Govt clears limited mobility for basic telecom players
Suggestions on convergence Bill sought
UTI Global Bank readies plan for insurance foray
ICICI net profit growth rate flat
Zee net up 29% at Rs 32 crore
MTNL logs 31% rise in net profit
Foreign Exchange, Bullion, Stock Indices

New Delhi, Jan. 25: 
The government today allowed fixed telecom service providers to offer limited mobile services within their local areas amid howls of protests from cellular operators, who tried to win a Supreme Court stay on the order without success. Each three-minute call will cost Rs 1.20

Last Tuesday, the Telecom Disputes and Settlement Tribunal refused to admit a petition from cellular firms, which sought a stay on the implementation of Trai recommendations allowing limited mobility to fixed-line operators.

The government has accepted the regulator�s suggestion to permit mobile telephony based on wireless in local loop (WiLL) technology of basic phone companies, Union communication minister Ram Vilas Paswan said here today.

�The aim is to offer world class telecommunication infrastructure, provide affordable and effective communications and ensure faster installation of networks to deliver the fruits of technology convergence to all sections of society,� Paswan said.

While permitting limited mobility for basic service operators, the government had addressed the concerns of cellular operators, and to see that they have a level playing field.

Six private operators, apart from Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, can launch limited mobile services immediately. In a balancing effort, cellular service providers will be free to offer fixed phones on their GSM networks. Cost-based monthly rentals will be fixed by Trai in three months. Currently, cellular rentals in metros and major cities are around Rs 500.

Mobile phone companies represented by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) have been opposing limited mobility for basic companies based on the WiLL technology because they have fears it will drive them out of business.

Basic telephone companies will be allowed to offer limited mobility within 80 per cent of their circles � known as short distance charging Areas (SDCAs) in telecom parlance � by establishing a point of presence; they can team up with new licencees, other than BSNL, to offer services beyond 80 per cent.

Hand-held sets with a wireless access system can be offered to subscribers, which will be used within a limited local area, or the short distance charging area. The local numbering plan of SDCA will have to be followed in deploying the wireless access systems. The same norms shall be applicable to the existing licensees of basic telephone services.

�A number which has been assigned to a particular local area (SDCA) will not function outside it. Therefore, the technology can be managed,� DoT secretary Shyamal Ghosh said.

The licence fee for basic services providers, new and existing, that offer limited mobile services will be the same as that of cellular firms. The licence fee for mobile operators has been reduced to 12 per cent in metros or category A circles, 10 per cent for B Circles and 8 per cent for C circles. The fee does not include spectrum charges, which have been fixed at 2 per cent for 4.4 MHz and 3 per cent for 6.2 MHz.

The point of inter-connectivity between the networks of mobile operators and basic service providers will only be at the Level-I exchange and tandem exchanges in the metros.


New Delhi, Jan. 25: 
The department of telecommunications (DoT) today invited responses to the draft Communication Convergence Bill, on its website.

The text of the Bill is expected to be on DoT�s website by the weekend. DoT has invited comments on this site by February 28.

Communications minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said the government plans to introduce this legislation considering the increasing convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting, data and communications.

Outlining the main features of the proposed legislation, he said the Bill envisages the setting up of a super regulator to be called the Communications Commission of India (CCI), which will regulate the carriage and content of communications (including telecommunications, broadcasting and multimedia).

Paswan said the regulator will also have licensing powers. He added a Communications Appellate Tribunal will be set up to hear appeals against the regulator�s decisions or orders.

The Commission will grant licences under four categories � to provide or own network infrastructure facilities; provide network services; provide application services; and to provide content application services.


Mumbai and Hyderabad, Jan. 25: 
Even before the ink on the merger pact has dried up, UTI Global Bank has chalked up its plan to take a plunge in the insurance sector. There will be four promoters investing in the venture which will include the mutual fund major the Unit Trust of India (UTI).

Ramesh Gelli and associates, who promoted Global Trust Bank, will hold around 14 per cent stake in the proposed insurance venture. UTI will hold a 10 per cent while the new UTI Global Bank will hold 49-50 per cent of the equity. The foreign partner, which is yet to be shortlisted, will hold a 26 per cent.

According to Gelli, negotiations are likely to �fructify within the next four to six weeks.�

Speaking to The Telegraph, Ramesh Gelli said his stake in the insurance venture could be as high as 20 per cent. We are yet to give final shape to the holding pattern, he said.

�Initially, we will concentrate on life insurance business,� he said on being asked whether his insurance plans also include general insurance.

�After the merger, we have become bigger in size and stature and therefore we will decide afresh on the foreign insurance partner, Gelli said

Unit Trust of India�s brand and its distribution network would be a major plus for the new venture.

�Although the minimum equity capital stipulated by IRDA is Rs 100 crore, we will put more than the minimum specified amount and slowly raise the capital as the business builds up, Gelli said.

A formal application to IRDA is 4-5 months away, he said.

It is learnt that before the merger move Global Trust Bank was talking to Nationwide Insurance Financial Services, one of the largest financial insurance service providers in the US, for a joint venture. Nationwide has a market presence in over 37 countries and has assets of over $ 115 billion.

According to sources, Ramesh Gelli and his associates are currently holding talks with Nationwide to rope it in for the new venture.

Though Gelli denied any such move, one UTI Bank official said �talks are at an advanced stage.�

According to sources, the moralities and the freedom to decide on the partner has been left to Gelli. It had already been announced that Gelli would head the insurance venture to be floated by UTI Global Bank.

Gelli is considered as the first banker to play the role of an entrepreneur by promoting Global Trust Bank. One may recall that Gelli resigned from Vysya Bank, the largest old private bank to promote GTB. He will don the role of an entrepreneur yet again for the insurance venture. �It is the excitement that has pulled me to head the insurance venture�, he said.


Mumbai, Jan. 25: 
ICICI Ltd has reported a flat growth in net profit for the third quarter of the current fiscal year ending December 31, 2000. Net profit rose marginally to Rs 253 crore from Rs 252 crore in the same period of the previous year.

However, including extraordinary gains of Rs 19 crore in the previous year�s figure, net profit in the current quarter declined by over 6 per cent from the previous comparable quarter�s figure of Rs 271 crore.

For the nine-month period, net profit showed a marginal rise at Rs 794 crore over Rs 792 crore. ICICI said this was due to lower capital gains of Rs 183 crore, among other reasons.

However, net profit declined after including the extraordinary gains in the previous year�s figure which stood at Rs 811 crore.

Further, against a net capital gain of Rs 180 crore in the nine-month period ended December 31, 1999, there was a loss of Rs 3 crore in the nine months this year.

The gross net performing assets (NPAs) of the institution however, rose to Rs 6,460 crore over Rs 6,018 crore in the previous year. The net outstanding NPAs on December 31, 2000, were at Rs 4,215 crore and the net NPA ratio declined to 7.2 per cent from 7.6 per cent in March.

Further, a higher provisioning requirement of about Rs 44 crore was made consequent to the revision of the RBI�s guidelines. It also incurred an additional interest expense of about Rs 63 crore as the institution replaced a significant portion of its preference shares by lower-cost borrowings consequent to the increase in the distribution tax rate.

During the third quarter, while fund-based income rose to Rs 2,079 crore (Rs 1,959 crore), the net fund based income was at Rs 319 crore (Rs 313 crore). For the nine-month period, the latter stood at Rs 5,109 crore (Rs 4,764 crore).


Mumbai, Jan. 25: 
Zee Telefilms Ltd (ZTL) has posted a 29 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 32.14 crore, for the third quarter of the current fiscal ending December 31, 2000, as against Rs 24.86 crore in the previous comparable quarter.

While total income during this period stood at Rs 113.3 crore, up from the previous comparable figure of Rs 90.29 crore, this was accounted for by sales and services of Rs 81.46 crore (Rs 66.25 crore), commission income of Rs 21.64 crore (Rs 21.20 crore) and other income of Rs 10.16 crore (Rs 2.82 crore). For the nine-month period, while net profit rose by 47 per cent to Rs 90.9 crore, the total income was up 37 per cent to Rs 299.3 crore.

Zee said despite the fall in the channel�s TRP, it has not only been able to maintain last year�s advertisement revenues, but also obtain a small increase of 1 per cent for the quarter, with an overall revenue growth of 10 per cent.


Jan. 25: 
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) registered a 31 per cent rise in its net profit for the third quarter of the current financial year ending December 31, 2000. Net profit rose to Rs 476.69 crore in the quarter as against Rs 364.19 crore in the same quarter of the previous fiscal.

During the period, net income from services was up 20.48 per cent at Rs 1468.65 crore in the quarter, as compared to Rs 1218.97 crore in the quarter ended December 31, 1999. Other income for the quarter stood at Rs 74.72 crore as against Rs 56.40 crore in the same quarter of the previous year.

Interest expenditure stood at Rs 1.76 crore, up from Rs 0.63 crore in the previous comparable quarter.

Indo Gulf net up 29%

A V Birla group company, Indo Gulf Corporation, has posted a 29 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 70.08 crore for the third quarter of the current financial year ending December 31, 2000, against Rs 54.18 crore in the comparable quarter of the previous year.

The company�s sales turnover at Rs 686.38 crore, reflected a growth of 23 per cent over Rs 558.50 crore achieved in the previous quarter.

Indo Gulf said the copper sector is slated to grow at around 10 per cent, which portends well for the company. For the nine-month period, urea production at 7.22 lakh tonnes is lower than 7.91 lakh tonnes reached in the previous year. This was attributed to the Union government�s restrictions on production. Consequently, urea sales at 7.37 lakh tonnes was lower than 8.12 lakh tonnes in the previous year.

Century Textiles

Century Textiles and Industries Ltd, from the B K Birla stable, has posted a net profit of Rs 8.81 crore for the third quarter of the current fiscal ending December 31, 2000, a 356 per cent rise over Rs 1.93 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The rise in the bottomline was accompanied by a modest rise in topline growth. Net sales rose to Rs 576.43 crore from Rs 505.26 crore. However, other income stood at Rs 18.05 crore, down from Rs 31.67 crore in the previous year.

Dabur net rises 42%

Dabur India Limited has recorded a growth of 42.3 per cent in net profit for the quarter ended December 31, 2000. The company clocked a net profit of Rs 21.93 crore for the quarter, up from Rs 15.41 crore for the corresponding period last year.

Net sales in the quarter showed an increase of 10.2 per cent from Rs 286.42 crore for the corresponding period last year to Rs 315.66 crore.

Gross profit went up by 35.7 per cent to Rs 38.08 crore from 28.05 crore last year.

EIH net soars 80%

Oberoi Group flagship company EIH Ltd today reported an 80 per cent jump in net profit to Rs 27.74 crore in the third quarter ended December 31, 2000, compared with Rs 15.43 crore posted in the previous comparable quarter.

Turnover rose 13.26 per cent to Rs 139.56 crore in October-December 2000-01, as against Rs 123.22 crore in the third quarter of 1999-2000, a company statement said here.

Voltas turnover up 7%

Voltas has registered a 7 per cent growth in its turnover during the nine months ended December 31, 2000. During this period, profit before extra-ordinary items and taxation rose by 15 per cent to Rs 1086 lakh, most of it from its engineering activities.

Tata Infotech net surges 348%

Tata Infotech Ltd (TTL) has recorded a 348.12 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 8.38 crore in the third quarter ended December 31, 2000, compared with Rs 1.87 crore in the same period of the previous year. Net sales for the reporting quarter stood at Rs 133.94 crore as against Rs 116.7 crore, up by 14.7 per cent in the third quarter of the previous year.



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