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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY - February 2020

Feb 2020

Feb 29, 2020

Amul to Acquire Heritage Foods' Dairy Plant in Punjab

  • Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF)'s flagship Amul Dairy is set to acquire Heritage Foods Ltd's dairy plant in Punjab for Rs. 21.20 crore.
  • Heritage Foods Ltd's Board of Directors on Friday approved the sale of "all tangible assets" of the dairy plant located at Bhambri village of Fatehgarh Sahib district in Punjab, the company said in its filing with exchanges. The move is part of its business rationalisation in northern India. The board approved the sale to Anand-based Kaira District Milk Producers Union Ltd (Amul Dairy), the flagship dairy under GCMMF.
  • On its part, GCMMF is evaluating the acquisition proposal, with its board likely to take a call soon, even as it looks to expand operations in Punjab to cater North India for liquid milk, curd and buttermilk, among other dairy products.

Rajiv Kumar Launches Baroda Startup Banking Initiative for Start-ups

  • Finance Secretary Shri Rajiv Kumar launched the 'Baroda Startup Banking' service with the objective of making Bank of Baroda (BoB) a preferred ally of start-up companies and connecting more than 2,000 start-ups over the next 2 years. The initiative was launched simultaneously in 15 cities across India.
  • A total of 15 Baroda start-up branches will be opened under this initiative. It will provide banking products and services as per the needs of startup companies.
  • Along with existing banking products, startup companies at these branches have special facilities like current accounts (CA), state-of-the-art payment gateway facilities, corporate credit cards, Corporate salary account and loan facility etc. will be made available. It will also help start-ups by way of cloud credits, mentorship, co-working space, legal/accounting services and other support services.

Thomson Reuters Appoints Steve Hasker as CEO

  • Thomson Reuters Corp appointed former Nielsen Holdings Plc president Steve Hasker as its new Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Jim Smith.
  • The parent of Reuters News also announced higher-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, reporting a 60% year-on-year rise in operating profit, helped by lower costs and investments following the separation of the Financial and Risk (F&R) business.
  • Stephane Bello, Chief Financial Officer, will also step down from his role and will be succeeded by Mike Eastwood, current Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance. Bello will oversee strategy and business development into 2021.

HDFC Bank Ties-up with IndiGo to Launch Co-branded Credit Card 'Ka-ching, Powered by Mastercard

  • IndiGo airlines has partnered with HDFC Bank to launch its first travel credit card.
  • Called 'Ka-ching', it is powered by Mastercard and comes in two variants – 6E Rewards and 6E Rewards XL – and also offers complimentary air tickets. "Customers can avail complimentary air tickets worth between Rs. 1,500 and Rs. 3,000, depending on the variant," HDFC Bank said in a statement, adding that the credit cards will allow customers to accrue accelerated 6E Rewards on IndiGo transactions.
  • "This card has been tailored to allow customers to accrue accelerated reward points not only on IndiGo flights, but also on all types of spend such as shopping, dining and groceries.

Feb 28, 2020

Capri Global Capital Ltd launches UDAAN New SME Lending Scheme

  • The Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) Capri Global Capital Limited (CGCL) launched an SME (Small and medium-sized enterprises) lending product "UDAAN" for women entrepreneurs to provide secured loans up to Rs. 40 lakh only for business purpose with the loan repayment period of 10 years to 15 years at a competitive interest rate after conducting due diligence.
  • Woman borrower has to be the primary applicant, within the age group of 18-45 years and must not be more than 60 years of age at the end of their loan repayment period.
  • The applicant must be the owner or co-owner of the enterprises and must be involved in the business activity for more than 12 years.
  • In India, the annual requirement for financial support to women-owned enterprises is USD 29.16 billion, but can meet only USD 9 billion from all the sources of MSME.

ONGC and HPCL Acquire 34.56% Stake of 8 PSBs in Petronet MHB Ltd

  • State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and its subsidiary Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) have bought out lenders in Petronet MHB Ltd, the firm that owns a petroleum product pipeline in Mangalore, for about Rs. 371 crore.
  • A consortium of eight public sector banks held 34.56 per cent stake in Petronet MHB Ltd, where ONGC and HPCL held 32.72 per cent apiece.
  • ONGC and HPCL bought 17.28 per cent stake each from lenders.
  • The two firms paid Rs 185.38 crore each for acquiring 17.28 per cent more share in Petronet MHB Ltd. They now hold 49.99 per cent each in the company that transports petroleum products from Mangalore Refinery.

Puneet Sharma New CFO of Axis Bank

  • Axis Bank appointment of Puneet Sharma as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with effect from March 6.
  • Sharma will replace Jairam Sridharan, who has resigned as the Group Executive and Chief Financial Officer of the bank, with effect from the close of business hours on March 5, 2020.
  • Puneet Sharma, President and Chief Financial Officer of the bank shall report directly to the Managing Director and CEO of the bank.
  • He has over 23 years of experience across banks, financial institutions and consulting. Prior to joining Axis Bank he spent 12 years at Tata Capital as a senior management functionary and was the Group Chief Financial Officer since 2014.

Bharti AXA General Insurance First Company in India to Use Whatsapp for Policy Delivery & Renewal...

  • Bharti AXA General Insurance, a private non-life insurer became the 1st company in India to use Whatsapp chatbot for entire services such as policy documents delivery, renewal notices and claim intimation for its customers. It will soon start to sell private cars, 2 wheelers & Travel insurance through Whatsapp.
  • Features of Whatsapp chatbot:
  • It is an Instant Messaging platform to be connected with the policyholders anytime, anywhere.
  • It provides instant & additional customer service options, & assistance for various queries for the policyholders other than the company's multiple channels, which includes its vast network of branches,strong customer care & contact center & its dynamic portal.
  • By providing the pin code of the city/town in the chatbot it helps to locate the nearest cashless network of garages & hospitals.

Thyssenkrupp to Sell Elevator Unit to Advent-led Consortium

  • Thyssenkrupp agreed to sell its elevators division to a consortium of Advent, Cinven and Germany's RAG foundation for 17.2 billion euros ($18.7 billion) in what could be the world's largest buyout this year. The bidding group prevailed against a rival consortium comprising Blackstone, Carlyle and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
  • The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
  • The price, which makes the deal Europe's biggest buyout since 2007, beats the most optimistic estimates and roughly matches a bid that had been submitted earlier in the process by Finnish rival Kone, which dropped out of the race earlier this month over expected antitrust risks.
  • Thyssenkrupp Elevator is the world's fourth-largest lift manufacturer behind United Technologies Corp's Otis, Switzerland's Schindler and Finnish rival Kone.

IndusInd Bank Appoints Sumant Kathpalia as New MD & CEO

  • IndusInd Bank elevated bank's head for consumer banking Sumant Kathpalia as the new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.
  • As previously advised to the exchanges, the bank's nomination and remuneration committee and the board had considered and submitted the name of a potential candidate for the role of MD and CEO, to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), seeking an approval for the appointment.

Feb 27, 2020

CRISIL Completes Acquisition of Greenwich Associates

  • Rating Agency CRISIL completed the acquisition of 100% stake in Greenwich Associates. The transaction was announced in December 2019.
  • Greenwich is a leading provider of proprietary benchmarking data, analytics and qualitative insights to financial services firms worldwide.
  • Greenwich serves over 300 clients across top investment banks, corporate banks, commercial banks, asset managers and key players in the market infrastructure.
  • Greenwich will accelerate CRISIL's strategy and be the leading player in the growing market of global benchmarking analytics across financial services.
  • CRISIL provides ratings, research and policy advisory services. CRISIL's majority shareholder is Standard & Poor's, a division of McGraw Hill Finance & provider of financial market intelligence.

NTPC to Provide Financial Support for Monitoring Air Quality

  • NTPC Ltd, India's largest power producer, signed an agreement with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to provide financial support for installation and commissioning of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS).
  • NTPC will provide financial support of Rs. 80 crore for installation of 25 CAAQMS across 6 States and 3 Union Territories. The CAAQMS will be installed in Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Patna (Bihar), Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur and Allahabad (all in Uttar Pradesh), Pimpri – Chinchwad (Maharashtra) and Madurai (Tamil Nadu). Along with these cities, CAAQMS will also be installed in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu (Port Blair, Silvassa and Daman).
  • The MoU was signed by Dr. Prashant Gargava, Member Secretary, CPCB and Shri Ravi V Babu, General Manager (Corporate Environment Management), NTPC Ltd in presence of Shri Prakash Tiwari, Director( Operations), Shri Ramesh Babu V, ED to CMD and Shri B Basu, CGM(SSEA).
  • Data garnered from these stations will be used as inputs for Air Quality Index evaluation for the respective cities. NTPC is continuously making efforts to curb pollution in varied ways.

Hurun Global Rich List 2020

  • The Hurun Global Rich List 2020 was jointly released by Shanghai-based Hurun Research Institute and Shenzhen-based Shimao Shenkong International Center. Jeff Bezos retains 1st rank for the third running year and Mukesh Ambani is positioned at 9th.
  • It is a ranking of US-Dollar billionaires in the world.
  • Ranking is based on the wealth calculation as of 31st January 2020.
  • It is the 9th year of ranking.
  • The Title sponsor of the list is Shimao Shenkong International Center,a real estate development in Shenzhen.
  • The list ranks 2,816 billionaires from 71 countries and from 2,182 companies.
  • Total Wealth rises to 16% to US $11.2 trillion, 479 were new to the list & 130 dropped off.
  • Women made up 15.7% of the list, Alice Walton (Walmart) is the richest woman with US $ 59 billion and ranked 12th in the list.
  • China topped the country's list with 799 billionaires,US with 626 billionaires at 2nd place & India is spotted 3rd in the list with 137 billionaires(added 39 new faces).

CCEA Approves Setting up a National Technical Textiles Mission

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved setting up of a National Technical Textiles Mission with a total outlay of Rs. 1,480 crore. The move is aimed at increasing exports in this 'futuristic and niche' segment by over a third to Rs. 20,000 crore by 2021-22, and expanding the domestic market size for technical textiles nearly threefold to $40-50 billion by 2024.
  • Technical textiles are used in various applications in agriculture, roads, railway tracks and sportswear on one hand, and in bullet-proof jackets, high-altitude combat gear and space application on the other.

ADB Raises $118 mn Through Offshore India Rupee Linked 10-year Bonds

  • Asian Development Bank (ADB), a regional development bank, secured Rs. 850 crore ( about $118 million) from a new issue of offshore Indian rupee-linked 10-year bonds, with the bonds bearing a semi-annual coupon of 6.15% and priced to yield 6.19%.
  • This is the such 1st maturity secured in Indian rupees since the year 2017, and gives an established yield curve that starts from 2021 through 2030 with Rs 72.4 billion ($1 billion) of outstanding bonds.
  • JP Morgan has underwritten the long term bonds, which are denominated in Indian rupees but settled in US dollars. It also distributed to investors in the Americas (21%) and Europe (79%). By investor type, 28% of the bonds were placed with banks and 72% with fund managers.
  • Earlier in 2019, the ADB had issued the local currency bonds in Georgian lari, Indian rupee, Indonesian rupiah, Kazakhstan tenge, and Philippine peso.

Weir Group to Focus on Mining after Oil Losses

  • Scottish engineering giant Weir Group said that it will focus on mining after suffering losses in US oil and gas.
  • It said that there was rising demand for metals needed for batteries, as more companies sought to cut carbon.
  • It comes after Weir announced an annual pre-tax loss of £372m, including one-off costs.
  • The Glasgow firm is also developing technology to help the mining industry reduce its environmental impact.
  • In November 2019, Weir issued a profit warning for its oil and gas division and axed a fifth of its US workforce in the face of tough trading.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Launches Self-charging Hybrid Electric MPV Vellfire

  • Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) launched self-charging hybrid electric luxury multi-purpose vehicle Vellfire in the country priced at Rs. 79.5 lakh (ex-showroom).
  • Equipped with a 2.5 litre gasoline hybrid engine coupled with two electric motors and a hybrid battery, the model churns out a power of 115 BHP.
  • The seven-seater model comes with various luxury features like lounge seats in second row, leather upholstery, three zone AC, one-touch power side doors, twin sunroofs among others.

Feb 26, 2020

Microsoft and SBI Join Hands to Train Differently-abled for Employment in BFSI Sector

  • Microsoft collaborated with the Centre run State Bank of India (SBI) to train differently-abled people to find jobs in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector. In the first year of partnership 500 differently-abled youths will be up skilled.
  • As a part of this partnership, SBI Foundation and Microsoft will develop an artificial intelligence powered market so that BFSI industry can connect more easily with differently-abled people for employment opportunities.

NABARD Grants Rs. 400.64 cr for UT of J&K to Boost Infrastructure

  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), an Apex Development Financial Institution in India, granted a sum of Rs. 400.64 crore to the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
  • The amount was sanctioned under its 'Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) – Trench XXV' for boosting rural infrastructure during the current financial year-FY (2019-20).
  • Out of the total amount, Rs. 209.87 crore will be provided for the construction of 82 rural roads length of 291 km & 3 bridges. This will benefit 9.15 lakh people in 19 districts of UT of J&K & they get all weather improved connectivity to 461 remote villages.
  • An outlay of Rs. 143.66 crore was approved for implementation of 38 water supply schemes, which will benefit over 3.54 lakh people across 86 villages in 17 districts of UT of J&K.

RBI Lifts Ban on Bandhan Bank Network Expansion

  • The Reserve Bank allowed Bandhan Bank to expand its branch network after considering the efforts made by the private lender to comply with the licensing conditions.
  • The central bank in September 2018 had barred Bandhan Bank from expanding its network as the lender failed to reduce the promoters' stake to 40 per cent from close to 82 per cent within the stipulated three-year time frame of commencing operations.
  • The bank said RBI has lifted the regulatory restriction on branch opening, subject to the condition that the bank ensures that at least 25 per cent of the total number of banking outlets opened during a financial year are opened in unbanked rural centres.
  • Bandhan Bank had commenced operations on August 23, 2015.

Mauritius FPIs Can Continue to Invest in India, Says SEBI

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) clarified that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from Mauritius will continue to be eligible for registration as foreign investors in India but subject to increased monitoring.
  • The regulatory clarification was necessitated after the island nation was placed in the list of 'jurisdictions under increased monitoring' — commonly referred to as the grey list — leading to apprehensions that the Mauritius-based FPIs will not be able to trade in the Indian capital market.
  • As per the release by SEBI, FPIs from Mauritius continue to be eligible for FPI registration with increased monitoring as per FATF norms. On February 21, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Mauritius in the grey list.
  • This assumes significance since Mauritius accounts for the second-largest chunk of foreign investments, as per data from the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).

Feb 25, 2020

Indian Bank to Stop Loading and Dispensation of Rs. 2,000 Notes in its ATMs

  • City based Indian Bank has decided to load more of 200 rupee notes and stop loading and dispensation of Rs. 2,000 notes in its ATMs as a customer friendly move.
  • "After withdrawing cash from ATMs customers come into the bank branches to exchange Rs. 2,000 notes for smaller denomination currency notes. In order to avoid that we have decided to stop loading of Rs. 2,000 denomination notes in ATMs with immediate effect," the Indian Bank official said.
  • Indian Bank will load Rs. 200 denomination notes instead of Rs. 2,000 in the currency cassettes.
  • According to the bank, the 2,000 currency notes left in ATMs after March 1 will be taken out.

TCS and DLF Seek Govt. Approval to Set Up SEZs

  • Software firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and realty firm DLF have sought government nod to set up special economic zones (SEZs) for information technology (IT) sector in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. These proposals will be taken up by the board of approval in its meeting later this month. The inter-ministerial body is chaired by the commerce secretary. TCS has proposed to set up an IT/ITeS SEZ in Noida in an area of 19.9 hectares, according to the agenda paper of the board meeting. The total proposed investment for the project is Rs. 2,433.72 crore.

Mumbai Airport Gets World's Largest 'Export Cold Zone' to Store Agro, Pharma Products

  • Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), a joint venture (JV) between the GVK led consortium and Airports Authority of India (AAI), unveiled the world's largest airport-based temperature-controlled facility, the 'Export Cold Zone' for processing and storage of agro and pharma products, for which Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport will be the largest export gateway.
  • The Export Cold Zone facility with over 700 tonnes of such cargo at one time with a combined annual capacity of 5.25 lakh tonnes, will be operated by cargo handling service provider and MIAL's business partner, Cargo Service Centre.
  • The facility also installed with 12 truck docks with dock- levellers, spacious acceptance and examination area, automated workstations, X-Ray machines, unit load device (ULD) storage, ballmat system for ULD transfer and cold rooms.
  • Mumbai airport, which connects to over 500 cargo destinations across 175 countries through 60 airlines, is the first airport in India and the 3rd in Asia to receive the IATA CEIV ( International Air Transport Association-Center of Excellence for Independent Validators) Pharma accreditation, a global industry recognition helping the air transport industry.

Cash Withdrawals Have Gone up in Last 5 Years, India Second Only to China

  • According to a report by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), cash withdrawals from ATMs in India increased over the past five years. It added that India is next only to China in terms of cash withdrawals from ATMs. "However, the percentage of cash withdrawals to GDP has been constant in India at around 17%," the central bank said in the report titled 'Assessment of the progress of digitisation from cash to electronic'.
  • Further, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% in terms of volume and 10% in terms of value, ATM withdrawals have been growing more slowly compared with digital payment transactions. Digital transactions grew at a CAGR of 61% by volumes and 19% by value, indicating a shift towards digitisation, said the RBI. Also, the infrastructure for cash withdrawal — ATMs — have grown at a much slower pace, growing at a CAGR of just 4% over the past five years.

Government Approves Merger of Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel

  • The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) of India gave Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) approval for the merger of India's largest mobile tower company Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel. After the merger, the new Entity will become the world's second largest Tower company after China tower Corporation Ltd, Beijing in China.
  • The combined Entity will be the Pan-India Tower company with over 163,000 towers and it will operate across all 22 telecom service areas.
  • Bharti Infratel the tower infrastructure arm of Bharti Airtel has own 42% stake in Indus Towers and the United Kingdom based Vodafone holds 42%, Vodafone Idea holds 11.15% and remaining 4.85% by a private equity firm.
  • Bharti Airtel which currently owns a 53.5% stake in Bharti Infratel will own the stakes between 33.8% to 37.2% in the new Entity which is formed under the proposed merger and the Vodafone will own between 26.7%-29.4% stakes in the merged tower entity.

Equinor Abandons Controversial Oil Drilling Plans

  • Oil giant Equinor abandoned controversial plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight in a move hailed by environmentalists as a huge win.
  • The Norwegian firm was granted approval in December 2019 to begin exploratory drills in seas off South Australia.
  • As per the firm, the plan was not commercially competitive compared to options elsewhere.
  • Australia's government said the withdrawal was disappointing.
  • The Great Australian Bight is said to be one of the most unspoiled marine environments in the world.
  • Green groups have sought for decades to protect it, but Canberra has been open to extracting the possible oil riches there.
  • Equinor is now the latest oil and gas company to have abandoned proposals for drilling in the area since 2016, following competitors BP, Chevron and Karoon Energy.

CCI Approves Acquisition of 100% of Issued and Paid-up Share Capital of NEEPCO

  • Fair trade regulator CCI gave nod to acquisition of government's entire stake in THDC India and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (NEEPCO) by state-owned NTPC Ltd.
  • As part of transactions, NTPC will acquire 100 per cent of the issued and paid-up share capital of the NEEPCO and 74.5 per cent stake in THDC India.
  • Apart from the government's 74.5 per cent stake in THDC India, the rest 25.5 per cent stake is held by the Uttar Pradesh government.
  • NTPC is a maharatna company having presence in the power generation business. Among other activities, it is engaged in the business of electric power generation through coal based thermal power plants.

HUL to Set Up Production Arm

  • India's top packaged consumer goods company, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), announced the setting up of a local arm, which will be engaged in manufacturing to leverage India's growth opportunities.
  • The new manufacturing subsidiary will help HUL avail benefits of the lowered tax burden on manufacturers, announced recently by the Centre.
  • According to a stock exchange filing, the board of directors of HUL approved the proposal to form a new 100% subsidiary, which will be incorporated with an authorised share capital of Rs. 2,000 crore.
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