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Today's Hot Stories-July 3, 2009

10 Headlines for Today

(1) NREGS benefited 4.5 crore households in 2008-09
(2) India is 127th country to legalize gay sex
(3) Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano won the contest on to head the International Atomic Energy Agency
(4) US loses 467,000 jobs, unemployment at 9.5%
(5) Hindalco to raise $500 million via QIP
(6) Parmeet Ahuja will be the Country General Manager of Agilent India
(7) Venus Williams will play against her sister Serena in Wimbledon final
(8) Paes-Black breezed into the semi-finals of Wimbledon mixed doubles
(9) Brazil has ended Spain's one-year reign at the top of FIFA's rankings, rewarded for its win over the US in the Confederation Cup final
(10) First suspected swine flu death in India

5 Stories for Today

(1) Economic Survey 2008-09: Over 60% Indians live on Rs 20 a day
(2) Suicide bomber attacks bus in Rawalpindi
(3) LGB to acquire MM Gears
(4) Warren Buffett donates $1.5 billion Berkshire Hathaway shares
(5) Punj Lloyd bags contracts worth $392 million in Libya

(1) Economic Survey 2008-09: Over 60% Indians live on Rs 20 a day

The debate over poverty levels in the country found resonance in the Economic Survey with the report stating that 60.5% of the population was capable of spending only Rs 20 a day as per the latest National Sample Survey.

A wide range of poverty numbers have been floating around from different government agencies with the N C Saxena committee being the latest. The Planning Commission's estimate has been the most conservative at 27.5% while the National Commission on Enterprises in the unorganised sector, in its report, had suggested that 77% of the total population in 2004-05 could spend less than Rs 20 a day per person.

The poverty figures are drawn on the basis of the minimal nutrition required per person for a healthy living and the ability to purchase the nutrition in terms of a food basket.

The debate got stronger with the UPA's ambitious Food Security Act on the anvil. The proposed scheme is meant to provide foodgrain at Rs 3 per kg to households below the poverty line.

Redefining of the poverty line is bound to have a profound effect on the spread of the social security net as well as the subsidy bill of the government.

While the food ministry had recommended curtailing the scheme to merely 5.91 crore people, the N C Saxena committee has suggested that half the households in the country should avail BPL schemes.

The Economic Survey said poverty levels had gone down over the years of liberalisation but pointed out that malnutrition rates had been stuck at a serious level.

(2) Suicide bomber attacks bus in Rawalpindi

A motorcycle borne suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying government employees in Rawalpindi on Thursday, killing himself and leaving 25 people injured.

The bomber struck the petrol tank of the vehicle as it waited at the busy Chur Chowk junction in Rawalpindi.

Neighbouring the capital, Rawalpindi is home to the Pakistan military headquarters and has witnessed several suicide attacks targeting the military and intelligence agencies.

Nasir Khan Durrani, Regional Police officer of Rawalpindi, told journalists that the bus was carrying 30 government staff but did not identify the department.

There were unconfirmed reports that the bus belonged to the Heavy Mechanical Complex, a military-weapons manufacturing facility, or to an intelligence agency.

The bus, which had no markings, was badly damaged in the attack as were several other vehicles that were waiting alongside at the junction.

Initial reports said six people were killed, but police later clarified that the only person to die was the suicide bomber himself and that 25 people were wounded in the attack.

(3) LGB to acquire MM Gears

Coimbatore-based Roller chain manufacturer, LG Balakrishnan & Bros (LGB) is acquiring a local gear and gear boxes maker, MM Gears promoted by two first-generation entrepreneurs.

LGB signed an agreement with the promoters of MM Gears, to acquire 100% shares of the firm subject to satisfactory due diligence. Started in 1995, MM Gears has an annual turnover of Rs 10 crore.

A senior official in LGB said the acquisition is in tune with its plan to enter gear and gear parts manufacturing. "We see this as a good opportunity coming at the right time since MM Gears has already an established production facility as well as market for the products "he said.

LGB is now manufacturing automotive chains, sprockets, tensioners and belts including fine blanking. Components machining and horse shoe.

Promoters of MM Gears, R Mylsamy and P Mohanraj told news agency that they decided to sell their stake since the venture required infusion of large capex to grow the business. However, Mr Mylsamy added that he would continue to run the company as chief of operations.

The gear and gear parts are industry growing fast and foreign orders are expected to flow. This would call for pumping in Rs 10 to Rs 20 crore. As they find it hard to mobilize funds, they have decided to sell it.

LGB’s net sales stood at Rs 507.6 crore in 2008-09. It reported a net profit of Rs 39.14 crore net profit based on the profit realised from the sale of the the industrial chain division.

(4) Warren Buffett donates $1.5 billion Berkshire Hathaway shares

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has donated about $1.5 billion of Berkshire Hathaway Inc stock, in connection with his 2006 pledge of his holdings to charitable causes.

According to a regulatory filing, Buffett donated 428,688 Berkshire Class B shares to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and 87,884 shares to four family charities.

Following the donations, Buffett still held 350,000 Class A and 1,501,532 Class B shares of Berkshire, together worth about $36.1 billion based on Wednesday closing prices.

Buffett said he still has a 25.8 percent stake in Berkshire, and 31.6 percent of the company's voting power. A Class B share is worth about 1/30th of a Class A share.

Buffett, 78, has built Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire into a conglomerate with close to 80 businesses that sell such things as insurance, clothing, ice cream and paint, and which owns tens of billions of dollars of common stock.

Forbes magazine in March called Buffett the world's second-richest person, trailing only Bill Gates, who is also a Berkshire Director.

(5) Punj Lloyd bags contracts worth $392 million in Libya

Engineering and construction major Punj Lloyd has bagged three contracts worth Rs.1873.18 crore ($392 million) from the Housing and Infrastructure Board of Libya, the company said.

As per the contract, the Indian company will build roads, networks for drinking water, sewage water and storm water and electrical and communication infrastructure in three towns in Libya, the company said in a regulatory statement.

The contract is scheduled for completion within 48 months, it added.

"This is our third infrastructure project in Libya with the same client. We are very proud of our association with the Housing and Infrastructure Board and look forward to playing a key role in building the infrastructure of Libya," Vimal Kaushik, Managing Director of Punj Lloyd, said in the statement.

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