Need To Know | Japan car makers may merge into ‘Big Three’

Need To Know | Japan car makers may merge into ‘Big Three’

Tokyo: Japanese auto makers may combine to form three large companies as a worsening global recession hurts vehicle demand, Osamu Suzuki, president of Suzuki Motor Corp., Japan’s second largest minicar maker, said in an ‘Nikkei’ interview.

“The crisis facing the US Big Three will hit Japan later, delayed like a tsunami, probably around July or August next year," Suzuki said in the interview published on Thursday. “Japan’s auto industry, now consisting of more than 10 companies, may consolidate into a ‘Big Three.’"

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s largest car maker, this week predicted its first loss in 71 years, and rival Honda Motor Co. cut its profit forecast as the slowdown damps demand for cars. General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC, the three-biggest US auto makers, have cut output and two of them received $13.4 billion (Rs65,660 crore today) of federal aid to prevent running out of cash.

— Bloomberg


Aircraft import: govt yet to recover Rs280 cr duty

New Delhi: The government is yet to recover at least Rs280 crore of the Rs290 crore customs duty evaded by some companies while importing aircraft.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had seized 16 aircraft on which the owners had not paid customs duty.

The aircraft were imported for chartered purposes, but were allegedly used for personal travel. An aircraft imported for chartered purposes attracts 10% customs duty, while a duty of 18% is levied on aircraft bought for personal use.

The value of the aircraft seized by the tax department is Rs1,205 crore, sources said.



Cashew output hit by falling export demand

New Delhi: The deepening economic downturn has impacted the cashew business in the country with production taking a hit due to slackening export demand.

During 2007-08, cashew production managed to increase marginally around 6% to 0.66 million tonnes (mt) as against 0.62 mt in 2006-07, Cashew and Cocoa Development director Venkatesh N. Hubballi said over the phone from Kochi.

India exports cashew mainly to the US and Europe, which are hit by the severe economic turbulence. The US and the euro Zone, including countries such as Germany, the UK, and Italy, have been officially declared to be in economic recession.

Cashew exports stood at 0.102 mt at Rs2,678.83 crore during January-November, compared with 0.105 mt at Rs2,058.97 crore in the year-ago period.

“The situation is temporary and things will come back to normal by March, as our domestic market is big and is growing," Hubbali said.



InBev plans brewery facility in north India

New Delhi: Beer company InBev NV is planning to set up a greenfield facility in north India and is also working on making its brands available in more states, including Maharashtra, by June.

“The new unit (for producing beer) will either come up in Haryana or Rajasthan, with an investment of around Rs70-80 crore, excluding land costs," InBev India International Pvt. Ltd chief executive officer Raja Mukherji said.

Besides, he said that InBev’s products are currently available in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and, by the second quarter of 2009, it would be available in more states, including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The company is looking at setting up the greenfield brewery in north India with a capacity of around 3-4 million cases per annum, he said.

It is in the process of finalizing long-term contracts with breweries to manufacture its brands in different states.



10 firms bid for GSPC’s wind power project

Gandhinagar: As many as 10 companies have bid for Gujarat State Petroleum Corp.’s (GSPC) proposed 200MW wind power project in the state.

“We have received bids from 10 players by yesterday (Wednesday), which was the deadline for submission of the bids," GSPC managing director J. Pandian said.

Companies in the bidders list include Suzlon Energy Ltd, Danish company Vestas, French companies—Theolia, Globalwind, Abellon—and German company Enarcon, Pandian said.

According to Pandian, GSPC wants the project to be commissioned in the six months from the date of awarding the final contract.

The private company, which will be awarded the contract, will commission and develop the project and operate it for 10 years. GSPC will open the technical bids on 5 January, while the financial bids will be disclosed subsequently.



Reliance starts 580,000bpd refinery

Mumbai: Reliance Petroleum Ltd (RPL), 70% owned by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), on Thursday commissioned its 580,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) refinery in Jamnagar, Gujarat, just in time to meet the launch deadline of end-2008 but amid shrinking demand for its products and margins.

The new refinery, adjacent to the existing 660,000bpd refinery, will double RIL’s refining capacity at a time when crude prices have dipped by 74.2% from a peak of $147.27 a barrel in July. The refinery complex with both units is now the biggest in the world.

RIL had set an internal timeline of completing the project by mid-2008 and later pushed it to the third financial quarter. The new refinery, which can process the sourest and dirtiest of crude oils, “is expected to attain full capacity shortly" as its “secondary processing units are under synchronization and commissioning," RIL said in a statement.

The company did not give a specific date by when it will fully start although recent analyst reports indicated a March-April timeline. Chevron Corp. owns 5% in RPL and can raise its stake to 29%.

— Bhuma Shrivastava


Law Commission may get statutory backing

New Delhi: Quite like the English and Canadian models, the Law Commission of India is set to get a statutory backing that would make its recommendations binding on the government.

The law ministry has initiated the process for the introduction of the Law Commission of India Bill in Parliament that would ensure that its proposals are not reduced to a wasteful exercise but are acted upon by either the executive or the Parliament.

Till date, the commission has submitted at least 215 reports and out of these implementation is pending on 57 of its reports.

“We want the commission to have a sanctity which is on the lines of a parliamentary standing committee. Its report should necessarily evoke a response from the executive, as is the case of a standing committee," said E.M.S. Natchiappan, who heads the House panel on law and justice.

“The matters referred to the commission should be substantive and it should be on the basis of Parliament debates and recommendation of standing committees, rather than making the Law Commission as a parallel Parliament to make its new proposals," the committee said.



Chiranjeevi may not get party symbol in AP polls

Hyderabad: As actor Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam political party prepares for its electoral debut in Andhra Pradesh, election rules might prevent the much anticipated party’s candidates from automatically getting a common election symbol in all constituencies.

As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2005, only “recognized" political parties that have met certain electoral thresholds are eligible for a permanent election symbol, while “registered" parties such as Praja Rajyam will have to choose from the 59 “free symbols" available.

If the rules hold, Praja Rajyam’s request for the symbol of a rising sun is unlikely to be approved, at least for the 2009 elections.



Rosa Power ties up with ITI

New Delhi: Rosa Power Supply Co, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Power, has tied up with Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Shahjahanpur to support and train youth from affected villages around its 5,000-crore 1,200 MW power project for different jobs including that of an electrician, welder, wireman, fitter, technician, computer maintenance professional. Under the agreement, the power company will upgrade the infrastructure facilities of ITI in a phased manner and ITI will allot 20% seats in all its 18 courses. All candidates, selected by company officials in consultation with ITI, belong to families affected by the power project, according to a Reliance Power official, who did not want to be named since he is not authorized to speak to the media. Reliance Power is yet to finalize the budget outlay for this project.

The first round of admissions closed on Dec 15 and a total of 50 candidates got admitted to the said programme. Out of the 50 students, 12 people got selected for one-year programme while 38 people for two-year programmes. On completion of the course, the company hopes to offer both direct and indirect employment to graduating students. Reliance Power is also in talks with ITI Waidhan, Madhya Pradesh for its 3960 MW power plant at Sasan for a similar tie-up.

— Rajeshwari Sharma