Top biz headlines: Sony eyes stake in Network18, RBI's HR trouble, and more

Mukesh Ambani
1. Sony eyes up to 30% stake in Mukesh Ambani's Network18 after Zee bid failed

Japanese major Sony Corporation is in preliminary talks with Mukesh Ambani’s Network18 Media & Investments for a possible stake buy, making it the second attempt by the group in 10 months for a local acquisition.

In March, Sony had emerged the front runner to acquire a 20 per cent stake in Zee after the promoters of the latter said they were ready to offload up to half their shareholding to a strategic investor but the talks failed. Read more.

2. OIL, IOC may get Numaligarh refinery as govt 'wants to keep it' with a PSU

The strategic sale of 53.29 per cent in Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) would be done without Numaligarh Refinery (NRL), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday. So, the first hurdle before the government in the strategic sale of BPCL, for which it is running against time, would be the fast demerger of the Northeast-based refinery.

BPCL holds 61.65 per cent in NRL and analysts say BPCL’s sale without NRL is likely to have an impact of Rs 40 per share. Read more.

3. RBI's oversight cadre move creates HR trouble, officers threaten agitation

The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) move to create a specialised supervisory and regulatory cadre has created a human resource (HR) problem, with officers threatening to go on agitation if their concerns are not addressed at the earliest.

Their grouse is a three-year “lock-in” for the specialised cadre. After the “lock-in”, they can move to departments not related to regulation or supervision. Read more.

4. Buyers may turn their back on DHFL over KPMG audit report concerns

A scathing forensic audit report by KPMG, apart from the ongoing litigation, would deter players from bidding for Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL), whose board was superseded by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday, citing governance concerns and defaults.

Ongoing investigations by government agencies, including a Central Bureau of Investigation probe ordered by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government into UP Power Corporation’s employee provident fund trusts, and reports of a Serious Fraud Investigation Office probe are other concerns of the bidders. Read more.

5. Telcos' AGR dues to outweigh two-year breather for spectrum payment

The Cabinet decision to give a two-year moratorium to telecom companies for spectrum payment is too little, too late, senior executives said a day after the government announcement. The relief, pegged at more than Rs 42,000 crore for three private telcos, may not help the industry as the government has made it clear that operators need to pay Rs 1.47 trillion dues of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) along with spectrum usage charges (SUC) within 90 days as the Supreme Court (SC) has directed. Read more.

6. Going after working capital: SP Group firms' among most leveraged in India

The financial fiasco at Sterling & Wilson Solar, part of Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SP Group), was in the making for years as the group expanded rapidly in working capital-intensive sectors like construction, infrastructure, and solar projects.

The group’s top five companies, including the main operating and holding company Shapoorji Pallonji & Co (SPCPL), reported an average gross debt to equity ratio of 2.4x during FY19. Read more.

7. PSU banks disbursed around Rs 2.5 trillion in loans during October: Govt

State-owned banks disbursed around Rs 2.52 trillion worth of loans in October through loan melas, camps and other outreach initiatives, a finance ministry statement said on Thursday.

This follows an announcement by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in September that banks would conduct such customer outreach initiatives as the government looks for various ways to boost liquidity and investment, while facing the worst slowdown in more than half a decade, in real terms. Read more.

8. Mutual funds to gain as Sebi tightens norms for portfolio managers

The new norms on portfolio management services (PMS), introduced by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Wednesday, may further tilt the playing field in favour of mutual funds (MFs), say industry players. Read more.

9. Major wilful defaulters revealed: RBI finally discloses details under RTI

Four years after the Supreme Court first directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to disclose a list of India’s wilful defaulters, the central bank has finally complied.

In response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by The Wire in May 2019, the RBI has released a list of 30 major wilful defaulters.

10. Wipro bets big on acquisitions to bolster its digital business

Bengaluru-based software services firm Wipro Ltd is strengthening its digital business inorganically through strategic acquisitions of digital-native companies, Livemint reported.

Digital is a crucial part of Wipro’s business, contributing nearly 40% of total revenue in the September quarter.

11. Global PE Majors Seek to Sweep Up Eureka Forbes

Global PE majors Blackstone, KKR, Apax and TPG Capital have joined Advent and Temasek-backed Crompton Greaves Consumer in the race to acquire a controlling stake in Eureka Forbes, the country’s largest maker of water purifiers and vacuum cleaners, said people aware of the development told Economic Times.

Preliminary discussions are currently on between the potential suitors and the Shapoorji Pallonji Group for a possible transaction, these persons said, adding that the talks centre around sale of control or an outright takeover.

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