1. Alibaba-Backed Payments Startup Paytm Takes Big Step Into Canada
Paytm, the Indian mobile payments startup backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has begun its global expansion by launching a mobile bill and tax payment service in Canada.
Users of the Patym app in Canada can now pay their phone, cable, internet and utility bills as well as insurance and property taxes, the company said in an emailed statement.
Paytm, also backed by Alibaba-affiliate Ant Financial, already runs a team of data scientists and engineers in Toronto building payment and e-commerce technologies. Paytm Labs, its research division, uses big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to build products..
2. Stock Indices Hit Record, Rupee at 16-Month High After US Fed Sticks to Stance on Gradual Rate Hike
India’s stock indices surged to yet another record and the rupee hit a fresh 16-month high on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve stuck to its stance on gradual interest rate tightening at the end of a two-day monetary policy meeting.
Renewed strength in foreign investor buying after Bharatiya Janata Party’s sterling show in the Uttar Pradesh elections bolstered sentiment as India’s Volatility Index – a widely watched fear gauge – fell to a 30-month low, an indicator of heightened trader optimism.
Amid the record-setting spree, the market capitalisation of BSE listed firms spiked to a lifetime high of Rs 120 lakh crore. The Sensex gained 0.6% to 29,585.85 points.
The Nifty rose 0.8%, climbing over the 9,150-mark to 9,153.70 – a new high. The BSE Metal index led gains, posting a rise of 2.9% – the biggest single-day gain in nearly two months. Other Asian markets gained between 0.1% and 2%.
The rupee gained 28 paise to close at 65.41 per dollar, the highest since October 30, 2015. In the past five trading sessions, the rupee has strengthened nearly 2% against the greenback.
(Source: Economic Times)
3. GST Council Clears State, Union Territory Laws
Taking yet another step towards implementing a new indirect tax regime, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council – headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley – on Thursday cleared the draft State GST (SGST) and Union Territory GST (UTGST) bills.
Final drafts of the three other bills – Integrated GST (IGST), Central GST (CGST) and the Compensation bill – had been cleared by the Council in its previous meetings.
The CGST, UTGST, IGST and Compensation bills will now go to the Union Cabinet for approval, while the SGST Bill will be taken up by the individual state cabinets and assemblies, Jaitley told reporters at the end of the Council meeting. In its next meeting on 31 March, the panel will consider supporting GST rules.
Once the bills are passed, another key meeting to present the slabs for various goods and services before the Council will take place, Jaitley said. 1 July continues to be the tentative date fixed for implementation of the new indirect tax regime, he added.
4. Incofin, ResponsAbility Invest $20 Million in Agri-Logistics Firm Sohan Lal
Incofin Investment Management of Belgium and ResponsAbility Investments AG of Switzerland have jointly invested $20 million (approximately Rs 130 crore) in Delhi-based Sohan Lal Commodity Management Pvt. Ltd (SLCM) a post-harvest agri-logistics and financing group, two top executives involved in the transaction said.
The two impact funds bought out the entire stake held by Everstone Capital and Mayfield Advisors, and some shares from Nexus Venture Partners and Emerging India Fund.
Aditya Bhandari, co-head for Asia at Incofin, said the asset management firm was keen on investing in Sohan Lal because of its fully integrated and process-driven business model.
5. Pepsi's Tropicana Loses 5% of Market While Dabur's Real Gains 2.5% share
PepsiCo’s Tropicana, a billion-dollar brand globally, has lost about 5% share of India’s Rs 2,000-crore packaged juices market that is witnessing a steady consolidation at the top by home-grown Dabur’s Real brand.
Tropicana has dropped a 5% share – both by value and volume – between April 2016 and January 2017 compared with the corresponding period a year-ago, two officials quoting data by researcher Nielsen said.
By contrast, Real has gained about 2.5% each on both parameters, according to the data. New entrant ITC’s B Natural and ethnic drinks maker Paper Boat – both marginal players – have gained slightly in the period, the data show.
(Source: Economic Times)
6. Honda to Make a Middleweight Motorcycle in India to Take on Royal Enfield
Honda Motor Co has formed a team of engineers from Japan and Thailand to work in India and develop a global middleweight motorcycle to compete with Eicher Motors Ltd’s Royal Enfield, a top executive said.
Noriaki Abe, president and chief executive officer (CEO) at Asian Honda Motor Co Ltd, said:
We (have) already allocated the people, some from Thailand and some from Japan to India to make a new concept mid-sized motorcycle in India.
Abe will take over as CEO of Honda’s global motorcycle business on 1 April.
The planned middleweight motorcycle will compete with the ones from the stable of Royal Enfield, he added. “If we can make that product, we can export that to even Japan,” said Abe.
7. Vodafone India, Idea Cellular Nearing Initial Agreement in Merger Deal
Vodafone Group Plc is nearing an initial agreement to merge its Indian operations with Idea Cellular Ltd, in a deal that would create the largest telecom company in one of the world’s most competitive markets, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The two firms plan to announce a preliminary agreement as soon as this month, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The initial accord is unlikely to spell out the merged entity’s shareholding structure because the due diligence has not yet been completed, the people said.
Billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla will be the chairman of the new entity, according to the people. Vodafone could decide to sell part of its stake in the merged company, while the Birlas would likely offer to buy shares from other investors after the merger to bring their holding to about 26 people, according to sources.
8. Pigeon Express in Talks to Buy Out Snapdeal Stake in GoJavas
Logistics firm Pigeon Express is in talks to buy out entire stake of Snapdeal in its subsidiary parcel delivery firm GoJavas. "We are in discussion to buy out stake of Snapdeal in GoJavas," Pigeon Express MD Anand Rai said.
Pigeon Express acquired 51 percent share in GoJavas in August 2016, in which Snapdeal holds 49 percent stake. Rai said that Pigeon acquired GoJavas after it was running in losses mainly due to reconciliation issues with e-commerce companies.
GoJavas has Rs 110 crore loss on its books and reconciliation claims of about Rs 300 crore to be paid by e-commerce companies.
(Source: Economic Times)
9. Parliamentary Panel Suggests BSNL-MTNL Merger
A Parliamentary panel has suggested merger of state-run telecom firms BSNL and MTNL for their long-term survival. The Committee on Petitions, chaired by BJP MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari, in its report tabled in Lok Sabha on Thursday, said that it is of the “considered opinion that for the long-term survival and success, merger of MTNL and BSNL would be a good proposition…”
Their merger would give both the entities a chance for competing against private sector players, it added.
The committee was formed to look into representation received by BJP MP Arvind Sawant regarding improvement in services provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).
The Department of Telecom (DoT) informed the panel that both the public sector firms are in financial losses and are facing declining revenues from loss of market share and increasing expenditure.
(Source: Financial Express)