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November 29-30, 1998

NSE: 810.85, Nifty down 1.6 points
BSE Weekly Review: Majors avoid long-term positions due to political uncertainty, negative outlook for FIs; Sensex dips 158 points.
GDR Weekly Review: Auto sector takes a U-turn downhill; Skindia Index down 61 points, 529.85

November 28, 1998


It takes competensity for corporates to succeed
Sport has five essential elements -- players, tools, grounds, scoring systems and umpires. So has business. The players are the competitors, their factories and distribution systems are the tools, markets are the grounds on which they play, share prices and market shares are the scoring systems and regulators are the umpires. When we talk of competensity, we need to understand that all these five elements are necessary to get the same drive for excellence as we see in sports,
writes R Gopalakrishnan.


States lambaste PMO for ignoring early signals
Officials from state have disclosed that they had cautioned the Centre about the price rise well in advance. But the Prime Minister's Office was so busy explaining to the world the nuclear rationale that it sat on the files for months.

PM blames it on middlemen; new panel to revamp Essential Commodities Act
Vajpayee said there was immediate need to review the Essential Commodities Act. This will lead to effective action against those causing artificial shortages.

CMs' meet evolves multi-point strategy to check sharp price movements
National Crop Forecasting Centre will be set up immediately under the ministry of agriculture to assess the production.

Chief Ministers stress Centre-state coordination for commodities management
Rationalisation of the exim policy, augmentation of storage capacity, strenghtening of the market intelligence network, increase in food subsidies to improve PDS, free inter-state transport of food stuffs are some of the measures mooted by the CMs conference.


As toothless tiger SEBI watches, fraudulent companies vanish with billions
About 80 companies, which raised more than Rs 7 billion from the capital market during 1992-95, have disappeared. Seven companies, which mobilised Rs 232.5 million during 1997-98, are untraceable.


Kerala government espouses FACT cause, to seek Centre's help
The company has not had a CMD for one year. It has lost Rs 800 million in the first half this fiscal. Workers blame ad-hoc management for the plight.

Ananth Kumar rules out merger of IA and A-I, hints at management recast
Efforts would be made to ensure synergy between the two organisations, which together have 73 aircraft, to run operations more effectively, the aviation minister said.

Nayanar demands NDC meeting to discuss patent laws
The Kerala chief minister is opposed to any IPR system for life forms, including seeds. The framework of the legislation on this subject should be circulated to the states before any bill is introduced in Parliament, he said.

Petroleum, finance ministries clash over tax code for oil exploration companies
Oil companies may not invest money in further exploration if they are not allowed to set off losses due to unsuccessful ventures for tax purposes, says the petroleum ministry.

Watch out: Omega to blend business, culture and regional expertise for consolidation
Omega has forged tie-ups with the Mother Teresa missionary in Calcutta, the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad and the Fashion Design Institute in Delhi to bring together different concepts along with its branded watches.

Amrita Patel is new chairperson of National Dairy Board
Dr Patel has been appointed chairperson for a period of five years, following the acceptance of request for retirement made by Dr Kurien, the outgoing chairman.

S&P's revises ratings of IDBI, ICICI and BoB
The outlook change reflects S&P's concern that continued weakness in a number of key sectors of the Indian economy was having an adverse effect on the asset quality and profitability of India's financial intermediaries.


BSE : 2783.10; Sensex down 42 points
NSE: 812.45, Nifty down 12 points
Forex: Rs 42.55/56 vs US dollar
              Rs 70.47 vs pound sterling
              Rs 25.02 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 34.75 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 27, 1998

Power deal talks with Pak meander, to continue in New Delhi
Pakistan has agreed to sell 2000 MW to India upto the year 2010 or beyond. A study will seek to assess setting up facilities to transmit 400 MW in the short term. Export of bulk power in the long term was also discussed.

Pro- and anti-airport lobbies work overtime, cast doubts over Kannur project
While the pro-Kannur lobbyists see designs of the BJP government to somehow effect a review of the project so that it can be scuttled, others say a tiny state like Kerala does not require a fourth airport.


CMs meet likely to call for resurrection of Essential Commodities Act
Being held on the eve of winter session of Parliament, the meeting has acquired significance. It is expected to focus on evolving guidelines for states to check prices.

PM admits shortage of oil, pulses, assures imports
On hoarding and unfair trade, Vajpayee said, 'There is a limit to profiteering and beyond that the government would adopt harsh measures.' Import of edible oil worth Rs 27 billion and pulses worth Rs 8 billion will normalise the situation, he added.


Futures, high import duty vital, higher output certain this season, says trade body
The New Bombay market has the potential to emerge as a major sugar trade centre like London and New York provided the government allows forward contracts or futures trading and streamlines the duty structure, says the Bombay Sugar Merchants' Association.

CRISIL projects not-so-sweet time for small units
The premier rating agency says protection to the industry arising out of the import duty levied in April 1998 has been largely eroded due to increased export subsidies being provided by the exporting countries including Pakistan, the European Union, Brazil and Mexico.


Monsanto to develop and market high-yielding, worm-resistant cotton gene
Company officials said the bollgard gene would benefit cotton growers by cutting the need for insecticides and boosting yields by 25 per cent. It has already proved successful in some countries and was not being dumped unnecessarily in India.


BSE : 2825.08; Sensex down 57 points
NSE: 824.45, Nifty down 17 points
Forex: Rs 42.50/52 vs US dollar
              Rs 70.38 vs pound sterling
              Rs 24.92 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 34.80 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 26, 1998

Centre, Kerala clash over Kannur airport project
While the aviation secretary says Centre is still mulling the project, the state government has exhumed a letter written by former aviation minister C M Ibrahim okaying the airport.

Monsanto claims it is clean, eyes plant gene protection process
The US company has clarified that it had never used the gene protection technology or the terminator gene process in any of its products. It would not provide any technology that would have adverse impact on the environment.

Pakistan likely to get $ 5.5b IMF bailout package
The IMF deal still requires final approval from the IMF board of directors at a meeting in Washington next month.


Fresh stocks make export of old rice imperative, but govt dithers
Food ministry officials say there are surplus rice stocks, more than the normal buffer of six million tonnes, and 50-odd export offers from firms eager to clear off last year's damaged stock. Quick exports would earn precious foreign exchange for the country, they say. Indonesia is keen on a palmolien-for-rice barter deal.

India as entertainment superpower: export forum projects big scene
The Indian entertainment industry has a huge untapped export potential and could become the highest foreign exchange earner for the country if properly developed, according to the Export Promotion Forum for Films.


Govt seeks to amend SIDBI Act: delink from IDBI, capital recast mooted
SIDBI's authorised capital currently at Rs 5 billion is sought to be raised to Rs 10 billion. There will also be enabling provision to eventually raise it upto Rs 20 billion.

TN to act on Sterlite closure after HC final order
The opposition has been demanding permanent closure of the controversial Sterlite copper smelting plant at Tuticorin. Chief Minister Karunanidhi's stance is that it was the AIADMK that granted permission to the plant in 1994.

Munde rules out power tariff hike in Maharashtra, hints at new energy audit panel
The state would become the first in the country to introduce energy audit by setting up the Power Tariff Commission. It would also invest Rs 5 billion on modernisation of the transmission system.


BSE : 2881.69; Sensex down 22 points
NSE: Market closed, to work on Saturday
Forex: Rs 42.43 vs US dollar
              Rs 70.50 vs pound sterling
              Rs 24.94 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 35.08 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 25, 1998

Insurance move ignites unions, excites industry
Global insurance major ING says foreign equity will eventually benefit the Indian consumer. Workers' representatives say 'extraordinary favours' are being made by a tottering government in the hope that foreing companies would help with funds in the event of elections. 'We will smash the government's pernicious move,' they assure.

Manohar Joshi sews up multi-point plan for Marathwada development
Bajaj and Videocon ventures figure among the seven new projects worth Rs 32.80 billion that would come up in the region.The Godavari Irrigation Development Corporation will float a bond for Rs 3 billion in first week of December.

Cut in cement excise likely; go global, become no 1, Bakht urges industry
The industry minister said the cement sector was expected to grow around nine to ten per cent in the Ninth Plan period. The expected spurt in industrial growth and increase in demand from infrastructure sectors including mass housing schemes would help the Indian cement industry to play a major role in global cement production.

Banking major KBC opens shop in Bombay; Belgium keen on taking up BOT projects
There are 55 Belgium companies and banks operating in India. Trade between India and Belgium had doubled up in the past six years. The latter exported goods and services worth $ 3 billion during the period.


Hill women embrace entrepreneurial spirit, finance management and economic planning
Mushroom cultivation, fruit preservation, vegetable production and floriculture are among the economic activities being eyed by the women of the Garlwal-Dehradun region.


Sterlite complies with court order, halts operations
Although the plant had endeavoured to adopt the highest standards of safety by inducting two top-notch American experts to work full time in the 100,000 tonnes per annum plant, industrial accidents had taken place sometimes as in the case of any large industrial complex of this magnitude, company officials said.

Power-surplus northeast finds selling electricity an uphill task
Owing to North Eastern Electric Power Corporation's acute problem of evacuating power generated by it, the Kathalguri Power Project has not been able to go full steam. Plans are afoot to transmit electricity from the northeast to other parts of India.

Gopalakrishnan, Ishaat Hussian on Tata Sons board
The move is designed to bring all the group companies to accept and adopt the Tata way of life.


BSE : 2903.56; Sensex down 16 points
NSE: 841.75; Nifty down six points
Forex: Rs 42.41/42 vs US dollar
              Rs 70.20 vs pound sterling
              Rs 24.85 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 34.91 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 24, 1998

Govt to amend Patent Act, allow 40 pc foreign equity in insurance
The Cabinet has also decided to grant the statutory status to the Insurance Regulatory Authority and a bill to this effect would be introduced in the coming session of Parliament.

Belgium eyes infrastructure sector to forge ties with India
The quest for closer economic and commercial ties will result in Belgium contributing to the development to transport, faster communications, reliable urban transport and increased power generation.

Madras HC green bench orders closure of Sterlite's Tuticorin plant
With the recent blasts that proved fatal for workers as the backdrop, the court said it would not be in public interest to permit the functioning of the plant. Further hearing in the case has been posted for December 1.

IOC to buy Reliance, Essar petro products; minister downplays oil MNCs' pull-out
The plan envisages IOC buying 50 per cent of petroleum products at import parity prices. Ramamurthy said there is no rethink on dismantling the administered price mechanism.


Auction PSUs, invest in children and education
Finance for elementary education is always a constraint because huge resources are locked up in chronically loss-making public sector enterprises which require continuous budgetary support, writes Dilip Thakore.


Saffron growers in J&K to oppose ban on pan masala
The availability of low-cost saffron of Spain and Iran has affected the export of the Valley's saffron. And the proposed ban on pan masala will sound the death-knell, bemoan growers. Dr Farooq Abdullah and Saifuddin Soz are being asked to espouse the saffron cause.

White paper to be released on patent row over Vechoor cow
The controversy over the alleged transfer of the Vechoor cow germ plasm outside the country is forcing research organisations to tighten their loose ends.

Delhi court to decide on attachment of STAR property on Dec 19
Can it be done because Rupert Murdoch did not appear in court in spite of summons and arrest warrants in connection with telecast of 'obscene' visuals on STAR Movies channel? The broadcast industry is waiting and watching.

PM to inaugurate expressway project work on Nov 30
The ambitious Kashmir-Kanyakumari expressway project would be implementerd on a build, operate and transfer basis. Foreign firms are keen on participation in the proposed project.

ICL to hive off shipping arm, absorb Raasi's cement division
Company officials said the H1 net declined to Rs 256.7 million from Rs 470.8 million last year due to high interest and depreciation arising out of heavy investment in capacity additions during 1997-98.

Export park near Delhi to open in December
Allotment has already been made to 36 industrial units. The park will house about 450 industrial units with a capital outlay of Rs 600 million, and provide employment for about 25,000 persons.


BSE : 2919.57; Sensex down 21 points
NSE: 847.55; Nifty down ten points
Forex: Rs 42.41/43 vs US dollar
              Rs 69.90 vs pound sterling
              Rs 24.88 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 34.99 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 22-23, 1998


Shun protectionism, reform faster, lift import barriers, advise Swiss
India must keep the door open to free trade in spite of the present slowdown in global trade, Swiss Confederation president Flavio Cotti said.

Limited role for foreign insurance cos, it'll improve efficiency, says Sinha
The Finance Minister said there is scope to insure 300 million people in India.

'Ethical business key to economic turnaround'
Financial disclosures should focus more on quality rather than quantity of information. Timely disclosures of information would attract more capital to the companies concerned leading to lower cost of capital and improved performance, speakers said at a seminar in Bombay.


The bear-eat-bull world
Not very long ago, votaries of pristine capitalism argued there must be no tinkering with the purity of the free market, that the government must disappear, pronto, from all spheres of economic activity. And now, the selfsame worthies say the government's number one task has to be the revival of the share market, the rest of the agenda can be dispatched to the wastepaper bin, observes Ashok Mitra.


Pallone decries blacklist, says US loss will be EU's gain
'The sanctions only served to set back our growing commercial ties with South Asia, while limiting the ability of the US to play a constructive role in the ongoing process of fostering economic progress in this important region,' Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone said in a letter to President Clinton.

India Festival expected to intensify demand for gold
The market is now running into what is traditionally the strongest period of the year for gold demand. All over the world, investors are looking for ways to preserve their wealth, and increasingly they are choosing gold.

GeoLogistics opens in 15 cities, to popularise supply science in India
'The Indian user is still not familiar with the advantages of outsourcing a comprehensive supply chain management function.' The company professes to change that.

Patel, Mehta draw up plans to promote mega projects in Gujarat
While the chief minister is eyeing spare fiscal resources of the cooperative sector, the industries minister is trying to rope in NRI investments for infrastructure ventures.

Delhi cops re-arrest JVG group chief in Delhi
V K Sharma was earlier released on a personal bond of Rs 100,000, after being arrested in Bombay yesterday for allegedly defrauding investors.


GDR Review: Auto sector gains 10 pc on news of 60 pc depreciation on new sales
BSE and NSE Review: FIIs, domestic FIs cool; pivotals dip a little, Sensex down 34 points, 2941.39.

November 21, 1998

Himachal, NHPC sign pact on Parbati hydel project, more ventures planned
For the first time in India, locals will be offered both employee and executive level jobs. The state has identified hydro-electric potential of more than 21,000 MW. Only 4,000 MW has been harnessed so far.


Of politicians, professionals and portfolios
Most of the 38 ministers in the Vajpayee government do not have a clue about their ministry, they are grossly incompetent. Professionals need to head ministries of finance, communications, petroleum, chemicals, coal, steel, commerce, industry and agriculture, writes Mahesh Nair.


Delhi cops nab elusive JVG group CMD Sharma in Bombay
The accused, it is alleged, collected deposits worth millions of rupees from small investors after promising exorbitant interest. He issued post-dated cheques that bounced.

We'll throw out Monsanto, threatens Karnataka farmers body
The Karnataka State Farmers' Association wants the US MNC to disclose the places where ''experiments on terminator genes technology'' are being conducted.

India likely to get $ 3.5b IDA fund
The donors of the IDA said the agency's activities should revolve around poverty reduction as a key element of support for the borrowing countries' own efforts.

Euro-$ war looms; risk-averse money managers seek to steer clear of emerging markets
A Deutsche Bank study revealed that investors are optimistic about the impact of European Monetary Union in fuelling the growth of the Euroland corporate market.

Planners urge govt to delink populism from infrastructure projects
In the next 25 years, more than 50 per cent of the population will live in urban areas and Rs 1.2 trillion would be needed for urban infrastructure development in the next five years. Free power and free water should become history now, speakers said at a seminar in Bombay.

OTCEI moves 183 scrips to demat trade mode
The move is expected to boost the volumes on the exchange and restore investor confidence.

Kumar Birla makes it to Tisco board
The AV Birla group chairman joins Nusli Wadia and Keshub Mahindra as non-executive directors of the Tata group flagship.


BSE : 2941.39; Sensex down 23 points
NSE: 857.95; Nifty down seven points
Forex: Rs 42.39/40 vs US dollar
              Rs 70.46 vs pound sterling
              Rs 25.15 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 35.18 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 20, 1998

India, EU pluck out thorns from trade issues, resolve to continue talks
Issues like electronic commerce, investments, import of automobiles, tariff increase, anti-dumping norms, services, agriculture and import curbs figured in the negotiations.

Experts urge UTI to auction shares, moot FD status
Auctions will fetch realistic returns so that the present liquidity shortage can be overcome. Till the time capital markets improve, the UTI should be outside the purview of the SEBI, say securities market analysts.


A sound price: Rs 199,900 only!
Bose Corporation's audio systems store in New Delhi -- its first outlet outside of the USA -- offers the most clarified sound that is at once ''rich'' in quality. Suhasini Haidar goes on a ''tour'' of the equipment to ''feel'' the music punch and the price-pinch.


CBI raids Reliance premises in Balu-Romesh Sharma case
Simultaneous searches were conducted in company premises in Delhi and Bombay. The nature of seizures made, if any, is not known.

IT dept cracks the whip on onion, potato price-riggers...
The middlemen had dealings with onion suppliers from Maharashtra and potato traders from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. It could be at least a Rs 60 million fraud, according to IT sources.

...and on real estate players in Bombay
The offices and residential premises of some real estate brokers and real estate finance agents were raided in a comparatively small operation.


Foreign investment in AP not up to expectations, says minister
As Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu gears up for the inauguration of the much-publicised HITEC City on November 22, his industries minister says there were nearly 370 proposals for foreign investment valued at Rs 60 billion since 1993. But actual investment was only Rs 3.44 billion.

CPM opposes divestment, calls it loot of public assets
The recent Concor divestment had been done at 35 per cent below the price level prevailing before the slump in the stock market, the party alleged.

NGOs converging on Bombay to seek corporate support
The three-day event organised jointly by three bodies seeks to display and sell a wide range of products created through vocational training, therapy and rehabilitation.

SEBI grants recognition to Inter-Connected Stock Exchange
The ICSI will be the 23rd stock exchange in India.


BSE : 2964.87; Sensex plunge costs 38 points
NSE: 865.10; Nifty down ten points
Forex: Rs 42.42/43 vs US dollar
              Rs 70.73 vs pound sterling
              Rs 25.33 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 35.60 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 19, 1998

Single powerful market regulator need of the hour, says SEBI chief
Chairman D R Mehta and executive director Pratip Kar are pressing for more powers so that the SEBI can bite errant companies and business people hard and proper. Too many agencies and acts are hampering SEBI's functions, they aver.


India has the potential to be the hub of GE's information flows
'We will make efforts to harness the best that the Indian computer professionals have to offer. Our experience in India has been very good. The government has been responsive to our proposals, the people here are very sensible. I wish the dream run continues forever.' A tete a tete with GE Caps chairman and CEO Gary C Wendt.


Poll fever forces Cabinet to defer decision on Patents Act amendment
The inevitable decision will be made on November 23. The Cabinet has sought more information from the departments concerned. Every member-country has to make its Patents Act on the principles laid down by the World Trade Organisation.

Govt taking 'necessary steps' to challenge basmati patent of US
The government informed the Supreme Court that various legislations to protect the bio-diversity of India are being enacted.


Jethmalani seeks to expedite housing schemes
Some 13 million houses are to be constructed in rural areas and 700,000 in urban areas annually. These would be over and above those being built by cooperative societies, state housing boards and the private sector.

Centre revokes curbs on cotton yarn exports
Apart from giving a boost to the textile industry as a whole, the move could encourage investments in integrated units. High returns on exports are expected to pave the way for value-added fabrics in future.

Only group firm will be hit by the US list, not SPIC, says Muthiah
Raytheon has walked out of the engineering project contract with SPIC Power Limited. The latter is now negotiating with Asea Brown Boveri, and Black and Veach for EPC for new contracts.

CBI inaction in Panna oilfield case 'shocks' Delhi HC
The legal scrutiny of the Panna-Mukta oilfield contract shift from ONGC to the Reliance-Enron consortium has acquired pace. The court has ordered the CBI to hand over all case papers to the additional solicitor general.

Diamond prospecting licences kick up a row in MP
The BJP says the Congress has secretly awarded licences to companies that were formed just a few weeks ago.


BSE : 3003.25; Sensex gains over 33 points
NSE: 875.05; Nifty up 15 points
Forex: Rs 42.46/47 vs US dollar
              Rs 71.05 vs pound sterling
              Rs 25.66 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 35.04 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 18, 1998

Cash-seeking Goa to nationalise three bus routes
The state government is borrowing Rs 50 million to buy brand new buses to interconnect Panaji, Margoa and Vasco. This will boost tourism besides shoring up loss-making Kadamba Transport Corporation.

SEBI's Varma panel moots measures to make index futures safe
The committee said the SEBI should recommend the use of risk estimation methodology, but should not mandate a specific minimum margin level.

'Govt dithering over fertiliser subsidy caused DAP shortage'
The DAP imports have been affected because of lack of guidelines. The fertiliser companies are not sure how much subsidy they are entitled to.

NSE acts to check bad paper menace
Pre-verification of share certificates at the clearing house and a comprehensive database of lost and stolen shares are some of the measures adopted.

SBI launches payment card, calls it currency of modern India
SBI is eyeing a 30 per cent share in six-million card market by 2001-end and says the card will reduce the use of currency notes in India.


BSE : 2968.60; Sensex up 23 points
NSE: 860; Nifty up over 4 points
Forex: Rs 42.45/46 vs US dollar
              Rs 71.26 vs pound sterling
              Rs 25.52 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 35.36 vs Japanese yen (100)

November 17, 1998

Divestment of IA, HCI, A-I next year, HCI funds to be poured into Air-India
Aviation Minister Ananth Kumar said global consultants have been appointed for the purpose. On 200 Indian companies being blacklisted by the US, he said: ''We will explore alternative markets. We have sent encouraging signals to alternative markets.''

Infrastructure task force identifies 20 road projects, to meet again on Nov 28
A decision on the proposed highways expansion, setting up of five international airports and other infrastructure related issues is expected soon.


Life after Sensex
As the restructured Sensex came into being today, it also marked the end of 20-year-long association of four erstwhile corporate giants with the country's premier share index. Will Arvind Mills, IPCL, SAIL and GE Shipping bounce back and prove that old is, indeed, gold?


Cash-strapped Goa eyes NRIs, Centre and local mines for fresh funds
Dr Wilfred de Souza's government may select one of the six proposals for a ten-year, 6 pc external commercial borrowing of Rs 1.5 billion from NRIs. It will also collect royalty on the quantity of ore-mixed mud extracted from the ground.

Treat chillies, onions as essentials, AP urges Centre
The Andhra Pradesh government is trying to help exporters of chillies in honouring their commitments besides procuring 3,000 quintals from Guntur for public distribution system.

Hegde says he will raise US blacklist issue with WTO
The commerce minister said the impact would be minimal. If there are any bottlenecks in the import of goods from the US, Indian companies would tap other countries.


BSE :Blacklist episode, comet-satellite clash fear push new Sensex down 30 points; 2945.40
NSE: 855.35; Nifty down 12 points
Forex: Rs 42.35/36 vs US dollar
              Rs 70.81 vs pound sterling
              Rs 34.89 vs deutsche mark
              Rs 25.40 vs Japanese yen (100)