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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY - February 2021

Feb 2021

May 08, 2021

RBI Sets up Panel to Assist Regulatory Review Authority

  • The RBI said that an advisory group has been constituted to assist the second regulatory review authority (RRA 2.0) which was constituted by the central bank earlier this month to streamline regulations and reduce the compliance burden of regulated entities.
  • Headed by SBI managing director S. Janakiraman, the advisory group will assist the RRA by identifying regulations, guidelines, and returns that can be rationalised.
  • The RBI has set up the second regulatory review authority (RRA 2.0), initially for a period of one year from May 1, 2021, with a view to streamline regulations and reduce the compliance burden of regulated entities.
  • Reserve Bank Deputy Governor M Rajeshwar Rao was appointed as the Regulations Review Authority.

NDDB Signs MoU with EESL to Promote Efficient Renewable Technologies in the Dairy Industry

  • National Dairy Development Board signed an agreement with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) to promote efficient renewable technologies in the dairy industry. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed at Ananda, Gujarat by NDDB Executive Director Meenesh Shah and EESL Director (Projects) Venkatesh Dwivedi in the presence of senior officials.
  • As per the agreement, EESL will conceptualise, propose and design technically sound alternate energy generation solutions for plants in the dairy cooperative sector across the country.

India Offers to Lift Regular Saudi oil Volumes

  • Indian state refiners placed orders for regular supplies from Saudi Aramco for June, after reducing purchases this month, drawn by lower prices by the world's top oil exporter.
  • The refiners - Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd - normally buy 14.8 million-15 million barrels of Saudi oil a month.
  • This time there is no direction from the ministry to cut imports in June and unlike last time they (Aramco) have reduced the prices as well.

RBI to Conduct First SLTRO for Small Finance Banks

  • The Reserve Bank of (RBI) will be conducting one special long term repo operation (SLTRO) for small finance banks (SFB) for each month, totalling Rs. 10,000 crore.
  • The first auction of Rs. 10,000 crore will take place on May 17, and the unutilised portion will be auctioned on June 15. Like this, the SLTROs will continue till October 14, or till the unutilised amount is fully utilised.
  • The SLTRO will be valid for three years. All SFBs will be eligible to participate in the scheme, which was announced by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das to mitigate Covid related dislocations.
  • However, the SFBs will have to ensure that the amount borrowed from the RBI should at all times be let to the specified segments, namely small business units and other unorganised sectors impacted by the pandemic.

Govt. Gives Bidders Data Access for Bharat Petroleum Sale

  • As per reports, India has allowed bidders access to the financial data of Bharat Petroleum Corp. as the government moves ahead with plans to sell its entire stake in the country's second-biggest state refiner.
  • The data room has been open since the last week of April and some bidders have held meetings with BPCL management, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private.
  • The BPCL privatization, which could be the country's biggest, is crucial for India. The government needs to raise capital to make up the fall in tax revenues as the pandemic hit the economy. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that last month the plan to raise about $23 billion from selling stakes in state-run companies, including BPCL, is still on course despite the fresh wave of coronavirus infections.

May 07, 2021

Ola Electric Names Balachandar as Chief HR Officer

  • Ola Electric, the ride-hailing firm's electric vehicle arm, has hired N Balachandar as chief human resources officer. In his new role, Balachandar will accelerate Ola Electric's journey to becoming a world-class talent organization, with a focus on people and culture globally.
  • Balachandar is a HR veteran and brings global experience to the company. He has worked across India, Europe and Asia with GE Healthcare and GE Capital in several senior HR leadership and M&A (mergers and acquisitions) roles, with Strides Arcolab, with the Standard Chartered Bank and with Asian Paints early in his career. He was most recently as group director with the Coffee Day Group.
  • Balachandar's appointment comes close on the heels of Wayne Burgess who joined Ola Electric recently as Head of Vehicle Design.

CPP Investments Pays Rs. 1,005 cr for addl. Stake in IndInfravit Trust

  • Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), the largest Canadian pension fund manager, bought an additional 15.9 per cent of the total units in IndInfravit Trust for Rs. 1,005 crore. The units were bought in two separate deals.
  • CPP Investments has acquired seven per cent of the units from Sadbhav Infrastructure Project and will acquire an additional 8.9 per cent from L&T IDPL, which, upon completion, will increase CPP Investments' stake in IndInfravit from 27.9 per cent to 43.8 per cent.
  • IndInfravit is an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) sponsored by L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Limited. Launched in 2018, IndInfravit acquires and maintains stable brownfield road concessions in the country.
  • IndInfravit holds a portfolio of 13 operational road concessions across five states including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

Muthoot Finance Partners with NIRA to Provide Personal Loans

  • The Muthoot Finance Limited announced its collaboration with fintech NIRA as part of its strategy to strengthen its digital footprint. Through this partnership, salaried customers can avail personal loan of up to Rs. 1 lakh from Muthoot by downloading the NIRA app from Google's Play store. NIRA is a Bengaluru-based fintech offering small ticket personal loans to salaried workers from India's middle class. They offer loans to borrowers starting at incomes as low as Rs. 12,000 per month. This partnership will help Muthoot Finance build its unsecured lending book.
  • NIRA is a Bangalore-based fintech that provides borrowers with small-ticket personal loans starting at Rs. 12,000 per month. Muthoot Finance will benefit from this relationship as it expands its unsecured lending portfolio.

Mahindra Group to Open MADE, a Design Centre for Mobility Products in UK

  • The Mahindra Group, which has interest in fields as diverse as farm equipment, aerospace, finance, IT and real estate, among others, will be setting up Mahindra Advanced Design Europe (MADE) in the West Midlands, UK.
  • The company said that it seeks to further sharpen its distinctive product designs and differentiated technology offerings and improvise its safe, thrilling, yet efficient connected car experiences.
  • Mahindra Group will be the second firm from India to set foot in the UK for designing cars and SUVs. In 2005, Tata Motors set up the European Technical Centre in Coventry. It is the centre of excellence for automotive design and engineering.

FinMin Releases Second Monthly Installment of Revenue Deficit Grant

  • The Finance Ministry released the second monthly installment of revenue deficit grant of Rs. 9,871 crore to 17 states.
  • With the release of the second installment, a total amount of Rs. 19,742 crore has been released in the first two months of the current financial year as Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant to the states.
  • The Centre provides the Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant to the states under Article 275 of the Constitution.
  • The grants are released as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission in monthly installments to meet the gap in revenue accounts of the states post-devolution.
  • The 15th Finance Commission has recommended Post Devolution Release Deficit grants to 17 states based on the gap between the assessment of revenue and expenditure of the state.

Delhi Falls to 32nd in Knight Frank's Global Prime Property Index

  • New Delhi's rank declined to 32nd among global cities in terms of prime residential properties.
  • Knight Frank, in its 'Prime Global Cities Index Q1 2021' report, also said that Bengaluru moved down four spots in the latest index at 40th rank in the first quarter of 2021. Against the 36th rank in Q4 2020, Bengaluru saw a decline of 2.7 per cent year-on-year (YoY) in prime residential prices, leading to the drop in its global position.
  • The Prime Global Cities Index is a valuation-based index tracking the movement in prime residential prices in local currency across over 45 cities worldwide using Knight Frank's global research network.

May 06, 2021

British Trade Secretary Truss and Goyal Sign UK-India ETP Agreement

  • British Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal have signed the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) agreement, aimed at doubling bilateral trade by 2030.
  • As part of the ETP, India and the UK agreed on a roadmap to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced FTA, including consideration of an Interim Trade Agreement for delivering early gains. The enhanced trade partnership between India and UK will generate several thousands of direct and indirect jobs in both the countries.
  • The ETP is said to create immediate opportunities for British businesses in India across industries including food and drink, life sciences and the service sector. Non-tariff barriers on fruit and medical devices will be lowered, allowing British businesses to export more of their products to India and boosting UK growth and jobs. It also commits both sides to addressing immediate market access barriers as well as continuing to seek further opportunities on the road to an FTA.

Vietnam Keeps Anti-dumping Duty on Aluminium Originating from China

  • Vietnam decided to keep anti-dumping duty on aluminium from China.
  • The Ministry of Industry and Trade has decided to continue imposing anti-dumping duties on certain aluminium products originating from China with a tax rate from 4.39 per cent to 35.58 per cent after carrying out the first review.
  • In September 2020, the Ministry had issued a decision to impose anti-dumping duties on some aluminium products originating from China with a rate from 2.49 per cent to 35.58 per cent.
  • The Ministry initiated the investigation into the anti-dumping case in January 2019 and found that it has hit the domestic aluminium industry.

As Part of Strategic Disinvestment, Govt. LIC to Sell Stakes in IDBI Bank

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved strategic disinvestment along with transferring management control in IDBI Bank, paving the way for both the government and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) to reduce their shareholding in the lender.
  • LIC's board has passed a resolution to reduce its shareholding, along with that of the government, in the bank with an intent to relinquish management control and by taking into consideration price, market outlook, statutory stipulation and interest of policyholders.
  • The government holds 45.48 per cent in IDBI Bank while LIC holds 49.24 per cent. The extent of stake dilution by both the government and the insurer will be decided while structuring the deal in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • The decision of LIC's board is in line with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India's (IRDAI's) mandate to reduce the insurer's stake in IDBI Bank below 15 per cent.

May 05, 2021

Kotak Mahindra Life Appoints Mahesh Balasubramanian as MD

  • Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Company Limited (KLI) appointed Mahesh Balasubramanian as managing director of the company. He has been appointed following the retirement of G. Murlidhar.
  • The appointment of Balasubramanian is for a period of three years.
  • Suresh Agarwal has been elevated to MD & CEO of Kotak General Insurance.

Ola Electric Appoints Wayne Burgess as Head, Vehicle Design

  • Ola Electric announced the appointment of Wayne Burgess, as head of vehicle design for its entire product range including scooters, bikes, cars and more.
  • Burgess has spent almost three decades designing vehicles for the majority of British premium automotive manufacturers, from Rolls Royce and Bentley in his early career, to Aston Martin and Jaguar Landrover to, more recently, Lotus. Notably, he was the chief designer for the Jaguar F-Type sports car, and then studio director for the Jaguar F-Pace SUV.

Blackstone Group Elevates India PE Head Amit Dixit to Head of Asia PE

  • Global private equity major Blackstone Group elevated Amit Dixit , senior managing director, co-head of Asia Acquisitions, and head of India for Blackstone Private Equity to the post of Asia private equity head, among a series of international promotions.
  • Dixit received an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MS in Engineering from Stanford University, and a B.Tech. from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Dixit joined Blackstone in 2007 from another US-based PE major Warburg Pincus.
  • Blackstone also appointed Martin Brand as head of North America private equity and Peter Wallace as global head of core private equity, WSJ said, quoting Joseph Barrata, board member and global head of PE.

May 04, 2021

RBI Imposes Fine on ICICI Bank for Violating Certain Rules

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) fined ICICI Bank Rs. 3 crore for violating prudential norms on the operation of its investment portfolio.
  • The central bank found contravention of norms in the matter of shifting of securities from one category to another.
  • As per RBI, the action was based on the deficiencies in regulatory compliance and was not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.

JSW Energy Signs PPA for 540 MW of Wind Power Projects

  • JSW Energy's arm JSW Renew Energy sign¬ed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the supply of 540 Mw of blended wind power capacity. The PPA is signed with Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).
  • The company said that this is single largest PPA for wind/blended wind power capacity awar¬ded to a company and will mark the foray of JSW in this segment.
  • The firm won these projects in a competitive bidding done by SECI. Earlier in March, it was awarded 450 Gw of wind power capacity. JSW aims to be a 10 Gw energy firm in this decade.

Businesses Eyeing Fresh Trade Agreement between India and UK

  • According to the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), businesses are looking forward to India and the UK implementing an Enhanced Trade Partnership that would address market access barriers in the short and medium term and eventually lead to a potential comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA.
  • The statement comes a day ahead of a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson. The India-UK summit aims to lay a comprehensive road map to 2030.
  • The trade and investment partnership is particularly important, and the UKIBC hopes that the meeting tomorrow will provide more details of the Enhanced Trade Partnership initiated by Piyush Goyal, India's minister for commerce and industries, and his UK counterpart, Liz Truss, secretary of state for international trade.

Verizon Selling Yahoo, AOL Unit to Apollo

  • AOL and Yahoo are being sold again, this time to a private equity firm.
  • Verizon will sell Verizon Media, which consists of the pioneering tech platforms, to Apollo Global Management in a $5 billion deal.
  • Verizon said that it will keep a 10 per cent stake in the new company, which will be called Yahoo.
  • As part of the deal, Verizon will receive $4.25 billion in cash, preferred interests of $750 million and the minority stake.
  • The transaction includes the assets of Verizon Media, including its brands and businesses such as Yahoo and AOL.
  • The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year.

Bajaj Grabs Pole Position in India's Motorcycle Market

  • Riding high on exports, Bajaj Auto emerged as the largest motorcycle maker in India by sales in April, edging past Hero MotoCorp. The maker of the Pulsar and Discover brands sold 348,173 units last month, of which 221,603 units were exported.
  • Hero MotoCorp, on the other hand, dispatched 339,329 units during the month. A brief shutdown of its plants by Hero, due to the worsening Covid-19 situation, also helped Bajaj take the lead.
  • Bajaj Auto expects the strong momentum in exports to continue in the coming months even as the domestic market reels from the impact of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. A fourth of the company's sales outlets in the country remain shuttered.
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