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Top stories this week…

Jan 27, 2001

Wipro net rises…
Wipro Limited has reported a 120 percent rise in net profit to US$ 41 million for the third quarter ended 31st December 2000. This excluded extra ordinary losses of US$ 8.9 million, which occurred due to sale of shares of Wipro Finance Limited. The highlight of the performance is the jump in operating margins from 24 percent in the second quarter of the fiscal year 2001 to 29 percent in the third quarter, indicating higher billing rates. (Jan 20)GAIL expands…
The Gas Authority of India has plans to invest close to Rs 95 billion (US$ 2 billion) in the next three years for the development of the pipeline infrastructure in the country. The investments would be primarily financed through internal accruals. (Jan 22)

Bajaj Auto – The global ‘hub’
Bajaj Auto has entered into an arrangement with Kawasaki whereby the Bajaj’s manufacturing unit would be used as a global hub for Kawasaki’s motorcycles upto 200 cc. The first exports under the arrangement are expected to occur by the middle of the next fiscal year. This arrangement with Kawasaki is expected to boost Bajaj’s sales, which has taken a beating in the current year due to sluggish scooter sales. (Jan 22)

VSNL outperforms…
Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, the state owned telecom behemoth, has reported a sharp 34 percent rise in net profits to 4 billion (US$ 85 million), for the third quarter ended 31st December 2000. This was largely due to a 12 percent jump in outgoing calls and a stunning 36 percent rise in incoming calls. Besides, a 70 percent jump in subscriber base also buoyed revenues from Internet services. (Jan 23)

Colgate notches new highs…
Colgate-Palmolive Limited, the oral care major, has registered a 22 percent rise in net profits for the third quarter ended 31st December 2000 to Rs 120 million (US$ 2.5 million). The growth in sales was primarily led by the company’s newly launched products namely Colgate Herbal and Palmolive Naturals (aggregate volumes grew by 13 percent). Margins also inched upwards by 10 basis points. (Jan 23)

Cementing growth…
Grasim Industries Limited has posted a 77 percent growth in net profits for the third quarter ended 31st December 2000 to Rs 905 million (US$ 19.2 million). Net sales for the third quarter also increased by 12 percent. However, the sharp growth in net profit was primarily led by a significant improvement in operating margins, which could be attributed towards the production cuts resorted by cement companies during November 2000. (Jan 24)

Aptech - Shopping continues…
Aptech Limited has acquired a 38 percent stake in Silicon Valley based e-learning solutions company Mentorix Technologies (Turbograd) for US$ 3.4 million. This is the second such investment by the company and this has been funded out of the proceeds of its US$ 75 million Global Depository Receipts (GDR) issue. (Jan 24)

UTI Global – Aiming bigger…
UTI Bank and Global Trust Bank have plans to merge to create one of the largest private banks in the country. The boards of both the banks have approved the merger and will decide the share exchange ratio on 27th January 2001. The merged entity will be known as UTI Global Bank. Both the banks have combined network of 157 branches and 281 Automated Teller Machines. The merged entity will have an asset base of over Rs 145 billion (US$ 3.0 billion) and a deposit base of over Rs 160 billion (US$ 3.4 billion). (Jan 25)

The auto woes…
Passenger car sales for December 2000 has come down by 30 percent to 31,847 units compared to November 2000. Cumulative sales for the first nine months have also come down by 8 percent to 418,374 units from to 456,454 units. Though, some of the automobile companies closed their manufacturing units for regular maintenance, the slowdown in sales could be attributed towards the slowdown in economy, high oil prices and rationalisation of excise duty. (Jan 25)

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