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21-Jan2013

ONGC, Maruti, Tata Power and CIL may grab investors' attention today

ONGC Videsh (OVL), the foreign investment arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), has discovered oil on an onland block, CPO-5, in Colombia. OVL has struck oil at two places in the first well drilled on the Block CPO-5 and produced 120-300 barrels per day on testing. The oil is heavy in nature with an API (American Petroleum Institute) gravity of about 14. To assess the potential and commerciality of the oil find, extended production testing will be taken up in due course for the remaining objects within the upper Mirador Formation at a depth of 9,533 feet. OVL holds 70 percent participating interest in the block located at the llanos basin of Colombia. The project was under phase-1 of exploration, with a commitment of drilling two exploratory wells.

In a move to step up its manufacturing in India, Maruti Suzuki, India's largest carmaker - has decided to develop twin facilities in Gujarat. Maruti, the largest subsidiary of Japanese carmaker Suzuki, has charted out its future production model on the lines of Haryana operations, where it operates five plants from two separate locations in Gurgaon and Manesar. Maruti is now directly acquiring a 480-acre plot at Ughroz and Ukarade villages in Gujarat from farmers. This is in addition to the 700 acres allotted to Maruti Suzuki for a manufacturing facility in Mehsana by the Gujarat government. The company plans to invest around 4,000 crore in Gujarat in the first phase that would go into acquiring the land and constructing the proposed plant, which will have an initial annual capacity of 2.5 lakh cars.

With no tangible business opportunities in India, the country's largest power producer Tata Power is actively pursuing overseas avenues especially in Africa, Middle East, Turkey and South East Asia. Tata Power, with an installed generation capacity of 6,899 MW, is also developing the import coal-fired 4,000 MW Mundra plant in Gujarat -- India's first ultra mega power project. Amid rising imported coal prices making the Mundra project financially unviable, Tata Power has approached the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) seeking higher tariff. Besides, the company is making serious strides in international opportunities for which it has prioritized seven countries that includes South Africa and other Sub-Saharan Africa countries, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey and Middle-East.

The Coal Ministry has questioned state-owned Coal India (CIL) for considering fuel supply agreements (FSAs) with 11 power developers, worth 5,935 MW capacity as they are yet to achieve critical milestones related to their projects. The list includes projects of some big developers like NTPC, Tata Power and Reliance Power. The Ministry of Coal, in a recent communique to the CIL, has asked it as to how these 11 projects were considered for FSAs, having pending milestones under the Letter of Assurance (LoA) issued by the coal major. The LoA route, introduced in the New Coal distribution Policy, 2007, provides for assured supply of coal to developers, provided they meet stipulated milestones.

Taking a tough posture against the management, Kingfisher Airlines' engineers have decided to go ahead with the winding up petition in the Delhi High Court. The engineers' association which met in New Delhi today also decided to send a legal notice to the airline management next week. The legal notice is likely to be served next week and would be followed by a winding-up petition. Meanwhile, a section of airline's former pilots have already sent a legal notice to the company seeking salaries within three weeks, failing which they would move ahead with a winding-up petition. The ex-pilots have also threatened to file criminal proceedings against the airline management for not paying the income deducted from their salaries to the government. The development comes even as the airline management has been trying to resume operations, as early as next month.

Reliance Industries (RIL) plans to consolidate all its retail units under a single entity, signaling that it is not looking for a foreign partner in any of its businesses. The company has initiated a process to club all its eight independent retailing companies such as apparel chain Reliance Trends and consumer electronics chain Reliance Digital under grocery chain Reliance Fresh, in a bid to remove administrative glitches and increase synergies and efficiencies among various businesses. This will make Reliance Fresh a single retail entity under Reliance Retail, the group's holding company for retail business. This is third major restructuring of the retail business that the country's largest company by value has initiated since it forayed into the industry in 2006, and with this it comes full circle.

L&T Finance is in advanced stages of negotiations to buy Morgan Stanley's wealth management business in India. The proposed acquisition will help L&T Finance strengthen its foothold in the country's nascent wealth management industry, almost a year after the financial services firm roped in Manoj Shenoy and 12 executives from Swiss private bank EFG, which shut shop in India in early 2012. The deal could be finalized in a month. L&T Finance has taken the acquisition route for growth, making three buyouts last year in the mutual fund, housing finance and auto finance segments.

VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV), a joint venture between Sweden's Volvo Group and homegrown Eicher Motors, will invest Rs 1,200 crore by 2014 for expanding production capacity and developing new products. In the meantime, the Indian partner will be launching Eicher branded trucks, developed using technology of the Swedish firm by the end of this year. This year VECV's production capacity of trucks and buses will be 6,500 units per month, up from 5,500 units last year. The company's aim is to take it up to 8,000 units per month by 2015. VECV began operations in July 2008 and its business includes the complete range of Eicher trucks and buses, VE Powertrain, Eicher's components and engineering design services businesses as well as the sales and distribution business of Volvo trucks within India.

State-run Dena Bank is aiming to increase its share of the low-cost current and savings account (CASA) deposits which will help it increase the net interest margin (NIM) to 3.10 percent. The officers and field staff of the bank have been on a drive to increase CASA deposits. The bank's CASA ratio and NIM levels have not changed much in many quarters and hence a push is needed. In its branch banking strategy, Dena Bank is counting on a comparatively younger staff (its average employee age is 43) to drive the business. On the lending side, it will concentrate on retail and small businesses. In the next fortnight, the bank is scheduled to open 15 new branches in the SME clusters in Punjab and Haryana.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel has installed a 100 kw solar power plant in Lucknow, which would help save 26,000 litres of diesel per year consumed to power its major routing centre. Bharti Airtel has installed a solar power plant at Gangaganj, Lucknow. This location is one of the major switching and routing centre, which processes the voice and data traffic for the telecom operator. The company is planning to replicate similar power plants in six other locations generating close to 300 KWp of solar energy.


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