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Business & Economy

Infrastructure sector grows by 2.9 % in March

India's six core infrastructure industries grew by 2.9 per cent in March this year as compared to 2.2 per cent in the previous month, which experts see as possible early signs of an economic revival.

Overall, the core sector's growth slowed to 2.7 per cent in 2008-09 as compared to 5.9 per cent during April 2007-March 2008, provisional figures released by the government today showed.

Sector-wise growth ratesThe index of six core industries, which have a combined weight of 26.7 % in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) stood at 270.3 in March 2009, the official statement said.

Crude oil production, with a weight of 4.17 % in the IIP, fell by 2.3 % in March this year as compared to (-) 0.3% in March 2008. The fall was (-)1.8 % during April-March 2008-09 as compared to 0.4% during the previous financial year.

Petroleum refinery production (weight of 2.00% in the IIP) registered a growth of 3.3% in March this year as compared to 0.1% in the same month of last year. The overall growth for the financial year was 3.0% as compared to 6.5% during the same period of 2007-08.

In the case of coal production, which has a weight of 3.2 % in the IIP, the growth was slower at 5.2% in March this year as compared to 9.3% in the same month last year. It grew by 8.1% during April-March 2008-09 as compared to an increase of 6.0% during the same period of 2007-08.

Electricity generation (weight of 10.17% in the IIP) registered a higher growth of 5.9% in March 2009 as compared to 3.6% in March last year. The overall growth rate for the year was, however, slower at 2.7 % as compared to 6.3 % in the previous financial year.

Cement production, with a weight of 1.99% in the IIP registered a growth of 10.1% in March this year as compared to 9.3% in the same month of last year. It grew by 7.5% during April-March 2008-09 as compared to an increase of 8.1% during the same period of 2007-08.

In the case of finished (carbon) steel production, which has a weight of 5.13 % in the IIP, growth was negative at (-) 2.6 % in March this year as compared to (-)0.9 % in the same month last year. It grew by 0.4 % during the fiscal year as compared to 6.2 % in the previous financial year, the statement added.

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RIL signs GSPA with 9 power producers

Energy major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said it had signed Gas Sales and Purchase Agreements (GSPA) with nine power producers for supply of natural gas to be produced from its Krishna Godavari D-6 (KG D-6) block.

The GSPAs were signed with them for the supply of approximately 11 million standard cubic metres (mmscmd) natural gas at 11 different power generation facilities, the company said in a press release.

The power producers include Reliance Infrastructure Limited, owned by Mr Anil Ambani, the estranged younger brother of RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani.

According to the, the duration of the contract under GSPAs is five years and the gas price is as per the formula approved by the government.

The gas to the customers would be transported through the East-West Pipeline of Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Limited (RGTIL) and through pipelines of GAIL and GSPL.

The power companies also signed Gas Transportation Agreement (GTA) with RGTIL.

According to the release, RIL expects to sign GSPAs with other power companies shortly, which is expected to increase the contracted quantity of gas for the power sector to 18 mmscmd.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. PMS Prasad, President & CEO, Petroleum, RIL, said, "We are happy to have entered into agreements with customers in the power sector, and look forward to entering into agreements with other customers in this sector soon. The expected supply of 18

mmscmd gas to the power sector would largely eliminate the deficit in gas supply being currently

faced by these units. The supply of 18 mmscmd natural gas to these units would result in generation of approximately 4000 MW of power, which would be a welcome relief in many parts of the country. We look forward to having a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with the power companies."

RIL had, a few weeks ago, signed GSPAs with 12 fertiliser companies for supply of approximately 15 mmscmd to them. Volumes of gas produced by RIL above this 15 mmscmd would go to the power producers.

RIL is at present producing about 13 MMSCMD of gas from KG D-6 and the output is expected to cross 15 MMSCMD within a few days, sources said.

Apart from Reliance Infrastructure, the other companies with whom the GSPAs were signed today are Gautami Power Limited, Gujarat Paguthan Energy Corporation Pvt Ltd, GVK Industries Limited - Phase I, GVK Industries Limited Ext - Phase II, Konaseema Gas Power Limited, Lanco Kondapalli Power Limited, Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited, Torrent Power Limited Sugen, Torrent Power Limited Vatva and Vemagiri Power Generation Limited.

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Vaidyanathan appointed MD of ICICI Life

V. VaidyanathanMr V Vaidyanathan, Executive Director of ICICI Bank, has been appointed as Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company (ICICI Life), the bank has announced.

He will succeed Ms Shikha Sharma, who has resigned and is taking over as Managing Director and CEO of Axis Bank for five years.

Ms Chanda Kochhar, who will take over as MD and CEO of ICICI Bank from May 1 has already been appointed as non-executive Chairperson of ICICI Life, ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company (ICICI General), ICICI Prudential Asset Management Compay (ICICI AMC), ICICI Securities, ICICI Bank UK PLC and ICICI Bank Canada.

Mr N Waghul is retiring as non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of ICICI Bank on April 30 and he will be succeeded by Mr K V Kamath, who is retiring as MD and CEO of the Bank.

The ICICI Bank Board of Directors and the Boards of Directors of ICICI Life and ICICI General met on Saturday and approved various appointments, an official press release said.

Accordingly, Mr Sandeep Bakshi, Managing Director & CEO of ICICI General, has been appointed as Executive Director of ICICI Bank. He will be responsible for retail and rural banking.

Mr Bhargav Dasgupta, Executive Director, ICICI Life, has been appointed as MD & CEO of ICICI General, the release added

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RIL reports 9.4 % decline in Q4 profit

Energy major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today reported a 9.4 per cent fall in its quarterly net profit, including the effect of exceptionalitems, as the global economic crisis affected demand for its products, but its performance was better than market expectations.

The company's unaudited financial results for the quarter and the year ended March 31 showed that its net profit for the last quarter of the financial year 2008-09 was Rs 3546 crore as compared to Rs 3912 crore in the same quarter of the previous financial year.

If the exception item is excluded, the net profit is Rs 3,874 crore, a decline of one per cent, the company said.

The company explained that the exceptional item represented a provision of Rs. 370 crore in the quarter ending March 31, 2009, towards estimated claims on account of subsidiaries.

The company's turnover in the last quarter fell to Rs 29,073 crore as compared to Rs 38,697 crore in the same period of the previous year, a fall of 24.9 per cent.

The company's net profit for the fiscal year 2008-09 was Rs 15,607 crore, excluding the exceptional item, up 2.3 per cent from the figure of Rs 15,261 crore in the previous year.

Profit after tax, including the exceptional item, was Rs. 15,279 crore, a decline of 21.5 per cent from Rs. 19,458 crore for the previous year.

Year-on-year, RIL's turnover increased by 8.3 per cent to Rs. 150,771 crore, while exports increased by 12.6 per cent to Rs 94,038 crore. The gross refining margin was put at $12.2 per barrel.

The basic earning per share (EPS), excluding the exceptional item, for the year was Rs 103.20 against Rs. 105 for the previous year. The EPS was Rs 101, including the exceptional item.

"This was a transformational year for Reliance. We commissioned our large refinery and substantially completed gas development projects. We have set new global benchmarks for project execution. Our operating performance with earnings growth is creditable in a year of extraordinary challenges of price volatility and demand reduction," Mr Mukesh Ambani, RIL Chairman and Managing Director, said.

The company said it had cash and cash equivalents of nearly Rs. 25,000 crore. These are in fixed deposits, certificate of deposits with banks and Government securities and bonds, it said.

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FDPC unveils plan for fashion hub in Delhi

The Advisory Committee of the Fashion Design Promotion Council (FDPC), the apex government-recognised body of fashion in India, met here yesterday to unveil the much talked about mega plan of creating a one-of-its-kind Fashion Hub in Delhi.

An FDPC press release said the hub is conceived as a dedicated area for marketing support to Indian fashion designers.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has already demarcated a ten-acre plot of land near the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) at Maidan Garhi for allotment to the Ministry of Textiles for the project.

According to the release, the scheme will take off in the current financial year and be implemented through a public-private partnership as proposed by the Planning Commission.

Indian Fashion is recognized as one of the areas that have tremendous potential for the growth in times to come. Considering the potential in the industry and the need for proper utilization of resources, the Fashion Design Promotion Council has outlined certain areas that will be addressed through this project that are pivotal to future growth.

They include hosting market meets, fashion shows during all the seasons, a permanent exhibition that will offer a wide variety of designer wear products, facilities of design, research on products and manufacture, photo shoots, publicity material and literature on a wide range of fashion business-related issues.

Mr Vijay Singh, Secretary and CEO of the FDPC said its primary objective was to bridge gaps in development within the fashion industry by taking support from the government.

"I think that there is a need to create a demarcated zone where all Indian designers are present round the year and buyers from all over the world as well as across the nation can visit anytime. This Fashion Hub will be unique in many ways and will continue to nurture Indian Fashion industry in times to come," he said.

Well-known designer Raghavendra Rathore, Vice President of FDPC said the body stood for a united fashion industry, amalgamating different aspects of fashion into one central location.

"The Fashion Hub is more than what we had bargained for. Kudos to the forward thinking textile ministry," he said.

Mr. Sunil Sethi, Chairman Advisory Committee, FDPC said, "India is a unique country where the public sector is as strong as the private sector. This public private partnership that will ensure speedy execution of large scale projects. The proposal of the Fashion Hub is one such project that can be enabled by coming together of Government and the Fashion industry. And this is probably a big leap in giving industry status to the fashion."

The hub, among other things, will serve the purpose of a permanent market-place for the Indian fashion industry.

"I am elated that this project is coming through with the support of the Government as well as the FDPC. This will take the industry to a new level of professionalism all together," designer Leena Singh of Ashima -Leena said.

Among other facilities, the proposed hub will have a permanent exhibiton centre, a convention centre with exhibition halls and auditoriums, a library and resource centre, a business centre with meeting rooms, a research & development centre and an incubation centre, designer boutiques and studios, offices, a fashion information centre, a textile and craft museum, guest rooms, hotels, restaurants, a health spa, a fitness centre, and outdoor and indoor games facilities, the release added.

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Egypt withdraws 25% fee on cotton yarn, textiles

Egypt has withdrawn a temporary precautionary fee of 25 per cent of Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value it had imposed on imports of cotton yarn and fabrics and sugar, an official press release said here today.

The minimum fee was half a dollar on every kilogramme of cotton textile and one dollar for every kilogramme of processed sugar. This fee was imposed as a temporary precautionary measure on January 16 for a period of one year.

The fee was in addition to the five per cent import duty on cotton and mixed yarn and ten per cent import duty on cotton and mixed woven fabrics.

On hearing about the fee, the Indian government had challenged it on the ground that Egypt had exceeded the bound rates notified to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Ministry of Commerce took up the matter with the Egyptian authorities, the release said.

According to it, Indian cotton yarn exports to Egypt are a very significant component and rank first in Egypt’s import of that commodity, besides being India’s top exports to Egypt.

The fee, over and above all other taxes and duties imposed by Egypt, would have adversely affected India's textile export sector, which is already plagued by the economic meltdown, the release said.

As a result of the efforts by the Commerce and Textile Ministries and various export promotion bodies, the Egyptian government has withdrawn the fee with effect from April 8.

"India recognises with deep appreciation the action taken by Egypt," the release added.

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Lerros launches retail store in Chandigarh

German apparel brand Lerros has launched its first retail store in Chandigarh after opening outlets in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Lerros, an everyday premium wear brand for both men and women and which has 12 collections through the year, entered the Indian market last year.

"Chandigarh had always been on our radar for being a market with huge potential for lifestyle brands. We expect a good sales platform and revenue generation from this market. In a bid to expand our business in such key markets, we are also looking at exploring the multi-brand outlet route to market our products. We plan to take forward the retail platform through a franchise model in Chandigarh as well as in other markets," Mr. S. Ramprasad, CEO, Lerros, said

Lerros Moden GmbH is a $ 350 million German multinational headquartered in Neuss, Germany.

Established in 1983, it is considered amongst the premium casual wear apparel players in Germany. It is also represented in Belgium, Ireland, Finland, Canada, Hungary, Spain, Russia, Austria, Netherlands and Sweden. It is currently one of the most successful system providers in Europe with approximately 1500 floor space partners.

Lerros India is a joint venture between the German company and House of Pearl Fashions Limited, which is a ready to wear apparel manufacturing company. It also provides supply chain solutions for the fashion industry globally along with warehousing and distribution networks in the United Kingdom and the United States. Its customers include retailers such as J C Penney and Tesco and fashion brand retailers such as GAP, Banana Republic, Next and Esprit, a press release issued by the company said.

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Inflation rate rises slightly to 0.26 %

The headline annual rate of inflation for the week ended April 11 rose to 0.26 per cent, up slightly from the 0.18 per cent recorded for the previous week ended April 4, official data released here today showed.

The rate of inflation was 7.95 per cent during the corresponding week last year, ended April 12, 2008.

According to the provisional figures made available today, the official Wholesale Price Index for 'All Commodities' (Base: 1993-94 = 100) for the week ended April 11 rose by 0.3 percent to 228.8 from 228.2 for the previous week.

The index for Primary Articles, which have a weight of 22.02 per cent, rose by 0.5 percent to 248.9 from 247.6 for the previous week. 

Within this category, the index for Food Articles rose by 0.5 percent to 246.8 from 245.6  for the previous week due to higher prices of tea (5%), bajra and jowar (3% each), fruits & vegetables (2%) and mutton and maize (1% each). However, the prices of gram and barley (1% each) declined.

The index for Non-Food Articles group rose by 0.8 percent to 230.5 from 228.7 for the previous week due to higher prices of raw rubber (10%) and groundnut seed (3%). However, the prices of niger seed (5%), fodder and raw silk (2% each) and copra (1%) declined.

The index for Fuel, Power, Light and Lubricants, with a weight of 14.23 per cent, remained unchanged at the previous week's level of 322.6 per cent.

The index for Manufactured Products, with a weight of 63.75 per cent), rose by 0.2 percent to 200.9 from 200.5 for the previous week.

Within this group, the index for Food Products rose by 0.7 percent to 221.8 from 220.2  for the previous week due to higher prices of imported edible oil (5%), oil cakes (3%) and rice bran oil, groundnut oil, salt, gingelly oil, sooji (rawa) and sugar (1% each). However, the prices of rape & mustard oil (4%) and atta (1%) declined.

The index for Textiles rose by 0.3 percent to 141.0 from 140.6 for the previous week due to higher prices of hessian cloth and synthetic yarn (2% each) and polyster staple fibre and hessian & sacking bags (1% each).

The index for Chemicals & Chemical Products rose by 0.05 percent to 214.4 from 214.3  for the previous week due to higher prices of p.v.c. resins (4%) and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) (1%). However, the prices of liquid chlorine (2%) and bopp film (1%) declined.

The index for Non-Metallic Mineral Products rose by 0.1 percent to 219.0 from 218.8 for the previous week due to higher prices of building bricks (3%).

The index for Basic Metals, Alloys & Metal Products rose marginally to 255.2 from 255.1 for the previous week due to higher prices of steel ingots, lead ingots and zinc (2% each) and zinc ingots (1%).

The index for Machinery & Machine Tools group declined by 0.1 percent to 172.4 from 172.5 for the previous week due to lower prices of hydraulic pumps (7%).

For the week ended February 14 this year, the final wholesale price index stood at 227.4 as compared to 227.8 (Provisional) and the annual rate of inflation based on final index, calculated on point to point basis, stood at 3.18 percent as compared to 3.36 percent (Provisional) reported earlier, the statement added.

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RIL signs gas sale pacts with 6 power cos

Oil and gas exploration major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is understood to have signed gas sale and purchase agreements (GSPA) to sell gas from its Krishna Godavari D-6 (KG D-6) basin to six power companies.

The six independent power producers include GVK in Andhra Pradesh, Power Ministry sources said.

The RIL spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

RIL had, a few weeks ago, signed GSPAs with 12 fertiliser companies for supply of approximately 15 million standard cubic metres (MMSCMD) to them. Volumes of gas produced by RIL above this 15 million MMSCMD would go to the power producers.

RIL is at present producing about 13 MMSCMD of gas from KG D-6 and the output is expected to cross 15 MMSCMD within a few days, the sources said.

Apart from GVK, the other power companies with whom agreements have been signed include Gautami, Spectrum, Vemagiri and Konasemma, the sources added.

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Integrate skills development & education: T K A Nair

Mr T K A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, has said that improving the quality of education and providing equal opportunities to everyone, especially in the matter of functional literacy, were the major challenges facing the country today.

Addressing a special plenary at the National Conference on Education - 2009 with the theme "Linking Education to Employability" here on Tuesday, Mr Nair agreed with the industry's concerns that the current education system was not promoting employability as the necessary skills development was missing.

"However, the government also has to bring in the large number of educationally excluded people into the system. To resolve this dilemma, it is important that the industry joined hands with the government and made skills development an essential part of the educational system," he said.

At the conference, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), two reports were also released. The first was the CII-NASSCOM-ICRIER white paper on an "Independent Accreditation System" and the second a CII-Technopark study report on the "Case for Setting Up Sector Councils in India".

Mr Nair said it was important to upscale the ongoing public-private partnerships, like those of the industry adopting 600 industrial training institutes, to ensure that social inclusion became a reality. Mr Nair said that it was essential that education and skills development were used as a means of empowering the youth.

Ms Sudha Pillai, Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment, pointed out that skills development had to be made an essential part of the educational framework.

"This was important as skills had a direct correlation with improved productivity and economic well-being. Also, increased emphasis on skills development and vocational training would help us empower the large number of school dropouts and unorganised sector workers," she said.

A major policy initiative in this regard, Ms Pillai said, was the national policy on skills development that was approved by the Union Cabinet in February this year. The policy aims at empowering all individuals to enable them to get access to decent employment and to promote inclusive national growth. Further, the policy promotes public-private partnership to ensure that the needs of the industry are met.

Earlier outlining the measures initiated by the CII, Mr Vijay Thadani, Chairman, CII National Committee on Education and CEO, NIIT Ltd, said that "the raw material for the development of any nation is its people. Therefore, building people was the key to building India." In this context, he pointed to the CII's vision of achieving complete functional literacy in the country by the year 2022 and of having a globally employable workforce of over 700 million people, including 500 vocationally skilled people.

Mr Thadani said that this challenge of making India the global hub for knowledge creation could be achieved "if we change the way we look at our educational system and become a scale provider of value-based learner-centric education, skills development and professional education."

Emphasising the role being played by CII in ensuring that education was linked to employability, the NIIT chief cited the example of a project under which 200 SC/ST students in Delhi University were imparted with special skills sets that ensured they got suitable employment.

Emphasising the increased importance being given to affirmative action in the CII, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director-General, CII, said that the steps initiated by the industry body in 2004 were now being upscaled and spread to newer areas. In this connection, he pointed to the increasing partnerships that the CII had entered into with a large number of universities.

He said that in today's globalised world and increasing integration of labour markets, it was important that our skills and training programmes have global accreditation and certification. Such skilled workers not only lead to enhanced output but even the employment opportunities open to them also increase sharply, he added.

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Hotel Ramada Plaza opens in New Delhi

Hotel Ramada Plaza, built by renovating the erstwhile Ashok Yatri Nivas, has opened its doors in the heart of the capital.
The reception of the Ramada Plaza Hotel.
The reception of the Ramada Plaza Hotel.

The opening of the hotel marks the entry of the Litolier Group into the hotel industry, a press release by the hotel said.

The location of the hotel on Ashok Road, in the heart of the business and commercial hub of the city, provides easy access to most of the corporate and financial centres, ministries, diplomatic missions and the international trade fair grounds, the release said.
The ceiling in the lobby at the Ramada Plaza.
The ceiling in the lobby at the Ramada Plaza.

The four star deluxe property offers 419 luxury guest rooms suites and service apartments, a lobby lounge, a multi-cuisine coffee shop, a Chinese restaurant, a bar, a pastry shop and a night club, among other facilities. There are plans for an Italian restaurant, too.

A gym, a swimming pool, a business centre and meeting rooms are some of the other facilities.
The entrance to the hotel.
The entrance to the hotel.

"We are aiming at offering the best amenities to our customers in an exclusive way, to make their stay comfortable. Our strength lies in our hospitality excellence, which is provided by the dedicated team of highly experienced professionals. We aim at giving our clients quality stay, food and other valued added facilities and above all personalized attention to make their stay the best."Mr. Ashok Mittal, Director, Ramada Plaza said.

The hotel is a member of the Wyndham Hotels group, one of the largest and most widespread lodging franchisers in the world, the release added.

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20% rise in overseas buyers at SATTE

SATTE, India's oldest travel and tourism show, will hold its 16th edition at the Pragati Maidan here from April 23 to 25 with a 20 epr cent increase in overseas buyers this time, the organisers said today.

About 280 foreign buyers of the Indian tourism product have pre-fixed appointments with 300 sellers of the rich and unique products of Destination India, Mr Navin Berry, Chief Coordinator of SATTE, said.

Mr Berry said Tourism Boards from 16 countries would showcase their products to target outbound travellers from India.

New Zealand will participating at an Indian travel show for the first time while Jordan has planned a big stand, he said. According to him, the Singapore Tourism Board will also making its debut at SATTE 2009. Other participants include Dubai, Malaysia, Egypt and Thailand, he said.

Gujarat is the principal partner and Orissa the heritage partner state this time. Jammu and Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh are the other partner states.

For the first time this year, SATTE would have a structured corporate buyer programme in association with American Express.

"We have an elaborate plan to ensure strict buyer attendance at the mart, and this will ensure more business from all over the world, thereby rekindling a fresh interest in Indian tourism products around the world," Mr. Berry said.

"SATTE 2009 will reinforce that there is a plethora of opportunities in the Indian tourism space and that it has emerged as a serious business in the country," Mr. Berry said.

The prestigious SATTE Awards Night will be held on April 23 at which 20 awards would be announced in different categories.

There will be a day-long seminar, the Indian Tourism Enclave, to coincide with the show and speakes this year will include Emirates Airlines president Tim Clark, Purelife Experiences Managing Director Serge Dive and Expedia co-founder Richard Bangs.

Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee, Nakul Anand of ITC Hotels, Kapil Kaul of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation and Deep Kalra of Makemytrip.com will be the main speakers at the event from India.

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RComm adds 11.3 million new subscribers in January – March

Reliance Communications Limited, which offers nationwide CDMA and GSM mobile services, has said that it added a record 11.3 million new subscribers during January-March this year.

This includes an addition of three million new subscribers during March, highest in the industry for the third consecutive month, a company statement said. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, Reliance Communications achieved a 113 per cent growth during the period, it said.

"Reliance Communications is happy to create yet another World Record by adding 11.3 million new subscribers in a quarter. The World Record subscriber additions are a true testimony of the wide network reach, quality of service and strong product proposition offered by Reliance Mobile", Mr. S.P. Shukla, President – Wireless Business, Reliance Communications, said.

"The overwhelming customer response to our recently launched nationwide GSM services has enabled us to bag 26% marketshare and experience over 113% growth in quarterly net additions. We are confident of further enhancing our leadership position through a series of consumer-centric initiatives that we will launch in the days ahead", he added.

According to the statement, Reliance Communications is the only operator in the Indian mobile space to have increased its overall marketshare.

Reliance Communications is the flagship company of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and India's largest integrated telecommunications service provider.

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Road shows for NELP-VIII & CBM-IV deferred

The Government today said it had decided to defer the proposed road shows for the eighth round of the New Exploration Licencing Policy (NELP-VIII) and the fourth round of the Coal Bed Methane Policy (CBM-IV) slated from April 20 onwards.

While launching NELP-VIII and CBM-IV on April 9, Petroleum and Natural Gas Secretary R S Pandey had said that the first road show would be held in Mumbai on April 20, followed by shows at several places abroad.

"It has now been decided to defer the proposed Road Shows at all the locations including the Mumbai Road Show on 20th April, 2009. Revised schedule will be notified in due course," an official statement from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas said.

While the statement did not cite any reason for the decision to defer the shows, media reports suggested that the government felt the ambiguity over tax holidays for natural gas, similar to the ones given for crude oil production, could affect investor interest. Since the country is now in the midst of general elections, the government could not have sorted out the matter and it is understood to have decided to leave the issue to be dealt with by the new government which should be in place in the third week of May.

The government is offering as many as 70 oil and gas exploration blocks under NELP-VIII and 10 blocks under CBM-IV.

Apart from Mumbai, there were plans to hold road shows in Perth on April 27-28, Brisbane (29 April), London (4-5 May), Houston (7-8 May) and Calgary (14-15 May). The officials concerned were also due to make a presentation at an Investors' Meet in Washington on May 11-12.

During the shows, presentations were to be made on the emerging geological prospectivity of Indian basins as well as the contractual and fiscal framework. Successful operating companies in India and financial consultants were also due to share their experience of the working / investment environment in the country. The road shows will also cover one-on-one meeting with E&P companies / investors. They were aimed at showcasing India’s discoveries and increase awareness about the policy framework as well as promote India as an attractive investment destination.

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Additional sugar release for April-June quarter

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said that it proposed to release a further six lakh tonnes of free sale sugar into the market to help stabilise prices of the commodity.

An official press release said that, although there was no shortfall of sugar, prices of the commodity had been rising recently, mainly on account of a perception of a shortage.

It said of the six lakh tonnes, 2.5 lakh tonnes each would be released in April and May and one lakh tonnes in June.

According to the ministry, the Centre had reviewed the price situation of sugar in the wake of rising sugar prices in the last fortnight and is of the view that there is enough sugar already available for the current quarter for prices to remain at reasonable levels in the open market.

The government has released 54 lakh tonnes of non-levy (free sale) sugar in the April – June quarter (19.5 lakh tonnes for April, 2009, 18.5 lakh tonnes for May, 2009 and 16 lakh tonnes for June, 2009). Corresponding release in April-June quarter of the preceding year was 52 lakh tonnes. For the immediately preceding quarter (January–March, 2009), the release was 50 lakh tonnes, it said.

Sugar mills have been instructed to strictly comply with the release orders, failing which the balance unsold quantity will be converted into levy sugar and sold through the public distribution system (PDS), the release said.

In order to ensure continuous flow of sugar in the market, the monthly release orders for non-levy sugar are being further broken down into weekly/ fortnightly releases.

The statement said the government was keeping a close watch on actual sales by sugar mills which will now be expected to report their sales, including the details of parties to whom sugar has been sold.

The government is also contemplating a continual and vigorous checking of stocks of sugar mills to ensure compliance with release orders and smooth supply of sugar to the market.

To ensure that unscrupulous elements do not impede fair trade by hoarding and other such malpractices, the government has also imposed stock-holding and turnover limits for the sugar trade.

State Governments have been advised to strictly enforce these limits and take stern action against hoarders under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

There has been a shortfall in production of sugarcane and resultant production of sugar this year as compared to 2007-08. The Central Government has taken steps to enhance supply of sugar in the current season by augmenting availability through imports in the following manner:

  1. Sugar mills have been allowed to import raw sugar under Advance Authorization Scheme upto 30.09.2009 and sell the processed sugar in the domestic market and fulfill the export obligation subsequently on ‘ton-to-ton’ basis.
  2. Sugar mills have also been allowed to import raw sugar with zero import duty upto 01.08.2009. There would be no levy obligation on such imported sugar.
  3. The Central Public Sector Units (PSUs) -- STC, MMTC and PEC and NAFED -- have been allowed to import upto 10 lakh tonnes of white/refined sugar with zero import duty upto 1.8.2009.

Accelerated releases would be given to importers of raw sugar to effectuate quick releases of sugar processed out of such raw sugar, the release said.

In order to facilitate imports, clearance of vessels importing sugar will be streamlined and these vessels be given priority in berthing at ports.

It is expected that imports will be adequate to supplement the domestic production and to cater to the consumption demand and there will be no shortage of sugar in the market, the release added.

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CII India Business Forum launched in China

Indian Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao has said that a well-functioning financial system was necessary for the revival of the world economy.

"Countries need to have effective credible fiscal stimulus, resumption of credit flows, cleaning up of the balance sheet of the financial institutions to tackle the current economic crisis," she said in her keynote address at a conference on "Impact of the Global Economic Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities for India and China" organised here yesterday by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the Embassy of India.

The event also marked the launch of the India Business Forum (IBF) in China, an initiative of the apex industry chamber.

"Protectionism has to be avoided - protectionism in goods as well as services, as also financial protectionism," Mrs Rao said.

The Ambassador said that, in this time of global financial and economic crisis, there was need for stronger cooperation and coordination between India and China.

The crisis must be turned into an opportunity by tackling it with the key commodity of confidence, she said.

Both the countries, she added, are convinced of the need for continued and concerted economic liberalization that balances globalization with equitable and balanced growth that benefits the weaker and economically disadvantaged sections of our populations.

Because of these strong fundamentals, both India and China have not been affected by the crisis as much compared to the western countries. Both are working together within the G-20 framework to help restore global growth and confidence and to address the systemic risks in the global financial system.

The bilateral trade has increased tenfold in the last six years and China has becomes the largest trading partner for India in 2008.

She said that, by 2025, it is highly probable that China-India economic ties through trade, investment and technology linkages may be one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. There is also a need to rectify the trade imbalance where India's trade deficit stood at USD 11.2 bln in 2008. On the Indian side, there is a need to broaden and diversify the export basket. At the same time, India is seeking greater market access for its products where India has competitive advantage. She felt one of the focus areas for the India Business Forum should be to address this issue.

Mr Wang Jinzhen, Vice Chairman, China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in his inaugural address said that like India, inflicted by the global financial crisis, China's financial market and real economy have declined. The shutting down of small scale export oriented enterprises and cutting down of workforce is evident in the fall of bilateral trade by 37% in January 2009 compared to the same period last year. China adopted a proactive fiscal policy and moderately easy monetary policy and also introduced ten measures to expand domestic demand and put in place a series of related policies to stimulate the domestic economy, he said.

Mr Wang felt that to minimize damages and achieve early recovery both the Indian and Chinese governments should cooperate closely to enhance trade liberalisation and facilitation and eliminate trade barriers and protectionism. He also called upon non-governmental organisations to play an active role to facilitate enterprises in mutual investment and trade, apart from developing a Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) network which will help in seeing opportunities in China-India economic interaction.

Earlier, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII in his welcome address stressed on shifting of "India or China" strategy to "India and China", which will help in deriving benefits from advantages offered by both the emerging economies.

He hoped that the forum would help in bringing together the Industry and economies of both the countries together.

IBF, an initiative of CII, has already been launched in the United States, South Africa and Singapore. It provides a platform for bringing together the various Indian companies based in the country, for better cooperation, networking and knowledge sharing, Mr Banerjee said.

It will act as a forum for promoting India-China trade through collective and consensual approach to common issues. It will also act as a platform for networking with Chinese companies interested in doing business with India, think tanks and other policy makers in China.

Mr J J Shrikhande, Chairman, CII IBF China, spoke about the various activities the forum intends to take up. One of its key focus areas will be to work with the embassy and others towards building "Brand India" by creating platforms to showcase the sectoral strengths of India, areas of cooperation for trade and investment and share good practices to learn from each other, he said.

The conference was attended by more than 120 representatives from various Chinese and Indian companies, apart from officials from the Government departments and Embassy, a CII press release added.

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Inflation rate dips to record low of 0.18 %

The headline annual inflation rate fell to a record low of 0.18 per cent for the week ended April 4 as compared to 0.26 per cent the previous week, official figures released here today said.

The inflation rate was 7.71 per cent during the corresponding week ended April 5 last year, the provisional data showed.

According to the statement, the official Wholesale Price Index for 'All Commodities' (Base: 1993-94 = 100) for the week ended April 4 rose by 0.4 percent to 228.2 from 227.3 for the previous week.

The index for Primary Articles (which have a weight of 22.02 % in the index) rose by 1.1 per cent to 247.6 from 245.0 for the previous week.

Within this category, the index for Food Articles rose by 1.2 percent to 245.6 from 242.6 for the previous week due to higher prices of fruits and vegetables (6%), arhar (2%) and urad, moong and gram (1% each). However, the prices of tea (1%) declined.

The index for Non-Food Articles rose by 0.7 percent to 228.7 from 227.0 for the previous week due to higher prices of raw rubber (6%), raw cotton (3%) and raw silk (2%). However, the prices of rape and mustard seed (1%) declined.

The index for Fuel, Power, Light and Lubricants (weight 14.23 %) rose by 0.5 percent to 322.6 from 320.9 for the previous week due to higher prices of aviation turbine fuel (12%), naphtha (8%), light diesel oil (3%) and bitumen (2%). However, the prices of furnace oil (1%) declined.

The index for Manufactured Products (weight 63.7 %) rose by 0.1 percent to 200.5 from 200.3 for the previous week.

Within this category, the index for Food Products rose by 0.6 percent to 220.2 from 218.9 for the previous week due to higher prices of imported edible oil and rice bran oil (3% each), oil cakes (2%) and khandsari (1%).

The index for Chemicals & Chemical Products rose by 0.1 percent to 214.3 from 214.0 for the previous week due to higher prices of benzene (13 %), liquid injectables other than vitamins (3%), PVC resins and tablets except vitamin & penicillin (2% each). However, the prices of liquid chlorine (25 %), acid (all kinds) (3 %) and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) (1%) declined.

The index for Basic Metals Alloys & Metal Products declined by 0.3 percent to 255.1 from 255.9 for the previous week due to lower prices of basic pig iron and foundry pig iron (5% each), MS bars & rounds, steel wire, lead ingots and other iron steel (2% each) and steel wire ropes (1%). However, the prices of zinc (6%) and zinc ingots (1%) moved up.

The statement also said the final rate of inflation for the week ended February 7 this year stood at 3.69 % as compared to the provisional 3.92 % reported earlier on February 19.

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Domestic air traffic falls sharply in Q1 of 2009

Domestic air traffic in India fell sharply by 12.2 per cent during the first quarter of this year as compared to the same period last year, official figures released today.

An official statement said the total number of domestic passengers carried by the country's scheduled airlines between January and March this year was 98.22 lakhs as against 111.90 lakhs in the first quarter of 2008.

Of the 98.22 lakh passengers, national carrier Air India's domestic flights accounted for 16.70 lakhs, private airline Jet Airways 17.54 lakhs, its subsidiary JetLite 7.22 lakhs, Kingfisher 26.67 lakhs, Spice Jet 11.85 lakhs, Indigo 13.23 lakhs, Go Air 2.59 lakhs and Paramount 2.01 lakhs.

The corresponding figures for the first quarter last year were Air India - 16.42 lakhs, Jet Airways –25.44 lakhs, Jet Lite – 7.98 lakhs, Deccan – 16.39 lakhs, Kingfisher – 16.26 lakhs, Spice Jet – 11.55 lakhs, Paramount – 1.42 lakhs, Go Air – 4.92 lakhs,and IndiGo – 11.52 lakhs.
The total number of domestic passengers carried by the scheduled airlines in March this year were 31.60 lakhs with Air India accounting for 5.41 lakhs, Jet Airways 5.61 lakhs, Jet Lite 2.32 lakhs, Kingfisher 8.44 lakhs, Spice Jet 3.79 lakhs, Paramount 0.69 lakhs, Go Air 0.94 lakhs and IndiGo 4.25 lakhs.

Kingfisher had the highest percentage share among the airlines with 27.2 % of the traffic in the first quarter. Air India had 17 per cent, Jet Airways 17.9 per cent, JetLite 7.4%, Spice Jet 12.1%, Paramount 2.0%, Go Air 2.6% and IndiGo 13.5%.

Air India had a percentage share of 17.1 per cent in March, while Jet Airways had 17.8%, Jet Lite 7.3%, Kingfisher 26.7%, Spice Jet 12.0%, Paramount 2.2%, Go Air 3.0 % and IndiGo 13.4%.

The seat factor of the domestic airlines in March was 57 % for Air India, 60.6 % for Jet Airways, 64.3 % for JetLite, 60.9 per cent for Kingfisher, 67.5 % for Spice Jet, 81.9 per cent for Paramount, 61 % for Go Air and 70 % for IndiGo.

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L&T signs MoU for Nuclear Power Reactors

Larsen & Toubro (L&T), the seven billion dollar Indian engineering and construction major, and Atomstroyexport (ASE) of Russia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for co-operation between the two companies for Russian design reactors VVER 1000.

The MoU was signed by Mr.M.V. Kotwal, Member of the Board & Senior Executive Vice President of L&T and Mr. Dan Belenkiy President ASE in Moscow, a company statement said today.

The MoU will form the basis of co-operation between the companies and address needs for equipment & other services arising from the agreement signed between India and Russia on December 5, 2008, for four additional reactors KK3-6 at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and other Russian reactors at new sites in India.

L&T has been playing a leading role in equipment manufacture, construction and project management for Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors in India’s domestic nuclear programme. It is the only Indian company to be accredited by ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) to use its ‘N’ and ‘NPT’ stamps for critical nuclear reactor equipment.

L&T played an important role in construction, piping and erection services for the KK1-2 VVERs at Kudankulam.

According to the signed document L&T and ASE will develop co-operation in the construction of the new power units at Kudankulam as well as during construction of plants under the Russian designs with VVER reactors at new sites in India, and also in other countries.

This MoU with ASE represents a major step for L&T into VVER component and systems manufacturing and services. It will enable L&T as well as ASE to utilize indigenous capabilities for nuclear power plants including supply of equipment and systems, valves, electrical and instrumentation products and fabrication of structural and piping and construction for the Russian VVER plants in India and in other global locations.

VVER are already licensed and are in operation in other countries, are being constructed and are intended to be constructed in many other countries. Both L&T and ASE are optimistic about the emerging opportunities and see the possibility of future co-operation, in India as well as abroad.

Atomstroyexport JSC (ASE) is the leading engineering company subordinated to the State Corporation Rosatom implementing intergovernmental agreements on constructing nuclear facilities abroad.

Currently Atomstroyexport is implementing orders, which make over 20% of the world market volume, and is the only company performing contracts in four countries simultaneously: in China, India, Iran and Bulgaria. Atomstroyexport is supported by the half-century experience of Russian atomic industry and constructs NPPs of new generation compliant with international requirements and IAEA recommendations.

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EBay announces plan for 2010 IPO of Skype

EBay Inc., which is trying to revive sales on its main e-commerce website, has announced that it plans to separate its Internet-calling unit Skype from the company, beginning with an initial public offering (IPO) that is intended to be completed in the first half of 2010.

The specific timing of the IPO will be based on market conditions, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Skype is today the world's largest provider of international calls, handling some eight per cent of all cross-border voice traffic, according to industry figures.

E-bay bought Skype for $ 2.6 billion in 2005, when Meg Whitman was at the helm, to try and give buyers and sellers on its site a way to speak to each other. Skype today accounts for about six per cent of e-Bay's sales.

"Skype is a great stand-alone business with strong fundamentals and accelerating momentum," eBay Inc.’s President and CEO John Donahoe said.

"But it’s clear that Skype has limited synergies with eBay and PayPal. We believe operating Skype as a stand-alone publicly traded company is the best path for maximizing its potential. This will give

Skype the focus and resources required to continue its growth and effectively compete in online voice and video communications. In addition, separating Skype will allow eBay to focus entirely on our two core growth engines—e-commerce and online payments—and deliver long-term value to our stockholders." he said.

The decision to separate Skype is based on a timeline outlined by Donahoe when he became eBay’s CEO in April 2008. At the time, the company said it would spend a year evaluating Skype and its potential synergies within the eBay Inc. portfolio before making any decisions about Skype’s future.

Donahoe also installed a new management team at Skype led by Josh Silverman, which has driven stronger momentum and improved performance.

In 2008, Skype generated revenues of $551 million, up 44 percent from 2007, and segment margins of approximately 21 per cent, the statement said.

Registered users reached 405 million by the end of 2008, up 47 percent from 2007, and user metrics improved significantly throughout the year, the statement said. The company recently announced that it expects Skype to top $1 billion in revenue in 2011, nearly doubling 2008 revenues.

"Under the leadership of Josh Silverman and his management team, Skype has become a stronger business in the past year, and I expect it will be even stronger a year from now," Donahoe said.

"Skype has accelerating global user growth and strong fundamentals, diversified revenue streams and is competitively positioned in a large market. We expect Josh and his team to continue delivering results as we prepare Skype for an IPO."

Most recently, the release of the Skype for iPhone application has generated a great response. More than one million people downloaded Skype for iPhone in the first 36 hours after it became available—and Skype immediately became the No. 1 downloaded free iPhone application in more than 40 markets, including the U.S., UK and Japan. In just over a week, downloads passed the two million mark, putting Skype on more than 6 percent of all iPhones and iPod Touch – and adding almost half a million new Skype users.

Industry watchers expect the IPO to raise between $ 500 million and $ 1 billion for e-Bay, depending on how much stake it wants to give up. They value Skype at between $ 3 billion and $ 5 billion.

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Infosys reports 29.1 % growth in Q4 profit

Infosys Technologies Limited, India's no.2 software services exporter, reported a net profit after tax of Rs 1613 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31 and said the year-on-year growth was 29.1 per cent.

Infosys Technologies Limited, India's no.2 software services exporter, reported a net profit after tax of Rs 1613 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31 and said the year-on-year growth was 29.1 per cent.

Announcing the results for the quarter and the year ended March 31, the company said income for the quarter was Rs 5635 crore, a year-on-year (YoY) growth of 24.1 per cent.

It said earnings per share increased to Rs. 28.16 from Rs. 21.83 in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The YoY growth was 29 per cent.

The company said income for the year ended March 31 was Rs. 21,693 crore and YoY growth was 30 per cent.

Net profit after tax before exceptional item was Rs. 5988 crore, with YoY growth of 28.5 per cent.

The earnings per share before exceptional item increased to Rs. 104.60 from Rs. 81.53 in the previous year, a YoY growth of 28.3 per cent.

A company statement said the net profit for the quarter ended March 31 included a reversal of tax provisions pertaining to earlier period amounting to Rs. 15 crore and Rs. 108 crore, respectively (Rs. 20 crore and Rs. 121 crore for the quarter and year ended March 31, 2008). Excluding this reversal, the earnings per share for the quarter and year ended March 31, 2009 would have been Rs. 27.90 and Rs. 102.71 (Rs. 21.49 and Rs. 79.42 for the quarter and year ended March 31, 2008, respectively), resulting in a YoY growth of 29.8 per cent and 29.3 per cent, respectively.

The statement said 37 clients were added by Infosys and its subsidiaries during the quarter. There was a gross addition of 4935 employees (net 1772) for the quarter and 28,231 employees (net 13,663) for the year by Infosys and its subsidiaries.

Infosys and its subsidiaries had 1,04,850 employees as on March 31 this year.

The company's Board of Directors has recommended a final dividend of Rs 13.50 per share (270 per cent on par value of Rs 5 per share) for fiscal 2009.

"Many of our clients are impacted by the financial crisis and are looking to us to help them reduce their expenses and optimise their businesses," Mr S Gopalakrishnan, Infosys CEO and Managing Director, said.

"Our services, solutions and business model are well suited to help them in this environment. We are focusing on enhancing our business and investing smartly for the future," he said.

According to the statement, the company’s outlook (consolidated) for the quarter ending June 30, 2009 and for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, under Indian GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), is as follows:

Outlook under Indian GAAP – consolidated
Quarter ending June 30, 2009*

  • Income is expected to be in the range of Rs. 5,379 crore and Rs. 5,480 crore; YoY growth of 10.8% –12.9%
  • Earnings per share is expected to be Rs. 23.55; YoY growth of 3.5% **
  • Income is expected to be in the range of Rs. 22,066 crore and Rs. 22,928 crore; YoY growth of 1.7% – 5.7%
  • Earnings per share*** is expected to be in the range of Rs. 96.65 and Rs. 101.18; YoY decline of 7.6% - 3.3%

* Conversion 1 US$ = Rs. 50.72
** Including net tax reversal of Rs. 31 crore pertaining to earlier period for the quarter ended June 30, 2008. Excluding the tax reversal, the YOY growth is expected to be 6.0%
*** Including net tax reversal of Rs. 108 crore pertaining to earlier period in fiscal 2009. Excluding the tax reversal,YoY decline is expected to be between 5.9%- 1.5%

Outlook under IFRS#
Quarter ending June 30, 2009

  • Consolidated revenues are expected to be in the range of $1,060 million and $1,080 million; YoY decline of 8.2% to 6.5%
  • Consolidated earnings per American Depositary Share are expected to be $0.47; YoY decline of 13.0%@

Fiscal year ending March 31, 2010

  • Consolidated revenues are expected to be in the range of $4.35 billion and $4.52 billion;YoY decline of 6.7% – 3.1%
  • Consolidated earnings per American Depositary Share@@ are expected to be in the range of $1.91 and $2.00; YoY decline of 15.1% - 11.1%

# Exchange rates considered for major global currencies: AUD / USD 0.69; GBP / USD 1.43; Euro / USD 1.33
@ Including net tax reversal of $8 million pertaining to earlier period for the quarter ended June 30, 2008. Excluding the tax reversal, the YOY decline is expected to be 11.3%
@@ Including net tax reversal of $22 million pertaining to earlier period in fiscal 2009. Excluding the tax reversal, YoY decline is expected to be between 13.6% - 9.5%

Delhi Airport's new Terminal 1D to open on April 19

Indira Gandhi International Airport' new domestic departure terminal 1D (T1D) will commence commercial operations on April 19, the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) announced today.
A view of Terminal T-1D at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi.
A view of Terminal T-1D at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi.

With the commissioning of the terminal, airlines would shift their operations to it in a phased manner, it said in a statement.

The company said the terminal had several new facilities which would improve the travel experience of domestic passengers flying out of Delhi.

The terminal will raise the domestic departure capacity of the airport to ten million passengers per annum.

The terminal has a modern four-level in-line baggage handling system to eliminate X-raying of baggage before check-in. It has 72 check-in counters and 14 security channels to ensure quick processing.

There is a spacious security hold area with extensive seating and other passenger amenities such as lounges, food and beverage outlets and retail facilities.

The terminal will have a special contact zone for passengers with special needs and unaccompanied minors. The baggage handling area is on a separate level, allowing greater space for passengers, the statement said.

DIAL as well as various airlines, ground handlers and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) have been involved in extensive Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) trials to familiarise with the new features, layout and operating procedures of the new terminal.

Trials are also being done to ensure that all components and processes at the terminal are checked and re-checked to ensure smooth transit for passengers when the terminal opens for them.

Over 30 such trial sessions have been carried out in terminal 1D over a period of four months. All operations staff are being exposed to the new working environment, baggage handling and IT systems and the processes required for day-to-day as well as fall-back operations, the statement said.

More than 11,000 trial passengers were checked-in and boarded during trial operations while the baggage handling and in-line screening system handled more than 35,000 pieces of baggage. In the last weeks before the opening of T1D, the main focus of trial operations is on simulation of system failures and implementation of contingency procedures to ensure operational readiness in dealing with unforeseen events and irregularities at any given point in time, it said.

In addition to the transfer of airlines, the traffic routing at the airport's domestic terminal would also undergo a change, details of which would be given out separately, the statement added.

DIAL is a joint venture company; comprising the Bangalore-based infrastructure major GMR Group, the Airports Authority of India, Fraport, Malaysian Airport and India Development Fund. DIAL is working towards the modernization and restructuring of the Delhi Airport. The project being developed by DIAL under Public Private Partnership has been given the mandate to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the Delhi Airport for 30 years with an option to extend it by another 30 years.

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L&T not to dilute stake in Satyam despite losing bid

Larsen & Toubro, which lost out today to Tech Mahindra in the bidding for a controlling stake in Satyam Computer Services, said that it would continue to hold on to its 12 per cent stake in the software major.

Tech Mahindra will pay Rs 1756 crore to acquire 31 per cent of Satyam at a price of Rs 58 per share and will make an open offer to acquire another 20 per cent of the shares of the company.

L&T Director and Chief Financial Officer Yeshwant Deosthalee told the media that his company could not offload its 8.3 per cent of expanded equity stake in Satyam during the open offer. It also has a six-month standstill agreement with the Satyam Board of Directors as part of the bidding process.

Mr Deosthalee congratulated Tech Mahindra on emerging as the highest bidder and expressed confidence that the new owners of the Hyderabad-based IT major would add value to shareholders.

L&T is understood to have offered Rs 45.90 a share for Satyam, which Mr Deosthalee said was based on its assessment about the value of the enterprise. All bidders had to make this assessment on the basis of incomplete information, given the situation the scam-hit company was in.

In Bangalore, Infosys Technologies CEO S Gopalakrishnan welcomed the development. “It is commendable that the government-appointed board at Satyam has been able to bring a closure to the uncertainty surrounding Satyam’s future. The government has addressed the issue quickly and responsibly. Overall, it is a good thing that the issue is put behind us,” he said. 

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MKU bags patrol boat armouring project from Home Ministry

MKU Private Limited, one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of armoured solutions in Asia and a major supplier to Indian security forces, has bagged a 3.5 million dollar order from the Home Ministry for the armouring of high speed patrol boats.

The order will cover 186 boats from Goa Shipyard and Garden Reach Shipyard and Builders, a company press release said.

The boats, which are to be used for patrolling in sensitive areas, would be suitably armour plated to ensure that the performance of the boats is not compromised by the weight of the armour plates, the release said.

The Home Ministry is according high priority to prevention of infiltration through the coastline, especially after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, in which the terrorists had reached Mumbai by a boat.

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Pfizer to make tender offer to increase stake in Pfizer Ltd

Pfizer Investments Netherlands B.V., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Pfizer Inc, announced today that it will make a tender offer to acquire a 33.77% stake in Pfizer Limited from public shareholders at a price of Rs. 675.00 per share.

Successful completion of this offer, assuming full acceptance, would raise the indirect stake of Pfizer Inc in Pfizer Limited to 75% from the current level of 41.23%. The offer will represent a total value of up to Rs. 6.8 billion, or approximately USD 136 million, a press release from Pfizer said.

A public announcement will be issued in India as required by the SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 1997.

The offer for these shares, which are traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange of India Limited, is expected to open in June 2009 and is subject to regulatory approvals.

The open offer will be managed by HSBC Securities and Capital Markets (India) Private Limited.

The offer will be made at a premium of 8.6% to the closing share price of Rs. 621.55 of Pfizer Limited on April 9, on the NSE (equivalent premium of 8.3% to the closing price of Rs. 623.00 on the BSE), which was the last trading day before the announcement of the tender offer.

It will also represent a premium of 22.2% over Pfizer Limited’s average share price during the 30 days ending April 9, on the NSE (equivalent premium of 22.3% over the average share price during the 30 days ending April 9, 2009, on the BSE) and a premium of 45.2% over the requisite price determined in accordance with SEBI Regulations, 1997.

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