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Bra wars: India fills Chinese gap

LONDON, Aug 26: India's biggest opportunity to worst China and seize control of Europe's insatiable demand for mass-produced, cheap-and-cheerful fashion garments has strengthened on Thursday with retailers across the continent admitting they were frantically searching for alternative low-cost, high-quality, large-scale Asian manufacturers of men's trousers, women's smalls, sweaters and T-shirts now that the European Union (EU) is furiously fighting the so-called 'bra wars' with China.

Even as nearly 80 million mass-produced Chinese garments meant for European shoppers remained stranded at continental customs checkpoints because of EU import quotas, Europe's largest, most-networked consortium of retailers said "there is a great opportunity for India".

With the EU's top officials engaged in emergency talks with their counterparts in Beijing, leading British retailers said they had been making urgent calls to factories in Bangalore and elsewhere in India in an attempt to fill shops with cheap clothing meant for Europe's customarily cool autumn and bumper-sales Christmas rush.

The so-called 'bra wars', have meant around 50 million sweaters, 17 million pairs of men's trousers, three million bras and four million T-shirts have been detained at customs warehouses across Europe, while the European retailers who ordered and paid for them months ago are faced with the prospect of emptying shelves, on a scale not seen since World War II.

Alisdair Gray, director of the British Retail Consortium, which boasts it "represents all UK retailers, including large multiples, department stores and independents", said from Brussels that Europe's trade dispute with China has obviously prompted a desperate search for an alternative low-cost Asian supplier of cheap garments.

That, he said, could only be India because "we have been told all along that India is the next China in terms of production and we do believe that it is only Indian suppliers who could deliver this sort of scale, high-quality and serve all parts of the (European) market". The monetary value of the opportunity potentially opening up for India is thought to be almost the same as that of China's clothing exports to Europe. China sold clothing worth nearly £5 bn to Europe in the first half of this year alone, almost the same amount as in all of 2004.

To date, India's clothing exports to Europe total less than one-fifth of Chinese sales. Indian exporters have already reported that sales figures for the first four months of this year represented a 14-per cent increase on the same period last year.

Gray said that China's fall - at the cusp of the EU's protectionist trade policies on clothing imports - was a "great opportunity for India because there are only a finite amount of factories, say in Romania, Cambodia or Vietnam, which could produce, for example a high-quality over-sized bra."

Indian manufacturers, said the BRC, were thought well able to lug the gap, which will mean European retailers losing business and money over the next few months. But the BRC cautioned that the Indian opportunity might only be as long-term as the service, quality and profit-margins it provides. Warned Gray, "the Indian opportunity will not obviously mean that retailers will suddenly ditch China. Retailers want to invest long-term. We want a stable and predictable trading environment." The Chinese clothes currently piling up unsold at EU ports are said to breach limits agreed in June, which wree designed to protect Europe from a flood of cheap Chinese imports. Europe's biggest high street names have warned that their shelves may start to empty if the goods are not released.

European retailers said that at least five European countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic were deeply protectionist and had been arguing for Europe to limit cheap Asian clothing imports . Pro-business governments from Scandinavia and northern Europe have denounced the import curbs as economic suicide, even as EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson acknowledged they had more to do with assuaging European public opinion than economic logic.

Senior EU officials have already arguedthat they want to limit the flood of cheap Chinese clothing in a nod to other developing countries, such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Just days ago, Mandelson said he had has noted that Chinese exports were displacing goods from other developing countries. But retailers say the only real replacement for China, in terms of scale, quality and price, can be India.
European importers admit they are looking to be less dependent on China for the 10 products currently subject to quotas. These include sweaters, trousers, T-shirts and women's blouses, as well as cotton fabrics, bed linen and table and kitchen linen.

Retailers, including Britain's biggest, Marks and Spencer (M & S), have already warned that shoppers will face rising prices if the EU's "bra wars" with China are not quickly resolved.

In a sign European retailers were heading for other, cheap Asian producers, Stuart Rose, chief executive of M & S, said: "People want cheap goods and Italy does not make them. Protectionism does not work." Late on Wednesday, Mandelson said there had been a "serious glitch" in the way the import curbs had been drawn up and implemented.

Meanwhile, European retailers and importers accused the European Commission of wreaking havoc on business.

BBC's Top Gear launched in India

NEW DELHI, Aug 19: Top Gear - the world's leading automotive magazine published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) - has launched its Indian edition.

The magazine launched Wednesday evening has over 1.5 million readers worldwide and is brought out by Worldwide Media Ltd.(WWM) - a 50:50 joint venture between BBC and the Times Group.

"We are very excited about the launch of our flagship brand, BBC Top Gear magazine in India. Given the huge potential of the Indian market combined with the strength of India's largest media house, we are confident that the Indian edition will be a resounding success," Ian Watson, director of WWM said at launch here.

Available in over 35 countries in 10 different editions, Top Gear's Indian avatar will be the 11th edition of the magazine. "Top Gear promises to bring a fresh and unique look into the world of motoring," said WWM director Vineet Jain.

Govt makes case for hiking fuel prices

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Aug 16: The Government has made a strong case for hike in domestic petroleum prices with the Indian crude oil basket crossing $ 60 a barrel but promised all steps to ensure that the burden on the common man was minimal by considering reduction in duties.

"We are going through one of the worst crises in international oil prices. We have a panapoly of measures to greatly restrict the impact of spiralling prices", Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told the Lok Sabha, intervening in a discussion on rise in prices of essential commodities, including oil.

"We believe in equitable burden sharing. A little bit by the consumer, a substantial chunk by the Government and the larger share on shoulders of the oil companies," he said apparently indicating the possibility of a moderate hike in domestic oil prices.

He demolished Opposition arguments that the Centre has done very little to protect the interest of common man.

Reeling out statistics, Aiyar said the oil prices shot up by 18 USD in the last 14 months which was equivalent to the increase over eight year period from 1996 to 2004.

Yet the UPA Government increased petrol prices by mere Rs seven as against NDA Government's Rs 16, PDS Kerosene by only four paise vis-a-vis NDA regime's Rs 6.05, diesel by Rs six as against NDA's Rs 15 and LPG by Rs 53 a cylinder as against Rs 145 a cylinder by the BJP-led coalition.

He said the UPA Government had resorted to only modest increase and oil companies absorbed a sizeable amount despite a whopping 164 per cent rise in crude oil prices, petrol 177 per cent, Diesel 203 per cent, kerosene 218 per cent and LPG 108 per cent in three years.

Meanwhile, a letter from the Oil Marketing Companies have urged the Petroleum Ministry to allow them hike of Rs 5.29 per litre in petrol and Rs 4.54 per litre increase in diesel prices in line with the spurt in global crude oil prices.

The letter from IndianOil reminded that all oil marketing companies have posted significant losses during the first quarter of 2005-06. "Unless immediate corrective actions are taken by way of increase in prices and/or suitable downward revisions in the excise duties, the adverse financial position of OMCs are likely to deteriorate further in the second quarter," said the letter.

It may be mentioned that if the domestic fuel prices are not hiked keeping in view the unprecedented surge in global prices, all state-run oil marketing companies including Indian Oil Corp, BPCL, HPCL and IBP will turn sick.

According to the ministry's estimates, IOC's subsidiary IBP will be the first to turn financially sick by as early as next month as losses arising from freeze on fuel prices will erode its networth.

Bharat Petroleum Corp will turn sick in just over a year from now and Hindustan Petroleum Corp will take just 20 months to be referred to the Board of Industrial and Financial Restructuring.

IOC, the country's biggest oil company, will turn sick in 35 months from now if petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene prices are not changed in line with the spurt in global oil prices.

IOC, which reported its first ever net loss of Rs 54.2 crore in April-June quarter, suffered an estimated loss (including depreciation) of Rs 744 crore in July alone. BPCL netted a loss of Rs 400 crore over Rs 431.3 crore loss in Q1, while HPCL saw Rs 475 crore loss in July on top of Rs 507.89 crore net loss of April-June quarter.

Mafia makes kerosene disappear into thin air

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Aug 16: This is no magic. Kerosene mafia is diverting half of poor man's fuel into thin air and bleeding the PSUs like IndianOil, BPCL and HPCL. In other words, the mafia is diverting kerosene meant for public distribution system (PDS) to more profitable use like adulteration of petrol, diesel and other industrial solvents.

Two recent studies commissioned by the Oil Ministry reveal that half of the kerosene meant for people below poverty line is siphoned off by "organized gangs of mafia proportions" which make huge profits by selling the fuel in the black market or using it to adulterate motor fuels et al.

The studies by National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Public Finance and Planning (NIPFP) conclude that subsidy gives kerosene an undue price advantage against other fuels and forces its diversion at the cost of the poor families for whom it is meant.

It may be mentioned here that while kerosene at PDS outlets is sold at Rs 9, in the open market it's available for Rs 20. On the other hand, diesel is priced at Rs 30 and petrol at Rs 42. Any adulteration of subsidized kerosene with petrol or diesel results in huge profits.

Of the 10 million tones of kerosene, if half ie 5 million tones are diverted every year, it results into a loss of Rs 10,000 crore to the exchequer. The kerosene mafia is thus bleeding dry the PSUs like IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) and IBP who are on the verge of turning sick due to rising losses arising from the freeze on fuel prices.

IOC has reported its first-ever net loss of Rs 54.02 crore in the April-June quarter. BPCL netted a loss of Rs 400 crore in addition to Rs 4,313 crore loss in Q1. HPCL clocked a loss of Rs 475 crore in July on top of the Rs 507 crore net losses in Q1. IBP has reported a loss of Rs 189 crore in July.

It is also learnt that the Government is planning to send a missive to all oil refiners, Reliance Industries and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL) in particular, to produce more kerosene to meet public distribution system (PDS) demand. The basis of this order is that the supply to the PDS system is falling short of the demand for PDS kerosene.

However, what the studies reveal is that the Government needs to strengthen the PDS system so that the mafia does not divert kerosene to the black market.

It is also pointed out that Reliance and MRPL are producing 12 per cent average production of LPG and SKO as percentage of crude as is being done by other public-sector undertakings. The LPG and SKO as percentage of crude for IOC and its associates is 12.2 per cent. Its 12.3 per cent for BPCl; 10.9 per cent for HPCL; 12.5 per cent for MRPL and 11.6 per cent for RIL.

The studies also point out that a majority of the kerosene users in the country do not depend on the fuel for cooking meals. This is true even for those who do not have access to cooking gas. The NCAER study says that 73 per cent of rural households and 30 per cent of urban households use kerosene only for lighting purposes.

In the given scenario where the fault lies in the distribution system and not in the supply, the Government moves to try and force refineries to produce more products will end up benefiting the wrong people while the solution will not be found. Need of the hour is to focus on refining the PDS system to ensure that the BPL families get the benefit and not put pressure on refineries.

RIL raises stake to 45.55 per cent in REL

NEW DELHI, Aug 16: As part of ongoing de-merger of Reliance group companies following settlement of ownership between two Ambani brothers, Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd has acquired 37.95 per cent stake in Reliance Energy, owned by the younger brother. The total deal, which has increased RIL's stake in REL to 45.55 per cent, was proposed for a consideration of over Rs 2,662 crore.

The acquisition was proposed to be at the rate of Rs 351.69 a share of Rs 10 each. RIL has purchased over 7.57 crore equity shares in REL from its wholly-owned subsidiary Reliance Power Ventures Ltd (RPVL), the Mukesh Ambani-owned company told National Stock Exchange.

Three units of Nathpa Jhakri start generation

SHIMLA, Aug 15: After facing closure for a day, three units of Nathpa-Jhakri hydro power project today started power generation as silt level in river Sutlej decreased to 5500 particle per million (ppm) against permissible limit of 5000 ppm.

Three units of the project with 250 mw capacity each resumed power generation today while the another unit was expected to start generation tomorrow, an SJVN spokesman said. The 1500 mw project was shut down yesterday following sharp rise in silt level in river Sutlej which touched 20,000 ppm at one time and later came down to 11,000 ppm.

"The Nathpa-Jhakri project had suffered power loss of about 1250 million units due to excessive silting during the year. The excessive silting, which was experienced after the Pareechu river outburst on June 26, had forced the project's shutdown for more than 19 days," Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam H K Sharma said today.

The hydro electric power projects in Himalayan region have to run efficiently, he said adding certain modifications proposed to be carried out in the Nathpa-Jhakri would enhance its operational efficiency. He said an office has opened in Dehradun to cater to the needs of three projects awarded to the company in Uttaranchal.

The project had lost revenue to the tune of Rs 120 crore due to shut down and non-utilisation of full capacity due to silting and floods and the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), running the project had planned construction of big dams upstream Sutlej to check the problem of silting.

Oil surges to record $65 a barrel

NEW YORK, Aug 11: Oil prices surged nearly two dollars on Wednesday after a U.S. government report rekindled fears that resilient demand from summer drivers and a spate of refinery outages could trigger a gasoline supply crunch.

The gains came against the backdrop of rising tensions in the Middle East after the United States temporarily closed its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia this week due to the threat of attacks by militants.

U.S. light sweet crude futures soared $1.93 to hit $65.00 a barrel, the highest on record, before settling at $64.90. London Brent jumped $2.08 to new peak of $64.06 a barrel, before settling at $63.99.

IFFCO's fuel supply pacts to cut govt's subsidy liability by Rs 1130 cr

NEW DELHI, Aug 8: Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd's move to swtichover to low-cost liquefied natural gas (LNG) in place of naphtha and fuel oil would reduce the Government's subsidy outgo by a whopping Rs 1130 crore, according to Mr Ghansham Dass, IFFCO spokesman.

To achieve this goal, IFFCO has signed collaboration agreements with GAIL and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd (GSPCL) to switchover to low cost liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the place of Naphtha and Fuel Oil. These long term fuel supply contracts would not only reduce the Government's subsidy outgo, but would also lead to cut in input costs for manufacture of urea, said Mr Ghansham Dass.

The spokesman informed that IFFCO had entered into a agreement with Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd (GSPCL) early this year to supply re-gasified LNG for the Kalol unit. The agreement has already become operational. Putting Kalol unit on LNG has led to a fertilizer subsidy saving of Rs 84 crore annually, he said.

Simultaneously, he said IFFCO has tied up with GAIL for supply of re-gasified LNG to its Phulpur unit through a dedicated pipeline stretching to 140 kms from Thulendi near Jagadishpur to Phulpur. The re-gasified LNG will be available through this pipeline beginning next financial year (April 2006).

Meanwhile, IFFCO is in the midst of recasting its unit in Phulpur with an investment of Rs 33 crore for using regasified LNG as the feedstock. The fuel switchover will entail a subsidy saving of Rs 658 crore for the Union Government.

Since the re-gasified LNG would be devoid of higher hydrocarbons, entire ammonia cannot be converted into urea. To ensure complete ammonia utilization for urea production, IFFCO has decided to set up two carbon-di-oxide recovery plants at Phulpur and Aonla. Both the CO2 recovery units will have installed capacity of 450 metric tonnes per day each.

The setting up of these carbon-di-oxide recovery plants with an investment of Rs 120 crore would lead to a subsidy saving of an additional Rs 388 crore as the high-cost naphtha would not be used even as supplementary inputs, said the spokesman.

Fuel switchover in all the three production units -- Aonla, Phulpur and Kalol -- on cost-effective and environment friendly LNG would also result in substantive reduction in emission of Green House Gases (GHGs).

Adidas acquires Reebok for $3.8 bn

FRANKFURT, July 3: Adidas-Salomon AG said on Wednesday that it will buy shoemaker Reebok International Ltd in a $3.8 billion deal, giving the company about 20 per cent of the US market and putting it in a position to better challenge leader Nike Inc.

Under the terms of the all-stock deal, Adidas will pay $59 for all of Reebok's outstanding shares, a premium of 34.2 per cent. The deal is subject to regulatory approval in the United States and Europe as well as by shareholders. Both companies said the transaction could close during the first half of 2006. The deal will bring together two impressive stables of athletes and entertainment endorsers. English soccer star David Beckham and rap artist Missy Elliott are under contract to Adidas.

Reebok in February launched the "I am what I am" marketing campaign, which features pitches from celebrity entertainers and athletes in an effort to draw younger buyers who regard sneakers as high fashion. One of the ads featuring the rapper 50 Cent was pulled in March amid complaints that it glorified gun violence.

Reebok said its second-quarter profit soared 71 per cent on strong sales driven by its high-performance model shoes and the new marketing campaign. The announcement came as the Herzogenaurach-based company posted a 30-per cent gain in second-quarter net profit and improved sales. The company earned $80.6 million or $2.47 a share, in the quarter ended June 30.

IOC goes into red; Rs 54.23 cr Q1 net loss

NEW DELHI, July 29: Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) went into red as the state-run company reported a loss of Rs 54.23 crore for the first quarter of the current fiscal as against a profit of Rs 1,472 crore in the year-ago period.

This was mainly due to under-realisation of Rs 3194 crore on sale of MS, HSD and SKO and LPG during the current quarter of 2005-06 as against Rs 1786 crore during the corresponding quarter of the previous year, consequent to non-revision of retail selling prices in line with international prices, according to IOC Chairman Sarthak Behuria.

IOC sold 11.85 million tonnes of petroleum products in the domestic market besides exporting 0.55 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2005-06. Its seven refineries together achieved a throughput of 9.18 million tonnes and the pipeline network transported 11.13 million tonnes of crude oil and products. The sales turnover for the first quarter, however, jumped 19 per cent to Rs 42,340 crore from Rs 35,577 crore in the year-ago period.

Reliance Industries Q1 net up 60.7 pc at Rs 2,310 cr

MUMBAI, July 28: In the first financial result announced after division of the Reliance group, Mukesh Ambani- controlled Reliance Industries Ltd said its net profit rose 60.7 percent at Rs 2,310 crore in the quarter ended 30th June, 2005, up from Rs 1,437 crore in the year-ago period.

In a statement, the company said that its turnover increased by 26 percent to Rs 19,884 crore as against Rs 15,746 crore for April-June 2004. It said sales swelled due to impact of increase in product selling prices of 21 per cent and increase in sales volume of five per cent as compared to the corresponding previous quarter.

The net operating margins improved during the reporting quarter at 20 per cent despite the volatile raw material prices. The impact of volatile prices was offset by higher selling prices and efficeint cost control measures, it said.

The company's production of oil and gas and petrochemicals, including toll conversion was 3.18 million tonnes during the Q1 with its refinery operating at 96 per cent capacity and processing 7.92 million tonnes of crude. Exports, including deemed exports, were up by 40 percent at Rs 7,144 crore as agaist Rs 5,102 crore Q1 of 2004-05.

The exports of refining products of reporting quarter were 2.46 million tons, compared to 2.55 million tones in the same period last fiscal. The production volumes of PFY, PSF and PET increased by 19 percent to 2,79,000 tonnes primarily on account of increased PET production, it added.

Meanwhile, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has decided to close the buy-back of equity shares in the open market through stock exchanges. According to a RIL release, the Board of Directors of the company have decided that the buy-back of equity shares in the open market through stock exchanges, made pursuant to public announcement on 28th December, 2004, be closed from the end of business hours on August 2, 2005.

8 dead as fire engulfs Bombay High site

MUMBAI, July 28: At least eight persons were killed and 45 people went missing as a major fire on Wednesday destroyed a big oil drilling platform of ONGC off Mumbai coast, disrupting crude production from the country's prime oilfield.

Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said in New Delhi that three persons were confirmed dead and 45 people have gone missing when the ONGC platform, located about 160 kms from the coast, caught fire at around 1630 hours. He said there were 385 people on the platform when the incident took place.

ONGC officials said 331 people have been rescued by Coast Guard and Navy ships. ONGC officials said the "casualties are very minimal". Several ONGC personnel abandoned the platform and jumped into the Arabian sea, Coast Guard sources said in Mumbai. The fire was apparently caused due to collision of a vessel docked nearby in high tide, reports said.

The blaze died because the platform collapsed. Search and rescue operations will continue through the night. ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Subir Raha said the platform, which gathered oil from up to 20 wells and supplied 80,000 barrels per day, would take several months to return to normal production.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is scheduled to make an aerial survey of the flood affected areas of Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, is taking Aiyar along with him for a first hand assessment of the damage tomorrow. Singh condoled the deaths in the oil platform fire. This is the second major fire in four years at the Mumbai High fields.

Maruti Q1 profit up on strong Swift sales

NEW DELHI, July 25: Top Indian car maker Maruti Udyog Ltd. reported a forecast-beating 32 per cent rise in profit as cost cuts and strong demand for its new Swift hatchback offset falling sales of other vehicles and higher raw materials prices.

The New Delhi-based auto maker, owned 54.2 per cent by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp. makes top-selling models such as the mini Maruti 800 and the Alto hatchback. Its cheap, fuel-efficient vehicles are often the first car Indian families buy.

Maruti launched the Swift in May, and then boosted its share of the fast-growing Indian compact sector, competing with Hyundai's Getz and Fiat's Palio. Net profit for the fiscal first-quarter to June 30 was 2.26 billion rupees ($52 million) against 1.71 billion rupees a year earlier. Analysts had expected net profit to rise 13 per cent to 1.93 billion rupees, according to a Reuters poll of 11 brokers.

The company wants to move next year into diesel cars, where rival Tata Motors Ltd. has a head start. With about half the auto market already, Maruti is well placed for growth in India, where only 8 in 1,000 people own cars, compared with 35 in Thailand and 450 in developed markets.

But the likes of General Motors, Ford Motor and Honda Motor are building capacity and increasing local production of their cars and parts in a bid to compete on price.

New entrants are also lining up: India's Mahindra & Mahindra will begin making the Logan sedan from 2007 in a joint venture with France's Renault.

Also, Toyota Motor Corp. is reported to be planning an $89-million plant to make 100,000 small cars from 2007.

Moody’s upgrades IndianOil’s rating

NEW DELHI, July 18: Moody Investor Services Ltd. has upgraded IndianOil’s rating to Baa3, equivalent to the sovereign rating of India. This is an improvement over the earlier rating of Ba1 in the senior implied category and Ba2 in the issuer rating category assigned to IndianOil by Moody’s.

This is a great success achieved by IndianOil as Moody’s very seldom does a two notch upgrade. With this upgradation, IndianOil has now moved into the Investment Grade Rating category of Moody’s.

Under the new rating methodology for Government-related issuers (“GRI”) applied by Moody’s, this rating reflects IndianOil’s dominant position in the Indian downstream sector.

According to Moody’s this review was prompted by IndianOil’s dominant position in the refining and transmission pipeline network as well as its scale of operations in the domestic market, sound credit metrics, Government ownership and support.

In the present scenario where the oil industry is facing a trend of falling marketing margins due to continuous pressure of surging international crude oil prices as well as non-revision in the prices of petrol & petroleum products to that tune, IndianOil’s rating upgradation by an international rating agency reiterates the Company’s commitment towards society, the Government of India, creditors, stakeholders, employees and the public at large.

IndianOil's Gujarat refinery resumes operation

VADODARA, July 3: IndianOil's Gujarat Refinery has begun operation after the first impact of floods in Gujarat receded. The primary processing units, which were shut down due to incessant rains and water logging early this week, have been re-commissioned by the Refinery since yesterday.

All the crude distillation units have been put on stream and the secondary processing units viz. Fluidised Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU), and Hydrocracker are under start-up. India's largest LAB (Linear Alkyl Benzene) plant at Gujarat Refinery has also been put back on stream today morning. Koyali-Ahmedabad Product Pipeline has also been commissioned today for pumping petroleum products to Ahmedabad.

In view of the unprecedented scale of devastation unleashed by this natural calamity, IndianOil's Gujarat Refinery has scaled up support to the
neighbouring communities. In addition to 10,000 food packets provided by the Refinery to the District authorities to reach the affected people, food packets were also distributed by the IndianOil officials today among the villagers residing in the Refinery's vicinity.

Taking its role as a responsible corporate citizen further, IndianOil's Gujarat Refinery will also contribute in preventing the outbreak of epidemics in the adjoining areas, besides its own township, according to Dr Ajit Pathak, Sr. Manager (Corporate Communications), Refineries Headquarters.

S V Narasimhan takes over as Director (Finance) at IndianOil

NEW DELHI, July 1: Mr. S.V. Narasimhan has joined the Board of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. as Director (Finance) today. He takes over from Mr. P Sugavanam who superannuated from service yesterday. Prior to joining the IndianOil Board, Mr. Narasimhan was Managing Director of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (CPCL), an IndianOil Group Company.

A Chartered Accountant by profession and an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi, Mr. Narasimhan has over three decades of rich and varied experience in the oil sector. Beginning his career at IndianOil, he served the Fortune ‘Global 500’ company for over 25 years before joining CPCL as its Director (Finance) in November 2000 and thereafter rose to head CPCL as its MD from November 2002 onwards.

Mr. Narasimhan served as a member of several specialist committees of the Government of India that drafted oil sector policies. He is also credited with assisting the Oil Cost Review Committee (OCRC), set up by the Union Government in 1983 to formulate the basis for pricing of petroleum products. He was also a member of the sub-committee of the working group set up by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to evolve a comprehensive long term plan for the Hydrocarbon Sector, which was the basis for the Restructuring Group Report and the subsequent road map for the deregulation of the Indian petroleum sector. Widely travelled, Mr. Narasimhan has also presented several papers in international forums.

Modi announces major natural gas find worth $ 50 billion

AHMEDABAD, June 28: In the biggest ever discovery of its kind in the country, estimated reserves of 20 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) worth USD 50 billion was found from a drilling block in Krishna Godavari basin by Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), Chief Minister Narendra Modi announced here on Sunday.

Dedicating the project, now named 'Deen Dayal' (God and saviour of the poor) to the nation, Modi told reporters here that this natural gas find made 10 days ago was worth Rs two lakh crores after an investment of Rs 250 crores was made. He said the money generated from this project would be put into education of children living Below the Poverty Line (BPL).

"This discovery will almost double the current gas production of the nation and the state government's priority would be to begin its commercial production and sell at the earliest," Modi said. The GSPC discovered the gas in the KG#8 block, located six kms away from the shore of the Yanam-Kakinada coast of Andhra Pradesh after drilling upto 5061 mts at a temperature of 400 degrees farenheit, a feat that Modi said was the first ever in the country.

MTNL net at Rs. 939 cr

NEW DELHI, June 21: State-owned telecom major MTNL posted 18.4 per cent decline in its net profit for the year 2004-05 at Rs. 938.97 crore. The company's net income from services also declined by 12. 2 per cent to Rs. 5,592.38 crore. The directors of the company have recommended a dividend of 45 per cent including an interim dividend of 20 per cent, MTNL said in a statement.

Ambani brothers reach "amicable" settlement

MUMBAI, June 18:The warring Ambani brothers today reached an "amicable" settlement of the ownership dispute in the Rs 90,000 crore mega Reliance group under which elder brother Mukesh will retain flagship Company RIL and its Petrochemcial venture IPCL while Anil gets Reliance Infocomm, Reliance Energy and Reliance Capital.

The settlement of the seven-month bitter wrangle was announced by their mother Kokilaben who said in a statement "I have today amicably resolved the issues between my two sons, Mukesh and Anil, keeping in mind the proud legacy of my husband Dhirubhai Ambani."

SAIL-IISCO merger gets Cabinet nod

NEW DELHI, June 16: The Government on Thursday cleared the merger of two steel PSUs -- Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO) and Steel Authority of India (SAIL).

Merger of 11 million tonne SAIL with IISCO (3 MT) was today cleared at the meeting of the CCEA chaired by Prime Minister Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

IFFCO ties with Chattisgarh for 1,000-MW coal-based power plant

RAIPUR, JUNE 6: Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB) for setting up a 1,000 MW coal-based power project in the tribal Sarguja district. Estimated at a cost of Rs 4,500 crore, the project is scheduled for commissioning by 2009-2010 and will achieve its full capacity in phases by 2011-2012, IFFCO Chairman Surinder Kumar Jakhar said during the signing of the MoU.

Mr Jakhar said IFFCO will have 74 per cent stake, while CSEB will hold the rest in the project. The project will benefit the state by making energy available at low tariff.

Chhhatishgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said IFFCO, a fertilser cooperative major, had selected the state for its first power project after it decided to diversify into power sector. He said setting up of the power project in the Sarguja district will increase the pace of development in tribal areas as IFFCO had agreed to contribute to the socio -economic development of the region.

IFFCO Managing Director US Awasthi, CSEB chairman Rajib Ranjan and Energy Secrertary Ajay Singh signed the MoU in the presence of the Chief Minister and Mr Jakhar.

Speaking to newsmen, Mr Awasthi said that the power plant will have its captive coal mine at Tara block from where coal would be brought to the plant through a conveyor. The power plant would employ modern technology to ensure least water consumption and zero pollution. He said IFFCO would also take care of local area development, including general health and education.

On whether IFFCO would be able to complete the project within the prescribed time frame in view of naxalite activities in the region, Mr Awasthi said the state government had to deal with issues pertaining to the law and order. "Ours is an orgnaisation of the farmers and all our projects ensured an involvement of the local population," he added.

IFFCO plans $1b expansion; To set up phosphoric plants in Egypt and Gujarat

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI, May 31: Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO), one of world's largest fertilizer cooperatives, on Monday announced $1 billion expansion plan envisaging setting-up of three greenfield plants, foray into rock phosphate mining in Egypt and carbon trading with Japan's Mitsui. The proposed investment would be funded by way of debt and equity in a ratio of 2:1.

Announcing this to newsmen here, the IFFCO Managing Director, Mr U S Awasthi, said "we are talking to several international and domestic banks such as Standard Chartered, BNP Paribas, ANZ Grindlays, IDBI Bank and SBI for debt component."

While the investments would ensure backward integration for assured supply of phosphoric acid, these would also help the cooperative to enhance fertilizer production to 86 lakh tonnes annually from 61 lakh tonnes. The organisation has set a target of 100 lakh tonnes per annum in the medium term. The programme includes setting up of a phosphoric acid plant in Egypt with an installed capacity of five lakh tonnes annually in a 75:25 joint venture with El Nasr Mining Co.

Unfolding the details, the IFFCO Chairman, Mr Surinder Kumar Jhakhar, said the cooperative was also negotiating with a government entity in Egypt to undertake rock phosphate mining. Another plant of five lakh tonnes capacity for phosphoric acid would be set up in Gujarat, for which negotiations were on with Kandla and Mundra while a DAP and NPK plant of 18 lakh tonnes annually would be established at Kandla.

Simultaneously, IFFCO had also finalised a ten-year agreement with Mitsui for carbon trading, he said adding that this was on account of its switching over to LNG from naphtha. On the subsidy situation in the post-expansion period, he said there would be savings of about Rs. 1,000 crore for the government.

In 2004-05, IFFCO posted a marginal dip in net profit at Rs. 320 crore against Rs. 330 crore in the previous fiscal.

Mani to firm up petro links with Pak

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, June 1: During his forthcoming visit to Pakistan, the Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, will discuss with Pakistani leaders ways and means to strengthen petroleum links between the two countries as envisaged by Dr Manmohan Singh and Gen Pervez Musharraf. Among the issues, Mr Aiyar is expected to discuss the trilateral gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan and IndianOil's proposal to export diesel to the neighbouring country.

IndianOil Corporation (IOC) wants to export 300,000 metric tones of diesel and 100,000 tonnes of petrochemicals to Pakistan with which the Manmohan Singh Government has taken several confidence-building measures to improve the ties. "We have made an offer to export diesel to Pakistan," confirmed IOC chairman Sarthak Behuria.

However, there is a catch. Though there is shortage of diesel in Pakistan, it has put diesel under the banned list of importable items from India. Unless this ban is lifted, IOC would not be able to export diesel to Pakistan.

During his visit to Pakistan from June 4 to 7, Mr Aiyar is expected to impress upon his Pakistani counterpart to remove diesel from the negative list of importable items from India. Islamabad imports 4.5-5 million tonnes of diesel every year at Karachi from Kuwait and other Middle East countries.
However, if Islamabad imports diesel from India, it would be cheaper due to low transportation cost. Diesel to Pakistan can be exported across the border by land route - from Panipat refinery to Jalandhar and than to Lahore via rail/road or through a pipeline.

"Apart from lower cost of diesel, India's surplus capacity and its proximity to the consumption points of Pakistan, shall provide adequate energy security and a lot of flexibility to Pakistan," an IOC official said.

However, there could be dampener on plans of IndianOil and Mr Aiyar, who is seen by many as a champion of the export oriented petroleum strategy, if the Finance Ministry decides to lift duty drawback on petroleum product exports.

The withdrawal of duty drawback would make the diesel exports to Pakistan more expensive and India would lose the cutting edge, admitted a source. The withdrawal of duty drawback would further bring down the profits of IndianOil whose profits have already have gone down 30.17 per cent as compared to Rs. 7,005 crore for the previous year, mainly on account of under-recoveries in PDS Kerosene/LPG Domestic and short realisation in sale of Petrol and Diesel. It is yet to be seen what final view the Government takes on this.

IOC is also pitching for petrochemicals export to Pakistan. It has offered to sell linear alkyl benzene from Gujarat and PTA and Polymers through Wagah border from Panipat by road into Pakistan."All these products have considerable demand in Pakistan and are currently being imported by them from various sources. Imports from India would mean freight advantage to the consuming industries in Pakistan by way of road movement through Wagah Border from Panipat," he said. At present, import of LAB in Pakistan from India is on the negative list.

Mr Aiyar is also expected to discuss the oil pipeline linking Iran to India through Pakistan. Of the 2,600 km pipeline, about 700 km will pass through the Pakistan territory. Though this gas pipeline, India want to import 60 million metric standard cubic meters a day to meet its energy requirements. Pakistan will import 30 million metric standard cubic meters per day.

If all goes well, the pipeline will be operational by 2010. Pakistan is estimated to receive a transit fee of about US $ 200 million per year. However, there is no consensus on this figure.

IOC becomes the first Indian Corporate to cross Rs 150,000 crore turnover

NEW DELHI, May 30: Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, India's largest corporate organistation, has become the first Indian corporate to breach the Rs.150,000 crore (US$ 35b) mark in annual turnover. This was announced by Chairman Mr. Sarthak Behuria, who presented the company's Annual Results 2004-05 in the capital on Monday.

"IndianOil's Sales Turnover (inclusive of excise duty) for the year 2004-05 reached a new high at Rs. 150,677 crore, up by 15.72 per cent as compared to Rs. 130,203 crore in the previous year. However, the Profit After Tax at Rs. 4,891 crore has gone down 30.17 per cent as compared to Rs. 7,005 crore for the previous year, mainly on account of under-recoveries in PDS Kerosene/LPG Domestic and short realisation in sale of Petrol and Diesel," Mr Behuria said with a PowerPoint presentation in the background.

Responding to questions, Mr. Behuria said that IndianOil will continue to grow rapidly to meets its vision of becoming a US $ 60 billion company (Rs. 270,000 crore) by 2011-12 from the present US$ 35 billion. A clear 'blue print' was ready to achieve the same, he said.

On under recoveries and high international crude Oil prices Mr. Behuria said: 'It has become a major challenge due to prevailing price disparity and the solution lies in sharing of burden.' He said that the Government should take a decision on this 'soon'. IndianOil has already had under-recoveries of Rs. 3,600 crore in the months of April- May alone.

Mr Behuria also emphasised company's aggressive plans to expand into foreign shores. This includes neighboring countries like Pakistan where Mr. Behuria said IndianOil is already looking for long-term contract for supply of diesel, a proposal for which has already been submitted. On approval, IndianOil's Panipat Refinery would 'lead a natural exporter to the neighboring country'. Petrochemicals are likely to be next on the list of items that can be easily exported from this Refinery.

Senior IndianOil officials were also present during the conference including Director Marketing N. G. Kannan, Director (Finance) P Sugavanam, Director (Pipelines) A M Uplenchwar, Director (Human Resources) P K Agarwal, Director (Planning & Business Development) N K Nayyar, Director (Refineries) Jaspal Singh, Director (Research & Development) B M Bansal and General Manager, Corporate Communication Manager N. Srikumar.

Maruti launches 'Swift' at Rs 3.87 lakh

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, May 25: Maruti Udyog Ltd, India's largest carmaker, on Wednesday launched its new model 'Swift' in India, pricing the base model at Rs 3.87 lakh. The company, which is 54.2 per cent, owned by Japan's Suzuki Motors, has priced VXi variant of the model at Rs 4.05 lakh while the ZXi variant is at Rs 4.85 lakh.

The car, whose designing involved 25 Indian engineers, comes with a 1.3-litre petrol engine. Through this premium European style hatchback car, Maruti hopes to claw back lost market share in the hugely competitive foreign and domestic industry. In recent years, the carmaker has yielded ground to South Korea's Hyundai Motor and India's Tata Motors Ltd.

The Swift will help Maruti take on the premium hatchback Getz from Hyundai Motor and the Indica hatchback and the Indigo sedan from Tata Motors.
Analysts say the Swift is Maruti's most significant launch since the mini 800 more than 20 years ago revolutionised a market long dominated by stodgy Ambassadors from Hindustan Motors Ltd and boxy Premiers from Premier Automobiles.

"This is a new opportunity for us. It will reposition the way people see the Maruti Suzuki brand," according to Mr K Saito, Maruti's sales and marketing director.

The company did not give a forecast for Swift sales for this year but said it had already received more than 8,000 bookings for the car. The carmaker plans to sell 600,000 vehicles in 2005/06 (April-March), including exports.

The rollout of the Swift also makes the shortest gap so far between the launch of a new vehicle in Japan and in emerging markets. The car hit the roads in Hungary earlier this year, shortly after it was unveiled in Japan in November. Starting with the Swift, on whose design Indian engineers also worked, Suzuki is aiming to build key models at its global units including in Hungary, China, India and Indonesia. It has recently invested $748.3 million in a joint venture for a new car plant and engine transmission unit in India, Asia's fourth-largest economy.

PM to dedicate Nathpa-Jhakri project to nation

SHIMLA, May 24: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, will dedicate to the nation the 1500 MW Nathpa-Jhakri hydro-power project at Jhakri, 145-km from here, on May 28.

Dr Singh, who will arrive at Jhakri by helicopter on Saturday morning, would also address a public meeting after dedicating the project, official sources said adding he will later go around the powerhouse and have a look at a photo exhibition. He would then leave for Kalpa, nestled in the lap of the majestic Kinnar Kailash in tribal Kinnaur district to retire for the night. The Prime Minister would leave for Delhi the next day, the sources said.

Dr Chandra Pal re-elected Kribhco Chairman

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI, May 23: Dr Chandra Pal Singh, MP, Lok Sabha, a well-known Cooperator and a dynamic Kisan leader, has been unanimously re-elected Chairman of KRIBHCO at a meeting of the reconstituted Board of Directors of the Society held here on Monday. Dr Singh has been on KRIBHCO Board as Director since May, 1995 and later became Vice-Chairman and subsequently took over as Chairman.

Mr R.K. Dhami, a legal luminary and a well known cooperative banker, has also unanimously elected as Vice-Chairman of the society. KRIBHCO's 15-member Board of Directors has reconstituted. It is the first time in the history of all national level multistate cooperatives that eight directors were elected unopposed.

Hailing from a village near Jhansi, 47-year-old Dr Singh is the son of a freedom fighter. He shot into limelight as a student leader in 1981 when he rose to become president of Bundelkhand College, Jhansi. Subsequently, Dr Singh emerged as a popular Kisan leader. In 1996 he was elected as MLA in the UP Assembly. In the 13th Lok Sabha election held in 2004, Dr Singh won from Jhansi and became MP.

Ex-MP objects to Anil Ambani using RS letterhead

NEW DELHI, May 23: The on-going Reliance saga concerning Mr Mukesh and Mr Anil Ambani saw an addition with a former member of Lok Sabha, Mr Pius Tirkey, taking objection to Mr Anil Ambani, writing to the Secretary Ministry of Company Affairs in his capacity as Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Ltd but using his Rajya Sabha member letterhead.

Mr Trikey in his letter to the Rajya Sabha Chairman has said that Mr Anil Ambani had used his Member of Parliament letterhead for his personal financial gains, which amounted to "violating the good governance of nation and misusage of power of an MP." Mr Trikey, a former MP belonging to the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), has also enclosed a copy of the legal opinion he obtained from Mr Justice O. P. Verma, former Chief Justice of Kerala High Court and former Punjab Governor on this issue.

Mr Anil Ambani's letter to Ms Komal Anand, Secretary Ministry of Company Affairs, dated February 1 this year pertains to his complaint about files missing or not updated in respect of certain companies mentioned by him. Justice Verma has opined that law "forbids ordinary commercial misuse of the national emblem by individuals and more so by members of the Rajya Sabha in their personal interest as opposed to national interest." He has also said that such misuse entails "punitive action".

According to Justice Verma, misuse of a letterhead bearing the national emblem is prohibited under the provisions of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. "Contravention of Section 3 of the Act is highly improper, objectionable and actionable under the law on the part of a member of the Rajya Sabha," says Justice Verma.

"There does not appear any provision permitting a member of the Rajya Sabha to use the Rajya Sabha letterhead bearing the national emblem while corresponding with a government authority in respect of his personal financial interests," he adds.

Justice Verma quotes Section 3 of the Act: "... No person shall, except in such cases and under such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central government, use, or continue to use, for the purpose of any trade, business, calling or profession, or in the title of any patent, or in any trade-mark or design, any name or emblem specified in the Schedule or any colourable imitation thereof without the permission of the Central government or of such officer of government as may be authorised in this behalf by the Central government."

Justice Verma goes on to observe that "even if a member of the Rajya Sabha is permitted to use such facilities by some other enactment, Section 3 of the Act especially bars such user."

Members of the Rajya Sabha, as per the Code of Conduct for Rajya Sabha members, must utilise their position as members of Parliament to advance general well being of the people, the ex-judge has observed.

SBI net up 16.9 per cent at Rs. 4,304.52 cr

MUMBAI, May 20: State Bank of India has posted consolidated net profit at Rs 5,463.93 crores for the year ended March 31, 2005 against Rs 5,531.10 crores for 2003-04 while the net profit, on stand alone basis, for FY-05 rose by 16.93.per cent to Rs 4,304.52 crores. The board has declared a dividend of Rs 12.50 per share for the year ended March 31, 2005, SBI informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) here today.

The total consolidated income has increased to Rs 54,535.70 crores during the reporting year against Rs 52,484.16 crores in FY-04, it said. On a stand alone basis, the bank has posted a net profit of Rs 4,304.52 crores for the year ended March 31, 2005 against Rs 3,681 crores for the year ended March 31, 2004.

The total income grew to Rs 39,547.91 crores during the reporting year against Rs 38,072.93 crores in FY-04, it said. The bank has posted a net profit at Rs 1,064.88 crores for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 against Rs 872.46 crores for the quarter ended March 31, 2004, it said. Total income has increased to Rs 10,338.16 crores during the reporting quarter against Rs 9,721.37 crores in Q4-04, it added.

SBI Life Insurance premium up by 166 per cent

NEW DELHI, May 20: SBI Life Insurance Company Limited, has announced a large triple digit growth of 166 per cent in total premium income for the year ended March 31, 2005. The total premium income of the company stood at Rs 601 crore for FY 2004-05, as against Rs. 225 crore recorded in the corresponding period last year. Bancassurance contributed 67 per cent to the total premium income.

SBI Life Insurance registered a growth of 138 per cent in new business premium with a collection of Rs. 482 crores as compared to Rs 202 crores received last year. The company added 14.96 lakh new lives for the year 2004-2005, an increase of 60% as against 2003-2004. The company manages a portfolio of 29 lakh lives, which is the largest amongst all the private insurance companies. The total new business Sum Assured for fiscal 2004-05 is Rs. 17,285.1 crores, which is 1.5 times of last year.

Commenting on the financial results, Mr. S. Krishnamurthy, MD & CEO, SBI Life Insurance said, "we have substantially increased our penetration and have ensured the availability of Life Insurance in most of State Bank of India bank branches in the country. The premium income from the bancassurance channel has grown about three times compared to the previous year and we intend to grow at the same pace in the current year too. We intend to further expand our presence in all regions and improve our sales delivery process through extensive product training programmes."

On the growth plan for financial year 2005-06 of SBI Life Insurance, he further added, "the branch network has been growing in a very measured manner. The recent capital infusion by our shareholders will be utilized for further expansion of our business. We are also in the process of upgrading our information technology within our branches and banking partners."

The company showed an impressive growth of 50% in the number of policies issued compared to last year. SBI Life Insurance is the leader in Credit Life Insurance contributing about 75 per cent of the company's Group premium income. Traditional endowments and pensions have also contributed handsomely to the premium income.

SBI Life Insurance Company is a joint venture between State Bank of India and Cardif SA of France. The company is has an authorized capital of Rs 500 crores and with a paid up capital of Rs 350 crores. SBI owns 74% of the total capital and Cardif the remaining 26%.

SBI Life Insurance has pioneered Bancassurance in India. The company plans to extensively utilize the SBI Group as a platform for cross-selling
Life Insurance products along with its numerous banking product packages such as housing loans, personal loans and credit cards. SBI's access to over 100 million accounts provides a vibrant base to build insurance selling across every region and economic strata in the country.

Hyundai's new Sonata coming

CHENNAI: South Korea's largest selling car just went in for a makeover. The Hyundai Sonata is likely to re-enter the Indian market in July with a brand new Theta-engine, jointly developed by Hyundai, Mitsubishi and DaimlerChrysler, according to BVR Subbu, President of Hyundai Motor India. He was talking to visiting newspersons from India at the Hyundai's Asan plant near Seoul in South Korea recently.

The new 2400cc Theta engine is said to deliver more power and consume less fuel than its predecessors. The Chennai plant, equipped to produce the new-look Sonata, is expected to swing into production mode once the quality audit is completed. The company hopes to sell about 2,000 cars a year.
The new Sonata, which will take on the Honda Accord with its newly styled exterior and looks that would remind one of the BMW, is being positioned as the "exemplary sedan beyond boundaries."

"We as a company have been focussing on quality because we believe that quality will bring in the numbers," a company spokesperson says. "The Sonata has been the largest selling car in Korea for ten consecutive years."

The car will be launched in manual and automatic variants, with a price ranging from Rs. 12 lakhs to Rs. 18 lakhs. Exchange offers for owners of the Sonata's manual variant will be announced prior to the launch, company officials say.

BRPL registers highest ever production, profit up 57%

NEW DELHI, May 16: IndianOil’s refinery, BRPL (Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemical Limited) has come out with impressive results registering highest-ever crude production of 2.31 million tones and a profit (after tax) of Rs 478 crores, up from Rs 304 crores in 2003-04.

The Annual Results of BRPL were announced on Monday at a press meet by Mr Sarthak Behuria, Chairman of IndianOil. Mr A K Sarmah, Managing Director of BRPL was also present on the occasion.

BRPL’s Turnover increased 56% from Rs 3204 crores in 2003-04 to Rs 4992 crores in 2004-05 while its crude thruput increased from 2.13 MMT in the previous year to 2.31 MMT in 2004-05, an increase of 8%.

The Profit After Tax (PAT) has jumped from Rs 304 crores in 2003-04 to Rs 478 crores in 2004-05, an increase of 57% and the Earning Per Share (EPS) has also risen from Rs 15.20 to Rs 23.94, an increase of 57%. The Gross Refinery Margin (Rs/MT) has increased from 1685 to 2745, an increase of 63%.

The Board of Directors has declared a Final Dividend of Rs 6 per share, which is 60% of the paid-up share capital. Together with the interim dividend declared earlier, the total dividend for 2004-05 has worked out to a neat 120%, which is an increase of 56% over the past year’s dividend of 77%. This dividend will be payable after the approval of the shareholders in the next Annual General Meeting of the company.

BRPL’s physical performance has also been outstanding in the year 2004-05 in many areas, and many new heights have been scaled.

Elaborating the remarkable performance of BRPL Mr Behuria emphasized on the capabilities of the Refinery saying that BRPL is processing Ravva as well as Assam crude. The diesel produced from Ravva crude has met BS-II specification, which has come into effect from April 1, 2005. The diesel produced from Assam crude does not meet the specifications of BS-II, and therefore it is further processed in the DHDT units of Guwahati and Barauni refineries to meet the BS-II standards. BRPL is not facing any difficulty in meeting BS-II quality specification.

To meet BS-III quality specification for diesel and MS, which is to become applicable in 2010, BRPL has already initiated steps for setting up a diesel hydro-treatment plant as well as MS maximization and quality upgradation project, which would take care of elimination of Naphtha production too. These two projects will cost an estimated amount of Rs 800 crore. The major portion of investment for these two projects will be from internal resources generation. The Board of Directors has set the project in motion by clearing the methodology of implementation of the project.

Bongaigaon Refinery & Petrochemicals Limited was the first PSU to start producing polyster staple fibre and achieved the landmark of being the only company to have crude to fibre under one roof. PSF from BRPL was produced and sold continuously up to 2001. in October 2001, the plant had to shut down due to economic difficulties. In December 2003, the company restarted the production of PSF after entering into an alliance with Reliance (RIL) which is helping BRPL with technical know-how as well as resources in the form of raw materials, and help in selling its entire production with a view to achieve positive contribution and to provide indirect employment to a large number of inhabitants surrounding the Plant area apart from contribution to the exchequer in the form of excise duty and sales tax. But future operation of the PSF plants depend upon market conditions.

BRPL has successfully implemented the project, ‘Synergy – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)’ system on March 31, 2005. From the current financial year, the business processes of the company shall be performed using ERP system provided by M/s SAP AG, Germany. OHSAS-18001 certificate was also obtained on January 22, 2005. It is also implementing some small projects for modernization and revamping some of its units.

KRIBHCO earns profit of Rs 186 crores in 2004-05

NEW DELHI, May 12: Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited (KRIBHCO) has recorded pre-tax profit of Rs.186 crores and its Board has.approved a dividend of 20 per cent for the year 2004-2005. During the year 2004-2005 the Society also established 56 new records in various fields.

The production of Urea during the year was all time record of 18.055 lakh MT against the best of 17.73 lakh MT of previous year. The production of seed was also the highest at 1.54 lakh Qtls against the preceeding best of 1.22 lakh Qtls. KRIBHCO has also recorded highest sales of seeds at 1.49 lakh qtl and bio-fertilisers 613.1 MT during this year. The energy consumption has been the lowest during this year. Achievment in marketing too was outstanding in the current year, according to Mr C S Jain, Manager (PR) of Kribhco.

Kribhco is a Multi-State Cooperative Society engaged in manufacturing of urea and bio-fertiliser and seeds processing business. KRIBHCO finalised its Accounts for the year 2004-05 in record time of less than a fortnight from the closing of the financial year. The Statutory Auditors initialled the final accounts of the Society on April 13. Interestingly, KRIBHCO also emerged as the first Multi-State Cooperative Society to make electronic on-line payment of tax when it paid the final instalment of advance tax on March 15, 2005.

KRIBHCO still continues to act as catalyst for the upliftment of farmers by transferring latest technology to them. In order to achieve the above goal KRIBHCO is providing various useful programmes like single window services to small farmers through KBSKs ( Krishak Bharati Sewa Kendras) and cooperative & rural development activities.

The Society has won several awards since its inception in various fields like environment protection, eco-friendly bio-fertiliser production, marketing and energy saving.

Hyundai to invest $700 m in India

SEOUL, May 11: Hyundai Motors India Ltd, a subsidiary of the Korean auto giant, will achieve the critical one million mark in car sales in India by March 2006 and is likely to pump in about $700 million over the next three years to expand production capacity at its plant near Chennai.

Disclosing this, B V R Subbu, President, Hyundai Motors (India), said here, "that achieving the one million mark will be very critical for the company. We should achieve it in March 2006. Till now, the company has sold 850,000 cars in India in various segments."

The company has also planned to pump in over $700 million in the expansion programme at its Chennai plant to take the manufacturing capacity to four lakh units annually from the current 2.5 lakh. "We are working on a plan. The feasibility report is being prepared to look at various options including investment and setting up of R&D centre," Subbu said.

Commenting on the developments and increasing competition from other car makers, especially Maruti in the mid-size segment, Jae-IL Kim, Senior Executive Vice President (International Business Division) of Hyundai Worldwide, said"we are ready to compete" in every segment. "Our focus is certainly going to be on quality and not quantity," he said adding, "all future plans are being prepared and would be known once the feasibility study is completed."

IndianOil's 'Elephant Train' commercial wins RAPA award

NEW DELHI, May 6: IndianOil's 'Elephant Train' TV commercial, which was run on various TV channels last year, has bagged this year's RAPA (Radio & TV Advertising Practitioners Association of India) Award.

Reacting to the news of the award, Mr. N Srikumar, General Manager (Corporate Communications), Corporate Office, said, " This recognition is a new high in our brand building efforts. The story line of the commercial, though tweaked, fully captures the essence of what IndianOil stands for.........We"ll Deliver... Whereever........ Whenever........This corporate philosophy, translated into delivery of a competitive product like diesel to customers even in inaccesible areas, is a clever use, benefitting both the corporate (IndianOil) and the product brand (diesel)."

Mr Srikumar said "the attempt was to capture the true spirit of 'IndianOil - India Inspired'in just 35 seconds so as to sustain its interest levels with viewers (customers). Kudos to the entire team which worked on the film."

This coveted award will be presented during the 30th All India RAPA Awards function to be held later, he added.

Maruti extends Khattar's term as MD

NEW DELHI, May 6: The Board of India's largest carmaker Maruti has extended the term of bureaucrat-turned-corporate honcho Jagdish Khattar as Managing Director, reposing faith in him amid a highly impressive performance from the company during 2004-05.

After taking charge in 1999, Khattar is credited with turning around the company despite stiff competition from global MNCs like Honda and Hyundai. Khattar, who is also President of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, will have a fresh term of three years or till the age of 65, whichever is earlier. The former IAS officer was also instrumental in Maruti's highly successful public issue two years ago.

Besides, Khattar has overseen the revamp of the company' service network and led Maruti to set up high-tech driving schools to promote road safety in the country.
The decision to extend Khattar's term signals Suzuki Motor Corporation's continuing belief in him at a time when the Japanese giant has announced further investments in the country.

Meanwhile Maruti reported an impressive 65 per cent jump in net profit in fourth quarter of 2004-05 to Rs 259.45 crore as compared to Rs 157.15 crore during the year ago period. The Board of Directors also recommended a final dividend aggregating Rs 57.78 crore ie Rs two per share (Nominal Value Rs 5 per share) for 2004-05.

Total income (net of excise) increased by 9.3 per cent to Rs 3142.10 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2005, as against Rs 2874.70 crore in the corresponding quarter in previous fiscal, the company informed Bombay Stock Exchange. Net profit for 2004-05 grew 57.44 per cent to Rs 853.63 crore compared to Rs 542.18 crore in 2003-04. Total income grew 19.68 per cent to Rs 11,353.87 crore for 2004-05 from Rs 9,486.62 crore in FY-04.

The consolidated net profit of the company rose 56.9 per cent to Rs 880.14 crore during 2004-05 compared to Rs 560.94 crore in 2003-04. Total income increased from Rs 9,597.66 crore in Financial Year 2004 to Rs 11,498 crore in 2004-05.

IFFCO-Tokio launch Barsih Bima Yojana

BANGALORE: IFFCO-Tokio General Insurance Co. Ltd. has launched a weather insurance policy called `Barish Bima Yojana' for the rural masses that will provide insurance cover to farmers against damage to crop due to deficiency in rainfall.

Barish Bima Yojana is an index-based re-insurance driven product that will cater to the needs of the farmers as well as the state co-operatives. The policy provides cover for anticipated deficiency in crop yield due to deficient rainfall during monsoon.

At the end of the policy period, the weighted actual rainfall is compared to the weighted normal rainfall and the graded claim payout is made as per Claim Payout Table.

IndianOil commissions Diesel Hydrotreater

NEW DELHI, May 4: Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) commissioned the Rs.1046 crore Diesel Hydro-treating Unit (DHDT) at Mathura Refinery on Monday to facilitate supply of Euro-III equivalent quality Diesel.

With this, Mathura Refinery has emerged as the first Refinery in India to attain the capability of producing entire quantity of Diesel conforming to Euro-III equivalent quality. The refinery earlier had commenced Euro-III diesel in January this year.

Supply of Euro-III equivalent quality Diesel to National Capital Region (NCR) and other supply zones is expected to lower vehicular emissions significantly, thus contributing to the objective of improving ambient air quality, in line with the Auto Fuel policy of the Government.

The 1.8 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MMTPA) capacity Diesel Hydrotreating Unit has been built with technology licensed from M/s
AXENS, France. M/s Jacobs Humphrey & Glasgow (JH&G) were the Project Management Consultant, while M/s Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd. of South Korea executed the project under Lump Sum Turn Key contract.

The commissioning of the Diesel Hydrotreating unit at Indian Oil's Mathura Refinery thus marks a new chapter in harnessing technological advancements to improve the quality of life of our people.

A new gizmo for honey laundering

LONDON, May 3: A Spanish researcher has come up with a washing machine that does not allow the same person to use it twice in a row, aimed at providing the perfect solution to those women who feel frustrated at having to do all the household chores. According to the BBC , the washing machine called "Your Turn" uses fingerprint technology to differentiate between users so that one person does not operate or load the machine twice in a row.

Pep Torres, who was approached by a Spanish white goods manufacturer to come up with an innovative Father's Day gift said, that his invention would ensure gender equality and ensure that women don't have to load the machine twice in a row.

"It's an invention that has a philosophy behind it and I hope both women and men will think it's time for the men to do more around the house," the report quoted Torres as saying.

"I thought it would be good to finish with macho man from the ice age who doesn't do anything around the house except drink beers. Spain is changing a lot, and I wanted to come up with an invention to enable men to do more around the home."

Your Turn requires both partners to register their fingerprints on the sensor while it is hooked up to the home computer. After the sensor is plugged into the washing machine, the software will only allow the wash programme to start if a different finger is placed on it each time. Also Your Turn is childproof and young fingers cannot operate the machine.

MUL hikes prices

NEW DELHI, May 2: Maruti Udyog Limited on Monday announced a nominal increase in prices of certain models as a result of hike in input costs. The increase came into effect from May 1. However, the carmaker did not touch the prices of Maruti 800 and Gypsy.

After the hike, the Alto LXmodel will now cost Rs. 1,906 more at Rs. 2.78 lakhs while the mid-size Baleno LXi saw the maximum price increase of Rs. 4,138 at Rs. 5.79 lakhs. The Omni 5 van will cost Rs. 338 more at Rs. 2.30 lakhs. The increase in LXi models of WagonR and Zen is Rs. 563, while the new prices of Versa DX 2 will be Rs. 4.58 lakhs.

Maruti rolls out five millionth car

NEW DELHI, April 27: Maruti Udyog Ltd may hike the prices of its vehicles from next month due to increase in input costs. Rolling out the five millionth Maruti car from its factory at Gurgaon, a day before the Japanese Prime Minister, Jonichiro Koizumi's visit to India, the company's Managing Director, Jagdish Khattar, told newsmen on Wednesday that the hike was likely to be on all models.

Mr Khattar termed the occasion as a milestone not just for Maruti but also for India and the manufacturing industry. "The original Maruti vision of providing a people's car, articulated over two decades ago, has helped transform the Indian manufacturing landscape and touched the lives of millions of Indians," he said.

The first Maruti vehicle, a Maruti 800, was rolled out on December 14, 1983. The first million was reached in March 1994 while the second million was completed in October 1997. The three millionth vehicle was rolled out in June 2000 while the four millionth vehicle was manufactured in April 2003, the last million being the fastest, coming in just two years.

Suzuki Motor Corp holds 54.2 per cent stake in Maruti Udyog. Recently, Maruti-Suzuki outlined an investment plan of Rs. 3,272 crores for setting up a manufacturing plant in India besides an engine and transmission facility at Manesar in Haryana.

IndianOil ranked 279th in Forbes Global 2000 list

NEW DELHI, April 27: IndianOil has been ranked 279th in the prestigious Forbes 'Global 2000' list of the world's biggest public companies. The companies are listed on the basis of a composite ranking for sales, profits, assets and market value.

IndianOil is the second Indian company in the oil & gas sector to figure in the list this year. Out of the 30 Indian companies featuring in the 'Global 2000', IndianOil ranks third with ONGC and SBI occupying the first and second positions respectively.

IndianOil has recently been adjudged First in oil trading amongst National Oil Companies in the Asia Pacific Region, as per the annual survey conducted by M/s Applied Trading Systems (ATS), Singapore, for the year 2004, a distinction it has maintained for the second consecutive year in succession. In India, IndianOil remains the country's topmost Corporate in the Fortune 'Global 500' rankings.

SAIL is zero debt company

NEW DELHI, April 13: The Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has turned itself into a virtually zero debt company. According to an official statement released on Wednesday. The new status is attributable to the company's strategic business plan that enabled it to reduce borrowings to the level of its deposits with banks.

The SAIL Chairman, Mr V. S. Jain, said, "We have come this far on the strength of our sustained efforts to improve internal efficiencies supported by buoyancy in the market. Strengthening of the company's financial foundation will instil greater confidence to accelerate our growth."

In view of SAIL's goal to be within a debt-equity ratio of 1:1, the zero-debt status will have a special significance as the company goes ahead with investments in the range of Rs. 25,000 crores under its Corporate Plan 2012. Simultaneously, riding on the crest of sustained improved performance, it is set to achieve record profits for 2004-05.

Maruti Board clears Rs 3,271 cr investment for two ventures

NEW DELHI, April 6: Maruti Udyog Ltd today said it would invest a total of Rs 3,271.9 crores for a new car manufacturing plant and a new engine & transmission unit, which apart from diesel engines will also make petrol engines and gears. This was decided at a Board meeting of the company at Hamamatsu, Japan.

MUL, which is 54.2 per cent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp., said the new car plant would be through a joint venture 'Maruti Suzuki Automobiles India Ltd', in which MUL will hold 70 per cent equity while Suzuki Motor Corporation the remaining 30 per cent. The JV would invest Rs 1,524.2 crores for the new car plant which will have an initial capacity of 1,00,000 cars per annum, with scope to go up to 2,50,000 cars per annum.

"The new car manufacturing plant will begin commercial production by the end of 2006," the company said. On the engine and transmission facility, the company said in addition to manufacturing diesel engines for cars, as was decided earlier, it would also manufacture petrol engines and transmission assemblies.

The total plant capacity would be 3,00,000 diesel engines per annum, to be developed in phases, it said, adding the investment would be Rs 1,747.7 crores. "The initial annual capacity of this facility will be 100,000 diesel engines, 20,000 petrol engines and 140,000 transmission assemblies. It would be gradually expanded in line with the market demand," the company said.

It said the engine and transmission plant will be under a joint venture company, renamed Suzuki Powertrain India Limited (earlier called Suzuki Metal India Limited or SMIL). "Suzuki Motor Corporation holds 51 per cent stake in Suzuki Powertrain India Limited while Maruti Udyog Limited holds the remaining 49 per cent," a company statement said. This facility will begin commercial production by the end of 2006. Both the new plants would be located at Manesar in Haryana.



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