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'Agri, pharma exports grew during pandemic'

December 17, 2020 - 2:14pm
NEW DELHI: Exports of sectors such as agriculture and pharmaceuticals have recorded significant growth even during COVID-19 pandemic, and there is a need to sustain this, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said on Thursday. He said that all the signs are there which reflects that India will come back to pre-COVID levels. "As far as exports are concerned, some sectors have done wonderfully well. Even during the slowdown, agriculture exports and pharmaceutical exports went up," he said at an event organised by industry body PHDCCI. But certain "other sectors have not done so well in the recovery phase and we need to sustain the sectors which have done well in this period," he added. He added that there is a need to focus on those sectors which have not done well so that they recover at least initially to the pre-COVID levels. Further he said that there is a need to immediately exploit the short-term opportunities. "There is a medium to long-term opportunities, where we need to enhance our capacities, create new capacities," he added. India's exports dipped 8.74 per cent on a yearly basis in November to USD 23.52 billion on account of contraction in shipments of key sectors like petroleum, engineering, chemicals and gems and jewellery.
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TVS Industrial and Logistics Parks to get ‘Growth Capital’ from the UK-based CDC Group

December 17, 2020 - 2:14pm
Mumbai: TVS Industrial and Logistics Parks, (TVS ILP) a 50:50 joint venture between TVS Supply Chain Solutions and M/s. Ravi Swaminathan Associates on Thursday announced that it will raise ‘growth capital’ from CDC Group, the UK Government-backed investor.This is the first time TVS ILP has raised institutional investment. Post infusion CDC will become a significant minority shareholder in the business.R. Dinesh, Director, TVS Industrial & Logistics Parks Pvt. Ltd to propel the company to the next level of growth, TVS ILP feels bringing in a strategic investment partner is the ideal next step.“TVS ILP and CDC have a similar vision to bring in the best-in-class environmental and sustainable practices to this industry hence, we are eagerly looking forward to this partnership,” added Dinesh.Having been in business for the past 15 years, the company decided to focus on scale and size. To achieve this, it had sought growth capital from investors.On the rationale of the investment, Srini Nagarajan, Managing Director and Head of Asia at CDC, said TVS IPL is playing a key developmental role by providing investment-grade warehouses in underserved markets, helping to facilitate trade and transport with efficient logistic facilities.“This type of business-enabling infrastructure plays a vital role in economic development by connecting regions, enabling economies of scale, and reducing the cost of goods for consumers. Our investment will create 3,000 construction jobs and support the creation of a further 500 jobs during warehouse operations. Constructed to EDGE advanced green building standards, the warehousing will also minimise greenhouse gas emissions and support climate change mitigation,” added Nagarajan.TVS Industrial & Logistics Parks Pvt. Ltd. was set up in 2005 to support the Group’s supply chain initiatives by providing core industrial infrastructure for manufacturing, distribution and sales. The company’s primary business activity involves creating industrial infrastructure facilities such as industrial & warehouse buildings, and logistics infrastructure parks, and as part of the same, it has set up world class facilities across multiple locations, spread across the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Rajasthan. The scale of operations has almost tripled over the past couple of years, and TVS ILP is on track to reach its vision of 15 million sq. ft.CDC Group is the UK’s first impact investor with over 70 years of experience of successfully supporting the sustainable, long-term growth of businesses in South Asia and Africa. It is a leading player in the fight against climate change and a UK champion of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – the global blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for us all.The company has investments in over 1,200 businesses in emerging economies and a total portfolio value of £5.8bn. This year CDC will invest over $1.5bn in companies in Africa and Asia with a focus on fighting climate change, empowering women and creating new jobs and opportunities for millions of people.CDC is funded by the UK government and all proceeds from its investments are reinvested to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and South Asia.
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LT Foods to scale up organics range; to leverage mega health trends that have emerged in the pandemic

December 17, 2020 - 2:14pm
NEW DELHI: Packaged consumer goods company LT Foods is scaling up its organic foods brand Ecolife to leverage the rapidly-growing organics market, officials at the company said.“India is moving towards mega trends of fitness with consumers embracing healthy lifestyle and mindful eating. Consumers are now concerned with the origin of their food and how it impacts their health,” LT Foods managing director Ashwani Arora said.The new launch will augment LT Foods’ existing franchise of brands which includes Daawat, Royal, Kari Kari and Royal.Arora said the company has plans to aggressively scale up this business and has collaborated with over 60,000 organic farmers for the venture. Industry estimates peg the domestic organic foods market at Rs 3,000 crore, growing at 15-20%. Globally, this market is estimated to be growing at 8-9%.The listed LT Foods reported consolidated revenue of Rs 2,439 crore, up 24% year-on-year, for the April-September 2020 period, and gross profit increase of 32% at Rs 710 crore. The company said in line with its strategic pillars of growth and margin expansion, it was able to reduce debt to Rs 1,124 crore.“We witnessed a significant surge in in-home consumption in the pandemic months. With hotels and restaurant channels in lockdown mode, we saw a sizeable addition of new households into the consumption base, and given safety and health concerns. We also saw transition towards branded and packaged foods,” Arora said.Last financial year, LT Foods’ organic business revenue stood at Rs 367 crore, contributing 9% to the company’s overall revenue. The organics portfolio will comprise of grocery staples including flours, broken wheat, spices and lentils rice, and will be rolled out across e-commerce and niche modern retail outlets, the company said.“We believe some of the new consumption trends that have emerged in the pandemic phase are permanent. Consumers will continue to demonstrate increased affinity towards hygienically made packaged food products,” LT Foods VP finance and strategy Monika Jaggia said. The company said its speciality rice categories led by flagship brands Daawat and Royal grew by 20%, and sales through e-commerce platforms grew by 114% in the first two quarters of the financial year. New products including fortified rice, saute sauces and ready-to-heat products under the health and convenience franchise reported revenue growth of 69%, the company said. LT, which has distribution subsidiaries in the US and Europe and supplies to Walmart and Carrefour, derives its largest volumes overseas from Europe and the US.
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Bitcoin tops $22,000 and strategists say rally has further to go

December 17, 2020 - 2:14pm
By Joanna OssingerBitcoin has surged about 20 per cent this week, breaching $22,000 for the first time and stirring predictions that more gains lie ahead for the world’s largest cryptocurrency.The digital coin jumped as much as 5.5 per cent to about $22,366 on Thursday, according to a composite of prices compiled by Bloomberg. Bitcoin and the wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index have both more than tripled this year. Cryptocurrency-linked stocks in South Korea, Japan and China climbed.The rally in digital assets is polarizing opinion, given Bitcoin’s history of boom and bust. Proponents argue the cryptocurrency is muscling in on gold as a portfolio diversifier amid dollar weakness and potential inflationary pressure. Others see speculative fervor that will inevitably lead to a bust akin to the meltdown three years ago after a furious Bitcoin rally.Yet there are signs that longer term investors like asset managers and family offices are playing more of a role this time around, alongside trend-following quant funds. Bitcoin’s scarcity combined with “rampant money printing” by the Federal Reserve mean the digital token should eventually climb to about $400,000, Scott Minerd, the chief investment officer at Guggenheim Investments, said on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday.79775784Here’s what people in markets are saying about Bitcoin’s move:Parabolic priceThe “price will now go from linear to parabolic” in part because retail investors have so far largely been “out of this rally,” said Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets Pte in Singapore.Fed kick“The move above $20,000 has been coming and I’m probably a little surprised it didn’t come sooner,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda Europe Ltd. “Fed stimulus may have given it an extra kick but, let’s face it, Bitcoin doesn’t need it. A break above $20,000 may bring the buzz and a strong end to the year.”Bitcoin and gold“The lowest-ever Bitcoin annual volatility measure versus gold and the stock market near the end of 2020 may sustain the crypto’s performance advantage in 2021,” said Bloomberg Intelligence strategist Mike McGlone in a report. He sees the price ratio of Bitcoin-to-gold headed for 100, if history is repeated, from its current level of around 12.Watching resistanceIf Bitcoin sustains its momentum, then “testing $36,000 will be the next real objective,” said Dan Gunsberg, CEO of Hxro, a crypto trading platform. But he indicated that a significant break below $13,800 would herald a much weaker period.
Categories: Business News

BSF guns down two terrorists along Pak border

December 17, 2020 - 11:13am
New Delhi: The Border Security Force (BSF) gunned down two terrorists along the India-Pakistan International Border in Punjab in the early hours of Thursday, official sources said. The armed infiltrators were shot dead close to the Attari front around 2:30 am, they said. More details will be known once the troops conduct a search operation, but a dense fog has engulfed the area, the sources said.
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Government ropes in Nabard & Hudco to revive rural housing scheme

December 17, 2020 - 11:13am
NEW DELHI: The scheme to provide interest subvention to the rural homeless poor has failed to make a mark with weak response to loans and poor utilisation of funds, prompting the government to seek its revival by roping in two financial institutions with strong rural network. The Rural Housing Interest Subsidy Scheme has managed to spend barely around Rs 10 crore till this week, out of around Rs 50 crore released mid-2019, with roughly 9,000 beneficiaries. It marks a setback for government expectations, evident from the fact that the rural development ministry had earmarked Rs 100 crore for 2020-21. Sources said the current year allocation is redundant now given the abysmal expenditure. The figures were revealed in a review by the RD ministry last week. The flagship rural housing programme called Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (earlier Indira Awas Yojana), which provides financial support to the rural poor for construction of houses, has 2.95 crore beneficiaries identified on the basis of poverty survey Socio-Economic Caste Census. It has a deadline of construction of 2022. In 2017, the Centre launched the RHISS to help the rural poor who are not in the list of identified beneficiaries of PMAY but want to construct a house. They are helped to avail a loan of Rs 2 lakh with an upfront subvention of Rs 38,859. The National Housing Bank was chosen as the nodal implementation agency. The scheme guidelines were finalised in mid-2017. But with the scheme virtually a non-starter, well placed sources said the RD ministry this week decided to add two big institutions Nabard and Hudco as nodal agencies besides the existing NHB. “The idea is to tap into the rural network of District Central Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks of Nabard while Hudco already works in financing rural housing,” a senior official said, adding, “The NHB has a limited reach and that is evident in the response to the scheme.” The added leverage of big institutions working in the field of credit in rural sector is expected to overcome a major hurdle in the success of RHISS — the reluctance of banks and lending agencies to provide loans to the poor
Categories: Business News

A multivitamin tops drug sales for the first time in October, overtakes diabetes drugs

December 17, 2020 - 11:13am
MUMBAI: Call it the Covid effect. Popular health supplement Zincovit, which provides essential vitamins and minerals, catapulted to the top spot in the domestic pharma retail market for the first time ever in October by becoming the largest-selling brand. Interestingly, this would also be the first instance of a multivitamin supplement overtaking sales of drugs for lifestyle ailments such as diabetes, including Human Mixtard (Novo Nordisk), Glycomet-GP (USV) and Lantus (Sanofi), which dominate the retail market. A 30-year-old brand manufactured by the little-known Apex Labs, Zincovit registered sales of Rs 50 crore during October, dethroning the largest-selling brand Human Mixtard (insulin) with sales of around Rs 47 crore. A multivitamin supplement topping retail sales assumes significance as it comes alongside an increase in month-on-month sales of Human Mixtard (see graphic), prompted by a strong need to prop one’s immunity amid a raging pandemic, industry experts say. Overall, the market posted a robust 10% growth in October, led by a higher number of prescriptions for anti-diabetics and cardiac drugs, coupled with a strong jump in vitamins and minerals. Zincovit — with sales averaging under Rs 20 crore — touched Rs 50 crore in October, witnessing a huge 60% jump during the six-month period of April-October, according to data culled from pharma research firm AIOCD Awacs. Sales went up sharply over the last six months from April onwards when it was ranked 30th, then it hit the 11th position in June with sales of nearly Rs 30 crore, and was ranked second in September. In November, it dropped to the fourth position. That compares with the 53rd rank it had in January in the organised pharma retail market. “We believed in the concept of immunity about 30 years ago and have been building the brand over the years. The category witnessed an unprecedented jump and, for us, has doubled over the 12-month ended November to Rs 340 crore. Zinc, a vital supplement, is also part of therapy for Covid-19 patients,” the Chennai-based manufacturer’s head (marketing) Venkatesh Mallo told TOI. Overall, the vitamins and minerals segment — with sales of around Rs 12,700 crore (for the 12-month period ended October) — jumped nearly 23% last month, as against 16% in September. Immunity boosters continued their upward trend in purchases across India. Vitamin C and zinc -containing brands were the most in demand. These include Zincovit (Apex Labs), Bevon (Zuventus), Limcee (Abbott), Celin (Koye) and Citravite XT (Pharmed), according to research firm Pronto Consult’s founder and MD Hari Natarajan.A substantial growth was also witnessed in sales of other multivitamins which contain zinc, sold by Zuventus (Emcure) and Alkem.
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IBM CEO Arvind Krishna to take over as chairman

December 17, 2020 - 11:13am
International Business Machines Corp said on Wednesday Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna would take over as chairman from Jan. 1, replacing Ginni Rometty, who stepped down as its long-time CEO earlier this year.Rometty, who was the tech pioneer's first woman CEO, would occasionally be asked to act as an independent contractor after her retirement, IBM said.Before assuming the role of CEO in April, Krishna was head of IBM's cloud business and has been with the company since 1990.
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Started rebuilding unit, says Wistron

December 17, 2020 - 8:13am
New Delhi: Wistron has already “started rebuilding” its violence-hit factory in Karnataka, the company’s vice president Vincent Lee told the central government while reiterating that the Taiwanese manufacturing major’s “commitment to India remains the same”. In its first official communication to the Centre — following vandalism by employees at its production unit on Saturday — Wistron, one of the largest manufacturers of Apple’s iPhone, acknowledged the strong support it is receiving from the Indian government, officials aware of the developments told ET.
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From small towns they hitch a ride on a stock named desire

December 17, 2020 - 8:13am
Mumbai: If you thought stocks were the exclusive preserve of Mumbai, Delhi and urban Gujarat, you have clearly missed the bus on India’s journey into financial democracy — from the Malabar to Margherita, via Muzaffarpur. Bharat is betting big on stocks, and retail investors are increasingly partaking of the growth story from geographic pockets that barely had any exposure to the equity ownership culture even a decade ago. Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have seen 100-200% jump in new retail investor accounts this year, while the other siblings among the Seven Sisters — Tripura, Assam and Nagaland — reported investor additions at 60-70%, BSE data showed.79769564Bihar has also seen an increase of 77%, or 5.3 lakh additions, to the retail investor base this year.Investors at these places are diversifying their investments to include equities, brokers said.“Rising per capita income, better internet connectivity and improving penetration of Aadhar are resulting in increased participation in the capital market from the hinterland,” said Prakarsh Gagdani, CEO, 5Paisa Capital. “Earlier, north-eastern states had very low Aadhar penetration; but now it’s improving — and demat accounts, too. In the Seven Sister states and Bihar, we have seen at least a 300% jump in demat additions.”Among the larger states, Telangana has seen 9.2 lakhs, or a 158% jump, in new investor registration in 2020.Uttar Pradesh has added nearly 13.73 lakh investors, more than the numbers for developed states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. These two southern states have added 10.3 lakhs and 9.74 lakh new investors, respectively, in 2020.However, Maharashtra and Gujarat that run the two major financial cities of India saw 30% of the share of the new investor registrations.Undeniably, the availability of disruptive tech-driven investment tools has fuelled this growth. Earlier, stockbroking relied strongly on a physical presence. Smartphones and robust internet connections have bridged the distance gap. Account opening has now also become totally paperless, aided by the regulator's initiatives of enabling online account opening using Aadhaar e-sign, said brokers.“Over the last few years, we have seen a significant increase in retail participation from Tier-II and Tier-III cities, and over 70% of Upstox’s total customer base comes from these regions,” said Ravi Kumar, CEO of Upstox, a discount brokerage firm.
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F&O strategy for moderate Nifty upside in Dec series

December 17, 2020 - 8:13am
Mumbai: Traders and rich investors could initiate a bull call ladder to play for Nifty’s moderate upside toward 14,000, with the market breaking out of a five -day consolidation to close at a record 13,682.7 on Wednesday.The trade involves December 31 expiry options, wherein a 13,700 call is purchased, and one 13,900 and 14,100 call are sold. The sold calls sharply reduce the outflow for the 13,700 call.Assuming Wednesday closing rates, the 13,900 and 14,100 call sale fetches the client Rs 117 a share (75 shares make one lot) , which reduces the cost of the 13,700 call to a mere Rs 53 from Rs 170.The strategy banks on the Nifty not rising above 13,900-14,100. The maximum downside loss is limited to Rs 53, the debit. Maximum profit is Rs 147, while upside loss is unlimited if the Nifty breaks above 14,247."The Nifty is likely to trade at 13,900-14,000 near expiry, so the strategy is a good way of playing for moderate profit in a range-bound market," said Rajesh Palviya, derivatives head, Axis Securities.Maximum profit of Rs 147 happens at 13,900 or 14,100 expiry. At 14,100, the 13,700 call adjusted for debit is in the money (ITM) by Rs 347. The sold 13,900 call is 200 ITM while the 14,100 expires worthless. After paying off the 13,900 buyer, the client is left with Rs 147. The upper breakeven above which unlimited loss begins is 14,247. At this level the 13,700 call's adjusted value is Rs 494, that of the 13,900 call is Rs 347 and of the 14,100 call is Rs 147, or a combined Rs 494, leaving the client with nothing. This excludes brokerage and transaction charges."The market remains bullish and there is no reason to anticipate a correction as there's no sign of a reversal," said Abhishek Karande, CMT senior analyst, Reliance Securities. Private banks, FMCG and pharma are his favourite sectoral picks.
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US adds India in currency 'monitoring list'

December 17, 2020 - 2:10am
WASHINGTON: The U.S. Treasury labeled Switzerland and Vietnam as currency manipulators on Wednesday and added three new names to a watch list of countries it suspects of taking measures to devalue their currencies against the dollar.In what may be one of the final broadsides to international trading partners delivered by the departing administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, the Treasury said that through June 2020 both Switzerland and Vietnam had intervened in currency markets to prevent effective balance of payments adjustments.Furthermore, in its semi-annual currency manipulation report, the Treasury said Vietnam had acted to gain "unfair competitive advantage in international trade as well."Foreign exchange analysts had broadly anticipated the U.S. Treasury designation for the two countries.The action comes as the global coronavirus pandemic skews trade flows and widens U.S. deficits with trading partners, an irritant to Trump, who won office four years ago partly on a promise to close the U.S. trade gap.To be labeled a manipulator, countries must at least have a $20 billion-plus bilateral trade surplus with the United States, foreign currency intervention exceeding 2% of gross domestic product and a global current account surplus exceeding 2% of GDP.The U.S. Treasury also said its "monitoring list" of countries that meet some of the criteria has grown to 10 with the additions of Taiwan, Thailand and India.Others on the list include China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, Singapore and Malaysia.The U.S. Treasury report also said that India and Singapore had intervened in the foreign exchange market in a "sustained, asymmetric manner" but did not meet other requirements to warrant designation as manipulators.
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US Fed to maintain bond buys until ‘substantial’ economy gains seen

December 17, 2020 - 2:10am
By Craig TorresThe Federal Reserve said it will continue to support the economy through massive monetary stimulus until it sees “substantial further progress” in employment and inflation.At their final meeting of a tumultuous year, policy makers led by Chair Jerome Powell voted to maintain monthly bond purchases of at least $120 billion, according to a statement Wednesday. Policy makers made no changes to the composition of purchases, declining to shift them toward longer-term maturities.“The Federal Reserve will continue to increase its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $80 billion per month and of agency mortgage-backed securities by at least $40 billion per month until substantial further progress has been made toward the Committee’s maximum employment and price stability goals,” the Federal Open Market Committee said.The Fed meeting came as lawmakers on Capitol Hill tried to wrap up an agreement on new stimulus after months of deadlock, with both fiscal and monetary policy poised to help continue cushioning an increasingly shaky economy during the wait for widespread vaccine distribution.The FOMC on Wednesday said “economic activity and employment have continued to recover but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year.”The committee unanimously kept the federal funds target rate in a range of zero to 0.25%, where it’s been since March, and a majority of Fed officials continued to forecast that their benchmark lending rate would be held near zero at least through 2023.Powell is scheduled to hold a video press conference at 2:30 p.m. Washington time.The FOMC “expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2% and is on track to moderately exceed 2% for some time,” policy makers said, repeating language from their November statement.
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Should traditional investors look to buy Muthoot Finance's NCDs?

December 17, 2020 - 2:10am
Mumbai: Investors eyeing higher returns than traditional bank deposits, can consider the Non Convertible Debenture (NCDs) issue by gold loan financer Muthoot Finance. The company's NCDs rated ‘AA’ are available through a public offer giving returns upto7.75%. The gold financier offers two tenures of 38 months and 60 months with the option to take interest monthly, annually or on maturity. The issue price is Rs 1000 per NCD and investors can apply for a minimum of 10 NCDs. The public issue has a base issue size of Rs 100 crore with an option to retain oversubscription up to Rs 900 crores aggregating to Rs 1000 crore. The issue is currently open, will close on January 5.Financial planners point out that interest rates offered by Muthoot Finance are higher than those offered by banks and corporate deposits. A fixed deposit from SBI pays upto 5.4%, while a corporate deposit from a AAA rated company returns 6- 6.5% every year.“The NCD issue reflects a good balance between borrowers who want to benefit out of the current low interest rates and depositors who get to invest in a seemingly safer option at better than company / bank FD rates for 38-60 months,” says Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research, HDFC Securities.With interest rates likely to remain soft in the near term, distributors believe these NCDs offering about 125-150 basis points higher returns are a good option.They recommend locking investments into the 60-month-NCDs, which will earn the higher 7.75%. “Price of gold has risen by 28% and this increases the company’s margin of safety as they have much higher collateral than loan disbursed,” says Rupesh Bhansali, Head (Distribution), GEPL Capital. Since a gold loan financier has gold as collateral the margin of safety is high.However distributors point out that NCDs are illiquid and the company has a large chunk of business coming from gold financing, investors should allocate not more than 10-15% of their fixed income portfolio to such products.In the last couple of years, investors have been averse to buying bonds or NCDs of lower-rated companies especially financers due to a number of credit rating downgrades events and defaults by issuers. After the pandemic, investors are worried how NBFCs will fare and are not keen to take risk. Also in the recent past AAA rated DHFL defaulted on payments of its secured NCDs and repayment is now subject to the outcome of the corporate insolvency resolution process.
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Spectrum auction decision welcome; lower reserve prices would've allowed more resources: COAI

December 16, 2020 - 11:10pm
New Delhi: Industry body COAI on Wednesday welcomed the government's decision to auction spectrum by March 2021 but said lower reserve prices would have freed-up additional resources for network expansion by telcos. Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) - whose members include Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea - said high reserve prices in the past auctions have resulted in large amounts of spectrum remaining unsold. "We welcome the government's decision to auction spectrum by March 2021. This will enable the industry to cater to the exponential increase data usage and continue supporting the Digital India vision," COAI Director General SP Kochhar said in a statement. While the government has addressed the requirement for more spectrum, lower reserve prices would have provided additional resources for network expansion to the telcos, COAI said. "High reserve prices in past auctions have resulted in large amounts of spectrum remaining unsold. We hope the government will take additional measures to boost the financial health of the industry, which is the backbone of a digitally connected India," the apex association said. PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry telecom committee head Sandeep Aggarwal said the decision to auction spectrum is in the right direction, which will give the much-needed push to the telecom sector. "In the times of corona pandemic when the economy is now slowly showing an uptrend, spectrum auction will further boost economic sentiment. The money that the government will earn from the auction of the spectrum will be pumped into the economy, thus working as a stimulus," Aggarwal said. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal for the auction of 2,251.25 megahertz of spectrum worth Rs 3.92 lakh crore at the base price. The telecom ministry plans to issue a notice to invite bids in December and hold the spectrum auction by March, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The government, however, has decided not to auction frequencies in 3,300-3,600 Mhz bands that were identified for 5G services. Aggarwal also said the government decision to set up a National Security Committee on Telecom will strengthen India's national security at a time when cyber-attacks and the vulnerability of our networks are on the rise. In a bid to tighten the security of communication networks, the Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday announced the National Security Directive on the Telecommunication Sector, which will mandate service providers to purchase equipment from trusted sources. Under the provisions of this directive, the government will declare a list of trusted sources and trusted products for installation in the country's telecom network. "The industry will cooperate and coordinate with the government in identifying 'trusted sources'," Aggarwal said.
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Hero MotoCorp to increase prices by up to Rs 1,500 in the new year

December 16, 2020 - 11:10pm
New Delhi: The country’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp Wednesday said it will increase prices across its products by up to Rs 1500 in the new year to offset partially increase in commodity costs. “There has been a steady rise in commodity costs across the spectrum, including steel, aluminium, plastics, and precious metals. We have already accelerated our savings programme under the Leap-2 umbrella, and will continue to work on mitigating the impact, with the objective to reduce the burden on the customers and protect our margins”, the company said in a statement. However, in order to partially offset the impact of the commodity costs, the company will be increasing the prices of its products by up to Rs. 1500, with effect from January 1, 2021. The increase will vary across models, and the exact quantum will be communicated to dealers in due course.
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JEE-Mains to be held four times in a year

December 16, 2020 - 8:09pm
Union Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal today announced the schedule for JEE Mains 2021 examination. The National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct the JEE Mains 2021 examination from February 23 to 26, 2021, said the minister.The NTA will conduct the JEE mains 2021 examination four times, in February, March, April and May, 2021. Pokhriyal on his official twitter handle wrote, “We have examined your suggestions regarding JEE (Mains) and on the basis of the same, I am announcing the schedule of the exam.”National Testing Agency had earlier released JEE Main 2021 notification on December 15, however, pulled it off the official website within hours of release. The notification contained substantial changes in JEE Main 2021 exam, which included an increase in the number of attempts from twice in a year to four times and inclusion of choice within questions. As per the notice, the application form was to begin December 15.We have examined your suggestions regarding JEE (Mains) and on the basis of the same, I am announcing the schedule… https://t.co/pwqsDeE2TX— Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank) 1608122419000
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Mahindra Electric looks to match last year's sales, readying EV portfolio of Rs 1.7-15 lakh price range

December 16, 2020 - 8:09pm
Mumbai: Despite a quarter of disruption in sales, Mahindra Electric is hoping to match last year’s sales number as a growing comfort to own electric vehicles (EV) and better cost-economics for commercial buyers inch up sales. The company sold about 14,300 vehicles in FY20 and it is looking to match that number this year. While the sale of its electric car eVerito have declined this fiscal due to a fall in business for vehicle fleet owners, the company is eyeing increased business from e-commerce players for its three-wheeler good carrier Treo Zor. The company has already supplied pilot vehicles to leading e-commerce players like Amazon, Flipkart, Jio Mart amongst others, ET has learnt.It is readying an EV portfolio over a price range of Rs 1.7-15 lakh with a focus on commercial applications as well as plug-and-play platforms for sale to other EV makers to generate a steady stream of revenue. While there is a delay of a quarter or two for some of its new launches, the company will be launching these products over the next 1-1.5 years.While the pandemic has pushed back its investment and product launch schedules, the company has not dropped any of its plans, according to Mahesh Babu, the chief executive of the company.“There is no reduction in any of our investments in Mahindra Electric. We have not dropped any project although some got delayed due to the pandemic,” he told ET.The EV arm of the Mahindra Group has so far invested a third of the Rs 1500 crore it had earmarked for technology development and capacity expansion. The balance money will be used for products, new manufacturing facilities and a global tech centre.The line-up of EVs will start with the Treo range of three-wheelers, which are already on sale in India. Other vehicles include an electric quadricycle called Atom and electric car e-KUV100 – both aimed at the taxi fleet segment. In fact, the product launches have been pushed back to let the commuter vehicle fleet owners recover from the impact of the pandemic.“The electric vehicles already offer better cost-economic for commercial applications,” Babu said.The immediate priority for Mahindra is the commercial end of the market, but the EV portfolio will include the e-XUV300 electric SUV, which will be primarily targeted at personal buyers.“There is a growing acceptance for EVs amongst the personal buyers and we would like to play a part at that end of the market too,” the chief executive said.The company is also in talks with all leading vehicle manufacturers – Indian and overseas – to supply them with its ‘MESMA’ range of EV platforms. Manufacturers can build their own vehicles around these platforms and thus cut down their R&D spend. The company will be supplying its MESMA-350 to Mahindra Group subsidiary SsangYong starting next financial year.These products will help the company generate a steady revenue stream. Mahindra Electric Mobility Limited reported a loss of Rs 55 crore on revenue of Rs 273 crore during FY20, according to Mahindra and Mahindra’s annual report.
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Liberty Group buys SBQ Steels in its second bankruptcy acquisition

December 16, 2020 - 8:09pm
Mumbai: The UK based Liberty group has acquired the bankrupt 0.25 million tonne SBQ Steels, culmulating a three year process in which the company was put into liquidation after inital efforts to sell it failed.Liberty paid Rs 262.45 crore plus interest of Rs 8 crore to take the Nellore based steel company, its second acquisition through the bankrutpcy process after acquiring the bankrupt Adhunik Metaliks and its associate Zion Steel in February 2020 under the insolvency law in a Rs 425 crore cash deal. SBQ's acquisition was less than the inital liquidition value of Rs 472 crore and a whopping 94% haircut to the Rs 4300 crore principle and interest due to financial creditors led by Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Co, Union Bank of India and Bank of Baroda. "Liberty outbid Switzerland based IMR Mettalurgical Resoruces to emerge the highest bidder during liquidation with a Rs 262 crore offer in August. However the company could not pay in three months stipulated. Earlier this month NCLT directed Liberty to make the payment in two days which was done last week," said RK Bansal, CEO Edelweiss ARC which owns 82% of the debt.Liberty and IMR were among the bidders for SBQ in the initial bids in 2018 but both did not make the cut with lenders. After a buyer could not be found, resolution professional Ashish Arjunkumar Rathi put the company into liquidation. "The company had to go through three rounds of liquidation before finding a buyer. As a result the reserve price fell to as low as Rs 218 crore because of lack of buyers even during liquidation. IMR has agreed to pay Rs 200 crore in January this year but reduced the price to Rs 190 crore citing Covid exigencies. Since it was below the maximum discount that can be given in these cases the liquidator called for fresh bids putting Liberty and IMR head to head in an e-auction which resulted in a higher price," said a person closely involved in the process.Despite the lower realisation this is a closure of a legacy NPA for bankers of a plant that was defunct since November 2017. For Liberty this acquisition gives a foothold into the Southern market but only after investments in plant and machinery to get the company up and running. Liberty did not reply to an email seeking comment.The UK-based Liberty Steel Group has total rolling capacity of 18 million tonnes across UK, US and India. The late revival in interest by both IMR and Liberty came due to the upturn in the Indian steel market on the back of higher global demand. Indian steel mills have hiked prices continuosly since September amid improved domestic demand in line with the 70% increase international prices since September, on the back of China revival.SBQ Steels owned by the Chennai based RKKR Group, manufactures pig iron, sponge iron, steel billets, bars, and wire rods, catering to the requirements of automobile and engineering sectors, and also to the nuclear power industry. However, it has no direct iron ore linkage.Located 15 km away from the Krishnapatnam Port in a 675 acre facility it gives Liberty the opportunity connect the plant with its facilities and iron ore from abroad.The steel plant also has two power plants with 45MW capacity each.
Categories: Business News

PNB, IDBI Bank complete QIP helped by peer PSU banks

December 16, 2020 - 8:09pm
Mumbai: State owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Life Insurance Corp (LIC) contolled IDBI Bank managed less than their targeted amounts through a qualified institutional placement (QIP) despite offering the maximum permissible 5% discount to investors highlighting the challenges that government owned lenders face in raising capital from the market.PNB managed to raise about Rs 3,800 crore out of its targeted Rs 7,000 crore while IDBI Bank managed to raise about Rs 1,400 crore out of its targeted Rs 2,000 crore in the offer, multiple people familiar with the issue said. "Both the issues received support from treasuries of public sector banks treasuries especially the large ones like State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Canara and Union Bank of India to help it get through. LIC could not invest in IDBI because it already owns majority stake there but it supported the PNB issue big time," said one of the persons cited above.PNB raised about Rs 3800 crore which included an estimated Rs 1,500 crore from LIC. Other investors in PNB included mid level mutual funds like Sundaram and some hedge funds like Millenium Management Global. PNB was priced at a 5% discount to the Rs 37.35 apiece floor price set by the bank. Simiarly, IDBI Bank, which is technically under RBI restrictions under the so called prompt corrective action (PCA) framework, too was priced at a 5% discount to the Rs 40.63 per share floor price set by the bank. Both the banks did not respond to a separate emails seeking comment. Sundaram mutual fund as well as some PSU banks were common investors in both the issues. Individual investors could not be immediately reached for comment."LIC could not invest in IDBI but PNB itself is said to have invested Rs 300 crore in the share sale. Indian Bank is said to have bet on both the issuances for Rs 100 crore each. Canara Bank and Union Bank of India are among others that have also subscribed to the issuances," said a second person cited above.ICICI Securties, IIFL Securities, SBI Capital Markets were the bankers to both issues joined by PNB Securities for PNB and IDBI Capital for IDBI Bank among other bankers.SEBI rules say that for the issue to be sucessfully placed atleast half of the desired amount has to be collected which both banks managed."Our base issue was Rs 3500 crore and we wanted to keep whatever came over it. But we got about Rs 3800 crore and the issue has now been closed," said a person involved in the PNB issue.Both the issues highlight the investor sceptism with regards to public sector banks which are still cleaning up their books even as they try to assess the damage done by the Covid 19 pandemic this fiscal. Both issues have come even as the government and the RBI have exhorted PSU banks to seek capital from the markets. The government has for the first time in many years not provided for the capitalisation of banks in its annual budget while governor Shaktikanta Das has asked PSU banks to "stand on the strength of their own balance sheet."PNB and IDBI's QIP follows Canara Bank's similar Rs 2,000 crore fund raise last week in which again, LIC was the largest subscriber to this issue, raising questions about whether other large investors will be keen to put money into the two forthcoming issues if the state-run insurer does not step in.Post the issue the capital adequacy of both banks will roughly improve by 50 basis points each. One basis point is 0.01 percentage point.
Categories: Business News

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