Top 10 business headlines: Modi's economic plan, stimulus package & more

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File photo
1) Our Mantra is to revive animal spirits, make India investment magnet: PM Modi

We will leave no stone unturned towards making India the best investment destination in the world, improve ease of doing business, go "as far as possible" to revive the "animal spirits" and make the "entire private sector bullish", Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday told the Economic Times in an interview. 

Further, the Prime Minister said that he had taken the decision on Article 370's abrogation from Jammu and Kashmir after a "great deal of thought". According to the financial daily, he said that he was certain this would help create the three necessary conditions for investment: stability, market access and predictable laws.  

2) Govt looks to reverse economic slowdown with a stimulus package

Amid fears of a global slowdown, the government is putting together a set of measures -- from tax cuts to targeted sops -- to reverse the economic downturn gripping the country at present, LiveMint reported on Monday, while citing three people aware of the ongoing discussions.

According to the report, the government's idea is to roll out various countercyclical measures, including confidence-building steps for the private sector and sectoral incentives, to stimulate the economy, which is facing losses, layoffs and an investment freeze.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman assured that the government would take steps to boost liquidity and demand in the realty sector. In a first-of-its-kind meeting, real-estate developers, industry bodies, and homebuyer associations together met FM Sitharaman and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri on Sunday to discuss the problems of the sector. In the two-hour meeting, Sitharaman, while giving an assurance to industry players that issues of liquidity, regulations, and taxes would be looked into, made it clear that the interests of homebuyers would be given utmost importance and all stalled projects were to be completed soon. (Read more here

3) SoftBank in talks to buy stake in Bharti Airtel's telecom business, other assets

Japanese investment giant SoftBank is in preliminary talks with telecom major Bharti Airtel for picking up a stake either directly or indirectly in its telecom business and related assets. Sources say the talks are wide-ranging and could include taking a stake in Bharti Airtel directly or through the holding company.

It could also take the shape of making possible investments in some of its other telecom infrastructure assets and services which Bharti is looking at monetising. (Read more here

4) Cash-strapped DHFL seeks Rs 15,000-crore immediate funding from banks

Troubled mortgage lender Dewan Housing Finance (DHFL) has sought Rs 15,000-crore immediate funding from banks for on-lending to retail customers as well as to project developers, say sources.

Last week, the nearly crippled company had submitted a draft resolution plan to lenders which are yet to be approved by them.

"The company has asked for an additional funding of Rs 15,000 crore. The money will be used to fund viable projects that are stuck due to lack of money," said one of the sources. (Read more here

5) Anil Agarwal's Volcan submits an expression of interest to revive Jet Airways 

Billionaire businessman Anil Agarwal has submitted an expression of interest (EoI) to revive Jet Airways in what could mark his foray into aviation.

Agarwal submitted the EoI through his family investment arm Volcan Investments before the close of the bid process on Saturday afternoon. The other entities who submitted EoIs are Panama-based Avantulo Group and a Russian company.

Volcan Investments owns 100 per cent in Vedanta Resources, the group’s diversified metal and mining company. Volcan Investments said its interest in Jet was exploratory in nature. (Read more here

6) Indian telecom companies may leave Huawei out of core 5G network

In an attempt to hedge risks against any future ban on Chinese equipment manufacturers, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are considering leaving out Huawei from the 'core' elements of their 5G networks in favour of other companies, the Economic Times reported on Monday. 

At present, according to the report, Airtel and Vodafone Idea use Huawei and ZTE equipment for their 2G, 3G and 4G networks in select service areas. On the other hand, Jio, which works with Samsung for its pan-India 4G network, is expected to go with the South Korean company for 5G, too, said the report. 

7) From auto to watches, superluxury manufacturers feel the pinch of slowdown

This January, after a decade-long tie-up with superluxury manufacturer Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, dealer group Navnit Motors called it a day. A distinguished Rolls-Royce showroom in the Atria Mall in Worli is gone, replaced by a Reliance Digital boutique.

Sharad Kachalia, Navnit Motors’ director, points to declining sales. He even shut down the Rolls-Royce Ahmedabad showroom he opened in 2014 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi once visited it. “In the last two years, we were unable to sell more than 10 cars out of Mumbai,” says Kachalia. (Read more here

8) Consumption-investment cycle needs to improve, say FMCG CEOs and veterans

A cross-spectrum of chief executive officers (CEOs) and veterans from the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry are voicing concern over the slowdown in demand in the market, saying a stimulus package in rural areas and better transmission of interest rates will help.

Godrej Group Chairman Adi Godrej and Marico’s Chairman Harsh Mariwala insist the focus of the government should be on economic revival at a time when the country’s central bank has lowered the fiscal 2020 GDP growth rate to 6.9 per cent from 7 per cent estimated earlier. (Read more here

9) IL&FS proposes to NCLT sale of wind energy assets to Japan's ORIX

IL&FS has filed a proposal with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for a final approval to complete the sale of its stake in the wind energy business. “The proposal has been filed before the tribunal after completing binding Share Purchase Agreement with ORIX Corporation and obtaining in-principle approval from all lenders for completing this transaction, subject to NCLT approval,” the company said in a statement. ORIX Corporation of Japan, owner of 49 per cent stake in each of the seven operating wind power plants of the IL&FS Group, had expressed its intent to buy out the remaining 51 per cent stake held by IL&FS in those assets for Rs 4,800 crore. (Read more here

10) Flipkart bets big on grocery segment, Amazon on 3rd-party sellers

Betting big on grocery segment, Flipkart is planning to scale its service across India, including Tier-II and-III cities, in the next five years. Currently, the Walmart-owned firm delivers groceries in five cities, including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi NCR, through Flipkart Supermart, its online grocery store initiative.

"Grocery is presently a $400-billion market, being the biggest part of the overall retail segment in India, though the penetration of online grocery is just 1 per cent. I expect grocery to be one of our top categories in the next 3-5 years," said Manish Kumar, vice-president for groceries at Flipkart. (Read more here

Meanwhile, Amazon India has made various changes in the seller mix on its platform and reduced its dependence on vendors in which it owns a stake -- like Cloudtail and Appario -- after the updated online marketplace policy was announced in December, reported the Times of India on Monday. According to the report, two sources familiar with the development said that the e-commerce giant was focusing on about a dozen mid-sized, third-party sellers -- who drive 30-33 per cent of its total sales in India, up from about 20 per cent earlier.  

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