PetroChina stock rating cut to ‘underperform’

PetroChina stock rating cut to ‘underperform’

Hong Kong: China’s biggest oil producer, PetroChina Co. Ltd, had its stock rating cut by Credit Suisse Group, which said the oil producer lacks “catalysts" for further share gains in Hong Kong after completing its Shanghai share sale.

PetroChina was downgraded to “underperform" from “neutral", Credit Suisse analysts Prashant Gokhale, Edwin Pang and Horace Tse wrote in a research note on Wednesday.

PetroChina’s Hong Kong stock surged after the Beijing-based company announced plans to sell shares to mainland Chinese investors for the first time. The class-A shares more than doubled when they started trading in Shanghai on 5 November, making PetroChina the world’s first firm with a $1 trillion (Rs39.3 trillion) market capitalization.

PetroChina dropped 0.2% to HK$17.46 (Rs88.35) at 3:11 pm. Hang Seng Index was up 1.4%. Bloomberg

Govt postpones fuel price hike decision

New Delhi: Faced with opposition from within the ruling coalition, the government has put off till at least next week a decision on raising fuel prices that has been necessitated due to crude nearing $100 (Rs3,930) a barrel globally.

The petroleum ministry is considering a proposal to either raise petrol and diesel prices by Rs2 and Re1 a litre, respectively, or cutting duties to offset the impact of higher international oil prices. However, the proposal is not being pursued by the cabinet this week.

“We are trying to see if we can find a solution next week," petroleum minister Murli Deora said. Deora, however, did not say why he was going back on his last week’s statement of taking a decision this week.

Petroleum secretary M.S. Srinivasan said oil companies’ under-recovery on fuel sales is estimated to increase to Rs70,500 crore for a full fiscal year on current prices.

Based on the government’s decision last month, oil firms, such as Indian Oil Corp. , Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd will get 42.7% or about Rs30,000 crore in oil bonds.

India imports 73% of its crude oil needs and the government has not allowed state-run oil firms to raise domestic prices. PTI

Dr Reddy’s gets FDA nod for ciprofloxacin

Mumbai: Drug maker Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd has received approval from the US food and drug administration (FDA) for anti-infective ciprofloxacin extended-release tablets, the regulator’s website said.

The drug maker also received approval to market rivastigmine tartrate capsules, a generic variant of Novartis’ Exelon capsules, indicated in the treatment of mild dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. REUTERS

Baseline, Wexford to launch India fund

Hyderabad: Aimed at reaping benefits from the fast growing Indian economy, Baseline Partners Ltd, a Cayman Islands-based private equity firm, and Wexford Capital Llc., a US-based investment adviser with more than $7 billion (Rs27,510 crore) of assets under management, have announced an India- focused fund.

Bharani Bobba, a partner in Baseline, said the initial corpus of the fund would be around $100 million. Both the firms are currently negotiating with four-five pre-IPO Indian companies to fund their expansion plans. Co-founder and president of Wexford Capital, Joseph Jacobs, said they are looking at opportunities in a variety of high-growth sectors that include power, retail, real estate, infrastructure and life sciences. “We are not capital-constrained and going forward we would enhance our exposure to match emerging opportunities," he said. C.R. Sukumar

CII Carbon prices debt bond yield at 11%

Mumbai: The world’s second largest producer of calcined petroleum coke CII Carbon Llc. has priced its $235 million (Rs923.5 crore) of high-yield, high-risk bonds to yield 11.12%, or 25 basis points under the 11.5% price band, Citigroup said in a statement on Wednesday. Citigroup was the bookrunner for the deal.

The eight-year debt, which CII Carbon can redeem in the fourth year, is guaranteed by Hyderabad-based Rain Calcining Ltd, which bought the US company in August for $595 million.

The bond represents the first US high yield bond issuance guaranteed by an Indian corporate, thereby allowing investors to get scarce Indian credit exposure.

The bond proceeds would be used to repay a bridge loan for the acquisition of CII Carbon, which helped Rain Calcining to become the world’s biggest maker of the material used in the production of aluminium and titanium dioxide, and to cut costs. Staff Writer & Bloomberg

Jhaveri to head Citi’s India global banking biz

Mumbai:Pramit Jhaveri has been appointed by Citigroup Inc. as the head of global banking India and vice-chairman for Citi’s Asia investment banking business, a statement said on Wednesday.

In his new role, Jhaveri would lead the unified corporate banking and investment banking client coverage in India and oversee the coordination and delivery of capital markets platform.

“Pramit’s new role reflects the increasing opportunities we see to help our clients in India, grow beyond their home market, by giving them access to the full suite of Citi’s local and global capabilities in the capital markets," said Robert Morse, CEO Asia Pacific Markets & Banking. Staff Writer

Network18 to invest $90 mn in Viacom JV

Mumbai: Media firm Network18 said on Wednesday it will invest $90.5 million (Rs355.6 crore) over three years in its joint venture (JV) with Viacom Inc., which will launch a Hindi-language general entertainment channel in India in 2008. The equal JV, Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd, will include television, film and digital media content, and will also launch niche channels from the MTV Networks portfolio, it said.

The tie-up, which will be managed by a six-member board with equal representation from both companies, will also operate Viacom’s MTV and VH1 and Nickelodeon India channels.

Announced in May, the venture will also include Studio18, the motion pictures division of Network18, which will produce, acquire and distribute Hindi-language films. REUTERS

Sepracor sues Lupin to block generic Clarinex

Washington: Research-based pharmaceutical firm Sepracor Inc. and the University of Massachusetts have sued India’s Lupin Ltd to block it from selling a generic version of the allergy pill Clarinex in the US.

Lupin, the biggest Indian maker of tuberculosis medicines, is seeking US food and drug administration approval to sell the generic. In its application, Lupin said two patents co-owned by Sepracor and the university are either not infringed or invalid. Sepracor disagrees. Lupin’s proposed generic is “a wholly unjustified infringement" of the patents, which expire in 2014, Sepracor and the university said in a complaint filed in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey. Sepracor is also suing Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, Mylan Inc., Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.over their applications to sell generic Clarinex. Bloomberg

Usha Martin to sell subsidiary to UK firm

Kolkata: Leading producer of speciality steel, Usha Martin Ltd, will sell its entire equity in subsidiary company, UM Cables, to Manchester-based B3 Cable Solutions. The ownership change is expected to take effect early next year, subject to due diligence and necessary approvals.

UM Cables, which has its factory at Silvassa near Mumbai, makes optical fibre and copper telecom cables. B3 Cable Solutions, with manufacturing in the UK and Ireland, is one of Europe’s largest producers of copper cables.

“The ownership change will enable Usha Martin to concentrate on its core business of minerals, speciality steel and wire rope," said P. Bhattacharya, joint managing director of Usha Martin. Rajdeep Datta Roy

Subsidy burden capping surge in ONGC shares

New Delhi: Subsidy-induced under realization is capping the growth potential of Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC)—country’s most valued state-run oil and gas firm—leading to heavy undervaluation of its shares, chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma said on Wednesday.

“Our enterprise value is about $9 (Rs353) per barrel as against $13-14 for Cairn Energy, while the global average for a company of size equivalent to us is $15-16," Sharma said. The enterprise value is determined on the basis of oil and gas reserves of a company and is equal to the market capitalization (about $70 billion for ONGC) divided by proven reserves (eight billion barrels of oil and oil-equivalent of gas in the case of ONGC). PTI

Firstsource raises $275 mn through FCCBs

Mumbai: BPO service provider Firstsource Solutions Ltd on Wednesday said it has raised $275 million (Rs1,080 crore) through the issue of foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) in international markets.

The funds would be utilized to repay $275 million debt for its recent acquisition of US-based health care company MedAssist Holdings Inc.

Firstsource Solutions said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange that the equity shares upon conversion of FCCBs would be priced at Rs92.29 each. PTI

Riico ties up with IL&FS for water-supply project

New Delhi:Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corp. (Riico) on Wednesday signed an agreement with infrastructure lender Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) to form a special purpose vehicle company (SPV) for a water-supply project.

The project will supply water to a textile park in Soniyana village, in Chittorgarh and also serve industries in Bhilwara in Rajasthan. The proposed integrated water supply project would be implemented on a public-private partnership model.

“Bhilwara has emerged as one of the largest centres for manufacturing synthetic suitings and has around 13,000 looms. The poor availability of water in the Bhilwara–Chittorgarh area was a major hindrance to the growth of the textile sector in the region," said a statement quoting state industries minister Narpat Singh Rajvi. Rahul Chandran

ARCIL acquires bad loans from two PSBs

Mumbai:Asset Reconstruction Co. (India) Ltd (ARCIL) has acquired bad debts totalling Rs805 crore from ICICI Bank and National Housing Bank (NHB) and is close to finalizing two-three more deals including public sector lenders, a top ARCIL official said.

“We bought Rs405 crore principal dues from ICICI. This includes Rs284 crore of bad home loans. That apart, nearly Rs400 crore dues from NHB were also bought," ARCIL vice-president Gurudas Saha said. PTI

Blackstone buys stake in MTAR Technologies

Mumbai: The world’s biggest buyout fund, Blackstone Group Lp., bought an undisclosed stake in Hyderabad-based engineering company, MTAR Technologies Pvt. Ltd, for $65 million (about Rs255 crore).

MTAR Technologies makes parts for nuclear power reactors and components for aerospace and defence applications, according to a joint statement from the companies on Wednesday.

Blackstone’s previous investments in India include a controlling stake in garment exporter Gokaldas Exports Ltd and a minority holding in Nagarjuna Construction Co.

The US buyout fund is among the bidders for an interest in the state-run project financier IFCI Ltd.

First Securities was the adviser for the investment in MTAR. Bloomberg

Fresh violence breaks out at Nandigram

Kolkata: Violence broke out in Nandigram in West Bengal on Wednesday as rival groups traded gunfire and threw bombs leaving two people injured. Meanwhile, East Midnapore superintendent of police, S. Panda, said the two people who were injured in Tuesday’s violence had succumbed to their injuries.

A woman was among those wounded in renewed violence at Tekhalibazar, Maheshpur, Bhangaberia, Sonachura, Satengabari, Gokulnagar and Adhikaripara, he said.

Panda said Trinamool Congress supporters had set up road blocks all over the district, which was severely hindering the movement of police and officials. PTI

BJP seeks renegotiation of India-US nuke deal

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday sought to put to rest speculations that it might consider supporting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the India-US civilian nuclear agreement.

In a prepared text, signed by senior party leaders L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and Jaswant Singh, the opposition party said the so-called 123 Agreement “must be renegotiated and not hustled through as the UPA government is attempting to do".

The joint statement is not only a reiteration of the party’s original stand but is also an attempt to allay the impression that there is a difference of opinion within the party, with Advani tilted in favour of the nuclear deal. Staff Writer