• DECEMBER 16, 2000

Top stories this week

ICICI merges with BoM....
ICICI Bank has finalised its merger plans with Bank of Madura. The swap ratio of the merger of Bank of Madura with ICICI Bank has been pegged at 1:2 – two shares of ICICI Bank for every one share of Bank of Madura. The merger will create the largest private sector bank in the country. This provides ICICI Bank a direct access to the 1.2 million customers of Bank of Madura and its wide branch network. (Dec 12)

Production gains momentum....
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP), the benchmark indicator of the manufacturing and mining sector, has shown a 6.6 percent growth in October 2000, the highest in the current year. However, this is lower compared to 8.7 percent witnessed in the corresponding period of the last year. The performance of the manufacturing sector, which accounts for about 80 percent of the index, grew by 5.6 percent in October 2000. In light of this, the Central Statistical Organisation has revised the IIP estimates from 5.4 percent to 6.4 percent. (Dec 13)

Friendly auto policy on the anvil?
The draft auto policy 2000 has suggested an eight percent excise duty reduction on cars having engine capacity upto 1,500 cc. If the Cabinet passes this resolution, small cars are expected to get cheaper by Rs 20,000. The draft policy has also suggested a 16 percent uniform duty on construction of bodies. Besides, the policy has also provided for tax rebate in excise for money spent on research and development by auto companies. (Dec 14)

Optical expansion....
Sterlite Optical Technologies has planned to invest around US$ 300 million in setting up a greenfield project for optical fibres. The project, expected to have a capacity of 10 million-fibre kilometers will be set up in two equal phases at US$ 150 million each. The first phase is expected go on stream by fiscal year 2002. (Dec 15)

ITDC up for sale....
The Department of Disinvestment (DoD) has decided to invite bids for India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) to divest nine of its prime hotels. It has also been decided that three of these hotels would be leased out and the remaining three would be sold to strategic partners. ITDC owns 26 Ashok Group of hotels, with a total room capacity of 3,609 rooms. (Dec 9)

Forex rises....
The country’s foreign exchange reserves have crossed the US$ 39 billion mark, an all time high. The foreign exchange reserves increased by US$ 730 million to US$ 39 billion during December 2000. Foreign currency assets also increased by US$ 778 million to US$ 37 billion during the same period. (Dec 8)

ONGC explores....
The Oil and Natural Gas Organisation (ONGC) has proposed to invest US$ 640 million in the first phase of US$ 1.5 billion redevelopment plan of its Mumbai high oil fields. Undertaken jointly with British consultant Geffney Cline & Associates (GCA), the exercise is expected to improve oil recovery from the current rate of 28 percent to 40 percent. (Dec 14)

Cummins targets Rs 10 bn....
Cummins India, the Rs 8 billion engineering company, has planned to increase its focus on the construction business. Currently valued at Rs 100 million, the company has planned to increase this to Rs 3 billion over the next three years. It has also targeted Rs 10 billion by fiscal year 2001. (Dec 14)

Sterlite to bid for HZL....
Sterlite Industries, the optical fibre major, has submitted its interest for picking up 26 percent equity stake in Hindustan Zinc. The company has already increased its presence in the downstream aluminium sector with the acquisition of India Foils last year. It also has a 30,000 tonne aluminium smelter and recently has bid for 51 percent strategic stake in Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco). (Dec 15)

Tata Industries, a group holding company of the Tata Group, has decided to transfer its 100 percent holding in Tata Petrodyne, the group’s oil exploration arm, to Tata Power. Tata Power distributes power to Mumbai and has plans to distribution power when state run privatisation kicks off. (Dec 15)

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