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RIL, Maruti Suzuki and UB Holdings may witness some action today

Reliance Industries (RIL) and the oil ministry have narrowed their differences over auditing of the controversial KG-D6 block and pricing of natural gas, raising hopes of quicker approvals and development of more fields in the gas-rich region. The company has also agreed to cooperate in the audit even if the exercise is conducted after a lapse of two years. RIL had earlier argued that the contract allows an audit only within two years of the period being scrutinized. This, in effect, removes two major hurdles that had soured the relationship between the country's biggest private oil explorer and the petroleum ministry for more than a year.

Even as Maruti Suzuki India's once bread-and-butter M800 model is seeing interest wane among buyers in India, demand for the country's once most iconic car has shot up in markets abroad. Between April and October, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) exported 8,300 units of the M800, an increase of 57 percent compared to the 5,300-odd units sold in the corresponding period last year. In fact, in Algeria (which overtook Europe to become Maruti's largest export market recently), the M800 contributed nearly 40 percent to overall sales of 16,000 units till October this year. In Egypt too, where sales were slow last year due to the Arab Spring crisis, M800 saw off-take of another 1,600 units. Interestingly, the strong demand for M800 has come at a time when sales of small cars have contracted in most markets overseas.

Private equity giant Blackstone has made an offer to Vijay Mallya's investment holding company UB Holdings to buy out the prime office and retail real estate blocks in its flagship UB City, the biggest commercial property project in the heart of Bangalore. Blackstone's offer for the 3.7 lakh square feet of commercial space - home to many MNC offices such as Apple, Citibank, Ernst & Young, 3M, Vodafone, Uninor, Jones Lang LaSalle - and 75,000 square feet of luxury retail space comes at around Rs 550 crore, less than what was initially estimated. However, the offer does not include the iconic UB Tower - the group's headquarters that are also part of the UB City Complex.

Almost two years after breaking up with Honda and with the erstwhile Japanese partner now fast and furiously on its trail, Hero MotoCorp is pulling out all stops towards unveiling its first indigenously-developed motorcycle - an all-new 250cc sports bike - at the next Auto Expo in 2014. The motorcycle is being developed in collaboration with Hero Moto's American technology partner Erik Buell Racing (EBR). A group of young and highly-skilled engineers from Hero Moto's R&D centres in Gurgaon and Dharuhera have been stationed at the EBR centre at East Troy in Wisconsin, US for the past several months, and are working very closely with EBR engineers on this project. This bike is being developed for the domestic market as well as for customers in global markets that Hero Moto plans to enter as part of its ambitious international business plan.

ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), plans to raise about $1 billion through a dollar bonds issue early next year to fund its recent acquisition in Azerbaijan. OVL had in its biggest purchase since acquiring Russia- focused Imperial Energy, in September announced buying US energy firm Hess Corp's stake in Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli (AGC) group of oil fields in the Central Asian nation for $1 billion. The company, which gets most of its funds from its parent firm, has already appointed merchant bankers for raising the debt.

Real estate developer DB Realty's subsidiary DB Hospitality is looking to sell stake in proposed hotel project at the Delhi International Airport and discussions are undergoing with potential buyers. DB Hospitality (DBHPL), in which the company is holding stake, proposes to develop a plot as the Delhi International Airport's new hospitality district through one of its subsidiary SPV. DB Hospitality has about 8 acre of land near airport. However, DB Realty is not selling Hilton Hotel in Mumbai and Grand Hyatt property in Goa. Both Hilton Hotel (Mumbai) and Grand Hyatt (Goa) are being operated through the subsidiaries of DBHPL.

Hinduja Group flagship firm Ashok Leyland has launched a new fuel efficient engine technology for its range of trucks, priced between Rs 15.1 lakh and Rs 18.83 lakh. The company introduced a range of haulage trucks fitted with twin speed rear axles and other modifications that promises enhanced fuel efficiency of up to 10. The commercial vehicle maker claimed that the new technology is ideal for an open highway condition that allows the driver to shift to fuel-economy mode while cruising. The twin speed technology will be on offer on some of the company's flagship models in the multi-axle range, which are best suited for applications like market load, cement, tankers and general cargo and are already top performers in their class.

ICICI Bank has launched Diamant, a super premium card for private banking customers. This card is yet another addition to the 'Gemstone Collection' of credit cards. The other cards, which form a part of this collection, comprise the ICICI Bank Sapphiro, ICICI Bank Rubyx and ICICI Bank Coral Credit Card. The ICICI Bank Diamant is available on the MasterCard World platform and offers a wide range of exquisite and opulent privileges to complement the lifestyle of the discerning customers. Further it has been voted amongst the 3 best card designs in the world by International Card Manufacturer's Association (ICMA) for 2012. Recently, ICICI Bank, UK has introduced money transfer service called Insta Netexpress for Indians living in Germany. It will be offering these services through its online platform with an assured exchange rate and faster transfer time for users who wish to send money to India.

Wipro Technologies, the IT business of Wipro, has joined the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), a global body dedicated to developing standards and solutions for smartphone and in-vehicle connectivity. The Bangalore-based company stated that its membership at CCC will help it in developing smartphone-based connected-car solutions. Members of the CCC include leading players in automobile, mobile communications and consumer electronics sectors.

Shriram Transport Finance Company has launched Shriram Automall, its 11th in the country near Hyderabad and plans to expand its network to 60 key cities by 2013. The Automall in Hyderabad stated to be their biggest also houses two new initiatives that provide value-added services to vehicle owners--Shriram One Stop and Shriram New Look. Shriram One Stop is a computerized touch screen kiosk which is a virtual Truck Bazaar, providing information about used commercial vehicles for sale, while Shriram New Look offers a platform for transaction of vehicles.

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