Common watchdog for convergence
Budget hopes propel sensex to new record
Basu brokers peace at Dunlop
Market sees surge in govt borrowing
Quit-notices rattle CSE
Automart in alliance with
Foreign Exchange, Bullion, Stock Indices

New Delhi, Feb 10 
The government today appeared ready to propel the country to the heights of technological convergence — the jargon used to describe a seamless world in which telecommunications, infotech and broadcasting coalesce into a unified medium — by indicating it was ready to set up a common regulatory authority to police what is fast emerging as a three-in-one sector.

Minister for information and broadcasting, Arun Jaitely, disclosed this at the third Telecom Summit here today, and also said there are plans to set up a telecom court which would deal with issues and disputes related to telecommunications, information technology and broadcasting.

“In times of convergence, a single authority with clearly delineated powers vis a vis recommendation and adjudication would be better than having different agencies. However, we are still governed by the Indian Telegraph Act 1887, something that is now under review,” the minister said

Jaitely — a member of the task force formulating the guidelines for service providers using the convergence of telecommunication, information technology and broadcasting — said bandwidth allocation and spectrum management are emerging as the most important issues among users.

Earlier, department of telecommunications (DoT) secretary Shyamal Ghosh said the government may reject the recommendation on long-distance telephony made by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) because they do not meet the needs of a sector where technological developments are swift.

Later, the chairman and CEO of the $ 20-billion Finnish telcom major Nokia Corporation, Jorma Ollila, told the conference there would be one billion mobile phone users by 2002 compared with the current figure of 480 million.

By 2003, there would be more handsets than personal computers connected to the internet in what he called a global mobile society. “The future will not be PC-centric, it will be mobile-centric and wireless terminals will be the main foundation in the years that lie ahead of us,” Ollila said.

Technology advancements will make employees productive when they are out of office, say even when they are commuting or travelling out of town. “For instance, 43 per cent of Nokia’s employees at its headquarters are always mobile. Work is no longer a place, it is carried out from several places. This is called remaining productive while you are on the move,” Ollilla said.

He also undercsored the fact that the convergence of wireless and internet applications would throw up challenges for content providers.

“Content developers will have to be work out various possibilities to address the needs of equipment which satisfies customers,” the Nokia chief said.

Yoshio Utsumi, secretary general of International Telecommunications Union (ITU), said this global body would become a forum for regulators and policy makers.

He lauded the efforts being taken by India in speeding up reforms in the telecom sector and spreading the benefits of information technology to this part of the world.    

Mumbai, Feb 10 
Another day, another record. The BSE sensex zipped to a record close of 5789.04 today in a 139-94 point surge fuelled by heavy FII buying in telecom and software bellweathers and reports that the government planned to unveil and single-slab excise structure in the budget.

The 30-scrip index opened considerably higher at 5765.28, fluctuated in a range of 5789.04 to 5715.05 before closing at the day’s high of 5789.04 (up 2.48 per cent) compared with its previous finish of 5649.10. On Wednesday, it had hit 5757 but a late-session selloff drove the index below 5700.

Setting the pace for a record-run on the third straight day were reports that Indian stocks listed on the Nasdaq had outperformed the composite index which slipped by 63.56 points on Wednesday.

The impressive performance of scrips like Infy and Sify in the US led many in the market to say that local bourses would now set trends for global exchanges to follow — a measure of how quickly Indian markets were integrating with the world.

Growing expectations that the single excise rate proposal will be implemented in the budget sparked a buying spree in many companies like Nestle, Britannia, P&G and Castrol, dealers said. The relaxation of guidelines on external commercial borrowings (ECB) also strengthened the market sentiment.

However, infotech and telecom counters hogged the spotlight as investors scrambled to scoop up shares in companies such as VSNL and MTNL. As a result, the two shares remained locked in the upper-end circuit filters for most of the day. Marketmen said both local operators and FIIs bought heavily in these firms.

Buoyed by five straight days of net FII purchases amounting to Rs 600 crore, speculators built up long positions in key scrips across the infotech, telecom and FMCG sectors. Brokers say they are not worried by the high carry forward outstanding of Rs 5,000 crore on the BSE today, a result of punters betting on pivotals from the specified list.

ITC, a one-time favourite, was in the limelight for a different reason: its planned infotech foray prompted analysts to revaluate the cigarette maker, pushing up the stock by Rs 66.10 to Rs 896.60.

In the specified group, sixteen scrips were locked in the upper price bands. However, the volume of business was fell to Rs 4130.09 crore compared with Rs 4960.12 crore on Wednesday.

Surprisingly, Himachal Futuristic (HFCL) was the most actively traded scrip today with a turnover of Rs 447.63 crore followed by Silverline with Rs 372.84 crore. HFCL zoomed by Rs 90.95 to 1227.95. Silverline was up by Rs 82.35 at 1112.35, Reliance by Rs 18.75 at 364.25 and Zee Tele by Rs 20.45 at 1338.    

Calcutta, Feb 1 
Chief Minister Jyoti Basu today brokered a reconciliation between the Dunlop management and Citu — the CPM’s labour arm — clearing the way for the reopening of the ailing tyre maker’s factory at Sahagunj in Hooghly district which has been closed since February 1998.

Basu met Dunlop’s senior vice president Prem Sharma and assistant vice president Pradip Mitra at his Salt Lake residence where the management agreed to discuss with the unions the payment of wage arrears and bonus soon after the factory reopens.

The issue has been the main reason for the stand-off between the management and the Citu which had refused to sign the minutes of the January 6 meeting where the terms for reopening the factory were discussed because it contained a clause that said any discussion on wage arrears would be taken up only after a full year of operation. In retaliation, the management had maintained that it would not lift the work suspension at the factory until the union capitulated.

After today’s discussions with Basu, the Dunlop management called the Citu officials to a meeting at its headquarters at Mirza Ghalib Street on Friday morning.

“The meeting was fruitful. Some positive results can be expected within a couple of days,” Sharma said after the meeting with Basu. “Some additions will have to be made in the minutes of the last meeting between the management and the unions. But the essence will remain the same.”

Basu had held separate discussions with state Citu general secretary Chittabrata Majumdar and local MP and leader of the Citu-affiliated Dunlop Workers’ Union Rupchand Pal.

“The deadlock appears to be over. We hope to finalise a settlement to reopen the Sahagunj factory at the meeting tomorrow morning,” said a smiling Majumdar, who was informed of the meeting over his cell phone at 4 in the afternoon.

“We did not sign because the management had refused to incorporate our stand on certain points, including wage arrears, in the minutes of the January 6 meeting,” Majumdar said.

These points are: lifting of the “suspension of work” notice to all factories and depots of Dunlop in the country; payment of all arrear dues like wages, bonus and medical allowances; and discussion on arrear dues after the lifting of the work suspension.

“But now we are given to understand that the points raised by us will be incorporated. We can then sign the minutes and the Sahagunj factory and the sales depot can reopen,” the Citu leader said.

However, Sharma was non-committal on a possible date for reopening the Sahaganj unit. “No date has been decided for reopening the Sahagunj unit,” he said.

The Dunlop senior vice president said the delay in reopening had led to the “loss of an important government tender” making it necessary for the company to rework its financial and operating plans.

The Citu called a news conference on Thursday afternoon to dispel the impression that it was because of the trade union’s intransigence that the Dunlop’s Sahagunj factory could not reopen as scheduled on February 7.

“At no point of time did we say that we would not sign the minutes. We just wanted the management to incorporate our views in the minutes,” said Kali Ghosh, senior Citu leader.

The Citu leaders clarified that the trade union had also climbed down from its earlier stand on the payment of wage arrears. It has now agreed to decide the schedule for the payment of these dues through negotiations with the management.

Meanwhile, a meeting between officials of the Citu and Intuc, which has already signed the minutes of the January 6 meeting, has been called on Saturday to resolve their differences on the reopening of the Dunlop factory.    

Mumbai, Feb 10 
With the Union budget round the corner, money market circles expect finance minister Yashwant Sinha to place a gross borrowing target of Rs 1,00,000 crore for the next fiscal.

In the current fiscal, the Centre has already surpassed its gross borrowing target of Rs 84,000 crore while its current market borrowings through auction of dated securities and issue of treasury bills is over Rs 97,000 crore.

With another Rs 2,000 crore of auction of treasury bills set to take place, it is expected that the Centre may end up borrowing slightly over Rs 1,00,000 crore in this fiscal year.

“We expect a nice round figure of Rs 1,00,000 crore when the finance minister announces the Centre’s gross market borrowings for the next fiscal year,’’ said M.R. Madhavan of ICICI Securities.

He added that going by past experience it is likely that the government would overshoot such a target too.

However, another analyst from a nationalised bank expected Sinha to place a figure of Rs 1,20,000 crore. “Considering the government’s spending on a variety of fronts, we are looking at this figure.’’

The rising level of borrowings comes despite the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) periodic pleas on placing a statutory ceiling on public debt. The central bank says that as the ratio of interest payment to revenue receipts has been consistently mounting, there is need to keep the public debt under check.

However, the gross issues of Central Government dated securities has been showing a steep uptrend, doubling from Rs 43,390 crore in 1997-98 to Rs 83,753 crore in 1998-99.

For a system which usually is flush with liquidity, this has resulted in banks holding SLR securities much above the required norm of 25 per cent of their deposits.

Meanwhile, the RBI fixed a yield of 10.79 per cent and 10.76 per cent at the auction of the 11.83 per cent, 2014 and 12.30 per cent, 2016 government stocks respectively.

While the 12.30 per cent, 2016 stock conducted for a notified amount of Rs 2,000 crore received 200 bids of Rs 5969 crore, the cut-off price was fixed at Rs 111.40, giving it a yield of 10.79 per cent.

On the other hand, the auction of the 11.83 per cent stock conducted for a notified amount of Rs 3,000 crore received 241 bids for Rs 7018 crore and the cut-off price was put at Rs 107.74.

As liquidity in the system is expected to tighten slightly consequent to the Rs 5,000 crore auction today, inter-bank call money rates ended sharply higher owing to heavy demand for funds to cover reserve requirements.The call money rates closed around 9.75 per cent, up from yesterday’s closing levels of 8.30-8.50 per cent.    

Calcutta, Feb 10 
The Calcutta Stock Exchange (CSE) is swamped with applications from over 200 companies for voluntary delisting in a disturbing trend that indicates the bourse is losing business to big players like the BSE and NSE.

The requests have jolted an exchange which has barely seen eight new listings in this financial year even though more than 200 initial public offerings hit the market during this period.

“Most new companies prefer to be listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange, besides the regional bourses close to where they are based. Calcutta does not figure on their list of preferences,” a senior CSE official said.

CSE currently has around 3,200 listed companies, of which a little over 300 are actively traded. The number has changed little in the last five years. The delisting of four companies on January 17 has not helped matters either.

Sources said most applications for delistings cited erosion of their net worth as the reason. “If a company’s net worth is eroded, it must complete several formalities before it applies for delisting,” the official said.

However, a CSE board member said most requests for delisting have been made disregarding the exchange’s delisting norms. “We have procedures for two types of delistings — voluntary and compulsory. While a company seeking voluntary delisting has to buy back its shares, compulsory delisting remains the sole discretion of exchange authorities.”

To make matters worse, many companies which will be left with public holdings less than 10 per cent after an equity recast face the prospect of being delisted from the CSE under the provisions of the existing listing norms, the official said.

CSE’s trading volumes, he said, largely depends on the Badla trading, something that may take a beating as the list of scrips for rolling settlement is expanded by Sebi to curb volatility and rein in speculation. On Tuesday, 156 more shares were added to this category.

Given the situation, the number of listings are expected to decline further.

Conscious of the fact that listings remain one of the major sources of revenue for an exchange, CSE’s business development committee is planning to meet the country’s top merchant bankers to get more companies to trade on the Lyons Range.    

Mumbai, Feb 10 
Leading auto portal, which has been floated by Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), today announced a strategic tieup with Automartindia is said to be the fastest growing auto portal in the country.

With this agreement, will now become the official auto channel on The facility will enable Rediff subscribers to buy or sell automobiles by logging on to its new auto channel, powered by

A statement issued by M&M claimed that its site is “changing the way vehicles are bought and sold in the Indian market’’. The website includes vehicles of all makes and models to set up an electronic vehicle exchange in India, the statement added.

Of late, there has been lot of activity in the auto portals sector with two leading portals offloading a part of the stake to investors. Automart sold 20 per cent of its stake to Sah & Sanghi, a leading Mumbai-based vehicle dealership. In another development, Kotak Mahindra Finance picked up a 30 per cent stake in, also an auto web portal set up by Ashwin Sanghi, CEO of Vitesse, a leading Maruti car dealer. Both deals are reported to be independent of each other. However, the pricing of the deals is not known.

Commenting on the tieup with Rediff, Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Information Technology Services Ltd said: “There are certain similarities between us — our quality content, the agility of our teams, the commitment, and determination to provide innovative services’’. Ajit Balakrishnan, founder, chairman and CEO of Rediff said, “Rediff always seeks alliances with best of breed sites.”

Witnessing a sharp revival in its fortunes, the Indian automobile industry currently clocks sales of over 1 million a year. With almost all car manufacturers planning new launches, M&M officials said the auto portals would provide information and service to customers.

They added that the alliance with Rediff was part of Automart’s plan to form a network of alliances which would help facilitate transactions between auto buyers and sellers. While more such tieups are believed to be on the anvil, Automart has already joined hands with various service providers for finance, insurance, help on RTO documentation, accessories suppliers and online valuation indexes.

Automart is now planning to introduce a certification programme where the vehicles for sales could be evaluated by an auto expert for various parameters on the basis of a checklist.

Thus, the service would provide an expert opinion on the condition as well as the estimated fair price for the vehicle. The service is expected to benefit used vehicle buyers.

Founded in 1996, Rediff is said to have monthly page views of over 55 million.

It has various channels suited to India. Automart is said to be one of India’s top website for buying and selling used vehicles and it has over 5500 vehicles in its inventory.    

Foreign Exchange
US $1	Rs 43.62	HK $1	Rs. NA*
UK £1	Rs 70.30	SW Fr 1	Rs. NA*
Euro	Rs 43.23	Sing $1	Rs. NA*
Yen 100	Rs 40.21	Aus $1	Rs. NA*
*SBI TC buying rates; others are forex market closing rates


Calcutta		Bombay
Gold Std (10gm)	Closed	Gold Std (10 gm)	Rs 4760
Gold 22 carat	Closed	Gold 22 carat	Rs 4405
Silver bar (Kg)	Closed	Silver (Kg)	Rs 8255
Silver portion	Closed	Silver portion	Rs 8260

Stock Indices

Sensex	5789.04	+139.94
BSE-100	3340.16	+98.96
S&P CNX Nifty	1711.20	+21.56
Calcutta	146.07	+2.49
Skindia GDR	1491.06	+69.26

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