Top 10 biz headlines: Ruias win back Mahan Power, auto cos' GST woes & more

1) Ruias set to win back control of Mahan Power as ArcelorMittal bid falters

The Ruias of Essar Group are set to wrest back control of their 1,200-Mw Mahan Power project in Madhya Pradesh after a rival bid from ArcelorMittal failed to meet expectations of the lenders. L N Mittal-owned ArcelorMittal had made a non-binding bid of Rs 4,800 crore for the company in December last year, pending its own due diligence.

As against this, the Ruias made an upfront cash offer of Rs 3,450 crore as one-time settlement. (Read more here

2) GST relief for auto cos may raise burden on other goods

Amid lobbying for a reduction in goods and services tax (GST) for the automobile sector, the government is expected to send a message that any tax cut would only be possible if the compensation cess on luxury and sin goods, like tobacco, soft drinks and cars, is increased or its coverage is expanded to include more products, the Times of India reported on Thursday. Or, as an alternative, states would have to forgo a part of the compensation from the Centre for any loss of revenue since the kitty is already stretched, added the report. 

3) Apple's 'Jio act' may disrupt domestic OTT market with low monthly tariffs

The launch of the over-the-top (OTT) service by Apple Inc will pit it against American rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, apart from other key players such as Hotstar, JioTV, AltBalaji and Voot. Most existing players have been investing heavily in India's nearly Rs 4,500-crore OTT market, which, according to audit firm PwC, could touch nearly Rs 12,000 crore in five years.

The move comes days after Reliance Industries' telecom arm, Reliance Jio, announced the commercial launch of its fibre-to-the-home service, JioFiber, across 1,600 cities and towns. (Read more here

4) Any agreement on RCEP deal to be based on national interests: Piyush Goyal

Any agreement on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal would be based on national interests , Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday. He, however, warned that while the government would strive to protect the interests of a majority of industries, the overall discussion could not be hijacked by one or two sectors.

“As long as India's domestic industry and our national interests are protected, the faster it (the RCEP) is done, the better for India,” Goyal said. “Any agreement that India finalises will ensure that indiscriminate imports don't come in, while major opportunities for exports and job creation are reserved,” he added. (Read more here

5) Ford Motor may sell Gujarat factory in emerging market strategy shift

Ford Motor Co is in early talks with at least one global automobile firm to sell one of its twin factories in India, LiveMint reported on Thursday, citing two people familiar with the matter. Such a move would underscore a major shift in strategy for the automaker as it struggles in this intensely competitive market, added the report. 

On the condition of anonymity, the people cited above told the financial daily that Ford was exploring the sale of its newest factory in the country, located at Sanand in Gujarat.   

6) Adani Group submits surprise bid for Rs 45,000-cr Indian Navy sub project  

Adani Group has submitted a bid for the Rs 45,000-crore Indian Navy submarine project, taking other contenders by surprise with its last-minute entry for what is the largest Make-in-India initiative in the defence sector, the Economic Times reported on Thursday. 

The contest was expected to be a faceoff between traditional contenders Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) and Reliance Naval and Engineering Ltd -- all of which own shipyards, said the report. The Adani Group, however, does not own an active shipyard at present, which is why the bid has come as a surprise, added the report. 

7) Premji sells Rs 7,300 crore shares in Wipro buyback

Azim Premji and the promoter group of Wipro Ltd have sold stock worth more than a billion dollars (Rs 7,300 crore) in the buyback programme announced by the IT services company, the Economic Times reported on Thursday.  

According to the report, the majority of the funds will likely be used to boost the philanthropic initiatives of Premji, India's most generous billionaire, whose eponymous foundation is one of the five largest private endowments in the world and the biggest in Asia. 

8) Fortis Malar Board reclassifies Singh brothers' trust as shareholders

The Board of Fortis Malar Hospitals, part of Fortis Healthcare, has approved proceeding with reclassification of status of certain promoters and promoter group members to public shareholders.

This include PS Trust, represented by the Singh brothers, Malvinder Mohan Singh and Shivinder Mohan Singh, Fortis Healthcare Holdings, RHC Holding Pvt Ltd Shivi Holdings (P) Ltd, among others who together held 400 shares in the company.

Fortis Hospitals Ltd, which has not been under this list, holds around 62 per cent shares in the company, till the end of June, this year. (Read more here

9) Apollo Hospitals promoter group will issue 50 lakh shares to reduce stake

The promoter group family of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd (AHEL) will be issuing five million shares through secondary placement to raise around $101 million (Rs 720 crore).

The aim is to reduce the promoters' pledged shares in the company. The deal, for which Citi Group is acting as placement agent and building the book (the term for getting enough investors to buy into a new share issue), is expected to happen in a day or two. (Read more here

10) US antitrust officials probe Amazon over anti-competitive practices 

A team of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigators has begun interviewing small businesses that sell products on to determine whether the e-commerce giant is using its market power to hurt competition.

Several attorneys and at least one economist have been conducting interviews that typically last about 90 minutes and cover a range of topics, according to three merchants. All were asked what percentage of revenue their businesses derive from Amazon versus other online marketplaces like Walmart and eBay, suggesting regulators are sceptical about Amazon’s claims that shoppers and suppliers have real alternatives to the Seattle-based company. One merchant, Jaivin Karnani, said he was surprised the FTC returned his call the very next day. (Read more here

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