QBiz: SC Fast-Tracks Mallya Case; Hotstar’s Rs 200 Cr IPL Deal

Here’s a look at the top news of the day making headlines in dailies across the country.

1. Supreme Court Fast-Tracks Case Against Vijay Mallya

After numerous adjournments, the Supreme Court on Thursday fast-tracked the proceedings against absconder industrialist Vijay Mallya and reserved its order on contempt proceeding against him for allegedly diverting $40 million to his children's account in foreign banks in violation of court order.

A bench of Justice AK Goel and UU Lalit reserved its order on whether Mallya was guilty of contempt or not and what further action should be taken to bring back the money.

Exactly one year ago when the apex court had started proceeding against Mallya and had issued notice to him on 8 March 2016 on a plea of consortium of banks led by SBI for recovery of about Rs 9,000 crore, which Mallya and his companies owed to them. He, however, managed to flee the country days before SC took up the case against him.

(Source: Times of India)

2. Investors Likely to Cheer as UP Exit Polls Favour BJP

Indian stocks are likely to get a boost when trading opens on Friday as investors cheer the likelihood of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the single largest party in Uttar Pradesh – a possibility signalled by exit polls.

Still, some analysts advised caution, pointing to the 7.7% rise in the Vix volatility index in the past four trading sessions and high stock valuations.

As the final phase of polling ended on Thursday in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur, bringing the curtain down on elections to five state assemblies, at least six exit polls predicted the BJP will end up with the largest tally of seats in UP, India’s largest and most populous state, even if it falls short of a majority.

(Source: Livemint)

3. Telecom Tribunal Reserves Order On Reliance Jio’s Promotional Offers

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Thursday reserved its order on Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.'s promotional offers. TDSAT was hearing an appeal by incumbent players Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. challenging the telecom regulator TRAI's decision to allow Reliance Jio to continue its free promotional offer Happy New Year beyond the stipulated 90 days.

Bharti Airtel’s counsel Gopal Jain argued that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) did not follow a transparent process and avoided giving reasons for its decision.

"When asked, twice by this bench as well, the answer has been stonewalling and blocking. The offer by Reliance Jio is illegal, contrary to the meaning of promotional offer. This is a fit case to set aside the offer or stay… Time is ticking," he said.

Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular moved TDSAT this year, questioning the telecom regulator’s clean chit to Reliance Jio's “predatory” pricing.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

4. IPL 10: Hotstar May Make Rs 200 Crore in Advertisement Revenue This Cricket Season

The coming 10th edition of the popular T20 cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL), is slated to make more than Rs 200 crore in advertising revenue for Hotstar, Star India’s digital streaming platform, on account of a dramatic growth in viewership.

The firm has signed two sponsorship deals of Rs 20 crore each with Chinese smartphone maker Vivo (also the title sponsor for IPL) and automobile firm Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. The two will be co-presenting sponsors for IPL 10. In addition, the firm is closing deals with other advertisers, including Oppo – the newly-appointed sponsor for team India – and computer technology firm Dell.

The Rs 200-crore revenue is significantly higher than Hotstar’s IPL 9 advertising revenue of Rs 65 crore.

(Source: Livemint)

5. Aadhaar Made Mandatory for a Host of Farm Sector Schemes

For better targeting of central subsidies, the government has made Aadhaar mandatory for a host of schemes under the agriculture ministry, from soil health card and horticulture development to the Prime Minister’s flagship crop insurance scheme launched last year.

The notifications mandating Aadhaar for availing benefits under these schemes were issued last month, simultaneous to similar orders for big ticket schemes like food subsidy and mid-day meals for school going children.

For the flagship soil health card scheme, which seeks to inform farmers about nutrient levels in their land and check imbalanced use of fertilisers, a notification mandating use of Aadhaar was issued by the ministry on 20 February.

According to the notification, farmers without an Aadhaar number have to apply for it by the end of March and till that time they can avail services under by furnishing a proof of their application.

(Source: Livemint)

6. IndusInd Bank Confirms Deal Talks With Microfinance Firm Bharat Financial

Mid-sized private lender IndusInd Bank on Thursday said it is in talks with multiple entities for business expansion, including the widely speculated merger of Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd.

Following media reports that IndusInd and Bharat Financial (formerly known as SKS Microfinance) are likely to announce a merger in an all-stock deal, the bank said in a stock exchange filing that the management has been authorised to evaluate strategic opportunities for business expansion. Accordingly, the bank has been in discussions “from time to time with various parties, including Bharat Financial”, the filing added.

No decision in this regard has been made, either by the board or any of the committees, the bank said, while terming the media reports as "speculative".

(Source: BloombergQuint)

7. Auction Looms Large Over Debt-Ridden GVK Group

The debt-ridden GVK Group faces the imminent threat of its assets being auctioned off for the first time after defaulting on repayments amid a crackdown on overdue loans by Indian banks.

Syndicate Bank (BSE -0.15%) has served notice of an auction of over 2,500 acre at the GVK Perambalur Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tamil Nadu for recovering dues of Rs 175 crore from the promoters of infrastructure giant GVK Power (BSE -4.14%) & Infrastructure that operates Bengaluru and Mumbai airports, utilities and other businesses.

The development comes after GVK's promoters reportedly approached several prospective buyers, including the JSW Group, for the sale of various assets, including the Mumbai and Bengaluru airports, as part of efforts to prune debt. The company said it's trying to stave off an auction by repaying the money that's owed.

GVK Power & Infrastructure, the holding company for the energy, airport, transportation and resources firms, with consolidated debt of over Rs 32,000 crore, is finding it difficult to service loans amid dwindling revenue and accumulating losses.

(Source: Economic Times)

8. Godrej Agrovet Kicks Off IPO Process, Hires i-Bank

Godrej Agrovet Ltd has hired Kotak Mahindra Capital Co. Ltd and is in the process of hiring two more investment banks to manage an initial public offering (IPO), through which it plans to raise as much as $ 200 million, said three people aware of the development.

“They have been meeting with various banks over the past few weeks. At least 10 banks, both foreign and domestic, have held talks with them. So far, they have appointed Kotak to manage the IPO process,” said one of the three people cited above, requesting anonymity as the talks are private.

The company has also shortlisted Axis Capital and Credit Suisse, and the IPO mandate is expected to be handed to them soon, said the second person cited above.

Godrej Industries Ltd, the Godrej group’s flagship company, owns 60.8% in Agrovet, which is in businesses such as agri-inputs, animal feeds, palm oil manufacturing, dairy and poultry.

(Source: Livemint)

9. Qatar Airways’ India Airline Plan May Face Opposition From Airlines Lobby FIA

Domestic airlines grouped in the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) are preparing to oppose Qatar Airways’ proposed launch of an airline in India even before it applies for a licence to do so.

“We will definitely think of taking this to the courts,” said a top executive at a member-airline of the lobby group, who declined to be named.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said on Wednesday that it will start an airline in India, the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, together with Qatar's sovereign fund.

Opponents of a licence being granted to Qatar Airways point out that Qatar does not allow foreign airlines to start airlines there so there is no reciprocity. Secondly, the control of airlines should be in local hands, as some international conventions suggest. Also, there is the question of national security, the executive cited above said.

(Source: Livemint)