IndUS Business Journal

Equity indices soar after RBI holds rates, banks stocks gain

Apr 5, 2018 0

Mumbai– Key Indian equity indices on Thursday escalated after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) maintained status quo on its key short-term lending rate at 6 per cent at its first bi-monthly monetary policy review of 2018-19.

Besides, positive cues from the global markets, along with healthy buying in banks, metals and auto stocks, pushed the BSE Sensex over 500 points and the NSE Nifty50 almost 200 points higher.

The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) reclaimed the 10,300-mark in the process. The index surged by 196.75 points or 1.94 per cent to provisionally close (at 3.30 p.m.) at 10,325.15 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 33,289.96 points, closed at 33,596.80 points — up 577.73 points or 1.75 per cent from its previous session’s close.

The Sensex touched a high of 33,637.46 points and a low of 33,267.86 points during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was bullish with 2,071 advances and 631 declines.

State Bank of India, Tata Steel, ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank and Hero MotoCorp were the top gainers on the BSE.

On Wednesday, the key indices had tumbled after further trade protectionist measures imposed by two major global economies on each other spooked investors.

The NSE Nifty50 declined by 116.60 points or 1.14 per cent to close at 10,128.40 points, while the Sensex closed at 33,019.07 points — down 351.56 points or 1.05 per cent. (IANS)

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Microsoft ScaleUp announces 12th start-up cohort in India

Apr 5, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Microsoft “ScaleUp” on Thursday announced the 12th cohort consisting 12 start-ups for its programme to empower them with technology, go-to-market and community benefits.

ScaleUp (known previously as Microsoft Accelerator) focuses on late-stage B2B start-ups and helps them accelerate their business growth through mentorship, streamlined go-to-market (GTM) activities and access to world-class technology.

The 12 start-ups in the cohort are AppICE, Appiyo Technologies’ Twixor, Avanseus Technologies, eGovernments Foundation, Gaia Smart Cities Solution, GrowthEnabler, Karo Sambhav, Kogence, MachineSense, SmartVizX, Sprinkle Data and Xurmo Technologies.

The selected start-ups are focused on areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Big Data Analytics, among others, to build solutions for the market.

During the six-month programme, these start-ups would work closely with Microsoft leaders, industry experts and leverage the Microsoft Partner Network to scale their business models and serve enterprise clients.

The start-ups would get access to Microsoft’s expertise, infrastructure and Azure Cloud platform to build a strong technology backbone for their business.

Microsoft currently caters to over 5,000 tech start-ups and more than 200,000 large and small-and-medium businesses in India.(IANS)

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Duty on China imports, GST slow down India’s solar additions: UN report

Apr 5, 2018 0

By Vishal Gulati 

New Delhi– India’s imposition of duty on Chinese solar cells and modules shipped and levy of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on panels have significantly slowed down solar capacity additions last year, a UN report said on Thursday.

It says developing economies, comprising India, China and Brazil, committed $177 billion to renewables last year, up 20 per cent, compared to $103 billion for developed countries, down 19 per cent.

This was the largest tilt in favour of developing countries yet seen. It was only in 2015 that the developing world first invested more in green energy than developed economies.

A record 157 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power, excluding large hydro, were commissioned across the globe in 2017, up from 143GW in 2016 and far out-stripping the 70GW of net fossil fuel generating capacity added last year.

The 86-page report — Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 — released by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance blames Indian policies for slowing down the speed to tap solar power.

It says the solar activity was held back by an unexpected rise in PV module prices in local currency terms, due to a sudden reduction in the oversupply of imported Chinese units, exacerbated by the imposition of a 7.5 per cent import duty on modules and a local GST on panels.

There was also a slowing in the pace of solar auctions around India.

In the medium term, PV installations look set to increase sharply, as India seeks to hit its ambitious target of 100GW of solar by 2022.

However, that acceleration did not materialise in 2017.

The report says the ‘big three’ of China, India and Brazil accounted for just over half of global investment in renewables, excluding large hydro, last year, with China alone representing 45 per cent, up from 35 per cent a year earlier.

However, the report says India’s investment oscillating in the $6-14 billion range since 2010 but still not reaching the sort of levels that would be required for that country to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious goals for 2022.

India came fourth in the world rankings by country for renewable energy investment last year, at $10.9 billion, down 20 per cent.

Solar took the biggest share, at $6.7 billion, with wind at $4 billion. These lead sectors were up three per cent and down 41 per cent in dollar terms respectively.

Venture capital and private equity investment in renewable energy fell by exactly a third in the world in 2017 to $1.8 billion, just a sixth of its 2008 peak of more than $10 billion.

However, India beat Europe into second place for the second time in three years.

India’s venture capital and private equity investment rose 27 per cent to $457 million, or 26 per cent of the total, while Europe’s fell 26 per cent to $287 million, a 16 per cent share.

India’s investment grew strongly because it secured three of the five largest deals.

Two of those were wind companies raising funds to expand in India, a fiercely competitive market with huge growth potential that is attracting many foreign investors.

The largest deal was secured by Greenko Energy, an independent power producer based in Hyderabad, which raised $155 million in PE expansion capital from GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

The pair had already invested $230 million in the company in 2016.

Another Indian independent power producer, Hero Future Energies, raised $125 million in PE expansion capital from the International Finance Corporation and the IFC Global Infrastructure Fund.

The third large Indian deal was secured by Clean Max Enviro Energy Solutions, which claims to be India’s biggest rooftop solar developer, having installed 100MW since the company was founded in 2011.

“The extraordinary surge in solar investment, around the world, shows how much can be achieved when we commit to growth without harming the environment,” UN Environment head Erik Solheim said in a statement. (IANS)

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IndiGo not to bid for Air India under ‘current divestiture plans’

Apr 5, 2018 0

Mumbai– Budget passenger carrier IndiGo on Thursday said that it will not bid for the national passenger carrier Air India under the “current divestiture plans”.

The development assumes significance as IndiGo had earlier expressed its interest in the acquiring Air India’s international operations and Air India Express (AIXL). However, the central government has invited “Expression of Interest” to off-load 76 per cent stake and management control of the airline.

On March 28, the government issued the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) for the strategic divestment of AI, along with the airline’s shares in AIXL and AISATS (Air India SATS Airport Services).

“From day one, IndiGo has expressed its interest primarily in the acquisition of Air India’s international operations and Air India Express. However, that option is not available under the government’s current divestiture plans for Air India,” said IndiGo’s President and Whole Time Director Aditya Ghosh.

“Also, as we have communicated before, we do not believe that we have the capability to take on the task of acquiring and successfully turning around all of Air India’s airline operations,” Ghosh said in response to queries from investors regarding IndiGo’s involvement in the upcoming divestiture of Air India. (IANS)

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PNB fraud: CBI questions four RBI officials

Apr 5, 2018 0

New Delhi– The CBI on Thursday questioned four Reserve Bank of India (RBI) officials in connection with Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud involving diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, an official said.

Those questioned includes three Chief General Managers and one General Manager of the central bank.

Sources said the RBI officials were also questioned in connection with alleged benefits to diamond merchant Choksi’s group of companies following 80:20 gold import scheme brought by former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

Modi, a regular on the lists of rich and famous Indians since 2013, along with his group companies — Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports, uncle and business partner Choksi — the promoter of Gitanjali Group, and others have been named in the Rs 13,500 crore scam which was admitted by the PNB in February, leading to a massive upheaval in the country’s banking system.

Modi left the country along with his family in the first week of January this year, weeks before the scam was reported to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

His wife Ami, a US citizen, left on January 6 and uncle Choksi on January 4.

The CBI in February had approached the Interpol with a request for issuing a Diffusion Notice against Modi to locate him.

The PNB has claimed in different complaints to the CBI that several Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) were fraudulently issued by its officials in connivance with Modi and the other accused in the case causing huge losses to the banki.

A LoU is a letter of undertaking issued by one bank to other banks, based on which foreign branches offer credit to buyers. (IANS)

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RBI holds repo rate at 6% for 4th straight policy review

Apr 5, 2018 0

Mumbai– The RBI on Thursday maintained the status quo on its key short-term lending rate at 6 per cent, along with its ‘neutral’ stance, at the first bi-monthly monetary policy review of the new fiscal, in line with what was being widely expected.

This is the fourth policy review in succession that the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has kept the repo, or short-term interest rate for commercial banks, unchanged, according to the RBI monetary policy statement.

“The decision of the MPC is consistent with the neutral stance of monetary policy in
consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent, while supporting growth,” it said.

Consequently, the reverse repo rate remains at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.25 per cent.

As per official data, retail inflation based on the CPI fell to 4.44 per cent in February, from 5.07 per cent in January, but remained outside the RBI’s medium-term target of 4 per cent.

“We continue to remain vigilant on how inflation unfolds, in the sense that we are data dependent,” RBI Governor Urjit Patel said at a media briefing here following the MPC meeting.

Noting that the February retail inflation turned out “softer” than RBI’s earlier projection mainly owing to the “seasonal softening” in vegetable prices, Patel said that several uncertainties continue to surround “the baseline inflation path.

“The revised formula for MSP (minimum support price) as announced in the Union Budget 2018-19 for kharif crops may have an impact on inflation, although the exact magnitude will be known only in the coming months,” he said.

“Besides, in case of further fiscal slippage from the Union Budget estimates for 2018-19 or the medium-term path, it could adversely impact the outlook on inflation. Another risk is from fiscal slippages by states on account of higher committed revenue expenditure.”

“Also, companies polled by the RBI expect input and output prices to rise, going forward,” he added.

The central bank slightly lowered its inflation forecast for the first half of the current fiscal to between 4.7 per cent and 5.1 per cent, and 4.4 per cent for the second half, “including the HRA impact for central government employees, with risks tilted to the upside”.

According to the MPC statement, the recent volatility in global crude prices has brought considerable uncertainty to the near-term inflation outlook.

The MPC noted that growth has been recovering and the output gap is closing, which “is also reflected in a pick-up in credit offtake in recent months”.

On the downside, the central bank noted that “rising trade protectionism and financial market volatility could derail the ongoing global recovery”.

“In this unsettling global environment, it is especially important that domestic macroeconomic fundamentals are strengthened, deleveraging of distressed corporates and rebuilding of bank balance sheets persisted with, and the risk-sharing markets deepened,” the RBI said.

In a repeat of the previous policy review in February, five members of the MPC, including the three external ones and the Governor, voted in favour of the decision, while RBI Executive Director Michael Patra voted for an increase in the repo rate by 25 basis points. (IANS)

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Samba Moorthy appointed President of Epson India

Apr 5, 2018 0

New Delhi– Electronics giant Epson India on Thursday appointed Samba Moorthy as its new President. Moorthy replaces Toshiyuki Kasai, who is retiring as India President after six years at the helm.

“It is an honour to lead Epson India. I’ve been here for over 20 years and the most important thing is the structural progress that we are making — from a single product to multiple offerings. I’m sure the team would continue to excel in the performance,” Moorthy told IANS.

“We look to sustain and boost our growth momentum in the coming years. My focus will continue to be on generating value for our customers in everything we do while building Epson into a respected brand in India,” he added.

According to Kasai, Epson India has been growing exponentially and reached a turnover of nearly Rs 1,664 crore in FY 2017.

“Epson India is now poised for the leap to the next level. Samba is an inspiring leader with a clear vision and is the ideal person to lead and take Epson India forward, with an eye on the 2025 goals set by the company,” Kasai said.

Moorthy, who was until now Vice President, Sales and Marketing at the company, joined Epson India in 1996 and grew through the ranks to head the company in the country.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), Epson secured the top spot in the Inkjet printer market (by volume and value) for the calendar year 2017 in India.

The company captured 42 per cent of the Inkjet market by volume and 54 per cent in value, while HP followed with a volume market share of 40 per cent and value share of 32 per cent.

Epson sold 705,656 inkjet printers in the calender year 2017 to lead the market. (IANS)

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Apple hires Google’s Artificial Intelligence chief

Apr 4, 2018 0

San Francisco– In a key development, Apple has hired John Giannandrea, Google’s Head of Search and Artificial Intelligence (AI), to lead the company’s Machine Learning (ML) and AI strategy.

Giannandrea, who took the role of Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google from Amit Singhal in early 2016, will report directly to Cook.

“Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear… John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal,” The New York Times quoted an email from Cook to his staff as saying.

Giannandrea joined Google in 2010 after the company acquired his startup Metaweb Technologies.

According to arstechnica.com, Apple needs strong talent to improve its AI and ML efforts which lag behind its competitors like Amazon and Google.

Apple has invested in Siri and HomeKit to compete with Google Home and Alexa-based smart home systems.

Apple last year added an AI chip called Neural Engine to the A11 Bionic for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X to work with the Image Signal Processor (ISP).

Apple has also posted several job openings for engineers at its different offices globally.

According to the data accumulated by Thinknum, the number of open positions that contain the term “Siri” has accelerated in recent weeks, with a current all-time high of 161 job listings. (IANS)

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ASUS appoints new India Regional Head

Apr 4, 2018 0

New Delhi– Taiwanese smartphone company ASUS on Wednesday appointed Leon Yu as the new Regional Head for India and South Asia.

Yu replaces Peter Chang who has moved to ASUS headquarters in Taiwan to head the Market Development Center for APAC, the company said in a statement.

Leon will be responsible for building ASUS’ brand and business in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

“I’ve already begun engaging with our team across India and am eager to continue to build the incredible reputation ASUS has earned in India across product range, starting from smartphones, laptops and the ROG (gaming) series,” Yu said.

Prior to this, Yu was the Regional Director for ASUS Middle East for six years. (IANS)

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India needs to do more on cyber risk management: FireEye

Apr 4, 2018 0

New Delhi– Sophisticated cyber threat actors are growing and posing big challenges for organisations in India, a top executive from cyber security company FireEye said on Wednesday, adding that although Indian firms are getting better in cyber risk management, they still have a lot of ground to cover.

“The financial services sector is at risk and the segment constituted 39 per cent of Mandiant cybersecurity firm’s forensic investigations in Asia Pacific (APAC) last year,” Shrikant Shitole, Senior Director and Country Head for India, FireEye, said in a statement.

FireEye on Wednesday released its global “M-Trends 2018” report.

According to Shitole, the company found that the attackers were present in APAC organisations’ networks for a median of 498 days before being detected, which is almost five times longer than the global median of 101 days.

“Indian firms are getting better at discovering compromises, but they still have a long way to go. As cyber attacks become more frequent and sophisticated, I hope the leaders will take active part in cyber risk management and data breach preparedness. With determination and the right resources, Indian firms can stay ahead of the attackers,” Shitole added.

The median dwell time for APAC also increased this year to 498 days, from 172 days in last year’s M-Trends report.

Throughout 2017, Iran grew more capable from an offensive perspective, the report pointed out.

Mandiant, which was acquired by FireEye in a deal worth in excess of $1 billion in 2013, observed a significant increase in the number of cyber-attacks originating from Iran-sponsored threat actors.

“While they have captured notoriety over the past year, especially for their destructive attacks, much of their espionage activity has gone unnoticed,” the report said.

FireEye also said that organisations are increasingly being re-targeted. Nearly 49 per cent of customers with at least one high priority finding were successfully attacked again within one year. (IANS)

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