QBiz: India in a Fix Over Iran Oil; Twitter India Gets New MD

1. Trump Puts India in a Fix Over Iran Oil and Regional Strategy

The Trump administration has put India in a tight energy fix and strategic tangle, ending the waiver that allowed New Delhi to buy Iranian oil even as it whittled down supplies from Tehran, a long-term source and partner in the region.

"The current waivers expire on 2 May. There are no SRE (Significant Reduction Exemption) waivers that extent beyond 2 May. Full stop," US secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced at a state department briefing on Monday, 22 April, signaling an end to a nearly year-long breathing room the Trump administration had given to eight countries, including India and China, after putting them on notice to stop buying Iranian oil.

"Any action or entity interacting with Iran should do its due diligence and err on the side of caution," Pompeo warned, adding, "We will no longer grant exemptions. We’re going to zero. We’re going to zero across the board." Entities that continue to trade with Iran will invite US sanctions.

(Source: The Economic Times)

2. Flipkart Under Walmart Lens for ‘Kickbacks’ Paid to Govt Officials

Walmart is learnt to have begun an internal probe into the alleged regulatory and compliance lapses committed during the setting up of Flipkart’s fulfilment centres (FCs) across the country.

Sources told BusinessLine that this investigation might have led to the delay in going ahead with the 100-acre logistics park near Bengaluru which was announced in March 2018. The first phase of the logistics park was expected to be completed by June this year.

The e-commerce major had announced that it would set up a 45 lakh sq ft fully integrated logistics park which would vastly reduce its logistics costs, improve supply-chain efficiencies and speed up e-commerce delivery. Two months later, US retail giant Walmart picked up a majority stake of 77 per cent in Flipkart for $16 billion.

“American companies work under very stringent checklists and it has come to Walmart’s notice that Flipkart warehouses do not have the necessary licences and permits, and in some cases, government officials have been paid off to get them. This will make them liable under the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act). Until these issues are sorted out, the logistics park project will be put on the back-burner and no new warehouses will be announced,” sources close to Walmart told BusinessLine.

(Source: The Hindu Business Line)

3. RBI May Tweak 12 Feb Circular on Stressed Assets to 30-Day Grace Period

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to replace the controversial one-day default norm and give a grace period of 30 days to identify the early stress of borrowers. This will form part of the revised 12 February circular, which is in the works, and would come as a breather for India Inc.

Under the 12 February circular, even a one-day default on the principal or interest payment, or any other amount, wholly or partly, would lead to banks classifying the account as a special mention account (SMA).

(Source: Business Standard)

4. Network18's Manish Maheshwari takes over as Twitter India MD on 29 April

Eight months after its last full-time India head quit Twitter, the microblogging platform said it has appointed Manish Maheshwari as Managing Director for the country.

Maheshwari joins Twitter from Network18 Digital where he was the CEO since 2016. He will report to Maya Hari, Twitter’s Vice-President and Managing Director of Asia Pacific.

Twitter's ex-country director Taranjeet Singh had stepped down in September last year, and Global Head of Revenue Strategy and Operations Krish Balaji was the interim head until now.

Maheshwari will begin in his new role from 29 April, and will be responsible for "driving an integrated business strategy to accelerate Twitter’s audience and revenue growth in the country, overseeing Twitter India’s teams in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. He will be based in Delhi and can be found at @manishm345 on Twitter," the company said in a statement.

(Source: Business Standard)

5. IL&FS to Sell Wind Portfolio to GAIL in First Asset Sale Since Crisis

In its first asset sale since going bust last year, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) on Monday, 22 April, said it has agreed to sell its 874 megawatts (MW) operational wind energy portfolio to state-run gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd for Rs 4,800 crore. The sale will close in three weeks, IL&FS said in a statement on Monday.

Significantly, GAIL’s offer of Rs 4,800 crore at 100 percent enterprise valuation implies that the accumulated debt of Rs 3,700 crore on the wind power special purpose vehicles (SPVs) will be fully repaid. The equity value on these assets will be Rs 1,100 crore.

The sale is subject to various approvals, including from a foreign equity partner in the assets and company law tribunals. Another 104 MW of under-construction wind power project, a solar power portfolio of 300MW and renewable energy EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) business will not be part of the deal. A spokesperson for IL&FS said a separate sale process is on for the residual renewable energy businesses.

(Source: Livemint)

6. Reliance Jio Gigafiber to Offer Broadband, Landline and TV Combo for Rs 600

Reliance Jio GigaFiber will offer a broadband-landline-TV combo service for Rs 600 a month, and additional facilities plus the option to connect at least 40 devices to its smart home network for up to Rs 1,000, a person aware of the development said.

Currently, Reliance Jio is pilot-testing GigaFiber in New Delhi and Mumbai, providing 100 gigabytes (GB) of data at 100 megabytes per second (mbps) for free, except for the Rs 4,500 one-time deposit for a router. To this, telephone and television services will be added in the next three months, and all three services will remain free for about a year, when the service will be commercially rolled out, the person mentioned above said on condition of anonymity.

While the landline will come with unlimited calling facility, television channels will be delivered over the internet (Internet Protocol Television). Additional services could include gaming, closed-circuit television and smart home systems.

(Source: Livemint)

7. Finance Minister Asks All Departments to Conduct Review of Govt Guarantee

The Finance Ministry has asked all departments to undertake a review of government guarantees given by respective ministries to their CPSEs or entities.

The review should undertake aspects like the discharge of repayment obligations or interest obligations as per terms of the loan agreement and covenants and conditions met, the Finance Ministry said in an office memorandum on Monday, 22 April.

Besides, the details of CPSEs or entities due guarantee fee paid on time to the government should also be submitted.

The Finance Ministry has extended date for submission of these details to 30 April from 10 April.

(Source: PTI)

8. Money Laundering Case: ED Orders Kochhars to Appear With Asset Lists

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the money laundering case in connection with the ICICI Bank-Videocon loan matter, has summoned the bank’s former managing director and chief executive Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and brother-in-law Rajiv Kochhar.

Confirming the development, a senior ED official told Business Standard that Chanda had been asked to make a personal appearance on 3 May, while the Kochhar brothers will have to be present on 30 April at the ED’s Delhi headquarters.

(Source: Business Standard)

9. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust Raises Offer to Buy Air India Tower

State-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), India’s biggest container gateway, has raised its offer price to over Rs1,300 crore to buy debt-ridden Air India’s iconic 23-storey tower located at Mumbai’s Marine Drive at Nariman Point.

JNPT’s initial bid of some Rs 1,200 crore was higher than the one quoted by the state-run insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), the only other bidder to participate in the auction, but was below the reserve price set by the cash-strapped national carrier.

“During negotiations, JNPT raised its price bid to over Rs 1,300 crore,” at least two people familiar with the development said, asking not to be named.

In December 2018, Air India issued a tender to sell its 23-storey building as part of a larger asset monetisation plan and allowed only government entities to participate in the bidding for acquiring lease hold rights on “as is, where is basis”.

(Source: The Hindu Business Line)

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