Top 10 biz headlines: BPCL stake sale likely, Aug auto sales plunge & more

1) Govt may sell entire stake in BPCL worth Rs 40,000 cr, IOCL likely suitor

The Centre is planning to offload its entire stake worth a little more than Rs 40,000 crore in Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), most likely to fellow state-owned oil-marketing company Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), a deal that will go a long way in the Narendra Modi government meeting its highest-ever disinvestment target of Rs 1.05 trillion.

If it goes through, an IOCL-BPCL merger will be the third mammoth amalgamation of state-owned companies, excluding banks, in three years — after Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)-Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) in 2017-18 and REC (formerly Rural Electrification Corporation)-Power Finance Corporation (PFC) in 2018-19. Both deals had a major role in helping the Centre garner record divestment proceeds. (Read more here

2) GST mop-up less than Rs 1 trillion in August; Council to meet this month

Goods and services tax (GST) collections failed to touch Rs 1 trillion in August, which experts say may guide the Centre and states on rate cut demands from slowing segments of the economy at their meeting later this month.

The collections stood at Rs 98,202 crore in the month, against Rs 1.02 trillion in July. The figures indicate continuation of economic slow down which was reflected in the gross domestic product (GDP) growth which plummeted to a 25-quarter low of 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2019-20, experts said. (Read more here

3) Short- and long-term measures needed to spur economic growth: India Inc

The sharp fall in gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the April-June quarter has disappointed Corporate India, but it is not a surprise. Companies across consumer packaged goods, automobiles, capital goods, and steel have seen overall consumption slow down to an unprecedented level since the last three quarters.

Top officials at various companies said they were worried about the steady decline in GDP growth quarter-on-quarter for the past one year, from 8 per cent in the June 2018 quarter to 5 per cent in the June 2019 quarter. A combination of short- and long-term measures to kick-start growth and put the economy back on track is the need of the hour, they said. (Read more here

4) From Maruti Suzuki to Tata Motors, auto sales see steep fall in August 

In a clear sign of the slowdown in the economy persisting, India’s automakers on Sunday reported their monthly sales numbers, which showed that sales of four- and two-wheelers almost halved in August, compared to the equivalent month last year.

The numbers indicate the upcoming festive season may not be enough to revive customer sentiment. This also led to fears that contrary to automakers’ expectations that car sales have bottomed out, the worst may not be over. (Read more here)  

5) Centre looks to cut GST rates as car sales slump persists in August

The Centre has decided to bite the bullet on a tax cut for automobile companies, as the industry reported the worst August for passenger vehicles in 18 years, LiveMint reported on Monday. The report added that dispatches to dealerships during the month fell 34 per cent from a year ago, sales data showed, in the sharpest decline since September 2001. 

While briefing reporters in Chennai on efforts to arrest the economic downturn, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government would take a proposal to reduce the goods and services tax (GST) rate on automobiles to the GST Council. At present, automobiles attract the highest tax rate of 28 per cent, apart from a cess. 

6) Fairfax to invest $5 billion more in India in next 5 yrs

Shrugging off slowdown worries, billionaire investor Prem Watsa has proposed to invest another $5 billion in India in the next five years, doubling what he's put in so far, the Economic Times reported on Monday. According to the report, Watsa said that the country offers an "unusual opportunity".

"I think this is the number one country in the world," the chairman of the $70-billion Toronto-headquartered Fairfax Financial Holdings told the financial daily in an interview on Thursday. "India contributes nearly 3 per cent of the world's GDP but has only a 1 per cent share of global investment money. If this figure were to just double to 2 per cent, that would mean nearly $3 trillion of investments flowing into India." 

7) Realty developers hopeful about festive season after slew of govt reforms

Real-estate developers are expecting a slow but steady increase in sales this festive season on the back of a slew of reforms the finance ministry has taken over the past few days. Developers say reforms — including increased liquidity, creation of stress asset funds — will help in reviving buyers’ sentiments.

According to industry experts, residential sales might rise between 5 per cent and 7 per cent this festive season, mainly between October and December, over last year’s. (Read more here

8) Kedaara eyes Lenskart stake at $1 bn valuation

Kedaara Capital is in talks to buy a stake in omni-channel eyewear retailer Lenskart through a secondary deal, valuing the firm at $1 billion, the Economic Times on Monday reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. 

9) Mega merger of PSBs could mean Rs 5,000-cr demand in IT outsourcing

The central government’s decision to merge 10 public sector banks (PSBs) to create four bigger entities is likely to create a huge outsourcing opportunity for both Indian and global players in information technology (IT) services in the coming quarters. Including consultancy companies, around Rs 5,000 crore of business could be generated, it is thought. (Read more here

10) IndiGo flies past Air India on international routes, deploys more seats

Passenger carrier IndiGo, which commands nearly half of the domestic market share, has pipped Air India on international routes, revealed an analysis by aviation consultancy firm CAPA. According to the analysis, IndiGo deploys more seats on international routes from India, surging ahead of the national carrier.

While IndiGo had 11.8 per cent of all the international seats to and from India in the last week of August, Air India's seat share was 11.4 per cent. Emirates came third with 8.1 per cent, and the rest of the airlines constituted 68 per cent of the seat share. (Read more here

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