Top 10 biz headlines: Core sectors growth slows, no new Jet suitor & more

1) Growth of 8 core sectors slows to 2.1% in July, recovers from 50-month low

A spurt in cement production and slower contraction in the energy segment managed to pull up growth in the eight core sectors of the economy marginally to 2.1 per cent in July. Growth had collapsed to only 0.2 per cent — a 50-month low — in June.

Still, growth was much slower than in July last year when it was 7.3 per cent.

The data released by the commerce and industry ministry on Monday showed that the coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement, and electricity sectors showed poor performance across the board. The only exception was cement, which in July witnessed production jumping 7.9 per cent, after a 1.7-per cent contraction in the previous month. Growth had tapered off after hitting an 11-month high of 15.7 per cent in March. (Read more here

2) Jet fails to find new suitor, further deadline extension for EoI unlikely 

The decision of Jet Airways’ lenders to extend the deadline for submission of expression of interest (EoI) did not pay any dividend as the grounded airline failed to attract any new bidder till August 31, said a source familiar with the development.

The lenders had extended the date of submission of EoI till August 31 with the hope of getting more EoIs for the airline. Now, Jet’s resolution professional (RP), Ashish Chhawchharia, will evaluate the three EoIs he has received so far and furnish the list of eligible investors.

It is highly unlikely that the lenders and the RP will extend the deadline again, sources said. (Read more here

3) Maruti Suzuki reduces output for 7th straight month in Aug with 34% cut

Reeling under severe slowdown, Maruti Suzuki India reduced its production by 33.99 per cent in August, making it the seventh straight month that the country's largest car maker reduced its output.

The company produced a total of 1,11,370 units in August as against 1,68,725 units in the year-ago month, Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) said in a filing to the BSE on Monday.

Passenger vehicles' production last month stood at 1,10,214 units as against 1,66,161 units in August 2018, a decline of 33.67 per cent, it added. (Read more here

4) What slowdown? New auto entrants are cruising

Amid plummeting demand for cars, Kia Motors India and MG Motor India Pvt Ltd, two new entrants into India's automobile market, have attracted strong buyer interest with their maiden offerings -- Seltos and Hector, LiveMint reported on Tuesday. 

Vehicle and component manufacturers have slashed production and demanded tax cuts from the government as auto sales have declined to multi-decade lows, added the report. Further, while bookings don't always translate into sales, they do indicate the enthusiasm of customers towards a particular product.

The report said that MG Motor sold 2,018 units of the Hector SUV in August, while Kia, on the other hand, is yet to come out with wholesale or retail sale numbers of its first offering. 

5) Apple gets to bite into Indian retail as policy hurdles are removed

Apple was possibly in preparation mode for its Indian retail journey when the Union Cabinet last week passed two critical decisions that could remove long-standing policy hurdles for the Cupertino-based tech giant.

The Cabinet decision to ease sourcing norms will benefit not just Apple, but other foreign single brand retailers, too, such as Swedish furnishing major Ikea, which is already in India. As for Apple, the earliest India will get to experience Apple online will be early 2020 and the company’s first fully-owned signature store should be up around 2022 — almost two decades after it had opened its first store worldwide. (Read more here

6) Airtel launches digital platform Xstream to take on Reliance JioFiber

In a bid to take on rival Reliance Jio’s fiber-to-home (FTH) plan JioFiber, Bharti Airtel on Monday launched its digital entertainment platform Airtel Xstream. Its subscribers will be able to access live TV, video, music, news and sports on an over-the-top (OTT) smart stick, internet-enabled set top box, and handheld devices.

This is a strategic move by Airtel to tap into the 18-million broadband-connected homes in the country.

“Nearly 60 per cent of the data consumption in India is entertainment and video. We are targeting that segment,” said Adarsh Nair, chief product officer, Bharti Airtel. He added, “We are working on more such tie-ups in the near future. We want to tap the Indian mobile market.” (Read more here

7) More than 260,000 people in danger of losing jobs over lapsing mines

More than 260,000 people are in danger of losing their jobs, direct and indirect, because of the lapsing of merchant mines by March next year.

This comes when the country is in the throes of its worst employment crisis in more than 40 years.

According to the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data, the unemployment rate rose from 2.2 per cent in 2011-12 to 6.1 per cent in 2017-18 with the workforce shrinking by 47 million. (Read more here

8) India Inc's foreign borrowings rise two-fold to $4.98 bn in July: RBI

India Inc’s foreign borrowings grew over twofold to $4.98 billion in July over the same month a year ago, according to Reserve Bank data. (Read more here

9) Smartphone sales to ring the softest since demonetisation

Estimates of growth in smartphone sales for 2019 are being pegged at their slowest, except for 2016, which was the year demonetisation was announced, the Economic Times reported on Tuesday.  

Some experts told the financial daily that they are cutting forecasts to factor in expected weak consumer demand in a slowing economy, despite a robust first half for the devices, which implies their sales wouldn't be affected. 

According to the report, while market research firm TechArc has cut its 2019 smartphone sales growth estimate by more than two percentage points to 10.5 per cent, Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research is "closely" monitoring the market. Further, the report said, International Data Corp has predicted "weak demand", while Xiaomi and Motorola Mobility estimate high single-digit growth in 2019 -- which would be the slowest, barring 2016.  

10) Great Indian data centre rush: Corporates, start-ups want share in business

Yotta Infrastructure Solutions, a company controlled by real estate giant Hiranandani, is set to launch the country’s largest third-party data centre in a single building in Navi Mumbai this December.

“With space for 7,000 racks, this data centre in Navi Mumbai will be 60 per cent larger than the current largest one in the country. It is being built with an investment of Rs 1,100 crore,” said Sunil Gupta, managing partner and chief executive officer of Yotta.

Gupta said the company was ready to set up over 70,000 racks in Mumbai, Chennai, and Navi Mumbai within the next five years, with 500 Mw of power. This, he said, is going to be a booming business. He is not the only one. Cashing in on the boom are global companies, Indian corporate houses, and private equity-backed start-ups, who are willing to put money in building third-party data infrastructure. (Read more here)  

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