Life insurers must invest 50% in gilts
Decks clearedfor higher FII holding in NIIT
Merc eyes Rs 250 cr turnover
Court seeks govt’s views on dumping
JK to spend Rs 70 cr on capacity expansion
Cybertech plans to to buy back 10%
Foreign Exchange, Bullion, Stock Indices

 
 
LIFE INSURERS MUST INVEST 50% IN GILTS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Aug 17: 
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) today issued a notification allowing life insurance companies to invest 50 per cent of their funds in government securities and the rest in instruments of their choice, including equity.

Pension funds, on the other hand, will be required to invest 40 per cent of their corpus in government paper while the rest will have to placed in bonds and shares with a triple A rating.

IRDA chairman N Rangachary told a Ficci seminar earlier in the day that companies will have to constitute investment panels comprising two non-executive directors, the chief executive officer, chiefs of investment and finance, and an actuary in the case of life insurance firms. “The committee will prepare the details of investments, which should be made available to the IRDA for examination,” Rangachary said.

In its guidelines on accounting standards, the regulator says companies will have to follow segment reporting. “As part of this, any activity which contributes 10 per cent or more to the total revenues must be accounted for separately,” Rangachary said.

Auditors will have to be appointed by a committee from a list approved by the insurance watchdog. “Separate guidelines prescribing the basic requirements for auditors would be prepared by the IRDA in consultation with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India,” Rangachary said.

Special secretary (insurance) in the finance ministry, P. K Banerjee, said there is a need for setting a pensions authority to protect the interests of beneficiaries, and to ensure that firms in the business play by the rules of the game. In a liberalised market, annuity and pension products are likely to be offered not only by insurers, but by financial institutions as well, he said.

Earlier, Maneka Gandhi, minister of state for social justice and empowerment, said the Dave committee report, which favoured investment in equity by pension funds and wanted the unorganised sector to be brought within the social security net, will be discussed by the Union Cabinet soon.

“We will take the Dave committee report on Old Age Social and Income Security (OASIS) to the Cabinet shortly,” Gandhi told reporters on the sidelines of the Ficci seminar. The committee, headed by former Unit Trust of India chairman S.A Dave, was set up by the ministry of social justice and empowerment. It has already submitted two reports to the government.

The committee wanted pension funds to invest in equity because it felt these are instruments that offer returns unmatched by others in the long term.

According to the report, only 11 per cent of the country’s 310 million workers are covered under some form of social security scheme.    


 
 
DECKS CLEAREDFOR HIGHER FII HOLDING IN NIIT 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Aug 17 
NIIT shareholders have approved the proposal to increase FII holding in the company from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of its paid-up capital, at its extraordinary general meeting held here today.

The EGM also approved the variation of NIIT’s employee stock option scheme and the grants made thereunder.

NIIT had reviewed the terms of its present employee stock option scheme and the grants made thereunder, in the light of the recent developments in the Indian capital markets.

The earlier grants made by the company will now be replaced by the new grant at an exercise price of Rs 1,593, this being the closing price on the Bombay Stock Exchange on April 7.

The recommendation of a variation in the terms of the NIIT ESOP is as per Clause 7 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Employee Stock Option Scheme and Employee Stock Purchase Scheme) Guidelines, 1999, with the express objective of enhancing the value and effectiveness of the scheme for NIIT employees.

Further, NIIT today bagged a prestigious $ 10.6 million e-Knowledge solutions order from Macmillan USA Inc, the world’s largest computer book publisher and multimedia content provider. As a part of this project NIIT will create cutting-edge knowledge solutions for Macmillan.

NIIT will build knowledge products for Macmillan in emerging technologies aimed at infotech professionals and end-users across the world. NIIT will deliver content based on the three basic styles — instructor led training (ILT), computer-based training (CBT) and Web-based training (WBT) solutions.

Commenting on the NIIT-Macmillan relationship, Arvind Thakur, president, NIIT’s software business, said, “NIIT is pleased to create Knowledge solutions for Macmillan USA. The expertise of NIIT professionals in creating state-of-the-art Knowledge solutions for diverse audiences at its world class software development facilities backed by strict performance standards will go a long way in creating a mutually beneficial relationship.”

“The Macmillan order is a welcome development in the wake of the growing demand for e-Knowledge solutions. Macmillan will gain substantially from NIIT’s edge in producing technically accurate, high-quality Knowledge solutions in different formats in a time-efficient and cost-effective manner,” he said.

Speaking about the NIIT-Macmillan relationship, Amitava Mitra, senior vice-president and head of learning solutions business, NIIT (USA) Inc, said, “The NIIT-Macmillan relationship will enable global customers to access world-class knowledge products and solutions from a single window in the most cost-effective way. The partnership creates exciting avenues to address a wide range of learning needs created by the new convergent technologies.”    


 
 
MERC EYES RS 250 CR TURNOVER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug 17 
Mercedes Benz India, which returned to the city today after a 11-year hiatus, said it hopes to sell 1,000 cars a year and increase its turnover from Rs 160 crore in the last financial year to Rs 250 crore in the current fiscal.

Speaking at the launch of the new E-class Mercedes at Siddharth Automobiles, Mercedes Benz India managing director Juergen Ziegler said the top-of-the-line S-class is the next in line from his company’s stable that would be introduced in the city. The premium model, priced at a staggering Rs 65 lakh, will be manufactured in the country, unlike the MB 100 vans, which are imported as completely built units.

According to him, Mercedes Benz India had been getting assignments to refurbish around 600 old cars, but it could take only 100 cases because of lack of adequate capacity with the company and its dealers.

The maker of cars long seen as enduring symbols of social stature and emblems of regal opulence chose Siddharth Automobiles after a hunt that lasted close to four years. Mercedes had been without a dealer in the city since late 1996 when its sales contract with Telco was terminated.

“I have already learnt a lot while securing the Merc dealership. I look forward to learn more,” said Deepak Loyalka, managing director of Siddharth Automobiles. Along with the top-end cars, the Merc brand of exclusive boutique items will also be introduced. These include T shirts, caps, golf kits and balls, speciality books on automobiles and Mont Blanc pens, Loyalka said.

Earlier, French Motor Car Company was dealing in Mercedes, along with Telco vehicles. It stopped doing so after the Tatas, which pulled out as a joint venture partner in Mercedes Benz India, barred the dealer from selling India-made or imported Mercedes cars.

Then, the company tried a number of city car dealers, including the Bothras of Bothra Ford, to sell their vehicles as an interim arrangement but none of them were formally given the dealership. Later, the company started operating from Car Craft, a workshop authorised to service its cars.    


 
 
COURT SEEKS GOVT’S VIEWS ON DUMPING 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug 17 
The Calcutta high court today directed the Union government to file an affidavit within three weeks stating its policy on reduction of anti-dumping duty against some countries.

The order was passed by Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta, following a petition filed by the Indian steel manufacturers’ organisation Indofar, challenging the policy. Indofar comprises SAIL, Indal, Essar Steel and Jindal.

According to the petitioner, countries like South Africa, South Korea, Australia, China and New Zealand have been exempted from payment of anti-dumping duty under the new policy.

State advocate general N.N. Gooptu , who is representing Jindal Vijaynagar Steel plant in the case told The Telegraph the case was first initiated in 1999 by the society following dumping of steel products from Kazhakistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Justice A.N. Roy of Calcutta high court had then passed an order stipulating that a duty of 302 per metric tonne would have to be imposed on the dumped products. The order was upheld by the apex court.

“Currently countries like China, Australia and South Africa have dumped their steel products in India without paying any duty. Hence, the case had to be reopened,” Gooptu said.

Apart from Gooptu, Somnath Chatterjee, Joyanta Mitra and Devi Pal were representing the country’s top steel guns. The case will come up for its next hearing on Tuesday.

Polyester film imports

The commerce ministry has imposed provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of polyester film from South Korea and Indonesia pending final determination of dumping. The decision follows investigation on a complaint from Polyster Film Industries Association.    

 
 
JK TO SPEND RS 70 CR ON CAPACITY EXPANSION 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug 17 
J K Industries has embarked upon a Rs 70 crore capacity expansion plan for its radial and LCV tyre units.

The company, which has appointed a consultant to restructure its business, will also invest Rs 25 crore in JK Sugar, besides Rs 275 crore in Vikrant Tyres Ltd, a 100 per cent subsidiary. It has already pumped in Rs 170 crore in Vikrant Tyres.

The Rs 70 crore investment is being made to hike radial tyre production to 13 lakh from 9 lakh at present and LCV tyre production from 9 lakh to 10.5 lakh.

Addressing a press conference here after the company’s 48th annual general meeting, Raghupati Singhania, managing director of JK Industries said that the company currently enjoys a 22 per cent marketshare in the commercial tyre segment, which represents over 80 per cent of the entire Rs 9000 crore tyre market.

“To increase value for shareholders we have undertaken a continuous cost cutting programme,” he said.

On its plan to enter into a tieup with automobile manufacturers for providing tyres, he said, “Since original equipment customers can now make a quantitative assessment of items like vehicle ride, handling, tyre and suspension vibrations, several automobile manufacturers are showing interest in this facility. We have already tied up with Fiat Uno and Mitsubishi Lancer. More such tieups are in the offing.”

JK Industries registered a 10 per cent hike in its net profit to Rs 10.55 crore in the first quarter, as against Rs 9.5 crore in the previous corresponding period. However, there has been a marginal drop in the turnover to Rs 330 crore from Rs 354 crore.

Earlier in the day addressing shareholders, chairman Hari Shankar Singhania said that the “Dial-A-Tyre” service has received a good response in Delhi. The company plans to launch similar facilities in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune within a year.

The company, which has set up 75 tyre retailing centres across the country, plans to increase the number to 100 by this year.

However, the performance of JK Drugs and Pharmaceuticals continues to be unsatisfactory. To revive its sagging fortunes, the company plans to enter into a strategic alliance with an international company for supply of intermediates of certain new active pharmaceutical ingredients (API).    


 
 
CYBERTECH PLANS TO TO BUY BACK 10% 
 
 
FROM VIVEK NAIR
 
Mumbai, Aug 17 
The Mumbai-based information technology solution company, Cybertech Systems & Software Ltd (CSSL) is coming out with a buy-back offer to purchase around 10 per cent of its equity capital at a price of Rs 120 per share.

A resolution to this effect was passed in the company’s board meeting held yesterday. Confirming this, sources said the offer would entail an outgo of Rs 25 crore.

They added that one of the objectives of the buy-back offer was to use the surplus cash with the company to enhance its earnings per share and also to increase shareholder value. Cybertech, with an equity capital of Rs 23 crore, had come out with a bonus issue earlier in the ratio of 5:4.

On the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) today, the Cybertech scrip finished lower at Rs 104.10 after opening at Rs 111.80. The scrip touched an intra-day high of Rs 114 and a low of Rs 103.10. Market circles aver that the buy-back price is likely to serve as a floor price for the stock.

CSSL, promoted by V Prasad Rao and V Tadimety in 1995 to provide software solutions and consultancy, now aims to enhance its reach in the areas of customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM), among others.    


 
 
FOREIGN EXCHANGE, BULLION, STOCK INDICES 
 
 
 
 

Foreign Exchange

US $1	Rs. 45.90	HK $1	Rs. 5.80*
UK £1	Rs. 68.81	SW Fr 1	Rs. 26.40*
Euro	Rs. 41.96	Sing $1	Rs. 26.25*
Yen 100	Rs. 42.28	Aus $1	Rs. 26.55*
*SBI TC buying rates; others are forex market closing rates

Bullion

Calcutta	Bombay

Gold Std (10gm)	Rs.4545	Gold Std (10 gm	4550
Gold 22 carat	Rs. 4290	Gold 22 carat	4210
Silver bar (Kg)	Rs.7900	Silver (Kg)	8015
Silver portion	Rs. 8000	Silver portion	8020

Stock Indices

Sensex	4294.18	-31.49
BSE-100	2155.24	-16.61
S&P CNX Nifty1341.40	-10.05	
Calcutta	120.63	-1.09
Skindia GDR770.42	+24.67	
   
 

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