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March 31, 1999

RBI eases norms for financial transactions by NRIs, PIOs
The central bank has also granted general permission to NRIs and OCBs to invest in air taxi operations, subject to the DGCA approval.

IDBI okays Rs 7.7 billion package for six steel projects
Ispat Industries, Ispat Metalics, Usha Ispat, SJK Steel Corporation, Essar Steel and Jindal Vijayanagar Steel will have to comply with IDBI norms. Essar Minerals might also get relief.


Racy politics, messy economies
The gross fiscal deficit of states is projected to go up to Rs 598 billion. Indian politicians must realise that good politics is really good economics, that meek surrender to vote-banks is the surest road to financial liquidation, says Arvind Lavakare.


BSE chief moves HC again, Appellate Authority hearing on April 5
J C Parekh has challenged the vires Sections 11 and 11 (b) of the SEBI Act 1992 and prayed for a stay of the SEBI order dated March 23 that asked him to step down.

Moody's eyes stake in ICRA, to seek FIPB nod
Moody's would be taking up a ten per cent stake in the Indian rating agency besides providing the technology backup.

Gujarat is first state to repeal ULCRA
A new act would be enacted for the benefit of the poor. The state government might set up a land bank and purchase additional land.

Team up and thrive, PM tells tourism sectors; Explore India Millennium Year all set to roll
Violence in potential tourist places saddens me, Vajpayee said. ''Bihar, for instance, has so much to offer to different types of tourists. Similarly, the north-eastern states are so beautiful."

Cap on govt borrowing will be a ham-handed solution, says Sinha
The finance minister said his prime concern is that government should not borrow to meet its current needs.

BSE: Sensex 3683.49; up 86 points
NSE: Nifty 1054.60; up 13 points
Rs 42.43 vs $
Rs 45.44 vs euro
Rs 68.55 vs pound
Rs 35.31 vs yen (100)

March 30, 1999


Name it, India has it, except tourists
Deserts, plains, backwaters, beaches, mountains, temples, palaces, wildlife, food, music, movies, cultures, peoples..., all these attract less than one per cent of the world's 617 million tourists / $ 448 billion industry. Why? Read on.

Everything official about this: Explore India from April 1
The government is coordinating with foreign embassies, hotel industry, tour operators, state agencies to make the most of the dawn of the New Millennium.


Apollo Tyres to wait for written order on Harshad Mehta's 15 pc stake
The court has orally ordered that the company either buyback the entire chunk of the equity or forego the option totally. There is no other option.

Honda-Siel drops plans to launch Accord, to continue imports
The company said current sales do not call for a car plant in India. However, industry watchers said the decision might have stemmed out of the realisation that Accord is likely to eat into Honda City sales.

Reliance signs MoU for JK Corp's polyester business
The acquisition will underscore Reliance's role in restructuring the fragmented polyester capacities in the country.

Loan waiver will be history, declares Sinha
The first sign of economic crisis in east Asia and Brazil had appeared in the form of burgeoning non-performing assets with banks. The loanees should forget the past and prepare themselves for repayment, they should not treat bank finance as free, he said.

Chinese ventures for FDI, exports are worth emulating, Assocham tells govt
The total exports from the seven export promotion zones in India were valued $ 1.2 billion in 1997-98. China's special economic zone in Pudong alone attracted $ 9 billion of external investment.

AP to get Rs 9.5 billion British loan
The Department for International Development of the British government will fund four new social infrastructure and industrial projects.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Markets were closed on account of Bakrid and Mahavir Jayanti today

March 28-29, 1999


Uncertainty marks Kerala's stance on Enron's Irinavu venture
The Central Electricity Authority has declined to give the techno-economic clearance for want of a clear position of the state government on the controversial project.

As Gujarat dithers on 'green' signal, Bina refinery cost soars by Rs 20 billion
An annual price escalation of Rs 5 billion may lead to the winding up of Bharat Oman Refineries, the joint venture between Bharat Petroleum and Oman Oil Company. Billions of rupees have already been spent on the project.


Green, round, delicious brands
American pulses seek the frontline of Indian kitchens, sprouting processing and retail tie-ups with Indian firms.
Quelle of Germany, Europe's mail order major, has plans to source softy soft garments, carpets, leather products from India.

Shun defensive, quick-fix approach, Andersen study advises Asian corporates, CEOs
''Selling off the crown jewels of a company will raise short-term cash but will also leave the company with low-value businesses that are unable to compete when Asian economies recover,'' the study noted.


FIPB clears Rs 6.3 billion worth FDI, nods to Itochu Corp's 100 pc unit
The board has deferred decisions on applications of Reuters and Godrej Agrovet. Phoenix can now hike its stake in its Indian joint venture from 51 per cent to 96 per cent. Beckton Dickinson can now infuse an additional $ 20 million to hike the total equity to $ 50 million.

India Cements sells Raasi Ceramics to focus on cement
With the Rs 180-million acquisition, Hindustan Sanitaryware's share in the Indian ceramic market is expected to go up from 34 per cent to 42 per cent.

GDR Weekly Review: Skindia GDR Index down 34.24 points to 619.08
BSE and NSE Weekly Review:Parekhs make the week eventful; Sensex down 75 points

March 27, 1999

Parekh report on US-64 to aid rally of infotech, pharma and FMCG shares
The panel has recommended that the commercial banks be encouraged to invest upto Rs 15 billion in the corpus of a proposed UTI scheme which will be dedicated to the three sectors.


'We're not going public'
'We will go to markets wherever there are opportunities. But, for the sake of entering a market, we won't enter that market,' says S Ramadorai, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services.


Take the lead, evolve a pattern acceptable to all, Giddens eggs on India
Coalition governments are not hindrances to globalisation, as the case of England clearly demonstrates, the director of the London School of Economics observed.

Zee aspires to become a global media giant
One-time television software exporter Zee will endeavour to bring people the world over together, compacting the world into a global village, connecting south Asians across the world, company chairman Subhash Chandra said.

Big-lender ADB offers to guide insurance sector, capital market in transition period
"We are also looking for new opportunities in power, roads, ports, water supply, waste disposal, environment, telecom and urban infrastructure,'' a top ADB official told the CII.


Kochi, Kangayam (TN), Bombay vie for coconut futures centre
Kochi's traders argue in terms of the town's vast experience in futures trading. Kangayam's traders say the volumes of trade in the region are the highest. Bombay's traders point out that the futures trading centres for all oil and oilseeds should be located in one place.


BSE chief Parekh moves Appellate Authority against SEBI
The date of hearing has yet to be fixed by the ministry of finance in New Delhi.

Securities scam: SC admits Hiten Dalal's appeal against StanChart
The Supreme Court ordered status quo regarding any transaction in shares placed with the bank by Dalal. This prohibits StanChart from selling Dalal's shares, something that was permitted by a special court.

BSE elects four new directors to fill vacancies
Bhagirath Merchant, Motilal Oswal, Jayesh Sheth and Himanshu Kaji join the five other directors on the BSE board. There were 11 candidates in the fray.

BSE: Sensex 3597.58; crashes 85 points
NSE: Nifty 1041.25; down 14 points
Rs 42.39/40 vs $
Rs 45.91 vs euro
Rs 68.79 vs pound
Rs 35.57 vs yen (100)

March 26, 1999

Krishna Iyer calls for referendum on India joining WTO
'Our government has made our laws subordinate to the World Trade Organisation,'' the former Supreme Court judge said. 'The Chief Election Commission can hold a referendum on the request of all the political parties.'

Govt mulls review of TRIPS pact; Gene Campaign to campaign against Patents Act
"We are still to make up our mind on the exact position regarding issues of investment agreements and industrial tariffs in the WTO regime," a government official said.


Time for spring-cleaning stock exchanges
As stock exchange officials face charges of wrong-doing and favourtism, the scenario presents a grand opportunity for the SEBI to clean up the Augean stables. But then it's a long haul, says
R C Murthy.


Better than last time, but still a gamble
Can growth rates pick up? Can the government be downsized? Can swadeshi and videshi be welded for economic harmony? Budget's fineprint in extreme close-up.


Click, click, dot, dot, and a big business of art acquires form!
New digital printing technologies are breaking the price barriers that keep art-lovers from artists and their art. And the market is expanding fast.


Ford not to launch global brands in India
Brands like Volvo and Mazda purchased by Ford recently are in the luxury segment, and India does not offer an attractive market for these cars, a company official said.

Sterlite to buy Mount Lyell copper mine in Tasmania
Sterlite through its subsidiary Twin Star Holdings based at Mauritius, will use the copper mine for its manufacturing operations, thereby insulating it from the vagaries of price movements.

BSE and Forex: Markets remained closed on account of Sri Rama Navami
NSE: Nifty 1054.90; down eight points

March 25, 1999


SEBI asks BSE chief J C Parekh to quit in BPL, Videocon price rigging case
The SEBI is also likely to take action against the BSE executive director R C Mathur after the completion of proceedings against him. Parekh has been held responsible for his role in fixing margins and failure in monitoring the price manipulation in the BPL and Videocon scrips which resulted in artifical boom in the market.


'I've always worked in the interest of the market. I'm innocent. I'll fight back'
'I don't think there will be any long-term effect on the markets. This issue was highlighted seven months ago, but there was no major effect on the market. So, I don't think there will be repercussions for the market now,' says the BSE president J C Parekh.


Manu seeks to ward off takeover bid, recasts Dunlop board, assures revival
"A company that is contributing millions to the state exchequer is struggling for survival. This situation must be brought to an end and a solution should be found to start Dunlop," Chhabria said.


Cabinet okays futures trading in oilseeds, soyabean left out
Initially, forward trading centres would be opened where the oilseeds are produced. For example, one or two centres for groundnut and its products would be allowed in Gujarat.

Plan panel moots diesel, petrol cess till 2004; Expressway Authority to be set up
The Golden Quadrilateral project -- the Delhi-Calcutta-Madras-Bombay highways -- will require Rs 210 billion. The total costs of the integrated expressways project are being worked out. Rs 30 billion will come from cess on diesel and petroleum this year.

Kakinada, Vodarevu ports in AP handed over to private companies
The state government will get a total revenue of Rs 16.36 billion as its share in International Sea Ports Private Limited's operating revenues from Kakinada Port over a 20-year period

Govt suspends CMD of Neyveli Lignite Corp on graft charge
P V Bhoopathi allegedly amassed wealth to the tune of Rs 4.1 million -- "disproportionate to his known sources of income".


LIC's 1998-99 capital market investments put at Rs 80 bn; suspense over stake in ITC
If LIC computerises its services, networks its country-wide operations and launches new products, it has nothing to fear, not even the entry of private players. It will remain the market leader, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said.

Commerce ministry pats itself for good show, export-friendly policies
The ministry's annual report mentions a $ 500,000 Consultantcy Trust Fund for engaging Indian consultants for the World Bank financed projects. Two special groups will advise the government on the stand to be taken by India in the WTO to defend national interests.

BSE: Sensex 3682.69; crashes 75 points
NSE: Nifty 1062.80; down ten points
Rs 42.39/40 vs $
Rs 46.32 vs euro
Rs 69.39 vs pound
Rs 39.02 vs yen (100)

March 24, 1999

SEBI's demat panel moots hassle-free settlements by depository participants
Compulsory demat of 29 additional scrips would be done on April 5 as planned, swelling the total number of demat scrips to 64.


1999 -- An 'Indi-car' Story
Initial delays have given way to steady supply of Telco's swadeshi small car, the Indica. But the target of delivery of 10,000 units by March-end has been pruned to 2,500. Prospective buyers, in their quest for value for money, are waiting for the teething problems to disappear.


Three reasons why investors don't fancy India any more
It is not only foreigners who are unimpressed by the Budget, but the Indian investors too. Project after project is being shelved across the country, says Jay Dubashi.


Doc's sick, patients happy: short-staffed BIFR struggles for survival
While the number of "sick" companies has soared, the number of case disposals has slumped, and the backlog has ballooned. ''Crooked companies who don't want to pay back dues to their creditors are happy,'' sources said. No wonder, financial institutions are fuming but helpless.


Hitachi and Baron in tie-up to sell audio-visual products in India
''We are aiming to provide solutions like home multimedia station to enrich human life," said Hitachi Electronics managing director M Matsunaga. Hitachi's parent company will diversify into the infotech industry the world over.

ONGC fire to be probed, affected wells to be 'killed'
ONGC is losing Rs 2.5 million per day. The supply of gas to consumers, however, won't be affected as other wells in the Bombay High region are being tapped. No major environment problems are likely, officials said.

BSE: Sensex 3757.50; up 43 points
NSE: Nifty 1072.95; up ten points
Rs 42.39 vs $
Rs 46.09 vs euro
Rs 68.96 vs pound
Rs 39.07 vs yen (100)

March 16-23, 1999