Indian two thousand and five hundred rupee banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

BQuick On August 3: Top 10 Stories In 10 Minutes

This is a roundup of the day’s top stories in brief.

1. Uday Kotak Meets Letter Of RBI Rule. What About Spirit?

The promoters of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. have reduced their shareholding in the bank to below 20 percent, in line with the RBI’s directions. However, the route taken to do so is an unusual one.

  • Kotak has used non-convertible preference shares to dilute promoter shareholding, following which the promoter’s interest in paid-up capital reduces to 19.7 percent from 30.3 percent.
  • However, as a percentage of post-issue equity share capital, the promoter group shareholding remains unchanged since preference shares do not count towards the equity share capital.
  • The intent of the Reserve Bank of India’s regulations on promoter shareholding of banks is to ensure that these deposit taking institutions are widely held.
  • By asking promoters to bring down their shareholding over a period of time, the regulator wants to ensure that power over these institutions is not excessively concentrated in the hands of one person or group.
  • Jaimin Bhatt, president and chief financial officer of Kotak Mahindra Bank told BloombergQuint that the lender had informed the RBI on Thursday after the closure of the transaction.

Read more on why Kotak’s move might not pass muster with the RBI.

2. UIDAI Ghost Helpline Number Mystery Resolved!

Google apologised for the mysterious appearance of the Aadhaar helpline number on the contact lists of smartphones across India without user consent, a day after the issue kicked up a furore on social media.

The search engine giant said it had “inadvertently coded” the distress helpline ‘112’ and that of the Unique Identification Authority of India in its the setup wizard for the Android operating system.

Backdrop

The Unique Identification Authority of India said it has not asked any device maker or service provider to include its toll free number on mobile phones. It also clarified that the number 1800-300-1947 appearing in the contact list of Android phones is an “outdated and invalid” helpline number.

  • The UIDAI in a statement said "some vested interests" were trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public.
  • The Aadhaar-issuing body said that it has “not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility whatsoever.”
  • Yesterday, French security expert who goes under the pseudonym Elliot Alderson had tweeted about the inclusion of the authority’s number in the phone books of multiple users.
  • The Cellular Operators Association of India said none of the telecom operators included the helpline number in the phone books of various mobile handsets.

Here’s what has happened so far in the helpline number mystery.

Screen grab of an Android phone with UIDAI contact details. (Source: BloombergQuint)
Screen grab of an Android phone with UIDAI contact details. (Source: BloombergQuint)

3. RCom’s Lenders Not In Favour Of Using Jio Deal Proceeds To Pay Ericsson

Fresh-off a Supreme Court approval for the sale of its telecom assets to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications Ltd. might face another struggle in the coming weeks from its lenders.

  • Bankers led by State Bank of India would be expected to approve a Rs 550 crore settlement offer to Ericsson India Ltd., from the proceeds they receive through the Jio deal. But not all are in favour of this.
  • The lending consortium would not be inclined to part with the funds they recover through RCom’s asset monetisation plan, said two senior public sector bankers requesting anonymity.
  • RCom has claimed that the deal will help lenders recover Rs 18,100 crore, albeit over time. Lenders have dues exceeding Rs 42,000 crore against RCom.

Read more on the lenders’ views on the Jio-RCom deal

4. Nifty Ends At Record High; U.S. Stocks Fluctuate

India’s NSE Nifty 50 Index snapped a two-day losing streak and rose to a record high led by banking shares.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex Index rose 1.05 percent or 391 points to 37,556.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 Index climbed 1.03 percent or 116 points to a record closing high of 11,361.
  • All sector gauges compiled by National Stock Exchange ended higher led by the Nifty PSU Bank index’s 1.9 percent gain.
  • The mid- and small-cap shares were in line with larger peers as the Nifty Midcap 100 Index rose 0.98 percent and the Nifty Smallcap 100 Index advanced 1.4 percent.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

BQuick On August 3: Top 10 Stories In 10 Minutes

U.S. stocks fluctuated and the dollar edged lower as fresh tariff threats from China overshadowed the latest jobs report showing a steady American labour market.

  • The S&P 500 Index clung to a weekly gain after China’s finance ministry warned that Beijing would retaliate with tariffs if the Trump administration raised levies.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1 percent.
  • A rally in European banks lifted equities in the region.
  • The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield held below 3 percent, while oil edged lower.

Get your fix of global markets update here.

5. Tata Gets $1.3 Billion Bill To Close Airtel Deal

Tata Group may have to pay around $1.3 billion (Rs 9,000 crore) in dues to the Indian government to rescue the proposed sale of its mobile-phone business to Bharti Airtel Ltd., people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • The department of telecommunications is demanding that Tata Teleservices Ltd. clear any obligations to the government before it approves the deal with Airtel.
  • Bharti Airtel, helmed by billionaire Sunil Mittal, is unlikely to agree to pay the sum, sources added.
  • Emails sent to Bharti Airtel and telecom ministry seeking comments went unanswered. Tata Group declined to comment.

Read more on Tata’s telecom troubles.

6. Kraft Heinz Has Narrowed Bidders For Indian Business

Kraft Heinz Co. has narrowed the list of bidders for a portfolio of Indian businesses it’s selling that includes the children’s milk drink Complan, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • The Tata Group and Dabur India Ltd. are among the suitors selected for second round of bidding.
  • Sale has also drawn interest from an arm of Cadila Healthcare Ltd. and other potential buyers.
  • Kraft Heinz is seeking about $1 billion for the Indian assets that also include Glucon D, Nycil talcum powder and Sampriti clarified butter.

Here’s more on the latest deal brewing in the Indian consumer industry.

7. Regulations Shrink India’s Peer-To-Peer Lending Industry

When the Reserve Bank of India first brought out a discussion paper on peer-to-peer lending in April 2016, it said that there were 30 such start-ups in the country. It then proceeded to fashion a set of rules for the nascent but fast-growing sector and came out with regulations in October 2017. Key among them was a requirement that peer-to-peer lenders register with the RBI.

  • Nine months since, only five of these lenders are registered in the ‘NBFC-P2P’ category, according to RBI data.
  • That is far lower than the number of entities that were estimated to be operating in the segment before the regulations were put in place.
  • Stringent conditions attached by the RBI may mean that a far fewer number will formally remain in the business.
  • One condition, which has weeded out smaller players, is the requirement to have net owned funds of at least Rs 2 crore.

Here’s why P2P lending is suffering.

8. Fiat Wants To Block M&M’s New Off-Road Vehicle In The U.S.

The Mahindra Roxor. (Image Courtesy: https://www.mahindraautomotivena.com/roxor)
The Mahindra Roxor. (Image Courtesy: https://www.mahindraautomotivena.com/roxor)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV filed a U.S. trade complaint seeking to prevent Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. from importing an off-road vehicle that looks like its iconic Jeep.

  • The Fiat Chrysler group filed the complaint on Aug. 1 claiming that the Mahindra Roxor infringes key characteristics of Jeep’s signature design.
  • “They are a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design," Fiat Chrysler said in its complaint.
  • Mahindra capitalizes on the cost advantages of manufacturing their products in India and then importing knocked-down kits to the U.S., where they’re assembled in the Detroit area, Fiat Chrysler added.

Find out why Fiat Chrysler is miffed with M&M.

9. Monsoon Seen Normal In Second Half After Deficient Showers

India’s monsoon is likely to be normal in the second half of the rainy season after deficient showers in the June-July period, the country’s weather office said on Friday.

  • Cumulative rainfall during August and September is forecast to be 95 percent of a 50-year average, according to the India Meteorological Department.
  • Rain between 94 percent and 106 percent of the average is defined as normal for the two-month period, according to the weather office.
  • The forecast has a margin of error of 8 percent.
BQuick On August 3: Top 10 Stories In 10 Minutes

Here’s what the IMD had to say on the regions that are likely to get normal rains this year.

10. GST Council May Consider Relief For Small Taxpayers Tomorrow

The Goods and Services Tax Council may consider giving more relief to small taxpayers at its Aug. 4 meeting, a government official told BloombergQuint on the condition of anonymity. Last week, the panel had allowed them to file quarterly returns and increased the threshold for registration under the indirect tax regime in the hill states.

  • The panel will consider over 130 recommendations given by various stakeholders, the official said.
  • The suggestions include allowing taxpayers to make inter-state supplies up to a threshold of Rs 20 lakh without having to register under the GST.
  • Currently, taxpayers must sign up for the tax if they make inter-state supplies even if their annual turnover is below Rs 20 lakh.

Here’s what else is on the GST Council’s agenda.

(Updates second story with Google clarification on the UIDAI mystery number.)