IISCO chief suspended
SAIL 9-month loss at Rs 2049 cr
Pfizer net leaps 146%
Hurdles to corporate deposit mopup
Thirst for knowledge takes Birlas to Gyanodaya

Jan 29 
The managing director of Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO) G. S. Garcha has been suspended, reportedly on charges of acquiring wealth beyond his known sources of income. Steel secretary A.K. Basu today confirmed the news but refused to elaborate on the issue. Garcha’s suspension order was issued late last night on the advice of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The steel ministry had tried to delay the suspension but had to buckle down after the CVC took a tough stand on the issue.

IISCO’s executive director (works) T.S. Hora has been asked to officiate as the Burnpur-based steel-maker’s chief executive till a replacement is found.

According to sources, the steel ministry will be formally charging Garcha on several counts soon. He is the first SAIL director to be suspended on such grounds.

Garcha was due to retire on February 3 and had been reportedly lobbying for an extension. But a decision on the issue had been kept in abeyance as several complaints had been received against purchase and tender decisions taken by him or by IISCO in the past few years. A public interest litigation against these decisions had also been filed before the Calcutta high court.

Formerly a mining engineer with Bharat Coking Coal Ltd, Garcha joined IISCO in 1978. He has held several important positions both at IISCO and SAIL headquarters. Before becoming the managing director of IISCO, he was the director of SAIL’s raw material division from 1995 to 1998.

IISCO officials claim that Garcha helped the steel-maker reduce operating loss by Rs 88 crore in 1998-99 from Rs 226 crore in the previous year.

Official at the Burnpur headquarters of IISCO said no official communication on the suspension of Garcha had been received till late in the evening.

Garcha, who had gone to New Delhi to attend the SAIL board meeting, could not be contacted. He was scheduled to return to Burnpur on Monday.

Sources at Burnpur said there could be hardly be any corruption charge against Garcha during his two-year stint at IISCO.

They apprehend that the charges could be related to his tenure at SAIL, where he held various posts in marketing and raw materials divisions.    

New Delhi, Jan 29 
Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has suffered a loss of Rs 2,049 crore for the period April-December 1999, more than double the Rs 890 crore loss reported during the same previous period and nearly 20 per cent more than the loss it recorded during the entire financial year of 1998-99.

According to SAIL, the loss was due to the combined impact of a 5 per cent drop in net selling prices, an increase of Rs 338 crore in depreciation and interest costs and an expense of Rs 240 crore for the voluntary retirement scheme.

SAIL posted a turnover of Rs 11,767 crore which included a sales turnover of Rs 11,385 crore and other income—mainly from the sale of outdated assets—of Rs 385 crore. This implies sales realisation has gone up by approximately 8 per cent for the ailing steel-maker.

Hindalco net up

Hindalco has recorded a marginal 1.25 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 152.70 crore on a 16 per cent increase in sales at Rs 502.2 crore in the quarter ended December 31, 1999 over the comparative period last year. For the nine-month period, the net profit was up by 6.68 per cent at Rs 451.9 crore on a 15 per cent growth in sales at Rs 1496.3 crore.    

Mumbai, Jan 29 
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer India has posted a net profit of Rs 30.93 crore for the year ended November 30, 1999 compared with Rs 12.58 crore in the previous year, a whopping rise of 146 per cent. Net sales of the company rose to Rs 287.33 crore, up from Rs 233.43 crore, reflecting a rise of 23 per cent. The company has recommended a dividend of 50 per cent.    

Calcutta, Jan 29 
The government may bar companies with a paid-up capital of less than Rs 1 crore from raising public deposits.

Indications to this effect were given today by T. S. Krishnamurthy, secretary, department of company affairs (DCA).

Speaking at a workshop organised by the Bengal Chambers of Commerce, he said, “The possibility is being examined as an investor protection measure, since it will discourage companies with a small capital base from inviting public deposits.”

The DCA secretary also hinted at the possibility of a third Companies Act (Amendment) Bill being introduced by the government.

He said, “The two amendments introduced till now cover only 50-60 per cent of the main Act. The government is considering two options—introducing a third amendment for provisions left untouched, or introduce a new comprehensive Act covering both the amendments as well as the rest of the old Act.” The final decision will be taken after the Companies Act (second amendment) Bill comes up before Parliament in the Budget session.    

Mumbai, Jan 29 
In the US, big companies like Motorola, Ford, Coca-Cola have them. Closer home, the Tatas have it. And now, the Birlas have it.

No, the corporate success recipe making its way to the country from halfway around the world is not deep pockets (though it is an undeniably vital ingredient), but knowledge, which these bigwigs harness in their corporate learning centres.

With business at the speed of thought, it is intangible assets like knowledge which separates the wheat from the chaff.

And with the cyber age increasingly resorting to the mouse to ‘bell the cat,’ companies the world over, more particularly the old business groups in India, feel the need for a constant learning process to update the battle skills of their corporate warriors.

While the Tatas have already taken the lead in this regard, the Aditya Birla group led by Kumar Mangalam Birla is now setting up a learning institute to apprise its flock of the new equations and mantras permeating the business world.

Inaugurating ‘Gyanodaya,’ a management learning institute, Birla said, “The institute will provide a zest for excellence and will nurture achievers.”

Gyanodaya will foster innovation & creativity, internalise corporate values and culture, incubate ideas and track emerging trends.

“With knowledge getting to be the most important factor in business, we have given the highest priority to learning. We cannot have a break in learning, when the world around us is changing at the pace of a whirlwind,” he added.

Indeed, in the consolidation era, the Aditya Birla group with interests as diverse as cement, fertilisers, aluminium, refineries and mutual funds, has a lot at stake.

In fact, the ‘knowledge’ juggernaut which has just started rolling in the country, has won another convert after the Tatas and the Birlas — the Mahindras, who are contemplating their own institute at Nasik, in Maharashtra.

Speaking on the occasion of the inauguration of the institute, chief guest Anand Mahindra, managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), outlined the company’s plans to set up a similar learning centre, “where our own managers and executive directors will teach and lead by example.”

But for Mahindra, it was less about mere knowledge, and was “all about passion.”

Ranjit Pandit, managing director, McKinsey & Co Inc, who also spoke on the occasion, sounded a note of caution, pointing out that the mantras for success have changed with the times.    


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