Top 10 biz headlines: Auto crisis worsens, India Inc gets CSR relief & more

1) 'Rock bottom': Passenger vehicle sales plunge 31%, steepest in two decades

The downward spiral continued for Indian automakers in July as sales fell by 18 per cent over the same month last year.

Sales of passenger vehicles declined by 30.98 per cent, the steepest fall in two decades, and industry executives are now counting on a good monsoon to revive them in the festive season. 

“What is ‘rock bottom’? Each month we feel it’s rock bottom. If we look at the numbers for last month, we thought they were very low, but this time they are breaking an almost 19-year record. You can never say this is the worst,” said Vishnu Mathur, director general, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam). (Read more here

2) Banks to get two-year guarantee to purchase 'pooled assets' of NBFCs

The Union government on Tuesday announced a scheme for providing a one-time credit guarantee to public sector banks (PSBs) for purchase of pooled non-banking financial companies’ (NBFC) assets.

Under the scheme, notified on August 10, public sector banks (PSBs) have been given a deadline of six months to purchase “pooled assets” of NBFCs at fair value. “One-time guarantee provided by the government on the pooled assets will be valid for 24 months from the date of purchase and can be invoked on the occurrence of default,” according to the notification. (Read more here

3) After 9-month decline, auto dealers hope festive sales will be in fast lane

After nine months of continuous decline in sales, auto dealers’ body Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) is bullish on a revival in the upcoming festive season. Not only that, it expects this festive season to be better than last year’s.

Consumer spending, which is marked by purchase of items such as consumer durables, real estate, jewellery and automobiles, surges during the festive season. (Read more here

4) No jail, CSR non-compliance should be a civil offence: Govt-appointed panel

Barely a week after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s assurance to corporate entities to review the jail-term provision in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) law, a high-level committee has recommended that non-compliance with CSR norms be made a civil offence and moved to a penalty regime.

This is a departure from the recent policy change which had provided for a three-year jail term for violating CSR norms. (Read more here

5) Amazon in talks to buy 8-10% in Future Retail

American e-commerce major Amazon has entered an advanced stage of discussions with Future Retail for buying 8-10 per cent stake in the Indian retail chain, the Times of India on Wednesday reported, citing sources in the know. 

Sources close to the development told the national daily that the deal with the Kishore Biyani-led company was expected to close in the next few weeks. 

6) Temasek to back Manipal’s Medanta bid, put in $300 mn

Temasek is backing Manipal Hospitals' bid to acquire Medanta Hospitals with an additional cheque of about $300 million, or Rs 2,100 crore, the Times of India reported on Wednesday. Two sources familiar with the development told the financial daily that the move comes as Singapore's state-owned investment firm doubles down on the healthcare sector. 

According to the report, Manipal is looking to acquire Medanta for Rs 5,500-6,000 crore. The report added that the negotiations have been running for over nine months and a potential deal has now reached its final stages.  

7) IL&FS and Gayatri joint venture wins Rs 914-cr arbitration claim

An IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company and Gayatri Projects joint venture (JV) has won an arbitration claim worth Rs 914.3 crore for a Nagaland road project, the two companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Gayatri Projects is pleased to announce the award of an arbitration claim worth Rs 914.3 crore in favour of its JV with IL&FS Engineering and Construction company for the Nagaland Project,” Gayatri Projects said in its statement on Tuesday. (Read more here

8) DHFL resolution plan: Stakeholders seek legal protection from future claims

Key stakeholders in the beleaguered Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL), including the consortium of bankers, unsecured creditors and potential PE investors, are discussing the possibility of a legal framework which would indemnify them from any future claims made against the company.

The stakeholders want protection from any litigation which might arise due to fresh claims against the company, especially after PE funds have bought stake in the company and the resolution plan has been cleared by the bankers. (Read more here

9) RBI finalises regulatory sandbox framework for innovation in fintech firms

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday released the final ‘enabling framework for regulatory sandbox,’ taking into account inputs received after a consultation process that began in April.

The framework will likely be a positive step for financial technology start-ups and companies looking to innovate in the fast changing and highly regulated sector.

The regulatory sandbox allows live testing of new products or services in a controlled or test regulatory environment. (Read more here

10) Japan cautions Andhra against reworking green power pacts

Japan has cautioned Andhra Pradesh's chief minister that his state's efforts to slash renewable energy tariffs by reviewing signed-and-sealed contracts has damaged the business environment and unnerved foreign investors, the Economic Times reported on Wednesday. 

The report said that India's renewable energy sector has received a flood of foreign investments, with firms from South Africa, France and Europe participating in tenders. Industry executives told the financial daily that Andhra Pradesh's actions could have severe implications since many renewable energy companies are funded by overseas sovereign and pension funds.  

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