Cogentrix bids adieu
ITC in hotel brand strategy rejig
Car sales shoot up 56% in 9 months

Bangalore, Jan 22 
Having failed to impress Karnataka into accepting its terms for execution of the 1000 MW thermal power project, Cogentrix Energy Inc of the US today pulled out of the Mangalore Power Company, even as partner China Light and Power (CLP) came up with a fresh offer.

CLP business development director Tom Watters, who had an hour-long meeting with chief minister S.M. Krishna to make a fresh bid on behalf of his company, said Cogentrix had withdrawn citing better investment prospects in the US, following deregulation of the power sector there.

Cogentrix and CLP had jointly floated the Mangalore Power Company as a subsidiary to execute the mega thermal power project, at Nandikur in Dakshin Kannada district near Mangalore in 1995. However, it was bogged down by delays on account of court cases and a dispute over the power price.

Watters, who was accompanied by MPC project development director Siddartha Mathur, said the company was on the lookout for an Indian partner and it was optimistic of coming up with a new proposal in a fortnight�s time.

Emerging from the meeting, Krishna said that CLP and MPC have communicated that they would be executing the project with an Indian partner and have accepted the conditions set by the state and also the Centre�s new guidelines.

The chief minister said that he had explained to the representatives of CLP and MPC that due to a �shift in the stance� of the Centre, the project could not be executed as envisaged earlier on the basis of a power purchase agreement (PPA) signed in 1997.

The chief minister said he also informed them about the Centre�s unwillingness to give a counter-guarantee on the lines of one given to Enron, necessitating an escrow cover.

Krishna said the authorities of the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation (KPTCL) and representatives of CLP and MPC will hold consultations with the expert committee headed by Deepak Parekh, set up by the state to study the project, at its meeting slated for January 28 here.

The chief minister added that the government would take a view on the project after the expert committee submitted its report. He said the CLP has been asked to take a decision on the project by February and commence work.

MPC managing director Ron Somers, who had earlier sought a meeting with the chief minister, stayed away from the deliberations.

Watters said that CLP is amenable to minor amendments to the power purchase agreement.    

Calcutta, Jan 22 
ITC Ltd is reworking the brand strategy for its hotels division. Chairman Y C Deveshwar said the company has decided to attach the ITC prefix to all its seven-star hotel properties, which are being developed in Calcutta, Mumbai and Delhi. The five-star category hotels, at present known as Welcomgroup hotels, will be renamed as Welcom Hotels.

Talking to reporters here at the ground breaking ceremony of ITC Sonar Bangla, a Rs 250 crore hotel to be built on the eastern fringes of the metropolis, Deveshwar said the decision to attach the ITC prefix to seven-star hotels was taken to enhance the brand equity of these properties.

S.S.H. Rehman, managing director of ITC Hotels added that ITC Sonar Bangla will be the first to have the ITC name.

ITC Sonar Bangla, which would be eventually called ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton, will initially have 250 rooms, to be expanded to 1000 rooms in phases. The hotel, built on a 16 acre plot opposite Science City, would be ready by 2002, Deveshwar said.

Deveshwar added that the Rs 450 crore deluxe hotel in Mumbai would be completed by October this year, while the expansion of Maurya Sheraton in Delhi would be completed by July.

`Welcoming ITC�s effort, chief minister Jyoti Basu, who initiated the ground breaking ceremony, said, �Calcutta has become a hot-spot for hoteliers. Apart from ITC, two major hotel chains have also come to the city. This is good news for the state, as hotels being labour intensive projects will generate greater employment.�

State tourism minister Manabendra Mukherjee, said, �The state government encourages private participation in tourism. We have already received investment worth Rs 600 crore in different projects. Another Rs 1,200 crore investment are in the pipeline.�

ITC has selected Kerry Hill & Associates of Singapore as architects and interior designers for the hotel, while landscape designing would be done by the Bangkok-based Weerappan PLD Associates.

The hotel is being designed to cater to up-market global travellers in the eastern region.    

New Delhi, Jan 22 
Automobile majors witnessed mixed fortunes even as the passenger car, commercial vehicles and two-wheeler segments posted an impressive sales growth during April-December 1999-2000.

Passenger cars recorded a sales growth of 56.29 per cent, with 4.56 lakh units sold in April-December 1999-2000, as against 2.91 lakh units in the previous corresponding period, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) today.

While all commercial vehicles recorded a sales growth of 30 per cent, sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles grew by 50.35 per cent. On the other hand, light commercial vehicles recorded a mere 3.67 per cent sales growth.

Riding on the 27.1 growth posted by motorcycles, the two-wheeler segment witnessed a positive 9.86 per cent growth. Scooter sales however failed to be buoyed, falling by 4.58 per cent.

Market leader Maruti Udyog Ltd clocked a 24.5 per cent growth in sales during the review period of the current fiscal by selling 2.95 lakh cars as against 2.37 lakh vehicles in the previous comparable period.

Korean automaker Daewoo sold 25,342 units in April-December 1999-2000, as against 7323 units in the previous comparable period.

Its Korean rival Hyundai Motors India Ltd, also improved sales to 51,118 units in April-December 1999-2000, as against 8,448 units sold during the same period last year.

Ford India Automobiles Ltd, the Indian arm of the US auto major also witnessed a positive 29.7 per cent growth at 3,433 units, as against 2,646 units sold during the previous corresponding period.

Hindustan Motors improved its position during April-December 1999-2000, recording a 30 per cent jump with 18,643 units, as against 14,327 units sold in the previous comparable period. Fuelled by the sales of its small car Indica launched last year, Telco also pulled off major gains during the nine months under review. The automobile major sold 37,223 passenger cars during April-December 1999-2000 from a marginal 1,869 units sold in the previous corresponding period.

However, the sales graph did not portend good tidings for some multinational auto giants, including Fiat India Automobiles Ltd, General Motors, Mercedes Benz India Ltd, Honda Siel Cars India Ltd and PAL Peugeot Ltd. PAL Peugeot Ltd was the worst affected with a drop of 0.9 per cent in sales, as the company could sell only nine units in the last nine months, as against 426 units sold during the same period last year.    


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