VS Sampath may take charge as power secy

VS Sampath may take charge as power secy

New Delhi: Chemicals and petrochemicals secretary V.S. Sampath is likely to take charge as power secretary from 2 January, according to persons familiar with the matter, who say he will replace power secretary Anil Razdan, who retires on Wednesday.

Sampath, born in the year 1950, belongs to the 1973 batch of the Indian Administrative Service, Andhra Pradesh cadre. He assumed charge of secretary, chemicals and petrochemicals, in January.



IndusInd Bank recovers Rs116 cr bad debt

Mumbai: IndusInd Bank has recovered Rs115 crore from private oil refinery Essar Oil Ltd, bringing down its bad debt significantly in the third quarter, a person close to the development said.

The loan, given to Essar Oil in the late 1990’s, will bring down IndusInd’s net non-performing assets (NPAs) to below 1.5% in third quarter of fiscal 2009 from the current 2.2%.

Essar has repaid half the loan and the balance would be returned on 31 December, the person said.

IndusInd Bank currently has 50% of its bad loans in the retail segment and the rest in its wholesale portfolio. Following the debt recovery, the bank’s NPAs in retail and wholesale portfolios would be in the ratio of 20:80, the same person said. An Essar Oil spokesman said the company does not comment on specific transactions.



‘Russia fertilizer merger plan may hurt prices’

Santiago: A merger of Russian fertilizer producers would pressure global prices, potentially hurting other producers such as Chile’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, Banco Santander SA said.

Russia’s government is considering buying controlling stakes in OAO Apatit, the country’s biggest fertilizer maker, and potash producers OAO Silvinit and OAO Uralkali, Interfax reported, citing unidentified officials.

The government may then form a holding company for all three assets, the Russian news service said on 26 December.

“We believe that if the Russian producers are nationalized they will probably focus on increasing production rather than defending prices, which could put pressure on worldwide potash prices, Santander analyst Francisco Errandonea wrote in a note on Tuesday.

A merged Russian firm could control as much as 20% of global output and dominate markets in China, India, Southeast Asia and Brazil, Renaissance Cap analysts Marina Alexeenkova and Rinat Kirdan said in a note to investors on Tuesday.



India permits sugar mills to boost local sales

Mumbai/New Delhi: India, the world’s biggest consumer of sugar, will allow producers to sell 14% more in the domestic market in the January to March quarter to cool prices.

Mills can sell 5 million tonnes (mt) of sugar in the period compared with 4.4mt a year earlier, the food ministry said in a statement on its website on Monday. While mills can sell 90% of their output at market rates, the government fixes the quantity and time of the sale every month.

The government has also asked sugar millers to seek release orders for exports, tightening controls over the price sensitive sector, but ensuring availability ahead of the elections next year. A 29 December statement said the millers will have to seek release order from 1 January on for exports under open general licence.

—Bloomberg and Reuters


CMIE revises output forecast for 2009

Mumbai: Economic think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has revised its forecast for industrial production growth in 2008-09 to 4.5% from 6.3% as the global economic crisis has cast a shadow on its projection.

“While lower inflationary expectations and a possible consequent fall in interest rates were expected to boost the industrial growth in the second half of FY09, the global financial crisis cast their shadow on these expectations," CMIE said in its monthly report here.


India, China to hold new round of talks: Pranab

New Delhi: India and China will hold a new round of negotiations on the vexed border issue which is an area of “differences and divergences" despite bilateral relations having witnessed “visible" improvement, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

“Of course there are areas of concern...not concern, but areas of differences and divergences with regard to the border dispute," Mukherjee said when asked about the future of Sino-Indian relationship.

He said both countries have an established mechanism at the level of special representatives to deal with the border issue at the political level. “They have completed 12 rounds of talks. More rounds of talks are to take place," he added without specifying any exact timeframe for the talks.



‘FIIs pulled out at least Rs40,000 cr in Apr-Oct’

Mumbai: Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) withdrew at least Rs40,000 crore from the equity markets in the first seven months of financial 2009, capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) said in its month bulletin on Tuesday.

The FIIs, however, remained invested in debt markets and bought Indian papers worth Rs3,000 crore during the period, it added.

Analysts predict that FIIs would continue withdrawing from the Indian markets for some time as sentiments have not improved, but expect the intensity of selling to decrease.

“The FIIs will use any rally in the market to pull out from the capital market due to the weak sentiment," said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, equity head at NexGen Capitals Ltd. “But we won’t witness ruthless selling as it was few months ago. It will take sometime for FIIs to restore confidence in the markets."

To attract FII inflows, Sebi in October reversed its position on participatory notes—instruments that unregulated entities in India use to invest money in markets through FIIs.

The regulator had in 2007 asked FIIs and their sub-accounts to wind up their positions through participatory notes where underlying securities were derivatives.



Religare Technova board nod for acquisition

Mumbai:Religare Technova Global Solutions Ltd said on Tuesday its board has approved the acquisition of share broking software developer OliveRays Innovations. Financial details were not immediately available.



Pre-lease office space deals decline by 45%

Bangalore: Pre-lease commitments from 2007 saved the show in the commercial office space sector this year despite the financial slowdown, pushing up the total absorption figures to 36.7 million sq. ft, a 6% rise from last year. The year-end commercial office space report compiled by Cushman and Wakefield (C&W) also states that precommitments this year, which indicates space that will be absorbed only in 2009, is only 12.8 million sq. ft (a sharp 45% drop from 2007) giving out the real scenario in the country’s real estate industry.

“The impact of the decline the number of precommitments this year will be felt in the space absorption trends in 2009," said Kaustuv Roy, director of tenants strategies and solutions in C&W. Bangalore grabbed the largest share of the office space pie, taking up 10.4 million sq. ft, while Mumbai recorded 8.5 million sq. ft, the largest growth in absorption over 2007.

—Staff writer


JSPL to put Rs6,000 cr in captive power plants

New Delhi: Steel and power producer Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) is investing at least Rs6,000 crore to set up ten captive power units in its existing facilities in Chhattisgarh and Orissa to achieve energy security for its steel units. “We will invest about Rs6,000 crore for expanding our existing captive power facilities by setting up ten power units. Six of those will come up in Orissa and four in Chhattisgarh," JSPL director (finance) Sushil Maroo said.

The power units will have a total generation capacity of 1,350MW and would add to the company’s present captive stock to feed the steel units.

The OP Jindal group aims to commission the captive power units in the next two to three years as it also hopes to augment its steel making capacity in the given time frame.

“The plants will be commissioned by 2010-11," he said. The firm has plans to double capacity at the Raigarh unit and is setting up an integrated greenfield unit at Angul in Orissa. Also, the Navin Jindal-led firm has multi-billion dollar plans lined in Jharkhand.