Forex reserves cross $ 40bn
Saregama bags megan film music contract
Co-operative dairying set to get a boost
SAIL domestic sales up 4% in Apr-Nov

Mumbai, Jan 6: 
The country�s foreign exchange reserves have touched an all-time high of $ 40 billion during for the week ended December 29, 2000.

The reserves increased by $ 201 million to $ 40.008 billion for the last week, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its weekly statistical supplement said.

During the past eight weeks the forex reserves have ballooned from $ 34.734 billion on November 11, 2000 to $ 40.008 billion which includes proceeds of over $ 5 billion from the State bank of India�s India Millennium Deposits.

The Reserve Bank said the reserves were buoyed by the increase in foreign currency assets by $ 201 million taking the total to record highs of $ 37.254 billion.

The burgeoning reserves emboldened the central bank to announce yesterday the roll back of the interest rate surcharge on imports and the prescribed minimum interest rate on overdue bills.

The decision, which will take effect from today, is an indication that the central bank is comfortable with the current foreign exchange reserves and the value of the rupee.

The interest rate surcharge of 50 per cent on import finance was in force since May 26 last year.

Meanwhile, gold reserves and special drawing rights remained static at $2.752 billion and $ 2 million respectively. Loans and advances to the state governments were up by Rs 385 crore to Rs 4,690 crore while those to the central government stood at nil.

Forex dealers say rising dollar supplies by foreign institutional investors have boosted forex reserves and, as a result, the spot rupee. It closed for the week at Rs 46.71 against the dollar against 46.725 on Thursday.

Dollar premia also moved in tandem with short-term forward premia closing around the same levels while long-term forward premia rising sharply.

Forex dealers attribute the higher opening in the forward premia to a cut in the discount rates in the United States.

Dealers expect premia to rise in the week ahead. They expect the six-month annualised premium should range between 3.9-4.05 per cent in the week ahead.

Interestingly, the euro has been rising to six-month highs against the dollar and 10-month highs against the yen on Friday. Dealers aver that the bullish trend in the euro has been triggered by the anticipation that the currency will appreciate against both the dollar and the yen, buoyed by the stronger economic outlook in Europe than in Japan and the United States.


Calcutta, Jan 6: 
Saregama India Ltd, the city-based music major, has signed the biggest ever music contract in the Hindi film industry with Puja Entertainment (I) Ltd of Vasu Bhagnani.

The RPG Group company, formerly Gramophone Co of India, has entered into a Rs 25 crore agreement with Vasu Bhagnani, a top Hindi film producer for his five forthcoming releases.

Announcing the deal, Saregama�s recently appointed managing director, Abhik Mitra said that the company has acquired the music rights of five future productions of Vasu Bhagnani. This agreement is the biggest financial deal in the Hindi film industry so far.

All the five films under the agreement involve the hottest music directors. Anu Malik and Nadeem Shravan will compose the score for two films each and A R Rahman for one, Mitra said. The first of these five films, a multi-starrer directed by Anupam Kher and music by Malik, will be released by the end of the current year. All five films will be released by 2003.

This deal comes close on the heels of RPG group�s recent restructuring in which it identified music and entertainment as one of the thrust areas for growth.

Mitra said, apart from the deal, Saregama has recently bagged music rights of 18 films keeping in line with the company�s aggressive business strategy. All the newly acquired music will be released in the next one and half years.

In the first nine months of the current fiscal, the company has recorded a 33 per cent growth in cassette sales.


New Delhi, Jan 6: 
The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) will spend Rs 10,000 crore in 10 years to expand cooperative dairying in potential areas.

While speaking at the sixth plenary session of the Indian Science Congress, NDDB chairperson Amrita Patel said the creation of dedicated and responsible institutions like milk cooperatives was crucial for dairy industry.

�Operation Flood succeeded because it placed faith in the institution of dairy cooperatives,� she said. She stated that there are more than 84,000 cooperatives in villages across the country, with more than 10.5 million farmers as members.

�These village dairy cooperatives do not merely collect milk, but also sell cattle feed and offer artificial insemination services for cattle owned by members,� Patel said. In many states the cooperatives also provide veterinary first aid services, she added.

Patel said, �Over the next 10 years, the cooperatives plan to treble milk procurement and add 50 lakh members to an additional 45,000 village cooperatives that they will set up.� NDDB, she said, encouraged rural women to play a active role in dairying as members and leaders of cooperatives.

The number of women�s dairy cooperatives in the country is more than 6,000. Patel said women thrift groups from just two districts of Andhra Pradesh have mobilised about Rs 4.43 crore and have requested NDDB to build a dairy for them with their own funds.


Calcutta, Jan 6: 
The Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has recorded a 4 per cent growth in domestic sales in the first eight months of the current fiscal (from April to November) though its export was down during the period.

Domestic sales of SAIL in this period was 4.4 million tonnes as against 4.2 million tonnes in the corresponding period of the last financial year. Direct sales has registered a growth of 2 per cent at 2.4 million tonnes compared with 2.3 million tonnes in the previous year. Stockyard sales have recorded a growth of 8 per cent at 2 million tonnes as against 1.9 million tonnes last year.

A decline in global markets, coupled with anti-dumping measures by various countries, pushed down export of steel from the country. As a result, SAIL�s export was down from 0.54 million tonnes in April to November 1999 to 0.34 million tonne during April to November 2000.

Higher sales have been assisted by marginal increase in the domestic demand. However, the growth in demand is not strong enough to cover the domestic oversupply caused by surplus capacity.

DSP blast furnace

Durgapur Steel Plant has entered into an agreement with Metallurgical and Engineering Consultants (Meecon) for the modernisation of DSP�s blast furnace number three. The total project would cost Rs 205 crore.


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