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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY - May 2019

May 2019

Jun 20, 2021

Saurabh Kumar Steps Down as Grofers Co-founder

  • After rolling out e-grocery platform Grofers along with co-founder Albinder Dhindsa eight years ago, Saurabh Kumar has decided to call it a day. In an email sent to Grofers employees. Kumar said he's leaving the company for personal ambitions.
  • While Kumar will not be involved in day-to-day responsibilities at Grofers, he will continue to be a board member and a shareholder at the company. According to reports, he holds over 3 per cent stake in the company, which is currently valued around $644 million.

IDBI Bank Invites Bids to Divest Stake in Asset Reconstruction Company

  • IDBI Bank plans to divest its stake in Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (Arcil) and has invited bids from interested parties.
  • IDBI Bank intends to sell 6,23,23,800 equity shares, constituting approximately 19.18 per cent of the total equity share capital of Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd held by IDBI Bank.
  • Arcil was incorporated in 2002 and is owned by banks like SBI, IDBI, ICICI, PNB and strategic foreign investors such as Avenue India Resurgence Pte Ltd.

S&P Revises ICICI Bank Credit Rating Outlook

  • S&P Global Ratings revised the rating outlook on ICICI Bank Ltd to stable from negative on grounds that the lender will benefit from the sale of stake in subsidiaries.
  • The rating agency affirmed its 'BBB-' long-term and 'A-3' short-term issuer credit ratings on ICICI Bank.
  • "We revised the rating outlook to reflect our view that ICICI Bank will maintain its strong capital position over the next 24 months. The bank will benefit from the sale of a stake in subsidiaries and gradual normalization of earnings, which should reduce risks associated with its capital position," it said.
  • In a statement, S&P forecast that ICICI Bank will maintain a risk-adjusted capital (RAC) ratio of more than 10 per cent over the next 24 months.

Iraq Signs Deal to Drill 96 Oil Wells

  • Iraq has signed a contract to drill 96 oil wells in the West Qurna-1 oil field located in the southern province of Basra to raise the production, according to a statement by the Ministry of Oil.
  • The state-run Basra Oil Company and the contractors for the West Qurna-1 oil field, ExxonMobil company and the US' Schlumberger International, signed the contract.
  • Iraq's West Qurna-1 oil field, which holds more than 20 billion barrels of expected recoverable reserves, is among the largest in the world.

PhonePe Launches Auto Top-up Feature for its Wallet

  • Walmart backed PhonePe launched an auto top-up feature for its payment wallet, using UPI e-mandate. This feature will allow customers of PhonePe to set up a UPI e-mandate once, post which the company will automatically top up their wallet balance when it falls below the minimum below.
  • PhonePe customers can now make multiple payments using their wallet, without having to top up their wallet balance manually each time. Once the UPI e-mandate has been set up, users don't need to enter any PIN or wait for an OTP each time they want to load their wallets or make a payment.

Jun 19, 2021

Decks Cleared for Takeover of Crisis-ridden PMC Bank

  • Paving the way for takeover of crisis-ridden Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (PMC), the RBI granted in-principle approval to the Centrum Financial Services to set up a small finance bank. Centrum Financial Services was one of the applicants for takeover of the PMC Bank.
  • The PMC Bank had invited Expression of Interest (EoI) from eligible investors for investment/equity participation for its reconstruction and had received four proposals. In September 2019, the RBI had superseded the PMC Board and placed it under regulatory curbs.

LIC CSL Launches Prepaid Gift Card in Collaboration with IDBI Bank

  • LIC Cards Services (LIC CSL) has launched a contactless prepaid gift card, 'Shagun', in collaboration with IDBI Bank on the RuPay platform. The purpose of this card is to expand the gift card market with an intent to promote cashless ways of gifting and present a wide range of end-use choices and in a future foray into the market of e-gift cards. NPCI partnered with LIC CSL & IDBI Bank for the launch of the Shagun Gift Card on RuPay network.
  • Shagun card, in the initial phase, will be available to LIC and its subsidiaries for official use. The card will be used to facilitate awards and special rewards during official conferences and functions.
  • The Shagun gift card offers customisation in the form of flexible loading of any amount ranging from Rs. 500 to Rs. 10,000. With this card, the customer can perform multiple transactions within the validity of 3 years.
  • They can also use it to shop online, pay utility bills, book tickets for air, rail, bus, and so on through various mobile wallets and E-commerce portals or apps using this card. The contactless (tap & go) feature of the card is aimed at transforming the transaction experience for users.

ADB and Government of India Sign Loan Agreement

  • The Government of India has signed a $484 million loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank to improve transport connectivity and facilitate industrial development in the Chennai–Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor (CKIC) in Tamil Nadu.
  • The CKIC is part of India's East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), which stretches from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu and connects India to the production networks of South, South-east, and East Asia. ADB is the lead partner of the Government of India in developing ECEC.
  • The agreement was signed by Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs for the Tamil Nadu Industrial Connectivity Project on behalf of the Government of India and Takeo Konishi, Country Director – India, ADB.

Jun 18, 2021

World Bank Rejects El Salvador Request for Bitcoin Help

  • The World Bank has rejected a request from El Salvador to help with the implementation of Bitcoin as legal tender.
  • The international lender cited concerns over transparency and the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining.
  • Earlier this month, the Central American country announced plans to become the first nation to formally adopt the digital currency.
  • It aims to use Bitcoin as a parallel legal tender alongside the US dollar.
  • The World Bank's decision could mean the country faces problems in hitting its deadline to ensure that Bitcoin is accepted nationwide in the next three months.

PE major Carlyle to Sell 5.1% Stake in SBI Cards

  • Private equity (PE) major Carlyle plans to offload 5.1 per cent stake in SBI Cards and Payment Services.
  • A total of 48 million shares of the credit card company will be on offer in the range between Rs. 1,002 to Rs. 1,041.3 per share--- a discount of 1 per cent and 4.7 per cent to last closing price of Rs. 1,051.7.
  • At the top-end, the share sale is worth Rs. 4,998 crore. At the end of March quarter, Carlyle held 11.61 per cent stake in SBI Card.

Policybazaar Gets Insurance Broking Licence

  • Policybazaar has got approval from regulator IRDAI to undertake insurance broking, a development that will help the company augment business and expand its bouquet of services. With this development, the company will surrender its web aggregator licence to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and undertake business including insurance aggregation under the broking umbrella.
  • The broking licence will allow the company to venture into segments which it could not do in the past like claims assistance, offline services, and establish Points of Presence network. Policybazaar has a market share of 25 per cent in the life insurance segment, while 10 per cent in health insurance.

Exim Bank Extends $100 Million Line of Credit to Sri Lanka

  • Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) has extended USD 100 million worth of line of credit (LOC) to the Sri Lankan government for financing projects in the solar energy sector.
  • With the signing of this agreement, Exim Bank, so far, has extended nine LOCs to Sri Lanka, on behalf of the Indian government, taking the total value of LOCs extended to USD 1.68 billion.
  • Projects covered under the finance extended to Sri Lanka include the supply of petroleum products, railway projects, defence and infrastructure projects.

India Ranks 2nd in Share of Central Bank Surplus Transfers

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was second in terms of reserves transferred to the government as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) for the fiscal year 2020-21. Turkey has been ranked first.
  • RBI has transferred Rs 99,122-crore surplus to the government for FY21, which is 73% higher than the Rs 57,128 crore paid out in 2019-20. The surplus transferred by RBI constitutes 0.44% of GDP, while that of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey constitutes 0.5% of GDP.

IMD's World Competitiveness Index

  • India maintained 43rd rank on an annual IMD World Competitiveness Index compiled by the Institute for Management Development (IMD) that examined the impact of COVID-19 on economies around the world this year.
  • The 64-nation list was led by Switzerland, while Sweden has moved up to the second position (from sixth last year), Denmark has lost one place to rank third, the Netherlands has retained its fourth place and Singapore has slipped to the fifth place (from first in 2020).
  • The IMD World Competitiveness Ranking ranks 64 economies and assesses the extent to which a country promotes the prosperity of its people by measuring economic well-being through hard data and survey responses from executives.

Google Pay Expands Cards Tokenization

  • Google has extended card tokenization by bringing in more banks for card on the Google Pay app.
  • Card tokenization is a feature which lets users make debit or credit card payments through a secure digital token which is attached to their phone. It does not require to physically share credit or debit card details. Currently, this feature can be availed at about 2.5 million Visa merchant locations. With the latest extension, it will allow users to scan and pay at about 1.5 million Bharat QR enabled merchants.
  • Google Pay had earlier rolled out the feature of card tokenization with State bank of India cards, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Axis Bank.
  • Google Pay has now added SBI, IndusInd Bank & Federal Bank and Credit cards of IndusInd Bank & HSBC India in the list to use tokenization feature.

Jun 17, 2021

NV Capital Launches First Credit-fund for Media

  • NV Capital launched its maiden media & entertainment credit fund, making it the country's first such fund focused on the sector, with the objective of investing in Content creators, OTT platforms, gaming and entertainment startups.
  • Founded by industry professionals and ex-bankers Nitin Menon and Vivek Menon, NV Capital recently received SEBI's nod as a Category-II alternative investment fund. NV Capital is looking to raise funds from domestic as well as offshore investors such as financial institutions, HNIs, family offices and banks.

Microsoft Names CEO Satya Nadella as Chairman

  • Microsoft Corporation named Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella as its new chairman, in place of John Thompson.
  • Mr. Nadella, who took over as CEO in 2014 from Steve Ballmer, has been instrumental in scaling up its business including billion-dollar acquisitions like LinkedIn, Nuance Communications and ZeniMax.
  • Thompson, who took over as chairman from the software giant's co-founder Bill Gates in 2014, will serve as lead independent director.

ICICI Bank Offers Digital Banking Solutions to Corporates

  • Private sector lender ICICI Bank has started providing digital banking solutions to corporates and their ecosystem comprising partners, dealers, promoters and employees through "ICICI Stack". These services will be backed by branches across the country. The lender has already opened 8 such branches.
  • This is an extension of similar services the lender started providing towards the close of 2020 to multinational companies setting up shop and doing business in India.
  • The bank aims to become the preferred banking partner for companies and their entire ecosystem. It will provide customised digital banking services to companies in over 15 leading industries-- such as financial services, IT/ITES, pharmaceuticals and steel, among others.

Kirloskar Brothers Sets up New Manufacturing Division for Tech Products

  • Leading pump manufacturing company Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) has set up a new manufacturing division in Maharashtra for high-end technology products, primarily used for nuclear applications.
  • Named as the Advanced Technology Product Division (ATPD), the new manufacturing division is based at the company's mother plant at Kirloskarvadi, in Maharashtra.
  • KBL is the first and leading manufacturer of primary and secondary sodium pumps for Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR) in India. It is also among the only few providers of primary heat transfer pumps for the nuclear sector.

Jun 16, 2021

Manipal Group Chief, Launches Consumer-sector Focused SPAC in the US

  • Rohan Ajila, a private equity veteran, and Gautham Pai, chairman of the Manipal Group, have set up a special purpose vehicle in the US for acquiring consumer companies with a "compelling Asia potential".
  • Global Consumer Acquisition Corp (GCAC) raised this week $170 million in an initial public offering. The company is listed on NASDAQ under the symbol "GACQU" and its management has extensive investment and cross border operator experience, according to its IPO prospectus.

Ruchi Soya Buys Biscuits, Noodles Unit from Patanjali

  • Ruchi Soya Industries, a company now owned by Patanjali Ayurved, will use Rs. 2,663 crore from its share sale to repay part of its debt and utilise another tranche of Rs. 593 crore as working capital of the firm. 
  • Just before the follow-on public offer (FPO), the company has acquired biscuits and noodles units from entities owned by its promoters for around Rs. 65 crore.
  • The firm said 98.87 percent of its pre-issue paid-up capital is held by Patanjali Ayurved, Yogakshem Sansthan, Patanjali Parivahan, and Patanjali Gramudyog Nayas.

RBI Imposes Penalty on 2 Co-op Banks

  • The RBI has imposed penalty totalling Rs. 11 lakh on Bijnor Urban Co-operative Bank Limited, and National Urban Co-operative Bank Limited, for contravention of certain norms.
  • A penalty of Rs 6 lakh has been imposed on the Bijnor Urban Co-operative Bank Limited, and Rs 5 lakh on the National Urban Co-operative Bank Limited.
  • RBI further said penalties have been imposed based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered by the two lenders with their customers.

Canara Bank to Buy 12% Stake in Bad Bank

  • Canara Bank said it will be the lead sponsor of National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL), or bad bank, with a 12% stake in the entity.
  • Bad bank refers to a financial institution that takes over bad assets of lenders and undertakes resolution.
  • The board of Canara Bank has given in-principle approval for taking stake in NARCL.
  • Following the board nod, the bank has sought the approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for participating in NARCL as a sponsor contributing 12% stake.

Coal India to Close Down 23 Unviable Mines

  • Coal India Limited has decided to close down 23 unviable mines, and it would help save the company around Rs. 500 crore considering all costs.
  • The world's largest miner has shut down 82 such mines in the last three-four years.
  • Those 23 mines, comprising open cast and underground ones, to be closed down were identified in the last fiscal.
  • Underground mines are a major focus for closures as they are not remunerative. Some 158 underground mines employ 43 per cent of the workforce, but contribute only 5 per cent of the total production.
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