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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY - December 2020

Dec 2020

May 16, 2021

Cisco to Acquire Kenna Security

  • Networking major Cisco has announced to acquire Kenna Security, makers of a risk-based vulnerability management platform, for an undisclosed sum.
  • This is the third acquisition by Cisco this week. The company announced its intent to acquire Sedona Systems and Socio Labs earlier this week.
  • Kenna is the first significant acquisition for Cisco's security business since its $2.35 billion purchase of Duo Security in 2018.
  • Kenna Security is a recognised leader in risk-based vulnerability prioritisation with over 14 million assets protected and over 12.7 billion managed vulnerabilities.

Zensar Technologies Signs Agreement to Acquire M3bi

  • Zensar, an RPG company, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire M3bi, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based data engineering and digital engineering firm.
  • This acquisition will be completely funded by internal accruals.
  • The addition of M3bi reinforces Zensar's new strategy, which focuses on areas of market opportunities that allow Zensar to concentrate organization resources, investments and alliances to deliver maximum business impact.
  • M3bi augments Zensar's thrust in the data engineering, analytics and AI/ML and advanced engineering services.
  • The acquisition will add marquee clients to Zensar's portfolio in both Banking, Financial Services & Insurance and other verticals, allowing Zensar and M3bi to jointly drive an expanded set of offerings to these global firms.

Airtel Payments Bank Launches 'DigiGold'

  • Airtel Payments Bank launched DigiGold, a digital platform for its customers to make investments in gold. DigiGold has been launched in partnership with SafeGold, a provider of digital gold.
  • With DigiGold, Airtel Payments Bank's savings account customers can invest in 24K gold using the Airtel Thanks app. Customers can also gift DigiGold to their family and friends, who have a savings account with Airtel Payments Bank.
  • The gold purchased by customers is stored securely by SafeGold at no additional cost and can be sold through Airtel Thanks app at any time.

L&T Arm Bags Contracts for Chennai Metro

  • The construction arm of Larsen & Toubro has secured orders worth Rs. 2,500-5,000 crore from its heavy civil infrastructure business in India.
  • It has secured an order from Chennai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (CMRL) to construct nearly 12 km Twin Bored tunnels from Kellys station to Taramani Road Junction station.
  • It also involves construction of diaphragm walls of station box and entry and exit structures of Chetpet Metro, Royapettah Government Hospital, Thiruvanmiyur Metro Stations and part diaphragm wall of Greenways Road Metro Station, including launching and retrieval shafts in these stations.

Rural Infrastructure Development Fund

  • The National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) announced that it would provide Rs. 12136 crore to Assam in 2020-21 from its Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).
  • RIDF was created in 1995-96 with an initial corpus of Rs. 2,000 crore.
  • In 2020-21, Rs. 29,848 crore was allocated to RIDF. With this the cumulative allocation has reached Rs. 18,500 crore.
  • The fund shall be used for 37 eligible activities as approved by the GoI. These eligible activities are classified under the three broad categories. They are social sector, agriculture and related sector and rural connectivity.

Bata India Appoints Gunjan Shah as Country CEO

  • Footwear major Bata India has appointed Gunjan Shah as its new chief executive officer. Shah, who has been serving at Britannia Industries as its chief commercial officer, will take up his new role next month.
  • Sandeep Kataria, Bata India's current CEO, has been elevated to the position of global CEO of Bata brands. An alumni of IIM Calcutta, Shah has experience of working in sectors like consumer durables, FMCG and telecom. He worked for Asian Paints and Motorola early in the career, before joining Britannia in 2007.
  • Shah holds a Bachelor of Technology (Computers) from VJTI, Mumbai and will be joining Bata during June 2021 and will be based out of Gurugram.

May 15, 2021

RBI Grants PPI Authorisation to Eroute Technologies

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has granted authorisation to Eroute Technologies to operate as a prepaid payment instruments (PPI) company. The RBI issued authorisation to Eroute Technologies Pvt Ltd with perpetual validity to commence issuance and operations of semi-closed pre-paid instruments in the country.
  • The company aims to serve the underserved segments that comprise almost 680 million people, by creating user-friendly payment solutions addressing the specific needs of various consumer segments of our society.
  • PPIs are instruments that facilitate the purchase of goods and services, including financial services, remittances, and funds transfers, against the value stored in such instruments.

Reconsider Ties with Crypto Exchanges, RBI Tells Lenders

  • The RBI is informally urging lenders to cut ties with cryptocurrency exchanges and traders as the highly speculative market booms, despite a Supreme Court ruling that banks can work with the industry.
  • The guidance comes as India is crafting a law to ban cryptocurrencies and penalise anyone dealing in them, which would be among the most sweeping crackdowns on the new investing fad in the world. But with the Covid crisis engulfing the country, no one is sure when such a Bill may be passed, adding to investors' confusion.
  • The RBI in 2018 had forbidden banks from dealing in all transactions related to bitcoin and other such assets. That diktat was challenged by the crypto exchanges and in March 2020, the Supreme Court overturned the RBI ban and allowed lenders to extend banking facilities to them. With investors continuing to rush into the hot new asset class, however, regulators appear to be gearing up for another try.

Exports Jump to $30.63 Billion in April

  • India's exports in April jumped nearly three-fold to $30.63 billion from $10.36 billion in the same month last year.
  • Imports too rose to $45.72 billion last month as against $17.12 billion in April 2020, the data showed. Trade deficit widened to $15.10 billion as against $6.76 billion in April 2020.
  • Exports in April last year had plunged by a record 60.28% due to the Covid pandemic-induced lockdown. In March this year, exports grew by 60.29% to $34.45 billion. Due to the low base effect, exports in April 2021 recorded a growth rate of 195.72%.
  • Oil imports stood at $10.8 billion as compared to $4.66 billion in the corresponding month last year.
  • Major export commodities which have recorded positive growth in April include gems and jewellery, jute, carpet, handicrafts, leather, electronic goods, oil meals, cashew, engineering, petroleum products, marine products and chemicals.

Geojit Inks Pact with PNB to Offer Three-in-one Account

  • Geojit Financial Services has entered into an agreement with Punjab National Bank to provide a three-in-one account to the latter's customers. The new service gives customers who have a savings account with PNB, a PNB demat account and Geojit trading account. The savings and demat accounts can be opened online in PNB.
  • The 3-in-1 account makes it easier for PNB customers to transfer funds real time via the payment gateway facility from their savings accounts to meet their investment needs. The trading account, which can be opened online in 15 minutes, provides a seamless interface to invest online in the avenues offered by Geojit.

Punjab Comes up with Plan to Boost Exports

  • The Punjab Government has come up with a plan to give boost to ease of doing business besides promoting exports. Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan approved the initiative — a first by any state in the country.
  • Chairing the state-level export committee's meeting, she said the state government has prepared the Punjab State Export Plan 2021-26 in order to implement 'district as export hub scheme' and 'one district one product scheme'. This will transform the state into an export power house and promote local products with an objective of increasing volume of exports, synergies of various schemes of the Centre and the State, besides increasing efficiency in supply chains and augmenting export infrastructure, products and market diversification.

May 14, 2021

RBI Cancels Licence of West Bengal-based United Cooperative Bank

  • The Reserve Bank of India cancelled the licence of United Co-operative Bank Ltd, Bagnan, West Bengal, as it does not have adequate capital and earning prospects.
  • Consequently, the bank ceased to carry on banking business, with effect from the close of business on May 13, 2021.

Wadia Group-owned GoAir Rebrands as Go First

  • After being in the skies for 15 years, Wadia Group-owned GoAir has rebranded itself as 'Go First' as the airline focuses on ultra-low-cost business model amid the aviation industry grappling with pandemic headwinds.
  • The announcement came amid reports that the airline was preparing for an initial share sale to raise funds for its ambitious expansion plans. The Go First as ULCC (ultra-low-cost carrier) would operate single aircraft type across its fleet, which currently has both Airbus A320 and A320Neos (new engine option) planes in operation.
  • The airline said that at the heart of the latest revamp is the full embrace of ULCC model and was in the process of transitioning all its operations under this new brand.

Jana Small Finance Bank Launches 'I choose my Number' Feature

  • Jana Small Finance Bank has announced the launch of the "I choose my number" feature for all its customers across India. This new feature gives the bank's existing and new customers the option to select their favourite numbers as their savings or current account number.
  • The bank will allow its customers to choose their favourite numbers as the last 10 digits of their bank account, savings or current.
  • The allocation of the account number chosen by the customer will be subject to the availability of the requested number.
  • This added feature will help customers relate and connect to the bank more closely as they choose auspicious or lucky numbers.

May 13, 2021

PayPal Introduces Digital Foreign Inward Remittances Advice

  • The digital payment service provider PayPal introduced Foreign Inward Remittance Advice (FIRA). It is an automated process to obtain monthly foreign inward remittance advice.
  • FIRA is a document that acts as a proof for all the payments and inward remittances from a foreign country.
  • It is issued by banks in India.
  • The exporters of all sizes have to get this.
  • Earlier, the Indian seller had to send manual requests for FIRA to the bank partners of PayPal. Also, they had to pay a fee for such services offered by the banks. The bank partners would then issue a physical statement on FIRA. It would even take ten days. Now this process has been made simple. It has been digitised.
  • This step is a part of PayPal's mission to reach net zero emissions by 2040.
  • The monthly digital FIRA solution of PayPal will allow merchants to directly download FIRA from their PayPal account.

CSC, HDFC Bank Launches Chatbot 'Eva'

  • HDFC Bank and Common Services Centres (CSCs) launched chatbot 'Eva' on CSCs Digital Seva Portal to support the Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) in providing banking services for the last mile rural consumers. This initiative will bridge the gap between India and Bharat. Urban India has been quick to learn and adapt to the digital world. Rural India has faced challenges as it has lower Internet penetration.

Zydus Cadila to Sell India Animal Health Business

  • Cadila Healthcare's (Zydus Cadila's) wholly-owned material subsidiary Zydus Animal Health and Investments (ZAHL) is set to sell its animal healthcare business to a consortium led by Multiples Alternate Asset Management for nearly Rs. 3,000 crore.
  • ZAHL has entered into a business transfer agreement and other an¬cillary pacts to sell and transfer its animal healthcare unit to the Multiples-led consortium. The deal is to sell one of the two business undertakings of ZAHL on a slump-sale basis as a going concern, for Rs. 2,921 crore on a cash free and debt free basis, subject to certain closing date adjustments and other conditions.
  • The transaction involves transfer of immovable assets, movable assets, in¬ventory, brands and intangible assets, contracts, licenses and permissions, bu¬s¬iness records, employees along with employee benefit funds, insurance policies, other assets and assumed liabilities.

Adani Group Opens Regional Headquarters in Singapore

  • Adani Group has opened its regional headquarters office in Singapore with focus on the energy, infrastructure and technology portfolios. Adani Singapore (SG) Country Head Jeyakumar Janakaraj said that Singapore was an ideal choice for Adani's regional headquarters.
  • The Adani Group looks forward to developing partnerships with corporations in Singapore and the ASEAN region, especially those that will create new ventures in the rapidly growing Indian market.
  • The Adani Group is India's largest infrastructure conglomerate with businesses ranging from renewable power generation, power transmission and distribution, gas distribution, airport management, ports and terminals, agribusiness and food production and logistics to data centres.

Bajaj Finance Gets RBI Nod for Prepaid Payment Instruments

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), granted an authorization to Bajaj Finance for issuance and operation of semi-closed prepaid payment instruments with perpetual validity.
  • The NBFC's consolidated net profit jumped 42% to Rs. 1,346.64 crore on 5.2% decline in total income to Rs. 6,854.94 crore in Q4 FY21 over Q4 FY20.
  • Bajaj Finance is engaged in lending and allied activities. It focuses on consumer lending, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) lending, commercial lending, rural lending, fixed deposits and value-added services.

May 12, 2021

CCI Approves Internal Restructuring of IBM under Green Channel Route

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved Kyndryl Holdings and Grand Ocean Managed Infrastructure Services' proposal for the internal restructuring of IBM Corporation under the green channel route.
  • Green channel is an automatic approval system, whereby a combination is deemed to have been approved by the CCI upon receiving the filing of the notice for the combination by the parties concerned.
  • International Business Machines Corporation (IBM Corporation/ Seller) plans to spin off its global MIS Business into a new public company, within the framework of an International corporate internal re-organization.
  • The MIS business is the business of infrastructure services unit of IBM Corporations Global Technology Services segment and includes security, regulatory, risk management services, identity management services offerings of the security services unit of IBM Corporation's Cloud and Cognitive software segment, but excludes the public cloud platform offering of the infrastructure services unit.

Google Pay Launches Global Money Transfers with Wise and Western Union

  • Alphabet Inc's Google has launched international money transfer partnerships with remittances firms Wise and Western Union Co for users of its U.S. payments app.
  • Google Pay users in the United States can now transfer money to app customers in India and Singapore, with plans to expand to the 80 countries available via Wise, and 200 via Western Union by the end of the year.
  • Google's foray in the $470 billion remittance market, marks a further step by the technology company to expand its financial services offering, ramping up competition in the digital payments sector.
  • London-based Wise was launched in 2011 with the aim of making international money transfers cheaper and easier, while Western Union remains a market leader in remittances, with a sprawling global network of physical locations.
  • Their partnership with Google Pay, which has 150 million users in 40 countries, comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a boom in online payments, but an estimated drop in overall remittances flows. The money migrant workers sent home is projected to have declined 14% from 2019 due to worsening economic conditions and employment levels in migrant-hosting countries.

Bay Tree Cuts Stake in Yes Bank

  • Private equity firm Bay Tree India Holdings sold a 2.1% stake in India's Yes Bank, reducing its holding by almost a third.
  • Bay Tree cut its stake in the embattled lender that was the center of India's largest financial bailout last year. It now holds a 5.4% stake after multiple sales in the open market between Jan. 6 to May 6.
  • Bay Tree was the largest anchor investor in Yes Bank's $2 billion equity raising last year when it paid 22 billion rupees for about 55% of the investor portion. It's now the second-largest single shareholder after State Bank of India.

Ruchi Soya Acquires Patanjali's Biscuits Business

  • Ruchi Soya Industries announced the acquisition of biscuits business from Patanjali Natural Biscuits Pvt Ltd (PNBPL) in a slump sale at Rs. 60.02 crore.
  • The Board of Directors approved the signing of a Business Transfer Agreement (BTA) in this regard with the PNBPL.
  • The acquisition will be completed in the next two months
  • The transaction includes certain contract manufacturing agreements along with transfer of employees, assets (tangible and intangible), current assets and current liabilities, licenses and permits (excluding certain assets and liabilities of PNBPL as specified under the BTA).
  • As per Ruchi Soya Industries, this acquisition supports the company's ongoing strategy to consolidate its position as a leading FMCG player.

Infosys in Strategic Tie-up with Soft-drink Maker Britvic

  • IT services major Infosys selected by Britvic, one of the leading branded soft drinks businesses in Europe, as a strategic end-to-end partner to help them deliver their strategic transformation roadmap and operations, across applications, cloud infrastructure, service management and end user computing.
  • As Britvic's strategic partner, Infosys will provide end-to-end IT services and deliver a technology-driven approach to fulfill Britvic's business goals and strategic digital transformation roadmap. Infosys will also simplify and streamline its cloud infrastructure and operations leveraging Infosys Cobalt while improving service delivery through analytics, automation and process maturity.
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