BQuick On Dec. 30: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  
A commuter crosses Tower Bridge in view of skyscrapers in London, U.K. (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On Dec. 30: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  

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

1. Users Flock To Jio Even After Free Calls End

India’s youngest telecom operator added the highest number of active subscribers since its inception despite deciding to start charging customers for voice calls.

  • Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. added 1.44 crore active users in October, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint, taking the number of active users on its network above the industry average of 82.9 percent.
  • Reliance Industries Ltd.—Reliance Jio’s parent—said on Oct. 9 that it will charge customers 6 paise per minute for voice calls made to other networks to compensate for the interconnect fee.
  • That came nearly three years after billionaire Mukesh Ambani promised at the wireless carrier’s launch that voice calls across India will never be charged.

Here’s how Vodafone Idea’s loss is Reliance Jio’s gain.

2. Tata Sons’ ‘Private’ Challenge

Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd. has resorted to short-term borrowings as conversion to a private company following a dispute with ousted Chairman Cyrus Mistry narrowed the pool of investors for the parent of India’s largest conglomerate.

  • In the last two years, the holding company of the salt-to-software Tata Group has started borrowing via short-term borrowings.
  • Prior to turning a private limited company, it raised funds through long-term instruments such as redeemable preference shares or non-convertible debentures.

Read the full BQ Blue Exclusive story here.

3. Hinduja Group Prepares To Bid For Jet Airways

The Hinduja Group is preparing a bid to buy grounded carrier Jet Airways India Ltd., people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • The U.K.-based group, run by brothers Gopichand Hinduja and Ashok Hinduja, plans to submit an expression of interest by the Jan. 15 deadline, signaling its intent to make a formal offer, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private.
  • Hinduja is seeking a partner to bid, one of the people said.
  • Creditors are seeking fresh bids for Jet Airways after earlier getting interest from only a single company, Synergy Group Corp.
  • Hinduja Group had earlier this year considered bidding for Jet Airways in partnership with Etihad, but Etihad jettisoned the proposal and Jet Airways was tipped into bankruptcy.

Deliberations are at an early stage and Hinduja Group may decide against bidding, or other bidders may emerge.

4. DHFL’s Creditors Submit Claims Worth Nearly Rs 87,000 Crore

Financial creditors to Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd. have submitted claims worth Rs 86,892 crore against the mortgage lender taken to insolvency courts by the central bank.

  • R Subramaniah Kumar, the administrator appointed by the Reserve Bank of India, has so far admitted claims worth nearly Rs 80,980 crore before the insolvency proceedings begin, according to information available on the DHFL website.
  • Mutual funds and other bondholders have claimed Rs 45,550 crore. The administrator admitted most of these claims.
  • State Bank of India, including its Singapore-based unit, has claimed dues worth Rs 10,083 crore, the highest among individual lenders. Of this, the administrator has admitted claims worth Rs 7,131 crore.
  • Bank of India has submitted the second-biggest claims worth over Rs 4,000 crore.

Operational creditors to the company have claimed more than Rs 60 crore so far.

5. What’s In Store For Indian Markets In 2020

Not many saw this rally coming.

In a year of slowing economy, global trade uncertainty and earnings volatility, India’s benchmark indices are ending higher. The Nifty 50 has gained 13 percent, crossing the 12,000 mark, in a rally led by select heavyweights. In BloombergQuint’s survey conducted at the end of 2018, the majority of respondents didn’t expect the benchmark to surpass that level.

  • Going into 2020, 26 respondents—market experts, heads of research, fund managers and chief investment officers—polled by BloombergQuint are cautious in their optimism.
  • Nearly three-fourths of the respondents expect the benchmarks Nifty 50 and Sensex to rise between 5 and 10 percent.

Here are the top predictions for 2020 by India’s market experts.

BQuick On Dec. 30: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  

6. Sensex Ends Flat, U.S. Stocks Decline

Indian stocks were little changed as investors watched for signs that a record-breaking rally could broaden out beyond a handful of large companies.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.04 percent to 41,588 at the close, as the gains in HDFC Bank Ltd. were offset by losses in ICICI Bank Ltd.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 0.1 percent to 12,255.85.
  • The broader markets represented by the NSE Nifty 500 Index rose 0.16 percent.
  • The market breadth was tilted in favour of buyers.
  • Six out of 11 sectoral gauges compiled by NSE ended higher.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

Prince Pipes & Fittings Ltd. made an underwhelming stock market debut as it closed 6.4 percent lower than its IPO price. The stock closed at Rs 165 per share, compared with its issue price of Rs 178 apiece.

The stock fell as much as 14.3 percent to Rs 152.50 during the day.

U.S. stocks fell on the penultimate day of a blockbuster year for markets. Treasuries extended their declines, while the dollar weakened.

  • The S&P 500 dropped in light trading amid the countdown to the New Year’s Day holiday on Wednesday, still heading for the best year since 2013 and the fourth monthly gain in a row.
  • Ten-year Treasury yields advanced the most in two weeks to above 1.90 percent, while the dollar fell for a third straight session as the yen and pound strengthened.

Get your daily fix of global markets here.

7. Growth, Not Valuations, Worry Basant Maheshwari

Basant Maheshwari is confident that India’s top 40-50 companies will continue to grow and drive Nifty 50 higher even as he cautions investors about chasing small caps.

  • Formalisation of the economy and the corporate tax cut will largely benefit the top companies, the founder of his namesake portfolio management firm said.
  • As a result, the benchmark will continue to grow, he said, adding that investors sceptical about Nifty 50 returns in the new year will be repeating the mistake of 2019.
  • Maheshwari, however, isn’t worried about valuations but growth slowing down. “If you ask me where do I lose my sleep, I lose my sleep only when I have this fear about the company which I own would not grow at the rate at which we thought that it would.”

Watch the full interview with Basant Maheshwari on BloombergQuint's special series Alpha Moguls.

Also read: BQ Survey: Cement Prices Fall For Seventh Straight Month

8. New Year, New Lending Rates By SBI

The country’s largest lender State Bank of India announced a reduction in its external benchmark-based rate by 25 basis points to 7.80 percent from 8.05 percent.

  • The new rates will be applicable from Jan. 1, 2020, the bank said in a statement.
  • With this reduction, the interest rate for existing home loan customers as well as micro, small and medium enterprises borrowers who have availed loans linked to external benchmark based rate would come down by 25 basis points, it said.
  • The new home buyers will get loans at an interest rate starting from 7.90 percent per annum compared to earlier 8.15 percent per annum, it said.

This is in-line with the RBI’s mandate that all banks should link a certain categories of loans to external benchmark-based interest rate.

Also read: Say Goodbye to Banking as We Know It

9. Ajit Pawar Is Maharashtra’s Deputy CM...Again!

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray expanded his council of ministers by inducting 26 cabinet and 10 ministers of state, including Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar who was sworn in as his deputy.

  • The Maharashtra cabinet expansion took place more than a month after the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government took charge of the state.
  • The 36 ministers sworn in on Monday include 10 cabinet and four MoS of the NCP, eight cabinet and four MoS of Shiv Sena, and eight cabinet and two MoS of the Congress.
  • With this, NCP leads the council of ministers with 12 cabinet ministers and four MoS, the Shiv Sena has 10 cabinet ministers and four MoS while the Congress has 10 cabinet ministers and two MoS.

Senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray were among the cabinet ministers who took oath.

Also read: India’s Rightward Lurch Is Self-Defeating

10. India’s Total Tree, Forest Cover Increases 0.65% In Two Years

The total tree and forest cover in the country increased by 5,188 square kilometers in the last two years, said the India State of Forest Report 2019 which was released by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.

  • Javadekar said that there is an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of the country as compared to the last assessment in 2017.
  • “This report gives us confidence that we are on track to achieve our Paris Agreement goals,” Javadekar, the minister in charge of environment, forest and climate change told reporters in New Delhi.
  • The mangrove cover in the country has increased by 54 sq km (1.10 percent) as compared to the previous assessment, he said.

Here are the top five states that have contributed the most to forest cover.

Also read: New Delhi Poised for Coldest December Day in More Than a Century

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