Business News

Govt keen to offer ‘direct’ GSec play to retail investors

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 7:58am
Mumbai: The Centre is considering the launch of a Bharat Bond ETF product that would include central government securities to increase both safe investment options for retail investors and liquidity in sovereign papers.Finance ministry is in talks with the market regulator, Securities & Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and they are exploring the broad contours of the proposed product, three people with knowledge of the matter told ET. Both Sebi and the Finance Ministry did not reply to ET’s queries.“We are considering such a structure as the Centre believes in retail participation in the government bond market. The proposed instrument is also expected to increase liquidity in sovereign debt,” said a senior government source.Individual retail investors still find it cumbersome to invest in government bonds directly. The only way to do so is through different Gsec or income funds, offered by asset management companies. An exchange-traded fund will track government bond indices directly to generate higher returns for them, dealers said.In the central bank’s weekly primary auction, there is a tiny window for individuals, known as “non-competitive bids” in market parlance, which generally shows up transactions worth a couple of crores compared to thousands of crores meant for institutions. “The government is pushing for retail participation in government bonds directly. Bharat Bond ETF based on government bonds would be in line with that thought process,” said one of the persons cited above.The Budget may also mention the proposal, sources said. Once the government finalises terms of the plan, it will likely float the Request for Proposal where different asset management companies are expected to apply to obtain the mandate of managing it.The incumbent version of Bharat Bond ETF comprises only select top-rated bonds issued by select government-backed companies. It is an open-ended Target Maturity Exchange Traded Bond Fund that aims to track returns generated by Nifty Bharat Bond Index.There are four sets of bonds of about a dozen government-backed companies where the ETF deploys money. Those companies include REC, PFC, NABARD, NTPC, HUDCO, IRFC and PGCL. Those bonds would mature between 2023 and 2031.The government is planning to raise up to Rs 15,000 crore through the Bharat Bond ETF for some state-owned units. This is for the third time that the Centre would be tapping retail money to fund state-owned entities.The retail fund plan has returned between 1.74 per cent and 12.90 per cent in absolute terms before applicable tax deductions, show data from Edelweiss MF, which is mandated to manage the existing fund.
Categories: Business News

CCPA issues advisory on misleading Covid ads

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 1:58am
NEW DELHI: Advertising campaigns claiming their products "boosts immunity", "killed 99.99% germs", "virus killing", "protects from covid-19" without any scientific credibility will be liable for punishment for misleading advertising, said the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) in an advisory issued on January 20."...it appears that false claims are made to mislead the consumers for promotion of their products by taking advantage of the ongoing pandemic situation in the country," the advisory said.The punishment may range from imprisonment for upto two years to fine upto Rs 10 lakh. Resorting to misleading or false advertising is an unfair trade practice and a concern for law, the advisory said. The Central Consumer Protection Authority has been established with effect from 24 July, 2020 under Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
Categories: Business News

'2020 Best year for biz on pandemic-led demand'

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 1:58am
Kolkata: HP India has reported its best ever business in calendar 2020 due to a huge spike in demand after the Covid-19 lockdown, with work and education becoming home-based, said its managing director, Ketan Patel. The US-based computer maker expects the growth momentum to continue in 2021.HP is keen to grow investment in India through the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme covering products such as laptops and servers. At present, it manufactures only desktop computers in India.Patel, who moved to the role of India chief last August, from his earlier role as head of personal computers (PC) business for HP’s greater Asia markets, said the sudden demand increase globally last year created supply challenges for the entire industry, leading to shortage.However, HP has anticipated the demand better this year, and scaled up production and component supplies. The company expects supply issues will be eased soon, hopefully in a quarter. “The market saw great growth in the last two quarters at over 16%. There were some very large deals in 2019 funded by the government and if we remove that, growth is even more than 16%,” said Patel. Patel said the business in 2021 will be similar to 2020 given the trends of how the future of work would look like with digitisation of small and medium business, e-learning, entertainment and gaming. “HP’s mantra will be to move from a PC per household to a PC per person…From a consumer perspective, the growth is pretty solid and is consistent for the last three quarters,” he said. As per the latest report by researcher IDC India, HP is the leader in Indian PC market with 28.2% share in July-September followed by Lenovo (21.7%) and Dell (21.3%). The researcher has said the quarter was the biggest for the PC market in the last seven years with year-on-year growth of 9.2%, while it was the biggest ever for the consumer segment growing 41.7%. Patel said HP is waiting for the detailed PLI scheme. He said the key considerations such as cost and ease of doing business and long term incentives should be factored in the PLI scheme. “Brands like us and component manufacturers have to get convinced about the potential opportunity India has versus other manufacturing-based countries. The government is certainly looking at all the aspects since it’s an ecosystem which you need to really develop for manufacturing,” said Patel. 80371744
Categories: Business News

Sebi approves Reliance-Future Group deal

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 1:58am
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has approved Reliance Retail’s acquisition of Future Group’s retail assets on Wednesday.The BSE on Wednesday said, based on the comment offered by SEBI, it has no adverse observations on the listing or de-listing requirements and the company can file the scheme with National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). As part of the deal, the retail and wholesale undertaking of Future Group will be transferred to Reliance Retail and Fashion Lifestyle Limited (RRFLL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL). The logistics and warehousing undertaking will be transferred to RRVL directly.The stock exchange, however, said the company should ensure that any future disputes, complaints, regulatory actions or proceedings, or orders involving the draft scheme should be brought to the notice of shareholders prior to the approval by NCLT."The details of the complaints made by Amazon, the submissions of Future Retail Limited and the counter submissions of Amazon and all the proceedings pending and completed in the Delhi High Court and the award of emergency Arbitrator in the Singapore International Arbitration Centre should be brought to the notice of the shareholders of the listed entities involved in the scheme while taking shareholder approval on the scheme. Also, the details should also be brought to the notice of NCLT while filing the draft scheme for their approval," BSE said in its observation letter.Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, a unit of Reliance Industries, agreed to buy the retail assets of Future Group on a slump sale basis for about Rs 25,000 crore, it was announced in August. Amazon, which owns a 49% stake in Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL), a Future Group holding company, objected to the deal. Since October, Amazon has asked Sebi nearly eight times to direct Indian stock exchanges not to issue any no-objection or approval letters to FRL.The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has already approved the deal, and after clearance from Sebi, Future Group will need approval from NCLT in addition to no-objection certificates from creditors and minority shareholders.
Categories: Business News

A case for high taxes across all tobacco products

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 1:58am
About 1.3 million people die annually from consuming tobacco products in India. About 6.5 million are directly employed in the tobacco chain. Tobacco harms all its users, especially the poor as they consume cheaper and more harmful tobacco products, and are less able to afford high-quality healthcare.Tobacco-producing farmers complain of health problems, as production, too, impacts human health. Moreover, tobacco farming requires unusually high levels of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, since the plant and soil are highly vulnerable to infestation, and the impact on the environment is well-documented.So, who pays for healthcare costs of tobacco consumption? Increasingly, it is government. Between the Employees’ State Insurance, Central Government Health and Ayushman Bharat schemes, there are three major health payment mechanisms. This does not include state-level and smaller schemes such as the Universal Health Insurance Scheme. A detailed study on how much GoI spends due to tobacco-related morbidity is yet to be made. But at least 13% of the total spend in such schemes is estimated to be caused by tobacco consumption. This expenditure is only going to go up.GoI is rightly considering a more stringent set of conditions determining tobacco consumption, and has recently published the draft Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (Cotpa) Amendment Bill, 2020. But limits on tobacco advertising, sale and consumption points need to be supported by synchronous increase in tobacco prices through increased taxation. That implies uniformly higher taxes on cigarettes, bidis and smokeless tobacco products.Higher taxes will work in tandem with greater controls, and will help GoI pay for all the direct and indirect costs it incurs due to tobacco consumption. But higher taxes must be uniformly imposed, or users will simply shift from the expensive to cheaper product.As of now, the highest goods and services tax (GST) band of 28% applies on tobacco products. But this is not enough. Fortunately, there is a provision for compensatory cess that could be used within the GST framework. The central excise duty can also be increased. There is a need for high taxes uniformly across all tobacco products. The only question is by how much.The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that of the total price of tobacco products, 75% should go to government. It is not clear what the basis for that number is, but that could be one method of determining how much each product is taxed. Another mechanism is to estimate the total healthcare cost due to tobacco and recover that through taxes. A third is to simply equalise the rates across all segments using the highest rate as the upper bound.While GST stands at the topmost level of 28% on all tobacco products, a compensatory cess across all product segments can also be imposed. Typically, the cess tends to be only about 5%, an insignificant increase. Moreover, effectively, the current excise structure reportedly leads to 64% duty on cigarettes, 81% on chewing products and only 22% on bidis. These could all be equalised at the highest level of 81%.There are many different possibilities and revenue impact can be substantial. A minimum figure, as per my estimates, would be an additional inflow of about ₹20,000 crore, still not high enough to cover the healthcare costs likely being borne by the State, but a substantial amount nevertheless.Big Tobacco uses three arguments to counter the obvious. First, that upwards of 45 million people are dependent on tobacco for livelihoods. A more realistic estimate is no more than 6.5 million employed directly in tobacco. And for the bulk of them, like bidi workers and marginal retailers, the income from tobacco is extremely low.Second, that farmers and labourers have no other income alternatives. Not true. Fertile land is used to grow tobacco, and alternative crops like pulses and oilseeds are critically required for India’s nutritional security. Third, that high taxes lead to illegal trade in tobacco products. This is incorrect, for it is not the tax but enforcement issues that lead to illegal trade.(The writer works with Indicus Foundation)
Categories: Business News

Joe Biden takes oath as 46th US President

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 1:58am
Washington: Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris took oath as first woman Vice President on Wednesday in a historic but scaled down ceremony under the unprecedented security umbrella of thousands of security personnel, who transformed the Capitol into a fortress to prevent any breach by pro-Trump extremists. The 78-year-old veteran Democrat leader was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice John Roberts at the West Front of the Capitol - the traditional location for presidential inaugural ceremonies - where the deadly violence took place just two weeks ago. The inauguration was held under the watch of more than 25,000 National Guards, who have transformed the capital into a garrison city, mainly because of the threat of more violent protests by the supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, who became the first president to skip his successor's inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence attended the ceremony. Biden, who is the oldest president in American history, took the oath by placing his left hand on his 127-year-old family Bible, which was held by his wife, Jill Biden. He used the same Bible during his swearing in as vice president and seven times as senator from Delaware. Just before Biden's oath, his deputy 56-year-old Harris was sworn in as 49th Vice President of the United States by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court, creating history as the first female, first Black and first Indian-American vice president of the world's oldest and most powerful democracy. The ceremony was attended by former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton. Former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton were also present. Unlike the traditions in the past, wherein millions of people throng in the majestic National Mall from across the country to celebrate the peaceful transition of power, a hallmark of all mature democracies across the world, the 59th presidential inauguration was marred by a bitterly divided America. Around 1,000 people attended the swearing-in ceremony, including Supreme Court justices and members of Congress, who were limited to just one guest each due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden enters the White House with the top challenge to lift the country from the devastation of a raging pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and thrown millions into economic distress. Revival of the economy, which has been badly bruised by the pandemic, is another challenge that he faces. The scaled down inauguration began around 11 a.m. with an invocation by Leo Jeremiah O'Donovan, a Jesuit priest who is a close friend of the Biden family. Lady Gaga performed the national anthem. Actress-singer Jennifer Lopez also performed. The American capital was virtually turned into a garrison city following multiple reports of threats and more armed violence by pro-Trump supporters to disrupt the events. The area in and around Capitol Hill, a large part of Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House was made out of bounds for the general public with eight-feet high iron barricades being erected. In addition to converting downtown Washington D.C. into a fortress, security in and around 50 State Capitols were also put on high alert to ensure a peaceful transition of power. Worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing Biden's inauguration, the FBI vetted all of the 25,000 National Guard troops deployed for the event.
Categories: Business News

View: The growing interest in US politics

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 1:58am
What many mighty Americans were unable to swing — and Jacqueline Kennedy came the closest to achieving — Donald Trump, even as he officially exited last night pursued by a bear and replaced by another very pale White man, managed: to get Indians get interested in American politicsWith Joe Biden’s inauguration being watched on Wednesday night by sleepy desis overdosed on images of tractors and other ‘far too desi’ things, non-aligned, much-maligned India became what a succession of post-Cold War American administrations always wanted India to be: keen observers of American politics, and not just consumers of accents, university bumper stickers, Aviators, Hollywood and pop culture, vegan recipes, etc.While Barack Obama’s swearing-in may have caught the interested Indian’s imagination in 2009 simply because Indians finally wanted to hitch their pony to the global zeithorse — ‘Dekho, a Black man in the White House!’ — it was ‘Doland’ who became matinee material for the self-styled thinking Indian. The vestiges of America as the neoimperialist State selling the snake-oil of globalisation while trying to get kids addicted on Big Mac or bombing countries west of Vietnam lingered. Apart from the accuracy of the description, US politics was not too interesting, except in patches and in graffitifriendly theory. Long queues outside ration shops were ascribed to American capitalism; the plummeting quality of higher education was attributed to ‘brain drain’. But American domestic politics was ‘foreign page’ stuff that one glanced through before doing the crossword.Trump changed all that. First, he was not just the first first-world politician seemingly made ‘in our own (politicians’) image’ — a recognisable khap panchayat leader despite being from the land of HBO — but he was finally making it more than ok to be a straighttalker that Lalu Yadav would have been proud of. He made it fashionable for many Indians to stand up against smart guys in India. Hell, he made it fashionable and no longer a shame being an ‘idiot’ in the eyes of the politically correct. Finally, America’s chairman was our chairman.Bugle Drowned the Trumpet With Trump’s defeat — especially the not-letting-go-of-the-bone phase over — Indian interest in US politics may wane a bit with the arrival of someone who, for most folks, looks like Jimmy Carter but with more wrinkles. But for desi Trump die-hards — whether it’s BJP’s IT Boy Amit Malviya who described Twitter deleting Trump’s account so as not to risk ‘further incitement of violence’ as a ‘threat to our democracies’, or ‘RWA President Uncle (Retd. Gen.)’ who finally found a fellow tough, no-nonsense RWA president of the greatest gated community in Potus — the new, resounding interest in US domestic politics marks a departure from ‘only national interest’ issues. It’s another matter that such touching support, never mind interest, goes completely unrecognised for all those who want to ‘Make America Great Again’ sitting (or planning to storm the next government building) in America.On the other side of the Indian living room are the woke lot, whose renewed interest in American politics — they have ‘crucial’ demographics of states like Georgia and North Carolina on their fingertips, but are iffy about whether Telangana holds democratic elections — is invested in their participation as a crucial bulwark against global fascism. Ghar ka murga being too daal barabar, it’s America that is their oyster. For them, Biden’s entrance marks the beginning of bigger things — in their lives.Of course, Kamala Harris as vicepresident is a huge USP for desi weekend geopoliticians. She certainly has got urban Indians who think twice about the point of going out to vote much more excited than when Bobby Jindal put on his kit to give US presidency a shot. Harris as a possible American president may well, indeed, bring about a polarised nation — by which one means India — together. Simply thinking of the potential headlines and coverage in the Indian media, if and when such an event happens, makes the mind boggle.Lassi With the Joe The kind of Ekta Kapoor aesthetics that many of our intellygentsia found reassuringly robust (‘At last, America looks like us!’) and many found unfirst-worldly (‘My god, now America looks like us!’) in the last four years under Agent Orange, will take a back seat under Biden’s season. But the fact that it is now just a scratchable surface away will continue Indian interests in US politics like never before. In a way, the new-fangled interest in star-spangled politics is akin to the choice that cable TV first presented to the Indian viewer. The Doordarshany desi politics, especially when all the channels seem to show the same faces and news (sic), may finally have found a supplement, if not alternative, in American politics. And the best thing is that not being able to participate in it, this will be pure spectator sport. Who says that local Milwaukee elections can’t be riveting enough for dinner talk in Malad?
Categories: Business News

Electronics companies seek 2-4% rate on key exports

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 1:58am
New Delhi: The electronics industry has proposed an incentive rate of 2-4% on export of products from key categories, including mobile phones, laptops, tablets, chargers and batteries, under the newly launched remission of duties or taxes on export products (RoDTEP) scheme. The India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) has proposed a RoDTEP rate of 2% on smartphones, 2.4% on feature phones, 2% on tablets and laptops, 3.4% on battery chargers and 1.48% on battery packs. “RoDTEP is critical to address India’s deep disabilities vis-à-vis its competitors for boosting electronics manufacturing and making it India’s number 1 export by 2025,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman, ICEA. ICEA represents several phone brands, including Apple, Xiaomi, Motorola, Nokia, Lava, Vivo, Motorola, Oppo, Realme and Micromax, besides contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron, Flextronics and Dixon.“This needs to be an ongoing exercise to address the adverse impact on India’s competitiveness, of high taxes which remain unremitted. Early finalisation of RoDTEP base rate and rates of priority products needs to be our immediate focus,” he said. RoDTEP is a WTO consistent scheme which aims to reimburse exporters’ central and state taxes/duties/levies on electricity, fuel, transport, stamp duty, excise duty, power and other costs. The government is yet to notify RoDTEP rates, being calculated by a three-member committee set up in July 2020 under former home and commerce secretary GK Pillai. ICEA estimates that its proposed RoDTEP rates will deliver an annual incentive of close to Rs 120 crore, based on remission of big-ticket items such as indirect taxes on transport and power, and embedded taxes on inputs. According to ICEA’s Mohindroo, RoDTEP in itself is not a stronger scheme than MEIS, which pushed up electronics exports by 85% in 2017. But, coupled with the production-linked incentive, RoDTEP can offset major disabilities in manufacturing compared with countries like China and Taiwan, he said.
Categories: Business News

ETMGS: Government in Budget 2021 should go for growth-oriented measures to bridge the income gap

Business News - January 21, 2021 - 1:58am
MUMBAI: Back in March when the government ordered a national lockdown at short notice to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the financial community expected the country to follow in the footsteps of its Western peers in announcing large fiscal measures to cushion the blow.While the government did announce a series of measures to ease some of the economic pain inflicted by the pandemic, India’s actual fiscal support was grossly low. According to some reports, India’s actual fiscal stimulus as a percentage of the GDP was only 1-2 per cent, considered among the lowest in the world. The stimulus was even lower than some of its less well-to-do emerging market peers.Fast forward nine months, and there now seems to be an argument that the country has done well to rebound from the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic simply by easing restrictions and letting individuals tackle the pandemic in the way they see fit.As the country awaits the third Union Budget by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, there have been calls to the government to not give in to the temptation of spending its way out of the crisis.But, fiscal prudence today for the sake of it may leave the country in a worse shape in the medium term than is perceptible currently. That was the sense among the panellists at the ETMarkets Global Summit 2021. The virtual event, which kicked off on Wednesday on www.etmarkets.com, runs through January 22.“Lack of fiscal spending has not hurt immediate economic recovery but it could have implications for medium-term growth,” said Pranjul Bhandari, chief India economist with HSBC at a panel discussion during the Summit.Bhandari is concerned that the pandemic’s scar on the society is visible in the form of rise in inequality and that the growth bump being enjoyed by the economy may well fade away soon once the investors realise that beyond the top income earners, there are no levers for further demand boost in the economy.India’s savings jumped spectacularly during the lockdown months as those in the highest level of the income pyramid had no avenues for consumption. However, the impact of the pandemic on the bottom rung of the income pyramid remains very acute, as is evident from the high unemployment level that stood at over 9 per cent in December.“Growth-oriented measures should be primary (in the Budget) and fiscal considerations secondary,” argued Sangita Reddy, joint managing director of Apollo Hospitals and president of industry body FICCI, who was also part of the panel.Reddy said that FICCI has recommended that the government look at a job scheme for the urban poor, which could act as a social security net against the vagaries of the pandemic. She also said that low income housing, enhanced spend on infrastructure and on the rural economy could act as measures to counter the massive unemployment in low-income households.Rathin Roy, managing director at Overseas Development Institute and senior visiting fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, however, argued that the government has lost the ability and control to balance its act when it comes to the Budget.Roy is of the view that the government did not indulge itself in large fiscal stimulus because they “simply could not do it”. “They simply did not have the state capacity to reach out to numbers of people...what they did is engineer a profit-led recovery to flush the banking system with money, create liquidity, condone defaults,” Roy said.That said, panellists were in agreement that the need of the hour is for the government to adopt a targeted fiscal spending approach instead of fiscal profligacy. “The bottom [of the income pyramid] is where you need income support, which is where your employment support schemes are necessary,” said Sonal Verma, managing director and chief economist at Nomura Holdings.Verma said that the government does not need to provide stimulus for the middle and high-earning strata of the society. What it needs to do is take care of those that need its support most like the migrant workers, rural landless labourers and small business owners in the unorganized sector.“People in the middle and bottom of the (income) pyramid have not been as safeguarded as those at the top, and I think this important point should be kept in mind during the Budget-making exercise,” Bhandari said.
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Harris breaks barriers as US vice president

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 10:58pm
WASHINGTON: Kamala Harris made history on Wednesday when she was sworn in as Joe Biden's vice president, becoming the first woman, the first Black American and the first Asian American to hold the second highest U.S. office. Looking ahead, Harris, 56, is seen as an obvious contender for the Democratic Party's 2024 presidential nomination should Biden, 78, decide not to seek a second term. Harris has yet to weigh in publicly on such speculation. A U.S. senator from California the past four years, Harris has shattered many a glass ceiling. She served as San Francisco's first female district attorney and was California's first woman of color to be elected attorney general. Harris has resigned her Senate seat, but she still will play a prominent role in the chamber. The U.S. vice president serves as Senate president, casting any tie-breaking votes in the 100-member chamber. With it split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, Harris gives her party control of the Senate. Her background in criminal justice could help the new Biden administration tackle the issues of racial equality and policing after the country was swept by protests last year. She is expected to be a top adviser on judicial nominations. Harris is the daughter of immigrants, with her mother coming to the United States from India and her father from Jamaica. She had her sights set on becoming the first woman U.S. president when she competed against Biden and others for their party's 2020 nomination. Harris dropped out of the race after a campaign hurt by her wavering views on healthcare and indecision about embracing her past as a prosecutor. Biden looked beyond some of the harsh words she had for him in that campaign to name Harris as his running mate last August. She has proven to be a valuable and polished stand-in, appealing especially to women, liberals and voters of color. Harris developed a deep fundraising network during her Senate and White House bids. She was instrumental to Biden's raking in record sums of money in the closing months of the campaign against Republican incumbent Donald Trump. Her selection sparked a burst of excitement in the Democratic voter base and among the party's donors. A TEAM PLAYERAccusations from liberals that Harris did not do enough to investigate police shootings and wrongful conviction cases when she was California's attorney general helped doom her own presidential run but surfaced little during her time as Biden's running mate. Harris defended her record, saying she had worked her whole career "to reform the criminal justice system with the understanding that it is deeply flawed and in need of repair." Prior to her selection, several Biden aides said Harris was able to put to rest concerns among some in the former vice president's camp that she would be too personally ambitious to make a trustworthy partner. "Joe and I were raised in a very similar way," Harris said of Biden at her October debate against then-Vice President Mike Pence. "We were raised with values that are about hard work, about the value and the dignity of public service and about the importance of fighting for the dignity of all people." DOUBLE DUTYHarris juggled her running mate duties with her day job in the Senate. Befitting her background as a prosecutor, she was a deft cross-examiner of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett at Barrett's Senate confirmation hearing in October, weaving Biden's campaign message on healthcare and climate change into her line of questioning. As the Senate's only Black woman, Harris emerged as a leading voice on racial justice and police reform after Minneapolis police killed African-American man George Floyd in May. She marched with protesters on the streets of Washington and won over some liberal skeptics. Asked on the CBS program "60 Minutes" last year why, given Biden's age, he believed Harris would be ready to step into the presidency if something happened to him, Biden rapidly fired off five reasons. "Number one, her values. Number two, she is smart as a devil, and number three, she has a backbone like a ramrod. Number four, she is really principled. And number five, she has had significant experience in the largest state in the union in running the justice department that's only second in size to the United States Justice Department. And obviously, I hope that never becomes a question," Biden said. Harris is married to attorney Douglas Emhoff, who has adopted the Twitter handle @SecondGentleman. His two children from a previous marriage refer to their stepmother as "Momala."
Categories: Business News

Biden assumes leadership of a US in crisis

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 10:58pm
WASHINGTON: For Joe Biden, becoming president of the United States was the realization of a decades-long quest, with two previous failed bids. His goal now is, as he has put it, restoring "the soul of America" after four years of Donald Trump's presidency. Biden, who at age 78 is the oldest president to occupy the White House, first arrived in Washington as a young upstart. He was elected in 1972 at age 29 to the U.S. Senate from the state of Delaware and remained there for 36 years before serving from 2009 to 2017 as vice president under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, the first Black U.S. president. On Wednesday, in becoming the 46th U.S. president, Biden took the helm of a nation with deep political divisions in the midst of a public health crisis that has battered the world's largest economy. "I sought this office to restore the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation - the middle class - and to make America respected around the world again. And to unite us here at home," Biden said in his victory speech on Nov. 7 after being projected as the winner of a fiercely contested election. "I'm a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I'll work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now," Biden added. Trump refused to concede his election loss and falsely claimed that it was "rigged" against him with voting fraud and irregularities. Opinion polls show large numbers of Trump's Republican supporters believe his unfounded claims, leaving Biden with the task of restoring faith among millions of voters in American democracy. The Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob underscored the difficulty of Biden's task. Trump still faces a Senate impeachment trial on charges of inciting them. Biden, who became only the second Roman Catholic president, has brought to his political career a mix of blue-collar credentials, foreign policy experience and a compelling life story marked by family tragedy - the loss of his first wife and a daughter in a car crash, and a son to cancer. He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008 before finally securing his party's blessing in 2020 with strong support among Black voters. Biden opted not to run for president in 2016, only to watch Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. With Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, Biden has a unique opportunity to make good on his ambitious agenda that includes reversing innumerable Trump policies, tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and rescuing the economy. TOP OF THE AGENDA The pandemic will be at the top of Biden's agenda, with his administration tasked with ensuring an orderly distribution of millions of vaccine doses and persuading weary Americans to adhere to precautions such as social-distancing and mask-wearing. Biden during the campaign accused Trump of surrendering in the face of the pandemic, saying the president panicked and tried to wish away the pathogen rather than doing the hard work needed to get it under control, leaving the economy in shambles and millions of people jobless. An effort by Trump to dig up dirt on Biden resulted in the first of two impeachments of Trump in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. The House in December 2019 approved two articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - that stemmed from Trump's request that Ukraine investigate Biden and his son Hunter on unsubstantiated corruption allegations. In February 2020, the Senate, controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans, acquitted him of the charges after refusing to call any witnesses. Biden's previous two presidential runs did not go well. He dropped out of the 1988 race after allegations that he had plagiarized some speech lines from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. In 2008, Biden won little support and withdrew, only to be selected later as Obama's running mate. Biden has spoken openly about his family's tragedies including the 1972 car crash that killed his first wife, Neilia, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, weeks after his election to the Senate. He nearly abandoned his political career to care for his two young sons who survived the accident but stayed on, commuting by train from Delaware to Washington to avoid uprooting them. In 2015, his son Joseph "Beau" Biden III, an Iraq war veteran who had served as Delaware's attorney general, died from brain cancer at age 46. Biden's son Hunter struggled with drug issues as an adult. Biden himself had a health scare in 1988 when he suffered two brain aneurysms. Biden's wife since 1977, new first lady Jill Biden, is a lifelong educator who teaches at a community college in northern Virginia. Biden was born in the blue-collar city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the eldest of four siblings. His family later moved to Delaware. He overcame stuttering as a boy by reciting passages of poetry to a mirror. Despite years of partisan hostilities in Washington, Biden has said he remains a believer in bipartisanship. During his time in the Senate, he was known for his close working relationships with some of his Republican colleagues. Biden also has advocated for America's role as a leader on the world stage after Trump abandoned international agreements and alienated longtime foreign allies.
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NBFCs seek continued liquidity support in upcoming Budget

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 10:58pm
Mumbai: Non-banking finance companies expect the government to provide continued liquidity support by encouraging banks to lend more to the sector, setting up a permanent refinance window and relaxing external commercial borrowing norms in the upcoming Budget. The government will present the Budget for fiscal 2021-22 on February 1, 2021. To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on NBFC sector, the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have announced various schemes such as the Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme (PCGS), Targeted Long-Term Repo Operations (TLTRO) and Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS). "This budget is important because it will be the first budget after the pandemic, which dragged the economy into contraction mode and has taken more than 1.5 lakh lives so far in India. "The government and RBI took calculated measures which aided economic recovery. We expect similar policy momentum to prevail in the Union Budget FY22," IndoStar Capital's CEO and executive vice-chairman R Sridhar said. In its pre-budget memorandum submitted to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last month, Finance Industry Development Council (FIDC) said bank funding of small and medium NBFCs has been a challenge due to various reasons, especially during the last two years. "The tepid response to the TLTRO 2.0, which mandated banks to invest at least 50 per cent of the stipulated amount in small and medium NBFCs, was a clear example of this. The need, therefore, is to reduce the over-reliance on banks and have a dedicated refinancing body," FIDC, a representative body of assets and loan financing NBFCs, had said in the memorandum. It suggested allocating a fund dedicated to funding small and medium NBFCs to SIDBI and Nabard. "The arrangement of treating bank lending to NBFCs for on-lending to priority sector to be treated as priority sector lending (PSL) for banks should be made permanent and the limit needs to be increased to at least 10 per cent of total PSL by banks," FIDC had said. Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas partner L Viswanathan said in the recent years, NBFCs that are important intermediaries of credit have faced concerns of liquidity, governance and solvency and it is hoped that the Budget will ease some of the pressures. The budget coincides with some announcements by the RBI regarding overhauling regulations for systemically important NBFCs to mitigate any risks of regulatory arbitrage, he said. "The regulatory certainty, as well as the additional weight of these regulations, could be balanced through liquidity and credit measures announced in the budget for this sector," Viswanathan said. He suggested that the RBI directed funding for the sector, including TLTRO windows, maybe widened to cover more NBFCs and should continue for a longer period. Viswanathan said he expects announcement of a more permanent refinance window and easing of external commercial borrowing (ECBs) into the sector in the Budget. Moneyboxx Finance Ltd co-founder Mayur Modi said the NBFC sector has the potential to play an extremely important role in shaping the revival of the economy but is confronted by liquidity issues due to lack of funding from the banking sector. "This needs to be addressed at the earliest. As public sector banks (PSBs) have surplus liquidity in the system, the government must encourage them to lend to the NBFC sector," he said. Also, in the upcoming Budget, the government should look at setting up a special window at the RBI for NBFCs, especially for small and those focused on rural areas, so that their cost of the fund comes down, which will ultimately benefit the economy, Modi said. In its memorandum, FIDC had requested to exempt NBFCs registered with RBI and classified by the central bank as deposit-taking NBFC (NBFCs-D) and non-deposit taking systemically important NBFC (NBFCs-ND-SI) from the provisions of TDS (tax deducted at source) on interest income. Tourism Finance Corporation of India's MD and CEO Anirban Chakraborty said the travel and tourism sector has been one of the most impacted sectors during the course of the pandemic. "Few sector-specific sops may be considered by the government to help the hospitality sector emerge out of this situation," he said. Steps like reduction in GST slabs, waiver/normalisation of various license fees, sector-specific stimulus package (viz interest support by government, additional funding by lenders, etc) may be considered, Chakraborty added. "Government should continue to encourage domestic tourism by extending and increasing the threshold LTA benefits for expenses incurred for domestic travels/stays," he noted. Microfinance institution Satin Creditcare Network's chairman and MD HP Singh said during the outbreak of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the government and RBI took several pragmatic measures to restore liquidity and bring immediate relief to the stressed sector through partial credit restructuring, moratorium benefits, TLTRO operations among other measures. These initiatives have helped in improving the quantum of liquidity, disbursements and collections during these unprecedented times, he said. "Through the Budget, the government can continue supporting economic activities until a complete recovery is achieved, which will result in growth in the coming fiscal," Singh said.
Categories: Business News

Shyam Srinivasan on Federal Bank restructured book

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 7:58pm
Customers who have gone for loan restructuring between December and March 31 will be roughly about 1-1.2% of our portfolio, says Shyam Srinivasan, MD & CEO, Federal Bank Earlier, you had projected that Rs 3,500-crore loans will need to be restructured but the request has come for only Rs 1,500 crore. It is great news but how did this drastic fall come about?The big difference between last quarter and this quarter is the reality. People have started seeing businesses doing better and generally the preference is not to be a restructured customer. December end is one milestone as in the retail and corporate customers had a chance to seek restructuring and we have seen experientially people have not opted to. Either they have paid or the situation is too bad for restructuring. I think this has worked out quite well. Customers who have the ability and belief that they will do well and will recover have sought restructuring and that number thankfully for us between December and March 31 will be roughly about 1-1.2% of our portfolio as opposed to our original belief that it might be higher. We are largely out of recovery mode and are in growth mode now. Credit growth has increased. How do you think retail demand will play out – home loan, personal loan, auto loans? Also how will corporate side fare in comparison?Retail has done well on a year on year basis. In terms of growth, it has been quite encouraging, particularly some products. If you really anchor January 2020 as one and then December 2020 as the other, in most businesses. it is running at about 100-120% of the January run rate. I believe the run rate will pick up from here as things improve and the economy shapes up more constructively. Thankfully for us, our gold loan business is doing remarkably well and our erstwhile SME business (captured as both commercial banking and business banking) has registered very strong sequential growth and YoY growth is almost nudging early teens. Other than core large corporates where we saw de-growth, we believe all the other businesses have started seeing a very positive trajectory and that should continue. The corporate will be a little more muted. Also, there is probably an irrational pricing exercise. We are watchful about that. Do you think a recovery in the corporate growth could be delayed? Will the budget play a vital role? Is it linked to a new capex cycle? The pick up in corporate growth is probably going to be a little more delayed. We are all hoping the Budget sets the tone. It could give some fillip in certain areas. There may be a more meaningful demonstrative action around the longer tenure infra and nation building activities which typically create downstream exercises as projects go on-stream. I believe that maybe by the second half of this calendar year, a pick up will come through and that will filter through the system. On the asset quality front, once the SC judgement is lifted, will it bring pain to light or will we have further normalisation of irregular accounts?I think it is likely and I do not know if the Supreme Court has heard everybody a judgement may be passed sometime in this quarter, this month or next and that will bring to a close the lack of clarity on how to deal with this whole standstill but from a business point of view, we have all ensured that the treatment is to be given exactly the way if the accounts were to slip or otherwise. We all hope that some clarity emerges in the next few days and that overhang goes away so that people know where they stand and how to progress. But will the environment pick up and things improve? There is vaccine-led optimism and there is a certain sense of comfort that the Budget may provide stimulus. A bunch of stuff is happening and could lead to a more encouraging recovery if not immediately but certainly by the second half of 2021. Does a low rate environment pose a risk to the bank’s deposit franchise because people will now look to switch to higher yielding assets?This is a little in the realm of speculation, We do not know which situation plays out but I have seen for many years that these theories come but the market and the banks and the system are mature enough to find that almost everything coexists. There may be minor tweaks here and there, but I do not believe that we will come to a day where banks deposits would not grow but all other categories will grow exponentially. That maybe a little far fetched. There may be minor shifts in trajectory but not material. The banking system for a country like ours which is relatively unbanked even today is a very deep opportunity. I do not think deposits will evaporate and all gravitate to one asset category which typically tends to be the riskier category, I do not think that is a reality, at least I cannot foresee this for many, many years.What is the outlook when it comes to digital marketing? What is Federal Bank doing to tap that opportunity?For the first time we have dedicated five pages to outline the various things that happen digitally, just to point out we are now truly a meaningful player with digital capabilities. Over 86% of our transactions are digital whether it is account opening or transaction banking. Our digitally originated business is now a very material part. Products like personal loans are originated digitally. There is no hand touch, no human involvement, it is all technology driven and is completely automated. In terms of transaction banking, our range of offerings compete with absolutely the best and we are seeing volume pickup on that count. That is how we have seen sharp growth in CASA and all this is driven by the digital capabilities and that will remain a focus area. We are the first and only bank probably to do facial recognition for our employees to log into our systems and the first and only bank probably. So all our staff show their faces and log into the system. The RBI stability report says that NPAs could go as high as 14% system wide. However, the results from private banks seem to suggest otherwise. What is your outlook?I do not think it is a question of who has got it right or wrong. It is actual scenario planning versus what happens on the ground. If every scenario planned were to happen, then that is one outcome but the reality on the ground sometimes tends to be better and sometimes adverse. In a stressed situation, people may react very differently. When the forecasts were made, some assumptions were made but thankfully we are doing better than the assumptions and all of us hope that it continues to do better. Within this also, there will be a spectrum. Some will be at the better end of the spectrum and some for historic reasons could be on the other side of the spectrum. So you cannot generalise on this.
Categories: Business News

Tech firms: Won't give up IT campuses just yet

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 7:58pm
IT services providers are treading cautiously over rationalising office campuses despite the success of the work-from-home model and remote work culture.While some have decided to desist from new leases and are going slow on investments in infrastructure, others have reaped savings from diluting assets.Infosys will “wait and watch” -- from a real estate rationalisation perspective, chief operating officer Pravin Rao said, given the uncertainty about the number of employees required to work from offices in future. However, it has taken steps to save costs, he added.“Wherever we have had offices on rent or lease, we are trying to see if we can get out and wherever it is coming up for renewal, we are not renewing it. We have also slowed down on infrastructure expansion,” Rao said during the Bengaluru-based post-results press conference last week.“But anything more to do from a radical plan perspective, we have to wait for the new normal and get a sense of how it will look like before we can take any concrete steps,” he added.Infosys holds 51.97 million square feet worth real estate infrastructure with a presence in 46 countries across 220 locations, according to its 2020 annual report.Tata Consultancy Services, the largest software services exporter by revenue, however has no plans to part with real estate for the time being.“At this point, we do not have any plans to give up any real estate. Most of our real estate is big campuses which is a treasure for us, and we will keep it that way,” said chief human resources officer Milind Lakkad.Business Process Management firms, on the other hand, have begun parting with real estate assets and are allowing employees in remote locations to work from home permanently to save costs.HR experts said these companies may also cut pay by 15-20% as they will no longer have to pay rent and travel expenses.NYSE-listed Startek has given up almost 10% of its global real estate following the adoption of a hybrid work model. The company is redrawing its real estate plans and intends to give up surplus capacity. In Canada, the company has moved its entire 300-people workforce at its Ontario campus to work from home.“It’s a win-win for the employees and corporations – for our workforce, it provides the flexibility of location independence and its allied benefits like zero commute time. Employers also realize cost savings associated with capex and real estate while at the same time getting access to a broader array of talent,” said Rajiv Ahuja, president at Startek.Technology services firm UST Global may also look to redraw its real estate presence to support a hybrid work model in the coming months. “Remote work or a combination of work from office and home is in for the long haul. We have seen real and tangible benefits for both the organization and our associates with this hybrid approach. Increased productivity, work-life balance, opportunity to engage a diverse, global, and "border-less" workforce are some of the more obvious ones,” said Manu Gopinath, Chief Operating Officer, UST. Clients have been discussing changes in payment structure based on whether people want to work from home or from home offices in smaller towns, said Mohammed Faraz Khan, principal and delivery head of the GCoE Accelerator Platform at consulting firm Zinnov.“Depending on the skills, salaries could vary by 20-50% depending on the location. We have clients who are discussing this internally but haven't taken a call yet. 2021 is likely to be the year when some companies will adopt this policy," he said.For niche skills however, location is unlikely to have an impact on pay scales, he added.
Categories: Business News

Flipkart-Aditya Birla Fashion deal gets CCI nod

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 7:58pm
Bengaluru: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the Rs 1,500-crore Flipkart-Aditya Birla Fashion deal, giving a leg-up to the online fashion retail business of the Walmart Inc.-owned company."Commission approves acquisition of a 7.8% minority stake in Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd by Flipkart Investments Private Ltd,” India’s antitrust regulator said in a tweet.Commission approves acquisition of a 7.8% minority stake in Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd by Flipkart Investm… https://t.co/YejtmNaZdf— CCI (@CCI_India) 1611144194000The Flipkart-ABFRL deal, announced in October 2020, will give much-needed capital to Aditya Birla Fashion Retail Ltd., at a time when the pandemic kept its stores closed and offices shut for most of last year. The company operates Pantaloons and is the owner of office-wear brands such as Allen Solly and Peter England.ABFRL, which has a network of 3,004 stores, plans to use the funds to strengthen its balance sheet, scale up existing businesses and increase its presence in emerging high-growth categories such as innerwear, athleisure, casual and ethnic wear.“Through this transaction with ABFRL, we will work towards making available a wide range of products for fashion-conscious consumers across different retail formats across the country,” Flipkart Group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy had said while announcing the deal.Flipkart’s move to acquire stakes in offline fashion retailers is part of its broader strategy of expanding operations and leveraging strategic partnerships to keep cost structures lean in an increasingly competitive environment. In July last year, Flipkart Group acquired a significant minority stake in Arvind Fashions’ subsidiary Arvind Youth Brands for Rs 260 crore.
Categories: Business News

Till June, market likely to overshoot target

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 7:58pm
People are building in froth in FY23 numbers because of what we are seeing today, says Venugopal Garre, MD/India Strategist, Sanford C. Bernstein. For the rest of 2021, what kind of returns do you expect?One of the tougher aspects of CY2021 is that to a large extent the easy gains and easy trades are already done. It is no longer a surprise that macro is going to normalise at some state. What it also means is that from a valuations perspective, it might appear challenging if one were to try to build new positions here but at the same time, global liquidity as well as macro are sustaining. These are very important variables because till the time you see macro peaking, there would still be some degree of positivity in the markets. The way we looked at this year is despite a general discomfort around valuations, macro peaking is potentially possible only in a couple of quarters from now. If that is the case, there is probably still room for earnings momentum to continue and hence we should be constructive on the markets at least in the first half of the year because when I look at the full year numbers, we are probably looking at single digit returns as far as point-to-point forecast is concerned. But that is not a very material or substantive data point for anyone. The other approach was to take a directional view. Directionally, we are still positive in terms of opportunities that one can participate in the market and we also think that in the first half of this calendar year, the market should overshoot the target and that is the way we are approaching it. Whenever a fairly quick up move is seen in the market, we tend to worry about corrections. Corrections are fairly common and so one of the exercises we did is we looked at almost every downturn and looked at the 6, 12, 18 and 24-month periods from the bottom. We realised that every six months, 35-40% of trading days were negative and the rebounce on the particular weeks when we had large negative parts were very quick. We are still in that stage at least in the first half of the year. What are your expectations this earnings season? Do you see a durable earnings upgrades cycle?The approach that we used for this was different time frames. One was the near term time frame which is this quarter or may be the next quarter; second is consensus building across the sectors for the next two years. If you look at earnings across the board in terms of consensus forecast, you will see broad-based earnings growth and it is not about a particular sector driving earnings. Rather, it is 20-30% growth across-the-board. But in the near term, it is extremely challenging to figure out the level of distortion in the economy which could play up. This is not about negative distortion. It could be positive distortion as well. The reason is when you are moving in a normalised fashion into a higher macro level in terms of absolute GDP base from a low level, there tends to be a lot of action in the market. So suddenly you will realise that December quarter volumes might be much larger than what you have thought. The second thing where there is distortion is margins. Probably in our view, in the near term, it is going to be very supportive and that is because the benefits of a lot of these cost actions or cost areas which companies would have identified during the Covid phase, are going to last for a while. It is not going to last perpetually. Two to three quarters from now, that will fritter away as the economy normalises and new products have to be launched, advertising has to be done, competitive activity comes back and supply chains get fully back in shape. So, those advantages go away. But near term, we are positive on the scope for earnings to look attractive relative to expectation. This may not really change in FY23 but the Street might want to accredit today just to reflect the positivity and that could be a risk. We need to see this six months later. People are building in froth in FY23 numbers because of what we are seeing today. A large component of Nifty EPS for FY22-23 is coming from Reliance Industries. How much of that is already being priced in and how do you see that because there was a very big outperformance from Reliance which pulled the markets higher and then it went sideways. How will the earnings of this company move going forward?Given that Reliance has a large weight probably, it might appear to be driving the overall earnings but we looked at sector to sector for NSE 200 stocks, just to give a context of each of the sectors as to where the earnings growth would be. In case of Reliance, the street is looking at almost a 50% jump in earnings and to an extent it appears to be more about recovery in a couple of their end markets including telecom which is a big driver for the numbers. Somewhere down the line, there is an expectation ARPU increases which probably are potentially baked into how one looks at Bharti in terms of the stock. If I were to look at the drivers, I think more about their ability to execute new economy enterprises and the benefits of that are going to trickle in one year, two or three years later, but what they do in the next one to two years is going to be closely watched more in terms of the level of returns they can generate from here. Since we were very positive on new economy enterprises, we said that beyond the earnings, the only other incremental news flow is from a tech point of view. We are going to see a lot of IPOs kickstarting. Now looking at how the IPO world is even in the global scheme of things for tech, there would generally be a very positive excitement around the opportunity. This is going to protect the downside from here for Reliance. Though it is in our portfolio, we are looking at returns larger than what we have for index. Since our index returns itself are not very large, in that context, Reliance fits in both from an earnings as well as a thematic point of view at this juncture. In the last six months, it has underperformed. After August, it has been trading sideways. What are the other changes which you have done in your model portfolio where you believe the valuations are relatively attractive right now and the earnings trajectory for 12-24 months could actually be on the higher side and there is scope for surprises as well?One of the key things here is about from a year’s perspective, it is about which stocks or sectors have not done well. That was the simplest way to look at opportunities. The model portfolio update is a month ahead of our outlook but there we probably added a bit more financials and we also added Bharti which was removed from our portfolio about six-eight months back. In some sense, these were individual opportunities that we were taking. But if I were to look at the flavour of the portfolio and how it has changed over the year, we have primarily focussed a bit more weights towards the recovery sectors which is financials, construction or even the urban plays which could be even something like a PVR. The next thing that is going to perform is probably going to be these end markets. At the same time, we have maintained tech as a core because of all the positivity that we see for tech. Investors would have much broader options in terms of playing small caps within sectors. But we don’t have those stocks in the portfolio; it is a slightly large cap-oriented portfolio.
Categories: Business News

England Tests: BCCI may allow 50% crowd attendance

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 7:58pm
NEW DELHI: The BCCI brass is seriously contemplating allowing 50 percent crowd attendance at both Chepauk and the newly constructed Motera Stadium during India's upcoming four Test matches against England.The first two Tests will be held in Chennai, beginning on February 5, while the next two will be played at the renovated stadium at Motera in Ahmedabad.The BCCI is believed to be taking a cue from Cricket Australia which had allowed entry of spectators during the India series that concluded on Tuesday. 80350166"As of now, we are likely to allow 50 percent spectators for the four Test matches. The BCCI is in talks with both state cricket associations (TNCA and GCA) and also state health authorities," a senior BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.However, the BCCI is also factoring the fluid public health situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and if case load in either Chennai or Ahmedabad increases, then the decision will change accordingly."If you allow 50 percent crowd with all necessary precautions, then it will be an indicator if we can also allow spectators during IPL in India," the source said.In Ahmedabad, which can hold over one lakh spectators, spacing of seats to maintain social distancing will not be an issue. 80365225Meanwhile, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will name the squad for the first two Test matches against India on Thursday.This is the first time that a touring team is not naming a squad for full away series keeping the workload management of its players in mind.The fact that Chennai and Ahmedabad will have two separate bio-bubbles and the teams will travel by chartered flight within the country may also be the reason that England, like the Indian team, decided to name its squad for two Tests.
Categories: Business News

NCLT agrees to hear plea against Omaxe Ltd

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 7:58pm
NEW DELHI: The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has agreed to hear a petition filed against Omaxe Ltd alleging oppression and mismanagement in the affairs of the Delhi-based real estate firm.Terming the matter as "exceptional" and having "compelling circumstances" against the realty firm, a two-member Chandigarh-based NCLT bench has granted the waiver in the filing criteria under Section 244 of the Companies Act, over the plea filed by the Omaxe former joint managing director Sunil Goel and his wife.The tribunal observed that the applicants including Sunil Goel are the shareholders, promoters and were directors of Omaxe Ltd and also have considerable shareholding and interest in its holding company Guild Builders.Moreover, none of the members of Omaxe is eligible to file an application under Section 241 of the Companies Act, 2013 against the company over the allegations of oppression against minority shareholders.While granting the waiver, NCLT observed that individually, the petitioners are having less than 10 per cent of the shareholding in Omaxe and even all the minority promoters, shareholders join together, they will not be able to cross the barrier of the threshold as provided under Section 244 of the Companies Act, 2013."Therefore, we are of the considered view that the present case is one of the exceptional and compelling circumstances which entitle the applicants for granting of a waiver," said NCLT in its order passed on January 12.Section 244 of the Companies Act mandates that a petitioner should hold at least one-tenth of the issued share capital of a company or represent 10 per cent of the total number of members to file cases alleging mismanagement and oppression of minority shareholders.The NCLT direction came over an application filed by Sunil Goel and other petitioners seeking waiver in the filing criteria.Sunil Goel has filed a petition alleging "financial mismanagement and fraudulent transactions" by his elder brother and Omaxe CMD Rohtas Goel, and had sought a waiver in the filing criteria of having 10 per cent shares of the company.In his petition, Sunil Goel had alleged that Rohtas Goel abused his position of influence and control in Omaxe and its holding company Guild Builders.However, NCLT in its 12-page-long order, made it clear that the observations made into the case, shall not have any bearing while deciding the main petition filed in 2018 or any other connected cases or applications.Sunil Goel, in the petition, had submitted that on June 29, 2017, Omaxe took a loan of Rs 250 crore from Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd based on the minutes of the Executive Committee.According to him, though he was a part of the executive committee but did not receive any notice of the meeting wherein resolution for the borrowing of a loan of Rs 250 crores was approved.Moreover, Sunil Goel also stated that he was been repeatedly appointed as Joint Managing Director of Omaxe Limited till September 27, 2017 on which date he was "illegally ousted in the 28th Annual General Meeting of the company".He also alleged of being "illegally restrained" from participating in the Annual General Meeting by using force and threats.
Categories: Business News

Indigo Paints MD on IPO, future plans & more

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 7:58pm
Rs 150 crore of the Rs 300-crore fresh issue has been earmarked for a major capacity expansion at one of our plants in Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu, says Hemant Jalan, Owner & MD, Indigo Paints.The Indigo Paints anchor book is at Rs 348 crore. Many are saying at Rs 1,490 per share, the company’s valuations are pretty hefty. But anchor investors seem to be lapping up the Indigo Paints growth story?You are absolutely right and we are privileged to have the who’s who of the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and domestic institutional investors (DIIs) showing interest in our IPO. They have not been troubled by the valuations at all and in fact some of them have called up to say that they found the valuations more than reasonable which leaves enough on the table for investors to make healthy gains post listing not only on the short term but also in the long term. We are privileged to have such a marquee list of anchor investors who have solidly invested in our company and we are overwhelmed by the response that we have received. I know you are raising around Rs 300 crore as a fresh issue. The remaining Rs 800-900 crore odd is an OFS. How will the fresh issue enhance your top line?About half of the fresh issue of Rs 300 crore, that is Rs 150 crore, has been earmarked for a major capacity expansion at one of our plants in southern India which is Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu and that would be a very large water-based paint plant. It would significantly add to our capacity in southern India where we have been seeing a lot of growth. Another Rs 50 crore has been earmarked for acquisition of printing machines. The population of printing machines through the retail network is extremely crucial for the growth of sales of any decorative paint manufacturer and we are planning a very aggressive push in this direction. We have been adding a lot of printing machines in the last three years and we intend to accelerate that. So both these capital expenditures that we are envisaging would be funded partly by the IPO proceeds and should go a very long way in enhancing our sales in the future years. It is with that in mind that we have approached the public for the IPO. Right now you are very strongly concentrated in southern India. A big chunk of your sales come from Kerala. There is always a geographical risk for any company. So, what is your plan to penetrate into different markets. A&P is almost 12% of your sales. As you expand your distribution, would your A&P expenses stay elevated for a few years?You are right in pointing out that a fairly high portion of our sales comes from southern India but that is primarily because of Kerala. We acquired a mid-sized paint company which was centred in Kerala about four or five years ago and that led to a very dominant position there. But otherwise, if you exclude Kerala, our position in southern India is no different from what it is in eastern or western India. We have been a little late to enter the north Indian states. We entered north in the last few years and we intend to strengthen there. Today we are present in 27 out of 28 states in India and when I say 27 states I mean we are present in Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh or Andaman Islands. You will see Indigo Paints everywhere. You talked about our advertising spends. You must appreciate that we are up against four very well established giants in this field who have been doing a tremendous amount of brand building for over 40-45 years. Naturally we had to punch much above our weight to get our brand noticed. Therefore our ad spends as a percentage of our revenue has certainly been much higher than our larger listed peers in this industry. They will remain at an elevated level but we do expect some economies of scale to come about because our actual media advertising spends are more or less in the same range as that of the number two or number three players in this space. Therefore, although our ad spends will continue to increase going forward, they may increase by slightly more modest amounts and as a percentage of revenue may start moderating from this year onwards. However, they will remain at an elevated level because we have to match the share of companies that are five-six times larger than us. It is really amazing what you have done in the last decade but many also say that the base is small and it may be easier for you to grow. What can we expect going forward?Well I would expect that the growth rate would be much higher than the industry growth rate for many years to come. You said that the base was small. Please understand, the base remains very small compared to the four large players. Therefore, there is no problem in expecting aggressive growth in both the top line and the bottom line going forward. I would like to send this call to all people who are thinking of investing in this IPO that we appreciate your trust in the company. We do not feel that the money that you will invest belongs to us and we will act as responsible custodians of that money and you can encash that money back anytime in the future with very very handsome returns. That would be the effort of the entire team at Indigo Paints and we hope that not only people who invest in the IPO, but people who invest much later after the stock is listed at possibly higher prices will have a significantly attractive return to be reaped by them in the years to come. We are very bullish about our own company and I hope that all of you listeners are equally bullish.
Categories: Business News

Govt offers to amend farm laws; farmers want repeal

Business News - January 20, 2021 - 7:58pm
New Delhi: The government on Wednesday offered to amend the three contentious farm laws at their 10th round of talks with protesting unions but farmer leaders stuck to their demand for a complete repeal of the Acts and alleged that the Centre was avoiding discussion on a legal guarantee for MSP.Farmer leaders said there was no breakthrough in the first session as both sides were stuck on their stated positions vis-a-vis the three farm laws and there was little hope of any outcome other than fixing the date for the 11th round.Farmer leaders also raised the issue of NIA notices being served to some farmers, alleging it was being done just to harass those supporting the agitation, to which the government representatives said they will look into the matter.As the two sides took a break, where farmer leaders had langar food, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) general secretary Yudhvir Singh told PTI, "The stalemate is continuing over the three laws and I don't think any solution will emerge from today's meeting. Both sides are adamant on their position."He said the government is insisting on first discussing the three laws and wants to take up the MSP (Minimum Support Price) matter later."We will insist on a discussion on MSP after the tea break and also try to seek the next date for meeting before January 26," Singh said.Another farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said, "The government is not ready to repeal the three laws and farmers are not ready for amendments. The government doesn't want to discuss MSP.""No solution will emerge from today's meeting. We will meet again on the next date," he said.Tikait also said the union leaders raised the NIA (National Investigation Agency) issue in the meeting, to which the ministers said they will look into it.The meeting began at around 2.45 pm with the three ministers greeting farmer leaders on the occasion of Gurupurab."The government offered to carry out some amendments, but farmer leaders maintained they do not want anything less than a complete repeal of the laws," Tikait said.Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, are holding the talks with the representatives of around 40 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan here.Before the meeting, the three ministers also met senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.The tenth round of talks was initially scheduled on January 19, but later got postponed to Wednesday.In the last round of talks, the government had asked protesting farmers to prepare a concrete proposal about their objections and suggestions on the three farm laws for further discussion at their next meeting to end the long-running protest. But, unions stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws. Farmer groups have alleged these laws will end the mandi and MSP procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, even as the government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced.On January 11, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse.Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann had recused himself from the committee appointed by the apex court.Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat and agriculture economists Pramod Kumar Joshi and Ashok Gulati are the other three members on the panel.On Tuesday, the SC panel held its first meeting in the national capital.Under attack from protesting unions for their "pro-government" public stand on three contentious farm laws, the members of the committee said that they would keep aside their own ideology and views while consulting various stakeholders, even as they indicated a complete repeal won't augur well for much-needed agriculture reforms.Earlier in the day, a group of farm union leaders met top officials of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh police to discuss the route and arrangements for their tractor rally on January 26 to protest against the three farm laws.But the unions rejected a suggestion by police officers to hold their rally on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway instead of Delhi's Outer Ring Road, sources said.
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