Economy and Politics | Afghanistan welcomes Indian firms

Economy and Politics | Afghanistan welcomes Indian firms

Kolkata: Afghanistan government will “encourage Indian companies" to participate in the $10 billion tendering of mining projects in 2011, Wahidullah Shahrani, minister for mines, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, said here on Wednesday.

The United States had recently discovered huge untapped mineral reserves in Afghanistan. “India has played an important role in the reconstruction of our country. We will extend all possible assistance to the interested Indian companies," Shahrani said. The country has a total mineral reserve worth $3 trillion, he added.

Indian companies that are keen on participating in mining in the country are the Tata Group, Essar, Vedanta and Ispat. Afghanistan will float tenders for mining of iron ore, copper, oil and gas and gold next year.

Aynak copper field, the world’s largest copper ore so far, located in south of Kabul, was awarded to China Metallurgical Group in 2007. "The reserves in the proposed copper mines will be larger than Aynak," Shahrani said.

Manish Basu


Fidelity-backed Shriram Transport seeks banking license in India

Mumbai: Shriram Transport Finance Co., an Indian truck financier backed by Fidelity Investments, will apply for a banking license as the country seeks to extend lending facilities to villages.

The company, which finances more than 1,200 vehicle purchases daily, expects profit for the year ending 31 March to increase 25 % as faster economic growth bolsters demand, managing director R. Sridhar said.

The Reserve Bank of India may issue new banking licenses for the first time since 2004.

With a bank license we will be able to reach out to a lot more people, which the government can’t directly, Sridhar said in an interview. We will be able to provide credit to the credit starved, while strengthening our objectives and positioning.

The Reserve Bank of India in August said it will review capital, ownership and foreign shareholding rules for new banks as it considers issuing more licenses in Asia’s third-largest economy. The regulator is reviewing whether to allow industrial groups to own banks and permit non-banking financial institutions to secure full licenses and will set policies after receiving feedback from stakeholders by 30 Sept.

Shriram Transport shares, which have gained 78 % this year, rose 0.1% to 871 at 1:34 p.m. in Mumbai. That compares with a 20% gain in the benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index in the same period.

New Banks New lenders will compete with the 200-year-old, government- controlled State Bank of India, which accounts for a fifth of the nation’s banking assets, and ICICI Bank Ltd., the largest private-sector bank. The minimum capital requirement for new banks may be raised from 300 crore to 1000 crore, the central bank said.

Billionaire Uday Kotak’s Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. in 2003 became the first to get a new commercial bank license in about a decade. It was followed by Mumbai-based Yes Bank Ltd., backed by Rabobank Groep NV of the Netherlands.

Shriram Transport plans to raise as much as 6000 crore of debt by March to lend more, Sridhar said. The company’s net income rose 44% to 299 crore in the quarter ended 30 Sept. from a year ago, while sales rose 23% to 1310 crore.

Fidelity Investments’ funds own at least 1.6% of Shriram Transport, according to data on the Bombay Stock Exchange website.

Anoop Agrawal


Kerala orders to evict Suzlon from tribal land

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala cabinet of ministers on Wednesday decided to evict Suzlon Energy Limited, the company that has set up windmills in the tribal belt of Attapady in Kerala’s Palakkad district, and restore the land to tribals.

V S Achuthanandan, chief minister, said on Wednesday the cabinet had approved the report of the chief secretary to look into the alleged irregularities in land takeover in the tribal area and issued orders to departments concerned to take steps to retrieve the land from the occupiers and restore it to tribals.

The cabinet also decided to order a vigilance probe into the issue as government officials were involved in the irregularities that led to the transfer of acres of land alienating tribals. The probe would be completed in three months, he added.

Ajay Kumar Menon


Power Finance Corp net profit up 10%

New Delhi: Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC) will raise capital by selling shares through a follow-on public offer in either January-March this year or April-June next year, chairman and managing director Satnam Singh said. “We are taking board and shareholder approval to raise up to 20% of our existing capital of 1,147 crore and will move for a nod from the Ministry of Power and the cabinet," he said.

At PFC’s Wednesday close of 368 per share, the company will be able to raise around 8,447 crore. The government will divest 5% to 10% of its 89.78% stake in the company, Singh said.The company recorded a profit of 701 crore in July-September up 10% from 638 crore last year as loan disbursements grew 40% to 6,300 crore from 4,500 crore last year.

Joel Rebello