QBiz: Oil Prices Slide Below $50; Adani to Fund Coal Mine in Aus

1. Air India to Be Spared of Rs 29,000 Crore of Debt

Loss-making national carrier Air India will be relieved of Rs 29,000 crore of debt as part of the turnaround plan being executed, a senior official said on Thursday, 29 November.

Civil aviation secretary R.N Choubey told reporters here that transferring the large chunk of Air India’s massive accumulated debt of Rs 55,000 crore will be a partial but significant relief to the national carrier.

Mint had reported on Tuesday that a ministerial panel led by finance minister Arun Jaitly had decided to transfer a significant amount of Air India’s accumulated debt and Air India’s profit making ground handling arm to a special purpose vehicle. The idea is to sell the ground handling arm and use the proceeds to retire the debt.

(Source: LiveMint)

2. Maharashtra Puts Land Purchase for Saudi Aramco Refinery on Hold

Maharashtra has put on hold the process to buy land for the country’s biggest oil refinery that state-run oil companies are building with Saudi Aramco, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, after strong opposition from farmers.

The $44 billion refinery was seen as a game changer for both parties – offering India steady fuel supplies and meeting Saudi Arabia’s need to secure regular buyers for its oil.

But thousands of farmers are refusing to surrender land, fearing it could damage a region famed for its Alphonso mangoes, vast cashew plantations and fishing hamlets that boast bountiful catches of seafood.

(Source: LiveMint)

3. Oil Prices Slide Below $50 for First Time in a Year on Russia Stance

Oil prices dropped below $50 a barrel in New York for the first time in more than a year as traders fretted that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) won’t act decisively to clear a resurgent surplus in the global crude market.

All eyes are on this weekend’s G20 summit in Argentina, where Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman are likely to discuss how to coordinate oil policy, but both leaders have reasons for caution. Shielded by a budget surplus and a weak ruble, Putin said current prices suit Russia fine. The crown prince, under pressure after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, can’t afford to alienate US President Donald Trump.

(Source: LiveMint)

4. Customers May Have to Pay More for Services as Banks Recover Retrospective Tax

Banking may become costlier as banks may not only ask customers with minimum-balance accounts to pay up for free services like chequebooks and ATM cards received in the last five years but also increase charges across the board to pay a retrospective tax.

That’s because the Prime Minister’s Office refused to intervene after the Indian Banks’ Association sought help against the demand to pay Goods and Services Tax on such services, an official aware of the matter BloombergQuint requesting anonymity. The PMO asked banks to respond to show-cause notices issued by the Directorate General of Goods and Services Tax Intelligence, the official said.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

5. RBI Reduces Minimum Holding Period for Securitisation of Loan Portfolios

To help further ease liquidity condition for non-bank lenders, the Reserve Bank of India has made changes to the holding period for securitised loan portfolios.

In a notification on Thursday, 29 November, the Reserve Bank of India said that the minimum holding period requirement for non-banking finance company originating loans, will now be set at six monthly or two quarterly instalments. Earlier the holding period was 12 months.

The revised rules are applicable for loans of original maturity of above five years. This will help housing finance companies in particular who have longer maturity loans.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

6. Adani to Finance Its Controversial Coal Mine in Australia

Energy firm Adani Enterprises Ltd announced on Thursday, 29 November, that it will self-finance its controversial coal mine in Australia. It also said that major works on the "scaled back" project will start "imminently” after eight years of court challenges from environmental activists and delayed approvals.

Adani Mining Chief Executive Officer Lucas Dow said the Carmichael mine in Queensland would initially begin on a small scale and "ramp up" to a capacity of 27.5 million tonnes a year, less than half the size of the approved project. "We have finance and we are ready to start," Dow said.

"Adani Mining's Carmichael mine and rail project will be 100 percent financed through the Adani Group's resources," he said.

(Source: PTI)

7. Rupee Closes Above 70/$ as Global Winds Turn

The Indian rupee strengthened to trade above 70 against the US dollar for the first time in three months. The Indian currency has rebounded sharply from record lows hit in October due to falling oil prices, a return of foreign inflows, and now dovish commentary from the US Federal Reserve.

On Thursday, 29 November, the rupee gained 1.1 percent to close at 69.84/$. The Indian unit was the best performing currency in Asia in trade today and closed its highest level in three months. “The appreciation bias may continue if oil prices remain low but gains may be slower from here on,” said Bhaskar Panda of the Treasury Advisory Group at HDFC Bank.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

8. Workers at Xiaomi, Oppo Plant in Noida Protest on Street After Sackings

Hundreds of employees of a Chinese smartphone manufacturing facility in Noida resorted to violence on Thursday, 29 November, after around 200 of them were "sacked without notice", officials said.

Around 1,200 workers of the Hipad Technology India, which makes Xiaomi and Oppo phones, went on a rampage pelting stones at the building and barging into the facility in Sector 63, they said.

However, the company had no official response till the time the report was filed.

(Source: PTI)

9. US Court Clears TCS of Class Action Lawsuit Claiming It Favours Indians

In a major victory, a California jury has cleared Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) of a class action lawsuit claiming that it discriminated against American professionals in favour of staffing its US offices with Indian professionals.

On Wednesday, 28 November, a federal jury in Oakland, California, sided with TCS against four former employees who claimed they’d been sidelined and fired because of their non- South Asian origin. Other Indian companies like Infosys, HCL Technologies and Wipro are facing similar lawsuits in US.

(Source: Business Standard)

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