Top 10 biz headlines: Stimulus in the works, govt may fully exit AI & more

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI Photo
1) PM holds meet with Sitharaman and officials to weigh booster dose options

Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi on Thursday met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and officials of her ministry to find solutions to the economic slowdown that has eroded wealth and hit jobs. Sources said the government might soon provide a broad stimulus package or a sector-specific booster dose.

There might also be some relief to foreign portfolio investors from the super-rich surcharge, announced in the Budget. (Read more here

2) Govt comes closer to fully exiting Air India, reaches out to investors

The government has moved closer to a complete exit from Air India, with the committee of secretaries (CoS) led by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha agreeing in principle to sell 95 per cent in the national carrier. The proposal will now be put up for approval of the committee of ministers in the next 15 days, it is learnt.

As the message from the top is that the Air India sale must be a success and for that the conditions should be eased, the government is taking several steps that range from reducing the debt burden for the potential buyer to rewriting the rules of the privatisation process. The objective is to make Air India an attractive buy, according to a source close to the development. (Read more here)  

3) Reliance Industries may buy more cable companies to aid JioFiber plans 

Reliance Industries (RIL), which will commercially roll out its fibre-to-the-home broadband network under JioFiber next month, may consider buying more cable companies to support its plans, people in the know have told Business Standard.

The option of partnership with cable companies is also on the table, they said, as RIL looks to disrupt the broadband market like it did in telecom three years ago. On Monday, RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani said his firm was open to partnering local cable operators (LCOs) as it sought to widen its reach for broadband services. (Read more here

4) Independence Day speech: PM Modi says wealth creators must be honoured 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday sought to improve the morale of India Inc in the wake of complaints of ‘tax terrorism’, saying people should stop viewing wealth creators with suspicion and that they deserved greater respect.

Addressing the nation on the 73rd Independence Day from the ramparts of the historical Red Fort, Modi said greater wealth creation would lead to greater distribution and welfare of the poor. “Our investors should invest more, earn more, and generate more jobs,” he said. People involved in creating wealth, he said, were “the wealth of the country” to him. (Read more here

5) From auto to banking, grumble of slowdown is getting louder for India Inc 

The grumble of economic slowdown is getting louder for corporate India. The combined net profit of India’s top 1,470 listed companies ex-financials and energy contracted for the third consecutive quarter year-on-year (yoy) basis during April-June 2019 quarter while net sales growth hit a three-year low.

In due course, this could cause financial trouble for many companies in the worst-affected sectors as interest liability continues to grow due to incremental borrowings in recent quarters. (Read more here)  

6) Yes Bank eyes $600 mn more after raising $270 mn from marquee investors

Yes Bank plans to raise an additional $600 million from large investors in order to bolster its capital buffers, LiveMint reported on Friday, citing two sources aware of the bank's capital raising plans. 

The bank, according to the report, plans to raise additional funds after its qualified institutional placement offering, which closed on Wednesday, was oversubscribed. Yes Bank raised around $270 million in the fundraising, added the report.  

7) Grant Thorton audit report incriminates former IL&FS CEO Ramesh Bawa

Former managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) and its group companies, Ramesh Bawa, had potential direct interest in companies, which were lent loans by the group, an audit by Grant Thornton showed.

The audit is part of the fifth progress report on the resolution of IL&FS and its group companies, submitted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). (Read more here

8) Reliance Jio looks to heat up cloud business, sets sight on 10 mn MSMEs

After disrupting the country’s telecom sector, Reliance Jio looks to heat up the cloud business. It plans to introduce cloud services to around 10 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and five million kirana stores over the next three years, according to sources close to the firm.

According to the government’s official figures, there are around 50 million MSMEs in the country. Currently, the client base for Jio’s cloud services app, JioCloud, is related to the firm’s telecom business. But going forward, MSMEs might be one of its largest customer bases. Companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google have all been trying to get a lion’s share of this client base for the past five years. (Read more here

9) Papad, cosmetics, honey push Khadi Comm sales up 25% to Rs 75,000 crore

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has reported more than 25 per cent jump in sales to about Rs 75,000 crore during 2018-19, the Times of India reported on Friday. This comes at a time when businesses have been complaining about slow demand. 

According to the report, it is papad, honey and cosmetics that have contributed to a major portion of the state-owned entity's revenues, while Khadi products accounted for just around 4.3 per cent of the overall sales in the last financial year. The report added that KVIC's sales growth is its fastest in four years and comes after a "moderate" 13 per cent increase in 2017-18. 

10) Flipkart hits Walmart's international profit

Walmart's international unit saw its operating profits fall by close to 30 per cent to $900 million in the second quarter of the financial year 2020, primarily because of the inclusion of Flipkart, the Times of India reported on Friday. The company's net sales in international markets also fell by 1.1 per cent to $29.1 billion, even as the retail giant reported strong numbers in its home market, the US, added the report.   

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