Newsletter: 19th February – 25th February, 2017


Finance Ministry kickstarts listing process of IRCTC, IRFC and IRCON 

Within three weeks of Budget announcement, the Finance Ministry started the process of listing three rail PSUs – IRCTC, IRFC and IRCON. The government is considering divesting a portion of the paid-up equity share capital through an IPO and has sought Expression of Interest (EoI) from merchant bankers by March 16.

IIP to stay muted in January; will grow by 0-0.5%: D&B 

Index of Industrial Production (IIP) will remain weak and may only grow up to 0.5 per cent during January, on account of various constraints, including subdued domestic demand and an uncertain external demand, according to Dun & Bradstreet’s latest economic forecast.

GST adoption could raise India’s GDP to over 8%: IMF 

The adoption of the GST could help raise India’s medium-term GDP growth to over eight per cent and create a single national market for enhancing the efficiency of the movement of goods and services, the IMF said. At the same time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also expressed concerns over the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST).

Monetary policy committee unanimously agrees to focus on 4% inflation target 

The Reserve Bank of India’s six-member monetary policy committee cited concerns about inflation in holding rates in February, with three of them specifying the need to shift the policy stance to “neutral” from “accommodative,” according to minutes from the meeting. The minutes were released on Wednesday after the RBI voted 6-0 to hold the repo rate unchanged at 6.25 percent at its Feb 7-8 meeting, while stunning markets by changing the stance to “neutral.”

‘India aims to bring broadband to every village by 2018’ 

“India’s Department of Telecom, under the Universal Services Obligation (USO) fund, is working to bring high-speed broadband to every village in the country by 2018,” Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak said at the global conference organised by the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC). The government is working to bring the game-changing impact of technology to all our six lakh villages and the optical fibre network to all rural areas.

UBI only after withdrawal of present schemes: Arvind Subramanian 

Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said Universal Basic Income (UBI), as proposed in the recent Economic Survey, can be put in place only after withdrawal of the existing welfare projects. The cost of this programme (UBI) is so huge that it cannot be an add-on to the existing programmes (welfare schemes) as the government cannot afford it and the government’s finances will go bust.

Bharat QR code launched to push less-cash economy 

BharatQR code, the world’s first interoperable payment acceptance solution, was launched as part of efforts to move towards less-cash economy at an “insignificant cost”. Over the past few months, the government has been aggressively pushing for higher usage of digital payment mechanisms, including launching BHIM app and increasing penetration of PoS machines.


MetLife may not get to exit India that soon 

US insurer MetLife’s plan to exit its Indian joint venture may have hit a roadblock, as state-run Punjab National Bank has decided to stick on with its ownership in the company. With nearly half-a-dozen other stake holders also dragging their feet, finding a buyer for just a 26% stake that MetLife owns in Metlife may be difficult, as a potential buyer will seek a larger holding and control.

Bharti Airtel to acquire Telenor India 

Bharti Airtel, the largest domestic telecom operator by subscriber base, said that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Telenor South Asia Investments to acquire Telenor India Communications that will give it an access to seven circles including Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP East and UP West.

D-Mart owner Avenue Supermarts to launch Rs 1,800 crore IPO on March 8 

The much-awaited initial public offering of Avenue Supermarts, which operates a retail chain under the D-Mart brand, is set to open on March 8, according to the Red Herring Prospectus uploaded on Friday. The issue is likely to be priced in the range Rs 290-325, said a banker to the issue. D-Mart own chain of around 120 retail stores across 45 cities, most of them in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Proposed Voda-Idea joint entity to be a ‘co-managed company’: Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao 

Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao told senior executives at its India unit that the proposed combined entity with Idea Cellular would “truly be a co-managed company”, likely to be modelled along the lines of the British carrier’s joint ventures in the Netherlands and Australia. Vodafone has equally owned JVs with Liberty Global and Hutchison in the Netherlands and Australia, respectively.

Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and United India Insurance likely to be merged to fetch better valuations 

India’s state-owned general insurance giants Oriental Insurance, National Insurance, and United India Insurance, who together have 34 per cent of the total market share and underwriting total direct premium of over Rs. 33,000 crore, are likely to be merged to create a stronger entity to fetch better valuations at the time of listing. In January the government formally approved to list five state run general insurers while announcing its intent to pare its stake in these firms to 75% in one or more tranches.

Reliance Jio will charge customers from April 1, but it won’t burn a hole in your pocket 

After six months of offering all services for free, a plan that helped Reliance Jio net 100 million subscribers in a record time, chairman Mukesh Ambani said that Reliance Jio would not levy fees on calls. For the next financial year beginning April 1, the company’s existing users and those coming on board this March will continue to get 1 GB of data a day and all of Reliance Jio’s apps for Rs 303 a month and a one-time cost of Rs 99.

Kraft Heinz withdraws offer to merge with Unilever 

US food company Kraft Heinz Co withdrew its proposal for a $143-billion merger with larger rival Unilever Plc, the companies said on Sunday, raising questions about whether Kraft will turn its focus to another target. Kraft had made a surprise offer for Unilever to build a global consumer goods behemoth that was flatly rejected on Friday by Unilever, the maker of Lipton tea and Dove soap.

Google’s Waymo sues Uber over ‘theft’ of self-driving technology 

It took Alphabet Inc’s Waymo seven years to design and build a laser-scanning system to guide its self-driving cars. Uber Technologies allegedly did it in nine months. Waymo claims in a lawsuit that it was possible because a former employee stole the designs and technology and started a new company. Waymo accuses several employees of Otto, a self-driving startup Uber acquired in August for $680 million, of lifting technical information from Google’s autonomous car project.

Alibaba forms partnership with supermarket operator Bailian Group 

Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd has formed a strategic partnership with supermarket operator Bailian Group, extending its push into bricks-and-mortar retail as online growth slows. Alibaba has also struck a recent deal for a stake in retailer Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd and is seeking to take a controlling stake in Intime Retail Group Co Ltd .

Axis Bank doesn’t need a merger to grow, says CEO Shikha Sharma 

Axis Bank doesn’t need a merger to grow and has a blueprint for expansion in place, chief executive Shikha Sharma said. The stock has surged 17% in a month amid speculation that potential suitors such as Kotak Mahindra Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and IndusInd Bank are eyeing it with view to a merger or an acquisition. All the banks mentioned have denied or declined to comment on the matter.

Five associate banks to merge with SBI from April 1 

The merger of State Bank of India’s five associate banks with the parent will become effective in the new fiscal year, the government said. In gazette notifications, the government said the entire undertakings of these five banks shall stand transferred to and vested in State Bank of India from April 1, 2017. The merger will create a bigger SBI that will account for nearly a quarter of all outstanding loans in the country.

Airtel buys stake in fintech company Seynse Technologies

Bharti Airtel has bought a stake in Seynse Technologies, valuing the fintech company at over Rs. 100 crore, in a bid to add teeth to its financial operations platform including the payments bank. The acquisition of the “strategic stake” in Seynse was made through subsidiary Bharti Airtel Services, according to a statement. Both companies did not disclose the amount invested or the equity stake taken.


Russia overtakes Saudi Arabia as world’s largest crude producer

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest crude producer in December, when both started restricting supplies ahead of agreed cuts with other global producers to curb the worst glut in decades. Russia pumped 10.49 million barrels a day in December, down 29,000 barrels a day from November, while Saudi Arabia’s output declined to 10.46 million barrels a day from 10.72 million barrels a day in November, according to the website of the Joint Organisations Data Initiative in Riyadh.

HSBC warns of risks to world economic growth as profit dives 

London-based bank HSBC reported that annual profit slumped by more than 80 percent following a year of “unexpected economic and political events” that contributed to volatile markets and influenced investment activity. Europe’s biggest bank that net profit for 2016 tumbled 82 percent to $2.5 billion from $13.5 billion a year ago.

Boko Haram violence leaves over 7 million facing starvation

Over 7 million people are starving in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria as a result of violence by the Boko Haram terror group, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported. The number of people affected by severe food insecurity has doubled to more than seven million, compared with 3.4 million in June 2015.

Donald Trump revokes Barack Obama’s guidelines on transgender bathrooms 

President Donald Trump’s administration revoked landmark guidance issued to public schools in defence of transgender student rights, reversing course on a signature initiative of former Democratic President Barack Obama. Obama instructed public schools in May 2016 to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms matching their chosen gender identity, threatening to withhold federal funding if they should force transgender children to use bathrooms against their will.


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