Pvt banks may take lead in cutting deposit rates
Dunlop unions to back IDBI revival plan
Auto majors brew heady concoctions for success
Volvo to launch latest car models
Business briefs

Mumbai, Jan 15 
Private sector banks may be the first to cut deposit rates following the one percentage point cut in interest rates on small saving instruments.

The first initiative is likely to come from ICICI Bank when its board meets on January 19 to consider third quarter results.

According to sources, the board of directors of ICICI Bank is expected to take up the issue of reduction in deposit rates at the board meeting. They, however, added that the bank is not planning any cut in lending rates.

Banks, in general, have been hesitant to cut lending rates in spite of ardent pleas made by the corporate sector and have cited the squeeze on their spreads as the main reason.

The banking industry feels that the move by ICICI Bank may lead to other private sector players reviewing their deposit rates.

Though analysts are also keenly awaiting the reaction of nationalised banks, sources said so far they have not considered this issue.

According to sources, all eyes are on Big Daddy State Bank of India (SBI) and its move. However, attempts by The Telegraph to obtain the reaction of SBI chairman G.G. Vaidya proved futile.

Meanwhile, ICICI Ltd today announced that it is “cancelling” its sixth tranche of safety bonds scheduled to open on January 17 following the change in the interest rates on small savings. An ICICI official, while stating that the issue stands cancelled, added that the leading financial institution would come out with another issue with a new interest rate structure.

While ICICI was planning to mobilise Rs 300 crore through the issue, it had the right to retain oversubscription of similar amount. As compared to the previous issue, ICICI had already cut down interest rates by over 30 basis points.    

Calcutta, Jan 15 
The Citu and Intuc have taken a joint decision to abide by the Industrial Development Bank of India’s prescription for Dunlop’s revival.

The unions have decided to support IDBI’s revival plan for Dunlop at the January 18 hearing of the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR).

BIFR had appointed IDBI as the operating agency to work out a revival scheme for the company.

The decision to support the IDBI plan was taken today at a meeting held between Citu leaders, led by general secretary Chittabrata Majumdar and Subrata Mukherjee, president of Bengal National Trade Union Congress (BNTUC).

Ashok Pal, vice-president of the Citu-affiliated Dunlop Workers’ Union said, “We have taken a joint stand on what we will tell the BIFR on January 18.”

The unions have also decided to lodge a strong protest against the management’s move to reopen the factory in a phased manner.

“According to the management’s plan, the maintenance people are to join first while the production staff will join four weeks later. However, we want the management to reopen the unit with all the employees,” said Mukherjee.

Dunlop president M.D. Shukla announced on January 6 that the company’s factories at Sahagunj and Ambattur will be reopened on February 7. He had further stated that M.R. Chhabria, the company’s promoter, will provide Rs 20 crore to meet the start-up expenses. The unions however allege that the management is merely trying to give the BIFR a feeling that they are willing to reopen the factory. “We are apprehending that the management will try and buy time from the BIFR saying that they are trying their best to reopen the factory,” a senior Citu representative said.

However, both the unions said that they will not object if the promoter wants to withdraw the work suspension.    

New Delhi, Jan 15 
Take some fast cars and two-wheelers, add a sprinkling of nubile nymphets, garnish it with the zaniest marketing mantras and presto — you have a heady concoction that has the cash boxes reeling under a hangover.

Car makers have come up with a new formula to drive down the 21st century, which is bringing in the crowds and ringing the cash registers. What has already swept through Detroit, Frankfurt, Tokyo and other auto shows now drives the Auto Expo currently on in the capital.

The Koreans, the Indians, and Japanese are all religiously brewing the concoction to grab a larger slice of the customer’s attention. In fact, with all the glamour around, the cars — the raison d’être of the show — have every reason to feel sidelined.

Thus Hyundai’s huge exhibition space has its Santros and Accents vying for attention with girls dressed in gleaming metallic micro-mini outfits, straight out of Star Trek. And if that was not enough, the Korean carmaker has a techno-dance at its stall at regular intervals, attracting huge audiences.

General Motors, whose Opel Astra is lined up right across the Hyundai pavilion, has chosen to focus more on the statistics of its cars.

GM has decided to celebrate hundred years of existence with its vintage 1938-40 Kapitan.

Giving GM company is tyre company Apollo, which has chosen to let its products do the talking, albeit in innovative fashion.

It has recreated the magic of a bowling alley, with, hold it — tyres instead of balls — to knock down the pins. If there are dance shows and blaring music, Bollywood cannot be far behind.

The Mahindra & Mahindra pavilion has taken a cue from the largest dreams factory, recreating a cinema hall, complete with a booking counter and divisions for balcony, upper stall and lower stall. Vijay Desai, who handles overseas operations for the company said, “This is for the Bollywood dance show by Astad Deboo’s troupe.”

TVS Suzuki has turned to the Indipop boom to attract ‘Generationext.’ It has roped in MTV Veejay, Nikhil Chinappa to highlight its latest offering TVS Fiero.

Japanese major Toyota is brewing what appears to be a blend of plainspeak and glamour gibberish.

Thus, while TV host Roshan Abbas does a ‘talkathon’ to enlighten audiences on its Qualis, models such as Shefali Talwar and Miss India Gul Panag more than make up for the vehicle’s dull looks.

If you think Auto Expo is all about torque, power steering, and McPherson struts, think again.    

New Delhi, Jan 15 
Swedish auto major Volvo plans to bring its passengers car range to India.

The company which is known more for its truck and bus range in India, plans to roll out new buses, engines and construction equipment later this year.

Talking to reporters, Volvo India managing director Ravi Uppal said, “Passenger cars to be introduced in India will include the latest model brought out by Volvo globally.”

Uppal however refused to specify the cars that are to be introduced here. He said the company will make substantial investments in India besides the Rs 1,000 crore already invested. However, he did not specify the investments to be made in developing each product.

Volvo is also contemplating introducing buses for inter-city and tourist traffic and will come out with plans later this year.

The automobile major has identified certain Indian cities where it will provide complete integrated solutions for intra-city transportation.    

Elder Pharma mulls float

New Delhi: The Rs 180 crore Elder Pharmaceuticals Ltd (EPL) today announced an initial public offering (IPO) to raise Rs 50 crore for financing its modernisation and upgradation plans. In its offer document submitted to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Elder said it would offer shares of Rs 10 each having a premium in the range of Rs 90-110, a company release said here. The proceeds of the issue will also be used to enhance the bulk production and research and development (R&D) facilities.

Summers visit

Washington:US treasury secretary Lawrence Summers will be visiting India from January 18-20 to assess the reforms process in India and the state of the Indian economy, but will not negotiate any specific trade deals.

Forex assets

Mumbai: India’s foreign currency assets increased by $ 178 million to $ 32,170 million during the week ended January 7, 2000. The total foreign exchange reserves went up to $ 35,113 million.

Vibrant Tech

Calcutta: West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation has commissioned the Bangalore based Vibrant Tech to promote enterprise in information technology, with the help of a venture capital fund. Vibrant claims to have assisted about 15 start-up companies in Karnataka so far.    


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