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SAIL, Maruti Suzuki and United Bank of India may grab investors' attention today

Steel major SAIL-led Indian consortium is hopeful of winning a copper mine in war-torn Afghanistan by the March-end. The Shaida deposit is estimated to have 4.34 million tonnes of copper reserves. Hindustan Copper has a 25 percent stake in the consortium and SAIL 26 percent, while aluminium producer NALCO holds 25 percent. Private sector firms, JSPL and Monnet have 20 percent and 4 percent stake in the consortium respectively, while MECL has a token presence. The Indian consortium is planning to invest Rs 250 crore on exploring the deposit over three years, if it is awarded the mine. The Indian consortium was earlier doing due diligence for four gold and copper deposits in the war-ravaged country. However, it finally decided to bid for only one deposit in Afghanistan.

Eschewing doubts of Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) keeping its Gujarat plans on hold, the company sped up its journey from Hamamatsu to Hansalpur via Haryana. The company has decided to change gear after its board approved fast-tracking the Gujarat plant, where the company will invest close to Rs 4,000 crore. In August this year, MSIL paid the first installment of Rs 22 crore for the 640 acres of land allotted to them at Hansalpur in Ahmedabad. The land has been allotted at Rs 673 per square metre and payment will be made in eight installments totaling around Rs 175 crore. MSIL has already awarded a contract for building the outer wall of the earmarked area for the plant with an annual capacity of 2.5 lakh cars. MSIL board is mulling rolling out its all new diesel engines from Gujarat.

State-run United Bank of India is pushing housing and car loans to improve margin and growth as demand from corporates receded in step with contraction of factory output. The bank has lowered its overall credit growth target to 14-15% but aims to expand housing loan portfolio by over 25% and car loans by over 40% this fiscal to partially offset the slump in corporate credit demand. About 2% of the bank's retail loans has turned bad while the overall gross non performing assets ratio is 3.8% at the end of September, 2012. The Kolkata-based lender has tied up with 70 builders to grow its housing loan outstanding to Rs 3,600 crore by March next year from Rs 2,990 crore on September 30 while the outstanding was Rs 2,800 crore on March this year. It has set the target for car loans at Rs 675 crore from Rs 470 crore.

Reliance Infrastructure, Tata Power and Crompton Greaves have placed bids to partner state-run NTPC, the country's largest power producer, in its foray into electricity distribution. NTPC's distribution arm, NTPC Electric Supply Company (NESCL), had in September invited bids for the joint venture from power distribution licensees with five years of experience and a minimum average net worth of Rs 500 crore in the three preceding financial years. NESCL intends to undertake electricity distribution to end consumers including domestic, commercial, industrial and agriculture units in some states. The business will be undertaken through the proposed joint venture between NESCL and the qualified bidder. The selection process for the joint venture will take about three months, and the new entity may also bid for power distribution licensee contracts of states.

The government has estimated the value of land and scrap machines of the eight closed units of Fertilizer Corporation of India and Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation at Rs 5,582.19 crore. The valuation has been done by Project and Development India (PDIL), a central public sector enterprise. As per the data, the total value of Fertilizer Corporation of India (FCIL) Sindri is estimated at Rs 1,796.09 crore, FCIL Ramagundam (Rs 411.36 crore), FCIL Talcher (Rs 273.73 crore), FCIL Gorakhpur (1,101.91 crore) and FCIL Korba (Rs 497.37 crore). The three closed units of Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation (HFCL) at Barauni, Durgapur and Haldia have been valued at Rs 247.39 crore, Rs 706.27 crore and Rs 548.07 crore, respectively. The government had last year approved revival of eight closed units of FCIL and HFCIL subject to the condition that Board of Industrial and Financial Restructuring proceedings be expedited and changes, if any, be placed before the Empowered Committee of Secretaries for a final decision.

The government has decided to de-allocate a coal block allocated to Bihar Sponge Iron and deduct bank guarantee of Rs 26.5 crore in case of Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL) and Jayaswal Neco Industries. As Bihar Sponge Iron has been given a number of opportunities to develop the coal block and had failed to develop the same. The government had been decided to de-allocate the Macherkunda coal block in the state of Jharkhand from Bihar Sponge Iron. Besides, the Coal Ministry in a letter to JSPL dated November 20 stated that it has decided to deduct bank guarantee amounting to Rs 16.5 crore with regard to Jitpur coal block in Jharkhand allotted to the company. In another letter to Jayaswal Neco, the ministry stated that it has been decided to deduct proportionate bank guarantee furnished by the allocatee companies. The bank guarantee to the extent of Rs 10 crore be deducted.

Brigade Enterprises' group has tied up with Age Venture India, an entity floated and supported by Help Age India, for setting up retirement homes with Assisted Living facilities as part of the upcoming 130 acre mixed use township project, Brigade Orchards in Devanahalli, near Bangalore International Airport. The proposed retirement homes will have all the facilities that senior citizens would need in their twilight years, which include, among other things, all day dining facilities, a health club with physiotherapy and hydrotherapy facilities, nursing care, entertainment, wellbeing and hobby facilities, etc. The project will have about 200 apartments of 1 BHK and 2BHK homes which are specially designed to cater to people of this village. The concept is to provide an independent, fulfilling, happy life in secure environment to people in their advanced years.

Corporation Bank has enabled transaction based banking through tablet PCs and iPads.  With this initiatives prospect of mobile banking is all set to get better in the near future with the advent of smart phones and tablet PCs.The bank has reported marginal rise of 1.15% in its net profit at Rs 405.71 crore for the quarter as compared to Rs 401.11 crore for the same quarter in the previous year. Total income of the bank has increased by 16.96% at Rs 4070.45 crore for quarter under review as compared to Rs 3480.12 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2011.

Leading mobile phone companies including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Tata Teleservices and Aircel have begun a new round of reducing freebies and slashing talk time on pre paid discount vouchers, continuing with the trend that kicked off about a year ago, as the industry attempts bold steps to increase sales and margins in the fiercely competitive sector. Special tariff vouchers, also called discount vouchers, are used by a majority of prepaid subscribers and accounts for nearly 70% of telcos' revenues, which have stagnated over the last three years. For instance, Bharti Airtel has reduced the validity to 60 days from 90 days of a discount voucher available in Delhi costing Rs 28 that allows subscribers to make national long-distance calls at Rs .012 per second. In Maharashtra, Idea Cellular has increased the price of a discount voucher to Rs 97 from Rs 72 that allowed users to call at 1.2 paise per second for a period of 90 days.

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