Top biz headlines: Govt to sell stake in PSUs, labour law reforms, and more

Bharat Petroleum
1. Privatisation push: Cabinet approves strategic sale of BPCL, 4 other PSUs

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved the strategic disinvestment of the Centre’s entire stake in Bharat Petroleum (BPCL), Shipping Corp, THDC India, and NEEPCO, and most of its stake in Container Corp, while giving up management control in these companies.

It also gave an in-principle approval for the government to reduce stake in certain state-owned companies to below 51 per cent in some while retaining majority stake management control. Read more.

2. Breather for telcos: 2-year moratorium on payment of spectrum dues

The debt-ridden telecom industry, looking for financial relief from the government, has got a two-year moratorium in making payments for past spectrum auctions.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday decided to defer spectrum payments dues of the telcos for 2020-21 and 2021-22, a move that will offer an estimated Rs 42,000-crore overall relief to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio over the next two years. Read more.

3. Govt clears Code on Industrial Relations Bill; retrenchment norms not eased

The Centre on Wednesday approved the Code on Industrial Relations (IR) Bill, 2019 — considered to be the most contentious labour law amendments.

The central government has withdrawn its proposal to give flexibility to big companies, in terms of manpower, to retrench or lay off workers and shut shop without seeking official consent, a government official said, requesting anonymity. Read more.

4. RBI to supersede DHFL board, approach NCLT for bankruptcy proceedings

In its first action against the troubled housing finance company, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday superseded the board of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL) over governance concerns and defaults on payment obligations.

The RBI said in a statement that it had appointed R Subramaniakumar, former managing director and chief executive of Indian Overseas Bank, as the administrator of DHFL, to run the affairs of the entity which was once controlled by the Wadhawan family. Read more.

5. Sebi makes it mandatory for listed firms to disclose each loan default

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has made it mandatory for all listed companies to make public disclosures on loans defaults. The move will help stakeholders stay better informed on the financial health of a company.

The move comes two years after the market regulator had abruptly withdrawn a circular ahead of its implementation, directing companies to disclose all defaults within 24 hours of missing the payment date, after concerns were raised by banks, companies and other stakeholders. Read more.

6. Airlines may go telcos' way if low-fare regime does not end: SpiceJet CEO

The aviation sector could experience a bloodbath like in the telecom industry due to a low-fare regime triggered by competition, head of the country’s second largest carrier SpiceJet Ajay Singh has said.

Welcoming the decision of the telecom companies to raise tariff, Singh said if Indian airlines don't follow pricing discipline, they will see a similar financial strain. "It is important that we learn lessons from the telecom sector. We need to take steps urgently and stop selling tickets at prices which don’t even cover the operating cost," he pointed out. Read more.

7. GST compensation delay: States considering legal action against Centre

Some states are considering legal recourse against the Centre for delay in releasing the bi-monthly goods and services tax (GST) compensation, according to Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac.

Rajasthan, Delhi, West Bengal, Punjab and Kerala issued a joint statement on Wednesday, after the empowered committee meeting of state finance ministers, urging Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to release the compensation ‘without any further delay.’ Read more.

8. Subhash Chandra to sell 16.5% stake in Zee, become minority shareholder

The Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group will sell 16.5 per cent of its 22.37 per cent promoter stake in flagship firm Zee Entertainment (Zee), becoming a minority shareholder. However, the promoters will retain management control of Zee, the group said on Wednesday. Read more.

9. Tharoor-led Parliamentary panel decides to take up WhatsApp 'spying' issue

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT), headed by Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, met on Wednesday and got off to a stormy start, with members being at odds over whether to take up the WhatsApp-Pegasus snooping issue.

Eventually, the matter was put to vote and the panel decided in favour of discussing the issue that involves snooping on 121 Indians. Read more

10. Swiggy’s Cloud Kitchen may Get Access to ₹75 cr more to Expand

Swiggy plans to invest ₹75 crore in the next six months to expand its cloud kitchen or delivery-only infrastructure business, a top executive told Economic Times.

This will take the company's investment into its cloud kitchen business— Swiggy Access – to ₹250 crore, and comes at a time when the industry is likely to get hyper-competitive. Quite a few companies, including ecommerce behemoth Amazon, Travis Kalanick's City Storage Systems, and Zomato's infrastructure arm are all eyeing a share of the same market.

11. Bengaluru remains preferred launch pad for Indian startups

When Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal was looking to start his next venture, Navi Technologies, after exiting the now Walmart-owned e-commerce company last year, he had “automatically chosen” to set it up in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru has retained its position as the most preferred destination for setting up a startup, reported Livemint.


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