Top 10 biz headlines: Suitors for RCom assets grow, FPI norms eased & more

1) Anil Agarwal, Mukesh Ambani join suitors' list for acquiring RCom assets  

Twin Star Technologies, a company promoted by Anil Agarwal’s Sterlite group, and Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio have expressed their interest in acquiring assets of Reliance Communications (RCom), currently undergoing insolvency proceedings at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for loan default. The billionaire duo will compete alongside other telecom majors such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for the assets. 

Apart from RCom’s rivals, expressions of interest (EoIs) have been submitted by TPG Asia, Assets Care and Reconstruction Enterprise, American Tower’s Indian subsidiary ATC Telecom Infrastructure, India Opportunities Investments Singapore, UV Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC), JC Flowers ARC, and Varde Partners, among others. (Read more here

2) Sebi eases FPI norms, approves changes in rules prohibiting insider trading

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Wednesday eased the process for on-boarding overseas investors. The market regulator also introduced an ‘informant mechanism’ to gather better evidence and crack down on insider-trading cases. The Sebi board clarified on the debt-to-equity ratio companies need to maintain to be eligible for buybacks.

Sebi said foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) would no longer be required to meet the ‘broad-basing’ criteria, under which at least 20 investors were required to establish a fund. Also, central banks that are not members of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) will be allowed to register as FPIs. Offshore funds floated by Indian mutual funds will be permitted to invest in the domestic markets under the FPI route. (Read more here)  

3) DHFL looks for a buyer, in talks with investors to sell majority stake

As part of its resolution plan to emerge from its loan defaults, the troubled Dewan Housing and Finance Corporation (DHFL) has proposed a conversion of lenders’ debt into equity for the acquisition of a 51 per cent stake in the company at a price of Rs 54 a share. Some of the banks in the consortium, however, are not comfortable about taking a majority stake in the company.

That is why talks are on with potential investors which include private equity fund AION Capital as to whether they would like to buy the entire stake and take over the running of the company. (Read more here

4) No deadline: Centre allays auto sector's electric vehicle concerns 

The government has moved to appease electric vehicle (EV) concerns of the automobile sector, currently in the throes of a slowdown.

Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said the government has set no deadline to ban the production of petrol, diesel vehicles or for automobile manufacturers to switch to EVs. “The shift towards EVs will happen as a natural progression,” he reiterated.

On the same day, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal assured automobile companies that their concerns would be heard on the proposed EV policy. The NITI Aayog is a think tank, not a policy-making body, he said at the 12th Motilal Oswal Annual Global Investor Conference in Mumbai. He was referring to a proposal by the Aayog to ban all three-wheelers with internal combustion engine by 2023, with a ban on all two-wheelers below 150cc following suit by 2025. (Read more here

5) Small start-ups may not get promised tax holiday

Start-ups with a turnover of over Rs 25 crore may have to pay income tax even though they may be eligible for the government's three-year tax holiday, the Economic Times reported on Thursday. That's because under the tax laws, Rs 25 crore remains the threshold for exemption, said the report. It added that the threshold has not yet been enhanced to Rs 100 crore, in line with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade's liberalised norms. 

6) Eateries say no to revised plan of Zomato Gold, want deep discounts to end

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has refused to accept a modified version of Zomato’s Gold membership plan. The new plan was revealed in an email by founder Deepinder Goyal to partner restaurants on Wednesday.

NRAI has made it clear it wants deep discounting to end and therefore would not rejoin the Gold scheme. Chalking out 10 points of improvement in the email, a copy of which was examined by Business Standard, Zomato assured restaurants that Gold post September 15 would be revamped. (Read more here

7) Tata Trusts face I-T queries over 'surrender' of registration

Seeking to reopen assessment and questioning their decision to 'surrender' registrations in 2015, the income tax department has served notices on a set of Tata trusts, the Economic Times reported on Thursday. The notices were sent last month, added the report. 

The financial daily said that the I-T department was seeking to tax the accumulated income of the trusts for select years. Citing persons familiar with the matter, the report added that the department believes that the trusts were not in a position to 'surrender' their registrations, which can only be 'cancelled' by the tax office. 

8) HCL Tech, TCS in fray to clinch $100-mn IT outsourcing deal from Fonterra

HCL Technologies (HCLT) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are leading the race for bagging an IT outsourcing deal worth $100 million from New Zealand-based dairy cooperative Fonterra Co-operative Group.

According to sources, the contract is currently being serviced by DXC Technology and Datacom. “Fonterra has been evaluating various options to replace the current vendors and Indian providers like TCS and HCLT are leading the race,” multiple persons with knowledge of the development said. The contract with a tenure of five years, encompasses application development, maintenance and back office support with an aim of helping the cooperative with digital transformation. (Read more here)

9) Maruti Suzuki seeks better lending terms for dealers amid liquidity crunch

India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki has asked banks to take a case-by-case approach for dealers instead of tightening norms for all.

This comes against the backdrop of multiple dealerships shutting shop due to liquidity crunch. The Indian auto industry is going through one of its worst phases, with passenger vehicle sales falling the most in nearly two decades in the April-June quarter, underscoring the subdued consumer sentiment, a slowdown in economic activity, farm distress, and a liquidity squeeze. (Read more here)

10) BJP leaders to meet officials, economists to talk growth, demand slowdown

Some members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will on Saturday meet officials, including NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar, former commerce and railway minister Suresh Prabhu and prominent economists to discuss the current growth, demand and consumption slowdown in the Indian economy.

Former chief economic advisor Arvind Virmani and State Bank of India’s group chief economic advisor Soumya Kanti Ghosh are likely to attend the event. Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP national spokesperson for economic affairs, confirmed the development to Business Standard. (Read more here)  

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