IndUS Business Journal

Lower food prices cool India’s July wholesale inflation to 5.09%

Aug 14, 2018 0

New Delhi– Lower prices of food items and primary goods decelerated rise in India’s annual inflation rate based on wholesale prices to 5.09 per cent in July from 5.77 per cent in June, official data showed on Tuesday, a day after retail inflation for July too softened to 4.17 per cent.

The data on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) furnished by the Commerce Ministry showed that the rate of inflation had increased to 1.88 per cent during the corresponding month in 2017.

“Build-up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 2.92 per cent compared with 0.62 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year,” the Ministry said in a statement here.

On a sequential basis, the expenses on primary articles, which constitute 22.62 per cent of the WPI’s total weightage, inched up by 1.73 per cent, from an increase of 5.30 per cent in June 2018.

Similarly, the prices of food articles dipped. The category has a weightage of 15.26 per cent in the WPI index. It deflated by (-) 2.16 per cent from a rise of 1.80 per cent.

However, the cost of fuel and power category, which commands a 13.15 per cent weightage, increased at a faster pace of 18.10 per cent from a growth of 16.18 per cent.

In addition, expenses on manufactured products registered a rise of 4.26 per cent from 4.17 per cent.

On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, onion prices soared higher by 38.82 per cent and for potatoes by 74.28 per cent.

In contrast, the overall vegetable prices in July declined by 14.07 per cent, against a rise of 22.01 per cent in the same month a year ago.

Further, the data revealed that wheat became dearer by 6.31 per cent on a YoY basis while prices of pulses came down by 17.03 per cent, though paddy became expensive by 3.96 per cent.

The prices of protein-based food items such as eggs, meat and fish went up marginally by 0.87 per cent.

Fuel-wise, the price of high-speed diesel rose by 22.84 per cent on a YoY basis, petrol by 20.75 per cent and LPG by 31.68 per cent.

Lower food prices eased India’s July retail inflation to 4.17 per cent from 4.92 per cent in June even as it continued to rule over the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s medium-term inflation target of 4 per cent, official data showed.

Continuing with the reversal of accommodation begun in June, the RBI earlier this month again hiked its key lending rate by 25 basis points to bring its repo rate to 6.50 per cent citing upside risks to inflation.

Commenting on the wholesale price numbers, the Confederation of Indian Industry welcomed it as “very good news”.

“Having benefited from the decline in primary articles, particularly food prices, hopefully, this is the beginning of a downswing in prices. The moderation in both CPI (consumer price index) and WPI inflation should induce the RBI to resume the benign interest rate regime,” CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said in a statement.(IANS)

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Flipkart shuts eBay India operations; to launch new site

Aug 14, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Leading e-tailer Flipkart on Tuesday shut its eBay India operations, three months after US retail giant Walmart bought a 77 per cent stake in it for $16 billion.

Announcing the end of its operations, the eBay India website read: “Sorry, you can no longer transact on eBay.in. But not to worry, Flipkart will introduce a brand-new shopping experience soon.”

While eBay has closed its India website for taking any new orders, it has set August 30 as the last date for buyers to raise claims for transactions done to date.

Earlier on July 26, eBay India, which allows both businesses and consumers to sell their goods through the site, had asked all its sellers to delist products which were worth less than Rs 250 and more than Rs 8,000.

Flipkart, however, did not respond to questions by IANS on the details of the new website to be launched.

The Bengaluru-based Flipkart in 2017 acquired eBay India’s operations in a $1.4 billion fund-raising deal from several investors, including eBay, which invested $500 million and received $200 million worth stocks in Flipkart.

With Walmart acquiring a majority stake (77 per cent) in Flipkart in a $16 billion (Rs 1,07,662 crore) deal in May this year, California-based eBay had announced that it would sell its stake in Flipkart back to the company for about $1.1 billion and relaunch its India business soon.

“The company plans to relaunch eBay India with a differentiated offer to focus initially on the cross-border trade opportunity,” eBay had said in a statement earlier.

Founded in 1995, eBay forayed into the Indian market in 2004. (IANS)

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Rupee devalues to record low of 70 to a USD; recovers

Aug 14, 2018 0

Mumbai– Geo-political pressures, along with outflows of foreign funds and high crude oil prices dragged the Indian rupee to its lowest ever intra-day level of over 70 against a US dollar on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, the Indian currency plunged to 70.08 — the lowest ever — against the greenback.

However, a likely intervention by the Reserve Bank of India and stabilisation in the global currency markets pared the rupee’s early fall.

At the end of the intra-bank trade session on Tuesday, the Indian rupee strengthened by four paise at 69.90 against the dollar, compared to Monday’s close of 69.94 per greenback.

“A near 4 per cent intra-day rebound in the Turkish Lira, on the back of talks between NSA from USA and Turkish Ambassador to US, was not enough to prevent the rupee from sliding past 70 handle against the greenback,” said Anindya Banerjee, Deputy Vice President for Currency and Interest Rates with Kotak Securities.

“RBI intervention has kept the pair below 70 since then on spot. However, demand from offshore speculators and also demand from importers have not allowed the rupee to appreciate.”

Banerjee pointed out the trend in USD/INR for the rest of the week will be dictated by the trend in greenback against major currencies like Euro and GBP.

Recent US-imposed sanctions and tariffs on Turkey has had an impact on its and other emerging market currencies over fears of further global protectionist measures.

“Since currencies of emerging and developed markets are falling, the RBI is not intervening aggressively in the market. It is intervening selectively to contain volatility,” Rushabh Maru, Research Analyst, Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers, told IANS.

“Since 70 level has been breached today we may see importers rushing to buy dollars on every dip in the USD/INR. On the other hand exporters may avoid selling dollars at current levels as the rupee is depreciating sharply.”

Apart from global cues, outflow of foreign funds from the Indian equity and bond markets has had an adverse impact on the rupee.

Investment-wise, provisional data with exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrip worth Rs 378.84 crore.

“The swift move past 69 happened due to Foreign Institution Investor (FII) outflows and the need to hedge existing short dollar positions in the market, driven by global market sentiment rather than actual importer demand,” said B. Prasanna, Group Executive and Head for Global Markets Group, ICICI Bank.

“On a medium term basis, the rupee will need to depreciate further to keep up with the inflation differentials with other trading partners. However there could be a minor reversal of this depreciation on a short term basis when the global situation stabilises.” (IANS)

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Amazon invests $400 million more in its Indian arms

Aug 13, 2018 0

Bengaluru– The US-based world’s largest e-tailer Amazon invested an additional $400 million (Rs 2,700 crore) in two of its Indian subsidiaries, said business intelligence platform Paper.vc on Monday.

“Our tally of Amazon’s total investment in its Indian subsidiaries, including this, is $3.6 billion (Rs 25,241 crore),” Paper.vc founder Vivek Durai told IANS from Chennai.

According to documents Amazon filed with the regulators at a meeting on August 6 in Bengaluru, the board of directors of Amazaon Seller Services Ltd approved allotment of 270 crore equity shares of Rs 10 face value for Rs 2,700 crore to the Singapore-based Amazon Corporate Holdings Ltd and an additional 124,753 shares to Amazon.com Incs Ltd without premium.

“The board of directors of Amazon Retail India Ltd on July 31 agreed to allot 10 crore equity shares of Rs 10 face value for Rs 100 crore to its shareholders (Amazon Corporate Holdings and Amazon.com) without premium on rights basis.

Ahead of the retail giant Walmart taking majority stake (77 per cent) in India’s e-tail major Flipkart for $16 billion in May, Amazon invested Rs 2,600 crore in its India operations.

“The Amazon board has consented to allot 260 crore shares of Rs 10 face value aggregating Rs 2,600 crore to the shareholders on rights basis in the ratio of their shareholding,” said Amazon Services Ltd in a filing with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) on May 8.

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos had earlier committed to invest a whopping $5 billion in India to cash in on the rapid growth in e-commerce business. (IANS)

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I share Trump’s vision of prosperity for India, US: Modi

Aug 13, 2018 0

New Delhi– Amid uncertainties regarding US President Donald Trump’s trade and visa policies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that he shares Trump’s vision of prosperity for India and the US.

“I share with him the vision of prosperity of our peoples through a strong India-US partnership, based on important convergences, inter alia, in combating terrorism and promoting stability and development in the Indo-Pacific,” Modi said.

“I have met President Trump a few times,” Modi said in an interview to the Times of India ahead of this year’s Independence Day. “We have also been in touch through several conversations.”

India and the US, apart from Japan and Australia, are part of a quad that was revived last year to work for peace in the Indo-Pacific, a geostrategically important region.

Modi’s comments come ahead of the India-US 2+2 Dialogue next month in New Delhi involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis.

In February, the Trump administration came up with a new visa policy that makes the procedure for issuing H-1B visas tougher.

According to the new policy, the hiring company would have to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party worksite has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in speciality occupation.

In March, US President Donald Trump slapped import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, unfolding the prospect of an all-out global trade war.

In retaliation, India raised customs duty on 29 products, including on iron and steel products imported from the US.

Stating that India and the US were two important engines of growth in the world, Modi said: “The focus of President Trump and our own priority in India on innovation and entrepreneurship has the potential to take this relationship to new heights.”

He stressed that the India-US Strategic Partnership had “deepened in an unprecedented manner in the past few years”.

India and the US share a Global Strategic Partnership based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues. (IANS)

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Committed to promoting ease of doing business: Modi

Aug 13, 2018 0

New Delhi– Reiterating that his government is fully committed to promoting ‘ease of doing business and ensuring robust economic growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said it has taken several “affirmative actions” in the last four years in this direction.

“Over the last four years, my government has consciously and diligently worked on several fronts to resolve issues being faced by the economy. It is because of these efforts that our economy is today growing at a rate of over 7.5 per cent, the highest among major economies,” Modi said in an interview to the Times of India published on Sunday.

He said that while the government encourages ‘ease of doing business’, it is unsparing in bringing “unscrupulous elements” to book. The Prime Minister also listed the “unprecedented” reforms his government initiated in terms of disinvestment and taxation.

“The emphasis is on simplifying processes, be it incorporation of a company, induction of a director, or payment of income tax or GST. In the World Bank ranking on Ease of Doing Business, India has moved up from 142 to 100, proving we are an enabling environment for companies,” Modi said.

He said his government has taken a “major decision” to change its approach towards central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) for “efficient management of public assets, unlocking wealth to the shareholders and creating wealth for the public”.

“New instruments for disinvestment include listing of CPSEs through IPOs (initial public offering), mergers and acquisitions of CPSEs, and listing of exchange traded funds (ETFs). Since 2014, government has realized over Rs 2 lakh crore from disinvestment of PSEs. In 2017-18, government realized a record Rs 1 lakh crore.

“This can be compared to the performance of the preceding 10 years (2004-05 to 2013-14) during which the cumulative collection was Rs 1.08 lakh crore. We have realized double the amount in less than half the period,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that on the direct tax front, income tax return forms have been rationalized to make them taxpayer-friendly and the income tax department has eased norms for scrutiny of assessments. The first slab of income tax up to Rs 5 lakh has been reduced from 10 per cent to 5 per cent for non-corporate tax payers.

“For the law-abiding, the procedures and processes are being simplified; for the unscrupulous there is no escape. As part of our mission against black money and corruption, my government has struck off the names of around 2.6 lakh shell companies and 3.09 lakh directors. Names of 55,000 companies more will be struck off this month,” the Prime Minister said.

On the measures to revive the banking sector that is reeling under massive non-performing assets (NPAs), Modi said in order to create a “clean and effective” recovery system, his government enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) besides amending the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, to authorize RBI to direct banks to take recourse to IBC route.

He said that to strengthen the PSBs, government has, after initial infusion of Rs 70,000 crore under Indradhanush plan, again announced recapitalization of Rs 2.11 lakh crore in October 2017. (IANS)

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The benefits of a secure digital identity system

Aug 13, 2018 0

By Madhu Nori

We live in a society driven by digital connections — the way we bank, shop, apply for a job and even find love has moved online. Despite this, the way we prove our identity hasn’t changed, still stubbornly clinging to paper and cards. This method is outdated and not secure; we reveal more personal data than necessary and ID documents can easily be lost, stolen or damaged, putting us at risk of identity theft. Furthermore, we can’t be 100 per cent confident in the identities of people we meet online.

A secure digital identity system lets people prove their identity without showing paper documents, confirm the identity of people they meet online, and log into websites securely without passwords. It can help strike the balance between security, privacy and convenience, and make online and offline interactions safer for both individuals and businesses.

Given the growing volume of high profile data breaches over recent years, people are appreciating just how vulnerable their data is. Sixty-eight per cent of Indians said they are worried about becoming victims of a data breach in the near future. A digital identity puts individuals in control of their personal information. They will have greater transparency over who has access to their data and can limit the amount of information they share.

Additionally, companies can benefit from fast and accurate KYC as well as save time and money when verifying the identities of their customers, without the need for paper documents. They can confirm customer identities with less information, safe in the knowledge that every identity is verified.

We are all signing up to more apps and services, and sharing more personal data than ever before. With so many online accounts, convenience often trumps security and people reuse the same passwords and login details across different accounts. The average person has around 32 different online accounts so it is no surprise they reuse the same easy-to-remember passwords. Whilst this makes our lives easier, we are putting our personal data at great risk — hackers only need to crack one email/password and they can then access a number of websites. They will unlock a treasure trove of personal information, allowing them to impersonate individuals and steal their identity.

A digital identity system offers a secure alternative and many companies are already turning to biometrics in a bid to combat fraud, increase security and enhance the customer experience. They no longer have to remember passwords and they can appreciate the ease and simplicity that biometric technology can offer.

Peer-to-peer platforms have changed the way we interact with people. We can meet life partners through online dating, buy items from strangers on classified sites, and even rent another person’s home. Yet it is too easy for people to create fake profiles online and pretend to be someone else.

Anna Rowe, a victim of catfishing, was tricked by a man using the photo of a Bollywood actor on his dating profile. They were in a relationship for 14 months before she discovered his true identity and that he was married. Anna is now calling for catfishing to be made illegal and believes people should have to use their real names on dating sites to prevent them from creating fake profiles. With a single, digital identity and verified details, the misuse of these platforms can be quashed. Individuals have confidence and reassurance that the people they meet are who they say they are — helping to prevent false profiles and make digital interactions safer.

The time for a secure digital identity system is here. Everyday tasks like logging into websites or proving our identity to a business will become simpler and safer, and individuals will also have more control, privacy and security of their personal data. (IANS)

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PVR Cinemas to acquire southern multiplex major SPI Cinemas

Aug 13, 2018 0

Mumbai– Multiplex theatre major PVR Ltd on Sunday said its Board of Directors has approved the acquisition of 71.69 per cent stake in SPI Cinemas Pvt Ltd, involved in the business of movie exhibition and allied businesses, for Rs 633 crore.

In a regulatory filing in BSE, the company said the acquisition of the stakes in SPI Cinemas will be from two shareholders viz 61.65 per cent from SS Theatres LLP and 10.04 per cent from S.V. Swaroop Reddy.

The Board of PVR also approved provisions for customary call/put options for the acquisition of the remaining 28.31 per cent stake in SPI Cinemas from SS Theatres, if triggered for a consideration not exceeding Rs 300 crore.

The completion of acquisition is expected to be over within 30 days from the execution of share purchase agreement (SPA) and the amalgamation within a period of 18 months from the date of completion of acquisition or some other mutually agreed date between the parties to the SPA.

According to PVR, the acquisition is subject to the regulatory approvals.

The SPI Cinemas has an asset base of Rs 319.63 crore, turnover of Rs 309.60 crore and net worth of Rs 73.74 crore as on March 31.

The acquisition of SPI Cinemas will give PVR a strong foot hold in the southern market.

The SPI Cinemas has 76 screens across 17 properties in 10 cities, with 13 screens to be opened in the next 12 months.

According to the regulatory filing, as part of the amalgamation SS Theatres will get 18.19 per cent fully paid up equity shares of PVR for every fully paid up equity shares of SPI Cinemas held by SS Theatres.

The acquiring company PVR said Rs 100 crore – part of the price – will be paid on deferred basis on achievement of milestones. (IANS)

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Sri Lankan tourist police told to learn Hindi

Aug 13, 2018 0

Colombo– Sri Lanka’s Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara on Monday said 25 new police posts will be set up covering all main the tourist spots across the country for visitors’ security. And police personnel have been asked to learn Hindi.

The decision was taken after discussions with the Chairman and senior officials of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Xinhua news agency quoted Jayasundara as saying.

He said a new uniform would be introduced to the Tourist Police Division.

In a few years, the tourism sector was expected to become the largest foreign exchange earner for the country. Therefore, ensuring safety of the foreigners visiting Sri Lanka will be a top priority for the police force, Jayasundara said.

“Officers of the Tourist Police Division should pay special attention to language training. In addition to English, they should also learn widely used international languages such as Chinese, Hindi and French,” Jayasundara said.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, once heavily scarred by a 30-year ethnic conflict, has become one of the leading industries after it was dubbed one of the world’s greatest tourist hot spots by several international publications. (IANS)

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Tata Steel posts more than double net profit in Q1

Aug 13, 2018 0

Mumbai– Tata Steel on Monday reported more than double consolidated net profit at Rs 1,934 crore in the quarter ended June 30, as compared to Rs 921 crore in the year-ago period.

Its consolidated revenue from operations during the quarter was at Rs 37,833 crore, up 22 per cent from Rs 30,973 crore in the corresponding period last year.

Speaking on the company’s performance, its Executive Director and CFO Koushik Chatterjee said: “The performance in this quarter has been very strong and the India operation delivered a stand-out performance of 31 per cent EBIDTA margin on the back of strong underlying business performance and improved market conditions.”

“Our quarterly consolidated EBIDTA grew 33 per cent year-on-year and increased to Rs 6,559 crore, with an EBITDA margin of 17 per cent,” he said.

“We are working on seeking all relevant approvals for our 50:50 JV with thyssenkrupp for our European business. We expect underlying steel demand to be strong, particularly in India. However, the rising trade tensions and the impact on the global economic momentum is a cause of concern,” its CEO and Managing Director T.V. Narendran said.

During the quarter, the steel maker closed the acquisition process of Bhushan Steel under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code process, it said in a statement.

“The funding for the acquisition was designed with a prudent capital structure with significant equity component to ensure future value creation. The integration of the company is underway and is expected to deliver synergies over the next 24 months,” Chatterjee added.

Its board approved issue of debt securities of up to Rs 12,000 crore in the form of Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) on private placement basis in one or more tranches.

The funds will be primarily deployed towards capex, repayment of debt and general corporate purposes, it said in a regulatory filing. (IANS)

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