Business Today

Upfront

News that you may have missed last fortnight
     Print Edition: Mar 16, 2014
Photo: Ramesh Sharma

Telangana Tale: When the din over the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, thanks mainly to the agitation led by Telangana Rashtra Samithi's K. Chandrashekar Rao (bottom left corner), dies down, new opportunities are likely to emerge for politicians and bureaucrats vying for new posts. Besides, there could be growth potential for businesses too, including the real estate sector.

CORPORATE

Bharti Airtel, India's largest cellular operator by subscriber base, has entered into a strategic agreement with Loop Mobile to acquire its three million subscribers and some assets for about Rs 700 crore. This is the first deal to be recorded since the government finalised the new mergers and acquisitions policy earlier this year.

The 2G spectrum auction ended after 68 rounds and over 10 days of bidding, with the government getting bids totalling Rs 61,000 crore for airwave slots in the 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz bands. The government is expected to receive more than Rs 18,000 crore this fiscal, as companies are allowed to pay an up-front amount.

Facebook Inc is buying fast-growing mobile messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in a landmark deal that brings the world's largest social network closer to the heart of mobile communications, and may bring more young users into the fold. WhatsApp is a leader among a wave of smartphone-based messaging apps that are popular in North America, Asia and Europe.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India has cleared new corporate governance norms that require companies to justify the salaries of CEOs, put in place whistle-blower policies and have orderly succession plans. The new norms provide for greater oversight by minority shareholders and independent directors.

-The government has decided to take back coal mines awarded to some 50 companies on the basis that requisite milestones have not been met. The companies affected include Adani Power, JSPL, Tata Group, Arcelor Mittal, Lanco, Hindalco and GMR. Many of them that have invested in end-use projects or in coal blocks are set to move the court.

-The Tata Group is India's most valuable brand with a value of $21.1 billion, in the Brand Finance Global 500 rankings. State Bank of India, Airtel, Reliance and Indian Oil Corporation also figure in the list, but have seen a fall in rankings. Apple Inc has retained its top global position with about $105 billion. Samsung ($79 billion) is in second place.

-Cable operator Comcast plans to buy Time Warner Cable for about $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal that would combine the top two US cable companies. Comcast is already the dominant force, with nearly 22 million video subscribers compared to Time Warner Cable's estimated 12 million.

-Ranbaxy Laboratories and Teva have agreed to settle an investigation launched by the New York Attorney General over claims that the two companies colluded to indulge in anticompetitive practices. The companies had agreed to pay $3,00,000 over an agreement inked in 2010 that barred the two rival drugmakers to challenge the other's claim to sell a generic drugmaker for an exclusive period.

ECONOMY
The Competition Commission of India plans to issue final orders within a broad time-frame of one year in matters where it decides to carry out detailed investigations, according its chief, Ashok Chawla. The number of complaints received by the watchdog, which keeps tabs on unfair trade practices in the marketplace, is on the rise.

State-run banks hired nearly 300,000 personnel, including more than 94,000 officers, in the last four years, according to the Indian Banks Association. A study by trade lobby Assocham in September 2013 indicated that banks would need 800,000 people in the next six years. It estimated that state-run lenders alone would hire 50,000 people in 2013/14.

The government has detected customs tax evasion totalling around Rs 3,792 crore in 14 states until December. Maharashtra topped the list at Rs 1,419 crore, followed by Andhra Pradesh at Rs 814 crore, Delhi Rs 546 crore, Gujarat Rs 524 crore, Karnataka Rs 167 crore and Tamil Nadu Rs 161 crore.

Connaught Place in New Delhi slipped four notches to become the world's eighth most expensive expensive office location. London's West End is the world's most expensive office market.

40.72 lakh Markets The number of high-value spenders under the scanner of the income-tax department. The department has information that they have made cash deposits amounting to Rs 10 lakh or more in their savings bank accounts in the current financial year. It plans to check potential evasion before the closing of the financial year on March 31.

$27 bn
Estimated pharmaceuticals sales in the country in 2016 - 14.4 per cent higher than a year ago. The life sciences and health-care industry is up against challenges such as quality management, says a recent Deloitte report.

MARKETS

The gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of listed banks rose 35.2 per cent to Rs 2.43 lakh crore during the first three months of this financial year. In absolute terms, the 40 listed banks added Rs 63,386 crore to their gross NPAs in nine months, with the State Bank of India leading with an accretion of Rs 16,610 crore.

The inflow of smuggled gold doubled in 2013, following government restrictions to curb the supply from official channels to contain the current account deficit. China surpassed India in the demand for gold for the first time in 2013 due to liberalisation of gold trading norms by its local governments.

COMING UP
3G spectrum in the 2100 MHz band should be made available by June and auctioned immediately after the new government takes charge, TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar has said.

The Reserve Bank of India plans to tap mobile banking in a big way. It has okayed in principle the setting up of a system to facilitate the transfer of funds from bank account holders to people without accounts, through ATMs. The new system will take care of safeguards such as transaction validation, customer identification and velocity checks.


 

 

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