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Sarthak Behuria elected Chairman, SCOPE

NEW DELHI, March 22: Mr. Sarthak Behuria, Chairman, IndianOil, has been elected as the Chairman of SCOPE (Standing Conference of Public Enterprises), the apex body of public enterprises in India. Mr. Raji Philip, Chairman & Managing Director, Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd. (HPCL) is elected as Vice-Chairman of SCOPE. Their tenure is for a period of two years from April 1, 2005. He replaces C. P. Jain, Chairman and Managing Director of National Thermal Power Corporation.

Mr. Behuria recently took over as Chairman, IndianOil. An alumnus of St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, Mr. Behuria has over 32 years of experience in the petroleum industry. Widely travelled, Mr. Behuria has presented several papers in national and international fora.

LIC presents Rs. 476 cr dividend cheque to FM

NEW DELHI, March 22: The Chairman of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), Mr R.N. Bhardwaj, on Monday presented a cheque for Rs 476.50 crores to the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, as the Centre's share in the surplus arising out of the actuarial valuation of the corporation as on March 31, 2004.

During 2003-04, the public sector insurance major generated a total surplus of Rs 10,987.60 crores, while its assets crossed the Rs 4-lakh crore mark to touch Rs 4.09 crores as on December 31, 2004. Out of the surplus, the LIC distributed 95 per cent among its policyholders numbering more than 14.11 crores by way of bonus while the balance Rs. 548.13 crores was arrived at as the Centre's share. This, after deduction of income-tax, worked out to Rs. 476.50 crores.

DHL's mango export service

CHENNAI, March 22: DHL, the express and logistics company, brings back this mango season, the DHL Mango Express. It offers a reduction of up to 30 per cent on regular air express rates. Moreover, mangoes being sent as gifts are absolutely free. DHL has tied up with top mango exporters to source the highest quality `A' grade Alphonso mangoes, so that the fruits are ripe-in-time when they reach their respective destinations.

IndianOil and OIL ink E&P deal in Libya

NEW DELHI, March 21: Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Oil India Limited on Monday have signed the Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) for Block No 86, in the Sirte basin of the Oil rich state of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahriya.

The agreement was signed between the two public Oil sector companies and the National Oil Corporation of Libya. This historic agreement is the first PSC to be won by Indian Oil Corporation Limited and the OIL consortium through competitive bidding in the Libyan EPSA Round four. Oil India Limited is the operator in this Block, which covers over 7000 sq. kms.

As many as fifteen Blocks were announced in which fifty-six companies participated and 104 bids were submitted. Indian Oil Corporation Limited and the OIL consortium won the Oil Block against global heavyweights like Occidental/ Liwa, Petrocanada/ Woodside, CNPC amongst others.

The signing ceremony was presided over by Mr. Abdullah Salem El Badri, Chairman of NOC and Secretary of Management Committee Mr. S.K. Srivastava. Mr. Aloke Roy, General Manager (E&P) of Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Chief Advisor (Expl & Dev) of OIL signed the agreement on behalf of the Oil PSUs. Mr. Om Prakash, first Secretary and Charge De Affairs of the Indian Embassy at Tripoli attended the Ceremony.

Sirte basin is estimated to have 80 per cent of Libya's reserves and contributes 90 per cent of Libya's production. It's also the focus of most exploration, including 77 per cent of all 3D seismic data acquired in Libya since the late 1980s.This contract award has opened up the Libyan upstream petroleum sector for the Indian Oil PSU's.

IndianOil Refineries win Awards for Energy Conservation

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI, March 19: IndianOil refineries have bagged the coveted Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary Awards for energy conservation for the year 2002-03 and 2003-04. The awards are based on the annual performance of the refineries in the area of Energy Conservation measured in terms of Specific Energy Consumption, according to Dr Ajit Pathak, Senior Manager Corporate Communications Refineries HQs.

Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary Awards have been declared by Centre for High Technology of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas under two groups: Group I: Refineries having composite energy factor more than 4 and Group II: Refineries having composite energy factor less than or equal to 4.

For the year 2002-03, IndianOil's Gujarat Refinery has bagged first prize and second prize by Panipat Refinery under Group I category. For the year 2003-04 also the Panipat Refinery has bagged the second prize.

The IndianOil Chairman, Mr S Behuria, has complimented refinery employees for these awards of national significance, which have been instituted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG) since 1988-89.

While congratulating the refineries for this recognition, Director (Refineries), IndianOil, Mr Jaspal Singh, has said that Energy conservation is one of the thrust areas in our refinery operations for cost minimization and environment management and above achievement is an indication of our efforts in this direction, which we have to further intensify in future years too.

The IndianOil group of companies owns and operates 10 of India's 18 refineries with a current combined rated capacity of 54.20 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) or one million barrels per day (bpd). These include two refineries of subsidiary Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd and one of Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited. IndianOil owns and operates the country's largest network of cross-country crude oil and product pipelines of 7,575 km, with a combined capacity of 56.85 MMTPA.

The IndianOil group of companies owns and operates 10 of India's 18 refineries with a current combined rated capacity of 54.20 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) or one million barrels per day (bpd). These include two refineries of subsidiary Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd and one of Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited. IndianOil owns and operates the country's largest network of cross-country crude oil and product pipelines of 7,575 km, with a combined capacity of 56.85 MMTPA.

IndianOil signs pact with TATA Chemicals for LNG supply

NEW DELHI, March 17: Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) recently signed a Gas Sales Agreement (GSA) with Tata Chemicals Limited for supply of regassified LNG. The agreement was signed by Mr. N.K. Nayyar, Director (Planning & Business Development), IndianOil, and Mr. Prasad R. Menon, Managing Director, Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL), for supply of 0.55 MMSCMD (million standard cubic metres per day) of gas for TCL's fertilizer unit at Babrala in UP. The agreement is expected to cover gas supplies from April '05 till December '08. The estimated value of the business on an annualised basis is about Rs. 130 crore.

Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL) is already an existing customer of IndianOil for naphtha and is one of the leading companies of the Tata group in the chemicals sector. Signing of the GSA not only signifies strengthening of IndianOil's ties with the Tata group of companies, but also marks TCL's transition from utilisation of liquid fuel to gas. Established in 1939, TCL operates the largest and the most integrated chemicals complex in the country at Mithapur in Gujarat. TCL is also amongst the largest producers of soda ash, both in India and globally.

IndianOil has already drawn up a comprehensive blueprint for gas marketing for supplies emanating from Petronet LNG's Dahej terminal, covering customers across the states of Gujarat, UP, Rajasthan and the National Capital Region (NCR). Over the last year, the customer base for LNG use is steadily growing and IndianOil is already meeting the gas requirements of companies covering the core sectors of economy like power, fertilizer and steel.

IndianOil to set up 10 more retail outlets in Mauritius

NEW DELHI, March 14: IndianOil has set its eyes on Mauritius for its retail expansion. The company has chalked out plans to set up an additional 10 retail outlets in Mauritius by the end of this current year. The company at present operates two retail outlets and three are under construction. IndianOil Director (marketing) NG Kannan said that the company wanted to capture a 20 per cent market share in the next three years. Currently, IndianOil has a 7 per cent market share in the retail business.

Dr Kannan said that the company was confident of increasing its market share to 12 per cent by the end of 2005-06 and 16 per cent by 2006-07. The company commissioned its second outlet in December 2004. The company plans to set up 25 retail outlets in the next two to three years. IndianOil is the fifth private player in the retail business in Mauritius. The other four are Royal Dutch Shell, Total of France, Esso and Caltex. Shell is the leader with a 40 per cent market share. All these players have a total of 121 retail outlets.

IndianOil has set up an 18,000 tonne products storage terminal. The company plans to invest $18 million in Mauritius through its subsidiary Indian Oil Mauritius Ltd. Dr Kannan said the company had achieved a 25 per cent share of the nine lakh tonne market of aviation turbine fuel in Mauritius. The company was setting up a state-of-the-art laboratory in Mauritius at a cost of Rs 4.5 crore which would obviate the need for sending samples to other countries for testing. He added that since the number of retail outlets are limited in Mauritius, the throughput (petrol and diesel sold through each pump) is quite high at 600 kl per month. This is against India's average of 160 kl per pump.

GAIL, NTPC to acquire Dabhol assets

MUMBAI, March 12: State-owned Gas Authority of India (GAIL) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) have decided to acquire the assets of the defunct Dabhol Power Project (DPP) in Maharashtra, according to Mr Prashantho Banerjee, GAIL chairman. The two firms would invest Rs 500 crore each in a special purpose vehicle, which would then acquire the assets of the power plant.

The plant was shut down in May 2001 after the erstwhile Enron power corporation refused to operate the 740 mega watt plant due to non-payment of dues by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board. The total capacity of the plant is slated to raise to 2,184 MW after the completion of the second phase.

According to the proposal, NTPC will complete the power project and GAIL will make the 2 million tonnes liquefied gas terminal functional to supply fuel to the plant. About 90 per cent of the work is complete and only the regassification terminal needs final touches, Banerjee said. "Our plan is to make the power plant fully operational by September 2006 and run it for the next two years after which international tenders will be called for the asset sale."

Mr Banerjee, who is spearheading GAIL's forward integration into utility services, said, "We will also participate in the international bidding as we have signed an agreement with the Tata Power and British Petroleum. Our interest is restricted to the LNG terminal and supply of gas to other industrial units in the western parts of the country. GAIL has received expressions of interests from countries including Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar and Abudubai for the supply of gas to the LNG terminal. We are negotiating the gas supply agreement to ramp up the capacity of the terminal to 5 million tonnes from the present 2 million tonnes".

In India, the demand-supply of LNG gas is skewed as there is a deficit of 50 million standard cubic metres (mscm) per day. While the demand is 120-130 mscm per day, the supply is just 70 mscm.

While the operational part of the power plant will be handled by GAIL and NTPC, the issues relating to outstanding debt payments to foreign lenders would be negotiated by the domestic financial institutions. The domestic institutions, after several meetings, is close to reaching an agreement with the foreign lenders to takeover the latter's loan at a discount

PNB offer price to be fixed at Rs 390 per share

NEW DELHI, March 12: The offer price for Punjab National Bank's public issue will be fixed at Rs 390 per share. The public issue, which was offered through book build route, got oversubscribed by around 14 times. At this price, the government will get Rs 1,170 crore from divestment of its 3 crore shares. The issue got closed on Friday.

According to the Bombay Stock Exchange, the issue so far received demand for 108.77 crore shares as against 8 crore shares on offer. Almost all (108.19 crore shares) demand came at Rs 390 per share. The price band for the offer was fixed at Rs 350-390 per share. The bank's share closed at Rs 486.55 on Friday.

In fact, the issue was earlier slated to go public in September-October 2004. At that time the share price of the bank was at around Rs 270. A merchant banker associated with the issue said that they had expected the offer price to be fixed around Rs 230 at that time. Had the issue been completed at that time, the government would have got only Rs 690 crore. But because of the delay, the government is enriched by around Rs 500 crore. The bank also got Rs 800 crore more compared to what they had expected at that time.

One of the major reasons for the rise in the share price is the bull run in the banking stocks. The BSE index for the banking companies has gone up by around 64 per cent from 2550 in September 2004 to over 4,150 at present. But, rise in the share price of PNB was even steeper, it went up by 80 per cent during this period.

Senior vice president of I-Sec Ravi Sardana said that one of the main reasons for this was the immense interest shown by the foreign investors in the stock during the roadshow. At the same time, the large issue size also increased the interest of the FIIs (foreign institutional investors) in the offer.
PNB's profitability has increased to over Rs 1,000 crore in the first nine months of the current financial year

SAIL board approves two projects

NEW DELHI, March 10: The board of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) today gave its `in-principle' approval for two projects - revamp of the second sinter plant at Bhilai and installation of turbo compressors in the oxygen plant at Bokaro - at a total estimated cost of over Rs. 180 crores.

With this approval, the total planned investment in various projects so far approved by the board, both in-principle and final, during the current fiscal stands at over Rs. 2,500 crores.

Meanwhile, SAIL's corporate plan aimed at enhancing its hot metal production from the existing 13 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes annually by 2011-12 at a total estimated investment of Rs. 25,000 crores.

The revamping of the sinter unit (Plant No. 2) will not only enable the Bhilai steel plant to increase its annual production of sinter from the current 2.5 million tonnes to 3.1 million tonnes but also help improve the sinter quality as well.

This, according to SAIL, will result in an additional production of about 77,000 tonnes of pig iron from the three sinter-making units at the Bhilai steel complex. The increased sinter burden is also expected to enhance the productivity of blast furnaces, effecting a substantial reduction in the cost of sinter production and coke rate.

HSBC plans to invest $180 mn in India

NEW DELHI, March 10: HSBC Holdings has said it will invest $180 million (93 million pounds) to support the expansion of its fast-growing retail and commercial banking operations in India. The world's second-largest bank by market value also said on Thursday it would raise the capital adequacy ratio for its Indian operations to 13.5 percent from 10 per cent, effective December 31, 2004.

The investment includes $150 million in new capital and $30 million in retained profit generated by the Indian operations in the year to March 2004, the British bank said in a statement. HSBC Bank's home loan portfolio in India this fiscal year has grown by 85 per cent and its credit card business has grown by 28 per cent in the same period, the bank said.

The proposed investment is the second tranche of funds infused in HSBC's Indian operations in the past 24 months. The last investment, worth $150 million, was made in March 2003.

UPA races ahead with highways plan

NEW DELHI, March 10: The UPA government may be on a clean-up drive elsewhere but when it comes to building roads, it wants to race ahead of what the predecessor NDA government achieved with its plan to put the country on the fast lane. In its latest drive to speed up the third phase of the National Highways Development Plan, the government has given National Highways Authority of India powers to take investment decisions for award of individual sub-projects.

Being a man in a hurry, transport minister T R Baalu also got the Cabinet to approve powers for NHAI to raise more staff to see that the project does not slow down for lack of manpower. As part of the third phase, the government has given the green signal to 4/6 laning of 4,000 km of National Highways. In-principle approval has also been granted for 4/6 laning of additional 6,000 km under NHDP Phase III-B. The total cost would be a whopping Rs 55,000 crore.

A total of 71 stretches aggregating 10,417 km have already been identified, based on traffic density, connectivity of state capitals with Phase I and II and links to places with commercial and tourist importance. The Centre will contribute 40 per cent of the cost of the project by way of grants, while it will pick up the entire tab for consultancy and land acquisition.

IndianOil bags SCOPE Award for Institutional Excellence

NEW DELHI, March 7: IndianOil bagged the SCOPE Award (Gold Trophy) for Institutional Excellence for the year 2003-04. The SCOPE Awards for Excellence and Outstanding Contribution to the Public Sector Management, conceptualized as the most prestigious and outstanding recognition to the public sector, have been instituted by the Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE) to recognise the outstanding PSE's and to encourage outstanding persons for their hard work and leadership qualities.

The SCOPE Awards for Excellence were unanimously decided by the Jury headed by Justice P N Bhagwati. The members of the Jury are Dr Arjun Sengupta, Dr Abid Hussain, Mr Hiten Bhaya and Mr Moosa Raza.

In all, 46 nominations for Institutional category and 23 for Individual category were received for the year 2003-04. Nominations were evaluated by International Management Institute (IMI) which also assisted the jury in deciding Excellence Awards.

D S Rawat takes over as ASSOCHAM Secy General

NEW DELHI, March 5: Mr D.S. Rawat has taken over the position of the Secretary General of The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) with effect from Saturday. The announcement to this effect was made by the Chamber President, Mr. Mahendra K. Sanghi in front of the Finance Minister, Mr. P Chidambaram at an Interactive Session on Post-Budget Proposals 2005-06 here.

Mr Rawat has been Acting Secretary General, ASSOCHAM for the last 14 months and is instrumental in the turnaround that the Chamber has witnessed under the leadership of its President, Mr. Sanghi. A Post-graduate in Economics and a Degree holder in Journalism, Mr. Rawat joined ASSOCHAM about 8 years ago as one of its Secretaries.

Prior to joining ASSOCHAM, Mr. Rawat worked for PHDCCI which is one of the Promoter Chambers of ASSOCHAM for over 20 years. Known for his hard work and amenability, Mr. Rawat rose to this position by negotiating tough path ever since he joined ASSOCHAM in April 1997.

Sarthak Behuria takes over as Chairman of IndianOil

NEW DELHI, March 1: Mr Sarthak Behuria (53) has assumed office as Chairman, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOC). He takes over from Mr. M.S. Ramachandran, who superannuated yesterday, to head India's No.1 company from today. Prior to taking over as Chairman, IndianOil, Mr. Behuria was Chairman & Managing Director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL). Mr. Behuria will also be part-time Chairman of IndianOil Group Companies, namely, Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL), IBP, Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (BRPL) besides Indian Oiltanking Ltd., a joint venture company. Mr. Behuria will also continue to be the Chairman of Petroleum Federation of India, a position which he is holding currently.

Mr. Behuria assumes office at a crucial juncture when IndianOil has set its goal to fulfil its Corporate Vision of emerging as a fully integrated, transnational, energy major.

An alumnus of St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, Mr. Behuria joined Burmah Shell in 1973 before he was absorbed in BPCL, where he served across the country, handling key portfolios in Supply and Distribution, Sales, Industrial Relations and Downstream Infrastructure.

At BPCL, Mr. Behuria was actively involved in the change management and restructuring process of the organisation, including spearheading its marketing transformation. Mr. Behuria also served the erstwhile Oil Coordination Committee (OCC) before he took over as Director(Marketing) of BPCL in 1998 and as CMD, BPCL in July 2002.

Known to be a strong "people's man", Mr. Behuria practices a management style that is both open and transparent. Widely travelled, Mr. Behuria has presented several papers in national and international fora. He is also a keen Golf and Bridge player.

B M Bansal takes over as Director (R&D) at IndianOil

NEW DELHI, March 1: Mr. B.M Bansal has joined the IndianOil Board as Director (Research & Development) in charge of its R&D Centre at Faridabad. He took over from Mr. N.R.Raje who superannuated from service on February 28, 2005.

A B.Tech in Chemical Engineering with a post-graduate diploma in Process Plant Engineering from IIT, Delhi, Mr. Bansal was Executive Director of IndianOil's Mathura Refinery before his elevation to the Board. His rich experience of over three decades has the right blend of varied assignments covering key portfolios of refinery management, planning & coordination, technical services and business development.

Beginning his career in IndianOil at Gujarat Refinery, Mr.Bansal worked in diverse capacities at Haldia and Guwahati refineries also besides handling Planning & Coordination involving six operating refineries at the Refineries Headquarters.

With all-round exposure and a successful career profile in petroleum refining, Mr. Bansal was made Dy. General Manager (Business Development) for integrating and globalising the Corporation's activities in the areas of training, consultancy services, joint ventures in refining and petrochemicals, etc. He was promoted as General Manager in March 1998 and continued to look after business development activities till April 2002, before taking over charge of Mathura Refinery. Mr. Bansal is credited with making pioneering efforts in putting IndianOil on the petrochemicals map.

Widely travelled, Mr. Bansal has presented several papers on refining, petrochemicals & LNG in international seminars in India and abroad.

IOC targets $ 60 billion revenue by 2011

AHMEDABAD: Indian Oil Corporation Ltd has set an ambitious target of raising its total revenues to $60 billion by 2011-12 from the current $35 billion. NG Kannan, director (marketing) said that petro-chemicals, gas, exploration and production (E&P) as well as global operations will be the new areas for future growth.

The major chunk of around $42 billion is targeted to come from the existing business in 2011-12. Revenues from petrochemicals are pro-jected at $5.5 billion, gas would contribute $4.5 billion, E&P another $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion would come from global operations. IOC's vision is to become an integrated transnational energy giant, with vertical integration along the entire hydrocarbon value chain.

Kannan said that IOC is scouting for global forays in the retail area in African and South East Asian countries. It has already estab-lished a strong presence in Sri Lanka and Mauritius. "The Nigerian government has invited IOC for setting up a refinery project there. We have dropped Singapore and Thailand from our potential list as setting up operations there would be a very costly proposition," he added.

Significant contribution is expected from the petrochemicals foray in the medium term. The paraxylene (PX) and the purified tere-phthalic acid (PTA) plants being set up at a cost of Rs 4,600 crore at Panipat are likely to be commissioned in October 2005. These cracker projects are going to add value to the surplus naphtha emanating from IOC's landlocked refinery at Panipat.

IOC's board has given an in-principle approval for another cracker project at Panipat to be set up at an investment of Rs 6,300 crore and it may go on stream around end of 2007.

Kannan said that IOC will invest Rs 150 crore in Haldia Petro-chemicals Ltd and it could infuse more funds in future if required. A huge refinery and petrochem project is also being planned at Pa-radeep. Currently, IOC's only operational petrochem project is the linear alkyl benzene (LAB) plant at its Koyali refinery near Vado-dara.

In the E&P segment, IOC had recently bagged a block in Iran alongwith ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Oil India. The IOC-OVL alliance has also formed a consortium with British Petroleum and Occi-dental Petroleum to jointly bid for the development of oilfields in northern Kuwait. In the gas business IOC is planning to make substantial invest-ments so as to acquire 10 million tons of gas over the next 5 years.

IOC's launches rural marketing programme

TIRUCHI, March 1: The Indian Oil Corporation has launched its `Rural Marketing Programme', a unique direct marketing sales promotion exercise titled `IndianOil Jolly Day' in Tiruchi, on Sunday. The exercise will cover more than 120 villages of Dindigul, Rasipuram, Rajapalayam, and Mayiladuthurai.

Inaugurating the sales promotion drive, N. G. Kannan, Director (Marketing), IOC informed that the corporation had invested Rs. 1,550 crores during the current financial year for its retail marketing programme, which, he said, saw the launch of a number of new facilities and products. Its nation-wide rural marketing programme was aimed at reaching the consumers at their doorsteps and influencing their purchase decisions.

IndianOil's 10,000th Petrol/ Diesel station

TIRUPATHI, Feb 27: IndianOil's 10,000th Petrol / Diesel station was inaugurated in the holy town of Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh by IndianOil Chairman, Mr. M. S. Ramachandran, today.

Mr. A.P.V.S Sharma, Executive Officer, Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam, was the Guest of Honour on the occasion. Other's present were Dr. N. G. Kannan, IndianOil's Director (Marketing), Mr. I. Koti Padmakar, IndianOil's General Manager, A.P. State Office, and Mr. V. Ramaswamy, IndianOil's General Manager, Regional Services, Southern Region.

Mr. Ramachandran also inaugurated IndianOil's 10,001st Petrol / Diesel station, also at Tirupathi, today.

Microsoft India appoints Neelam Dhawan as MD

NEW DELHI, Feb 24: Microsoft Corporation India Private Limited today announced the appointment of Neelam Dhawan as Managing Director of Microsoft India with responsibility for leading Microsoft's Sales & Marketing operations in India. As the Managing Director of Microsoft India, Neelam will be responsible for growing Microsoft's products and services businesses. She will also play a key role in driving the company's partnerships and strategic alliances.

Announcing the appointment, Mr. Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft India said, "Neelam is very highly respected in the industry and has an excellent track record of managing customer and partner relationships. She brings an exceptional understanding of the changing needs of customers and partners and a wealth of experience in delivering solutions. I am confident that Neelam will provide the required direction and leadership in delivering significant value to our customers across India."

"Commenting on her appointment Neelam said, "I am excited by the opportunity to lead Microsoft India at a very interesting time and look forward to combining my experience with the unique depth of technology and resources of Microsoft to drive customer success. Over the coming weeks, I will be meeting employees, customers and partners to better understand the opportunities available to make a difference."

Prior to joining Microsoft, Neelam was Vice President, Customer Solutions Group, Hewlett Packard India (HP) with a focus on enterprise, public sector and SMB sectors for all computing products and services. She was also responsible for strategic alliances and partner relationships. Neelam has over 22 years of IT industry experience having worked for HCL and IBM before joining HP in Dec 1999.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software-any time, any place and on any device. Microsoft Corporation India Private Ltd is a subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation USA. It has had a presence in India since 1990 and currently has offices in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Pune.

IBP-IOC merger to be completed by June'

KOLKATA, Feb 14: The merger of IBP with IOC is set to be completed by June, with IBP becoming IOC's division, according to IBP Managing Director, N. G. Kannan, who is IOC's director-marketing. Speaking on the occasion of IBP's 97th foundation day here, he said that IBP was expected to maintain its brand equity along with IOC post-merger.

These two entities "combined will certainly become a force that cannot be challenged by any competition from private entities," he remarked. He noted that IOC was targeting a turnover of $50 billion by 2011-12, with the $35 billion mark likely to be touched by this year-end.

"We are hoping to have $20 million by way of business expansion of Indian Oil. IBP will also get benefit out of that," the Managing Director said. The expansions are in the areas of gas, petrochemicals, putting up and maintaining refineries overseas and also in areas of downstream marketing and exploration for which IOC has tied up with Oil India.

Referring to IBP, Mr. Kannan said that the company was doing well and was likely to cross the five million tonne sales mark this fiscal. The turnover was expected to be around $3 billion, he said. However, being a standalone company, it has to absorb losses on account of under-realisation of some of its products, since it does not have refinery margins to compensate for losses in the petroleum products retailing sector. He disclosed that two business groups - cryogenics and explosives - were IBP's areas of concern but cryogenics will be achieving breakeven this year.

We need public sector for new initiatives and social justice: Aiyar

NEW DELHI, Feb 11: Delivering the First IndianOil Lecture at the new Corporate Office, the Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Panchayati Raj, Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, said that the public sector has a very vital role to play in the economic as well as social upliftment of the country. The Minister was speaking on "The Public Sector in our Oil Economy: Prospects and Issues".

Mr Aiyar said "we need the private sector for competitiveness but we need the public sector for new initiatives and social justice and it has to be deeply rooted in democratic polity" he said. IndianOil lecture Series is an annual event, which has been initiated from this year onwards. Mr. Aiyar congratulated IndiaOil for emerging one of the top companies of India. "It has validated the importance of public sector more effiecently than any other company", he felt.

Before his keynote speech, Mr. Aiyar formally inaugurated the new corporate office of IndianOil and couldn't help terming it as "splendiferous".

During the speech, Mr. Aiyar touched upon the various challenges that faced the country in terms of oil security, equitable distribution of wealth, and the role of the government and public sector. In his concluding remarks, Mr. Aiyar added that public sector can very well stand up to the challenges posed by the private sector and the past two years have already shown the way.

In his welcome note Mr. MS Ramachandran , Chairman, IndianOil said, "We have instituted the IndianOil Lecture Series as an annual event, where we shall be inviting eminent personalities to speak on national issues of contemporary relevance before a distinguished audience. This, we believe, will be a unique platform for policy and opinion makers to share their thoughts and views on chosen topics" he said.

He recalled IndianOil's journey from the times when its "people had to sell kerosene in Rickshaw" while multinationals w hizzed past in their Chevrolets and Pontiacs . He highlighted that IndianOil is now the biggest company of India with presence from Kutch to Kohima, Kashmir to Kanyakumari and beyond.

"In the last four decades, brick by brick, stone by stone, IndianOil has grown from a meagre turnover of Rs. 78 crore in 1964-65 to emerge as the largest commercial enterprise in the country with a turnover of Rs. 1,30,203 crore and profits of Rs. 7,005 crore in the last fiscal" he added.

IOC profit falls in third quarter

NEW DELHI, Jan 31: Losses on sales of LPG, kerosene and diesel have contributed to the 47 per cent drop in net profit of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in the third quarter of the current fiscal (2004-05). Disclosing this here today, the IOC Chairman, M. S. Ramachandran, said the company had lost Rs. 2,131 crores on sales of LPG, kerosene and diesel in the October-December 2004 period.

The subsidy sharing scheme by which the upstream companies of ONGC and GAIL also share the subsidy on LPG and kerosene has been implemented only for the first quarter of the current fiscal - April to June 2004. The IOC is expecting, however, that the scheme will be implemented for the rest of the year and payments will be made in the final three months of the year.

IOC registered a net profit of Rs. 1,287 crore for the third quarter of the current fiscal as compared to Rs. 2,404 crore during the same quarter in the previous year. Sale of petroleum products during the quarter was 12.56 million tonnes, registering 1 per cent increase over 12.41 million tonnes sold in the same quarter last year.

For the nine months ended December 2004, IndianOil has registered a net profit of Rs. 3,999 crore as against Rs. 5,155 crore for the same period of the previous year. The Corporation's Gross Turnover for the nine months moved up by 17 per cent to Rs. 1,10,169 crore from Rs. 94,017 crore for the corresponding period of the previous year. The unaudited financial results of the Corporation were taken on record at the meeting of the Board of Directors here today.

During the first nine months of 2004-05, IndianOil increased its product sales, including exports, by over 4 per cent to 37.12 million tonnes as compared to 35.57 million tonnes during the same period the previous year. Its refinery throughput was also higher by 1.28 per cent at 27.61 million tonnes as compared to 27.26 million tonnes during the corresponding period of the previous year.

Fun 'n Frolic -- a new way of HR intervention

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Jan 26: In today's new business scenario, organizations have innovated novel HR practices to keep their employees motivated and engaged in activities that create a feeling of teamwork and participation among them. New Delhi-based RT Outsourcing services Ltd, an upcoming IT enabled service provider, organized such an event for employees motivation and welfare.

The annual event, aptly named as "RT Aagman", was held here recently. It included an evening of music, dance and activity galore, where various groups of RT performed their talents in the form of group dances, humorous skits, solo songs, instrumentals and so on! The success of the event could be gauged from the fact that various groups of RTians were seen with beaming faces and were excited to reveal their talents.

As the CEO of RT, Mr. Shammi Moza puts it "Our employees are the key resource and what could be a better way of providing motivation in the starting of the New Year, than the RT Family coming together". Needless to mention that the HR plays an active role in encouraging its young engineers to let loose their creative energies and go wild.

The wonderful evening started with a two-minute silence in memory of the tsunami victims. This was followed by the RT Theme song and then by mind-blowing choreography and a hilarious 'quawwalli' by the Rtians.

RT Outsourcing Services Ltd, founded in 1995 with strength of only five people, has today grown to be a 1,000 people strong, ISO-9002 accredited company. The company, with a state-of-the-art Web based Call Center and Technical Support Center in New Delhi (India), provides 24X7 web based customer service solutions for technical support and e-Commerce services.

RT Outsourcing Services Ltd strives to provide exceptional customer services by highly skilled Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) who are dedicated to the customer's business model, knowledgeable about the customer's products and responsive to their customer's needs.

The company offers end-to-end customer support services to some of the leading multinational and Fortune 500 companies. It provides client specific customized helpdesk solutions, which not just replaces any existing customer interaction services, but also dramatically reduces support cost and enhances customer loyalty. Direct competitive advantage, scalability and convenience to the customer are the added advantage of the solutions from RT Outsourcing Services Ltd.

The company's client list includes some of the best names in business. "We have been appreciated by some of the most renowned names in the industry, our process and experiences have been derived from a long and fruitful association with these clients. Some of them who made RT a force to reckon with in the industry are: HP, Compaq, IBM, Xerox, Samsung, Dell, NCR, Sony Ericsson, Verifone, Western Digital, Flextronics, Acer and AOC," said Mr Shammi Moza.

RT Outsourcing Services Ltd. is housed in a facility designed as per International Standards and equipped with state of the art technology. The setup includes advanced eCRM software, powerful hardware platforms and high-speed networks and Internet connectivity with large bandwidth.

The complete RT system is designed for high degree of flexibility, scalability and upgrade ability. The entire system is powered by leading edge customer care technologies like Live Chat, Email Management Solution, Voice Communication and Interactive Self-Service.

RT considers its people as its most valuable and important asset. Customer Service Representatives at RT Outsourcing Services Ltd are amongst the best in the industry.

IndianOil Corporate Office moves to new building

NEW DELHI, Jan 18: In keeping with its brand image as India's largest commercial organisation and India's No.1 Fortune 'Global-500' Company, IndianOil now also boasts of a brand new corporate address. The corporate headquarters in the capital has been shifted to Plot No. 3079/3, Joseph Broz Tito Marg, Sadiq Nagar, New Delhi 110 049 (Reception No. 011-26260000) from the earlier office at SCOPE Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110 003.

The new IndianOil headquarters has been designed by Stup Consultants, the people behind the architecture of the European Parliament. The building has two towers; the first tower contains the auditorium with a cafetaria on the first floor. The second tower is divided into two wings, the first wing consists of the various departments and the second one comprises the offices of the Chairman and the Directors. Both the towers are connected by two glass-and-steel skywalks.

The four-storey building that also has two floors below the ground is a perfect fusion of futuristic and minimalist design. The main design element used in exteriors and interiors is glass, which silhouettes the building, making good use of sunlight. Besides glass, imported Italian marble, steel and wood give the building an international look The use of hidden lighting makes the environment inside the building very pleasant.

The civil work has been done by L & T while Siemens has carried out the electrical work and Tata Honeywell has developed the IBMS (Integrated Building Management System) for the building. Jay Art, Jayant K furniture and SALASAR have done the elegant interiors. The surrounding greenery makes for a very energised working environment. Water-walls and water fountains enhance the overall beauty of the building.

India calls for Asian oil market

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Jan 6: The first round table conference of the Asian Oil Ministers has decided to carry forward the regional cooperation in the hyderocarbon sector with a call for intra-region investment to achieve oil security. In his concluding remarks, the Chairman of the conference and Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, said a careful consideration is required to create an Asian marker.

Mr Aiyar said "the marker has to be globally accepted and efforts should be made to improve the marketing function in the Asian region." He said that fundamental of cooperation must include moderation, dialogue security of international supplies and strategic partnerships.

The first round table of Asian Ministers on Regional Cooperation in the Oil and Gas Economy was attended by Ministers from major Asian oil buying and selling countries including representatives of International Energy Forum (IEF), International Energy Agency (IEA) and OPEC. Most participants in the conference strongly advocated the need of investing in the refining and storage sectors to ensure the supply of petro-products on a sustainable basis in the region.

The conference, which had delegations from 11 countries, decided to hold the second conference in Saudi Arabia with Japan as the co-host. The third round table would be held in Japan with Qatar as co-host. The fourth would be hosted by Kuwait with Republic of Korea as the co-host. India initiated the move of convening the first roundtable in the wake of sharp rise in the prices last year, which had affected the economy of Asian countries in particular.

In his address, Mr Aiyar stated with Asian destinations emerging as the principal consumers for Asian production, and the share of Asia in global production and consumption likely to progressively increase, cooperation between Asian producers and Asian consumers is crucial to ensuring Stability, Security and Sustainability through mutual interdependence in the Asian oil and gas economy.

"The fundamentals of such cooperation must include moderation, dialogue, mutual understanding and respect, security of international supplies, demand -supply equilibrium, and strategic partnerships based on reciprocity of interests." To this end, Mr Aiyar said an Asian dialogue is both welcome and indispensable aimed at evolving and elaborating an Asian consensus.

Mr Aiyar called for developing an Asian oil market and putting in place longer supply contracts to provide stability and security of supplies to major consuming countries. "For us in Asia to convert underlying stability in production into stability in oil market, it is essential that we develop a sophisticated Asian market for petroleum and petroleum products," he said.

The Minister said greater stability in Asian trade could exist when "long term contracts become longer, price discovery through the market is more transparent and spot purchases occupy a progressively larger share of market transactions."

In his address, Mr Zhang Xiaoqiang, Vice Chairman of China National Development and Reforms Commission, flayed the concept of "Asian premium" as charged by the oil producing countries from Asian nations saying that this was against the market principle of "fairness and impedes regional economic development.

In a presentation at the conference, international consulting firm McKinsey said Asian oil producers and consumers need to create a deep, liquid and transparent Asian energy market for ensuring stable price for buyers and revenue growth for sellers. "Increasing energy stability in the region will require building a deep, liquid and transparent market in Asia for crude, oil products and gas," said McKinsey.

A strong Asian market will require putting in place a "marker crude" that is relevant for the region and available in sufficient volume; it will also require support from key buyers and sellers to ensure adequate trading volumes and flexibility framework and robust financial markets to support hedging and trading.

For building energy security, McKinsey said, information on demand, supply and inventory positions among Asian nations and Middle Eastern countries need to be shared transparently and buyers and sellers need to co-invest in building emergency response mechanisms by increasing physical supply security in Asia through strategic reserves and cross-border inventories.

"A more intense form of cooperation to build security will be for buyers and sellers to increase the scale and pace of joint investments in oil and gas in the region. This would entail consumers making upstream investment in oil producing countries and suppliers making downstream investments in refining and gas. This might also require some longer term price and volume agreements to underpin the investments," it said.

McKinsey prescribed longer term multilateral projects to strengthen cooperation, such as joint research on energy technologies relevant to Asia, jointly addressing environmental priorities like standardising specifications for petrol and diesel across Asia, and broader sharing of mutual capabilities, including human resource development.

Aiyar lauds IndianOil's R&D centre

NEW DELHI, Jan 6: The Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, on Thursday said that sustainability in Asia calls for sustained dialogue between the Asian countries and offered the help of Indian oil institutes to the world.

''We stand ready and willing to place our petroleum conservation research association, the Indian Institute of Petroleum, the University of Petroleum studies, The Energy and Research Institute of India, our centre for high technology, our oil industry safety directorate, IndianOil's R&D centre, and all our other scientific and technological research and development institutions at the service of Asia,'' he said.

Speaking at the first roundtable conference of Asian oil ministers on ''Regional Cooperation in The Oil Economy,'' Mr Aiyar said that Asian countries should join hands in terms of technology and conservation of oil to achieve sustainable oil supplies. ''The time has come for us to pool together our experiences, forge them into a shared, common experience and build on that experience in concert,'' he said.

It may be recalled that IndianOil's institutes has been in the forefront of research ever since it's R&D center was established in 1972 for the development of lube as well as refining process technologies It is one of its kind in Asia and has grown into a major technological development center of international repute in the down stream areas of lubricants, pipelines and refining processes.

Over the years, it has successfully perfected the state-of-the-art lube formulation technology meeting latest national and international specifications with approvals from major original equipment manufacturers. IndianOil markets around 450 grades of lubricants under the brand name "SERVO" based on its own R&D technology.

The institute has extensive laboratory and pilot plant facilities to successfully pursue projects in lube, refining and pipeline areas making it a unique technology centre. Its rich reservoir of highly qualified/ specialised scientific and technical manpower has elevated this centre to global status. Creativity and innovative research has led to technological innovations, some of which have received prestigious national and international awards.

During the conference Mr Aiyar told the visiting dignitaries that through a sustained dialogue among ourselves ''we might be able to find an Asian solution of the imperatives of Asian stability.'' The minister said that the Asian countries require a massive 1,580 billion dollar investment over the next 25 years for the development of upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas sector.

''Investment on this humungous scale, to the extent possible mutual reciprocal intra-Asia investment, would hugely enhance the security of production and consumption for everyone,'' he said.

To ensure a secure supply of crude to the Asian countries in case of disruptions, Mr Aiyar advocated for jointly building storage to protect the interests of both the consumers and producers. He said this would ''enable consumers to enjoy an uninterrupted flow of supplies and producers to enjoy an uninterrupted flow of oil revenue till normalcy is restored''.

He said, till now Asia was looking towards west for much of the investment in Asian petroleum exploration, production, refining and marketing. ''Now we should go in for mutual investment by producer and consumer nations of the Asian oil community,'' he added.

Maruti rolls out Euro-III version cars

NEW DELHI, Jan 7: Maruti Udyog on Thursday launched Euro III-compliant versions of compact cars 'Zen' and 'WagonR' and 'Baleno' sedan, sporting higher price tags, and plans to increase steel procurement from the domestic market. The new 'Zen' and 'WagonR' variants would cost Rs 10,000 more, while the price of the new 'Baleno' would go up by Rs 15,000, Maruti Udyog Ltd., Managing Director, Jagdish Khattar, told newsmen on the sidelines of a function.

"Domestic steel offers us competitive edge as prices are low compared to price of steel produced by overseas companies. Next fiscal, a number of contracts for steel procurement will be renewed and there will be preference for Indian players," he said. At present, Maruti uses 30-35 per cent of steel produced in India and plans to increase it to 50 per cent next fiscal.

Maruti, which is 54.2 per cent owned by Suzuki Motor Corp. of Japan, will launch more Euro III-compliant variants of 11 cars in a phased manner over the next few months. He said the company would shortly announce price increase on Euro II and yet-to-be launched Euro III versions of entry-level car 'Maruti 800'.

Asked whether the price increase, which is partly on account of new emission norms, would affect customer demand, Khattar said carmakers were in no position to control prices. The launch of new models by Maruti is in line with the stipulated deadline of making Euro-III norms mandatory in 11 big cities from April 1, 2005.

On Wednesday, Maruti raised prices on all models except 'Maruti 800', citing rise in input costs. The price increase was on all the existing Euro II models.

SBI donates Rs 10 cr to PM's Relief Fund

Mr AK Purwar, Chairman, State Bank of India, presenting a cheque for Rs 10 crore to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh toward the PM's National Relief Fund in New Delhi

Centre to divest stake in BHEL, Maruti by March

NEW DELHI, Jan 5: The Heavy Industries Ministry has virtually consented to the Finance Ministry's suggestion for part divestment of government equity in Bharat Heavy Electricals and Maruti Udyog in the current financial year. It, however, asked the Finance Ministry to consider weightage for Indian public and institutions during the public offer fearing that foreign financial institutions would strive to get most of the shares of these profit-making companies, Ministry sources said.

The Finance Ministry would now moot a formal proposal for disinvestment of 5 per cent equity in BHEL and sale of residual 18.24 per cent equity in Maruti Udyog in a phased manner, they added. The move is part of efforts to garner resources for social sector schemes to which the Government is according the highest priority.

According to the present share prices, 5 per cent equity sale in BHEL may fetch about Rs 950 crores to the Government. Likewise, the value of government equity in Maruti at current prices is more than Rs. 2,445 crores. "The public offers for both companies are likely to be completed this fiscal,'' the sources said.

With the Heavy Industry Ministry, under whose administrative control the two companies fall, favourably inclined towards divestment, the Finance Ministry may float a proposal for consideration of the Union Cabinet either later this month or early February, the sources said. After selling 5 per stake in BHEL, the Government stake in the company would come down to 62.72 per cent from 67.77 per cent at present.



Dental Implants India

Awasthi: Championing the farmers cause
Anil Ambani resigns from IPCL
Hudco earmarks Rs 2,000 cr for Tsunami rehabilitation: Selja
IFFCO bags two prestigious awards
Intel, NIIT to drive computer-assisted education in schools
IFFCO proposes new urea pricing policy
NHPC announces Rs 5 lakh reward
India, Singapore trade to grow by 10 pc
P S Grewal appointed Vice Chairman FAI; Grover is Chairman
Vijaipur NFL unit begins producing Neem-coated urea
GE divests 60 % stake in Indian BPO arm for $500 m
Major reforms on anvil to hasten urban development: Ghulam Nabi Azad
KRIBHCO presents Rs 58.45 cr dividend cheque to PM
Maruti October sales jump 28 %
India aims at us $ 16 b export of gems, jewellery
BHEL wins Rs. 1,774 crore contract
Shram awards for BHEL staff

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