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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY - July 2019

Jul 2019

Jul 31, 2019

Microsoft Acquires BlueTalon

  • Microsoft acquired BlueTalon, a data privacy and governance service that helps enterprises set policies for how their employees can access their data, for an undisclosed sum.
  • BlueTalon works with leading Fortune 100 companies to eliminate data security blind spots and gain visibility and control of data.
  • The company provides a customer-proven, data-centric solution for data access management and auditing across the diverse systems resident in modern data estates.
  • This acquisition would enhance Microsoft's ability to empower enterprises across industries to digitally transform while ensuring right use of data with centralised data governance at scale through Azure.

Mindtree Deal Sealed

  • A lot can happen over coffee," is the tagline of Cafe Coffee Day and its promoter V.G. Siddhartha, who entered into a Rs. 3,269-crore deal with Larsen and Toubro over a cup of coffee with its MD and CEO S. N. Subrahmanyan to sell 20.4% stake. Mr. Siddhartha, who met Mr. Subrahmanyan through a mutual friend, offered his 20.4% stake in Mindtree to L&T.

Axis Bank Profit Doubles

  • Axis Bank reported a 95.4% jump in stand-alone net profit to Rs. 1,370.08 crore for the first quarter of FY20 aided by a healthy rise in income. The bank had posted a net profit of Rs. 701.09 crore in the April-June quarter of the previous fiscal year.
  • Total income (stand-alone) rose to Rs. 19,123.71 crore for the June quarter of FY20, from Rs. 15,702.01 crore in the year ago period.
  • Other incomes rose 32.27% to Rs. 3,868.76 crore for the quarter ended June 2019 against Rs. 2924.99 crore for the same quarter last year.

Firm that Makes Budweiser Banned from Selling Beer

  • Delhi banned the world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, from selling its products in the city market for 3 years for allegedly evading local taxes.
  • The city government orders from earlier this month followed a 3-year investigation which found that beer maker SABMiller - acquired by AB InBev in 2016 for around $100 billion - used duplicate barcodes on its beer bottles supplied to city retailers that year, allowing it to pay lower levies.
  • AB InBev said in a statement it denied the Delhi government's allegations and would appeal against the order.

FDI Sets a New Record

  • As per a government report, India received the highest-ever FDI inflow of USD 64.37 billion during the fiscal ended March 2019.
  • According to the Annual Report 2018-19 of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), foreign direct investments (FDI) worth USD 286 billion were received in the country in past five years.
  • The DPIIT under the commerce and industry ministry further said path-breaking reform measures undertaken during the last financial year have resulted in India surpassing the FDI received in 2016-17 and registering an inflow of USD 60.98 billion during 2017-18, a new all-time high.
  • The FDI inflows were USD 45.14 billion during 2014-15 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government assumed power. The inflows were USD 55.55 billion in the following year.

Jul 30, 2019

Amazon to Launch Online Food Delivery Service in India

  • Amazon.com Inc. is planning a foray into the burgeoning online food delivery business in India this year (in 2019)  in a move that could raise competition in an increasingly crowded market.
  • The Seattle-based company is working with local partner Catamaran, founded by informational technology industrialist Narayana Murthy, and has begun hiring staff for the new operation. Amazon is aiming to launch the new service delivering from restaurants ahead of India's month-long festive season, which starts in September 2019.
  • The industry is dominated by local start-ups Swiggy, backed by Naspers and Tencent, and Zomato, which counts Sequoia as an investor. Uber Technologies launched its India food delivery service in 2017 but was unable to keep pace with the local market leaders. 
  • As per reports, Amazon was in talks to buy Uber Eats. 

Pfizer to Merge its Generics Drug Business

  •  Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. agreed to spin off its generic drugs business and combine it with Mylan, a move that leaves Pfizer with more profitable innovative drugs, including cancer drug Ibrance and pneumonia vaccine Prevnar.
  • The move, which brings blockbuster treatments Viagra, EpiPen and Lipitor under one umbrella, is part of a years-long effort by Pfizer to split into three parts—innovative medicines, lower margin generic drugs business and consumer healthcare.
  • Under new chief executive officer (CEO) Albert Bourla, Pfizer has also been beefing up its cancer treatment pipeline as some of its older treatments face competition.
  • The new company, to be based in the US and incorporated in Delaware, would be led by Michael Goettler, president of Pfizer's generics unit, Upjohn.

NBCC Offers to Take up Unitech's Housing Projects

  •  State-run builder NBCC India Ltd is willing to take over unfinished housing projects from realtor Unitech and complete construction within a timeline, the Centre told Supreme Court in yet another case where the administration would need to step in after homebuyers were left in the lurch.
  • The proposal, which includes setting up a new committee to monitor the construction, was made at a hearing in connection with a case filed by Unitech homebuyers, who say that 16,000 flats have been partially or fully paid for but are yet to be handed over.
  • Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted the NBCC roadmap to a bench of justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah. 
  • NBCC sought Rs. 50 crore as construction fee and two per cent of the entire project for due-diligence before it undertakes the construction work. The committee, the NBCC suggested, will arrange for funds as required and approve sample flats.

Grab to Invest $2 Billion in Indonesia

  •  Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab would invest $2 billion into Indonesia over five years using capital received from Japan`s SoftBank Group Corp, which wants to increase its exposure to the region`s most populous market.
  • The investment would go toward creating a next-generation transportation network and transforming how critical services, like healthcare, are delivered.
  • Singapore-headquartered Grab said that SoftBank would invest the US$2 billion into the country through Grab, to drive the digitization of crucial services and infrastructure.

SBI Reduces Deposit Rates

  • The State Bank of India (SBI) slashed deposit rates on various tenors citing surplus liquidity and falling interest rate scenario.
  • Interest rates were reduced by 50-75 basis points (bps) for time deposits with shorter tenors of up to 179 days.
  • For time deposits with longer tenors, there is a reduction of up to 20 bps in the retail segment and 35 bps in the bulk segment.
  • The bank also cut deposit rates on bulk deposits of Rs. 2 crore and above.
  • The new rates would be effective from August 1, 2019.

Jul 29, 2019

RIL Plans a Big Push for its Private-label Brands

  • As per reports, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) would soon hire distributors to sell private-label brands owned by its retail unit through neighbourhood stores, as billionaire Mukesh Ambani aims to boost the contribution of the company's consumer business.
  • RIL would sell its store brands across categories such as staples, food, home and personal care and general merchandise.
  • RIL sells these products through its retail stores under brand names such as Best Farms, Good Life, Masti Oye, Kaffe, Enzo, Mopz, Expelz and Home One.
  • Ambani, India's richest man wants to reduce the company's reliance on the energy business. He expects the consumer businesses to contribute nearly as much to RIL's overall earnings as the energy and refining businesses by 2025.
  • As part of this strategy, RIL is taking on online retailers such as Amazon and Flipkart in the e-commerce segment and the likes of Hindustan Unilever Ltd and ITC Ltd in the offline segment.
  • "RIL is planning to appoint FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) distributors on a trial basis.

Jul 28, 2019

GST on Electric Vehicles, Chargers Cut to 5%

  • In a bid to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council decided to reduce the tax rate on electric vehicles from 12% to 5% and on EV chargers from 18% to 5% from August 1.
  • The council, which met via videoconference, also exempted the hiring of electric buses by local authorities from GST.

Adani Plans to Invest in UP

  • According to Gautam Adani, Adani Group would invest Rs. 5,500 crore over the next five years in power transmission and food processing sectors in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Speaking on the occasion of the second ground breaking ceremony that would see the launch of multiple projects by corporates, Adani said that he had announced his investment plans during UP investors' summit in February 2018 and the work on two power transmission projects has already started.
  • Under the food processing segment, rice and flour mills, kachchi ghani refining facility would be set up in the state.

ICICI Bank Clocks Profit

  • ICICI Bank reported a Rs. 1,908.03-crore net profit for the April-June quarter compared with a Rs. 119.55-crore loss during the same period of the previous year as additions to bad loans fell, lowering provision requirement.
  • Net interest income (NII) increased 27% year-on-year to Rs. 7,737 crore while net interest margin rose 3.61% compared with 3.19% in the same period of the previous year. Net interest margin was 3.72% during the fourth quarter of 2018-19.

Indigo Paints to Ramp up Capacity

  • Indigo Paints Pvt. Ltd., India's fifth-largest decorative paints company, is planning to ramp up capacity by investing Rs. 40-Rs. 50 crore every year for five years as demand for its range of paints is picking up across the country, according to a top company executive.
  • According Hemant Jalan, managing director, Indigo Paints Pvt. Ltd, the company has been growing at a rate of 45% year-on-year as against industry growth of 12-13%.
  • Jalan said that the company which has retail presence in the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh would expand deep into major markets of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka which it tapped three to four years back.

Jul 27, 2019

PNB Back in the Black

  • The Punjab National Bank (PNB) reported a profit of Rs. 1,018.63 crore for the quarter ended June 30 owing in large part to a reduction in provisions.
  • The public sector bank had reported a loss of Rs. 940 crore in the corresponding quarter of last year.
  • The bank's total income stood at Rs. 15,161.74 crore in the first quarter of the financial year 2019-20, up from Rs. 15,072.41 crore earned in Q1 of the previous fiscal. Provisions and contingencies accounted for Rs. 2,462.8 crore,, drastically lower than the Rs. 5,134.71 crore in the same quarter of 2018-19.
  • Despite posting a profit this quarter, the bank's asset quality further deteriorated on a sequential basis.
  • The gross NPA ratio increased to 16.49% in Q1 compared with 15.5% in the fourth quarter of the previous financial year. The gross NPA ratio was 18.26% in the first quarter of 2018-19.

Anglo American Shares Fall

  • Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Limited has sold its stake in Anglo American with superior gains, giving rest to speculation that the mining baron will launch a bid to acquire the global miner.
  • However, the sale, with a net gain of over $100 million, couldn't enable the firm to improve its profitability as net profit for the first quarter fell 12% to ₹1,351 crore.
  • Cairn India Holdings Limited (CIHL), an overseas subsidiary of the company, and Volcan Investments Limited, had agreed to unwind entirely the structured investment entered into between them in December 2018 ahead of the originally envisaged schedule.
  • Company's revenue during the quarter fell by 4% to Rs. 21,167 crore, primarily due to lower commodity prices.

Yes Bank Picks up Stake in Cox & Kings

  • Yes Bank acquired 18.55% stake in travel and tour operator Cox & Kings by invoking pledged shares.
  • The bank acquired 32,750,139 shares of nominal value Rs. 5 each comprising 18.55% of the post-issue, fully paid-up share capital. The bank has also acquired 30% of Ezeego One Travel & Tours by invoking pledged shares.
  • Cox & Kings had earlier defaulted on commercial paper payment leading to a downgrade by rating agencies. Meanwhile, Yes Bank stock closed 9.64% higher on the BSE to Rs. 96.10 after reports of the bank planning to raise $ 1.2 billion to boost capital.
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