Marked by both good and bad news, the year 2019 was an important one for India’s major business houses and corporate leaders. While the non-banking financial companies (NBFC) crisis started with IL&FS going belly up in September the previous year got worse, the aviation sector witnessed a major setback with cash-strapped Jet Airways suspending flights.
The telecom sector, meanwhile, faced a life-threatening crisis with Rs 1.47 trillion in dues to be paid to the government after the Supreme Court order on adjusted gross revenues (AGR). The story of the banking industry was hardly better. While on the one hand governance issues at Punjab and Maharashtra Bank left customers’ deposits locked up following a restriction on withdrawals, on the other hand YES Bank has been at pains to raise funds through stake sale.
For former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, however, the year 2019 proved to be a good one. Three years after being ousted from the holding company of the Tata group, Mistry was reinstated following a National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order. India’s start-up sector also had an eventful year, with global retail major Walmart buying a stake in home-grown e-commerce firm Flipkart, and the government setting up FDI norms to protect 70 million shopkeepers.
With 2019 drawing to a close, Business Standard looks at the biggest news developments from the world of business that shaped the year (in a chronological order):
A Cobrapost expose accused Dewan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL) of dubious related-party loans which later revealed a Rs 95,000-crore exposure after it defaulted on some obligations. The company is now being probed by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office.
Media outlet Cobrapost alleged Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL), an NBFC, had diverted loans worth Rs 31,000 crore — a charge the company termed “mischievous”. “DHFL has siphoned off Rs 31,000 crore into promoter companies to create private wealth through a network of shell companies,” said Cobrapost. According to the expose, DHFL, which had a net worth of Rs 8,700 crore, raised Rs 96,000 crore through loans and public deposits. Read more...
In a blow to companies like Flipkart-Walmart and Amazon, new rules announced by the government barred e-commerce platforms with foreign investment from selling products of companies in which they owned equity, and forming exclusive marketing arrangements with sellers to influence product prices.
Amazon and Walmart ’s grand plans for India were thrown into chaos as the country implemented new e-commerce regulations, which could cap their growth in the market. Tightening rules amid strident complaints from small shops and domestic sellers, the government banned retail giants’ exclusive arrangements with sellers to offer deep discounts. They were also barred from holding business interest in online merchants on their websites. Read more...
Jet Airways suspends flights, heads for bankruptcy (Apr 17)
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Jet Airways, the country’s oldest private airline, suspended operations after failing to repay a debt of Rs 8,000 crore. In June, it filed for bankruptcy and is still to find a buyer.
Jet Airways, started more than 25 years ago by Naresh Goyal, suspended operations after lenders turned down the airline’s demand for emergency funding. The lenders’ consortium, led by State Bank of India, indicated the effort to select a new investor would continue even as Jet was “temporarily” grounded. Read more...
Adani Group bags rights to operate 6 non-metro airports (May 24)
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Marking its first foray into the aviation sector, the Adani group won 50-year lease rights to operate and develop six non-metro airports — Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mangaluru and Thiruvananthapuram.
In February, the Adani group won a mandate to run all six government-owned airports that were put up for privatisation. It bagged a 50-year contract for the operation, management, and development of airports in Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, and Mangaluru, becoming the third-largest private airport operator, next only to the GMR and GVK groups. Read more...
IndiGo promoters’ feud intensifies (Jul 10)
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Promoters of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, which runs low-cost carrier IndiGo, fell out after Rakesh Gangwal (right) accused Rahul Bhatia of corporate governance violations and sought Sebi intervention. The matter spread to the US and London.
IndiGo, India’s largest airline, faced its worst crisis as promoters Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal made serious allegations against each other, forcing the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to intervene. Bhatia and Gangwal, who brought charges of lapses in corporate governance, together hold more than 70 per cent in the company and IndiGo’s success has often been credited to their synergy. Read more...
Mukesh Ambani announces partial RIL stake sale to Saudi Aramco (Aug 12)
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Mukesh Ambani announced that Reliance Industries would sell 20 per cent in its core oil-to-chemicals division to Saudi Arabia’s Aramco at a $75-billion enterprise value, in a bid to become a zero-debt company by March 2021.
Saudi Aramco and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) had signed a letter of intent for a proposed investment in RIL’s oil-to-chemical division, the company announced at its annual general meeting. The deal is expected to fetch $15 billion (Rs 1.06 trillion) for a 20 per cent stake. RIL is also looking to turn debt-free in the next 18 months. Read more...
PMC Bank collapses as HDIL defaults on loans (Oct 3)
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Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank (PMC) collapsed after Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) defaulted on its loans. Promoters Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan were arrested.
The Mumbai police arrested two directors of HDIL in the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank scam and also seized Rs 3,500-crore property of the company. A Special Investigation Team of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) arrested Rakesh Wadhawan, chairman and managing director of HDIL, and his son Sarang Wadhawan, for loan default. Read more..
Another whistleblower crisis at Infosys (Oct 22)
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When a whistleblower accused Infosys CEO Salil Parekh of committing financial irregularities, he became the second CEO of the company to face charges from a whistleblower in five years. The investigations are still on.
India's second-largest IT services firm Infosys' run-ins with whistleblowers appear continued, with an anonymous whistleblower group called 'Ethical Employees' alleging that the company’s current management was taking 'unethical' steps to spur short-term revenue and profits. In a statement, Infosys said, "The whistleblower complaint has been placed before the audit committee in line with the company's practice and will be dealt with in accordance with our whistleblowers policy." Read more...
Chandra steps down as Zee Entertainment chairman (Nov 25)
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Subhash Chandra stepped down as chairman of Zee Entertainment after selling his family’s stake to a clutch of investors for repaying loans on bets he had made on an expensive diversification into infrastructure.
Media mogul Subhash Chandra resigned as the chairman of his flagship company, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), in line with the Sebi listing regulations that prohibited the chairperson of the board from being related to the managing director or the chief executive officer of the company. The firm also said its board had been reconstituted and three new independent directors — R Gopalan, Surendra Singh and Aparajita Jain had been appointed. Read more...
The three major telecom operators in India — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio — raised tariffs by 20 per cent to 41 per cent for prepaid customers. This was the first tariff hike in six years.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea announced a tariff hike in the range of 15 per cent to 40 per cent across different plans with effect from December 3. Reliance Jio followed suit, introducing new plans with unlimited voice and data but priced up to 40 per cent higher, with effect from December 6. Read more...
YES Bank doubtful about Canadian investor’s bid (Dec 10)
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YES Bank's fund-raising efforts yielded eight investors — three institutional and five family offices, of whom the largest was a little known Canadian entrepreneur Erwin Singh Braich. The bank, however, raised doubts about Braich passing RBI's
Almost a week after embattled YES Bank unveiled details of its plans to raise $2 billion in capital, shareholders remained unconvinced that a deal would take place. Doubts over key foreign bidders triggered concerns that the Reserve Bank of India might not allow them to take ownership of the bad-debt laden bank. Read more...
ArcelorMittal buys Essar Steel for Rs 42,000 cr (Dec 16)
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After one decade and two attempts, ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel maker, entered India by buying Essar Steel plant for rs 42,000 crore through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code process.
ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel maker, officially set foot in India for a second time and in a much bigger way. It closed a Rs 42,000-crore deal with the lenders of Essar Steel, along with Nippon Steel. In a statement, ArcelorMittal said it had established a joint venture with Nippon Steel Corporation, which would own and operate ESIL. Read more...
NCLAT reinstates Cyrus Mistry as Tata Sons chairman (Dec 18)
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After a three-year battle in courts, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal restored Cyrus Mistry to chairmanship of Tata Sons, the group holding company, and declared the 2017 appointment of N Chandrasekaran illegal.
More than three years after the dramatic boardroom sacking of Cyrus Mistry, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal reinstated him as the executive chairman of the Tata group. The 172-page order, while upholding Mistry’s charges that he was ousted without due process, said the action taken by Ratan Tata and others against the former Tata Sons chairman was oppressive and illegal. The order also held the appointment of N Chandrasekaran as Tata Sons executive chairman as “illegal”. Read more...