QBiz: Vodafone & Idea Join Hands; Flipkart Raises $1 Bn

A roundup of important business news.

1. Vodafone, Idea Merge to Create India’s Largest Telecom Operator

Idea Cellular Ltd agreed to merge Vodafone Plc’s Indian unit with itself to create the country’s largest mobile services operator in a competitive market disrupted by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s free services.

Vodafone will hold 45.1 percent of the merged entity, while Idea Cellular’s promoter, Kumar Mangalam Birla-led Aditya Birla Group, will hold 26 percent, according to a filing to stock exchanges.

Both Vodafone and Idea Cellular brands will continue, Vodafone Group Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao said in a press conference.

The combined entity will have a revenue market share of 41 percent, ahead of Bharti Airtel Ltd (33 percent), and an annual revenue of over Rs 81,500 crore, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

2. India Seeks to Jump 40 Places in World Bank’s Doing Business Rankings

India is targeting an ambitious 40-notch jump in the World Bank’s Doing Business survey this year. Last year, its rank rose by just one place to 130 in the survey that measures the ease of doing business in various countries.

According to an output-outcome framework document prepared by the government, India wants to reach the 90th rank in 2017-18 and 30th by 2020.

“Better rank in ease of doing business and greater awareness about opportunities in India in manufacturing sector would lead to growth in the manufacturing sector,” the document said.

(Source: Livemint)

3. Flipkart Said to Raise $1 Billion, Seek a Billion More

Flipkart Online Services Pvt has completed a $1 billion fundraising and aims to raise as much as $1 billion more over the next few months, according to people familiar with the matter, giving India’s largest e-commerce company capital to battle back against rising competition.

Flipkart secured its latest funding on Friday at a valuation of about $10 billion, said the people, asking not to be named because the matter is private. Backers in this round so far included Microsoft Corp, EBay Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd, but the valuation was a decline from Flipkart’s $15.5 billion in 2015. The company said it doesn’t comment on “market speculations” as a matter of policy.

The 10-year-old startup is fighting for its life against Amazon.com Inc and other rivals looking for a piece of the fast-growing India market.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

4. Xiaomi Sets up Second Plant in India

Xiaomi has set up a second factory in Andhra Pradesh’s Sri City, the company announced on the sidelines of its Redmi 4A launch in New Delhi. While Xiaomi hasn’t given the exact capacity number of the plant, the company claimed is was now manufacturing one phone per second in India.

For Xiaomi, though, this might not be enough given the supply constraints it continues to face here. Most of Xiaomi’s devices are sold out within seconds of becoming available online during the weekly sales. However, Xiaomi India head and Vice-President Manu Kumar Jain said this is a problem they intend to solve. “The key for us was to start hitting one phone per second kind and we thought we will announce it only when we hit that number. Now we are hitting that consistently,” he said in an interaction with Indian Express.

(Source: Indian Express)

5. Bharatiya Mahila Bank to Merge With SBI

The Government of India has decided to merge the Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) with the State Bank of India (SBI) to ensure greater banking services outreach to a larger number of women, at a faster pace.

The objective is to offer affordable credit to women as well as propagate women-centric products, which need to be quickly achieved through a wider network and lower cost of funds.

The decision to merge BMB with SBI has been taken in view of the advantage of the large network of SBI among other things. In the three years since BMB was established, it has extended loans of Rs 192 crore to women borrowers, while the SBI group has provided loans of about Rs 46,000 crore to them. SBI has a large outreach of more than 20,000 branches, with lowest cost of funds in the sector.

(Source: Financial Express)

6. 18 Foreign Banks of JSPL Agree to $550 Million Debt Restructuring

Eighteen foreign banks, including Standard Chartered Plc., Barclays Plc. and Deutsche Bank AG, have agreed to restructure loans to the tune of $550 million given to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL), two people aware of the development said.

The lenders agreed to a moratorium of between three and five years on repayments after meeting JSPL chairperson Naveen Jindal earlier this month, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

Last year, JSPL failed to meet the repayment schedule for the April-June quarter due to stressed cash flows. The firm approached the lenders sometime in July to restructure the entire debt raised by its subsidiary JSPL (Mauritius). The lenders asked the firm to furnish additional guarantees including a stake in its overseas assets, which according to the people cited above, JSPL was averse to. In August, the lenders invoked JSPL’s corporate guarantees.

(Source: Livemint)

7. Jio Challenges Airtel’s Fastest Network Claim

Telecom operator Reliance Jio has approached advertisement sector watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) against Bharti Airtel Ltd. saying the latter’s claim of being “officially the fastest network” is “misleading” and done in “mala fide manner in collusion with” broadband speed tester Ookla.

“The claim of Airtel that it is India's fastest network is false, misleading and incorrect. This claim is being made by Airtel acting in a mala fide manner in collusion with Ookla, LLC,” Jio said in its complaint filed before ASCI.

When contacted, Airtel spokesperson said the telecom operator has been rated as India's fastest mobile network by Ookla – the global leader in broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

8. Mahesh Kumar Jain is IDBI Bank’s New CEO, MD

IDBI Bank on Monday said it has appointed Mahesh Kumar Jain as its new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. “Mahesh Kumar Jain, MD & CEO of Indian Bank has been appointed as MD & CEO of IDBI Bank," the bank said in a statement.

Jain will head IDBI Bank for the remaining period of his current tenure or until further orders, whichever is earlier, IDBI Bank added.

The present MD and CEO of IDBI Bank, Kishor Kharat has been appointed as MD and CEO of Indian Bank, it said further.

The appointment will be effective from the date Jain will assume charge of the bank.

(Source: Business Standard)

9. If Farmer Loans Waived off in UP, Banks to Take a Hit of Rs 27,420 Cr: SBI Report

If the Uttar Pradesh government fulfils its farmer loan waiver promise, banks are likely to take a hit of Rs 27,420 crore and the scheme will lead to some stress on the state’s fiscal arithmetic, warns a report.

The BJP had in its UP election manifesto promised to waive farmers’ loans if elected to power. The party and its allies won a whopping 325 seats in the 403-member House.

An SBI Research report on Monday said scheduled commercial banks together had an outstanding farm credit of Rs 86,241.20 crore in UP with the average ticket size of Rs 1.34 lakh, as of 2016, most of which is to small and marginal farmers.

(Source: Times of India)