Friday, August 29, 2008

TKMS Blohm + Voss Nordseewerke hand over the first 3,400 TEU series container ship

In a ceremony held on August 29, 2008, the CSAV RUNGUE - built by TKMS Blohm + Voss Nordseewerke in Emden - has been handed over to the Elsfleth-based shipping line MARTIME. The ship had been launched on May 9, 2008, and is the first of a series of 3,400 TEU container ships. 

The handing over ceremony took place on board the CSAV RUNGUE in the course of a tour with 400 invited guests and employees of the shipping line and the yard.

The CSAV RUNGUE has been ordered by GEBAB - headquartered in Meerbusch - and will be operated by the shipping line MARTIME in Elsfleth. Initially, the ship will be chartered for 60 months to the Chilenean shipping line Compañía SudAmericana de Vapores S.A. for worldwide operation.

With the 3,400 TEU container ship family TKMS Blohm + Voss Nordseewerke has developed another promising type of ship. At present, another eleven ships of this series are in the backlog with four of them being built at HDW-Gaarden in Kiel.

The container ship has been built in compliance with the rules and regulations of Germanischer Lloyd. The main characteristics are as follows: 
Length overall: approx. 228.50 m
Length between perpendiculars: 218.22 m
Moulded breadth: 32.22 m
Moulded depth: 18.55 m
Strength draft: 12.00 m
Design draft: 10.50 m
Deadweight (D=12.00 m): 42,600 t
Service speed: 23.25 kn
Container capacity: 3,426 TEU
Reefer connections: 500
Main engine: MAN/B&W 8K 80 MC-C 

13th National Symposium on Hydrology begins

The 13th National Symposium on Hydrology with focal theme on "Inflow Forecasting during Extremes”, began here today. The two day symposium is being jointly organized by National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Central Water Commission (CWC) Indian Institute of Technology,(IIT) Delhi under the sponsorship of the Indian National Committee on Hydrology (INCOH). 

In his inaugural address Shri A.K. Bajaj, Chairman, Central Water Commission (CWC) said that water is a renewable source, but its availability is limited. Hence, it is required to ensure adequate availability of water and food for the present and future generations. This poses a challenge to water resources policy makers, planners, scientists and engineers for concurrent maintenance of the water resources, environment and eco-system as well as catering to the increased demands of water. 

He said that one of the important technical inputs in this endeavor is assessment of inflows during extremes. The information is required for planning, development and management of water resources and related schemes. The operation of water resources systems during the floods as well as during the low flow seasons are important and challenging issue. Accurate forecasting of inflows results in judicious management of water availability, optimal operation of reservoirs and improved hydropower generation. Therefore, it becomes crucial to develop suitable inflow forecasting models for optimal water resources planning, development and management under hydrological extremes i.e. floods and droughts, he added. 

Models, amongst various tools and technologies, are being used to forecast inflows in order to improve reservoir system operations for water resources management activities. With more powerful and modern computing systems and tools, GIS and remote sensing techniques, radar and satellite imaging, hydrological models enable the water resources managers to move beyond the conventional techniques of inflow forecasting. The future scenario calls for more concerted efforts and focused research and its implementation on specific thrust areas. 

The main objective of this symposium is to discuss and improve knowledge on inflow forecasting. Other related areas of hydrology and water resources development and management will also be addressed. New techniques and methods of planning, development and management of water resources and the gaps between the developed advanced technologies and their field applications will be deliberated. 

Eminent delegates are presenting their pioneering and commendable research and development work in the area of hydrology and water resources in general and on inflow forecasting during extremes, in particular. Recommendations of this National Symposium would provide comprehensive guidelines for judicious planning, development and management of the water resources of our country.

Joint Media Statement at the Conclusion of Sixth Asean-India Consultaions

The Sixth Consultations between the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and India (6th AEM-India Consultations) was held in Singapore on 28 August 2008. The Consultations was co chaired by Mr. Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore and Mr. Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India. The annual consultations provided the opportunity for Ministers to exchange views on issues and developments affecting global and regional trade, particularly those that are significant to the bilateral trade between ASEAN and India. The Ministers noted that, despite the challenges prevailing in global and regional trade, ASEAN-India bilateral trade continues to grow at impressive rates. From 2005-2007, trade in goods between ASEAN and India increased at an average annual rate of 28 percent. ASEAN exports to India during the same period grew at an annual rate of 31 percent on average , the fastest among ASEAN’s exports to major trading partners. The share of ASEAN-India trade in relation to total ASEAN trade continued to increase and India remains ASEAN’s seventh largest trading partner. On the investment side, in 2007, India’s Foreign Direct Investment to ASEAN, valued at USD 641 million, was the highest ever recorded since 2000. The other Ministers who attended the meeting were Mr Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam; Mr. Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce, Cambodia; Mr Mari Elka Pangestu, Minister of Trade, Indonesia; Mr Nam Viyaketh, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Lao PDR; Mr Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia; Mr U Soe Tha, Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, Myanmar;Mr. Peter B. Favila, Secretary of Trade and Industry, the Philippines; Mr.Pichet Tanchareon, Deputy Minister of Commerce, Thailand; (representing Mr.Chaiya Sasomsub, Minister of Commerce, Thailand); Mr. Nguyen Cam Tu, Vice Minister, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam (representing Mr.Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam and Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN. 

The Ministers announced the conclusion of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA) negotiations for trade-in-goods. The Ministers were pleased that, despite the difficult issues in the negotiations, both sides were able to reach an agreement on the modality for tariff reduction and/or elimination, which is among the key elements that will facilitate the creation of an open market in a region comprising about 1.7 billion people and with a combined gross domestic product of approximately USD 2,381 billion as of 2007. The Ministers viewed that the AIFTA could be a major avenue in harnessing the region’s vast economic potentials towards sustained progress and improved welfare not only for ASEAN and India but for the greater East Asian region as well. The Ministers agreed that officials finalise the text of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement in time for signing during the ASEAN-India Summit in December 2008, together with the ASEAN-India Agreement on Dispute Settlement Mechanism. The Ministers agreed to target implementation of tariff reduction commitments starting 1 January 2009. The Ministers also instructed officials to commence, as soon as possible, negotiations on trade in services and investment as a single undertaking, and to work towards the conclusion of substantive discussions on these two agreements by 2009 to bring about a complete ASEAN-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. The Ministers also took stock of the latest developments in the Doha Round and emphasised that a stronger multilateral trading system would benefit all Members, especially the developing countries. Since the Doha Round is a Development Round, the developing countries have a special stake in its successful conclusion. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to active and constructive engagement in the negotiations to bring about balanced and ambitious outcomes in all areas, especially in agriculture, NAMA and services. The Ministers assured Lao PDR of their continued support in her accession to the WTO. 

The Economic Ministers of ASEAN, Australia, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand had a productive exchange of views on the areas of cooperation within the East Asia Summit (EAS) framework. The Ministers welcomed the establishment of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) with the Inaugural Governing Board Meeting of ERIA held at the ASEAN Secretariat on 3 June 2008. The Ministers also welcomed the research activities of ERIA and looked forward to ERIA’s practical policy recommendations for deepening economic integration, narrowing development gaps and sustainable development. In particular, the Ministers noted with appreciation the ERIA East Asia Industrial Corridor Project for the region-wide comprehensive development, affirming the importance of linking the infrastructure development and industrial development planning. The Ministers also expressed interests in the ERIA Energy Outlook which demonstrates the importance of enhancing energy efficiency for sustainable development. The Ministers agreed to report the outcome of ERIA’s activities to the EAS Leaders. 

The Ministers also discussed current regional and international policy issues such as the increase in the energy and foods prices and its impact on the region. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed Japan’s proposal to host the symposium on the energy and food security in cooperation with ERIA. The Ministers noted the report of the Track Two Study Group on Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA), which shows greater potential trade and GDP growth if enhanced integration among EAS members is achieved. Consistent with the request of Leaders, the Ministers agreed to convey the report to Leaders at the 4 th East Asia Summit (EAS). The Ministers also agreed to a Phase II Track II Study on CEPEA, detailing the pillars of economic cooperation, facilitation and liberalisation as well as institutional developments. The Ministers acknowledged that substantial progress was made during the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Mini-Ministerial in July and members came very close to agreement. However, there are still outstanding issues before modalities in Agriculture and Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA) can be resolved. The Ministers agreed that all economies must work together to preserve what has been achieved to date, and to show constructive and continued engagement to conclude the Round. The Ministers also agreed that a strong and equitable global rules-based trading system is necessary for continued growth. The Ministers also stressed the importance of concluding the round to achieve development objectives and to respond effectively to the global financial and food crisis. The Ministers committed to intensify efforts in the coming weeks to resume negotiations and achieve convergence in the remaining areas before the window of opportunities closes. The Ministers supported WTO DG Pascal Lamy’s efforts to bridge gaps among the key economies and his call on these economies to show political commitment and flexibility to work towards a balanced and ambitious outcome. The Ministers agreed that it is important to ensure the integrity of the multilateral trading system, and that work on the remaining areas of the single undertaking should resume in Geneva even as modalities in Agriculture and NAMA are being worked out.

Index Numbers of Wholesale Prices in India (Base: 1993-94=100) Review for the week ended 16th August 2008

The official Wholesale Price Index for 'All Commodities' (Base: 1993-94 = 100) for the week ended 16th August 2008 declined by 0.2 percent to 240.2 (Provisional) from 240.7 (Provisional) for the previous week. 

The annual rate of inflation, calculated on point to point basis, stood at 12.40 percent (Provisional) for the week ended 16/08/2008 (over 18/08/2007) as compared to 12.63 percent (Provisional) for the previous week. The annual rate of inflation stood at 3.99 percent as on 18/08/2007 i.e. a year ago. 

The movement of the index for the various commodity groups is summarized below:- 

1. PRIMARY ARTICLES (Weight 22.02%) 

The index for this major group remained unchanged at its previous week level 249.6 (Provisional). The groups and items for which the index showed variations during the week are as follows: - 

The index for 'Food Articles' group rose marginally to 238.8 (Provisional) from 238.7 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of moong (3%), condiments & spices (2%) and tea, masur and urad (1% each). However, the prices of mutton and maize (1% each) declined. 

The index for 'Non-Food Articles' group declined marginally to 245.2 (Provisional) from 245.3 (Provisional) for the previous week due to lower prices of gingelly seed (2%) and copra, raw silk and castor seed (1% each). However, the prices of raw rubber (2%) moved up. 

The index for 'Minerals' group declined by 0.3 percent to 646.7 (Provisional) from 648.4 (Provisional) for the previous week due to lower prices of fire clay (22%), asbestos and barytes (6% each). However, the prices of felspar (60%) and steatite (6%) moved up. 

The annual rate of inflation, calculated on point to point basis, for ‘Primary Articles’ stood at 11.63 percent (Provisional) for the week ended 16/08/2008. It was 8.70 percent as on 18/08/2007 i.e. a year ago. 

The annual rate of inflation for ‘Food Articles’ stood at 7.28 percent (Provisional) for the week ended 16/08/2008. It was 8.16 percent as on 18/08/2007 i.e. a year ago. 

2. FUEL, POWER, LIGHT & LUBRICANTS (Weight 14.23%) 

The index for this major group declined by 1.1 percent to 376.2 (Provisional) from 380.4 (Provisional) for the previous week due to lower prices of naphtha (9%) and furnace oil (6%). However, the prices of bitumen (2%) moved up. 


The index for this major group rose by 0.1 percent to 206.6 (Provisional) from 206.4 (Provisional) for the previous week. The groups and items for which the index showed variations during the week are as follows: - 

The index for 'Food Products' group rose by 0.2 percent to 212.5 (Provisional) from 212.0 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of sugar (4%) and khandsari (1%). However, the prices of imported edible oil and rice bran oil (3% each), oilcakes (2%) and groundnut oil, cotton seed oil and sunflower oil (1% each) declined. 

The index for 'Textiles' group rose by 0.3 percent to 144.2 (Provisional) from 143.8 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of other cotton yarn (6%), cotton grey cloth & canvas (4%) and hessian & sacking bags and hessian cloth (1% each). 

The index for 'Paper & Paper Products' group rose by 0.1 percent to 200.6 (Provisional) from 200.4 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of map litho paper (2%). 

The index for 'Chemicals & Chemical Products' group rose marginally to 222.0 (Provisional) from 221.9 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) (2%). However, the prices of p.v.c. resins (6%) declined. 

The index for 'Non-Metallic Mineral Products' group declined by 0.05 percent to 216.1 (Provisional) from 216.2 (Provisional) for the previous week due to marginal fall in the prices of cement. The index for 'Basic Metals, Alloys & Metal Products' group rose by 0.1 percent to 299.1 (Provisional) from 298.9 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of foundary pig iron, basic pig iron and ms bars & rounds (1% each). However, the prices of lead ingots (7%) and zinc ingots and other iron steel (1% each) declined. 

The index for 'Machinery & Machine Tools' group rose by 0.2 percent to 176.2 (Provisional) from 175.8 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of computer & computer based systems (17%) and electric motors (3%). 


For the week ended 21/06/2008, the final wholesale price index for 'All Commodities’ (Base: 1993-94=100) stood at 237.7 as compared to 237.1 (Provisional) and annual rate of inflation based on final index, calculated on point to point basis, stood at 11.91 percent as compared to 11.63 percent (Provisional) reported earlier vide press note dated 04/07/2008.

Sovereign rating by fitch ratings and JCRA rating agency

Japan Credit Rating Agency Ltd., has, after a review, on 19th August, 2008, affirmed the BBB+ ratings on the foreign currency and local currency long-term senior debts of India with stable outlook. The agency is of the view that in the medium to long term, the Indian economy has high potentiality to grow faster than 7% per year. The stability of the country’s financial system has been enhanced as the disposal of nonperforming loans progressed due in part to the revision of the related legislation. The Agency has opined that the country’s foreign liquidity position has been maintained at comparatively sound levels. JCRA points out that the planned increase in tax revenues will continuously hold the key to achieving the fiscal deficit target. The agency sees no immediate concern over India’s foreign currency liquidity position, given its lower debt service ratio and huge foreign exchange reserves which now rank fourth in the world. 

Earlier, Fitch Ratings agency, in a review of Sovereign rating of India, on 15th July, 2008, had also affirmed its previous rating for India at BBB minus on foreign currency and lock currency Issuer Default Rating, while revising the “outlook” on India’s long-term Local Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) from “stable” to “negative”. Thus, what the agency had done is only a revision in the outlook for India’s Local Currency. 

A rating outlook only indicates the direction a rating is likely to move over a one to two-year period. Outlooks may be positive, stable or negative. A positive or negative rating outlook does not imply that a rating change is inevitable.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gujarat Chamber invites Mr. Ratan Tata to set up ‘Nano’ car project in Gujarat

President of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry Shri Rupesh Shah has invited Mr. Ratan Tata to set up their mega project of ‘Nano car’ in Gujarat.  

“If you don’t invest in Gujarat, you are stupid”. Mr. Ratan Tata had stated in his address at Vibrant Gujarat’s Global Investors’ Summit in 2007. 

“Had the Nano project been in Gujarat, the company would have met the production schedule. But, in West Bengal, right from its inception, there has been stiff resistance and politicization leading to a stage wherein Mr. Tata has almost given an indication to shift the project elsewhere.” While quoting the statement, Mr. Shah explains. 

Mr. Shah while emphasizing further, states that Mr. Tata has the experience of Tata Chemicals in Gujarat right before him wherein his large investment in plant as well as township at Mithapur has come well without giving any problem whatsoever. Considering the same, Mr. Tata should think of Gujarat as project destination and Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry will extend all necessary help to see that project runs smoothly. Gujarat has beautiful economic climate for investment. We have internationally compatible infrastructural services and huge ports to facilitate large scale shipping of the cars. With implementation of Narmada project, there is ample water and electricity. The law and order situation is good for industrial peace. With increasing purchasing power of people at large, state of Gujarat also offers a potentially large domestic market. 

Moreover, there is adequate skilled labour force and friendly industry. With well developed Engineering SME sector, the state has inherent capacity to become a strong ancillary centre. The state administration is functioning constructively as development is seen as foundation of all inclusive growth. At such a crucial juncture, Mr. Tata has strong reasons to bring the project to Gujarat. Anticipating the uncertainties likely to continue in West Bengal, the state of Gujarat will surely be a happy experience. 

Mr. Rupesh Shah consolidates his invitation by stating that he will welcome Mr. Tata, not by a Red Carpet but spread Vibgyor carpet containing all the shades of a beautiful rainbow. 

Corporate India's M&A volume touches US$ 17.8 billion

According to a report by deal-tracking firm, Dealogic, Corporate India’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) volume has touched US$ 17.8 billion with ONGC Videsh's takeover of Imperial Energy Corp. After 2007, M&A volume of US$ 17.8 billion is the second highest year-to-date volume on record. M&A deals worth US$ 18.4 billion were announced in the same period last year. 

The average size of the deal also saw an increase of 6 per cent. Dealogic analyst, Kaushik Punjabi informed, “The average deal size was US$ 174 million till date in 2008, while for the full year of 2007, it stood at US$ 164 million." He added, "The acquisition of Imperial Energy Corp by ONGC Videsh for US$ 2.6 billion was the largest Indian outbound deal this year and the third largest Indian outbound deal on record." 

The UK was the most targeted country in 2008 year-to-date, accounting for deals worth US$ 6 billion, followed by the US with US$ 4.9 billion, and Spain with US$ 1.4 billion. 

A sector-wise analysis of overseas deals revealed that oil and gas was the most sought-after-industry by India Inc, accounting for deals worth US$ 3.2 billion, followed by metal and steel with US$ 2.6 billion. Auto and truck was the third most targeted industry.

SEZs expected to receive US$ 45.73 billion as investments by 2009

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are set to see major investments after the straightening out of certain regulatory tangles. According to India's commerce secretary, G K Pillai, India has approved 513 SEZs till date, of which 250 have been notified. Investments are expected to cross US$ 45.73 billion by December 2009, providing incremental employment to 800,000 people. 

During the last three months, investments in excess of US$ 3.65 billion in SEZs have been announced by various firms. Ansal Properties & Infrastructure Ltd will be investing around US$ 823.42 million for IT SEZs in three states. 

Tata Realty & Infrastructure is planning to invest more than US$ 686.05 million to build an IT SEZ, in a joint venture with the Tamil Nadu government. Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, in a tie-up with Maharashtra Industrial Development Corp (MIDC), will be investing about US$ 1.82 billion in SEZs in Maharashtra. State-run trading firm, MMTC Ltd, has invited bids to set up SEZs in various sectors. MIDC will be developing 22 SEZs in Maharashtra. After MIDC faced hurdles in land acquisition in the state, it has set up a dedicated cell to recompense and rehabilitate displaced landowners. A draft of regulatory amendments to aid investments has been planned including one to make sure that developers also gain from the scheme. 

Duty drawback credits, extended to exporters alone, will now be offered to developers as well. L B Singhal, Director General, Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZs, said that offshore banking units would also get exemption from complying with statutory liquidity ratio. 

Till date, around US$ 18.52 billion have been invested in SEZs, generating employment for around 350,000 people, as per statistics from the government's SEZ site. Last year, SEZs generated about US$ 15.23 billion in exports, a 92 per cent rise from the previous year. India's total exports during the period grew by 23 per cent to US$ 155.5 billion. 

Commerce secretary, G K Pillai, has assured, "The Ministry of Commerce is very clear. No land can be forcibly acquired for SEZs." Sachin Saxena, operations director, OLS, Nokia India, said, "Whatever you do in India there are bottlenecks - whether you start an SEZ, airport or an airline, anything. We have absolutely no issue on that." Nokia India was among the first global firms to develop an SEZ in India. 

Nirav Mody of JB SEZ, also the Vice President of strategic marketing and business development of JB Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. said, "There are ambiguities in the regulations, but they are no major show stoppers." 

Singhal further added, "The project looks good on paper. We hope to get some decent returns on it." "After Nokia, Motorola has come. Adidas and Nike have come. There is tremendous interest.

Mechel Announces Commissioning Of Gas Cleaning System at Its Otelu Rosu Facility in Romania

Otelu Rosu, Romania – August 27, 2008 – Mechel OAO (NYSE: MTL), one of the leading Russian mining and metals companies, announces it is launching a gas cleaning system in the arc furnace shop of its Otelu Rosu facility at Ductil Steel, a Romanian company acquired by Mechel in April 2008.

Commissioning of the gas cleaning system was timed with the celebration of Metallurgist Day in Romania and represents one more step in implementing the equipment modernization program at Mechel’s Romanian facilities. Ensuring a safe environment at the facilities is one of the priorities of the program.

The gas cleaning system has been supplied by Italian-based Tecoaer Company, and meets the highest demands on machinery and technologies. The total amount of investments into the project is €12 million ($17.5 million).

The equipment capacity totals 2,000,000 cubic meters per hour. Operation of the new system will reduce dust emissions into the air to 5 mg per cubic meter, well below the maximum dust emission of 10 mg per cubic meter allowed under European standards.

Furthermore, the gas cleaning system contains automation equipment and devices for transportation of retained dust. The contract also covers services for basic engineering, installation supervision and technical support. Other Romanian companies that participated in this project included ICSH Hunedoara and Mechel Proiectare Bucuresti, each of which provided design, installation and other services.

Deployment of the new gas cleaning system will improve working conditions for Otelu Rosu employees and decrease environmental impact. Ensuring a safe environment and improved working conditions at production sites is one of the primary goals for implementing technical renovation projects in all of Mechel’s facilities. Similar equipment installations have already been instituted at some of the Company's other subsidiaries, including: Mechel Targoviste (Romania) and the Bratsk and Tikhvin Ferroalloy plants.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New data show 1.4 billion live on less than $1.25 a day, but progress against poverty remains strong

WASHINGTON, DC, August 26, 2008 - The World Bank said improved economic estimates showed there were more poor people around the world than previously thought while also revealing big successes in the fight to overcome extreme poverty.

The new estimates, which reflect improvements in internationally comparable price data, offer a much more accurate picture of the cost of living in developing countries and set a new poverty line of US$1.25 a day. They are based on the results of the 2005 International Comparison Program (ICP), released earlier this year.

In a new paper, "The developing world is poorer than we thought but no less successful in the fight against poverty," Martin Ravallion and Shaohua Chen revise estimates of poverty since 1981, finding that 1.4 billion people (one in four) in the developing world were living below US$1.25 a day in 2005, down from 1.9 billion (one in two) in 1981.

An earlier estimate-of 985 million people living below the former international US$1 a day poverty line in 2004-was based on the (then) best available cost of living data from 1993. The old data also indicated only about 1.5 billion in poverty in 1981. However, the new and far better ICP data on prices in developing countries reveal that these estimates were too low. The new estimates continue to assess world poverty by the standards of the poorest countries. The new line of US$1.25 for 2005 is the average national poverty line for the poorest 10-20 countries.

"The new estimates are a major advance in poverty measurement because they are based on far better price data for assuring that the poverty lines are comparable across countries," said Martin Ravallion, Director of the Development Research Group at the World Bank, " Data from household surveys have also improved in terms of country coverage, data access, and timeliness."

"The new data confirm that the world will likely reach the first Millennium Development Goal of halving the 1990 level of poverty by 2015 and that poverty has fallen by about one percentage point a year since 1981," said Justin Lin, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Development Economics at the World Bank. "However, the sobering news that poverty is more pervasive than we thought means we must redouble our efforts, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa."

The new data show that marked regional differences in progress against poverty persist. Poverty in East Asia has fallen from nearly 80 percent of the population living below US$1.25 a day in 1981 to 18 percent in 2005. However, the poverty rate in Sub-Saharan Africa remains at 50 percent in 2005-no lower than in 1981, although with more encouraging recent signs of progress.


This is the first major effort to update poverty data based on 2005 measures of purchasing power parity. The new poverty estimates are also based on data from 675 household surveys across 116 developing countries. Over 1.2 million randomly sampled households were interviewed for the 2005 estimate, representing 96% of the developing world. But lags in survey data availability mean that the new estimates do not yet reflect the potentially large adverse effects on poor people of rising food and fuel prices since 2005.

Poverty has fallen by 500 million since 1981 (from 52 percent of the developing world's population in 1981 to 26 percent in 2005) and the world is still on track to halve the 1990 poverty rate by 2015. But at this rate of progress, about a billion people will still live below $1.25 a day in 2015. Also, most people who escaped $1.25 a day poverty over 1981-2005 would still be poor by middle-income country standards.

East Asia's progress has been dramatic since 1981, when it was the poorest region in the world. In China, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day in 2005 prices has dropped from 835 million in 1981 to 207 million in 2005. The Bank's earlier 2004 estimate had 130 million people living in China below a dollar a day based on 1993 PPP. Thus, the new calculations reveal more poor people than assumed earlier, but China's remarkable success in reducing poverty still stands.

In the developing world outside China, the $1.25 poverty rate has fallen from 40 percent to 29 percent over 1981-2005. However, given population growth, this progress was not enough to bring down the total number of poor outside China, which has stayed at about 1.2 billion.

In South Asia, the $1.25 poverty rate has fallen from 60 percent to 40 percent over 1981-2005, but again, not enough to bring down the total number of poor people in the region, which stood at about 600 million in 2005. In India, poverty at $1.25 a day in 2005 prices increased from 420 million people in 1981 to 455 million in 2005, while the poverty rate as a share of the total population went from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the $1.25 a day rate was 50 percent in 2005-the same as it was in 1981, after rising, then falling during the period. The number of poor has almost doubled, from 200 million in 1981 to about 380 million in 2005. If the trend persists, a third of the world's poor will live in Africa by 2015. Average consumption among poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa stood at a meager 70 cents a day in 2005. Poverty is less responsive to growth in Africa than other regions. Higher growth-without rising inequality-is needed to keep pace with other regions.

For middle income countries the median poverty line for all developing countries-$2 a day-is more suitable. 2.6 billion people lived on less than $2 a day in 2005-a number largely unchanged since 1981. This suggests less progress in crossing the $2 a day hurdle. By this measure, the poverty rate has fallen over 1981-2005 in Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa, but not enough to bring down the total number of poor. The poverty rate has risen in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, though with signs of progress since the late 1990s.

‘BioGraft’ Synthetic Bone Graft Products now available in India

Kolkata, 27th August 2008 - IFGL Refractories Limited (IFGL) has set up facilities for manufacture of Dental Bone Graft Granules and Blocks at their Unit situated near Rourkela. These products are marketed by IFGL Bio Ceramics Ltd. (IBL). Two varieties like Dental Bone Graft Granules i.e. Hydroxyapatite (Bio Graft – HA) & Beta – tri calcium phosphate (BioGraft – HT) are manufactured and are available in the market under brand name ‘BioGraft®’. These are synthetic hydroxyapatite and hydroxyapatite beta tri calcium phosphate based bone graft material, which are both bio compatible and bio active. The porous and crystalline structure provides osteoconductivity and resorbability. It provides an obsteoconductivity scaffold in the bone regenerative process. Indian Patents’ application has also been filed (842 DEL 2008) for the BioGraft dental granules.

IFGL also produces Dental Bone Graft blocks based on synthetic hydroxyapatite phases, which are available in different sizes. 

BioGraft Dental Bone Granules and Blocks, having both ISO 9001:2000 and CE Certifications (CE 1023) are ideal for use by registered Periodontists, Dental Surgeons and Maxillofacial Surgeons for following application areas -

 (a) Periodontal bony defects 

(b) Oral and maxillofacial surgeries. 

 The specific application areas are: -

Filling of post extraction dental socket 
Alveolar Ridge augmentation 
Treatment of periodontal defects 
Sinus Floor elevations 
Alveolar ridge preservation 
Filling bony void defects 
Root amputation defects 
Treatment for ridge reconstruction 
Formation of hard tissue base for future dental implant 
Surgical reconstruction in oral and maxillofacial surgeries 
Treatment of defect following endodontic surgeries
IFGL’s modern and updated facility for bio ceramic products has been set up with the technical tie-up with Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute, Kolkata, under the leadership of well known Scientist, Dr. G Banerjee. Major Hospitals and leading Periodontists and Maxillofacial Surgeons are regularly using BioGraft Granules and Blocks manufactured by IFGL.

Rio Tinto board appointment

The boards of Rio Tinto plc and Rio Tinto Limited are pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Jan du Plessis as a non-executive director with effect from 1 September 2008. 

Jan du Plessis is currently chairman of the board of British American Tobacco plc as well as a non-executive director of Lloyds TSB Group plc. Jan joins the Audit Committee.

Commenting on the appointment, Paul Skinner, chairman, said, “I am very pleased to welcome Jan to the Rio Tinto boards. His appointment brings additional financial expertise to the boards and a broad experience of major global businesses, particularly in Africa.”

Jan du Plessis, aged 54, was appointed chairman of the Board of British American Tobacco plc in July 2004, having been a non-executive director since his appointment to that company's board in 1999. He is also a non-executive director and chairman of the Audit Committee of Lloyds TSB Group plc. He was previously Group Finance Director of Richemont and chairman of RHM plc. Jan has degrees in Commerce and Law from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and is a South African Chartered Accountant.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Record results underline strong earnings and performance momentum

Record underlying EBITDA* of $11,408 million, 73 per cent above first half 2007. 
Record underlying earnings* of $5,474 million, 55 per cent above first half 2007. 
Record net earnings* of $6,914 million, 113 per cent above first half 2007. 
Cash flow from operations up 54 per cent to a record of $8,860 million , a run rate of approximately $1.5 billion of cash flow per month. 
Half year production records achieved in iron ore, bauxite, alumina, aluminium, borates, titanium dioxide and thermal coal (on a like for like basis).
Record capital expenditure of $3.7 billion, 91 per cent higher than first half 2007, on investments in value adding growth projects. 
New capital commitments of over $6 billion (100 per cent basis) announced during the year, including substantial expansions of iron ore operations in Australia, Brazil and Canada. 
Rio Tinto Alcan integration is making good progress, and remains on track to deliver $1.1 billion of after tax synergies from the end of 2009. 
Interim dividend increased 31 per cent to 68 US cents, with a continued commitment to increase the total 2008 and 2009 dividends by at least 20 per cent in each year. 
The divestment programme made good progress with $3 billion of sales announced to date. The Group remains on track to announce $10 billion of divestments in 2008.

Monday, August 25, 2008

FDI in Q1 FY 2009 surpasses overall inflows in 2005-06

New Delhi: In its August report, the Reserve Bank of India has stated that foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first quarter of FY 2009 has already surpassed the overall FDI inflow received in fiscal year 2005-06. FDI inflows during April-June 2008 touched US$ 10.07 billion, almost a billion more than the total FDI inflows (US$ 8.96 billion) in the 2005-06 period. 

Furthermore, India is set to exceed the FDI target of US$ 35 billion during 2008-09. According to a senior official in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), "The country will achieve about US$ 35-40 billion in the current fiscal. The first quarter has crossed US$ 10 billion. Last year, it was US$ 24 billion for the entire fiscal." 

Till 2005-06, India's FDI inflow was less than US$ 10 billion annually. It went up to US$ 22 billion in 2006-07 and US$ 32 billion in 2007-08. In the past decade, China has received around US$ 50 billion annually as FDI inflows. If the trend seen in the first quarter is sustained, India is likely to cross the US$ 40 billion mark in FDI inflow for the first time. 

Mauritius was the top investing country in India during 2007-08, with inflows amounting to US$ 1.6 billion against US$ 578 million in 2006-07. The sectors that attracted the maximum FDI inflows during 2007-08 were services, telecom, housing, construction activities, real estate, electrical equipment and computer software and hardware. (IBEF)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Indian shipping yards gain big on soaring order

With leading shipyards in Korea, China and Japan booked till 2012-13, the Indian shipbuilding industry has witnessed an over 290 per cent surge in orders in the last 18 months. 

The industry's order book has risen from 0.84 million gross tonnage in 2006 to 3.3 million gross tonnage, taking it to the eighth rank in the world (it was not in the top 20 at the start of the 18-month period) in terms of the order size. 

Experts say with Korea, the market leader with an order size of 134 million gross tonnage, booked till 2013, and Japanese shipyards, with an order size of 74 million gross tonnage, booked till 2013-14, Indian shipyards are getting huge orders for bulk carriers and offshore vessels. Indian shipbuilders' order books are full till 2012. 

"A surge in demand for oil and increased exploration planned by oil companies has generated a huge demand for offshore support vessels," said Dhananjay Dattar, chief financial officer, ABG Shipyard. He added the ageing fleet of crude oil carriers was also behind the rise in demand. 

International Maritime Organisation (IMO) stipulates that all vessels more than 20 years old have to be replaced while all single-hull vessels have to be replaced by double-hull vessels by 2010. 

The new demand for offshore vessels till 2012 is estimated to be 6.3 per cent of the current fleet size of 3.95 million dead weight tonnes (DWT) while the replacement demand on account of the IMO regulations is pegged at 61.8 per cent of the current fleet size. 

A senior executive with Bharati Shipyard, said: "We continue to look at the offshore vessels segment as the most prospective area. Around 70 per cent of our order size is accounted for by offshore vessels and we are planning to invest Rs 1,000-1,200 crore over the next two to three years." 

Increase in commodity trade and strong demand for iron ore from China has resulted in a rise in demand for dry-bulk vessels. The new demand for dry-bulk vessels is pegged at 6.8 per cent while the replacement demand is estimated at 10 per cent of the current fleet size. 

But there are others who are more cautious. M Jitendran, chairman and MD, Cochin Shipyard, said: "We cannot expect the same level of growth that we have seen in last two years. Still, with growing international trade and commerce and higher charter rates, the momentum in the shipping industry will continue for some more time". (IBEF - BS)

India, China to be key engines for global growth

IBEF: August 22, 2008  
New Delhi: According to The Asia Pacific Capital Markets Guide, a report by audit and consultancy firm Grant Thornton, India and China, as two of the fastest growing economies in the Asia Pacific region, will be the key engines for global growth in the coming century. 

"India and China will fuel world growth in the coming century. As the economies and markets in the region have deregulated, the opportunities for entrepreneurs and established businesses have grown exponentially," the firm said. 

The report says that the two countries would alter the balance of world capital flows as they would generate demand for capital and also provide investment funds to fulfill it. India would draw level with the US by 2050 and the Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as a group would better the G7 by 2032. 

Grant Thornton's partner Harish said, "India's forecast is to be the fastest growing IPO market in the first half of 2008 in the Asia Pacific region. Yet India appears to be at a relatively early stage of development which suggests that there remains substantial, perhaps enormous potential to be tapped." 

The report further added, "A 9 per cent increase in GDP for the second consecutive year, together with unprecedented levels of foreign direct and institutional investment, helped the benchmark stock exchange indices to reach record highs." 

More than 100 Indian companies are listed on different international stock exchanges, including New York, NASDAQ, London, Luxembourg, Dubai and Singapore. The Bombay Stock Exchange has the highest number of listed companies in the region, and its overall market capitalisation in 2007 was in excess of US$ 1 trillion for the first time. About 106 companies raised funds totaling US$ 11 billion in 2007, against US$ 7 billion in 2006, making India the seventh largest market in the world in terms of funds raised. (IBEF)


Welspun Gujarat plans Rs 1,000-cr capacity hike

Mumbai: Welspun Gujarat Stahl Rohren, one of the largest steel pipe makers in India, has decided to increase the capacity of its pipe plant by 75% to 1.75 million tonnes to meet growing demand for oil pipelines. 

The expansion is estimated to cost the company Rs 1,100 crore, which will be funded through a mixture of debt and internal accruals, company president Akhil Jindal told ET. "About Rs 800 crore will be through debt, while the rest will come from our accruals," he said adding that their borrowing cost has been pegged at about 10%. 

Prices of line pipes have grown sharply over the past year to $1,900 per tonne, from the previous $1,600. Even the rates of steel plates, which the company recently started producing, has gone up to $1,600 per tonne from $1,300 over the past year. "Our current order book, which is worth Rs 7,700 crore, has been decided on previous steel prices. So, our current order book will not be affected this year," said Mr Jindal. 

The company expects to temporarily shut its plate production in October-November for 15-20 days to start production of coils. 

Welspun Gujarat had invested Rs 1,600 crore last year for a plate and power plant, of which Rs 1,250 crore was taken as debt at 9%, while Rs 450 crore came via equity. "We will break-even in plate and coil production by the end of the current fiscal year," Mr Jindal said. 

The company will export 40% of its plates to Europe due to growing construction demand, while the rest would be used for internal purposes. Out of the total capacity of plate and coil production in Anjar, Gujarat, 80% will be used for plates and 20% will be used for coils. 


EAGAN, Minn. – (August 22, 2008) – Northwest Airlines (NYSE: NWA) announced today it has teamed with Budget Rent A Car to offer WorldPerks® members more opportunities to earn WorldPerks miles on car rentals. Budget is joined by, Travelling Connect, LifeLock and Thanks Againsm in becoming a WorldPerks Mileage Partner.

Budget Rent A Car

Through September 30, 2008, WorldPerks members can earn 1,500 Bonus Miles on rentals of three consecutive days or more. Members will also save up to 20% when booking a car at participating Budget airport locations in the U.S. and Canada.

WorldPerks members will earn 50 WorldPerks miles per day on eligible rentals of one to four days or 500 miles on eligible rentals of five days or more. Members must provide their WorldPerks number and coupon code at time of reservation or check-in to have miles credited to their WorldPerks account.

“Budget Rent A Car is the latest rental company to offer WorldPerks members an opportunity to earn Bonus Miles even faster,” said Bob Soukup, managing director of WorldPerks marketing. “We’re happy to have them as a WorldPerks partner.”

More Deals in Full Bloom

WorldPerks members purchasing flowers through will earn 15 miles per dollar spent plus 150 Bonus Miles as a special introductory offer. Members need to include code NWA2 with their order.

Following the introductory offer, members will earn 10 miles per dollar spent and 150 Bonus Miles.

Getting Connected

WorldPerks members can earn even more miles when traveling abroad and making mobile phone calls on selected networks in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa with Travelling Connect. Members earn up to seven miles per minute on calls, with more earning potential for incoming calls and texting in select markets.

Travelling Connect is one of the leading global providers of mobile communication with service in 17 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The service is free of charge and available irrespective of your home provider in the list of countries.


LifeLock® is offering WorldPerks members up to 1,500 Bonus Miles and a 10% savings when members enrol in LifeLock’s identity theft protection services. 

Thanks Again

Another WorldPerks partner, Thanks Again, rewards WorldPerks members that enrol in the program with one mile per dollar spent. Miles can be earned at participating merchants in their local area such as golf courses, dry cleaning and more.

More than 70 different businesses offer WorldPerks members the opportunity to earn WorldPerks miles, doing business with companies they do business with every day. Mileage Partners encompass car rental, hotel, financial services, dining and retail, energy and dry cleaning.


EAGAN, Minn. – (August 25, 2008) Northwest Airlines (NYSE: NWA) is pleased to sponsor the carbon offsets of the delegations from its hub states Tennessee, Michigan and Minnesota as a part of the “Green Delegate Challenge” -- a program that encourages delegations to commit to offsetting the carbon footprint they attain from traveling to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo.

The three Northwest Airline hub states join others in meeting the carbon offset challenge by offsetting their air travel, ground transportation and hotel stays which are estimated to total 450 tons of carbon, or an average of one ton per delegate. 

“We are pleased to offset the carbon footprint for delegates’ travel from our hubs to the Democratic National Convention through our EarthCares program,” said Doug Steenland, Northwest Airlines’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “This is another way Northwest Airlines is positively impacting the environment through our corporate social responsibility programs.”

The carbon offset formula was developed by the Democratic National Convention and its partner, Native Energy. The delegations from each state will be formally recognized at the Democratic National Convention for meeting the challenge and will offset their carbon through selected community-based clean energy projects. 
Northwest Airlines is one of the world’s largest airlines with hubs at Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, Tokyo and Amsterdam. Northwest, with its regional partners, operate approximately 2,400 daily departures. Northwest is a member of SkyTeam, an airline alliance that offers customers one of the world’s most extensive global networks. Northwest and its travel partners serve more than 1,000 cities in excess of 160 countries on six continents. 

Economic Times News on Gujarat NRE Australian Operations Unfounded – no hurdles to coal mining in Australia

Kolkata dt. 22nd August, 2008 : Gujarat NRE Minerals does operate two underground coal mines in the Southern Coalfields of New South Wales. There exist very strict guidelines and operating conditions for mining in this region, and any other region of Australia for all coal mines. Detailed approvals must be obtained from the government prior to mining, and ongoing analysis and studies of impacts are monitored during mining. Gujarat NRE takes very seriously it’s responsibilities and in all instances meets it’s obligations in this regard. The matter of the case is that mining in the Southern Coalfields, wherein Gujarat NRE mine leases are located, have been practiced within the land managed by the Sydney Catchment Authority for over 100 years and is continuing even now by various companies, including BHP Billton, Xstrata, Peabody and Gujarat NRE, who are owning and operating coal mines in the region. The operations have been without adversely affecting the water supply to Sydney.  

A recent study undertaken by the New South Wales government reviewing the concerns about the impacts of mining has just been conducted. The study was entitled the “Impacts of Underground Mining on Natural Features in the Southern Coalfield”, the findings of which were released in July 2008. This very comprehensive study took submission from all stakeholders, including environmental groups. In the report it was stated “that no evidence was presented to the Panel to support the view that subsidence impacts on rivers and significant stream, valley infill or headland swamps, or shallow or deep aquifers have resulted in any measurable reduction in runoff to the water supply system operated by the Sydney Catchment Authority or to otherwise represent a threat to the water supply of Sydney…   ”. Thus the apprehension indicated by the news is not well founded and has been published in a careless manner without seeking any clarification from the company.

Gujarat NRE Minerals has existing government approvals to operate both its coking coal mines in the southern coalfields of the New South Wales.  The company is undertaking all the necessary studies and meeting with other requirements in preparation of its development applications for both its coal mines in full compliance of the recent changes in NSW Planning legislation and is confident of obtaining ongoing approvals from the state government for all its mining operations.  Coal mining provides jobs in the community and royalties and taxes for the Government and as such, the coal mining industry is fully regulated and well supported by the Government. Gujarat NRE is happy to acknowledge the overwhelming support it has received from the local community as well as all departments of the NSW Government in its endeavour to expand its coal mining operations. The chairman Mr Arun Kumar Jagatramka was recently bestowed with the title of Sydney Ambassador to India by the NSW Govt. in recognition of Gujarat NRE’s contribution in NSW.

ArcelorMittal acquires Brazilian iron ore miner, London Mining Brasil and acquires Brazilian port facility through partnership with Adriana Resources

Luxembourg,August 2008 - ArcelorMittal, the world's leading steel company, today announces that it has agreed to acquire 100% of the issued share capital of London Mining South America Limited ("London Mining Brasil") from Oslo listed London Mining plc ("London Mining") for approximately US$764 million. The transaction also includes the assignment of inter-group loans from London Mining of approximately US$46 million. The total consideration payable to London Mining will amount to approximately US$810 million.

London Mining Brasil is an iron ore miner located in the Iron Quadrangle in the state of Minas Gerais approximately 65 kilometres from the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Its principal activities are focused on the exploration, development and production of iron ore resources in the region.

London Mining Brasil's Central, Eastern and Western Claims contain an estimated 1,059 million tonnes of measured, indicated and inferred iron ore resources. The iron ore from the London Mining Brasil mine has an average Fe grade of 38.0% and contained Fe of 402.6 million tonnes under Brazilian Reporting Standards.  

London Mining Brasil is currently in the process of expanding its production of iron ore concentrate and lump ore from 1.4Mtpa to 3.2Mtpa in 2009 due to the operation of a recently commissioned sinter feed plant. Subject to further technical analyses, ArcelorMittal will consider investing up to US$700 million to increase production in the medium term to in excess of 10Mtpa. 

ArcelorMittal has also reached an agreement (subject to contract) with Canadian based Adriana Resources Inc. ("Adriana") for the development of an iron ore port facility in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (the "Port"). The Port is located in the Third District of the City of Mangaratiba and will be constructed on land acquired by Adriana in January 2008. ArcelorMittal intends to use its share of the port's capacity to export iron ore from the London Mining Brasil mine to its steel facilities in the Atlantic basin.

ArcelorMittal's agreement with Adriana includes the following elements: 

Through a series of transactions, ArcelorMittal will acquire 80% of the Port for total consideration of approximately US$40.5 million with Adriana holding the remaining 20%; 
ArcelorMittal has agreed to acquire up to 19.9% of Adriana's common shares in two private placements and will also be granted a seat on Adriana's Board of Directors; 
The parties will each fund their pro rata portion of the Port development costs estimated to total approximately US$250 million for the first 10Mtpa of capacity; and 
The parties will share in the capacity of the Port in proportion to their ownership. 
Commenting, Aditya Mittal, Chief Financial Officer and Member of ArcelorMittal's Group Management Board said:
"This is another important investment in the dynamic Brazilian market. The acquisition of London Mining Brasil along with our investment in MPP - Mineração Pirâmide Participações Ltda ensures that our iron ore base is further diversified in the face of tighter supply for raw materials. In addition, the planned port facility at Sepetiba Bay in Brazil is the ideal captive solution to deliver access to the export market for ore from the Iron Quadrangle region."

The above transactions are subject to receipt of the necessary approvals.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blue Star Infotech implements E-Governance system for Government of Maharashtra

 Blue Star Infotech has successfully implemented a Decision Support System for Government of Maharashtra’s Directorate of Economics and Statistics (DES).

The system was officially launched by Shri Jayant Patil, Finance and Planning Minister of Maharashtra on August 20, 2008 at Mantralaya in Mumbai.

 Blue Star Infotech, in conjunction with SAS, HP and Oracle, built and commissioned the entire system in a record timeframe of 8 calendar months – this is the first e-governance project in the state to be executed and implemented within contracted time frames. The system is expected to provide critical information to assist in better planning of the progress of the state.

 The Directorate of Economics and Statistics (DES) provides technical guidance and advice to the State Government on economic and statistical matters. Part of the US$600M Blue Star Group, Blue Star Infotech is headquartered in Mumbai, India, with operations in India, USA, Japan and UK. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

BlueScope Steel Announces Strong Full Year Results

At its annual results presentation in Sydney today, BlueScope Steel announced a reported Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) for FY08 of $596 million and underlying NPAT of $816 million (an increase of 27%). This result delivers underlying earnings per share of $1.10 and is slightly better than the guidance provided as part of the market update on the 12th May.

Managing Director and CEO Paul O'Malley said: "This result was driven by strong global demand and improved spreads, particularly in export markets where higher global steel prices offset rising raw material costs.

Commenting on the underlying business performance during FY08, Mr O'Malley said: "A better than expected performance from the acquisitions made during FY 2008, namely Smorgon Steel's Distribution business and IMSA Steel Corp North America also contributed positively to the result.

"Performance was further boosted by sales growth in the Coated and Building Products businesses across all regions in Asia and North America. However, these were partly offset by reduced spread for North Star BlueScope Steel and a strengthening AUD."

Turning to the current outlook, Mr O'Malley said: "We expect a strong 1H FY09, having already had a good start to FY09, mainly driven by continued strong global steel demand and prices.

"Our Asian businesses, particularly Thailand, where economic conditions continue to improve, are producing consistent results. Our North American Coated and Building Products businesses are performing at the solid levels at which they finished FY08, despite the uncertainty that currently exists within the US economy. We are excited by the opportunities in the North American market provided by our increasing capability and product offering resulting from the IMSA Steel Corp acquisition.

"We are now the leading global steel pre-engineered buildings manufacturer supplying predominantly to commercial and industrial markets.

"As previously announced, during the second half of FY09 we will undertake the No 5 Blast Furnace Reline and sinter plant upgrade project. Detailed project planning for the approximate 105 day reline period (March to June 2009) is in place. On a longer term basis, these projects will deliver both cost and volume benefits.

"We will provide further guidance on first half FY09 performance during the November AGM.

"The BlueScope Steel Board of Directors declared a final ordinary dividend fully franked of 27 cents per share an increase of 1 cent on last years' final dividend. This brings the total dividend for FY2008 to 49 cents per share, a 4% increase on the year prior."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

D-Link to launch ‘Made in India’ Videophone

Mumbai, D-Link (India) Ltd. announced the launch of I.P. Videophone GVC-3000. The GVC-3000 is a fully featured Videophone with a built in LCD screen. It is a stand-alone device not requiring a computer, television or high bandwidth. It uses advanced video compression technology and maximizes the image and audio quality within the available bandwidth. It is ideally suited for business due to features such as Conferencing and Integration with any standard SIP IPPBX.

D-Link Videophone marks a major breakthrough for D-Link India’s R&D efforts, which the company initiated by setting up a state-of-the-art R&D centre in Bangalore and has been working on VoIP and Convergence technology. Having already deployed IPPBX, Gateways & IP Phones earlier; two teams of 15 Engineers worked for more than two years (nearly 45,000 man hours) to design and develop the GVC-3000 Video Phone & GLV-540 IP Phone. 

D-Link is simultaneously also launching its Mid-Range IP Phone - GLV-540 which includes many high-end features like the latest wideband codec for superior voice quality.

D-Link’s videophone incorporates cutting edge technology and is compliant with all international standards and network specifications. The product has been manufactured entirely in India at the Goa Plant, which again constitutes significant achievement since most such products are either assembled or imported. 

This is a significant achievement from Software and Hardware perspective right from conception, designing, developing and manufacturing entirely in India. D-Link videophone constitutes a significant breakthrough for an Indian company and the Indian hardware industry.

 The IP Phone/ Video Phone are extremely simple to use - it just needs to be plugged into one’s network or broadband connection and is ready to use. Being a true celebration to D-Link’s Investment in Technology and its great achievement, the ‘Made in India’ Videophone will be launched on Independence Day to rejoice it with the spirit of freedom.

Speaking to newsmen at a briefing organized at the corporate headquarters, Mr. K.R. Naik, Executive Chairman, D-Link (India) Ltd. said “This is a proud moment for Indian R&D and the Indian hardware industry. D-Link India started operation with a small Manufacturing unit in 1995 and a R&D Centre in 2001. Our commitment to development of new generation products has finally been able to bear fruits of success. We started working on VoIP technology about 3 years back, after developing IPPBX, IP Phones & Gateways, today our gifted technical minds have been able to design and develop a truly world class Video Phone, which will be made available at a very competitive price. The product incorporates cutting edge technology and I’m sure it will be well accepted both in India as well as in global markets.” 

Mr. Jangoo Dalal, Managing Director & CEO, D-Link (India) Ltd. said “Video telephony is set to revolutionize communications and this product will enable us to get a head start in the market that offers exciting opportunities. Our new videophone integrates with I.P. Phone and IPPBX for medium businesses and would serve as a cost effective communication solutions supporting both voice and video. Designed for ease of use and manageability, we expect this product to be a big winner.” 

SCI signs Shipbuilding Contracts with STX Shipyard for acquisition of 4 Nos. Panamax Bulk Carriers

The Shipping Corporation of India Ltd. (SCI) continues its vessel acquisition spree with orders for 4 Panamax Bulk Carriers placed on 13th August, 2008 with STX Shipyard. SCI has selected STX shipyard for building these vessels through global tendering process. SCI also has 6 LR-I size Product tankers and 6 Handymax Bulk carriers on order at STX shipyard and the current order shows the commitment of the two organizations to work for mutual prosperity. The vessels would be built at the shipyard’s state of the art shipbuilding facility at Dalian in China.

These vessels would be of higher capacity in the Panamax size range with 80,655 DWT each compared to the conventional Panamax vessels of 75,000 dwt, enabling the company to carry more cargo per voyage. In the bulk carrier market, these larger Panamax bulk carriers are also referred to as “Kamsarmax”. The name “Kamsarmax” is derived from the world’s largest bauxite loading port of Kamsar in Equatorial Guinea. 

SCI presently has 20 bulk carriers in its fleet out of which some vessels would be due for scrapping soon. The vessels ordered now would be delivered to SCI during 2012 and would thus enable SCI to partly replace some of the vintage handymax bulk carrier tonnage and enhance SCI exposure in the larger segment of Panamax trade.

The dry bulk transportation market has been passing through a boom phase with freight rates peaking to unprecedented levels in history of shipping. China and India are the major drivers of the growth in this trade. Fundamentals of these economies are very strong and outlook for dry bulk trade remains positive. SCI would be able to cater to this growing trade with the new vessels upon delivery. SCI has further plans to augment its bulk carrier fleet by ordering Capesize bulk carriers in the near future. This move would further strengthen its position as a dominant player in the Indian shipping sector and also help the company to emerge as a strong player in the bulk segment. 

SCI has embarked upon a major fleet acquisition plan and with signing of this contract, has 32 vessels of 1.44 million GT on order. This include all types of vessels, i.e. crude oil carriers including 2 VLCCs, product tankers, dry bulk carriers, cellular container vessels and offshore supply vessels. Total investment for these projects would be over US $ 1.8 billion (about Rs. 7,900 Crores). SCI has further plans to place order for another 42 vessels in the next 3-4 years and some projects are already in pipeline.


Orchid to develop Novel Anticoagulant Drug Candidate from Merck

Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd., (“Orchid”), the Chennai (India) based pharmaceuticals major has announced that it would be undertaking the development and manufacture of an anti-coagulant drug candidate initially discovered and developed through Phase I by Merck & Co., Inc., USA (“Merck”). Toward this end, Orchid has invested in Diakron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (“Diakron”), a US based drug discovery and development company which has an exclusive license agreement with Merck for the compound. Orchid’s investment in Diakron, through a combination of services and cash, will result in majority control for Orchid.

 The compound is a novel investigational oral anticoagulant drug anticipated to have considerable potential. The market for oral anticoagulant products is predicted to grow significantly to USD 5 billion over the next five years. The largest selling oral agent on the market is an old compound with significant drug and patient management issues. Other anticoagulant products are injections which are not optimal for long term, chronic therapy. Orchid and Diakron see considerable potential to further develop the Merck compound as a novel oral anticoagulant and position it uniquely first for the prophylaxis and treatment of deep vein thrombosis in patients undergoing hip and knee replacement and later for chronic use indications.

 Commenting on the development, Mr K Raghavendra Rao, Managing Director, Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. stated that Orchid is committed to discover and develop safe and efficacious molecules to cater to the unmet needs. Deep vein thrombosis which affects millions of patients globally and patients who undergo hip and knee replacement in particular is a major condition which requires more patient-friendly medications. Orchid’s investment in Diakron and the commitment to develop this Merck discovery are steps in this direction. Orchid is well positioned to undertake the development and commercialization process seamlessly given its state-of-the-art drug discovery and commercial manufacturing capabilities.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gujarat NRE Coke claims Rs 4761 crores from Austral Coke, its Directors, Auditors and Merchant Bankers

Kolkata, August 13th 2008. Gujarat NRE Coke Limited (GNCL) has claimed Rs 4761 crore in a civil suit filed at the Hon. Calcutta High Court against Austral Coke and Projects Limited (Austral), its Directors, Auditors, Merchant Bankers and others associated with Austral Coke's IPO.
Gujarat NRE Coke Limited has taken serious objection to Austral coke's use of the Gujarat NRE Coke name in a distorted and misleading way to sell its issue to public investors. Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd has prayed before the Hon High Court that by using its name, Austral Coke has severely damaged the reputation of Gujarat NRE Coke, leading to a loss in its market capitalisation and shareholder interest for which it has sought compensation.

Gujarat NRE Coke Limited has also sought a declaration from the Hon. High Court that there is no family relationship and an injunction restraining the Austral promoters from terming the matter as a family dispute.
Gujarat NRE Coke Limited has also sought a declaration from the Hon. High Court that :
* the Merchant Bankers associated with the Austral issue did not carry out proper due diligence,
* the books of accounts maintained by Austral and audited statements - profit and loss account and Balance sheet are not in accordance with law,
* all the directors of Austral are liable for prosecution for various misstatements made in the Red Herring Prospectus  
Gujarat NRE Coke Limited has also sought an injunction restraining Austral Coke or any of its associates from making and publicising any sort of comparison between Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd and Austral Coke. 

Microsoft launches its largest overseas facility in Hyderabad

New Delhi: Microsoft India Development Centre (MSIDC) launched its largest facility in Hyderabad, on 12 August, 2008. The new building was inaugurated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the company. The building has been constructed according to global quality standards and can accommodate over 2000 employees, and has been awarded the Leeds Gold certification for energy efficiency and hi-tech safety systems recently, informed Microsoft officials. 

Reddy said, "In 2003-04, IT exports from Andhra Pradesh was eight per cent but over the last four years, it has grown to 15 per cent of the country's total exports, thanks to companies like Microsoft." 

MSIDC Corporate Vice President and Managing Director Srini Koppolu said, "The last 10 years have been an amazing journey, growing from 20 to 1500 people and developing several state-of-the-art products for Microsoft from India." 

In a recorded message, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said, "MSIDC employees have made very significant impact because the innovative software products that they develop, touch the lives of millions around the world. I would like to congratulate everyone on reaching this important milestone, and look forward to even greater success in the decade ahead."


Global Petroleum

Prospects for improved oil market fundamentals over the next 18 months point to an easing in the market balance and price weakness over the near term. The combination of slower U.S. and global oil consumption growth, increased production capacity for crude oil and natural gas liquids in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) beginning in the third quarter 2008 and continuing through 2009, and higher non-OPEC supply, raises the prospect for a drop in demand for OPEC crude oil and an increase in surplus capacity. Downward price pressures would increase if the economic slowdown proves deeper or longer than expected, and if higher prices lead to lower consumption and lower demand for OPEC crude than currently anticipated. There is also a risk that any weakness in oil prices could be minimal or short-lived, especially if consumption growth exceeds current expectations or if oil production capacity expansion plans in either OPEC or non-OPEC nations turn out to be lower than expected. Supply risks in Iraq, Nigeria, and Iran, as well as threats of hurricanes over the near term, continue to influence market expectations. In addition, OPEC production behavior that would lead to voluntary production cuts aimed at keeping inventories fairly tight would also limit downward price pressure.  

Preliminary data indicates that global consumption rose by roughly 500,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) during the first half of 2008 compared with year-earlier levels, as a 1.3-million bbl/d rise in consumption outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was partially countered by an 800,000 bbl/d drop in U.S. consumption compared with year-earlier levels. The decline in U.S. consumption in the first half of 2008, reflecting slower economic growth and the impact of high prices, was the largest half-year consumption decline in volume terms in the last 26 years, when, in the first half of 1982, consumption dropped by nearly 800,000 bbl/d. Total world oil consumption is expected to grow by a little over 1 million bbl/d during the second half of 2008 and by almost 1 million bbl/d in 2009 compared with year-earlier levels. The projection for 2009 consumption is about 460,000 bbl/d lower than last month's assessment, reflecting lower expectations for consumption in the United States and other OECD countries. Over the next year and a half, lower OECD consumption is expected to be more than offset by continued non-OECD consumption growth, led by China, the Middle East, Latin America, and India (World Oil Consumption). Further consumption declines in the OECD nations, coupled with the move to reduce subsidies in large parts of the developing world, should limit future world consumption growth. 

Non-OPEC Supply.
EIA is revising this month's outlook for non-OPEC supply growth in 2008 compared with last month's, largely because of project delays in Asia, lower output growth now expected in the Former Soviet Union, lower growth in Canada caused by the upward revision of 2007 data, and reduced production in Azerbaijan due to the closure of the BTC pipeline. If new projects come online as now anticipated, total non-OPEC supply is projected to rise by about 510,000 bbl/d in the second half of 2008 and by 850,000 bbl/d in 2009 compared with year-earlier levels. This compares with a 330,000 bbl/d decline in non-OPEC supply recorded during the first half of 2008. Non-OPEC supply growth through 2009 is expected to be led by Brazil, the United States, and Azerbaijan (Non-OPEC Oil Production Growth). Given recent history, possible additional delays in key projects as well as accelerating production declines in some older fields cannot be ruled out. For example, Russian oil output was down by almost 1 percent in the first half of the year, raising the chances for the first annual decline in output since 1998. As a result, net non-OPEC production gains could be less than the current forecast, leading to both higher demand for OPEC oil and higher prices than currently projected. 

OPEC Supply.
OPEC crude oil production is expected to rise to 32.9 million bbl/d during the third quarter of 2008, up from 32.3 million bbl/d in the second quarter. The forecast assumes that Saudi Arabia will maintain its July 9.7 million bbl/d production level through the third quarter, representing a 400,000 bbl/d rise from second quarter levels. OPEC crude oil production is projected to drop to about 32.4 million bbl/d in the fourth quarter of 2008, and to decline to 31.6 million bbl/d in 2009. Lower crude production combined with planned increases in OPEC total liquids production capacity suggests OPEC surplus crude production capacity could increase from 1.2 million bbl/d currently to about 3.6 million bbl/d by the end of next year (OPEC Surplus Oil Production Capacity). Although an increase in the supply cushion could ease upward price pressure, it does not appear large enough to trigger a sharp price decline. Moreover, possible delays in adding supply capacity, proactive OPEC decisions to cut output, or expectations that supply growth in the post-2009 period will have a difficult time keeping pace with demand, could minimize and shorten any market weakness. 

OECD commercial inventories during the second quarter of 2008 increased by only 490,000 bbl/d, well below the average build of 910,000 bbl/d during this time of the year. At the end of the second quarter, estimated commercial inventories stood at 2.58 billion barrels, 17 million barrels below the 5-year average and equal to about 53 days of forward consumption (Days of Supply of OECD Commercial Stocks). OECD commercial inventories are projected to rise by 340,000 bbl/d in the third quarter compared with the average seasonal build of 450,000 bbl/d, which would leave OECD commercial inventories about 30 million barrels below the 5-year average at the end of the third quarter. - EIA


EAGAN, MN. - (August 12, 2008) - Given the recent declines in the price of jet fuel, NWA Cargo will reduce its fuel surcharges in certain markets effective August 25, 2008, subject to government approvals where required.

Surcharges for all Domestic shipments will be reduced from $0.52 to $0.50 per pound. 

Trans-Atlantic fuel surcharges for shipments from the U.S. to Europe, Africa and the Middle East will be reduced from $1.25 to $1.20 per kilogram.

 Surcharges for shipments from the U.S. to Korea and Japan, as well as from Korea and Japan to the U.S., will decrease from $1.25 to $1.20 per kilogram.

Westbound trans-Pacific surcharges from the U.S. to Shanghai (PVG), Guangzhou (CAN), and points beyond, will decrease from $0.55 to $0.50 per kilogram. 

Surcharges on the longest routes in the NWA cargo network, including all other shipments between the U.S. and Asia, will decrease from $1.35 to $1.30 per kilogram.

Complete surcharge details including local currency equivalents, methodology and shipper built unit charges may be obtained from local NWA Cargo sales offices or at:


The Index of Six core-infrastructure industries having a combined weight of 26.7
per cent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) with base 1993-94 stood at 232.5
(provisional) in June 2008 and registered a growth of 3.4% (provisional) compared to a
growth of 5.2 % in June 2007. During April-June 2008-09, six core-infrastructure
industries registered a growth of 3.5% (provisional) as against 6.4% during the
corresponding period of the previous year.
Crude Oil
Crude Oil production (weight of 4.17% in the IIP) registered a negative growth of 4.7%
(provisional) in June 2008 compared to a negative growth rate of 1.8% in June 2007.
The Crude Oil production registered a growth of (-) 0.2% (provisional) during April-June
2008-09 compared to (–)0.7% during the same period of 2007-08.
Petroleum Refinery Products
Petroleum refinery production (weight of 2.00% in the IIP) registered a growth of 5.6%
(provisional) in June 2008 compared to growth of 9.9% in June 2007. The Petroleum
refinery production registered a growth of 3.3% (provisional) during April-June 2008-09
compared to 13.3% during the same period of 2007-08.
Coal production (weight of 3.2% in the IIP) registered a growth of 6.2% (provisional) in
June 2008 compared to growth rate 0.9% in June 2007. Coal production grew by 8.4%
(provisional) during April-June 2008-09 compared to an increase of 0.6% during the
same period of 2007-08.
Electricity generation (weight of 10.17% in the IIP) registered a growth of 2.6%
(provisional) in June 2008 compared to a growth rate 6.8% in June 2007. Electricity
generation grew by 2.0% (provisional) during April-June 2008-09 compared to 8.3%
during the same period of 2007-08.
Cement production (weight of 1.99% in the IIP) registered a growth of 3.8% (provisional)
in June 2008 compared to 6.0% in June 2007. Cement Production grew by 5.8%
(provisional) during April-June 2008-09 compared to an increase of 7.2% during the
same period of 2007-08.
Finished (carbon) steel
Finished (carbon) Steel production (weight of 5.13% in the IIP) registered a growth of
4.4% (provisional) in June 2008 compared to 5.1% (estimated) in June 2007. Finished
(carbon) Steel production grew by 4.5% (provisional) during April-May 2008-09
compared to an increase of 5.4% during the same period of 2007-08.
N.B: Data are provisional. Revision has been made based on revised data obtained.

Guidance on Interest and Depreciation & Amortisation Expenses

(ASX:OST) Earlier this year, OneSteel confirmed that its earnings guidance for the full year
ending 30 June 2008, would be at the Earnings Before Interest Tax and Depreciation &
Amortisation (EBITDA) line due to uncertainty over the impact on interest, and
depreciation & amortisation from two major growth initiatives, the Smorgon Steel merger
and Project Magnet1.
At the time of providing guidance, the company was in the process of determining the fair
values of the identifiable assets, liabilities and contingent liabilities acquired as part of the
merger with Smorgon Steel Group Limited. This process has now been substantially
completed and depreciation and amortisation charges have been made for the period
commencing the date of the Smorgon merger (20 August 2007).
In addition, the company was also uncertain of the timing of capitalising Project Magnet.
Project Magnet assets were commissioned during the year and associated depreciation of
$9 million has been recorded in the 2008 financial year. For the 2009 financial year,
depreciation on Project Magnet assets is estimated to be approximately $24 million. Total
capitalised interest on Project Magnet was $19.6 million for the 2008 financial year.
In total, OneSteel expects interest expense to be approximately $160 million, and
depreciation & amortisation expense to be approximately $195 million for the financial
year ended 30 June 2008. For the 2009 financial year, amortisation in relation to
intangibles acquired with the Smorgon Steel businesses is estimated to be approximately
$8 million and depreciation on plant and equipment acquired with the Smorgon Steel
business is estimated to be $66 million.
OneSteel’s results for the full-year ended 30 June 2008 will be announced on 19 August
1 Project Magnet is focussed on the commercialisation of OneSteel’s magnetite ore reserves and the sale of hematite ore.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Austral Coke is attempting to divert public attention from their criminal act and misstatements in prospectus

Gujarat NRE Coke has come out with a hard hitting press release as part of its expose on Austral Coke. Heres the full text of the release : - the editor 
We had issued a press release yesterday (07/08/08) pointing out fraudulent misstatements in the prospectus of Austral Coke and Projects limited and the willful attempt on the part of Austral to use the reputation and goodwill of Gujarat NRE Coke to sell their issue. Various newspapers have covered the same with characteristic false claims from Austral in light of which we would like to make the following clarifications :
1. The promoters of Austral Coke Mr Ratan Lal Tamakuwala and Mr Rishi Raj Agarwal were "employees" of Gujarat NRE Coke Limited. They were "Expelled" from the company when they were caught stealing shareholder monies and company funds. The term "family dispute" is not applicable as the case against the father-son duo was not about the division of family properties, but was plain vanilla corruption and theft.
2. Public Limited Listed Companies are not family fiefdoms. To even hint that a management complaint about defalcation of corporate funds is a "family dispute" points at the utter disregard to corporate governance ethics, which only goes to strengthen the original case against the father-son duo - that they were using company and shareholder funds for personal gains, treating the shareholder assets as "family owned". 
3. Various cases are pending against the duo before the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court. Cases relating to the defalcation of shareholder funds - not family property.

4. Austral Coke has made several misstatements in the prospectus with a criminal intent to defraud investors. While they have only two running chimneys, they have claimed to have four chimneys seeking to pass off two under construction chimneys as running ones. This in itself is a serious offense and warrants immediate investigation.

5. Austral Coke has also claimed a current production capacity of 3.75 lakh tpa which too is a blatant lie. As per technical specifications of ovens, with two chimneys cannot give them a production figure more than 60,000 to 70,000 tons of coke. Even with four chimneys as claimed by Austral, they cannot produce more than 1.40 lakh tpa of coke. The balance is a screaming lie. We will again urge the media to visit the Austral Coke Plant in Lunva, Taluka Bhachau, Gujarat to verify the claims of the company.

6. The Austral Coke Prospectus does not disclose the actual production figures to cover up the fraud.
7. Gujarat NRE Coke has already sent and requested SEBI and the Company Law Board to consider the press release issued yesterday as an FIR and initiate appropriate investigation against the promoters of Austral Coke.

8. Gujarat NRE Coke would like to ask the Merchant Bankers and various other "interested parties" who have lent their names to the issue as to whether they are aware to the aforesaid facts and whether they can stand up and verify under oath one simple thing - that Austral Coke had four chimneys that are in operation as mentioned and certified in the prospectus dated 18.07.08.

9. A question was raised by the media yesterday as to why we initiated this process on the day of the opening of the Austral Coke public issue. We would like to point out the fact that the Draft Red Herring Prospectus of Austral Coke, which was scanned by us in early July 2008 ( and is available even today on SEBI’s website (DRHP) had mentioned only two chimneys (Page No.87). Neither Research Reports with reference to Gujarat NRE Coke were in circulation. Only when the current prospectus with glaring misstatements and various research reports referring to us were available to us, and after Gujarat NRE Coke shareholders called us on Wednesday, 06.08.2008 and demanded action that we started initiating appropriate steps to expose the fraud and safeguard our reputation.

10. We are enclosing herewith a photograph taken from the Corporate Presentation of Austral Coke which clearly shows only two chimneys with a third stub under construction. This corporate presentation was there in the austral coke website till the morning of the 7th of August and was removed hastily after the media questioned the management of Austral Coke about the veracity of the claims made in the prospectus. Please note – the Austral Coke Management is still silent about the number of Chimneys and their production capacities, which we are again stating to be false, bogus and intended to defraud investors.

Rio Tinto Announces the Filing of a Registration Statement by Cloud Peak Energy Inc. for a Proposed Initial Public Offering

Rio Tinto announced today that its wholly owned subsidiary, Cloud Peak Energy Inc., has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in connection with Cloud Peak Energy’s proposed initial public offering (IPO) of its common stock. Cloud Peak Energy, comprised of most of the North American coal assets of Rio Tinto Energy America, is the second largest producer of coal in the U.S. and in the Powder River Basin, operating three of the five largest coal mines in the region. 

Rio Tinto expects to make a final decision on whether to pursue a listing of the shares of Cloud Peak Energy or to pursue another form of divestment once these options have been more fully explored. 

The lead underwriter for the offering is Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC.  

The offering of common stock will be made only by means of a prospectus. When available, a copy of the preliminary prospectus relating to this offering may be obtained from Credit Suisse Prospectus Department, One Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010, phone: (800) 221-1037. 

A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the SEC but has not yet become effective. These securities may not be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted, prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective. 

This news release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sales of these securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

Statement of Finance Ministry on Inflation

The following is the statement of the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on inflaton issued here today:

“Inflation, on a week-on-week basis, has continued to remain stable. The WPI moved up only marginally from 239.3 in the week ending July 19, 2008 to 239.6 in the week ending July 26, 2008; the rate of inflation for the week ending July 26, 2008 stands at 12.01 per cent, marginally higher than the rate of 11.98 per cent reported last week.

In the ‘primary articles’ group, the annual point-to-point inflation increased to 10.32 per cent, as compared to 10.24 per cent reported last week, but lower than 10.84 per cent reported for the week ending June 28, 2008. Inflation at its current level is also lower than its level of 10.47 per cent, a year back. Out of a total of 98 articles, 18 articles have shown a decline in prices as compared to July 19, 2008. These included among others, arhar, gram, barley, wheat, rice, Bajra, urad, fresh coconut, cardamoms, groundnut seed and iron ore. Another 53 articles have shown no increase in prices. 

Prices of 18 articles (out of a total of 19) in commodity group ‘fuel and power’ have not shown any increase.

In the case of ‘manufactured products’, out of a total 318 commodities, a large number, 299 in all, have shown no increase in prices over the last week. In the case of 4 commodities there is a decline in prices. These commodities include cottonseed oil, groundnut oil, resins and acids of all kinds. Only 15 products, particularly the cotton and woolen yarn, woolen cloth, groundnut cake, white printing paper, ball bearings, caustic soda, cement, newsprint and sugar witnessed an increase in prices

The annual inflation rate for the group of 30 essential commodities at 6.66 per cent was marginally lower than the inflation of 6.67 per cent recorded in previous week. Annual inflation of these commodities has continued to be range bound between 5.7 to 6.7 per cent in 17 weeks of the current fiscal year. Increase in prices of essential commodities which include food grains, pulses, edible oils, vegetables, dairy products and some other commodities including kerosene, soap and safety matches have more or less stabilized.”

Index Numbers of Wholesale Prices in India (Base: 1993-94=100) Review for the week ended 26th July 2008

The official Wholesale Price Index for 'All Commodities' (Base: 1993-94 = 100) for the week ended 26th July 2008 rose by 0.1 percent to 239.6 (Provisional) from 239.3 (Provisional) for the previous week.

The annual rate of inflation, calculated on point to point basis, stood at 12.01 percent (Provisional) for the week ended 26/07/2008 (over 28/07/2007) as compared to 11.98 percent (Provisional) for the previous week. The annual rate of inflation stood at 4.70 percent as on 28/07/2007 i.e. a year ago.

The movement of the index for the various commodity groups is summarized below:-

1. PRIMARY ARTICLES (Weight 22.02%)

The index for this major group rose by 0.1 percent to 247.9 (Provisional) from 247.7 (Provisional) for the previous week. The groups and items for which the index showed variations during the week are as follows:-

The index for 'Food Articles' group rose marginally to 236.0 (Provisional) from 235.9 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of moong (4%), fish-marine (2%) and maize and condiments & spices (1% each). However, the prices of bajra (1%) declined.

The index for 'Non-Food Articles' group rose by 0.4 percent to 246.3 (Provisional) from 245.2 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of castor seed (6%), raw tobacco (5%) and copra and raw cotton (2%). However, the prices of niger seed (5%) and groundnut seed (1%) declined.

The index for 'Minerals' group declined by 0.6 percent to 648.4 (Provisional) from 652.6 (Provisional) for the previous week due to lower prices of barytes (23%), steatite (15%) and iron ore and fireclay (1% each). However, the prices of gypsum (48%), phosphorite (27%), fluorite (21%) and silica sand (9%) moved up.

The annual rate of inflation, calculated on point to point basis, for ‘Primary Articles’ stood at 10.32 percent (Provisional) for the week ended 26/07/2008. It was 10.47 percent as on 28/07/2007 i.e. a year ago.

The annual rate of inflation for ‘Food Articles’ stood at 5.78 percent (Provisional) for the week ended 26/07/2008. It was 9.74 percent as on 28/07/2007 i.e. a year ago.

2. FUEL, POWER, LIGHT & LUBRICANTS (Weight 14.23%)

The index for this major group rose by 0.2 percent to 377.0 (Provisional) from 376.3 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of furnace oil (3%). 


The index for this major group rose by 0.1 percent to 206.1 (Provisional) from 205.9 (Provisional) for the previous week. The groups and items for which the index showed variations during the week are as follows:-

The index for 'Food Products' group rose by 0.1 percent to 212.8 (Provisional) from 212.6 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of gingelly oil (3%) and gur (1%). However, the prices of cotton seed oil (3%) and groundnut oil (2%) declined.

The index for 'Textiles' group rose by 0.4 percent to 141.5 (Provisional) from 140.9 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of woollen yarn (8%), woollen cloth (6%), hessian & sacking bags (2%) and cotton yarn-'hanks (1%).

The index for 'Paper & Paper Products' group rose by 0.2 percent to 200.2 (Provisional) from 199.8 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of printing paper white (1%).

The index for 'Chemicals & Chemical Products' group declined by 0.05 percent to 222.0 (Provisional) from 222.1 (Provisional) for the previous week due to lower prices of resins (all kinds) and acid (all kinds) (1% each). However, the prices of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) (1%) moved up.

The index for 'Non-Metallic Mineral Products' group rose marginally to 215.5 (Provisional) from 215.4 (Provisional) for the previous week due to marginal increase in the prices of cement. 

The index for 'Machinery & Machine Tools' group rose by 0.1 percent to 175.4 (Provisional) from 175.2 (Provisional) for the previous week due to higher prices of batteries (7%) and ball bearings (1%).


For the week ended 31/05/2008, the final wholesale price index for 'All Commodities’ (Base: 1993-94=100) stood at 232.3 as compared to 231.1 (Provisional) and annual rate of inflation based on final index, calculated on point to point basis, stood at 9.32 percent as compared to 8.75 percent (Provisional) reported earlier vide press note dated 13/06/2008.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fraudulent Misstatements in the Prospectus of Austral Coke & Projects Limited

Gujarat NRE Coke wishes to condemn in the strongest words the manner in which Austral Coke and Projects Limited, whose public issue has opened on August 7th 2008 has used half truths and downright lies in its prospectus and other public documents.

Austral has not only made a series of mis-statements in its prospectus fraudulently, but has also dragged in the Gujarat NRE Coke name as a “peer” seeking to cash in on our reputation and goodwill in the industry and the investing fraternity. 

1.Austral has claimed a current production capacity of 3.75 lakh TPA – this statement is completely baseless considering the fact that the very basis on which the company’s projections are made is wrong and misleading. The company has only two chimneys which can give it a produce of 60,000 – 70,000 tons of coke which cannot justify the claimed figures by any stretch of engineering excellence.
Gujarat NRE Coke, the largest independent producer has 20 chimneys with a current capacity of 6.82 lakh tpa in Gujarat.

Austral has claimed in the prospectus that it has four chimneys which are completed and installed whereas the fact is that it has only two chimneys while two others are under construction. Media personnel are requested to kindly visit their plant at Lunva, Taluka Bhachau, Gujarat and see this blatant lie with their own eyes to verify this fraud. 
Even the website of Austral in their corporate video as well as the corporate presentation shows only two chimneys while the other two “stubs” are in various stages of construction. 
Even with 4 chimneys, Austral’s production can only reach about 1.20 lakh tons to 1.40 lakh tons per annum leaving a huge gap between the actual truth and the fraudulent claims.
The actual production figures have not been disclosed by Austral in its prospectus to cover up the “window dressing”.
The financial comparison by Austral with Gujarat NRE Coke, which is based on such engineered and doctored data is made with the twin intent to cheat and defraud investors on the one hand and defame Gujarat NRE Coke on the other.  

2.The promoters of Austral have claimed that they were the original promoters of Gujarat NRE Coke, conveniently forgetting to mention that they were forcefully “expelled” in 1997 from Gujarat NRE Coke Limited by the shareholders because of fraudulent practice including defalcation of shareholder monies. Several cases against Mr. Ratanlal Tamakuwala and Mr Rishi Raj Agarwal are still pending in the Calcutta High Court for investigation and recovery of public investor funds defalcated by them.