DANISH FIRM IN INDIA: A S Velfrost, a US $200-million Danish freezer and deep freezer manufacturer, is considering India as a possible manufacturing base, its first outside Denmark. According to executives, a deal is being negotiated with Blue Star India for a joint venture. However, the plans have not taken off yet because neither companies have found market conditions encouraging. "We would like to have a production unit with a minimum capacity of one lakh units per annum,' said Ole Miller Jensen, sales director of the Danish firm. According to Erling Damkjaer, managing director, consul of Velfrost, India is fast developing a market for these products.

POWER DEAL: Two of the largest US power companies, American Electric Power (AEP) and Central and South West Corporation, will combine forces in a US $6.6 billion deal highlighting increasing rationalisation in the US power market. The businesses will form one of the biggest electric power companies in the US, with significant holdings in several overseas markets, including the UK. The merger will allow AEP to extend its energy interests across 11 states. The company, retaining the AEP name, will serve 4.6 million customers, have an annual revenue of US $11 billion and a stock market value of US $28.1 billion.

IRAN PIPELINE: The construction of a US $190-million, 200 km pipeline which will supply Turkmenistan gas to power plants in northern Iran has been completed recently. The pipeline connects Korpedzhe gasfield to Kord-Kuy, Iran and will boost Iran's hopes of becoming an export route for gas and oil from the Caspian Sea area. It will also enable Turkmenistan gas exports to bypass Russia, thereby breaking Moscow's monopoly as an export route. pharma shares rising: An improved first-half performance by several leading pharmaceutical firms has seen their stock take centre stage once again. Over the last few sessions, these were the only stocks able to keep pace with the rising indices. A number of these firms have performed well in terms of returns on their stock values. The shares of German Remedies, Pfizer, SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo have appreciated between 15-20 per cent. Among the non-MNC companies, Cipha's shares have resumed their rise.

COAL PROJECTS: Coal India Limited (CIL) has cleared project reports for six new mines with an investment of Rs 1,752 crores. The entire investment will be made by CIL out of internal generation and from domestic borrowings. These projects are to be taken up independently by CIL during the Ninth Plan. Of the six projects, the 10-million-tonne Bhubaneshwari open-cast venture of Mahanadi Coalfield Ltd will be the largest. It will meet the requirements of coastal power plants in the south and the future requirements of National Thermal Power Corporation's Talchar super thermal power station and will alone entail an investment of Rs 697 crores.

BAN ON DRUGS: Maharashtra government recently enforced a ban on several substandard drugs. Their manufacturers had been directed to stop sale of the batches of the drugs, to recall the sold stocks and to intimate details of stock of the batches. The drugs controller of the other states had been informed to take action against the manufacturers located in their jurisdiction for manufacturing substandard drugs.

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