Without issuing notice, a Bench comprising justices Tarun Chatterjee and Dalveer Bhandari said it was fixing the matter for final hearing on 12 December.

The proceeding, which lasted barely for five minutes, witnessed a heated exchange between the counsel appearing for those seeking action against Modi and those defending the Gujarat government and the chief minister.

Additional solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, who is assisting the court as an ‘amicus curiae’ (impartial adviser) in the matter, began attacking Modi saying when the matter was pending before the apex court “the statement of the chief minister is prima facie a complete interference with the process of justice".

He also placed before the Bench the translated version of the transcript of the speech given by Modi at Mangrol in Gujarat on 4 December and said what he spoke was opposite to what the state government’s special counsel K.T.S. Tulsi had submitted in court.


RBI warns against tempting email offers

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has advised the public not to succumb to the temptation of fictitious offers of large funds through emails from unknown entities.

“Members of public should also not make any remittance towards participation in such schemes/offers from unknown entities," the central bank said while clarifying that sending money abroad to participate in lottery or similar schemes is not permitted under the Foreign Exchange Management Act.


Voltas purchases stake in two joint ventures

Mumbai: Air conditioning and cooling products maker Voltas Ltd said on Monday it has bought Fedders International Airconditioning Pvt. Ltd’s 50% stake in a joint venture for Rs7.5 crore. Voltas in a separate statement said it has also bought the 51% stake it did not hold in a Saudi Arabian joint venture from the local partners for an undisclosed sum.


Tatas, Engineers India to build refineries, plants

New Delhi: The Tata group and Engineers India Ltd, which designs oil refineries and chemical plants, plan to set up a joint venture for construction projects, Engineers India chairman M. Rohatgi said on Monday.

New Delhi-based Engineers India (EIL) has total orders worth Rs5,000 crore at present compared with orders worth Rs2,000 crore at the beginning of the fiscal year in March. EIL may help Indian Oil Corp. construct a refinery in Egypt, Rohatgi added.


BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is Advani

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday named senior leader L.K. Advani as its prime ministerial candidate for the general elections due in 2009, aiming to fill a vacuum at the top of the struggling party. The decision came on the eve of the first stage of voting in Gujarat.

Advani, 80, represents Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar in Parliament and some analysts said the move seemed like an attempt to influence voters to back the BJP in what is also one of India’s most developed states. “General elections are not far," BJP president Rajnath Singh said after a party parliamentary board meeting. “The parliamentary board has unanimously decided that Lal Krishna Advani will lead the party in the elections."


Indian cos revise bids for Ford brands, TV says

Mumbai:Tata Motors Ltd and Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd have submitted revised bids for Ford Motor Co.’s Jaguar and Land Rover brands, CNBC-TV18 news channel reported on Monday, citing unnamed people. Their earlier bids were in the range of $1.8 billion-$2 billion (Rs7,092 crore-Rs7,880 crore), and the firms had now bid higher, the TV channel said, without specifying details. A Tata group spokesman declined comment, while a Mahindra spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.