Newsletter: 15th – 21st January, 2017

INDIAN ECONOMY

Rs 2-lakh insurance cover for 3 years for Jan Dhan account holders on cards 

The government is considering an umbrella insurance scheme under which all Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) account holders will be offered free Rs 2-lakh insurance cover for three years to create a robust social security net for the poor. There are about 27 crore account holders under the PMJDY fiscal inclusion scheme. Of these, 16 crore have been seeded with Aadhaar numbers.

India inks financing pact with World Bank for $48 million

Multilateral lending agency World Bank and India signed a financing agreement for IDA credit of USD 48 million (equivalent) for the ‘Nagaland Health Project’. “The objectives of the project are to improve health services and increase their utilization by communities in targeted locations in Nagaland,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

NPCI declares Rs 54.90 crore prize money for NITI Aayog’s lucky draw schemes 

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) declared Rs 54.90 crore prize money to over 3.42 lakh winners for NITI Aayog’s lucky draw schemes for consumers and merchants. The two schemes are – Lucky Grahak Yojna (LGY) and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojna (DVY). Schemes are aimed at incentivising both consumers and merchants to promote digital payments.

In first address, Urjit Patel asks staff to guard RBI reputation 

RBI Governor Urjit Patel has told colleagues that any effort to belittle the reputation of the central bank deserves “zero tolerance” and asked them to guard the integrity of the institution. In his first address to the staff after taking over as the 24th Governor on September 4, 2016, Patel, in an email, said the RBI has achieved the excellence only because of the collective efforts of its employees.

Niti Aayog to rank states on digital metrics, seeks data 

To foster competition among states, Niti Aayog has sought data on digital transactions from them within 10 days so that they can be ranked on the basis of initiatives taken to promote less-cash economy. Digital payment channels like mobile wallets, USSD and RuPay have seen a massive uptake and rise in transactions in the wake of the note ban.

GST Council’s 9th meet fails to break dual control deadlock 

The possibility of implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by the Centre’s targeted deadline of April 1, 2017, has receded with the ninth meeting of the GST Council here failing to agree on the contentious issue of administrative control of GST. Eight earlier meetings of the Council have failed to resolve the deadlock between the Centre and the states on the issue of “cross empowerment”, or dual control of assessees, and who will exercise control over them.

RBI raises ATM withdrawal limit to Rs 10,000 per day from current Rs 4,500 

The Reserve Bank of India raised the daily withdrawal limit at ATMs to Rs 10,000 per card and doubled that for current accounts to Rs 1 lakh per week, signaling that the post-demonetisation cash crunch is easing as currency supplies have risen over the past few weeks. While the overall cap of Rs 24,000 per week for savings accounts stays in place, even that could soon be raised to as much as Rs 40,000, according to bankers.

The soon-to-be launched Aadhaar Pay will let you make purchases using your fingerprint 

Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), says it will be rolling out Aadhaar-enabled payment system, or Aadhaar Pay, for merchants in the next few weeks. This will be an app for merchants that enables them to receive payments through biometric authentication of the customer, provided their bank accounts are linked to their Aadhaar number. “A pilot is under way in fair price shops in Andhra Pradesh where shopkeepers are accepting payments from PDS beneficiaries.

BHIM downloads reach 1.1 crore; 4 banks on board for Aadhaar-based system 

The new BHIM app, that aims to make digital payments through mobiles fast and simple for people, has logged 1.1 crore downloads within 20 days of launch, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The Minister further said that the proposed Aadhaar-linked payment system would be launched “very soon” and four banks, including State Bank of India, are already on board for the new system.

BUSINESS

SBI raises $500 mn via bond sale, 5-year paper to yield 3.30% 

State Bank of IndiA, the country’s largest lender, has raised $500 million by selling five-year bonds to investors in Europe and Asia, having last sold similar instruments about three years ago. The five-year securities known as Regulation S bonds have been issued under SBI’s $10 billion Medium-Term-Note (MTN) programme through its London branch and listed in Singapore. The proceeds will likely be used to lend to Indian companies abroad.

RIL writes down $6 billion for New Accounting Standards 

Reliance Industries has written down almost $6 billion of investments in its Krishna Godavari Basin D6 block and US shale gas assets attributing it to change in accounting policy. In the past, the billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led company had to write down investments in the KGD6 block on account of steep declines in output and also in its shale gas assets in the US as prices plummeted.

Videocon Telecom to shut operations from February 15 

Videocon Telecom, among the smallest telcos in India, will shut down operations in the Punjab circle from February 15, bringing to an end its mobile services in the country. The company has asked its 3 million customers to switch to other operators to ensure continuity of services.

Mukesh Ambani plows $4.4 billion more in 4G unit to bolster Jio’s war chest 

After plowing $25 billion into starting a national fourth-generation mobile network, billionaire Mukesh Ambani is spending more to boost coverage amid complaints from its largest rival that his free services are hurting competition. Reliance Jio Infocomm plans to raise $4.4 billion from a rights offer and will use the proceeds to enhance its network capacity, it said in an exchange filing.

CCI approves Aspen Global-GlaxoSmithKline deal 

Competition Commission has cleared Aspen Global’s deal to purchase certain drug brands from GlaxoSmithKline.  Ultiva, Tracrium, Nimbex, Mivacron and Anectine/Midarinecertain brands would be acquired by Aspen along with goodwill and the intellectual property, among others.

CCEA approves listing of 5 general insurance PSUs 

The government has decided to list five state-owned general insurers and said it will bring down its stake in these insurance companies to 75%. The decision was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). These companies are New India Assurance Company, United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance Company, National Insurance Company and General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC).

Alibaba becomes worldwide Olympic partner through 2028 

Chinese online giant Alibaba today became the worldwide Olympic partner through 2028 after signing the first long-term partnership with International Olympic Committee. Alibaba will become the official cloud services and e- commerce platform services partner, as well as the founding partner of the Olympic Channel, Alibaba Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma, announced at a press conference.

Toshiba woes intensify on reports of $6 billion writedown, shares plummet 

Toshiba Corp’s financial crisis deepened on Thursday as media reported it may book a bigger-than-expected $6 billion writedown on its U.S. nuclear business, sending its shares sliding 15 percent. The reports cast doubt on whether measures the beleaguered industrial conglomerate is expected to take to bolster its finances – including the sale of a stake in its chip business – will be sufficient to address any shortfall.

Etihad, Lufthansa in talks to merge airlines 

Germany’s Lufthansa and Etihad Airways are in talks to possibly merge the two airlines, Italian daily Il Messaggero.
According to the paper, managers from both companies have for weeks been examining the possibility of Etihad taking a 30-40 percent stake in Lufthansa via a capital increase reserved for the Abu Dhabi state-owned airline.

Tobacco giant British American Tobacco buys out US firm Reynolds for $47.4 billion 

British American Tobacco agreed to pay almost $50 billion for control of US firm Reynolds American, creating the world’s largest listed tobacco company. he deal brings together a raft of global brands, including BAT products Lucky Strike, Rothmans and Kent, and Reynolds’ brands such as Newport, Camel and Pall Mall.

ICICI Bank blocks payments for its customers on Flipkart’s wallet PhonePe 

In a sign of the growing turf war between banks and new economy fintech companies, India’s largest private sector lender ICICI Bank has blocked payments by its customers on Flipkart’s wallet and payments app PhonePe, citing “restrictive practices” and security concerns over data. The move comes after the country’s largest lender, SBI, barred top ups through net banking and cards on mobile wallets last year, citing security issues.

Havells set to enter personal care space 

The Noida-based makers of electrical products Havells is venturing into electronic personal care category next month and undertaking a feasibility study to enter into water purifiers to expand its consumer products business. Havells will roll out products like shavers, trimmers, epilators, hair straighteners and other beauty and personal grooming products.

SBBJ Q3 net profit nosedives 72% to Rs 57.8 crore 

SBI associate State Bank of BikanerBSE -2.91 % & Jaipur’s net profit fell sharply by 72 per cent to Rs 57.84 crore in the quarter ended December 31, on mounting bad loans and fall in core income. The bank’s net profit in October-December quarter of previous fiscal had stood at Rs 206.13, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur (SBBJ) said in a BSE filing.

CCI nod to MakeMyTrip, Ibibo Group merger 

The Competition Commission of India has approved the proposed merger of online travel firm MakeMyTrip’s Indian travel business with rival Ibibo Group, owned by South African media conglomerate Naspers. Following this approval, nearly three months after the proposed merger was announced, MakeMyTrip said that it expects to close the transaction on or around January 31.

Reliance Jio users can continue to party after March 31, almost free 

After a six-month free run which ends on March 31, Reliance Jio Infocomm subscribers may continue to enjoy data services at a nominal rate, combined with free voice calls, for another three months. The Mukesh Ambani-owned operator is working out a new tariff plan which will be valid till June 30.

Apple files $1 billion lawsuit against chip supplier Qualcomm 

Apple Inc filed a $1 billion lawsuit against supplier Qualcomm Inc, days after the U.S. government filed a lawsuit that accused the chip maker of resorting to anti competitive tactics to maintain a monopoly over key semiconductors in mobile phones. Qualcomm is a major supplier to both Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd for “modem” chips that connect phones to wireless networks.

WORLD

Janet Yellen says economy near goals warrants gradual hikes 

Fed officials raised their benchmark borrowing cost to a range of 0.5% to 0.75%last month, the first hike in a year. The move reflected “our confidence that the economy will continue to improve.” Yellen said. Her speech came two days before Trump’s inauguration as president.

Japan threatens India with WTO on steel as Trump era heralds rising trade tensions 

Japan is threatening to take India to the WTO over restrictions that nearly halved its steel exports to the South Asian nation over the past year, a step that could trigger more trade spats as global tensions over steel and other commodities run high. With global trade friction increasing, Japan’s defence of an industry that sells nearly half of its products overseas is getting more vigorous.

World Government Summit to be organised in Dubai between February 12-14 

The fifth edition of the World Government Summit (WGS) will get underway soon in UAE as yet another initiative to generate ideas for global governance. There will be 10 new developments in the upcoming edition, held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, from February 12-14 in Dubai.

India most trusted nation in terms of institutions: Report 

Faring better than last year, India has emerged as the most trusted nation in terms of its institutions by general population even as there has been a “global implosion of trust” worldwide, says a survey. The Indian government is also the second most trusted after neighbouring China, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer released ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meet.

Saudi Arabia says another OPEC cut possible in 2017 

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister says there’s a chance of another production cut from OPEC countries this year. Speaking at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Khalid Al-Falih says he “would not exclude” another cut to follow last year’s December agreement if higher prices don’t stick.

China admits faking economic data for years 

A Chinese official has admitted his province falsified its economic data for years, state media said, vindicating long-held suspicions that China has been cooking the books. The announcement by the governor of the industrial province of Liaoning comes as the world’s second-largest economy prepares to release 2016 data that is tipped to show the slowest growth in more than a quarter of a century.

Venezuela debuts new banknotes amid soaring inflation 

Venezuelans stood in long ATM lines to take out new, larger-denominated bills that President Nicolas Maduro hopes will help stabilise the crisis-wracked economy. Maduro last month said he was scrapping circulation of the most used bill, the 100-bolivar note, and replacing it with new bills ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars.

Donald Trump takes presidency oath with vow to put ‘America First’ 

Pledging to empower America’s “forgotten men and women”, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, taking command of a deeply divided nation and ushering in an unpredictable era in Washington. His victory gives Republicans control of the White House for the first time in eight years.

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