India to host world press summit in 2009

India to host world press summit in 2009

New Delhi: India has been chosen as the host for the 62nd World Newspaper Congress, 16th World Editors Forum and Info Services Expo in 2009, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) said on Tuesday.

The global summit meetings of the world’s press would be held from 22-25 March 2009 in Hyderabad and would be hosted by the Indian Newspaper Society, a statement issued by WAN said.

India has more than 2,000 daily newspapers in 100 languages with a combined circulation of 88 million. “India is probably the most exciting newspaper market in the world at the moment," said Timothy Balding, CEO of the Paris-based WAN. “There is tremendous growth, change and innovation, both in print and digitally. Our choice of India also reflects our admiration for this huge country’s respect for a free press as a pillar of democracy."


No proposal to allow foreign solicitors: govt

New Delhi: The Union law ministry has said there is no proposal with the government to allow foreign solicitors to participate in the country’s judicial process.

The statement, issued on Monday, came in the midst of ensuing negotiations between the government and the legal fraternity on the issue of liberalization of legal services in India.

The Bar Council of India (BCI) and representatives of state bar councils had on Sunday passed a resolution in Kochi opposing the entry of foreign law firms and requesting the Centre not to take any decision on this issue without consulting BCI and legal practitioners.

Law minister H.R. Bhardwaj, in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Monday, said the Centre would decide on this issue “after considering the views of the Bar Council of India and in the best interest of the legal profession."

The Economic Times had on 16 November reported that the government was proposing to open up the legal services sector in phases and set up a regulator to monitor practice of foreign law firms in India.


Garg to head BG Group’s India operations

New Delhi: Britain’s BG Group Plc., a leading player in the global energy market, on Tuesday named Kapil Garg as its new managing director of India operations. Garg takes over from William Adamson, who retires after a 40-year tenure with the group.

“We are very pleased to have Kapil at the helm of our India operations," Stuart Fysh, BG Group executive vice-president and managing director for Africa, West Asia and Asia, said in a statement.

Garg has headed BG India’s exploration and production unit since 2004.


Strides Arcolab signs JVs with S African firm

Bangalore: Pharmaceutical company Strides Arcolab Ltd on Tuesday said it has entered into two 50:50 joint ventures (JVs) with South African pharma firm Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd and has agreed to acquire majority stakes in Aspen’s two subsidiaries. The transactions would bring in a cash flow of Rs300 crore to Strides in the near term.

Aspen will acquire a 50% stake in Strides’ Latin American operation, which is valued at $260 million (Rs1,022 crore), said the firm’s vice-chairman and group CEO Arun Kumar.

Aspen will also be an equal partner in Strides’ global oncology venture, which the latter commenced with a new $32 million manufacturing facility in Bangalore. The transaction values the subsidiary at Rs340 crore. Strides plans to launch 32 oncology products over the next 18 months.


Vipul plans Rs13,000 cr real estate projects

New Delhi: Real estate firm, Vipul Ltd, will invest about Rs13,000 crore in the next five years to develop realty projects, the firm’s managing director Punit Beriwala said.

At present , the firm has more than 25 projects for development in different cities with a saleable area of 40 million sq. ft, he said.

The Gurgaon-based company is expanding its footprint beyond north India and is gearing up for ventures in cities such as Bhubaneswar and Hyderabad.

“We will invest around Rs10,000 crore to develop existing land banks in the next three-four years. Construction work on 10 million sq. ft has already started," Beriwala said. On funding the expansions, he said it would be a mix of debt, advance sales from customers and internal accruals.


Fortis Financial buys 76% in Australian firm

Mumbai: Banking and insurance services provider Fortis Financial Services Ltd has acquired 76% stake in Australia-based Capital Market Solutions Pty. Ltd (CMS), the company said in a communique to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Tuesday.

CMS provides software services and solutions to stockbrokers, investment banks and investment managers with market-tailored solutions.

Fortis delivers a total package of financial products and services to individuals, business and institutional customers through its intermediaries and other partners.

Fortis also said it has settled its court case against the Netherlands-based Fortis NV for using the word ‘Fortis’ for all its activities except for financial products and services. Shares of the company closed on Tuesday at Rs98.75, up 1.8% on BSE.


HPCL plans $4.5 billion capex over 5 years

Mumbai: Indian state-run refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd aims to spend about $4.5 billion (Rs17,685 crore) by 2012, including on exploration, gas marketing and petrochemicals, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“We are quite bullish on upstream and are very serious about making investments in it," Finance Director C. Ramulu told Reuters’ in an interview.

HPCL, which runs two refineries with a total capacity of 260,000 barrels per day (bpd), hopes to invest about $1 billion for exploration and production over the next five years, he said. The refiner has stakes in about 22 oil and gas blocks.

“We are keen to consider acquisition of a minority stake in producing properties overseas... we cannot buy higher stakes as we do not have experience that an operator needs," he said. Ramulu said the company would raise $1-$1.5 billion in debt to partly fund the capital expenditure plans.


GoM to look into fuel price issue, PM says

On Board PM’s Special Aircraft: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said a group of ministers (GoM) has been constituted to look into revision of fuel prices that has been necessitated because of a spurt in global crude oil prices.

“Cabinet did discuss this matter. I have appointed a GoM to report back to the cabinet within one month," he said on way to Singapore to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit. The prime minister, however, did not say when the cabinet discussed the issue and who would head the GoM.

In New Delhi, a senior petroleum ministry official said the ministry has not received any communique on the appointment of a GoM. “In all probability it should be headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee," he said.


Trikona Trinity may sell equity to German firm

New Delhi: India-focused real estate fund, Trikona Trinity Capital Plc., on Tuesday said it plans to divest a part of its equity in four of its offshore entities, which own residential and commercial projects worth Rs2,607 crore in India, to an affiliate of SachsenFonds GmbH.

SachsenFonds is a subsidiary of Sachsen LB, a German public sector bank. On completion, this divestment would provide a realized gain of 108% over a holding period ranging from 9 months to 14 months, a company statement said.

The company plans to reinvest the proceeds of the sale in the Indian real estate market. Trikona Trinity Capital is a fund created in 2006 on the Alternative Investment Market to invest in the Indian real estate sector.

shabana hussain

SC upholds accounting norms on deferred tax

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has upheld the new accounting standards prescribed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Icai) on deferred tax liability of listed companies.

The accounting norms, which seek to bring out the true accounting income of companies, have been made mandatory to ensure that books of all enterprises that follow them are comparable, and their financial statements are true and transparent.

Accounting Standards (AS-22) have brought in a new concept called deferred taxation. Under this, a company is liable to provide for deferred tax liability on the first day the company accounts for its income in accordance with the AS-22.

“We are of the view that the impugned notification/rule is neither ultravires nor inconsistent with the provisions of the Companies Act," the court said.


Essar Steel may shelve $1.9 bn Indonesia plant

New Delhi: Steel maker Essar Steel Ltd may shelve plans to construct a $1.9 billion (Rs7,467 crore) plant in Indonesia following an adverse ruling by the country’s anti-dumping authority.

Indonesian news agency ‘Antara’ reported that PT Essar Indonesia, the local unit of the Indian firm, would postpone construction of the hot rolled coil (HRC) processing plant in the South-East Asian nation.

“As a result of the anti-dumping ruling, the company will review its plans for setting up the HRC plant," an Essar Group official said.


India-Asean trade pact possible by May: Nath

Singapore: India hopes to sign a trade pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in May, Union commerce minister Kamal Nath said, a day after Indonesia declared the deal was on hold.

Asean and India are scheduled to hold talks on the agreement this week in Singapore. Indonesia’s trade minister Mari Pangestu on Monday said talks were on hold because of disagreement over the number of items India wants tariffs placed on.

“We are happy with the outcome and are making very substantial progress, and I’m optimistic about an agreement being finalized in terms of India’s policy of its economic engagement in the region," Nath said on Tuesday.


India, Qatar ink pact to protect expatriates

New Delhi: India on Tuesday signed an agreement with Qatar, outlining several measures to protect the interests of expatriate domestic workers, who often face exploitation in Gulf countries, and to check malpractices by intermediaries.

The agreement provides for payment of full wages and other entitlements as per the contract in case of premature repatriation of workers without their fault and has measures to ensure the welfare of employees in the unorganized sector.

The agreement was signed by minister of overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi and Qatar’s labour minister Sultan Bin Hassan Al-Dhabit Al-Dosari.

“This agreement is a milestone in India-Qatar relations. This additional protocol exhibits the determination of Qatar to protect Indian workers in every respect," Ravi said.


Now, London Mayor to open Mumbai office

Mumbai: When the Lord Mayor of the City of London opened an office in South Mumbai in May, one wondered how in a country known for construction delays, the opening date had been advanced by six months.

Actually, it was not the same office and it was not the same mayor. London has two mayors, and both have set up promotion offices in India during 2007 to help the UK take advantage of the country’s burgeoning economy.

In December 2006, mayor of London Ken Livingstone, announced that the Mumbai office would be opened in late 2007 as part of the India campaign. Meanwhile, John Stuttard, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, jumped the gun and opened his office. His objective is to promote financial services.

Livingstone is here to promote the whole range of London’s industries and activities, ranging from tourism to science to films. Livingstone is setting up his offices this week and will speak at a Mumbai conference on Wednesday. His economic adviser John Ross said the office “will deal with the wider range of London’s activity including creative industries, science and technology, tourism, infrastructure, education, and culture."

Rana Rosen

Govt to hold talks with people over Posco

Bhubaneswar: In a bid to facilitate land acquisition for South Korean steel major Posco’s plant near Paradip, the Orissa government proposes to hold talks with the villagers likely to be affected due to the project. “The government has proposed to hold talks with the local people to be affected due to the project in the first week of January 2008. A notification in this regard will soon be issued," steel and mines minister Padmanabha Behera informed the state assembly on Tuesday.


Broadcasters challenge Trai norms on cable TV

New Delhi: Leading broadcasters Zee-Turner and Set Discovery have challenged Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) guidelines on pricing of cable TV charges in non-conditional access system (CAS) areas. Trai regulation directs them to provide their channels on a ‘la carte’ basis. In their petition before the Telecom Disputes Settlement And Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), the broadcasters have alleged that the price fixation by Trai is “arbitrary and discriminatory".